Debate: "Christianity vs Atheism" Bahnsen vs. Stein

Audio (YouTube playlist, 14 parts): http://www.youtube.com/watch_videos?vid ... &more_url=
Transcript (98% accurate): http://graspingthecross.files.wordpress ... script.pdf *

[b:2zvcnyoi]Metadata:[/b:2zvcnyoi]

Topic: "Christianity vs. Atheism"
Affirmative: Dr. Greg Bahnsen
Negative: Dr. Gordon Stein
Date: 1985
Location: University of California, Irvine
Length: 2 hours

[b:2zvcnyoi]Debate Outline:[/b:2zvcnyoi]

Segment 1:
I. Opening Statement - Bahnsen (15 minutes)
II. Opening Statement - Stein (15 minutes)
III. Cross Examination
III.A. Bahnsen Examines Stein (5 minutes)
III.B. Stein Examines Bahnsen (5 minutes)
IV. Rebuttal - Bahnsen (8 minutes)
V. Rebuttal - Stein (8 minutes)

Segment 2:
I. Opening Statement - Stein (10 minutes)
II. Opening Statement - Bahnsen (10 minutes)
III. Cross Examination
III.A. Stein Examines Bahnsen (4 minutes)
III.B. Bahnsen Examines Stein (4 minutes)
IV. Rebuttal - Stein (6 minutes)
V. Rebuttal - Bahnsen (6 minutes)

Segment 3:
I. Closing Statement - Stein (10 minutes)
II. Closing Statement - Bahnsen (10 minutes)

Segment 4:
I. Six questions, three directed to each debater, alternating, beginning with Bahnsen and ending with Stein

[b:2zvcnyoi]Remarks:[/b:2zvcnyoi]

This is a landmark debate between two great debaters, so excuse the age and lack of video. Both are now deceased. Stein gives a stellar defense of atheism and a cutting attack against Christianity, hitting the ground running. Bahnsen unveils a new argument which has since become famous: the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God. Clear your schedule. Listen. Take notes. Post your thoughts. Let's have a free exchange of ideas.

* This is the full text of the debate, with a few minor errors. I have taken this transcript and reduced it down to two pages in outline format for the "big picture." Like the outline above but much more detailed. It is currently not online yet but if you PM me I can send it to you.

Comments

  • Not bad. It suffers from lack of depth but covers a lot of ground.
    said:

    Bahnsen unveils a new argument which has since become famous: the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God.[/quote:2dam59j7]

    It is really an argument from necessity, which was far from new in 1985.

  • I thought Kant was the first to trot out that absurd argument?
  • My studies of it, all point to Cornelius Van Til as the originator. Now, I'll grant more generic forms of it go back further, perhaps to Kant or earlier. But Van Til and Bahnsen have made a marked difference in its formulation. If you're blending Bahnsen and Kant, I suggest listening to the debate to discern the differences.

    Axe, by "absurd" do you mean what it does to the atheist position? If not, can you outline how the argument is unreasonable, unsound or incongruous? It might help to watch the debate so ground need not be trod twice.

    I forgot to mention in the OP, but I want to remind everyone that if they feel there are better debates out there, please share them with the rest of us. But post in a new thread. I don't want to be a ball hog.
  • said:

    Axe, by "absurd" do you mean what it does to the atheist position? If not, can you outline how the argument is unreasonable, unsound or incongruous? It might help to watch the debate so ground need not be trod twice. [/quote:2vv9b6j7]
    Yeah I'll listen to the debate first, I'll get back to you on it. Essentially the argument shoehorns a deity into the argument with no evidence whatsoever. It's a childish, shallow argument and the only person who could possibly believe it proves anything is a person who has already convinced himself that God exists.

  • I'm not finding this very interesting, could you link me to the segment with that argument? I haven't found it. It isn't even a real debate, it sounds like they're just reading off a list of bullet points and they never go in-depth on any particular issue, or argue back and forth about a point.
  • said:

    I'm not finding this very interesting, could you link me to the segment with that argument? [/quote:kx3zqwti]

    I believe Bahnsen covers it in his closing.

    said:

    ... it sounds like they're just reading off a list of bullet points and they never go in-depth on any particular issue, ...[/quote:kx3zqwti]

    I don't know if it is a problem with the format or the speakers. They hit lots of points several times, but don't spend as much time on each point as they seem to merit.

    It is a formal format that appears to reward making your point within a set time and moving on, like a school debate.

  • said:

    I don't know if it is a problem with the format or the speakers. They hit lots of points several times, but don't spend as much time on each point as they seem to merit.

    It is a formal format that appears to reward making your point within a set time and moving on, like a school debate.[/quote:1fj60pbr]
    It's as if I'm listening to two separate conferences simultaneously. They rarely seem to really argue with each other, they just read off their points.

  • said:

    ...like a school debate.[/quote:3f3lrobp]
    I think you've got it backwards.

    The format, like the last debate I posted, is extremely rigorous. It's not a dialog, [i:3f3lrobp]per se,[/i:3f3lrobp] like Zuki's debate on Islam (or like Jerry Springer). It has its strengths and weaknesses, but I actually prefer the highly-structured form. It minimizes the risk of the debate turning into a miry pit of confusion, and maximizes the...density or information content: more bang for your minute. There [i:3f3lrobp]is[/i:3f3lrobp] a dialog in them, though. It's just that you have to listen to the whole debate to hear it. Responses aren't immediate, and points won't be addressed until ten minutes later, or sometimes three responses later. Sometimes points will [i:3f3lrobp]never[/i:3f3lrobp] be answered, but that's at the debater's discretion (the debater may not have a response, or he may deem them not important or off topic). For example, Bahnsen doesn't touch Stein's 12 opening arguments. Stein calls him out on this 3/4 of the way through. But Bahnsen responds, asking if he used any of them and if Stein addressed (up to that point) the one argument he did use. Stein said no. See? There's a dialog :)

    The length of the debate is in the OP: it's not for the hyperactive attention deficit people. Make time, listen, take notes, anticipate responses.

    said:

    I believe Bahnsen covers it in his closing.[/quote:3f3lrobp]
    By my count, he covers it at least four times, but yes, his closing is the clearest.

  • said:

    said:

    ...like a school debate.[/quote:72ojbjuk]
    I think you've got it backwards.[/quote:72ojbjuk]

    The moot court competitions I judge have a similar formal structure. Students struggle to arrange coherent and persuasive arguments, but then as a judge I already know the universe of authority from which they draw.

    It is a fine format for people already familiar with all the issues who are evaluating advocates

    said:

    Stein calls him out on this 3/4 of the way through. But Bahnsen responds, asking if he used any of them and if Stein addressed (up to that point) the one argument he did use. Stein said no. See? There's a dialog :)[/quote:72ojbjuk]

    The problem is that thought and deliberation don't proceed that way, but in the less disjointed style of a good address or the synthesis of a good conversation.

    It isn't a knock on the act of bringing the audio to our attention, just an observation about it.

  • This audio snippet is really funny. It occurs in the first cross-examination:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cSA8ezkmR4

    [quote:2bsg0sh9]Bahnsen: Are [the laws of logic] material in nature?
    Stein: How could a law be material?
    B: That's the question I'm going to ask you.
    Audience: LOL
    S: I would say no.
    Moderator: [Ushers an exchange in cross-examination]
    S: Dr. Bahnsen, would you call God material or immaterial?
    B: Immaterial.
    S: What is something that's immaterial?
    B: Something not extended in space.
    S: Can you give me any other example, other than God, that's immaterial?
    B: The laws of logic.
    Audience: LOL[/quote:2bsg0sh9]
  • said:

    It isn't a knock on the act of bringing the audio to our attention, just an observation about it.[/quote:3oxyuzrm]
    No problem. One of the things I like about debates over essays or books is that it [b:3oxyuzrm]corners the opponent[/b:3oxyuzrm] and forces them to give an up-front answer. Argument and rebuttal are in close proximity. Essays and books can sound great, and sometimes there are rebuttal essays and books, but they're hard to compare side-by-side, and unaddressed sticky issues often slip past without my notice.

    But you make a good point: the format might be better suited for an audience already familiar (at least in passing) with the points raised.... Hmm....

  • said:

    as a judge[/quote:2b9udh6o]
    wat?

  • a moot court judge, for the kiddies.
  • said:

    a moot court judge, for the kiddies.[/quote:2njwg1i2]
    Oh, I thought you were an actual judge now. Thanks for clearing that up, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to sleep tonight.

  • said:

    ...I was afraid I wouldn't be able to sleep tonight.[/quote:4qojsl6k]

    Just try not to get too much sleep at "work".

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