One of the most annoying aspects of any debate on religion is the tendency of believers to wander off into deep theological undergrowth where they find safe refuge from honesty and common sense.
The best method for flushing out believers from this theological undergrowth is to ask short, simple question and then sit back and watch them wriggle on the spit of their own irrationality.
A debate on Today with Pat Kenny between Michael Nugent, Chair of Atheist Ireland and Miguel DeArce, Geneticist and believer provided us with an excellent example how effective this strategy can be.
Towards the end of the debate the question of which animals possessed souls was being discussed when Michael Nugent went in for the kill.
Nugent: Does a cat have a soul?
DeArce: Cats have cat souls.
(Remember; this man is a scientist who lectures in Trinity).
Nugent: Do cats go to heaven?
DeArce: That is a silly question.
Nugent: Why is it a silly question?
DeArce: Because, er, er – What is heaven?
Nugent: You’re the one who says it exists. If you believe it exists; do cats go to it?
DeAcre: To me heaven is the vision of god and a cat would not gain anything from seeing god because he hasn’t got the apparatus intellectually and so forth to enjoy the vision of god.
(At this stage both myself and my cat were on the floor in fits of laughter).
By just focusing on and demanding an answer to a simple question Nugent prevented the discussion from wandering off into the undergrowth of theological definitions of heaven and by so doing he exposed the absolute absurdity of religious belief.