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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Atheist Podcast

Pastor Dustin Segers and Sye TenBruggencate recently had a long interchange/debate with a couple of English atheist "evangelists" who run a site called Fundamentally Flawed.

When I say the podcast is long, I mean long; almost three hours. I think the last Harry Potter movie was almost three hours, so you know what sort of time you are committing to this thing.

Link to the podcast can be located at Pastor Segers' webpage: Atheist Debate

It is probably one of the better exchanges demonstrating the use of presuppositionalism as an apologetic methodology. There was another podcast a few weeks ago involving a fellow who blogs at Triablogue, but with 6 atheists talking with one Christian, the discussion was difficult to follow. They talked over each other and rabbit trailed off, bouncing around on unrelated subjects. That not only makes for a bad discussion, it annoys the listener.

Anyhow, I was particularly delighted to hear Dustin interact with the two English atheists, because not only is he rock solid theologically and articulate, he has a good voice for these sorts of interviews that is easy on the ear. At least for me.

I will say the more useful portion is the first hour or so, because Dustin and Sye demonstrate well how to utilize presuppositionalism in their encounter. The remainder of the time was more wobbly, because the atheists absolutely refused to justify their claims against their Christian opponents. One seemed to keep insisting there is no such thing as a "worldview" or presuppositions that shape how a person knows and interprets the world. If a person sincerely thinks that, it's hard to move forward. In fact, that would be my only constructive criticism, the Christians needed to move on to answering some of their challengers' questions. I understand why Dustin and Sye kept coming back to pressing the atheists' truth claims, but I think if they had answered the atheists' questions regarding Darwinianism and creationism, for example, I think Dustin and Sye would have had a ready made illustration proving the point they were making.

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16 Comments:

Blogger DJP said...

Thanks. Love what Sye does; endless patience.

12:19 PM, October 20, 2011  
Blogger Jacob said...

Curious: So how do you move forward in a conversation with an atheist who refuses to accept the concept of worldviews?

The podcast is indeed worth the time to listen.

11:49 PM, October 20, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

Jacob,
Eventually, in these conversations, I think a Christian should provide illustrations of what it is he is pressing with the unbeliever. Obviously, unbelievers will differ one from another. In the case of this podcast, atheists and atheism in particular, have some ultimate starting points that need to be challenged.

Dustin and Sye were doing that admirably, but it would be helpful to show this by talking about how each side evaluates and interprets evidence. When the one fellow started appealing to evolution and "all the overwhelming" evidence for evolution, he is making claims about his way of evaluating that evidence. That is where I focus the discussion on his interpretative starting points.

A good example of this is Mary Switzer (I may have her last named misspelled) and the dinosaur bones she is finding with unfossilized tissue inside them. She and her research team were brutalized by her academic peers even to the point that a few of them offered rebuttal papers to her initial findings saying she was mistaking the tissue for bacterial film.

The evolutionists, of course, bought that explanation until they found more dinosaur bones with the same unfossilized tissue. Now that rebuttal paper is debunked and even her severest critics have begrudgingly admitted she is right.

Okay. How does one understand that evidence? How can unfossilized tissue exist for 70 million years? Obviously one's starting point is going to tell you how to explain it.

7:44 AM, October 21, 2011  
Blogger Steve Drake said...

Jacob,
I also hear ya' man. Francis Schaeffer used to say that one's worldview is equivalent to one's philosophy of life. It is our job as apologists to define and clarify for the unbeliever that he indeed does have a philosophy of life, a worldview in fact. That these atheists denied this fact underscores their lack of intellectual acumen.

1:41 PM, October 21, 2011  
Blogger Ken Abbott said...

I have seen some unbelievers push back against the concept of worldview, claiming it is a Christian construct and refusing to interact with the idea.

1:49 PM, October 21, 2011  
Blogger DJP said...

Oh, Ken, that is funny. Unintentionally, but funny. What an admission.

11:19 AM, October 22, 2011  
Blogger DJP said...

I continue to chuckle at the thought. I wish I could link to Ken's comment, I'd Tweet it. "There you go again! You Christians and that... that... that worldview thingie of yours!"

11:22 AM, October 22, 2011  
Blogger Robert said...

Fred,

The book "Dragons or Dinosaurs" goes through exactly what you are talking about with the unfossilized dinosaur tissue and, believe it or not, the evolutionists have a way of trying to explain it away. Granted it is quite comical, but when you really look at most of their arguments you'd have a hard time taking any of these people seriously.

7:34 AM, October 24, 2011  
Blogger Fred Butler said...

I reported about the t-rex here:
http://hipandthigh.blogspot.com/2010/05/lewontin-moment.html

I linked a 13 minute video from CBS 60 minutes that gives a good overview of the background to the whole thing.

8:44 AM, October 24, 2011  
Blogger s.driesner said...

I'm about 46 minutes into the debate, and I had to laugh in amazement at how, when Dustin/Sye ask the atheists on the panel to define "what is truth, according to your worldview?," they are initially greeted with a palpable silence. One of the atheists even admits that he has no theory of truth, and another says he's never even been asked the question before. Just amazing. Thanks for sharing.

10:57 AM, October 24, 2011  
Blogger Dusman said...

Fred,

Thanks for the constructive criticism. It is much appreciated and well received.

6:03 PM, October 24, 2011  
Blogger Frank Turk said...

"worldview" is a popularized word. It sums up the practical meaning of the terms "epistemology" and "metaphysics" -- words some atheists are smart enough to accept while most are so fundamentalistic as to deny that even philosophy has anyway to describe them let alone predict their actions and reactions -- unlike the holy sacrament of Science, of course.

If they dip away from "worldview," you can talk about how they know stuff, and what kind of world is necessary to know the difference between a rock and a pig and a baby.

Haven't heard the podcast yet, but I have downloaded it. looking forward to listening during my morning jogs this week.

12:34 PM, October 25, 2011  
Blogger Elaine Bittencourt said...

Fred, thank you for your post. I will listen. We all have many friends who are not atheists per se but use many atheistic arguments when talking about these issues.

I have on my desktop several post-it notes. One of them says: "one's worldview influences the interpretation of science". It's either by RC Sproul, Stephen Meyer or Ben Stein (back when I was listening/watching all those interviews). It's so true that our worldview influences every little aspect of our lives, that's why having a Christian worldview is so important.

I find it funny that atheists would say that there is no such thing as a "worldview". That simple statement is so "post-modern", no? We have a saying in my culture (I've been away for too long, they probably don't say that anymore) "when in trouble, deny everything". =)

It is a comfortable place for them [the atheists] because, like you said, it's hard to move on.

thanks again!
E.

3:21 PM, October 25, 2011  
Blogger Go Share Your Faith said...

Good summary Fred. I think you are right...they might have benefitted from moving on to the so-called evidence, and used that as a springboard to explain/instruct/flesh out the whole coloration of interpretation of evidence via a worldview...

But all in all...yes...the Englishmen were speechless basically.

2:26 AM, October 26, 2011  
Blogger DJP said...

I'm just over 2 hours in, and not enjoying that Sye's friend (A) seems to have thrown him under the bus so far, and (B) seems to be a bit overeager to convince the atheists what a great guy he is (better than that disagreeable Sye). Perhaps I'm a bit sensitive to such things, but that's how it's coming off.

Sye was right not to concede the atheists' non-position. To copy my comment from Pyro:

...I'm getting this picture. It is a courtroom scene. Goes like this:

Disputant A: All right! Let's get this trial going!

Disputant B: Absolutely. So, what are the laws, and who is the judge?

Disputant A: We don't have to tell you. AND we've already told you. Now let's get the trial going.

Disputant B: How can we have a trial if we don't know what the laws are, and who will judge and enforce them?

Disputant A: You're just trying to avoid a trial! Let's go! Argue your case!

Disputant B: How can I argue my case if we haven't agreed what the laws are and who the judge is?

Disputant A: You're afraid to argue! You have no case! Bailiff, throw him out! He loses!

5:31 AM, October 26, 2011  
Blogger Dusman said...

Brethren,

Here's a great example of why I normally don't use evidence with recalcitrant atheists: http://anatheistviewpoint.blogspot.com/2011/10/on-fear-of-truth.html

I refuted Alex's assertions time and time again to the point of him contradicting himself, but he won't budge. The point is that evidence isn't his problem; a God-hating heart is. I've done debates with these guys a few hundred times and they always throw the historical an scientific evidence against their view under the bus because all facts are interpreted facts. This is why you must attack the presuppositions and preach Scripture to them.

7:18 AM, October 31, 2011  

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