Would You Like to See a Debate Between Dinesh D'Souza and Myself?

Given the failure of Dr. Craig to step up and debate me, Dinesh D'Souza has agreed to do so. D'Souza is the author of What's So Great about Christianity. The students at Virginia Commonwealth University are in the planning stages of this now. Chief organizer Larry M wrote about it in a message to people on Facebook:
Outside of the many attempts from Loftus to get Craig to debate him, others have tried to weigh in. Landon has asked Craig to debate Loftus three times and Craig has denied. We even tried to get Tony from Biola University to ask some of Craig's colleagues to weigh in and they did not put much weight on this.

So, we will keep this group going and hopefully growing for now. Maybe we can convince Craig to a debate as more people join in.

In the mean time... We have an agreement from Dinesh D'souza to debate Loftus. Dinesh has read Loftus' book and was going to write a review...but never did, according to Loftus.

I'm working, as we speak, to get this debate going. I will keep everyone up to date on the progress. The only issue here is that Dinesh requires 10 grand plus travel expenses. Although I find this objectionable, I am working on finding funds for him. Loftus is requiring 2 grand plus travel.

We will try to have this debate at Virginia Commonwealth University, sponsored by the United Secular Alliance (affiliated with the Secular Student Alliance, the Atheist Alliance International, and the Rational Response Squad) and any other christian student club from VCU that would like to help, if money permits. Loftus and D'souza are in agreement and I'm going to try to meet with some Deans at VCU for funding as well as try to lobby some christian groups on campus to fork up some money. If you know anyone who would like to contribute, please contact me. Thank you.

In the meantime, spread the word.
Please do.

29 comments:

AIGBusted said...

I'd love to see it, I think you'd mop the floor with Dinesh, John!

ccubeman said...

Is that Virginia Commenwealth University (sic)? Otherwise it's definitely Virginia Commonwealth University.

ccubeman said...

I second AIGBusted.

John W. Loftus said...

I fixed it ccubeman.

Eric said...

I'd like to see you debate Dinesh. I think that Dinesh is underrated -- on the web -- as a debater. Hitchens said that Dinesh is one of the most formidable debaters, on any subject, that he's ever faced. Indeed, if I remember correctly, it was a debate with Dinesh that moved Hitch away from socialism.

Also, I've seen Dinesh in action against Dennett at Tufts. I was as interested in the audience response to Dinesh as I was in the debate itself. Initially, it was clearly a pro-Dennett crowd, but by the end of the debate, Dinesh was getting the more positive responses.

So, just to reiterate, it's easy to make fun of Dinesh online -- I see it done all the time -- but he's no joke at the podium. (I'm not saying that you've made fun of Dinesh, only that it's something of a cottage industry on the web.) You will definitely need to bring your A-game if you choose to debate him.

Left of Larry said...

We will do the best we can at VCU to get this thing going. I will say that it may be difficult coming up with the money that Dinesh is requesting given the nature of the economy and the fact that student group budgets are being cut by 25%. Our only hope is that some of the deans are willing to fork up the money. I have talked to the person who was responsible for bringing Frank Turek in to debate Christopher Hitchens at VCU and he said that 10 grand is going to be tough. I told him to come up with what he can and we'll present it to Dinesh. I'll keep you posted.

MC said...

D'Sousa fights dirty and takes ad-hom low-blows as often as he can.

I find that he is the "Radio Talk-Show Host" of the debating world.

Rob R said...

I've recently ordered your book.

For a guy who already has reading list and not a lot of time, what are the better chapters?

Marco said...

I think the difficulty in debating Dinesh D'Souza is that he is a master at diverting the subject. Sometimes he does so blatantly.
For example, look at his opening statement against mr. Peter Singer and watch Singer's formidable response.
So I think MC and I do agree.

scott said...

John,

I'd be interested in seeing this as well.

On a related note, given the response to your book, I'm wondering how Craig's continued refusal to debate you is being interpreted in the apologetics community?

B H said...

I don't want to see Dinesh debate anyone. He's a terrible thinker and has behaved even more terribly in every debate I've seen.

Teleprompter said...

I'd love to see this go forward, and I may be able to attend if this happens.

Madeleine said...

What I'd like to see is you taking up Glenn People's offer of an online debate and your rebuttal of Matthew Flannagan's critique of your position on divine command theory, John W. Loftus on The Christian Illusion of Moral Superiority.

But then instead of a whole heap of bluster about how good you are and how much organising its going to take you'd actually have no excuse to do anything more than get on with it because doing an online debate with Peoples and writing a response to Flannagan could be done immediately - no funds to raise.

Given the calibre of Drs Peoples and Flannagan I have no trouble understanding why you'd prefer to keep calling Craig a chicken and speak of debates that are going to require fundraising in the thousands if they are ever going to happen.

Eric said...

Dinesh has debated Singer twice. The debate you're referring to, Marco, was their first debate. Apparently, Singer thought it worth debating Dinesh again, so it's hard to make the case that Dinesh is as nasty as MC claims. Also, the likes of Shermer, Barker and Hitchens have debated Dinesh on multiple occasions, and Dennet has debated him once. Apparently, a lot of incredibly smart people think Dinesh is worthy of a public debate.

Now, at the Biola debate, the official topic was, 'God: Yes or No?' This is an obviously ambiguous way of putting the question. However, the ambiguity is cleared up once you realize that the debate concerned both god's existence *and* its meaning for human flourishing. So, 'God: Yes or No?' is best construed as, 'does god exist, yes or no?' and 'are we better off with belief in god, yes or no?'

Given this, and given the fact that Singer's moral theory is atheistic, it was perfectly reasonable for Dinesh to bring it up. He was saying, without god, our moral reasoning leads to conclusions like Singer's, and Singer's conclusions are not conducive to human flourishing. You can of course disagree with Dinesh about Singer's moral theory, but it doesn't seem to me, given the information in the link I provided, that you can argue that Dinesh's attack on Singer's moral theory 'diverted the subject.'

Marco said...

Eric,

I'm actually pointing at the moments where he misrepresents or poorly translates Singer's theories. This all happens in a quite cheap way. He gives the impression that he does't make any effort to fully and correcly represent Singer's ethical views. He just profiles them in such a way that people will be shocked right from the start.

Just notice his remark about his Atheist-bashing week.

He strikes me as a person that is not sincerely looking for any new insights, he just wants to be right so badly.

Besides that this does not mean that he's a lousy debater, but I'd certainly rethink debating him. There's little constructive about it.

Eric said...

Marco, I get the impression that people like Singer who do in fact say controversial things don't like it when what they say is simply and clearly stated.

For example, in his debate with Dennett, Dinesh said that Dennett believes that consciousness is an illusion. Dennett denied ever having suggested any such thing, and accused Dinesh of misrepresenting him. However, I've heard Dennett say exactly this, and so can you.

(By the way, the link I provided leads to an amazing site with a number of videos that are well worth checking out!)

John W. Loftus said...

Madeleine, I'm finding you to be a bit obnoxious and desperate in promoting your grocery store clerk of a husband. Why didn't you also link to this post along with my comment? And why hasn't he responded yet to it?

I'll respond to him when he stops mischaracterizing my arguments by failing to apply the principle of charity to them. He does know what that means, doesn't he? Or, is it that atheist arguments don't deserve to be treated with charity? I'll deal with the most significant objections he has to offer if he ever actually does engage my whole argument, which, as I said, he must do in order to evaluate my whole case. After all, the cumulative case is what he needs to take aim at, not one swipe at what the Bible says about slavery.

Cheers.

Corky said...

Dinesh plays dirty. He makes you use up your time on his sneaky questions while he knows exactly where and when to make his points.

You will have to use your allotted time to debate Christianity and not waste it on inane and sundry things not even related to your argument that he will bring up.

Like I say, he's a dirty debater. I wouldn't waste my time debating him but anyway, good luck.

Bit said...

I should think William Lane Craig is a busy guy. Did he refuse, or just can't get to it?

Bluemongoose said...

John should debate apologetists Ravi Zacharias and/or Paul Copan. They are not your ordinary debaters, and what they have to say would knock your socks off.

Eric said...

I see that Bart Ehrman will be debating Dinesh in October.

Corky said...

Eric said...
I see that Bart Ehrman will be debating Dinesh in October.
-----------------.

Heh heh, Dinesh thinks he's a scholar - Bart Ehrman is the real deal. That'll be a debate I wouldn't want to miss.

Dinesh doesn't get to debate actual biblical scholars very often so it should be a very interesting year ahead.

Eric said...

Corky, it depends on the issue of the debate. If it's god's existence, I fail to see why Ehrman will have an advantage. I've yet to see Dinesh in a debate where the issue concerns Ehrman's area of expertise, viz. textual criticism. However, Ehrman does have a bit of experience as a debater (in high school, if I remember correctly), so I expect a good show (if it's made available).

smalltalk said...

I'd like to see it the thing is that you'd have to watch his previous debates. The one against Hitchens is a good example.

Be prepared for
Circular logic
out of context scientific quotes
quote mining

Another thing he does is throw a lot of inaccurate arguments together so debunking each one of them would actually take hours to do. Then when you only debunk one or two, he will claim that you didn't debunk what he said.

Dinesh likes to debate using 'science' and not the bible, but generally what he does is take broad concepts of science which he over simplifies and then applies them in ways in which they were not meant to be applied.

An example can be found here. (even though this blog entry is in regards to W.L. Craig)
http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2009/04/08/how-to-defend-the-kalam-cosmological-argument-just-like-william-lane-craig/

chuck said...

Dinesh is very, very irritating to listen to. His most formidable (if irrelevant)skills are lung power, sarcasm and changing the subject.
If he makes that "Mosquito at a nudist colony" quip once more, I'll throw my shoes at him from the audience.
He's a knowledgeable guy in some subjects, like history, and a tricky debater to be sure, but a crappy moral philosopher.
And If you listen closely which I'm sure you have, he reveals he's an agnostic, really, and that religion is good because of it's track record of (sometimes) providing social benefits. Weak.

Eric said...

Chuck, Dinesh is an agnostic in a rather technical sense because he's using the term knowledge in a technical sense. An agnostic claims not to know, and Dinesh argues that we can't know that god exists, since knowledge involves justified, true belief. Now, he would claim, we can believe god exists, and we can be justified in making that claim, but we can't be certain it's true (in most cases). Hence, he claims to have justified belief but not knowledge. So, it doesn't seem to me as if the 'Dinesh is an agnostic' move will get you anywhere.

Ken McDonagh said...

I think the fact that you're letting people like the Rational Response Squad and "Left of Larry" sponsoring and advertising this debate shows a lack of integrity on your part Mr. Loftus. Surly you realize how low of moral character these people are. By working with them you're legitimizing them. Larry and the RRS are a disgrace to the freethinking society. Why do you think so many atheists have turned against them?

chuck said...

Eric, Yes, I'not complaining that DD has agnostic views. It's a good thing. He just seems reluctant to say so.
He's a good debater, and is well paid for it, so perhaps he's just being the devil's advocate (a la Johnny Cochran).
It depends on the topic whether or not John should bother. The whole, "does god exist?" topic is too vague, as is the very definition of "god" in the first place, and the theist position usually taken in response is some semantically tortured form of "you can't disprove it, therefore it's reasonable to believe".

danielg said...

Atheists seem to hate D'Souza, and love to take potshots at him as inferior. And while he does take some fun potshots, and sometimes changes the subject, I find that often, he is accused of changing the subject when he is really addressing the root of the disagreement, rather than the superficial objection that the atheist, like the awful Dawkins, puts forth.