D’Souza vs Loftus: Does the Christian God exist?

atheism Debates religion

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On the 9th of February 2010 at the University of Illinois (Champagne-Urbana campus) Dinesh D’Souza debated John Joftus on the question “Does the Christian God Exist”?

There exists a broad consensus among those who I have read assessing the debate, whether Christian or sceptic (including John Loftus himself). I won’t tell you what that consensus is. By the time you’ve watched the debate, I won’t need to. Here’s part one of the debate. There are thirteen parts:

As you listen to this debate, bear a couple of things in mind. Firstly, D’Souza is a good presenter of arguments and I would take no credit from him. However, it’s not terribly controversial to say that he isn’t the most academically esteemed defender of Christianity out there. Someone like William Craig would take that title, and perhaps the title of the best public defender of Christianity as well. Bear in mind, in light of how you see this debate unfold, that John Loftus wants a public debate with William Lane Craig. For the sake of the Christian cause, I’d really like that to happen. But I doubt that it will. That would be like Ken Ham demanding that Richard Dawkins publicly debate him on Darwinism. It would be great for Darwinism, but it will never ever happen.

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{ 16 comments… add one }
  • kenneth February 27, 2010, 4:30 pm

    Oh please. I have watched the debate, and nobody would ever say that Loftus won.

    When I watched it I figured that desparate Christian apologists would put this washed up “internet atheist” on display as he gets trounced and then claim it as some sort of victory.

    Put these apologists – D’Souza, Craig, whoever you like – up against a real defender of atheism like Richard Dawkins and then we’ll see the result. But be warned, it won’t be pretty.

    One debate, one poor apologist fro scepticism, proves nothing. And you know it.

  • Ryan February 27, 2010, 11:51 pm

    OK, I watched this debate, and have decided that just putting it up at your website constitutes a grossly humiliating treatment og John Loftus.

    That bumbler is someone that William Lane Craig “fears”? I laughed so hard that I pooped my pants just a little. Yeah, I’m sure I did.

    Methinks he will want to take a long vacation and hope to God (whoops) that everyone forgets this.

  • Richard February 28, 2010, 12:48 am

    Christianity has its bad defenders (not that I think D’Souza’s arguments are sound, but you know what I mean when I say that he’s one of the so-called “good” ones). You wouldn’t want us unbelievers to evaluate Christianity based on the apologetical works of, say, the Institute for Creation Science, or Ray Comfort.

    Similarly, it is just unfair to evaluate the case against Christianity or for atheism based on the arguments or presentation of John Loftus. He has never, as far as I know, published anything that had to pass peer review. Therefore it’s one man and his unaccountable opinions. I share his conclusions, but as a matter of methodological fairness, you cannot really use his case as the representative case. I’m not saying you are doing this here, but you have to appreciate that for any atheist in academia, they can just look at Loftus, agree that his arguments are weak, and say “so what”?

    This example of an atheist who argues poorly then cannot be used to prove anything about atheism.

  • Glenn February 28, 2010, 1:01 am

    Ryan. Seriously. TMI.

  • John Liftoff February 28, 2010, 10:32 am

    Oh my. This is the fellow who thinks Bill Craig should give him a debate opportunity?

    But that would require a) that he had arguments to present, and b) he knew the first thing about debating. I feel like I just watched a grade schooler attempt to propound a theory of quantaum mechanics. I can’t believe this guy sees himself as a threat!

  • bethyada February 28, 2010, 1:56 pm

    I think you overestimate the Darwinists. Previous debates in Australia between CMI and the Skeptics have not come off well for the latter. And a recent invitation coinciding with the Australia Atheist convention was declined.

  • Glenn February 28, 2010, 2:04 pm

    bethyada, in defence of atheist groups, it’s well known that they think of young earth creationist groups as silly and trivial wastes of time. They would likely think that by debating them they would be helping to raise the profile of creationist groups. This may be the explanation for their desire not to debate them. They might be wrong in their assessment, of course.

    What I’m wondering now is this: Having watched the debate I think that Loftus did not merely lose, but he lost badly in terms of every aspect of the debate – actual arguments and debating ability, everything. It surely seems then that his “right to demand a debate” (if there is such a thing) has decreased, rather than increased, and he moves down the ladder, rather than up. Instead of thinking that this is a step towards debating someone like William lane Craig, surely it’s a step closer to debating Kirk Cameron or Ray Comfort.

  • Ron February 28, 2010, 2:48 pm

    kenneth: If Richard Dawkins is the best “defender of atheism” you can find, then atheists are in trouble. His arguments are widely recognized by people in the field (viz, philosophers) as being shallow and unsophisticated.

    Moreover, Dawkins refuses to debate Christian apologists. Gee, I wonder why.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFamS4RGE_A

    not pretty indeed!

  • Ranger March 1, 2010, 2:28 pm

    I honestly expected Loftus to fair well. Having read his book, he seemed to be more familiar with the material than he did in this debate. He seemed visibly frustrated in the cross-examination and struggled making coherent responses. He contradicted himself at times (which D’Souza quickly caught).

    This was the case of an amateur against a professional in terms of both rhetoric and content. I’m more Reformed and don’t always like D’Souza style debates, but he’s such a quick thinker that he was able to catch Loftus off guard with regularity.

    If I were an atheist, I would start a movement against Loftus debating Craig because it will only make them look more foolish…something this debate has already gone a good way toward doing.

  • Ranger March 1, 2010, 2:44 pm

    I should admit though that D’Souza did have some good rhetorical moves. When he tied Loftus’ Cowboy hat into his joke about feeling like he was at the rodeo with a point here a point there and a lot of bull in between was hilarious.

  • Nathan March 2, 2010, 3:37 am

    I admit I watched until the first few questions. Loftus’ closing statements were so painful I felt sorry for him.

    I’m certain I’ve seen Loftus say somewhere online (sadly I can’t remember where) that he had a killer argument against Christianity that no one else had used. I sure hope it wasn’t his idea that the disagreement between differing religions cancels them all out… I just don’t understand how he can’t see the completely failed logic in that.

    I’ll see if I can track that comment of his down…

  • Jason March 6, 2010, 12:00 am

    Ken Ham versus Richard Dawkins wouldn’t exactly be a pushover for Dawkins. In March 2000 Ken Ham was dropped into a 3 on 1 debate with Prof. Colin Blakemore, Prof. Steve Jones and Prof. Russell Stannard on the BBC program Newsnight.
    According to accounts Ham acquitted himself well despite their numerical advantage.

    The reason evolutionists don’t debate now is because thirty years ago they tried on Morris and Gish, and lost repeatedly.

    They even admit that when talking about giving the YEC profile a rise. You don’t give an opponent’s position a rise when you take them on and beat them soundly. You give them a rise when you take them on and get soundly trashed.

    Oh, and Loftus lost. Not much surprise there. Loftus would beat Richard Dawkins though.

  • Jared March 11, 2010, 1:50 pm

    I think I know why William Lane Craig refuses to debate Loftus: he would defeat Loftus so soundly and embarrassingly that it would make Dr. Craig look like a big meanie who doesn’t pick on people his own size.

    D’Souza did a good job, but I was disappointed with the response where he minimized the difference between Protestantism and Catholocism. I mean, common, there was a whole lot more to the Reformation than the issue of transubstantiation! I think that response really undercut his argument because a lot of people in the audience (including atheists) likely knew better than that and were thinking “huuuuh???”

    I had a good belly laugh, however, when he made the remark about “argumentative diarrhea” not because it was scatological, but because it is so true! A second good one with the “rodeo” remark.

    So if a bunch of atheist philosophers disagree with one another and have effective criticisms of each others’ ideas, then that means that atheism isn’t true? By Loftus’ logic, we would have to conclude that to be the case. And if Christianity and atheism have effective critiques of each other, then that means neither one is true? Hm…

    By the way, I just noticed “Petersburg, Kentucky arrived on…” this post on the live traffic feed. That’s where the AIG creation museum is.

  • Jared March 11, 2010, 2:04 pm

    There’s an interview with D’Souza, by the way, in which he offers his reflections about this debate:

    http://bit.ly/anb4f7

  • Andrew October 25, 2010, 1:14 am

    Kenneth,
    You’re right, a debate between Craig and Dawkins wouldn’t be pretty. CRAIG WOULD PWN DAWKINS!

    All,
    Dinesh pwned Loftus!

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