Unbelievable – The Matt Dillahunty Showdown – or Why am I such a smug, dishonest, stupid, ignorant prat?!

Unbelievable – The Matt Dillahunty Showdown.

You can get the actual debates from these earlier posts:

http://theweeflea.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/the-atheist-experience-first-debate-with-matt-dillahunty-why-i-am-not-an-atheist/

http://theweeflea.wordpress.com/2014/02/23/549/

Reflections on why I am such a smug, dishonest, stupid, ignorant prat!

When you spoke on Premier Christian Radio, you were absolutely brilliant.  I doubt that any other person could cram so many logical fallacies and just plain stupidity into a sentence, while acting annoyed and being rude to your obvious intellectual superior.  This epitome of the stupidest Christian possible character must be the best way to de-convert Christians into atheists.  Please keep up your unmatched work.  The secular world is in love with your David Robertson character.  Cheers.

On Feb 15th and 22nd Premier Christian Radio’s ‘Unbelievable’ programme, broadcast two debates I had with Matt Dillahunty of the Atheist Christian Experience.  Several Unbelievable regulars had requested this debate, because they perceived Matt as being more than a match for yours truly (or vice versa).  Matt runs a show in which Christians phone in to a TV studio and he regularly argues with them, mocks them and in general tries to show his superiority over Christianity and Christians.  Matt is intelligent, humorous, confidant and articulate.  So it was with some degree of trepidation that I entered into these debates. I came out of them astonished (I will explain why later).  But I was even more astonished at the incredible reaction.  Not just in volume but also in vehemence.   These came via social media, e-mail, personally and publicly. It was one of Justin’s most popular shows.

Feedback:   The following (and the quote at the head of this article) give a flavour:

Listening to David Robertson was an extremely painful experience, I can look past his arrogance if it wasn’t for the fact that he made so many absurd and contradictory statements.  He claimed that the existence of dolphins is not accidental…maybe he should look it up…David has the answer he is going to use his common sense!”….

“Debating atheists shows how shallow the arguments against atheism are…stick to debating within Christians!”

“Robertson was rude and a bully..if there is not a forthcoming apology I daresay your show will be removed from my podcast list”

“Robertson relied too much on subtle ad hom, instead of engaging the arguments”

“Robertson is repeatedly the most offensive and condescending guest you have on the show.  Getting tired of hearing his voice”

 “David reverts to ‘act a dick’ tactic when all else fails”.

‘Aggressive, condescending….you were evasive, illogical and rude…the debate was good but you were not…”

“I will use simple words for you.  I found you excitable, insulting, rude, ignorant and an interrupting conversation hog”…

“The more I regard his views as very limited – he just turns everything his opponent says back on to his opponent.  No real answers – just a question.  Double speak and deceit.”

“Whenever a man believes he has the exact truth from God, there is in that man no spirit  of compromise, he has not the imperfections of human nature, he has the arrogance of theological certainty and the tyranny born of ignorant assurance”  No prizes for guessing to whom I am referring.  Rudeness and arrogance spoilt what was otherwise an excellent debate.  (In my own defence here I would just simply like to point out that I don’t believe I have the exact truth from God.  As I pointed out I believe that Jesus is the truth.  I have much yet to learn…nor would I claim not to have the imperfections of human nature and I have plenty doubts – but you will note with just how much certainty so many atheists seem able to read my heart and mind!)

“Listening to David Robertson was an extremely painful experience, I can look past his arrogance if it wasn’t for the fact that he made so many absurd and contradictory statements.  He claimed that the existence of dolphins is not accidental…maybe he should look it up…David has the answer he is going to use his common sense!” (I actually claimed that the existence of all the beauty I saw – including dolphins was not accidental – not quite sure that the complainer thinks is absurd and contradictory about that – nor what he wants me to look up!)

“David Robertson was circular, dishonest and openly baiting, his well practiced supercilious and disdainful tone was also astonishing and embarrassing. He concentrated on point scoring rather than opening up a progressive, informative debate. which was frustrating. The man seems wilfully blind and well wedged up his own ass…”

And my favourite:

“The way to talk down to Matt is inexcusable.  I have never seen such a rude display, not ever from Hitchens himself.”   To be compared to the late great Hitch is indeed an honour.  John Lennox once suggested that I was Hitchens Christian opposite – so it was nice to have that confirmed by an American atheist!

Some Christians joined in the atheist chorus of condemnation.

“Re absolute morality I thought David sounded quite aggressive, what about respect and dignity?  I think ‘I’ statements are more appropriate for these debates than seemingly accusatory ‘you’ ones”.

“Christian?….it was Robertson who in tone and word was arrogant and dismissive.  Who is a Christian?  Colossians 4 says conduct yourself wisely towards outsiders…let your speech always be gracious’…you can use a lot of words to describe Robertson’s performance but gracious is not one of them”

There were dissenting voices:

“Robertson was on his game and fittingly assertive

Blessed to see David not back down

Matt is a belligerent beater of low hanging fruit and David was exceedingly gracious to Matt in comparison with the way Matt treats his callers!”

And some atheists did not buy into the Robertson is rude/arrogant/evil narrative.

“I didn’t think you were that out of order for a theist”.

“I thought it was pretty civil on both sides”

“Excellent show, Justin…congrats to David and Matt” 

“I thought you did a great job in stating your case….even if I am not buying it”.

But overall it is clear that there are plenty people who bought into the narrative that I was rude, aggressive, condescending and apparently the worst crime of all to the more sensitive atheist,  ‘unchristian’.

Depressed and a Bad Witness!

I expected this response, but not quite with the vehemence and volume that it came.   So I have taken a couple of weeks to think and pray about this.   To be honest I was pretty depressed about it.  I actually accepted much of the criticism and was angry and discouraged at myself.  What a terrible witness!  Someone had asked me to apologise and I was tempted to write to Justin to say that I was sorry for being rude etc.   But it is always good to reflect and think.    I reflected on why there was such a reaction.  I wondered why if Matt had walked the debate, he was so reluctant to tweet and post it on his site (he is not the most shy and retiring of people).   I wondered why some Christians joined in the chorus.  And I even did what I hate doing – listen to my own voice.  I listened to and even transcribed both debates.  And the result of all this introspection?  There will be no apology.  In fact having listened to the debates I think there is a great deal that we can learn about the New Atheism and also about the weak state of much Christianity.

When I finished the debates (they were recorded back to back a week before the first broadcast), I came out of them astonished.  Why?  Because I had expected Matt to offer a great deal more intelligent and reasoned opposition.  When it was all over, I walked through the centre of London saying to myself – is that really all you’ve got?  I thought it was an astonishing performance on his part and left me rejoicing, not at my own brilliance (which I’m prepared to admit is non-existent) but just at the truth of the Gospel.  Let me mention just some of the things Matt failed at.

1)   He was continually evasive.  For example when I asked him if creation was not creation he did not answer but responded,  “This is a veiled argument from ignorance fallacy…”.   He then refused to answer where did matter come from.  Is it a) eternal b) created from nothing or c) created from something or someone?  His response?  There may be a fourth option.  What is it?  We don’t know.   Some atheists seem to think this was brilliant. But it was meaningless waffle.  Why?  Let me illustrate – 1) I am writing this in my garden.  2) I am not writing this in my garden.  Is it logical to state – there might be a third?  But we don’t know what it could be and it is arrogant to say otherwise!  I’m sure you can see the problem.  As more than one person pointed out Dillahunty forgets a basic principle of logic, the law of the excluded middle.   He also seemed to miss the fact that ‘we don’t know’ can apply to the three I presented – i.e. all three are logically possible but ‘’we don’t know’.  However once you start saying there might be another one that we don’t know then you have entered into the surreal never-ending world of Donald Rumsfeld’s ‘unknown unknowns’!

2)    He was unscientific – A sceptic is someone who doesn’t believe something until there is sufficient evidence for it.  To say that you simply haven’t found a better explanation and so you are going to go with this one, is fallacious and unsceptical.” But scientists do exactly that.  They take the best possible explanation and work on that premise – until it is falsified or a better one comes along.    According to Matt they are fallacious and unsceptical!

 

3)    He contradicted himself – He denied that he had a pre-supposition that there was no God.  And then denied that he allowed for the possibility of God. Again using simple logic, anyone who does not allow for the possibility of God is presupposing there is no God.

4)    He was all over the place on morality.  He defined morality as being well being and declared that killing someone was against their well being.  He then agreed that killing the child in the womb was against their well being (i.e. immoral) but that he was for abortion!  Incidentally his evasiveness was shown again when I asked him “So you think that killing the child in the womb is against the well being of the child, but you are for that?”  To which his response was “Did I say I was for it”.  But he had just said I am not against it.   Now maybe Matt wants to say that there might be a third option!  But when someone tells me I am not against it, I assume that they are then for it.   There are some issues it is impossible to be neutral on.  Matt then went on to admit, “I’m actually pro-choice”.  So why the at best superfluous, ‘Did I say I was for it’?

5)   He misplayed the Hitler card – suggesting that Hitler was a Christian and using a quote which he suggested was my view!   Now that is ad hominem!  When challenged he admitted he did not know the context of the quote.  I explained it to him (given in 1933 at a Catholic Teachers Conference, before Hitler was elected Chancellor).  I find it interesting that I constantly provided information and details and yet some of the upset atheists declared that I just repeated Matt’s questions and made assertions without evidence.  Its as though they are so emotionally involved that they cannot even give credence to anything that I said.   And they certainly didn’t notice Matt contradicting himself again.  Having played the Hitler was a Christian card; he then stated, “ I don’t decide.  I don’t get to decide who is or isn’t a true Christian and I’m certainly not going to get into a battle of determining that because I don’t see that anyone gets to decide who is or isn’t a true Christian.”

6)   Matt showed a lack of critical awareness – He said he was prepared just to accept what people say and how they self-identify.   At best that is naïve.  At worst it was dishonest.   Would I accept the pleas of the BNP leader who says he is not a racist, or Putin who identifies himself as a paragon of Russian Orthodoxy?  Does Matt think that President Obama is a committed Christian?

7)   He again showed his illogicality when he accused me of moral relativism just because I asked him to consider things from a different perspective. “You ask me to put myself in the mind-set of someone from that era which is you once again appealing to moral relativism,” I could only be appealing to moral relativism, if he thinks moral absolutes can only be defined in his own mind.   I am not remotely a moral relativist.  To accuse someone who is just simply asking that we try to consider things from another person’s perspective, as being a moral relativist again betrays either a lack of logic or of understanding of the English language.  It also demonstrates the complete self-absorption.

8)   He spoke about what good is. And evil.  And yet he was unable to define it other than saying that ‘we’ define it.  When asked who ‘we’ is, he was unable to answer.   He said that he could speak for an hour on the superiority of secular morality.  And then he said “when I’m talking about morality I’m only talking about well being, we can chuck the word morality out of the way, if it becomes troublesome and just say, ok with respect to well being, these actions promote well being and these don’t.”  Can you see what Matt is doing here?  Each time he is pushed on the meaning of a word, he just moves to another word and refuses to give the meaning.  Who decides what well-being is?    His whole position was shot through with inconsistencies.  All I did was call him on them.  I could actually have been a lot harder and pushed him more, but in my view he was already doing a fine job in hanging himself.  All I did was give him the rope.

Later on he said this when asked where he got his moral absolutes.    That’s really easy when I talk about moral absolutes I’m still talking about situational morality.  In any given situation there is a finite set of actions (Unless you live in in the multiverse)…I’m trying to stay in reality (SO am I, that’s why I’m not atheist)…we can compare the consequences of those actions with respect to morality (well-being) and so some of those actions are going to be better than others.  So there is some set of one or more actions which represent a moral pinnacle.  The only thing we need to have this moral absolute in the situation is the fact that we are physical beings in a physical universe and that we can compare the consequences of an action with the consequences of another action and then just line them up.     Even to read that over sends a chill down my spine.  Morality is entirely physical?  And again who is the ‘we’?  Matt’s version of morality is one that leads to Hell on earth.  Do you really want me to be ‘nice’ about that?

There was more.  After spending so long talking about morality and the superiority of secular morality Matt, as the leader of the Atheist experience, then declared “atheism is merely a position on the existence of God.  It doesn’t say anything at all about morality”.  One wonders why we then spent so much time talking about it?!

9)   Matt argues against Christianity yet does not seem to have a grasp of what Christianity is.  After moving on from claiming Hitler was a Christian, then stating we had to accept peoples self-identification as Christian, he then went on to declare

Maybe there are two true Christians who have never done anything wrong, but being a Christian doesn’t preclude someone from doing something wrong, including murder, and in some cases, the beliefs in the Christian religion can encourage that.”  This is a very confused statement.  Is he defining a ‘true’ Christian as someone who never does anything wrong?  He backs off that but then swings to the other extreme suggesting that Christianity encourages murder, slavery.  This either betrays a profound ignorance of Christianity or is just simplistic ad hominem name calling.  And again I am not going to apologise for refusing to let him get away with it.

10) Matt showed a dangerous faith and naivety in the persuasive powers of his own position.  When I asked him ‘how can you show a Nazi they are being irrational?’ He produced the ultimate in circular arguments – the way that you could explain to somebody that what they are doing is wrong is through reason and evidence.  Through demonstrating this action that you are taking that you think will produce what you think to be good, you either convince them that what they are claiming is good is in fact not good, or that their action doesn’t actually result in good.  You have to address each one situationally.”  But all that begs the question – who decides what is good?  And how do you have an absolute morality which is addressed situationally?  Whose situation? Matts whole moral take is so dangerous because it represents the worst kind of unthinking fundamentalism – people will/should fall into line with the obvious moral absolutes of the new atheist fundamentalism.   And what happens when they don’t?  What is plan B?

 

11) Back to the avoidance again.  Matt got upset when I quoted Bertrand Russell at him.  Did he agree that Dachau was wrong is a fact?  His response – I don’t know.. He needed to pause to think.  Really?  Was nobody else upset that one of the leading atheists in the US needed to think about whether the Holocaust was wrong is a fact?  Can you not see where this insanity leads us?   And he did his favourite trick again  ‘It may be the case that the answer should be, that we don’t know or we don’t know yet.’    Well I do know.  I know that Dachau was wrong and I would state my life on that.  I would also state that anyone who is prepared to argue that we don’t know if it was wrong or not has lost the plot.   Mind you Matt was contradicting himself because earlier he had argued that it was obvious that killing six millions Jews was wrong.  It appears the principle of non-contradiction is not part of the Atheist Experience.

12) Matt was wrong about the biblical definition of faith.  He sought to superimpose the atheist definition and misquoted Hebrews 11:1 – The idea of faith based on reason is one that is patently absurd because that puts faith in the position of I believe based on reason. Patently absurd to whom?  Not to biblical Christians who know that our faith is based on evidence – “these are written that you may believe!  “I have carefully investigated most excellent Theophilus – that which we have seen, which we have touched, him we declare to you”….Matts problem is that he argues against a caricature of Christianity, not against what Christianity actually is.  All I did was call him on that.  And again the atheists did not like my ‘rudeness’.

Part Two

Moving on to the second programme let me point out a few more things (I won’t comment on the repeat mistakes he made from the first):

1)   Matt evaluates his own reason as the standard and rejects my idea that Jesus is the standard – which he considers to be a circular argument.  Apparently his absolute trust in his own reason is “a pragmatic forced position…..”  Well my trust in the goodness of Christ is a pragmatic forced position as well.  I know that my mind is limited.  I know that I am too easily moved by prejudice and emotion. I know that I cannot be the standard for good, or for judging good.  So I am pragmatically forced to another position.  And I have plenty evidence that Jesus can.  The bottom line here is that Matt trusts himself and I trust Jesus.

2)    I find it astonishing that people accuse me of arrogance for saying that I cannot judge or trust my own reasoning ability whereas they either kept silent or praised Matt for the most astonishing arrogance.   At first he said that he could not determine the difference between Jesus and Satan if they appeared in the same room (he could be right there – after all Satan does appear as an angel of light!) but he then says that he can’t judge them by their standards, he judges them by his. I have to look at them and evaluate them – by their fruits you shall know them and use my understanding to evaluate them.  The irony of him quoting Jesus to declare that he has the power and the right to judge Jesus seems to have bypassed Matt.

 

3)    When asked about a standard – Matt says his standard is reality – again he is just pushing back the question.  What is reality?  He goes on to make the astonishing statement.  We don’t have to worry that much about good – does this comport with reality?  That’s the absolute standard, not my opinion because I can be wrong.  I have rarely come across so much wrong and illogicality in so few words.   We don’t have to worry about good – just reality.  The Holocaust was real.  Does that mean we don’t have to worry about whether it was good or not?!  The absolute standard is reality, not Matts opinion, that sounds nice and humble (in contrast to his earlier statements) but he is again just begging the question – who determines what is real?  The answer according to Matt appears to be – Matt.

 

4)    Then Matt reached a new low in seeking the prove that the Bible was wrong.  He claimed that because Jesus spoke about salt losing its savour, then the Bible is proved wrong!  Yes – it really was that bad!  Some people may have thought I was rude and I do apologise if it came across that way – but you should be thankful for what I kept in.  This moment in the debate was a real LOL.  And I had to struggle to prevent that happening.    Does Matt seriously think that Jesus was giving a chemistry lesson on the properties of salt?  (Besides which of course it is possible for some kinds of salt to lose its savour – but I won’t dignify the inanity of the remark by even going there).

 

5)    Matt then brought things back to a more logical aspect when he pointed out that if God was real he should reveal himself in a way that is clear and accessible to all. The answer to that is He has.   God has revealed himself in a way that is clear and accessible to all – through Jesus Christ.  That was why I wrote Magnificent Obsession – to point to Jesus.  Matt and others keep looking away or shutting their eyes.

 

6)    Matt got upset at my saying that Bertrand Russell would not stand before God on the day of judgement and ask why He did not give him enough evidence.  He thought that was insulting.  It is only insulting to those who think they are on a par with God.  It is not insulting if it is the truth.

 

7)    Then we had another one of those evasive and self-contradictory ‘don’t know’ confusing statements.   Follow this and see if you can make any more sense of what Matt was saying that I could –

–       You start by saying that atheists presuppose that the dead can’t rise – no, that’s not my pre-supposition at all.

So you think the dead can rise?

–       No.   This is the problem with your thinking and I’m glad you said that.

Can the dead rise or can they not rise?

–       David, let me finish.   The fact that I said that I do not begin with the presupposition that the dead can’t rise does not mean that I believe that the dead can rise.  The fact that I don’t think the number of gumballs in this jar is even does not mean that I am convinced the number is odd.  That is simply a fallacy – it is a demonstration of the way you’ve…

Can I destroy that argument in one sentence?

–       Sure

Do you believe the number of gumballs in the jar is either odd or even?

–       Yes.

Do you believe then that people can either rise from the dead or not?  What’s the third option?

–       No, no,.  The number of gumballs is odd or even. And people can rise from the dead or not. Those are the options.

Thank you.  That’s all I was saying.

That doesn’t mean I have a position where I ‘m convinced they can rise from the dead or that I have a position that they can’t rise from the dead.  The fact that I acknowledge that those are the two possibilities does not mean that I am advocating for either.  And because I reject one of them, as ‘I am not convinced of this’ does not mean I am necessarily convinced of the other.

–       How would you know the number of gumballs?

You could count them.

–       Yea – you could count them – so you would say ‘I don’t know but I will count.  In the same way when Bertrand Russell says that I didn’t believe in God because there wasn’t enough evidence I would ask how would you know what the evidence was?  And the answer to me is quite simple.  Open your eyes.

Well I’m glad the debate is over – just open your eyes……I don’t have a presupposition that the dead can’t rise my conclusion is that there isn’t sufficient evidence to support the conclusion that the dead can rise.

 Can you see the problem with what Matt is saying? He is confusing the question of whether the dead did rise with the question of whether they can rise.  If there is an Almighty God then logically he can raise the dead.  Matt’s presupposition is that the dead can’t rise, because he presupposes that there is no such God.  He goes round in a continual circular argument and if anyone gets close to breaking that he just plays his trump card of ‘the unknown unknown’.  Let me add a wee note in here – a couple of times Matt countered the argument that he pre-supposed that there was no God with the assertion that this could not be true because in the past he has believed in God. Again this is not logical.  I was not referring to his pre-suppositions in the past; I was referring to his current faith. It is perfectly possible to have pre-supposed God in the past, and to pre-suppose his non-existence in the present.  The one thing it will not be possible to do, is pre-suppose his non-existence in eternity!

But we are back here to Matt playing with words and getting in a tremendous mess of self-contradiction. He starts by denying that he presupposes that the dead cannot rise.  I logically point out that he then thinks it is ‘possible’.  He denies this too.  So he denies that the dead can’t rise and he denies that they can.  Is this Matt on his infamous unknown unknowns option?   But later on he says that there are two possibilities, the dead can rise or they can’t, just as the number of gumballs can be odd or even.  I was embarrassed for him.  But it appears that atheism can blind ones logical faculties as well – because lots of atheists seemed not to notice.

Tweets – Matt tweeted after we recorded the shows “Spent the morning recording two episodes for: http://www.premier.org.uk/unbelievable  . Wow. So much confusion, so little time. Keep an eye out for them!   In that at least we were agreed!

Why were Atheists Upset? I think the above demonstrates why so many atheists were upset.   Their fundamental beliefs were challenged, and one of their champions, who makes a career out of mocking Christianity and proclaiming his own superiority, was shown to be more than wanting.   David slew Goliath and the Philistines could only shout ‘that’s not fair, you are very rude’.

Given that Matt tied himself in knots, was unable to offer a logically consistent and coherent position and several times contradicted himself, I can understand why his atheist fans resorted to the only tactic they had – the smokescreen of personal accusation and name calling.  And of course seeking to neutralise me by a) making me feel guilty about my ‘nastiness’ and b) get other Christians to put pressure on me for not being ‘nice’ (one even demanded that Justin never have me on the show again). …It is to those Christians that I now turn.

A Note to my fellow Christians who think I was not ‘nice’.  

I understand where you are coming from.  I too get embarrassed by the type of Christian who seems to constantly be shouting and picking a fight.  I really don’t want to be that person.  I have a problem though.  Why do you think it is wrong for me to ‘judge’ but ok for you to judge me for what you perceive as my ‘judgementalism’?  Why do you feel free to be direct, personal and ‘rude’ about my direct, personal rudeness?  Personally given what Matt was saying about the Lord I love and his Word that I proclaim, I thought I was being restrained!   Maybe my judgement is wrong on that.

But I have a challenge for you.  Can you find the word ‘nice’ in the bible?  Where does Jesus equate loving someone with being polite to them about their errors?  You condemn me for being rude.  Would you also condemn Elijah for mocking the prophets of Baal?  Paul for suggesting that the false teachers advocating circumcision should go the whole way and emasculate themselves?!  Would you condemn Jesus for being UnChristlike when he spoke of the Pharisees as ‘whitewashed tombs, twice dead’, or drove the moneychangers out of the temple with a whip?!

Yes – I admit I am passionate.  And yes, I admit I often get things wrong and out of proportion (when accusing a Christian in general of sin it is of course an easy target – we should all know that we are all guilty).  But I don’t believe that any of this debate was about myself or indeed personal about Matt. To be honest I quite liked the guy.  I just felt incredibly sorry for him.   But most of all I was concerned first of all for the honour and glory of Jesus Christ and his gospel.  And I was also concerned for Matt’s own salvation and the salvation of others who would hear (which is why your accusation that my ‘performance’ was a ‘bad witness’, cut so deep).  For me this is not a game.  A debate that I have to ‘win’.  I actually don’t care about winning.  For me it is about proclaiming truth, defeating error and exalting Christ.  It is about winning people for Him.

Listen again to what Matt said at the end. ..If the Bible is an accurate representation of God then even if I absolutely knew he existed then I would consider Him an immoral thug with an inferior intellect and wouldn’t worship him.    Does that not chill your bones?  You called me arrogant because you did not like my tone.  Why were you so silent about this incredible arrogance?  Matt believes he is morally superior to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, whose eyes are too pure to look upon evil?  He thinks that the Omniscient God has an inferior intellect to his.  And he proudly boasts that he would not worship him.   Can you think of anything more chilling?

One day Matt will bow the knee before Jesus.  My prayer is that he will do so in love, submission and adoration before he dies, rather than waiting for the day of judgement, when his boasting will be exposed for the arrogant sham it really is.    You think that being ‘nice’, keeping quiet in the face of such blasphemy and arrogance, is somehow the loving Christlike thing to do.  I don’t.  For me it would be a spineless, gutless and unloving cop out. If I don’t speak out then I am culpable.   Sure – I can speak out in a much better way.  I look forward to you showing me how.  One thing is sure – those who critique from the sidelines and never get their hands dirty, won’t do much work for the Kingdom.

Speaking of dirt, I realise that there are fine Christians who think that we just should not get into the dirt with those who mock and abuse.  I accept it is painful and hard.  But I believe that some of us are called to do that.  It would be good to do so without being sniped at by your own side!  Which is not to say that constructive criticism is not welcome – it is.  That’s about the only way I can learn….

Those who thought that I was much kinder in the second debate and attributed this to the fact that I listened to the criticism after the first show also intrigued me.  Only one slight problem.  The two shows were recorded back to back.  The criticism of the first came long after the second had been recorded.  I agree there was a difference though.  But it was not what I call the OT/NT miscaricature of the Angry God/Loving Jesus so beloved of atheists and liberals.   Sometimes in order to construct you have to destruct.  My intention in the first show was very deliberate – engage with Matt, don’t let him off with the usual evasions, misrepresentations and IL logicalities so beloved of the new atheists and then in the second show seek to present Christ.   I am actually far more concerned that I did not do the second part as effectively as I did the first.  But I do not regret doing the first at all.  You can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

Conclusion: 

So there you have it.   Is it really the case that I was the bad, evil, arrogant, smug, lying, deceitful Christian who should be loved by atheists because I am their best weapon in seeking to turn people against Christianity?  Or did I do the best I could within my limited capacities and the constraints of the show?  Was the logic of the Logos proclaimed, or was it just a nasty self-publicist up for a fight who took part against the harmless atheist?   For me I try not to care too much about all the abuse I get.  I have a far greater concern.  One day I will stand before my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and give account of every careless word spoken.   I know that every one of those words will be forgiven because of his grace and mercy, but I long to hear the words ‘well done good and faithful servant’.  So I do apologise for those things that I got wrong – but I leave Christ to tell me what those were.  And to forgive me.

I won’t apologise for standing up for the truth, exposing falsehoods and taking every thought and argument captive for Jesus.  I am not ashamed of these two debates, indeed I am quite happy for them to be circulated as widely as possible.  If that means I have to suffer abuse and name calling – I rejoice.  He suffered far worse for me, and there are many of His people in the world today who are suffering far worse.  Meanwhile Tom Petty expresses my sentiments well –

I find it interesting that after I do the ‘grill-a-Christian’ show on Unbelievable, atheists complain, ‘that’s not fair, those guys were not great, let me have a go’.  When I debated Michael Shermer one atheist started a thread on which it was speculated that it was some kind of set up, or Shermer was not well.   Last week I debated an atheist professor and afterwards I heard some atheists were complaining that they had to get themselves a better atheist.  Don’t they get it? Its not because I am a brilliant debater (I am not), nor is it because I am nasty, wicked etc., nor is it because my opponents are the ‘low hanging fruit’. I try to avoid that.   To my atheist friends I just simply say, its not that you need better atheists, you need a better philosophy.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ”.   Colossians 2:8

Its time you got to know my Magnificent Obsession!  The Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Alpha and the Omega, the Door, the Way, the Life and the Truth.  Let your minds continue to be renewed…

David Robertson

You can get the two shows here – http://www.premier.org.uk/unbelievable

Dundee

5th March 2014

164 thoughts on “Unbelievable – The Matt Dillahunty Showdown – or Why am I such a smug, dishonest, stupid, ignorant prat?!

  1. Interesting to come across this post and the suggestions that many felt that your debate style and general approach came/come across as angry, defensive, combative, lacking humility, and condescending. Was there also something to do with ego and not being ”nice”.

    And there I was thinking I was alone and may have misunderstood the tone of your replies, and maybe I had been a bit out of line for thinking this is how you have come across during our chat?

    Seems I am not alone in this regard after all, David.

    Out of curiosity, what is the reason you have such a large photograph of yourself on your about page?

    1. Indeed….Matt got really upset…so much so that he didn’t post the debate for several days afterwards. His followers were even more upset -basically because their hero got caught out – and so they resorted to name calling – which of course you pick up on. As for the photo – I have no idea why it is large…we were just asked to put one….personally I don’t care…but why do you?

      1. I just wanted to clarify sometime as I am discussing about the bible with John, and moderation makes for rather awkward conversation.
        Do you moderate/review everyone’s comments before allowing publication?

      2. Everything from death threats, mockery, abuse, threats of law suits, accusations of lying, abuse etc. It just became very tiresome. Also as this is my own personal blog – I don’t allow others to dominate or be rude to my guests. If someone seeks to drown out comments with their own I suggest that they just write them on their own blog – not mine!

      3. Well, Dawkins gets similar stuff I believe so I guess it is just par for the course if one is going to put oneself ”out there”.
        There are such idiots everywhere, sad to say.
        C’est le vie, n’est pas?

  2. Teach Jesus Christ and his Word is the best way.

    The Hitler one was raised by Matt and he was demolished on it…

    Luther was wrong. All of us are sinners and get things wrong – Luther was no exception

    1. Teach Jesus Christ and his Word is the best way.

      Bearing in mind , terms and conditions – especially the threat of Hell for non compliance , to what do you attribute the poor success rate of this method?

      I didn’t say anything about who raised the Hitler ‘one’. Why do you feel it was necessary to state that ”Matt was demolished”.?

      I don’t acknowledge the term sin as it is a religious term and denotes transgressing laws supposedly laid out by YHWH. Thus, in context, it is meaningless.

      Re: Luther.
      Do you teach that Luther was wrong?

      1. Over 2 billion of the worlds population profess to be Christian….the church is continuing to grow. I would call that success.

        Matt was demolished on the Hitler issue and you did raise it.

        And yes I do teach that Luther was wrong about the Jews.

      2. In your video you stated the Church in Scotland has all but collapsed, or words to this effect.

        I see the old Hitler tropes were raised! I always smile when this happens.

        There was no mention of Matt raising it in what I said.
        And demolished is a point of view, certainly.

  3. I thought you nailed him on the abortion thing. Its pretty pathetic that when cornered he resorts to ‘did i say that?’ If you can think of ‘well beings’ that contradict each other then you must appeal to maximal well being as Harris does, which is just utilitarianism . The fact is that the Nazis believed that ridding themselves of Jews was in their best interest. The Allies believed that killing Nazis was in theirs. Whatever ones beliefs about Jews, democracy, or Hitler are determine which side of the fence you fall on regarding ‘well beings’ and unless you appeal to a transcendent moral authority, you will find yourself in moral relativist territory.

  4. are you going to put up this comment , you people are as bad far left i have left 4 comments and you dont put up anything that does not agree with this mental illness of religion . this site is a joke no wonder its dead no support from even believers when you cant talk only one side

    1. As I told you I don’t put up rude, ignorant and aggressive posts. If you wish to rant your prejudice about mental illness or religion do it on your own space. I also tend not to put up irrational and illogical posts. Given that I clearly allow a wide variety of posts and there is often varied discussion and it gets around 1 million views per year – your claims are demonstrably false.

  5. I wonder if, when people embrace atheism, they see someone like Matt Dillahunty and think ‘eff yeah!’. He seems to be a kind of ‘shock jock’ of atheism. On the Atheist Experience he berates people for talking over him, then does the same (or the old ‘you’re on hold’ so he can enjoy the sound of his own voice). More recently I’ve seen him say ‘I’m snarky today’, before he tells someone to eff off. He makes statements, and when questioned on them, back peddles with ‘I didn’t say that’, or places conditions on the statement. This reminds me of the atheist complaints about (Christian) apologists.

    I think Matt Dillahunty has a lot of good things to say. I don’t know if his ‘celebrity’ has gone to his head and whether that is contributing to his arrogance and increasing obnoxiousness. I used to call myself an atheist, but Matt Dillahunty made me embarrassed to use that ‘label’. So I go further. I call myself an ‘anti-theist’. The evidence presented for the existence of (any) God and for Jesus Christ does not withstand scrutiny. I’m pretty sure that’s what Matt believes too, but he prefers to hide behind the ‘theists have the burden of proof’ argument.

    1. The evidence presented for God and Jesus is overwhelming and really does withstand scrutiny – I just wish that people would scrutinise – with an open mind (or at least one not already made up)….you can start with my Magnificent Obsession!

      1. Tell me David, after the Resurrection why did Pilate do absolutely nothing regarding the man he had just executed for sedition(treason) who was now up and about walking around in his midst, with rumours flying all over the place.

        Even after he was witnessed by a minimum of 500 witnesses!

        He didn’t even haul in Joseph of Arimethea, the man he had granted the body of Jesus, and ask him to explain how this man was not dead and apparently walking around bold as brass?

        And all this was going on for up to 40 days!

        So exactly what overwhelming evidence are you referring to?

      2. He had just been executed for sedition and now there are rumours flying around that he is alive and well and ministering and attracting followers and more disciples.
        Are you suggesting Pilate would have been completely unaware of this?
        Even if it was simply nonsensical rumours?
        Which of course this was not the case according to the bible, was it?

        Pilate was recalled to Rome because of his excessive brutality – this is a matter of record as I am sure you are aware – so are you truly suggesting he would have completely ignored any and all reports that Jesus – a criminal he had just executed – had risen from the dead , and had been seen by hundreds of people?

      3. I am suggesting he would have had exactly the same reaction as you….he would not have believed it – and by the time he did Jesus was gone!

      4. Jesus was around for 40 days. The Sanhedrin were aware of the empty tomb almost immediately.

        He was executed for treason and now he is claimed to be up and about, having been seen by hundreds of people, yet there is not a single non biblical record of any of this!

        And if the rumours had substance – which they did, apparently, then Pilate would have heard and would have at least sent for Arimethea or some other member of the Sanhedrin or sent some soldiers to either investigate the tomb and/or hauled in some of those who had claimed to have seen him.
        After all, such rumours were seriously undermining his position and he was no meek and mild Procurator (Prefect).

      5. You really are missing quite a lot. Not least the idea that we have all the historical records of the time…..we don’t. You need to understand the basic principle that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. You are in the most basic sense – ignorant – which is not your fault. Where you are culpable is claiming that your ignorance is knowledge!

      6. “The evidence presented for God and Jesus is overwhelming and really does withstand scrutiny”
        Will you then care to share the evidence you have for the biblical Jesus being a historical individuals and all the miracles in the bible were historical events.
        Can you kindly share your overwhelming evidence for god, not just any god, conclusive evidence that shows that the god is Yahweh

      7. Certainly – I have written a whole book on the evidence for Jesus – called Magnificent Obsession. But I suspect you are saying that there is no evidence and you wouldn’t accept any anyway…

      8. “Jesus was a Palestinian peasant – he would have been of no interest”
        Based on how Jesus trial was reported to have occurred, saying Jesus would be of no interest to Pilate is quite a leap

      9. I wasn’t talking about Pilate…I was talking about in the wider scheme of things. We don’t have any records of what happened locally…

      10. “I wasn’t talking about Pilate”
        In that comment section, Pilate was the topic of the discussion

        ““Jesus was a Palestinian peasant – he would have been of no interest”
        You were talking about Pilate

      11. “Certainly – I have written a whole book on the evidence for Jesus – called Magnificent Obsession”
        You can just list the archeology and historical findings that show that the Jesus as described by the gospels existed and the miracles were historical events

        Or you can point me to articles in peer reviewed journals that support your claim

        Or just list your sources

      12. Feel free to read the book…but I don’t any point in my wasting time in another endless and pointless debate. Your mind is made up and doesn’t want to be confused with facts.

      13. theweeflea I don’t see how me asking you for your bibliography is a debate and is implying that my mind is made up

        I assume that your book is trying to show that the biblical Jesus is historical, certainly you must have consulted a couple of sources, I am simply asking you to give me a list of your sources

        And stop all this Your mind is made up and doesn’t want to be confused with facts and simply give me your bibliography

      14. “The evidence presented for God and Jesus is overwhelming and really does withstand scrutiny – I just wish that people would scrutinise – with an open mind (or at least one not already made up)….you can start with my Magnificent Obsession!”

        that doesn’t make sense according to logic. if evidence is ‘overwhelming’ then ‘scrutiny’ is (by virtue) an unnecessary diagnostic tool…..as is asking people to have an ‘open mind’. you only need to have an open mind in the absence of overwhelming evidence. that’s how we logically come to conclusions about the world around us.

  6. “You really are missing quite a lot. Not least the idea that we have all the historical records of the time…..we don’t. ”

    so we don’t have historical records…….and because of that we “need”…… to understand the basic principle that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” in the absence of facts how can we “understand” the basic principles of anything?

    ” You are in the most basic sense – ignorant – which is not your fault. ”
    that seems unnecessarily unpleasant to me.

    “Where you are culpable is claiming that your ignorance is knowledge!”
    i think the person you refer to was simply stating that we can’t attach the knowledge label to things we really have no way of proving. but well done for resorting to petty name-calling.

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