Church That Initially Refused to Post Video of Debate Where Christians ‘Were Not Represented Well’ Finally Relents

A couple of days ago, Richard Wilson posted an article on this site explaining a debate he attended at Adventure Christian Church, a mega-church in Roseville, California.

The debate centered around the question of whether Christianity or Secular Humanism provided a better foundation for civil society. Dr. David Marshall represented the Christian side while Dr. Phil Zuckerman represented the non-theists.

As Richard noted, the church never posted the full debate online. Instead, they posted a few “rebuttal” videos responding to certain points made in the debate. But why not the actual thing so we could see it all for ourselves?

Zuckerman offered an explanation in a Huffington Post piece:

When I called pastor Bryan [Hardwick], and asked him why they are refusing to post the video — even after repeated promises of doing so — he replied, “It just didn’t go the way we wanted it to go. We were not represented well.”

In other words, we lost and we don’t want to embarrass ourselves any further.

That’s pretty much the worst thing they could’ve done. Had they posted it a week ago, it probably would’ve gone under the radar. Instead, after the posting on this site, the church’s Facebook page and several comment threads on Reddit were inundated with messages (from both sides) calling for the video to be made available.

Tonight, the church finally did the right thing and posted the video online:

After the debate, I honestly thought the video posting was my choice to make, and I was floored to learn that our decision not to post it was considered by some as evidence of close-mindedness. I apologize for not posting this debate earlier, and now that we have clearly heard from both presenters, we are posting the debate.

I hope that the conversation about civility can continue and might return to the civil tone in which it began.


Pastor Rick Stedman

It’s too bad it took this long for Stedman to do it, but I’ll take him at his word here and chalk the original decision up to his just not knowing any better. Whether it was out of genuine ignorance or a fear of more bad publicity, the video’s finally available for all to see. We can now go back to criticizing bad arguments made in the name of Christianity instead of bad decisions made by individual Christians.

My thanks to Richard Wilson for sticking with this story.

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.

  • Artor

    ” I honestly thought the video posting was my choice to make…”
    So keeping your word means jack shit if you decide to make a different choice later? Good to know.

  • Jasper

    I don’t know that “closed minded” is an apt description. Petty, weasely, insidious and manipulative perhaps.

  • Sven2547

    This is America. They can choose to be duplicitous jerks… and we can choose to call them duplicitous jerks.

    You smell that? That’s freedom, baby :)

  • Mike De Fleuriot

    Lets watch and comment.

  • Mike D

    I’m tempted to watch this only out of morbid curiosity as to whether David Marshall is as childish, evasive, and insufferable in a debate format as he is online.

  • Rich Wilson

    I must admit, from the parts I’ve re-watched so far, I’m embarrassed by how much I missed in my notes. But maybe there’s a lesson here. Maybe having people write down what they think happened isn’t the most reliable historical record.

    Can you imagine if I’d written about the debate after talking to people about it 70 years after it had happened?

  • TravellingBeard

    Love how they’re taking the — ahem — high road. Someone is a little clueless.

  • Jeff

    Oh Oh Oh…damn, how often do you get to use insidious in a post! And if you call them weasely, doesn’t than mean they belong to a wizardly family of red-heads?

  • katiehippie

    “We were not represented well.”

    I’m curious how Marshall felt about this comment. Way to shoot down someone supposedly on your side.

  • Claude Reich

    I imagine no one would have taken you seriously right?

    Oh wait.

  • Mitch

    Smells like cheap beer and Big Mac grease.

  • baal

    I”m 30 minutes in and frustrated with “I claim all good things in the name of christ” Marshall. The tale of the rise of Europe isn’t as simple as christian goodness runneth over. He’s ignoring various bad things like the knowledge supression of the medieval period, slavery, and the demand to obey the church. I call that cherry picking.

  • katiehippie

    Can I nitpick? Does he really think there would be people in the audience that have escaped from a North Korean concentration camp and have doubts? I guess it’s possible but not really likely.

  • Neil Rickert

    I’m listening right now. I will probably only listen to the opening statements.

    The opening by Marshall was pretty good. And, as I listened, I kept wondering why so much of American Christianity has abandoned that Jesus, and replaced him with a harsh judgmental punitive god who hates education, hates science, hates helping the needy.

  • katiehippie

    God works in mysterious ways…….

  • Rain

    Looks like the holy spirit was on holy coffee break that night. He should just speak in tongues so nobody knows what the hell.

  • Rain

    So far it looks like a typically okay job, considering. No idea why they were “not represented well” unless maybe they are uptight fundies and Dr. Marshall said some un-uptighty-fundy things that didn’t toe the uptight fundy line. Fundamentalists can be offended by anything clear out of the blue at the drop of a hat, literally. You could drop your hat and you can bet that it deeply offends some fundy somewhere.

  • RoverSerton

    omg, the christian got his arse wiped! Not only was the athiest animated and entertaining, he made great points.

  • MayoLight

    54 minutes: Did he call Atheists baby killers. Only if we can eat them afterwords….

  • Hat Stealer

    Imagine if you had written about it 200-300 years after it happened, and afterwards your notes were translated and re-translated over the better part of two millenia.

    They’d probably make you out to be some sort of prophet, amiright?

  • closetatheist

    Because, just like every other god, Jesus is merely a projection of their own worldview….and they happen to hate science and enjoy giving the needy a swift kick in the pants while giving them a thumbs up and tossing them a bible.

  • skeptical_inquirer

    Dr. Marshall seemed really unprepared and unused to being confronted (it’s a side effect of being in a kind of cocoon).

    I liked Dr. Zuckerman’s knocking off the statistics about nationwide trends.

  • RoverSerton

    Funny how the comments on the vimeo feed are closed. I enjoyed it but a great speaking professor will always win over a monotone one that stands and reads. Using anecdotes in a closing statement is almost always weak and today was no exception. I appreciate them not wanting to post this “great” debate, but i’m glad they did.

  • mchasewalker

    When I called pastor Bryan [Hardwick], and asked him why they are refusing to post the video — even after repeated promises of doing so — he replied, “It just didn’t go the way we wanted it to go. We were not represented well.”

  • jdm8

    I guess the big lesson is anyone wanting a copy of the video should their own video camera and I’ll add: if possible, get a signed form with permission to post freely.

  • SeekerLancer

    “After the debate, I honestly thought the video posting was my choice to make…”

    Apparently in their ideal society based on Christian morality you shouldn’t honor promises.

  • Baby_Raptor

    People who want to force me to live my life contrary to what I feel s best for me do not get civility. Pleas for civility are tone trolling.

  • Jay

    Wow. I can see why they didn’t want to publish this. It was really terrible. Zuckerman didn’t as much win this as much as Marshall was involved in a personal trainwreck. Zuckerman was good, no mistake. But it’s hard to weigh the performance of someone eloquent and clear against someone who is confused and wanders through some forest of random thoughts like a drunken wolf chasing imaginary deer.

    Marshall was so lost that Zuckerman would have been hard pressed to not look good.

    *Edit: “..I think I demonstrate this in one of my articles online.” Really? That’s your argument? FFS I could have done a better job as an atheist DRUNK arguing FOR christianity than Marshall did.

  • Baby_Raptor

    Because the god Jesus calls dad is pretty damn atrocious, and you can’t serve one without serving the other.

  • Iothisk

    I think a good takeaway lesson from this, for me anyways, is Mr. Zuckerman’s approach during debate. It’s easy to use the worst of your opponent’s examples. Instead, take the best of theirs and say why yours is better. Secular Humanism wins, no question.

  • RowanVT

    What fascinates me about that, is…. why would you make a video of something if you weren’t planning on sharing it?

  • Artor

    They thought they would look good. When they realized they came off as uninformed, credulous dimwits, they decided to add mendacious to the list.

  • john shults

    you say toeMAYtoe, I say ToeMAHtoe

  • TheLump

    Your name amuses me. I am pleased.

  • TheLump

    It’s like playing the “Google translate game” spread over centuries.

  • TheLump

    That was the best way to put it.

  • TheLump

    The “e” on the end was a nice touch.

  • Robster

    “Adventure Christian Church”, sounds like a theme park of some sort. Worship services are notoriously dull so the word ‘Adventure’ may help but probably won’t. Perhaps they’ve got mobile pews that dance about the floor banging into each other during the sermon or better still, a giant vat of ol’ jesus blood wine and self serve crackers. That’d get ‘em in!

  • Eric

    It’s not about being “close-minded”, it’s about *dishonesty*, censoring the public record for the express purpose of creating a distorted view. When you need to resort to hiding facts or putting on blinders, that should be a *huge* red flag that your position is weak.

  • Intelligent Donkey

    Huh. I’m almost starting to doubt the validity of the “were you there?” rhetoric.

    Maybe your atheism interfered in some way? You had to be there and not eat baby sandwiches.

  • Intelligent Donkey

    Promises made to non-Christians don’t count.

  • ufo42

    It wasn’t that bad. Religion always loses these types of arguments. I don’t think Marshall lost that badly or failed to present his side of the debate. They would have saved themselves a lot of embarrassment by just posting the video in the first place as promised. Zuckerman’s arguments are basically irrefutable. The evidence is all on the side of secular humanism. Marshall declined to use the most stupid and bigoted pro-theocracy arguments. That is to his credit, IMHO. It was a civil debate to the end. Kudos to both sides. As Zuckerman pointed out, religion did and does do some good. It does not, IMHO, outweigh the bad, but neither should it be ignored. There are plenty of good, fundamentally humanist christians and members of other religions who manage to ignore the more horrendous teachings of their spiritual leaders (the dead and the living ones) and manage to lead honorable, helpful, loving, charitable lives. They should be embraced by atheist secular humanists in a common struggle with the execrable examples of self-righteous, vicious, anti-human religious dogmatism such as the Islamist Jihadis and the American Taliban aka “Christian Right”.

    That said, I think comments on the video on Vimeo should have been opened. There is no shame in losing an argument. The shame is in not changing your mind after having lost. :)

  • whats in a name

    1:14:00 His sum up to prove Christianity superior to Humanism is a story about a group of 50-60 white adults booing a little black girl going to school and how she persevered through that because of the bible.
    I wonder what religion those adults were… Based on the popularity of Christianity, the boon to government sponsored Christianity to fight the atheist communist, the sever persecution of atheism at the time, and other major religions in American in the 60′s did not group up like that to harass African Americans like Christianity did (KKK anyone?). It is likely that mob was Christians themselves. So his story is how a girl persecuted by Christians, used Christianity to persevere and this somehow is a good example of Christianity’s superiority over secular humanism. Lovely.

  • petey

    no wonder they did not want to post it. that was an intellectual beat-down.

  • Secretredfoxx

    HEY he’s for real, I’ll defend his performance in this debate to the death!

  • Rob McClain

    Thank you for showing me the right way to use “credulous”.

  • Rob McClain

    “drunken wolf chasing imaginary deer”. 10/10 I will steal this at some point. Well done.

  • Rob McClain

    Last week the local cineplex had these two titles side by side on the roadside marquee: Insidious Gravity.

  • IsaacM50

    Do you fry yours, or bake them? I have some recipies….

  • Deus Otiosus

    That’s a great name for a band.

  • evodevo

    A whole megachurch full of devout Xtians, and this is the best debater they could come up with? Hmmmmm …..

    No, actually, when confronted by a skilled rational debater, Christian theology tends to show up as shallow, self-contradictory and confused. Been that way since the 1st century. It’s just that today’s (and yesterday’s) Christians are exposed not at all to actual logic with regard to their beliefs.

    I’m just amazed that the preacher allowed ANY of the video to escape to the net. The usual MO would have been to accidentally delete it.

    Oh, and the cherry-picking/editing the favorable parts? Been doing that for 2000 years also.

  • evodevo

    Comes from the same ethical base as “lying for Jesus”, I think.

  • eric

    I honestly thought the video posting was my choice to make,

    IMO that response just digs the hole deeper. Let’s think about this. He could’ve answered by saying he could post it but chose not to, or by saying he couldn’t post it for some legal or administrative reason. While the latter is annoying, the former is the answer which implies unethical behavior.
    Imagine Bob Example knocks someone down. Now imagine two possible responses. “My bad, I tripped and couldn’t control my actions.” Or “my bad, I thought knocking you down was my choice to make.” Which answer makes Bob Example look worse?

  • evodevo

    Oh, and those white men who murdered the three civil rights workers in Mississippi were local police dept. members, a Baptist preacher and local businessmen. So much for the vaunted superiority of Christian morality.

  • LutherW

    Or 70 years after it did not happen.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Check your dictionary. It means the same thing.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Did the Christians ever believe in a God that didn’t hate education or science?

  • Savoy47

    Bambino Parmigiano is my favorite.

  • Kareem Jordan

    The truth doesn’t go your way, cover it up.
    Today’s religion in a nutshell.

  • houndies

    I watched about 40 mins and decided that when Zuckerman stood up to speak, Marshall either wasn’t listening, at all, to what Zuckerman was saying, or he heard a strange alien dialect and was left struggling to figure out how to respond. Nothing Marshall said made much sense at all. He totally skipped around Zuckerman’s point of the Treaty of Tripoli then proceeds to…..well, you all watched it too. It was just pitiful. No wonder the church didn’t want to release it.

  • Blacksheep

    In all of my personal, real-life experience in Christian circles, (all over the world), I have never experienced any of the “harsh judgmental punitive god who hates education, hates science, hates helping the needy.” I’m sure it’s because I avoid “certain places” – but the fact remains that I have never experienced any of those things, and I’m far from sheltered.

    In other words, if I base my opinion of Christians on firsthand experience only, and not on any second hand reports, news, or otherwise, I see a lot of caring, love, and community.

  • bananafaced

    Using scripture to defend or support scripture is LAME. Secular Humanism can be supported by many sources and Dr. Marshall seemed loathe to cite anything remarkable from other sources to support his POV on Christianity. I think Dr. Zuckerman gave a really good defense of Dr. Marshall’s POV as well as an insightful explanation of his own. Too bad that it was up to Dr. Zuckerman to argue for both sides.

  • Robert Nelson

    devil’s advocate here, maybe it’s just the bad technical qualities of the video that setted him off. “jeez we’ll look like amateurs.”

  • Jeff Mo

    I’ve met a large number of people who think that “my choice to make” or “my choice of what to believe” somehow equates to “my right to never have anyone critique those choices, or even comment that they believe differently.”

    In other words, some people are really too fragile to be stating their opinions publicly, since they can’t take even thoughtful and fair criticism.

  • Lauryn

    That’s happened before with FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. He’s done debates at campuses before and when FFRF asked for the video, they politely told us no way. Good job covering this!

  • Lost

    shake and bake

  • tbo

    The guy called and asked the Pastor about it and the Pastor defended his right to not post it. To claim, now, that he just was procrastinating is bullcrap. Thou shalt not lie or only when it’s convenient?

  • treedweller

    I feel like the knockout punch never came.

    When we share the table, we show respect for all beliefs while ensuring no one belief system dominates the others. We share in the wisdom of all our people instead of shutting out those who disagree with us. We recognize how much our moral codes overlap, and we also recognize where our personal morals may be better kept out of the legal system.

    The righteous arrogance of christians and their blindness to it are what make me so opposed to putting them in charge.

  • RowanVT

    You’re lucky then, to have been so very sheltered.

    I have plenty of relatives who are of that flavor of christianity. In fact, when I was 11 years old I overheard an aunt telling my grandmother that I was the daughter of Satan because after 3 days of playing with her 6 year old, home-schooled, socially-inept, spoiled son I wanted to read that day instead of play.

    I’ve encountered plenty of that flavor via street-preachers at the colleges I attended, or the on-campus groups who have literally chased me across campus trying to convert me.

    I’ve encountered some while camping, where one preacher the next campsite over told me that yes, people who were born after Jesus, but had no possible way of *ever* hearing about him (such as native americans before christians stumbled upon the americas) were burning in hell.

    Also, to experience the harsh, judgemental God yourself, all you need do is read the old testament. Reading genesis, deconverted me. Exodus and Job made me flee farther.

    I’ve encountered them in the form of clients at my job.

  • James

    I’m from Sweden and are amazed by the idiocy of mr. Marshall. He basically believes that Sweden will soon turn God’s wrath because we’re more secular. Not even one valid argument, only stories and hypothesis and the “communism”-argument. Can understand why they didn’t want to release this. As expected, secular humanism wins every time.

  • Ed Stokes

    Thank you for posting, Pastor.

    While you and I would not agree on much, your sharing this video suggests the sort of good faith we’d expect from someone who sincerely values a civil society.

  • wesvvv

    Stedman is a pastor, he controls the message in his community. This must have been a cold blast of reality to realize there is a larger community and it does not like to have someone controlling the message.

  • Kareem Jordan

    Having watched it I will say that he’s boring and predictable.
    Did you know communist regimes were really bad? Want to hear about it over and over again?

  • abb3w

    It might be that he had (conveniently) forgotten their promise to Zuckerman that the video would be made available.

  • GeraardSpergen

    And then why would you post scripted rebuttal videos to a video that you didn’t share?

  • Artor

    That still shows a pretty callous disregard for the sanctity of his given word.

  • PinheadX

    It’s definitely embarrasing for the camera operator. Way to totally mis-frame the shot.

  • Cyrus Palmer

    I can see why they would want to hide that video. Marshall was terrible, Zuckerman blew him out of the water.

  • Blacksheep

    Sorry to hear that. Like I said, I don’t think I’m sheltered. I live and work in a big city, I travel a lot (too much), I visit churches when I travel, I’ve been in third world mission situations – the only negativity I’ve experienced is via the media (certainly crazy stuff there, no doubt). I think I’m wondering how much negativity (on all sides) comes less from true, personal experience and more from news, hearsay, and plain old assumption.

    Hearing your stories though, I probably do filter out fringe crazies – but I do that with every group of people. I encountered disfunctional families as a kid who happened to be Christians, but their crazy home life had nothing to do with their faith, they were just odd people.

    I hear you on the OT – I think that’s why they referrred to the NT as “Good News.”

  • Cyrus Palmer

    Yeah, that was just strait up fear-mongering. He was overtly xenophobic as well.

  • Rich Wilson

    Uh, you know I’m not the pastor, right?

    You can think the Church here

  • islandbrewer

    “Good news! God v2.0 is nowhere near the raging psychopathic maniac that God v1.0 was! Woo!”

  • Rich Wilson

    Promise to Zuckerman and Marshall. Phil asked for it to be posted a while ago, and they just deleted his comments. It wasn’t until David Marshall also asked for it to be released that they finally did. Not sure what would have happened if David hadn’t also asked.

  • Rich Wilson

    So far I’ve heard a lot of atheists saying Phil won. I’d really like to know if someone from the other side really thinks it was that one sided, or if Phil even won.

    David is transcribing his parts, and I’m hoping to maybe do Phil’s. I’m interested in how the arguments would work presented in text rather than visually.

  • islandbrewer

    Erk, yeah. That was pretty bad. Fortunately, I’m more interested in just hearing the words.

  • possibly_maybe

    I was so disappointed by the closing speech of Dr. Marshall. Dr. Zuckerman has presented him with a barrage of pretty much undeniable and easy to check facts, and what does he do in response? Say an anecdote about a praying girl… I see no connection to the topic of the debate whatsoever. In fact, I had a feeling the whole time, that Marshall was somehow missing the point. His opening speech was probably the only time I felt like he was actually talking about the debate topic.

  • Jacqui H

    Comments are disabled on this video…. -_-

  • GF

    Exactly. When he started the crap about Communism I wanted to slap him in the face.

  • MineApostasy

    How does Dr Marshall call himself a historian when his knowledge of Communism is, frankly, laughably low?

    (Yes, Zuckerman did a fine job, but I wanted to bring something else to the table that — I don’t think — has shown up yet.)

  • Feminerd

    The NT that told women to sit down and shut up, and explicitly approved of slavery?

    That’s … not very good news.

  • Matt D

    I strongly suggest you try being an outsider for a few months (tell them you’ve decided to be a Muslim, for example), before you conclude communities are “caring and loving” as a result of Christianity.

  • Blacksheep

    Great question. I need to listen again more carefully, I was listening while working.

    Much of it in my opinion is rhetoric and phraseology (and presentation). For example, David says lots of things that I understand could sound annoying to an atheist, but if you reduced them to their essence, some are valid points. And Phil says many things that to a Christian are annoying, and could be considered mis-characterizations (for example labeling too many wars as religious when really they were not).

    My gut? The final analysys would be that Phil did a better job in the debate, but the transcript (if judged on intent and meaning, not style) would show a closer race (how close would depend upon who was judging it).

  • allein

    I didn’t watch it…and judging by the comments here, I think I’ll find something more productive to do with my time…

  • islandbrewer

    But, God is slightly less likely to kill you for no particular reason (or to win a bet, or to assuage his insecurity, etc.)! All he’s going to do is torture you forever for not believing in him.

    How is that not good news?

  • Blacksheep

    No, Same God, same rules, same judgement – but knowledge / enlightenment / a way to be free of any of it.

  • islandbrewer

    So, God is every bit as crappy and pathologically insane as he ever was? Well, that’s a bad sell.

    tl:dr, Yuck! No thanks!

  • islandbrewer

    *shrug* I doubt you’d hear anything new. You can find nearly every element of the arguments in the comments in FA. It was an entertaining performance, but if you’re not inclined, don’t bother.

  • houndies

    good thinkin

  • Blacksheep

    I never used those words.

    I don’t think anybody is trying to “sell” the OT – in fact most Christians struggle with it. people don’t become Christians because of the OT, they become Christians because of the Gospel of Christ. There were followers of Christ before any of the NT wes even written.

  • allein

    At most it would go on my list of “things to watch one of these days that I likely won’t ever get around to.”

  • islandbrewer

    I never claimed those were your words. That’s a plain reading of the deity of the old testament that you claim to worship.

    Frankly, more christians who believe the OT should be struggling with it. If they don’t come to either disbelieve the OT after being horrified, they aren’t really struggling with it.

  • Feminerd

    The eternal torture bit?

    I mean, the OT god is a fucking nightmare, but he lets you die at least. You can leave North Korea in the OT.

    The NT? Not so much. I honestly think the NT is far more immoral than the OT ever could be.

  • LeAtheistOrBust

    Le NATION WOOOO!!! /r/atheism ftw god isnt real this guy owned that fundie so hard, but I wish he wasnt so nice about it! If I was talking to that fundie fag I would have shown no mercy >:) Le reddit army, we should totes troll this fundie “Doctor”. Maybe rip out explicit pages from the bible and send them to his house or something fun like that. XD ahh I love being of higher intelligence and not some fundie sheep who believes a book that is like 2000 years old.. I mean COME ON, its the year 2013 here… lets grow up ok? wow religious people get me SO MAD >:{

  • islandbrewer

    But, but … they make Jesus sound like such a nice boy!

    Also, it reminds me of this:

  • Blacksheep

    I hear you. What I disagree with is the idea that something horrifying makes it untrue. (Not liking God vs not believing in God).
    This is probably a ridiculous analogy but it just occurred to me:
    In NYC in the 70′s, regular people saw only the garbage, the noise, the crime, the danger. But others thrived there – risked being mugged or stabbed – because they saw something in it that was stronger than all that stuff, something that fed their spirits and uplifted or inspired them. When an atheist points out an uncomfortable verse in the Bible, it kind of feels like my grandmother saying, “How can you live there?”

  • Feminerd

    Ah, we don’t use the Bible to argue that your god doesn’t exist. There’s lots of arguments for that based on logic and scientific evidence and lack of evidence for the supernatural.

    We use the Bible to argue that if your god exists, he is unworthy of worship because he is a violent, sadistic, misogynistic, homophobic, jealous, homicidal maniac.

  • Rich Wilson

    Lots of alcoholic abusive parents have their good days too. The problem comes when one rationalizes the bad behavior because the parent “can do no wrong”. Then abusive behavior becomes defined as love.

  • allein

    I’d venture that most people become [insert religion here] because their parents told them “this is how the world works.”

  • CottonBlimp

    We are talking about a religion in which the Original Sin is knowledge.

  • WingedBeast

    About 38 minutes in. Marshall’s first responding time he says “I didn’t know I was going to be asked to defend theocracy.”
    You’re defending the notion that Christianity (your religion, your theistic religion and therefore in broad terms your theology) as the basis of a society. In practical terms, that would mean your religion being the governing force upon the people of a society. That’s either implicit theocracy or explicit theocracy. There’s no way around that.
    The second time “I didn’t know I was going to be asked to defend Gnosticism”.
    Again, know what you’re talking about. You’re talking about all of society being governed by your claims to know that which is, at best, unknowable.
    I think herein lies the problem of a lot of these debates. The Christians are working from this very fuzzy understanding of reality in relation to their religion. Their assumptions are so axiomatic that they don’t even know they hold them until someone puts the debate in explicit terms and they suddenly realize “Hey, that person’s talking about a Gnostic Theocracy, but I’m only talking about a society governed by my knowledge of the unknowable truth of my theology.”
    At that point, you can either take a moment and consider or you can hold onto your position.
    With that in mind, I think Marshall did rather well for a question where the church itself really didn’t fully understand what it was asking. After all, secular humanism as the basis of a society does not require that people be forced away from their faith, but Christianity as the basis of a society does require that people be forced into Christianity, either explicitly or implicitly.

  • Guest

    Don’t use homophobic slurs, please.

    And we all get mad, but really, the answer is more discourse and education, not trolling that’ll backfire on us anyway.

  • WingedBeast

    I’m near the end, and Marshall’s arguing not that Secular Humanism is evil, but that it’s fuzzy and can’t be pinned down…
    But, that’s how Christianity maintains its popularity. On the one hand, it’s all fuzzy kindness, but somebody says “no, it’s not like that, it’s like this, where we’re manly and beholden to a strict set of rules” and somebody else responds with the standard NALT, but somebody else NALTs that.
    Heck, O’Reilly just did a book in which Jesus’s main moral objections were against taxation!
    Yes, Christianity is fuzzy because Christians claim to know a lot of things that contradict what other Christians claim to know. Secular Humanism is fuzzy, too, but because we admit we don’t know stuff.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Not that mysterious. Every weirdo with a theatrical manner can become a pastor with a flock.

  • Daniel Schealler

    I hit on that whole ‘I could represent your side better than you and I still think you’re wrong’ feeling so often when arguing with theists.

  • Steve Darnell

    This preacher’s apology is a load of crap. The previous article on this made it crystal clear that multiple promises had been made both verbally and in writing that the entire debate would be posted, no matter how it went for their side. Add in the multiple comments made on the church’s Vimeo page by Dr. Zuckerman pointing this out, and the only conclusion is this guy is a grade A douche who got caught and called out on his douchebaggery. He can shove his BS apology straight up the same orifice from which he pulled it.

  • Daniel Schealler

    41:00 ish: Is that how you pronounce ‘Medina’?

    My inner monologue has always pronounced it as med-ee-na. But now that I’ve heard it spoken in this video, I realize that I can’t remember hearing it spoken before. I could just be wrong.

  • Rich Wilson

    I didn’t notice at the time and can’t listen now, but according to wikipedia, you are correct mɛˈdiːnə

  • Daniel Schealler


    I suck at reading pronunciation guides. ^_^

  • Daniel Schealler

    Anyone else have a bad taste in their mouth at how David slipped in ‘abortion’ in with his lists of societal ills?

    Twice, from memory.

  • Q. Quine

    You need a policy of making them put up a deposit that they don’t get back until they hand over the video. Even if used as a bluff, it lets you know their intentions before you get involved.

  • Daniel Schealler

    I’d have thought a better idea would be to get permission to have someone along to record a copy for yourself, and state up front that you reserve the right to post it online afterwards.

    That way you have a copy of the original in the event that a dishonestly-edited version of the debate is posted. And if it’s never posted, then you can always post your own copy instead.

  • Q. Quine

    James, when I heard the false implication that the people of Sweden would still be tossing babies onto spears if not for Christians, I felt so ashamed that someone in my country would say something so cruel and stupid. People everywhere have learned more and more about living in civilization as the centuries have gone on. They have no evidence that Christianity or any other religion is necessary for said learning, and plenty of other societies show the contrary.

  • SoylentGrin

    “Bambino Parmigiano”
    Another great band name…

  • Azagthoth

    Wow… Dr Marshall seems incredibly ill prepared for this debate.

  • JA

    Damn, Dr. Zuckerman dismantled him…no wonder they didn’t want to post the video.

  • David Diskin

    Update: The video has been watched more than 18,000 times.

    That’s 10x the number of views that the church’s top-watched video had, which was their “Welcome” video posted three years ago.

    I think it’s safe to say that the debate wouldn’t have received the exposure that it did if they would have just quietly posted it as planned, and not withheld it for so long.

  • s.o.

    as it has been mentioned by pretty much everyone, the church who organized this “debate” (more of an intellectual beat-down, as one commenter put it) clearly expected the event to go differently than it did. but they made a few fatal mistakes. for one they underestimated zuckerman, and they overestimated marshall. for another, they don’t seem to understand what secular humanism really is (as zuckerman makes clear through the course of the debate). then, they tried to suppress the debate by not posting the video, and probably most damaging of all, decided to post the video after all, giving it WAY more exposure than they would have liked. these people clearly don’t know how to REALLY convert the masses.

    i wouldn’t call dr. zuckerman an expert debater, or even a champion of the atheist perspective (when i think of how this thing might have gone if dr. zuckerman’s opponent were matched against dawkins, or harris, or (shudder) the Hitch, i almost feel sorry for dr. marshall), zuckerman’s just a man who can take a stance and defend that stance, as any educated person should be able to.

    for those who didn’t watch the video, zuckerman started off by pointing out that the entire premise of the debate is flawed: “you’ve asked me here to argue why A is better than B, when my personal belief is that A CONTAINS B.” secular humanist values ARE christian values. why do we have to have a society that only embraces a value if we label it “christian?” “but hey,” he says, “you’ve invited me here to defend a position, so that’s what i’ll do. let’s play ball.” my impression is that zuckerman probably spent an afternoon forming his argument and answering the prepared questions; maybe an hour or two looking up statistics and facts to support his argument and some possible responses to possible questions…high school stuff. i have no idea how marshall prepared for this thing, because he wasn’t. as it has been said many times, it’s pretty understandable that the church wanted to suppress this thing. though because i’m biased, i enjoyed watching the whole thing.

    at the end of the day, says zuckerman, we should treat others the way we would like to be treated. as was said before, secular humanism totally agrees with the charity, love, and forgiveness that christians preach, but it’s the CHRISTIANS who divide us. christian and nonchristian, righteous and wicked, saved and unsaved–we’re ALL wicked, by the way, until we’re “saved.” why can’t we have the love, kindness, generosity, and understanding without all the “us vs. them”? without all the guilt, fear, shame, and hatred?

    in other words

    Marshall: “christians have done a lot of good in the world, so christianity, rather than secular humanism is a better foundation for civil society.”

    Zuckerman: “i completely agree that christianity has done a lot of good in the world, but why do we have to divide people between christian and nonchristian to have a civil society?”

    Marshall: “you know! the black girl who prayed for her abusers like jesus did! Rudy! I mean Ruby!”

    Zuckerman: “thanks for inviting me to your debate”

  • Stan Juan

    Meaning if you are are one of Faith,,,,,, or otherwise? Yea,,, I thought thats what you ment.