Craig/Harris Debate: If You Were Scoring Points Craig Won, But Harris Clearly Had the Better Arguments

I was in the audience and it was quite the debate. Unlike watching online debates I could see each man while the other one was talking. Sam stared at his computer while Craig was talking, sometimes smiling and typing, and Craig would sometimes look puzzled at what Sam was saying.

The audio of the debate can be found here. Someone took notes on the debate which can be found here.

This debate was very instructive to me, and that's what debates should be for us. Bill has once again showed himself as the best debater of this generation, that's for sure. He had a great opening statement and kept coming back to it in his rebuttals, assessing what Sam might might have said against it, pointing out when Sam didn't answer him, and if he did, why he was wrong. Bill was out to score points. That's what he was taught in his High School debate team. Score points. If a debate judge was doing that, then she would add up the arguments and the counter arguments and this would tell her who won. On a points basis Craig won. This is what Christians are probably crowing about. I talked to a guy named Phillip, who has commented here before, who said Craig won and I suspect it's because of this.

But Sam's arguments were clearly better even if he didn't answer everything Bill said, by far. So Sam did what any debater against Craig should do, put out on the table some serious objections for Christians who would never read his books. He did that most emphatically. That's why debates are important even if a debate judge might score on Bill's behalf. And he was funny! Joseph highlighted some of the best things Sam said.

Afterward I talked to Bill and said that "the best anyone can do against you is to break even." Bill smiled and said "that's what a good debate is supposed to be like, if both people are prepared." I also said, "it's hard for me to think you really believe this stuff," and that I wanted to debate him. He said he knows but that "it just wouldn't be appropriate for me to debate a former student." Then he added, "I still have hopes for you." I laughed. I really did! "You really think so?" "Yes I do," he replied. "Then debate me to prove me wrong," I retorted. He said, "that's not what a debate does." So I replied, "Well, someone might want to sponsor us to debate because people want to see it." And he smiled. I told him about my Outsider Test and how that undermines his religious faith. He said he has not read my books.

Then I talked to Sam who said he has heard of me. I told him Bill's arguments were irrelevant and he laughed in agreement. I said it's irrelevant to argue God is the source of morality since we need to know which god; Zeus, Thor, Odin, or Allah? I said to him he did a great job answering Bill with regard to the Taliban. And the other reason Bill's arguments are irrelevant was because having God as the ontological source of morality does not tell us which morality. I told Sam he did a great job pointing this out too. He was pleased. I told him he did a wonderful job, and he did.

As an aside, biblical scholar Thom Stark has told me that Paul Copan's book Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament, the one Bill held up in the debate, "is the worst apologetics book I have ever read." And he plans on doing a review of it. Watch for it.

Thanks to Justin Kowalski for the free tickets. Chris Hallquist and I had a good time with this. Chris is now in neuroscience studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.


Anonymous said...

Dude, wake up! Listen to the debate again, if you must: Craig's position is much more logically-consistent. Even if you don't believe in God, you have to admit that there is no basis for objective morality in the natural world. Craig didn't just handle Harris from the standpoint of form and rhetoric, he exposed flaws in Harris's position that any intellectually-honest person should acknowledge. I sincerely hope that you will give more serious consideration to Craig's arguments against Harris's position, even if you reject the position that Craig advocates.