Challenge: can you argue the opposite side?

Propose a formal or informal debate or discussion in this forum. Declare a challenge/invitation or respond to one.
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Politesse
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Challenge: can you argue the opposite side?

Post by Politesse » Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:28 am

I posited in another thread that it might be better, in the case of an apologetics argument, to argue the case of one's opponents rather than oneself, as it is more likely to produce new knowledge than the contrary situation of always "defending" the position one already holds.

To this end, I would like to invite any poster who normally self-describes as an atheist to debate the following classic proposition:

The Christian God exists.

The catch is that you would be taking the "agree" position, and I (though I normally self-describe as a Christian) would take the "disagree" position. This will be an interesting exercise in whether we understand our detractors' positions, or even whether we might even be able to make their case better than they do. This is open to anyone, but I would like to restrict it to a one-on-one debate.

My only stipulation is that you must earnestly make an attempt to win the debate; making a "strawman" argument for the purpose shoring up your real-life position will defeat the purpose of the exercise. The debate will be won by cognitive flexibility and rhetorical skill, and given audience sympathies, the task will naturally be more difficult for my opponent, though I do look forward to the challenge of putting on my "atheist boots" for a week or two without any cynicism showing. Even if most of the audience is still atheist at the end of it, I can still lose the debate, by failing to convince people that I was giving my best effort.

Is anyone game?
"The truth about stories is that's all we are" ~Thomas King

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Post by Typist » Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:39 am

I wish you luck with your interesting experiment!

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Post by subsymbolic » Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:42 am

I'm a bit busy, but if you don't mind post lag, I'll give it a shot if no one else is playing.

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Politesse
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Post by Politesse » Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:51 am

Post lag is fine, I wasn't sure I'd get anyone to play along at all! Do you have any other preferences as far as the format? I was thinking maybe a four part debate, with an opening statement from both, two rounds each for rebuttal, and a closing statement from each.
"The truth about stories is that's all we are" ~Thomas King

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Politesse
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Post by Politesse » Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:55 am

Also, do we have a mod around to actually set up the EE?
"The truth about stories is that's all we are" ~Thomas King

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Jobar
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Post by Jobar » Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:57 am

Any of us admins can do it, but if you get things set up to your satisfaction, we'll see about getting Jason (Redshirt) to come do the honors, as he's the real expert.

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Post by subsymbolic » Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:57 am

Sure, that should work. However, I'm not joking about lag. Should we have a word limit too to stop either of us spending too long on it.

Oh, I just thought: to stop either of us recycling other people's ideas, how about we have to develop an original argument fr our position that isn't standard internet or forum fodder?

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Post by Jobar » Sun Mar 17, 2013 1:06 am

I've sent a PM to Redshirt, and will also send him an e-mail. If he hasn't responded in a day or two, we'll make arrangements for one of us admins to be debate moderator.

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Politesse
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Post by Politesse » Sun Mar 17, 2013 1:25 am

[quote=""subsymbolic""]Sure, that should work. However, I'm not joking about lag. Should we have a word limit too to stop either of us spending too long on it.

Oh, I just thought: to stop either of us recycling other people's ideas, how about we have to develop an original argument fr our position that isn't standard internet or forum fodder?[/quote]

Can you actually come up with an original argument? I was thinking for myself to avoid using any arguments that I wouldn't personally find effective, but generating something genuinely novel in a two thousand year old debate that I think both of us know fairly well sounds like an awfully tall order. But if you think you can, I'll bloody well try.

I'm on board with a word limit (500 wds? 750?) and a relatively open schedule, as if this runs into my work week I'd have trouble responding regularly also. In fact, a week of prep time would perhaps not be a bad idea.
"The truth about stories is that's all we are" ~Thomas King

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Post by kevin » Sun Mar 17, 2013 1:37 am

I don't know about arguing that christian god exists, but it's possible to come up with more coherent arguments concerning the existence a non-standard god. One argument can be rooted in the concept of self-consciousness and sensation. For example, if you consider what humans are, we are self-conscious matter. If you assume the principal of uniformity, and that we are not in a special vantage point, one could extend this *observation* to the conclusion that all matter in the universe is filled with pockets of consciousness. The entire set of consciousness could be viewed as belonging to a single organism (as a single human is made of cells). That gets you a non-standard concept of god, but not christian of course. (this is an original argument, afaik)

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Post by Lulu » Sun Mar 17, 2013 1:40 am

Oh this is a great idea! This should be so much fun! I know I can argue the atheist postion. :D

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Post by Politesse » Sun Mar 17, 2013 1:43 am

Perhaps if another atheist contender pops up, someone can do Lulu in a parallel. :evil:
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Post by Lulu » Sun Mar 17, 2013 2:53 am

[quote=""Politesse""]Perhaps if another atheist contender pops up, someone can do Lulu in a parallel. :evil: [/quote]

:p

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Post by BWE » Sun Mar 17, 2013 3:07 am

I think it will be important not to get stuck in an effort to support the list of of claims of a specific sect. I.e. if the position needs to prove the flood was a real event or the ressurection or feeding the masses with a bagel and lox etc.

This might be good.

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Post by BWE » Sun Mar 17, 2013 3:14 am

Was Joseph Campbell an atheist?

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Post by Politesse » Sun Mar 17, 2013 3:37 am

Since I'm taking the anti-, my hope is that sectarianism won't be a major issue (ie my argument probably will not be anti- a ridiculously specific variant of Christianity, since that is a critique I often voice about atheist apologetics). Campbell was, I believe, a professed atheist though one with a healthy respect for the worth of the variant religious traditions he studied.
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Post by BWE » Sun Mar 17, 2013 4:21 am

Me too. I have no problem identifying as aN xian of the thomas jefferson variety but that makes the xian god a lot more subtle than many people are willing to consider the xian god to be. That may be a stumbling block somewhere in this. I sort of want to have a debate or discussion with you regarding some variation of that. The pantheism/theism distinction we started on once before seemed incomplete to me for the question of whether god is the same concept as an explanation as it is for I think you called it "the unexplained noumenous" or something.

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Post by subsymbolic » Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:27 am

I'm easy. It's an interesting problem to ponder... Say 750 max?

Obviously not completely original, just not a reheating of standard arguments. More an attempt to argue a personal position that is consistent with who we are and our other other perspectives. In other words, less hold a counterfactual atheist or theist position and more 'if I were a theist or atheist, here's how I'd argue it.

How's that sound?

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Post by Belial » Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:43 am

Ill Argue classic Christian positions if you wish

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Post by Wollstonia » Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:52 am

I'm new here so forgive me if I blunder about.

First of all I'm never sure about debates that are organised in order to be won. Winning implies there must be a loser. I would have thought far better to discuss something in a way which moves knowledge along to the benefit of all rather than destroy a point of view.

Secondly taking the opposite point of view to that which you believe could mean that your actual belief is underpinned by a set of clever tricks and devices and would have no substance, which sort of destroys the principle of debate.

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Post by Valheru » Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:52 am

Excellent thread, Poli! I'm keen to participate. I swear too much though! :D

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Politesse
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Post by Politesse » Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:07 am

[quote=""subsymbolic""]I'm easy. It's an interesting problem to ponder... Say 750 max?

Obviously not completely original, just not a reheating of standard arguments. More an attempt to argue a personal position that is consistent with who we are and our other other perspectives. In other words, less hold a counterfactual atheist or theist position and more 'if I were a theist or atheist, here's how I'd argue it.

How's that sound?[/quote]

Sounds good, sub. I've got some ideas rumbling around now. Hopefully Red will show and do some forum magic for us presently, and we can get cracking on our riveting opening arguments.
"The truth about stories is that's all we are" ~Thomas King

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Politesse
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Post by Politesse » Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:12 am

[quote=""Wollstonia""]I'm new here so forgive me if I blunder about.

First of all I'm never sure about debates that are organised in order to be won. Winning implies there must be a loser. I would have thought far better to discuss something in a way which moves knowledge along to the benefit of all rather than destroy a point of view.

Secondly taking the opposite point of view to that which you believe could mean that your actual belief is underpinned by a set of clever tricks and devices and would have no substance, which sort of destroys the principle of debate.[/quote]

Hi Wollstonia! :wave: Normally, debates on SC are not of the formal variety, and even in this case, I doubt there will be a winner or loser declared as such. Exclusive Engagements are sort of a specialized form, and if you look through this subforum, you can see we've only had a handful or two in the history of SC, and even fewer that actually made it through to the final round. Usually, discussion threads are a free-for-all, and participants are winners only in their own minds. Even in this case, it's certainly meant for fun and enlightenment, not deciding the fate of anyone's soul.

As for the conceit of playing the devil's advocate, consider it an intellectual exercise of sorts, like yoga for one's belief structures. I don't think it impacts on the integrity of either of our actual positions.
"The truth about stories is that's all we are" ~Thomas King

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Post by Politesse » Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:13 am

[quote=""Valheru""]Excellent thread, Poli! I'm keen to participate. I swear too much though! :D [/quote]

There's always room for vicious profanity in the peanut gallery. :D
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Post by Typist » Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:27 am

[quote=""BWE""] I have no problem identifying as aN xian of the thomas jefferson variety but that makes the xian god a lot more subtle than many people are willing to consider the xian god to be.[/quote]

I'd like to see you expand on this, however it might come to happen.

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