Terms and conditions
The topic for debate will be the proposition that:
There is verifiable, falsifiable, scientific evidence for only the Christian God for which no possible natural explanation can exist.
This debate will take place between the proposer (the person calling himself @Sacerdotus) and myself. It will be conducted according to the following rules:
The proposer will supply an agreed scientific definition of the Christian God against which the proposition can be tested, precise details of the evidence and how it can be verified, how it could be falsified and how it establishes the truth of the proposition beyond reasonable doubt. Failure to do so will be regarded as conceding the debate.
A neutral referee will be agreed. The rulings of this referee will be final and binding on both parties to the debate. The referee will rule on:
- Whether an assertion of fact has been validated with verified evidence.
- Whether questions have been answered fully, honestly and without prevarication.
- The meaning of words, when these are in dispute.
- Whether an argument was ad hominem or not.
- Any other disputes when requested by either of the parties to the debate.
- Whether a referral to the referee was mendacious or an attempt to prevaricate, divert or otherwise obstruct the normal flow of debate.
- The referee may intervene at any time to declare the debate won, lost or drawn.
Should either party fail to provide evidence for which a claim of its existence has been made, the debate will be considered lost.
Making any claim which is shown to be untrue or unsupported by evidence will result in forfeiture of the debate.
Ad hominem arguments will result in forfeiture.
Failure to respond to an reasonable point, answer a reasonable question or to supply the evidence requested within three days (subject to notified periods of absence) will result in forfeiture.
The debate will take place across two blog sites; this one and @Sacerdotus' own blog. Each party will make it clear which point is being addressed. A record of the entire debate may be published in full at the discretion of either party.
As I expected, though I hoped not, Sacerdotus would not accept these terms and conditions nor was he able to establish the proposition despite his boasts that he could produce scientific proof of the Christian god's existence. Perhaps his definitions of the meanings of the words 'scientific' and 'proof' are private ones and not those used by normal people.
Eventually, I posted this proposition in his blog and invited him to refute my assertion that he would not be able to establish it's truth.
He then went into what looked like panic-stricken denialism and posted some 20-30 tweets on Twitter demanding I reply to his blog, and despite repeatedly being given screen-captures of my reply. He even created at least three new accounts to RT his hysterical tweets.
Eventually, the overwhelming consensus of people who responded to my tweet asking if I should continue was that Sacerdotus clearly had no intention of debating honestly and seemed not to understand the basic rules of debate. The whole ploy had been disingenuous from the outset, hence his fear of holding it on neutral ground with a neutral referee and according to agreed rules to prevent prevarication, diversion and the other traditional tactics of Christian apologetic sophistry.
If 'Sacerdotus' has the integrity to leave his blog up, this may be read here. It is not a pretty sight.
One can only assume that Sacerdotus was fully aware that he could not support his claim and had decided that his 'faith' can only be defended with these sorts of tactics of deception. One wonders at the mentality of someone who knows they are pushing a lie but never-the-less is prepared to go to these lengths to 'promote' it in their own deluded way. One can only assume they are getting something out of their phoney piety in terms of the behaviour, opinions and attitudes they can blame on it. Or maybe it's just the hope of an easy living from the life as a parasite on the gullible and vulnerable.
Whatever the motive, there is clearly no belief that a god of honesty is watching his every move and taking note. The abject abandonment of intellectual integrity is too profound to support that view. It never ceases to amaze me how people are prepared to drag their 'faith' through the gutter rather than to back down and admit that it is baseless.
Clearly, their precious ego is much more important than the god they purport to believe in
As a rather sad footnote, it seems my challenge to @Sacerdotus and his laughably infantile attempts to make excuses for running away from it seem to have pushed him over the edge psychologically. I'm not a psychiatrist so I don't pretend to understand the processes involved but I suspect I undermined his one remaining claim to a degree of importance in the fantasy persona he believed he had constructed on social network sites like Twitter and Blogger. With that gone he now has to come to terms with just being ordinary again. It's a shame he sees no value in that.
The last few weeks, when @Sacerdotus, who turns out to have been a failed trainee Catholic priest called Manuel de Dios Agosto from Bronx, New York, who left the St Joseph's Franciscan seminary, New York in mysterious circumstances some time after entering it sometime after 2003, became increasingly bizarre in his claims and behaviour, have culminated in some of his many Twitter accounts being suspended. His increasingly bizarre and irrational claims have included claims that I am a paranoid schizophrenic, a child abuser and a terrorist in whom the FBI have an interest. His blog now includes a picture of a typical modern English house which he claims is mine provided by his 'contacts' and a claim that 'the authorities' have been passed a file he's compiled on me. I assume his 'contacts' are as fictitious as his other claims of multiple degrees, impending priesthood, etc.
Needless to say, the house bears no resemblance to mine and his claims are pure fiction, the product, so it would seem, of a deranged and psychotic or immature mind. And all because I challenged him to substantiate his claim to have scientific proof of the Christian god. I obviously blew his cover in a big way with that simple challenge.
Perhaps the biggest lesson here is the rather obvious one; that those who profess piety and identify with religious belief often do so as a cover. There can be little doubt from his blog, his tweets and his actions, that Manuel no more believes in a watching god of truth who requires it's followers to be honest and to behave well towards others, than I do. The difference being that I don't believe Atheism frees me from responsibility to be honest and to behave with integrity and respect towards others.
On the other hand, Manuel, whose upbringing has been steeped in the belief that one has to behave well to avoid eternal suffering, and for no other reason, seems to have concluded that Atheism for him means freedom to abuse and take out his anger for his failure on others. It's a shame that loss of 'faith' for so many former Christians seems to mean loss of the control that fear once had on their latent psychopathy. This control may be one of the few benefits of religion but it surely can only be needed for those damaged by religion in childhood in the first place.
I wish Manuel well and hope he gains the self-esteem he so obviously lacks at the moment. Maybe just trying to be a decent person rather than trying to get away with pretending to be something he so obviously isn't, would help.
[Further Update] Manuel is still after five months, constructing ever-more elaborate and deranged fantasies about me, including letters to 'UK Authorities' detailing reports from his imaginary UK 'contacts'. It's almost as though he's living out his fantasies through me, including lurid tales of stalking New York school children. One can only hope that these remain fantasies.
Surely there must be someone in the Bronx Catholic Community who can arrange for him to get the psychological support he clearly needs, even if they are ashamed of him and embarrassed by his bizarre behaviour. Aren't they at least partly responsible for the mistake of accepting him as a trainee priest in the fist place?
Here is the account in a New York Catholic newsletter of his entry into the Franciscan Seminary in 2001 (when the site was archived), about three quarters of the way down. Use your browser's search facility to find Manuel de Dios Agosto.