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Supporting Civil Rights for Atheists and the Separation of Church and State
David Silverman Debates Dinesh D'souza
This is my story and I’m sticking to it
You should know me by now. I call it as it is, win or lose, even unto our own defeat. I was lucky enough to operate the American Atheists, Inc., table and sit in the front row to watch the infamous “evil face” of David Silverman. I laughed out loud during the debate. The subject of the debate was “Is Christianity good for America?” Why is it that so many bloggers do not realize the subject is not “Is Christianity good for the world?” Ugh, facepalm. The “world” was not the subject but our wonderful soil on which we live, the United States of America.
Two contenders we can call “heavyweights” in the league of extraordinary gentleman. David Silverman, President of American Atheists, Inc., v. Dinesh D’Souza, the President of King’s College, in New York.
Let’s get ready to rumble!
The house was packed and I was in the front row. I viewed the spit flying from each of the debaters while they fired back rebuttals in an unusual debate style consisting of nearly 15 minutes of cross examination. This is what made this night so unusual.
Opening for 12 minutes from a prepared script was David Silverman’s “Three S’s,” Society, Science and Sex. The gist was how Christianity has failed our Nation from her birth until it’s present state.
I was really thrilled to hear David mentioning that he wanted to live forever with his wife and daughter, he wanted his loved ones to live forever and that no person wanted more from immortality than he. Instantly the myth was dispelled that atheists are happy to just die off. However, this doesn’t make it real and a dose of reality is what he was handing to all in attendance. He promised no tricks, no doubletalk, no verbal slight of hand, and that is exactly what we received, on David’s end.
Sticking to the subject of the debate, David defines what “good” means. Good for America must mean that something beneficial to our health and welfare, people, laws, and customs. David then tells us why Christianity is bad for all the above by expanding on the negative impact that Christianity has inflicted on our society, science and sexuality.
Asserting the bronze-age morality that comes from Christianity on society, and the fact that it’s ways are only perfect and caring for itself and not actual human beings only leaves us to recognize that the damage done is far greater than the good it could have caused.
A little about marriage
The damage in marriages and in the stability of family gets top billing. Christianity has, in both past and present, ripped families apart and left countless children in orphanages and foster care. All in the name of Holy Scripture.
Christians will never admit their entire system of belief (Christianity, as a whole) is wrong, even in the face of insurmountable evidence. Christianity claims to be supporting of marriage, but according to the Barna Group, believers get divorced more often than the non-religious. Nearly half of all the marriages of ministers end in divorce. This hit home to me, because I am in part of this half that David is talking about.
At the same time I’ve advised Christians to get divorced with very little consequences, then advising my parishioners to join “Divorce Care” groups to recover. Then, of course, I’d advise them to get involved in singles groups. How interesting it is the Scripture, What God joins together, let no man separate. (Matt 19:6)
David questions how can Christianity portray expertise on marriage when it has evidently failed in the matter? Gay rights hurt no one, but is opposed to by Christians because their holy book says so. Christians would rather children of deceased parents enter into the state foster care system then be placed with gay relatives.
In the public eye
Christianity continues to be pushed public schools for recruitment rather than prayer. The “See You At The Pole” events and other venues such as “The National Day Of Prayer” are not meant for children to pray, but to recruit numbers. Even against parental wishes, all in the name of religious freedom.
Christians who wish to promulgate their propaganda against termination of pregnancies infiltrate Doctor’s offices. It is ironic that they seek to violate the free will of the humans that they believe were given free will by their god. The cafeteria-Christian movement is no doubt centered around a barbaric holy book where it decides the morality of all alive.
Science and education
I’m glad David addressed that science that has disproved the bible again and again. Yet even though nearly every biblical claim against scientific facts are found false, Christians still refuses to admit the erroneous texts. “God did it” is put forth as a scientific explanation that everyone is supposed to accept as valid, even to those who think contrary.
This is evident that Christianity dumbs-down our society. Applause erupted in the auditorium at this comment. Our society has fallen below many of the nations of the world in our level of education, and particularly in the field of science. Other nations laugh at our children because the gaps in knowledge. Why wont Christians admit that Christianity is bad for America?
Let’s talk about sex.
According to the Guttemacher Institute, 95% of Americans (USA) has had premarital sex. Christianity says these people are immoral, fornicators and sluts who promote use of condoms. Abstinence is what Christianity wants rather than educating teens about safe sex. Masturbation, of course, is awful.
In the final sentence of David’s Opening statement he said,
“If someone came to me with data showing – proving – that I was hurting my people and my country, I would stop. Christianity won’t. It just denies and redirects, never pausing for a minute to ponder how much damage it is doing. This is not good for America. This isn’t good for anyone. Thanks Christianity, but no thanks.”
This caused me to erupt with applause, as it did nearly everyone else.
As Dinesh walked to the podium, thunderous applause and whistles filled the auditorium. I thought, “Oh, man we are in for a one sided view.” Dinesh opens with, “I will give you only facts and reason and will make no appeal to the bible.” Funny how the man in front of me turned and said “the bible is the word of god. To which, I simply nodded.
Dinesh then talked about the nation being founded by religious Christians and a few deists and that we are endowed with inalienable rights and all men have the right to the pursuit of happiness. D’Souza went on to state that our founders were Christians and knew that god was directing them. Although he did mention that Thomas Jefferson physically cut out parts of the bible he didn’t agree with.
D’Souza continued by telling us that we may be able to sell our shoes, but we cannot sell ourselves, that this is our inalienable and god given right. He said that The bill of Rights has the Creator in it, that our nation was founded on Christianity and even had the audacity to proclaim that Thomas Jefferson’s words proves it.
D’Souza claims that our internal understanding that slavery, stealing and murder is wrong come from God, and has been given a gift. This, of course, flies in the face of what evolutionary theory teaches us. He even went so far as to cite Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by stating that he fought for civil rights because he was a Christian, and that he often cited the verses of the holy book.
It then re-occurred to me that Christians fail to realize that a person can do things that are good with out the name “Christianity” behind their actions.
Godwin strikes again
I was stunned when Dinesh called Peter Singer a Nazi. Among his other unfounded claims is his statement that a very small portion of Christians believe in creation. I believe he said it was four or five percent. I was stunned! He may have numbered the amount of believers pushing to get creation in schools with this low of a number, but the reality is that approximately up to 65% of Christians believe creation over evolution. And this only reflects adults, not our youth.
I really thought Dinesh would have read from a pre-written opening, but it soon was clear that his only objective was to rip apart Silverman’s opening. He failed to address David’s points but insisted that the Quakers and the three reformations of Christianity shaped our nation and that this proves that Christianity is good for America.
Of course, he didn’t address the Salem witch trials, the Protestant reformation that literally split the nation in dogma or the evil done in the name of Christianity right here in the United States. He also failed to mention aspects of child abuse, rape and the torture of women. Also missing was the suppression of females due to biblical views that eventually became the consensus view of America.
Dinesh answers some questions
Dinesh demanded David answer the question, “What Happens when you die? David responded in typical atheist fashion by stating that nothing happens, we don’t go anywhere, and that death is simply the end for us. It upset me that Dinesh claimed Silverman was being dogmatic. Did it not occur to D’Souza that he was being dogmatic in his statements that we all go to a heaven or a hell? If you ask me, this is hypocritical on Dinesh’s part.
He stated that, “Heaven and Hell exist outside our universe and the very laws violate our laws of physics, do you accept this?” David’s reply that this cannot be accepted generated thunderous applause, as did his further explanation that our laws of physics are in our universe. It was good to see that the audience knew Straw Man Arguments aren’t a sign of approval.
Silverman fires back
David questions Dinesh, “What is more important to you, the bible or the constitution?” Dinesh responds that the Constitution is a physical law to be followed and the bible is a spiritual law shaping our morals. Each has elevation above each other at the right time. I almost screamed at the absurdity of this.
David asked a few questions that Dinesh either danced around or didn’t even answer, which was a violation of the debate rules, set by the moderator. It was clearly stated that each must answer questions and not ask any. Dinesh turned his answer back into several questions that David graciously answered only to receive applause for his answer.
They both fired back and forth at each other, and at one point it seemed as if they were arguing. Finally, it was time for questions from the Audience.
Questions came in various formats to David and Dinesh. One believer asked four questions that made no sense, and finally David had to ask what the question actually was. After a short interrogation, we finally got to the crux of the inquiry. The believer wanted to know how David could deny a creator “when there is evidence surrounding us for a intelligent design?”
David smiled and responded by explaining that our universe is made of trillions of galaxies with trillions of stars and trillions of planets. He asked the believer to think about a trillion trillions of planets and stars, and the fact that so much of it is dead. He explained that there are more dead planets than living and if this were an intelligent design, it was a terrible one.
Facts? We don’t need no stinking facts
There were very little facts and data presented by Dinesh. He started on the ideology that God gave us morality and our Constitution is god-given with equality to all men. The climax came when Dinesh was asked, “What do you think of the world trade center cross lawsuit and what will happen if they win?” Dinesh responded with a dance of words and finished with, “I hope they lose!”
This is where the entire crux of “god-given rights and equality” that Martin Luther fought for is made worthless by Dinesh’s desire to deny our inalienable rights to life and the pursuit of happiness.
It is in my opinion that at this point Dinesh presented himself a double-minded man who is unstable in many of his ways. However, David Silverman presented an “all you can eat” buffet of why Christianity is not good for America.
I submitted my question to Dinesh, stating,
“My question is for Dinesh, and I’m going to hit you hard. I was a minister for seventeen years and I’m now an atheist. Tonight you have said you are a Christian and in the beginning was the word and the word was with god and the word was god. The word became flesh and we beheld his glory as the only begotten of the Father. The word of the lord is tried. Jesus said he overcame and sat down in his Fathers throne, that no man cometh to the Father but by him and that the word of the Lord will endure forever. He also said that by your words you are justified and by your words you are condemned. You are created in the image of God and the words you speak are spirit and life. The Word is the Christians source.
You have said the word is not to be followed and that a majority of it is irrelevant. In Ephesians, chapter five, verse six, Jesus said slaves are to obey their masters, for this is pleasing to the lord. You said God abolished slavery. The bible says the word of god will last forever. What will you do when you stand before Jesus and he tells you to depart from him you worker of iniquity and he sends you to hell because if any man takes away from these words he will be taken from the book of life? What will you say then when you are found to be a hypocrite? I believe you are good, but according to the bible you are a hypocrite.”
Claps and “wows” proceeded. Then he says, “If this is hitting me hard I wish more of you were out there to (smirking at me) hit me hard, you are still a fundamental bible person, you used the bible then and you use it now.”
He addressed slavery and that it is bad and danced around the fact that the bible says it is good. In essence, this further answered David’s point that Christianity is so bad that Christians will not own up to their holy text.
Ernest Perce V – Pennsylvania State Director, American Atheists, Inc.