Monday, February 11, 2013

How to win a debate?

There have been a number of interesting debates in the UK in recent years between theists and atheists. The following summary of the debates is not mine but it makes for interesting reading.

Walter Boyd writes "At the Cambridge Union Society in October 2011, William Lane Craig and Peter Williams took on a couple of atheists (Ahmed and Copson) on the motion "This House Believes that God is not a Delusion". The Christian side "won" the debate as far as votes cast. The debate is somewhat cerebral and philosophical but makes for interesting viewing all the same (if you have a lot of time on your hands!)

In November 2012 a debate took place in the Oxford Union between three Christians and three atheists. John Lennox started with a 15 minute speech in which he set forth Jesus and the resurrection. Richard Dawkins can be seen in the audience but did not take part. I believe the most interesting contribution to the debate was a short speech from Peter Hitchens (former atheist, and brother of deceased atheist Christopher Hitchens). He takes into the 3 atheists before him and gives them what he calls a "Christian kicking"! His argument is that they don't want there to be a God on moral grounds, not intellectual ones. I believe this 8 minute speech is well worth a quick listen at

Last month, on Jan 31st 2013, the former archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams joined up with a Muslim scholar and an atheist, to oppose the motion of Richard Dawkins and two other atheists that "Religion has no place in the 21st Century" (the motion was defeated). It is not a particularly interesting debate, except for the fact that Richard Dawkins, rather than properly addressing the motion, went off into a rant against Christianity. Here are two Dawkins's quotes from the debate that expose his bitter opposition to both the doctrine of sin and the inspiration of scripture.

Said Dawkins, the God of the Christians is " ...obsessed with sin. Sin, sin, sin, sin, sin. The obsession of the Christian God. Interested in nothing but the sins, including private acts which do nobody else any harm; of the members of one in particular species of old world primate on one small planet, orbiting one rather small star, amid a hundred billion stars, somewhere in the outer suburbs of one ordinary galaxy among a hundred billion galaxies...the God of the Christians is supposed to have cared so much about the sins of this one species of old world African ape that He sent His own Son...down to earth as a blood sacrifice; a divine scapegoat in order to be tortured and killed for the sins of the world - or even the sins of one particular man, Adam who, as we now know, never existed - a somewhat empty gesture to die for the sins of somebody who never existed...[Theologians say] we are suffused with sin, we are born in sin, we are sinful unless we plead forgiveness. That is not a very humane, not a very pleasant, not a very moral doctrine, and I think that the idea of a blood sacrifice is perhaps even worse." 

Later in the debate Dawkins said, "The very idea that because there are mysterious things that we don't understand in science, somehow means that we're going to find wisdom in a collection of bronze age books, is palpably absurd."

Winning the debate is not going to convince the majority to take Christianity seriously but the truth is that the truth of scripture stacks up and often those who oppose Christianity resort to silly arguments out of frustration and anger. What do you believe? Do you know? You'd better find out as time is running out. 

To be blunt the ultimate advice you will ever hear is this "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" (Acts 16.31).

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