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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 comments

  1. As mentioned previously, I wouldn’t take any issue with David not being nice. In that light I would engage with what David has mentioned about “the word ‘nice’ in the bible” and mention Elijah with mocking prophets of Baal, Paul with talking of emasculation of those advocating circumcision and Jesus speaking of those phaisees of being whitewashed tombs etc.

    David has drawn such comparisons elsewhere when he mentioned that someone that he said claimed to be a fellow evangelical had thought he had done damage between evangelicals and those that this someone called progressives saying that such damage done is what he hoped so.

    If it were the case that such atheists and “progressives” were acting as prophets of Baal and those advocating circumcision then it can be reasonably argued that David has exhibited the best of what being a Christian by mocking and not being nice.

    If however David has not been drawing a like for like comparison between the atheists and Christians he talks of with prophets of Baal and those advocating circumcision, then he has been failing to fulfill the mission statement of Solas of which he is director i.e:

    “Our mission encompasses a fourfold thrust: … so that the mandate of 1 Peter 3:15 might be fulfilled – to set apart Christ in our hearts as Lord and always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is within us, with gentleness and respect, all for the glory of God.”

    That is, 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.

    I am enjoying the challenge of reading both the “Why I am not an athiest” and “Why I am not a Christian book”. The most powerful effect on me so far in the reading has been a story of Mr van der Broek who murdered a black woman’s husband and son. A member of South Africa’s truth and reconciliation commission in the courtroom asked her what she wanted. Her reply was to ask to be taken to where her husband was burned so she may gather the remains and give her husband’s body a decent burial. Next she wanted to adopt van der Broek as her son as her husband and son were the only family she had and wanted him to visit her so she may pour out any love remaining in her on him. Finally she said she would like him to know she would offer her forgiveness because Jesus Christ died to forgive saying this was also the wish of her husband and kindly asked that someone would escort her across the courtroom so that she may embrace him and know he was truly forgiven. As she was escorted van der Broek fainted and those who had been victims of decades of opression and injustice sang softly but assuredly “amazing grace”.

    Truth and grace setting free. WOW!

  2. First, atheism and moral relativism are philosophies that have no clothes. Just like the emperor. The heavens declare the glory of God! When Hudson Taylor finally made it to China he met a man who asked why he hadn’t come earlier to tell the Chinese about God. I praise God that you are not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation. I hope you have many more opportunities to debate atheists. And keep blogging. Your passion and courage brighten my day!

  3. Thanks David..

    Another great email. I hadn’t seen these recordings but now I will have to look them up.

    Your doing a wonderful job for the glory of god.

    God bless brother.

    Ryan Hosick

    Sent from my iPhone

  4. I am nto aware of any Hitler priuvate diaries, yet you claim to have read them. Can you provide a reference for this? I am also a keen student of Nazi germany.

    1. The Hitler diaries which turned out to be fake – although endorsed by Trevor-Roper. As a keen student of Nazi Germany – I’m sure you are aware of these. Also his secretary’s recollections and Bormanns diary…

      1. On the show you stated that you had read Hitler’s private diaries both the real and the fake ones. Reading forged diaries can not possibly have any relevance and the recollection of other people in the Nazi circle would not count as Hitler’s private diaries. So i just want to check then there is nothing else you are referring to. I am of the opinion that Hitler never kept any private diaries and hence you could not have read them, the statement that you made on the show in not the truth.
        Is that correct or am I missing something?

      2. Ok = thats a fair point. I was just meaning that I have read everything in English that has come from Hitler – whether through others private diaries (like Bormanns or Traudl Junges recollections – as well as his speeches, Mein Kampf etc. Why are you of the opinion that he kept no private diaries?

      3. I’ve always found it odd that when I encounter these sorts of discussions the fixation seems to be solely on Hitler’s religious views and not the religious views of Germany as a whole.

  5. So Christians and non Christians alike criticised your tone and manner and you reflected on it then decided they were all wrong? I actually think you did come across badly in part 1 of the debate. You won many of the arguments and debated well, but your attitude wasn’t great. And attitude counts for a lot, I think.

      1. I think that when you get a lot of people criticising and a lot of people praising the truth often lies somewhere in between those two polarisations. That’s how I’d see this anyway. I found a lot of your jokes quite funny, but they could have easily been taken the wrong way. You were very direct and went in too hard. By the end of Pt 1 you looked like the aggressor, not him! Surely with so many people telling you (even your supporters) that your tone was a bit out of line, you should have taken that to heart and apologised? You don’t need to apologise for the substance of what you said, but the way you went about it obviously put a lot of people (even Christians!) off of what you were saying.

      2. Tom – Thanks for that. I would still appreciate you letting me know what my attitude was.

        I have explained all this in the blog. Actually the vast majority of comments I got from ‘my supporters’ as you put it was the opposite of what you said. I’m sorry but having reflected on it I won’t be apologising for what I said or the way I said it. Having listened to it again I think I was way too soft. OF course in part 1 I was coming to come across as the aggressor – I was after all the one explaining why I was not an atheist! The only way to do that without coming across as the aggressor against atheism would have been to fail completely. I am quite happy to destroy and be aggressive against atheism, idolatry etc. Whats the alternative? Being passive?

        You need to give me a little more substance so that I can have something to apologise for. I would also like to know how you would have responded to Elijahs mocking of the prophets of Baal, or Pauls instructions to the Galatian false teachers to go and emasculate themselves, or Jesus telling the Pharisees they were whitewashed tombs, twice dead! Were they too aggressive?

        My concern is that far too many Christians are desperate to appear ‘nice’ and to get everyone to like them. This means that militant atheists walk all over them. It is almost beyond parody that when a Christian stands up to that kind of bullying, they turn on the Christian and complain that he is not being nice!

  6. It’s not about being nice it’s about being respectful. You didn’t show much respect. And if you can’t see that (even just a little bit) then I can’t help you.

    1. Again I notice Tom, that you make accusations without giving evidence, and you still refuse to answer my questions. I think I showed Matt plenty respect. If you want me to show respect to his foolish, sinful and dangerous opinions then that ain’t gonna happen. How much respect do you think Elijah showed the prophets of Baal? Would you criticise Jesus for not being respectful enough of the Pharisees?

      I’m also not sure what help you are trying to offer me – nor I am convinced that you are showing me (as a fellow believer) the respect that you seem to be demanding I show to an atheist who mocks Christ and laughs at God.

      1. I think you are making Tom’s point for him. He said he found you to be disrespectful. Instead of a polite of even friendly reply, you demand evidence. Does he need to provide evidence that he found you disrespectful? Do you expect him to comb the debate transcript and provide excerpts? Perhaps you could just take his word for it, and try to engage him constructively. Instead, you are still trying to “win the debate”. If Tom was on the fence about you, or about Christianity, you’ve just driven him one step further away.

        And Tom – I shouldn’t try to put words in your mouth, For that I apologize.

      2. Actually David I did not realise you were talking about Tom. I thought you were talking about Matt. My reply to Tom was polite (I don’t really care what he thinks about me – I do care what he thinks about Christ – however unlike you I am not in a position to make any kind of judgement on Toms spiritual state – I just replied to the points in his post). And I’m sorry for asking for evidence, but that is how I work. I cannot keep relying on feelings – my own, never mind other peoples. I am astonished at how many people seem to be able to tell what is in other peoples hearts and minds on the basis of feelings and impressions they have. Perhaps it might help you in your ‘search’ if you stopped personalising things and just dealt with the actual issues being discussed. I am also intrigued that you as an unbeliever are so concerned that people are being driven one step further away. Why the interest? And given that you made quite specific complaints about me – why have you not engaged with me and answered the questions I asked you (politely!)?

  7. I recently watched the Australian debates between William Lane Craig and Lawrence Krauss and felt that WLC had underestimated the aggression of Krauss to the point that WLCs, normally powerful, arguments were less effective.

    I believe it’s all about horses for courses. Obviously you had done your home work on Matt Dillahunty and were on the front foot from the word go. When I started listening to the first debate I exclaimed to my wife, “ Robertson’s on fire for this one!” I had never heard of Dillahunty before this debate but you obviously had and were aware of his confrontational, debating style.

    The arguments you presented were sound apart from equating Americans with the butchering of the English language (had me choking with laughter). I’m surprised they let you back into the US!

    To those who think that you are all about aggressive debating I would advise them to listen to a recent sermon on “Eternal Glory” which you preached in February. When I listened to the final prayer of that service I was touched by your great compassion for souls. People need to remember that the debates are only one part of your ministry.
    http://stpeters-dundee.sermoncampus.info/main/main/9833073

    Keep up the good work David and I trust that you will continue to “earnestly contend for the faith”.

    Look forward to hearing about you chasing the moneychangers out of Dundee!

    1. I too felt WLC let Krauss take a bit too much free reign over the discussion. but I can also see how a person who see Craig as a witness for his faith and Krauss as a witness for his, may be swayed to accept a worldview that doesn’t “turn you into a jerk.” Kind of like being martyred — everyone who involves their spirit when viewing their discussion, should undoubtedly come away with the impression that Craig was coming from a place of love — Krauss on the other hand…

      1. I have been doing this for many years – and I know that the Fundamentalist New Atheists rely on Christians confusing love and kindness with being nice and polite – so they just take the mickey out of us. I would be interested in your vies on the love of Jesus calling the Pharisees whitewashed tombs?

  8. I won’t try to talk you out of your aggressive debate style, but you ask yourself why you are agreed to engage in said debate. Was it to glorify Christ? Because from the perspective of this listener, you failed in that.

    I’m neither a Christian nor a committed atheist, so I listened to this debate with great interest. I never heard you before, but I have heard a little bit of Matt. From what I’ve seen previously, I expected Matt to be rude and aggressive. Listening to the debate, I found quite the opposite. I thought Matt was relatively polite and friendly, while you, in my mind, were astonishingly condescending.

    Why should you listen to me? Because people like me are your target audience! How can you expect to recruit followers to your faith, when you come across (at least to this one listener) as a thoroughly unpleasant person? Do you think Christ won followers to his cause my mocking and belittling them? Or did he role model unfailing kindness and love, even to those who murdered him?

    You may have played well to the “choir” but I don’t think you made much progress in convincing anyone to come to Christ.

    1. I’m sorry to have disappointed you ‘fightprofessor’ with what you think is my ‘aggressive’ style. But to answer your question, yes I have asked myself and yes my aim was to glorify Christ. Given that you don’t believe in Christ – what do you think glorifying Christ would involve? I don’t agree that I was condescending, unless you want to define condescending as disagreeing with someone. I thought Matt was evasive and self-contradictory. And I said so. If I was going to be condescending I would have buttered him up, said what a lovely person he was and how wonderful his arguments were – even if I disagreed with them. I respected him too much to do that.

      I have no idea if you are my ‘target’ audience. I don’t expect to recruit you to ‘my faith’ and I suspect that you consider yourself unrecruitable anyway. Could you please tell me in the debate where I mocked Matt or belittled him? That is one accusation I completely refute. I disagreed with him and thought some of his arguments (not all) were ridiculous. If you call that mocking then so be it. As to Jesus – you are aware of his teaching about the Pharisees? You are also aware of how he warned his opponents that they were going to hell and that he called them sons of the devil? Sometimes you have to speak the truth to be kind.

      I’m curious though – as a self styled ‘seeker’ who believes that Jesus existed and was kind etc…what stops you following him? (I realise that some of his current followers, like me, might put you off, but its not us you follow, but him. So what is the difficulty you have?).

      1. Hey David. Let me try to just dial this whole thing down a notch. I didn’t come in here to start a “rumble” or try to win points. I was making an observation that the points of an debate can be diluted if they are offered in a way that the listener perceives to be unpleasant. That’s the only point I was trying to make. And from the humble perspective of one listener, speaking only for himself, I thought your points were diluted by the way you delivered them. And I think the points you make in your reply above are also diluted by the way you deliver them. I really don’t think there’s a need for me to peruse the transcript for examples. My impression was my impression.

        Let me conclude with a sincere message. Have a great day, best wishes to you and your family, and best of luck with your endeavors. I say this sincerely and with good intent, and would add (with tongue only slightly placed in cheek) that it seems like the good Christian thing to do.

        Best,
        David

      2. David, Thanks. Especially for your good wishes. Consider them reciprocated. I accept you did not come to start a ‘rumble’ although posting on someones blog that they come across as ‘unpleasant’ and suggesting to a Christian that they are driving people away from Christ, is hardly the polite standard you seem to be judging others by! It is of course impossible for me to argue against impressions and feelings – ‘you hurt my feeling’ or ‘you are not nice’ is always the trump card that gets frequently played. But I’m sorry – I really do have to ask for examples if you are going to accuse me of mocking etc. I cannot change what I do or am on the basis of the subjective impressions and feelings of everyone who expresses them.

        I too wish you the best. And for me that is that you come to know CHrist. Hence my earlier question – whats stopping you?

      3. I was suggesting “politeness” as a debate strategy, not as standard either you and I are bound by. However, we can try to buck the trend against politeness on internet forums starting right here.

        If I find myself with some spare time, I’ll try to honor your request by listening to the debate again. My recollection is that you answered a lot of Matt’s point with replies that started with the general form, ‘I’m surprised by how bad your argument is’. I’ve listened to Matt’s show, and I know that’s a stock way he handles callers. However, in this particular debate, I found more to object to stylistically on your side than his.

        I certainly didn’t have my feelings hurt, I just commented on my impression of your style. Why did I avoid the substance of the arguments? I found plenty to object to and agree with on both sides, but honestly I don’t have time to type out a 10,000 word break-down of the debate, nor do I suspect many people would be interested to read it. I’ll concede Matt was at his worst when he suggested salt can’t lose it’s savor. I could probably point to a few of your substantive arguments I found unpersuasive as well. But honestly, my overall impression of the debate was more on the style than the substance. So that’s where I directed my comment.

        As to your final question. There’s no time or space on this blog for a complete answer. I’ve spent most of my life dedicated to scientific research. On this one experiment, I’m just not yet convinced by the evidence.

      4. Thanks – I appreciate that post! Personally I thought I was very polite in the debates! I look forward to your more constructive and detailed critique – it will actually be very helpful. I typed in my blog the points where I thought Matt made a hash of things and my response – feel free to use that!

        What evidence WOULD convince you?

  9. I’m curious about the difference between interacting with an unbeliever with the gospel and debating a person on who does not believe in God(the Christian God). It seems like the show was billed to be a mere articulation of why one is and why one is not a Christian. But, the show ended up a debate. This is confusing to me because “debate” in the show began meaning what two people do when they cannot hear or listen to each other’s reasons for why they are or are not Christians. I think Robertson maybe treated Matt the way he has treated Christians. But, generally I understand that, to unbelievers, Christians have a responsibility to be clear about the gospel. I’m not saying we should not debate or engage others. But, I am confused about the difference between being clear about the gospel and measuring Matt up when Christians are only called to do that within the church.

    I hope anyone who reads this doesn’t assume that I think Matt should be unmerciful to Christians or the other way around. My main confusion is merely about holding the church accountable vs. communicated and living the gospel to unbelievers.

    1. Gabriel, thanks for you post. The show was always intended to be a debate. And I did listen to Matts reasons, as I am sure he listened to mine. The fact that we disagreed should not be a surprise. Part of communicating the Gospel is dealing with the objections that unbelievers have – which is precisely what I was doing. It seems to me that many people are seeking to deflect the discussion by personalising things and talking about peoples faults, rather than the issues involved. That is disappointing.

      1. I wrote another post below. Maybe that will help show my engagement with the content of the discussion in relation to my feedback. I hope I don’t get lumped in with people who just don’t like disagreement. I really did think it would be a time of articulating reasons why or why not Christian. I know about missing the content for smoke screens and I know about sacrificing audience for choice of delivery. Can’t I be in disagreement with most of everything Matt did, diversions and all, and still be a little disappointed about some of your delivery? I can find some poor deliveries of my own if that would help. I realize this is an unfair advantage since you haven’t seen me spirited or had a chance to ask me to consider my delivery.

        I really wish I could afford to travel, I absolutely enjoy your personality and your heart for people. I remember you telling whisky joke in your home brogue and I want to hear it again.

      2. Gabriel – I think reasons were articulated (on both sides). And of course you can be disappointed with some of my delivery – I am as well!

  10. David,

    Well done and God bless you! I may be alone in thoroughly enjoying hearing you and cheering you on!!

    Isn’t it telling that the ‘fall-out’ from the debates has been almost universally centred on tone, attitude and ‘niceness’ rather than substance? I take your point that the new atheists, reeling from seeing their Goliath mortally wounded, would revert to accusations on style over substance. As you alluded to, they fail to see the irony of accusing you of ‘unchristian’ behaviour. This however is another colour of the ‘tolerance tyranny’ that is the most effective weapon in their armoury today and is very effectively wielded. So much so that, apparently, some Christians have also been seduced by it. I’m reminded of Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:8 referring to John Baptist “But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses”.

    There is however, a cultural contextual issue at play here. I deal with Americans in business daily and have come to the conclusion that they are very different from us; particularly us Scots. Hollywood, the infusion of US pop culture into our own and a (mostly) common language has deceived us into believing that Americans think and act like we do. They don’t. The average American will always politely tell you to your face, what they think you want to hear. Even past the point of truthfulness. Even Christians. This is considered to be acceptable if the issue is largely inconsequential. For example, if an American tells you, as you part company on a Wednesday, that you need to come over at the weekend for a BBQ; don’t put it in your diary! He doesn’t necessarily mean it, he’s just saying something ‘nice’. If an American tells you that your product is the best he has ever seen and it is ‘awesome’, do not be surprised if you never hear from him again; he’s being nice, not truthful. This is normal. We Scots, on the other hand, live in a world where abusive ridicule amongst ourselves is ‘friendly banter’. My American colleagues and acquaintances find this incredible and are extremely uneasy when they hear us at it?

    My point is this: Americans don’t like serious straight contrary talk. It’s why they have a few ‘shock jocks’ that in fact aren’t very shocking and it’s why they think Simon Cowell is outrageous because he tells people on live tv that they can’t sing. Americans are uncomfortable with hearing the truth if they think the hearer will be seriously ‘offended’. Matt’s show is popular because Americans are comfortable that some people are ‘jerks’ and it is everybody’s duty to ‘call out’ jerks. Just so long as nobody takes it seriously or is seriously offended. Now if somebody gets all serious and starts offending, that’s rude; especially a Brit to an American and especially, it would appear, a Brit Christian to an American atheist.

    Having said all that, on the question of whether you should or should not re-tailor your style for an American audience, I’m afraid I’m going to have to leave you with a quote from Matt: “I don’t know” 😉

  11. What an absolute pleasure to hear David Robertson debate Matt Dillahunty, and do so in a way that was intelligent, uncompromising and assertive. Did David conduct himself within biblical guidelines? Let Galatians 2v5 answer that:’ But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.’. Anyone having a go at David Robertson, obviously hasnt listened to Dillahuntys show. Well done David, and dont change ypur approach. Thanks

  12. hi, i’m on the christian side of ‘the’ debate. indeed, it was not the most ‘diplomatic’ of shows, but Matt was not polite either. ok, it could have been better, but i think passions sometimes take over a bit, that is just human.
    One point i’d like to make though, on the ‘hitler is a christian thing’ atheists will often throw this at you, because hitler publicly supported and claimed to be a christian… well i d find this strange. Hitler was a politician, trying to gain and retain power. i doubt we would take anything for granted from what any politician says on his personal views in public, as in, that it is representative of what really goes on in their heart…. why then do they think that what Hitler (of all people) would be representative?

  13. Isn’t the rub with Robertson’s reaction just the sense that it seems to perpetuate the general notion that many Christians can be loud and belligerent when pressed on some things (not that ALL Christians are this way)? Sure that doesn’t prove anything. But, the way one handles themselves in public discourse does encourage or deteriorate these general conceptions about Christians. That said, surely comparing Robertson to Dillahunty is apples to oranges, especially if we are believers. We don’t get to just point out their poor behavior in comparison to our own and expect praise. Their poor behavior is unacceptable and we are responsible to not be shaped and influenced by it. The clear difference is that Matt is not claiming to be a Christian or a Jew. When Jesus was furious in the NT it was with the house of God, the lost sheep of Israel; God’s name is profaned among the Gentiles because of Israel. The Hebrews were delivered from Egypt after passover, but Egypt lived in them. We are delivered from sin at Jesus’ obedience, but sin/the world can live in us. At the end of the day, Robertson and Dillahunty don’t deserve to be measured up on the two hours or so we’ve heard them on podcast. But, a Christian’s obligation to unbelievers is one of gospel; acting toward others as Christ has acted towards us. To be clear, I believe Robertson would suffer for Matt. That Robertson admits this show and everyone’s reaction bothers him is evidence enough that he is not a mindless or arrogant prat.

    I appreciate the points Robertson made in response to Matt’s, “Why can’t we just say, “we don’t know” as a response?” Because Robertson seems keen on how easy it is to just posture like the high road is admitting a lack of certainty. We all know Matt and company don’t live everyday life with absolute certainty on most things. However, we ought not pretend like unbeliever live in a polished Christian world where the behavior of everyone professing Jesus makes the gospel clear to them. While God holds everyone accountable, he speaks to the church, His people, first.

    1. Gabriel – as I said before I have been doing this for years – and the problem is that far too many Christians are far too concerned about what non-beleivers think of them and not of what they think of Christ (have a look at the comment I posted on the Ted Ammon debate).

      1. 🙂 It kinda seems like what I’m saying is being lumped into the group of Christians who are merely worried about what non-believers think of them.

        I made another point about you pressing Matt on “why can’t “we don’t know” be and option?” Did that help you see I was also critically engaged with the content of the exchange?

        I hope you are seeing some feedback from folks on non-believers bending and twisting Christians up in these exchanges. That is, Christians are sometimes coaxed into playing tier emotional or jerk reaction games. And believe it or not, you are not the only privileged one that sees some of Matt’s laid back, almost indifferent, tactics in conversation. I don’t at expect you or WLC to be stoic. I hear the love you have for the people you talk with on Unbelievable. But, WLC has said, and I agree, letting these folks be seen for what they are, poor behavior and all, is important for the work God accomplishes through our self control (some Americans are so self controled we’re monotone. Ha!).

        If your going to pass some of this feedback off as me merely being interested in what non-believers think of me, and I know there really are Christians who struggle with that, than you should be open to me asking, “Why are you trying to impress God with your spunky delivery of the Gospel? Isn’t the content of the gospel His concern?” I think self-control is a fruit of the Holy-Spirit and like Paul, we are to let the weight of the gospel rest on Christ’s delivery.

        You asked someone about being kind in relation to the jab at the Pharisees and the white-washed tombs. I’ll add his response concerning the coin, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar and God what is God’s.” Yes! Jesus was sharp and to the point! The suggestions is that the Pharisees, of all people who were supposed to be bearing God’s image well, didn’t bear His image well by trying to get Jesus killed. Yes, Jesus is sharp. But, he’s sharp with wolves among sheep who are supposed to be God’s people. Jesus’ sharp words were laiden with accountability for the children of God first, then the Gentile.

        I know you’re doing great work. I liked the talk with Prof Ted. Wish I had know you were in the States. Are grits really as bad as porage? 😉

      2. Gabriel, I’m not sure I understand all of what you are saying. Sorry. I may be wrong but it appears that you are accusing me of a lack of self-control on the programme – I deny that. Sorry I missed you in the States and yes grits is worse than porridge! And I don’t think Americans are so self-controlled they are monotone!

  14. Good points David, although I did want to mention that the Bible basically exhorts is to be nice or “kind.” it lists the as fruits of the spirit: love, patience, kindness. i’m not saying you were rude, but defending the right to be rude is really not congruent with speaking the truth in love. 🙂

    1. You seem to be equating ‘nice’ and ‘kind’. I accept that the bible tells us to be kind – I don’t find nice anywhere. Sometimes you have to be blunt to be kind. The first cut is the deepest…

  15. In these ‘debates’ neither side is lilkely to be convinced by the other. David – it was highly improbable that you would be ‘debated’ into Atheism, likewise it is highly unlikely that you will ‘debate’ someone to Theism in such a setting. These events have a place but it is a very small place in the presenting of Christ.

    1. Albert – can I suggest that it is equally highly improbable that people are going to be converted through the foolishness of preaching, mercy ministries, worship, prayer, CHristian literature etc. It is only the Holy Spirit who converts – but he uses many means – including debating.

  16. Hi David,
    Would you consider dishonesty necessary even if you have the truth on your side, so to speak? If not, then why are you being so dishonest in this post?

    1. What a nasty and spiteful wee post! I find it fascinating that when people cannot argue against the points made they go for the ‘you’re not nice’ approach or, as in your case, ‘you are lying for Jesus’. I consider dishonesty always to be wrong. I also consider it wrong to accuse people of dishonesty without actually offering any evidence of such – so please feel free to go ahead and tell me where I was lying in this blog post.

      1. First, I didn’t accuse you of lying, I said you’re dishonest in your post. I consider misrepresenting other people’s positions dishonest, not necessarily lying.

        There were many cases where you did that, but I’ll address the easy one: 11) Back to the avoidance again. Not only did you misrepresent Matt in that paragraph but you also misrepresented the question to which Matt initially answered “I don’t know” while pausing to think. You stopped playing fair at Matt saying ‘It may be the case that the answer should be, that we don’t know or we don’t know yet.’ in that paragraph and left his actual answer out of it because it didn’t suit your purposes. You left out what Matt actually had to say about the subject and that IS dishonest. Considering that you wrote that you actually transcribed both debates it can’t be even considered an honest mistake.

      2. I see – you’re going to play these atheist word games. In Christian terms if you are dishonest you are lying and vice versa. And you have got your example completely wrong – This is what I wrote: “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.” That is precisely what happened. It was not dishonest at all. Matt’s answer to the question was Dachau wrong – ‘I don’t know’. What is dishonest about my saying that? You will need to do a lot better if you are going to accuse me of dishonesty (lying). Try again.

        In case you are wondering here is the relevant transcript –

        DAR – Dachau is wrong is not a fact. Would you agree with that statement?

        M – I don’t know..

        DAR – Well, take a stab.

        M – Wow, I didn’t know that saying I don’t know and pausing to think…is thinking not allowed?

        DAR – Thinking is allowed, but saying I don’t know….its a fairly straightforward question. Its like when you are on your program and you ask people a question and they say they don’t know – you mock them.

        M – What seems to not be allowed is anything other than an actual answer. It may be the case that the answer should be, that we don’t know or we don’t know yet. This appeal, this claim that I have enormous amounts of faith is laughable. You say I have enourmous amounts of faith that humans will act on the basis of well being and no I’m not saying they will.

        DAR 0 You have faith that they can?

        M – I have confidence that they can because I have evidence that they can. Faith is the excuse people give for believing something when they don’t have evidence. My positions are based on evidence, reason and reality…I don’t have to give faith as an excuse. …………

        The trouble word here is wrong….Dachau is in conflict with the well being of those individuals and society because we are physicial beings in a physical society…what hurts us is merely a physical fact about the universe….appealing to anything else would be in violation of methodological naturalism.

      3. David, you are still doing it! Here’s what you left out (again):
        Matt: Now, Bertrand Russell’s statement about Dachau is wrong is not a fact.. I’d have to know a little more about the context in which he was saying that to know whether or not I agree. I think I tend to agree in the context that I think he meant it, but I may actually disagree with what he was saying. Because I am of the opinion that because there are physical truths.. The trouble word here is wrong and that’s what I’m talking about with regard to Russell’s context. Dachau is in conflict with the idea of well being of both those individuals and society.. IS a fact. ……

        You still even misrepresented the question you asked Matt which was: “… Russell said this: Dachau, the concentration camp, is wrong is not a fact. Geology, gravity rather is a fact. But Dachau is wrong is not a fact. I think it’s wrong but I can’t prove it. Would you agree with that statement?”

        Because Matt didn’t give you a simple yes or no answer and wanted to think about the question and give a better thought out answer, you decided to misrepresent him.

        The dictionary definition for dishonesty is “lack of honesty : the quality of being untruthful or deceitful”. I think there are other ways of being deceitful that straight up lying, but since you so desire the label and keep up with your dishonesty, here goes: David, in Christian terms, you are a liar!

      4. Sadly for you having accused me of lying you have failed to provide any evidence of any lie. Unless of course you want to say that not reporting the full conversation verbatim means that one is automatically lying. I said that Matt Dillahunty said that he did not know if Bertrand Russell was right is stating that ‘Dachau was wrong is not a fact’. That is the truth. Your rather sad attempt to demonstrate my lying has failed. Do you want to try again. What other lies did I say?

      5. Ok, so you really just want to play semantic games to try to prove you weren’t dishonest. It is true that Matt did reply “I don’t know”. Initially. Then he provided his answer. It appears that in your book the first words that come from a person’s mouth to answer a question is the final answer – no elaboration or thinking out aloud is allowed.

        I’m not saying you were dishonest for not reporting the full conversation verbatim. You were dishonest because you picked and chose the parts of the conversation that suited your purposes. Check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lie#Lying_by_omission

    1. Rob – I’m not sure I was referring to your tweet – I received many personal tweets, emails, messages etc…I was just picking out some of them. If it was your tweet I apologise. Of course I was defensive – I am defending the Gospel!

  17. Two brief thoughts:

    This morning, as I sat in a hail storm, I read the following passage in ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by Daniel Kahneman: “Contrary to the rules of philosophers of science, who advise testing hypotheses by trying to refute them, people (and scientists quite often) seek data that are likely to be compatible with the beliefs they currently hold”.
    To me, that explains the vitriolic responses you have had – you have stated something that does not support what they either believe or want to believe, something which they will not test because they would have to consider seriously the claims of the Scripture. God really is an inconvenient truth for them. And they don’t like it.

    Last night I was reading the introduction to Brooks’ Lives of the Puritans and I came across this passage, which reminded me of the name-calling by ecclesiastical bloggers in an earlier post. ” Dugdale denominated them (the Puritans) “a viperous brood, miserably infesting these kingdoms. They pretended,” says he, “to promote religion and a purer reformation; but rapine, spoil, and the destruction of civil government, were the woeful effects of those pretences. They were of their father the devil, and his works they would do”.

    As Brooks also says “The Puritans were a race of men of whom the world was not worthy. They devoted their days and nights to hard study; they cherished devotional feelings; and they enjoyed intimate communion with God. The stores of their minds were expended, and the energy of their souls was exerted, to separate the truths of the gospel from the heresies of the times in which they lived; to resist the encroachments of arbitrary power; to purify the church from secularity and corruption; and to promote the power of religion among the people. They persevered in this course amidst a host of difficulties, and in defiance of the most powerful opposition. The rulers of those times persecuted them with wanton cruelty, in total contempt of every sacred law, of every just principle, and of every humane feeling.”

    By standing for the truth, you are following in the footsteps of all those worthies who have gone before you and who now surround you, cheering you on. Don’t be discouraged.

  18. Hi David
    You asked where in the Bible it says Christians have to be nice.
    Where I often seek discernment on such issues is from Paul’s teaching on the fruit of the spirit and the comparison with the sinful nature.

    Galtians 5:19-26

    “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.”

    Paul might not use the word “nice” but I think there is a contrast that sums up being “nice” when we compare on the one hand things such as discord, fits of rage, dissensions, factions and the like with love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, gentleness and self control.

    Please note, I am not suggesting you were these things (I have not heard your debates and confess that I find your style difficult), but I am trying to answer one of your questions. I don’t think it is wrong to show passion or even to be angry at times, but in our anger we must not sin and we should keep an eye out for the fruit of the Spirit and try to cultivate the soil of our hearts.
    God bless
    MM

      1. It’s probably beyond the scope and nature of this event. But, I can freely admit my worry about this “niceness” or “self-control” has partly to do with how formative these exchanges are to the audience. David is doing great work and formatively…people have a fine example of a thinking and Christian obedience in him. When I speak of this stuff as worry or rub, I’m not saying much more than how this stuff might inform how other people perceive conversation. It really stinks what often passes for good conversation and debate. That is why find myself understanding why David is pressing the point that it’s not enough to merely behave and be a tidy Christian while other folks have a heyday with what counts for evidence and reason. I thought it was rather smug of Matt to act as though “We don’t know” is actually a response. But, I also know how posturing this way may look good in relation to the fundamentalist know-it-alls he grew up around and continues to interact with on his show. He can look good alight. But, it against a group of knuckleheads that he’s prevailing.

        David, you may not do this. But, I’d love to Skype or chat one day.

  19. Hi David. How would you define “nice”?
    My definition is pretty close to Paul’s love, kindness, forbearance, gentleness and self control.
    Perhaps when some Christians are concerned about your “niceness” you and they are meaning subtly different things?
    MM

    1. Nice means pleasurable, agreeable, attractive. Disagreeing with people is not nice. Calling them whitewashed tombs is not nice. Suggesting they go and emasculate themselves is not nice.

      1. Thanks for the reply David. It is clear to me that you and I have different definitions of what it means for a Christian to be “nice”, which is helpful and I hope helps you also.

        By my definition (closer to Paul’s fruit of the Spirit), it is absolutely possible to be nice, while disagreeing with others. To me, being nice is about showing kindness and gentleness and grace to the other person and having an awareness of the other (some people might be more sensitive to criticism for example, so being nice to these people might involve more diplomacy). This doesn’t mean agreeing with everything they say or believe.

        I cannot speak for others who at times have issues with your style, but for me there seems to be a strong desire to win an argument (at all costs), which can come at the expense of relationship. This, to me, is not as “nice” as listening to other views, taking them on board, trying to find affirming things to say about the other so that we can talk and wrestle together while walking side by side, rather than across a debating floor where there has to be a winner and a loser. I think Jesus spent much more time walking beside “sinners” and his harshest words were reserved for religious hypocrisy and things that actually stopped people drawing closer to God.

        However, it is clear that these videos are set up as debates, which is not to blame you for engaging in debate when they are of course set up that way.

        On a general note, I would love to know if debates of these natures actually win anyone over (on either side), or if they just reinforce beliefs and views we already have?

        God bless

        MM

      2. I was writing about what our society regards as ‘nice’. I also love the way that you ‘nicely’ judge me! You speak about what you do not know and seem to think that it is ok for you to do so. Re Matt Dillahunty I was well aware of him and his style and adjusted my approach accordingly – you can see different approaches in the other debates I posted. You are entirely wrong about my desire to win an argument at all costs at the expense of relationship…I find it a wee bit amusing that people who describe themselves as non-judgemental seem to have no difficulty in judging me and my motives! And yes I have found that people have had their minds and beliefs changed through these types of debates – although it is usually a drip drip process….

      3. Assuming you are referring to me, I don’t think I have ever described myself as being non-judgmental David. There is also a big difference between trying to give people constructive advice or applying discernment and being judgmental. You seem to have no interest in my genuine comments and constantly put me down with mockery. If you would take time to re-read my comments and tone you would see the genuine love I bear for you and that my comments attempt to be Christlike (though we all fail).

      4. No – I was not specifically referring to you. And I don’t put you down with mockery. I do point out that you constantly come on here to criticise and condemn. Poison laced with honey is still poison. I personally could do without the kind of love that constantly carps away, thinks that it has the ability to discern my motives and continually gets so many things wrong about myself. I don’t mind getting criticism but it does begin to get tiresome when a) it is so inaccurate and b) it comes from someone who seems to be setting himself up as some kind of oracle.

      5. Thanks for clarifying that you were not meaning me specifically in that statement “people who describe themselves as non-judgemental seem to have no difficulty in judging me and my motives!” It read initially to me as a direct comment for me.

        If you look at my comments in various places, you’ll see that I try very hard to find common ground, encourage unity among believers and take time to find words that are constructive and not harsh that are motivated by winning hearts and minds to the love of Christ. The fact you constantly refer to me as speaking poison and use expressions such as “carps away” and such makes it clear that we are not going to get much further.

        Perhaps I am wrong in some things I say, but as so many people seem to have similar issues with many of your posts and comments and style, I hope that you might be open to the idea that it is more than just my own perception. I will likewise reflect on why my comments seem to have little effect in our dialogue and you find them hurtful and poison laced with honey when they are actually love-filled and well meant.

        Thanks for letting me post, anyway.
        The Musing Carp

      6. Indeed you do try hard. Which is why I use the word ‘honey’. You use nice sounding phrases yet underneath them is some strong criticism and disagreement. YOu judge that your own posts are love-filled and that mine and others are hate filled or motivated by the desire to put others down and win arguments. You are very sure of yourself. The reason I say poison, is your false teaching and misuse of the scripture on the issue of homosexuality and gay marriage. You keep using words which sound nice but because you do not give them content I am not sure what they mean. Everyone is happy to use the phrase the love of Christ. But I want to know what that means. I am happy for you to post – just as I am happy to respond to your posts. Just because I don’t buy into what you say all the time, does not mean I hate or dislike you. I don’t know you….

  20. You are wildly mistaken if you think you are the Christian Christopher Hitchens. Just goes to show how huge your ego is. Hitchens was gracious but assertive. He always assumed a high intelligence in his debate opponents and audiences. You are nothing but a bully. A better comparison would be to Bill O’Reilly.

    1. Shane – thanks. I don’t consider myself to be the Christian Christopher Hitchens – nor would I want to be. The kind of person who thinks its funny to talk about ‘no boy left behind’ as the motto of the Catholic Church, the supporter of the Iraq war….And I love the way you try to bully me by accusing me of being a bully! I generally consider my audience to be intelligent – although given the emotional responses from some of the New Fundie Atheists, I am beginning to have my doubts. After all an intelligent person would actually deal with the arguments presented rather than just insult and mock. Feel free to let me know any arguments you actually have.

  21. Hello David,

    I don’t want to take up your time with too much. I just want to make 2 points. Firstly, I did not find you rude or disrespecting. You shared your ideas and that’s it (even the LOL). I also think that Matt did the same. These types of debates revolve around competing ideas, so some conflict is inevitable… but conflict itself (even the act of antagonizing conflict) is not rude. I agree with some of your points regarding Matt’s arguments and disagree with others.

    Secondly, I did want to discuss Part Two, number five:
    “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… through Jesus Christ.”

    This seems nice in concept, but I don’t know how you can claim it as accurate. If that were the case, wouldn’t there be only one world religion since it was acceptable to all and clear to all? The fact that there are so many religions and atheists shows that it is not clear. Moreover, there are many tribes who live and die without ever knowing anything about Jesus Christ, which is a direct contradiction to “God has revealed himself in a way that is … accessible to all”. It is certainly not accessible to all (the uncountable number of people who have died without Jesus ever revealing himself to them). Even with missionaries trying to get to all of them, there are still those where Jesus is inaccessible.

    I am confused as to how you could deny conceding that point.

    1. Thanks for your helpful comment and question tstone. Let me answer briefly –

      ” If that were the case, wouldn’t there be only one world religion since it was acceptable to all and clear to all?” = No – because that presupposes that people would believe if they had enough evidence. What if they refuse to believe even with sufficient evidence? What if people deliberately turn away from the truth (as the Bible says)? What if the devil teaches doctrines of demons to confuse people?

      “Moreover, there are many tribes who live and die without ever knowing anything about Jesus Christ, which is a direct contradiction to “God has revealed himself in a way that is … accessible to all”. It is certainly not accessible to all (the uncountable number of people who have died without Jesus ever revealing himself to them). Again God has revealed himself (read Romans 1) through his creation as well as through Christ. People are judged according to what they know and what they have done – not what they don’t know.

  22. David, right on. I am a regular listener of Unbeleiver, from the other side of the globe, Hong Kong. I think you did very well and this blog further clarifies your arguments, which helps me a lot. Matt’s attitude is bascially hardcore non-theist no matter what, which messes up all his logic and he got nowhere to run when you pressed him to the corners, all his fallacies showed. And if someone sells his soul to Atheist Experience, what else can he says? I am a pastor myself. And indeed sometimes I am just too “nice”! Blessings.

  23. David,

    Let me start by saying that, with one exception, where I believe that a line was crossed (which I will come to later), I don’t care whether you were rude to Matt or not. Matt is quite able to look after himself and will not have lost any sleep over anything you managed to throw at him. All I care about is the arguments.

    >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…”. 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 –

    scientists…..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 unsceptical3) 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.

    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….. But when someone tells me I am not against it, I assume that they are then for it.5) He misplayed the Hitler card –

    …..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….

    8) He spoke about what good is. And evil. And yet he was unable to define it other than saying that ‘we’ define it…

    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.

    “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?10) Matt showed a dangerous faith and naivety in the persuasive powers of his own position.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?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.<

    This was where you crossed a line. Your snide reference to Matt's nationality was just racist. Being aimed at someone who happens to be white and from a first world country does not make that sort of comment acceptable. It was utterly shameful of you and don't even try to pretend that it was said in the spirit of good humoured banter.

    What is the "atheist definition" of faith? You said "Faith is based upon reason and evidence." But earlier you said that Matt had more faith than you. So are you saying that Matt had more evidence for his atheism than you had for your Christianity?

    Part two to follow.

  24. “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…”. 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’!”

    I’m not sure why you think that Matt hadn’t considered that “I don’t know” could apply to all three of your options. I would say that that was exactly his point. Whether there three options or thirty three, you don’t know which, if any of them, is correct.

    People who have said that Matt breached the law of excluded middle are wrong and are demonstrating that they do not fully understand the law. For the law to operate you have to have just two mutually exclusive propositions: P or ~P. There is no middle ground. You have excluded it. But where you are offering three options, you accept that there is a middle ground of some sort! Here is a link to a site which explains it:

    http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Law_of_excluded_middle.html

    You can argue that you have exhausted the possible options, but that would be a different argument from the law of excluded middle.

    BTW Donald Rumsfeld’s much maligned “unknown unknowns” were not surreal, but were a perfectly coherent and logical analysis of the state of human knowledge. Here is a link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There_are_known_knowns

  25. “2) He was unscientific –

    scientists…..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!”

    The operative phrase in Matt’s assertion is “until there’s enough evidence for it”. Scientists do not work on the premise of any explanation until there is enough evidence supporting it for it to be accepted as a theory rather than a hypothesis. Here is a link to explain:

    http://chemwiki.ucdavis.edu/Analytical_Chemistry/Quantifying_Nature/The_Scientific_Method

    “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.”

    As he pointed out, Matt could hardly be a presuppositionalist if he started from the supposition that there was a God and only later came to the view that there was no evidence of God’s existence.

  26. “4) He was all over the place on morality.

    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….. But when someone tells me I am not against it, I assume that they are then for it.”

    Now, David, there’s your trouble in a nutshell. This is called “The false dichotomy fallacy”. Another link:

    http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?FalseDichotomy

    I am pro-choice. I am not pro-abortion. The two things are completely different. My view is that every medical abortion takes place where something has already gone wrong and a woman is in a situation (pregnant) that she did not wish to be in. It would be preferable that she never got into the situation in the first place and did not need the abortion. So, to that extent you could say I am anti-abortion. However, I support the right of every woman to decide whether or not she should allow the pregnancy to continue. If she wants it to, that’s fine. I am against denying her the right to end the pregnancy for the same reason that I am against the practice in China of compelling her to have an abortion. Her body, her choice.

    To be fair to you, Matt never managed to develop his pro-choice argument, so it is understandable that you would think he was contradicting himself. Because I’ve heard what he has to say on abortion before, I knew that he was maintaining a stance, which while you may disagree with it, is certainly not in conflict with his “well-being” argument. Sorry, I couldn’t get a link which worked but it was covered in the Atheist Experience show 30/01/14. Google “Matt Dillahunty abortion” if you want to find out what his actual position is.

    1. I love the weasel way with words that our post-modern atheists use to get out of this one. Matt admitted that killing the baby in the womb was against their well being – yet he still said he was for the right of the mother (doctors) etc to do precisely that. Pro-choice means that you are pro-abortion. And you have no logical basis whatsoever for saying that the child one day out of the womb has any more right to live than the child one day before birth. On your criteria a woman would have the right to kill a healthy baby because it was the wrong sex or had the wrong hair colour…the woman has the right to do what she wants with her body. You of course conveniently forget that there is another body involved as well. Defending the killing of the child in the womb is a horrific example of where the new atheist fundamentalist leads…

  27. “5) He misplayed the Hitler card –

    …..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.” ”

    This is a bit rich, coming from you. You said that this was your speciality area. You said that you were able to definitively reject assertion that Hitler was a Christian because you’d “read all of Hitler’s private diaries that we’ve been able to get, even the fake ones.” As has been pointed out to you in a previous post, there are no private diaries, apart from fake ones! You claim that what you meant was you’d read a lot about Hitler, his speeches etc. So you opened your mouth to tell us about how you’d studied Hitler’s public speeches and somehow all this stuff about his private diaries came pouring out instead, did it David? Including the bit about “even the fake ones” implying that there was any other sort?

    “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?”

    Why shouldn’t Matt believe that President Obama is a committed Christian? See, it is exactly this sort of comment that convinces people like me that there is absolutely no point in trying to play the internal Christian game of who is or isn’t a “real” Christian.

    Matt never said that we had to accept all people’s self-descriptions. His point was that there is no single accepted standard of what is or is not a true Christian. True Christianity is claimed by Southern Baptists, the Catholic Church, The Church of England, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Calvinists, the Children of God and others too numerous to mention. All of them would claim that they meet your “example of Jesus” test. The rest of us are not going to be dragged into your internal family disputes. From our POV a Christian is someone who says that they believe in and follow Jesus. End of.

    1. Yes – I apologise for that – I was using shorthand…I have read everything in English that Hitler wrote and references ‘direct quotes’ in others diaries about him (ie. his secretary, Martin Bormann etc)….the only ‘diaries’ of Hitler have been demonstrated to be fake. Of course from your pov you want to believe that Hitler is a Christian…but then that is the whole argument isn’t it. We don’t all see the world from your pov.

  28. “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….

    8) He spoke about what good is. And evil. And yet he was unable to define it other than saying that ‘we’ define it…

    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?”

    I don’t think that you were appealing to moral relativism. I think that Matt misunderstood your point. But I don’t see why you think that Christianity could have made any difference to the belief that it was right to kill Jews. Christianity was compatible with hatred of Jews and a wish that they should die. In fact it was often a spur to it. See Chaucer’s Prioress’ Tale and the stories about Little St Hugh of Lincoln.

    The reason that you and Matt spent so long talking about morality was that you said that objective morality is incompatible with atheism and Matt was responding to that. If you want to understand why an atheist is not obliged to be a moral relativist, here is a link to an excellent article which puts it much better than I could ever hope to:

    http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/subjective_objective.html

    1. Christianity is not compatible with a hatred of Jews! And atheism which believes that there is only the material by definition cannot have an absolute objective morality….morality is for the atheist always a human social construct and therefore changeable…

  29. “9) Matt argues against Christianity yet does not seem to have a grasp of what Christianity is.

    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?”

    Obviously not. The statement is not confusing at all. “…being a Christian doesn’t preclude someone from doing something wrong….” To anyone who understands English, how could it be clearer that Matt is saying that a true Christian can do something wrong?

    Christianity has absolutely encouraged slavery. How man atheists do you think there were in the slave owning states prior to the American Civil War? In “The rights & Duties of Masters” James Thornwell, a presbyterian minister said:

    ” The parties in this conflict are not merely abolitionists and slaveholders—they are atheists, socialists, communists, red republicans, jacobins, on one side, and the friends of order and regulated freedom on the other. In one word, the world is the battleground—Christianity and Atheism the combatants; and the progress of humanity at stake.”

    1. ‘maybe there are two true Christians who have never done anything wrong” – to anyone who speaks English that just simply means a true Christian is someone who does nothing wrong….a wrong understanding of Christianity…full stop.

      1. “maybe there are two true Christians who have never done anything wrong” – to anyone who speaks English that just simply means a true Christian is someone who does nothing wrong

        Er, no it doesn’t David! It means the exact opposite! It means that Christians who have never done anything wrong are going to be a tiny minority, if any exist at all.

  30. “10) Matt showed a dangerous faith and naivety in the persuasive powers of his own position. ”

    How is Christianity supposed to solve this? We all know that Christians have used the Bible to argue for slavery and against slavery, for women’s rights and against women’s rights, for gay rights and against gay rights, for capital punishment and against capital punishment, for war and against war and so on so forth. When your argument based on the “obvious” lead given by Jesus’ example fails to convince your Christian opponent, what’s your 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?”

    David, this is obviously a pretext. How do I know? Because as you are so fond of saying: “A quote without a context is just a pretext” and this was not even a direct quote. It was a quote of a quote.

    You did not ask him if Dachau was wrong. You asked him if what somebody else quoted somebody else as saying about whether or not its wrongness was a fact was something he agreed with. I think anybody confronted with that cumbersome and overly complicated way of looking at the question would have needed to pause to unpick what they were being asked to agree (or disagree) with. I have heard the quote before. But even being familiar with it, if I were asked “Do you agree” I would not know how to answer because the question is not clear. I know that I think that it is a fact that the murder of the Jews in the concentration camps was wrong. But do I agree with Russell? Well, it would all depend on the context in which Russell said that and what he meant by it. Whilst I think the wrongness of the Holocaust is a fact, I do not think it is the same type of fact as, say, gravity. Maybe that was what Russell meant? IDK. But why involve Russell anyway? If you want to know whether Matt thinks that what happened in Dachau is wrong as a matter of fact, why not simply ask him?

    1. I did ask him if he thought Dachau was wrong. Why is it complicated to say that Dachau is wrong is a fact? I suspect that only in the newspeak world of the new fundamentalist atheism is that question unclear and complicated! Why involve Russell? Because we were talking about my part in the book My I am Not an Atheist, which is a chapter of Russell….plus Matt says nothing that Russell did not say so many years ago…

      1. It is not complicated to ask whether Dachau being wrong is a fact. It is complicated to ask whether someone agrees with a quote of a quote (not in context, and we all know how keen you are on context!)

      2. It does seem a wee bit complicated for you. Do you agree that Dachau is wrong is not a fact, is actually quite a straightforward question – at least for me as a CHristian. It appears that atheist logic struggles with it..

      3. 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):

        Ditto

        1) Matt evaluates his own reason as the standard and rejects my idea that Jesus is the standard –

        How have you come to the conclusion that Jesus is good?

        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!

        I agree. This was not a good example. A better example would have been his mistaken reference to Abiathar instead of Ahmelech at Mark 2 23-28.

        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.

        If he is so clear & accessible, why are there so many sects of Christianity? It has always been true of Christianity that its adherents have been deeply divided as to what they believe. Even the earliest Christians were at loggerheads.

      4. So if there are lots of different opinions about something – one of them can’t be true? Is that logical? And your analysis of early Christian history is as bad as your analysis of Scripture and logic.

  31. 7) Then we had another one of those evasive and self-contradictory ‘don’t know’ confusing statements.

    David, this is either wilfully dishonest or an illustration of the Kraft-Dunning principle of almost tragic proportions.

    Talk about pre-suppositions! You have got it so firmly lodged in your head that anyone who asserts “I do not believe P” must as a matter of simple logic be saying “I *do* believe ~P” that it seems nothing and nobody will be able to make you see your error.

    That is why (I suppose) you thought that asking whether the number of gumballs must be either odd or even would “destroy [his] argument in one sentence”. Give me strength! That is not destroying his whole argument! That is the very premise upon which his whole argument turns! It is extraordinarily simple but it seems to be more than a wee bit complicated for you.

    If you have no way to count the number of gumballs in the gumball machine then the answer to the question “Is the number odd or even?” is “I DON’T KNOW” (which makes in a KNOWN unknown, BTW). Is anyone apart from David finding this concept at all difficult?

    Let’s try it again:

    Fred and Sue are outside the shop, looking in at the gumball machine.

    Fred “Do you believe that the number of gumballs is odd?”

    Sue “No. I don’t know”

    Fred “Aha! So you MUST believe that the number is even!”

    Sue “No. I don’t know.”

    Fred “I am embarrassed for you! How completely illogical of you! There are only two possibilities – so if you don’t believe that it is an odd number, you are compelled to believe that it is an even number.”

    Philosophy 101 – which one is actually being logical, Fred or Sue? (And you can take it from me, it is only one of them).

    1. It is extraordinarily simple. I agree. The gumball analogy is a great analogy for counting gumballs. And a useless one for determining the existence or otherwise of God – or as Matt was speaking about – creation. I can accept that Matt cannot determine whether God created or not (although on the basis of the GA analogy he has to accept that God is at least as likely as not God), but what he actually said was that there might be a fourth option – odd, even or a third or fourth option? I love it!

  32. So if there are lots of different opinions about something – one of them can’t be true? Is that logical?”

    No, it is not logical at all! However, the attentive reader will realise that that is not what I have said.

    “And your analysis of early Christian history is as bad as your analysis of Scripture and logic.”

    It is not my analysis. Scholarly consensus (Christian & non-Christian) is that the early church members disagreed on….everything.

    Link
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/first/diversity.html

  33. “It is extraordinarily simple. I agree. The gumball analogy is a great analogy for counting gumballs. And a useless one for determining the existence or otherwise of God – or as Matt was speaking about – creation.”

    You are partly right, David.

    You are wrong about the gumball analogy being great for counting gumballs. No gumballs are counted in the analogy. The analogy hinges upon the fact that it is not possible to count them.

    You are right that it is useless for determining the existence or otherwise of God. But it is not put forward as a tool for determining his existence or non-existence (nor even for determining whether or not the dead can rise, which was the actual context on which it came up) so I don’t know what point you think you’re making here.

    The whole purpose of the analogy is to show that the fact we do not accept one answer to a question does not mean that we must accept another, even where that other answer is the only possible alternative.

    “I can accept that Matt cannot determine whether God created or not (although on the basis of the GA analogy he has to accept that God is at least as likely as not God), [*sigh* no he doesn’t. Yet another example of fallacious reasoning from David Robertson Enterprises] but what he actually said was that there might be a fourth option – odd, even or a third or fourth option? I love it!”

    He never actually said that because that was never put to him as a proposition. Show us where he suggested that of *two* (count ’em, two!) possibilities (either God created the universe or he didn’t) Matt suggested there could be a third or fourth.

    You won’t be able to, because it never happened. The gumball analogy was raised specifically in the context of whether Matt could say that he did not accept that the dead *could* rise without thereby being committed to asserting that the dead *could not* rise. Not (as you have transposed it in your mind to be) in the context of the number of possible explanations for the universe’s existence, which was early on in the first debate.
    The law of excluded middle applies to the dead can/can’t rise question, but you seem unable to comprehend the fact that the law of excluded middle does not prevent anyone from saying:
    Either P or ~P but I DON’T KNOW WHICH!
    Where three possibilities were suggested for how the universe came to be, Matt asked how you were sure that those three were exhaustive. Where he was asked in other parts of the debate about possibilities which ( law of excluded middle) were exhaustive and mutually exclusive (number odd or even, the dead can rise or they can’t) he always willing agreed that if one was right then the other was wrong and there was no third option (let alone a fourth).

    Please stop making stuff up.

  34. Very late to this debate. I just listened to the 1st debate. No matter who you considered to have won, listen again. Consider who interrupts and intimidates, who makes ad hominen attacks instead of attacking the arguments, who builds a straw man to attack instead of actually attacking the point made. Who makes marrow repeated arguments from authority, such as “As x has said” rather than say, “My ideas are similar to those of y”. Be honest with yourself.

    1. Nice one Dalis….if I agree with your somewhat skewed analysis I am condemned. If I don’t I am condemned as a liar. Thats one way to ensure that no rational conversation takes place! If you would like to provide some actual factual rational analysis please feel free to do so – for example you could give one example of an ad hom attack? And then you can perhaps tell us how Matt won this debate? For example you could tell us how his agreeing that killing the child in the womb was immoral (against the well being of the child) and then defending killing the child in the womb was in any sense rational or moral? But I suspect you just came on here to name call and not to engage. I hope you can prove my suspicions wrong….

  35. ‘for example you could give one example of an ad hom attack?’

    Erm, let’s see… claiming Matt’s grasp of the English language is lacking because he’s American, for starters – THEN going on to childishly and explicitly use that as a tu quoque ‘tactic’ to assertively ‘demonstrate’ Matt’s manner with callers-in on his own show, The Atheist Experience?

    No? How about constantly attempting to show that Matt was being ‘disingenuous’, ‘dishonest’ and – as you actually stated – ‘ignorant’ (though we all know the manner in which you meant that word) in his viewpoints and logic when in fact it was you being the perfect exemplar of such things with your countless denials of the many logical fallacies and the plain, purposed distortions of facts you committed.

    I’ll have to post the other ad hominems when my brain has recovered from the bludgeoning it received from your dense, highly circuitous and illogical ‘arguments’.

    I wouldn’t have bothered to comment on this page if it weren’t for me a) having listened to your debates with Matt and becoming rather appalled by the flat-out deceit rampant in your approach and b) reading your response here to Dalis. One thing I find ironic in all of this is that for someone who claims to have a personal relationship with Jesus, besides the love and truth of which He’s meant to be a paragon He’s also big on something called ‘honesty’. You didn’t demonstrate that at all in your arguments, which to me smells of not only dishonesty but also hypocrisy. Well done for abiding by at least one of the [insidious] social tenets of being a Christian.

    1. Ok Madeline lets deal with these.

      1) The comment about American English was a bad joke. Not to be taken seriously. Chill.
      2) You accuse me of ad hom because I argued that Matts arguments were disingenous and dishonest. The trouble is that you then accuse me of the same thing. So you then, by your own definition are being ad hom. Why is that ok for you?

      You can’t offer any other examples because your brain hurts at having to deal with my stupidity. In fact your whole post is one ad hom attack on me complaining about my ad hom – something for which you offer no evidence – just assertion. Let me make it easier for you….give me one example of dishonesty….after all I am sure you believe in evidence and if I have told a lie you should be able to provide the proof of that? Or was it just another one of your ad hom attacks?!

      1. Madeleine has not committed the ad hom fallacy. Although all ad Homs will be insults (at least at some level), not all insults are ad homs. An insult is only an ad hom when it attacks the person by reference to some irrelevant characteristic and purports thereby to refute or undermine their argument. If you put your own character in issue by claiming to have done so well in the debate and reject any criticism of the way you conducted it, then your character and behaviour have become the subject of the discussion and not irrelevant side issues.

        A lot of the time you weren’t arguing against Matt, you were just childishly trying to needle him. You said that atheism was a juvenile phase. You called him a fundamentalist. You constantly said that he was acting on faith. These were all examples of “poisoning the well” which is a type of ad hominem.

        You never answered my question to you from the earlier thread. What did you mean when you talked about Matt having faith? If faith is based on reason and evidence, did you mean that Matt was an atheist because he had reason and evidence on his side? Whilst that would be accurate, I suspect it wasn’t what you meant, because you didn’t really mean anything by it. It was just a rhetorical device by which you thought you could belittle him. It failed.

        Sent from my iPad

        >

      2. It would be really helpful if you are going to argue against me to actually argue against what I say, and not just make it up. Its always easy to win an argument against yourself. I never claimed that I did so well in the debate. Which kind of makes the rest of your post meaningless. Most of the time I was arguing against Matt and dealt with his specific points. The fact that you choose not to see that, is your business not mine. And yes I believe that for many people atheism is a juvenile phase which they grow out of, although given the juvenile arguments used on most atheist websites, it seems as though it takes some people time to grow out of it. Yes – Matt is a fundamentalist (and the fans who just can’t see beyond him) and yes Matt was acting on faith. The trouble is that atheist fundamentalists don’t like being called out on this, so they just resort to name calling.

        Christian faith is based on reason and evidence. The atheist version of faith is blind. Or at least it is unreasonable and not based on much evidence. Atheists we are so often told believe nothing. There are no atheist principles, philosophies etc. Atheists just believe there is no God. Now someone as intelligent as Matt will state that he does not believe because he has not been presented with enough evidence. The trouble is that his faith limits him as to what evidence he will accept, furthermore his faith in his own ability to ascertain and determine the evidence is quite astonishing. And blind.

        I understand why so many atheists were upset and were reduced to name calling and just moaning that I did not argue against Matt. He got caught out several times – not least in his claim that he did not know whether Bertrand Russell was right to claim that the wrongness of the holocaust was a fact, and his statement that morality means well being, that abortion was against the well being of the child, but that he still supported abortion. The illogicality was breathtaking, and for me very surprising. I gave Matt the rope – he just hung himself….don’t blame me….

      3. David,

        You claimed to have won the debate. Most people would regard that as a claim to have done well. You have also dedicated this entire thread to defending the way you conducted yourself in the debate. That means that comments on the way you behaved are not ad homs because the way you behaved in the debate is the subject in hand.

        Atheism may be a juvenile phase for some people, as may Christianity or any number of other things, from vegetarianism to Communism. So what? What has that got to do with the merits of any of those philosophies? Mentioning the fact that in your opinion they are juvenile phases adds nothing to the argument and is simply a way of poisoning the well.

        “Christian faith is based on reason and evidence. The atheist version of faith is blind..”

        Ah, but you didn’t *say* that, did you? You talked to Matt about faith, you never mentioned “blind faith”, which, if the distinction is important, you should have done. When Matt said that faith was not based on evidence you got all bent out of shape and accused him of mangling the language, which you said was completely unacceptable. But as you’d been using the word yourself throughout (we now discover) to mean “unreasonable and not based on much evidence” you must have been mangling the language yourself.

        Several people, including me, have pointed out how you have misrepresented Matt’s stance re the Russell quote & abortion. I understand why you are upset and reduced to misrepresenting your opponent. But David, you’re not fooling anyone (except possibly yourself).

      4. ACtually I have not devoted this entire thread to defending the way I conducted myself in the debate. Read it again. I have responded to some of the upset atheists.

        I didn’t mention blind faith because for atheists that is the definition of faith. And no-one has yet pointed out how I misrepresented the Russell quote and abortion. They have just asserted that I did – and you should know that assertion is not evidence. It does seem as though you keep going round in circles on this one….I am quite happy for people to listen to it and work out for themselves whether I misrepresented or not. Of course I understand why fundamentalist atheists want to defend their man…but I simply ask that you provide evidence when you make accusations…otherwise I see little point in allowing your name calling to continue….

  36. David, is it impossible that you are wrong? The criticisms of your performance seem perfectly in line with my impression. Sadly, for you, its been recorded and everyone can hear for themselves, in context, your fallacies, rudeness and inability to recogonize the actual argument being made.
    And your dishonesty.
    Perhaps you havent fully completed your repentance process and feel you have some leeway to lie for Jesus? I dont know your motivations, it may just be money.
    The good think, for you, is that im sure you’ll get a lot more gigs: your supporters dont care about logic, and atheists will be chomping at the bit to debate you.
    My suggestion: dont change a thing! You and the Bible are a powerful argument against Christianity!

    1. Brent,
      I am delighted that you believe in repentance and that you care about my ‘gigs’. I am also quite happy to have the Matt recordings in public and let people make up their own minds. Just so I can make sure that we are speaking the same language – would you like to give one example of my dishonesty and ‘lying for Jesus’? I note that the atheists who were upset about the Matt show make all kind of accusations and yet don’t provide any evidence. SO you are not alone. As for my being as powerful an argument against Christianity as the Bible – I thank you for the complement! All the best….

  37. David,

    I have read the OP again and the comments. You start by saying that you wondered whether you should apologise. You then say that after giving the matter some thought you decided you would not apologise. You conclude by saying that you should not have to apologise for standing up for the truth. Is this not you defending your own conduct? And when anyone on this thread has challenged your conduct, and challenge has by no means been limited to the atheists, you have invariably refused to accept their criticism.

    I did not say you misrepresented the Russell quote. I said that you misrepresented Matt’s response to it. I explained why at 07/04/14 8.18pm. Previously Erba had challenged you on the same point.

    I pointed out in the first thread about these debates that you had misrepresented Matt’s position on abortion, and somebody else (Doug, I believe) said the same. We were both familiar with Matt’s actual views and both of us explained to you that his position was that it was in principle wrong for one person to be compelled to allow another person to use the first person’s body for the second person’s benefit. Then again on this thread at 07/04/14 at 8.06 I said that you had not correctly described Matt’s position on abortion. I suggested how you might find some sites which would enable you to hear his full views on the topic. You have ignored this and continued to claim that Matt was caught out. Of course, you may not wish to spend any of your time researching Matt’s actual position on abortion. But if you are not going to do so, then you ought not to continue to claim that he adopts a simplistic utilitarian stance on well-being as the litmus test of morality. It’s way more complicated than that and Matt said in the debate that he was trying to condense an hour’s talk on secular morality into a few minutes.

    1. F,

      Of course I am going to defend myself – if by defending myself you mean defending what I say – as Homer would put it ‘duh/1’

      And I did not misrepresent Matts response. When asked if he agreed with Russell’s quote he said ‘I don’t know’. In other words he was saying I don’t know if you can say that Dachau is wrong is a fact. There is no way round that.

      AS to his position on morality again he made that clear. He argued that morality was about ‘well being’. He agreed that killing the child in the womb was against their ‘well being’ and he then said that he was for abortion. A completely illogical and contradictory position.

      As for ‘it is in principle wrong of one person to be compelled to allow another person to use the first person’s body for the second person’s benefit’. Thats a very interesting principle. Firstly how do you know it is true? Where do you get it from? Secondly how does it apply to abortion? Is it the child in the womb who is the ‘second person’ using the mothers body for their own benefit? Are you admitting that the child in the womb is a person? Are you really saying they are morally culpable for ‘forcing’ the mother to use their body? There is no way that your position makes any sense whatsoever. It is confused, illogical and cruel.

  38. David,

    As I’ve said, I can’t make you go and do the research on what Matt’s position is re morality & abortion. Anyone who does want to find out can check the links I’ve provided and decide for themselves whether Matt was caught out, as you say, or simply did not have enough time to explain his position fully, as I say.

    “A quote without a context is just pretext.” Is that true or not? If it is true, will it not usually be most appropriate when asked to comment on a quote to ask for information about it before passing judgment? Or does the “pretext” thing only apply when the quote is being to challenge the theist position?

    I wouldn’t say that I do “know” it to be true that it is wrong for one person to be compelled to allow another person to use their body. I believe it to be true though. It is a conclusion drawn from more basic moral principles. I get those principles from the same place that everybody does and always has: from being an empathetic social animal. That compels all of us to categorise behaviours in terms of their impact on the well-being of ourselves and others. It is not something which I could fully explain in one post, but here is a link (which I think I’ve already posted and which you have ignored).

    http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave/subjective_objective.html

    You are against abortion. Where do you get that from? How do you know it is wrong?

    I don’t concede that the foetus is a person. What I say is that whether it is or not can make no difference to the rights of the woman involved to bodily autonomy. The foetus is in no way morally culpable. That is not the issue. If you went into hospital for a minor operation and woke up connected to a blameless sufferer of kidney failure (let’s say his family have hooked him up while he was unconscious) whose blood was being filtered through your kidneys, who would die if he were detached, should you be legally obliged to remain attached until he could live independently of you? I am not asking you whether you would chose to remain attached. You might very well make that choice. The question is, should you have a choice at all in that situation? Or should the law prohibit you from exercising a choice to end the connection?

  39. David, I am really surprised that you, who professes to be an educated Christian, are doing such a poor job of articulating yourself. Really, quite shameful. But you are a Scot, and that’s typical among Scots.

    You know, old boy, I was giving a lecture at Harvard University not too long ago, on Hegelian dialectics I believe it was, when I ran into a similar situation with a theist such as yourself…

    Sound familiar? That was you in that debate, basically! THAT’S why so many people were repulsed by your performance.

  40. Oh My, I sure hope that our brothers and sisters who think you were not NICE sure don’t come across the preaching of Leonard Ravenhill or The reverend Duncan Campbell. I would suggest they would consider their preaching not so NICE !
    In a generation of watered down gospel preaching, Joel Olsteen self help sermons, false converts, church services whereby even demons feel comfortable to sit in, I praise the Lord for someone who cares enough to pin down and corner Matt, who HATES Jesus Christ.
    MATT is not someone who is thinking rationally about CHRIST. Matt HATES JESUS CHRIST and as much as he has fooled the majority into thinking he’s just an innocent atheist doing his thing, he is not at all. He is helping many doubt and lose their faith in Christ. My bible says clearly, that it’s better a millstone be tied around the neck of one like MATT who leads these children astray.
    Many Christians have forgotten that what awaits Matt is Hell, as he wishes to pay the price for his own sin and continually rejects the Love, Compassion and Grace of the only one who can redeem him and that is our Lord Jesus Christ.
    Many forget that when applicable with the terror of the Lord we persuade men.
    Yes do a self inspection David and rid of what is not of Christ, however do not stop being David Robertson. There is enough NICE Christians in the world who are more than happy to stay away from the battle lines, who are willing to wash King David’s underwear in the laundry and have no intention of getting smacked in the mouth or slashed severely on the battlefield.
    However every now and then we need some of King David’s men spoken of in 2nd Samuel chapter 23 who are prepared to go into battle when everyone else retreats.
    May the Lord give you the wisdom that was granted to Solomon in what to do with all this.
    May he guide you when to be fierce, bold and courageous and to continually grow in humility and grace.
    I leave you with a quote from the Late Dr Walter Martin.
    John the baptist could not please them with abstinence, Jesus Christ could not please them by participation. What on earth makes you think your going to make it.
    The time will come when many will not put up with sound doctrine – yet want their ears tickled.

    Thank you David for not getting the feather duster out and giving Matt a tickle during the debate.

  41. Your full of self congratulatory praise for your “success” in the debates with Matt Dillahunty. Granted, Matt was not on his best that day. But a non scientific, biblicaly ignorant nobody like me could have nailed you to the wall in that debate. I’m up for it anytime you want to debate. Pious bloody Christians really annoy me!

    1. Such a sweet, intelligent, reasoned and humble response! I love it when a fundamentalist atheist gets involved in a discussion – kind of proves the point! If you wish to debate with me then contact Unbelievable and see if they will have you on…they do however tend to be quite picky about who they choose – they want people who are intelligent and articulate and who won’t make a fool of themselves….unlike Matt Dilahunty on his own programme, they tend not to go for the low hanging fruit!

  42. Hi David,

    I appreciate that i’m a little bit late to this debate but there’s a few things I have questions about what has been discussed if you’d be so kind/nice to answer:

    I am mostly described by others as an Atheist/Apatheist as I hold that the argument surrounding God is at the same time fascinating as it is irrelevant. I would happily dispense with it altogether if it did not feed into our society so regularly and influentially. A big point for me is the definition of ‘Faith’. It is a term i see thrown around by both sides of the argument in debates, with the usual definition being: ‘To believe in something without reason’. However I have also seen it defined as ‘To replace reason with emotion’.

    What do you mean when you say ‘Faith’? Do you ascribe to either of these views or do you have your own interpretation of the word?

    I ask because you keep talking about not having enough ‘faith’ to believe in Atheism. Given that Atheism is the rejection of belief, I do not see how Atheism requires any faith whatsoever as it is a rejection of belief rather than something that requires evidence or emotion.

    Could you also explain what you mean by ‘Fundamentalist Atheism’? I’ve seen you use this phrase quite often in responses to this thread and I really don’t see what you mean by it. I am aware the ‘Fundamentalist’ is a popular snarl word to bring out in debates but, given the Atheism has no doctrine, attaching it to Atheism seems to be a non-sequiter.

    I enjoyed your ‘combative’ style in the recording – I’m glad that someone is prepared to go on the front foot to defend their beliefs – and also appreciate that you do not think you need to apologise for this. If you could run the debate again, would you stick to the same style? or would you explore a more gentle approach which could perhaps leave more time for more developed arguments?

    I thank you for your time 🙂

    1. Yes – it was a long time ago! But your comments are still relevant…

      The definitions of faith you describe are nonsensical and have only been used in the past few decades. It is the atheist definition which seeks to win the debate by changing the language. We all operate on a basis of faith and reason every day. Christian faith is based on evidence and reason.

      Why does atheism require faith? Because it is not just an absence of belief. It is a statement that you believe there is no God. But what is that belief based on. Most atheists I have met believe that the universe is only materialist, that they have the capacity to judge any evidence etc.

      A Fundamentalist atheist is someone who accepts the fundamental principles of the atheist faith/philosophy and automatically dismisses any one who goes against them as being the equivalent of flat earthers. Not all atheists are fundamentalists..Matt Dilahunty certainly is…

      I would absolutely stick to the same style in this debate (but not in most others) – Matt is a bully and a grandstander and I was quite happy to stand up to him and provoke the wrath of his disciples.

      Nice to hear from you….

      David

  43. Thanks for replying 🙂

    The definition of Faith – amongst numerous other things – is a bit of a bone of contention for me. I thoroughly enjoy listening to debates and see them as a chance to educate myself to both sides of an argument….. this is somewhat spoiled when it becomes apparent that both debators are using differing definitions for certain terms. Faith seems to be the biggest offender here as most often the Theistic side will use it to mean something like ‘complete trust or confidence in a belief’ and the Atheistic side tend more to the ‘belief based on spiritual conviction rather than proof’. I sometimes wish that these terms could be agreed upon beforehand or that a strong moderator would step in and ask the debaters to clarify their meanings!

    I’m not sure I agree with your definition (haha) of Atheism! It’s difficult to pin down exactly because there are competing definitions for God/Deity and these affect how you would define Atheism. Personally, I think there is quite a difference between saying ‘I believe there is no God’ and ‘I do not believe in God’. The former is denying the existence of God whilst the latter is accepting that God may exist but rejecting belief in it. This may look like i’m splitting hairs but that little bit of uncertainty is important to the way i think – I reject the belief in God because it is unecessary for a pragmatic life although should evidence show that God does exist I would be happy to take it into account. My position does not require Faith as I do not have a total conviction in it.

    I can’t quote Matt but i’m sure he has said on numerous occasions that he would happily believe in God given sufficient evidence – perhaps someone should press him on exactly what that evidence could be! Perhaps Aliens making contact and having a near exact copy of the bible with them? Perhaps Anti-theist is a better term than fundamentalist Atheist, which has a pejorative tone unwelcome in a debate. I have certainly heard Matt represent this position before.

    Regards,

    Rik

    1. Thanks RIk…

      I agree with you that the terms are important….which is why we should stick to the normative and traditional use of ‘faith’ and not the one the atheists invited to strengthen their case.

      I also agree with you that most atheists are people who don’t want to believe in God…because it doesn’t suit their purposes.

      Fundamentalist atheist works well for Matt…and there is no evidence that he would accept because his fundamental presuppositions assume that everything must have a materialist explanation.

      1. I don’t recall saying that most atheists don’t want to believe in God because it doesn’t suit their purposes. I think a lot of people refer to themselves as atheists because it’s a catch all term that encompasses both the rejection of belief in God AND a belief in no God.

        Definitions eh? 😄

        Pleasant to speak with you, and thank you for the insight into your views. Best of luck with your future endeavours!

        Rik

  44. From all I’ve read, it seems you need to get a better grip on logical argumentum and maybe some humility.
    You said Matt will have to kneel before Jesus, if you really belive this, Jesus might have a few choice words for you.
    You seem angry, I think this stems from having to defend a postion you actually think is week, if it isnt, all you say makes it sound so.
    Life works well without the need for a god, as many countries show.
    Thankfully the UK now has a greater number of people without a religious belief, who therefore dont believe in the threat of hell, however that threat is explained by all the different christian groups.
    And sorry the comparison to Hitch, if only.

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