Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Stenger vs. Craig in Honolulu, HI

In this debate Craig makes his usual five arguments and Victor Stenger (to his everlasting credit) stands out as one of Craig's fairly few freethinking foes to frankly address each of them during his rebuttal period.  However, Stenger’s positive arguments are relatively weak, or at least not nearly as strong as those we have seen from stronger debaters such as Tabash and Dacey.   Moreover, Stenger has a bit of trouble parrying Craig’s well-aimed rebuttals.  

I definitely got the sense that Stenger has his head wrapped around the fine-tuning problem, but it is by no means easy to articulate the answers without resorting to maths, which would doubtlessly lose the audience.  Not sure that this problem can be dealt with by explication in a time-constrained debate environment.  

Altogether, Stenger made a strong showing against a most formidable debater.

  • Unbeliever rating: 4.25 stars

  • Believer rating: 4.75 stars

  • Overall rating: 4.5 stars

Thursday, May 15, 2003

George vs. Miller in Edmond, OK

This debate was held between two local profs at UCO who are actually fairly good friends in real life, which makes for a fairly light-hearted and laid-back atmosphere which you almost never get from the guys on the professional debate circuit.  They also elected to remain seated, which adds to the informal look and feel of this event.

Dr. Doug Miller makes a fairly original argument for classical theism, predicated more-or-less entirely on the ministry of Jesus:

1.       If Jesus told the truth, then the Heavenly Father described by Jesus exists

2.       Jesus did tell the truth

3.       :. God exists

He goes on to claim that we can support premise #2 from the evidences of Jesus’ resurrection.

 Dr. John George outlines a few arguments against theism, including the argument from evil (alas! – in deductive form), an unusual argument about the psychological origins of hell, an argument about the futility of prayer, and a few miscellaneous remarks on the Ten Commandments.

After the opening statements, we’ve heard rather little in the way of well-supported arguments from either side, but then again, the opening statements were only ten minutes apiece.  In the rebuttal period, Dr. Miller leads with the argument from the missing body, which he dubs the “great corpus delecti” case of history.  He then goes on a bit about the dramatic transformation of Jesus’ disciples after his death.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Price vs. Boyd in Los Angeles, CA

This debate centered around the discoverability and nature of the historical Jesus.  I’ll not summarize here, since Peter Kirby took copious and detailed notes which he made available online.  I will note, though, that this was one of the better debates I’ve heard on this particular topic, since both debaters were well-versed in the subject and managed to dig deep during the rebuttal periods, coming up with all manner of obscure facts and counterexamples which one does not usually hear in these sorts of events. 

Kudos to both debaters for remaining civil and focusing on the arguments at hand.  Definitely worth a listen or two.

Overall rating: 4.5 stars

[April 23, 2003]