Friday, August 18, 2006

Review of My Barker Debate

Below is a review of my debate with Dan Barker by an atheist, James Lazarus. He's a metaphysical naturalist, and one of the classiest people I've had the pleasure to interact with.



  1. Makes you wonder what Barker was really like as a preacher one time. Did he defend Christianity with the same emotion laden, intellectually superficial techniques he now uses to defend his atheism?

  2. Congrats beat Dan Barker, some ex-fundy preacher, singer/song writer, in a meaningless "debate".

    I guess this proves you're a genius and that your god exists!

    Your family must be very proud.

  3. Anonymous:

    While I certainly understand refraining from giving much intellectual respect to Dan Barker, having listened to the debate, the fact is that he is an atheist who is supposed to be extremely intelligent, and he's an atheist with loads more experience in debates than Paul Manata.

    Here's what his bio on the Freedom From Religion Foundation website has to say:

    Dan Barker has participated in more than 50 formal public debates on such topics as:

    Does God exist? (See example)
    Does ethics require God? (Hear debate)
    Should government and religion be strictly separate?
    Did Jesus rise from the dead? (See example)
    Jesus of Nazareth: messiah or myth?
    Is Christianity true?
    Is the bible an acceptable guide for morality?
    Is the Bible full of errors and deceit? (hear entire debate)
    Is America a Christian nation?

    (The Barker debate was Manata's second formal debate.)

    The website also states:

    [Barker] belongs to a number of High-IQ societies, including The Prometheus Society, with an entrance requirement at the 99.997th percentile [...]

    In other words, Barker is telling us that he's one of the smartest .003% people in the entire world.


    So your characterization of Barker as an "ex-fundy preacher, singer/song writer", which is supposed to imply that Paul debated someone far intellectually inferior who shouldn't be expected to have a chance against him, is supremely misleading.

    And yes, you're right: Paul did beat Barker. Badly. But Barker certainly can't use the excuse you're trying to make on his behalf.

  4. Anonymous, I seriously do recommend losing the attitude. It must really be awful waking up in the morning and hating. Feeling unsettled because someone might have become a Christian. Besides, you might get ulcers.

    To quote:

    'Congrats beat Dan Barker, some ex-fundy preacher, singer/song writer, in a meaningless "debate".'

    As Travis notes, Dan Barker is an experienced debater. He is a reasonaly well-known advocate for atheism. Certainly he is better known than you are (although as you are anonymous, I'll admit that's not hard). And he is also a very clever person with experience in the field of debating Christianity. Your placing the word debate in quotation marks seems to indicate you didn't thnk it was a debate. May I ask why?

    Lastly, given that the debate was on a substantive motion, I would suggest it is possessed of meaning.

  5. Anonymous,

    Let's remember that the infidel community contacted *me.*

    let's remember that on their message boards thye said "Barker was an animal in debate."

    Let's remember that Reggie Finley said that Barker was going to beat me so Reggie could "move on" with another theist in the dust.

    Let's remember that Dan is many atheists champion debater. Let's remember that they put him up as one of the best.

    Even if all the things you say are true, what does this say about the state of atheist debaters? What does this say about Reggie?

    I'm glad you note that Dan lost because this proves that Reggie failed to accomplish his mission of "getting rid of me."

  6. In general, I concur with the review of the debate. Paul did a better job than Dan, and Dan seemed ill-prepared to take on a presuppositional apologist. In Dan's defense, I'm not sure that he had ever debated a presup before, or that he knew what he was getting into. He seemed rather ill-prepared to deal with transcendental arguments.


    Have you ever beaten anyone in a written or oral debate on anything? Or do you mostly just throw barbs at people? Perhaps you could contribute constructively to this dialogue by pointing out Dan's errors and helping him out by giving us what he ought to have said? Or you can just hide behind anonymity and keep flaming...

  7. Daniel Morgan said:

    In Dan's defense, I'm not sure that he had ever debated a presup before, or that he knew what he was getting into.
    *end quote*

    Travis writes:

    This is another attempted excuse for Barker that won't fly.

    Barker had already debated Douglas Wilson and one of Paul's teachers, Michael Butler, both of whom were presuppositionalists who used the transcendental argument.

    So yes, he'd come across presuppositionalists in formal debates at least twice. While Paul did a better job than Butler, and a much better job than Wilson, Barker was not at all unfamiliar with this particular school of apologetics or the trancendental argument.

  8. TW,

    This is another attempted excuse for Barker that won't fly.

    Excuse? Hardly. I clearly stated he was unprepared. I then posited a possible explanation, based on inference, from his apparent mischaracterization of the presup use of the TAG.

    I was not aware of Barker's former debates, and honestly don't follow him much. I think his plugging of his IQ is...a little insecure, perhaps? I've always been rather ambivalent about IQ, knowing many persons such as myself with moderate to severe learning disabilities (ADD, ADHD, audio, visual, or cognitive). While a high IQ usually does give you a good idea of the learning potential you're dealing with (in my experience), once we move past a few standards of deviation above normal I can tell little difference...excepting prodigies and savants, whose abilities are typically not measured well by standard IQ tests because they are so narrow in scope.

    Anyway, you're a silly wabbit.

  9. Daniel:

    First, I didn't necessarily mean 'excuse' to carry a pejorative connotation such that it could be contrasted with 'explanation' so strongly.

    Second, Barker may have been unprepared, but, of course, that's his own fault, seeing as how he'd debated people who had used the same basic argument as Paul twice before. Additionally, he could easily have found out what argument Paul would use and do a little study on the issue.

    Could it have been the case that Barker was just overconfident and didn't bother studying up on his debate opponent? That's possible. I'm not wholly discounting the possibility that Dan Barker just wasn't as prepared as he could have been. But, in all honesty, this is an excuse that grows tiresome. Stein* and Tabash were "unprepared" for Bahnsen, and that's why they lost. Barker was "unprepared" for Manata, even though he'd debated presuppositionalists twice before, and he knew very well (or should have) that Manata was a presuppositionalist. Why is it that atheists just can't seem to come to debates with presuppositionalists pepared? :-)

    Does Barker *now* have a refutation of Manata that he'd like to share with us?

    I'm not trying to be contentious here, but do you see my point?

    I agree that Barker's advertisement of his IQ definitely seems to be demonstrative of insecurity.


    *Stein is the only one who could really use that excuse.

  10. For what it might be worth, I have written on Dan Barker’s debate with Peter Payne on ethics. Mr. Barker has, by his own standards, discredited himself from making any charges that anything at all is absolutely wrong and therefore, has disqualified himself from criticizing the Bible, God, Christianity, etc. (if he was consistent). I actually quoted his comment likening humans to broccoli. If you are interested, my review is entitled Dan Barker and the Alien Rape Voyeurs (for reasons that become shockingly obvious).