Wednesday, October 7, 2015

David Robertson vs Matt Dillahunty Why I'm a(n) Atheist/Christian Unbelievable Debates 2014 First Debate

This post and a future one will be about these two Unbelievable episodes linked below.

Part 1 ( audio | video ) "Why I am Not An Atheist" episode where Robertson gets to defend his position.

Part 2 ( audio | video ) "Why I am Not A Christian" with Dillahunty on defense.

NOTE: The videos are audio only but Matt (DarkViper8888) edited out the usual Unbelievable filler. This makes the whole thing a little under 2 hours.

How Robertson's own org. decided to depict the two debaters.

The First Debate Round

Oh man, this one will get your blood a-boiling. I've sat through one debate with David Robertson (DR) before and labeled him a right-douche. Such a label still stands.

DR is not an atheist because:

1. Art requires an artist - Creation requires a creator
2. He wouldn't be able to say concentration camps were terrible unless god existed
3. Because he's a skeptic - doesn't have enough faith to be an atheist
4. Because of the community generated by organized religion
5. Personal experience with the Holy Spirit
6. Because of Jesus Christ...but he doesn't go into why exactly cause that's part of Matt's defense

I don't think I've misrepresented what DR says here. In fact, I'm being generous because I made the most persuasive point IMO (4) sound more forceful than DR. It's just they are that obnoxiously pop-apologist sounding.

DR's list is presented with gobs of snark and pokes at Matt for making false or weak points before he even says a word. Once Matt does respond to DR the latter gets quite ruffled and caustic lickety-split. I can't remember if that's DR's MO or if the more acuminate counters we all know and love coming from Matt threw him off.

They go back and forth rapidly and it becomes obvious DR has a gift for blithely misconstruing his opponents arguments. One obvious example is after Matt points out the inconsistency between two reasons DR lists for why he's not an atheist - creation = creator and because he's a skeptic. DR's counter is to recall his youth where he realized how awesome Scotland is and wondered how did the world come into being. Scotland's awesome like awesome art and awesome art has an awesome artist, .: the world must have had an awesome creator. Matt argued if DR were really a skeptic he'd say he doesn't know how the creation was created, not simply conclude there's a creator.

Now when DR responds to this, he roughly says "and you're saying that it's wrong to ask how the creation came into existence" and it's like, where the hell did you get that from? I mean, apologists will attribute some pretty shotty ideas or claims to atheists but I've never heard the complaint that atheists don't think we should ask questions about nature so I don't even know how DR could have misheard Matt and mistakenly assumed that he was saying it's wrong to ask questions about the universe. It was weird but it worked because Matt had to clarify himself.

The first back and forth got pretty heated but was gripping and it was a shame the host interrupted it and kind of saved DR. It was a shame mostly because DR then proceeded to give an extremely tortured and overlong description of the find-a-message-in-the-sand-on-a-beach example and attributed it to John Lennox as if it was some cutting edge apologetic proof.

DR also busts out another word game with abortion after Matt asks how is it not obvious that human life has value. DR asks Matt if he supports killing a baby in the womb which Matt says no to and then DR asks if he's pro-life then to which Matt denies and then DR weirdly flips out saying A-ha! inconsistency!

Here is where someone could at the very least argue that DR knows he's being dishonest. He's a minister. He talks about these issues for a living. Abortion is a hot button issue that he should at least have a tiny inkling - an almost nonexistent awareness of the fact that some arguments used by pro-choicers don't consider abortions at a certain early stage as terminating an actual baby. If he doesn't know this then he's a crappy shepherd and if he does know this then he is totally playing word games to get out of the force of Matt's point and to pontificate.

But at this point I gotta say, even if Matt only had the first 30 minutes of the show making up his only familiarity with DR, he should have seen this coming. But now I feel like I'm blaming the victim.

But wait we forgot that DR has Godwin's Law as one of the reasons for why he's not an atheist so from Auschuwitz we get Hitler and another chance to hear DR give an overly long tired apologist talking point about how Hitler was no true Scotm-- err, Christian. Matt objects and though I think it was a bad idea to continue down this road what happens next is pretty funny because DR asks for a specific example of Hitler using Christianity to justify his views and Matt immediately does so with an almost verbatim quote. DR says that was just Hitler being a politician but that's rather weak. However Matt gives a weak response that DR interrupts and walks all over. Dan Barker has a great response to when people say hey maybe you just weren't a true Christian. Barker just retorts "by their fruits you will know them" (Matt 7:15-20).

Then AGAIN DR plays word games and says that Matt is pretty much saying if Charlie Manson said he thought he was a good person then we'd have to take him at his word but Matt NAILS DR on this deceptive move because we can more clearly establish who or what is GOOD but not who is A CHRISTIAN.

However DR interrupts Matt some more and then gets saved by Brierley again. Usually I like Brierley and any problems I have with him are a) the normal issues I have with radio hosts and b) that he lets the Christian guest talk a lot more. But this time he seems especially charitable. Maybe when DR gets all loud and intense he's actually shooting up from his seat and screaming into the mic and making everyone uncomfortable and Brierley just wants it to end.

Then Matt explains how he'd define good and kind of gives a confusing explanation. As with the last debate I reviewed of his it might just be because he mentions that it's a definition consistent with Sam Harris' morality that put me off, though.

Either way, DR seems almost admiralby committed to not understanding where his opponent is coming from and doing so in an expertly pompous manner.

A funny bit happens when DR asks Matt if he agrees with Russell that saying Dachau is wrong is not a fact in the sense that scientific regularities can be described as facts. Matt starts an answer by saying "I don't know" at first and DR flips. the. eff. out. at him for not being quick to give an answer, though it appears that Matt was cut off by the sac of pure bluster that is David Robertson.

As you can tell this is a frustrating exchange. But in the last ten minutes Matt does a great debaters tactic that surprised me and really threw DR to the sharks. Matt recapped DR's reasons for not being an atheist and pointed out how miserably he defended them. He also gave arguments against DR's points that never came up, like (4)-(6). 

Here's why this move was so wonderful. Usually Unbelievable shows end up on tangents and topics often get set aside for spats or side bars. Also, DR clearly felt he needed to focus on stretching out his tired examples and spend time talking about Hitler rather than make his entire case. So it was just great to hear Matt take advantage of this and make DR kick himself for being a conceited twit enough to waste his time on describing his trips to concentration camps. At least I would think he should be kicking himself but instead of trying to salvage his case with the time he has left he asks Matt to give his account of morality instead of trying to close the show on his own terms. And by his own terms I mean his MO of misconstruing his opponent's arguments to crap on a weaker version of them.

Overall very solid performance by Matt, the best I've seen of him outside his show...though the sample size I'm citing is still small.

Throughout this review I have been trying and trying not to use the term strawman. Specifically I don't use it because it's comically overused by Alex Jones in his debate with Mark Roberts and Charlie Check'em on the Infidel Guy in 2009. Generally I try not to use logical fallacy terms because I feel it seems cheesy or try-hardish. I'd rather just say a comparison or some other description of the fallacy because sometimes there's a chance of getting into a side-argument about the definition of a logical fallacy.

But freaking DR and his strawmans, man...the guy is a machine perfectly assembled to have an argument shoved in one end and shoot a bastardized mess of an argument out the other. It's quite startling.

Concerning the image I posted. The actual organization DR works for made that cartoon. In the cartoon, they selectively edit a back and forth between DR and Dillahunty. And I mean, selectively. It seems DR's own organization felt that he sounded hysterical in the original recording because they there are parts where only a few seconds of crazy-DR are cut out in order to make him sound more calm and less crazed. So yeah, you can't make a cartoon of an 80 minute radio show, but edits like the one I described make me think that even DR's company would want him to get some anger management or something.

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