Thursday, April 30, 2009

James White Critiques Dan Barker's Debates

With today being the day of the debate between James White and Dan Barker, it is fitting to feature White's commentary and critiques of Barker's arguments in past debates. If audio is made available, it will hopefully be featured as well.

• Review of the Douglas Wilson vs. Dan Barker debate - MP3
• Critique of clip of Dan Barker - MP3
• Review of Dan Barker's alleged Bible contradictions - MP3
• Commentary on the Mike Licona vs. Dan Barker debate - MP3
• Review of the Dan Barker vs. Dinesh D'Souza debate - MP3
• More Dan Barker commentary - MP3
• Review of Barker's comments on Calvin - MP3
• Final Dan Barker discussion prior to debate - MP3
• James White's POST DEBATE synopsis - MP3

Please see here for synopsis of each show, as the content is varied between episodes.
James White's blog can be found here.

MP3 AUDIO from the debate can be purchased here.

Enjoy.

22 comments :

Haecceitas said...

Should be a very interesting debate. If the focus is mainly on Biblical issues, it's easy to predict that Barker will lose big time. However, I'm not too sure about White's ability to deal with all of the philosophical issues that might come up. Barker can at least put an appearance of being somewhat philosophically competent, though a deeper analysis of his arguments tends to expose the huge flaws in them.

The Armchair Theologian said...

White can talk philosophical issues with Barker; I'm not worried about that AT ALL. Barker's philosophical arguments are not quite as weak as his biblical arguments, but his biblical arguments are on the level of a skeptic who's in 10th grade.

I cannot, for the LIFE of me, figure out how smart atheists would consider people like Barker to be one of their own. I'm guessing that within the educated section of the atheist apologetics camp, Barker is considered 'not the best example of us' (with accompanying snicker) just like educated Christian apologists consider Ray Comfort or Dinesh D'Souza to be'...not the best example of us'.

Haecceitas said...

As for the Biblical arguments, I'm not sure whether Barker:

(a) really believes that his critiques are of high quality

or

(b) is just being intentionally deceptive.

I suppose we can take this debate as a test that can potentially verify one of those options. If he uses the same arguments (lists of "contradictions" as presented in some of the debates that James has reviewd) against White, it might be an indication that he really believes them to be rock-solid. If he alters his presentation significantly, that might indicate that the other option os true.

Eric said...

"just like educated Christian apologists consider Ray Comfort or Dinesh D'Souza to be'...not the best example of us'."

Armchair Theologian, D'souza may be no William Lane Craig, but he's certainly no Ray Comfort. For example, guys like Hitchens, Shermer, Singer and Dennett would rip Comfort a new you-know-what, but D'souza handled himself quite well against each of them. Heck, Comfort couldn't even defend his views against those Rational Response Squad reps (Brian Sapient and Kelly O'Connor) who butchered their own 'scientific' arguments!

Lee said...

Just heard the review of the Doug Wilson/Barker debate.

Well, the first 20 mins or so - it started to get on my nerves the personal attacks White was throwing around.

Does it get any better?

Lee

The Armchair Theologian said...

Oh agreed Eric. I wasn't saying that Comfort and D'Souza were similar or on the same level at all, but only that I don't identify with either one of them...

Comfort's "mindless optimism"

OR

D'Souza's "I don't see why we need to bring up the scriptures in order to talk about the Christian God"

Haecceitas said...

Cross-examinations and first rebuttals:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3x1lYnIDLu0

The audio quality is quite poor.

Just to comment on one particular point, Barker says during the cross-examination that "to exist means to occupy space-time". White should have asked him whether he thinks that space and time exist (and if so, do they occupy meta-space and meta-time, which in turn occupy meta-meta-space and time, etc ad infinitum).

Brian said...

Thanks for the link. My fingers are crossed for a decent quality MP3 soon.

Lee said...

Hi Haecceitas

Just to comment on one particular point, Barker says during the cross-examination that "to exist means to occupy space-time". White should have asked him whether he thinks that space and time existAnd my reply would be to ask White to define ‘exist’ which I think was the point being made by Barker.

Christian’s fail to provide a consistent definition of who/what God IS... God is normally defined by what He is not.

When they try to define what God is (rather than what he is not) the Christian quickly gets into self-contradiction.

Maybe I just have not read enough of White, so does anyone know his definition?

and if so, do they occupy meta-space and meta-time, which in turn occupy meta-meta-space and time, etc ad infinitum)You are making a poor argument – playing with paradoxes of infinity doesn’t get you anyway.

Your solution is probably just to assert God, but why is God such a special case – you only have special pleading I bet.

Thanks

Lee

Eric said...

"I wasn't saying that Comfort and D'Souza were similar or on the same level at all, but only that I don't identify with either one of them..."

I see, Armchair Theologian. Thanks for the clarification.

"D'Souza's "I don't see why we need to bring up the scriptures in order to talk about the Christian God"

I think D'souza does this as part of his debate strategy. He wants to be able to claim to be engaging atheists on 'their own ground' (or so they think), viz. that of reason, logic and evidence. I don't think that D'souza intends that claim to be understood simpliciter.

"Just to comment on one particular point, Barker says during the cross-examination that "to exist means to occupy space-time". White should have asked him whether he thinks that space and time exist"

Right, or he could've asked whether the *proposition*, "to exist means to occupy space-time" exists: if it does, explain how it occupies space-time, and if it doesn't, why are we even considering it?

Haecceitas said...

Lee,

"And my reply would be to ask White to define ‘exist’ which I think was the point being made by Barker."My answer would be that to exist is to bear properties. I'm not sure how White would have answered.

However, Barker's definition does seem to lead to a contradictions, so I'm not sure why he would make a point by giving a definition that leads to a contradiction.


"Christian’s fail to provide a consistent definition of who/what God IS... God is normally defined by what He is not."Operating within the domain of philosophical theism, I'd minimally define God as "a person that has pure, limitless intentional power". That definition is positive rather than negative in asserting God's personhood, intentionality and power. Understanding the implications of limitlessness will give us the negative attributes (what He is not). As a Christian, I'd also add a Trinitarian perspective to that basic definition if the context is specifically that of Christian theism (and I think those two are compatible).


"You are making a poor argument – playing with paradoxes of infinity doesn’t get you anyway."If you are saying that paradoxes and infinite regressions don't matter, I think you've just destroyed at least one of the arguments that Barker probably used in this debate.

Haecceitas said...

Eric,

"Right, or he could've asked whether the *proposition*, "to exist means to occupy space-time" exists: if it does, explain how it occupies space-time, and if it doesn't, why are we even considering it?"I suppose Barker would have answered that affirmatively. He might argue that the proposition is a function of human brain, just as he does with regard to the laws of logic and moral values. However, I don't think that even Barker would give such analysis of space-time, so that might be something that even Barker would have to recognize as problematic for his definition (not that I think the example you gave wouldn't be problematic -- I just suspect that Barker would fail to see the problems).

Matthew said...

I laughed when Barker said "To exist means to occupy spacetime". Does he believe mathematics exist? Language? The laws of logic?

I agree with Lee that White said some things in the DL he shouldn't have said, but it was overall interesting IMO.

Lee said...

HI Matthew,

I’m not a philosopher as I’ve said before, so I have a honest question.

You wrote:

“Does he believe mathematics exist? Language? The laws of logic?”Does anyone believe (or can argue that) any of these existence independently of a thinking mind.

All minds that we know of are physical – without exception - but this is only an inductive argument I know. So I say that your examples require a mind and so are created by man (but could also be independently created by an physical alien mind as well – we just don’t know it)


Have to go, taking my sons to the zoo today

Take care

Lee

Eric said...

“Does he believe mathematics exist? Language? The laws of logic?”Does anyone believe (or can argue that) any of these existence independently of a thinking mind."

Lee, the debate about the ontological status of abstract objects is complicated, but a short answer to your question would be 'yes,' and that 'yes' isn't in any sense restricted to theists.

Modern philosophers from Frege to Quine have defended realism about abstract objects, as have some modern scientists and mathematicians, e.g. Roger Penrose and Benoît Mandelbrot.

emmzee said...

"All minds that we know of are physical..."

I'd disagree with this; an alternative opinion is that all brains we know are physical, while no minds are physical. As per, for example, Koukl here:

http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5474

Lee said...

Hi Eric,

Thanks for the reply - I need to think about this since I am not so sure it makes sense.

But hey, I only did physics at uni, not philosophy

Lee

Lee said...

Hi Emmzee,

I'd disagree with this; an alternative opinion is that all brains we know are physical, while no minds are physical.All known minds require a brain, brains are physical. No mind without the physical.

If your mind is "unphysical" – then why do the physical influence and affect it? (i.e. beer or a hit on the back of the head)

Or do you have an example showing otherwise - that the mind is not tied to the physical?

As per, for example, Koukl here:I will need a bit more time than I have tonight to read this – could you just give me the brief – in your own words maybe?

Thanks

Lee

Turretinfan said...

By the way, Dr. White plans to do a post-mortem on the debate on his Dividing Line webcast program today.

For more details:

http://www.aomin.org/articles/webcast.html

(time will be 11:00 a.m. MST)

-TurretinFan

Brian said...

Thanks for that.... I will post a link to that episode when I get it.

Brian said...

I have updated the post with links to the MP3 Audio as well as White's post-debate show.

Chad said...

Hello all,

I thought White's post-debate commentary was interesting. I would like to see a debate between Barker and White on the alleged contradictions that Barker repeatedly brings up.

I found it interesting that White claimed that Barker said he had debated someone with this format before. Anyone know what debate that was? I would like to give it a listen.

Godspeed

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