Monday, August 13, 2007

Winsome Debate

The bigger they boast the louder they burst. The Rational Response Squad that made headlines a few months ago by debating Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort on ABC, 'moderated' by Martin Bashir, also debated Christian apologist Matt Slick a few weeks ago. Prior to the debate they had proclaimed on their website that they would now 'own' Slick as they did their previous opponents. But the debate was not broadcast on their website as their other debates had been. Perhaps this was only to be expected since Kelly from the RRS appeared on Matt Slick's radio show, and Matt Slick would naturally own the rights to broadcast. But strangely enough, there is no word on their website proclaming how they 'owned' Slick. Of course, this is not so strange to people who tuned in to the debate, now published on Slick's website as an MP3 as well as on Youtube in 6 parts, which reveals how deftly he demolished the atheists' arguments.

Here is the MP3 link (20 MB).

Or, the Youtube links:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Slick demonstrated that to categorically state a negative is to invite a burden of proof on the negative. To say one is agnostic-atheistic (as Kelly paraphrased her position) would mean considering the proofs offered by a theist and either rejecting or accepting them. To say they are not convincing enough would then warrant an explanation that is objectively true and validated. Kelly tried to take the usual route of saying that atheism was the default starting position. This argument is clever up to a point. When an atheist argues, like Kelly did, that a new born baby doesn't hold a view of a creator, she probably means that the baby cannot conceive of such an idea. Without stooping to clarify this, Slick simply asked her to prove that the baby is by default an atheist. When she could not substantiate this, he said, 'So you simply assume that it is the default position.' Good line of thinking there. After all an atheist could equally claim that the baby doesn't believe in parents either, right? But how would she know? She need to prove it if she makes a categorical statement. The baby is not an atheist- the baby simply has not considered the question in the same manner we consider it as adults. Tp prove that the baby has considered this and rejected this is ridiculous.

Kelly then went on to state that religion is a social construct. Again, the burden of proof was on her. To make this claim she needed evidence- which, of course, she didn't possess.

Though the RRS didn't mention a word of this serious defeat and (surely) the deflation of their sizeable egos on their website, their discussion forum had loyal RRS fans venting their frustration against Slick, claiming he was relying on semantics rather than logic. Listen to the debate and you will see it is the other way around. Slick did trip up Kelly with language only when she was being infantile, and trying to insult him rather than prove her point.

Above all else, Slick was respectful to the end and confirmed this with Kelly by asking her if he had treated her fairly. She sort of miffled and said, 'it was fine' (grudgingly, I thought). Good thing too, as RRS and their ilk have a habit of trying to make Christian debaters seem vicious in their descriptions. Besides, their own behaviour when they invited Slick previously to debate 4 of them at once on their show was completely mannerless to say the least.

All said and done, this should not be a source of vapid triumphalism for the Christian. It's good to see that our position has been put forward and defended logically. But the victory in debate is a minor one compared to the victory of leading an unbeliever to the Lord. As Slick told Kelly, 'I can't persuade you to believe anything. I can offer you proof, but whether you accept that proof and believe is upto you.'

No comments: