I enjoy watching the debates on YouTube between atheist intellectuals such as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss, among many, many others, against those who postulate the existence of God such as William Lane Craig, Ken Ham, Dinesh D’Souza, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach among many, many others.
My criticism of the debates goes fairly deep, but one point I find irritating. They get bogged down in religion. They get bogged down in the Bible (among some other religious texts).
Hitchens is great in such moments as he brings to the surface of the debate many of the horrors one can read in the Bible. Adam and Eve being thrown out of the Garden to work, Eve to have pain in childbirth and both of them to ultimately die—along with all the rest of humanity! Their horrible transgression? They ate a forbidden fruit.
You can go through the Old Testament or Torah and see God’s wrath on full display. The flood that kills all but a handful, the slaughter of innocents in Egypt (those little first-born infants zapped!), the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, God asking a man to kill his own son (as God will do in the New Testament by killing himself) and on and on the horrors go.
Hitchens enjoys laying to waste to other New Testament concepts too. God impregnates a woman to give birth to himself. Huh?
Hitchens chides religion for demanding circumcision and genital mutilation of women. And on and on it goes.
Stop the discussion! Please stop the discussion!
The question of whether or not there is a God has nothing to do with religion of any kind. It has nothing to do with tradition. It has nothing to do with any of the myriad religious texts that exist and if any of them are believed to be true by true believers.
The existence or possible existence of a God or gods has nothing to do with the religions that have adopted God’s or the gods’ existence and based their ideas on these religious books or traditions.
The debate should be cut in half. One half—the most important half—is whether there actually is a God. What are the arguments for it; what are the arguments against it?
The second half of the debate is the efficacy of these religious texts. Are they worth the time to study them? Can they be acknowledged from an historical perspective? Do they have literary value? Maybe they are fun, nonsensical stories claiming to know of real events in the past of primitive people?
Don’t try to prove there is a God by quoting religious texts or tradition. They prove nothing. Get these debates situated correctly. That’s all I ask.
(You will note that I capitalized the “G” in God. I don’t want religious people to flee before finishing this article. And I did not use the biblical god’s real name because some folks get upset when people do. I just wanted to make my point.)