When atheist apologist Matt Dillahunty engaged in his latest debate against theist Andrew Wilson about whether belief or disbelief in God was better for societal flourishing, he probably thought he would be the aggressor — tearing apart happy-clappy attitudes Christian apologists tend to use.
No such luck. In fact, Wilson’s opening remarks were so scathing that Dillahunty walked out after them.
In a debate last week that’s gone viral in Christian circles — appropriately titled “Christianity vs. Secular Humanism: Which Has Best Ethical Foundation?” and hosted by YouTube channel Modern Day Debate — Wilson was willing to grant Dillahunty’s conceit that “two-thirds or more of this entire planet are all operating inside of a shared delusion that they were created by a ‘sky daddy’ who loves him some slavery and murderousness.”
“He thinks it’s funny to kind of cosmically f*** with people,” Wilson sarcastically remarked. “That’s his deal. That’s kind of his whole thing. That’s Matt’s worldview. So now, Matt’s right.
“And the question becomes, should we let them to continue to believe in this nonsensical Stone Age madness, or do we stop them from engaging in it?”
He argued, much to Dillahunty’s displeasure, that secular humanism hath wrought many of the disasters of modern life and that “even if God isn’t real at all, that people acting as though he is is still superior to whatever nonsensical egalitarian worldview Matt can come up with.”
As Wilson pointed out, atheists like Dillahunty presuppose that secular humanism holds higher and better values for humanity than the Bible — and are more than willing to pull passages out of context to support this presupposition without actually considering the Word as a whole.
But which worldview, therefore, leads to better outcomes for humanity? Because, after all, if this is about social science — which, by its very nature, cannot tell us whether or not God exists, the same way The Science™ cannot, either — it comes down to a question of outcomes, Wilson said.
As he noted, “human flourishing” was “the cornerstone of Matt’s ideology — and that of secular humanism.”
And where has this “human flourishing” gotten us? Well, we now have to pretend, generally in the more godless parts of the civilized world, that men can be women: Going from Dillahunty’s perspective, Wilson noted, we must say men can get pregnant and have periods, too.
“The question posed to the Western nation is: ‘Can a man be a woman?’ Right?” Wilson said. “To the question of if a man can be a woman, they say the answer is yes, and the way we will decree they can be a woman is by saying that ‘woman’ now means ‘male.’ Problem solved. Thank you, secular humanist!”
This was pretty noncontroversial stuff from the Christian perspective — so, to Wilson’s credit, he moved onto a much more universally accepted tenet of secular humanism: “that preserving homosexuality in society is good for human flourishing.”
Even though “Western nations can’t even reproduce their own populations, but instead have to replace their population with foreigners from those theist nations that can reproduce,” we promote all kinds of “reproductive dead ends” — including homosexuality — as positive social goods.
And when it comes to human sexuality, while secular humanists aren’t necessarily for the result of the act, they certainly say they’re for the act itself in all forms — including, Wilson said, Dillahunty arguing that he wouldn’t make it a crime for 9-year-olds to have sex with each other.
“Now, I know this is going to sound a little bit totalitarian, but I would in fact create laws that made it a crime for a 9-year-old to have sex with a 9-year-old,” Wilson said. “I would hold the parents criminally liable for allowing this to happen in my evil authoritarian society, where I don’t even let 9-year-olds have sex or the parents go straight to jail for negligence.”
But the opposite, of course, is what we’re supposed to believe is “human flourishing.”
Now, it’s worth noting, as Wilson did, that “secular humanism can basically mean whatever the hell you want it to mean … it’s sloganeering. They’re slogans that don’t mean anything.”
Those slogans, however, lead to very dark places. That’s why Wilson said, granting the nonexistence of God for hypothetical’s sake, his position was this: First, he wasn’t convinced secular humanism led to human flourishing; second, he needed convincing that it did; and third — if no convincing evidence for human flourishing existing — he planned “to still demonstrate just how stupid this ideology actually is.”
Dillahunty wasn’t willing to let him get that far, however; the internet-famous debate personality seemed incensed that he was, like, being dragged into a debate where he was forced to defend his ideology, not attack someone else’s.
“So I’m not going to sit here and dignify what was supposed to be a debate about Christianity vs. secular humanism, which one’s better for the world, with someone who clearly showed up with an agenda that has nothing to do with that,” Dillahunty said.
Wilson, Dillahunty told the audience, “refers to trans people as deranged lunatics who will self-terminate” and misrepresented his position on 9-year-olds having sex based on a quote from a prior debate.
“I came in with the secular humanist manifesto. I came in with positions that aren’t merely my positions,” Dillahunty said, amid some back-and-forth. “This guy’s not serious, and I’m leaving.”
This was supposed to be an hour, and the atheist couldn’t even last 20 minutes. Ouch.
WARNING: The following video contains vulgar language that some viewers may find offensive.
What Dillahunty doesn’t seem to understand is that this “agenda” was part of the “ethical foundation” of Christianity.
What the modern, post-Dawkins/Hitchens atheist loves to do is run a hit job on Judeo-Christianity and theism by taking verses out of context and then blowing them up to make “sky daddy” seem like a cross between Hannibal Lecter and Calvin Candie.
The onus of proof therefore falls on the Christian to explain the wider context of those quotes pulled out of the Bible in as much time as it took the atheist to read it.
Needless to say, hermeneutics takes quite a bit longer than that — and, by default, atheism wins the debate even if what the atheist is spouting is illogical, deceptive and stupid.
And, along the way, the atheist — or “secular humanist,” whatever you wish to call it — doesn’t have to provide a framework of his or her own.
Wilson managed to turn the tables: If this is about an “ethical foundation,” let’s see where the ethical foundation of secular humanism — clearly ascendent in the West since the 20th century — has gotten us when it comes to human flourishing compared with a Judeo-Christian framework based on biblical principles. Hit with this, Dillahunty smeared his opponent as an agenda-pusher and walked out.
Now, there are questions about whether these kinds of aggressive debate tactics benefit Christians in the end. The Counsel of Trent podcast, a production of the religious outlet Catholic Answers, has an excellent summation of what Christians can learn from the debate adopting these kinds of rhetorical methods and what the pitfalls can be, if you have 22 minutes to spare:
However, no matter whether this is a positive apologetics strategy for Christians in winning the theological-cultural war with atheists, it’s instructive to see it at least once.
“The Chronicles of Narnia” and “Mere Christianity” author C.S. Lewis put it a bit more gently when he wrote, “Once people stop believing in God, the problem is not that they will believe in nothing; rather, the problem is that they will believe anything.”
Leaving aside the evidence for the existence of God for a second — and there’s certainly a heap of that, but rehashing it doesn’t get anyone anywhere if a person isn’t willing to listen to it — let’s look at secular humanism’s implied claim that Judeo-Christianity is barbaric and that secular humanism holds the key to an enlightened humanity where we all dance around the maypole celebrating nontheistic togetherness and directionless evolution.
Except we don’t. Wilson merely scratched the surface. Late-term abortion, drug use, mass murder, dictatorship based on the cult of personality, existential meaningless and despair: This is the modern condition, brought to you courtesy of secular humanism.
It cannot simply adopt the oppositional position and attack Christianity, especially not in the West. We’re seeing the fruits of this poison tree ripen in real time — and, if secular humanists want to claim the mantle of progress and light for themselves, they have to start by telling us why this state of affairs is both ethically good and conducive to human flourishing.
People have eyes and ears, after all, and they know evil and mendacity when they see it.
It’s time we start ensuring, as Christians, that those who have enabled it through their godless worldview own the consequences of their ethical framework.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.