Again? Phil Zuckerman wins debate with Christian, church refuses to post video

Sound familiar? Phil Zuckerman, a professor of sociology at Pitzer College in Claremont, CA, who studies the geography and sociology of atheism (he wrote Faith No More: Why People Reject Religion, Atheism and Secularity, and Society Without God), is asked to debate Christian author David Marshall at Adventure Christian Church in Sacramento.

The topic: “What provides a better foundation for civil society, Christianity or Secular Humanism?” Zuckerman, of course, took the secularist stand.

The preparation was arduous: months of work for everyone. And, as Zuckerman reports at PuffHo, everything was in order. They had agreed to film the debate and post it on Vimeo, and even provided the speakers with nice noms.

But then the unexpected happened: Zuckerman won.

You can imagine what happened next. As he reports:

And so we had the debate. And I won. Now, that’s not my opinion — its the opinion of Adventure Christian church, because they now refuse to post the video on-line.

Instead, what they’ve done is post a series of rebuttals to the debate — refutations and criticisms. But they won’t post the actual debate. And they’ve disabled my ability to even comment on their posted refutations.

When I called pastor Bryan, 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.”

Shades of John Haught! Except his excuse was that he didn’t want to subject the viewers to the odious spectacle of me saying bad things about Catholicism.  And, like me in the Kentucky affair, Zuckerman was blindsided:

I was actually quite stunned by Adventure Church’s not keeping their word and being so cowardly. And I shared my dismay with my friends, family and students. But then, yesterday, one of my students came up to me and said, “I’m stunned that you’re so stunned.”

“What do you mean?” I replied. “They were such nice people. And they repeatedly assured me that the debate would be put up on vimeo. Now they won’t do it.”

“Clearly you don’t know a lot of Evangelicals,” she replied. “Sure, they’re very nice. But if you say anything that goes against their party line, you’re out. They can’t handle debate, they can’t handle real dialogue. It doesn’t surprise me at all that they won’t show the video.”

This is why this form of Christianity is inimical to democracy. I can’t imagine Zuckerman, myself, or any other debating atheist refusing to allow the debate to be aired—no matter how bad our performance was.

Imagine what these Christians would do if they turned America into the theocracy they want!

They are indeed afraid to air the underling truth of my position: that no civil society can thrive if it does not exist upon a bedrock of democracy, and democracy is not a Christian value — it is not articulated anywhere in the Gospels, nor is it promulgated, in any way, by Jesus or Paul. Rather, democracy is a secular humanist ideal — something dreamed up and established by and for people.

Over at his website, Christ the Tao, Marshall gives his own interpretation. While admitting that the church agreed to post the debate, he disputes Zuckerman’s interpretation, and even claims that he (Marshall) had the better argument. Note as well that he uses the Haught Evasion: maybe the video was deep-sixed because Zuckerman was too nasty to faith!

[Zuckerman; And so we had the debate. And I won. Now, that’s not my opinion — its the opinion of Adventure Christian church, because they now refuse to post the video on-line.]

[Marshall]: First, I’m not sure that’s the correct explanation for their peculiar actions.  It may be that they didn’t feel I supported their theological views as well as they expected.  It may also be that while both sides offered some good arguments — as both sides did, though I think I had the better ones — the pastors felt that something Phil said might somehow undercut the faith of some listening.  Which seems kind of lame to me, especially since the next morning I preached on boldly and fearlessly engaging with the world.  (“Step out of the boat!”)

But even if the senior pastor thought Phil had the better of the argument, of course it would not make it so.  There are people who always see their own side as winning, and even vote for, say, Alex Rosenberg over William Lane Craig, or think Romney did well in his second debate.  But there are also people in whose eyes opposing arguments loom large, and there are lots of other people who just aren’t qualified to judge.

Honestly, I don’t think anyone who believed Phil wiped up the floor with me in terms of arguments, understood what was going on.  Phil didn’t even attempt to answer most of my main arguments.  And they weren’t exercises in trivia.

Let’s hope the unadventurous Adventure Church finally gets some guts and posts the debate. For right now they’re looking pretty stupid—and pusillanimous.

79 Comments

  1. gbjames
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Dishonest Evangelicals? Who knew?

    Moral of story: Bring your own video team!

    • Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, good point GBJ. Zuckerman should have had a backup video to make sure that the church was held to its commitments. Indeed, he should have received a copy immediately, and that should have been part of the deal.

      • Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

        And I am, by the say, surprised. Of course, I don’t know evangelicals very well. The Anglican ones that I know would not be dishonest in this way. I’m not sure, though, that they would have offered to debate, either.

        • Posted October 23, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

          The ones I know make a point of being evasive, and they don’t see that as being dishonest.

    • gluonspring
      Posted October 23, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      That should be rule 1: bring your own video team (if only a friend with an iPhone). Seriously, they can’t be trusted, ever. And if you are surprised by this you need to get out more.

      Evangelicals can justify any kind of mendacity with the thought that their lies will save someone’s faith (which is their euphemism for keeping them from being burned forever and ever in a lake of fire by their loving god, which they’ve learned not to say out loud too often). Once you buy into the absurd stakes they think the world operates on then everything in this finite world becomes merely tactical fodder relative to the goal of keeping themselves and others out of hell. This is how burnings at the stake were justified, after all: it was all for the better, maybe even the better of the burned, because they might repent and only burn for awhile and not forever.

      • Posted October 23, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

        That’s something that Eusebius got from Plato.

        From Praeparatio Evangelica, Book 12:

        XXXI. That it will be necessary sometimes to use falsehood as a remedy for the benefit of those who require such a mode of treatment

        [PLATO] 100 ‘But even if the case were not such as our argument has now proved it to be, if a lawgiver, who is to be of ever so little use, could have ventured to tell any falsehood at all to the young for their good, is there any falsehood that he could have told more beneficial than this, and better able to make them all do everything that is just, not by compulsion but willingly?

        ‘Truth, O Stranger, is a noble and an enduring thing; it seems, however, not easy to persuade men of it.’

        Now you may find in the Hebrew Scriptures also thousands of such passages concerning God as though He were jealous, or sleeping, or angry, or subject to any other human passions, which passages are adopted for the benefit of those who need this mode of instruction.

        And, of course, as you indicate, it was also Torquemada’s favorite interpretation of the Golden Rule. To be fair, it’s a perfectly valid interpretation of the Golden Rule…which is why it is insufficient unto itself and must ever be held secondary to a prohibition on doing unto others what they don’t want to have done unto them.

        Cheers,

        b&

        • domy
          Posted October 24, 2013 at 4:36 am | Permalink

          from the site you linked:
          “The Praeparatio is perhaps best known from a narrow-minded attempt by Edward Gibbon in his Vindication to use it to ‘prove’ that Eusebius advocated deceit. The smear needs little discussion here. While Gibbon would like us to believe that Eusebius is really saying in book 12, chapter 31 that the bible is a lie so deceit is fine, some will feel that instead that it is simply part of his theme that the bible contains narrative fiction in order to get conceptually difficult truths into the uneducated. The reader is invited to read all of book 12 and decide for themselves.”

          • Posted October 24, 2013 at 9:40 am | Permalink

            And the point of those of us not blinkered by Christianity is that their presentation of narrative fiction is itself exactly the unconscionable lie that moral people would condemn yet Christians shout from the rooftops.

            Do a survey of churches, and count the numbers who preach from the pulpit that the Zombification of Jesus is narrative fiction as opposed to those whose ministries are founded upon the truth of that proposition.

            Indeed, Roger Pearse’s statement that you quoted is itself another example of the type of “white lie” that Plato and Eusebius espouse. As usual, when it comes right down to it, the lies of the Christians are as execrable as those from anybody else, and their justifications are exactly the same. “I won’t tell my wife about my mistress or vice-versa because it would only get them upset; it’s for their own good that I lie to them.”

            Cheers,

            b&

          • Nick Ellis
            Posted November 3, 2013 at 7:48 am | Permalink

            There is a vast difference between telling a story to illustrate some moral message (and having your audience understand it is a fiction to illustrate your point) such as the tale of the Good Samaritan, and telling a fictional story and claiming it is true because it illustrates your moral message.

      • JBlilie
        Posted October 24, 2013 at 7:33 am | Permalink

        This (all of the Xian religious stuff) depends on one very absurd proposition (for which there is no evidence whatsoever:

        If you think something (or say something out loud) then it will have causal effects in the real world.

        That is: If you just think something, something real will change in the real world*. For example:

        Intercessory prayer
        “Believe in Me and you will have eternal life”
        Confess your “sins” and they will go away
        Change your internal thoughts about a proposed deity and happy things will ensue for you

        This is simply ridiculous based on all we know about the universe and reeks of dualism and magic (of course).

        (* Something besides the obvious changing of your own personal mental state.)

  2. Joe McClain
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Here’s a link, but I haven’t checked it out.

    http://adventurechurch.org/adults/university-of-life/the-great-debate/

    • bob level
      Posted October 23, 2013 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

      Thank you for the link. The Church relented and have now posted the video.

    • Bob J.
      Posted October 23, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      I haven’t watched it but since there are three rebuttals, I think I can guess the results.

    • Chris Slaby
      Posted October 23, 2013 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      Phil Zuckerman, if you’re reading this, this is what the pastor has said now that the video is posted: “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.” Do you have any clear evidence, in writing, to the contrary. That is, do you have anything that clearly says, prior to the debate occurring, in writing, that this debate was originally intended to be posted online?

  3. Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    More than stupid and pusillanimous: they are being dishonest; they not keeping their promises, and they are reneging on commitments to dialogue freely undertaken. Adventure Church obviously didn’t like this particular adventure! Indeed, in venturing into the debate, they showed considerable courage, since they must have known what they were in for. If they didn’t they showed remarkably little foresight. And, by refusing to post the video, they are showing it again, especially in view of promises made.

    • gbjames
      Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      I think less courage than hubris.

      • gluonspring
        Posted October 23, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        I think less courage or hubris than ignorance. Many live in an echo chamber where the only secular arguments they hear are the ones they put into the mouths of secular straw men in sermons.

        Speaking of which, a link to this sad movie was recently foisted off on me by a friend:

        http://www.godsnotdeadthemovie.com/

        That’s the kind of debate they like, where it’s scripted to make the professor look like an ignorant and dogmatic ass. It’s a script they know well.

  4. Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Congrats to you Dr Zuckerman

  5. Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    It looks like they did post it?

    http://adventurechurch.org/adults/university-of-life/the-great-debate/

  6. Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    This is why I highly recommend having one of these in your shirt pocket for such occasions.

    • Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      Or, you could just use the voice memo app on your smartphone. Works great, even from inside your pocket.

      If necessary, pretend to check your email but start the app recording instead. Or just make a trip to the little boy’s room and turn it on there.

      b&

      • Stackpole
        Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

        Yeah… why should NSA have all the fun?

        • Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

          That’s another option, of course…anything you say, even in your bedroom, is only a FOIA request away…

          b&

          • Stackpole
            Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

            Hopefully substantially redacted…

            • Posted October 23, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

              That depends.

              Are you dating anybody in the NSA? Are you a political opponent of an NSA agent’s uncle, and did you say anything embarrassing?

              b&

  7. Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    I think Ms. Streisand would like to have a word with the Adventure Church….

    Cheers,

    b&

  8. Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Oops I just tried to post but signed in with the wrong email address…

    It looks like they did post it?

    http://adventurechurch.org/adults/university-of-life/the-great-debate/

  9. Stackpole
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    Evidently they did relent (or, better, “repent”)

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/10/22/church-that-initially-refused-to-post-video-of-debate-where-christians-were-not-represented-well-finally-relents/

    and

    but I haven’t watched it (yet – if ever…)

  10. scottoest
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    The debate is up on their website (adventurechurch.org) now. Looks like it was posted a day ago. Go to Media >> Sermon Videos

    I guess they realized how pathetic this made them look.

  11. Scote
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    The debate has now been posted.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/10/22/church-that-initially-refused-to-post-video-of-debate-where-christians-were-not-represented-well-finally-relents/

    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.

    -Pastor Rick Stedman

    Yeah, you probably did think that, pastor Rick, regardless of the promises made to post it. :-p

    • eric
      Posted October 23, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      IMO thinking its ‘your choice to make’ and not posting it is worse than thinking its not your choice to make. So this excuse makes him look less ethical, not more.

  12. Posted October 23, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I think they just posted it. Maybe it is edited? http://adventurechurch.org/adults/university-of-life/the-great-debate/

  13. cipher
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    This is the reason debate with evangelicals is pointless. They’re operating at the developmental level of small children (and not particularly bright or mentally healthy children at that). Most of the time, they walk away convinced their guy won. The .01% of the time they’re forced to concede, they take their ball and go home.

  14. Sastra
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Marshall:

    It may also be that while both sides offered some good arguments — as both sides did, though I think I had the better ones — the pastors felt that something Phil said might somehow undercut the faith of some listening. Which seems kind of lame to me, especially since the next morning I preached on boldly and fearlessly engaging with the world. (“Step out of the boat!”)

    This is the problem with insisting that you have a “reasonable faith.” You take the factual claims of your religion, whatever they may be, and insist that they are well-supported by the evidence and a reasonable inference — no different really than claims made in science, history, or a court of law. In a fair debate then, an objective person with no precommitment to either side will be swayed towards religion by the argument. That’s how confident you are.

    Except that nobody identifies a belief as one involving “faith” unless there is a precommitment to conclude only one way. That’s what faith is. To pretend to rely on reason when faith is a leap beyond reason is confusion. If a religious person listens to the arguments and changes their mind, they haven’t just changed their mind.

    They’ve “lost their faith.” And now there is hell to pay (sometimes literally) as morals and meaning and virtue and identity and all the other ideals unfairly attached to the concept of “choosing to have faith” are dragged in. A switch in conclusion is equated to a failure of nerve and honor.

    Of course, the alternative to wanting to debate your religion and stand up against the wicked folks on the other side is a refusal to debate your religion and stand up against the wicked folks on the other side, thus forbidding the other side from being heard at all. And making it look like you’re afraid of them.

    They’re stuck on the horns of a dilemma: they want to believe their beliefs are reasonable AND they also want to believe that believing makes them “special.” Pick one or the other.

    • moarscienceplz
      Posted October 23, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      “they want to believe their beliefs are reasonable AND they also want to believe that believing makes them “special.” Pick one or the other.”

      Exactly. I’ve always felt that the fact that there are so many religions (and new schisms forming all the time) is perhaps the most glaring bit of evidence against religious faith. If there were a god who revealed special knowledge, surely he/she/it would provide knowledge that is so self-evidently true that 99% of the people would accept it. (I, being naturally cantankerous, would be in the 1%.)

    • gluonspring
      Posted October 23, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      “They’ve lost their faith. And now there is hell to pay (sometimes literally) as morals and meaning and virtue and identity and all the other ideals unfairly attached to the concept of choosing to have faith are dragged in. A switch in conclusion is equated to a failure of nerve and honor.”

      What a great summary of this pervasive phenomena.

  15. eric
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

    the pastors felt that something Phil said might somehow undercut the faith of some listening.

    Yeah, we don’t want to have a discussion that changes any minds! Perish the thought!

    To be fair, this is Marshall speculating on the motives of the church pastors rather than something the pastors said themselves. But if this is the sort of justification he thinks is good, no wonder he lost.

  16. Dermot C
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Etymological nugget: the term ‘theocracy’ is thought to have been coined by none other than Josephus himself in ‘Against Apion’, referring to first century Judea. (Goodman: Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilisations, 2007, Kindle edition)

    Plus ça change…

  17. Posted October 23, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    I just suffered through the whole debate. I almost felt a bit bad for Marshall, who was stuttering, failed to address any point and seemed to try to hide his performance against a few (seemingly) with saying things like “whatever is good, it’s because Jesus…”.

    Zuckerman was good but paid a bit too much lip service to faith and religion, in my opinion. That might have been the setting, but there’s certainly no doubt he won the debate hands down.

    • Posted October 23, 2013 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      Zuckerman out-evangelised Marshall.

    • cipher
      Posted October 23, 2013 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

      I almost felt a bit bad for Marshall, who was stuttering, failed to address any point and seemed to try to hide his performance against a few (seemingly) with saying things like “whatever is good, it’s because Jesus…”.

      That’s Marchall. He’s an academic legend in his own mind.

  18. Posted October 23, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    When will secularists learn to guard against the trickery of the religionists – by requiring that they will make their own video of the debate that can post when and where they wish, in case the opposition refuses to post their video, or only misleading edited versions of it.

    • Cliff Melick
      Posted October 23, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      Right after they learn that it’s a waste of time debating religonists in the first place.

  19. Greg Esres
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    There’s a hilarious comment over at the Friendly Atheist by a viewer who was at the debate:

    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?

    –Rich Wilson

  20. Page Nelson
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    You can view the debate at:

  21. George in SilverCity
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    “They had agreed to film the debate and post it on Vimeo.”

    Already thoughtless. YouTube would have been better, as Vimeo requires streaming bandwidth.

  22. Posted October 23, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Stooshie's Blog and commented:
    Doesn’t the 9th commandment say something about bearing false witness?

    • Greg Esres
      Posted October 23, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      But does anyone really know what that means?

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted October 23, 2013 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

      I’ve posted this here numerous times, but once more won’t hurt–you have to remember that in the eyes of the fundagelicals, the bible is filled with great things that other people ought to be doing.

  23. vonleonhardt2
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    As a Christian theologian I would have posted it. But I like losing debates, it’s a chance to learn.

    I only get upset when it’s not a debate but a p&*&#-contest.

  24. Posted October 23, 2013 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    I’ve no idea David Marshall was considered a person of importance in Christian circles: the last time I encountered him, it was on Stephen Law’s blog post about Law’s paper “Evidence, Miracles and the Existence of Jesus”.

    Marshall was attempting to convince people that the gospel stories about Jesus were more likely to be true than stories about, say, magicians (to use Law’s example) because they were more meaningful stories, but was unable to explain why meaningfulness made them more likely to be true. He also wanted to argue that Earman’s book on Hume’s “Of Miracles” could be used to disprove Law’s argument, but again couldn’t make the argument work.

    I’m pretty shocked to learn that Christians apparently buy his books. (On second thoughts, maybe not that shocked, but still, at least William Lane Craig understands how arguments work).

    • Posted October 23, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

      For many Christians, simply having an argument on your side is all that matters. Whether the argument is sound, whether you understand it or not…that’s irrelevant. Some wise authority figure has carefully considered all of this and concluded that Jesus Loves Us, and that’s all the confirmation they were looking for.

      Marshall and Craig could get up on stage and say that Christianity is true because hamala hamala ding-dong wallaby moonsparkle snipdoodle flapjack, and that would do the trick every bit as well.

      Cheers,

      b&

      • cipher
        Posted October 23, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

        Marshall and Craig could get up on stage and say that Christianity is true because hamala hamala ding-dong wallaby moonsparkle snipdoodle flapjack, and that would do the trick every bit as well.

        Yes, precisely. You could read from the phone book, and as long as you pepper it with a liberal sprinkling of Jesus, they’ll all sit there glassy-eyed and nod vigorously.

        • Posted October 24, 2013 at 11:58 am | Permalink

          Reading from the phonebook might even produce more true statements!

      • Sastra
        Posted October 23, 2013 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

        Now come on: hamala hamala ding-dong wallaby moonsparkle snipdoodle flapjack is Karen Armstrong’s argument for Transcendence. It wouldn’t be accepted by a more conservative Christian — unless it’s supposed to be in tongues.

        Years ago I went to a debate between WLCraig and Antony Flew (yes, years ago.) I chatted beforehand to some Christians sitting next to me and discovered they were Young Earth Creationists. They told me afterwards that Craig was great: he definitely won the debate.

        I was perplexed. But WLC used the kalam argument … and the kalam argument tries to use modern cosmology and the Big Bang to ‘prove’ the existence of God. They don’t believe the Big Bang happened — in fact YEC strenuously denies it as central to their argument. How could they be so pleased?

        Iirc their response was something along the lines of “Christianity can even beat the atheists at their own game.”

        • Posted October 23, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

          Now come on: hamala hamala ding-dong wallaby moonsparkle snipdoodle flapjack is Karen Armstrongs argument for Transcendence.

          That, too!

          It wouldnt be accepted by a more conservative Christian unless its supposed to be in tongues.

          You know, if I didn’t have more pressing demands on my time — not to mention a moral code that keeps me from sincere attempts at a Poe — I’d take that as a challenge, go find some conservative Christian forum somewhere, and see if I couldn’t get an “Amen!” to proving Christ by way of hamala hamala ding-dong wallaby moonsparkle snipdoodle flapjack. I’ve never tried anything like that before, but I bet I could pull it off….

          Iirc their response was something along the lines of Christianity can even beat the atheists at their own game.

          Yes — perfect example. There was an argument with impressive-sounding words that ended in, “Have a cracker,” and that’s all that matters.

          Don’t know that I’ve experienced it in person, but I’m sure I have online.

          No, wait…I think one of the door-to-door Jesus salesmen at some point offered a variation on it, with some sort of quotemine of Richard Dawkins or the like as “proof that even this famous atheist loves Jesus.”

          b&

          • JBlilie
            Posted October 24, 2013 at 7:15 am | Permalink

            “I’ve never tried anything like that before, but I bet I could pull it off… ”

            No Ben: I know you could pull it off! 🙂

    • cipher
      Posted October 23, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

      “I’m pretty shocked to learn that Christians apparently buy his books.”

      You know how it works. As long as he loves Jesus and hates Obama, nothing else he says really matters. I’m sure they don’t even pay attention.

    • JBlilie
      Posted October 24, 2013 at 6:30 am | Permalink

      Actually, Marshall’s book, The Truth Behind the New Atheism, is one of the least crappy apologist responses to Dawkins (mainly) and Harris.

      It’s actually full of fewer howlers and he presents things much better; but it still holds no water of course, if you haven’t previously drunk the Koolaid.

      • Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

        Hi JB… I remember you from the Amazon forums. Marshall’s lackluster performances on Amazon are legendary. After researching each of the subjects in The Truth Behind the New Atheism I think you give his book a little too much credit. I hope the debate does get posted eventually. It would be fun to watch.

  25. Richard Olson
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    After all these years of debates with Christians the likes of Craig and D’Souza, and daily examples of what the right wing media is capable of post elimination of Fairness in Broadcasting, it is way past time secularist’s continue to place faith in conservative lip service to the values of honesty, truth, fairness, and accountability.

    Those concepts mean the same thing the dictionary says when political/social/religious conservatives apply them to out-group individuals, but something completely different when applied to themselves and other in-group members.

    Never trust these bastards. Too many of them are less reliable than an out-of-town roofing contractor following a hail storm.

  26. Hempenstein
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    Oy, first you lose a debate, then the Pope says you’re insane. (@ 0:43, “But it is a serious illness, this Christian ideology.”)

  27. Damocles
    Posted October 23, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Another case of religion getting owned, knowing it, and not wanting to post the video. Just like the 2012 Bale Boone talk where you utterly dismantled John Haught, and suddenly he “never gave permission before or after the panel to post the video.” Why do they record the debates in the first place, and then pretend they never intended to (after they lose)? I thank ceiling cat christianity isn’t the foundation of our society.

  28. Dominic
    Posted October 24, 2013 at 1:55 am | Permalink

    Faith trumps observation & common sense. They look stupid because faith is all about stupidity – believe what your mind wants to be true not what your senses tell you is true.

  29. JBlilie
    Posted October 24, 2013 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    … and they’ve forgotten Commandment #8 …

  30. JBlilie
    Posted October 24, 2013 at 6:27 am | Permalink

    Marshall is a clever and slippery fish.

    I remember his Amazon review of Dawkins’ The God Delusion, where he claimed to have written scores of arguments for the existence of god that Dawkins hadn’t addressed. When pressed (in the comments section) to produce them: Nothing. Surprise, surprise.

  31. DrDroid
    Posted October 24, 2013 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    I didn’t care much for the debate, including Zuckerman’s part, though I think he was better than Marshall. Debating Christians on whether Christianity or Secularism is the better basis for society concedes too much already IMO. I like to think that Hitch would have reposed the question under debate as “Is there any reason to think that the core beliefs of Christianity offer a good basis for society?” He then (in my imagination) would have gone on to gut the myths and foolishness at the core of Christianity (virgin births, resurrections, holy ghosts, holy book, etc). By the time he was done it would have been apparent that Christianity is not a foundation for anything.

    On their web site “Pastor Rick” posted a video rebuttal to Zuckerman’s argument that the Treaty of Tripoli firmly established the US as not being a Christian nation. Yes, the treaty does say that and it was signed by all the Senators and the President, which Zuckerman sees as an iron-clad denial of Christianity. But these words were probably inserted in the treaty to keep the Barbary pirates from seeing matters as a religious war between Christian America and Muslims, and to keep captured Americans from being treated cruelly under the default assumption that they were Christians. After all, it would be odd that the entire Senate and the President, many known to be Christians, would normally produce such a document unless a gun was figuratively being held to their heads. So I think using the Treaty of Tripoli as the basis for saying the US is not a Christian nation is a weak argument and Pastor Rick takes Zuckerman to task on that.

    • k_machine
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 1:42 am | Permalink

      You might want to read up on the Supremacy Clause, chief:
      “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.”

      So it doesn’t matter why a treaty says something, it is fully binding in any case. Treaty parties can’t renege on parts of treaties they don’t like. Was the part about Christianity written with fingers crossed?

      • DrDroid
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:28 am | Permalink

        I am no fan of or apologist for Christianity or any religion, as I thought my comment made clear. I just think that arguing from a treaty written under duress is a weak way to counter the claim that the US is not a Christian nation. It’s clear that Jefferson and other founders intended to keep religion out of government, and I think that’s the strong argument.

        • Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:37 am | Permalink

          First, I see no sign that the treaty was written under duress. Do you seriously think we were at an existential threat from the Barbary Pirates such that the entire government would commit blasphemy to assure their survival? And right after handing a resounding defeat to the greatest empire since the Romans?

          Second, duress or no, it remains the law of the land. No Congress since has sought to repeal it; no President has asked Congress to consider the matter; and no case has been brought before a court seeking to overturn it. We are, ostensibly, a nation of laws, and this is one of our highest laws. It has stood, literally, for two centuries without challenge. To dismiss the significance of such a law is to diminish all that We the People allegedly hold dear.

          Cheers,

          b&

          • DrDroid
            Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:41 am | Permalink

            According to Frank Lambert, Professor of History at Purdue University, the assurances in Article 11 were “intended to allay the fears of the Muslim state by insisting that religion would not govern how the treaty was interpreted and enforced. John Adams and the Senate made clear that the pact was between two sovereign states, not between two religious powers.” Lambert writes,
            “By their actions, the Founding Fathers made clear that their primary concern was religious freedom, not the advancement of a state religion. Individuals, not the government, would define religious faith and practice in the United States. Thus the Founders ensured that in no official sense would America be a Christian Republic. Ten years after the Constitutional Convention ended its work, the country assured the world that the United States was a secular state, and that its negotiations would adhere to the rule of law, not the dictates of the Christian faith. The assurances were contained in the Treaty of Tripoli of 1797 and were intended to allay the fears of the Muslim state by insisting that religion would not govern how the treaty was interpreted and enforced. John Adams and the Senate made clear that the pact was between two sovereign states, not between two religious powers.[15]

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

  32. tubby
    Posted October 24, 2013 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    ….There’s not enough face palming to cope with the claim that because of a ‘miraculous’ conversion a woman with health issues that may have prevented her from having children became pregnant because Jesus.

  33. Nwalsh
    Posted October 24, 2013 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    Zuckerman’s five minute closing was gold. An easy win.

  34. Diane G.
    Posted October 24, 2013 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    sub

  35. Jennelle
    Posted May 10, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    This is funny. Sure, Adventure should not have promised that they would put up the video. But honestly, when they say “we were not represented well,” they are right. I am a Christian and I thought David Marshall did an awful job at representing Christians. I thought the debate would have gone in a totally different direction prior to watching it. I was disappointed in the thing as a whole. With an unbiased opinion, I do not think anyone “won.” It was hardly even a debate. Phil was just an overly cocky typical atheist and David was the guy who wasn’t nearly as aggressive as he should have been and he made no points that were really all that awesome. Adventure is only protecting themselves because David did not represent the church. That’s not that weird. It’s just like any other company that wants to be represented by people/clothes/products that are a reflection of who they are. And David did not do that.

    • cipher
      Posted May 10, 2014 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      Phil was just an overly cocky typical atheist

      Translation: “Phil was another guy telling me stuff I don’t want to hear.”

      David was the guy who wasn’t nearly as aggressive as he should have been and he made no points that were really all that awesome

      Because on your side of the fence, there are no “awesome” points to make.

      Furthermore, the church doesn’t get to go back on its word merely because the presentation didn’t go their way.

      Cocky? Please. You people wrote the book.

      • Posted May 10, 2014 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        Could we not call other commenters name?

        • cipher
          Posted May 10, 2014 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

          Seriously, Jerry? Go read her comment again, then read mine again.


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