Friday, February 26, 2010

Dinesh D'Souza vs. John Loftus Debate MP3 Audio

Here is the debate between Dinesh D'Souza and John Loftus on the topic: Does the Christian God Exist? Debate video can be found here. D'Souza offers his follow-up thoughts on the Sound Rezn radio show here (mp3). Check out Dinesh's newest book here. (original debate source here)

Full MP3 Audio here. (2 hours)

Enjoy

Last year's post here!

12 comments :

Ex N1hilo said...

This one's a good listen. Very instructive. Both men are good speakers.

Loftus' main point could be stated, "One should believe science and what science can demonstrate, only." This is his axiom. No empirical evidence nor reasoned argument are offered to support this contention.

In Loftus' worldview, the fatal flaw of rationalism, empiricism, scientism, and evidentialism can be clearly seen. Human reason and experience are appealed to as the final arbiters of truth. No evidence nor reasoned argumentation are ever presented to demonstrate that man's reason and sensory experience are adequate to function in this capacity. This approach exalts man and his intellect as the measure of all things.

Its basic premise could be stated like this: “It is unreasonable to affirm any proposition that has not been demonstrated to a high degree of certainty by experience and sound reasoning.” I'll call this “the Ratio-Sensory Criterion.” Now, has the Ratio-Sensory Criterion been demonstrated by experience and sound reasoning? It cannot be, since human reason and senses are the very tools that one must rely on (according to Loftus' view) to test the validity of all things. Testing ALL things by experience and reason would necessitate testing experience and reason by experience and reason. This would require that the validity of experience and reason be assumed from the outset, contradicting the Ratio-Sensory Criterion, and showing it to be false.

The evidentialist (and rationalist, and empiricist) approach fails its own test. It is self-referentially incoherent, and thus irrational.

Again, in this debate, as in previous presentations, D'Souza makes it clear early in his presentation that he is “not even going to refer to the Bible.” His presentation will be “based on secular reason alone.” “Because referring to the Bible only works if you are talking to fellow Christians.” Thus, D'Souza capitulates swiftly to Loftus' worldview.

The Bible is the written word of God. We have God's promise that it will accomplish His purposes (Isaiah 55:11). Thus it is never the case that it “only works with Christians.” We also know that it is Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, who is the truth and who enlightens every man (John 1:9). Thus it is a fundamental error to claim that one can attain to knowledge of any sort without appeal to the God of Scripture as the revealer of knowledge.

To his credit, D'Souza does touch on the Genesis account of creation, but presents current scientific theory as validating it. This is backwards. We ought to test science by the word of God. The word of God is authoritative because it is God speaking, not because our experience validates it. This is not to say that experience and reason are useless. The Bible endorses the use of both, but not as the final authority. They are to be subordinated to the word of God.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (ESV) For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,

Loftus' presentation was based on an irrational worldview. Sadly, D'Souza capitulated to this worldview, although he did reach some different conclusions in the end. I would summarize the debate as follows:

LOFTUS: Using my sense experience and intellect, I judge God's existence to be highly improbable.
D'SOUZA: Using my sense experience and intellect, I judge God's existence to be highly probable.

The debate ends in a tie.

Brian said...

Not sure I agree with your reasoning or your conclusion.
I don't think it was a tie; not by a long shot.

I think Dinesh won hands down.

But then again, I used my reason to get to that conclusion, so... : )

Ex N1hilo said...

Brian,

Dinesh had the easier task. We all know God exists. And it happens to be the Christian God. I appreciate some of the things he said. It's just the worldview he grounded it in that I believe is in error.

I know your concluding comment is intended to be humorous, and that's how I take it. But I do want to clarify: I would never say that the use of reason is invalid or that the use of evidence is. What I am saying is that to set these up as the authority, to use them while refusing to acknowledging the sovereignty of the One who created them--this is invalid. And not merely invalid. It is irrational.

Sam

Eyo said...

I don't know anyone who thought this was a tie even from atheist camps. It might be interesting to read my Facebook note on the issue: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=335080184609

Yo said...

I dig D'Souza's style. Atheists seem to hate him, so he must be doing something right! Ha, ha!

A tie? No way! I can only assume that our friend above thought that it was a tie because D'Souza didn't use a Reformed/Presuppositional methodology against Loftus. All I can say is, it takes somebody to do the presupposing; you can't start with (the mind of) God, unless you are God.

So, I think that D'Souza did just fine and dandy.

Haecceitas said...

In my opinion, D'Souza is the Christian version of Hitchens, but with a bit more substance behind the rhetoric.

Loftus lost this one. He seemed to have some trouble with his voice, but that doesn't explain it. He just isn't as good a debater as Dinesh is.

Russell said...

I knew Loftus was in trouble when his rebuttal was "He (Dinesh) is just wrong".

I just started listening to Dinesh, and in my opinion, he has some of the best arguments I've heard. I can't stand some of his political views, but have to respect the ideas he put forth in this debate. I couldn't help but feel bad for Loftus at times.

Chad said...

I used to think that William Lane Craig vs. Frank Zindler was the worst I'd heard atheism presented in a debate. Loftus, in my mind, now holds that title.

Russell, to echo what you mentioned, I knew Loftus was in deep when he said, "He's brain washed and he doesn't even know it..."

Even if that were true, saying so doesn't make it so!

Aaron said...

I was disappointed with Loftus in this debate, especially after he called out numerous Christian apologists on his blog site and said he was willing to debate any of them. I knew it wasn't going to go well for him when he started his opening statement with the genetic fallacy.

In addition, as others have mentioned, his empty assertions that Dinesh is wrong and brainwashed amounted to exactly that--empty assertions. He is begging the question here, it could just as easily be the case that Loftus is wrong and "brainwashed."

On the other hand, I wish Dinesh would have presented a better case in his opening statement, specifically the existence of the Christian God. After all, that was the title of the debate. It would have been nice to hear a defense of the resurrection, but it seems he didn't have time to get to it.

Overall, I think Dinesh won the debate. He shined in his rebuttals and during the Q&A. If Loftus can't handle Dinesh I don't know how he expects to handle WLC. He should have paid more attention in Craig's classes.

Paul said...

Dinesh might have rebutted John initially by pointing out that he's glad they can have this debate because less than a hundred years ago it wouldn't have been possible under governments that enforced state atheism resulting in a "tenner" in a gulag where many so many died.

A minor point to be sure; however, I use it to show how often John picks and chooses not comprehending the aggregate.

Chad said...

Aaron,

Regarding Loftus and his connection with Craig, I found the following, pointed out by Tektonics Ministries J.P. Holding revealing:

"Here's a point for consideration. Loftus makes this huge deal about, "I wuz a student of William Lane Craig, duh ah" as a way to sell himself as some sort of premier anti-apologist, yet here he admits:
* He only had one class with him
* in which there were no tests or notes
* He greatly disagreed with his methods
* This was before Craig was a major name in apologetics

And yet, Loftus rides this "I was Craig's student" hobbyhorse as a way to cheaply promote his books, letting the reader fill in with their imaginations that he took multiple classes with Craig and was one of his best-reckoned students."

Well, it would probably sell books better than, "I brushed by Craig in the hallway while heading for the student lounge."
(Link is here: http://www.tektoonics.com/etc/parody/nov09scr.html)

Granted, there is no love lost between Holding and Loftus, but just some food for thought...

Godspeed

LittleGoose said...

wow, Loftus' ending speech was basically an appeal to look somewhere outside of the debate for why the Christian God does not exist. When you can't show how the debate proves your point, you are implicitly admitting defeat.

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