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← Turek vs. Hitchens Debate: Does God Exist?

Turek vs. Hitchens Debate: Does God Exist? - Comments

andraste77's Avatar Comment 1 by andraste77

I watched this elsewhere earlier this week.

Why is Turek so shouty? Shouty and irritating and not funny and screaching out the same old arguments that have been screached out and shot down a million times before. And they call RD strident...

Hitch demolished him, I thought. Maybe I'm biased because I agree with him.

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 15:55:00 UTC | #260449

He'sAVeryNaughtyBoy's Avatar Comment 2 by He'sAVeryNaughtyBoy

I loved the way that Turek started so nice and wonderfuly engaging, then as his arguments were torn apart one by one he became more and more frustrated and started yelling the same tired arguments over and over. The Hitch is a class act.

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 15:59:00 UTC | #260452

LeeC's Avatar Comment 3 by LeeC

Excellent - I just need to know how to download this to my ipod so I can watch it on the train.

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 16:19:00 UTC | #260472

Chrysippus_Maximus's Avatar Comment 4 by Chrysippus_Maximus

I just think I know who banged it.

Epic fail.

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 16:28:00 UTC | #260485

DarwinsPitbull's Avatar Comment 5 by DarwinsPitbull

Spinoza:Comment #274140

Yea I actually felt a little uncomfortable when he said that. I wish someone would of made a cricket noise after that.

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 16:35:00 UTC | #260490

Gamma ut's Avatar Comment 6 by Gamma ut

I watched this earlier this week too. I wasn't expecting much from Turek, but I got even less -- his arguments were the same old story, and not creative in the slightest. I instantly felt sorry for him though when he said it was his first public debate; he probably didn't have a clue what was about to be unleashed by the CH. Hasn't he heard of Youtube? :)

Also, loved the CH's response to the question about the meaning of life...


Wed, 29 Oct 2008 16:41:00 UTC | #260493

notsobad's Avatar Comment 7 by notsobad

Turek is an example of a more sophisticated but still deluded theist. You throw science at him, he will listen and study, but will eventually say, 'See that only reinforces what we were saying all along!.' Except it doesn't and his understanding and explanation of scientific facts is skewed towards his beliefs, not reality. His understanding of chemistry and biology was outright laughable.

He has no new arguments, because there are none and won't be any unless someone finds empirical evidence. And they were unable to do that for thousands of years.

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 16:48:00 UTC | #260497

Muetze's Avatar Comment 8 by Muetze

Oh please, not the second law of thermodynamics. This argument was used by Kend Hovind for God's sake! Somebody please explain to these people that the word entropy has nothing to do with painting your walls.

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 16:56:00 UTC | #260506

qomak's Avatar Comment 9 by qomak

Poor guy ... he is ignorant and stupid.

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 17:03:00 UTC | #260512

Chrysippus_Maximus's Avatar Comment 10 by Chrysippus_Maximus

Please. Turek is not "more sophisticated". The man is not a philosopher. Not even close. He can't even argue the CLASSICAL philosophical arguments for theism properly... they are much "better" than he presents them.

For an example of a very slippery, fairly intelligent theistic philosopher debating a brilliant philosopher on this topic see:

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 17:15:00 UTC | #260516

Bonzai's Avatar Comment 11 by Bonzai


Please. Turek is not "more sophisticated". The man is not a philosopher

I haven't watched the debate so can't say if Turek is sophisticated or not. But please, what makes you think that one has to be a philosopher to be "sophisticated"? Give me a break.

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 17:25:00 UTC | #260517

Don_Quix's Avatar Comment 12 by Don_Quix

"He's carrying the cross of atheism..."

I know he may have meant that metaphorically (although I kind of doubt it), but...

*head in hands*

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 17:28:00 UTC | #260520

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 13 by Mark Jones

Comment #274104 by andraste77

Why is Turek so shouty?

I think he's very nervous; it's his first formal debate, against a man who probably did it at school. He's quite breathless, and tries to be light-hearted and fails. I've done it myself when public speaking!

Of course, he also has some very bad arguments to present...

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 17:29:00 UTC | #260521

alabasterocean's Avatar Comment 14 by alabasterocean

Is it just me or do Hitchens debate drunkenstyle?

look at 63min when he talks about the age of humans. He has no idea what he is talking about :)
Debate before cocktailhour Mr Hitchens!

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 17:35:00 UTC | #260525

Liveliest Crib's Avatar Comment 15 by Liveliest Crib

10. Comment #274172 by Spinoza on October 29, 2008 at 5:15 pm:

Please. Turek is not "more sophisticated". The man is not a philosopher. Not even close. He can't even argue the CLASSICAL philosophical arguments for theism properly... they are much "better" than he presents them.
I agree. Completely.

About the only thing on which I thought Turek had a handle was that Hitchens was not actually countering his tired and insipid arguments when he was speaking. I do think that, until the cross-talk portion, Hitchens presented his own thoughts without regard to what Turek was saying.

And why should he have? Oh, I know that's what they were there to debate. But, seriously, every one of Turek's arguments are just the same old blather theists present as though no rebuttal has ever been uttered in history. It gets tiring to rebut them, only for the theists to repeat them later without regard to the rebuttal. Which is all they ever do.

The least Turek could have done was present them better.

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 17:37:00 UTC | #260527

Ex~'s Avatar Comment 16 by Ex~

His main argument is perhaps the must repugnant and distasteful argument of all.

He lists all these great mysteries, these great questions, and says "you have to answer all that, and if you can't answer all that convincingly, then theism is more reasonable."

What utter nonsense. It's like you have a canvas, and on one end you have Renoir with his paintbrush and pallet, and he's going away slowly at the canvas filling it up with beautiful art, and then the creationist runs in with his canvas, and he dumps a bucket of paint all over his canvas while yelling "GOD DUNNIT!" and proclaiming himself the winner of the race, and the better painter, because he has his canvas entirely filled and Renoir is taking his time.

It's the most repugnant, infantile, anti-intellectual argument, it's the "God of the gaps" argument. "Hey, look at all these questions I can answer simply by filling in "GOD DUNNIT" on the exam! My worldview wins because I can answer more questions more quickly!

In the end, the theist doesn't answer anything. He scream "Goddunit!" at the top of his lungs, and then, when the good secular scientist discovers how it really happened, and how there's nothing supernatural at all about some particular phenomenon, the theist quickly checks that off his list of GODDUNIT gaps like it never happened, and like it says nothing about the fundamental structure of his argument.

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 17:39:00 UTC | #260528

SmartLX's Avatar Comment 17 by SmartLX

Ah, William Lane Craig. Yep, slippery is the word, Spinz.

As much as he annoys me, I've always wondered how he'd do in a debate against any of the Four Horsemen, after writing against them so often. He's never done it though; being a creationist it's probably against Dawkins's principles to touch him (and I read a quote where Dawkins hadn't even heard of Craig).

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 17:41:00 UTC | #260529

Don_Quix's Avatar Comment 18 by Don_Quix

Turek's statements that "There was nothing before the Big Bang" and "The universe must have a supernatural origin" are things which are impossible to know at our current level of technological progress. For all we know there are other universes (or meta-universes) outside of our own universe, and the coming into being of our universe is a natural (repeat NATURAL) function of those universes. My point is, there aren't only two possibilities (some SUPERnatural...probably Christian...God created the universe, or the universe spontaneously created itself from nothing).

I'm not sure there is even such a thing as "nothing" that exists or exited outside of our universe, but that is another thing we can't know at our current level of technological progress.

Basically, this Turek guy seems to be throwing out a bunch of random unsupported statements regarding cosmology, and then concluding that this must mean God exists. It's quite annoying, and typical fundie nonsense. I don't know why Hitchens feels the need to debate such inexperienced debators. Hitchens is in a totally different class than this guy.

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 17:43:00 UTC | #260530

Nick LaRue's Avatar Comment 19 by Nick LaRue

Can anyone provide a download of this? I can't view this online at work :(

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 17:54:00 UTC | #260535

ab_initio's Avatar Comment 20 by ab_initio

I found my self quite frustrated with Hitchens at points, especially around the 85 minute mark where he just couldn't understand the question.

Turek was asking about how can objective morality exist and Hitchens made himself look stupid by not listening to Turek who was desperately trying to at least have his question understood.

I think Hitch was obviously on the drink before the debate, which normally is fine but this time it showed.


Wed, 29 Oct 2008 18:05:00 UTC | #260541

OverUsedChewToy's Avatar Comment 21 by OverUsedChewToy

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 18:07:00 UTC | #260545

tomwb's Avatar Comment 22 by tomwb

Turek was asking about how can objective morality exist

This frustrated me as well. Hitchens assumed that Turek was saying that morality comes from religion, whereas he was actually saying that it comes from God.

Hitchens argued the fact that morality is innate, but that was exactly Turek's point - he was asking how an innate moral sense can exist in a materialistic world.

I think this is a really interesting question, but very few people seem to give it much thought.

Perhaps Daniel Dennett has come closest to providing a satisfactory answer to this, but Turek dismisses Dennett out of hand.

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 18:23:00 UTC | #260553

black wolf's Avatar Comment 23 by black wolf

I don't know if Hitchens had had an apéritif or five.
But I agree to what ab_initio says in #20. Hitchens could simply have answered with consensual ethics and evolved moral behavior.
Of course, as Turek uses a lot of presuppositionalist argumentation about morality, logic and mathematics, he would have jumped to those, demanding an absolute standard instead of human consensus or empiricism.
To which the answer is also quite simple: since the necessity of an absolute standard as a presupposition has not and can not logically be established (circularity), and since the rules of logic are not a natural law but a human method, his question falls flat on its superfluous butt.

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 18:24:00 UTC | #260554

black wolf's Avatar Comment 24 by black wolf

actually Turek is looking for an answer as to how a materialistic/naturalistic worldview accounts for morality. He takes it as an unspoken fact, to which he was trying to get I assume, that there must necessarily be an absolute standard independent of human thought. If this is what he was after, he worded the question very poorly.
He doesn't say that a materialist can't have morality, he wants to establish the necessity of a universal, metaphysically absolute standard. His path of thinking is that through the right faith, we would follow this absolute standard which he asserts by implication is God's law.

Maybe Hitchens has caught that from previous arguments or otherwise and deliberately avoided it, because arguments like this one can go on forever and would eat up the debate time.

If Turek was looking for an evolutionary explanation of altruism down to the molecular level - he repeatedly used the term brain chemicals like a mantra - he was probably knowingly asking a question science hasn't fully answered yet. It's basically a Gish gallop strategy, throwing questions, mostly straw men, at the opponent with the assertion that he won't be able to answer them, and expecting detailed scientific answers for all of them. Any question not answered within the debate is a claimed victory in this childish debate strategy, complete with shifting the burden of proof.

Turek is full of bad science, bad theology, bad philosophy - and to the uninformed believer (at least to himself) that makes him a good apologist apparently.

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 18:35:00 UTC | #260558

Don_Quix's Avatar Comment 25 by Don_Quix

"What is the atheistic explanation for *random thing*???"

*Don't allow for any responses or ignore all responses*

"Therefore the Christian God exists!"

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 18:46:00 UTC | #260561

Count von Count's Avatar Comment 26 by Count von Count


Thanks for the article.


This gives me an idea. It's a bit of a challenge to all of you. We have all heard a plethora of bad arguments in favor of religion, but can anyone recommend some really good arguments for religion (preferably in article or video form)? Of course, I highly doubt any completely solid argument is possible (which is why I'm an atheist), but I am asking for an argument that, though it may have been found wrong in the end, was very subtle and not easy to refute without some deep thinking.

Richard mentioned in "The Four Horsemen" that for him, the argument about the so-called "finely tuned" cosmological constants had given him pause. As for myself, I wrestled for some time with a few of the statements by Alexander McGrath about the compassionate side of Christianity.

What about you? What arguments have you found difficult? After all, we get stronger by going up against the strongest, not the weakest.

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 18:57:00 UTC | #260569

notsobad's Avatar Comment 27 by notsobad

Please. Turek is not "more sophisticated".

The religious standards are so low that I'd consider him more sophisticated than young-earth creationists or Fred Phelps and Jerry Falwell types.
But after watching the whole debate, I should have written less stupid.
His comparison of Bible miracles to uniqueness of every moment offended basic logic.

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 19:12:00 UTC | #260576

Wosret's Avatar Comment 28 by Wosret

I thought that Hitchens didn't get interesting until the question period. Only then did he start to turn on his characteristic charm and wit.

26. Comment #274225 by Count von Count

The concept of universal justice, eternal life, and supernatural powers. I find those very appealing on an emotional level.

There has never been an argument for theism that I didn't find absurd, or completely obliterated by the evidence on an intellectual level however.

Take Turek's proposition at the end of his "cosmological argument" (that revealed less knowledge in the field than I possess, and I possess very little). Pretend that his argument was coherent, and just take his proposition. "What is more likely, that a supernatural person caused the universe, or some natural physical event did?" (this isn't precisely how he put it, but I don't think it is a misrepresentation). I find the answer to that to be clear.

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 19:22:00 UTC | #260581

phasmagigas's Avatar Comment 29 by phasmagigas

Hitchens argued the fact that morality is innate, but that was exactly Turek's point - he was asking how an innate moral sense can exist in a materialistic world.

this is something ive not really thought about but living things will inevitably behave in some way, they may lie still all day or run across sand dunes etc, etc, we also have various behaviours and it seems that some of them (esp with our abstract thoughts) will be eventually determined as good (whatever that means) and that we label as moral over time. Wondering why they can exist in a materialistic universe is perhaps the same as saying 'why do we have blunt nails and teeth and tasty blood instead of razor sharp ones and acid for blood in a materialistic world" Animals may have a 'morality' as such from their own perspective, a wolf that ran through a pack and maimed individuals and killed cubs randomly could be deemed immoral and such behaviour would perhaps be stemmed by group attack (it is of course maladaptive for other reasons too and this stuff is widely discussed anyway)

Anyway im not sure why theists assume that in a godless universe that creatures should be whirling dervishes of destruction.

i know morals vary with cultures but generally im sure we are aware that day to day existence is a constant stream of moments balancing selfish and selfless acts and surely its easy to realise that a constantly whilrling dervish gets nowhere fast.

maybe im missing the point.

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 19:24:00 UTC | #260585

notsobad's Avatar Comment 30 by notsobad

look at 63min when he talks about the age of humans. He has no idea what he is talking about :)

Speaking of which, I recommend the following speech to everybody who wants to learn more or just recall what they have studied about human ancestry. It's also a good source for people, who haven't studied this before.

Wed, 29 Oct 2008 19:44:00 UTC | #260592