Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Shook vs Geivett at CFI NY

Theist vs. atheist debates usually provide the theist with a home field advantage, but this debate took place at the Center for Inquiry (video, audio) and so for once the theist is on playing for the away team.

Doug Geivett leads with the usual arguments from first-cause, fine-tuning, and human morality. He does a fairly decent job in his presentation, and that despite not being one of the regulars on the apologetic speech and debate circuit. John Shook addresses several of these same issues in his opening, arguing that the evidence on these matters leads to agnosticism at worst and metaphysical naturalism at best. He also does a fairly good job in his opening presentation, although he spends too much time rebutting and not nearly enough time making affirmative arguments that nature is most likely all that really exists.

Things get a bit weird on rebuttal and cross, as each speaker insists that the other one failed to address his own arguments and tries to shift the burden of proof back on to the other guy. I wish they had drilled down a bit more on the nature of causation or morality, because that would have helped to resolve the seemingly irresolvable duel of opposite intuitions into which such debates most usually plunge.

Here is a more detailed review. I disagree somewhat with Luke's statement that they did not directly address each other's points, since Luke pointed several instances in which they did precisely that.

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