It looks as though Paul Baird is “calling it quits” at least until January. Of course, that’s assuming he takes the New Year to be January, and not February. In a debate with Sye TenBruggencate he claimed that a pagan god revealed to him that the New Year actually begins in February.
In his Saturday, 27 August 2011 post titled “and in the end” Paul Baird complains of “the same old tired arguments” between atheists and theists being repeated. In response he has quit posting at a number of online forums including Open University, AAPlus, and Premier Christian Radio.
He makes some odd claims about Sye TenBruggencate, claiming that he’s, “still not convinced that he has anything like a compelling argument for the existence of the Christian god or any god for that matter.” Well, that’s nice as far as it goes, but Paul hasn’t actually provided a decent argument against or reason for rejecting the argument Sye used. The other odd claim Paul makes is that, “Dawson Bethrick has a year long challenge to Sye outstanding for a debate.” So far as I know Dawson’s methodology does not allow formal debate (I am quite sure he says as much), and so I am not sure what Paul is referring to, even after looking briefly at the link he provides. In any event, Paul is not the type of person who is really in a place to criticize others for not engaging in debate. Granted, to his credit, he has engaged Sye four times in debate. However, he has elsewhere offered strong challenges to debate, received a response, and then backed out! Now, there is no need to make a big fuss out of this, and as I have mentioned before, I am certainly not claiming any sort of victory. However, I am genuinely disappointed in the sort of atheist rhetoric that gets thrown about without attention to the actual details of the case.
For example, Paul Jenkins comments on the aforementioned post at Paul Baird’s blog.
First, Jenkins is referring to my review of the Skepticule Extra podcast which featured Sye TenBruggencate and Eric Hovind. In that series, I do occasionally refer to Paul Baird backing out of debating me. Why? Well, because he in fact did back out of debating me. It is not that I am claiming some victory, or fear on Paul’s part, or anything of that sort, but rather I am stating the fact of the matter because of the arrogance with which Paul Baird dismisses Christianity and presuppositionalist apologists without making good on his challenge to debate someone other than Sye and demonstrate the alleged problems he believes exist in Christianity and the presuppositional method of defending the faith. It is one thing to have valid reasons (like Ben Wallis had) for withdrawing from a debate or even a debate challenge, but it is quite another to constantly take rhetoric-filled swipes at others from the safety of one’s fundamentalist atheist blog, calling upon top presuppositionalists to debate, and then withdrawing that challenge as soon as someone answers.
So yes, I say that Paul Baird backed out of debate, because Paul Baird backed out of debate. There is no need for Paul Jenkins’ “quotation marks” unless he is merely attempting to attribute the quote to me. As it stands, the quotation marks imply that Paul Baird did not in fact back out of debate, when he actually did.
Second, Paul Jenkins calls my podcast review of the Skepticule discussion “long-winded.” All I can say here is that this is a really odd complaint on the tail-end of a link to Dawson Bethrick’s blog. In any event, my discussion is, I hope, thorough, and I pray it will continue to address the terrible errors in the presentation of the three Pauls and demonstrate that they in fact have not answered the argument that Sye has repeatedly brought to their doorstep.
Third, Paul Jenkins claims that “nothing would be gained by either side from such a debate.” Of course he does not bother to tell anyone why he makes this assertion, nor how exactly it is clear that this is the case, but perhaps I am expecting too much from the fundy atheist rhetoric.
Fourth, if nothing would be gained by such a debate by either side (something I do not agree with in the least bit), then why did Paul Baird offer the challenge in the first place? This is the worry, isn’t it? Indeed, Paul Jenkins tells Paul Baird that he “can’t win.” Yes, poor Paul Baird. The silly theists are pressing him from every direction with their unfair demands for consistency and their childish desires to see an atheist actually back up his claims. I think Paul Jenkins is missing an important point here….Paul Baird is the one who offered the challenge, and he is the one who backed out once that challenge was answered. If there is any “catch-22” here, it is completely of Paul Baird’s making.
Paul Baird goes on in his post to state, “there is really nothing under the sun to be said or read in this ongoing debate about whether or not there is some supernatural eternal entity and whether there is something or nothing once we die.” This would be an interesting negative universal claim if it were true. Is it? Well if it is, you will never find out from Paul Baird, because he does not defend such absurd, dismissive, rhetoric. Fundamentalist atheists rarely ever do. They generally believe that assertions constitute arguments. Take for example Paul’s merely citing dialetheism as a counter to the transcendental argument, or his merely asserting that there are books on logic that solve all of the problems in the philosophy of logic. Anyone can make such assertions. That does not put Paul “above” debate. He knows this, but it is much easier to post a string of assertions that give the illusion of taking some “moral high-ground” rather than actually dealing with the seriousness and argumentative force of all of the issues involved in this debate of eternal significance.
Well, thankfully we will still get to hear Paul Baird on Skepticule Extra. Moreover, if he’s consistent, then he will not mention the theist/atheist debate anymore on those podcasts. But then, when has Paul Baird ever been consistent? With regards to the Christian faith he is going to, “get on with my life as though it isn’t there and doesn’t matter.” He quotes Dorian Gray to the effect that, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” Well in reality I am fine with him talking about Christianity or not, but for his own sake I do wish he would move away from this arrogant attitude of assuming that he has it all figured out and can defend it when in fact he doesn’t at all!
I am happy to debate Paul Baird in January (or February) on any of the topics he challenged me to debate on, or on the topic we discussed via email. I hope the best for him and look forward to seeing him return in January, although I cannot say the same for some of the empty rhetoric at his website.