August 11, 2022

Debatable

I used to get a lot of challenges from anonymous internet nobodies wanting to debate me; not just to argue with me online, but to “call me out” in some public forum where they thought they could ‘win’ me.  I’ll already argue with pretty much anyone as long as there is some indication that that person is being somewhat sincere and not just a troll out to waste my time. So how do you weed out the trolls?  I came up with this rule that I wouldn’t debate anyone who nominates his or her self.  I’ll only do it if some collection of people nominates someone else to represent them, someone who will debate me on their behalf.  That way, if I beat that person, I’m effectively beating everyone that person represents. That is also the only way to force accountability, something creationists consistently lack, and which is the biggest hurdle when debating them.  Disingenuous willfully obtuse or childish behavior may work for an individual, but not so much when representing a group of other people; because some of their own following are likely to call them out for that.

I don’t need to debate anyone, because most of the time, it’s pointless.  There are few instances where debates can determine the truth of a matter, and science is never in that situation.  So if I’m going to debate at all, I need to get some value out of it.  You’ll never change the mind of your opponent, which is why debating an individual is a waste of time; but it is possible to show the audience what the facts really are.  So I’m never going to consider invitations from random people who may only be trying to promote themselves, but who don’t have any real following to motivate me.

Consequently I’ve never had an actual live moderated debate. I had a moderated written debate back in 2005. That was against a couple ministers and a couple people on the Texas State Board of Education. Complete records of that debate no longer exist. The archive was hosted by someone else, and the data was lost when that dot-com went out of business.  Only fragments of it remain, quoted by different forums that were discussing it at the time.

I’ve also ‘debated’ a handful of famous fundies on the radio, but each of those shows wasn’t an actual debate as much as two guys arguing with each other on someone’s podcast.  Matt Dillahunty and Dan Barker and a few others have formal debates with a live audience all the time, but not me; never once; and if it never happens, I’m fine with that too.

I did agree to debate Ken Ham once. I was invited by the Houston Atheists, the world’s largest geographic atheist meet-up group, with over 2,000 active members at that time, but Ken Ham refused to debate me. Nor would he let any of the PhD minions on his payroll face me on stage.  A few months later, he debated Bill Nye instead.  It seemed to me that Bill Nye was my replacement.  Either of us would have beaten Ham of course, but AnswersInGenesis ministries wouldn’t have made tens of thousands of dollars by having Ham debate little ol’ me, because I’m nobody. I’m not even on Wikipedia. I also wouldn’t have done it in Ham’s own venue where he gets to charge for tickets. Instead it would have been a neutral location, and it have cost him. That was my goal.

I was asked to come to a high school in east Texas, to debate some local preacher there.  Interest was so high that they were even going to move the event to a church, which had a bigger stadium than the high school, (how sad is that?).  That fell through when each of their ministers looked me up.  “Oh that guy?! Nevermind, not in our town.”  Suddenly both venues retracted their offers.  The school who issued the challenge suddenly decided that to have one of their clergymen debate me would have been a violation of the 1st amendment. Religion is full of little ironies like that.

So last week, someone finally tells me that he’s part of some group of people who all want me to debate some other guy, someone they’ve nominated to represent them and debate me on their behalf.  I’d never heard of that person, but that doesn’t matter, and I told them so.  Then I inquired as to the when and where, who would moderate, and so on.

As I waited for my answer, I looked the guy up.  Turns out he’s an underling of Ray Comfort, and promoted by Matt Slick.  I’ve already argued with both of those people and neither one warrants any further attention.  So if I’m already prepared for them (and who isn’t?) then I’m prepared for this guy too.

This is where it gets funny. I get an email back from the person who invited me, and I’m expecting him to give me a city and a venue and a schedule, perhaps sometime in December.  Instead, he doesn’t have any of that because their representative won’t answer their calls.  Turns out he never even accepted their nomination either.  They issued the challenge to me and named him as their champion, but without his knowledge or consent!  So they asked if I would contact this guy out of the blue and challenge someone I’ve never heard of, and who probably never heard of me either, and I should do this because he won’t talk to his own followers otherwise.  Why should I do this?

So I refused.  I said I’m not going to do this backwards, and it took six more email exchanges to explain to that person why you can’t put people on the spot like that.  If that guy hadn’t accepted their nomination, then it isn’t a sincere challenge. They shouldn’t already have me ready before they let him know what they’ve gotten him into.  They didn’t even give him any way to refuse discreetly without losing face. With friends like that, who needs enemies, right?

So the next time some organization (that I can actually confirm) asks me whether I will debate whoever your nominee is, make sure that person already knows who I am, and has agreed to debate me anyway.

9 thoughts on “Debatable

  1. I actually feel sorry for that guy. Not only did they push him out there and basically slam the door behind him as what could amount to a poorly designed sacrifice, but the guy already is someone who follows Ray Comfort (someone who promotes conversion therapy and other detrimental pseudoscientific practices) and is promoted by Matt Slick (who can’t even keep his definitions straight from one article he writes to another)? That’s like being pushed out the front door only to land face first in dog poop.

  2. I don’t know if it will help, but there’s a site called Internet Archive (http://archive.org/web/) that saves internet pages, including those that were deleted; perhaps the written debate is still there. As to wikipedia, would you like to have an article about you there?

    Also, I usually don’t watch debates; but I would love to see one between you and Ken Ham about evolution. It would be… enlightening.

  3. I’m nobody. I’m not even on Wikipedia

    FWIW, you’re not nobody to me.

    this is one of the few blogs I still have bookmarked.

    keep on keepin’ on.

  4. I generally find most discussions between believers and non-believers to be a game of talking past each other. For the believer, they start from a set of questions. What do I believe? What should I believe? What can I believe? For those of us on the other side we start from a different question. What can I know? Two groups (or two people) having separate monologues passed off as ‘conversation’. I know it sounds negative, but I have no idea how to improve the situation.

  5. “Complete records of that debate no longer exist. The archive was hosted by someone else, and the data was lost when that dot-com went out of business. Only fragments of it remain, quoted by different forums that were discussing it at the time.”

    Sounds a lot like a certain book…

  6. The word JEW was fabricated in the 18th century to mean a follower of Judaism. But the word Yid is designated for members of the Yiddish speaking tribe. Trotsky and the Bolsheviks were Yids not JEWS since none followed Judaism.

  7. Did AronRa Miss Real Point?

    Hello: I was ck-ing into dinosaurs and saw one of ur vids–which then led to ur vid, “Truth vs. Make-believe,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J6dik9UKMEY. And I think u miss the pt. about “faith” which u were denouncing, though I must admit lots of “Christians”–esp. the Judeo-Christian sort–follow the sort of “faith” u were describing so cogently in ur talk.

    See, aside fm the “religious” issue, “religion” merely being a means of integration of spirit, conscious and subconscious, Christianity is and was specifically anti-Pharisaism, defense of the original Mosaic law, Torah–this is what the New Test. is all about, though I wouldn’t want u to consider New Test. anything more than literature–not a strict historical accounting.

    Note Christ contended the Pharisees were hereticalists who had mis-led the Judean (not “Jew”) people, mis-representing Torah Law of Moses. So the Pharisees killed Christ (over which they gloat in their Talmud)–this being the story-line of New Test.

    My pt. is that u’re grossly mis-understanding true Christian “faith” which merely means loyalty, not beleeeeeeevin’, and that u allow urself to being diverted on a straw-man, fallacious notion of “faith,” a minor virtue, relatively, for true Christianity.

    For Christianity is merely allegoric, literary method of defending the original Torah philosophy against Pharisees, and that Torah philosophy was dramatized by Christ who symbolized TRUTH itself (Gosp. JOHN 14:6), the only way to God (and true happiness)–against Jew/Pharisaic lies (JOHN 8:44). Hence as Christ advocated TRUTH, he implicitly defended the OBJECTIVE reality of Aristotle, for example–against the subjectivism of Pharisees, objectivity being necessary basis of, criterion for truth.

    So I was disappointed in ur vid, “Truth vs. Make-Believe,” that u didn’t get to the most basic issue of objectivity vs. subjectivism which is at heart of Christian vs. Jew controversy–the real meaning of Christian “religion,” actually a most powerful vehicle of Western philosophy, reason, and science, all now in process of pathetic “Decline of the West,” by Oswald Spengler.

  8. melpeexxx @ # 6: The word JEW was fabricated in the 18th century …

    How odd, then, that the King James Bible from the very early 1600s includes that word 33 times.

    1. So what?–“Jew” nowadays refers to followers of Pharisees/Talmud, “Reform” Jews following yet another midrash (interpretation of Torah). “Jew” is not same as Judean of Christ’s day, only 5% of Judeans then following Pharisees. After rebellion of 70 AD all the Judean sects disappeared but for Christians and followers of Pharisees who arrogated unto themselves word, “Jew.” See RevisionstReview.blogspot.com for expo.

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