Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dream Debates: Favorites, Lists and Teams Up-Dated 8-15-2013

This is a list of a) who I would like to see debate the pillars of theism or other topics b) debate against each other and c) like to see more debates from/of/whatever.

I think most theists agree that Craig is the best apologists they have to offer (with solid reason, too) so I will use him mostly as a reference.


Hitch- Was always a fun listen, the only of the "four horsemen" that I actually like* in terms of debate.

Example: Hitch v Sharpton

Carrier- Carrier is just full of knowledge, he is also very good about staying on point and I don't think I have ever heard him be condescending at all and he has been treated pretty poorly in some of his debates in the past.

Example: Carrier v Licona and Carrier v Jacoby

Ken Miller- My favorite Evolution Proponent. Miller has been doing this since at least 1981 against the famous Creationist Henry Morris.

Example: Firing Line Debate and Miller v Nelson

Craig- Oh William Lane Craig. I do not think this guy is as great as almost everyone says he is but he is pretty close. I enjoy hearing his debates for his rebuttal and closing skill. His arguments and openings are all pretty much the same.

Example: Craig v Avalos and Craig v Stenger 2010

Dinesh- Dinesh is just fun. He knows how to read his audience and even though he says the same damn jokes he still is fairly charming. The one argument of his that I have heard him use at least against Hitch that I have given more thought and decided that I agree with is when Hitch talks about Stalin taking advantage of the religious context that painted pre-Soviet Russia. Dinesh is right that religion shouldn't be blamed for Stalin's douchebagery. Of course Dinesh is wrong about blaming atheism but that's another point :P

Example: Dinesh v Shermer and Dinesh v Hitch 2007

Need to Debate More:

Sean McDowell- I've only heard this guy against Corbett and maybe Corbett was just so awful that he was the perfect foil for McDowell, but I doubt it. McDowell is charming and organized, I wanna hear more from him.

Mark Roberts- Roberts is famous in the debunking community, he knows a lot of stuff on 911 and is very good at relying this sometimes tedious information in a coherent and understandable manner. He has "retired" so to speak and I can appreciate that. But if David Ray Griffin would debate him I bet he would come back.

Jeffrey Jay Lowder- Lowder knows his stuff and is cogent and quick on his feet. It's a shame that I have only heard one of his debates and it wasn't against the greatest opponent.

Example: Lowder v Fernandes

Jeremy Beahan- Here is a guy who sounds very organized was able to hold his own against a decent rhetorician if not a great apologist. I would like to see him challenged more.

PZ Myers- I wanna hear him talk more about evolution in his debates.

Example: PZ v Simmons on KKMS 2008

Austin Dacey- Dacey, AFAIK, has only debated Craig, and has only done so twice. What makes this dearth of debate history more of a crime is that Dacey threw down with Craig both times and this is agreed on by nerds like me on both sides of the debate. Even Craig has applauded Dacey's skill. Dacey is also associated with CFI and so I am just absolutely perplexed that he hasn't done more stuff!

Example: Dacey v Craig 2005

Keith Parsons- Another philosopher who has apparently only decided to come out of the academic shadows to devastate Craig once and then wash his hands of the practice. Parsons is full of passion and good humor. The only debate I have heard of his is from 1998 with Craig, linked below! What a shame.

Example: Parsons v Craig 1998

Shelly Kagan- Another academic to come out of no where and throw down with Craig and to come out the victor. The guy has free lectures online but I wanna see this guy debate ethics more because it really is frustrating that so many people think that the divine command argument for morality is so convincing. In his debate with Craig, Kagan outlined contractualism, a moral philosophy that I hold to and one that Craig was unable to dismiss.

Example: Kagan v Craig 2009

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong- In 1999 S-A debated Craig and won and he wrote a great book (well, great so far) with Craig styled after an epic debate. I am in the process of searching for more of this guy but if he was such a tough opponent of Craig's as suggested on the interbuttz, I would think I wouldn't have as much trouble finding more from this guy as I apparently am, atm.

Example: Craig v S-A 1999

Arif Ahmed- Debate more! Compared to the others above, Ahmed has been debating a little bit more, including twice against Craig and two appearances on Unbelievable. Still not enough for a debate junky as yours truly.

Example: Ahmed v Habermas 2008 and Ahmed v Craig 2009

Atheist Dream Team:

Jeffery Jay Lowder

Jeremy Beahan

Arif Ahmed

Matt Dillahunty

Austin Dacey

Richard Carrier

Bart Ehrman

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

Dream Debate Matches:

Ehrman v Carrier - Both have recently been going at it in print form concerning the existence of Jesus. Not only are both skilled debaters but this topic would be interesting to see hashed out by two skeptics of Jesus' miracles.

Richard Dawkins v WLC - I know that Craig has been wanting this for years and I thought I wouldn't buy too much into this issue too much as I don't want this blog to be about flame wars and blog drama BUT I think that they should debate on evolution vs ID. Craig did one debate on this topic with a theistic evolutionist Ayala. In a response to a question I sent him on RF Craig mentioned this about the Ayala debate:
My goal in this debate was, not to argue for Intelligent Design in biology, but merely to defend its viability against Ayala’s caricatures of it.
Surely Craig thinks that Dawkins incorrectly represents ID when he talks about it and has more experience in popularizing evolution and defending it then Ayala probably has. I think debating evolution would be a great concession to lead to a legit debate between both Craig and Dawkins considering the former would have to debate on a topic that isn't his specialty and the latter would debate a topic that he's known for refusing in order to not lend it any validity.

Ahmed v Dinesh D'Souza - I bet that Ahmed would be able to throwdown with Dinesh, Ahmed is full of humor and interesting.

Dillahunty v Dinesh D'Souza - Matt would be able to counter the more bizarre arguments used by Dinesh and I think most would agree that this would be a fun debate to see.

Dillahunty v WLC - Probably won't happen because of Craig's PhD only debate rule but I would like to hear it and again, I think most would agree on that point.

Lowder v WLC - This dream debate has been an on going wish of others as well. Craig has made exceptions to his rule in the past, I think he should at the very least against Lowder.

Lowder v Dinesh - Again, Lowder could definitely hold his own against Dinesh. Picture the atheist version of Craig against Dinesh, that's what I see.

Roberts v David Ray Griffin - Griffin is supposed to be the most respectable Truth Movement leader out there. When he has debated I think he usually gets beaten up pretty badly and this is just from people who are experts on 911 CTs. Roberts is an expert so it would be nice to see this thing happen.

Roberts v Michael Berger - Berger is probably the best-sounding 911 Truther. He was more into it (I think) a few years ago so I don't think that two people no longer interested in the movement will be willing to come back and debate this topic. Le sigh.

Dillahunty v Friel - I feel as though I don't need to explain this I won't.


Ahmed v Craig - I bet this one would be a good one, they last debated in 2005 and barely touched each others' direct arguments in their Oxford debate. Next time Craig tours the UK I bet this could be set up.

Avalos v Craig - A few things were not addressed in the previous debate and Avalos is one of the few guys to

Carrier v Craig

Ehrman v Craig

Dacey v Craig

Roberts v Gage

Kagan v Craig 

Parsons v Craig

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ed Turner vs David Robertson & Richard Morgan on Unbelievable in 2009 CHECK

This debate ( audio | 1:20m ) happened on the Christian radio show Unbelievable in 2009. It pits atheist blogger (no longer active) Ed Turner vs Rev David Robertson and recent Christian convert from Islam, Richard Morgan (not the author, sadly).

3.5 Stars: Turner manages to hold his own against three Christian Archetypes: Slimy Apologist, Snarky Convert, and Lovable Moderate in this flustered radio debate. CHECK

APF review: 3.5/5

Holy crap this debate got my blood boiling. I agree with Damion's assessment of Robertson only I think that the term "prick" is too nice. I would call Robertson a douche, actually.

I also agree that Robertson lacks historical perspective in his arguments about how apparently any positive aspect we can identify in today's modern world can be sourced to the greatness that is Christianity. Such an ethnocentric and lazy picture of the world is depressing given that his educational background is in history. The concept of freedom of expression and democracy stem from Christianity? Get real!

This isn't the first bit of ethnocentrism I've listened to on Unbelievable nor is it the first instance of an ignorance on the historical past that I have heard spewed in all these religious-themed debates* on this site. Read your history folks - I mean, two words: ANCIENT GREECE.

Turner certainly holds his own between Robertson, Morgan, and the Host though Robertson did most of the talking. Turner certainly sounded slick repeatedly noting the statements made in Robertson's books and after reading the reviews of The Dawkins Letters I have to give Turner credit for reading anything by that guy. Turner spends a little too much defending the statements of Dawkins when he didn't really have to, however. Dawkins is a great writer/science promoter but I don't particularly find his insights outside of science all that interesting. It seems like Robertson shoulda stopped bringing up Dawkins too considering he kept having to qualify the fact that Dawkins does not endorse a morality based on evolution.

This is a frustrating debate to listen to, I enjoy that kind of stuff though, but if you don't, then skip it.

As usual, great audio quality, it's Unbelievable OHHHHHH.

*I'll note, I haven't heard Craig in any of his debates make such moronic claims as those made by Robertson. Never mind, Craig does it a lot, actually.

8-6-2013 I lowered the score, I have too many high-starred debates. 
8-23-2015 Clear up some things, added more information about the debate itself, ya'know.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


This debate ( audio | 43m31s ) took place early in 2008 between outspoken New Atheist PZ Myers and the forgettable anti-Evolutionist Dr. Geoffrey Simmons on KKMS radio. The title of the debate was "Are Darwin's Theories Fact or Faith Issues" and it was pretty fun!

DB: 3m48s


Apparently before the debate the debate topic was changed to the subject I mentioned above and this pissed PZ off most thoroughly. PZ sounds pretty angry on his blog but sounds like a giant teddy bear IRL but in the beginning of the debate he sounded like an adorably angry teddy bear at the change. I won't explain why he was angry because he does so, thoroughly.

Another thorough part of the debate was the destruction of Dr. Geoffry Simmons. The guy was simply not prepared and spewed the most pedestrian of Creationist arguments out there to which PZ devastated. I recall reading about this debate and read that even the anti-evo folk over at William Dembski's Uncommon Descent site were remarking at how terrible Simmons did in this debate.

This is too fun 'a debate. All ya'll should check it out. It's a shame that it was so short and it was on the radio. Radio hosts seem to feel the need to summarize what one debater just said to the other debater and this is evident here and in the Unbelievable episodes as well. I can understand that they do so because it's the radio, maybe but it sometimes it seems like a waste of time and so much more could be said if they just let the debate flow. But alas, this was still a great time!

One of the best!

Technical: Great AQ, it's radio!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Craig v Sinnott-Armstrong Does Evil and Suffering Disprove God? BEST CHECK

This debate ( audio | video | 1h 25m 57s ) took place in 1999 between Craig and Philosopher Walter Sinnott-Armstrong. They debated the Problem of Evil.

Debate begins around 5:53s in.

5 stars. BEST CHECK

PhilVaz 5/5
WK review: Xians always win*

I dunno why I haven’t heard this one before. It took place in 1999 and even more conservative Craig fans have applauded S-A’s performance. On CSA the book that these two have written is considered the best debate an atheist has put up against Craig and I think that book is an offshoot off of this debate.

Some of the reasons why Craig is considered to have lost this debate are evident in other debates, such as his debate with Kagan. This was more informal, as in the Kagan debate and more focused (on the problem of evil), as in the Bradley debate. But Craig certainly had home field advantage and he didn’t sound like he was working with material he isn’t comfortable with.

He also doesn’t go first, which I am just noting and could be wrong on this observation I am about to make. Craig is (rightly) on the affirmative and the affirmative usually goes first but this allows him to always shift the burden of proof, in a way. He usually lists things that the other side must address in order to meet their burden of proof and most of the time the opponent doesn’t address those things (whether they have to or not) or don’t address why they don’t have to meet such requirements.

But by simply going second, Craig can’t do this, and doesn’t too much in this debate. In fact, even when Craig says S-A didn’t address certain arguments, the more informal setting allowed S-A to call Craig out on it and Craig gave a pretty weak response.

S-A was pretty good, too. Like Parsons and Dacey I am totally bummed that S-A doesn’t have a lot of public debates out there, he certainly knows how to plainly convey his arguments and if you can devastate Craig like he did in this debate, then you should be out there more!

Great debate, one of the best – it’s a shame that it is one of the shorter ones.

Technical: Good AQ, this was done with the help of KKMS, a Christian Radio Station. If the Christians set it up, you know that the quality is gonna be good! The video is actual video of the event, not just the audio only!

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

*I highly suggest you look at the links available on WK's blog post.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lowder v Fernandes Naturalism v Theism BEST

This debate ( audio | video | 2h07m59s ) took place in 1999 between Dr. Phil Fernandes and former President Jeffery Jay Lowder. The topic seemed to be Naturalism v Theism

4.5 stars BEST CHECK

Hallq's review

Nothing particularly groundbreaking occurred in this debate in terms of content, I also don't think that Fernandes has ever been a strong debater. This debate highlight's Lowder's performance. This is the only debate of Lowder's that I have been able to find and it is just such a shame. Lowder does a great job. He is very common sensical, cogent and organized. I definitely think Lowder would give Craig a run for his money.

But I guess Lowder was mostly active in the irreligious community in the 90s and kind of moved on and thus we are left with just this one debate of his. Augh, I wish he would come back, I think he could even give the more ridic debaters a run for their money (D'Souza) but I especially think he could throwdown with Craig. I am apparently not the only one who thinks this.

I also think that Lowder is stylistically similar to Craig in debate terms, he really drives the point home when Fernandes doesn't answer him in the same manner that Craig has perfected. I think I have over emphasized my impression of this tactic because I mostly enjoy the more informal types of debate and I don't think that this tactic can be thrown around in that format so I never hear it...or at least it was rare, now that I am trying to be more rigorous in my debate listening for this blog I am starting to hear it a lot and most of the time from Craig.

Poor Fernandes, he was out of his league with Lowder AND he was right when he compared himself to Daniel in the Lion's Den because this was at some secular conference.

Technical: Good AQ though there are some glitches here and there. It's an old video.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Craig and Williams v Ahmed and Copson BEST

This debate ( audio | video | 1h31m17s ) took place in 2011 between Craig, Peter Williams versus Arif Ahmed and Andrew Copson. It took place at the Cambridge Union Society and the debate motion was: "This House Believes that God is a Delusion".

4.5 stars. BEST

This debate certainly is interesting. It's set up reminds me of a more informal version of the Hitch Fry IQ2 Catholic debate. There were opening speeches, a long round of Q&A and then closing speeches. The difference was that the audience could interrupt the speakers to make a point. The debate is pretty intense.

I was glad to see that Craig and Ahmed were to debate each other but it seems like there was very little of them. I liked this debate so much that I am gonna relisten to it but if IIRC, Williams and Copson were the ones who I heard the most.

I guess I am not saying too much on the debate content, I should say that Craig certainly was on the defensive and was not able to come off as confident as he usually does, this definitely wasn't his style of debate. It seemed like he wasn't being taken too seriously, either. It almost seemed rude when there was laughter occurring during his closing speech. He also seemed annoyed that he wouldn't be able to reply to the points that Ahmed would address and complained that that wasn't how to conduct a debate. This just wasn't his style.

Also it seemed like more of a debate between Williams and Copson with Ahmed and Craig making assisting comments. Ahmed and Craig did get time to say the concluding parts but it just didn't seem like enough.

Another thing about the video is I guess Craig is seen with his hands shaking at certain parts. The top comment on YouTube is by Williams in response to a douchebag user's comment about Craig's shaking hands: "William Lane Craig suffers from a a neuromuscular disorder called Charcot–Marie–Tooth disease, which is why his hand shakes. This is a hereditary disorder that involves the slow disintegration of the myelin sheaths around the nerves, resulting in progressive muscular atrophy."

The limited interaction between the debaters is what keeps this from being a perfect debate but the interesting integration of audience participation is what makes me label it as one of the BEST debates.

This post will be fleshed out more later.

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

Craig v Brown in 2009

This debate ( audio ) took place in 2009 between Craig and Jim Brown on whether or not God exists...I think.

4 stars.

CSA review: bad
APF review: 4.5/5

I don't have too much to say about this one that hasn't been said in the two reviews I linked to above. I pretty much agree with both of them. Brown does come off as kind of ramble-y in his beginning speech and this always just looks a millions times as bad when up against Craig because of his skill. You gotta give Craig something to counter or he has the playing field to himself.

Brown catches up a little and really handles the Q&A (sans the Behe question, which is a total bummer because it is a pretty weak argument that has been addressed in so many different ways ever since Behe first talked about the flagella). But the questions were all kind of naive, for lack of a better word.

Brown is one of the better debaters against Craig but Craig definitely took the debate.

Technical: Low AQ.

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

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Victor Stenger vs Steven Fuller on Unbelievable - Science and Testing Religious Claims 2010 CHECK

This debate ( audio ) occurred on the great show Unbelievable in 2010 between Vic Stenger and Steve Fuller. The topic was "Is God a Failed Hypothesis?"

3 Stars: Fuller is as weird as ever but Stenger is just the guy to call him on his BS. CHECK

Despite poor Justin Brierley's best attempts to stick with the topic it was only briefly touched upon because Fuller made some pretty ridiculous assertions Stenger just had to answer.

From what I gathered from Fuller, science and the concept of progress can be largely attributed to the Abrahamic religion. He espouses this disturbingly ethnocentric view and repeatedly stands by it throughout the discussion.

Immediately, Stenger takes umbrage to such claims by pointing out that the Greeks, Ancient Chinese, Muslims, and Indians started doing science well before God was making Earth the center of the universe. He further points out that Christianity has actually inhibited scientific inquiry*. Even the Justin Brierley thought Fuller was full of it from the sounds of his questions around the middle of the show.

Fuller pretty much discounts the non-Western history of science by stating it was mostly for technology or advancement of the political entities or warfare. He continues by saying that if science wasn't based on an ultimate goal of understanding, or even demonstrating the existence of god, then it would be a more nefarious enterprise!

Fuller even argues that science has not been beneficial to society and cites things like nuclear energy research and genetic engineering. Stenger counters this with a pretty funny statement, [spoiler]saying roughly, "if you think that then why are you on the radio, why aren't you sending up smoke signals or something to communicate?"[/spoiler] - basically that science as added so much more to our advancement, compared to the draw backs that Fuller cites - but Fuller dismisses this as a "cost-benefit" argument that can go both ways; Stenger has to then include all the horrible things science has created. Even this cost-benefit sophistry is crap, Fuller. Think of all the lives saved by modern medicine you crank.

Not too much substance in this one though I suggest you all give it a listen. Fuller can usually hold his own but not here, he just comes off as hysterical and crazy.

Technical: Great AQ

*Though it has for sure helped it, mind you!

8-23-2015 Cleared up some stuff and lowered the score. 

McDowell v Corbett Morality 2010 CHECK

This debate ( audio ) took place in 2010 between "the next William Lane Craig" Sean McDowell and old-man magee James Corbett. It was supposed to be about morality but Corbett tried his darnedest to change that.

2.75 stars. CHECK, LAP, GTP

APF review: 3/5
WK: Xians always win
CSA review
McDowell interview on Pale Blue Dot

This debate is pretty bad.

McDowell, for his part, doesn't present anything new or special, but a) he's super charming and good natured b) he was polished and prepared and c) Corbett was absolutely awful.

McDowell presented the classic case for "divine command theory" - it is apparently impossible for Xians* to fathom a system of morality not reliant on some sky-brah - and like I said, did nothing special. He used a few different classic examples and tweaked them a bit but nothing fancy. He does however preempt a lot of the misconceptions atheists use to debate this subject and guess what, this works out.

Corbett goes up and muddles and rants. I bet the Freethinkers Club that put this debate on were so bummed by this guy. He doesn't address the topic, just bitches about Xian atrocities (which falls flat because McDowell had already addressed this issue) and is disinterested and condescending. He also kept complaining that he already answered certain objections. He kept sounding angry and asdfasdfa auuugh. Definitely a lame atheist performance.

I rated this debate poorly because of the lack of substance but I still recommend you kids check it out because Sean McDowell definitely threw down and he has a long career ahead of him.

Technical: The audio has a buzzing for the first few minutes but it goes away. Otherwise, it is nice and loud AQ

*not all Xians, of course :)

RE: 9-5-2013; I added a few more links.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Wise v Taylor Racial Diversity BEST TOP TEN

This debate ( audio | transcript | 1h39m21s ) took place on the Infidel Guy Show in 2007. It was between Jared Taylor and Tim Wise.

DB: 3m57s

5 stars. BEST TOP TEN

A pretty lame misconception by many (left, center and right) is that racism is no longer that big of an issue. It still is, very much so. Tim Wise is soo coherent in showing how latent racism is still a huge issue and though he surely filibusters a whole lot, he is very concise and to the point on a lot of things. Jared Taylor is probably the best racist pricks have to offer so this cannot be faulted for being an unfair debate other than the fact that Wise did talk a lot.

This debate should be heard by all.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Kent Hovind vs The Infidel Guy Show - Creation Science vs Evolution 2004 BEST TOP TEN

This ( audio | video | 2:05.37s ) is one of my favorite debates, ever. It was about all things evolution.


I think in 2004, Kent Hovind took on all the IG callers for two hours! It was pretty epic. Three callers in particular stand out, one was named River and he has called into Hovind's other show as well which I will post later because he's the only one I think ever reallllly got under Kent's skin and it is hilarious.

Three best callers:

One guy calls in about ERV which Kent just does not know about at all, Kent responds by saying that we don't know anything about DNA and that it is like a child looking under the hood of a car (this will get a laugh in the church or the prison church, now) but the caller (Ondo?) simply responds "but this is what we do know..."

Another (River) calls in and calls Kent out on quote mining articles about carbon dating and gets really specific and detailed, this is the longest call of the debate, too.

And another great call is an Irish geneticist, who points out the fact that research using evolution is successful enough to provide money and fund research on evolution and that if Creation science was producing research that could do the same thing then creationists wouldn't have to complain about not getting tax dollars or the fact that evolution does get tax dollars. Kent gets pretty annoyed by this guy, too. The guy says he studies the genetics of salmon and Kent tries to belittle this by saying something like, "in your professional field of salmon..." Pretty weak Kent.

Almost all the calls are great. Check this one out!

Craig vs Stenger - Does God Exist? (2d Debate) 2010

This debate ( audio | video ) was between retired Physicists Victor Stenger and Craig. It took place in 2010 and the debate topic was: Does God Exist?

3 stars.

PhilVaz 5/5
WK review: Xians always win

I was pretty disappointed with this debate. Stenger did a great job against Craig in 2003 but this time around he seemed more muddled and even less prepared. Stenger even introduced whole new arguments in his closing speech, which was kind of lame because Craig couldn’t respond to them.

Craig was polished as usual and I think he did better in this debate than the previous one. He did kind of ignore some of Stenger’s arguments but Stenger wasn’t all that great at pointing that out.

The Q&A was kind of a waste, too. Not a wonderful but not a terrible debate.

Technical: Good AQ, Stenger messed up his mic at some point, though.
A list of mini-reviews of Craig's debates can be found here!

Monday, June 10, 2013

My Dream Debate Format

I ultimately enjoy back and forth, back and forth debating in a more informal setting but I think there can be a good formal setting to debates as well.

My ideal debate format:

15 minute opening

10 minute rebuttal

30 minute cross-exam (15 minutes for one person to ask the other questions and then they switch)

8 minute closing

Q&A until you are kicked out of the venue and then take it to the parking lot.

Debate time: 96 minutes

Some notes and justification:

Debates usually have long openings and too short rebuttals, imo. I think that

Things I don't like:

No audience Q&A. Yeah audiences can get a little obnoxious and rambling in their questions but I think that this is the best part of a lot of debates. I further think one of the way you might be able to stifle the long-winded questions from taking over the Q&A (at least for at debates in universities) is to have it be only students until no more students have questions.

-As a sub-issue, I don't like it when the opponent isn't given the chance to respond to the other person's answer to a question in the Q&A.

Closing statements after Q&A. They should just be before the Q&A. I would like to think that there is a chance for these things to go on longer if everyone is willing and this would be fully taken advantage of by having the Q&A at the end of the debate because then you can try and fit as much questions in as possible.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Craig vs Stenger - Is There a God? 2003 BEST

This debate ( audio | video )  took place in 2003 at Hawaii U between Craig and Physicist Victor Stenger. The topic was "Is There a Good?"

4.25 stars. BEST

PhilVaz 5/5
CSA review: good
Ed the MSP review

Victor Stenger does better than most, he's a physicists and can better address the more sciency sounding arguments Craig throws out there than most. I further think he gave little ground and actually made a better (or more straightforward) quick* argument against the resurrection, especially since history is not his field.

But alas, Craig is just really good at having denser presentations and addressing a lot of information. Stenger's presentations just didn't come off as full of content as those of Dr. Craig.

Still, Stenger was pretty good in the Q&A portion of the debate as well. So I would rate this one up there with Dacey's first Craig debate, though Dacey was able to get a little more information out in his speeches compared to Stenger.

Stenger also debated Craig in 2010 and I want to listen to that one and review it soon!

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

*I say quick because there are better arguments that are put forth in other debates on that specific topic.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Barker v Friel Atheism v Christianity?

This debate ( audio ) between Dan Barker and Todd Friel definitely features the worst audience of all time. OF ALL TIME. They clapped, hooted and yelled out at anything and everything—worst than a Realtime with Bill Maher audience.

4 stars. BEST

Friel is a radio show host and he is a great one. That means he’s slimy and cheap and does nothing to add to the debate. He really just deteriates to begging the audience to become Xians and threatening them with hell. Barker is a great debater against this kind of crap but Friel’s despicableness and the audience’s obnoxiousness got him a tiny bit frazzled at times.

This is a fun debate, but it lacked a little bit too much substance for me to give it a BEST rating. Friel starts off with something that had me laughing out loud, though.

Technical: Good AQ 


This debate ( audio | video | 1h 33m 26s ) features Hitch and Rabbi Boteach. It gets quite heated but is a lot of fun. I wish it were longer!

DB: 3m 50s


APF review: 2/5 and 3/5, respectively

This is too fun of a debate. Hitchens is at his prime and it’s obvious the crowd is completely with him. He doesn’t say anything unique in his opening from the dozens of other debates he’s partook in (of which there are plenty LINK), he caters to the flaws of Judaism a little more cause that guy knows his audience.

Boteach HOLY CRAP Boteach. All the desperate religious debate tactics come out of this guy. He also yells and spends a lot of time on evolution. A lot of time on evolution. He even at one point uses Kent Hovind’s argument that time is the god of atheism. He just sounds too embarrassingly uninformed on the topic and Hitch does a good job on calling him out on it. If you think I am spending too much time on Boteach’s evo argument it is because he spent so much time on it! Just remember folks, even if, EVEN IF evolution turns out to be false, it doesn’t prove there is a god.

Boteach calls Hitch out on claiming that an Israeli surgeon refused to aid Muslims and was supported by the Israeli courts and this becomes a very funny highlight of the debate.

Great debate for all the heat it generated, not the light.

Technical: Quiet AQ but there is a video too.

Dillahunty v Lucas Does God Exist?

This debate (audio | video) was supposed to be about the existence of god but Lucas, right off the bat pretty much said that god exists and turned the debate into a debate about morality. Dillahunty calls Lucas out on this and apparently had to scrap all the counters (I would hope) he had prepared for all the regular god arguments.

3 stars. 

And so we have a debate on justifying objective morality. I like these debates but a) this wasn’t a debate only on that topic b) Dillahunty wasn’t prepared to only tackle that topic anyways c) Lucas wasn’t that interesting of an apologist and d) I agree with Dillahunty about debate formatting, the opening speeches should be the shortest, 20 minutes is just too long imo.

Dillahunty also had the same issues in this debate that I felt he had in the previous debate I reviewed. He’s super into TAG and you can get more than you can handle in this debate he had with Matt Slick and he’s super into, well, I’ll use the word he used several times to describe it: being pedantic. This time he was a little better about presenting a positive case but because the debate changed it seemed like that couldn’t be fleshed out.

The cross-exam was good, and by good, I mean terrible for Lucas. Lucas really fell apart when it came to the slavery issue but can you blame him? Slavery blows and his god was fine with it. This is a morally corrupt position and Xians gotta stick to it, unfortunately. But again another issue with Dillahunty came up, he was just too glib with his answers and too tedious about definitions it seems. The debate ended up being about morality but there are several different, convincing and certainly better moral frameworks out there that Dillahunty could have suggested or he could have even fleshed out the one Lucas attributed to him (utilitarianism) or at least clarified the misconceptions Lucas made about it.

Check this debate out if you enjoy hearing an apologist get devastated but skip it if you want to see good debate performances.

Also, this is the second formal Dillahunty debate I’ve heard and I’m pretty downtrodden, tbh. I honestly think he could take down WLC but unless Dillahunty becomes Hitch or Harris status in popularity than we won’t see that debate anytime soon. I got two more Dillahunty debates to listen to, I hope they work out.

Technical: Good AQ. The audio I made has a section of Dillahunty’s repeated but I don’t know if that occurs in the video or not.

Tyson v Rogan Moon Hoax [NSFW]

[Warning, there is a lot of language in this debate…bad language*]

This is a debate/discussion ( audio | video ) between NdT and Comedian Joe Rogan. Rogan is known for entertainment stuffs but he is also known for being a total Moon Hoaxer.

4.25 stars. BEST

He debated Phil Plait, the Bad Astronomer, on Penn Jillette’s show in 2007, twice. The first time Phil was the clear winner but the second time Rogan, well he didn’t come off as more convincing but he certainly got more points in and was louder.

This was a different thing, though. Rogan didn’t get loud and obnoxious and Tyson was his charming self as usual. Nothing new in terms of the Moon Hoax debates goes. In fact, this was a general dialogue on conspiratorial thinking though they definitely talk about specific claims and even watch videos (good radio) and become quite impressed.

This is great because of how open-minded Rogan is to the fact that he does believe something that is pretty crazy. I say check this one out for Tyson’s general points on combating conspiracy theories and because of the good nature behind the debate.

Phil Plait and Joe Rogan go more point to point and I detail that in this post.

Technical: Great AQ but it is audio only.

*I lol’d irl at Rogan’s “fuckery a foot” comment.

Richard Weikart vs Hector Avalos on Unbelievable talking Hitler and Darwin PART DEUX 2011 BEST

I am a little annoyed that I only just now found out about this ( audio | 1:20m ) debate. It’s a subject that interests me and Weikart is the only guy AFAIK who attempts to make a scholarly argument for the claim that Darwin played a significant role in influence Nazism.

4.5 stars. If something was left from the case Weikart made for Darwin's above average influence on Nazi Ideology it's certainly gone in this debate. BEST

This is an Unbelievable episode and I don’t know why I don’t listen to this show more. Well I do, the episodes that I have sat through were pretty disappointing but there are just sooooo many of them that feature other folks that I enjoy.

But I digress. Both Weikart and Avalos have debated this topic in the past, just after Expelled: No Intelligence in the Classroom came out in 2008. They debate on a US radio show in a shorter amount of time and in a more strict formal setting. I absolutely loved it, though Avalos came off as a bit cheap at times. Nonetheless, Avalos was pretty freaking devastating in demonstrating how vapid Weikart's claims are when put under scrutiny.

Now this debate was a bit weird for my normal Unbelievable listening experience in that the first part was set up as formal debate in the same way as the previous debate they had. They both pretty much said the same thing, Avalos more so than Weikart during their openings. They both accounted for some objections brought up by the other in their previous debate but I was a bit letdown that no nuanced move has arose in the three years since the last debate...though I wasn't surprised.

In general, Weikart points to the importance of the Nazi Eugenics beliefs which were most likely inspired by the racial German eugeneicists contemporary with Hitler when he was apparently most malleable for getting all his terrible ideas. Since the debate calls for Weikart to demonstrate that Darwin was more influential than Christianity, Weikart conceded that sure, semi-big Christian figures like Martin Luther or the then Pope did kind of support Hitler and receive support from Hitler (not in the case of Luther, though, haha) but, that's cause Hitler was a politician. In Hitler's private conversations and statements and expressed in the way the terrible Nazi reforms were taken out, they were clearly Darwinian...survival of the fittest, the weak die out, the strong survive.

Hector Avalos notes that it is almost certainly the case that Hitler's Nazi Ideology was fueled the most by Christian anti-semitism. As in the previous debate, Avalos lists all the terrible things Martin Luther mentions we should do with the Jews. He also points out that Hitler mentions Martin Luther as one of his heroes and never mentions Darwin or guys like Haeckel (I think on Haeckel, at least). And even notes that tactically, popularizing Nazism to the German masses wouldn't go too great if they printed out passages of The Origin of Species but it would if they printed out anti-semtetic theological tracts.

The only difference that I found interesting was in Weikart’s opening and rebuttal. Weikart did something that I found smart and a little more original. He shifted from only talking about the Jews in the Nazi policy to mentioning how Christian anti-Semitism doesn’t account for the rest of the racial hygiene policies implemented by the Nazis. Other ethnic groups were sterilized and murdered, as well, though it does seem that the Jews were the big target. He does mention this stuff in the previous debate but he really fleshes it out this time around.

Great audio quality, this is always the case with Unbelievesies.

Update 8-15-2015 Clean up, clarified, expounded and added some links. 

Lynn, Scott, Ruse and Miller v Johnson, Behe, Buckley and Berlinski BEST TOP TEN

This ( audio | video ) is an epic debate on a show that I was too young to know about and wish was still on: Firing Line. It was about Intelligent Design and Evolution and took place in 1997. It featured NCSE’s Eugenie Scott, Brown U Prof (and the best debater I know of against ID and Creation) Kenneth Miller, Good-Humored Philosopher Michael Ruse and Pastor-Lawyer Barry Lynn versus Cal Prof and Lawyer Phillip Johnson, Irreducible Complexity Promoter and Prof Michael Behe, the late William F. Buckley and douchey Philosopher and Mathematician David Berlinski. I know I was nice to about all those guys but Berlinski but I hate that guy, sorry.

5 stars. BEST TOP TEN

See how epic this debate was? I took a whole paragraph just on explaining who was in the debate. The debate format was also a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it, it emphasized cross-examination and short intros and conclusion speeches.

There are so many great things about this debate:

-Johnson is the biggest guy behind popularizing ID and I think is known for making the infamous “Wedge Document”. I don’t think he does these kinds of debates all that often, or I haven’t seen/heard them yet.*

-Barry Lynn is a great lawyer and definitely deflates the other side’s arguments about the atheistic implications associated with evolution by the fact that he’s a pastor albeit a super liberal one.

-Scott is a great promoter of science education, I suggest you all listen to her other debates on the issue. She’s pretty glib about things. She’s also an anthropologist so that makes her even more awesome.

-Ruse is a pretty interesting sounding guy, for a philosopher I was surprised how down-to-earth his portion of the debate was.

-Miller is my favorite opponent of ID/Creation. He’s been doing this since at least the 1980s against the likes of Henry Morris.

-Behe just isn’t good at debate, I think the best proponents for ID are Stephen Meyer and Steve Fuller.

-Berlinski is good at sounding smart but there isn’t really any substance to what he says a lot of the time. He also relies on a pretty lame tactic that he further keeps bringing up. Here’s a little spoiler: he focuses on the fossil record and Scott calls him out on using an article supporting his claim that the fossil record sucks that was written in the 1960s. He definitely does the classic creationist argument:

Creationist: There is a gap in the fossil record.
Scientist: Oh well, we just found that…after 1966…
Creationist: You just made it worse, now there are two gaps: what came before the thing you just found and what came after it? BAM.

Berlinski at one point even cites the fossil record of insects as being crappy. INSECTS. This is a guy who has a bunch of degrees, one in biology, and he brings up the fossil record of insects. When he brings it up Scott still addresses it and says that there is a well documented fossil record for asdfasdf (the wasp, which is like the template for a lot of insect species like ants and stuff)and that STILL wasn’t good enough for Berlinski and Lynn calls him out on it.

-Buckley…I’m not sure about the actual show Firingline but I think he is a regular on it and takes a side (I think usually the conservative side). He didn’t really bring too much to the debate, just sounded cool, which I can’t really fault him for if his role on the show is what I mentioned above. The other side he was against were all noted for arguing on this specific topic and thus were experts, he just chose the side that happened to have the crappy position.

This is the best evolution debate if not the best debate on this entire site.

Technical: Great AQ and there is a video but it is edited, the first 40 minutes(?) is cut out.