Sunday, July 17, 2016

Fishpasta vs Doctor Professor Chris Weaver - Is Gay Sex Morally Permissible? 2010


This debate ( audio only | 1hr 46m 42s ) took place on the long since defunct Urban Philosophy site and was between Fishpasta and Doctor Professor Chris Weaver. The topic was whether gay sex was morally permissible.

5+ stars: Okay not really that many stars but this debate is just too funny to not make a post about it.

I came across this debate in a discussion with some pals about the Craig Carroll debate. Weaver reviewed Carroll's comso model and Craig cited him in his rebuttal. I was then told this debate was really funny. And it was.

The first thing to notice is that it wasn't a debate on same-sex marriage or homosexuality in general - it was about gay sex. Furthermore, this wasn't just any entry-level-defined gay sex --oh no. At the start of the debate Weaver lays out his definition gay sex that needs to be stated to fully appreciate.

By gay sex Weaver means

"Some human person X performs a conglomeration of actions Y1 through Yn which can correctly be described as gay sex when X is paired with at least one human person Z of the same gender and at least X intentionally and consensually (Z also consenting) either (a) uses his penis to penetrate the rectum of Z, in this case another male, sometimes repeatedly, until X experiences sexual climax and ejaculation; (b) uses her vagina to perform instrumental indentation on the body of Z, in this case another female, until X experiences sexual climax which incorporates a particular pleasurable series of mental states causally connected to the stimulation of the clitoris."

Already this is one of the best debates I've heard, ever.

Each speaker got 15 minute openings then 7 minutes each of cross ex followed by 10 minute rebuttals and 5 minute closings.

Fishpasta went first and sans a weirdly deliberate affirmation of logical positivism, it was a great opening.

Fish gave 11 different normative ethical frameworks, defining them and then arguing how gay sex is morally permissible on each ethical account. Some of them were rather silly frameworks like Sartes' Existentialist Ethics (any rationalizations about what is right/wrong are immoral for innately denying one's responsibility to choose as a human. Most critiques of gay sexin' are rationalizations according to this ethical system based off of cultural/religious traditions but not a person's own formulations making it immoral to claim gay sex is morally wrong). However he gave nice succinct descriptions of utilitarian, deontological, and contractarian ethical systems and argued that gay sex was totally cool in each moral framework.

Fish also mentioned empirical findings and preempted arguments from harm (gay sex is immoral because of the harm unprotected sex causes - more prone to contract HIV but soccer players are also more likely to contract HIV by playing soccer so is soccer immoral?) plus Weaver's Kantian ethical view of choice.

Weaver started out mentioning issues about gay sex, his belief that Fishpasta muddled philosophical concepts and then gave his first argument against gay sex - the Modal Ontological Argument for Theism. After this, Weaver critiqued Fishpasta's affirmation of bundle theory for some reason. Weaver ran out of time before he could give his other argument against gay sex - that Jesus rose bodily from the dead.

Herein lies the answer to the gay sex riddle.

The cross-ex was muddled for both sides. Fish attempted to ask Weaver if he felt his personal convictions supersede logical argumentation which seemed to confuse Weaver. Much of Fish's cross was Weaver wanting more clarification. Weaver decided to critique Fishpasta's position of logical positivism in a way that incidentally had nothing to do with gay sex.

Weaver then requested more time to lay out his case and it was decided that he could split his rebuttal up and then he spent 5 minutes arguing for the historical accuracy of the bible.

Fishpasta again nailed his rebuttal by noting that Weaver failed to address his arguments and only proffered arguments against things irrelevant to the topic. He also pointed out that the Modal Ontological Argument only gets us to deism and not Christian theism. He then noted that showing the historicity of the bible doesn't help his case too much because Paul wasn't an ethicist. Weaver wasted his other five minutes correcting Fish for saying his argument was analytic when it's only propositions that can be analytic - this had something to do with gay sex, I'm sure.

Both closed and it seemed like Fish was running out of steam and Weaver was trying some analytic-modal semantic presentation of the Chewbacca defense or something.

Even during the informal Q&A Weaver fixated on tackling Fishpasta's adherence to bundle theory...

Every ounce of Weaver's case was as if he wanted to parody analytic philosophy. The fact that he was serious just added to all the other funny stuff about the debate. I am surprised at the level of sophistication in the debate on both sides. Fish explained a bunch of interesting ethical frameworks and Weaver's critique of bundle theory sounded intriguing if absolutely irrelevant.

Philosophers like Kant, Anscombe, and Rawls were thrown into the mix along with a lot of philo jargon. I heard, mutatis mutandis, salva veritate, relata, a fortitori, eo ipso just to name a few terms.

Weaver warned several times that the debate shouldn't be recorded but obviously it was because I just heard it. It seems like Weaver is an intense guy and known for making similar proclamations. Since the debate happened awhile ago I'm posting a link to the recording but it might not last for long.

Concerning the definition of Gay Sex

After heated discussion with some friends several problems have been pointed out in Weaver's definition. The most striking problem is that Gay Sex is only that which features consenting participants. Why is it that non-consensual gay sex is left out?

Another issue is that it seems like loopholes can be easily exploited - there's more to gay sex than just anal or clitoral stimulation. It also makes one wonder if Weaver took the time to research all the various types of gay sex - the internet has extensive information on the issue.

Also, the causal chain for the lesbian situation could never obtain - does this mean that it's no longer gay sex? I can ask this question after each point but it could just be that Weaver is only against THIS specific type of gay sex. Now this is especially puzzling because if anything the definition describes a pretty positive type of sexin' - consensual and often climaxes obtain.

Finally, the definition is hilariously weird.


Sorry for rarely updating - I've been busy with real life AND practicing my own debatin' abilities. The latter has led to a major interest in philosophy because it seems that knowing a lot about that topic makes informal debating more effective. As a consequence, my views have changed or rather, I think my justification/strategy to support those views have shifted substantially. So if I get back into this blog expect a lot of rewording in the previous reviews, though I don't think that the scores or overall thoughts will be changed.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

William Lane Craig vs Kevin Scharp - Is There Evidence for God? 2016 CHECK

This debate ( video only | 1:17m ) happened this year and pitted apologist debate missile William Lane Craig and OSU Philosophy Professor Kevin Scharp against each other on the topic "Is There Evidence for God?"

3.5 stars - Scharp was brutal and essentially met the wishes of all us Craig critics who are tired of seeing his opponents drop the ball debate after debate. Craig's less compelling performance and Scharp's over-zealousness and other tactical issues ultimately hold this back from being a great debate albeit a compelling one.

Billed as a discussion, each speaker gave 15 minute openings followed by a botched 20-30 minute dialogue and then questions from the audience.

Craig went first and gave his usual arguments emphasizing the contingent argument and adding his lame IBE from math to God argument in the mix. He focused a bit more on knowledge and experience which I think was Craig tapering his case to Scharp's background. Polished and easy listening as usual and no curve balls.

Scharp came in with a head full of steam - prepared and intense. It was refreshing as hell to see him give such an organized presentation with specific points, arguments, refutations, and even a ppt. He starts off by explaining how he would gauge the evidence for God, compares it to Craig's weird probability claims - 51% likeliness that evidence points to God - gives general arguments against theism, including something new (in public debates) called the Argument from Divine Psychology to undercut Craig's FTA, KCA, and math argument. He then continued with the same criticism Tooley and Law leveled at WLC in their debates about his half-assed moral argument. After this he critiqued Craig's approach, apologetics in general and Craig's socially dubious positions.

There was a lot of content in Scharp's presentation and it's clear that he took seriously what people have been begging for years that Craig's opponents do - prepare a case that is relevant to current concepts in the great debate and freaking research WLC's arguments and tactics.

The only issue which I think plagued Scharp is that nothing was really hammered home in his opening. Good stuff was mentioned but quickly and though it certainly is a feat to fit in ones' own case and refutation of Craig into a single opening, it seems like the latter could have been condensed in order to make parts of the former glaringly clear for the audience.

During the discussion WLC certainly took advantage of the Scharps' fast and furious opening and Scharp was able to clarify things but another thing holding Scharp back came into light during this part of the debate: Scharp was like a caged puma. After every one of Craig's statements Scharp would go "yes - yes - yes - mmhm" not in a rude manner but in one that belayed someone who decided to double his Red Bull consumption to prep for the debate. He didn't come off as mean-spirited or obnoxious though, it just made me want to side bar and say "reign it in, bruh, let the points sink in - contain your argument boner."

One thing that was a bit new to me was that the moderator was especially crappy and biased towards WLC. The bulk of the conversation was either of the two talking and Scharp playing defense. When Scharp brought up an argument mentioned in his opening the mod actually shut it down after a bit saying it wasn't relevant to the debate. Usually the Veritas 'bates I've seen are exceptionally fair and I'm not even against bias mods but the moderator seemed more interested in guiding Craig to make his more rhetorically enticing points we've all fallen in love with. The thing here though is Scharp really nailed Craig on the poor explanatory power his arguments yield which is crucial since Craig ran them all as inference to the best explanation arguments (IBE). Craig never responded and was saved by the moderator a few times.

Craig's less forceful performance also keeps this debate back from being stellar. The debate ultimately gets a high score because of the novel arguments (in terms of public debates) Scharp ran and that despite being a spazz at times he certainly was an engaging speaker.

I hope more are able to throw down as well as Carroll and Scharp have done in these last few years because I wouldn't be surprised if Craig (with legit reasons) retires from his more competitive debate gigs. It seems like he kind of is considering this is billed as a discussion.

ETA 5-21-2016 Found a pdf of Scharp's presentation with his script which was neat so I linked it.
ETA 7-17-2016 Lowered the score because the debate seems to get more and more flawed the more I think about it. Mostly the criticisms I have for Scharp just seem to get heightened and the format wasn't ideal to say the least.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Written Debate - Sinnott-Armstrong vs Craig and Updates

HERE is a link to a pdf copy of the book God? A Debate between a Christian and an Atheist between William Lane Craig and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong. It has been on the net for awhile in this format but because I don't want to get into trouble I never linked to it. But on Sinnott-Armstrong's website he links to the pdf himself, so I figured it's no big deal.

I suggest everyone check it out. It's based off of two of their debates on God's existence and the problem of evil. The former is not online and the latter is online but not as content rich - though very good.

Because it's based off of their public debates it's very accessible and easy to follow. Again, this is a great resource!

I have three different debates of my own I want to post. They are all interesting and very in content quality. I'll post them I swear!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Blake Giunta vs Matt D - Does God Exist - 2015 2nd Debate

This debate ( video | 1:57m ) took place in San Diego, California on October 13, 2015 between Blake Giunta the guy behind the very well presented BeliefMap website and Matt Dillahunty of Atheist Experience fame. The topic was "Does God Exist?" and it was the second debate between the two, the first one I haven't seen.

2 stars: Giunta impressed me in this debate while Dillahunty showed a disinterest in becoming the atheist debater the community needs.

Giunta starts off very strong. He's very outgoing and likeable and correct when he says he makes great powerpoint presentations. In terms of context he's just as strong, starting off by noting that theism isn't a topic left behind in the realms of academic philosophy and that theist philosophers are still generating new arguments demonstrating the existence of God. Of course there are issues with this but it's a solid point that Matt should address: it seems like pop/new atheists are unaware that philosophers are still vigorously discussing theism at least in some academic venues. This is frustrating because despite this being the case, their arguments aren't hard to overcome.

He then does WLC's Kalam Argument and the design fine-tuning argument adding some current quotes and findings. This part comes off well, too. However Giunta ends with a lame argument from intuition. That is, theism intuitively makes sense while atheism does not and this is evidence for God's existence. He gives a few scientific articles as support and the argument is approachable but it's just so obviously weak that such a quality powerpoint presentation seems wasteful.

So Giunta's opening is fairly strong if a bit thin on content. His angle was to defend the philosopher's God - there was no explicit reference to Christianity or anything.

Matt starts out more casually. He was supposed to debate someone else and that fell through and Giunta was cool enough to step in. Dillahunty's opening is a bit muddled and he follows many tangents, which is a shame. For example he mixes religious confusion with divine hiddenness without really making them explicit. He also notes that Giunta was smart in sticking with theism and in order to prove this continues to attack the Christian God wasting more time.

The last part irked me a little because I disagree slightly with Dillahunty's contention that no one has ever tried to defend Christian theism in a debate against him. Usually Christians will bust out the resurrection against Dillahunty and I know for sure that was the whole point of his debates with David Robertson on Unbelievable. The better thing to say is that Christians start off defending Christian theism but usually retreat to a generic theism when they need to.

Anyways, he gets going and argues that theism and supernaturalism have yet to be confirmed through science. And theism has no explanatory power. But the former is emphasized more while the latter needed more elaboration...or should have been emphasized more because I think it's a power point. He goes somewhere with saying how one makes a powerful scientific explanation but doesn't connect things. Ultimately theistic explanations have failed while naturalistic ones have always been successful.


The first part of Giunta's rebuttal and the ending of it are brutal in the politest way possible. He nails Matt for not defining atheism in a digestible manner. I agree with Giunta that there's more to the definition but don't agree that Matt gave a poor one. The thing is, it seemed as though Giunta put a lot more effort into the issue and Matt was relying on speaking to a friendly crowd.

However the middle part is scattered and he forgets to make clear links to his own case. He also gives a weak response to the Hiddenness argument.

Cross Ex
This part seemed to be a missed opportunity. I was surprised at how well Giunta controlled this part of the debate but that ultimately didn't amount to much. They both got into specifics and it was more casual - which isn't bad, but only is good if it isn't boring. This was boring sans my surprise that Giunta's understanding of the philosophical approach to assessing evidence and explanations.*


The closings were a bit weird and Giunta kinda showed some poor form by making a new argument to affirm Christianity. Matt again said he didn't prepare a closing and winged it.

Ultimately I'm giving this to Giunta. I don't think that Giunta's case was all that strong, but the fact that it was more fluid, polished, and a bit nuanced helped. What makes him the winner is my frustration with Matt Dillahunty. Dillahunty can be a contender, but it seems like he's not really interested in upping his game.

Debates are hard to prepare for, even ones on topics you're aware of. But if you've been doing this for awhile and have the ability to speak in public as well as Dillahunty then a debate on whether or not God exists shouldn't be too hard to prep at the last minute. The fact that Giunta beat Matt in this debate should be a wake up call. The problem is that I don't think he's gonna hear such criticism. Like the AXP and in many of the debates I have heard Matt engage in he's already established a routine that's catered to preaching to the choir. If you read the comments to the video, this seems to be the sentiment.

A very frustrating debate. Giunta mentioned JJ Lowder in his closing. I wish that dude would debate more.

*There is apparently an exclusive community of theists and atheists who regularly talk about the more advanced topics in the "Great Debate" community that Blake is apart of. Considering the fact that others who told me about this forum are familiar with Greg Dawes and Elliot Sober I am less surprised by Giunta's reference to these ideas. Yes I did feel slick for being invited to the community btw.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Richard Carrier's Counter-Apologist Debate Course

One of my favs is Richard Carrier and he will regularly run online courses in topics related to the Great Debate. Anyways, he is having a Counter-Apologetics course in January which teaches you how to tackle the arguments against God. I think John Shook is involved, too (in an email about Carrier's previous course on the topic Carrier mentioned that the upcoming one would have Shook helping him with the content).

The course will also cover Muslim apologetics, something I was interested in and I'm sure to enjoy as well.

The course is big on Bayes arguments but after a brief look over the course website I was hoping for more information on the art of speaking or debating persuasively. The required text, Atheist Primer reads well so far.

Well yeah so it was suggested to me to summarize my experiences with the course and I hope I can do that here. It costs 60 bucks if you all want to join so check it out!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

This debate ( audio | 1:45m ) for whatever reason isn't on YouTube and only available in rm format HERE. At some point it must have been on YouTube because I have a huge Mp3 file (linked above) of it on my Mp3 player.

2 stars: More a set of lectures from two likeable guys but too many drawbacks make me not want to recommend this one. But read McCormick's book!

Each speaker gave a 20 minute opening and then took questions from the audience. It was very light-hearted and more of a lecture-for-the-kids kind of thing.

Both guys are good friends and professors at Sac State in California. A bit after his book, Atheism and the Case Against Christ was released McCormick and DiSilvestro had a bunch of debates with each other on various topics. The more known debate from awhile ago is the one they had on the Resurrection which are reviewed at CommonSenseAtheism HERE and AgnosticPopularFront HERE.

Because McCormick's ACAC is one of the wider-audience atheist books (sans Hitch but that doesn't count) that I really liked a lot AND the case McCormick uses against the Resurrection is also one that I really like, I decided to relisten to this one despite remembering that I didn't really enjoy it.

Unfortunately, I still don't enjoy the debate all too much. As a very causal point-counterpoint set of lectures, this 'bate works a bit better, maybe but even then I felt like something was missing.

DiSilvestro gives a couple of arguments for theism framed in the context of the arguments William Lane Craig gives but unlike Craig, who is an apologist and debate machine, DiSilvestro gives the more moderate case for theism and gives another thoughtful but vague or weak final argument about integrity.

McCormick starts and presents his case in the form of an extended Argument from Divine Hiddenness Case against God. It reminded me of Tooley's single Problem of Evil he gave against WLC in 2010 which was given as a single argument, only with a number of different references to other types of arguments atheists give, only all with respect to the POE. So though McCormick labeled his argument the ADH, it wasn't explicitly that given by JL Schellenberg. Instead it focused on a number of 'hidden' aspects of a theistic deity that shouldn't be hidden. This was followed by a discussion of morality that McCormick really dropped the ball on in terms of his example, which dealt with sex and abortion...This maybe a bit confusing but part way through I kind of forgot why he was talking about this due to cringing so much. Then he discussed how concepts of morality could have arisen through evolution.

There were no rebuttals and the rest of the event was an extended Q&A with thoughtful but not quite the best questions. The thing seemed more like a learning thing, not so much a debate which I like, but it just wasn't all that great or enlightening.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Does the Christian God Exist? - Me vs Maximus Confesses Nov. 2015

This debate ( video only | 2:26m ) happened in a Google Hangout on November 23, 2015. It was a formal debate with the topic: "Does the Christian God Exist?"

4 stars: Only because I think Max presented an interesting argument and addressed my arguments well and because I like the arguments I made, though I coulda made them better.

This will be the most self-assured statement I'll ever make: the arguments I made, if not made well by myself in this debate, are the best arguments nontheists should be using, imo. Especially the Argument from Divine Hiddenness. If a debater can perfectly make that argument in a debate I cannot see it being defeated.

Links to Check Out:

Maximus' Youtube Channel HERE 
Max's Blog HERE

Recently I had my first formal debate on the topic of whether or not the Christian God exists. It was against Orthodox Christian Maximus Confessus, who I consider a mensch and a friend.

This time around I'll give my own review. My friend who guest reviewed my last debate feels that if I won it was on the strength of my closing speech alone. That is, there were no closing speeches, he would be unsure who won.

He also felt that Max had the more straight forward case, relying on one argument but he messed up a bit with his opening (didn't finish it and floundered at a few parts). He also liked Max's way of grouping my arguments into one type of argument to respond to, and felt that my "success of naturalism argument" was thoroughly shut down with his argument that God would have wanted to make the world in such a way for us to understand it using self-contained processes.

ETA: A friend and I conversed and I forgot to mention that I do think Max spent a bit too much defining God, however in that definition he set up some preemptive points that probably made some things easier for him I suppose.

I disagree with the naturalism being shut down part of my friend's assessment but agree that it is something I need to prepare for. My friend also thought that two of the things I mentioned should have been saved for my rebuttals: the demographics of theism and Evil God Challenge. I agree about the EGC in the context of this debate but not in future debates if my opponent brings up arguments that do not speak to God's moral character. Because Max's whole argument was about God and morality, it seemed stupid to bring it up in my opening and waste time.

So I learned a lot from this debate. However I haven't heard too many other reviews of my performance, making me feel like formal debating isn't my thing, which bums me out. I'm told by others that I come off more articulate when in an informal setting and after hearing myself I agree.

What's frustrating is that this is something everyone says you need to keep at in order to get better. You shouldn't expect to be a rock star right away. But how many times do I need to fall apart at this kind of thing before I realize I need to just accept that I suck at it? I messed up against Neph, who is crazy, and I messed up against Max, who is very liberal. I guess I'll keep at it for now.

Good news is that next time I post one of my debates you won't hear the same argument coming from me, I know there are a few things I need to change. I'm also going to try and make it more my style to curb the issues I have in a formal setting...that might make for a less content-dense presentation but a more easily understood and well-presented one. I'll still use a ppt, which I think is a good idea.