Friday, October 21, 2016

"The Old Testament is Mainly Fiction, not Fact": the Dan Barker - Thomas Ross Debate

I am very pleased to announce that my debate with Dan Barker, President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, on the topic:  "The Old Testament is Mainly Fiction, not Fact," is now available online.  (Of course, Mr. Barker was in the affirmative and I was in the negative.)  Mr. Barker and his organization are very well-known, and I trust that God will use the debate to lead many atheists, agnostics, and others to reconsider whether they ought to continue to rebel against God and His Word.  The debate was held at the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, where my church has a campus ministry.  The debate was sponsored by our campus group, the campus Philosophy Club, and the campus Secular Student Alliance.

I will, Lord willing, be debating Mr. Barker again in the relatively near future.  Prayer (and even fasting) for that event is definitely appreciated.  I believe that the prayers of God's people were answered in the last debate and that it went very well.  Lord willing, I will be publishing a review of the debate, as in a format where both parties have equal time it is simply not possible to deal thoroughly with every argument made by the other side.

If your church regularly deals with atheists or other skeptics of Scripture, I would encourage you to consider using the work The Book of Daniel: Proof that the Bible is the Word of God in your evangelistic and apologetic endeavors.  I used some of the material in this book extensively in the Barker-Ross debate.  You might also consider encouraging skeptics to watch the debate itself, along with the review of it (once that becomes available, Lord willing).  Finally, if you have a university in your area, I would encourage you to consider starting a campus ministry.  Surveys of evangelicals indicate that only c. 2% of Christians are converted after their 30th birthday in the USA, while 34% are converted between the age of 15 and 29.  While it is certainly true that the large majority of evangelical congregations do very little to get the gospel out to every person in their area, and so such statistics are not necessarily true for Biblical, separatist Baptist churches, it is still very highly probable that people in college or in high school are not yet as hardened as people who have passed that point in life without receiving Christ. 

In addition to making the Dan Barker - Thomas Ross debate, "The Old Testament is Mainly Fiction, Not Fact" available on my website and on Youtube, I have also embedded the debate below for your viewing edification.


Tyler Robbins said...

I'll listen to it at work today. Thanks for posting it. Looking forward to it.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I watched the debate, and Thomas Ross does very well against Barker. I've noticed these atheists don't usually prove anything. It's tough being in the affirmative, because they don't have much to affirm. Their major "proof" is no proof, absence of evidence. He wouldn't admit evidence right in front of his face. Tell-tale was that he would not admit that the Bible was true even though it has fulfilled prophesy. Thomas had very good answers for everything he said, and Thomas had many arguments that Barker had nothing for. From my assessment, Barker was demolished. If Thomas had more time, it would have been worse.

Jon Gleason said...

Brother Ross, I have a question which may seem rather off-the-wall here. What Scriptural passages tell us that we should enter into formal debates with scoffers and God-deniers, in a forum which accords as much respect and rights to the presenters of folly as to the presenters of truth?

Men who say the things this man says should not be given equal time and equal respect to those who present truth. When we explicitly agree to that equal time (and equal respect under the rules of the engagement), is that really consistent with Scripture?

I know that this type of debate is common among evangelicals, but I find it hard to see a lot of Scriptural support for it. I do not see I Peter 3:15 as supporting it, that is a misuse of the passage.

I would appreciate your thoughts.

KJB1611 said...

Dear Jon,

Thanks for the question. We see Christ in the Gospels engaged in debates with the Pharisees on many occasions, sometimes with significant crowds watching the debate. For example, see John 8. Furthermore, the types of arguments that Mr. Barker was making are ones that people at a secular college are going to get exposed to anyway, so at least here equal time can be given to refuting the lies. Furthermore, we see the Apostles disputing with people in the book of Acts. Therefore, having a formal debate is following the pattern of Christ and the Apostles. Finally, I'm not doing the debate because I think that Mr. Barker will repent. I'm doing it because there could be people in the audience who are willing to strive to enter in the narrow gate and have intellectual objections that can be torn down.

Thanks for the question.

I am preparing for another date this November, so I may not have time to engage in an extensive discussion. Feel free to put for their comments here, but if I don't respond it is not because I'm trying to ignore you.

Also, there are people who come to something like this who would never come to our campus meeting or to church (without the new birth changing that, of course), and I am glad to let them here truth.

KJB1611 said...

Please pardon the typos--I was using dictation software and missed some.

Farmer Brown said...

Thomas, I thought this was great. You present excellent evidence. Your point about the volume of documents supporting the Bible is powerful. I think you said "If the Bible isn't true, nothing is true."

That is a great point. The Lost are willing to establish an entire Egyptian Kingdom based on a single inscription on one knife blade. However they will not even consider the tremendous number surviving manuscripts of the Bible that have been demonstrated by other sources to be as ancient as they claim to be.

The resurrection in particular is one of the best recorded events of antiquity. There are at least five surviving eyewitness accounts of Jesus being alive after he died. The death of Julius Caesar has a fraction of the evidence the resurrection has, and it is accepted without question.

Anonymous said...

I watched this debate and think it went very well. I especially appreciated that you spoke with much persuasion. I have seen other debates between Christians and Muslims/Atheist/Oneness Pentecostals/homosexuals. In most of those debates the non-Christian is often far more firm in stating their point of view. I think this often happens because most Christian debaters have not much confidence in the Bible itself, especially when the text itself, supposed contradictions, or the preservation of the text is attacked by the opposing party. Again, it was great to see you answer Barners questions with so much confidence in the truth.
Hem Smeding

Joe A. said...

I think Bro Ross obviously won the debate since Barker agreed to something he could never accomplish in the time limit. Having watched the debate with Dr. White and this 1, I can say it seems that Barker's only desire is to "preach" Atheism. He doesn't follow the rules nor seek to accomplish the goals of the debate. He obfuscates, changes the subject, beats dead horses and generally mocks God. Thanks for taking the time to study for and debate him. I hope unbelievers there were challenged. Bro Ross won. I am not sure Barker cared since he was just there to spread his lies.

KJB1611 said...

A written debate review and analysis is now available here:

or here: