They have recently risen in popularity due to the forming of "The Blasphemy Challenge."
The sophomoric attempts at ridicule, which is the substance of the RRS, have not been enough to cause me to worry that the intellectual credibility of Christianity is threatened.
Their modus operandi has been to bushwhack rather ignorant theists on their show, mock them, and fire off myriad questions their way without giving them an equal amount of time to respond.
As they've grown in popularity, I wondered where the cry from the intellectually respectable atheists were. A few, like atheist Jim Lazarus, have called them out on their ridiculous behavior and attitude. See here, here, here, and here.
Other than the above, I haven't really seen many atheists rightly taking this embarrassing wart off of the posterior of atheism.
Theists and atheists alike should clean up their own backyard. No one can doubt that T-blog has been just as hard on erroneous versions of theism, and over-reaching theists, as we have on atheists. We try to clean up our backyard as well. Since atheists have chosen to let the rust covered beaters sit in their lawn for this long, some in the Blogosphere feel the need to enact Eminent Domain, appropriating the atheist's land for the purposes of removing blight. After the blight is removed, we'll sell the land back to the highest atheist bidder. Of course if the atheists chose to clean up their own property, take out their own trash, then there might not be a need for the invoking of Eminent Domain.
And so I'll embark on a cleaning mission over the next few posts, taking out the atheist's trash for them. After all, I'm just trying to be a good neighbor.
The first thing I'd like to point out, before launching my first salvo, is that one of the co-founders of the RRS, Brian Insapeint, was recently interviewed on Nightline.
Insapient was overconfidently arrogant. He somewhat reminded me of a high school bully who causes fear in the weak due to running in bigger numbers and running a bigger mouth.
I had heard his show once before where he and his crew attacked a youth group leader, who obviously was not prepared for having the type of discussion the RRS had in mind. The tactics: mock, ridicule, bushwhack, pick on the weak. Just like a bully.
Well, in the RRS's interview on Nightline Brian Insapient issued a debate challenge to all theists. He said, "If they want to come to the table, we can present my evidence, and they can present theirs, and we'll see whose is based on faith and whose is based on fact." He said this about "the millions of people who have believed in God."
And so I emailed Insapient and challenged him to a public debate. A moderated one where his bully tactics and microphone would be taken away. His friends removed. His security blanket gone. Like all bullies, he declined. Apparently he will only debate theists on his show, under his rules. And so I rightly pointed out that what he meant on Nightline was not what he said above, but what he meant was: "If someone wants to come on the our show and have 4 or 5 individuals laugh at him, not let him speak, and not be allowed to thoroughly analyze a position, then we'll show him that our arguments are based on fact and his are based on faith."
I had also pointed out that one of his basic positions, i.e., that theism is irrational because there are no reasons for believing in God, suffered from some serious difficulties. I had asked him what he thought about this particular analysis of his position,
You had said on nightline that a person's belief in God was irrational because it wasn't based on evidence or reason. Is your position that a person's S's belief B is rational R iff S has propositional evidence E for B? Let's apply this to your belief. Call this belief (B is R for S iff S has E for B) B1. Now, does B1 have E for it? If so, then for your new belief (that B1 has E), call it B2, to be R you'd need E* for B2. Do you have that? If you believe that you do, then we have B3. For B3 to be R we'd need E**, do you have that, Brain "Sapient?" In case you haven't noticed, we can do this ad infinitum.
So, Brian, is your objection to rational belief in God itself irrational, according to your own standards? If so, Brian, is your atheology a mind virus? Do you teach irrational things to children, Brian? Should you be locked up, Brian? Do we need a Rational Response Squad for the Rational Response Squad? Call it, the Cerebral Answer-backer Battalion.
At this point he backed down from what he had said on the show and told me "You know they have an editing room, right?"
This seemed odd. Why would Insapient tell me that? Especially since he said here that, "Beliefs with insufficient evidence deserve to be treated as they are, no different than a man claiming that 2+2= twelveteen"
So why during our email exchange would he try to say that he didn't mean what he said, that they had edited it to make him look like he said something that he didn't say, but nevertheless we see him espousing the exact same evidentialism elsewhere?
Is it possibly because without his gang to back him up, without control of the microphone, and without an easy target, he's exposed like every other bully?
Brian Insapient likes to pretend that theists are irrational idiots, that "theism is a mind virus," and that he could mop the floor with any theist walking. He even said he would put his own Christian mother in a mental institution! If you had a scale of 1 - 10, 1 being the most benighted theistic apologist, and 10 being the cream of the crop, I'm at about a 3 or 4. Yet Insapient would be shown to be an amateur, back-woods hay seed atheologian against myself. What would happen with him in the ring with a Plantinga? A Frame? A Helm? A Swinburne? A Byl? A Wise? A Moreland? A Sudduth? An Anderson? Et al?
Insapient dropped out of the above dialog, citing that his "lawyer" told him not to have any further communication.
Look, Insapient can continue to put forth this facade, but I think we should call a spade a spade. Are atheists really willing to go down with this ship?