In the wake of his debate with Dinesh D’Souza on whether or not the Christian God exists, John Loftus says that even if he didn’t win, he learned a lot. I asked him if, given his loss (as a few people see it – including Loftus I think) in this debate, he was still hoping to debate William Lane Craig, something he has wanted for a while. After all, I figured, although D’Souza is good at what he does, Craig is more qualified and experienced. John’s answer was bold enough: “I’m not afraid. I’ll debate any Christian any time. Are you game?”
For those who follow this blog, you may have just done a double take. At this blog I publicly offered to debate John Loftus, back in April 2009. Being somewhat amused by this apparent challenge, I reminded John that he had already received such an offer from me but had not taken it up. Here’s what came next: “Glenn, what are you talking about? I have no recollection of this.”
I thought I’d do him the favour of jogging his memory. I have also pointed this out in the comments thread. Here is what transpired here in April 2009:
First, at John’s blog entry regarding the debate between Christopher Hitchens and William Lane Craig, another debate where according to Loftus, the atheist lost, I made the following offer: “John, if you’d like to get in a little shooting practice for your hopeful encounter with Craig, how about meeting me (virtually speaking) to debate something like, say, the moral argument?” He made some passing references to his view on morality, but he said nothing about my debate offer.
Not wanting to have any loose ends regarding the offer (i.e. I was seeking a clear acceptance or rejection of the offer), I made the offer here at this blog. I know that John was well aware of the offer, since he actually commented on the blog post at the time “Name some topics you’d like to deabte and let’s see what we can do. I think I’m game.” Great!
However, John added another comment before I replied. A dreadful realisation had taken him. He said, “I see you’re writing a book on the moral argument. That means I would be outgunned on that topic.” Well wait a second. John wrote abook about why he became an atheist. But surely he wouldn’t look charitably on a Christian who said “sure I am keen to debate you, but not on atheism. You wrote a book on atheism, so I would be outgunned.” He has also written a book on “the Christian delusion.” Would I get a free pass for declining to debate chruistianity with him? I mean come on, a book!
I was a little surprised that an advocate of atheism and an opponent of Christianity, someone who wanted to debate Christians on their beliefs, felt that a famous argument like the moral argument would be out of his depth. But, wanting to be the gentleman, I suggested some other areas:
My main interest in arguments for theism is the moral argument. I have an interest in presuppositional arguments, but a big part of that interest centres around the fact that I think many advocates of those arguments need to be taken aside and have a thing or two explained to them. I think there is great potential in those arguments and I think many presuppositionalists get the argument wrong, or they think they argument proves more than it does. I also have a lot of interest in Alvin Plantinga’s arguments: concerning basic beliefs, concerning the argument from warrant, and I also appreciate (and think that many have underestimated) his evolutionary argument against naturalism.
Moving away from arguments concerning the truth of theism, I also have a strong interest in the widely held (but, I think disastrously wrong) view within modern political liberalism that seeks to see religious convictions kept out of the political process.
Nothing terribly unusual there, I would have thought. But alas: “Wouldn’t you know it? We don’t share the same interests, not presuppositionalim, nor Plantinga’s arguments, nor political liberalism.” So he didn’t feel able to debate the moral argument (one of the staple arguments for theism), or arguments used by Alvin Plantinga (one of the most prominent philosophers of religion alive today), or presuppositional apologetics.
I have to admit, I was left thinking “Gee, for a guy who wants to be seen as a man who knows the territory, there are a few blind spots there!” And now, months later in a context where he can safely hope that his readers never saw the comments over here, Loftus anounces that he’s the man, never backs down from anyone, anywhere, any time. Except for that one time, that he can’t quite recall.
With warriors like this, is it any wonder the online atheist community is so easily impressed? Look, I hope you know I’m a nice enough guy, John, but read through the above and then you tell me what people should make of it.
EDIT: Within a day of me adding this reminder to John’s comment thread, he shut that thread down. I’m just saying.