Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Frank Turek vs. David Silverman Debate: Which offers a better explanation for reality–Theism or Atheism?

In this audio and video, Christian apologist Frank Turek debates David Silverman, president of the American Atheists, on the topic: Which offers a better explanation for reality–Theism or Atheism? This debate was held on April 18, 2013 at Broadmoor Baptist Church in Shreveport, LA. Watch the debate on Vimeo here.

Full Debate MP3 Audio here (2hr 10min)


  1. _Nate May 2, 2013

    Frank did a good job of making David pay the price for denying objective morality additionally I'd like to respond to David's idea that when God set up the tree, it effectively removed Adam/Eves free will.

    This is copied from something I wrote earlier:
    If God knows the past present and future, and hell is real, then God makes people knowing that they go to hell, thus God creates people for hell, thus God is evil.

    This statement is supposed to be problematic for theists however it is only problematic if the people who were created by God and went to hell never had a true choice. It does seem that if God both created a being, and knew where its final destination would be then that being could not have had a choice about its destination just as a rock has no say in its destination when it is dropped off a cliff. Thus people mentally frame the issue like this:

    God, by creating a soul, sets off an unalterable chain of events that results in a person going to hell.

    It is tempting therefore to believe that God is evil, until one realizes that we are not talking about the contents of the empirical universe when we speak of God and souls and so we are not talking about an unalterable chain of events. Souls are not bound by the laws of nature and thus stand independent of natural causation, their decisions are not determined by physics and chemistry but by an agency that transcends natural law and truly does have free will as things that are governed by physics and chemistry never can. Because souls truly have the ability to choose, they can truly be held accountable for their actions, if God has pre-knowledge of the soul’s decision it does not mean that the soul did not have the free will to make that decision; thus God did not “make people for hell” and is not evil.
    The force of this statement which at first seems considerable is removed when the hidden assumption of naturalism is revealed, because assuming naturalism for a question involving God and souls is absurd and the statement is not problematic for theists if the souls in question are not constrained to natural causation. So again the force of this statement derives from people subconsciously assuming that the supernatural realm is subject to natural laws of causation, which of course, it is not. Therefore the force of the statement can only be as great as the degree to which the observer is confusing natural causation with supernatural agency.

  2. Winston June 7, 2013

    Turek revealed his true nature in the debate. Not only is it patently inane and breathtakingly callous to claim that “if God doesn’t exist, then killing someone is no different from giving them food.”

    Bunk. Even if there is no God (and all evidence points to NO), feeding someone has different consequences and effects than feeding them. Therefore his argument implodes upon itself.

  3. James June 7, 2013

    Way to be charitable by attempting to understand what someone's actually arguing for, Winston.

    Turek isn't talking about physical or emotional results of killing versus feeding someone. He's talking about the moral state of such actions, and following the logic to that conclusion by observing a lack of grounding of morality on naturalism does not make one callous.

    The burden falls upon yourself to show that right and wrong really exist without succumbing to moral relativism and appealing to what a majority of people feel is right or wrong.

    Show us how naturalism has anything at all to say about ontology of morality. If we arrive at some form of utilitarianism, nothing is truly right or wrong. How does one derive an "ought" from an "is" ?

    It's actually moral relativism that implodes upon itself.

  4. Chad June 7, 2013

    Hello Winston,

    I hope you are well!

    Even if there is no God (and all evidence points to NO)…

    This just seems like an incredible claim to me. For a moment, consider just this website. Here we have thousands of audio talks, debates and articles featuring men and women who's purpose is to present evidence of why belief in God and Christianity is rational. Now, this does not mean that all of their arguments and evidence are correct or even convincing, but with this one statement you simply hand wave it all and even claim that "all the evidence points to NO." If you were to say, "I haven't found the arguments I've seen for God's existence to be persasive" I would be a bit more sympathetic, but to claim that all the evidence "points to NO" seems unsustainable to me.

    Perhaps you should considering being a little more modest with you claims?


  5. Winston June 7, 2013

    James – that was what Turek implied in his woefully uninformed, bigoted and arrogant diatribe. He never mentioned a difference between moral consequences and physical effects. Spin doctoring won't curry any favour with me, I'm afraid.

    Morality is concerned with issues of happiness and suffering. Since sentient beings can suffer and be happy, any moral system using those facts as a foundation is, by definition, objective.

    Moreover, you cannot get objective morality from a deity. It's simply fiat – obedience through power. How do you know that god's nature is good? The bible paints a most mendacious god.

    1 Kings 22:23
    Now, therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets, and the Lord hath spoken evil concerning thee.

    2 Chronicles 18:22
    Now therefore, behold, the Lord hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of these thy prophets.

    Jeremiah 4:10
    Ah, Lord GOD! surely thou hast greatly deceived this people.

    Jeremiah 20:7
    O Lord, thou hast deceived me, and I was deceived.

    Ezekiel 14:9
    And if a prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the Lord have deceived that prophet.

    2 Thessalonians 2:11
    For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.

    He won't even lie himself, which makes him even more of a coward.

    Naturalism isn't a moral system. Read up on Consequentialism and Deontology.

    Thank you for your respectful and measured reply, Chad. The problem with the evidence trotted out and touted by apologists is that personal revelations aren't empirically verifiable, all historical evidence for Jesus or a resurrection are bunk, and appeals to consequences (if god didn't exist then we couldn't condemn the Nazis) are not a testament to their veracity.

    I would suggest you listen to some of the Reasonable Doubts podcasts.

  6. Ex N1hilo June 8, 2013


    How do you empirically verify the trustworthiness of your senses and intellect?

  7. Winston June 8, 2013

    Ex N1hilo: You've been taking a leaf from Sye Ten's book, I see.

    Empiricism and the accuracy of our senses can be verified through testing and practical application. It is why science works and theology does not.

  8. Winston June 9, 2013

    Through the scientific method. Which you are exploiting through your embrace of computers and the Internet.

  9. Ex N1hilo June 9, 2013


    Scientific methods presuppose the trustworthiness of our senses and intellects. Without these, the scientific method is useless. Isn't that right?

    So, if you use the scientific method to verify the trustworthiness of your senses and intellect, are you not committing the fallacy of begging the question?

  10. James June 9, 2013


    Thanks for your kind reply in the face of my somewhat abrasive questioning. Perhaps we're talking past each other, here. I do not agree that morality is based upon happiness and suffering that result from our actions, nor do I think naturalism is a moral system. The former is why I brought up the topic on equivocation of right and wrong.

    I did not mention anything about moral effects, either. I specifically mentioned emotional and physical effects. This isn't "spin doctoring". I think it's just being charitable. If you think I assume too much about what Turek said, then I'm fine with that.

    I should have made it clear that I think naturalism constrains one to some form of utilitarianism, moral relativism, moral nihilism, or some other system. I was perhaps a bit sloppy in my wording by questioning what naturalism has to contribute to this particular topic. It's more of what naturalism implies. I am aware of the opposing schools of consequentialism and deontology, but thank you for your suggestion on furthering my understanding.

    Just because all people experience happiness and suffering doesn't make ethical systems with those as their foundation objective. What attributes to happiness and suffering is, itself, highly subjective.

    Consider the "utilitarian monster" thought experiment. Suppose a race of sentient beings existed that derived pleasure from the things that evoke a sense of suffering in us. Now, suppose that such a race outnumbered us by an overwhelming proportion. They now become obliged to wreak suffering upon us to achieve maximal happiness.

    Also, the fact that certain actions cause particular sentient beings to be happier or suffer more does not give us any "ought". There's no reason to make others happy or reduce their suffering when they conflict with one's own self-interests.

    From what little I can gather, I assume you adhere to some form of utilitarian ethics (and perhaps your objection to Turek's remark should have clued me in on that), then it's no wonder we're in such stark disagreement on what morality is defined as. I doubt either of us is going to convince the other of what morality has its ultimate foundations in, so we're likely at an impasse and will be wasting each others' time.

    As for the verses that you provided, I would have to say that some of them are just people accusing God of being deceiving (e.g., Jeremiah) or God is letting particular groups or individuals deceive those who have time and again disobeyed Him.

    As for claiming that morality cannot be grounded in deity because doing so is appealing to "might makes right" (correct me if I'm misstating your argument) or that divine moral commands are arbitrary (i.e., by fiat), I fail to see how that's not the case for any system of ethics. Additionally, the charge of fiat does not apply since God being the ground of morality is an essential property of such an entity.

    To put it simply (perhaps too simply), I owe obedience to the ultimate grounding of my existence.

    If one takes God to be a contingent being, then I would agree that morality could not be grounded in deity, but I hold God as a logically necessary being.

  11. Winston June 10, 2013

    Ex N1hilo – I don't think so. I'm not the only one using my senses to confirm data and experiences. With so many repeated confirmations and the vindication of human knowledge and progress. The more evidence and observations we have, the more we know our research is likely to be correct.

    And as I have mentioned earlier, how do you know your god is trustworthy? The bible certainly doesn't make him look honourable.

    James: Thank you for your polite reply. I think you gave Turek too much benefit of the doubt. I tend to take Turek at face value, and if he wanted to get a different conclusion or send a different message, he should have been less ambiguous about it.

    In your Utilitarian Monster scenario, we would have no choice but to capitulate (at least until we could overthrow our oppressors), since we would be a planet of sheep being ruled by a solar system of wolves.

    Still, eternal torture for the majority does seem to be the system created and implemented by the Christian god.

    Regarding the verses in Jeremiah – why would a loving parent (or god) give up so quickly and let people fall for deceit (and end up tortured eternally)?

    Moral systems, by definition, cannot be based on fiat and power. That stance would be to defend despotic regimes regardless of the harms they cause. Worse still, behaving morally out of fear of punishment and/or desire for reward is not moral behaviour. Morality is based on doing what is good BECAUSE it is good, when no one else is watching and one has nothing to gain.

    God is the essential ground of morality? How do you know this? By what criteria have you judged god's nature to be morally perfect?

  12. Anonymous June 10, 2013

    Is that really why you believe in a god? Really? I suppose it's possible, and it does seem likely to help you to hold on to belief. I just find it remotely possible that someone would look at that and think, "Wow, you're right. There must be a god because of that stuff you just said"

  13. Ex N1hil0 June 10, 2013


    Again, how do you test them?

  14. Ex N1hilo June 13, 2013

    I asked Winston:

    So, if you use the scientific method to verify the trustworthiness of your senses and intellect, are you not committing the fallacy of begging the question?

    He responded:

    I don't think so. I'm not the only one using my senses to confirm data and experiences. With so many repeated confirmations and the vindication of human knowledge and progress. The more evidence and observations we have, the more we know our research is likely to be correct.

    My question was about how you account for the validity of your senses and intellect. How do you know that they are sound and are capable of giving you knowledge of the world around you? If a million people make the same error in reasoning that you have made here, that does not make it valid. The validity of a theory of how people can attain knowledge is not determined by majority vote.

    The claim you are making, Walton, amounts to the assertion that your senses and intellect are self-authenticating and self-sufficient. For you, the ultimate source of all knowledge is found within you. The correct term for the view of the knowledge you present is “mysticism.” It is a very weak foundation on which to base knowledge claims.

    You want to use the capabilities the Creator gave you to investigate the world He made; to enjoy the advances of science and technology that are historically and theoretically based in Christian theology; and to live in a society whose ethics are informed by the moral precepts of the Bible; and yet you deny the God who has given you these gifts. This is immoral.

  15. Anonymous June 13, 2013

    Well said Ex N1hilo,

    As I read Winston's comments I thought of an essay I read by Richard Swinburne that argued against David Hume. The repeated success of science to predict the unobservable based on logic and observations of the observable, should give us confidence that the arguments for God's existence are correct.

    Winston's position seems to embrace a logical fallacy. It is obvious that you can't get behind your senses to verify your senses. You can only verify your senses by successfully predicting future events. However that is not a scientific discovery, it's a philosophical one.

  16. Winston June 16, 2013

    Ex N1hilo – consistent laws of nature do not prove a god. All they prove are that the laws of nature are consistent. Occam's Razor takes the need for a god out of the equation.

    I do not use my senses alone to verify my senses. I use the senses of everyone else on the planet and throughout history. I question every claim made. I do research and trust empiricism.

  17. Ex N1hilo June 19, 2013


    I have never claimed that consistent laws of nature prove a god. My point is rather that the triune covenant God of Scripture proves consistent laws of nature. He is the only adequate basis known for grounding a belief in such laws.

    And again, you err in trusting empiricism; for empiricism is self-referentially incoherent; and thus it is nonsense.

  18. Winston June 23, 2013

    Why does the god of scripture prove consistent laws of nature? You're inserting a god where none is necessary to prop up your worldview.

    And as I have mentioned earlier, your own god is a deceitful being.

    So much for 2 Peter 3:9: The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

  19. Ex N1hilo June 25, 2013

    Why does the god of scripture prove consistent laws of nature? You're inserting a god where none is necessary to prop up your worldview.

    Jeremiah 33:19-20 (ESV) The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “Thus says the Lord: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time,

    Genesis 8:22 (ESV) While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.

    My worldview is that the Bible is the Word of God, who is the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator and who cannot lie. Further, it is God; and Jesus Christ in particular,who gives to men knowledge and wisdom:

    Job 38:36 (ESV) Who has put wisdom in the inward parts or given understanding to the mind?

    John 1:9 (ESV) The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

    You can see that if my worldview is true—I understand that you do not believe it—but, if it is true, then we have a basis to trust our senses and faculties of reason (within limits) and to do science and build technologies. We can obtain knowledge. We can make sense of the world around us. Just as importantly, we can make sense of making sense of the world around us.

    Naturallism can't account for the reliability of the senses, intellect, nor laws of nature. Of course those who hold to naturalism can use their minds and senses, and discover laws of nature—because they are creatures who live in God's world. But they cannot make sense of these things within the worldview they claim to hold to.

    And as I have mentioned earlier, your own god is a deceitful being.

    God cannot lie. God does, however, make all things work together to fulfill His purposes, including the lies told by fallen sinful creatures. Why is that wrong?

    With regard to 2 Peter 3:9, are you implying this is a lie? How do you know that? How do you know that the Lord will not save all of "us" from perishing?

  20. Winston June 26, 2013

    Ex N1hilo, why are you using the bible to shore up your arguments? Your holy book carries no weight with non-believers. Even many Christians don't take the majority of it literally.

    Your god does lie, even using your bible as a yardstick.

    Naturalism does account for the reliability of the senses. How else could we have discovered so much about the natural world and created so much from the fruits of science?

    If 2 Peter 3:9 was true, your god would make himself known to the whole world (how else could everyone make an informed choice to worship him) or else allow everyone into heaven, no questions asked.

  21. Ex N1hilo June 26, 2013


    Please give me an example of God lying. If you cannot, you should stop making that claim.

    And I'm still waiting to hear how naturalism can account for the reliability of the senses. What is the principle by which matter in motion organized itself by undirected processes into thinking rational beings? If you cannot give such a principle, please stop making this assertion.

    How else can we have discovered so much? Again, "God has put wisdom in the inward parts and given understanding to the mind." At least the Bible has an answer. Naturalism has none.

    Finally, God has made Himself known to all:

    Romans 1:18-31 (ESV)
    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
    For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

  22. Ex N1hilo July 8, 2013


    Like everyone else, including you, I do bring presuppositions to the table. We would not be able to reason without asserting any.

    You presuppose the validity and authority of your own thinking. I try not to, since I know that I am fallible.

    In your worldview, science makes no sense, because it cannot account for rationality. In the worldview that has the rational personal Creator as the source of knowledge, science makes sense. That's why modern empirical science was founded by men who held to it.

    Please, think these things through and do your own research into epistemology and the history of science. Above all, pray for wisdom.

  23. Winston July 9, 2013

    You're assuming your conclusions. You can't just assert thing, Ex. You don't have answers. You have copouts and personal insults on your side.

    Science has empirical, repeatable and verifiable evidence.

    How do you know your god will send you to heaven? As I mentioned earlier, he has quite a habit of lying by proxy.

  24. Winston July 25, 2013

    You really need to stop swallowing Sye Ten's Cool-aid. Science has been proven to work. Peer review is an invaluable tool for discovering more about reality.

    Science is self-correcting where theology and religions are not.

  25. Ex N1hilo July 25, 2013


    If you are brave enough to have what you think you know challenged, the following links may serve to broaden the horizons of your thinking:

    You will find it difficult to open your mind, since it is currently clamped down tightly onto some irrational suppositions. But God is able to enlighten you, if He chooses; which is really the point of the messages.

    If you would like to continue this discussion (I would.) you can email me. My email address is in my blogger profile.