If you haven't already I highly recommend giving it a listen, but be warned - you will have to do a lot of work to follow these two.
I wanted to put out a few of my thoughts on the whole thing.
It's all Steak
Did you ever go to some kind of unassuming little restaurant and then order a reasonably priced steak, only to have the waiter come out with a giant slab of beef served with a tiny bit of vegetable and potatoes on the side?
That's this debate, it's all steak.
This debate is probably geared more towards those who are philosophically inclined and are already pretty familiar with the kinds of arguments you would find in a debate like this. I think the initial arguments are very easy to understand on both sides, but when it got to the rebuttals things get turned up to 11.
Both of these guys know their philosophy and the underlying topics that sit at the heart of their arguments, so when it comes time for rebuttals they don't waste time going through standard objections to which each side already knows how to respond.
This means it was all hard argumentation as soon as we get out of the opening statements. It's all meat and it's going to take some time to get through.
On one hand, this is fantastic. I get so sick of listening to debates only to see them play out like a game of tic-tact-toe where it ends in a stalemate because the moves are already known and the time restrictions end the discussion before an argument can be run to it's course.
On the other hand, this makes the debate challenging to follow. Pausing and re-listening to each rebuttal section is going to be required if you are really going to get an understanding of what each person is saying.
This isn't necessarily a bad thing however, as it will probably end up educating a listener far more than any Christian vs. Atheist debate you will likely watch online. Justin has mentioned that a transcript will be made available on his blog, which I think will help a ton for those who are looking to learn more about these kinds of arguments from this debate.
Both debaters were limited to three arguments, which is great since it prevents a Gish Gallop. Max went with a Thomistic cosmological argument from contingency, the fine tuning argument, and an argument for the ressurection.
Justin used his argument from the existence of non-god objects, the problem of hell, and finally an argument that states if a Christian believes god has morally sufficient reasons to allow evil, then the Christian has an insurmountable epistemic problem with the bible since god could have morally sufficient reasons to lie to us.
I'd rather not re-hash the debate here, you'll really want to give it a listen. I think Justin really knocked this one out of the park, particularly in his rebuttals.
Justin turned Max's first argument around and flipped it into yet another argument against theism. He points out that an atheist is perfectly willing to accept the existence of something that is metaphysically necessary, so long as it is not something that is an agent. He then goes on to show the problems that come up when you try to post an agent-cause of the universe given what we already know about agent causation. This leaves us with the idea that if there is something that is metaphysically necessary, it very likely is not some kind of an agent cause.
Max's version of the fine tuning argument was of the form that "If there was a fine-tuner then this is the kind of evidence we would expect." The problem with this is that even in an abductive argument you can't front-load it like this unless you have other, independent reasons to posit the part you're front loading. When Justin pointed out this technical problem, Max took it as some kind of attack on abductive arguments in general which it wasn't. Justin responded with the hardest smack down of the debate by quoting noted apologist Robin Collins (the leading proponent of the Fine Tuning Argument) from his entry in the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology where Collins himself points out exactly this problem with front-loading an abductive argument in this way.
In addition to this Justin brought up another technical problem that plagues all fine tuning arguments - the fact that we can't place probabilities on the values of various constants in physics since the upper limit on many of these values is infinite. What this means is that when you try to do the math to calculate probabilities it becomes impossible to establish a probability since we can't normalize the problem (ie. make the sum of the probabilities add up to 1). The upshot of this is that it means an apologist is in no position to make any claims as to the probability of the fine tuning of the constants in physics.
Finally, Justin was able to dismantle Max's argument from the resurrection by attacking Max's reliance on the death of the apostles. What Max probably didn't know was that Reasonable Doubts just did a massive three part series that goes into extraordinary detail about why this kind of appeal to the death of martyrs is problematic. First, because we have worse evidence for the martyrdom of the apostles than we do for the supposed resurrection, and second because it rests on the extremely problematic idea that the apostles could have escaped their deaths by confessing it was a lie.
In addition to this flaw in Max's argument Justin had probably the best rhetorical line in the debate that I'll just have to quote:
"Assuming the truth of the existence of a first cause who created the universe and finely-tuned its constants, and absent any argument showing that there is a statistically significant correlation between an interest in tuning-based activities and the practice of necromancy among an acceptable sample size of deities, I see no reason whatsoever to expect that a deity fond of fine-tuning should also be fond of raising first-century preachers from the dead."This is one of the more understated problems with arguments for the resurrection. Even if we granted the apologists arguments about there being a transcendent cause of the universe, we have no reason to believe that this being would raise Jesus from the dead any more than we have reason to suppose that being performed the miracles of other religious traditions.
The debate is technical, and you can tell each participant was straining to respond to all the points and counter points brought up through the exchanges that were packed with detailed argumentation.
I highly recommend giving the debate a listen. I'll put a link up to the transcript once it's available.