[asa] D'Souza vs. Hitchens - Surrending the debate epistemologically by subjecting revealed knowledge to science

From: John Walley <john_walley@yahoo.com>
Date: Sun Oct 28 2007 - 03:50:54 EDT

Below is an excerpt of a blog posting of a review of a recent debate between
Dinesh D'Souza and Christopher Hitchens at King's College by philosopher and
professor Douglas Groothuis.

 

I am curious to get any comments from the list on his observations because
he charges Dinesh with selling the farm "epistemologically and
apologetically" because he concedes faith beliefs are not valid knowledge
and knowledge can only be what is empirically proven. This is very similar
to the recent discussion on the philosophical foundation from Rom. 20 of God
having revealed real knowledge (and not just faith) in his creation. And in
fact from this scripture that says that those that reject this knowledge are
"without excuse", it is clear God considers this revealed knowledge to be
valid and binding and manifest to all and not some subjective idea that is
subject to interpretation or the approval of science.

 

I think Groothius may have articulated it here better than I but I think we
are in agreement that as soon as we surrender this revealed "knowledge" as
not being valid and instead replacing it with only "science" then we have
already lost the debate. And this does appear to be the strategy of atheists
and therefore the danger in siding with them too strongly in their
marginalizing the arguments from ID.

 

Thanks

 

John

 

http://theconstructivecurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2007/10/debate-christianity-an
d-atheism.html

 

 

 

Debate: Christianity and Atheism

Dinesh D'Souza (author of What's So Great About Christianity) and
Christopher Hitchens (author of God is Not Great) recently debated
<http://www.worldontheweb.com/2007/10/24/dsouza-and-hitchens-debate-christia
nity/> at King's College. I will not give a point by point commentary, but
limit myself to three comments, the first of which is the most important.

1. At 1.26 D'Souza completely sells the farm epistemologically and
apologetically--despite the many fine points he made throughout the debate.
He claims that his religious belief is not knowledge. He does not know it to
be true; he only believes it. In so doing, he seems to restrict knowledge to
what is empirically verifiable. But there is no reason to do. We know many
things apart from empirical evidence (such as basic moral claims). Moreover,
we can infer the existence the supernatural from the natural (the project of
natural theology; see In Defense of Natural Theology, which I co-edited and
to which I contributed a chapter.) D'Souza goes on to say that while he
leaps toward God, Hitchens leaps toward atheism. I groaned loudly to myself
when I heard it (although my wife probably heard me). Many in the crowd
applauded.

This is tragic. We must enter the public square making knowledge claims, not
mere faith claims that are allowable, just as allowable as theism or some
other worldview. We need to try to out argue the opposition by marshalling
the strongest possible arguments for Christianity and against atheism. In
fact, D'Souza gave some strong arguments not adequately rebutted by Hitchens
by the time he sold the farm. There was no need to do so; and in so doing,
he sets a terrible example for Christian persuasion in the public realm
(despite the virtues he exhibited in the debate).

2. The form of the debate was poor. Neither speaker has enough time for
opening comments or for rebuttal. The supposed "cross examination" devolved
into haranguing at time, with the moderator (Marvin O'laski) failing to
intervene to keep order. Serious debates should have strict rules.

3. Both speakers issued cheap shots by insulting the other speaker in ways
not required by their arguments. This may get applause, but makes no logical
point.

Apparently, D'Souza has come to a more mature Christian conviction recently.
He is not known as a philosopher, but as a social critic and political
writer. I never detected an overt Christian worldview in the several books
I've read by him over the years. At that crucial time of 1:26 this weakness
showed. I have not yet finished his book, however. Perhaps I'll say more
then.

 

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Received on Sun Oct 28 03:52:00 2007

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