I recently posted that a Muslim apologist named Subboor Ahmad challenged me to debate him at an Islamic convention in Houston. I was told that this was a big budget conference, and that they would take care of everything. I just needed to show up and get learned on all the same-old pseudoscientific excuses I’ve refuted from Christians regularly for the last twenty years.
I couldn’t resist. Having the opportunity to prove my point before a few hundred Muslims at the Texas Dawah Convention was too tempting for me to pass up. I would especially enjoy it if I had to walk through a gauntlet of redneck Christian demonstrators outside trying to intimidate the Muslims with their assault rifles: because I’d be the lone atheist, not on either side, and obviously opposed to both. Yet I’d be going in to give a rational argument such as that lot could never muster. This on the eve of Trump’s inauguration, with America gripped by Islamophobic bigotry, with troll-bois online bitching at me that I don’t criticize Islam enough. I actually do, but I don’t do it out of prejudice. I do it on the specific points that those in attendance have actually said or believe yet cannot defend. That is the best way to do this, and it is the only way I would. So I took the bait. I immediately accepted with no conditions. OK, I’ll debate who you want, you. We’ll debate what you want, the exact question you suggested. And we’ll debate where you want, and when, at that time and in that venue. It didn’t even matter that they wanted me to do this on Christmas Eve. I’m in and it’s on.
However, the organizers of that convention apparently had a much different reaction to that idea, and obviously never planned to have me there. I have no way of knowing how that conversation actually went, but I suspect that because the purpose of this event was to reaffirm the faith of wanna-believers, that they didn’t want the crowd to have to watch their boy suffer this humiliation instead. So I quickly got another email saying that we’d have to cancel. The conventioneers weren’t going to have me literally ruining their fantasy on their dime on their time. So my opponent tried to arrange to have our debate in a local Mosque instead. But I guess he got the same reaction there too. The next message I got was that it couldn’t be done on such short notice.
I’ve said this before in a previous post: before you challenge me to a debate, make sure the opponent and the venue have already agreed to it first.
Subboor is from an apologetics mission in the UK. So he suggested we postpone until the next time I’m in London. If we did that, it would change too many of the demographics I was looking for. I love London, and in some ways that might even be a better place to do this. But I’d prefer to do it sooner rather than later, and I decided that I want this to happen in Texas.
I know a lot of event organizers, and Houston has some of the biggest geographic freethought groups in the world. So I reached out to someone I knew I could rely on. Sure enough he had a venue secured immediately, the Tracy Gee Community Center at 3599 Westcenter Drive. I’ve spoken there before. That room will seat a couple hundred people. The debate will be hosted by Humanists of Houston on Thursday, December 22nd, the day before the Dawah convention. Subboor agreed to the change and scheduled an earlier flight just for this.
I’ve only ever had one formal debate with a live audience before. This will be just my second time doing this. So if you happen to be in Houston then, come celebrate the war on Christmas by watching an atheist debate a Muslim in Texas.