On April 3, 1998, Christian philosopher William Lane Craig debated Oxford chemist Peter W. Atkins (pictured at right) on the existence of God at the chapel of the Carter Presidential Center in Craig’s hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. According to one of the Christian organizers of the event, former President Carter had shown interest in introducing the debaters, but was out of the country at the time. William F. Buckley, Jr., of “Firing Line” fame, served as the moderator.
The Craig-Atkins debate was undoubtedly the most heavily publicized debate of its kind in recent memory. In addition to the 400 in attendance at the Carter Presidential Center chapel itself, the debate was broadcast via satellite and via RealAudio over the Internet. More than 6 churches and 40 colleges and universities in the United States carried the satellite feed live. According to Bruce Gammill of Pure Vision Ministries (the organization which provided the live Internet audio feed of the debate), more than 2,000 people listened to the debate over the Internet using Real Audio software. The debate made the national newspapers in the UK.
The Atkins debate was one of Craig’s more heavily publicized debates in a long line of debates with influential atheists, agnostics, and other nonChristians. Some of Craig’s other past debating opponents have included (in no particular order) Antony Flew, Quentin Smith, Michael Tooley, Paul Draper, Jan Narveson, Theodore Drange, Doug Jesseph, Corey Washington, Keith Parsons, Gerd Lüdemann, John Dominic Crossan, and Frank Zindler. In this article, I shall describe some of the tactics Craig uses in his oral debates. I will then offer solutions which I believe will help provide future debating opponents with a level playing field.
I. Craig’s Debating Tactics
A. Craig’s debates are typically sponsored exclusively by Christian individuals and organizations.
The recent Craig-Atkins Debate is a perfect example of this. The debate was sponsored by the Faith and Science Lecture Forum (FSLF), an Atlanta-based Christian ministry “composed of concerned Christian faculty who collectively share a desire to see the Christian world-view clearly articulated on Atlanta’s University campuses.” According to a statement by FLSF, the ministry was formed “because humanism and other atheistic perspectives predominate on most undergraduate campuses, many students who may otherwise respond to the truth of the Gospel never receive the opportunity to hear a rigorous and academic examination of the Christian worldview.” Mr. James Lientz, President of Nations Bank, and Mr. William O. Goodwin, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, were listed among the financial supporters of the debate and, presumably, FSLF itself.
Although the debate was the product of the joint efforts of Craig and Atkins, critics noted that FSLF was given exclusive rights to market audio and videotapes of the debate. According to Edward Tabash, who is scheduled to debate Craig in February 1999 at Pepperdine University and is CFI-West Director, “Every debate is the joint work product of each debater. It should be self evident that each one should then have equal rights to market the record of the debate. This is elementary fairness.”
FSLF also published a combination “Recommended Reading List” and catalogue, a one-sided list of titles by Christian apologists and philosophers. Buyers were instructed to make checks payable to “Buckhead Community Church.”
B. Craig’s opponents are chosen based upon criteria that have little to do with the quality of defense one can expect them to offer against a professional philosopher and speaker.
Consider just one example in which an atheist was deemed worthy of debating Craig: the selection of Professor Atkins. Why was Atkins chosen to debate Craig? (In asking this question, I am not in any criticizing Atkins qualifications to debate theism; rather, I am highlighting an inconsistency in Craig’s policy on who he will debate.) To my knowledge, Atkins was not recommended by any freethought organization, is not the leader of a freethought organization, does not have years of debating experience, and does not have any degrees in philosophy or religion. What made Dr. Atkins “worthy” of debating Craig is the fact he is a world-renown scientist who is a highly outspoken critic of religion.
Yet compare that example with an instance in which a prominent atheist was deemed unworthy of debating Craig. In early March, Craig was supposed to have debated an atheist on the existence of God at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Unlike the Atlanta organizers, the Knoxville organizers contacted a nontheist organization, Internet Infidels, to recommend an opponent for Craig. Internet Infidels recommended Doug Krueger, an up-and-coming atheist philosopher who has participated in three previous debates on the existence of God, reviewed A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism by Ravi Zacharias, and has authored the just-published book, What Is Atheism?. Craig refused to debate Krueger, on the grounds that Krueger did not yet have his Ph.D. (Krueger is a graduate student of philosophy at the University of Arkansas.) “In a few years Doug will have his degree, and then we’ll have a debate,” wrote Craig in his refusal letter.
In response, Krueger said, “Apparently he thinks that I wouldn’t know much about the issue and that I’d just ramble or rant and rave. And yet he eagerly debates other folks who are not trained in philosophy at all. … Surely some training in philosophy of religion or theology should be a requisite.” Krueger went on to point out that, in a highly publicized 1993 debate on the existence of God, Craig debated a biologist, Frank Zindler, who does not have a Ph.D., even in biology. “The Zindler debate is the most widely advertised of Craig’s debates. I’ve seen it advertised in Christian catalogs, and I’ve seen it in Christian bookstores. Craig had no problem agreeing to debate Zindler even though he does not have a Ph.D.”
Moreover, as Mark Smith, an atheist with college debating experience, points out, if Craig is concerned about the academic credentials of his oral debating opponents, he should also be just as concerned about their speaking skills. According to Smith, “To be good at debating one needs years of training and practice. Would anyone hire a chemistry professor to build a house?” Or as Krueger asks, “What biologist would put a concert pianist up on stage to defend evolution? What mathematician would give an English teacher the job of lecturing on the four color map problem? Of course, there are experts in more than one field, and I’m sure that some English teachers would do a better job than some math teachers, but wouldn’t the math field be a more likely area to get experts in that area? Wouldn’t philosophy be a more likely field from which to recruit people to speak on philosophical issues, such as god’s existence?”
Regrettably, speaking experience is something that is rarely, if ever, addressed by a moderator when introducing debaters. And in an oral debate, a speaker’s speech and debate experience is surely just as important as a speaker’s academic background in the topic of the debate. Craig has eight years of high school and college debate experience and, to my knowledge, he has been debating non-Christians since at least 1991. Craig’s debating opponents, on the other hand, generally lack such experience. But since this fact is never pointed out, audience members generally assume that if a person has considerable “book knowledge,” that they are qualified to participate in an oral debate. As Krueger points out, “The audience, I’m sure, [was] under the impression that Craig’s opponent [was] the best one, or one of the best ones, that the atheists could find.”
C. Craig insists on debate topics and formats which are inherently biased towards theism.
Consider, as an example, the format of the Craig-Atkins Debate:
- Introduction of William F. Buckley, moderator, by Dr. James Tumlin, FSLF Director
- Dr. Craig’s Opening Statement (18 minutes)
- Dr. Atkins’ Opening Statement (18 minutes)
- Dr. Craig’s First Rebuttal (9 minutes)
- Dr. Atkins’ First Rebuttal (9 minutes)
- “Interview” by William Buckley (30 minutes)
- Dr. Craig’s Closing Statement (7 minutes)
- Dr. Atkins’ Closing Statement (7 minutes)
- Question and Answer Period (30 minutes)
- Concluding Remarks by William Buckley
Again, critics were quick to point out the inherent bias of the debate format. On the one hand, the debate format was structured in advance to allow Craig to speak first. The first speaker was not determined by the random flip of a coin toss; FSLF by mere fiat allowed Craig to speak first. This gave Craig a significant advantage: Craig did not have to use any of his speaking time in his opening statement to refute Atkins’s position (since Atkins had not yet stated his position); in contrast, Atkins was expected to both refute Craig’s case and present a case of his own.
Yet on the other hand, the debate topic was, “What is the evidence for or against the existence of God?” Thus, the Craig-Atkins Debate was really structured as two debates in one: one debate about Christian theism and one debate about atheism.
Herein lies the problem. If the second speaker is supposed to present an affirmative case as well as refute the first speaker’s affirmative case, then the debate format has to be structured in such a way as to allow the second speaker sufficient time to accomplish both tasks. In order to be fair, the second speaker’s opening speech must be at least 1.5 times the length of the first speaker’s opening speech. Otherwise, the second speaker will simply not have enough time to adequately present their own case, while rebutting the first speaker’s case.
This is why interscholastic and intercollegiate debate rules — which are generally considered to be fair and equitable to all sides — force debaters to debate resolutions (e.g., “Resolved: That the US Government should significantly increase space exploration”) and then require debaters to alternate between having to affirm or deny a resolution. If Craig wants to insist that his opponents should have to make a positive case of their own, then he should either 1) allow the second speaker in a debate to have an opening speech 1.5 times as long as the first speaker, or 2) insist on having two separate debates with his opponent. The topic for one debate could be, “Resolved: That the Christian god exists”, and the topic for the other debate could be, “Resolved: That the Christian god does not exist.” Since there are good arguments for the non-existence of that particular god, atheist debaters should have no problem with such an arrangement.
A few years ago, atheist philosopher Michael Tooley at the University of Colorado had a similar idea. The main difference between Tooley’s proposal and mine is that Tooley simply requested to shift speaking time from a later speech to his first speech; I am proposing giving the second speaker additional speaking time in debates in which the topic is a question and not a resolution. Yet Craig did not find Tooley’s more modest proposal acceptable; Craig refused Tooley’s request.
A further problem with the structure of the Craig-Atkins Debate in particular was that the “moderator,” William F. Buckley, Jr., did not primarily act as a moderator but instead a second debater for theism. (This should come as no surprise to readers who witnessed the recent “Firing Line” debate on evolution vs. creationism.) Indeed, at one point Buckley even admitted that he was partial to Craig! Immediately prior to Craig’s concluding statement, Buckley said sarcastically, “I wish you the best of luck Dr. Atkins because I’m impartial.” During the thirty minute “interview” segment of the debate, Atkins struggled to finish his answer to a question before Craig and Buckley would interrupt him. And Buckley’s closing remarks, when not incoherent, were largely biased in favor of theism. Referring to his own book about God, Buckley said, “I do not know if it is a part of the faith of atheism to admit the possibility of a god,” as if the belief that “God does not exist” logically entails that God’s existence is impossible.
D. Craig Uses Every Rhetorical Trick in the Book
True to form, Craig gives largely the same opening statement in every debate on the existence of God. Rather than repeat the refutations of Craig’s arguments available elsewhere, in this article I want to highlight some of Craig’s rhetorical techniques. Although they are, in a strict logical sense, fallacious, I think it will help readers to understand why Craig’s oral debates are so powerful in the ears of a lay audience. Let me present just three examples:
1. Craig relies heavily on soundbites or slogans to make his point. Incredibly, Craig has a tendency to do this even in peer-reviewed journals, causing some of his peers to take issue. For example, Graham Oppy, an agnostic philosopher at Monash University in Australia, has noted Craig’s “tendency to use slogans–such as ‘nothing comes from nothing’–as rhetorical substitutes for arguments, e.g. against the view that there could be things which come to be despite the absence of any prior physically necessary or physically sufficient conditions for their coming to be.” Oppy also correctly notes that “many non-theists would object to the idea that their position can be encapsulated in the slogan that ‘being arises out of absolute non-being.'”
2. Craig relies heavily on appeals to authority. For example, although Craig has given numerous arguments for the historicity of the Resurrection in scholarly publications, Craig does not even appeal to such arguments in his oral debates. Instead, he appeals to what he calls a “consensus” of “New Testament critics.” Yet as New testament scholar Robert M. Price notes, “It is telling that Craig wants to justify his use of the appeal to consensus. And in doing so, he appeals to a false analogy. In a court of Law, or in the certification of doctors, lawyers, etc., we may have to go with the verdict of the majority since we have not the leisure to master the subject ourselves. This, in turn, is because we do not have all the time in the world before we must return a verdict, choose a surgeon, etc. We have to make a choice, and the voice of the consensus tips the balance. But it only seems to us that we must take the word of the mass in biblical discussions if we think that here, too, the decision is a matter of practical, even life-or-death choice, and this is not the case in an intellectual consideration of complex issues.”
3. Craig relies heavily on appeals to intuition. Craig himself advises fellow apologists to strengthen their cases by “appealing to facts which are widely accepted or to intuitions that are commonly shared (common sense).” For example, in commenting upon the first premise of the kalam cosmological argument, that “whatever begins to exist has a cause,” Craig writes, “[this] step is so intuitively obvious that I think scarcely anyone could sincerely believe it to be false. I therefore think it somewhat unwise to argue in favor of it, for any proof of the principle is likely to be less obvious than the principle itself.” Yet as Christian philosopher Wes Morriston notes, “[a] problem with the appeal to ‘metaphysical intuition’ is that different intuitions pull us in different directions. Some may support the traditional theistic picture of creation, but others don’t. In particular, I think that creation out of nothing is just as counterintuitive as is beginning to exist without a cause. Craig can perhaps not unreasonably be accused of emphasizing intuitions that support the picture of creation he wishes to defend, and neglecting those that don’t.”
E. Craig Delivers Arguments in Rapid-Fire Fashion
Presumably, Craig carefully words his arguments so as to consume as little of his speaking time as possible, thereby allowing him to make the maximum number of points possible in any given speech. This, in combination with Craig’s insistence on speaking first, allows him to overwhelm his opponents with several arguments. Inevitably, his opponents, who generally lack debating experience, will spend too much time addressing some points while neglecting others. This allows Craig to make comments in his rebuttals like, “my opponent hasn’t said anything about that argument yet,” implying that his opponent is unable to respond when they probably simply ran out of time instead.
II. Suggestions for Leveling the Playing Field
Sadly, nontheists have allowed themselves to be placed on the defensive. We are reactive instead of proactive. We have let theists get away with not only setting the agendas in debates, but we have let them set the topics and the events themselves.
Second, for nonbelievers, the stakes are not nearly as high as they are for believers. By persuading someone to lack theistic belief, we are not winning them eternal joy or saving them from eternal damnation. Yet, nonetheless, I believe that nonbelievers have more than ample justification for promoting rational nonbelief. Even in a negative sense, the existence of God has enormous implications for a number of issues, including religion and politics, sexuality, and women’s rights. Granted, there are many theists who agree with nonbelievers on these and other political/ethical issues, and if they constituted the majority of theists, I would not be nearly as motivated to promote nonbelief as I am. But, regrettably, this is not the case. Many more theists (mainly conservatives) disagree with nonbelievers on important political and ethical issues, and they want to impose their views on everyone else. For that reason alone, nontheists are more than justified in campaigning for nonbelief.
Third, many nonbelievers do not want to give theistic claims added credibility, which they fear would happen if they started taking them seriously. Although I am sensitive to this concern, in my opinion it is wrong-headed: if anything, the lack of public, scholarly criticism of a belief is probably partly responsible for popular acceptance of that belief. The unwillingness to rebut a popular belief is often interpreted as the inability to refute that belief, in turn contributing to even wider acceptance.
Fourth, some nonbelievers oppose the idea of hiring a full-time hired gun on the basis that it constitutes “religion bashing”, which they want no part of. Yet there is a difference between scholarly criticism of religious beliefs and juvenile ridicule. I am proposing hiring someone who engages in the former practice, not the latter. Indeed, making scholarly critiques of religious beliefs is a responsibility of well-educated nontheists; those who fail to uphold this responsibility commit what Old Testament scholar Gerald Larue calls the “sin of silence”.
Fifth, many nonbelievers believe that it is simply “wrong” to hire someone full-time to defend nonbelievers, as Campus Crusade for Christ has hired Craig. However, I see nothing wrong with opposing sides giving scholarly defenses of their positions. What is wrong is the practice of relying upon dishonest or misleading tactics in order to win converts. But, again, I am not proposing that nonbelievers engage in such tactics.
If activities like debating theists are a productive use of time, then nontheists need to become much more aggressive about engaging in such activities. The old cliché is true: the best defense is a good offense.
A. Nontheist organizations need to fund a “hired gun.”
Although Craig has both a Ph.D. and a Th.D. and is listed as a research professor at Talbot School of Theology, to my knowledge Craig is able to work full-time as a speaker and a writer, travelling around the country debating nontheists and appearing at professional conferences. In contrast, nontheist philosophers rarely engage in oral debates; when they do, they are forced to prepare and rehearse during their spare time. The upshot is that Craig has participated in literally dozens of debates — honing his skills each time — against people who will probably only participate in, at most, a handful of debates in their entire careers.
Prior to his recent debate with Craig over the topic, “Why I am/am not a Christian“, I spoke with Keith Parsons, a philosopher at the University of Houston at Clear Lake and President of the Society of Humanist Philosophers. According to Parsons, “I’ve conscientiously prepared, but I’ve had to do so while teaching three classes, attending faculty meetings, revising a manuscript for publication, attending committee meetings, etc. Debating Craig is not part of my job description and probably will do nothing to help me get tenure. The same holds for all the other philosophers who debate Craig–we’re doing part time what he does for a living. The upshot is that until and unless atheists have a full time Hired Gun like Craig, we cannot expect consistently excellent results in these debates. In fact, I think some of the debaters have done very well considering their many other commitments.”
Clearly, such an enterprise would not be cheap. But if having a full-time, professional debater is important to nontheists, then they need to put their money where their mouth is. If one organization is unable to raise the money alone, then several organizations should be willing to pool their money together and collectively support the debater. Internet Infidels, Inc. would be perfectly willing to support such a collective endeavor, and we hope that other organizations feel the same way. Of course, a joint effort would raise all sorts of logistical questions (e.g., how would the debater be chosen?), but hopefully the parties involved could come to some sort of agreement.
B. Nontheists need to organize more debates.
We need to be more proactive and to start organizing debates ourselves. I see the Campus Freethought Alliance (CFA) as a driving factor here. With contacts at more than 200 colleges and universities, CFA is uniquely situated and organized to help organize debates.
C. Nontheists should not enter into any agreement to debate without consulting an attorney first.
Regrettably, even though any given debate between Craig and a nontheist is the joint product of both debaters, Craig often manages to get exclusive rights to the debate! Christians have exclusive rights to distribute tapes of Craig’s debates with Antony Flew (shown at right with Craig), Frank Zindler, Theodore Drange, Peter Atkins, and Keith Parsons. Moreover, I was recently informed by Doug Krueger that tapes of the Craig-Zindler Debate were “carefully packaged with the extra arguments to damage Zindler’s case, in effect allowing Craig an extra segment to argue against Zindler. Zindler was not given the opportunity to similarly add post-debate arguments. Indeed, until I told Zindler (about 18 months ago) about the little booklet packaged with the debate, he was entirely unaware of its existence. This is surely unfair to Zindler.” Indeed.
In order to protect against this and other possibilities, prospective nontheistic debaters should consult an attorney to ensure that the arrangements are fair and equitable to both sides. Beverly Hills attorney and CFI-West Director Edward Tabash has stated his willingness to provide pro bono legal representation for prospective debaters, and I enthusiastically recommend his services.
D. Nontheists should not multiply controversies in a debate beyond necessity.
Atheism, agnosticism, and secular humanism are controversial enough. So it never ceases to amaze me when an atheist or agnostic will introduce additional controversial issues totally unnecessary to the debate. Consider the following examples:
- In one debate, the atheist debater’s response to Craig’s argument for the Resurrection was that Jesus did not exist. Whether you happen to agree with that claim is irrelevant; from a debate strategy perspective it is simply unwise to use “Jesus didn’t exist!” as a response to the Resurrection because 1) most people consider the notion of a completely legendary Jesus absurd; and 2) one need not deny the historicity of Jesus in order to deny the historicity of Jesus’ alleged resurrection. In other words, one need not deny that there was a man named Jesus in order to deny that that man was resurrected from the dead. The idea of a historical Jesus does not have a low prior probability whereas the idea of a resurrected Jesus does; moreover, there is good, extra-biblical evidence for the historicity of Jesus whereas there is no extra-biblical evidence for the Resurrection. There is simply no reason for nontheistic debaters forcing a lay audience to choose between a totally legendary Jesus and a resurrected Christ; there are other plausible possibilities.
- At least one of Craig’s past debating opponents came across as a proponent of scientism, the belief that the scientific method is the best or the only way of knowing something. Yet even if scientism were true, there is no need to appeal to scientism in order to defend an atheist or agnostic position in a debate on the existence of God. The general public already believes that nontheists apply hyper-critical standards of logic to theistic arguments, standards that they would never apply in their daily lives. Why fuel that misconception by campaigning for scientism?
- Finally, I have noticed that several atheist debaters actually say that “theism is irrational” in a debate. The rationality of theistic belief is irrelevant to the existence of God; it is quite possible that a theist could be rational in believing that God exists and yet the belief that God exists could be false. Moreover, since presumably a large portion of the audience is composed of theists, this does not strike me as a good debate tactic. To say that a god does not exist is one thing; to say that belief in the existence of a god is irrational is to personally insult a large portion of the audience.
Craig is both a creationist and an inerrantist, although one would never know this by listening to his oral debates. The reason Craig does not make inerrancy or creationism an issue in his debates is because, in his own words, his “strategy of evangelism is that we should make the non-Christian jump through as few hoops as possible in order to become a Christian.” I think that nontheists should learn from Craig’s example and apply the principle of “not multiplying controversies in a debate beyond necessity.”
E. Nontheists need to make a positive case of their own.
When the subject of debate is the existence of a falsifiable god, especially the existence of the Christian god, I believe that nontheists should make a positive case of their own. Even if negative existential claims should win by default, presenting a positive case for one’s own position is much stronger rhetorically than simply critiquing the other side’s case.
Although I have focused upon Craig in this article, Craig is just one of many religious apologists who campaign full-time for theism. Any opposition to such a campaign, if it is to be effective, must be full-time opposition. I believe the time for that full-time opposition has come.
 David Sapsted, “God and Science Slug It Out on Internet” Daily Telegraph April 6, 1998 spotted at <URL:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/> on April 6, 1998.
 I have contacted the Atlanta Freethought Society, as well as American Atheists, American Humanist Association, the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Neither these groups, nor Internet Infidels, were consulted during the process of selecting a debating opponent for Craig’s Carter Presidential Center debate.
 On the former, see Doug Krueger, “That Colossal Wreck” (<URL:http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/doug_krueger/colossal.html>, 1997) for the review of A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism by Ravi Zacharias. On the latter, see What Is Atheism? (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1998).
 Craig, William Lane and Frank Zindler. “Atheism vs. Christianity: Where Does the Evidence Point?” (1991). Advertisement spotted at <URL:http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/menus/resources.html> on April 3, 1998.
 See, for example, Theodore Drange, Nonbelief and Evil: Two Atheological Arguments (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1998).
 See <URL:http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/craig-tooley0.html> spotted on April 3, 1998.
 The Secular Web maintains a comprehensive listing of on-line resources which refute Craig’s arguments. See <URL:http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theism/christianity/craig.html>.
 Graham Oppy, “Review of THEISM, ATHEISM, AND BIG BANG COSMOLOGY” Faith and Philosophy 13 (1996): 129.
 Graham Oppy, “Professor William Craig’s Criticisms of Critiques of Kalam Cosmological Arguments By Paul Davies, Stephen Hawking, And Adolf Grünbaum” Faith and Philosophy 12 (1995): 241.
 William Lane Craig, “Opening Statement” The Craig-Washington Debate: Does God Exist? (<URL:http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/washdeba-craig1.html, 1995).
 Robert M. Price, “By This Time He Stinketh: The Attempts of William Lane Craig to Exhume Jesus” (<URL:http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/robert_price/stinketh.html>, 1997).
 William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith (Rev. ed., Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994), p. 45.
 Wes Morriston, “Is God in Time Prior to Creation?: A Critique of the kalam Argument” (<URL:http://stripe.colorado.edu/~morristo/kalam_wes.html>, n.d.).
 Edward T. Babinski, ed., Leaving the Fold: Testimonies of Former Fundamentalists (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus, 1994).
 See <URL:http://www.infidels.org/library/magazines/tsr/>. For a complimentary one-year subscription, write Farrell Till at PO Box 717, Canton, IL 61520-0717 or via e-mail at <email@example.com>.
 See <URL:http://www.infidels.org/infidels/feedback/>.
 Quentin Smith, “The Craig-Smith Debate” Internet Infidels Newsletter July 1996. See <URL:http://www.infidels.org/infidels/newsletter/1996/july.html#craig>.
 It is interesting to note a double-standard held by many nontheists on this point: they expect liberal theologians to make the results of critical Biblical scholarship available to the lay public, yet they resist efforts (by nontheists) to make nontheistic information more accessible to the general public via participation in debates. See Gerald Larue, “When Clergy Commit the Sin of Silence: Educated Pastors Know A Secret, But They Are Not Telling Their Parishioners” Free Inquiry, Volume 18, Number 3. (By referencing Larue’s article, I am not suggesting that he is one of the nontheists who hold this double-standard.)
 Elsewhere, I have argued that the Testimonium Flavianum contains an authentic core which referred to Jesus. See my “Josh McDowell’s ‘Evidence’ for Jesus — Is It Reliable?“, 1997.