Saturday, July 6, 2013

Barker & Carrier v Rajabali & Corey on "Does God Not Exist?"

This debate ( audio | video playlist | 3h15m58s ) took place in 2004 in Dearborn, MI between Dan Barker and Richard Carrier v Hassanain Rajabali and Michael Corey. The debate had a weird topic: "Does God Not Exist?" and this is probably the most flustering debate I have ever heard on the topic of atheism/the existence of god.

3 stars

APF review: 4/5 stars
Carrier's assessment which I suggest ya'll check out.

Like Damion on APF I suggest you fast forward to ~22 minutes in if you wanna skip all the prayer and intro (only ~18 minutes if you wanna here the intros because both the theists are not that well known). This debate has so much going on that I just don't know how to rate it. I am mostly just gonna comment on it in this review.

Short review: the theists were contradictory, illogical and did not address any of the arguments and instead rested on trying to make the crowd cheer (which isn't too special considering over 90% of the crowd were believers). Barker and Carrier gave good arguments and organized well and over gave pretty good performances which were even better considering the debate structure and how aggressive and unscrupulous their opponents were. Ultimately this is a tough listen and though both Barker and Carrier give good performances I can't say that about the other side.

Also, concerning the structure, it was really poorly formatted and along with the dumb debate topic, heavily favored the theists:

Openings: Theists then Non-Theists

Rebuttals: Non-Theists (what?) then Theists

Cross: Theists Ask Questions then vice versa

Q&A: One side gets a question to respond to and the other side can counter (I like this format, at least)

Closing: Non-Theists (what? again?) then Theists

In what debate we we have one side get the first and last word? Kind of weak.

The theists probably showed thee most unprofessional, revolting behavior that I have ever seen in a formal debate. Both Rajabali and Corey (if he were alive) should be ashamed of their performances as evident in the following observations I made:

They were rude because they constantly laughed at and interrupted Barker and Carrier throughout the debate.

They were incoherent, both Corey and Rajabali made bizarre and contradictory claims about free will and ad hom attacks.

They were angry, especially Rajabali. He sounds hysterical at some points and calls both Barker and Carrier liars in the debate.

They were mean-spirited. Several times the theists literally laughed at the statements made by the non-theists or disparaged them overtly. Now sometimes arguments should be disparaged and I am not above doing that, but you should still address/counter them and/or show why they are flawed with respect to the debate or topic - which both theists and especially Corey did not do. When Richard brought up an article for his argument Corey just dismissed it by saying Richard didn't understand it. This tactic certainly worked because the crowd loved it.

Finally, they exploited their crowd and their religion. One of Barker's arguments was from religious confusion and he mentioned the fact that Rajabali and Corey hold to two different beliefs about Jesus. Rajabali flipped out about this and said that Corey never claimed to be a Christian and that Barker lied to fool the audience. Furthermore, Corey doesn't address this and even refers to god as Allah in the debate (which also got a loud cheer). Corey apparently (and it was obvious from the arguments he made) was a Christian but he was just so flexible to let slide the fact that Muslims don't think that Jesus rose from the dead, something kind of important to the Christian faith...This is the height of dishonesty, imo.

A note on Rajabali: I need to hear is other debate with Barker but I have to say I was not impressed with Muslim apologetics. Many of his arguments and misunderstandings were - for a lack of not sounding like I am a philosophy expert - philosophically naive and ones that even amateur Xian apologists shy away from. IIRC, I heard someone discuss the young nature of Muslim apologetics and how it has a ways to go and I agree. Rajabali was obviously not used to having his theistic (not necessarily Muslim) beliefs questioned by the way he acted and floundered in the debate. I would say that I am more interested in hearing Muslims v Non-Theists debates but they aren't too wide spread. Also, considering the strictness of the debate about insulting Islam coupled with Rajabali's performance it seems like those debates won't be too interesting because they're not as (as weird as it is to say it) open to having their religion criticized, which is such a shame.

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