The Frustration of Debates July 24, 2013

The Frustration of Debates

Fred Clark has a great explanation of why debates — especially about God’s existence — aren’t as useful as they appear to be:

When Ray Comfort challenges someone to a debate over the truth of Christianity, I wince because I am a Christian and I know that Comfort is most likely going to “lose” that debate, leading some to the mistaken conclusion that this indicates something meaningful about the truth or untruth of what I believe. When William Lane Craig challenges someone to a debate over the truth of Christianity, I wince because I am a Christian and I know that Craig is most likely going to “win” that debate, leading some to the mistaken conclusion that this indicates something meaningful about the truth or untruth of what I believe.

I never liked that about debates, that you’re really playing to the audience and not your opponent. The best you can hope for is that you plant a seed of doubt into some audience members and that it stays with them well after the debate is over.

The question you really have to ask before accepting an invite to one is: Does your opponent have any intention of changing his/her mind? If the answer’s no, then don’t accept.

And if your opponent really does want to have an exchange of ideas, maybe it’s better to hash them out over drinks, away from any sort of audience.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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