iPhone Apps for Christian/Atheist Debates July 2, 2010

iPhone Apps for Christian/Atheist Debates

From the New York Times:

Publishers of Christian material have begun producing iPhone applications that can cough up quick comebacks and rhetorical strategies for believers who want to fight back against what they view as a new strain of strident atheism.

I can see it now…

Christian: This is a Christian nation!

Atheist: Not true! Many of our Founding Fathers were deists or atheists.

Christian: Well… umm… give me one second.

*Clicks on Christian iPhone app*

Christian: Hold on… it’s loading…

Atheist: There’s no mention of God in the Constitution!

Christian: What? That’s absurd. I have a response to th—damn, it just froze. Let me restart it…

Atheist: The Treaty of Tripoli declared that our government was “not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

Christian: That’s not true at all! Let me see what this App says about that. All I have to do is click here, and here, and here, and here… wait, how do you spell Tripoli?

Atheist: The Presidential Oath doesn’t even include the words, “So help me God.”

Christian: Of course it d—AHA! This thing says I just have to show you a banana and you’ll see the light.

Atheist: I win.

Bring it on.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian or an atheist — Intelligent people who really know their arguments will always be better off than a person equipped with an iPhone app containing suggested responses.

"I wouldn't say it's meaningless just because we lack the ability to know the answer ..."

Right-Wing Group: How Dare “Young Sheldon” ..."
"He comes from Star Trek's Mirror Universe, where Trump is a beard-sporting dictator."

Lying Christian Pastor: Trump Won the ..."
"I think that the OSM should do an Oral Roberts and threaten to be, "Called ..."

Michele Bachmann: God, Will You “Allow ..."

Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Durr Hurr

    The app only has one response/suggestion:

    “Keep repeating that Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were all atheists and ignore everything the atheist says.”

  • Jacob Duckett

    It’s worth mentioning that I heard about our Atheist app before the Christians got one. So as much as i think it’s silly, i don’t think we should poke fun of something that ‘we’ also have.

  • evilspud

    Funny, I pictured the same thing when the Talk.Origins app came out, just the other way around.

  • Jake

    Don’t we have an app too? Now we can save some time and just have the app creators debate each other, then write who won in the app. Then we can just apply that result to every result from here on!

  • Hitch

    It’s easy. Get the app, the write another with the pre-canned answers. Saves repeating the same things over and over again.

  • Rob

    If we could just create a Bluetooth connection maybe the phones can fight it out while we go get lunch.

  • fett101

    I take offense at the implication the the iPhone freezes often and is full of overcomplicated software.

  • Why nor just learn your facts and practice debating?

  • If you need an app for debating, then you probably shouldn’t be debating in the first place.

  • The whole notion of having ready-made comebacks is antithetical to the very idea of a debate.

    Here’s a generalization based on my experience: So many theists haven’t thought through their beliefs on rational terms because they didn’t arrive at their beliefs via rationality. So, in a “debate” setting, they would need to resort to a cheat-sheet more than most atheists I know. It never ceases to astonish me how many theists know exactly what they believe, but have no clue why they believe it.

  • Hitch

    I don’t see it getting worse. Most of my debate time is pretty much spent on what feels like canned lines. “New Atheists are aggressive” “atheism is also just a faith” “hitler was an atheist” “evolution is also just a theory” “sam harris wants to bomb muslims”.

  • Becky

    LOL — although, I never remember you mentioning the lag time when you covered the atheist app, Hemant. 😉

  • NFQ

    I originally came here to make the same comment about not hearing these criticisms about the Creationist Claims app … but to Hemant’s credit… I’ve found that at least in my case, I read the entries in that app just for fun and out of curiosity, and I wouldn’t be surprised if atheists are a bit more likely to read through the suggestions ahead of time rather than try to whip out their iPod/iPhone mid-argument. 😉

  • Seth

    So a treaty…the treaty of Tripoli…was made with some pirates by the particular powers in control at the time and that is supposed to tell us all about our theistic history?

    That is frigging desperate, dudes!

    Not to say the US of A was founded as a Christian nation, but it sure was not founded as an officially Atheistic State as many of the Commie Nations were and are.

  • Seth

    Hitch, but Harris DOES want to bomb Muslims.

    He even makes a ratonale for pre-emptive nuclear war in TEOF.

    Its there dude, you can’t deny it.

  • Claudia

    So we can now put two iPhones, one with the Christian app and the other with the atheist app in front of eachother and have them duke it out while the rest of us go have a latte. Nice,

  • Hitch

    Seth, first hit “sam harris nuclear” on google:

    http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/response-to-controversy2/

    Yes he discusses a hypothetical situation.

    Let me quote his conclusion:

    “men who are every bit as zealous to die as the nineteen hijackers may one day get their hands on long-range nuclear weaponry. The Muslim world in particular must anticipate this possibility and find some way to prevent it.”

    No, Sam Harris does NOT want to bomb Muslims. I think it’s fair to say that to claim that he does might constitute slander in some legal systems.

    This is the problem. People pull quotes out of context, radicalize them to then give a certain false, aggressive, negative view of the person who discusses a difficult topic.

    In fact what he does do is invite the Muslim world to participate in preventing that radicals with suicidal fantasies and the desire to get back at the “colonial west” gets their hands on nuclear weapons.

    What a monster indeed… not. Same quote mining is routinely pulled on Hitchens too.

  • I am sorry some so-called Christians are doing this. I am a Christian although I know that goes against your beliefs, I just wanted to say, not all Christians are hypocritical unintelligent people. You have just as much right as the next person to believe the way you want to. I want to apologize for any words of hate you have heard from “Christians”. Last time I checked, we all have the right to believe any way we want to! As long as it does not hurt our fellow man, it’s is our right!! I believe in LOVE and FORGIVENESS!! Maybe one day, so will they!! Thank you for allowing me to voice my opionon.

  • siveambrai

    @Seth If I’m correct the Treaty of Tripoli not only laid out the US’s control over the entire Western Hemisphere for the next century but it is one of the founding documents for our current existence as a world superpower. And while the treaty was made with a group of pirate it was really directed at the British forces that were backing the group in an attempt to undermine the new US government while our armed forces and navy were still being established.

    The support of the treaty was then backed up further by the War of 1812 when the nation showed that it was effectively able to defend its borders.

  • JJR

    Seth says:

    “…So a treaty…the treaty of Tripoli…was made with some pirates by the particular powers in control at the time and that is supposed to tell us all about our theistic history?

    That is frigging desperate, dudes!”

    It is an official statement of the U.S. Government, ratified by the Senate and signed by the President at the time.

    The U.S. government is a *secular* government, and if you actually knew your theistic history you’d know the “godless” constitution was hotly denounced by the Christian zealots of the day, and was a continuing sore point for them during the Great Revival of the 1830s. Correct, it is not an atheist state, it remains neutral with respect to questions of religion.

    But the religious have a hard time seeing it that way, they’re way too bipolar, seeing things in simple black & white (“he who is not with me is against me” – Jesus).

  • J Myers

    So a treaty…the treaty of Tripoli…was made with some pirates

    Nice ad hominem. It doesn’t matter who the treaty was made with; all that matters it that it was ratified by the US government. No matter how much you dislike (or seem to think others should dislike) one of the parties, it is every bit as authoritative and binding as any other treaty.

    by the particular powers in control at the time

    FFS… yes, the “particular powers in control at the time,” otherwise known as the US government, all of whom were actually alive at the time of our nation’s founding, and some of whom (including then-president John Adams) were actual founding fathers, who, I’m willing to wager, would have had a slightly more informed understanding of their own intentions than you seem to.

    and that is supposed to tell us all about our theistic history?

    In that our founding was not “theistic,” absolutely.

    That is frigging desperate, dudes!

    Citing compelling historical fact is desperate? Riiiiight….

    Not to say the US of A was founded as a Christian nation,

    Great, so you acknowledge this? Why then are you taking issue with the supporting evidence?

    but it sure was not founded as an officially Atheistic State as many of the Commie Nations were and are.

    This is relevant… how?

    Hitch, but Harris DOES want to bomb Muslims.

    Hitch duly smacks you around above for this bit of stupidity/dishonesty.

  • No, Sam Harris does NOT want to bomb Muslims. I think it’s fair to say that to claim that he does might constitute slander in some legal systems.

    It’s definitely defamation. Usually the cost of suing is greater than any judgment the plaintiff receives. But often people are fine with that because they’re suing “for the principle.” Such was the case when Christopher Hitchens sued Kissinger. Hitchens was trying to make a point (Kissinger had said, bizarrely, that Hitchens was a Holocaust denier). Ditto when Tom Cruise sued the tabloids. If people were going around saying/writing that I wanted to “bomb Muslims” (when I never expressed anything remotely like that), I definitely might consider suing to make such a point. You have to be sure you’re going to win, though. Generally, if someone publishes something about you that is demonstrably false, and particularly egregious, you’ll win some kind of judgement. If memory serves, I don’t even think Tom Cruise sued for any money; I think he just wanted a judge to say that he’d been the victim of defamation.

  • Catinthewall

    @Melanie
    Let’s see, where to start.
    “So-called Christians” Are so called because that’s what they call themselves. Religion isn’t like a single country club where you have to actually pay dues to a specific group. You can make your own and recruit people to it and call it nearly exactly the same thing. there is no one who is recognized by everyone who calls themselves Christian as able to kick people out of “the club”.

    You’re a Christian. Good for you. That doesn’t go against my beliefs, unless you use that status as an excuse to subjugate women, anyone LGBT, or people of other races and religions, or support someone who does. Denying medical attention to children is also done by one group of Christians, and because they do so because of what their leaders tell them, who justify it by reading from Christian mythology, they are by definition Christian.

    Not all Christians are hypocritical? Many use Old Testament verses to justify their cruelty towards gay people, yet completely ignore surrounding verses demanding the murder of non-virgin brides, people who eat shellfish, and people who shave. Often when confronted about this, they use special pleading, saying there’s some sort of secret way that some parts are literal and others are metaphorical (read: okay to ignore), but never give an objective way to do this.
    If you believe the story of Moses, why don’t you worship the Gods of Egypt as well? They apparently could turn staffs into snakes just like the Judaic god, he just copied them and made his bigger. The first commandment doesn’t forbid it, just saying he has priority. As an aside, every single ‘miracle’ in the bible looks like a parlor trick. Curing one guy’s blindness? MIRACLE! Curing blindness for everyone who will ever live? Too much work!

    Of course not all Christians are unintelligent, there’s a small minority of scientists who subscribe to Christianity. However, there’s a direct inverse correlation between IQ and religiousness. Any remote advantage Religion has given society in the last five millenniums pales compared to what the scientific method has done in a tenth of that time. Religion is about selectively ignoring your intelligence. If you talk to god that’s normal. If god responds, telling you to invade a country for being sinful, that’s normal. If god responds, telling you to kill your neighbor for the same reason, that’s crazy. The former gets re-elected, the latter gets locked up.

    You want to apologize for what someone else did? How curious, considering in your wonderful book, the opposite happens, first all of humanity being “punished” for something Adam and Eve did, then Christ dying somehow stopped this punishment. Does your apology absolve them from their words of hate? What about when they used more than words, torturing non-christians to death in the crusades, killing gay people and transexuals on a nearly daily basis. Your apology for a group of people you don’t even consider to be “True Christians” rings hollow.

    Last time I checked, we all have the right to believe any way we want to! As long as it does not hurt our fellow man, it’s is our right!!

    That’s what I’d like, but let’s see how the scoreboard really stands. Atheists and non-religious in the military: Harassed freely with no repercussions. Gays who even just work with the military: Fired with no recourse for violating DADT, even if it was someone else who outed them. Slavery: Justified with the bible for centuries before finally being outlawed. Women’s Rights: Again, only recently allowed the right to vote, and even now in many facets of societies all over the world, females are a second class citizen. And so on and so on. I agree that we are all allowed to our own beliefs. What we aren’t allowed to do is force those beliefs on others, which nearly EVERY religion on earth demands in varying levels of extremes, from indoctrinating children before they have the self-awareness to question the world around them, to killing those who don’t convert.

    I believe in LOVE and FORGIVENESS!!

    Really? That’s wonderful. Keep that thought in mind, and read the bible again. Notice everything in there that doesn’t advocate love and forgiveness, and seriously ask yourself if you think you need such an inciter of war and genocide in your life, when your moral compass clearly points elsewhere.

  • Angela_Di

    Hitch, but Harris DOES want to bomb Muslims.

    He even makes a ratonale for pre-emptive nuclear war in TEOF.

    Its there dude, you can’t deny it.

    That’s a rather unfair reading of what is a pretty nuanced passage in The End of Faith (which Hitch kindly linked to above). The passage is characterized not by a desire to bomb Muslims (or anyone), but by a fear of what the existence of nuclear weapons portends. Harris’ use of the pronoun “us” (as in “us and them”) is probably ill-advised, but I can’t believe that any fair-minded person could read that passage as expressing a desire to bomb anyone. Harris is describing what he fears might happen, not what he hopes will happen. This is basic reading comprehension.

  • Dylan

    Lovely chats going on. I wonder if they are using the app.

  • Parse

    If I knew anything about writing apps for iPhone, I’d take a swing at a ‘rebuttal app’ Christians. I’d also base it off of Abulafia from Foucault’s Pendulum. (Available for free with any Unlimited Dada Plan!)

  • Steve

    “Atheists and non-religious in the military: Harassed freely with no repercussions”

    That’s too extreme. The military has made strides in recent years to be more accepting of atheists and other faiths. There are atheists groups and even Wiccans at the military academies now. In the PBS documentary “Carrier”, they briefly show a group of Wiccans and a chaplain mentions them.

    They have also taken steps against proselytizing at official functions. The military may not always be accepting of atheists, but they recognize that chaplains can’t be allowed to aggressively push their particular brand of Christianity on everyone either.

    The disturbing thing is that the biggest group of chaplains are Southern Baptists. But by definition, military chaplains are required to provide services and help to anyone. Some take that seriously, some not.

    It’s not perfect, but it’s not so black and white either.

  • Fundie Troll

    @ Melanie Maloy

    What are you apologizing for?? I don’t see anything in the context of this discussion that warrants an apology. Please don’t waste your time, you can see from Catinthewall’s comments that your apology was NOT accepted…

    Matthew 7:6 Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.

    Proverbs 18:2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

  • Sellers_as_Quilty

    @ Melanie Maloy

    What are you apologizing for?? I don’t see anything in the context of this discussion that warrants an apology. Please don’t waste your time, you can see from Catinthewall’s comments that your apology was NOT accepted…

    Matthew 7:6 Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.

    Proverbs 18:2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

    Ah, making a point by quoting Bible verses.

    Is there an app for that?

  • Yikes! One of the complaints I often see from atheists is that Christians don’t condemn other Christians’ bad behavior. So Melanie comes on here to do just that, and people jump down her throat because she didn’t renounce religion altogether. This seems extreme and counterproductive to me.

    Melanie, I, for one, appreciate your reading this post and commenting on it. My boyfriend is a Christian. He could just have easily written your post.

    I do think the world would be better with no religion. But I also think the world would be better off with unicorns and talking animals. In other words, I think we have to make the best with what we have right now.

    If intelligent, compassionate Christians like you stood up to hateful fundamentalists, the world would at least be much improved.

  • In regards to the app, I think it’s fair. I have no trouble understanding what I believe, but I have difficulty recalling information for a verbal debate. If I have access to written material I am able to better formulate my arguement.

    What would not work, is if the party using the app considered herself the winner because the other side wasn’t able to articulate a worthwhile response. The other side should have fair time to think or do research themselves.

    After all, the point of the argument isn’t to win–it’s to present information for examination in the light of the other person’s information. But I think we often forget that.

  • Claudia

    @Melanie, thanks for that, I appreciate you coming into the atheist circle to lend your more moderate voice. Too often more decent religious folks are silent in the face of the bigotry or idiocy of coreligionists even when they disagree with them. Kudos to you for taking a more honorable route.

    And really guys, MUST you be nasty to someone simply because they are a theist? She seems honestly good-hearted and even if you disagree with her beliefs jumping down her throat seems totally inappropriate and rude to me.

  • Alexrkr7

    @Melanie, although I disagree with the way some have decided to respond to you I see where they are coming from. Christian apologies seem hollow and there always seems to be an agenda behind it. The idea is that you think we don’t accept your beliefs because of the actions of it’s followers; so you come and ‘act’ nice in hope that it might get us to change our minds. If this is the case (and I’m not accusing you) then don’t bother.

    Most people here don’t believe because of lack of evidence; come with evidence, not pleasantries. I’m always standoffish when it comes to religious people being extra nice; like a car salesman trying to sell you something.

    I’m not going to apologize for the others actions because I am not them and they are not me; I have no obligation to as their actions were their own and not based on some tenet in an archaic book.

  • Fundie Troll

    Ah, making a point by quoting Bible verses.

    Is there an app for that?

    If there is I will most certainly be purchasing it 🙂

  • qwertyuiop

    Nothing spells critical/independent thinking like following a list!

  • Just stick fingers in ears and sing LALALALALA. Works all the time!

    Second note: will we also get an atheist Iphone app? Then they can battle 🙂