As many of you know, Brian Flemming declared himself the winner at the DebateBlog, and that’s fine – everyone needs to pad their resume, and if that helps him he’s welcome to it. I didn’t know that there was supposed to be a “winner” – I would have listed a point system in the rules if that was how I was looking at it.
Anyway, as the winner, Brian has recently posted a new set of rules for anyone who wants to debate him, and I thought it would be interesting to read them and see what they say. His blog entry looks like this:
So you would like to challenge me about the claims I make in The God Who Wasn't There?Honestly, who wants to debate somebody who is not in the game, so to speak? It seems superficially reasonable that Brian is simply eliminating people who don’t have enough information to make a case for their own side.
No problem. But please understand that I get a lot of these requests, and I can't waste my time arguing with people who are not open to changing their minds or who haven't developed enough familiarity with the material.
So just download and sign this "Statement of Belief" PDF, have it notarized, then mail it to Beyond Belief Media. Then we can talk.
If you are unable to sign the Statement, we cannot talk any further, for one or both of the following reasons:
1) You are not familiar enough with the facts to be ready for a meaningful discussion at this time.
2) Your capacity to understand the facts is so compromised by your religious ideology that a conversation with you would be pointless.
I think that’s a great idea – and given that I have a Master of Arts in Literature in English, I think that Brian is making a fair demand that people who want to talk about the Bible as literature ought to know something about literature. For example: we should exclude people who do not have advanced degrees in literature, or any complete formal academic training.
Yes, Certainly. James White and William Lane Craig have the same kinds of rules. I agree. Well, that is until I read the PDF:
STATEMENT OF BELIEFNow, re-read the bits I highlighted there. Go on.
I believe it is possible that Jesus did not exist.
I believe there is no evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ that dates to the time of his alleged life.
I believe there are no written eyewitness accounts of the existence of Jesus Christ.
I believe the names of the Gospels were added well after their composition, and there is no good reason to believe that these names correspond to the original writers.
I believe there is no good reason to believe that any of the Gospels were written by disciples of Jesus Christ, or that any eyewitnesses to Jesus were involved in their composition.
I believe the Bible is not infallible. I believe it is common for religious cults to make things up.
I believe it is common for religions to influence each other, and for young religions to be derived from older religions.
I believe that any claim can be part of Christian tradition and also be false.
I believe that no figures such as "God" or "The Holy Spirit" or "Satan" performed any supernatural actions that had any significant effect upon the formation of early Christianity.
I swear, under penalty of perjury, that the foregoing is true and correct.
Do they sound familiar in some way? Ah yes! They do! They are actually all the premises of Brian’s argument! So it turns out that Brian doesn’t want to debate anybody that actually disagrees with him about his argument.
Dude: maybe we should check the definition of a "debate" before we provide this document to the world. This is more like a mutual admiration society. It is exactly like me saying, “In order to play at DebateBlog, you have to first sign off (with witnesses) the T4G affirmations and denials. After that, we can argue all day long.”
It’s an easy way to stay undefeated, I am sure. You can say without any question, “after every debate I have ever had, the person I debated agreed with me.”
Well, except for that self-deluded fundie centuri0n – but he’s a liar who’s not familiar with the facts.