Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gary Habermas vs. Arif Ahmed Debate MP3 Audio

Dr. Gary Habermas and atheist philosopher Dr. Arif Ahmed debate at Cambridge University: Did Jesus Rise Bodily from the Dead? A good debate. Video can be found here (although in parts).

Full MP3 Audio here.



Jon said...

Thanks for posting this Brian. I thought this one was a rare instance of the atheist outperforming the Christian as I explained at my own blog. Any thoughts? I'll try not to argue back at you.

Brian said...

Thanks for posting.

I thought this was a very strong performance from Ahmed. I appreciated his tone, his clarity, and he was a reasonable guy. All of his objections were good sounding objections.

I also thought it was interesting hearing Habermas approach an atheist philosopher with historical evidences. It put him in the position of having to back up a long ways just to try to open Ahmed up to the idea of the supernatural as a possible option. This is where I thought that the setup of the debate was too short and Habermas had to do double-duty. Or, even triple duty, as he had also to defend his methodology.

I think it was a good example of having too much to argue for in too little time. Sometimes a 30-second question can require a 30-minute answer. Lace enough of those together and try to prove both that God exists and that Jesus was resurrected all in a single debate and you've got quite a pile of spaghetti to unwind.

It gave me an appreciation of Habermas' historical methods, personal demeanor, and sincere patience when reasoning with someone. However, even as Habermas put it, it would be more of an ongoing conversation over the course of a rugby game here, a BBQ there, to open someone up Ahmed to supernatural options.

So yes, this was an interesting debate. It would have been great if it was like 3 hours longer, because the time flew by and I wanted to hear more from both of them.

Steven Carr said...

'....together and try to prove both that God exists and that Jesus was resurrected all in a single debate'

Those are 2 different things?

If you prove that Jesus was resurrected, you have not proved that God exists?

Brian said...

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

The question of resurrection proving the existence of God applies differently depending on the metaphysical view of the listener.

To those for whom God is a possible option, the resurrection is sufficient evidence to convince them that God exists. Theism's view allows for miracles. For them, if you can show them a miracle, then this is satisfactory to establish the truth of God's existence.

To those for whom God is not a live option, then their metaphysic disallows supernatural activity, such as miracles. No God means no possibility of miracles. In this case, the person arguing for the resurrection must also back up a level and address the philosophical presupposition of the listener to open him to the possibility of God's existence. Then this allows the possibility of miracles and the resurrection becomes a possibility.

Geisler takes this sort of approach in "I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be An Atheist" -- he first establishes a case for the existence of God. After that, miracles are a possibility in a theistic universe.

So when I said that Habermas had to do "double-duty," I meant that he was talking to someone who didn't have God as a possibility. Habermas had to go back and point to near death experiences and the like in order to show the possibility of the supernatural. There was not a lot of time in this debate to explore all of the factors fully.

I hope that clarifies where I was coming from in my comment.

Thanks again for reading.

Steven Carr said...

SO you have to believe in god first before there is evidence for a resurrection?

Brian said...

I would want to word things more precisely because how you have phrased the question may be somewhat ambiguous.

Someone may not believe in God (put his faith and trust in God, or be very sure that he exists) yet find the evidence for the resurrection compelling enough that it seals the case for them -- okay, this is enough for them to believe that God exists. They are open to various metaphysical possibilities and not locked into naturalism.

However, others may not believe in God --- in such a way that they believe there is no God or possibility of God. They are committed to a naturalistic worldview. In this case, they disallow the possibility of the evidence possibly pointing to supernatural causes or events.

I am saying that presuppositions regarding what is metaphysically possible are key in determining what someone does with the evidence.

Faith Beyond Belief said...

To Steve

Brian is correct. In order to first learn anything, you must assume things. If I try and answer a question, without bringing any assumptions,I cannot have any chance of answering that question. For example, how did the universe start? Well, lets see, I will read what Steven Hawkins has to say... wait... why would I assume he has anything good to say? He attempts to use reason to formulate ideas, but I cannot assume reason is useful in any way. He uses science to formulate his ideas, and science is based on our senses, but I cannot assume our senses perceive reality correctly. And on and on it goes.

If you flat out reject supernatural events, then you will never see supernatural events. Any event that could be deemed supernatural that you witness, you will formulate a natural explanation. Naturalism become a priori.

Any truth claim must be evaluated on it's own bases. At minimum, you must concede the possibility of super naturalism before you even have a chance of concluding the truth of it. (Or naturalism, or whatever)

I purpose that logic combined with experiential constancy are the only transcendent tools at our disposal where we can evaluate worldviews outside of their biases. A cannot equal non-A in the same way at the same time. If this were not true, every claim is valid. I could say the chair I am sitting on is also a tree, in the same way it's a chair. I could say that God exists and God does not exist and they would both be correct. Likewise, if I believe that matter is an illusion (Hinduism/Buddhism)yet if I eat food and avoid being hit by a bus, then I know deep down that matter is real. My experiential constancy shows us what we truly believe. If I am a moral naturalist (most naturalists are) then deep down I understand that morality is objective. I know that the holocaust was wrong, torturing and killing new born babies for fun is wrong. We call people who reject objective morality in their lives (not just their words) social-paths. Yet, these are the consistent naturalists.

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