Friday, January 15, 2010

Debate in Calgary

I will be debating Michael Horner on whether God exists, in Calgary, Canada (Alberta) this January 27th (Wednesday) at 4pm in MacEwan Hall on the campus of the University of Calgary (2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB). $2 admission. I will be signing and selling my books afterward (event is scheduled to run an hour and a half and I'll likely be around until 7pm). I will also be speaking the next day for CFI Calgary (one of the sponsors of the debate) on the historicity of Jesus, but when I know more details about that event I'll blog it separately (see here).

21 comments:

AIGBusted said...

Knock 'em dead Rick!

dialecticsoup said...

The best to you Dr. Carrier! I'm eagerly awaiting a lecture/debate stop in Texas!

Wanderin' Weeta said...

"... whether God exists in Calgary ..."

Actually, he (she/it) doesn't.

Richard Carrier said...

Hah! Nice one. I emended the punctuation accordingly. :-)

Re: Texas. I've been approached by an interested group there, but haven't yet heard back (they were supposed to email me, though they might still be working it out). It sounded optimistic, so I may be in Texas this year. But no guarantees.

I'll be blogging soon about a junket in Kansas, and in a few months another in Arizona (cheap flights make me more gettable out there I guess). Just a heads up.

Nicole said...

Hah! That's so funny. I recently had a four-hour taped conversation/debate with him at his office in Biola University. He was really really nice, but just lukewarm as Hell.

(If Hell were lukewarm)

Jim who is slightly balding said...

I bet the Flames fans think God exists... they're 26-16-6 so far this season.

Landon Hedrick said...

Richard,

Good luck with the debate. I'm interested in seeing how you will approach a debate about this topic.

I've heard you'll be debating Mike Licona at Washburn University. I lived in Topeka for a summer and have a lot of friends there. Plan on Fred Phelps and the rest of the nutty Westboro Baptist Church to come out and picket at the event.

In any case, I'll look forward to watching videos of both debates. Good luck.

Bernard said...

Richard,
I'll be attending your two meetings in Calgary. What are the conditions for attending the second one?
Bernard D Muller

Conference Administrator said...

@ Nicole- did you mean *David* Horner at Biola? They do look similar though.

Bernard said...

The Calgary CFI website indicates about Richard Carrier's debate -I quote-: "Starts
Wednesday, January 27th 2010 at 12:51 pm
Ends
Sunday, January 31st 2010 at 10:55 am"
That cannot be true. And no mention of Horner and the subsequent talk about the historicity of Jesus.
And it is not clear what the subject would be, -I quote-: "Is It Reasonable to ...".
Those CFI people need to put their act together.
Bernard

Richard Carrier said...

I know. It's strange, but all over the country CFI groups (even command central) seem to be a bit clueless about how to use the web properly. It's not just the Calgary unit. I've remarked on this to insiders many times before. They have all the money, yet the most powerful resource they have that costs next to nothing, they don't know how to use. Go figure.

Anyway, I still haven't heard any details regarding the next-day talk. I'll post them when I know (I know it's pretty well getting down to the wire).

heathen_saint said...

I'd like to see you debate Dinesh D'Souza. He seems to be doing well against atheists allot lately.

Bernard said...

No change to report yet on the Calgary CFI detail page about Carrier debate. But if I click on the calendar entry about it, at least, the topic is fully written. However, still no mention of Horner (I wonder how he feels about being ignored!). And the meeting is indicated to end at the same time it would start: 12:51pm on Friday 27. Furthermore there is no scheduled event on the calendar for the next day.
Bernard

Bernard said...

I just checked again the CFI pages and I am happy to report everything seems to have been fixed for the Carrier/Horner debate on Jan 27. Maybe the fact I sent a message to jtrottier@cficanada.ca about two hours ago had something to do with it. But still no mention of the talk on Jan 28.
Bernard

Bernard said...

I read the page about what Michael Horner wrote
http://www.michaelhorner.com/
for "Does God Exist?".
And I am intrigued on what he claimed:
1. The Proton/Electron Mass Ratio is 1836 to 1.
- Had it been slightly different, there would be no chemistry.

2. Yet the electrical charge of the proton and the electron are exactly equal numerically.
- Had they been fractionally different, hydrogen atoms would repel one another, and there would be no galaxies.

3. If the strong force (the force that binds protons and neutrons in the nucleus) was just
- 2% less, it would have destroyed all nuclei essential to life
- 2% more, it would have prevented the formation of protons and therefore matter

4. If the expansion rate of the universe was
-less by one part in a million million, the universe would have collapsed very early
-greater by one part in a million, galaxies, stars and planets would never have formed.

Unable myself to disprove these scientific claims, nor counteract them if they are true, I would be most interested about what Carrier has to say about them. And Richard, better be prepared for that! Horner will certainly include them in his arguments to prove God exists.

To the risk of repeating myself, still nothing from CFI about Richard's talk on Jan 28.

Bernard

Richard Carrier said...

More info on my Calgary trip here. Still not much.

Richard Carrier said...

Got all the info now on the Thursday talk. See here.

Bernard said...

I attended the debate between Carrier and Horner. The auditorium was filled up and the attendees, mainly young people, were remarkably quiet and orderly (in other words, Canadians, eh!).
I wished the opening statements were much longer than 10 minutes. That would have allowed both speakers to express themselves more completely on the subject. I found these statements the most interesting part of the meeting. Carrier made an excellent point about the universe being so large, so unhospitable to life, so full of bad things (virus, natural disasters, etc.), that it cannot have been created by design, more so for the benefit of us. Another strong point of his: everything, including phenomena previously believed as acts of God, such as lightning, as been scientifically explained (with the exception of the origin of the Big Bang, as I see it), and not involving a God.
In the following (tamed) debate and the Q & A session, it seems that both speakers were repeating what they said earlier. Horner was flashing a few confident smiles but Carrier could have shown more conviction and his answers were noticeably short & dry.
Actually, the debate was about two different Gods, as I see it.
The first one is the (alleged) creator of the Big Bang. On this, Horner was the most convincing, mostly when he referred generally to the scientific data as I quoted it in my previous entry on this blog. Carrier answered by invoking hypothese of multiverses and continuous creation and destruction of universes (up to ours got it right, naturally). His position that from nothing can come something very big is hard to swallow.
The second (alleged) God is about the compassionate ("personal") God of the Christian faith. On this, Carrier had the advantage and could have been easily more destructive. He certainly demonstrated that this God was certainly not compassionate for humans, citing Haiti, Katrina, etc. Horner was in big trouble on this one, saying that God has a good reason to permit evil, but we do not know God's thinking; why should we have answer about what God should do? only God knows and it is beyond human understanding; we don't know God's plan in order to explain bad things.
Well, I do not pretend this blog entry about the debate is accurate and complete, but I was assured the whole thing will be available on U-Tube soon.
I managed to meet Carrier and shake hand. He acknowledged me after I told him my name twice or thrice. I suppose he had other things on his mind.
On the lighter side, I now got a pet theory, taking in account the arguments, strong and weak, I just heard from the debate: A God created the Big Bang. He designed it to be big and long-lasting (maybe His earlier attempts were flops, just tiny explosions and then nothing. What a waste of time!) but He got killed by it. So now we have a Godless universe where life managed to get a foothold in some very privileged locations.
Well I do not claim to be a scientist!
Best regards, Bernard

Richard Carrier said...

heathen_saint said... I'd like to see you debate Dinesh D'Souza. He seems to be doing well against atheists allot lately.

I believe D'Souza is a bully and a liar. I probably won't debate him for that very reason: he just shouts, fibs, and belittles. There is no real respect for truth and argument in him.

Once someone tried to organize a debate between him and me a few years ago in California and I insisted I'd only debate him on his claim that Christianity was responsible for modern science. I heard he then declined and asked for a different opponent.

I will take him on only on that subject because I know he can't lie his way out of it, and attempting to bully me over it will only make him look foolish. But even that debate I wouldn't enjoy, because I can't stand arguing with assholes.

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard said... I managed to meet Carrier and shake hand. He acknowledged me after I told him my name twice or thrice. I suppose he had other things on his mind.

No, I apologize, I just couldn’t register the word you were saying because of your accent. Since you said you’d post here, I knew I’d figure it out eventually anyway, and so I have. :-)

Richard Carrier said...

Bernard said... I wished the opening statements were much longer than 10 minutes. That would have allowed both speakers to express themselves more completely on the subject.

I came to the opposite conclusion: since it is impossible to cover the subject (much less completely) even in 40 minutes, or indeed even if we had many hours of opening statements (as I have repeatedly said, this is an inescapable defect of all debates), attempting the impossible only makes things worse. It gets boring and confusing and becomes a game of “beat the clock” that no longer serves any real interest in the truth. In contrast, I found the ten minute openings tightly focused our arguments, which (counter-intuitively) allowed those to be covered in more depth, and made the debate more exciting for the audience and more manageable for the debaters. I’m going to ask for 10 minute openings from now on (this week’s debate was already agreed at 20 minutes, so I’ll have an immediate test of principle in a couple of days).

In the following (tamed) debate and the Q & A session, it seems that both speakers were repeating what they said earlier.

IMO the Q&A was unexpectedly padded with questions on exactly the same subject (and the least relevant one at that), the moral argument. That made it repetitive, and drifted us a bit off topic. There should have been a broader mix of questions (as I know had been submitted, from audience members who later made the same observation I did).

But the debate itself took us almost to the bottom of our respective points, which is actually a good debate. The focus allowed us to exhaust our respective evidence and arguments on those points, allowing the audience to make an informed choice between them (albeit still not fully informed, since we could have gone into much more detail on the cosmological argument, for example).

Actually, the debate was about two different Gods, as I see it. The first one is the (alleged) creator of the Big Bang.

Note that the moderator read the definition of God we were debating right at the start: among other things, he was a God who actively intervenes in the universe today. Horner simply failed to establish that.

On this, Horner was the most convincing, mostly when he referred generally to the scientific data as I quoted it in my previous entry on this blog. Carrier answered by invoking hypothese of multiverses and continuous creation and destruction of universes (up to ours got it right, naturally). His position that from nothing can come something very big is hard to swallow.

And yet logically proven right before your eyes, in my opening statement. The truth may be hard to swallow, but it’s still the truth. The conclusion followed validly from the premises and the premises could not be reasonably denied. Horner didn’t refute any of them. He just resorted to special pleading and an argument from authority that I in turn refuted.

I just heard from the debate: A God created the Big Bang. He designed it to be big and long-lasting (maybe His earlier attempts were flops, just tiny explosions and then nothing. What a waste of time!) but He got killed by it. So now we have a Godless universe where life managed to get a foothold in some very privileged locations.

Exactly the theory I propose on pages 253-54 of Sense and Goodness without God. See there for how, although it is indeed the most believable god imaginable at this point, it is still unbelievable.