Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Noonan vs. Durston in Windsor, ON

These guys are not professional debaters, but rather professors or lecturers, and it really shows.

Durston makes two theistic arguments which are essentially the same as Bill Craig's first (cosmological) and third (moral) arguments for the existence of God. Since Durston takes his time with these two arguments, they sound even sillier than they usually do when given rapidly and smoothly by Craig. Essentially, Durston's moral argument is this:

1. Objective moral values cannot exist except in the mind of god

2. But objective moral values really do exist

3. Therefore, god exists. QED.

To quote Arif Ahmed, “[He] says objective moral values exist, and I think we all know it. Now that might pass for an argument at Talbot Theological Seminary, and it might pass for an argument in the White House, but this is Cambridge, and it will not pass for an argument here.” Baldly baseless assertion ought not pass for an argument on this side of the Atlantic, either, especially not in a university setting. More a more extended refutation of the deductive argument from objective morality, see this post.

Alas, even with such a weak opponent as Durston, the skeptic in this debate nonetheless manages to fall on his face. Like Christopher Hitchens, he makes almost nothing resembling a coherent argument, but just rambles on for a bit about the efficacy of science. Here is a hint for those arguing in favor of metaphysical naturalism: Try making an argument that starts with “If naturalism if true…” and includes “whereas on theism we would expect” before going on at length about the efficaciousness of methodological naturalism. You cannot expect the audience to connect the dots for you, especially if you only provide some of the dots.

Overall rating: 2 stars

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