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IQ2 debate on "Atheists are wrong" - the results (Lions defeat Christians)

Pre-debate: 28.5% for the motion, 56% against, 15.5% undecided. Post-debate: 28.9% for, 66.3% against, 5.7% undecided.

Actually, these figures from Twitter can't be quite right, as the second set of figures adds up to over 100, but presumably they are near enough to give a good idea what happened. Maybe we'll see slightly different figures for the debate later on. Or maybe the second group of figures contains more people if the first misses a few late arrivals. I really don't know.

Anyway, as the figures show, we had a pretty receptive audience for the speakers against the motion, which doubtless buoyed us. Still, nearly 30 per cent were prepared, before the debate started, to support a motion that "Atheists are wrong". Both sides received plenty of applause, though ours was louder. With 1200 enthusiastic people packed into Sydney's City Recital Hall, the debate had plenty of atmosphere.

The figure that matters with these debates isn't the ultimate number or percentage who support the motion, but which side of the argument produces the best shift in numbers. On the figures given, our godless team received a net 10.3 per cent of the audience (equivalent to two-thirds of the undecideds) shifting to us, while the speakers for the motion managed to get a net 0.4 per cent of the audience to shift to them.
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ABC (Australia)
by Simon Longstaff

Having been persecuted as a dangerous minority for centuries, in recent years the champions of atheism have achieved celebrity status around the world.

Atheists have been quick to point to the evils done in the name of religion and to claim that their criticism of religion is grounded in the demands of reason. Their opponents have championed faith as a source of inspiration and as an essential aspect of the human condition.

However, beyond rhetorical skirmishes, in the end, just one fundamental question must be answered: does God exist? Given what is at stake, there can be no more important question.

As Blaise Pascal famously argued, if you are a rational punter, then you would bet on God's existence. If you're proved wrong then there's nothing lost. However, if you bet against the existence of God, and are wrong, then you risk eternal perdition!

That said, the purpose of this Intelligence Squared debate, held on 6 September 2011 before an audience of over 1200 people assembled in the City Recital Hall, Angel Place, was not merely to establish an argument from prudence.

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