Vincent Torley: Hi John, if you really believe that sophisticated theology no longer deserves to be taken seriously, then you should be able to take on its ablest exponents in a debate and wipe the floor with them. Are you confident that if you were to publicly debate someone like Ed Feser before a live audience and an impartial panel of adjudicators, you would win?I guess one person's sophisticated theologian is another's "wimpy theist", eh? I wonder what Randal Rauser thinks of Edward Feser's sophisticated theology? Sophisticated atheologian Keith Parsons would agree with Torley that Edward Feser is someone to be taken seriously. Does Rauser? Curious minds want to know.
JWL: Hi Vincent, why the emphasis on debates? I doubt I could effectively debate a Scientologist or a Mormon, or a Muslim. So? That just means someone is better at debating sophisticated theology. That does not say anything else.
VT: OK, then. What about a written debate - say, a book where you and some philosopher like Feser can argue it out? My point is that if there isn't some kind of ideal argumentative format in which you can present your case, take on all comers and win, then why should I (or anyone else) believe you're right?
JWL: Vincent, I already co-wrote such a book.
VT: You did indeed, John. The problem was that your opponent, Randal Rauser, is a trained theologian and Christian apologist, but not a philosopher - and it showed. As one reviewer of your book politely put it: "Rauser is perhaps not the best (or at least, not the more forceful) advocate for the Christian position that could have been featured." I also watched some of the online debate between you and Rauser on God's existence, via the link you presented. The opening statements were vigorously argued, but there were no 10-minute rebuttals on both sides, so there was no good follow-up. Instead, a third guy, a self-styled anti-apologist, interposed himself between you both, which upset the flow of the debate. It was a lost opportunity. I wish there had been a more lively free-for-all at the end. Anyway, you really need to debate a proper Christian philosopher - and not a wimpy theist who thinks belief in God is "properly basic," but someone who's prepared to defend classical theism (and Christianity) on rational grounds. LINK.