|The God Delusion debate.|
I. Limitations of Interactive Debates
Skill and personality factors
II. General justifications for Debates
Historical need for first principles
Justification is a primary consideration
Science bypasses the deeper “why” questions
Fraud and censorship in academia
Atheist atrocities justified by atheist doctrines
Need for public awareness
Intelligent Design science is pure science
Debate helpful for testing ideas
Debate helpful for gaining knowledge
III. Spiritual Justifications for Debates
Supported by scriptural texts
Debates can be fruitful
Improves theological knowledge
I. Limitations of Interactive Debates
Time and research limitations
Two of the main complaints about debates are the issues of time and research limitations in answering points. While books and research papers are better means for elaborating on the details of a specific subject, debates offer ample opportunity for outlining the main facts of any given subject. In a live debate between John Lennox and Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion was the predetermined subject of debate and the debate points were known in advance based on specific chapters and sentences in the book. This allowed ample time to study and prepare. If a person does not like live debate, online Internet debating offers ample time for research and meditation before answering each point. So these two excuses for not debating are without merit. Some may argue that personality and skill are too much of a factor. While this does have an effect, the people judging the debate may take this into consideration along with the validity of the answers themselves. For example, an individual would probably not be able to win a debate claiming that consciousness does not exist, no matter how charismatic and clever he or she may be. Furthermore, the motive to win a debate, in and of itself, is not enough to change reality and change the facts themselves that are presented and decided on. This objection presupposes that winning is the only reason for debate, which is false.One of the main reasons for debate is simply to bring critical issues to the forefront which the public is not aware of. In this respect, one can "lose" a debate and still be successful in bringing critical issues into public awareness.
II. General Justifications for Debates.
|You can't really avoid logic.|
Most of the Greek philosophers saw the need for sound "first principles" in order to have sound reasoning. Aristotle discovered and codified the classic laws of logic, which have been relevant for over 2000 years. Socrates developed the "Socratic Method" which calls for the testing of ideas through cross-examination in order to find fault with a person's logic. Socrates and the early philosophers also saw the need for values and the need for justification with regard to these first principles of knowledge: "Socrates' great educational innovation was in ascribing moral worth to the intellectual activity reflectively directed at one's own life." Socrates believed knowing the truth was of utmost importance and showing a person his or her errors in reasoning was a means of freeing the soul of that person from error. Today the tradition of live philosophical debate continues. Common Sense Atheism lists over 500 live debates between atheists and theists in audio and video format that is updated regularly.
Positivism is Dead.
|Hawking's philosophy is dead.|
The main problem with positivism is that it does not begin at square one, with first principles, but begins with the presupposition that science is the final arbiter of truth. It is ironic that Hawking was wrong about black holes for 30 years, but, all of a sudden, he wants to declare that science has overtaken the need for logic and philosophical debate. in his new book, The Grand Design, Hawking criticizes philosophers for failing to keep up with scientific progress.According to Nicholas Blincoe of the Guardian, "Hawking is so evangelical about the notion of progress is he that it might as well be a religion."
|Justification requires justification.|
Webster's Dictionary defines justification first with a theistic definition: "the act, process, or state of being justified by God." The implication is that there is an absolute truth and an absolute standard for morality as found in the theistic God. In setting out to formalize any belief system, one of the primary considerations must be "What justifies my belief system?" If one takes a normative position, then history and convention serve as a basis for justification. In this respect, atheists cannot very well justify the rejection of philosophical debate because it is very much a foundational aspect of civilization. Most secular scholars consider that justification is based on normative values and some believe the principles of logic are important as well. In either case, Hawking and positivists aren't justified in declaring philosophy and philosophical debate are dead issues.
Science bypasses the deeper “why” questions.
Webster’s dictionary defines science as “the state of knowing” and, more specifically, the second definition relates to science as a specific kind of knowledge: “a department of systematized knowledge as an object of study.” Even before the “systematized knowledge” is organized, scientific knowledge today is based on certain presuppositions, such as methodological naturalism. Methodological naturalism presupposes there are no supernatural phenomena. Therefore, any evidence which may point to the existence of supernatural phenomena will not be acknowledged as such. For such reasons, science cannot be considered philosophically neutral and objective. The scientific method itself has no universally accepted standards and knowledge has no universally accepted definition. Science does not begin at square one but is loaded with subjective presuppositions, and the philosophy of positivism, which is based on the idealization of science, is considered logically inconsistent.
When scientists such as Dawkins and Hawking cross over into the philosophical realm and make statements about the existence of God, they have consistently failed to justify their proclamations philosophically. Because science doesn’t start at square one philosophically, it isn’t adequate to address the deeper questions of existence, such as “Why does something exist instead of nothing?” Science addresses mainly the “what questions” while philosophy mainly addresses the deeper “why questions.” This is another reason why Hawking’s statement “philosophy is dead” is truly an uninformed one.
|Atheist regimes tend to repress truth.|
Documented cases of fraud continue with regard to the teaching of evolution. Haeckel's fraudulent drawings continue to be used in science textbooks in deceptive presentations though proven to be erroneous in the 19th Century. Though peer-reviewed articles have been published supporting the tenets of Intelligent Design, often these articles are censored from wider circulation and further review due to political censorship. In June 2011, the publisher of Applied Mathematics Letters has agreed to publicly apologize and pay $10,000 in attorney’s fees to Professor Granville Sewell after he won a court case verifying the censorship of one of his peer-reviewed articles. In January 2011, Martin Gaskel received a $125,000 settlement from the University of Kentucky based on discrimination against him as a Christian scientist. Though there is unlawful and unethical fraud and censorship, the secular media rarely if ever reports it. On the contrary, mass media it is known to distort information to present Intelligent Design and Creationism in a negative light. Following the decision by the Kansas state school board to de-emphasize evolution in its curriculum, Time magazine falsely claimed in its Aug. 23, 1999 edition that evolution had been "expunged" from the curriculum, and continued to support the error despite being advised of it.
During international debates regarding climate changes in the world, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made reports basically for every debate and thus served as a panel of judges for these debates. These reports are documented records outlining key issues. And because these reports exist, people were held accountable and fraud was eventually exposed. In January 2010, the Daily Mail reported on how scientist Dr Murari Lal had bowed to peer pressure in making his claim that "Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035." According to the IPCC’s statement of principles, as outlined in the same article, its role is ‘to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis, scientific, technical and socio-economic information – IPCC reports should be neutral with respect to policy’." The "neutral" panel was shown to be in error, and it was the documented records of the debate process that exposed Climategate for what it was.
Atheist atrocities justified by atheist doctrines
|No reason for torture.|
Atheists sometimes claim horrific things have been done in the name of theism, but the foundational teachings of Christ did not justify the Crusades or the Inquisition. Dinesh D'Souza noted: "Richard Dawkins argues that at least the atheist regimes didn't kill people in the name of atheism. Isn't it time for this biologist to get out of the lab and read a little history? Marxism and Communism were atheist ideologies. Stalin and Mao weren't dictators who happened to be atheist; atheism was part of their official doctrine. It was no accident, as the Marxists liked to say, that they shut down the churches and persecuted the clergy.." Vladimir Lenin stated: "A Marxist must be a materialist, i. e., an enemy of religion, but a dialectical materialist, i. e., one who treats the struggle against religion not in an abstract way, not on the basis of remote, purely theoretical, never varying preaching, but in a concrete way, on the basis of the class struggle which is going on in practice and is educating the masses more and better than anything else could." Pastor Richard Wurmbrand described his 14 years of torture and imprisonment behind the Iron Curtain in his book Tortured for Christ.
|Slavery ended through debate.|
Public debate has always served as a means of bringing key issues to the forefront, especially when there has been hegemony of one form or another. Take the case of human slavery, which had economic, political and ethical ramifications. Wealthy businessmen opposed the abolition of slavery but certain men, such as William Wilberforce in England, used financial resources and public forums to continuously bring up the issue and debate it until laws were passed against the practice of slavery. Wilberforce began an Anti-Slavery Society for such purposes. In 1791, Wilberforce introduced an Anti-Slavery Bill to the House, which was defeated by a landslide. However, after much debate, Wilberforce’s Slavery Abolition Act was eventually passed a month after his death. In a similar manner, atheist hegemony, both in academia and the mass media, has led to a repression and distortion of facts underscoring the need for public debate and awareness.
Intelligent Design science is pure science.
According to its definition, Intelligent Design science does not make any reference to spiritual texts or deities: “the theory that matter, the various forms of life, and the world were created by a designing intelligence.” Opponents of Intelligent Design, however, frequently state it is Creationism in disguise. It is not. As a theory it makes no references to a creator or any deity and utilizes only scientific evidence to prove that design elements could not have come about by way of natural selection alone. Because it makes no religious claims and is based solely on science, Intelligent Design is a valid theory for academic curriculum. In the Dover case, however,evidence was misrepresented regarding irreducible complexity and the presiding judge was uninformed about the fact that peer-reviewed articles on Intelligent Design had been published. Thus, justice was not served when Intelligent Design was ruled to be inappropriate for public schools.
III. Spiritual Justifications for Debates
Debate is scriptural and often fruitful.
|Who's refusing to reason?|
In Ecclesiastes 1.13a, Solomon describes his philosophical pursuit which became the basis of the book of Ecclesiastes: "I applied my mind to study and explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens."
The Apostle Paul had a maxim he used with regard to his relationships with atheists: “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” Paul put this aphorism into practice when he visited Athens Greece. When the Apostle Paul was in Athens, he was inspired to debate with people there: "Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of Idols. So he argued in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the market place every day with those who chanced to be there." Many people who heard Paul speak had a sincere desire to know truth and continued to listen as he expounded on spiritual truth in the philosophical context of the Areopagus at Mars Hill: “Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
Paul was able to use his education and knowledge of Greek writers to make parallels with spiritual truths of Christianity: 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.' The debates and preaching Paul had engaged in were fruitful and some people believed: “When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” At that, Paul left the Council. A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.” For theists with a sound foundation in God’s word, debates with atheists will lead to a greater understanding of theological truths. Unfortunately, immature Christians sometimes lose faith in God when they debate because they don’t have a firm handle on important scriptural truths and concepts. With Paul, however, it is clear that he was able to hold his own theologically at Mars Hill because some of the people who heard him converted to Christianity. In our postmodern and post-Christian society, there are many parallels with ancient Greece. It may be that there will be some spiritual fruit in returning to the public forum and debating the truth of Christ on a philosophical level.
 God Delusion Debate, Lennox and Dawkins, http://www.fixed-point.org/index.php/video/35-full-length/164-the-dawkins-lennox-debate
 The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Plato on Education as the Development of Reason, http://www.bu.edu/wcp/Papers/Anci/AnciScol.htm
 Wheat and Tares, Stephen Hawking's Defense of Positivism, http://www.wheatandtares.org/2011/03/03/stephen-hawkings-defense-of-positivism/ (The Universe In a Nutshell, p. 31)
 Wheat and Tares, Computabilit and Comprehension is Science about Prediction, http://www.wheatandtares.org/2010/12/23/computability-and-comprehension-is-science-about-prediction/
 New World Encyclopedia, Positivism, http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Positivism
 Natural science, STEPHEN HAWKING ADMITS HE WAS WRONG, http://www.natscience.com/Uwe/Forum.aspx/physics/5886/STEPHEN-HAWKING-ADMITS-HE-WAS-WRONG
 The Guardian, Why does Stephen Hawking think science has overtaken philosophy?, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/sep/08/stephen-hawking-philosophy-maths
 Webster's Dictionary, justification, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/justification
 Webster's Dictionary, science, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/science
 Evolution News, The Textbooks Don't Lie: Haeckel's Faked Drawings Have Been Used to Promote Evolution: Raven & Johnson (2002) (Part 2), http://www.evolutionnews.org/2007/05/the_textbooks_dont_lie_haeckel_1003664.html
 Evolution News, Journal Apologizes and Pays $10,000 After Censoring Article, http://www.evolutionnews.org/2011/06/journal_apologizes_and_pays_10047121.html
 The Blaze, Update: Christian Astronomer Settles Lawsuit Over Discrimination Claim, http://www.theblaze.com/stories/update-christian-astronomer-settles-lawsuit-over-discrimination-claim/
 Answers in Genesis, Confusion in Kansas—evolution not outlawed!, http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs/4110.asp, A Storehouse of Knowledge, Suppression of dissent against evolution, http://www.astorehouseofknowledge.info/Suppression_of_dissent_against_evolution
 Daily Mail, Mail Online, Glacier scientist: I knew data hadn't been verified, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1245636/Glacier-scientists-says-knew-data-verified.html
 Quotations Page, Karl Marx (1845), Theses on Feuerbach (Thesis XI), http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/33862.html
 Church in History, Answering Atheist’s Arguments Regarding Wars, http://www.churchinhistory.org/pages/atheism/805-answering-atheists-regarding-war.html
 Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1973,Moscow, Volume 15, pp. 402-413., http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1909/may/13.htm
 Great Slavery Debate, www.studyhistory.co.uk/Y8/Great%20slavery%20debate.doc
 Webster's Dictionary, Intelligent Design, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary-tb/intelligent%20design
 Center for Science and Culture, Kenneth Miller, Michael Behe, and the Irreducible Complexity of the Blood Clotting Cascade Saga, http://www.discovery.org/a/14081
 Evolution News and Views, Dover in Review, pt. 2: Did Judge Jones read the evidence submitted to him in the Dover trial?, http://www.evolutionnews.org/2005/12/dover_in_review_pt_2_did_judge001793.html
 1 Corinthians 9.22b, NIV
 Acts 17:16-17, RSV
 Ibid, 17:19-21, NIV
 Ibid, 17.28, NIV
 Ibid, 17.32-34, NIV
Revised August 12, 2011