Thursday, 12 November 2009

In veritas there is bluster

I listened to a Veritas Forum debate this week, and could barely contain myself from tearing out my eardrums with a rusty spoon. The topic was allegedly Christianity vs Scientific Naturalism (debate and audience questions). I had expected something of a debate. Instead, I heard Craig use the formal structure of a debate, and Hardin use the informal structure of musings. Eventually, the debate collapsed into a series of alternating testimonies about how Craig became a believer and how Hardin became agnostic.

Hardin's ramblings didn't cohere into a single argument. And Craig announced that he was going to evaluate scientific naturalism and Christian theism by the same criteria, but after his attack on naturalism he decided to use an altogether different method for Christian theism. No one in the recording picked up the discrepancy.

If I thought I was disappointed by the conflicting methods, I clearly was ill prepared for the audience questions.

The audience appeared to be your typical group of intelligent evangelical Christians, capable of speaking articulately but only from within the evangelical framework. Questions like "If you were to die tonight, where would you go?" seemed out of place[1]. Craig clearly had the audience on his side, whereas Hardin had only the minority. Nevertheless, both handled the situation with cool heads and good humour.

In the end, no one won the debate. Craig's use of a formal debating structure made him sound more coherent and capable, though. I'm left to wonder about the choice of speakers for these Veritas Forum debates.

1. I think I asked this question as my senior yearbook quote. Thankfully, things have changed.

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