Clever Edit of Mexico Debate a Challenge to Richard Dawkins

Apparently, Birdie.com has edited the YouTube video made of the debate in Mexico from November 2010, in which I, Bill Craig, and David Wolpe debated Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer, and Matt Ridley. The aim of this 6 minute feature is to show the mistakes that Richard Dawkins made in understanding and assessing our case in that debate.

If you wish to see this clip, click here.

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About Doug Geivett
University Professor; PhD in philosophy; author; conference speaker. Hobbies include motorcycling, travel, kayaking, sailing.

13 Responses to Clever Edit of Mexico Debate a Challenge to Richard Dawkins

  1. Thanks for the informative reply, Mark.

    The subject of apologetics is usually very weighty and serious, as you say. It’s nice to see that some of us out here, you included, see some value in humor, though it can be overly used and used in place of genuine arguments (reference any Christopher Hitchen debate). Every healthy relationship usually has some humor element to it.

    If I may add: I’ve resorted to one-panel apologetics cartoons because at least people will glance at it. (In fact, my cartoon for next week deals with this very issue.) They might hate it or think it’s wrong and that’s when I hope they’ll start a conversation, hostile or not.

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  2. Mark says:

    I too like this discussion… I can’t remember being in church and participating in classes on Evangelicals learning to contextualize. Mostly today I see serving the needs defining the Evangelical purposely avoiding the discussion for fear of becoming social outcasts.

    1)Does humor belong in apologetics?
    Yes for sure. I hope I wasn’t understood as saying anything different.

    2)Can the use of satire help and/or hurt apologetics outreach?
    Apologetics being deep intellectually, persuasive in its moral implication and challenging a submission of autonomy to God is very weighty intellectually and existentially, so correctly used humor would definitely be a welcome “Alve”-iator. (an attempt at intellectual humor maybe next time without the corniness)

    Your word “outreach” has me thinking though… I usually, in my work, have satire within a discussion. I am assuming your question to be evangelistic in nature, given writing apologetic cartoons; your satire opens up conversation mine within conversation. I am thinking the medians are of distinct timing, one within and one creating conversation. I don’t hold satire or humor captive to either of these “timings” but I hold it captive to the message it is portraying.

    3)What is the visible/audible distinction you would see between an “immature” wielding of satire and a “mature” wielding of it?
    I heard Nicholas Wolterstorff one time refer to this as learning to speak with “the voice”. The voice is a certain maturity level that is experienced. He gave an example: in his class of religion he would always have one person that says “well in the bible it says…” and he would after class challenge the student to find the voice. It is the Christian thing to do to be morally responsible for what and how the other persons hear and take what it is I am saying.

    Just some thoughts…
    Mark Elson

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  3. Doug Geivett says:

    We’re having a good discussion here about style and tone when doing apologetics.

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  4. Mark, 3 questions, if I can.

    1) Does humor belong in apologetics?

    2) Can the use of satire help and/or hurt apologetic outreach? (Examples.)

    3) What is the visible / audible distinction you would see between an “immature” wielding of satire and a “mature” wielding of it?

    Many thanks!

    Joshua

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  5. Mark says:

    Successful wit seems to be a reflection of intellectual and dispositional maturity. This does not mean that one whose satire exposes arrogance is being purposefully arrogant or is dumb but maybe just simply revealing a certain maturity level – this only indicates an exciting adventure of growth for healthy a satire.

    For the Christian, the doctrine of transformation brings an immense maturity to our intellectual and dispositional life. I don’t think Christ, in the examples that “very thought-provoking” mentioned, struggled in his rhetoric or his demeanor to ensure a wise and contextualized satire. One ontologically becomes – therefore can satirically do – of course this transformation requires a strong pursuit of relationship and knowledge, it is not just supernaturally endowed.

    Continuing to filter the judgmental disposition that legalism and particularism’s stronghold had on the church, will help people work towards a more respectful and promising message for the non-theist. However the same elicited satire can be seen in the postmodern “tolerance” of non-combativeness.

    As a person myself in the ministry, a think tank concerned with worldview ideas, wielding satire with grace of intellectual and dispositional maturity will always be a prayer of mine.

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  6. Doug Geivett says:

    No Apologies Allowed:

    This is thoughtful stuff. I hope readers will take a look at the passages you mention. The Book of Proverbs may be consulted for similar clues.

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  7. Very thought-provoking 2 posts.

    Humor in apologetics, of course, is something that I’ve been concerned with over the past month doing apologetics cartoons that do so. A lot of apologists seem afraid to use it. Yet, if a person can condense the arguments of a group into simple, concise statement, the statements themselves nearly become unintentionally satirical. Yet the other side can’t disagree and say it is a misrepresentation or untrue. Fair game, I say. And that is the line I draw for myself when I use humor to do apologetics cartoons.

    As for scriptural usage of humor or satire, I think it’s there. It’s especially evident if you read a more modern translation, say, The Complete Jewish New Testament. You can see that both Jesus and Paul appear to have used humor / sarcasm at times in their teaching efforts. (references: John 1:47 [it seems Jesus employs sarcasm here]; Luke 6:41-42; Acts 26:29; Philemon 1:19; etc…)

    Some translations even use “wit” to translate the Greek word for “salt” in Colossians 4:6:

    “Talk to them agreeably and with a flavor of wit, and try to fit your answers to the needs of each one.”

    Thoughts?

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  8. Doug Geivett says:

    Mark makes an excellent point. Recall that Jesus, when he was reviled, “reviled not in turn.” One additional concern that I have is that Dawkins and others, who have already shown some reluctance to enter the arena of dialogue, may be more reluctant as a result of these kinds of things. On the other hand, it’s possible he would be more likely to re-enter the arena.

    Having said that, satire has its place in public discourse and is a worthy tool when used wisely. Of course, it is especially difficult to use satire without seeming to be arrogant.

    So here’s a set of related questions for readers to consider and answer in the comments box:

    • Is satire an acceptable tool for use in apologetics?
    • Was satire ever used by the Old Testament prophets or New Testament believers?
    • Did Jesus ever employ satire in encounters with his foes?
    • If satire is a permissible tool when engaged in debate with others, what guidelines should govern its use?
    • Are there any good examples of the prudent use of satire in the history of Christian apologetics? (Did G. K. Chesterton, for example, use satire effectively?)
    • What does it mean to “love your enemies” when doing Christian apologetics?

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  9. Mark says:

    While I thoroughly enjoyed and agree that the theist had the arguments for the debate, I do believe there were 10 sound arguments as Dr Craig pointed out, and that Dr Geivett did a great job countering and clearly revealed the emotionally empty claims from the Atheists bench, I do not appreciate videos like this. It is done in a pejorative and sarcastic manner only introducing arrogance, maybe not on purpose but lacked a constructed fashion that will help win the hearts or the mind of those Christ asks us to. Ravi Zacharias points out that Apoplectics can very dangerous; it is not to make people look stupid.
    One of the things I appreciated the most about Dr Geivett demeanor was his intellectual wit – (powers of intelligent observation, keen perception, ingenious contrivance, or the like; mental acuity, composure, and resourcefulness: using one’s wits to get ahead)

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  10. J.W. Wartick says:

    Awesome video. I really like how they lined the statements side by side. Demonstrates very well how anti-intellectual Dawkins is when confronted with good arguments.

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  11. Sam Harper says:

    I just noticed that the snow changes direction if I put my cursor on the left of the page, then the right. Neato.

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  12. Sam Harper says:

    Dr. Geivett, I don’t know if you realize this or not, but it’s snowing on your blog. It doesn’t look like it’s sticking, though. Funny video, btw. I suppose it’s just a matter of time before somebody else does an edit job to make the theist side look bad.

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  13. Joshua says:

    Just saw this video today and thought it was a fantastic and provocative piece. Hope Dawkins sees it!

    Of course, anyone watching the entire debate would know that it was the atheists’ side that was the emotional bunch. You, Doug, caught it during the debate and confronted Dawkins when you spoke on stage.

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