Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Atheist-Theist Debates

A long, long list of atheist-theist debates has been compiled. Although I think that overall atheists are winning the debates, I have found myself embarassed a time or two for the atheist involved in the debate. For instance:

1. Gordon Stein vs. Greg Bahnsen

Gordon Stein is clearly unfamiliar with presuppositionalist apologetics, and completely embarasses himself by claiming that inductive logic is valid because it's always worked in the past (which is an inductive statement, thus begging the question). Michael Martin has written essays on presuppositionalism here and here. I have my own page on it here.

2. Antony Flew vs. Gary Habermas

In this debate I don't feel that Antony did especially bad, it's just that Habermas was so long winded and Flew didn't have much time to respond. Nevertheless, several points are worth making:

Habermas criticizes the Qu'ran for being composed centuries after the fact (and therefore not historically reliable) but then uses sources which were written many decades after the fact (or which we cannot date precisely). The sole exception are the writings of Paul, which date no less than fifteen years after Jesus' death.

Nevertheless, how do we know that Paul didn't distort, misunderstand, or exaggerate the events surrounding Jesus' death? A few mistaken reports of post-mortem Jesus would be enough to start stories of the Resurrection. An modern day example of this would be the reports of Elvis being seen at a salad bar in Vegas.

Let's look at another example of a plausible explanation for the Resurrection accounts: Let's suppose that a fanatical (but quiet and not well known) follower of Jesus stole the body, pierces his side and hands, and put on a robe and went around making appearances to the disciples. That accounts for everything, including the odd fact that Jesus was not recognized at first by his followers (Luke 24:15-16).

Another thing Habermas states is that the apostles all died for their faith. But we have no idea how the disciples died. In fact, in a debate with William Lane Craig, Bart Ehrman asks for evidence that the apostles did in fact willingly die for Christ. No evidence was given.

One final thing: Listen out for Habermas' discussion of near death experiences and see how convincing they sound. We are given no sources, but suppose that Habermas has the story basically correct. Most of the details he reports (a girl who was drowned named a song that was on the radio that evening) can easily be attributed to coincidence. Furthermore, Psychologist Susan Blackmore has thoroughly studied these things (At first believing in life after death, astral planes, etc.) and found that they are false. See here books on the subject here and here.


konquererz said...

Wow, the Ehrman comment was stellar! I will have to read the rest of that one. Thanks for posting it!

AIGBusted said...

Sure K,

I've also emailed a Christian Apologist about this and he told me that there really is no solid evidence that any of Jesus' disciples were martyred. We do have some church accounts of Peter being martyred, but they are late. The apologist I spoke to (J.P. Holding) insists that this doesn't mean the account is unreliable, but I think it is awfully shaky evidence to base one's worldview of off. Besides, Christians (now and days of yore) seem to have a kind of "Persecution Complex" so it all too easy for me to imagine a legend like this coming to be after decades (or centuries!).

Johan Karlsson said...

Francois Tremblay has developed "Materialist Apologetics", which is a form of atheistic presuppositionalism.
An excellent argument!

Johan Karlsson said...

...and your article was excellent too! A lot of interesting ideas, which I haven't seen before.

Have you seen the blog Incinerating Presuppositionalism? (Especially the article "The Cartoon Universe of Theism" is well worth reading.)

(I actually have a site about Materialist Apologetics. Altough, it's in swedish.)