Tag Archive | debate

Personal Ethics and Twitter

The last couple of weeks I’ve been spending most of my time either 1) working or 2) trying to console a colicky baby.  Talk about a tight schedule.

Speaking of babies…

I had an interesting debate this week on abortion over Twitter.  I know this person, or at least have met him a few times in person, so it’s not a situation where either of us are arguing with a stranger on the other side of a screen.  Even though we don’t know each other too well.

First, an observation about these type of discussions on Twitter.  I will go on with the person ad nauseam.  In every instance that I have debated the other person always ends first with something to the effect of “this isn’t something I wish to continue on Twitter.”   I never attack the person.  I stick to the topic and use, to the best of my ability, logic and reason.  The other person catches on that this isn’t a name calling contest and in every instance realizes that they are engaged in a civil debate.  However, civil debate on hot topics is something the medium of Twitter does not easily facilitate.

To paraphrase Neil Postman, You can’t use smoke signals to discuss quantum theory.

In other words, the medium is too small for the message.  One hundred and forty characters at a time to small, in this case.

At any rate, I’ve noticed people typically are quick to whip out witty sayings to one-up their opponent.  But when logic and reason are brought in they eventually bail.  (For the record, my conversation this week went on longer than most, but more on that tomorrow.)  I don’t think this is because they are necessarily ill-equipped to debate with logic, though that may be the case for some.  Instead, I think they begin to feel the weight of the subject and feebleness of the medium, albeit unconsciously.

This is a huge liability of Twitter and one that requires personal intellectual honesty to handle nobly.  I never make statements that I’m not willing to back up or engage in a lengthy discussion over, even if I have to take it to email.

And neither should you.

 

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Debate: William Lane Crais vs Christopher Hitchens – Does God Exist?

This video is long, but worth watching.  Christian philosopher and theologian (he has doctorates in both) William Lane Craig debates one of the “four horsemen” of the “new atheists”, Christopher Hitchens.

After watching the whole thing my opinion is that Craig is the more logical and Hitchens the more charismatic.  Craig lays out his logical arguments and Hitchens never really dismantles them, or even attempts to.   Logically speaking, I think Craig wins.  But if you’re more  swayed by quips and charisma, you’ll come away with the impression that Hitchens did.

I like Christopher Hitchens even though I think his worldview is wrong and utterly bankrupt.  On the other hand,  I’m not a fan at all of Richard Dawkins who comes across as an arrogant bully whose arguments contain little argument and lots of name calling.  (He also refuses to debate Craig, claiming that the only reason Craig wants to debate him is because he’s an egomaniac who’s hungry for fame.  Talk about projecting yourself on others.)

This kind of debate is perfect to put on and listen while you’re working.