Okay. I listened to the White vs. Barker debate on the Dividing Line live stream tonight, and then went to a Shai Linne concert at Masters College, so I’m writing this quick and late (it’s bedtime).
The audio from the debate switched off between White’s Skype feed (good) and one fella’s cell phone (he called Rich Pierce and streamed the microphone from his cell phone). The audio was pretty bad for most of the time (mostly cell phone feed) and I couldn’t hear it much at all. None the less, it was quite the exchange.
I can easily say that Barker doesn’t have a case for atheism beyond what he’s been repeating since before 1997.
He seemed to throw out the same arguments he’s used before…
…The Bible has contradictions in it; i.e. God is described 1 way in 1 verse and another way in another verse…
…therefore God cannot exist (due to inherent self-contradiction).
White delivered his opening arguments, using a intelligent design argument to attempt to show the differences in their worldviews (and Barker’s inconsistency) and Barker basically ignored him and threw out a long list of Bible contradictions.
Barker also tried to pull off the whole “the Bible has been tampered with and changed over history”, and talked to White as if this would be new information to him. Barker gave the whole “Did you know that we don’t have the originals of the Bible? What we have is a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy” argument. White responded and pushed him on the issue, and Barker backed away from it fairly quick (for some reason). Barker understands nothing about textual criticism (as does almost everyone, Christian or atheist), so that’s understandable.
White also challenged his ‘bible contradictions’ and pursued several, like the whole ‘murder vs. killing in the Old Testament’ one (which I blogged about earlier today). White asked him about lexical sources, and I believe that Barker somehow suggested that he learns the meanings of words from looking up the various uses of the words in the Bible and building up their meaning…
…i.e. it seemed that Barker claimed to do his own lexicography. Not even joking. I had to have misheard that one.
There was some back and forth Q & A, and Barker and White chopped at each other on biblical manuscripts, supposed contradictions, materialism and functionalism. Barker asked White about how God could be Spirit and Barker consistently refused to accept White’s claim that God could be incorporeal and yet still think, since thoughts are the functions of a brain (*sigh*).
Barker also (attempted) to use the design argument against White, making the Dawkins argument that since designers are more complex than what they design, then God must be the most complex being in existence and likely then does not exist. I didn’t hear or make out White’s response to that one.
All in all, Barker seems oblivious to the fact that he has been responded to, comprehensively, on all his ‘bible contradictions’ repeatedly; White himself started his Q&A time by saying that if Barker had done his homework, Barker would know that White had responded to all his ‘bible contradictions’ over the last 6 or so episodes of the Dividing Line. Baker didn’t seem to care, and took strong offense to the whole accusation that he takes scripture out of context. He claimed that he dealt with all the biblical passage in context in his books, and White was the one tearing scripture out of context. Not much to say to that. Barker is as blind as he is deaf to anyone who would disagree with him.
Honestly, from all the “Barker vs. whoever” debates I’ve listened to, I don’t know if Barker knows what a Bible scholar means when they say “context”. He certainly didn’t learn it from his Pentecostal friends, and he apparently didn’t learn it at Asuza Pacific. Someone should explain the term to him, just to be sure. I’m guessing that to him it means “place in the sentence or paragraph” or something along those lines.
I cannot wait for the MP3, and I would love to hear another White vs. Barker debate.
As for who won the debate, I couldn’t hear it that well to make a judgment. They both got audience laughs and they both had arguments. I don’t think Barker has reality based arguments, nor arguments that show any meaningful understanding of Christianity, so I don’t expect much from Barker. It you’re wondering about whether or not to buy it, I want to buy it simply to hear some of the comments that both made that had the audience laughing so hard…and I am seriously interested in Barker’s responses to White (which I didn’t hear too much of).
I’ll get the MP3 and give a serious review later on.
Until Next Time,
Lyndon “The Armchair Theologian” Unger