I am very pleased to announce that my debate with Dan Barker, President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, on the topic: "Prophecy and Archaeology Validate the Bible as the Word of God" is now available online on my website and also on Youtube. (Of course, in this second debate Mr. Barker was in the negative and I was in the affirmative.) 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 believe that the very positive way in which the debate went was an answer to the prayers (and fasting) of God's people. The mythicist nonsense that Dan Barker borrowed from Dorothy Murdock as his basis for rejecting the Bible in our previous debate, "The Old Testament is Mainly Fiction, Not Fact" available on my website and on Youtube, was also thoroughly debunked, while prophetic and archaeological evidence for the Bible was set forth for which this most prominent of atheists--despite c. 125 other public debates to this point--had no answer.
I was also pleased that Mr. Barker essentially renounced his entire argument in the previous debate, as well as consistency in his anti-Biblical, anti-absolute situational ethics, by his passionate claims that what he himself has regularly taught was not something that he, or sometimes, even any other atheist of his stripe, has ever believed. (A few examples are at the bottom of this post).
If you believe that the content of either or both of the debates is good, please link to the webpage on my website or embed the videos from YouTube. Also, please feel free to "like" the videos on YouTube and to post comments, not only on this blog post, but also on the YouTube pages for the Old Testament Fiction / Fact Debate and the Prophecy / Archaeology Debate. I opened up the comment sections on both debates on YouTube not that long ago because I believe it helps more people to end up watching them, and the first debate is already filled with comments from angry atheists who I am delighted are watching the debates--as otherwise they would very likely never, ever listen to anything said by a Christian--but their comments, like saying I am a "Timothy McVeigh wannabe," or making various intellectually ridiculous and blasphemous affirmations, often evidence such blind anti-God fanaticism that it would be good to have some Christians mixing in something rational. Furthermore, I don't want a lot of atheists to "dislike" the second debate on Youtube and drive its rating down if they are honest enough to admit that it was very clear that Dan Barker's arguments were very poor, as it is highly likely that the large majority of people who will watch the debates are militant atheists who adore Mr. Barker (something for which I am glad).
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, "Prophecy and Archaeology Validate the Bible as the Word of God" available on my website and on Youtube, I have also embedded the debate below for your viewing edification.
(Note: the original sources for all of the following paragraphs can be examined at the debate review website here.)
Example one where I was perfectly accurate in pointing out Mr. Barker’s statements, but he claimed that he never said them and that I was misrepresenting him, was his denial that he ever taught that the Bible was copied from pagan myths (note that he did not retreat from this at the start of the debate—only when pressed on how ridiculous Murdock was did he do it). You will have to hear for yourself by listening to the debate what he claimed he has always taught instead—it is almost too ridiculous to believe anyone would argue this way without hearing it yourself—but when you are trying to argue that people in Iceland in the 10th century A. D. somehow influenced the Biblical accounts of Moses, written c. 2,000 years earlier, you will probably come up with some ridiculous stuff. Furthermore, in our first debate he said that “the Israelites were copying and mimicking [pagan] stories,” but now he denied that he ever taught that, and admitted that this would be a ridiculous thing to claim. On the Freedom From Religion Foundation website, the “non-tract” that they have distributed since 1992—that is, for 25 years as of this year—has as its very first sentence: “The story of Jesus was copied from earlier mythologies,” such as stories about the Mexican god Quetzalcoatl that somehow managed to cross the Atlantic Ocean to influence the writers of the Bible. I think Mr. Barker knew that the game was up with Ms. Murdock, so he just lied about what he taught (and continues to teach, for that matter—the “nontract” is still up on the FFRF website now, and still for sale to convert people to atheism, even though now it is a long time after our debate in which he claimed he never made the “copied” claim), and trusted that his adoring followers would never take the time to check up on his claims—as indeed the large majority of them will not, so he will continue to make money selling them books.
Example two is where I quoted Mr. Barker’s exact words about Dr. Israel Finkelstein, and Barker claimed that his exact words were a misrepresentation. One wonders what I was supposed to do instead of quoting his exact words—quote something less accurate than them? The point, though—and Mr. Barker has done c. 125 debates, so he knows exactly what he is doing—was to convince people by angrily making a denial and a claim of misrepresentation and hope that nobody will check up on his claim.
Example three of a perfectly accurate pointing out of Mr. Barker’s statements, which he brazenly claimed he never said, was his affirmations that in certain circumstances, because of his non-absolute, situational ethics, mass-rape would be justifiable. He actually has made this argument in multiple previous debates, not just one. For example, in his debate with Kyle Butt, Mr. Barker affirmed that he would have a moral obligation in certain circumstances to commit rape and joked about raping two million girls. Mr. Barker’s interaction with Kyle Butt was as follows:
Mr. Butt: “When would rape be acceptable?” . . . [In your debate with Peter Payne, Mr. Barker, you said] [“]Yes, it would be morally acceptable to rape that girl [for a greater good] . . . Do you still believe that?
Mr. Barker: It would be horrible. It would be regrettable. I would hate myself. . . . But I would have the courage, if that was the only option—if that were the only option, then I would go through with it. I would pity that woman. I would pity myself. But morality would require me to take th[at] course of action[.] . . .
Mr. Butt: Now, let me ask you this next question. Could you rape two girls [for a particular greater good]?
Mr. Barker: Well, we’re getting into computational.
Mr. Butt: Sure.
Mr. Barker: Yeah.
Mr. Butt: Two thousand?
Mr. Barker: I don’t know if I’m up to it. I don’t know if you are?
Mr. Butt: I am certainly not. And, if you did notice, that is pretty appalling to make a joke about something that is the most brutal crime that humanity can think of. So continue. Two million? . . .Would it be permissible to rape two million girls?
Mr. Barker: [For a greater good?] Yes. Yes, it would be. . . You can’t get through life without some harm.
Mr. Barker has also affirmed this alleged moral imperative to rape, that “raping women . . . would be the moral choice,” in other public debates.
I am very glad that Dan Barker had to retreat from his atheistic claims, and the best that he could do was to claim that he never said what the record makes perfectly clear that he did indeed say. Don’t hold your breath on him ceasing to make the “Bible is copied from pagan myths” claim, either—while I am not a a prophet, I expect that the “non-tract” on the FFRF website is not going away any time soon, but Barker and his organization will continue to make money selling things like this, and continue to make the claim in speeches to adoring crowds of atheists, while claiming when pressed on it by Christians that he has never, and no atheist has ever, made such claims.