Matt Dillahunty, speaking at the University of Missouri in 2014
March 31, 1969 |
Kansas City, Missouri
|Service/branch||United States Navy|
|Years of service||1987–1995|
|Known for||Atheism and secular activism|
Matt Dillahunty (born March 31, 1969) is a public speaker, avid gamer, and internet personality, and was the president of the Atheist Community of Austin until May 2013. He hosts the Austin-based webcast and cable-access television show The Atheist Experience, and formerly hosted the live internet radio show Non-Prophets Radio. He is also the founder and contributor of the counter-apologetics encyclopedia Iron Chariots and its subsidiary sites.
He is regularly engaged in formal debates and travels the United States speaking to local secular organizations and university groups as part of the Secular Student Alliance's Speakers Bureau. Alongside fellow activists Seth Andrews and Aron Ra, he is planning to travel to Australia in 2015 with their Unholy Trinity Tour.
Raised Southern Baptist, Dillahunty sought to become a minister. His religious studies, instead of bolstering his faith as he intended, led him to no longer believe in Christianity and, eventually, all religions. Dillahunty spent many years in the US Navy, before leaving to work in the field of computer software design. In 2011, he married The Atheist Experience colleague and co-host of the Godless Bitches podcast Beth Presswood.
Dillahunty is also an avid gamer, playing PC, console and board games. Going by the name Valeyard, he was one of the founders of the Counter Strike team CK3, led by Ronald "Rambo" Kim, that played professionally and for a time was ranked as the leading team in the US, and number two internationally. CK3 announced its retirement on 2001-03-27.
Speaking and debates
Dillahunty has spoken at atheist and freethought conferences around the country and debated numerous Christian apologists, including Ray Comfort. At the 2014 American Atheists Convention in Salt Lake City, he gave a workshop that outlined some key ideas in effective debating: "Take the opponent seriously: 'The audience has to sense that I can perfectly understand their views, and have rejected them.' Use logic: 'I tell them that I can write a better book than the Bible. Simple: I copy it word for word, except the parts about slavery.' And don't forget emotion: 'It is theater. That is my advantage with a Baptist background over someone like Richard Dawkins, although he knows more about science.'" Though there are some, such as Ray Comfort that he said he won't debate again, Dillahunty rejects the idea that debates are a waste of time: "I am absolutely convinced from my experience and the evidence that I've gathered over the years of doing this that they are incredibly valuable."
List of formal debates
The Source of Human Morality: Matt Dillahunty vs. Fr. Hans Jacobse, November 16, 2010, at the University of Maryland
Good Without God? Matt Dillahunty vs. Mark Allison, November 17, 2011, at Gainseville State College
Should America Be a Nation Under God? Matt Dillahunty vs. Abdu Murray, February 23, 2012, at West Texas A&M University
Does a God/god exist?JT Eberhard and Matt Dillahunty vs. John Ferrer and Dr. Sloan Lee, April 14, 2012, at Collin College at Frisco
Does God Exist? Matt Dillahunty vs. Jay Lucas, April 21, 2012 at Binghamton Unviersity, New York
Secularists Should Not Support the Right To Abortion: Matt Dillahunty vs. Kristine Kruszelnicki, October 22, 2012, at the Texas Freethought Convention in Austin, Texas
Is Belief in the Christian God Rational? Matt Dillahunty vs. Cliff Knechtle, November 26, 2012 at Texas State University
Is There a God: Matt Dillahunty vs. Ray Comfort, February 10, 2014 on AM980 KKMS 
Is God a Human Invention? Matt Dillahunty vs. Israel Rodriguez, February 15, 2014 at the 27th Annual Shenandoah church of Christ Lectureship 
Why I am not an atheist: David Robertson vs. Matt Dillahunty, February 15, 2014, on Unbelieveable? podcast
Why I am not a Christian: Matt Dillahunty vs. David Robertson, February 22, 2014, on Unbelieveable? podcast
The Refining Reason Debate: Matt Dillahunty vs. Sye Ten Bruggencate , May 31, 2014 at the Marriot East Grand Ballroom in Memphis, TN
Views on morality
One of Dillahunty's recurring themes has been the superiority of secular morality over non-secular morality. His key contentions on the issue are that secular moral systems are inclusive, dynamic, encourage change, and serve the interests of the participants, whereas non-secular moral systems only serve the interests of an external authority. He touched on the subject again at a lecture at the 2013 American Atheists Convention in Austin: "They say we're immoral, when we're the only ones who understand that morality is derived from empathy, fairness, cooperation, and the physical facts about interacting in this universe. They've broken their moral compass and sacrificed their humanity on the altar of religion. They say we're lost and broken and in need of salvation, when we're the ones who are free."
Advocacy of abortion rights
Dillahunty has become an outspoken advocate of abortion rights. After hearing that an organization called Secular Pro-Life set up a table at the 2012 American Atheists convention, Dillahunty challenged a representative of the organization to a public debate on the issue. The debate took place at the 2012 Texas Freethought Convention, with Dillahunty debating Kristine Kruszelnicki. Dillahunty used bodily autonomy as his primary argument for abortion rights, which is based on Judith Jarvis Thompson's essay on the subject. In March 2014, Dillahunty debated Clinton Wilcox, who is not a member of Secular Pro-Life, though the debate was advertised on their blog. The aftermath lead to a falling out with the organization, and he announced in a Facebook post that he would not debate them in public again. He and his wife Beth later appeared on Amanda Marcotte's podcast RH Reality Check to explain the events of the preceding years, and said that "the optics of a cis male without a womb" debating women's rights is not what he wanted to advocate, and would let others take the lead in public on the issue.
Advocacy of the primacy of skepticism is another of Dillahunty's recurring themes. He said at the American Atheists convention in Austin in 2013 that the closest thing he has to a motto is "to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible," taking his inspiration from David Hume. In the same lecture, he said that being a skeptic is the most important identifier of who he is. In addition, Dillahunty said that skepticism has something to say about untested religious claims, and that philosophical skepticism will lead to atheism. While he respects that skepticism and atheism are two separate social movements, he sees atheism as a subset of skepticism. He doesn't see why skepticism should not address religious claims, something that has become a point of controversy in the skeptic community. Dillahunty rhetorically asked, "how popular would psychics be, how popular would ghosts be, if there wasn't this monolithic idea that 70-80% of the population believe, that within each of us is an eternal soul that leaves the body when we're dead and either goes on to some afterlife or lingers around here on the earth?...If you teach people about what we know, about what most likely happens when we die, they will strive to treat people better while they're alive, and their grief will be lessened because they understand reality." He admonished "don't just do skepticism with the goal of getting it right, do it with the goal of not being able to get it wrong."
- Eileen E. Flynn (March 18, 2007). "Preaching his own gospel of atheism". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
- ACA Lecture Series: Matt Dillahunty — Reflections on a "lifetime" as ACA President, Atheist Community of Austin, May 12, 2013, retrieved 2013-05-17, "Matt has been the President of ACA for many years and is stepping down."
- Lyz (February 22, 2010). "Matt Dillahunty". Secular Student Alliance. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
- Matt Dillahunty (username Sans Deity), User:Sans Deity, Iron Chariots - the counter-apologetics wiki.
- 2012 Conference Speakers!, Secular Student Alliance, Retrieved 2012-07-12
- "Unholy Trinity Tour Australia". Unholy Trinity Down Under website. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
- Atheist Experience: Matt Dillahunty
- (Dutch) Bas den Hond (3 June 2014). "Onder ongelovigen". Trouw (De Persgroep). Retrieved 3 June 2014.
- "Matt Dillahunty - The Value of Debates". June 28, 2014.
- "The Source of Human Morality Debate PART 1/9". November 17, 2010.
- "Matt Dillahunty vs. Mark Allison NOVEMBER 17". November 20, 2011.
- "Debate - Should America be a Nation Under God?". March 8, 2012.
- "NTSSC: "Does God Exist" Debate with Dillahunty/Eberhard vs Ferrer/Lee". May 10, 2012.
- "Does God Exist? Matt Dillahunty and Jay Lucas at Binghamton University". May 10, 2012.
- "Abortion Debate at Texas Freethought Convention, Matt Dillahunty vs. Kristine Kruszelnicki". November 1, 2012.
- "#79 Debate - Matt Dillahunty vs. Cliffe Knechtle - Is Belief in God Rational Audio Only - 2012". November 19, 2013.
- "Matt Dillahunty debates Ray Comfort on AM980 KKMS @raycomfort @Matt_Dillahunty @KKMS". February 10, 2014.
- "#169 Debate - Matt Dillahunty vs Israel Rodriguez - Is God A Human Invention - 2014". February 17, 2014.
- "#170 Debate - Matt Dillahunty vs David Robertson - Why I Am Not An Atheist - 2014". February 20, 2014.
- "#183 Debate - Matt Dillahunty vs David Robertson - Why I Am Not A Christian - 2014". February 27, 2014.
- "The Refining Reason Debate: Matt Dillahunty VS Sye Ten Bruggencate". May 31, 2014.
- "Matt Dillahunty: The Superiority of Secular Morality". September 26, 2010.
- "AACON 2013 Matt Dillahunty speaks on Skepticism and Atheism". March 31, 2013.
- "Abortion Debate at Texas Freethought Convention, Matt Dillahunty vs. Kristine Kruszelnicki". October 22, 2012.
- "Debates, Delusions and Dishonesty - Why I have no respect for Kelsey Hazzard and SPL". April 3, 2014.
- "Is Secular Anti-Choice a Thing? And How Big a Hypocrite Is Rep. Vance McAllister?". April 14, 2014.