Saturday, August 21, 2010

American Atheists' David Silverman vs. Catholic League's Jeff Field on ABC Nightline


Play all videos (3)
August 17, 2010 on ABC Nightline
*Note: Before the debate, ABC Nightline showed a news report by Dan Harris which was posted here earlier: De-Babtism by Blow Dryer

33 comments:

  1. What a squirmy little fellow this Jeff Field guy is.  I see he has spent his fair share of time at the Bill Donohoe Camp of Irrational Babbling.  I thought it was hilarious that he kept leaning on Judaism when painting religion in a good light.  Is that because they have a clearer conscience than your fellow Catholics?  

    Did anyone else notice his gaffe during the closing statement? 

    "The teachings are there and that's where they lie*..."

    He catches himself saying that and quickly stutters into his next throwaway phrase.  

    *Yes, I know he meant lie in a foundation sense, but it still hints of Freudian slip.  

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  2. I have a new hero! 

    First was Carl Sagan, then Richard Dawkins, then Christopher Hitchens, then James Randi.

    Now it's David Silverman. A brilliant mind that could.

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  3. Yeah, "atheism" promotes "knowledge," but apparently not knowledge of what Christians, and especially Catholics, actually think God is. Hint, David: It's not an invisible magis man in the sky.

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  4. Wait... there's someone in the Catholic League other than Bill Donohue? When did that happen?

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  5. Algeron WaterschootAugust 21, 2010 at 5:26 PM

    Does David Silverman have a twitter account?

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  6. David Silverman did a great job in this debate.

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  7. Eh, I didn't think David Silverman did a great job. He was good, but still seemed like the stereotypical smirking, condescending atheist. I wish he talked more about atheism's ability to self-correct and lack of dogmatism and less about the "magic invisible sky god." But the other guy was a moron.

    People always mischaracterize atheism as another religion, and by doing so, can then make the argument that atheism IS another religion. I'm so sick of the argument that Pol Pot and Stalin and Hitler were atheists and "look what you get." Atheism is only a rejection of the god theory. You can maintain other crazy ideologies while being atheist. What makes atheists good for society is that they can construct a society and a moral code based on logic and reason and is unfettered by notions of god.

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  8. Really? Were you guys that impressed with him? From the looks of it I'm in the minority here then, because I was really very UNimpressed with Silverman.


    First, he COMPLETELY let the Pol Pot / Stalin / Hitler gambit slide without any mention whatsoever. This is utterly inexcusable. This is the simplest fallacy to smack down that I can even think of and he, the president of American Atheists, of all people, he should know how much this stupid argument resonates with the theistic public. MASSIVE missed opportunity.


    Second, he argues that atheism is a force for good. No, atheism is not a force for good, because it's not a force for anything, and you shouldn't have to be corrected by TWITTER USERS concerning such a simple point - on whose assent the most ridiculous non-sequiturs can obviously then be introduced by the opposition.


    Third, the argument from utility by the moderator (who seems to think this is a game of ping pong, rather than a debate where people should be allowed more than 5 milliseconds per response) in favor of belief is allowed to pass without any counter-argument at all, allowing the uninformed viewer to believe that Catholicism's validity is ostensibly somehow related to its ability to preserve middle-aged texts.


    Fourth, he very foolishly tells the moderator that "atheists don't proselytize" because he's afraid of what it will sound like to the viewer if he acknowledges that we do proselytize, and because he just let the moderator turn proselytization into a boo-word. Of course atheists proselytize! HE'S A SPOKESMAN FOR A NATIONAL ATHEIST ORGANIZATION WHO JUST AGREED TO A DEBATE ON NATIONAL TELEVISION ostensibly for the purpose of changing minds. There's nothing wrong with proselytization as long as you're right, and not annoying or obnoxious about it.

    Fortunately for David, his opponent was a bumbling, half-wit spaz who couldn't seem to get more than half a sentence out without stuttering and generally being uselessly incoherent, so he still won.

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  9.    Maybe some atheist are door knocking proselytizers, but i've never met one,nor am i one either.  I think Silverman was great.

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  10. I'm also in the 'not great' camp.  Fields is such an incredibly horrible speaker that it's hard to not look good next to him.  I'm not comfortable with atheism being pushed as a force for good.  Some things that are often associated with atheism, such as critical thinking, sure.  But I'd prefer atheism stand on its own as simply "there's probably no god(s)"

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  11. silverman is an idiot who is going to be executed

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  12. dmab, you mean "excommunicated", sulely? ;)

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  13. Jeff's bumbling is embarrassing to watch.

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  14. you little idiots chose the *LOSING* side....

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  15. He does a better job than some Ive seen, but again misses slapping down the two biggest lies:

    1) Hitler Stalin et al
    2) The US was established on christian values....

    These MUST be slapped down whenever they are repeated, as they are the two most common lies in circulation.

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  16. Catholics are not idiots, they just have different priorities.

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  17. The problem is the Bible and its followers claim that they were made in god's image. I would suspect that the invisible man part should be true if they agree with 'in his image'.

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  18. After my second viewing I agree with you.

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  19. I agree. This is a stupid strawman. All it does is insult the believer. I really do not like opening with the "magic-man in the sky" crap. No one thinks of their God in that way. It's rhetorically quite weak, and only makes you look like a dick who has no good argument.

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  20. He's not even in the same league.

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  21. Not to mention the horrible horibble "the vatican is evil" line was idiotically inept. They committed evil, and rhetoric hammering that point will work. Calling them evil, without mentioning their crimes is stupid.

    Say, "the widespread sexual abuse of children, systematic protection and enablement of the repeat offenders, absolute refusal to report these crimes or cooperate with police investigations, demands of victims to remain silent under threat of excommunication, failure to acknowledge wrongdoing or responsibility, etc etc is evil."

    Not "the vatican is evil. God is a magic man in the sky. Atheism promotes knowledge." That's only going to work when preaching to the choir, because the choir is already well aware and outraged by the the crimes mentioned above. The general public needs to be similarly outraged, by detailing the evil that the Catholic church has committed and continues to commit.

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  22. I'm 100% with you Blake. He was embarrassingly terrible.

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  23. I agree. Critical thinking is what is important and valuable. Many atheists are not critical thinkers, and got their atheism by cultural upbringing, political ideology, or childish rebellion.

    This is why I do define my personal identiy as being an atheist. Instead I'm a skeptic, and consequently nonreligious, non UFO believer, anti homeopathy, etc.

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  24. <span>I agree. Critical thinking is what is important and valuable. Many atheists are not critical thinkers, and got their atheism by cultural upbringing, political ideology, or childish rebellion. 
     
    This is why I do NOT include being an atheist in my sense of personal identity. Instead I'm a skeptic. Consequently I'm nonreligious, anti-religious, a non UFO/ghost believer, anti homeopathy, and all around not-a-believer-in-woo.</span>

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  25. There's nothing wrong with proselytizing, if it is nothing more than "trying to persuade someone that you are correct." I think a Christian who really did believe his neighbors were going to burn in hell for eternity would be an absolute dick if he did nothing to warn them.

    However, if you are coercing or coopting people to profess belief, then that is a horse of a different color. And if you are incessantly annoying about trying to convert someone, that goes beyond merely trying to persuade someone and into the "not knowing when to shut up and agree to disagree" territory.

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  26. "I would suspect that the invisible man part should be true if they agree with 'in his image'."

    You might have a point, if only it weren't for, oh, two thousand years of Christian theological and philosophical explications of that text, and more than two thousand years of Jewish explications. So, if this is what Mr. Silverman had in mind, it reinforces my point: he doesn't know what he's talking about, and doesn't seem to care that he doesn't know.

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  27. Stalin and company are bigger problems for the believers. For instance..
    1. The design allows for people like that
    2. God didn't interfere to stop them..he perhaps even..
    3. Wanted things like that to happen?

    At the very least God didn't interfere to stop their victims from being killed.

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  28. He also forgot to slap these down great christian values
     3) US was built by slaves owned by good god-fearing christians
     4) Beautiful houses of worship built on the graves of non-christian Native Americans.

    Tradition isn't all-good.

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  29. Maybe I m spoiled by Hitchens but I think that both participants were awful, nervous, uninteresting and repreated same things over and over :(

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  30. Would you stop with the billboards and rhetoric already?  Surely there is a better source for all of the energy put into trying to convince people that their beliefs are mis-guided.  Live and let live.

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