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Tag: Debates

Why I Don’t Do Debates

gerencser family 2018
Bruce and Polly Gerencser and Family 2018

Smart is the person who understands his skill levels, his strengths, and his weaknesses. There’s nothing worse than watching someone unskilled attempt to do something that is out of his skill set, all because he thought it would be a good idea or his supporters suggested he do it. Years ago, during my Fundamentalist Baptist days, I got into a discussion with a liberal Baptist preacher. We were attempting to talk about psychology, a subject that I knew nothing about. Back and forth we went, with me pontificating, showing that I had no understanding of the subject at hand. If I remember right, it is when we got the subject of Abraham Maslow, that I tried to make my liberal Baptist friend see that I was an “expert” on Maslow, that he said, “Bruce you don’t know what you are talking about. You’re full of shit.” And he was right.

As a preacher, I believed I always had to have an answer for every question. I had to be the smartest guy in the room, the source of all wisdom and knowledge. After all, I spoke for God. Sure, I had a large library, but my all of my books essentially reinforced my beliefs, reminders of the fact that I was right. I had a handful of books on psychology, but these authors, to the person, were anti-psychology. Their theme was the same as virtually every Evangelical book: The Bible Says _______________.

Over time, I learned three things:

  • I had huge gaps in my knowledge and understanding of the world
  • I had good public speaking and writing skills
  • I should focus my time and effort on the things that I am good at

I was fifty years old when I left Christianity and became an atheist — by all accounts, a set-in-his-ways old man. Today, I am sixty-three. While I have learned all sorts of new things since deconverting, I am too old to embark on a new career, to reinvent myself. As long-time readers know, I have a lot of health problems, and it seems that no miracle healing is forthcoming. I have accepted the premise that my life is what it is, and unless I want to live every day in despair, I must take life as it is and do what I can. I am a realist, a pessimist at heart, so I don’t expect doctors to come riding in on white horses to deliver me from my afflictions. Knowing this, it is essential that I focus on honing my writing and speaking skills, not wading into new endeavors.

This brings me to the subject of debates. Over the years, I have been asked if I am interested in debating Christians. The short answer is no. Let me explain.

First, there are numerous atheist and agnostic debaters producing quality — dare I say phenomenal — content: Matt Dillahunty, Bart Ehrman, Steven Woodford (Rationality Rules), Alex O’Connor (Cosmic Skeptic), Drew McCoy (Genetically Modified Skeptic), Aron Ra, and Seth Andrews (The Thinking Atheist), to name a few. I see no need to add my weak voice to an already crowded field of expert debaters. I ask myself, do we really need another hamburger joint in town? The answer is no.

Second, I am a conversationalist, a storyteller. This blog has always been one man with a story to tell. I suspect that if I changed my focus to the rules of logic, philosophy, and debating, my hard-won audience would likely go elsewhere. Most people who read this blog do so because they find my story resonates with them in some way. When doubting, troubled Evangelicals show up for the first time, they find a man who understands their pain, what they have experienced and gives voice to their struggles. Such people have always been my focus, and I see no need to change my course now.

Now, this doesn’t mean I never talk about logic or philosophy, I do. The same goes for science. I do not get into debates (arguments) with creationists. First, I am not a scientist, and second, young earth creationists, in particular, are some of the most obstinate people on planet Earth. If I choose to briefly engage them, I ignore their ill-informed science arguments and, instead, attack the foundation of their beliefs: the inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of the Bible. Disabuse Evangelicals of the notion that the Bible is an inerrant, infallible book, and the rest of their beliefs come tumbling down. For me personally, it’s a matter of focusing on what I know, instead of getting into an argument about science where neither participant knows what the hell they are talking about.

You won’t see my on the debate stage any time soon. I will be in the crowd cheering on my favorite atheist debaters. I plan to stick to telling my story. I am working towards, after years of broken promises, putting out a podcast. I am waiting for a laptop I purchased to arrive, and then I will be ready to go. My goal is for my podcast to be an extension of this blog: telling my story and continuing my in-the-know critiques of Evangelical Christianity. If this project goes well, my podcast will be available on all the major podcasting services, including YouTube. I recognize that the video and podcast markets are growing by leaps and bounds. If I believe my story is worth hearing and can help those who have doubts about Christianity or who have left the faith, then it is important for me to take my story and turn it into accessible videos and podcasts. Like it or not, younger people, in particular, are more likely to listen to my story on one of the video/audio services than they are to do a search on Google and come to this site. One-third of the people who come to this blog for the first time arrive via a web search on any given day. I suspect that the age demographic skews older for these first-timers, so my goal with the podcast is to reach people who don’t normally frequent this site. The Apostle Paul said he became all things to all men, and that’s my approach with the podcast. I hope to produce one podcast each week. This should not affect my writing schedule — health-willing. You can subscribe to my YouTube channel here.

As always, thank you for your love, kindness, and support.

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Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can email Bruce via the Contact Form.

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Bruce Gerencser