A Debate on God’s Existence at Liberty University

Last week, Virginia Tech philosophy grad student Dan Linford went to Liberty University to take part in a debate on God’s existence.

Talk about walking into a lion’s den…

I haven’t had a chance to watch the exchange yet, but the video just got posted:

If any part of the debate stands out to you, please leave the timestamp and summary in the comments!

***Update***: Reader Michael has a nice breakdown of the debate in the comments.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • CT

    Strange, I didn’t see any lions. Looks like it was a respectful and reasoned discussion. It didn’t watch it all. Perhaps the parts I skipped over had the pitchforks and firebrands. But it seemed, given what little I know of Liberty University, a rather polite and fair discussion.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Think about how demeaning and humiliating it must be to have to argue for the existence of God.

    There are no apologists for the sun. Nobody gets advanced degrees in building eloquent, elaborate, intricate, delicate, or just mind-numbingly long-winded arguments supporting the existence of the sun. No, people get advanced degrees in understanding to a remarkable level of intimacy the behavior and innermost workings of the sun. We can apply this knowledge to very useful purposes right here on Earth. This is of course because of the tremendous amount of readily availableevidence coming at us at the speed of light for not only its existence, but also its behavior and innermost workings.

    To us, the sun is very large. It’s diameter is more than 100 times the diameter of the Earth. Yet it is a very ordinary, average, quite unremarkable star in size, temperature and brightness. It’s only one of billions of stars in our galaxy, and our galaxy is only one of billions of galaxies that we can see so far.

    For this tiny, insignificant speck of a star we have so enormous a wealth of evidence that we don’t even bother wondering if it exists, yet for the proposed Supreme Being, the Maker of the Universe, the Mover of Every Galaxy and Wiggler of Every Quark, we have no evidence at all. Those who propose its existence are reduced to the embarrassing position of having nothing to offer but…

    … arguments.

  • Lee Miller

    I gave up after 30 seconds . . . I can’t take guys who talk like that . . . too much buffoonery. How can you study philosophy at Liberty University when the answers have all been given by God?

  • CT

    I think you just demonstrated the key religious argument against atheism: that atheism is the belief that everything is explainable by science, and anything not demonstrable by way of the physical sciences doesn’t exist. It’s a criticism I’ve heard, and I’m not sure it’s as credible as some religious believers think. But what you wrote just went a long way toward validating their observation.

  • rickflick

    The sound was pretty dreadful. A muffled echo chamber. I had to quit after a few minutes. I just no longer have the concentration to translate into English. I wish folks making videos of events like this would figure out how to capture sound. It isn’t rocket science.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Patrick/100000027906887 Adam Patrick

    Agreed about the sound. A lot of vloggers need to learn that too.

    It’s not too expensive either. I use a $45 combination of a small microphone and digital voice recorder and I get great sound.

  • LesterBallard

    How can you study anything when the answers have all been given by god?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Patrick/100000027906887 Adam Patrick

    Well, when it comes to sciences, a lot of Christians say they are studying how God did it.

  • 3lemenope

    Not all atheists are positivists. Heck, we aren’t even all empiricists. So if that’s the “key” religious argument against atheism, it’s a bad one.

  • SeekerLancer

    I can’t really watch these debates anymore. It’s the same crap, different day. I used to think they were worth doing if only to hope that someone in the middle will be swayed but more and more I feel like there’s really nothing to debate so debating is pointless.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.westley Brian Westley

    I would phrase it as “There’s no good reason to believe anything without evidence”. If you have absolutely NO reason to believe concept X, why would anyone think X is true?

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn Anna

    Exactly. It’s the most bizarre thing to assume that certain supernatural creatures are real simply because other human beings have said that they are. There was nothing magical or special about the people who created gods and goddesses. Their societies didn’t have special knowledge that other societies don’t have.

    There’s mythology and folklore about tons of other supernatural creatures, yet no sane person in the developed world actually believes that leprechauns, fairies, unicorns or mermaids exist. They are seen as obviously fictional. Yet these same civilized, educated, otherwise normal people put gods (let’s be real, one particular god) in a special category.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    I can’t say I apologize (pun slightly intended) for being unconvinced of grand and elaborate claims that cannot be demonstrated, but only argued. Contrary to so many Christians’ favorite mischaracterIzation of the atheist stance, I don’t say that what is not empirically demonstrable definitely does not exist, I am only unconvinced that it does exist. My “default setting” is to be willing to withhold belief until acceptable evidence is presented. Which habitat that puts me in in the philosopher zoo I’m not sure.

    Christians seem to prefer to argue with their imaginary atheists and imaginary atheism, rather than real atheists and real atheism.

  • Martinrc

    About 1.02 “This is very relevant to my argument….” So what, if its so relevant to your argument, than you should have some evidence to back it up and not rely on me to provide evidence for your argument that has ZERO evidence for it :P always the same with creationists…

  • Martinrc

    Contracterianism…… ummmm I am going to switch topics here. 1.06.3. Hilarious!

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    At 4:54, Dr. Mark Foreman said, “I especially want to thank Dan for driving all the way here from Blacksburg, and entering into this somewhat, maybe, hostile territory…” He laughed as he said, “hostile territory,” as did some of the audience.

    Hemant was correct in his portrayal. These dangerous religionists have such confidence and comfort with their hostility towards atheists that they burst with joyous laughter simply from mentioning it.

    There’s no doubt, Dan Linford was there to be slaughtered. At least the Christians were kind (cunning?) enough to begin their gruesome evisceration with a powerful, blonde sedative. I couldn’t bear to watch further.

  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    Pedantically, not all “reason” is “evidence”. Pure mathematics is believed simply because of the connections between abstract axioms and theorems. However, any connection to “reality” is debatable… or at least, requires another axiom to start dealing with the “evidence” stuff.

  • Andrew L

    I’ve had a few Christians tell me they believe in existence of their Heavenly Father more than they believe in the existence of their Father. How does one even respond to such tripe?

  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    That’s why you bring custom “Bingo” cards.

  • Rain

    Yes and the stage didn’t look very good either. Come on, people, debates are show biz too. It’s a sights and sounds experience.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Ugh. I’ve heard similar drivel. Responding to that would be like responding to the babbling of a drunk. Not worth the effort, and degrading if you try.

  • Rain

    He kept wanting to harp on objective morality, pretending like he doesn’t know it’s a cowardly appeal to emotion that doesn’t prove god’s existence. So in other words, he’s your typical theist debater.

  • flyb

    Yeah this was amateur hour all around in terms of the physical setup of the debate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Harrison/23417637 Michael Harrison

    I reviewed the whole thing, because what else will I be doing while I’m writing Mathematica code? The debate itself doesn’t begin until 9:30. Here are the points which stood out to me. Sorry if the post is a bit longish.

    - 8:50: The theist studied at the Discovery Institute. Be warned: this will probably not be mind safe.

    - 11:00: If galaxies and people are uncaused, they are metaphysically necessary, and if they are metaphysically necessary, their nonexistence is impossible.

    Bull. This guy is regurgitating classic philosophical arguments, which may have been excusable before we discovered quantum mechanics, but nowadays won’t fly. To tweak Gould’s words, if you rewind the tape of the universe, there is no reason to think it should play out the same.

    Now, if the fellow is saying galaxies are necessary, that has to do with attractors being properties of the global system, and is a far different statement from saying the exact same galaxies exist, or even highly similar galaxies.

    - 15:45: Fine-tuning, and misuse of probability. (And this fellow badly needs to read The Gods Themselves.)

    - 17:20: I don’t normally like calling people idiots, but when someone throws out the “God or randomness” false dichotomy, that individual has earned the title. Seriously, it makes me want to beat him over the head with a dynamical systems textbook.

    - 18:50: The moral argument. Boring. When theists can agree on this “objective morality,” they can get back to me.

    - 21:30: He invoked the “rewinding the tape” imagery, too. I am amused.

    - 23:20: The Ontological Argument, or “defining God into existence.” I don’t know whether to laugh or groan. (I’m honestly not trying to be mean; I just *really* hate this argument.) Step 4: By Step 1, God is possible; therefore, God isn’t not possible. Never mind people imagine things, places, and scenarios that aren’t real ALL THE TIME. Step 4: By Step 1, Morpheus of the Dreaming is possible; therefore, Morpheus of the Dreaming isn’t not possible. The stupid — it burns. And to think that otherwise, Rene Descartes was such a bright guy. (Though from what I’ve read — a textbook which surveyed the history of western philosophy — Descartes thought this argument couldn’t stand on its own even when he wrote it.)

    - 29:00: The skeptic serves as an interesting Rorschach test. A theist will think he’s waffling, and a skeptic will be nodding in agreement.

    - 35:45: The skeptic invokes Guns, Germs, and Steel. I have heard that anthropologists roll their eyes and groan whenever Jared Diamond is mentioned.

    - 41:30: The skeptic finally addresses the theist’s arguments. Invokes the headaches that come with infinity. All in all, technically sound, and had the better argument factually, but completely failed to make an impression emotionally.

    - 44:50: The theist argues that sure, this world is the type of world God would make. “In order to make some sort of probability calculus, you’ve got to have some prior probability calculation in order to compare that to some type of posterior probability in order to make that calculation.” Considering he earlier used a probability argument in his Cosmological Argument, my poor, poor irony meter never stood a chance. For anyone who’s read Candide, “All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.” (However, props to Leibniz for his contributions to calculus, regardless of his theology.)

    - 48:00: Modern science was birthed from theologians? Funny, but last I heard, modern experimental science is attributed to Galileo. Not saying he was a skeptic, but — well, you know the story. (Historians of science, please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong on this.)

    - 51:00: The theist is still harping on the Uncaused Cause. He is so not ready for relativity.

    - 59:00: “Where did the Universe come from?” As I said before, the usual apologist strategy: ask a Big Question, and claim religion doesn’t have to answer it. Once again, the skeptic is a Rorschach test — is he evading the question, or is he showing admirable restraint against someone who doesn’t seem to get it?

    - 1:06:00: Is torturing babies and feeding them to wolverines wrong? (See also: Mayan cosmology — is it wrong to sacrifice prisoners of war for the sake of keeping the sun alive?)

    [Spoiler Warning]
    I want to throw a copy of “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” at his head. Or a DVD with the Doctor Who episode “The Beast Below.”
    [End Spoiler Warning]

    Beware philosophy students who haven’t spent time considering the possibility they may be wrong. In general, beware philosophy students who appear to lack an imagination.

    - 1:10:55: “Questions about God are metaphysical questions.” I’m liking Buddhism more and more. Why worry about metaphysics and the afterlife? We have people suffering in this life — worry about them first!

    - 1:12:10: “We can know something about God based off of General Relativity.” And then he jumps to Newton.

    - 1:31:45: Audience questions. I would say the Liberty U students call the theist out on his BS. Oh, wait — I’m pretending to be an objective reviewer. Ahem: The Liberty U students ask some pretty good questions. I especially enjoyed hearing the theist argue that there can be no evil without God. (In fairness, that should be there can be no “evil” without God, because he’s talking about the classification, rather than the behaviors.)

    In short, the theist merely regurgitated the classics of apologetics. As a result, I can make no conclusion about modern apologetics based on his performance.

    - 1:38:55: Theist tries to tackle quantum mechanics, failing to remember that we don’t seem to have control over which world our awareness appears in many-worlds theory. I’ll say now what I’ve been thinking all along: I want to slap him.

    - 1:45:27: The theist resolved Euthyphro’s dilemma: “God commands something because He is good.” Unless God is goodness incarnate, anthropomorphized, and made self-aware, I don’t know what this means. As Douglas Adams wrote, “In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” If God had foresight as to the great suffering His creations would experience, and He still created us, He is not good; rather, He is a selfish git who put His own interests before that of His children.

  • Scott_In_OH

    The claim you describe–that science and religion are just two different ways of understanding the world, so we can’t use scientific approaches to investigate religion–is a dishonest one.

    When theists think it will benefit them, they (pretend to) enlist evidence and logic in support of (their particular) God’s existence. When they don’t, they claim evidence and logic (aka “science”) don’t apply.

    It’s not a profound argument; it’s a dodge.

  • Rain

    I found “Max” to be highly evasive and generally a very annoying person. Those are good traits for being a troll. Coincidentally, good trolling traits are also good theist debating traits. I predict he will be a star. All he needs to do is hone the cartoon caricature of himself a bit more, and he’s on his way. (One cannot be a true star unless they are a cartoon caricature of themselves, a la William Lane Craig or John Malkovich.)

  • Rain

    One cannot be a true star unless they are a cartoon caricature of themselves, a la William Lane Craig or John Malkovich.

    Or Neil deGrasse Tyson’s hands. Neil deGrasse Tyson’s hands, with special guest star Neil deGrasse Tyson:


  • Pseudonym

    With my mathematician hat on, I’m going to disagree with you there.

    At a basic level, a mathematical theory is “believed” if it has been proven to be, or there is strong evidence to think that it is, consistent. If a theory is consistent, then any theorem is “true” in the only sense that makes sense: it holds in every possible model.

    What you’re talking about, I think, is whether or not some aspect of the physical world is a model of the theory, but that’s irrelevant to pure mathematics.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hugh-Kramer/1217598709 Hugh Kramer

    My response to something like that would be to say, “really? So, as a teenager, who did you believe you should ask for the car keys on Saturday night? Your dad or sky dad?” If they think the question is ridiculous, I’d then point out, “so was your assertion.”

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    I have several files of quotations I saved from my days spent in Christian chat rooms. You reminded me of one.

    “That Jesus is real is to me a certainty. That this world is real is somewhat less of a certainty.” — catholicnh

  • Denis Robert

    If so, then they should do what Jesus actually asked, give everything to the poor, and go minister to them, living in the very same poverty as they. How many Catholics or Christians do that?

    It’s BS that they need to tell themselves because they are nowhere near as sure as they pretend to. The proof is in the pudding. If they really believed as they say, they would act as their God tells them to act. If I think I’m going to die if I walk off a ledge, I’m simply not going to walk off that ledge, right? It’s the same thing. If they really believed they would suffer permanent separation from God by not following Jesus’ teachings, they would not even think of moving one iota away from them. And there isn’t any teaching repeated more often in the NT than to sell all that you have, give all to the poor, and to trust blindly (the very meaning of faith) that God will provide just like he provides for the birds and the beasts.

  • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Bubba Tarandfeathered

    Creationism Bingo, man I haven’t played that in years. It is such a riot to yell out, “BINGO!!” when some creationist solves your puzzle. The appalled looks on the theist’s faces is absolutely priceless.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    Yes, I recognize that much of it is a facade of overconfidence for the sake of salesmanship. You don’t need to convince me. I used to do it too, back when I thought I was a Christian.

    I have a hypothesis about this. I think some of them believe or want to believe it’s all legitimate, but realize that they represent a less-than-compelling example. When examined, especially by nonChristians, they experience guilt for not taking it more seriously, and reluctance to admit it for fear that it might dissuade a new or other member from a genuine experience. A fundamental principle of certain Christianities is absolute conviction, which is easy to suggest, but very difficult to practice. Individually, they know they are failing to put into it as much as they think is necessary, but also failing to get out of as as much as they think is possible. Among their peers, and for show to outsiders, they pretend to be more confident and successful than any of them really are.

    Essentially, it’s Hans Christian Andersen’s tale, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

  • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Bubba Tarandfeathered

    CT you are programmed to proselytize and seek conversion. You have no free will in this, you have no choice and such you can not begin to fathom what it is like to exercise your free will. You are simply a machine following commands. Oblivious to any programming outside of doctrine. For that I pity you, you might disagree with my position on this but then again that is your programming, something you cannot escape. What I find most unique about your programming is that the meme that infects your mind only infects weak minds, minds that need a higher command function outside of their own superego. You might be an educated person even possibly accredited by a higher educational institute but in the end you are weak minded and need something or someone to follow. Sadly you are beyond a cure, you are terminal. The meme has infected your mind so thoroughly, that all that I am saying here, will only trigger an anti-virus like response and you will have to defend your stance and you have no choice in this matter. Your defense must be carried out or you are then exercising your free will and operating outside of your programmed parameters. Any possible gateway into your mind has been fire-walled against reason by theistic doctrine. Sadly though you can never realize that your brain and consciousness has been hijacked by the Theism Meme and you are just a zombie mind replicating doctrine over and over without any self control. You will probably laugh this off or have some cute little quip in retort but yet again this is simply a programmed response. Attempting to placate me in retort is just another programmed response.
    To rid your mind of this meme you must know your self without the help of a higher power. Ask your self, “Am I in control of my own life? or Have I given my self over to god/jesus (the theism meme)? The Theism Meme has been fine tuned over a thousand years by highly educated minds to create a state in which the infected mind can not answer either question without saying yes and feeling good about that answer. Similar to how heroine addicts justify the use of the drug. Addicts think they are in control while at the same time defending their usage. Eventually convincing them selves, wholeheartedly, that the outcome of their actions will be good. Religion is the opiate of the weak minded. A mind that does not have the strength nor the power to function on its own without help.
    Atheism is the cure, it is the first step to freedom from the bondage of religious doctrine, a freedom you CT will never experience.

  • dan davis

    you say “anything not demonstrable by way of the physical sciences doesn’t exist”. You do realize that we are limited by technology and the ability our our minds. Christopher Columbus didn’t know the “new world “existed prior to his stumbling on it, but it still existed prior to this. I don’t know if the human brain and the scientific method can explain everything, but the things it has explained (age of earth and universe, fossil record, genetic basis for inheritance and variation, natural selection, biogeography, continental drift, cell-cell signaling and development, neuron function, etc. etc.) do make one hell of lot more sense than GDI.

  • dan davis

    sorry, didn’t read close enough, too early.

  • cipher

    You remind me of a blog comment I came across several years ago. An atheist recounted a conversation with a friend who was a former evangelical. The friend seemed to be able to identify evangelicals by sight, and this guy asked him how he did it. His friend said something along the lines of looking for people who gave the appearance of being uncomfortable in their own skins.

  • cipher

    I agree. I’ve developed the conviction that certain disciplines in secular graduate schools should be off-limits to fundamentalists. Philosophy may be one of them; the sciences certainly are.

  • cipher

    It’s the same crap, different day.

    Absolutely. Utter waste of time – especially as the sycophants invariably walk away convinced their guy won.

  • sunburned

    I get sick of the use of *arguments* as proof and/or evidence. A logical argument has a single goal, to prove that the premise is logically sound NOT that the premise is true and/or has any bearing on reality.

  • CultOfReason

    Just to be clear, a positivist believes that only science can produce authoritative knowledge. A positivist does not believe that anything not demonstrable by way of the physical sciences doesn’t exist, as the OP stated. That simply falls into the “I don’t know and neither do you” category.

  • kevin white

    You know, that makes a lot of sense. If i look at things that way, Almost everyone in the town i live in (about 5000 people in my town, so about… maybe 4800 people out of the whole thing) are evangelicals. Scary.

  • cipher

    As I recall, he used a metaphor – something like, “a guy wearing a suit he knows doesn’t fit quite right”.

  • cipher

    Another thing that pisses me off about this sort of thing; fundies use “logic” (or what passes for it among them) in the way they appeal to science – when it suits them, when they think it’s going to validate their a priori conclusions. As soon as that fails, they’re back to faith and feelings: “Well, you just don’t understand because you don’t have faith!”

    They want the privilege of being able to behave like adults only as long as they feel like it, and to behave like developmentally-arrested children when they don’t.

  • 3lemenope

    It is true that positivism was primarily an epistemological and not a metaphysical set of assertions; I was being a bit sloppy. Good catch.

    I would argue, though, that when they started taking Wittgenstein’s offhand “whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must remain silent” a bit too literally, much of the practical distinction disappeared into a blend of scientism and physicalism which became inseparable from the Positivist project; they essentially dropped the “authoritative” from the description you provided, and started asserting that it is impossible not just to know anything non-empirical, but even to coherently assert the possibility thereto. The antipositivist counterarguments emphasized that a purely quantitative approach to (esp. social) science would cause much which human beings can make a decent case as having qualitative access to to be denied outright as either knowledge or even possible truth, leading to absurdity.

  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    Consistency doesn’t result from “evidence”, especially since Gödel. Equivalent consistency can be shown; however, consistency is (for the ZF gold standard, so far as I understand) merely presumed from an absence of known abstract reasoning yielding contradiction — which I would distinguish from “evidence”, philosophically. This probably gets into the philosophical distinction between a written proof, and the abstract proof associated to that writing; and the difference between evidence, and absence of evidence.

  • Daniel Linford

    Thanks for the review! This will be helpeful when/if I participate in a future debate.

  • Daniel Linford

    Hahaha…. I should have thought of that….

  • Daniel Linford

    :( Yeah, unfortunately. It was filmed by Liberty and my microphone even stopped working at one point.

  • Daniel Linford

    It was held in a lecture hall at Liberty U, down the hall from, and I’m not even kidding, Creation Hall, which is basically a miniature Creationism museum.

  • Daniel Linford

    Haha, yep! And the LU peoples accused me of being evasive…

  • Daniel Linford

    This was absolutely a hostile environment and I was there for the slaughter. That’s absolutely correct.

    Nonetheless, I agreed to participate (even after seeing a lot of shady things behind the scenes that don’t appear in the video) because I knew that there were closeted atheists at LU who never had someone speak up for them before, at least not in such a public way and not on the Liberty campus. And these kids have got to feel utterly and totally alone on that campus.

    I spent a lot of time preparing and I hope that you enjoyed what I had to say.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    My first reaction is disbelief that an atheist would ever be there. But then, as we all know, shit happens. Good on you for reaching out to them.

    There was some mention of extra credit given to students for their attendance. Did you have a sense of how many in the audience were there for extra credit, and how many had genuine interest?

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    I can’t decide if having such an ability would be fun or sad.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    It’s opportunistic exploitation. They use logic and science merely as theological vehicles, without any substantive application. It annoys me, too, because I know they can’t properly process in-kind criticism.

  • Rain

    Ah good job especially not caving in with the morality thing. Just because there ought to be an objective morality, or just because we all might wish there were an objective morality, doesn’t prove there is a god. Totally irrelevant.

  • baal

    “Modern science was birthed from theologians?” I tried following this point out in the past. The theologians wind up pointing to a number of early modern scientists and saying look, they had god belief so the flip is true, all science comes from theology. While it’s true some were good christians, more were vaguely diestic or just afraid of the church (or for the church).

  • http://twitter.com/TweetThatSheet Daniel Brown

    Give me a minute to get over the fact that the theist looks like some tech-savy German villain from a Bond style film. Then I can absorb what is actually being said.

  • Daniel Linford

    What’s even funnier is that Max’s comment that science was birthed from theology, if true, would actually *help* my point instead of hinder it. My point was that theological hypotheses used to be acceptable in science, but are so no longer. And not because of any conspiracy on the part of scientists or because of some kind of intrinsic property of scientific method; rather because theological hypotheses are themselves problematic in a way that indicates they are unlikely to be true.

  • Daniel Linford

    I would say that most of the students that were there were there for extra credit, but that it was also an intensely popular event. Even the students that were there for extra credit seemed to have a legitimate interest.

  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    Re: Audience questions — I haven’t checked the video, but I understand there was going to be at least a small contingent of students from the Virginia Atheists and Agnostics that planned to travel down from the University of Virginia. The calling out of the theist BS may have been by one of the VAA.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Harrison/23417637 Michael Harrison

    I disagree. It may be a waste of time to scour YouTube for them, but catching one every few months is a good way to keep tabs on the rationalizations being promoted for belief in God. I just wish this one had better arguments.

    For instance, while the argument from design is still flawed, the explanation for why it’s flawed — emergent properties and that jazz — is highly non-intuitive, and fruitful in discoveries; thus, in the spirit of the Hawking-Susskind Wager (as in, even when he’s wrong, he aids the expansion of knowledge), I feel it warrants the title of Good Question. Although it’s technically not a question.

    On the other hand, the arguments presented in this debate were tired old cliches delivered with such an air of smugness, that I’m surprised the presenter didn’t pass out from all that smug displacing his oxygen.

  • Martinrc

    Great job by the way Dan. I loved how every time you gave a response, they would just ask you for a different response because it didn’t fit their argument.

  • Pseudonym

    Consistency doesn’t result from “evidence” [...]

    Sure it does. It results from a) there being good reason (e.g. distinct reasons which converge on the same conclusion) to think it’s true, and b) the lack of a refutation despite a lot of very smart people trying very hard.

    It’s no different from “natural” science in that respect. Most scientific theories that are believed haven’t been “proven” in a mathematical sense.

  • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

    I would say “reason” (good or bad) is an abstract relation of other entities, not evidence; and the “lack of a refutation” involves both aforementioned distinctions.

    “Natural” science works quite differently, in that “proof” (to the extent science is in that business at all) is to a non-unary probabilisitic standard. While mathematics includes such sense (such as in Arthur-Merlin systems), the dominant standard is unary.