Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Max Andrews va Justin Schieber - Existence of the Christian God 2013

This is a different debate ( audio | 1:45.12s ) between Christian Max Andrews and Reasonable Doubt's Justin Schieber. It took place in early August 2013, so I think this is the most current debate I have reviewed on this site. Remember this glorious day, dear reader.

The Debate Begins around 3:40s in.

3.25 stars. Though this debate is lacking in terms of rhetorical interest, it's nonetheless packed with denser arguments given the great format. CHECK

JJ Lowder's reviews 1, 2, 3 & 4.
Counter Apologist review

Besides how recent the debate was, there were a few other reasons why I am reviewing this debate. One is that it isn't between two well known debaters, though I think both guys have done debates and are active on the interbuttz in this topic, especially Schieber.

Another reason that is more interesting is that this isn't a public debate. Instead, both guys recorded and transcribed their openings and responses. The first week they would make their openings available and they would have one week to make a response and some allotted time after that to make another response. It was more akin to the written debates only this time, they also recorded their arguments. The recording that I am linking to is just one response after another, there is a brief opening introducing Andrews. 

This structure is fantastic and I wouldn't mind participating in a debate like this in the future, when I have more time and feel more comfortable with my grasp of all the different arguments. This format also makes the responses way more detailed and packed as the opponents had more time to prepare and rehearse their responses.

But does this work out for an interesting debate? Kinda. I felt that both sides presented rather convoluted arguments that at times seemed like they could have probably been streamlined. Some of the stuff seemed super technical or again, like it was presented in an overly technical just because they had the time to be so rigorous. This is why I am giving the debate a positive review because the arguments were definitely catered for the format I suppose. I highly suggest you read Jeff Lowder's reviews of the debate, he likes reviewing them like a forensic judge and meticulously summarizes the debate as well.

Hmph. I thought I would have more to say about the debate itself but I guess I don't, for now. Sorry folks, maybe I should just solely outsource my review to Lowder...I think the few criticisms I mentioned do make sense, at least.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Miller v Nelson Intelligent Design BEST

This debate ( audio | 1h20m35s ) took place in 2005 between Ken Miller and Paul Nelson and focused on Intelligent Design and education.

4.25 stars. BEST

PhilVaz 3/5

This debate took place during the height of the Dover Trial, a trial that contested whether or not ID can be taught in the classroom. Ken Miller is my favorite ID opponent and he was an expert witness at the trial, amongst many other prominent figures on both sides of the issue. IIRC, Nelson was also a witness...I think it says so in the debate.

Nelson comes off as amiable but doesn't present any interesting or new arguments. Probably the most forceful ID proponent is Stephen Meyer, IMO. I think even ID proponents would agree that Nelson doesn't bring the strongest arguments to the table and he is pretty evasive as well as wishy-washy.

Miller, on the other hand, does a great job presenting the debate. I don't think there is video of this, but if there is I would suggest ya'll check it out because Miller is usually pretty animated and integrates ppt into is presentations.

The Dover Trial brought out a lot of embarrassing things for ID proponents. It was ruled over by a conservative judge, it was documented quite extensively in the media which meant that items like the wedge document were mentioned to a wider audience, the main textbook recommended by the ID community was picked apart pretty thoroughly and there are public court transcripts riddled with silly quotes made by some of the greats of ID, like Michael Behe. In fact, Miller mentions one of Behe's more damning quotes which features him agreeing that under the criteria Behe uses to define ID as science, we would also have to define astrology as science.

So this is a pretty one-sided debate but a really nice quick listen to learn about how ID proponents are trying to get pretty much Creationism, into the classroom.

There is more to discuss but I might just leave the review here. I also might come back and add some more details but meh.

Technical: Good AQ

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Avalos v Weikart Darwin and Hitler BEST CHECK

This debate ( audio | 35m41s ) took place on the radio in 2008 and it concerned the link between Darwin and Hitler. It pitted Hector Avalos versus Historian Richard Weikart.

DB:  2m28s

4.75 stars. BEST CHECK

PhilVaz 3/5
APF review: 3.5/5

This is a short debate that took place on the radio in 2008. Though it's the radio, it was set up as a formal debate between Avalos and Weikart. In 2008, the movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed in the Classroom came out. I actually saw it in the movie theaters and it was pretty bad. Besides saying that science is purposely censoring ID, the movie also makes connections between Darwinism and Hitler. This is nothing new, but one of the more resent academics to exploit this misconception is Richard Weikart, who wrote From Darwin to Hitler, a book used in the movie.

Hector Avalos asked to debate Weikart about this and so here we are. Weikart's arguments are still pretty weak and unconvincing. He certainly has a knowledge of German thought and history around the time contemporary with Hitler and the height of eugenics, but his complete ignorance of the more obvious influences on the racial ideology and propaganda promoted in Nazi Germany is just too glaring and Avalos does a great job of pointing this out.

If you listened to the later debate that these two had on Unbelievable in 2011 (that I review here) you're gonna hear more of the same stuff. I actually think Weikart does a little better in that one, though not by much.

Weikart comes off as a little too dismissive too when he does briefly address Avalos' arguments: at one point he argues that Martin Luther's call for the murder of Jews was only specific to Jewish rabbis which thereby renders it nothing like Hitler's policies is kinda laughable. Avalos also does a great job of showing how tactically stupid it would be to use Darwinism as the main force of indoctrinating a nation to hate different ethnic groups when religion has such a stronger hold on a given population and is so much more accessible. I mean, why argue from a scientific theory little understood by a general population than from a religious doctrine that is so important to the lives of the members of that population? The fact that Kristallnacht happened on Luther's birthday, Luther was both a German and religious hero AND Hitler lists him as one of his heroes doesn't really help Weikart's case, either.

Again, the only issue with Avalos' side that I have is his style. His responses are effective and well argued, but he has a tendency to present his speeches in a way that make it seem like he isn't really addressing his opponent's arguments. I can sympathize with someone who was persuaded by Craig in his debate with Avalos and with Weikart in this debate, when they stated that Avalos failed to address their arguments. Though Avalos does a little better in this debate and his own arguments were just too damning.

Technical: Great AQ because it's radio.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Carrier v Licona Resurrection BEST TOP TEN

This debate ( audio | video | 2h30m25s ) took place in 2004 between Apologist Mike Licona and Carrier at UCLA (go Bruins!) and was on the Resurrection.

DB: 5m09s

4.5 stars. BEST

PhilVaz 5/5
APF review: 4/5

This is definitely my favorite resurrection debate. Both Carrier and Licona do a great job and it is long, cordial and probably the most informative debate I have heard in general.

Both Licona and Carrier did something interesting that I have only heard of in one other debate: they decided to exchange their opening speeches with each other beforehand in order to make for a more srs rebuttal period. This was an awesome idea and it enabled both speakers to give some really impressive presentations.

This is the first debate I have heard of Licona's and I think it is one of his bests. His later debates focus on arguments not based on the gospels and sometimes include a discussion of contemporary miracles. Because Licona and Habermas have collaborated on a lot of stuff they both use a rather weak argument that I think people like WL Craig are wise in not bothering with. Basically, they both discuss modern day miracles and near-death experiences and of course I think the evidence for these things are very unconvincing, but I think that most religious people who do accept the resurrection feel the same way. So I think that Habermas and Licona should probably stop discussing it but since this is an earlier debate Licona barely (if at all) mentions it and sticks to a very historical defense.

Carrier does a great job here, he also sticks to fairly technical and specific arguments. At one point to demonstrate the fact that ancient Jews might not have thought there was an empty tomb, Carrier mentions writings that discussed a weird trial. This trial required the testimony* of Jesus or Jesus to be involved in some way through some weird ritual that used magic. Carrier argues that in order to carry out the ritual, the court needed the skull of Jesus which would mean that there is evidence that at least some number of ancient Jews didn't think that Jesus' tomb was empty nor did they have an issue with his resurrection.

I have never heard this before and I don't think I hear it ever again in any other debate. For all I know Richard Carrier just used a fake/false/wrong argument but it certainly is unique and Licona's response was unimpressive at most.

I dunno why I latched on to this example so much. I think it's a good example of how detailed this debate got, at least. But regardless, both Carrier and Licona do a great job and Licona is definitely one of my favorite defenders of the resurrection.

This one is a must listen, the Q&A and back and forth at the end is great and Prof Bartchy (who I never took as a professor but have heard in a debate and enjoyed) was a great moderator.


Technical: Kind of low volume in terms of AQ, dunno about the VQ but it was a Veritas event and they're usually pretty good.

*I'm gonna relisten to this debate in the near future so I will hopefully update this review with more specific references to the arguments.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ed Turner Epically Reviews the Great Hitch

Ed Turner runs a wonderful blog:

When I decided to spend way too much time looking into all the religious debates I found myself scrolling through the comments on the old Common Sense Atheism site and agreeing the most with Ed's views on WL Craig debates. I later found out that Ed Turner has appeared a billion times on Unbelievable from 2008 to 2011, one show which I reviewed here particularly shows his ability to hold his own on religious topics against multiple opponents.

Well anyways, Ed Turner has just published three epic posts on his blog detailing 69 different debates featuring the late, great Hitch. This is my first purely outsource post because I concur with Ed on a lot of his statements (sans one thing: Hitch's debate with Al Sharpton is one of his best, hands down). So PLEASE go and check out the following great posts!

Mini-Reviews of a Million Hitch Debates:

The Great

The Good

The Not So Good

Here is a quick 'n dirty list of my favorite Hitch debates, off the top of my head:

Hitch v Sharpton

Hitch/Fry v the Catholic Church

Hitch v Boteach II

Some of the Hitch v D'Souza debates

Hitch v Prager

Hitch v Kushner/Gomes

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Kennedy v Nixon First Presidential Debate 1960

This debate ( video | 58m35s ) took place in 1960 between JFK and Richard Nixon. It was the first pres debate to be broadcast on TV, three more were done but I dunno if I'll review them.

Debate Review

The debate focused on domestic policy issues. Kennedy started out by comparing the current state of poverty, technology and science in the US with that of those Red Atheists to the East and noting how crappy our situation is. He even reaches out to the minorities. Nixon, being apart of the administration that Kennedy is criticizing is automatically on the defensive and starts to compare the progress made by the Eisenhower admin compared to the Truman admin. He concludes that Kennedy is just gonna rehash policies from the Truman admin, which obviously sucked compared to the Eisenhower admin.

Of course Nixon said all this in a pretty cordial way. He kept talking about how he agreed with Kennedy and how legit of a guy Kennedy was, regardless of being wrong. This is just too nice for what I'm used to! Especially for politics. Both guys said pretty much nothing in terms of content in both their opening speeches, but Kennedy came off as more forceful and passionate about the vague troubles he noted in his opening.

Then each guy got questions from some journalists. One would be asked a question and the other guy would respond to the answer given by his opponent. Kennedy gets asked the first question and responds pretty well. He also says some critical things of Nixon and when Nixon was asked to comment on it he simply says he has no comment. Again, I can't see the politicians of today passing up an opportunity to respond to an opponent or to just simply talk. Nixon dropped the ball on that one.

I'm surprised I lasted this long. Political debates are not that interesting to me because of how vague each guy sounds. I guess Kennedy came off better but Nixon didn't seem all that sweaty or sickly to be fair I am a Hitch fan and he doesn't seem like he preps for too long before his debates...


I decided to review the first debate because it is a famous example used to highlight important facts associated with politics, performance, public image and technology. All of those things (some more than others) are important aspects related to this blog. Mainly, the Kennedy-Nixon debates are known for dividing audiences of differing mediums as to whom won the first debate. Basically, the common musing is that those who listened to the debate, thought Nixon won. Those that watched the debate, thought that Kennedy won. The Wikipedia article on the debate has some objections to this musing, but the debate is still a pretty easy to explain example for how important the couple o' things I mentioned in the first sentence are towards swaying your audience to agree with your position.

I have decided to focus on audio/video debates for this blog. There is a wealth of written and transcribed debates out there that I suggest you all check out but because they don't meet all the features I enjoy in a debate I have decided not to include reviews of them. And I should further mention that I mostly listen to the audio of these debates. So basically, I would have thought that Nixon won...well, kinda.

Because of how this blog is the most important thing to me in my entire life, ever - I have decided to try and watch the debates as well, at least the popular ones or the ones that I have rated the highest. There are debates out there that are only available in audio or video. The latter is easy to fix, just don't watch it and listen but the former isn't so easy to trouble-shoot. Some of the favorite debates are audio only, I wonder if that would change if I watched the video of one of those debates. I always find it kind of funny to think of debates where it sounds like the guy is bombing terribly but for all I know, the audience is in tears because of how powerful his gesticulations are in demonstrating the soundness of his arguments...or something.


Technical: The VQ is fine, black and white...but duh. Your left ear will LOVE the debate but your right ear will want JFK and Nixon to speak up...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Debates Should Be Free!

This post is a rant similar to my debates I'll never know post. The only difference is that these debates are available, but for a price.

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong v Dinesh D'Souza

This is the debate that made me wanna make this post. These guys seem like two polar opposites, S-A is a thoughtful atheist philosopher who has managed to beat Craig in a debate whereas D'Souza is a neo-con talking head who's claimed that racism isn't an issue in America anymore and will say anything to win a debate (he once made fun of Barker for talking about how the book is supposed to have been inspired by god according to Christians by pointing out that everyone knows that the bible was written by men over hundreds of years...he said this as if it was supposed to be a point for him!)

The only reason I can see why this debate occurred is that they both were associated with Dartmouth at some point.

Never the less, what! How have I not heard of this debate? It took place in 2008 and no one else in the irreligious community interested in debates has mentioned this one. The reason for this, I have decided, is that you gotta buy the debate! You have to fork out 20$ to get it, and it is less than two hours. I decided to see all the awesome movies that I love that I can afford and buy with 20 bucks. Here they are:

Children of Men
Princess Mononoke
Cabin in the Woods

You get the idear.

James White v Robert Price
UPDATE: I bought this one, it was 4+ dollars. Dr. White: if you're gonna make people pay for your debates: make them all one file and less annoying to download, sir!

White v Bart Ehrman

White v Shabir Ally

White v Mike Licona

James White does this stuff for a living so I can ultimately understand why he does this. However, it is still pretty lame because White has debated a lot of folk on different issues. I do in fact, review one of his debates here, but I feel bad cause it was on YouTube and probably not approved of. I want people to access all the debates I review for themselves on this blog. I especially want them to do so without resulting to accessing them via illegal means or worse, pay for them.

Keith Parsons v Pastor Trigg

I've complained about this one before. Not only is it no longer in stock, but it would only be available in VHS form, so I would have to find a VHS player to watch it!

Hitch v WL Craig

This one is easier to get with investigoogling and I think it was even free on the internet at one point so you could still get it via the wayback machine, mayhaps? This one suffers from what the S-A v D'Souza debate suffers from, why is a debate with such a popular front man (Hitch) being sold instead of freely given? I know the generic reasons, but I like the reasons I have for them being free more than those generic reasons. Le sigh.

Misc Debates on The Infidel Guy

Notice the lack of a link to an example? Well that's because isn't alive anymore. So hundreds of media files filled with debates are lost to us! Reggie (the Infidel Guy) was nice enough to okay my hosting the episodes that I have on my own server but there are hundreds of debates on that site that I didn't download cause they cost money! Woe is me!

Anyways, sorry for the lack of substance in this post. I just wish I could listen to all these debates and that I could further link them to you, dear reader!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

William Lane Craig vs Keith Parsons - Why I am/not a Christian 1998 BEST TOP TEN


This debate ( audio | video 1 & 2 | 2:11:50s ) took place in 1998 between Craig and Philosopher Keith Parsons on why they are/are not a Christian. Here's alternate audio files that I think are better quality: Part 1 and 2. The debate was apparently in front of 4,000+ people in a Dallas MegaChurch.

Debate Begins around 5:05s in...

5 stars. This is my favorite Craig debate. Parsons is one of the few debaters to have bested him in a debate about Christianity. BEST TOP TEN

Craig opens up with a personal story that he doesn't bring up too much in his debates and it was nice and wholesome and all that. He then goes on to give his usual arguments for the existence of God though with fewer arguments and less of an emphasis on proving a deistic god and more of an emphasis on the Christian god. Craig usually gets away with arguing for a generic philosophers' god and having his audience think he demonstrated the existence of the Christian god in his more vaguely titled debates. He actually gets away with this A LOT and the only times I can remember someone calling Craig out on this is in Craig's debate with Massimo Pigliucci, a little in his Tabash debate and probably the most forcefully in this debate, but more on that later.

Parsons gives a great opening speech. He covers a lot of crowd pleasing bases too, though I don't know if that ultimately helped too much considering the cheers Craig got later on in the debate. He quoted people like Thomas Paine (what American dislikes Paine, AMIRITE?), disparaged Marxism - academic Marxism no less and his overall presentation was much akin to a fire and brimstone pastor, only without the threats to eternal damnation and requests for money.

One of the things that Craig has on his opponents is the density of his speeches. I think he's lost against Stephen Law and Arif Ahmed but Craig certainly shelled out more content than those two guys when he spoke. Usually this is hard to keep up with and if you miss anything out in your rebuttal, Craig will make you pay for it.

I've always wondered what it would be like if someone was like "I think I got everything, Dr. Craig, did I miss addressing any of your arguments?" what Craig would say...But that doesn't happen here, Parsons covers it all sans Craig's KCA since it is irrelevant to the debate. Craig brings up the fact that it is "remarkable" that Parsons does not address his KCA and Parsons comes back, making it perfectly clear, saying he doesn't have to address that argument because the debate is just about Christianity.

The thing that Parsons did that I think threw Craig off, was his focus on the resurrection. Parsons' arguments followed two themes: Christianity is not good and Christianity is false and he really hammered the resurrection claim for the latter argument. Parsons gave the philosophical argument against the resurrection while briefly mentioning the more obvious historical arguments, but this still did the trick. In a correspondence between Jeff Lowder and Craig, Craig mentioned that he was not prepared to focus so much on the resurrection.

They go back and forth and Parsons is able to keep up with Craig throughout. His final rebuttal sees him barely answering Craig but all of his answers are pretty good and Parsons really doesn't let Craig get away with too much. I think maybe one thing Craig called Parsons on was left out and that was Parsons' claims about why women would be at the empty tomb.

One thing that Craig gets away with using in most of his debates is an appeal to personal experience. Before bringing it up Craig usually says that it isn't technically an argument, but if his opponent doesn't address it in their rebuttal he certainly calls them out on it as if it were an argument. And if his opponent does address it, he can just say that it is his personal experience and not really an argument and either move on or use his time to preach. It's a pretty slick tactic, tbh. Parsons is the only one to really catch Craig with his pants down on it in this debate however, by pointing out that Craig uses this point in his writings as an argument as if it is supposed to support his case, and maybe Craig can get away with mentioning it in a debate, but it seems academically-sketchy to mention it in your written work with the impression that it's a more serious argument.

But alas, one issue is that Parsons was playing on Craig's home field, it was at a church and the audience were certainly polite and cordial but when Craig made a joke the whole house would crash down with laughter.

Still, Parsons just does an amazing job and that's what makes this one of my favorite debates. Parsons has done two other debates, another one with Craig in 2003 and one with a pastor named Trigg but this is the only one available, so listen the heck out of it!

Other Reviews
PhilVaz 4/5
CSA review: good 
John Loftus: atheists always win
DangerousIdea and Jeffery J Lowder's Summary
Christian perspective 
Parson's Thoughts about the Debate HERE
(In it apparently Craig thought Parsons did a better job with the resurrection arguments than most of the people he's debated on that issue specifically)

The AQ starts out ok but gets lower a little ways in. The debate was shot as if it were a sports event, it even has "honey shots"...It does not become messed up half-way into Craig's rebuttal, either!

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

8-19-2013 I just now found the link to the Craig correspondence I mention in the 5th paragraph.
9-12-2013 Someone JUST uploaded the actual footage to the debate. As I mentioned, it does not mess up and continue to have lower volume. Also, holy crap! People were sitting on the floor the even was so packed!
8-24-2015 Cleaned up the review but left it still in naive awe of Parson's devastation of Craig. Also, I might actually get a copy of the full second debate these guys had, if it works THEN I'll finally upload it!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Craig's Favorite Debates

This blog is in serious danger of being the poor-man's CSA with all the Craig debates I review and talk about. But I must admit, he's one of the few apologists who comes off as convincing and checks off all the key things that I enjoy about a debate.

But let's move on. Craig is pretty good about interacting with the public and regularly answers questions on his personal website. I am in the very belabored process of bugging both popular non-theists and theists what debates they most enjoy. Some have given pretty standard answers and others have given more extended ones compared to others. But this one by Craig takes the cake.

Craig was nice enough to answer the following question I sent him:
I am one of the several atheists who feel you are a great debate opponent. I have reviewed your site and Q&A and have found only two posts concerning debates.
I am interested in knowing your favorite 5 or 10 debates you've had. In one of those previous Q&As you mentioned Jesseph as being a tough opponent. That debate took place in 1996, though! I hope you were at least challenged by the likes of Dacey, Ahmed, Stenger and/or Parsons!
I would absolutely love to hear your favorite debates
And Craig gave a pretty epic answer. He notes that his list consists of debates "that stick in my mind personally" and bring "back fond memories will be something that made the debate special, like an incredible venue or an electric atmosphere or a lot riding on the debate." Before saying this he did note that his most impressive opponents were Austin Dacey, Edwin Curley, Paul Draper, Quentin Smith among others.

I suggest you listen to debates Craig has had with those guys (especially Dacey and Draper) and check out the rest of his list, which includes 24 separate debates!

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

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Ahmed v Ward 2013 Worldviews

This debate ( audio | video | 1h 49m 59s ) took place in early 2013. It was between Arif Ahmed and Keith Ward and hosted by Unbelievable and the Veritas forum. The topic was: a discussion of the theistic and atheistic worldviews.

DB: After 10m 30s in the audio but almost right away in the video.

3.25 stars.

This debate was more of an extended Unbelievable episode: the difference being that it was in front of a live audience, both speakers gave a 20 minute opening and there were questions from the audience.

Ward went first and did more of a lecture. It was hard to figure out where he was going with all of it and at the end of it he even seemed to recognize this. Ward is an interesting person and he seems to believe in a more philosophical god and happens to be partial to the Christian faith. I guess that's his worldview?

Despite Ward's meandering opening speech, this almost seems to put Arif off, somehow. It sounds like he had a more prepared thing ready to go but decided to have it complement Ward's speech a little bit more. He also takes umbrage to the concept of a worldview. But as usual, he is pretty straight forward, though this isn't his most interesting opening I've heard.

Then the event turns into a more Unbelievable-y episode and we get some back and forth. Nothing really insightful unfortunately. Ultimately the debate is just a discussion and though there isn't anything wrong with that, Ward is more interested in musing on things while Ahmed is just asked to respond. The reason this debate gets a slightly higher rating if because both speakers are well spoken and interesting. Ward's style of speech reminds me of how Brits sound in old recordings from before the 1950s. I was reminded of the speakers in this debate.

One question to Ward was especially interesting. The person basically noted that all of the forms of evidence Ward gave for a belief in his god could be used to support a belief in Poseidon. Ward simply

Technical: Great AQ, it's Unbelievable AND the Veritas Forum. I'm telling you, dear reader, Christians got the best recording equipment.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Great God Debates

Hey hey,

There is a torrent of 25 "Great God Debates" that you can download here. I'm a horrible person and never seed, but I will seed this torrent and the others that seed it are always on so it's a quick download.

It's a great start, though it focuses more on pop-atheists. The best ones to start with have Best! next to them.

Here's a list of the debates in the torrent:

Arif Ahmed v Gary Habermas (res) ( 5 stars ) Best!
Arif Ahmed v WL Craig (existence of god) ( 4.75 stars | Good )
Austin Dacey v WL Craig (existence of god) - debate 1 ( 4.25 stars | Bad )
Austin Dacey v WL Craig (existence of god) - debate 2 ( Good )
Bart Ehrman v Mike Licona (res) 
Hitch v 4 Xians @ Xian Book Expo (existence of god) ( Ugly )
Hitch v Al Sharpton (existence of god) ( 5 stars ) Best!
Hitch v Alister Mcgrath (existence of god) ( 3.25 stars )
Hitch v Dinesh Dsouza  (existence of god) - debate 1 
Hitch v Dinesh Dsouza (existence of god) - debate 2 
Hitch v Douglas Wilson (existence of god) 
Hitch v Jay Richards (existence of god) 
Hitch v Mark Roberts & Hugh Hewitt (existence of god) 
Dan Barker v Dinesh Dsouza - (existence of god)- debate 1 
Dan Barker v Dinesh Dsouza - (existence of god)- debate 2 Best!
Dan Barker v Douglas Wilson (existence of god) 
Eddie Tabash v Matt Slick (existence of god) ( 3.5 stars )
John Shook v Doug Geivett (existence of god) 
John Shook v WL Craig (existence of god) ( Bad )
Louise Antony v WL Craig (basis of morality) ( Bad )
Richard Carrier v Mike Licona (resurrection) Best!
Shelly Kagan v WL Craig (basis of morality) ( Good ) Best!
Victor Stenger v WL Craig (existence of god) ( 4.25 stars | Good )
ETA 12-23-2013: Since TPB is jumping around a lot, keepin' away from the man - I fixed the url. Sorry I never update this blog.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Louis CK vs Bill Donohue radio spat about Lucky Louie and Donohue's Dishonesty 2007 BEST FUN

This debate ( audio | video | 10 minutes ) occurred in 2007 on the Opie and Anthony Radio Show between Louis CK and Bill Donohue from the Catholic League. It's a short one and there is a video that is the whole segment with Louis CK here, if you're interested.

3.5 Stars: It's always great when comedians get a chance to talk to scumbags like Donohue because they'll make fun of them without worrying about the rules of argumentation BS. BEST FUN

Louis CK is my favorite comedian along with Bill Hicks and Mike Birbiglia. I've enjoyed his stuff since his Live in Houston stand-up album. Bill Donohue is the dishonest, despicable scumbag in charge of the obnoxious Catholic League. He's known for having no scruples at all and getting offended by anything.

Louis CK was in the short lived Lucky Louie show on HBO. In 2006, Donohue made a press release labeling the show "barbaric" and listed several reasons why. Louis CK brings was sitting in on the Opie and Anthony Show for an interview with Donohue about the controversial Dakota Fanning rape scene. At the end of the interview Louis CK asked Donohue about his criticisms of his own show.

Louis CK brings up Donohue's press release, supposedly penned by Donohue himself, that lists a bunch of "offensive" things about the show, for example, "Louie does not want to get his wife pregnant until they figure out a way for her to have consistent orgasms." Louis CK asks why Donohue has a problem with a married couple deciding to make their sex life healthier before attempting to have another child.

Donohue completely goes into cornered animal mode. First he denies writing the thing, then he tries to ignore the quote Louis CK mentions, and then evades everything thrown at him. You can tell he is drenched with sweat by the effort. When he says he didn't actually write the press release and someone else did it in his name, CK calls him dishonest and flat out calls him a press hound looking for anything in the news to complain about and latch on to.

These kinds of moments are nice because Louis CK is a comedian. He's not some academic, religious critic, or scholar or head of a watchdog organization or something. He's able to just make fun of Donohue and call him names without endangering his or an organization/community's reputation.

He also happens to be absolutely right about Donohue.

There are several funny parts in this little clip. There is also a confusing part for those who aren't familiar with the show Lucky Louie. One episode features the 16 year old daughter (played by Emma Stone!) of Louis CK's friend on the show offering to blow Louis for being so nice to her.

This is mentioned in the press release, but when it is brought up it sounds like both Louis and Donohue are talking about two different things. Louis mentions that the part is taken out of context - that the girl offering to blow CK comes from a poor home environment, which has warped her mind into thinking that's how you'd reward a guy for being nice but Louis CK's in-show wife - a solid, strong female character - explains how that's wrong, especially when older married guys are considered.

However it seems like Donohue is talking about the Dakota Fanning movie scene while Louis is talking about the scene just mentioned, so they're talking past each other. Like Donohue admits earlier, he didn't see the show.

Anyways, this is too fun to pass up! Check it out!

Good AQ, it's radio. The video is audio only.

Revised 8-23-2015 Cleared up the content and added a picture. Also lowered the rating. In general I've been trying to keep the 5 star reviews more exclusive but this type of review deserves more than a 3.5 stars. I need to make a Fun-five Star rating.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Craig v Ehrman Resurrection BEST

This debate ( audio | video | transcript | 1h54m56s ) between Craig and Historian Bart Ehrman took place in 2006 and concerned the topic of Jesus' Resurrection.

5 stars. BEST

PhilVaz 5/5
APF review: 4/5
CSA reviews: bad*
Ed the MSP review: Ehrman won
Big White Ogre review/assessment 1 & 2
AXP kinda review

This is one of the best debates on the topic. It is also one where Craig clearly lost, imo. There is a lot to this debate so this will be a long post. It will also jump around a little, if you want a nice short review then I suggest you look at my Craig mini-reviews post here and my Where to Start page under this topic.

Craig's Opening:

Craig gives his usual arguments for the resurrection (Jesus' burial, empty tomb, post-mortem appearances and the disciples coming to believe in Jesus which could only be due to the pm appearances) but condenses it to make more relevant comments on Ehrman. It definitely sounds like Craig saw his mission in this debate was to discredit Ehrman because of how popular his books like Misquoting Jesus have been with the general public. Craig was more subtle about doing this when compared to James White when the latter debated Ehrman a few years ago. I talk about that debate here and about how down-right whiny James White sounded when he kept complaining about how much popularity Ehrman's books were getting.

Craig's First Rebuttal:

Anyways, like I mentioned, Craig also addresses some stuff concerning Ehrman specifically. Craig does what some might see as being kind of underhanded and attributes concessions about his arguments to Ehrman that Ehrman later states are incorrect and/or out of context. Craig later goes on to talk about Bayes Theorem and probability and discusses a book called Hume's Abject Failure. Playing with this book's title he says that Ehrman is committing something called "Ehrman's Egregious Error" and then he further talks about another issue he takes with Ehrman's position which he labels "Bart's Blunder."

Now I've read a few people talking about how they saw this as poisoning the well and as being cheap, but I didn't. I thought it was Craig being fun and I think it was more good-natured ribbing than mean-spiritedness on Craig's part. You can find this part in the transcript.

Ehrman's Opening and First Rebuttal:

Bart gave a really good opening speech and did his usual schtick. He talked about how his arguments are not the same arguments against miracles used by Hume (which is what Craig claims) but are instead, arguments specific to doing history and the usage of probability. He also gives a plausible narrative that does not invoke the supernatural to account for the four arguments that Craig gave. For his first rebuttal, Bart comes out like a hurricane, calling out all the contradictions in the gospels, calling Craig out on only relying on Christian scholars when talking about what the consensus of scholars think about the resurrection, asks three questions of Craig and gives another scenario that could account for the four arguments Craig gave in his opening speech. And Ehrman brings up whether or not Craig thinks the stuff in the book of Matthew is historical, something brought up by Avalos in his debate with Craig. He does more but he ends with the following three questions: 1) Are the gospels free from errors; 2) What does Craig think about other contemporary miracle workers and messiahs wrt a historical perspective; and 3) roughly: "How is it that the faith that he adopted as a teenager happens to be the only one that is historically credible?" These questions have more to them so I suggest you read them in full in the transcript.

The Second Rebuttals:

Craig addresses some of the points made by Ehrman but not the questions he asks and he also doesn't comment on the scenario Ehrman offered. This allowed Ehrman to note these things in his second rebuttal and to assert another plausible scenario that could account for the four arguments raised by Craig. Ehrman was also able to drive home the fact that the narratives he presented are still more realistic than a miracle. He also discussed how Craig couldn't just invoke god when talking about history though Craig asserts that the debate wasn't about what historians can and cannot do (I guess he forgot about his debate with Cavin in 1995 where he chided Cavin for relying on arguments that can't be used by historians know...).

The Closings:

Craig ends by asserting that Ehrman didn't address his arguments and then preached about finding Jesus. This is where Ehrman really nails Craig down (bad pun?). Ehrman was able to summarize how he did address Craig's arguments and how Craig did not address both of his plausible narratives that would explain the 4 facts Craig presented AND he didn't answer the questions Ehrman asked. This is the most explicit time in all of Craig's debates where it was obvious that he avoided addressing some of the things brought up by his opponent and Ehrman was on the ball and called him on it. I mean, heck, Craig even said he didn't answer Ehrman's questions as his closing remark. Furthermore, Ehrman called out Craig for what his real motives are in this subject and that's to push his theological agenda. Price does this at length in his 1999 debate with Craig, but does it in his opening speech and spends too much time on it. Ehrman did it at the end and did so right when it was fresh in everyone's mind that Craig decided to tell his personal experiences with Jesus instead of addressing another narrative and three questions brought up by Ehrman. It was beautiful.

During the Q&A we get some good questions, Mike Licona asks the first one of Ehrman! Also, someone asked Craig about the three questions Ehrman asked to which Craig gave the weakest and cheapest response to: this is just Ehrman using a "debater's trick" that he won't deign to respond to. This is weak for several reasons:
a) It isn't, Craig's using the gospels to buttress his claims that a supernatural event occurred, Ehrman is allowed to call into question their accuracy.
b) Craig does address one of Ehrman's scenarios by talking about the clothes left in the empty tomb, but that is something mentioned in another gospel (Matt) that is later than the Markan gospel, which means that Craig is actually using both earlier and later sources, something he mentioned he didn't mess around with and...
c) A "debater's trick"?! Craig, that's your thing, that's totally weak to fall back on. You might have a better chance of getting away with saying your arguments for God's existence aren't dependent on biblical inerrancy, but this is a debate about the resurrection of Jesus, you need to address the fact that the bible reeks of man-made concepts and assertions.

Concerning the math:

I think Craig messed up in deciding to spend so much time on this argument in the debate. Craig spends too much time trying to discuss the probability calculus involved in Bayesian probabilities. He sets up the classic probability problem:

(look this stuff up on wikipedibutt)

Now I love math but suck at it (what a cruel world?) so I can't explain to you how this is wrong but others have and I suggest you look into what they say. What I'll talk about is how it is used in the debate. Basically, Craig wasted too much time talking about it. I don't think the audience appreciated it, and yeah, it might seem slick to bust out math in a history debate, but besides Craig taking too long to make it relevant, Ehrman also simply dismissed it (though I agree that he mischaracterized the point Craig was trying to make when he did so) and moved on without having to worry about Craig calling him out on it like he usually does when someone doesn't address all of his arguments.

Later on in the Q&A someone asked Craig to explain what the result would be if the stuff from the resurrection were plugged into the equation to which Craig responded that we would end up with an "estimate of 0.97 for the resurrection of Jesus..." Holy crap! That beats a 0.05 confidence interval, that is an estimate of there being a 97% chance that Jesus rose from the dead! Even Craig chuckles with the audience when he says this and declares that he doesn't use it. This lead to Ehrman getting pretty heated, however and I think he shoulda kept more calm at this point.

Technical: Very queit AQ, unfortunately. This is especially so for the Q&A portion too. The video is watchable.

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

*Luke Muehlhauser. is pretty critical, I think the only time he ever officially says someone beat Craig is in his debate with Keith Parsons. The way I see it is that on Luke's scale good means great and bad means good...or they could just mean what the words actually mean. I also think he was one of the people impressed by Craig using math and thought it was a huge blunder on Ehrman's part to dismiss Craig's comments on Hume. It is weird because Luke praised Price for spending almost all of his opening speech attacking the dishonest agenda behind Craig's methodology yet completely glossed over the more timely and forceful way Ehrman does it in this debate.

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.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pigliucci v Hovind on Evolution and Creation BEST TOP TEN

This debate ( audio | 2h10m26s ) occurred in 2003 on the Infidel Guy Show. It was between Biologist/Philosopher Massimo Piggliucci and Dr. Kent Hovind. It was on a lot of topics.

DB: 1m40s

5 stars. BEST TOP TEN

This one is pretty great. A lot of different topics are covered including evolution, Creation, geologic time, science education, Hovind's salary.

The debate is pretty one-sided, Piggliucci almost never lets Hovind get away with anything and calls him out on a lot of things. Hovind certainly is a smart man but he refuses to correct himself and though he is polite and doesn't interrupt or talk over his opponents he is a total sleazeball. You can tell he ultimately wants to just keep people from leaving the insane views of YEC.

One particularly annoying part is Hovind's relentless stance that time is the god of evolution. Apparently saying that evolution occurs over a long period of time is the same as saying that anything can occur given enough time. This is the argument Hovind uses to argue that evolution is a religion, too. The worst thing is that I have heard others use this argument - more specifically: Rabbi Schmuley Boteach uttered it in his 2008 debate with Hitch. So a pastor and a rabbi are so ignorant of what is required to label something a religion that they'll label the concept of time as a religion, as a god even.


Anyways, like I said, a lot is covered, Hovind has a response (not necessarily an answer one would take seriously) to everything that can be brought up on this topic so he certainly keeps at the debate all the way through. The calls are all pretty great too, again this is one of the best!

Technical: Decent AQ, no video cause it's an internet radio show.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Ahmed v Peoples on Morality 2010

This Unbelievable episode ( audio | 1h20m31s ) occurred in 2010. It pitted my philosophy crush Arif Ahmed against New Zealand philosopher Glenn Peoples.

4.5 stars. BEST CHECK

APF review: 4.5/5
WK review: Xians always win.

This is a great episode of Unbelievable. Both Ahmed and Peoples know the arguments and had probably the most heated, intense and aggressive nice dialogue I have ever heard. They talked about morality and whether or not one needs DCT to justify morality.

Ahmed holds  a different, less popular view that there are no moral facts and gives other arguments as to why we still need to be moral. I think that Damion talks about this debate a little better so I highly suggest you read his review I linked to above.

The most adorable thing occurs in this debate that I think was also a good thing. The two opponents were talking about stuff that apparently was just flying over the host's head. It was quite funny too, because usually after one person says something, the host will summarize it or comment on it and bring in the other person to counter the point. I can see why this is done on the radio but I don't like it. It's as if one guy didn't say his point properly and the host has to clarify it, which isn't the case a lot of the times and it might also be the case that the host condenses or even incorrectly reiterates the points made by the person and their opponent thus has two potential options: address what the person says or address what the host says which can potentially get them out of addressing explicit points their opponent made but still look like they addressed the argument.

I know Justin is the host and this is his show so ultimately he can do whatever he wants, but it seems like so much more content can be addressed if most of the show were just an interaction between the two debaters.

And so, because it seemed like Justin was out of league with Peoples and Ahmed, the format I always hope these shows would take occurred. Several times, for example, Ahmed would say something and we would hear Justin do this: "...Glenn?" and then Glenn Peoples would respond. It was quite amusing.

Glenn Peoples did a solid job too, he was pretty good at keeping up with Arif Ahmed though I think he got out of a few issues with his views on DCT at times.

This is a must listen, dear reader!

Technical: Great AQ.

Loose Change v Popular Mechanics 911 CHECK

This debate ( audio | video playlist | 27m58s ) took place between Jason Bermas and Dylan Avery versus two editors from PM.

4 stars. CHECK

This debate took place in that wonderful year of 2006, the year when I think the 911 Truth Movement peaked in terms of activism. I also believe that this debate focused on Loose Change 2, which is the craziest, apparently.

This one is pretty short and more serious Truthers don't hold to a lot of the claims that are discussed like the impossibility of the phone calls and missiles. However, last time I did happen to talk to irl Truthers they still were spewing these arguments.

Also, Avery and Bermas were never really too great at debating this stuff anyways. Bermas loves to talk and certainly does most of the talking in this debate and in the one he had with Mark Roberts, but he's definitely a kid in this debate in the way he and Avery snicker and act.

A short but fun one!

Technical: Decent AQ, there are several videos on YouTube but the only playlists I found also has a bunch of Truther movies on it that I didn't feel like linking to.

RE: 8-6-2013: I lowered the score, I have too many 4.25 star debates.
RE: 9-26-2013; I added a link to a video. I knew of the videos beforehand but didn't want to link to a channel that has such CT garbage on it, but I know that people prefer videos over the audio so here we are.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Harris and Shermer v Chopra and Houston Does God have a Future?

This debate ( audio | video | 1h36m11s ) took place in 2010 between Michael Shermer and Sam Harris v Deepak Chopra and Jean Houston.

2 stars.

APF review: 3.5/5

This one is pretty bad. The reason why it is scored higher is cause I want to like Sam Harris so I am giving it points because I think this is one of his better performances...though Chopra and Houston were not the most formidable opponents.

Chopra is a quack and Houston just wanted to talk about herself. Shermer is too nice of a guy and concedes wayyyyy too much. It also seems like he never does anymore than a cursory research on the background of his opponents and thinks that just general skepticism is enough to succeed in a public debate.

By the Bill Maher-like crowd responses laced throughout the debate, you can tell that, sadly, general skepticism doesn't when over the wishy-washy insane rhetoric of Deepak Chopra...I mean, it seemed like the crowd would even applaud for Jean Houston and I think it was just because of the vague-uplifty-ness of her babbling.

Only Sam Harris came off well, and hence the fact that I decided to give this debate a 2. Another debate that Harris came off well in (and is much better than this one) is the one he did in Mexico with Hitch and Dennett.

I posted about this one because of Harris and two other things:
1) What's up with the most terrible debate examples happening to be on network television? Are there more that I don't know of? The only other one that comes to mind is the one between the Rational Response Squad and Kirk Comfort in 2007. That debate was awful, sans one interaction where I think Kelly gave the greatest explanation for one common misconception of speciation I have ever heard...which was lost on the popular audience.
2) Debate topics. This is another terrible debate topic, I mean, of course god has a future, humans will probably never stop believing in the supernatural. Atheists need to be better about the topics they pick and in the near future I am gonna make a mega-post of debates with solid debate topics and a list of views on this subject and so on.

Technical: Great AQ and was on TV!