Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ahmed vs. Habermas at Cambridge University

This debate was outstanding, a geniune clash of intellectual titans.  

Ahmed leads with attacks the validity of any appeals to scholarly consensus, which rely heavily on faith that the speaker is neither miscontruing nor overgeneralizing from their sources, which are practially unverifiable to a lay audience during a spoken debate. He also lays out a handful of devastating logical arguments which militate in favor of skepticism with regard to the resurrection of Jesus. Habermas comes back with his usual approach from scholarly consensus, which falls a bit flat having been preemptorily undercut by Ahmed's arguments.

In the back and forth between the two debaters, we also saw Ahmed's erudition and methodological clarity on display and in sharp contrast to Habermas' appeal to the authority of New Testament scholarship. Even such a luminary as Habermas had some difficulty from being overwhelmed, though he put up the best possible scholarly case for his side of the argument (aside from a few bizarre arguments about near-death experiences).

1 comment:

spanner said...

In listening to the debate between Arif Ahmed and Gary Habermas ( audio found at issue in relation to Near Death Experiences's arose and Ahmed quoted from a paper which I
believe Keith Augustine wrote in the Journal of ND studies (at 49:15 in my copy of the debate).

Gary Habermas responded as follows:

1 he had a head to head 60 minute debate with Keith Augustine about this issue (at 49:47).

2 Keith Augustine conceded the debate to to him after the debate was over (at 51:03)

I found this fishy since Habermas had been backed into a corner by Ahmed when he pulled this out of the hat so I emailed Keith Augustine and asked:
1 is the debate Habermas refers to available and if so where can I find it?

2 Did you concede the debate to to him after the debate was over?

Augustine's response was,

1 "The "debate" Gary Habermas is referring to was a discussion on a Christian radio show, "The Things That Matter Most," online here in three parts here: "

2 "I don't believe I ever conceded the issue to Habermas--I only ever conceded that I was not particularly familiar with the one amazing "Katie"
story he picked out of what must have been thousands of such amazing stories (just as with Bigfoot and UFOs). I have since read Habermas' NDE chapter of his coauthored book _Beyond Death_ and could offer some comments on it but they wouldn't be of much interest other than as a critique of that chapter. As to whether I conceded anything (or should have), read my HNDEs essay and you be the judge."

Having listened to the so called Habermas Augustine 'debate' I concluded that Habermas misrepresented the position in his debate with Ahmed.
I have as a result concluded that what Habermas has to say must in general be treated with caution.