Dan Barker vs. Dinesh D'Souza Debate

Since I'll be debating Dinesh D'Souza on Februrary 10th at the University of Illinois, I'm interested in watching his previous debates. See what you think.


Dan said...

Ah! DInish opening up with a comedy bit I've heard him do numerous times. "He's raised so many points, I feel like a mosquito in a nudist colony - I don't know where to being!" A cheap way to try and bring the audience on your side. And really, as Dinesh HAS used this joke in more than one debate, I wonder... how long before Dinesh goes into a debate knowing where he can begin? Regardless, after this joke, he says he'll instead focus on his own evidence in the opening remarks. Fine, good. I appreciate that - but you wasted my time with a bad joke.

On TOP of that, Dinesh also INSULTS Barker, even before the joke. Dinesh says it was because Barker hurt his head that he came to these conclusions. So insulting and simplistic, avoiding any real argument against his conversion. Pathetic.

Dan said...

At 38min Dinesh begins listing the "facts" that Jesus was real, walked the earth, died, and was resurrected.

Diniesh says many disciples saw the risen Jesus.... Okay, how is this different from knowing Elvis was real, seeing him die, and now we have many believers who say they've seen him? Also why don't we take seriously those who claim they've seen Jesus and were told to do "terrible" things? If God told them to do it, it wouldn't be terrible because God choose what is good and bad. And what about the other religions who claim to see their OWN gods?

Dinish then claims it's "a little far fetched" that disciples, who were mainly women, were able to fight off the guards, roll back the stone and stole the body. A little far fetched?! This coming from a guy who's asking us to believe in a man who defied all known laws and rose from the dead?! Come ON!

Andy Walters said...

That was maddening to watch. D'Souza is the king of erecting straw men and debunking them by ridiculously irrelevant appeals to analogy, and Dan, though sincere, is just not as good a debater.

D'Souza is also an outright dick, which doesn't help much. I would have verbally chided him for his ad hominems.

I thought Dan could have done a better job rebutting D'Souza. When you are debating him, nail him on the cosmological argument by getting him to admit that the force of the argument derives from our intuitive aversion to an uncaused cause, and then show that theists are just as liable as atheists since God is an uncaused cause.

I thought Dan's case was hurt by delving in depth into modern cosmology.

I also think Dinesh's knowledge of religious history is appallingly inept. Dinesh really thinks that the Genesis creation myth is ex-nihilo, but even a simple read of the text shows it is not. It was a much later add-on, and no Old Testament scholar I'm familiar with denies that, so I would've called him out on that.

Anonymous said...

D'Souza's primary debate strategies are as follows:

a) Indirectly insult his opponent
b) Talk very loudly, and if his opponent starts making too many good points, or starts to make him feel uncomfortable, START TALKING EVEN MORE LOUDLY.

Just an FYI so you know what you're getting yourself into. I really don't understand why people insist on continuing to debate this clown.

x said...

One of Dinesh's arguments for ID is the fine tuning of the universe for life and if any of the fundamental forces were slightly different life wouldn't exist. He has used this comment in a few of his debates.
The problem is he assumes we know everything about cosmology. He ignores that what we see is 5% of the universe and that the fundamental forces act on that 5%. We don't know what the other 95% is or does. 5% of so far known matter and the even tinnier % that the earth is does not seem like it was made for life.

Elliot said...

While I am a believer, you (refer to Dinesh) cannot use the argument that the Bible says Jesus resurrected so it is historical true, because within the Bible also says "there are many disciples saw the risen Jesus..."

Harlan Quinn said...

The argument that the universe is "just right" for life is a circular argument.
"since we know life exists in this range of parameters, then it must have been made that way, especially for us, or we wouldn't be here."
I've seen several distinguished and respected scientists in interviews say something like this. However, dysrationalia (aka faulty reasoning) is no respecter of men.

Here it is rephrased using the same form using the method of reducto absurdum
since we know cockroaches exist in this range of parameters, then it must have been made that way, especially for cockroaches, or they wouldn't be here.

its the anthropic principle
it fails because
it presumes that life depends on carbon
and to put humans rather than cockroaches as the center of the argument is special pleading.

rephrased to properly leave a path out of circularity and to avoid a hasty conclusion and special pleading
since we know life arose and exists in this range of parameters, we know that it MIGHT be possible to reproduce life under the same conditions.

What other range of parameters can life arise out of and exist in?
Lets start looking.

Unfortunately, we're locked into this universe and we can't see out, like being in "platos cave.

That's why we have to use sound principles of logic in a functional rather than dysfunctional rational process to make sound inferences that are probabilistically likely.

If you three drinking buddies stand and throw darts at a wall, what you will find is that the darts will leave clusters of holes.

Now that your done, you all say, "we meant to cluster them that way".

Its the law of large numbers and unless you know how it works, you get fooled by the emergence of patterns.

The proper way to handle any conclusion is to turn it into a question and then list what it would take to make it true, then start investigating each element that would make it true.

Thats pretty much the scientific method restated from the viewpoint of informal logic.

Chris said...

"it presumes that life depends on carbon and to put humans rather than cockroaches as the center of the argument is special pleading."

Well since the life we know is made of carbon it is not irrational to think that the universe is "fine-tuned".

Harlan Quinn said...

"fine tuned" requires some additional qualifiers such as and not limited to
-"who" fine tuned it, and
- showing that it couldn't gotten that way on its own and
- showing that life wouldn't have arisen out of any other set of circumstances.

so using "rational" as "a reasoning process" you are right but it is a dysfunctional reasoning process.

Chris said...

"so using "rational" as "a reasoning process" you are right but it is a dysfunctional reasoning process."

But isn't just as dysfunctional to say that we shouldn't think carbon life is special if we know of no other kind of life?

Dan said...

Since we're on a roll talking about the fine tuning argument... my favorite rebuttal of this comes from Neil Degrasse Tyson who shows just how much the cosmos and this planet are fine tuned for live, and indeed ourselves are not really fine tuned either....

The is the last section of his brilliant speech which you should watch in its entirety. This section is called "Stupid Design":


Chris said...

Evolution explains why there are glitches in life. One can believe in God and accept evolution. But we are talking about the cosmos.

Harlan Quinn said...

if its dysfunctional, you tell me why.
A "you do it too" red herring does nothing to support your position, but it does support doubt about its feasibility.

Harlan Quinn said...

Okay Chris,
Vishnu did it.
there how do you like that?

Chris said...

I told you it is dysfunctional b/c you are asserting the argument only explains carbon-based life but thats the only life we know.

Harlan Quinn said...

that red herring stinks, get it out of here.

so you agree that yahweh, vishnu and chance are all on equal footing for hypotheses for how the universe and everything in it came to be?

Chris said...

"that red herring stinks, get it out of here."

How is it a red herring when I just responded to your argument?

Harlan Quinn said...

as i'm sure you know a red herring is a distraction from the main point. the main point is the anthropic principle.

I laid out several reasons why it doesn't get you further than speculation and puts it back on equal footing with any other theory of origins.

If you agree that the anthropic principle is useless then fine, otherwise defend it.

put up some qualifiers.

Chris said...

"I laid out several reasons why it doesn't get you further than speculation and puts it back on equal footing with any other theory of origins.

I don't think this principle is proof that there is a Creator. But I think this principle can be part of one's cumulative case for a trancendent being.

Piratefish said...

Does anybody know this guy's statistics? Like how many times he had been judged as winning the debates by the audience? I'm really curious of this because Mr. D'Souza's arguments are mostly bunk, if he sticks around this long I guess the audience are not that wise either.

Harlan Quinn said...

one piece,
one qualifier,
you need several more,
like for example,
how do you know a trancendent being is possible outside of imagination?

what leads you to think a trancendent being is possible outside of imagination?

Personal experience?
Who knows anything about that being? Who is qualified to testify on its behalf?

anyone? anyone? Beuller?

Harlan Quinn said...

all christian arguments are just as bunky as all religious arguments because they are grounded in the "authority" of unauthenticated "divinely revealed" texts.

it is simple, if you press these guys on that they have no where to go but either ignore you, use distractions (as chris is attempting), or personal attacks.

it is so simple that if you take the position of a hindu then whatever arguments christians use against you, all you have to do is know a little hindu apologetics and then when the christain replies, just use the same form of argument against them by changing some words.

If their arguments had any merit, this wouldn't be possible, but it is possible because religion is not grounded in reality.

religion doesn't fit with established knowledge, except MAYBE buddhism.


have you noticed religious people agree to disagree with each other but absolutely throw in the kitchen sink against an atheist?

Chris said...

"how do you know a trancendent being is possible outside of imagination?"

Are you saying that belief in God is just a figment of one's imagination?

"Personal experience?
Who knows anything about that being? Who is qualified to testify on its behalf?"

I don't think one can just disqualify ones personal religious experience because it can't be studied scientifically.

All these evidences that you are asking for aren't really scientific questions. But if someone just believes science is the only truth than whatever I say that is outside of science you will discard.

Chris said...

Its funny that I didn't even mention Christianity or a specific religion. Thats the problem with certain atheists who start on a tirade about religion in general when we are not even talking about that. Talk about a red herring!

Harlan Quinn said...

This blog is called
debunking christianity,
its what we do here,
what religion are you if you're not christian, and if you're not christian why are you here?

herring spiced with a little ad hominem, its whats for dinner.

Harlan Quinn said...

I am saying a belief in god is only ROOTED in unauthenticated "divinely revealed" texts, unless you want to say that you believe in the same god that neanderthals believed in.

then you have to reconcile why the "divinely revealed" texts don't agree, even with the neanderthals.

What you have here is an information quality problem.

Chris said...

This site doesn't just talk about christianity. When it talks about God or belief in God in general than I can respond. Is this an atheist club where you have to have the same opinions to respond?

Harlan Quinn said...

have a nice day.
i'm moving on.

Anonymous said...

I got love for a brother, but Dinesh got owned.

Anonymous said...

It seems that Dan Barker's rhetoric isn't doing him that much good anymore. He's just not fresh in his presentation. I'm afraid his words went in one ear and out the other. He's just preaching to the choir.

Johnny P said...

i have heard d'souza use the same poorly made points in many of his debates. it enraged me so that i emailed him as follows. john, these seem like weaknesses to go for:

Dear Dinesh,
I apologise for the apparent randomness of this email, but I have watched several debates of yours recently on Youtube (where else?). I have noticed that you use an argument of causality connecting atheism with the massive number of deaths in the last 100 years (Pol Pot, Nazism, Communism etc).

I cannot help being astonished by this, since you seem to overlook several massively important points:

1) populations only increased exponentially after the industrial revolution. Thus the destruction of large civilisations was not so impactful, since large populations did not, in effect, exist. Thus when civilisations have been wiped out in the name of religion etc, their numbers have been comparativley low (eg the Aztecs). Had the Aztec and Spanish populations been relative to 20th century figures, then the annihilation of the Aztecs by Conquistadors may have run into the 10s of millions or more.

2) Even more importantly, you miss the point that large numbers of deaths under secular regimes is a correlation not a causal point. The vast numbers of deaths are more a result of technology since the Industrial Revolution. Gas chambers, atomic bombs, trains for mass transportation, machine guns, artillery, chemical warfare, Trident missiles. If these technologies had been available to the Crusaders, to all the religious conquests prior to the Industrial Revolution, then the numbers of deaths related to Christianity and other religions would be hugely higher.

Please take these two points into consideration in your future debates, otherwise you misinform your listeners, and make them think that secular regimes = high deaths, religious regimes = low deaths. This is out of context and incorrect, a correlation only.

Thanks for you time!

he emailed me back saying:

Johnno: I discuss these points in my book "What's So Great About Christianity."

1. I adjust for population levels and show that this makes no difference to my argument.

2. I show that methods of killing change the picture, but not as much as you think. For example, Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot used very primitive forms of murder,
e.g. mass relocation and famine and so on.

actually, he is not correct on either of these points. a good argument, and i couple of points i had not heard, are brought up in one of nonstampcollector's excellent videos (not a cartoon this one)http://www.youtube.com/user/NonStampCollector#p/u/21/LQ1EWMhBVSU

i don't rate d'souza - i think he's weak. no pressure though...

Anonymous said...

You will be greeted by--
the cosmological argument
the fine-tuning the argument
the resurrection argument (lifted from Craig)
You will probably be greeted by some fourth argument prepared for the occasion.

One point to stress: how non-explanatory is the existence of God as an explanation. It’s very hard, of course, to get back to the first one trillionth of a second of the life of the universe, though that’s what we hope to do at CERN. But all this is a search for material evidence as to what’s here and what’s there, and how it is that the world might have gotten from here to there. God is no more than a great mystery, who is postulated to have no material existence--itself a baffling notion--and hence renders it impossible for there to be a mechanism explaining how the world got from here to there

You have to be prepared to hit back at this “martyrs don’t stick to falsehoods” nonsense. Have at hand evidence that in the first-century empire Paul and the rest rarely if ever faced death at the hands of the Jews, that martyrs were rarer than Craig suggests, and that for sure once all the witnesses were gone nobody had first-hand evidence of any sort, they were only buying into myth the same way as today’s believers.
Also, have at hand an instance of martyrs who believe something that sticks in the Christian’s craw--animist or Muslim or Stalinist or fascist martyrs.

You need a good cite as to the alleged 10,000 near death experiences--instances of experiencing by the clinically dead. It’s impossible for the non-functioning brain to have experiences, if it does, brain death cannot have occurred, neural activity is occurring.

Don’t question the historicity of Jesus--don’t, that is, suggest that Paul was fooled into believing he existed.

Johnny P said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris said...

So D'Souza loves the Fine Tuning Argument. I don't get why theists aren't running away from this argument, as it has some dire consequences for God's autonomy.

What I never see addressed by the theistic side with regard to the "fine tuning" argument is how this supposedly narrow range of constants doesn't handcuff the purportedly omnipotent God. If we're living within the only set of physical constants that could possibly allow for life (which I do not grant, but hang with me), God would have no choice but to create a universe with this exact set of constants. He would be utterly handcuffed to the point where he couldn't do otherwise. If God could create universes with different constants that would also work, why couldn't those have naturally arisen? In other words, either these constants aren't such a severe limitation, or God had no freedom to vary his creative activities.

Victor Stenger addresses the reason why these constants are overblown, but for the theist who demands that they necessarily MUST be what they are, I sure would love an answer to what this would mean for God.

Good luck in the debate.

Chris said...

I'm going to second what Anonymous said above -- I advise against debating the historicity of Jesus, even if you favor the mythicist position. I personally am persuaded toward historicity, that is, a fully human Jesus in the apocalyptic prophet genre as proposed by Bart Ehrman, E.P. Sanders, and others. Even if I were still a mythicist as I was for a while, I'd avoid that road because defending it is such a hairy, intricate process that inevitably gets you dismissed as a crank early on.

Laurel said...

D'Souza's assumption that people become non-theist because they're afraid of judgment in a hereafter is infuriating rubbish. Those who make such accusations ---and there are multitudes of them---are blinded by the iatrogenic disease of doctrine. I like what John Spong says about the doctrine of original sin and "fallen man." It goes something like this: "Christian theology posits than humans are fallen from an angelic realm and therefore need a savior to save them from the wrath of God because of their fallen condition. Reality, however, is that humankind has not risen to an angelic realm, thus the idea of original sin and the need for salvation from it are absurd."

When I hear believers accuse non-believers of being afraid of judgment, I hear the sound of the believers' own fear of the God they euphemistically call "good" and the rattle of the chains of their own enslavement to Christian doctrine.

Julio César Fernández said...

I do not think we would have to go back in a creator but tambie'n in the existence of a vacuum surrounding a particle of energy that expanded and formed the planets and life in ellos.Yo consider the possibility that vacuum energy surrounding which led to everything we know and what was not god.

Jonathan said...

Barker loses it when he tries to call out D'souza on the fine tuning arguemnt. That argument is stated as, these constants are so amazing therefore God did it. Barker's response was to describe an alternative to god did it, but his description of multiverse theory was stated as though that is definitely true, which it is not. And D'souza calls him out CORRECTLY on that point.

What Barker should have merely said is that there are valid alternatives to god did it, and merely state that the multiverse theory COULD be that explanation. This statement rebuts the certainty that is claimed by the fine tuning argument.

The fine tuning argument is not debunked by producing certainty of an alternative, but merely by showing that the fine tuning argument does not arrive at any certainty of a god by showing alternatives to god. There is no need to prove those alternatives. Barker lost it by trying to prove one of the alternatives instead of just presenting an alternative.