Debates Radio Solas

Part 2 of Debate with Matt Dillahunty on Premier

Here is part two of my debate with Matt Dillahunty….as with the first one I found this fascinating.  This one was less feisty and I think Matt did better.  I will do a proper write up and report of it later, but meanwhile it would be good to know what you think (virtually all the atheists who did not like the first one did mention any of the content or arguments – they just complained I was not nice – and there were some Christians who felt the same as well).  Not sure that the ‘niceness’ quotant will shoot up on this one but here it is anyway…enjoy

And the MP3 is here –


  1. David,

    Why haven’t you posted my response to your question about the 2 options? Am I to take this as you conceding defeat, since you considered that Matt’s not posting the debate was as good as an admission that he’d lost? Having been so very critical of me for having ignored it, it is hardly fair of you to leave the impression that I haven’t responded when I have.

    Anyway, as to the second programme, I wouldn’t agree that Matt was distinctively better in the second than he was in the first. You were a lot better though, and the reasons are interesting.

    Your failure in the first programme was because that programme focussed on philosophical arguments and required analytical skills. You are greatly lacking in analytical skills, which means it is almost impossible for you to understand what your opponent is actually saying. You try to make some sense of their argument but are unable to do so because it is outside your skill set. That was amply demonstrated in the show and has to some extent been illustrated during your limited engagement with me on this blog.

    The failure to make sense of the argument is not because the argument itself does not make sense. The failure is yours. But you cannot see this so you cobble together something which is the nearest you can get to understanding it and unsuprisingly decide it is all rubbish. But it is your rubbish, not your opponent’s.

    However, the second programme required much less abilty to analyse abstract arguments. There was much more argument about the bible and history and this is obviously an area which you are much better equipped to deal with.

    You still lost, just not as catastrophically as in the first programme.

    1. What a pompous, arrogant and self righteous post! I did not post your response because I took a weekend away from the blog and only got round to it today. Your arrogance in smugly assuming that I did not understand Matts ‘philosophical arguments’ is breathtaking. I understood them all too well. They were at the level of his morality=well being. Its against well being to kill anyone. It is against the well-being of the child in the womb to kill it. Yes. So you’re against abortion. No. Thats the level Matt debated at. I was stunned, not at its profundity but at its foolishness. Almost at the level of arguing that the Bible is true because Jesus got the properties of salt wrong! I find it interesting that that I have received an enormous amount of furious, mocking and bitter posts about the two debates – I think I upset the NFAs by showing that the emperor has no clothes. To be honest I was stunned by Matts inability to stick to a logical position and the shallowness of his reasoning. Another classic ( of which there were many!) – Hitler was a Christian – who am I to say who is a Christian – there are probably only two real Christians (people who don’t do wrong – according to MAtt!) in the world – was Hitler one of them? Personally I think I let Matt off lightly…..

      1. Wow, first time on this blog. I was going to say great job on Unbelievable? David. So, great job David! Now I see the top comment (at this time) is some ridiculously clannish response by a myopic atheist. Honestly, we have seen better arguments from Richard Dawkins and other atheists than from Matt on these two programs. I have also seen better arguments and reasoning from anonymous posters on the internet than the post above. Even Justin Brierley pointed out he has never heard of the “Salt Objection.”

        I agree with your assessment of the debate – shocking shallowness and inability to follow through on a line of reasoning. It seemed to me Matt was arguing from several decades ago, he didn’t even understand proper textual criticism. He used an appeal to the Bible being ancient as a reason not to believe in general, which is ridiculous. He could have at least tried to bring up the “Q” source and something about the synoptic gospels being different from the gospel of John. I know that’s not an example of a good argument, but it would have at least been more contemporary.

        I am still amazed that in your reply above you state you have received many responses that are just as silly and arrogant. Is Matt the new standard of Atheism? If so I think Atheism is dead. His arguments against and problems with Christianity sound like discussions I might have had with friends in elementary school in the ’80s. If this is the man atheists are now looking up to and supporting, I think the New Atheists have devolved into a tribal and bigoted lot.

        Anyway, I really appreciate that you are one guest on Unbelievable? who represents classical christian thought, rather than liberalism. Keep up the good work, I thought you were appropriately straight forward.

  2. Sorry, there was a second part which I should have added. The fact that you were dealing with an area which was more within your comfort zone accounts for why you perceived Matt as having done better in Part 2. You were both talking about something which you understand and so that meant you were generally able to understand Matt, which had not been possible for you in programme 1. Once you could understand him, you could appreciate that he was making good points. He was making good points in Part 1 as well, but they just went over your head.

  3. I actually enjoyed this discussion more than the last one. I think that you were more gracious in the second of the debates,

    Again Matt fell down on the moral question. And while I’ll have to re-listen to show to confirm my thinking on the matter, I got the impression that quite a large portion of Matt’s objection came down to his own personal preference for how God should conduct business. Something like, “Ugh, well I don’t think God would do it this way because it’s dumb so there is no God”.

    I found your retorts about “admiring Matt’s faith” (or something along those lines) to be confusing. (I think this was mostly in the fist show.) You may be aware that Peter Boghossian, the new New Atheist on the block, has attempted to redefine the word faith to mean “pretending to know what one doesn’t know”. (See and a for some excellent detailed analysis)

    Given that the word faith is often misunderstood or misrepresented, I would think that it would be best not to use it as a quip in a debate. I object to the title of Frank Turek’s book “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist” for the same reason.

    Finally, while I enjoy these feisty discussions, I do think that some your comments could potentially harden hearts that may otherwise be (somewhat) open.

    All in all you did well, David. I always enjoy your appearances. Keep up the good work.

    1. Good point about Matt’s objections being personal preference. It seems he cannot emotionally cope with the consequences of belief. Just as David pointed out when he stated some don’t want to believe because it would mean their own relatives are in hell. I also think the doctrine of hell is horrible. As Greg Koukl once said, I hate the idea of hell. However, that is not a reason to believe or not believe.

  4. I wouldn’t take any issue with David not being nice, however if he were condescending and concerned more with being driven by winning the argument than being present in the Spirit and engaging accordingly then that would be a problem.

    Most importantly, was Christ glorified and was the good news shared? It was an interesting debate, and it has encouraged me to go out and get copies of both the “Why I am not an Athiest” and “Why I am not a Christian” and weigh up both the arguments and how the arguments are put across.

    Thank you for the challenge that afforded me David. I look forward to wrestling with that.

  5. I found both debates interesting and, much like contributions from the main protagonists in the current independence debate, there will never be an acceptance of the other sides view given the very different starting points.

    What I found interesting was how you obviously read the Bible and take something from it yet other Christians read the same Bible and take other, contradictory things from it. Your comment that you don’t see the Bible as a science book is very different from many of the Christians that Matt may debate more often.

    Finally, I wonder what new moral(s) are found in the Bible? What instruction about how to treat other people arose in the Bible that had never been expressed before?

    1. I can’t help how postmodern people want to read the bible in a way that means it can mean whatever they want it to mean. That is not how it was written.

      WHo said there were new morals in the Bible? I’m curious – can you tell me where and when people were told to love their enemies?

      1. Maybe I misphrased that as it was a more general point about how the Bible is a source of moral behaviour.

        In terms of your question I would point out that Akkadian Councils of Wisdom, Buddha and even Taoist writings highlight the importance of loving your enemy.

        In this world
        Hate never yet dispelled hate.
        Only love dispels hate.
        This is the law,
        Ancient and inexhaustible.

        – The Dhammapada

      2. But then if you are a Buddhist you think that everything is going to come to nothing. All passions, including love and hate are meaningless!

      3. I don’t know enough to decide if we live in an ever expanding universe or one that will eventually collapse. Either way, it will result in everything that is now coming to nothing.

        I do not believe in a soul or an afterlife but what I do now and why I do it is not meaningless.

      4. It takes a peculiar kind of logic to state that everything we do and are will come to nothing and yet it all has meaning! What meaning does nothing have?

      5. If you can only measure meaning in one way then I suppose you cannot see how others find meaning it what they do. When I help people it has meaning to them right there and then. Their need has meaning to me. Our lives are short – why measure them in only what you think happens after death or at the end of the universe?

      6. Thanks Douglas – I agree. There are many things that we do that are meaningful – in the short term. But I was talking about overall meaning. If there is nothing except that which is ‘under the sun’ then ultimately it is true that everything is meaningless. And that then affects if you like the secondary meanings.

    1. Here it is – sorry that I don’t have a transcript – x

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