The Great Courses

The Great Debate

Jun 5, 2014 at 11:02 AM
4 years ago

The Memphis debate video featuring Matt Dillahunty and Sye Ten Bruggencate has 50,000 views in two days. Obviously, lots of people are interested in this particular exchange.

debate photo

Some still assert that it was a mistake to give Sye Ten Bruggencate a platform and notoriety (which I'm convinced he craves), but I think presuppositionalist claims in general have became enough of an annoyance that they need to be occasionally smacked with a flyswatter.

Matt Dillahunty presented definitions, defined good reasons for non-belief, delved into some philosophy, addressed the debate topic at length and drew a large, red, flashing circle around the inanity (and insanity) of the presup position, which essentially is, "The bible is true because my invisible friend told me it was true, and out of 7 billion people on this planet, I have been selected by The Most Powerful Being in the Universe to chide both non-believers and misled Christians about the folly of their ways. I am the conduit for God's true Word. Of course, I say this with all humility."


What's so bizarre about the presuppositionalist position is how frustratingly slimy it is. 

Sye informed a largely atheist audience that it not only believed in his god, but that it had to borrow from Sye's worldview to properly determine reality. Any atheist query about Yahweh, Jesus and scripture was brushed off, as atheists can't understand scripture (which makes the bible a crap solution for winning the lost, no?).

Fortunately, according to Sye, the job of evangelizing the planet isn't as big as we thought, as God hates some people (which explains Hell) and has predestined them for damnation (rendering the proselytizing he did during the debate useless, since the audience's fate had already been predetermined). 

He proclaimed that doubt is a sin, which removes one of the most important mechanisms for vetting claims and separating truth from fiction. Doubt allows us to test, to verify, to reject, to consider, to take a fresh look at assumed and/or inherited beliefs. And while religious parents would never tell their children to emulate the life of the bible's Doubting Thomas, I personally think ol' Tom was the only guy in the story who did it right. Doubt prompted the demand for evidence, and apologists and institutions that lambaste doubt as "sin" expose their own fears of legitimate criticism.

Claims of divine revelation are nothing new. Most religions and their talking heads make claims of supernatural divination, all asserting that their messages are true while the others are false, many warning of punishment for skepticism, all without the proper evidence to substantiate wild claims.

debate photo 2

In our exploration of claims, both religious and non-religious, we should continue to be curious, to pursue evidence and search for truth, but when we encounter anything from the "It's true because I declare it" crowd, we can quickly pull the plug and move to more substantial discussions.

The presuppositional apologist has done us one favor, though. He has put yet another exclamation point on the vacuousness of "personal revelation" claims and how often one revelation contradicts another. For my part, I'd like to see 100 of these self-proclaimed Truth Warriors locked in a room to bicker over declarations, discrepancies and disagreements about the god who is "not the author of confusion."

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