Thursday, August 8, 2013

Licona v Puckett 2012 Res CHECK

This debate ( audio | video | 1h45m ) occurred in 2012 and covered the topic of the resurrection. It was between NT Scholar Mike Licona and Communications Theorist(?) Shane Puckett.

2 stars.

The reason I checked this debate out is because of the comments left on Brian Auten's post hosting the debate on Apologetics315. When Puckett was introduced, the mod mostly focused on Puckett's debate background. Puckett was active in college debate and debate competitions and is currently active in some debating organi - he's not a historian/doesn't have credentials related to the topic other than he knows how to debate.

Normally I would find this odd but it was most likely the case that the church couldn't find a proper opponent for Licona at the time of the debate. At least, that's what I'd like to think happen though Licona seems to love this stuff and probably coulda suggested loads of potential debate opponents and it seems like the church that put the thing together had ample funds to figure something out.

But I digress. I felt it could be interesting to see if apologetic arguments could be taken apart by the precise use of debating skills or tactics. Unfortunately, this debate just seemed like it should have demonstrated how important it is to know the subject and to especially know the arguments that your opponent uses.

Licona did a solid job. I agree that he did seem as polished as he normally does but he still got his message across and didn't muddle anything. Licona does something that I wish Dinesh D'Souza would take note of: he changes his cheesy jokes up, which makes him come off as more friendly and genuine whereas Dinesh just comes off as seeming like he would say his mosquito in a nudist colony joke to the most epic rebuttal to his arguments of all time only because it's so important to his schtick. Watch a few Licona debates, Dinesh...I know you read this blog.

Puckett on the other hand probably woulda done fine in a competitive debate with a topic on public policy or something but he also broke a pretty important debating rule: he didn't study his opponents' arguments. Puckett certainly studied previous debates on the issue but if he studied any of the more recent debates Licona was involved in he would have noticed that Licona does not use the gospels in his main argument and instead focuses on other pieces of evidence like Paul and stuff. Puckett focused on the gospels and broad claims against invoking the supernatural. The latter part he did an okay job on but I found myself cringing throughout his discussion about the reliability of the gospels.

He definitely was familiar with the arguments against the resurrection in his final speech he even gave the exact alternative scenario to the resurrection that Bart Ehrman gave in his debate with Craig in 2006. The funny thing is that Licona was at that debate and asked the first question when it was time for audience Q&A!

This argument is a good one, but it was wasted on the debate format which was kind of weak despite at first sounding interesting: each person got a 20 minute opening then there were a bunch of cross-exam segments then only like 4 people from the audience got to ask questions and they had 10 minute closings. Puckett brought up his alternative scenario in his closing, and it is reasonable that he did so because of the stupid debate format but Licona wasn't able to respond. I would have liked to have heard Licona respond because Craig gave such a weak response to Ehrman when he brought it up!

So ultimately nothing new happened in this debate. To give Puckett the benefit of the doubt I would like to think that he was asked, kind of at the last minute, to debate this topic and did his best, but I probably shouldn't cause he probably would have done a lot better if he watched Carrier's debate with Licona from 2010 where Licona uses the same arguments roughly.

I was also a little annoyed with the set up. Like I mentioned, the format was kind of lame and near the end for 5 minutes the church kept asking for money to continue to fund this kind of thing. I wouldn't mind that so much except that this is the first time I've heard this for such an extended period of time and a lot of these debates are recorded at churches and/or by theistic organizations and I haven't heard anything like this in those debate recordings. Also the last 10 minutes was more of an announcement for the church, I listened to a minute of it and gave up.

Technical: Good AQ, not sure on the VQ, I'm sure it's fine, though it looks like it suffers from white balance issues.

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