"...I am not denying for a moment that this is the most likely case."Then why spend all those words trying to deny it? Looks to me like you are just throwing out a red herring.Your assertion that Dan Barkers' driving anecdote in someway invalidates his argument is ludicrous. At the very very worst, it was a non sequitur. But what I heard was a clever way to introduce his position using a common observation that no one can reasonable deny. It is a rhetorical devise. People are seldom convinced or even influenced by data generated from studies unless that information is related to story or experience that is common to the person. What he did was to 'prime' his audience so that they were in a mental position to consider the data from the studies he listed. Using an anecdote in this way, while manipulative, does not make his argument fallacious.What he also did was a bit of rhetorical judo. He set up the anecdote and presented the data such that it could have supported an extreme position (such as, that secular people are morally superior to religionists) but then he presents his actual position which, in comparison, is much more acceptable (that is, that having a religion, or not having one, does not give any group of people a leg up on ethical behavior.) So, if you have a criticism of Dan Barker's position, you will have to do better than lament that he used good debate tactics to present that position.
jdhuey:That is not even a good point! Why would you even say that they're speeding!? He can't honestly say that he drives the speed limit everyday! I mean seriously what possible point could he have to say (other than reinforcing his prejudice of course) that he sees cars with Christian stickers speeding!? Tell me, can you honestly say that ever since you began driving you have driven the speed limit? Have you obeyed the rules of the road to a T? Have you never cut someone off or accidently made an erratic turn? I have! I won't deny it either!The only other question I have is where he gets the assumption that just because the driver is a Christian that they'll be a better driver?
I didn't say it was a good point. It isn't. By itself, it is a complete non sequitur. The observation is trivial but true: some self-declared (fish displaying) Christians break the law by speeding - just like everybody else . The reason to point out this rather obvious truth is to get the audience used to the idea that will be brought up later when he talks about the studies that show that religious affiliation does not correlate to any superior moral behavior. The purpose is psychological. Imagine that you are a person that thinks that moral behavior is directly related to religious beliefs. Now if you are directly presented with the assertion that studies show that there is no correlation between moral behavior and religious beliefs, then the immediate reaction is to discount the studies. People, typically, don't readily accept data that contradicts their pre-conceptions. But now, after the anecdote, where any honest Christian would admit to himself that he has at one point or another broken the law by speeding, the results of the studies correspond with the anecdote and, given that correspondence, the results of the studies are more readily accepted.
Not particulalrly. If he wished to make the point better he could simply have posed the question "does religion make you a better person?" first then he might not have looked completely prejudiced.