The evils of this world stem more from religion than from anything else, these atheists assert. In "Atheism Redux," published in the winter issue of the Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Bradley Shingleton surmises that "recent phenomena, such as the rise of religiously fueled terrorism, the coalescing alliance between conservative churches and political activists, and the spread of hostility to science, rooted in types of fundamentalism" have led them to this view.
As I mentioned last week, Sapient and Kelly recently debated two Christian evangelists (actor Kirk Cameron and pastor Ray Comfort) on ABC News's "Nightline Face-Off." Their topic: "Does God Exist?"
In March, Cameron and Comfort watched a "Nightline" segment that profiled RRS and its "Blasphemy Challenge," which invites teens to deny the existence of the Holy Spirit on videotape, then post it on YouTube. The evangelists, whose "The Way of the Master" radio and TV program had previously been featured on "Nightline," asked the show's producers to sponsor a debate between them and RRS.
Cameron and Comfort wanted to challenge the RRS claim that to believe in God is irrational. ABC agreed and the 90-some-minute debate was streamed live via the Internet with excerpts later aired on "Nightline."
Before the debate, it was widely publicized that Cameron and Comfort would prove scientifically that God exists without appealing to faith or the Bible. But at the start of the debate Cameron said they proposed to show "that the existence of God can be proven, 100%, without the use of faith."
To me, there is a difference. And in the course of the debate, Comfort did point to the Bible's Ten Commandments while making a moral argument for the existence of God. Sapient called foul.
Had I chosen the question for the debate, I'd have instead made it "Is It Irrational to Believe in God?" As it was, this was a debate no one won — not the atheists, not the theists and certainly not the audience.