Thursday, May 30, 2013

Douglas Jacoby vs Richard Carrier - Jesus: Son of God or Apocalyptic Prophet? 2012 BEST

This debate ( audio | video-audio only | 2:51.52s ) features Richard Carrier and Apologist Douglas Jacoby with the debate topic being: "Jesus—Son of God or Apocalyptic Prophet?" It took place in 2012.

First image hit, though this is Pilate washing his hands. SOURCE.


4.5 stars. Not even a pandering apologist and hostile Christian crowd can phase the Carrier Biblical Machine in this lively but potentially polarizing debate. BEST

Very long WOE review
Christian review
AIGBusted review

This is one of the best debates I have heard. Usually people on both sides cite Carrier's debate with Licona in 2004 as being a great and lively debate and I would say that that one falls below this one*. This debate is also really long and I enjoyed the format. Be careful with the Q&A section, though...I'll explain that in a bit.

This is Carrier's best performance. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy his debates and think he actually comes out on top in most of them but he came off as smooth and polished and presented himself well, here.

Though I still think he suffered from a few issues that plague his debate performance in general, but not as much in this one. For example, Carrier's too smart for his own good. The one thing I can give Jacoby (though just barely and I'll explain later) is that he knew how to read the audience and cater his talking points to them. Richard Carrier said some things that believing Christians could easily misconstrue and find insulting and many of them in the Q&A confirmed this.

In particular, a lot of people were hung up on Carrier referring to the early Christians as schizotypal, word that just has to be either dropped for a term or description with less baggage, or mentioned with the constant caveats that this isn't just schizophrenia. I wouldn't be surprised if even a more neutral-minded audience also got a bit irked by the term.

Jacoby seems like a nice guy but he employed several sleazy tactics in this debate that I think he should be embarrassed and ashamed about because he seemed perfectly fine fanning the anger of the crowd to throw Carrier under the misconception bus in order to come out on top.

Jacoby should be embarrassed for: not being prepared. Carrier had to correct him on several mistakes and misconceptions he made when he mentioned things from Carrier's book. He also rambled in his opening and then it seemed like at the last second he took out a Sparks Notes book on Bill Craigs' arguments for the resurrection and spouted that out, whether it was even relevant or not

Jacoby should be ashamed for his tactics in the debate. He definitely fell apart after his opening speech and resorted to playing on the audience's misconceptions. Several times Carrier explained what he meant by some of the terms he used only to have a bunch of other questions come up making them same mistakes. This isn't the fault of the audience because they were not a more academic crowd and even I am not familiar with the term schizotypal. And yeah, as I mentioned, Carrier is just too smart for his own good sometimes and doesn't always drive points home in a succinct manner because he'll take them for granted.  

But Jacoby exploited this. Jacoby exploited the good nature of his audience and of Carrier in order to score points in this debate.

One of the bummers that kept coming up was that Jacoby disputed Carrier's claims that Jesus said that those within his generation would see the second coming by stating that those parts of the bible are apocalyptic writing and can be considered metaphorical and not literal. Wouldn't noting that the most cited document used to describe the life of Jesus is filled with apocalyptic writing that should not be taken literal kind of help support the claim that he is an apocalyptic prophet? I need to look more into this "apocalyptic literature" retreat because it just seems so weak.

Great debate otherwise!

*Note that I think that Licona did a much better job and was more professional and prepared in his debate against Carrier.

RE: 7-5-2013: Added some reviews on the debate.
RE: 8-6-2013: I lowered the score, I have too many 5 star debates.  
8-15-2015 More clarity attempts like the many others attempted on this day. I also added a link and toned down my annoyance of Jacoby's behavior.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mark Roberts vs Loose Change Creators Avery & Bermas - 911 Conspiracy Theories BEST

This debate ( audio | video 1 & 2 | 55:33s ) took place in 2006 between the creators of Loose Change Dylan Avery and Jason Bermas and Tour Guide Mark Gravy Roberts. They discussed topics concerning 911 Conspiracy Theories, specifically those related to Avery and Bermas' documentary.

Ronald Wieck was the moderator but he's quite critical of 911 conspiracy theories. However Wieck's also known for being pretty fair and equal time was had by all.

Debate begins around 1:05s...

4 stars: Mark Roberts is unabating in the ways he uncovers the myriad sketchy claims of the 911 Truth Movement. BEST

This debate is about an hour long and is one of the best in terms of straightforward "smackdowns" of a skeptic over a crank. But all debaters were nice and discussed the topics well though I wish more of the non-technical aspects of this conspiracy theory were discussed. And though Avery was pretty quiet throughout, Bermas was very outgoing.

But I shouldn't be to smug, because Roberts knows his stuff and that Bermas and Avery are as Avery says "a bunch of kids" so it isn't a surprise that this was such a slaughter. And now I think I sound like I'm being a dick to Avery and Bermas but I'm honestly not. I do actually think they are sincere in their beliefs but just horribly wrong. I do also think that Avery's admission that his flick has a lot of dubious claims and his advocacy of other docs is commendable.

It's just that the debunkers' side has a problem in the 911 Debate. Mark Roberts got snubbed by David Ray Griffin, the respectable face of the Truth Movement while Richard Gage ONLY agreed to 'debate' Mark Roberts in thee most uncharitable format possible. So Roberts has to address just kids like Avery and Bermas. Roberts has to sit through three episodes with Jim Fetzer trying to make this theory sound sane.

I would note that this debate is dated (2006) but the views presented by Truthers mentioned in this debate are still being thrown around by your average Truther and though the movement has retreated to wanting to only talk about the WTC dust particles, their big named defenders still believe all this stuff but just refuse to talk about them because they know they sound ridic.

Mark Roberts takes on some other, bigger Truthers, namely Richard Gage which I will link to later.

Check it out!

Dinesh D'Souza vs John Loftus - Does the Christian God Exist? 2010

This debate ( audio | video ) took place in 2010 between Dinesh and ex-Xian John Loftus and concerned the question: "Does the Christian God Exist?"

3 Stars.

SOURCE...besides Dumb and Dumber.

PhilVaz 4/5
TFT review

This debate was a bummer. I recently became more interested in these debates from reading all the blog posts on a bunch of different sites talking about who can take on Bill Craig. Loftus was cited or mentioned several times and it was just a bummer to hear such a weak debate.

Both debaters seemed off their game a little - Loftus had a cold and Dinesh was in traffic or something. Dinesh still used his same old phrases and Loftus made a Dumb and Dumber reference that I enjoyed but I don't think was appreciated by the audience.

Dinesh had some disparaging things to say about Victor Stenger at one point. Stenger isn't the most charismatic debater but he was known for giving Craig a lot of trouble in his debate he had with him so I bet he could devastate Dinesh.

Forgettable but not terrible. Even Dinesh wasn't his more wonderfully slimy self.

Solid AQ

William Lane Craig vs Hactor Avalos - Resurrection: Fact or Fiction? 2004 BEST TOP TEN CHECK GTP

This debate ( audio | video (audio only) | 1:59.57 | Debate Starts: 5m47s in ) took place in 2004 between Craig and Biblical Scholar Hector Avalos on the Resurrection of JesuCristo. It took place at Iowa State U and was in front of 3,000 students according to Craig.

4.75 stars: Avalos and Craig both bring a lot to the table and make for an interesting debate on the resurrection filled with more impressive arguments.

Other Reviews
PhilVaz 2/5
CSA review: bad

This is an intense debate and one that I go back to a lot because of how detailed it was and the uniqueness of some of the arguments made. It's also one of Craig's best debate performances on this subject, IMO. That is, at least in terms of forcefulness and maybe not so much rhetoric.

Craig starts out attacking Avalos being “unprofessional” in a previous debate debate he had with Rubel Shelly. Craig spends a good deal of time doing this, too. I'll ramble about my problems with this later, though.

Avalos has a great opening and doesn’t let Craig’s attack phase him. This is Avalos’s best presentation in the debate but he kind of gets less and less persuasive for the rest of the debate until the Q&A. I agree with others that Avalos can come off as mean-spirited in his approach. His presentation made it seem like he was attacking Craig, for example, saying things like “yes, there are two Dr. Craigs”. I can see how the audience would think he’s just trying to discredit Craig rather than focusing on the historical "facts" Craig mentioned.

Craig also does the slickest (positive connotation) rebuttal I have heard him use so far. In his first rebuttal, Craig notes that Avalos has used biblical sources for his own published work on ancient healthcare. Craig argues that if Avalos wants to say the bible is an unreliable source, then it would undermine his own research which relies on such dubious sources. Of course, I wouldn't be surprised that Avalos used the bible to talk about a non-supernatural phenomena known as healthcare, not to prove the resurrection of a human being. The standards of evidence to talk about healthcare in ancient times are not the equivalent to the standards of evidence required to prove someone rising from the dead. I would also suggest that Avalos is a biblical scholar and professor at a university. The latter means that he is required to publish regularly to maintain his job while the former entails that most of what he publishes will somewhere have the bible mentioned.

But the important thing, debate-wise, is that Avalos doesn't address this and thus Craig definitely gets this point in his favor at least in a fridge-logic sort of way.

In fact, one of the criticisms I have of Avalos is that he seems to just talk past his debate opponents. This is evident in other debates of his and it’s a really easy thing for his opponent to point out which is what Craig does when Avalos doesn't respond to the criticism I mentioned just prior to this paragraph.

Another criticism I have of Avalos is I think he needs to be more explicit in demonstrating how the points he made are relevant to the debate. In this debate he brought up a linguistic issue which Craig was able to address only cursorily because he never used it in that specific debate so he deemed it irrelevant. It also didn't help that the topic was just simply lost on the audience because it required a knowledge of translating between ancient languages. In an email correspondence with Avalos he mentioned that in hindsight he agrees with this sentiment. Also, in his most recent debate, it seems like he's aware of this issue because when he does bring up some Hebrew translations it's done with a lot of hedging.

In sum, the good parts of this debate were: Besides Craig’s opening he had really good rebuttals and seemed very on point and forceful. Avalos did a good job of showing how Craig is picking and choosing which passages in the Bible to take as history and did a great job in the Q&A. I was reminded of how Price did in his Q&A segment against Craig where it seemed that Price (and here Avalos) where kind of forced to be more focused in their responses to some of Craig's criticisms due to the questions asked by the audience. I also felt like Avalos did a better job of summarizing his point and ended with a thoughtful appeal in his closing.

So there is a lot to take out of this debate and because of this, I'm making it a TOP TEN debate because of how strong Craig did in it again, despite his lame opening and the strength of Avalos' performance.

Okay AQ, a little low and it seems like a bit of Avalos' 2d rebuttal is cut off.
About Craig’s attack on Avalos

First off, that Craig can spend the first 5 minutes of his presentation attacking his opponent and still present his normal schtick is a testament to Craig's skill as a debater. But it was still a pretty cheap move to pull and it didn't go unnoticed if you go by the audience's impressions in the Q&A. In fact, when someone brought it up, Craig said he felt "uncomfortable" doing that, as if he wanted some sympathy for doing it anyways.

Elsewhere someone made a good point about this, too: Craig should have contacted Avalos about it before the debate if he was so worried about it. Or if Avalos did do that in this debate Craig should have simply pointed out that Avalos was being too critical about the quality of the ancient texts and sucked it up, but to be fair that's not an answer a perfect apologetic missile like Craig would consider. Ultimately maybe he shoulda offered another unique or interesting point to his arguments. Whatever.

Concerning the "printers errors" mentioned by Craig, there is more of a discussion about it here and here, if you're interested. 

LASTLY, through my university's ILL, I was actually able to get a copy of the debate audio between Avalos and Shelly. And I can say that Craig at least mischaracterizes the tone in which Avalos said the things he quoted in this 2004 debate and at most quote mines Avalos. I will claim that Craig misrepresents the context of the issue. I have been nursing over a critique of this attack on Avalos for awhile, now. I'll have a review of the Shelly debate (it wasn't too great) and the aforementioned critique hopefully soon. Oh, and I'll have links to the debate audio because both Avalos and Shelly said I could host it because they are both absolute mensches.

A list of mini-reviews of Craig's debates can be found here!
7-7-2013: I fleshed out some comments and added some more links at the end.
8-4-2015: I polished up the entire review to make it clearer and updated a view of my opinions on some matters.

Steve Fuller vs Jack Cohen Podcast on Intelligent Design CHECK

This debate ( audio | 1:02 roughly ) took place in 2006 between Sociologist Steve Fuller and Biologist Jack Cohen. They discussed Intelligent Design and evolution.

3.5 Stars. CHECK

This debate is a bit scattershot. Because of Fuller's background and how he contributed to the Dover Trial, it focused more on how the scientific community interacts with the theory of Intelligent Design.

Cohen is a good speaker and certainly comes out on top but he tends to go off topic a bit. Fuller becomes more and more hysterical as the debate goes on. He has some speech mannerism where he'll start off a statement at a normal volume but seem to get more aggressive and intense as he gets to his point. It doesn't help that he seems to get frustrated that he's not making his points clear enough for the host to follow at one point. It also doesn't help that the host is a very soft-spoken and unassuming British guy seeming to be taken aback by the caustic shouts spewed at him, too.

However, Fuller does make more nuanced arguments for Intelligent Design though his tact makes him a bit off-putting. If you can, check out this dialog. Fuller does better in it than he does in other debates I've heard him in, especially the one he had with Stenger on Unbelievable a few years back:
( review )

Low AQ.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Eddie Tabash vs William Lane Craig - Secular Humanism vs Christianity 1999 BEST

This debate ( audio | video | 1:42.10s ) took place in 1999 and was between Eddie Tabash and William Lane Craig. It was held at Pepperdine University in Southern California and the topic was "Secular Humanism vs Christianity" and Tabash made Craig flip a coin over who'd go first on this one.

Debate begins about 3.25s in...

4 Stars. Eddie certainly rattles William Lane Craig in this content packed debate but he doesn't bring too much of the secular humanism game into the mix. BEST

PhilVaz 2/5
APF review: 4.5/5
CSA review: good
Richard Carrier review: Craig won on rhetoric

This one is often cited as one of the few debates Craig doesn't win. Since I think he has lost more debates than what others have argued I agree with this point, but maybe not as much or in the same manner as those other reviewers.

Tabash is a great lawyer and a Bruin (go Bruins!) and has an amazing ability to deliver 500 arguments in a short 15-20 minute opening. Some have tried to call him on doing this but only to disastrous results. Anyways, Tabash comes out swinging and Craig for once has a harder time playing catch up.

In fact a usual issue that debaters against Craig have is that their speeches tend to seem sparse in content. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, (I think Ahmed's debate, for example, featured more quality rather than quantity in terms of denser content) but the fact that Craig can organize and fit in all these arguments into an 8 minute segment, especially on the fly, sounds - and is, to an extent - pretty impressive. However, Tabash, though unfortunately resulting in his spending less time on defending secular humanism, is able to throw out as much as Craig can.

Some good parts were when Tabash referenced Craig dancing at the airport for Hare Krishna as being a major paradigm shift in Christian thought akin to Jews converting at the time of Jesus if it were to happen but that such an event would still make the claims of Hare Krishna just as unlikely.

I should mention that this is an earlier Craig, 1999. Maybe Craig was still fine-tuning his debate skills, though he’s been doing this since the 80s so I don’t know if this is a good excuse. It is worth mentioning mostly all of the debates Craig has supposedly lost were in that miserable decade the 90s sans the Kagan debate.

Both give a lot of information and the reasons keeping this debate from being a 5 starer is the audio quality is terrible and the fact that Tabash doesn’t flesh out his worldview all that much, he’s mostly on the offensive.

Poor AQ and VQ.

A list of mini-reviews of Craig's debates can be found here! 

RE: 6-30-2013; I added a link to Phil Vaz's review (though it is just a breakdown of the segments with assigned check marks on the debaters' performances) and to Richard Carrier's review. I highly recommend ya'll check out Carrier's review. It is well written, thorough and further features a response from Eddie!

Shelley Kagan vs William Lane Craig - Ethicis without God 2009 BEST TOP TEN

This debate ( audio | video ) was between philosopher Shelley Kagan and super-apologist William Lane Craig in 2009. The debate topic was about the possibility of ethics without God.

5 stars. Kagan lets Craig get away with very little in this debate about morality without God. BEST TOP TEN
Whenever the Apologeticbot-316000 William Lane Craig is brought up by (more thoughtful) atheists, it's usually conceded that Craig definitely lost this debate on morality with philosopher Shelley Kagan. I'm updating all my reviews (2015) and this still seems to be the ONE debate more agree on.

Kagan details his argument so clearly and in such an accessible manner. He starts off by making sure the audience knows that people have been talking about morality without mentioning god for a very long time. Such a thing isn't even atheistic, too, it's just that people have been trying to knock about moral frameworks forever and a lot times they forget to think about how maybe some celestial super-being might play a role.

He also presented just ONE such moral framework that can account for what Christian apologists (not all) usually insist atheistic moral frameworks lack, which is moral objectivity. This framework is Rawl's Theory of Justice, which basically purports that the feature of universal or objective morality is achieved by asking how we would treat one another/interacted morally/ethically with the external world had we been asked such questions before we were marred with our dividing biases.

Craig does his shtick but it doesn’t seem to be as intense as in other debates because the debate topic is so specific. Here is where we get a more focused speech from Craig on only morality. Craig is good at giving out a lot if nice, snack-sized arguments, together forming one larger case for his position. But when he has to flesh out a more specific topic, he ends up coming off less intense (if you need another example, check out his debate with Ray Bradley on Hell).

This issue really weakens Craig's position later: Craig keeps harping on ultimate significance as being really super important to objective morality and this is how he is able to dismiss the non-theistic arguments for being morally upright because 5 billion years from now the earth with turn to ash AND they don't matter if there is no god or heavenly reward.

Craig does say this in many of his other debates but it is dished out with several other arguments that his opponent has to respond to. However, Kagan doesn't need to worry about that here and we also hear Craig repeat this issue over and over again making it easier for Kagan to respond to it. And he does. Really well.

Craig also gets beaten up pretty badly in the cross-examination, Kagan doesn’t let him get away with the slides he can pull through his almost complete mastery of the art of formal debate. Kagan beautifully lays out contractualism and Craig attempts (not necessarily in a nefarious manner) to crap on the framework by asking “what if [I forget] doesn’t wanna sign the contract?” and this gets a laugh out of the audience but it also gave Kagan the chance to reiterate the key parts of contractualism to the audience and Kagan does so and does it perfectly.

One of the best debates out there.

Good but kind of choppy AQ and good VQ.

Other Reviews
APF review: 4.5/5
CSA review: good?
WK review: Xians always win

A list of mini-reviews of Craig's debates can be found here! 

Post Revision Notes
6-30-2013 I fleshed out the first paragraph introducing the debate a little more.
8-19-2013 I significantly changed the first paragraph. I originally talked about how Kagan didn't need to address Craig's argument from the resurrection, which is true, but it's true because Craig never actually brings it up in this debate. I've listened to a lot of Craig's debates and they all blurred for me. I also edited the technical  section.
8-15-2015 Updated the links and made myself sound less like an idiot...And I described the debate a bit more.

Christopher Hitchens vs Al Sharpton - Is God not Great? 2007 BEST FUN TOP TEN

This debate ( audio | video | transcript | 1:29.11s ) took place in 2007 between Hitch and Al Sharpton. It is one of my favorites and one of my favorites of Hitchens' specifically.

Debate begins about 5.53s in.


4.5 Stars. Hitch doing what he does best, taking out the more rhetorically inclined proponents of Christianity. BEST FUN TOP TEN

OMG what fun.

Two people who love to talk and work a crowd, do so, for an hour and a half.

Hitchens goes first and doesn't present anything specifically different from all his other debates in this one, but it is one of his more fluid performances. Al Sharpton seems absolutely timid and the least confident I have ever heard him, before. Usually he's pretty slick and sometimes I rather enjoy him, tbh. Instead he comes off as meek and flimsy and fails to defend the bible at all. He tries to account for this in his second debate with Hitch, obnoxiously so...but that's another debate review.

After the opening statements, every time Hitch lists all the crappy things religion has done Sharpton just argues that said crappy things are due to a bunch of jerks in the past misinterpreting scripture and that Hitch needs to actually disprove the existence of god. This is absolute disinterest in defending scripture on the part of the reverend leads Hitch to label Sharpton an agnostic and Sharpton doesn't even seem to protest that.

It seems a bit odd now that I think about this debate after getting interested in the more intellectually dense arguments relating to theism and Christian theism...has Sharpton ever actually flat out had a debate on the existence of God? I just think it would be funny if one of the more philosophical heavy hitters like Schieber, Lowder, or Ahmed actually found themselves in a formal debate with the guy. Sharpton kept wanting to debate the existence of god...I wouldn't have mind asking him about divine lies or something...

But what am I babbling about? This debate was about who could say the more witty jab! And by gum there's nothing wrong with that kind of debate, too...ESPECIALLY if it features one of my forever heroes, Christopher Hitchens.

The debate is just too much fun and the Q&A is one of the best I've heard.

Maybe cause this is one of the most popular Hitch debates I should clarify an issue that seems to arise with complaints about the way Hitchens debates that have been made by both his opponents and audience:

Hitchens is not debating that there is no god nor is he attempting to present the classic arguments against the evidence for a god. He is just trying to show what he means by his book title: religion poisons everything. That assertion is questionable, sure, but now that you know that he isn't attempting to disprove god, you can listen to his evidence supporting that assertion, instead. If you want to hear debates arguing for atheism, don't listen to Hitchens, don't listen to Dawkins, don't listen to Harris or Dennett, get over the pop-atheists and listen to some guys who know can really present arguments on that subject. Listen to those I listed as pop-atheists for fun and the love of the debate and it'll be a better experience, trust me.

Alright audio and video, though the audio is a little quiet, though.

Post Revision Notes
6-30-2013 I added a link to a transcript.
9-28-2013 I cleaned up some awkward sentences. 
8-15-2015 More clean upege.

Bart Ehrman vs Dan Wallace - Textual Reliabilty of the Bible 2012

This debate ( video | 1:56.52s ) features Bart Ehrman and Dan Wallace talking about the textual reliability of the NT Bible.

4 Stars. A very solid and cordial debate, one that's surely a testament to Wallace's skill to read a crowd.

This was a great debate. Both Ehrman and Wallace came off as very amiable and presented their sides in fairly approachable manners. Both keep their cases simple, which is something that Ehrman is good about doing I think.

This is probably the most fluid performance of Ehrman's that I have heard. He was succinct and did a good job of deflating the common argument that there are a billion ancient copies of the NT available to scholars. I say this because Wallace does kind of draw that out in his presentation and it doesn't seem as convincing after hearing Ehrman already snuff it out in his opening.

Wallace came off as a super cool guy, too. He further comes off as very liberal about his own position, too. He also presented a piece of evidence that I've never really heard anyone else articulate well enough for it to stick out for me in a debate AND I also didn't hear Ehrman address it, at least not specifically. That is, Wallace talked about early church fathers quoting from the NT that were available to them at the time. Through comparing these quotes to manuscripts of the NT, we can pin point, more accurately, which of the earlier texts are more reliable.

I don't know how this argument can be shown useless or not but it certainly was interesting and new to me, unlike most of the arguments used by apologists in this type of debate.

 Good audio, hear some feedback at parts though.

*Since listening to a lot more of the debates I have heard in the past and newer ones I have noted that this type of argument has and is brought up now and again. But Wallace makes the most clear use of it and Ehrman still did not address it.

Post Revision Notes
7-7-2013 I corrected some editing mistakes and commented on one of my original statements.
8-6-2013 I lowered the score, I have too many 5 star debates.
9-26-2013 I again, cleaned some stuff up.
8-15-2015 More clean up and cleansed.

DiCarlo & Dillahunty vs Horner & Chamberlain - Does God Exist? 2012

In this debate ( video | 2:22.53s ) we have Christopher DiCarlo and Matt Dillahunty go up against Michael Horner and Paul Chamberlain at the "Imagine No Religion" conference in 2012.


Augh, so many instances of dropping the ball were seen in this one, gang. Both sides don't do absolutely miserable, but rather they seem to miss great opportunities and squander potential greatness.

PZ Meyers made reviewed the debate and aptly referred to the apologists as forgettable. They bring nothing novel or interesting to the debate and seem rather subdued. In fact, they relied on some rather hackish Campus Crusader tactics at some moments of the debate, too. For example, one of the apologists (I forget which one) practically dropped the mic when he showed the atheists to be agnostics about the existence of god. Lamesvilleeeeeee. Atheists can be agnostics, these things are not mutually exclusive. Another trick apologists use is to define atheism as being the active denial of god's existence. This is not just cheap for the obvious reasons, but it further shows these guys don't even know how to cater to an audience, which being at a secular conference meant that the audience was largely secular. These types of tactics don't and didn't work out too well in the debate but they shoulda known better.

But it wasn't just the apologists who mucked up. The "no" side, atheists Matt Dillahunty and Christopher DiCarlo, missed sooo many opportunities, too. For one thing, the apologists were right when they called the other side out for not presenting an argument. IIRC they attempted to say that the no side didn't show how god could not exist - something they didn't necessarily have to - but instead of setting up a case or arguments, DillaCarlo just set up a bunch of qualifications and clarified general concepts about the nature of demonstrating things, knowing things, etc. etc. After this, though they use the bulk of their opening to preemptively address the fallacious tactics the apologists might use in the next segments. Some of those arguments HornChamber did use, so can't give DillaCarlo too much crap for that, I suppose. (I like keep having to correct what I really want to write, which is DillaHorner, btw).

Anyways, Dillahorn--I mean, DillaCarlo, then demonstrate that their side was not obligated to disprove anything but rather demonstrate that what the other side has presented isn't convincing enough to demonstrate the existence of god--but any closure was lost from this point because they never link this to why this leads them to atheism.

The cross-exam seemed too short and the apologists were savvy enough to play up the apparent lack of argument given by DillaCarlo in the earlier segment. The arguments about objective morality were especially cringe-worthy and mucked up by both sides.

The Q&A was kind of a let down as well, there were some incoherent and/or cliched questions asked of both sides.

The moderator was pretty good though, I can say that!

The audio has some buzzing at some points but it is still clear.

Post Revision Notes
7-7 to 9-26-2013 I cleaned up the review a little and clarified some of my observations.
8-15-2015 I'm embarrassed at how long I let such an atrociously written review stay up online without another quick edit. Augh.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Bart Ehrman vs James White - Did the Bible Misquote Jesus? 2009 BEST

In this debate ( audio | video | transcript ) Misquoting Jesus author Bart Ehrman argued against Calvinist Apologist Dr James White concerning the textual reliability of the New Testament.

4.25 stars: There is a lot detail packed into this epic debate. And though White's rather blatant underlying agenda ultimately left him sounding a bit whiny, he certainly comes off as a polished proponent for theism. BEST

This is a pretty strong debate between the two. I have heard Ehrman before but not White. This is the usual debate on this topic, Ehrman takes a conservative view on the textual reliability and White feels that the "misquotes" brought up by Ehrman are trivial or misused in some fashion. Nothing truly groundbreaking is thrown around between the two, at least as far as I heard. I liked the format of the debate, there was a pretty intense cross examination between the two where I think both debaters got in the points they wanted to hit home well.

Of course I think that Ehrman did better for the content he presents but he also does a good job of distilling the issues he discusses. He and White both got a little heated about things and Ehrman did so about some odd stuff. He didn't like being compared to a Muslim, which sounded weird to me, for lack of a better way of describing my impression. White kept on being kind of condescending about things in the cross-exam which probably agitated Ehrman a little. White would repeatedly say that Ehrman was not understanding what he was arguing and would repeatedly ask Ehrman whether or not he was familiar with other big names in the fields related to the subject of the debate. It sounded like Ehrman was getting more and more annoyed with this.

White did okay, I need to hear him more to develop more of an impression. I think he would agree because I would like to think he wasn't so whiny as he came off. He kept getting upset about Ehrman going on popular talk shows and having his work referred to by atheists and Muslim apologists. Look White, write a book with a controversial sounding title and you might get to go on those talk shows. Write a book that counters a view that has been so engrained in the American mindset ever since the beginning of this country and maybe you'll get on those shows. It sounds pretty lame to complain about non-Christian perspectives getting popularized in the United States, I'm sorry if just repeatedly affirming the validity of an old tome already considered dogma by the population doesn't sound sexy enough to go on Colbert. Maybe you can go to all the churches, universities, other shows and channels devoted to Christianity to make yourself feel better, eh?

The audio is good but it has some sort of stutter going through it, maybe Veritas has a better copy. I didn't watch the video, just listened to it.

Other Reviews
CSA: best!

Note on James White's Sale of these debates.  I think they're free now! See!

Post Revision History
7-7-2013 I cleaned up what I said about White's complaints, lowered to score because I think I need to be more critical and noted that on the epic list of debates put together by Luke Muehlhauser this debate is labeled as "best!".