Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Atheism and Christianity Debate

I am a big fan of Gene Cook's show "The Narrow Mind", this debate is worth a listen to and gives those who are unfamiliar a taste of a presuppositional apologetic approach to defending the Christian worldview.





The Debate can be found here.

6 comments:

TheChristianAlert.org said...

I'm listening to Part 1.

It is so hip to call yourself an "ex-Christian" [free-thinking atheist]. It adds lots of credibility.

Steve Scianni's appeals to "suffering" and "design" are weak. Who is he to tell us what suffering is? The fact that the earth sustains life proofs the point: we are a privileged planet.

And "up" does mean "up" whether you are on earth or at the edge of the universe. If you stood at the edge of the galaxy and someone said, "Look up"...are you really going to ask, "oh, which way is up?"

God says he lives in Heaven...Well, that is up there.

And Darwin and many others didn't think "all men were created equal"... Again. Moral Relativism.

Ubersehen said...

To be honest, the only thing of value in this debate is the variety of examples Scianni provides of questions you'd be better off not posing in such a situation. He was clearly outclassed in speaking ability and familiarity with his own position by his opponent, so there wasn't much to be gained from the discussion in terms of challenging one another's arguments.

Bob said...

Hey Uber,
I agree, this fellow who Cook debated isn't exactly the spitting image of a polished Atheist thinker. I mean he was making just plain sloppy contradictions so often that Gene didn't even really need to press him too hard. However, this is how the new wave of Atheists are talking (thank you Sam Harris).

Hey Edgar, you wrote:

"Steve Scianni's appeals to "suffering" and "design" are weak. Who is he to tell us what suffering is? The fact that the earth sustains life proofs the point: we are a privileged planet."

Too true, and this was Gene's point from the outset, that for this Scianni fellow to use words like "senseless, evil, and barbaric" he must borrow from the Christian worldview because HIS worldview doesn't give him a foundation to talk about how things SHOULD be...all he can do is describe what is, and what is is then the standard.

I espescially thought his probing of the aesteroids hitting the moon to be head splitingly absurd. "So whats the meaning of all those craters on the moon?".

Ubersehen said...

I'm not sure precisely who comprises this group of "new wave of atheists" you're generalizing about here. Seems more reasonable to me to suggest that we're simply just as likely to find people who haven't thought all of their arguments/strategies through in terms of their effectiveness and accuracy on the atheist side (like Scianni) as we are on the theist side (like Dani). I don't think that Scianni was necessarily mistaken in his content, merely in his understanding of what the opposing side of the debate actually believed and understood coming into the event. As a result, there were a number of painful moments where Scianni asked "So you're saying you believe X, then?" hoping that Cook, as a seasoned public speaker and religious authority, would not have thought of it that way already. Since he had, Cook was able to answer these questions that were not actually problematic for his belief system without any trouble or hesitation. I think that for Scianni to have stood a chance going up against Cook in a setting like this (and whether or not a public debate like this one is really the best forum for getting at the best approximation of the truth or not is another issue altogether) he would have had to have gone much deeper into the implications and repercussions of widespread religious belief than he did.

Bob said...

Hey Uber,
"I'm not sure precisely who comprises this group of "new wave of atheists" you're generalizing about here."

Well, just the people I talk with, in person or on the internet. Many of these fellows say things like "Flying Spaghetti Monster" and don't even know what kind of an argument FSM is refuting. I think FSM is a fair rebuttal to a popular cosmological argument, which is why I don't start with that sort of argument. I have also heard/read many folks quote lines out of Harris' "Letter to a Christian Nation" as if it were a sacred text. So by New wave I am talking about the people who draw heavily from guys like Harris, the Rational Response Squad, and others of that ilk. It is the Atheism for the internet generation, full of cliches and one liners.

"Seems more reasonable to me to suggest that we're simply just as likely to find people who haven't thought all of their arguments/strategies through in terms of their effectiveness and accuracy on the atheist side (like Scianni) as we are on the theist side (like Dani)."

I would agree. Not to pick on Dani but with the point in general. I mean good night all you have to do is turn on one of the cable Christian channels and start listing all of the lunatic reasons NOT to be a christian...that's what I used to do. I would watch these guys and just laugh at them and think how stupid Christians are. Granted I doubt many of the fellows on TV are actually Christians most seem to be charlatans. However, point well taken Uber.

"I think that for Scianni to have stood a chance going up against Cook in a setting like this (and whether or not a public debate like this one is really the best forum for getting at the best approximation of the truth or not is another issue altogether) he would have had to have gone much deeper into the implications and repercussions of widespread religious belief than he did."

True. But in order to do that, say X is the effect of religious belief and X is "bad" therefore Religious belief is bad for humanity, in order to do that he needs a standard of badness higher then his subjective feelings and higher then the collective sense of what is "bad". He couldn't do that.

I know we've been around the block on this a number of times but that is what it boils down to in my mind. He has no right to look at asteroids hitting planets and the lack of life in the universe and say "If God existed it wouldn't be this way!" that is simply him erecting some standard of what "should be" if God exists and finding what "should be" to be wanting and concluding there is no God. The issue is where does he get his "should be's" from? If he has no foundation higher than I feel, or most people feel it is just as arbitrary as some people like mocha fudge others like vanilla bean.

Ubersehen said...

The issue is where does he get his "should be's" from? If he has no foundation higher than I feel, or most people feel it is just as arbitrary as some people like mocha fudge others like vanilla bean.

True. What I feel Scianni failed to do was essentially point out one of the real core conflicts, namely that of Cook's and your own requirement that humanity's behaviour (morality, ethics, etc) be governed by already-known absolute universal rules, rather than widely institutionalized subjective ones. I don't think Scianni had fully realized/communicated that his authority to make prescriptions was limited to the specific social demographic in which he resides. So it's not quite that he has no authority to say the things he does, only that his authority doesn't apply to those whose societies don't hold with the views of his own.