List of possible questions for Dan Barker debate

Following is a list of questions I had ready during the debate.  Some are good, and some are just okay.  But, I was ready after having studied Dan Barker's books, debates, and lectures.  I think they are good for provoking good conversation and, hopefully, demonstrating what I believe is Mr. Barker's weak system of ethics due to his atheistic presuppositions.

  1. Lying in debate okay? In your debate with Peter Payne at the University of Wisconsin in March of 2005 at about 35:40, you said that “Telling a lie can sometimes be a very good moral thing to do.” You also said in the Q&A section of your lecture to the Campus Atheists and Secular Humanists at the University of Minnesota in October of 2006, 2nd Part, 35 seconds in, that “The action that results in the minimal amount of harm is the right action.”
    1. Question: Alright, Mr. Barker, since you say that the right thing to do is the action that minimizes harm, that lying can be good, and religion causes great harm, then shouldn’t you lie in our debate, in order to win the debate, so you can convince people that religion is harmful thereby reducing overall harm in the world?
      1. If you lie, then you have to lie to win the debate.
      2. If you say no, then you aren’t being consistent with your own teachings.
  2. Torture Babies for Your Personal Pleasure? In your debate with Peter Payne at the University of Wisconsin, March of 2005, 35:10, you said, “There are no actions in and of themselves that are always absolutely right or wrong. It depends on the context. You cannot name an action that is always absolutely right or wrong. I can think of an exception in any case.”
    1. Question: Alright Mr. Barker, I say that for you to torture babies for your personal enjoyment is wrong. Could you please provide an exception and tell us of a situation where your torturing babies for your personal enjoyment is the right thing to do?
      1. If not, then your claim is invalid, and you haven’t thought your position through very well.
    2. If you attempt to, then why complain against the God of the Bible who sends people to hell? Are you saying ‘you’ can justify torture, but God can’t?
    3. If you can’t, then is torturing babies wrong by nature? If yes, then that implies a universal “ought;" but in your debate with Mr. Payne, you said “There is no universal ought.”
  3. Universal Ought: Mr. Barker, in your lecture to the Campus Atheists and Secular Humanists at the University of Minnesota, in October of 2006, 2nd Part, 35 seconds in, you said that “The action that results in the minimal amount of harm is the right action.” You also said in your debate with Peter Payne at the University of Wisconsin, 45:00, that “There is no universal ought.”
    1. Question: The right action means that an action, in and of itself, has a moral quality to it. How do you reconcile an action that is ontologically right with your statement that there is no universal ought?
  4. Situation where it is right for God to torture people in hell forever? In your debate with Peter Payne at the University of Wisconsin, March of 2005, 35:10, you said, “You cannot name an action that is always absolutely right or wrong. I can think of an exception in any case.” You believe it is wrong for God to torture people in hell.
    1. Question: Could you then please tell me of a situation where it is right for God to torture people in hell for eternity?
  5. Actions Depend on Context, Your right to impose your values on Ancient Israel: You said in your debate with Peter Payne at the University of Wisconsin, in March of 2005, 35:10, “There are no actions in and of themselves that are always absolutely right or wrong. It depends on the context.”
    1. Question: Mr. Barker, what gives you the right to impose the context of your 21st century humanistic ethical system upon that of the theocratic context of the Ancient Jews in the O.T. and pronounce them wrong if their cultural context said it was right?
  6. Hitler and Nazi Germany: If ethics depends on the situation, why was Nazi Germany wrong in killing the Jews if the intent of reducing harm to the German society was the motive? In Mr. Barker’s debate with Kyle Butt on “Does the God of the Bible exist? Feb. 12, 2009, 45:00, Mr. Kyle Butt mentioned to Mr. Barker that Hitler was not a Christian. Kyle then provided the quotes with documentation where Hitler denied Christianity. Kyle quoted Hitler in his table talks, Oct. 19, 1941, where Hitler called both Christianity and the Pox (small pox?) scourges. Kyle also told you that in Hitler’s Table Talks, Dec. 13, 1941, Hitler spoke about being immunized against the drug of Christianity.
    1. Question: Do you remember this discussion? If so, why do you continue to teach something you know isn’t true?
    2. If not, then that is twice you’ve been informed about this.
      1. I checked on the Web . . .
      2. http://davnet.org/kevin/articles/table.html Excerpts from Hitler's Table Talk, stenographic notes of Hitler's private conversations [Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1953].
      3. Hitler said: "The reason why the ancient world was so pure, light and serene was that it knew nothing of the two great scourges: the pox and Christianity." pp. 75-76.
      4. Hitler said: “The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity.” Pp. 4-5.
      5. Hitler said: “Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure.” [p. 51].
      6. Hitler said: “the only way of getting rid of Christianity is to allow it to die little by little.” Pp. 58-62.
      7. Hitler said: “But Christianity is an invention of sick brains,” pp. 143-145.
      8. Hitler said: “Our epoch will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity.” Pp. 341-344.
  7. Ethics are contextual: If actions and ethics are contextual, then the ethics in a particular society belong to that context of that society. Let's say there is an isolated society where twice as many female babies are born than male babies. This causes conflict among the males that leads to killing each other and raping women. Therefore, the society has decided to kill every other female baby, so the balance is maintained and society works better.
    1. Question: Since killing a female baby is very quick and the adult male’s constant battling and raping is greatly harmful, then would you say it is morally good to kill every other female baby?
  8. Enslave 1% so 99% suffer less harm: You say that good is what minimizes harm to people.
    1. Question: But what if there were a society that enslaved 1% of people, and this enslavement meant that the 99% suffered minimal harm. By your definition, would this be good?
      1. If yes, then why complain about the slavery of the Bible since it benefited the whole of society?
      2. If not, then that goes against your definition of what is good, and you are being inconsistent.
  9. Responsibility to be good: In your debate with Peter Payne at the University of Wisconsin in March of 2005, 45:00, you said “There is no universal ought.” But you also said in your lecture to the Campus Atheists and Secular Humanists at the University of Minnesota, in October of 2006, 2nd Part, 35 seconds in, that “The action that results in the minimal amount of harm is the right action.”
    1. Question: Do people have the moral responsibility to perform right actions?
      1. Yes? Then you are saying there is a value to which people should subscribe, and you are universalizing values.
      2. No, then how can minimizing harm be the right action?
  10. Why ought we follow moral principles? You said in your debate Peter Payne at the University of Wisconsin, March of 2005, 45:00, “There is no universal ought.”
    1. Question: If you have no “universal ought” attached to moral truths, then why should anyone follow your moral principles?
      1. If you say they shouldn’t, then why are you debating a point no one “ought” to believe in and follow?
      2. If you say it is good to do that, that people like it, and it reduces harm, then you’re confusing “is” with “ought." In your worldview there is no real, logical reason to follow your recommendations. What you’re doing is implying a moral obligation to the “is” condition.
  11. Why worry about bad? If you say there is no “ought” to moral statements, then you are stripping goodness of the need to be followed and badness of the need to be avoided.
    1. Question: So then, why are you worried about religion being a bad influence if badness doesn’t have the natural, inherent quality of being avoided?
  12. Scientific Method: You said in your book Losing Faith in Faith, on page 133, that the scientific method is the only trustworthy means of obtaining knowledge. But this is a philosophical claim about the scientific method--not something obtained by the scientific method.
    1. Question: Ought all scientists report their findings honestly?
    2. If you say yes, then aren’t you saying there is a universal ought?
    3. If you say yes, then you are saying that the scientific method depends on the philosophical necessity of moral uprightness.
      1. But you said in your debate with Peter Payne at the University of Wisconsin, March of 2005, 45:00), “There is no universal ought." So why 'ought' scientists report their findings honestly?
      2. If you say no, then how can you justify the scientific method as being reliable?
  13. Define Words: In your books and debates you repeatedly complain about Christians not being able to define such a term as "spirit," for example. In your debate with Kyle Butt on “Does the God of the Bible exist?" in Feb, 2009, you rejected Kyle’s definition of "spirit" when he said it was non-corporeal. You didn’t accept what "spirit" was not. You wanted to know what it is. But, you say atheism is the lack of belief in a god or gods.
    1. Question: Why is it okay for you to define atheism by what it is not, yet not accept the definition of Kyle when he did the same thing?
  14. Good without God: Our debate is about being good without God, and you are arguing that good is minimizing harm, and that we don’t need God to do that.
    1. Question: Are you saying we ought to believe you about this? If not, then why are you arguing for something we shouldn’t believe in?
      1. If you say there isn’t a moral obligation, an “ought” to following your advice, then aren’t you just offering people your opinion, your advice?
      2. If the majority of people wanted to kill atheists, would it be good to kill atheists? You see, in your atheistic morality what is good is dependent on majority vote. Obviously, that is dangerous.
  15. Universal Ought: You said in your debate with Peter Payne at the University of Wisconsin, March of 2005, (45:00), “There is no universal ought."
    1. Question: If there is no universal ought, then why should anyone follow your advice to not harm people?
      1. If you say it's because people don’t like it, then you are confusing "is" with "ought."

 

 

 

 
 
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