This was a debate between @Fake_Andrew, a Christian, and myself, an atheist.
It occurred on the 7th of September starting at about 7:50pm GMT, lasting for about two hours.
Happy Early Birthday, Atheist Pinup.
This analysis is just to note a few things, mostly from memory, which I wanted to say about the debate. It isn’t comprehensive, and if you want to ask a question, please do so, and I may add it in here.
You can ask in the comments section below, or on twitter: @uzalogic.
I’m not disappointed with how the debate went. I recognise only one or two mistakes I made, and they were mostly in an area I’m not an expert in. Other than that, I think I made a good showing. I didn’t convince my opponent of anything substantial, but that’s not something I expect in a debate.
There are no winners in debates, only those the audience point and laugh at the most.
My camera looks awful, and I could have done things both in the recording and in the editing to fix it. I guess I just forgot, hopefully it’s sufficient.
I’ll do lots of things better next time.
I had not prepared anything for the Biblical Contradictions section of the debate. I confidently maintain my point that there are literal contradictions in the Bible, but the examples I gave were not good ones. I’ll work on finding the best contradictions for use in the future.
I did say one thing during that segment (and the entire debate) that I realised was wrong, but it wasn’t very major, and gave no ground to my opponent.
I stuttered a bit trying to get my thoughts out occasionally, but Andrew was courteous in being patient, as I was when he did the same.
I did one time assert that altruism is just helping others, this is not exactly true, but shortly after saying this, I explain that even if a helping act is seemingly disinterested, there’s still an emotional gain from doing it. Even if that’s absent, the altruism can cause reciprocation from others, which is an easily understood evolutionary advantage. Essentially, I don’t think any good deed is wholly disinterested. I did get the definition wrong, but I clarified what I meant afterwards, which I think explains that discrepancy.
There are many points that I didn’t get the opportunity to make, simply because of time constraints (that is to say, interruptions). I believe my opponent had a lot more time speaking, but I haven’t measured that. There was a lot I wanted to say that I was not able to say, perhaps I was too courteous.
I hope that my explanation of secular morality would be satisfactory to a neutral viewer, or perhaps even a moderately opposed viewer. I believe I demonstrated that secular morality is superior, and that Andrew did not even slightly demonstrate the contrary.
In general, it seems to me that I dominated him, judging by my standards, which I believe are synchronous with logic and usual debate practice. But, he may think the same thing, so it’s up to you.
There’s a way to debate, which is not – in most cases – deliberate, but it has the effect of making it seem like you haven’t conceded anything when really you’ve made many concessions by omission. I believe that Andrew’s debate style is an excellent example of this.
Look out for occasions when the following happens: I make a point, and may provide reasoning, and Andrew begins to explain something that appears to be a tangential answer to the point, but, as it’s being made, diverts the conversation to a different thread, or a less specific level. If I counted the points he had a chance to answer but failed to, I estimate it would number in the dozens.
He once asserted that some position I hold is “insane”, without providing any reasoning at all. Look out for how often he asserts without providing any support. This is after he accuses my morality of being based on doing just that, when I have demonstrated that it isn’t.
He asserted at one point that if a woman is raped by a soldier, then it’s right that she should be forced to marry him. He essentially said that it was for her own good. The reasoning he presented was not totally indefensible in ancient times, but in modern times, it definitely is indefensible, and yet he desires respect for his “perfect” moral system.
He doesn’t comprehend relative morality, and only ever judges it by the standards of absolute morality, but cannot prove that his moral system is absolute.
He often made the argument that “the Bible proves the Bible” or “God proves God”, and when I called him on it, he couldn’t provide reasoning or evidence, just further circular arguments or appeals to authority, or various other unsound arguments.
I asked for evidence of miracles, and he dodged the question and made a statement which was both a Strawman, and a Slippery Slope Fallacy, a totally baseless one at that. It must be blissful to never be wary of making a logical fallacy, but I refuse that path.
Many people said that I shouldn’t debate Andrew. I do not regret doing so. I don’t think I gave him anything by doing so, and if I had chosen not to do so, as many other atheists do, it would be so much easier for him to portray me as a coward. My detractors’ opinion of my reputation doesn’t matter very much to me, but I’m going to help far more people escape delusion by engaging with someone than letting them strengthen the conviction of those around him by appearing as weak.
I also just wanted to debate someone, because I so rarely do.
Andrew was a good sport, and a reasonable person. I don’t dehumanise and I don’t mislabel, and I would encourage any atheists reading this to take the same approach.
…Although it’s true that this happened:
I do definitely condemn that statement and would posit it as proof that secular morality is superior, but I understand why he says this from his perspective. I don’t think he’s psychotic, though if the voices in his head told him to be, he would feel obliged to obey.
The statement speaks so much more about his ridiculous belief system than his brain in general. Let’s avoid categorising and dismissing him on the grounds that he said something that seems ridiculous (and disgusting) to us.
Illuminating this kind of problem is what will help to grow atheism.
I hope you enjoyed.