Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cheering for Jeff Lowder

Tomorrow, renowned Internet Infidel Jeffrey Jay Lowder will be debating Christian Apologist Frank Turek at Washburn University on September 21, 2016.

Unfortunately the debate will not be live streamed, but it will be recorded and should be posted online afterwards.  Suffice it to say if you can attend this one live, go do so.

Why am I posting about this? Because it's hard to overstate the amount of respect I have for Jeff Lowder. When it comes to doing counter apologetics on the internet, Jeff is one of the OG's. In 1995 he co-founded and was President of Internet Infidels, one of the most accessible and comprehensive resources of serious atheist thought in philosophy of religion online. When I was deconverting, infidels.org was invaluable.

This isn't just a case of someone being the first to do something, Jeff currently blogs over at The Secular Outpost and I consider him to be one of the best people making atheist content on the internet.

He is extremely precise in his work and in his charitable representation of the views of his opponents. He's also extremely well versed in apologetic arguments and counter points.  He's literally got at least 20 years of studying this topic, and if you search Internet Infidels or his posts on The Secular Outpost you'll see he has an educated position on all of the common arguments.

Basically, Jeff knows his shit.

He's squaring off against Frank Turek, a very successful apologist. Frank isn't a Alvin Plantinga or a Richard Swinburne, that is he's not a professional philosopher. He's someone who takes philosophical arguments and presents them in accessible ways. This is not to insult Frank Turek at all, or to say that he doesn't understand his material - he does.  He's a clearly a professional communicator, and from what I've seen of his debates he's a pretty damn good one at that.  If I was an Evangelical Christian, I'd be glad to have someone as effective as Frank Turek communicating my views.

Jeff isn't a professional philosopher either, but I think Jeff knows the material so well that he will be able to point out the problems with Frank's arguments in ways Frank probably hasn't had much experience with.  This will serve to deflate the aura of certainty that Franks apologetic style comes off as selling to evangelicals, and that's a service we should applaud as atheists.

This will definitely be one to watch if you care about precision in the philosophy underlying the theism vs atheism debate.  I eagerly look forward to the video or audio being released online, it should be quite the debate.

Go Jeff Go!


  1. This should be a good debate. They are both good debaters. Where did you learn Jeff was not a professional philosopher?

    1. He's always been pretty clear about the fact that he's not a professional philosopher.

      Not that I consider being a professional philosopher to be a necessary or sufficient condition to be someone I'd want to see arguing the case for atheism against an apologist.

      Some professional philosophers are very good at it while others were horribly embarrassing. I'll refrain from naming names though.

  2. I saw the debate, and Lowder could probably have done better to answer Turek's intentionally provocative question, before an audience of laymen, of how atheists can justify believing adult-child sex is "really" wrong (apparently Turek upgraded from his tired out "How can atheists know that Hitler was wrong to massacre the Jews?").

    There are many ways to show that the bible-god approves of sex within adult-child marriages, making Lowder's subjective opinion that these unions are immoral, more attractive to the layman audience who would agree and who would also be aghast to find out their bible-god is concerned more to see parts of animals "waved" before Him than in preserving the innocence of a child. Turek's layman audience would also likely characterize forced marriage of a 12 year old girl to an adult man to be "absolutely" immoral, but most scholars agree such marriages were routine in the days of Moses.

    Atheists do not need absolute morality to answer this question: the fact that we never see pedophilia in the higher mammals or lower-order animals, and the fact that adult-child sex routinely and predictably causes lasting psychological harm is perfectly sufficient to substantiate the opinion that such activity is a violation of nature's intent and therefore sufficiently counterproductive to the natural intent of humanity to thrive and survive to warrant being criminalized. (I disagree with SCOTUS in Kennedy v. Louisiana, and instead approve of Louisiana's prior state law requiring death-penalty for child-rape. It is in no way cruel or unusual).
    I would use the same argument to criticize the stupidity of having little girls learn pole-dancing, twerking, or that egregious "toddlers and tiaras" nonsense.

    We don't find children precious because of any "god-pod" in our brain, but solely because we instinctively know they are the future of humanity, therefore, this is entirely sufficient to "explain" why it is that we are "naturally" more horrified to hear that a child was sexually abused, than when we hear about an adult woman being raped. This natural instinct is sufficiently pervasive that we have a scientific basis to assert that those who would take the opposite view (i.e., rape kids if you wish) are nature's rejects. In other words, we have a scientific criteria by which to decide what constitutes "normal", and thus, can justify our morality without any need for absolutes or 'god'.

    Lowder could have used the bible to show that many things Turek wants people to believe are absolute morals, aren't. For example, because divine orders for child-massacre are in the bible, Turek can never say child-massacre is absolutely immoral. He is forced to agree that, within his own bible-believing world-view, whether it is good or bad to massacre children depends solely on whether God wants you to do it or not...which might be biblically true, but probably wouldn't sit well with most, including average bible believing Christians.