Sunday, February 27, 2011

iPhoning It In

In a previous post, I wrote about an iPhone app that's intended to help Catholics prepare for confession. It's of no use to me (other than as an object of humor), but there are apps intended for the non-religious. Here's what I found in a brief search of the iTunes App Store:
  • Atheist Pocket Debater ($2.99; iPad version also available) from JAY-ROC Investments, Inc.: "...contains old and new arguments against the existence of God. The DEBATER gives many ways to argue against Christians, Creationists, and Bible thumpers. It is set up for very quick reference and memorization, yet contains full arguments as well as different ways to argue the same topics." Endorsed by Michael Shermer of Skeptic Magazine.
  • Atheist Resource Companion ($0.99) from Objective Publications: "... a study tool for users to discover the facts behind common debates regarding belief systems and atheism."
  • Creationist Claims Index (free) from Insomnia Addict: "A fully sourced, cross-referenced, and searchable reference guide for refutations to common Creationist claims, based on the book The Counter-Creationism Handbook by Mark Isaak originally published by Greenwood Press/ABC-CLIO. Great reference to have when in a debate."
  • Evolution Debater (free; iPad version also available) from Bomdigular: "This app is all about Biological Evolution. It is meant to help teach others about Evolution and help in debates in favor of Evolution. The app is full of great information that will easily help people understand that Evolution is real and something that has been going on for billions of years."
  • ...and probably others that I've missed. Searching the App Store for terms like "skeptic" may yield more goodies.
If you decide to use one of these apps, please don't just install it on your device then ignore it until you're in the middle of a heated debate with a believer. Whipping out your iPhone and saying "Wait a minute, I'll bet there's a good reason in here why your last argument is all wet" isn't going to change anybody's mind. (If a Christian asked you to "wait a minute while I look up a good response to your question in my Bible's appendix," you probably wouldn't have much confidence in anything they had to say, would you?) Familiarize yourself with the app's contents in advance, then use the app sparingly during discussions to clarify your thoughts or terms (for example, I always get the ontological argument confused with the teleological argument), and/or to provide additional references for your claims.

And if you find an app you like, don't forget to give it a 4-star ("good") or 5-star ("great") rating, and a brief review as well if you can. Lots of people decide whether to buy/download apps based on their ratings, and for the developers who make their apps available for free with no annoying ads, good ratings/reviews may be all the reward they get.

Disclaimers and warnings:
  • I played around briefly with "Creationist Claims Index" and thought it was fine, but I haven't used any of the other apps listed above. Inclusion on the list should not be construed as an endorsement.
  • The list doesn't include apps that are meant mainly for entertainment purposes, or that are essentially collections of freethought-related quotes, although there are plenty of those too.
  • If you search for the term "atheism" on the iTunes App Store, one of the results is the "John Ankerberg Show - About Christianity and the Bible" app. I couldn't find the words "atheism" or "atheist" anywhere on the app's page; maybe Apple lets developers "tag" their apps with keywords to make them easier to find? (Is a keyword of "atheism" on this app supposed to draw in the faithful who are preparing for battle with infidels, or is it intended to attract infidels like me?) The app was originally published in 2009 but has never been rated by anyone, so it doesn't seem to have much of an audience anyway. (I can't imagine why not. The app is rated "12+" because of "mild sexual content or nudity" and "mild mature/suggestive themes"; you'd think somebody would download it just out of prurient curiosity!)

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