A Rather Disappointing Debate
Posted by Vogeler on April 4, 2007
Before you scroll down, read this article first. Its a debate between Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church and a renowned atheist, Sam Harris.
I was rather disappointed by Pastor Warren’s performance (not that I think I would’ve done much better). First, he failed to address many issues raised by Harris, for instance the validity of evolution. Harris’ entire worldview is based upon the THEORY of Evolution, and Pastor Warren’s on the inerrancy and inspiration of the Bible. Sam Harris several times questions Warren’s belief in the validity of the Bible, yet Warren never once questions the validity of evolution.
Another disappointment was that Warren allowed Harris to fully dominate the conversation. Indeed, Warren was reactive during much of the debate, rather than proactive. And, Harris was using philosophy, logic (albeit flawed), etc. to make his points, while Warren seemed content to answer with opinions and experiential evidence. While both are important, they failed to neutralize or even begin to counter Harris’ assertions.
Although Pastor Warren makes some excellent points, such as on the bottom of page four, he allows Harris to carry much of the debate. Were I scoring this debate, Harris would be the clear winner (although I believe he is desperately and eternally wrong).
This wasn’t so much a debate about whether or not there is a God as it was a debate about the validity of Christianity, or religion in general. As such, I would have expected more depth and reasoning from Pastor Warren’s responses, and a greater familiarity with the philosophical concepts used by Harris.
In my opinion, Pastor Warren came off not as a skilled apologeticist, with a “ready defense”, but as one whose only recourse when faced with difficult questions is to retreat to the realm of accusation. This may serve only to reinforce the belief that many non-Christians hold that Christianity is only for the backward, uneducated, and superstitious. I felt that had Pastor Warren presented a more reasoned, philosophical response, citing evidence, etc., then atheism might have received a significant blow. As it was, atheism has possibly been reinforced.
Stand To Reason also posted about this on their blog, but with a different take.
What are your thoughts?
(Disclaimer: my disappointment with Pastor Warren’s responses are in no way an indictment of his spiritual life, sincerity, or genuine call from God as a pastor. They are simply my reaction to an instance in which an atheist proved to be superior at debating a pastor.)