Sunday, August 15, 2010

Buckner vs. Tzortzis in London

Debate: Islam or Atheism? With Hamza Tzortzis & Ed Buckner on Vimeo

This is a must see debate, if only to get a sense of how Islamic apologetics compare to Christian and Jewish apologetics, with which English speakers are doubtlessly more

Tzortzis runs an argument for the existence of God, which is not terribly original or interesting. He then provides two arguments for the truth of Islam, the second of which runs parallel to that of C.S. Lewis regarding Jesus, claiming that the Prophet is either deluded, a liar, or else he is telling the truth. His most interesting and detailed argument, however, was that the Arabic text of the Quran is so downright amazing that it is evidently a miracle in and of itself, as attested by experts in the relevant field of Arabic textual analysis. At the end of his opening statement, he pulls a dirty WLC-style debate trick, and requests that his opponent tear down his arguments for Islam before building an argument for atheism. Overall, though, he comes off as quite poised and polished.

Buckner leads with several minutes of ingratiation, which were a few minutes too many. Seems like a nice guy, though. Eventually, he gets down to a handful of briefly stated arguments, including an argument from divine hiddenness, theological incoherence, from evil and suffering, from the dominance of demography in theological biogeography, and a few others, none of which are fleshed out enough to make sense if you aren't already familiar with them, and none of which are stated in a deductively valid form.

On rebuttal, Tzortzis hammers away at Buckner, directly and forcefully countering his arguments. Buckner makes a pathetic attempt to counter Tzortzis, and ultimately fails to mount anything resembling a convincing counter-argument. I suspect that the mostly-Islamic audience went away happy and assured that their faith is far more rational than disbelief.

Three lessons may be learned from this debate:
1) Know your opponent's arguments in advance so that you can prepare your counterarguments
2) Do not debate against some religion unless you are familiar with it and the peculiar arguments that it puts forward
3) If your name is Ed Buckner, get off the debate circuit altogether.

Overall rating: 3.0
Believer rating: 4.5
Unbeliever rating: 1.5

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