Friday, September 27, 2013

Barker vs Rajabali Does God Not Exist? 2003

This debate ( audio | video 1, 2 & 3 | 2h24m10s ) took place between FFRF's Dan Barker and Brother Hassanain Rajabali in 2003. Earlier, I reviewed a team debate Barker did against Rajabali in 2004 featuring Richard Carrier and Michael Corey (the review is here). Compared with that debate, this one was much better in terms of cordiality, that's for sure.

3.25 stars CHECK

Richard Carrier's review: Rajabali won

First I should note that I am gonna say CHECK to all the Muslim vs a non-theist debates I'll review because they are rare compared to Christians vs non-theist debates. I have recently come across a few others and will hopefully review them in the near future.

Now, the debate. This debate featured a tweak on the normal debate topic and actually put the burden of proof on Dan Barker. Barker had to demonstrate that god did not exist and some of his arguments were more effective than others. Barker is a much better speaker, though he can still hold his own in a debate.

Despite Carrier's assessment, it seemed like Barker came out on top in this one. He was more clear and did a better job of pointing out the flaws in Rajabali's arguments.

Rajabali was certainly more polite and less caustic this time than he was later in the team debate but he still talked really fast and was incoherent in his responses. He would mention an argument brought up by Barker but then would either dismiss it or respond with something that would sound like a non-sequitur. For example, Rajabali would equate not being able to prove the existence of god to not being able to prove your own existence and thereby declare it is absurd.

Later on, during the Q&A, Rajabali admitted to it being impossible for him to think there is no god even if legit evidence were used to support such a claim. This explains why it sounded like Rajabali wasn't so on point and his arguments were rather superficial...or they would start out as sounding persuasive (he used the basic god of the gaps and teleological arguments) but fall apart after Barker countered and Rajabali would respond by being flabbergasted or hand-waving. He seemed to just get cheers when talking about how worthless life is on an atheistic worldview.

Barker also suffered from muddling his own position. He kept explaining the difference between Atheists and atheists...when morality came up, he had to explain that you don't look to atheism for morality and then near the end of the debate he stated it wasn't his intention to deconvert people - I agree with Carrier, all of this probably would have been unneeded if he just simply said he was talking from the naturalists' POV. Oh well...

The Q&A was pretty extensive, it wasn't great but there were some decent questions thrown around.

Technical: Good AQ but the moderator was really quiet for some reason. The audio skips a lot of announcements and the breaks...I dunno if the video does this, too.

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