Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Religious Antagonist: God vs. $20 Debate

An interesting discussion is taking place over at the Atheist Experience blog. The discussion centers around the following video, entitled God vs. $20, in which this guy named Mike, who brands himself "The Religious Antagonist," offers $20 to a destitute family (who is panhandling in a Wal Mart parking lot) to cross the word 'god' off of their sign (it read 'God Bless You' at the bottom of it):

The focus of the discussion raging across the interwebs is mostly focused on one question: Is he being a dick in this video? Even if he did demonstrate that their religious belief lead to a completely irrational action (refusing to cross 3 letters off of a sign in exchange for 20 dollars, money that they apparently need quite badly) was it right to do what he did for the purpose of proving a point?

I, however, think the discussion is focused on the lesser important considerations. I think the biggest issue with the video is this:

Is his conclusion justified?

They refuse to do what he asks, and he concludes that their religious indoctrination has clouded their judgement and stood in the way of what should have been a simple, pragmatic, utilitarian decision.

The problem, as I see it, is that his experimental methodology, if you will, was not sufficient to draw said conclusion. There are other plausible alternatives that have nothing to do with religion.

His conclusion, while not untrue in the sense that religion DOES lead to irrational, and even harmful decisions/actions, is, in my view, unsupported, and likely biased. He has insufficient evidence to work with, and draws the conclusion that he set out to prove in the first place. That's bad form.

What do you think?


  1. I hate to side with anyone who resides in a "Miracle Bus," but the Religious Antagonist was pretty much in the wrong here, in terms of how he approached this.

    He pretty much tried to rig the entire "experiment" in his favor. He probably was looking for the most radical-looking Christians he could find, he was just lucky to stumble upon the Jesus Freaks living in a Christmobile RV. He knew what the fuck was gonna happen if he asked them what he did, because that's what he was looking for. He wasn't looking for an alternative, he didn't pick his test subjects at random, he was looking for the exact scenario that would live up to his preconceived notions.

    Plus, he is kind of a dick. That's just the vibe I get from the dude, he seems like the kind of guy that you just look at and go "he's a dick."

  2. My strongly held irrational beliefs or feeding my kid?, irrational beliefs or kid?

    This reminds me of the parents that prefer to pray before going to a hospital or the ones that refuse a tranfusion because nah ha my religion forbides it even if it can save my kid.


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