Another Excerpt from the Pirate Atheist Book.
I’m writing the chapter about Hemant Mehta’s talk at Ohio State last February. I thought I would post a little of it for your reading pleasure
Chapter 8: Pirate’s Parlay
We had already thrown out the debate idea, but in some ways that made it harder. A debate is easy to set up. You have a moderator. You have two seats on the opposite ends of the podium. You have a moderator who asks each person the proposed question. Each gets about three to five minutes to respond and then the other person gets three to five minutes to rebut.
Oh, and don’t forget the bottled water.
Sterile, isn’t it? Well, to be fair, it’s not always this way. There are often some good crackling debates. However, there is always the danger of a debate being so antiseptic that it drains of all meaning.
No, that approach wouldn’t work. We decided first that audience should be allowed to ask questions of Jay and Hemant. This sort of thing is risky for all kinds of reasons. With a debate, rationality and good speaking ability are the rule of the day. When you allow audience members to ask questions, those precious things aren’t guranteed. Allow me to illustrate the problem.
The problem goes something like this:
Moderator: Does anyone have questions for our panelist?
(Rustling as someone gets to the microphone. It might be the militant atheist. It might be the militant Christian. Whoever it is, everyone groans because they know what’s coming, a long winded diatribe using language no one understands. As I’m a Christian, I’ll go with militant Christian)
Militant Christian (half closing their eyes in what is supposed to be thoughtful, prayerful consideration): The angels in the third heaven have a distinct thing to say to our audience. They say, Glory, Glory is the Lord God Almighty who was and is, and is to come. Given that some of them have six wings, it calls into question the whole point of evolution. I’m sure this much is obvious. Even Charles Darwin conceded this point, in one of his letters, I think. I would like the (atheist on the panal) to distinguish between how we have free choice and what God knows in the evolutionary cycle.”
(Poor Atheist panelist is left to make some sense of this statement and stumble around for an answer and the questioner sits down satisfied they have stumped said atheist panelist and winning a great victory for the Kingdom. The theist panelist prays to God he doesn’t have to answer the question either).