More Bahnsen Debates

Greg BahnsenNote: The site hosting the MP3 files below no longer has them up, but Archive.org has them cached. I’ve updated the links. Make sure to right-click and select “Save link as” to download them.

I recently stumbled across and listened to two other free Bahnsen (Wikipedia | Theopedia) debates:

They aren’t quite as good as the debate against Gordon Stein (Pt 1 | Pt 2 | Pt 3 | transcript), but they are still worth listening to.

By the way, if you are unfamiliar with Bahnsen, that needs to end. Read John Frame’s opinion of Bahnsen, where he says,

I do honor him, as one God singularly gifted for the spiritual warfare of our time. I hope that his example inspires others to join the fray with similar brilliance, passion, and commitment. I have recommended the tapes of the Stein debate to many of my students. Whatever we may say about the debate genre, there is a place for confrontation and for the intellectual exposure of Satan’s lies. In those respects, Bahnsen still has no peer.

Edward Tabash’s “arguments” were just plain laughable. I would summarize the essence of his contention this way:

  1. Major Premise: God is evil.
  2. Minor Premise: I hate God.
  3. Conclusion: God does not exist.

The conclusion is obviously a non sequitur, and the major premise is incredibly erroneous. All we learn from Tabash is that he hates God, whose existence, by the way, he is trying to disprove! In his concluding appeal, Tabash tells the audience that if they are going to believe in God, just make sure it’s not the evil God of the Bible, again, whom Tabash hates.

Update: Lots of Bahnsen audio available at SermonAudio.ca.

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26 Responses to More Bahnsen Debates

  1. Michael Riley August 9, 2007 at 9:30 am #

    I haven’t heard the Bahnsen-Smith debate before, but I have listened to the Tabash “debate.” I think your summary of his argument is quite accurate, but somehow even that seems generous. It really is one of the more pathetic public displays that I’ve ever witnessed.

  2. Michael Taylor August 9, 2007 at 10:10 am #

    Hey Phil, long time no see. I was in your Greek class the first semester you taught, you may or may not remember me. Bahnsen’s debate material is quite good—I try to listen to the debate with Stein, or read the transcript, at least once a year. His book Always Ready is good too, I’m sure you’ve read it. And yeah, excellent assessment of the Tabash argument! :) Before I became a Christian I listened to lots of so-called atheist music, and it’s surprising how angry people can be at someone who “doesn’t exist.” I don’t hear the same hatred directed towards Santa Claus (who in his popular form likewise does not exist in the atheist worldview!!) over his unfair favoritism towards good boys and girls. Not quite the same, I know, just a humorous thought. Anyway Phil send me an email sometime and let me know how the dissertation is coming.

  3. Phil Gons August 10, 2007 at 7:54 pm #

    Michael R.,

    Thanks for the note. Thanks for the confirmation on my analysis of Tabash. The Bahnsen–Smith exchange is actually a radio interview rather than an official debate. The interviewer asks questions, but gives Bahnsen and Smith the opportunity to respond to each other. He also takes some questions from callers. There’s not much of value in the exchange apart from Bahnsen’s contributions, even if this is not Bahnsen at his best.

  4. Phil Gons August 10, 2007 at 8:04 pm #

    Michael T.,

    Great to hear from you. Of course I remember you. I have and have read portions of Bahnsen’s Always Ready—as expected, a very solid book.

    Thanks for sharing your experience with atheist music. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any. You make a great point about the utter irrationality of atheism’s hatred of God.

  5. Eric P. August 20, 2007 at 6:53 pm #

    Hello!

    I’m glad you have a site focused on apologetics and presup. at that.

    I noticed on another web site that a person had said that the copy rights for Bahnsen’s material (i.e. mp3’s) are owned by “Covenant Media Foundation”:

    http://www.cmfnow.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWCATS&Category=234

    They have a cost associated with downloading Bahnsen’s material.

    Do you know if it is legal to have Bahnsen’s material on this site because of this….? Just want to have a clear conscience if I listen to it.

    Thanks!!

    God bless

  6. Phil Gons August 20, 2007 at 9:08 pm #

    Hi, Eric,

    Thanks for the note.

    I’m not sure if the audio I linked to is copyrighted or not. I found it on this website, so I assumed that it was available freely.

    I’ll see what I can find out. If you find something out, please let me know.

    Thanks.

  7. Eric P. August 22, 2007 at 8:00 pm #

    Thanks Phil!

  8. Paul Creber December 9, 2007 at 8:53 pm #

    Tabash won this debate hands-down. He articulated a wide range of arguments against the existence of the Christian god, whereas Bahnsen offered only one—the so-called transcendental argument, which does nothing to further the Christian case but instead seeks to undermine all opposing philosophies. Bahnsen either fails to acknowledge or is apparently unaware that the presup approach has been comprehensively consigned to the rubbish tip both by thinkers of far superior stature and by fellow Christians. He was also disingenuous in quoting Hume and Russell’s disquiet with the problem of inductive thought. Both Hume and Russell regarded this problem as a mere irritating glitch. Had they regarded it as anything more transcendent, their sheer honesty would almost certainly have led them to some kind of deism or theism.

    And to caricature Tabash as a Jehovah hater is preposterous and myopic. Tabash, in all of his assaults upon the Christian concept of god, was simply trying to demonstrate (very successfully in my opinion) the sheer unlikelihood of the existence of this supposed deity. If he did display any anger (Tabash, not Jehovah), I suggest it stemmed from the frustration of presenting coherent arguments to a dogmatic opponent and audience.

  9. Phil Gons December 12, 2007 at 1:07 am #

    The number of arguments is totally irrelevant. Perhaps Tabash had to resort to so many lines of argumentation because none of them proved anything. Bahnsen stuck to a single central argument because it has never been answered and devastates all opposing viewpoints.

    It is clear from the debate that Tabash is angry with God.

  10. Paul Creber December 12, 2007 at 7:34 pm #

    The number of arguments is totally irrelevant? Picture the scene: “The prosecution, your honour, has shown that the accused’s fingerprints were on the murder weapon, the accused’s DNA was found all over the crime scene, the accused was known to have a long history of enmity and contempt for the victim, and the victim scrawled the name of the accused in blood before he expired.
    “The one and only claim by the defence, your honour, is that the prosecution has an alleged speech defect.”

  11. Phil Gons December 12, 2007 at 11:03 pm #

    You missed the point. There are two types of arguments and evidence: good and bad. No matter how many bad arguments you have, you’ll still end up proving nothing. All it takes to prove or disprove a case is one irrefutable argument. Quality, not quantity, is what is important.

  12. Paul Creber December 13, 2007 at 9:55 am #

    Point taken. Here are Tabash’s principal arguments.
    1.He is taken to a vast desert occupying 100 million square miles. His guide (Bahnsen) informs him: “You know, Ed, this entire desert was created simply for the benefit of one grain of sand.”
    Tabash: “Hmmm, that sounds most unlikely to me.”
    2. Bahnsen assembles a group of five people. Four have led exemplary lives and the fifth has been guilty of mass genocide. Bahnsen tells him that because the fifth repented on his death bed he has gone to heaven, whereas the other four were consigned to hell.
    Tabash: “Hmmm, that sounds most unlikely to me.”
    3. Bahnsen produces a copy of the NT. “Here are the books which inform our belief,” he says. “They were written between 20 and 120 years after the miraculous events they purport to describe. Their writers were inspired by the ghost of Jehovah, who is one with Jehovah but distinct from Jehovah. However, they were assembled by a council of humans who discarded at least a further 30 books which made conflicting claims.”
    Tabash: “Hmmm, that sounds most unlikely to me.”
    4. Tabash: “For these and other reasons I find your claims highly improbable. What evidence can you offer in their defence?”
    Bahnsen: “Everything you say appears to make sense, but in reality you are incapable of talking sense unless you subscribe to Christianity. The sort of inductive thought you display cannot be explained unless the god Jehovah exists.
    Tabash: “Hmmm…”

  13. R. Michael Hill March 10, 2008 at 5:04 pm #

    I will assume that Mr. Creber’s summary of Tabash’s arguments are accurate. It has been some time since I last heard the debate, but as I write this, I am listening again. But allow me to comment on these “arguments”.
    #1) “Hmmm, sounds most unlikely to me” is not an argument.
    #2) “Hmmm, sounds most unlikely to me” is not an argument.
    #3) “Hmmm, sounds most unlikely to me” is not an argument.
    #4) “For these and other reasons I find your claims highly improbable. What evidence can you offer in their defence?”
    Pardon the obvious, but I haven’t heard any reasons in the previous 3 so called ‘arguments’, I simply heard a sense of implausibility expressed. In addition, in Mr. Creber’s first post, he claimed that Tabash presented numerous arguments and Bahnsen only one. Yet, in his summary, Mr. Creber recounted 4 arguments that supposedly came from Bahnsen (which I doubt were accurately summarized, especially with respect to #4) and none from Mr. Tabash. Oh, and “Hmmm” is not an argument either. Does Mr. Creber really seek to discuss the debate, or does he simply want to express his incredulity?

  14. Paul Creber April 6, 2008 at 3:50 am #

    R. Michael Hill: You’re quite right of course. My use of the word “argument” was ill-chosen. All I was trying to convey is that it is Bahnsen, not Tabash, who is making extraordinary claims. It is Bahnsen who is claiming, for instance, that a man-god was born of a virgin, walked on water, turned water into wine and came back from the dead. In the face of those sorts of claims,Tabash’s incredulity and skepticism are perfectly justified. After all, Christians display precisely the same incredulity and skepticism when they apply their reasoning to claims made by astrology, Scientology, Mormonism, Hinduism, Islam and even – from a conservative Protestant perspective – Roman Catholicism. It is the responsibility of those making the extraordinary claims to offer coherent, rational arguments to underpin them. Bahnsen conspicuously fails to do this. Instead, he merely repeats ad nauseam the assertion that rational thought and morality are impossible without the existence of the god Yahweh. In reality, rational thought and morality have perfectly plausible scientific explanations, without the need to invoke the weird and unprovable notion of a sky god.

    • Chris January 23, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

      Hey Paul,
      Well thought out comments.
      Eddie Tabash is a smart guy that articulates his arguments well, and you do too.
      He doesn’t hate god because he doesn’t believe in one in the first place.
      Riley’s and Gon’s ad hominems demonstrate shallowness and irrelevant comments that distract from the discussion.
      Taylor’s comments on angry atheist music is laughable.
      Hill’s comments sound like he hasn’t listened to the debate.
      Gon’s comments about irrefutable proof for the no-existence of god have the argument upside down. The point is that the case for god is not proved and highly doubtful (as Tabash points out).
      Saying (in esssence as Gon does) ‘you can’t prove me wrong so therefore I am right’ is schoolyard juvenille logic.
      Good to see someone standing up for reason on an apologist site.

  15. Phil Gons April 6, 2008 at 10:32 pm #

    In reality, rational thought and morality have perfectly plausible scientific explanations, without the need to invoke the weird and unprovable notion of a sky god.

    And what might those “perfectly plausible scientific explanations” be? I’ve yet to hear any that even begin to approach logical coherence.

  16. Paul Creber April 9, 2008 at 5:01 pm #

    I’ll save you the hassle of consulting volumes of scientific papers, and instead present as an example of clear evidence something much closer to my heart – my mother. Until about two years ago my mum was a sharp, smart, feisty, caring Christian human being. Then, at the age of 88 she suffered a massive stroke. Overnight (literally) she lost nearly all her powers of reasoning, and along with them her speech, her comprehension and her apparently deep sense of morality. A CT scan revealed that a huge blood clot had wiped out millions of brain cells in the frontal lobe. In other words, at a stroke (pun sadly intended) an entirely natural and explicable phenomenon had largely obliterated both her reasoning and her sense of morality.
    Now if purely natural phenomena are capable of summarily evicting such human attributes, it strikes me as very reasonable to suppose that purely natural phenomena granted them their tenancy in the first place. Add to that the fact that we know that these natural phenomena acted on countless species relentlessly and remorselessly over many thousands of millions of years, and the case becomes even stronger. Add to that the fact that we observe precisely the same natural phenomena acting on all other animals today and the case becomes devastatingly powerful. Finally, add to that the fact that our genetic relationship with those other animals is beyond doubt and the case becomes about as watertight as a duck’s bum.
    One further point: Do you and R. Michael Hill share my incredulity and skepticism towards the alternative beliefs I mentioned in my last post?

  17. Ben July 10, 2008 at 2:24 pm #

    Creber, I don’t have the time to try and give you an entire course on epistemology but I just thought I should tell you that your arguments are very poor because you don’t understand the TAG argument or the basic problems in your worldview. Your kind of talking over the whole point. Try googling transcendental argumentation in general and then check out the Bahnsen page on you tube. Cheers

  18. Aaron April 15, 2009 at 7:22 am #

    Even though I have stumbled upon this site a year after the fact, I felt compelled to respond. Paul, the example that you gave regarding you mother is a poor example for justifying the laws of our universe. For one, given the mantra of “observation” in science, none of us have had to opportunity to observe or study (in a scientific manner) the “happenings” and/or characteristics of your mother’s condition. Therefore, we cannot logically conclude that your interpretation of the facts is correct. Should we “just take you word for it”? Second, the very logical inferences that you draw are what Bahnsen would attack as being unjustified. In an atheistic universe how do you justify the laws of logic and what gives the laws of logic their law-like characteristics? This has not been addressed. Atheists merely assume the laws of logic (take them for granted) without ever realizing they are doing it. This is one of the main contentions we have with your worldview. It’s floating in mid-air! No foundation = no justification.
    Lastly, even if it were true that your mom lost all moral/rational sense (We are truly sad to hear this happened and give our greatest prayers) it cannot logically be stated that b/c certain cognitive faculties were lost (or at least our viewing of them externally) that the laws of logic or our cognitive faculties derived from ONLY naturalistic/blind and random processes. Any honest person, who understands logic, would agree that this is a non-sequitar. The conclusion does not follow from the premises. Even with a dozen or more “scientific” journals you would still be hard pressed to assume that because A caused B, A also caused C.

    Aaron

    BTW, if you haven’t already, checkout Bahnsen’s debate with Dr. Stein.

    “God is there…and life is NOT meaningless.”

  19. Periander A. Esplana July 12, 2009 at 2:16 am #

    If you want to read an on-line debate between a transcendental apologete (Dr. Alan Myatt is the same caliber as Dr. Greg Bahnsen) and atheists/infidels, please visit http://www.docstoc.com/docs/8365967/Conversations-with-Atheists

    You can download it in pdf format.

  20. Gaspar February 15, 2010 at 10:37 am #

    Hi, Phil. I’m Brazilian. I would like know if the debate of the Bahnsen x Tabash ou Smith there are in transcript.

    Thanks,

    Gaspar

    • Phil Gons February 15, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

      Gaspar, I’m not sure. I haven’t seen transcripts anywhere online.

      • Gaspar February 16, 2010 at 4:22 am #

        Hello, Phil. Thank you for your answer. I don’t understand much English spoken (I’m still training, learning), but I read well. What is the possibility of someone (American) transcribe the debate Bahnsen x tabash or, rather, of Bahnsen x Smith?

        Thanks again.

        Gaspar

        • Phil Gons April 24, 2010 at 8:34 pm #

          I don’t have time to do this right now, but I’ll keep it on the list for perhaps a later time.

  21. Juan del Fuego July 28, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    Archive.org seems to have lost the files you linked. I don’t suppose you know of an alternate source, do you?

  22. eric January 7, 2012 at 10:41 pm #

    Juan del Fuego,

    All sorts of resources on Bahnsen here : http://www.cmfnow.com/

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