Craig/Harris Debate: If You Were Scoring Points Craig Won, But Harris Clearly Had the Better Arguments
By John W. Loftus at 4/08/2011
This debate was very instructive to me, and that’s what debates should be for us. Bill has once again showed himself as the best debater of this generation, that's for sure. He had a great opening statement and kept coming back to it in his rebuttals, assessing what Sam might might have said against it, pointing out when Sam didn’t answer him, and if he did, why he was wrong. Bill was out to score points. That’s what he was taught in his High School debate team. Score points.
To judge by how infidels handicap the Craig debates, Craig is caught in a hopeless dilemma. No matter how often he wins, it never counts. The usual excuse is that when he wins a debate with an atheist, that’s just because he’s a better debater. Not because he was right. Not because he had the best of the argument. Had the facts on his side. No, couldn’t be that. Never that.
But then he debated Hitchens, who is, by all accounts, a masterful debater in his own right. Yet Craig won that debate, too.
In that case, the excuse wasn’t: Craig won because he's such a great debater. No, it had to be: Hitchens was unprepared, or Hitchens was off his game that night.
Public debates are not the best forum to dissect complex issues. However, that cuts both ways. Both Craig and his opponents labor under the same time constraints.
Somehow, Craig could win every time, against every opponent atheism can throw at him, yet we should pay no attention to the scoreboard.
BTW, while Craig is a fine debater, he also lacks some of the virtues of a great public speaker. He doesn’t have a great speaking voice. He’s not an eloquent wordsmith. He’s not a spellbinding storyteller. He can’t manipulate the emotions of the audience the way a great preacher or actor can.
So, in some fundamental respects, he’s overrated as a debater. You can’t chalk up his winning streak to oratory alone.