Dinesh D’Souza vs John Loftus Debate

As you’re all sick of hearing about, I went to the Dinesh D’Souza vs John W. Loftus debate last night in Champaign, IL at Foellinger Auditorium at the University of Illinois.

In all fairness, I was preoccupied with shooting the event, so I can’t relay a lot of great information regarding the exact bullet points on either side. Once the video is uploaded to YouTube or wherever, you can judge for yourselves what you think of the debate.

I will say this, with all due respect to Loftus and the fact that his voice was shot from a cold and his sinuses sounded like they were clogged tight, we atheists were trounced by D’Souza. I left with my head down and tail between my legs.

I would have to say that if I were on the fence, and I didn’t check D’Souza’s “facts”, I would drift toward the Christian camp. I’m not saying as an atheist I would be swayed by D’Souza. I’m saying as a non-commited member of society, given the two sides, Christianity stole the show for sure.

I’m also saying that if I were a Christian, I would go download D’Souza debates and memorize his points. Honestly, he puts a profoundly more intelligent face on Christianity than many men or women I have seen before him.

Did you hear that Christian readers? I am giving your team accolades. I’m not knocking faith. I’m praising one of your own! You better fucking take note, Messrs and Mrss McGrumblepantaloonyballs!

The format of the debate was 15 minute openings, followed by five minute rebuttals, five minute cross examines, five minute closers and 40 minutes of Q&A.

I don’t remember much of what was said on any side. What I admired about D’Souza was how clear and concise he was. He has his debate down to an art. Yet he comes across as likable, and he can throw a jab or two (actually harsher than some of the stuff I’ve thrown at the Pullman WA WAs), and his jerkiness seems almost forgivable.

It’s really important that I make this clear. What made D’Souza look good was that he accepts current methods of science and thought. He doesn’t fight science, he has embraced it and integrated it into his debate tactics. He accepts the big bang theory, but with a Christian twist. He accepts the theory of evolution, but with a Christian twist. He gave himself to connect with the crowd, because he doesn’t stubbornly attach himself to literalism for argument’s sake. He has taken what science has proven true, and shows how it fits within the Christian framework. He doesn’t gag when he says these things. He could be quite convincing.

On the other hand, American Christians dig themselves into the pits of stupidity by maintaining their silly attachment to creationism.

Follow this guy’s example, Christians. He could really show you guys a thing or two if you want to be take seriously on debating intelligently.

Criticisms I have for Loftus … ask and you may receive.

Perhaps Loftus wasn’t as prepared as he should have been. I wasn’t made to like him, which means the crowd wouldn’t have favored him either. It’s not always about popularity, but you at least have to appeal to the crowd’s sensibilities and access a little of their compassion or they’re never going to side with you on anything.

Also, he should have been more forthright to ask the crowd for agreement. He could have engaged them more, as if to figuratively take their hands and help through through a process of thought. As it was, D’Souza made a point to do this frequently. He didn’t beg the audience to agree with him. But he did invite them about three times to consider his view.

Maybe it was his cold, but I would say that I had a hard time following his vocal pattern. I found myself tuning out. I need a certain amount of vocal rhythm or I’m a mind drifter.

Criticisms for D’Souza

If you say it with confidence, it doesn’t make it true. EVERYONE should know this. This is D’Souza’s M.O. And he does it well.

There were a few times in which he made outright false statements, like an erroneous one to Dawkins and his “Expelled” interview. He said Dawkins said that aliens may have seeded life. He didn’t quite say that aliens did it, he was agreeing with a hypothetical statement.

Or with Stephen Hawking’s writings about the big bang and the probabilities leaning toward belief in god. If the probabilities are so high in favor of a “god” then why wouldn’t Hawking himself believe in god? If it’s that obvious, then Hawking would surely have to believe in god too. But he doesn’t. Only a Christian could take an atheist’s research and turn it into something religious.

These were some initial thoughts I had to the debate. I plan on writing a little more about it.

I also wanted to address the conversation I had with a this guy named Wesley Huff that I met after the debate.

More to come. I have a long night of work ahead of me.

24 thoughts on “Dinesh D’Souza vs John Loftus Debate

  1. Thanks for an honest and fair review. I have seen other reviews that came to a similar, though stronger, conclusion. Debates come, debates go, christians win some, atheists win others, the world turns. The question still remains, have I understood the issues properly? Am I being fair-minded? What is the balance of the evidence?

    1. Thanks for your comment, Ken.

      WordPress sent your response to approval land, because of the links you provided. Typically everything is approved straight away. I’m not sure how to turn this feature off when my guests provide links.

      In any case, I appreciate the feedback.

      Jeremy

  2. I always find it strange that John Loftus left the faith. His arguments are so weak that one is left to conclude it could only have been a moral thing. On top of it, he thinks he is ready for Craig. In his own mind, he is someone great, polished and well educated.
    If you think about it thought, Loftus couldn’t win. Loftus thought he did great; however, he was fighting the hand of God who speaks into the hearts and minds of those who are listening.

    Loftus stated that he may just quit. I think that was excellent advice. It is silly to continue fighting the hand of God.

    God Bless…

    1. “His arguments are so weak”
      I wonder,if you’ve actually bothered to read his book or at least honestly think,that OTF is a weak argument.

      1. Thanks for your comment on this old thread.

        FYI, zdenny has retired from the Internet, and you’ll like not get a response.

        I don’t think zdenny has read anything more than Loftus’ blog, but I could be wrong.

  3. Hey Ken,

    I just listened to the Paul Manata clip.

    While I’ll agree with you that Loftus doesn’t appear solid, Manata comes off badly, too. It’s as if he says, “If I bark loud enough, it will destroy my opponent.”

    Added, he makes arguments against evolution by natural selection as well as against the big bang theory, and Christians really have to distance themselves from the foolery that is connected to denying those realities.

    Like I said above, it’s working against Christianity. The facts are too strong to deny any longer, and it’s folks like D’Souza who are leading the pack in respectable debate. Those who cling to the older ways are getting left behind.

    Best,

    Jeremy

  4. Hey Jeremy,

    I have been thinking about this quite a bit since the night of the debate. I think the part that strikes me the hardest is that John doesn’t seem to understand how badly it all went off. He actually thinks he changed some minds. While that may be the case, I think they may not have been changed in the direction that he had hoped.
    In the end I think he did as well as he is currently capable of. I also think he debated with the best of intentions. He was simply outclassed.
    Now we are left with a few choices on our end about how we wish to paint the picture. Do we condemn him as an idiot? Do we show some compassion for his ignorance and move on. Or are we honest with him in order to challenge him to become a better debater?
    It would be so easy to simply write him off as some idiot and leave it there. It would be easy to just continue as we have before this came about.
    The choice that isn’t easy is to engage Mr. Loftus in a constructive way to enable him to see his deficiencies.
    We have to face the fact that he is a public figure and will probably continue to be for some time in the future. This means he will continue to represent our side for people who don’t know better.
    It has been my personal experience that people have a real hard time seeing themselves clearly without outside perspective. I personally never got anywhere without people who were willing to first tell me the truth in a way I could receive it and second to challenge me.
    It is not up to me what others decide to do, but you will find me over on his blog. Hopefully I can engage him in a way that he can get something from it.
    Good review by the way.

  5. Wow. I was over there earlier after posting my last comment. I think I am going to take my time and develop what I say a bit more carefully. I think right now he is just embarrassed. I’m not sure how much good it would do for me to come out of nowhere offering criticism if he is going to take it personally.

  6. I’ve watched most of this debate and I felt sorry for Loftus. He just kept repeating the same lines over and over, like that “I’ll go with reason every time” and “the different religions cancel each other out”. D’Souza looked like he was having fun. I’m a Catholic but, to reciprocate the fairness, I have to concede that Loftus was NOT a good debater and that, though D’Souza has taken on the best and acquitted himself admirably, he really had an easy ride here. I don’t want to be mean about Loftus, who seems like a nice guy, but it really was no kind of match at all.

    Having said all that, it’s easy for us to criticise. When you’re up there on the stage, it must be incredibly daunting.

  7. Personally, I’m really thankful for guys like Dan Barker, John Loftus, or Gary Lenaire. When they writes books and street-level atheists grab their rhetoric and argumentation, it makes my job a whole lot easier when I run into atheists who are attacking Christianity.

    Those atheists attack God in one way, or the Bible in another, and I simply can join them and say “Yeah! That’s stupid! That entire idea is absurd!”

    That always catches them off guard, and then I can tell them when intelligent Christians actually believe, or defend what the Bible actually teaches. I don’t know why, but 90% of what Loftus thinks Christians believe is only true of your average person in the pew who doesn’t really know what they’re talking about in the first place.

    Loftus and crew’s distribution of rational blanks to atheist clips makes a rational firefight a whole lot easier for those of us that have actually done some homework. Keep up the good work guys!

    1. What do you mean ‘when intelligent christians actually believe’? Is that like at prayer time just before bed or perhaps even at 9.30am on Sundays…I don’t know what you could possibly mean. So is there also a special pew where you can sit separated from the average misguided christians or do you keep your special knowledge secret just so you don’t confuse us sheep by shooting yourself in the foot which appears to be firmly inserted in your mouth….

      1. Wow. I forgot about ever posting a comment here until I got an e-mail alert.

        “Is that like at prayer time just before bed or perhaps even at 9.30am on Sundays”

        Yup. That’s exactly what I’m talking about. Praying before bed. You nailed it on the noggin!

        Unfathomably, I’m not feeling like conversation here would be highly productive.

      2. I like how you used your clever muscle to humor “Old Limpy”. Did you laugh after you wrote it? I didn’t.

        I counted the possibility of at least four reminders that you commented on this blog. It appears that you shied away on purpose.

        “Unfathomably”? Did you make that up?

        Doesn’t “Unfathomably” translate to “not understandably”?

        So you said, “Not understandably (un-understandably?), I’m not feeling like conversation here would be highly productive.”

        What an un-interesting statement.

        You trolled the first response eons ago and you gave us nothing to demonstrate that you’re smarter than the average-bear Christian.

        And you make up words that paint you into the same insipid portrait as the average Christian discussion.

        (I’m an idiot. I shouldn’t have consulted one dictionary that didn’t include “unfathomably” before responding.)

        You’re right. You wouldn’t provide a productive conversation.

        Congratulations.

        Yawn.

  8. There was a time when atheists walked all over Christians as though the latter were unlearned and ignorant outback urchins. Then came the 1960’s and a revival of Christian intellectuals who challenged atheists to debate their position. From then onwards we see atheists running for cover all over the place. I feel embarrassed…what can we do to help? Jim

    1. Hi Jim,

      You feel embarrassed about what?

      How is the 1960s the magical year that ushered forth this blossom of Christian intellectuals?

      And when can I learn of one or two so I can be impressed?

      I openly admitted that in this particular debate, the Christian won out. And while his base information was intellectual, the Christian message hardly qualifies and will never be “intellectual.”

      Looking forward to your answer.

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