Me vs. John Loftus, and a few more words on debates

Well, John's blocked me from commenting over at Debunking Christianity following my harsh words on yet another post about W.L. Craig's refusal to debate him.

I may have been a bit too harsh on John. I don't think he lacks the competency to debate Craig, though I do think it's futile for him to harp on the topic when Craig's already stated his position. It is what it is, and I'm not sure what John has to gain from dwelling on it or why he believes it so important that this debate occurs.

To use the obvious boxing analogy, Craig is like the guy going for the prize fight. He's stepped in the ring with plenty of lesser-known atheists. Within the last year he's finally gone toe-to-toe with Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris. There's only one atheist more famous and influential than those two, and that's Richard Dawkins. But Dawkins doesn't give two shits about debating Craig. I don't recall Dawkins being into the whole debate scene anyway. If he were, he'd probably want to debate someone like Alister McGrath instead (Oxford being generally more prestigious than Biola), with whom he's had extended dialogues (on camera!).

I'm sure this wasn't a waste of time or anything.
I think that for Craig, debating John Loftus would be a step backward. It's not that John isn't a smart guy – he's got some fine arguments when he puts his energy into it – but that he simply isn't in the same league, in popularity or influence, as the other guys that Craig's been debating lately. I haven't the slightest doubt that a big reason Craig does things like his current debate tour in the UK is simply to stroke his own ego. He wants to claim that he's stepped in the ring with all the bigtime atheists and delivered knockout blows to every one.

If you're on a forensics team in college, there is a panel of judges who decide who has 'won' the debate. No such panel exists with public debates, leaving the subject of the victor as one of substantial controversy. Some people have told John that he lost against Dinesh 'The Squirrel' D'Souza, and I've heard several of Craig's fans remark that he's beaten every atheist he's debated. But it's a matter of perspective. If someone were to ask me if Craig's won this debate or that, I'd say it depends on what you mean by 'won'. Did he present his arguments more coherently and effectively than his opponent? Then perhaps yes, he won on the strength of rhetoric. But were his arguments valid? Then no, he's yet to win a single debate. His arguments are colossally amateur, despite the transparent veneer of academic prestige in which he enshrouds them. He's a philosopher of religion, yet he believes himself qualified to debate physicists and biologists. He's a delusional, myopic egoist trying desperately to apply reason to a belief which he himself has admitted is ultimately immune to it. 

So I don't get why anyone would care about giving such a clown more exposure. Let him write his books and reassure his flock that they aren't really sheep. For him, every debate is just one more fight under his belt in which he (or his fans) can claim a disingenuous victory.


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