About the Barker/Manata Debate

Exbeliever comments on the Dan Barker vs Paul Manata debate here. It's a good read...check it out!

11 comments:

openlyatheist said...

Will you be posting your comments, John?

John W. Loftus said...

I find it difficult to comment when I don't have a transcript of the debate in front of me. And it's hard to be objective when I side completely with Barker and think he did a fine job in answering Manata, who has a domineering style. If Manata were to ask me several simple questions in a row like he asked Barker, I would've simply said to him, "stop this silliness and make your point."

From memory: The very last analogy that Manata gave was that of marbles. His question, I think, was that if all that exists are these marbles then how can we expect those marbles to have an objective standard for moral truth? His point was that they cannot.

Barker extended the analogy to include God as part (or one) of the marbles. If we say that all that exists are marbles and we include God as one of the marbles, then we're in the same boat. How can we know that God is truly good and that he has an objective standard for moral truth?

You see, it doesn't do presuppositionalists any good to say atheists don't have an objective standard for moral truth when we question whether that which they presuppose has any better objective standard for knowledge and truth. What Barker's analogy was getting at was the Euthyphro dilemma And the Euthyphro dilemma puts an end to this presuppositionalist nonsense. So I say to presuppositionalists, solve that dilemma before we go any further.

I also thought Barker did a fine job when he asked why Manata believes a snake talked. Barker suggested that the principle of induction stands as overwhelming evidence against the story told in Genesis 3, as well as other Biblical claims. For none of us have experienced a snake that really talks. The only reason Manata believes a snake talked was because "someone told a story." Manata uses that "story" to count as evidence against all of our inductive conclusions about snakes, rather than letteing his own inductive conclusions about snakes to count as evidence against the reliability of the story in Genesis 3, and that's just strange and muddled thinking. Does Manata believe any similar "stories" told today just because someone tells them? Barker told a story with tongue-in-cheek about a cat that spoke Spanish to him. Such a story goes against what the principle of induction tells us can happen, and so Manata inconsistently said he didn't believe it. Of course he doesn't. But he won't apply that same clear thinking to the story about a snake that talked. Snakes do not have vocal chords, nor the other things needed to talk!

Barker could've gone into more detail if Paul wasn't so domineering, but to presuppose these Biblical stories against what the principle of induction tells us could happen, especially when those particular stories come from a highly superstitious ancient people, isn't the hallmark of clear thinking.

TheLordGodEddie said...

Apart from the fact that I still don’t know what point Manata was trying to make, I have to say, the most hilarious moment of this debate was when Manata was beating his chest, demanding that Barker repent and turn to the lard jeebus christ (of nothing), to which Dan had a brilliant response. Yeah, go to hell you piece of shit!

And just who the hell does Manata think he is to question why his *god* made Barker an unbeliever?

:-)

Paul Manata said...

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/07/reflections-on-my-debate-with-dan.html

Gerard Charmley said...

Eddie, while one may disagree with Christians, silly name calling is foolish and only makes you look childish. Yes, we can all use silly names. Most of us learned that in reception (sorry for any poor spelling. That I didn't learn in First School).

But to the substance.

I like the analogy of a political debate for this sort of encounter. This seems to have responded to the analogy. You feel Barker won because he spoke to you. Put yourself in a Christian's shoes, and imagine what you'd have thought them.

It seems to me that both sides said what they wanted to say, and their supporters felt they acquitted themselves well.

Eddie, your reflection on Barker's 'brilliant response' makes the point well. This response was no more than a 'so's your old man' argument. But of course it plays well with the folks in Peoria, to quote either Truman or Ike.

Rather like a good political debate, really, address the base (who will be the only persons who are listening).

Loftus, the 'I'd have done better' belief is one delusion to which we are all subject. Truth is, you and Mantana would have had a very different debate.

Paul Manata said...

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/07/barkers-bulldog.html

TheLordGodEddie said...

Eddie, while one may disagree with Christians, silly name calling is foolish and only makes you look childish.
Uhm, I didn’t call either Manata or Barker names – I used something against the Christian *god* in the same way as that *god* use name calling towards me when he says I am a fool for not believing. I laugh at their god the same way they laugh at other gods – and you failed to separate that from how I would react towards both of them as human beings.

You feel Barker won because he spoke to you.
No, you simply assume that – I haven’t given my opinions on this debate – which by the way I score 50/50, although I feel like Manata used big words and slogans that he either doesn’t know the meaning of, or he failed to explain them properly. To that extend, Barker made a much “clearer” argument that can be understood by the lay person listening to such debates. I score it that, not because Manata was able to make a coherent case which convinced me of his argument, but because he seemed better prepared for this debate than Barker. He clearly did his homework on Barker, which is why he won half the debate.

Put yourself in a Christian's shoes, and imagine what you'd have thought them.
Uhm, I have been in Christian shoes, so I know “what they’d have thought” – I don’t understand what you mean by this.

It seems to me that both sides said what they wanted to say, and their supporters felt they acquitted themselves well.
I have YET to see a debate where this is not the case, and why it’s such an collosal waste of time in my opinion. Personally I prefer to do my own research from the written works of such apologists, draw my own conclusions, and come to my own understanding.

Eddie, your reflection on Barker's 'brilliant response' makes the point well. This response was no more than a 'so's your old man' argument. But of course it plays well with the folks in Peoria, to quote either Truman or Ike.
Yeah, that was the thing about this debate that stood out, and it was funny because of the irony given that Manata is a Calvinist. Is he unfamiliar with Hebrews? There is not turning back for Barker (or me for that matter). I trampled on their “Savior” and he cannot be crucified for me again. This little blurb said more about Manata than anything else in this debate.

Rather like a good political debate, really, address the base (who will be the only persons who are listening).
Actually I wanted to listen to see how atheists (and I am not one) have no rational basis for their point of view, and I was looking forward to Manata making a good case. I went into this with an open mind, but his *logic* failed on so many levels that there is nothing to write home about. Truth be told, he can use “beg the question” a little less – it sounds like his fallback answer when he is in a corner.

Gerard Charmley said...

Eddie, if I may start at the beginning, I'll ignore your fist point, as I think we have to agree to differ on it.

Equally, I'd agree with you on the result, from the comments others have used. That was meant to be my point.

On the shoes argument, I meant, 'would you, if you were )still) a Christian, have felt the same way, or would you have been cheering for the other side?'

Next, I see we agree. Personally, I feel debates do have some use in encapsulating arguments and presenting them. Not everyone can afford the time to read all the latest apologetics, nor does everyone care as much.

Your next point is really the point above, with some stuff about you believing you're going to hell. All I can say is that can't be healthy.

Finally, even although you are not an atheist, you are not a Christian. Christians seem to disagree with you, so it seems my point was correct. You would be caunted on a political level as a 'leaning independent', that is, you are leaning away from Christianity. Thus, as you listened, I must suppose you cut Barker some slack, even unconsciously, while you leaned away from Mantana. And there are some people who do have stock quotes, Lloyd-Jones' was 'this simply will not do', for example. But that's a debate tutor's point, not a substantive one.

Gerard Charmley said...

oh and Eddie, if you laugh at all gods, what do you believe in if you are not an atheist.

TheLordGodEddie said...

On the shoes argument, I meant, 'would you, if you were )still) a Christian, have felt the same way, or would you have been cheering for the other side?'
I have honestly been listening to so many of these debates, and I find myself frequently accepting some responses theists make, as I do understand their response from their point of view, even if I disagree with their conclusions. Personally I don’t cheer for a winner in any debate, and I don’t approach it to pick a winner, but to learn something from it.

Personally, I feel debates do have some use in encapsulating arguments and presenting them. Not everyone can afford the time to read all the latest apologetics, nor does everyone care as much.
I agree, and that’s why I DO listen, but it comes back to your earlier point – it’s really futile to look for a winner, because we ALL approach and comprehend life from our own set of biases – even these debaters.

Your next point is really the point above, with some stuff about you believing you're going to hell. All I can say is that can't be healthy.
No, I don’t believe that, they believe that, so my response is on their level.

Finally, even although you are not an atheist, you are not a Christian. Christians seem to disagree with you, so it seems my point was correct. You would be caunted on a political level as a 'leaning independent', that is, you are leaning away from Christianity.
That is true.

Thus, as you listened, I must suppose you cut Barker some slack, even unconsciously, while you leaned away from Mantana.
Not really, although I appreciate the simplicity of many of Barker’s responses, like I said, I was disappointed in his lack of research on Manata. It seems Manata went after Barker by means of research, whereas Barker assumed a lot of things about Manata (correctly so in many cases) without knowing or engaging Manata on the same level. Thus, I can give credit and critique where it’s due to both.

And there are some people who do have stock quotes, Lloyd-Jones' was 'this simply will not do', for example. But that's a debate tutor's point, not a substantive one.
You are correct, but I simply pointed out because it annoyed me towards the end, which is neither here nor there.

oh and Eddie, if you laugh at all gods, what do you believe in if you are not an atheist.
My response about what I believe is too multi-layered, so let’s just say I am agnostic.

Gerard Charmley said...

Thank you, Eddie. It's good to find one can still discuss things rationally, no matter how hostile the audience seems at first look.

1. On the shoes part, it seems that the leaning part explains this. Your verdict was 50/50, leaning towards Barker in substantive issues. Your belief is agnostic leaning away from Christianity. Again, if this had been a political debate, a good pollster would have predicted this response. But I'll accept that you do not listen in to cheer on. You are a leaning independent. I mistook you for a committed believer.

2. I agree with your second point. That's been my main point from the start. Is it futile to look for a winner, though? That depends on who one is and what one's purpose is.

3. Sorry, your language seemed to suggest you agreed with them.

5. I'd argue that your response demonstrates a leaning, but not a whole-hearted bias. But we shall probably never agree on this. The problem with leaning is that, unlike bias, it is hard to work out and realise. Bias is often easy to spot in ourselves, as it includes obvious commitments. Leaning includes unconscious attitudes. My biases are that I am a Conservative (in the UK that's the opposition to Tony Blair), and an Evangelical. I can adjust for these in my work. Instinctive sympathies are harder to adjust for, for example, I was brought up an Anglican and doing an essay on Welsh Disestablishment (argument between Christians), I found I was being drawn to the Anglican side, despite the fact that I now attend an independent Evangelical Church (ex-Presbyterian). That is due to a leaning of which I was not aware.

6. Finally, I'm afraid we'll always go through life being annoyed by other people's verbal mannerisms. But you recognise that's only a personal perculiarity and/or a point of technique.

For my part, I'll admit to using political techniques in referring to the debate. But after some years of involvement in party politics, I suppose I found that political language is the most appropriate for this sort of debate, where there is serious disagreement as to who won.