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Atheist Debate at Prestonwood

Melanie C.
user 12012545
Dallas, TX
Post #: 1
Agree with David.
Someone coined the term "Hitch-slapped" which was quite apt as well as amusing.
Even though some kids were sleeping, I wish I had heard someone as eloquent as Hitchens when I was that age. :)
A former member
Post #: 6
The only problem with this debate is they started singing and praying before the debate began. I guess this was a sales pitch to the atheist. But I'm not buying it. By the way, I was sitting far from all the atheists who were cheering Hitchens on. I sat with my friend Jason who is a Christian going to Southwest Baptist Seminary. I wish I would have known where you guys were sitting. That would have been fun. My friend was really impressed with Hitchens. He thought Demski was a crappy debater. lol I think Hitchens whooped some ass. Period! Also I noticed a few girls giving Hitchens dirty looks when he spoke. Even a few men and women making ugly comments when Hitch made a point. How shallow of them!

Cheers Everyone!

A former member
Post #: 46
For those who missed the debate, it will be available from­ on Monday (Nov 22)

My thoughts:
For the ID guy, this was less a debate, more a reading of his prepared statements. As soon as Q&A started and he was forced to go off of his pre-written material, he fell apart and Hitchens shined. That is not to say he did particularly well even reading his statements, with inane criticisms of the eye complexity argument and a nearly no response to anything Hitchens said during the "debate" portion of the event. Hitchens was really getting going at the end and I wished there had been more Q&A time. I would have skipped my class in order to see more of that, but alas, Hitchens had a plane to catch anyways.
user 11031157
Bedford, TX
Post #: 9
Hitchens addressed the subject of the debate very systematically and did a wonderful job of presenting his view. Dembski'd struggle however, was to attack Atheism and he did a crappy job at it!
As the "Prestonwood" people indicated at the opening, this was all to show those kids that Atheism is bad, immoral, and depressing, but they failed very badly. I really hope that some of those kids do question "What they have been told" (Hitchens repeated this phrase over and over!).
user 6532302
Mesquite, TX
Post #: 60
I found the whole thing entertaining. As others have said, the actual topic and format kind of went out the window. Like, Dr. Dembski continually nitpicked at points of evolution and continually asserted that without God, atheists must believe in evolution and as he just pointed out scientifically, it is false and therefore so is atheism. Hitchens did not immediately attack it but later pointed out that atheism long existed before the theory of evolution did.

Also Dr. Dembski had continually told Hitchens that he has no true moral code since there is not a source for it, outside of himself, and therefore an atheist has to be subjective in their moral codes. In the Q&A, Hitchens pointed out some horrible things that were commanded by God in the OT - rape, genocide, murder, slavery - to which Dembski basically admitted that God's commandment is moral regardless of the act commanded. He knew he had screwed up by admitting that the Bible makes people worse than moral relativists, it makes them devoid of any morality at all and must get all their morals from God. Dembski basically, in the way he explained it had said that the Jewish and Christian text meant all people were moral relativists (murder is not necessarily wrong nor is rape, etc.) and its morality only depended on whether God commanded oyu to do it or not. Dembski knew he had screwed up and then literally launched into explaining his own relationship with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and hoped everyone else could know him if they just were "open" but also had "faith." It was really almost sad to see.

Most of the debate was, from a technical standpoint...bad, though entertaining. The debate topic was "Does a good God exist?" Hitchens continually assaulted the very concept of God and how religion preys on people. While, I might just be part of Hitchen's choir, it seems that if you can disprove assertions that any gods exist then it would follow that the question of their goodness is moot. Dembski kept trying the shotgun method (throwing out as much so that Hitchens could not respond to all points and so seem stumped or ignored a few) of scientific facts and figures coupled with doubt and how little people really knew. His whole line of argument was not that a good god existed, but that evolution is false and so therefore you must believe in god since evolution is the pillar upon which accepting atheism rests. Hitchens did not directly challenge this line of reason until later by pointing out Francis Collins as being both a devout Christian and accepting evolution. Hitchens also then explained about atheism pre-dating Darwin.

It was not bad. I was entertained and think that maybe some people might have a "seed of doubt" as Hitchens had said he hoped to plant. The actual formatted debate parts were only okay but in honesty the Q&A was the best and where Hitchens' command of language and quick wit played to his favor. They could have just made the opening statements shorter , a shorter (one time only) rebuttal and gone straight to the Q&A.
A former member
Post #: 13
Sadly, I was not as the 'debate' but I would like to add this: It is dangerous to allow folk to cointinue thinking in this way " His whole line of argument was not that a good god existed, but that evolution is false and so therefore you must believe in god since evolution is the pillar upon which accepting atheism rests."

This is not true. They go hand in hand, but atheism and anti-theism do not require that you believe in evolution. They are, in fact, separate matters. One is used as evidence to support the lack of belief in creator gods, but is not required to not believe. I was born not believing and I can tell you that at the time I had no idea how to say evolution, never mind what it meant. It was in NO way a pillar of my disbelief. It cannot be made more plain than this. Evolution is not required for disbelief and disbelief is not required to understand that evolution is true. Anyone who says different deserves a energetic Hitch Slap

It's good to see that Dembski shot his own foot with moral relativism. If there is a good god, it's not Dembski's god.

The pillar of my anti-theism is a complete lack of evidence in the positive for creator gods. Evolution just adds salt to the wound so to speak.
A former member
Post #: 1
For those looking for a recap, Mike the Infidel posted a great live-blog with much of the content I remember. http://miketheinfidel...­

It was a wonderful debate to have attended.
Sergio P.
user 12797230
Terrell, TX
Post #: 1
Although the debate really strayed from the topic at hand, I thoroughly enjoyed it and was certainly grateful for getting a chance to hear Mr. Hitchens speak first-hand.

As I understand, the debate will be up on the Prestonwood Christian Academy site Monday, so I'll spare an exhaustive recap, as those who haven't seen it will soon have the opportunity to view it for themselves. However, there are a few points I really wanted to touch on, at least briefly.

Dr. Dembski, for the most part, apparently believed that he could win the debate by debunking evolutionary principles, and he preceded to attempt to do so quite fervently and in such a way as to seemingly try to overwhelm Mr. Hitchens with a series of false premises and misrepresentations. One thing that comes to mind is his fixation with the Cambrian explosion and near insistence that it singlehandedly disproved evolutionary theory. I found how he presented several aspects of this portion of his argument a bit disingenous, at least as I recall and according to my notes. I don't want to wade too far into the weeds here, but I feel like he intentionally omitted a few important details in an attempt to win over an audience that perhaps didn't have much knowledge of some potentially esoteric details of the period. In my notes I have written that he was not very forthcoming regarding the Precambrian fossil records and probable reasons for their scarcity and that I thought it would have been helpful for him to mention the timeframe of the "explosion," 30-40 million years, particularly given the audience. There are quite a few other examples of mischaracterizations of evolutionary concepts given by Dembski that I have scribbled in my notes, but I'll spare you all the details, at least for now. ;)

Nonetheless, I thought Hitchens held his own fairly well and came up with some worthwhile responses regarding the more scientific aspects of Dembski's argument, but I worried that he was falling for a bit of a Gish Gallop in straying off-course with Dembski rather than focusing on the topic at hand. Again, it was still quite entertaining, and while Dembski seemed rather bland and mostly read from his prepared text, Hitchens seemed much better at connecting with the audience.

I'm carrying on about this part a bit too much, but from what I recall, it consumed waaaay more time than I thought it should have in the debate, at least in my estimation.

After this is where I felt Hitchens really got rolling and where Dembski, at times, seemed befuddled and fell back on Christian scripture and logical fallacies. He seemed to think that he could just jump from "there is a god" to "he is a good god" on a whim without seriously entertaining any possibility in between (skipping over deism altogether, for one). At least from my perspective, it seemed like Dembski got to a point where he started to try to rely on a language that his audience was attuned to (Christian scripture and related doctrine). This did seem to score him some points with the audience initially, but ultimately it backfired I think as it opened the floodgates for Hitchens to do what he really does quite well, expose the tyrant that is the god of the Bible, particularly that of the Old Testament. I think Hitchens also did a good job at planting a seed of doubt regarding the attributes given to Christ in the New Testament.

I think the Q&A and closing remarks also deserve mention. Dembski gave his closing remarks first. Again, he went back to his prepared statement, and it seemed to be written as though he expected to be delivering the last word, ending with a final, stinging barb regarding Hitchens's railing against Mother Theresa. Unfortunately for him, Hitchens commanded the truly final words of the debate, and his closing statement was remarkably impassioned as he reached out to the younger members of the audience and delivered to them a wonderfully empowering message. I can't wait to play it for my children!

Overall, it was certainly a worthwhile debate to have attended. I don't necessarily find it of paramount importance to name "winners" of these types of affairs, but I really would question how anyone could seriously claim Dembski fared very well in the debate. I suppose it could be a matter of perspective, however, as some others might not have recognized the contradictions and fallacies he [not so skillfully] employed or simply may not have considered them so. Admittedly, I'm biased, so I hope I don't sound too critical of Dr. Dembski. I certainly respect him and appreciate his contribution. I just don't think he presented a very good argument for his position. In fairness, Hitchens let a few points slide in which I felt he could have really hammered home a resounding victory, but he delivered a sound defeat to Dembski nonetheless.

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