The following is a guest blog post by Shaun Smith. Shaun is completing his MA in Philosophy and attended the debate.
Thursday night at Liberty University there was a debate over the existence of God. This debate was meant to liberate all thinkers from every walk of life. Theist, Atheist, and Agnostics alike were going to usher forth the new age, with perfected reasons, a scope towards utopia, and a… said no one ever. Max Andrews of Liberty University brought forth compelling arguments, including the infamous ontological argument. Dan Linford, of Virginia Tech, came with a few scattered thoughts, and a selected amount of tactics to try and move the conversation into, well, nothing really. Though, Linford I think had a few great points that he really could have sponged out for the audience. Listen, it isn’t about a winner or loser, its about reasoning together and furthering the discussion. However, I found that there were a few issues that did not bring out that initial goal.
I have much to say about last night’s debate I participated in concerning the existence of God but those comments will come later. We asked those in attendance (at least 400) to use the #LUGODdebate hashtag if they decided to live-tweet the debate. I’ve taken screen shots of the hashtag’s feed from the beginning of the debate until now (lunchtime Friday). Most of those tweeting were Liberty students but you’ll be able to gauge the atmosphere of the debate and the performances. My Twitter handle is @maxeoa (just an FYI if you spot it in the feed). The feed is in order from the most recent uses to to the earliest uses.
Hello Max,I’m currently reading on philosophy of religion, and I came across your site. You admit to being a “staunch proponent of abductive arguments”. It made me curious as to what your thoughts were regarding arguments against theistic explanations (such as those given in Gregory Dawes’ Theism and Explanation). For example, theistic explanations don’t fulfill explanatory virtues such as being part of successful research program (most theistic explanations failed in the past), being informative (they don’t describe in great detail the mechanisms involved in divine activity), being testable, being coherent with our background knowledge (arguably, all our knowledge involves embodied minds, so positing a disembodied one is theoretically costly), and having ontological economy (theistic explanations posit a radically new set of substances).Furthermore, given God’s omniperfection, we can expect that he will fulfill his intentions in the best possible way. But to the extent that the phenomena to be explained don’t seem to be the product of the best possible way of being actualized, it is to that extent we can doubt that God’s activity is the explanation for that phenomena. We need good reason to think the phenomena to be explained was actualized in the best possible way; otherwise, the theistic explanation won’t work.read more »
I can now announce that on Thursday, March 28 from 7.30-9p I will be engaging in a debate with Dan Linford from Virginia Tech on the debate topic, “Does God Exist?” Dan is in the philosophy PhD program at VT. He and I debated each other last year (in partnership with Josh Nixon and Beau Bradley). Last year we debated at VT and this year we will be debate on the campus of Liberty University.
The precise location has yet to be determined but it’s currently scheduled to be in DeMoss 1113. That room holds about 300 but from initial surveys I suspect we may need to find a larger room. We currently plan on having the debate filmed so we should have it available online sometime afterwards. I’m hoping to find a way to stream the debate online. If anyone knows how we can do that please let me know. I’ll be using #LUGODdebate as the Twitter hashtag (@maxeoa). This will help gather interactive thoughts from attendees after the debate. More information will be shared as time gets closer.
- Moderator Introductions
- 17 minutes opening (Max—affirmative)
- 17 minutes opening (Dan—negative)
- 7 minutes rebuttal (Max)
- 7 minutes rebuttal (Dan)
- 10 minutes cross-examination (Max asks Dan questions)
- 10 minutes cross-examination (Dan asks Max questions)
- 5 minutes closing statement (Max)
- 5 minutes closing statement (Dan)
- 20 minutes of Q&A
- Total of 78 minutes of debate and 20 minutes of Q&A
I am currently a college student with a strong interest in apologetics. I’ve seen that, by and large, the arguments that apologists use seem to have shown themselves logically sound and hard to disprove despite decades or centuries of them being around. So the theist’s arguments seem to have many strong points. What would be considered the “weak spots” of the apologetic arguments? What arguments might the skeptic use that have the most potential to show that theism is false and that God does not exist?
Thank you. (Shawn)
This is a very interesting question since it seems to me that I’d have to be showing those at the table what my hand is. There are few weak spots in apologetic arguments and I think the two I see most concerning are 1) poor methodology and 2) theoretical implications for parts of the arguments/defense.
Let’s first look at some poor methodology. Most arguments you’ll find in the deductive, inductive, or abductive form. I’m a staunch proponent of abductive arguments. Here’s an example of William Lane Craig’s fine-tuning argument.
There are many problems in philosophy such as the problem of evil, the problem of miracles, the problem of historical knowledge, the problem of what there is (Quine), the Gettier problem, and several others in various fields. However, I’ve noticed a problem with the ‘internet atheist’ community.
Before I continue I want to give a general indication for what I mean by an internet atheist, which can include several agnostics as well. An internet atheist will have certain giveaways such as: trolling, one who cites Richard Dawkins as a philosophical champion, appeals to the tactics of PZ Myers (anyone who reads PZ Myers and is quite aware of logic, fallacies, and social etiquette may suffer from face-palm syndrome–the problem of excessive disappointment resulting in the face resting on one’s palm followed by a deep sigh), being completely oblivious of opposing views, as well as the following properties…
Internet atheists have this habit of coming out of no where. What I mean by that is they have the habit of plowing their way into conversations. For instance, while writing this last sentence I received a tweet from some internet atheist about some tweet I made several days ago in which I said that the OT law didn’t treat women immorally and that the problem was a societal issue. (Edit: 3 Nov. 18.08: Tweet removed. The individual didn’t really fall into the category I’m describing here.) I could provide more tweets but I honestly have no desire to go back and read them.
Recently, Dr. Michael Licona (Houston Baptist University) spent time in Canada debating Yale professor Dr. Dale Martin on questions concerning the resurrection and self-understanding of Jesus. Below are links to the videos.
Dr. Michael Licona and Dr. Dale Martin discuss the question “Did Jesus Physically Rise From the Dead?” The first evening of the 2012 Religion Soup discussion took place Oct 18, 2012 at St. Mary’s University.