- Published on Saturday, 13 February 2010 05:19
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 23937
On January 30, 2010, Rev Joe Boot, Baptist Evangelical pastor from Toronto came to Cobourg to debate Humanist and retired psychiatrist Dr. Clare Rowson from Belleville, Ontario. A video of this event is now available below. It was organized by Jeff Bell from the Cobourg Fellowship Baptist Church which is one of Cobourg's larger and more popular Christian Churches. Jeff wanted to hold a debate but needed an atheist for the opposing side. He called the Cobourg Atheist and I helped recruit Clare from the Quinte Humanist group in Belleville.
The debate was held at a local high school (CDCI West) and there were about 400 or more there to hear what was said. A number of Atheists came from out of town - notably from Kingston, Oshawa, Ajax, Pickering and Toronto - the best guess is that the audience was about 50% Christians, 25% on the fence and 25% atheist. Both Christians and Atheists/ Humanists handed out pamphlets and talked to attendees. One young man was showing interest and I offered him a pamphlet prominently showing "Cobourg Atheist". Clearly embarrassed, he refused and said it was because he "could not take anything like that home". Obviously Cobourg has parents who do not like discussion at home - I encouraged him to think for himself.
Many have asked "who won"? or "what was the conclusion?" The answer depends on your starting point. People looking for a rational discussion and reasons for why they should think one way or the other, seemed to agree with me that Clare easily fit that requirement. Christians looking for reassurance probably went away happy.
The debated was captured on Video and DVDs of the complete debate are available for a nominal fee from Pastor Jeff Bell. If you would like a copy, contact me via "feedback" and I'll connect you with Jeff. The whole debate was one hour 43 minutes and this is longer than I like to show on this site. However, I am hoping to have a link to the full video online in a few days. The debate started with 20 minutes each for presentation of the case, some rebuttal time then Q&A time. Questions were collected from the public in advance via email (the original "poster" can be seen here) and as usual, this session was the most interesting.
I have edited the DVD to show:
- A sample of the opening arguments 8:35m
- Q & A - part 1 - 8:26m
- Q & A - part 2 - 9:56m
- A sample of the summations - 4:46m
You can see these:
For the full debate:
See the video of the full debate AFTER the 4 samples - at the bottom.
Samples only - full debate below
A sample of the opening arguments Part 1 of 4 8:35m
Q & A Part 2 of 4 8:26m
Q & A Part 3 of 4- 9:56
A sample of the summations - 4:46m
You may notice that there is a more of Rev Joe, than of Clare. That's partly because Joe took longer to make a point and partly because I think his circular logic often did not support the point he was making.
Comments from people at the debate
Written on form supplied - In no particular order
- I believe this is a good way to bring believers and unbelievers together in an unchurched way
- Interesting to see the presentation of such divergent viewpoints. I enjoyed all the information - lots of food for thought.
- Good job, thanks very much
- Rev Boot is not able to answer the main question. He was playing with the words and could not give any concrete proof god's existence. Sure he is created of our mind.
- Yes, God exists! Praise the Lord
- Great evening but a little difficult to hear
- Well-spoken & intelligent speakers. Joe's vocal volume as a speaker was amazing. Claire won the debate by leaps and Bounds as her points made much more sense. Excellent event. Thank you.
- A stimulating experience. Found it difficult to listed to some of the Dr.'s words. However I choose to live in the arena of belief in God.
- I have enjoyed the stimulation of these debates.
- Great evening
- Very interesting
- Excellent debate! Maybe these debates will get people thinking about their beliefs. Next time, please have a religious person who actually answers the questions - Joe Boot talked volumes but didn't actually say anything.
- A little weak on the atheist front but well done.
- I am in complete agreement with Dr. Rowson!
- I came as a committed Christian. Mr. Boot's arguments mostly went over my head.
- Very well done! Thanks for organizing! God Bless!
- Good food for thought. Rev Boot has more answers and logical explanations. His opinions make more sense and give validity.
Additions to above - don't know which of above these belong to:
- "God" & "Love" is ONE => Ultimate higher energy & spirit (All life is a part) - greatest power is "love" - Why do all Christian religions argue all the sect Beliefs & dogmas? If God is love why aren't they united? Only one God - Why not only one Religion?
- Dr. Clare Rowson actually answered the questions. Joe Boot talked all nonsense - mostly to confuse people.
- Your argument is God is necessary but the debate is "does God exist". Your argument is targeted towards the Christian god but instead could apply to any god, Allah or Zeus.
- Joe lost me when he said there is NO such thing as logic and that children were not born atheists. He is extremely passionate about his viewpoint as expected but his arguments as far as whether God exists were not convincing. You believe or you don't believe and both perspectives are good and okay. Neither is WRONG.
Update - why atheists always win debates
Atheist John Loftus recently debated Dinesh D'Souza and declares that "atheists always win in debates" See his reasoning here.
See his recent debate against Dinesh D'Souza here.