Sunday, September 9, 2007

Using the Socratic Method against religion

I just finished watching a really good seven-part video on YouTube called Using the Socratic Method w/Christian proselytizers, by a fellow named Todd Allen Gates.

Gates walks us through, one step at a time, a very workable method for getting a believer (in this case a Christian who Gates refers to as "Chris") to talk himself into questioning his belief in the word of the Bible.

The Socratic Method is a lot like intellectual Jiu Jitsu - using your opponent's skills against him. It hinges on the sceptic's willingness to allow, just for the purpose of discussion of course, that there may be an omniscient being (the creator) out there, that this creator communicates with us, and that it is in our best interest to obey him.

It's really quite brilliant, this Socratic Method, but devious and almost predatory, in a way. I can't help picturing a spider and a fly. You reel in the believer with protestations that you are willing to entertain his ideas then, holding his hand to the bitter end, walk alongside him down the garden path into a trap he has set himself and from which he cannot escape. It's almost unfair!

But not really. It's reason and deduction at its best. I hope you'll have a look at these videos*.

1 of 7: a brief description of videos 2 through 7.
2 of 7: a description of the Socratic Method.
3 of 7: agreeing on the ground rules sceptic and Christian
4 of 7: reading non-Christian scriptures to identify the three telltale signs that those scriptures are made up by people
5 of 7: reading through the Judeo-Christian Bible to examine it by the same critical light just held up to non-Christian scriptures. (Note, there are 4 parts to part 5)
6 of 7: listening to and refuting the Christian's reasoning in defence of the bible, based on the previously agreed-upon telltale signs of man-made scripture (Note, there are 2 parts to part 6)
7 of 7: a discussion of why the Gates's approach focuses on skepticism of religion rather than scepticism of a devine being

*Links updated Nov. 30, 2007 at the request of Todd Gates, after he made some tweaks to the videos.

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