An explosion of smart-phone software has placed an arsenal of trivia at the fingertips of every corner-bar debater, with talking points now stretching to the least trivial topic of all: God.
Publishers of Christian material have begun producing iPhone applications that can cough up quick comebacks and rhetorical strategies for believers who want to fight back against what they view as a new strain of strident atheism. And a competing crop of apps is arming nonbelievers for battle.
“Say someone calls you narrow-minded because you think Jesus is the only way to God,” says an application introduced in March by a Christian publishing company. “Your first answer should be: ‘What do you mean by narrow-minded?’”
For religious sceptics, the “BibleThumper” iPhone app boasts that it “allows the atheist to keep the most funny and irrational Bible verses right in their pocket” to be “always ready to confront fundamentalist Christians.”
In a dozen new phone applications, the prospective debater is given a primer on the basic rules of engagement — how to parry the circular argument, the false dichotomy — and then coached on all the likely flashpoints of contention.
Users can scroll from topic to topic to arm themselves or, in the heat of a dispute, search for the point at hand and the perfect retort.