Dan Barker and the Alien Rape Voyeurs, part 2 of 7

This is part two of an essay which is a critique of various points made by the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Dan Barker during his debate with Peter Payne on the topic of ethics. Below, when I transcribe Dan Barker’s statements I will refer to how many minutes and seconds into the debate a certain statement was made and will refer to part 1 of part 2.

This portion deals with the topic of Introductory Conclusion.

Part 1: Timothy McVeigh as “Christian Terrorist”
Part 2: Introductory Conclusion
Part 3: How To Be Ethical Without a God
Part 4: Threats and Promises / Punishment and Reward
Part 5: Selfish Morality
Part 6: The Alien Rape Voyeurs
Part 7: The “Problem of Evil”
Addendum: The Desperation of the Deicidal, Memetic Eugenics and the Evolutionary Watchmen, part 1 and part 2

Introductory Conclusion:
Having dealt with the Timothy McVeigh issue; I continue the essay with my conclusion because I think that it is so important that I do not want it to be missed.
Dan Barker absolutely discredits every criticism he has ever, and will ever, utter against religion, Christianity, the Bible, God, Jesus, etc. by his own relativistic situational ethics. This essay will support this rather hefty assertion.

Dan Barker begins the debate by mentioning that on his drives around the city in which the debate took place he noticed may cars, with Christian stickers on them, breaking the speed limit. Perhaps, unbeknownst to him, his introductory statement spoke volumes about his emotionally spiked cynical worldview: he sees a car with Christian stickers on it speeding past him and he instantly begins to think about how immoral and hypocritical Christians are.

Is that so? I would appear to be so because there are many possibilities that he appears to not be considering:
1. A rebellious teenager who rejected Christianity and is now an atheist could have borrowed her Christian mommy’s car.

2. An atheist may have borrowed the car of a Christian friend.

3. An atheist may have just bought a used car previously owned by a Christian (I happen to know someone who bought a used car and, for some reason and for some time, left some Freemasonry insignias that were stuck on the back of the car).

4. An atheist might have stolen the car from a Christian and was speeding off.

5. The car may be owned by a person who became a Christian 20 minutes ago and got so excited that 10 minutes ago they placed a Christian sticker on their car and simply has not had the chance to reflect on their new moral outlook yet.

All speculation aside, most likely Christians were driving those cars and speeding, I am not denying for a moment that this is the most likely case. In this regard, Tom Neven’s article How a Fish Taught Me to Drive Better may be of interest.

Yet, that is not the point, the point is that Dan Barker does not appear to logically consider these, and other, viable options but emotionally reacts on his prejudices by instantly going for the jugular. Personally, I would be embarrassed I ever found myself criticizing the driving of people who had a Darwin fish on their bumpers and I would be even more embarrassed to mention it as my very first statement in a formal debate. But what I would or would not do is not relevant here--relevant is Dan Barker’s statements regarding ethics.


  1. "...I am not denying for a moment that this is the most likely case."

    Then why spend all those words trying to deny it? Looks to me like you are just throwing out a red herring.

    Your assertion that Dan Barkers' driving anecdote in someway invalidates his argument is ludicrous. At the very very worst, it was a non sequitur. But what I heard was a clever way to introduce his position using a common observation that no one can reasonable deny. It is a rhetorical devise. People are seldom convinced or even influenced by data generated from studies unless that information is related to story or experience that is common to the person. What he did was to 'prime' his audience so that they were in a mental position to consider the data from the studies he listed. Using an anecdote in this way, while manipulative, does not make his argument fallacious.

    What he also did was a bit of rhetorical judo. He set up the anecdote and presented the data such that it could have supported an extreme position (such as, that secular people are morally superior to religionists) but then he presents his actual position which, in comparison, is much more acceptable (that is, that having a religion, or not having one, does not give any group of people a leg up on ethical behavior.)

    So, if you have a criticism of Dan Barker's position, you will have to do better than lament that he used good debate tactics to present that position.

  2. jdhuey:

    That is not even a good point! Why would you even say that they're speeding!? He can't honestly say that he drives the speed limit everyday! I mean seriously what possible point could he have to say (other than reinforcing his prejudice of course) that he sees cars with Christian stickers speeding!?

    Tell me, can you honestly say that ever since you began driving you have driven the speed limit? Have you obeyed the rules of the road to a T? Have you never cut someone off or accidently made an erratic turn? I have! I won't deny it either!

    The only other question I have is where he gets the assumption that just because the driver is a Christian that they'll be a better driver?

  3. I didn't say it was a good point. It isn't. By itself, it is a complete non sequitur. The observation is trivial but true: some self-declared (fish displaying) Christians break the law by speeding - just like everybody else . The reason to point out this rather obvious truth is to get the audience used to the idea that will be brought up later when he talks about the studies that show that religious affiliation does not correlate to any superior moral behavior.

    The purpose is psychological. Imagine that you are a person that thinks that moral behavior is directly related to religious beliefs. Now if you are directly presented with the assertion that studies show that there is no correlation between moral behavior and religious beliefs, then the immediate reaction is to discount the studies. People, typically, don't readily accept data that contradicts their pre-conceptions. But now, after the anecdote, where any honest Christian would admit to himself that he has at one point or another broken the law by speeding, the results of the studies correspond with the anecdote and, given that correspondence, the results of the studies are more readily accepted.

  4. Not particulalrly. If he wished to make the point better he could simply have posed the question "does religion make you a better person?" first then he might not have looked completely prejudiced.