This debate ( video | 1:55.56 ) took place in 2014 between Presupper Sye Ten Bruggencate and AXP's Matt Dillahunty. The topic was "Is it Reasonable to Believe that God Exists?" but it seems Sye thought the question was, "Can I make people think I am a huge d-bag within 30 minutes of speaking time?"
1.5 Stars: Other than Matt's 2nd rebuttal this debate is an absolute waste. Remember, I loved the Charlie Check'em, Todd Friel, and Kent Hovind debates, too.
The debate format was a bit different: 10 minute openings, 10 minute rebuttals and then each person got a lot of Cross-Ex time. This was followed by 35 minutes of Q&A then 2 minute closing statements...though Sye insisted on receiving 5 minutes so he could preach.
So this debate actually started out alright. Sye went first and played a lot of clips of Matt from his time on the Atheist Experience saying certain things about the concepts of truth, knowledge, absolutes, etc. etc. At first this came off as playful to me in all honesty. I can see why others would see this as cheap and as a quote mining tactic and as perfect for poisoning the well of his opponent - but I figured that could be easily pointed out by Matt when his time came up and Sye seemed like he wanted to be a bit humorous. I should also mention that I am familiar with Sye's reputation in the secular community, but not familiar with his actual debate performances, so hopefully you can see how lofty I was in giving the guy the benefit of the doubt.
One thing that was obvious in Sye's opening and rebuttal was that he wasn't interested in even attempting to present a case for his side. He does give one syllogism:
1. It is reasonable to believe that which is true.
2. It is true that God exists.
3. Therefore it is reasonable to believe in God.But that's it. That is apparently the presupper's schtick according to Sye. And after refreshing my knowledge on the position of presuppers, it appears that this IS their strategy and that just seems pretty stupid if I can be forgiven for being dismissive on the topic. Others more eloquent than I have explained their MO elsewhere so I won't try to do so here.
Matt's opening was about the usual for the other openings I've heard him give in other formal debates, though a bit more concise and it went by rather quick. There was a lot on how one knows something and all the paraphenalia of arguments relating to presup apologetics. I decided to listen on, because I know that Matt actually digs these types of arguments and puts a lot of time into addressing them.
Like I mentioned, Sye's rebuttal was uninteresting and this is where I started to think he was no longer being playful with his constant use of Virtual-Matt in his presentations. I kept thinking, you're wasting your time playing all these clips because now it looks dishonest since Matt clearly called the tactic out in his opening.
But now I feel that I was naive in thinking Sye concerns himself with whether or not he's being dishonest.
Matt's rebuttal was a rhetorical knock-out and it's too bad that it was followed up by the Cross-Ex because I think that presuppers are better called out when in a more formal setting. The Cross-Ex gave Sye the chance to pretty much dodge any of the force Matt's rebuttal had. And then there was just a lot of Cross Ex with at least a quarter of the time spent on Sye or Matt reminding the each other who's turn to ask questions it was. Nothing got through and it ended up coming to who could get in a rhetorical one-two over the other.
Comments on Sye
What is up with this guy?
I am quite serious in saying that it seemed as though his goal was to come off as a total prat in this debate. In his formal schtick he used cheap and lame tactics and cynically gave his position...but coupled with such a smug and mean-spirited disposition, that position was lost on everyone, it seemed. What's more, he didn't even seem to care. He kept on nodding or shaking his head during questions, audience shout outs and Matt's responses as if he was just surrounded by complete idiots or something...just waiting until that other organic meatbag stopped making noises so he could speak, if you will.
When Matt's questioning period happened, Sye was evasive and absolutely proud of being so. When even more sincere-sounding audience questioners asked him about the bible Sye was callous and rude, telling them "I don't talk about scripture with confessed atheists".
Sye even kept complaining about the format of the debate during the debate, saying that he wanted to go on as a guest on Matt's show or to at least have more of an informal back and forth. Sye even pointed to the woman who set up the event and got all pissy about it not being in the format he was hoping for.
Allegedly after the debate Sye refused to even take a picture with Matt and the woman who set the debate up...this isn't just being a douche, this is downright weird...
So again, what is up with this guy?
Why do people actually engage him? He doesn't sound very pleasant and he also doesn't sound all that clever or interesting...I mean, people like Bahnsen, Hovind, and some of the more aggressive apologists are at least fun and interesting to hear...but that's not the case with Sye. He came off as petulant and repetitive.
So yeah, I gotta say that there aren't gonna be too many presuppers featured on this blog after listening to this guy. Bad taste in my mouth.