Archive for the ‘Dan Barker’ Category

The Triune God of Scripture Lives

October 13, 2009

The following is a trailer for Dr. James White’s first debate this year with Dan Barker, on the topic: “The Triune God of Scripture Lives.”

The DVD of this debate is available in the Alpha & Omega Ministries Bookstore (link).

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Barker/White Mythology Debate – Parts 1 and 2

September 30, 2009

I understand that Alpha and Omega Ministries will be offering a higher-quality DVD at a later date. In the meantime, here is the Barker/White mythology debate (which is the second debate between Dr. White and Dan Barker this year).

-TurretinFan

Barker Mythology Debate

September 28, 2009

Last weekend, Dr. White debated Dan Barker on whether the Biblical account is derived from prior mythology (Topic, with Dan Barker Affirmative: “The Jesus Story is Cut from the Same Story as Other Ancient Mythologies”). I understand that eventually Alpha and Omega Ministries will make a DVD of the debate available. In the meantime, here’s my take on the debate (having listened to it live).

1) Barker’s Opening Speech

Mr. Barker gave a reasonably interesting opening speech in which he attempted to claim that much of the New Testament account was simply derived from various pagan mythologies. If one took his speech alone, it might actually sound as though he had an arguable case for his contentions.

2) Dr. White’s Opening Speech

Before Dr. White could even get started, Barker committed what can be considered at best to be an enormous faux pas. He interrupted Dr. White’s speech to object to Dr. White responding to Barker’s own book. It was a boneheaded move, since it made Barker appear to be attempting to disrupt his opponent’s speech. Furthermore, the rationale for the objection tended to undermine Barker’s credibility, since normally scholars are willing to stand behind their books, especially when they are still selling that particular book.

3) The Remainder

Dr. White recovered well from the interruption and went on to demolish (quite thoroughly) the argumentation used by Barker against the New Testament. The cross-examination section was especially good, in that during Dr. White’s time to ask questions he was able to demonstrate the weakness of Barker’s position, while Barker had to resort to trying to argue and grand-stand during the cross-examination section.

What made things worse for Barker was the fact that such argumentation in the cross-examination is not just against the general rules of debate, but against the specific rules that Barker had agreed to just before the debate. Barker acknowledged this but then indicated that he was “proud” to violate the very rules to which he had agreed. At that point, I think that most of any remaining credibility he had was shot.

Other Views on the Debate

Barker made reference during his opening speech to the fact that there were a significant number of unbelievers present. I have looked for any atheist commentary on the debate and have found none. I have found a couple of Christian comments regarding the debate, which seem to confirm that the impression I got, of how the debate went, was accurate (first post, second post). (UPDATE: Here is one atheist view of the debate. (link))

Conclusion

Overall, I felt that the debate was a clear victory for Dr. White. Obviously, I am biased. Dr. White is a friend and I’m on his blogging team. I’m not sure, but I think that Barker realized that the debate was going against him. Barker is obviously a bright guy with good rhetorical skills, but his case was demonstrated to be weak. In my view, one of those weaknesses was that one of Barker’s techniques seemed to be:

1) Assert that similarities between a myth and the Scripture show derivation; and

2) Assert that differences between the myth and the Scripture show “improvement” over the myth.

It should be apparent that if one uses that technique, one will be able to show derivation for any two stories that have any kind of superficial similarity.

Consider the example of the Iroquois (one of the North American aboriginal tribes) tale of the salvation of the human race. There are some similarities to the Scriptural account of the flood. Practically all the people of earth are wiped out. Their mode of salvation had to do with water, and the way in which their salvation was obtained was via divine revelation. In both cases, the hero’s name begins with an “N”, as an “o” in the middle of the name, and ends with an “a” sound. Notice how I’ve emphasized the similarities. But when you read the actual account (link for the skeptical), it’s practically nothing like the history of the Great Flood. In fact, there’s not even a flood in that story (instead, the calamity is a plague). The point, however, is that one can do the same kind of thing with virtually any two stories, especially those that go for any significant length.

I will not spoil the debate further by getting into the detailed arguments that were presented. After all, if you have to deal with typical atheist arguments against Christianity, this is a debate you will want to watch.

-TurretinFan

UPDATE: You can watch the first hour of the debate here:

Why Dr. White Dominated the Barker-White Debate

May 7, 2009

Introduction

I have listened to the Barker-White debate of last Thursday twice (an mp3 of the debate can be obtained here). Many things could be said about the debate. I have a few quick thoughts on why Dr. White dominated the debate:

1) Dr. White presented a Biblical case.

This is the primary reason that Dr. White dominated. Dr. White properly identified God as the God who has revealed himself in Scripture, the God who created the visible world (with a cellular energy transfer process as an example), and the God through whom alone knowledge is possible.

Dr. White did not rely on an evidentialist approach or a philosophically rationalist approach that tries to borrow a secular platform to argue for God’s existence. In this, in my opinion, Dr. White was dramatically superior to many of those who have tried to argue from probabilities or from clever philosophical syllogisms.

2) Dr. White was Prepared

Dr. White had done his homework on Barker. In fact, those of us who had listened to the Dividing Line webcast for the past few weeks were not surprised by anything that Barker said in his opening speech, and there really wasn’t much more that he said in other parts of his speech that were surprising.

This preparedness gave Dr. White a clear edge, since he was able to anticipate several of Barker’s arguments in his own opening statement. Additionally, Dr. White was even able to anticipate Barker’s follow-up questions during the cross-examination section.

Barker did not appear to be similarly prepared. Barker ended up having to waste time during the cross-examination section finding out preliminary facts about Dr. White, such as whether Dr. White accepts the hypothesis of evolution and whether God could be said to be behind the swine flu outbreak.

Likewise, because Barker was not familiar with Dr. White’s background, he confused evidence of God with evidence for God. Dr. White noted evidence of God in the evidence, but did not try to prove the God of Scripture from the evidence.

3) Dr. White Avoided Landmines

Dr. White avoided ad hominem arguments, except where the matter was relevant. For example, Dr. White did not argue that atheists were statistically more immoral than theists, did not try to make the argument that being an atheist makes you a Stalin, or any similar argument. Instead, Dr. White wisely stuck to pointing out the fact that atheistic morality is simply an unwarranted borrowing by atheists from the Christian worldview.

Dr. White did, at one point, note that Barker’s education to be a pastor was (to quote Barker’s own words) little more than a “glorified Sunday school,” but he did this only because it had become relevant in view of Barker’s suggestion that as a preacher he had been unaware of the most notorious textual critical issue that exists in the Bible. Although Barker may not have known about it, it wasn’t because Christians hide this issue, but only because Barker’s familiarity with Christianity wasn’t very deep. Dr. White was quick to point out that Barker is an exceptionally intelligent man (in the top few tenths of a percent of the population), and Dr. White made it clear that he was not arguing that Barker was lacking intelligence.

4) Dr. White Linked To Other Debates/Discussions

Dr. White provided a significant numbers of connections to other debates and discussions, both to debates that Barker had done and debates that Dr. White has done. These connections demonstrated the fact that Dr. White was aiming for consistency: not only in his own presentation, but in insisting that his opponent be consistent as well. These connections permitted Dr. White to focus on the important issues that had been raised in other contexts, even when Barker may not have raised them as clearly in this particular debate.

Conclusion

On the whole, I think Dr. White did a great job. Obviously, being a Christian and a member of his blogging team, I’m liable to bias. Nevertheless, I trust that the listener will agree with me and that has been the case with many of those with whom I have chatted about this debate. He presented the consistent message of the Bible and contrasted it with the inconsistent message of atheism.

-TurretinFan


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