• Phil Zuckerman vs. David Marshall: “What provides a better foundation for civil society, Christianity or Secular Humanism?”

    UPDATE: After writing this post, it seems the video has been uploaded after all. It has been inserted at the end of this post. Enjoy!

    Ever since Richard Carrier’s trouncing of David Marshall in their February 2013 debate, I was looking forward to another Marshall bashing when he debated Phil Zuckerman recently at Adventure Christian Church. I’d read that the video would be uploaded to the internet, unfortunately the debate will not be seen by those who were not present at the event because the church has now refused to post it.

    The atheist community seems abuzz at the news and Phil Zuckerman responded to this on Huffington Post. He wrote in part,

    The folks at Adventure were generous hosts: they paid for my travel expenses, asked me what kind of water I liked to drink, provided nice snacks in the green room, and paid me an appreciated honorarium. And the church itself was most impressive: state-of-the-art big screens, big lights, big cameras, big audio systems, etc.

    I was repeatedly told — via e-mail, as well as in person — that not only would the debate be video’ed by their expert video team, but the video of the debate would be posted on vimeo soon after the debate.
    And so we had the debate. And I won. Now, that’s not my opinion — its the opinion of Adventure Christian church, because they now refuse to post the video on-line.

    When asked why the change of heart all of a sudden, the church claimed that “It just didn’t go the way we wanted it to go. We were not represented well.” I was disappointed to say the least. On the other hand, being as familiar as I am with Marshall’s arguments and having read Zuckerman’s work, I was not surprised that the consensus seemed to have been that Zuckerman won the debate decisively, apparently even by Christians who attended. I’m not surprised. Marshall is not a clear thinker and his arguments lack strong evidential support and are often contradicted by the known facts.

    Personally, I can’t fathom why Marshall continually puts himself in these positions: continually getting bested by those who are so much more logical and educated than he is (and in many cases, by those who are much less formally educated, which gives you an idea of the quality of his arguments).

    Addendum: After watching the debate I agree completely with those commentators who argued that Marshall did not stick to the topic of the debate. Rather than arguing for the position that Christianity is the best basis for a civil and just society, Marshall instead continued to cite factually inaccurate history or personal antidotes, for example, about how Christianity supposedly ended slavery or helped people. Several of his arguments I wholeheartedly disagree with, and have debunked them in my review of his book, The Truth Behind the New Atheism. His presentation was ten times worse in this debate than the one with Carrier earlier this year, since he often stumbled over his words and often seemed somewhat incoherent, unsure of what to say in this debate. Every time Marshall got up to speak I found myself shaking my head and putting my head my hands, stunned by what I was hearing. Zuckerman – hands down – won the debate: on substance, style, and every other way imaginable. I can see now why the church didn’t want to post the video. At least Marshall can’t hide behind his self-congratulatory blog posts (“And I think they constitute an overwhelming case that the Gospel has proven the strongest foundation for productive and happy human society, which Zuckerman did very little even to dispute.”), now that everyone can see with their own eyes how poorly he did.

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    Article by: Arizona Atheist