If you have not heard, the Thomas Society and the Students for Free Thought at Ohio State will be building houses in New Orleans this spring break. Naturally both the groups need to raise the funding required to pay for things such as gas, food, and various expenses. To help with this they decided to hold a live video blogging event which The Amazing Atheist agreed to host. They had quite a few guests including some big names from the atheist community.
What do we have planned for this event? Oh, all kinds of atheist/christian goodness. First, we will have the PZ/preacher event. Then, we will have giveaways such as a signed edition of Ray Comfort’s debacle and a promised signed copy of my novel. Not to mention the special guests like Hemant Mehta, atheist vidbloggers like ZOMgitscriss, and Keith Jensen, the atheist comedian from the Coexist comedy tour.*
Unfortunately I missed most of the live blogging but I did catch part of the discussion with Hemant Mehta. The parts I saw seemed to be a relaxed conversation between friends that was also kind of humorous at points. As for the part with PZ, Thomas gave a short description of how he was planning on the discussion to go and it sounds like it was supposed to be fairly similar. Basically, it was not structured to be some kind of heated debate or argument. This was supposed to be a discussion with the main intention of raising money for a humanitarian trip. I say this because apparently comments made by some Christians, in the chat room during the discussion, suggested some people expected differently.
So, I did this little interview with PZ Myers and I think people had unrealistic expectations. I think people wanted to see a knock down drag out fight.
First, that was never my plan. As this was an interview, I wasn’t out to lead PZ into a trap or make him look like an idiot. Some people even wrote that I should tell PZ he is going to hell.
Or, I got this comment a lot, “This preacher is a nice guy, but he obviously doesn’t know his faith.”
Sometimes, I think people really do enjoy rolling in the crap.
However, it was not only Christians who expected a “knock down drag out fight”. It seems many atheists expected it as well, judging from the nearly 100 comments on PZ’s blog about the event. Here are a few examples:
· Yeah, PZ doesn't look as clear but he sure speaks more clearly. The pastor stutters and doesn't make any kind of sense. Another nice guy who doesn't know how to think straight. Sad really.Posters were even asking for what would amount to a full defense of Christianity from Thomas. After declining to do so there, as the comment section on another person’s blog was hardly the place for such a discussion, he was ridiculed from people claiming he did not want to be “laughed out of the room” followed by claims of attempted “blogwhoring”.
· The pastor certainly was fuzzy/fluffy in his thinking. And he has no idea of real evidence...
· "Theology is self-correcting, like science."- I hurt my side laughing at that statement.
· Couldn't watch all the way to the end. The pastor just keep ranting on and on. He said he didn't agree with the "God of the Gaps" idea, however, when PZ asked what compelled him to Christianity, he basically pulled out that argument and was ranting on about nothing.
· I really enjoyed the interview. The pastor seems like a nice guy, but never could give a passable defense of Christianity. His tap dancing around the obvious was amusing.
· Ah, after I left the tone concern strategy came into play !
That will soon be all that believers have left to defend their bigotry and superstitions.
So expect more of it...:-)
· Ugh, he was way more fuzzier than PZ despite the connection when it came to the discussions. I figured he would have to be for a guy that seems so understanding and accepting despite holding on to Christianity. It makes me tired just to think of the mental gymnastics going on in his head to make everything fit.
· I might have guessed - a glibertarian arsehole. Well fuck off then.
The Thomas Society - blogwhoring for Jesus since 1994!
And those comments are not all. There are still more at PZ’s blog along with an equal amount at Thomas’ blog. All this over a discussion meant to generate funding for a charity trip. Here is a response from Thomas expressing his surprise over the veracity of the comments he received.
I’m trying hard not to post a blistering rant this morning. It seems like people are more pissed that I didn’t confirm their little fantasy that all Christians are people hating morons, so they have to find something wrong. What did they find wrong? That I actually agreed with PZ that some pastors are in it for the money and that science is a good thing. Horrors. Shrug. Oh well.
This whole fiasco made me wonder, we hear atheists ranting about the evils and bigotry of religious followers all the time. Now of those who do so, how many are actually interested in holding a friendly, two-way, discussion with believers? And I am not talking about the larger names in atheism, as it seems those who appeared in this event are, at the least, capable of doing so. I am talking about your every day atheist who participates in the religious debate dialogue. Just how many of them are willing to step back from the constant arguments and insult exchanging and have a relaxed discussion with someone of opposite belief? Perhaps both sides could then come to the realization that the other side is comprised of actual people.
*PZ and the Preacher: Saturday Night!!!