I have the chance to help thousands of homeless people but I need your help

there is a church in California that is willing to bring me to their pulpit to try and convince me that there is a god. Nothing is set in stone as to the proceedures for this discussion. I hope to limit the conversation to 10 questions. This is not set in stone. All ideas will be explored.I hope to limit the questions to 10 pre-selected questions but this is not quarenteed. The only thing that has been agreed upon is that 50% of the proceeds will go to the homeless. They are willing to send a film crew to South Carolina and film the trip west. I would like to have an atheist film crew along for the ride. We have agreed to try and find 10 questions that can be agreeded upon in advance. The questions will be agreeded uponbut not the answers. I am in way above my head but can not refuse this invatation due to the number of people that will be helped. If there is any interest in following an atheist from the bible belt to california to debate an entire church over the existance of god please let me know. I would prefer not to go this alone but will if needed.I feel like there might bge a documentory in this excursion. Any suggestions and aid will be welcomed. Please respond to this blog or to my email address at stumpparrish@charter.net help LOL.

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For real?

Well, number one - seems like a win even if you 'lose' - if that many people will be helped.
Number two - if you are 'debating' the religious - on their turf - you will 'lose'
Number three- the documentary part is a different story - a greater opportunity than just a 'fools errand for a good cause'

I will think on this. More later.
Enough with the blog answers. This is going to happen and My phone number is 864 249 3420 and my name is Rick Parrish. This is the one and only chance I have to help this many people I will never know. The Christian I am to debate is the same one that I responded to in a previous blog titled An ongoing conversation with a Christain. I am looking for any advice anyone might offfer. As you mentioned Howard, it is a win win opportunity. I dont see how can I lose considering I have reason on my side. I am looking for ways to generate as much money for a good cause as I can. A you tube video would be nice for my kids lol.
I would need to know several things about this church to formulate questions that will help. But here are a few:

1. Of the thousands of formal definitions of god available, why is the rejection of all but one more valid than the rejection of all?

2. Why is that nearly 14 billion years of oblivious, non existence before you were born is seems neither fearsome nor unacceptable, but the lack of an eternal life after death seems 'unimaginable'?

3. I am working on some formulation of a question backed into from Marcus Aurelius' meditation:

‘The gods are either powerless or powerful. If they are powerless, why do you pray? But if they are powerful, why not rather pray for the gift of not fearing any of these things, or of not desiring any of them, or of not feeling grief for any of them, rather than that any one of them should be absent or present? For surely, if the gods can co-operate with humans, they can co-operate to these ends. But perhaps you will say: ‘The gods put these things in my power’. Then is it not better to use what is in your power with a free spirit than to be concerned with what is not in your power in a spirit of slavery and abjection? And who said to you that the gods did not co-operate with us, even in relation to things in our power?'

4. How would any 'proofs of god' apply to god? I we require a creator - why doesn't god? If beauty and sophisticated systems require a god to exist, why doesn't god require an even greater god to exist? And, if god does not require a god, then why do we?

5. What is the value of living forever? Aren't things made more precious by their brevity and scarcity than their stagnation and redundancy?

6. If god made the universe for the benefit of humanity, why did it take nearly 14 billion years to place us on a mote of dust amidst hundreds of billions of galaxies that each contain hundreds of billions of stars?

7. Are all aspirations achieved in heaven and, if so, are the heaven bound doomed to an eternity of no further progress?

8. If we are speaking of a loving, compassionate god, does this not imply that the Pope is obliged to sell the Vatican and feed the world?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63Nr7Ya_EB0 (Sarah Silverman - Sell the Vatican - Feed the World) - underlying premise of church wealth better spent on real action (and this church appear's to a least want to appear to be doing that)
I have temporarily declined the opportunity to ask questions and will only answer theirs(not set in stone nor carried from the mountain for all of humanities sake.... As you correctly suggested it is a no win debate, at first glance. For back ground the name of the church is the "Men and Women on the Move Ministry". The person that I have been talkinging to is the only white person out of a congregation of about 300. This is not a racist remark as most here are aware of the African American Christians are an extremely zelous crowd. I am not by any means aprroaching this as a discussion I can not win...but, being a poker player I can recognize when a deck is stacked against me. As A general question I am wondering if this might be as she suggested a good topic for a documentary? Considering the short time I have been on this site I will admit to first asking for advice from the second most intelligent person I have met on myspace...The Rabid Philosopher. I am looking forward to presenting a rational and well thought out response to this church's questions. The most intelligent person I have met online to date is Lloyd from myspace. Lloyd is no llnger availabe for advice.
I'm definitely not brilliant enough to debate a bunch of (I am assuming) Baptists, but I'd love to go for the ride and watch all of that.

Good luck. Black Christianity is an institution to be reckoned with. Perhaps you can speak to Reggie the Infidel - he's in Atlanta...
I know that I am in way over my head with this however I don't see how I can not try this. Everything is still in the early planning stages at this point. I have been very pleased and touched with the offers of help that I have received from so many people I don't know. Your comment about Black Christianity is an understatement and I am well aware of what I am getting myself into. I will keep everyone up to date with the progress I am making in bringing this to realization and will be greatful for any and all ideas. Primarily I will be looking for ways to prepare myself for my first actual debate with any type of organization about anything. If I were a religious person I would have to say god help me, but since I would actually prefer some real help I have chosen to ask those on this site. Thanks for the tip about Reggie. This is the second time today his name has come up and I am going to see what type of referance material I can find on his site. I just finished watching the documentary titled "The God Who Wasn't There" and his interview with Richard Carrier was something I was going to look for anyway.
I think you should ask some questions and challenge their beliefs. If you get even one person in the church to examine their beliefs, it will have been worth it. Here are a few I would ask:

1) If you had been born in India to Hindu parents, lived in a Hindu community in which all of your friends were Hindu, and had been indoctrinated into the Hindu faith, do you still think you would have become a Christian?

2) How do you know what is written in the Bible is true? The writers were not contemporary eye witnesses, there is only passing mention of Jesus by non-Christian historians (and none describe any miracles), some verses of the Bible were changed by scribes, and what books made it into the Bible was decided by fallible men. How do you know that the Bible is infallible?

3) Do you think the Bible is the word of God? Do you think that God is the source for morality? Do you condone slavery? The Bible does condone slavery (in both the Old and New Testament). How do you reconcile that with the idea of God being the source for all morality and being good?
Freethinker, what you suggest is something I have been attempting to do here in the bible belt for some time now. If the response I get here from my friends is any indication of what might actually happen in California, I will have lost the chance to get anything across to these church members. This is why I am leaning towards letting the church ask the questions and simply giving my side of the arguement on the issues they bring up. I should appear as a less than hostile atheist. As always I welcome another perspective on this. I have always considered myself to be of above average intelligence, and if I am only half as smart as I think I am, that means that the majority of the people I come in contact with, are all raving lunitics. Just kidding, I think.
You are probably correct. I agree that you should try not to appear as hostile. Perhaps you could ask some questions about what the members think of atheists and try to dispell the myths.

Regarding your last comment, I'm reminded of a George Carlin quote: "Just think how stupid the average person is and then consider that half of them are dumber than that".
I once watched (on youtube) a debate with Hitchens vs. 4 Christians. I expected him to come out firing. As you know he doesn’t pull punches. When presented with the first question he remarked how gracious and warm the Christians who invite him to debate are.

It’s the first of a 12 part video. He starts at about 9:34.

I say open with a similar tactic. There are things about having faith I do admire (however, nothing to convince me of a god). A sense of community the faithful have and the sense that many in the church are compassionate and kind.

When presented with the first question you could start off with something similar.

I would go even a further and show up a little early so you can greet and be greeted by members of the church. You can get a sense of who they are and they can see you as another human being. If you show up and simply sit at the debate table you might be seen more as a novelty or a zoo animal. “Look ma it’s the atheist. Do you think he would eat from my hand?”

I think above else use two words to guide you are Polite and Honest.

Don’t go into this trying to convince them of your position, but of your sincerity for your position. Let them see that you did not arrive at being atheist because you are angry with god. Even if they do not agree with you let them see that your position is well thought out and not a rash decision. Maybe touch on your own personal story. How did you come to your position?

I say humanize the experience and it can be a positive for everyone involved.
Dennis, thanks for the lead. I have been watching every documentary I can get my hands on concerning religion. These have lead me to numerous sites that are non-thesist and chock full of helpful information. These sites have given me alot of info that would be useful in a debate about the validity of christianity. Considering that I am to talk with christians of what I am sure is average intelligence, I am beginning to understand that trying to change their mind about their god is a waste of time. I still need this information to at least appear to have some well thought out arguements. That I may not use this information to change their minds about religion should win over a few people at the very least. This is starting to look like a project that might acomplish something other than feeding and helping the homeless. The homeless was what first got me interested in this, and now it appears that this could go beyond that. Any way I am looking forward to spending some time in California and learning a little more about myself while I'm there.


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