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For people who are regular readers of my decon series know that I usually write on the topic of deconversion for the general public. Not on how to interact or debate with scholars.
For my 10th in this series I decided I wanted to write one to address the intellectual crowd. There has been much talk in the atheist circles about whether atheists should debate other theists. Basically, theist can throw out all kinds of ridiculous things and the naturalist, atheist, then tries to use science to dispute the points. Hopefully to dispute them one for one. They put them up, science knocks them down. Bang, bang, bang.
Those debates have been going on for 100's of years. Considering where we are, I would say it is "NOT" working - wonderfully. What is needed is a new approach.
Also, I am not going to teach anything scholarly here. I am looking at the approach to scholarly debate. Not the content.
There are 100's of academic books, websites, theologians, and others far more knowledgeable then me.
I have written this post for the person who already has scholarly knowledge and looking for a new more effective approach.
Let me restate the concepts of deconversion again for new readers.
1. People did not get their religion by argument, you are not going to deconvert them by arguing with them either.
2. One of the most powerful words in the English language is the word AND.
3. You listen to what they have to say
4. You agree with them by saying "AND"
5. Then you mess with their mind. (see my other posts for more ideas)
*Also, one critical part to this process is to understand an old saying
"If I say it, it might be true, BUT if they say it, it MUST be true"
When you go to debate a scholar, you have to keep in mind your goal. You are not going to get deconversion to happen then and there. As a matter of fact, the scholar is NOT the person you are interested in. You are interested in the audience of the debate. The scholar is well read. The scholar is well rehearsed. The audience is there to learn something. The are there to learn some good points to solidify their position, whether they are on the atheist or the theist side.
We are coming to this debate for one reason only. To work on deconverting the audience of the debate. Period. For our purpose, we are not looking to win the debate. We actually want a draw. We want people to come away with questions, confusion and not quite sure who won the debate. That is how we measure our success.
For a scholarly debate, we have 3 tactics that will help us win our goal.
First, we have no points/ideas to put forward. None. Absolutely nothing to push, sell or prove. We came to this debate as Socratic debaters. We are going to only ask questions, and the other person is going to make points for our side and against our side. But we don't put any significant statements forth.
Second, we use only their tools and their language. We don't go into science, naturalism or any of that. We strictly use books like the bible, Qumran, dead sea scrolls, and other ancient writings. We take these as FACTS. We talk more sources than they do as facts and we take it off the deep end. Do not deny this stuff. We want them to be denying the bible. We want them to be denying these ancient writings. They deny this. They deny that. Deny, Deny.
Third, and most importantly, we mess with their minds. We take some of the wackiest, craziest stuff from their sources and present it as the fact it is (to them). If in a traditional debate, the theist might normally throw out 15 things for the atheist to dispute, you go "oh yeah" - "AND" - then you continue on down the rabbit hole. Now the audience is not going to hear you focus on those 15, instead they are going to hear you rip through 25 more. 40 things just went through the mind of the debate audience.
When you are done your debate, the audiences head should be spinning. They don't know which side is up. All they know is that was some freak stuff that was discussed in there and I need a Bible fast. They are thinking "I got to get this stuff figured out fast before I forget it".
Are you kind of getting it? At the end of the debate you are going to have entire audience reading sections of the bible they may have never read in their entire life. Sections their minister or pastor never talked about. They are going to be really questioning their faith as they think about these questions.
Best of all, those folks who don't go running to the bible right away, have these questions burning a hole in their brain for days, weeks or years. So your deconversion worked. If they go to the bible quick, you win. If they wait, you win.
You see, you did not win in the debate. You win later. That is what you want.
A good deconversion is like a glass of tea. The longer it goes, the stronger it gets. And even if you take out the tea bag right away, guess what. It is still a glass of tea.
I am going write several (I don't know how many yet) routines on this "debate a scholar" topic. This is just the first one.
It is time to get into fun.
-- One of the fundamental rules I tell my readers is to:
-- "NEVER let someone get away with using the generic nouns or titles in the bible".
-- They have to use specific names, or specific attributed names.
--So first rule of scholarly debate. "Names and polytheism in the bible."
--This just rips the fabric off the whole monotheism "thingy" that people love to kick around
-- This is one of the few decon routines that are not going to be in my normal "conversational" or "Socratic" style.
Rule #1. No such thing as "GOD" that is a title.
make them use Yahweh, El Shaddai, Baal, Elohim, etc must always be used.
As a scholar for the purposes of this debate, you should generally know:
Names of the various books of the bible, how many gods are mentioned in that section, and 2 or 3 names from there.
If you can learn all the names all the better.
So how does this work.
Let's say the debate gets into creationism. Oooh, love that one.
You can get into El the creator and Yahweh who is the misbehaving child with a bad attitude
and Sophia the mother creator
and talk about Ea, who is Yahweh's kind of brother
and how Adam and Eve will no longer be "One of us"
and get into God (have fun picking which one) having arms and legs to walk around in genesis
and in Samuel -Moses almost gets killed by God (which?), but Moses wife throws down some foreskins at Gods feet.
for the new testament. Jesus is not a first name is it a title.
There are tons of bible content about Jesus and Bar-Jesus.
Who was wearing the Christ hat at various point in the bible.
who went on the cross, which one? Was one of the Jesus a Son of Jesus (his offspring).
Tons of good stuff. I am not teaching someone how to be a scholar. I couldn't if I tried.
But what I can do, is show you how to take that knowledge you do have and put it to effective use.
Most importantly, since we are focused on deconversion we have to keep our goal in mind.
The deconversion of the audience. Not to prove how smart we are.
As a matter of fact, the real skill here is knowing the facts intimately, but exposing them in a sloppy fashion.
See if you present your facts and ideas perfectly, the audience can think about and dismiss your ideas
right then and there - in their chair during the debate.
If your knowledge is skillfully executed with carefully planned sloppiness,
it is like a razor sharp samurai sword.
Say you are talking about a particular section of the bible, say Samuel, then you start going on about Ashtaroth and Baalim, then you accidentally mix in a little Yahweh. Oops. Sorry, that god is not present in this entire section of the bible, I guess they forgot him completely. he he he. You get the idea.
--I hope you really get into the fun of messing with their minds.
--Deconversion is so much fun.
I will talk with you later