Part of My Introduction to A Debate Book With Dr. Randal Rauser

As you read this book keep in mind that Dr. Rauser has by-passed what I consider the proper protocol. He has unfairly placed himself in the so-called final championship game by jumping in line, as it were, bypassing other worthy religious contenders in order to debate me, an atheist.

I’m obliging him of course, but before debating an atheist he should show that his brand of Christianity can successfully win prior debate contests with the many other religionists found around the world. He should earn his right to be here in the championship game, something he has not done. Why? Because the bottom line is that atheists are skeptics. That places us in a bracket all our own. We are not affirming anything. We are denying the claims of religionists. We do not think there is sufficient evidence to believe in supernatural beings and forces. Since this is the case, religionists must first determine among themselves who is their best contender. That process did not happen here precisely because they cannot agree among themselves who should be in the finals.

I consider this important enough to mention, for in every part of the globe religionists who circumvent this proper protocol will have their provincial debates with atheists as if those are the only two options to consider: Hinduism vs. atheism, or Islam vs. atheism, Orthodox Judaism vs. atheism, and, well, you get the point. The implied assumption is that the culturally dominant religion gets to act like it has earned its place in the championship game just by virtue of the fact that it is the dominant cultural religion. That is emphatically NOT the case.

If the proper protocol were followed there wouldn’t even be a final debate between a particular dominant cultural religion and an atheist. That’s because no religion can rise to the top by legitimately beating all of the others, thereby winning a rightful place in the finals. They would all just endlessly beat up on themselves with no clear winners. And that’s precisely one of the major reasons why we’re atheists in the first place. It’s because no religion can rightfully be shown to have any more epistemic warrant than the many others. They all share the same epistemic grounding. They all stand on the quicksand of faith based reasoning. None of them can decisively win against the many others. So while I have granted Dr. Rauser a place in the finals with me, afterward he must still go back and justify why he was here in the first place rather than one of the myriad number of other religions, including the various branches of his own.

[First posted 11/4/10]