The purpose of debating is generally NOT to ESTABLISH fact because ... if something is already factual, there's nothing to debate ... because the facts speak for themselves.
On this board, for example, there's a lot of arguing going on but there isn't any real debate. (Arguing and debating are entirely different things.)
A true debate is structured and follows rules. Argument has no rules and usually turns into name-calling whereas, a true debate maintains respect from both parties.
I watched another Dan Barker debate
last night ... one of Barker's earlier ones. This, I believe, is an example of a TRUE debate ... where both sides were more balanced ... where a CHRISTIAN actually had some knowledge and some zip!~ Fernandes actually managed to put Barker on the spot so well, Barker came out saying something absolutely stupid! Fernandes asked him if he could come up with an example from real life experience where ... an EXPLOSION (Big Bang, eh?) had produced a positive and non-destructive result. Barker quickly quipped back that if he ran out of milk, he'd get into his car to go buy some milk and explosions inside of his engine produced the positive result of propelling him to the store!! (gad that's dumb!~) Barker later, sheepishly admitted that it WAS a real grasp-at-straws come-back.
But yeah ... debates are about topics which haven't yet been determined one way or the other. The purpose is to allow the audience (and perhaps debaters themselves) to HEAR the different views without interruption ... and to expand their own knowledge on the topic. A good debate is a learning tool and not a stifling burial.
I came away from watching this, with a couple of new realizations, (I think) ...
Christian debaters, arguing for the existence of God, use the same set arguments repeatedly and one of them is the idea of an over-arching authority to determine morals and ethics. Since people are subjective and usually fight for self-interest ... HOW can an over-arching set of rules be established by themselves? Hitler, for example, had his own idea of morality and ethics and he managed to persuade his entire nation that his values WERE the ultimate authority. Was Hitler then "right" to use the brutal methods he did? Who's to say he wasn't ... if he managed to get control of the entire world? Majority rule would then DECIDE morality and ethics. Thus, Christian debaters argue for the NECESSITY of God as an external, impartial arbiter of morals and ethics.
When I heard Fernandes making this point -and quite eloquently too, I must say- I was reminded of my own observation -stated numerous times on these forums- that "God" is very much like a Speaker of the House in a parliamentary system. The character is TREATED as a god but in fact, his role is purely imaginary.
There's absolutely no factual evidence that God ever gave a set of rules to man. The alleged stones that he wrote on were allegedly thrown down and broken by Moses himself. Thus, we have to take Moses' "word" for it, that God then told him to write them down himself under dictation.
The ark of the covenant somehow mysteriously disappeared after a chaotic and contradictory history. The bronze serpent which Moses/Aaron erected in the Desert to save the people ... inexplicably was destroyed by King Hezekiah ... HUNDREDS of years later because -lamely- the people were "worshiping" it!~
Every single supernatural artifact claimed in the Bible has somehow "magically" disappeared from the scene ... and so we're left with ONLY the writings which CLAIMED their existence. From God himself, today, we have absolutely nothing tangible or material to prove his existence.
What Christian apologists are REALLY arguing ... is the NEED FOR ... an imaginary God. They're not actually arguing proof of God's existence but rather, proof for the need to imagine the existence of such a being.
In this respect, they may be partially correct. There DOES seem to be a need for an over-arching "authority" to determine morals and ethics within societies that favors no one and is equally applied to all people.
Yet, is this "God" the God of the Bible? Well no ... I think we all agree that we don't need to kill animals or people as sacrifices to absolve us of our own sinful actions and behavior. We don't need to stone people to death for doing something as mundane as working on a particular day of the week. We don't need to go conquering other nations and kill all of the males and non-virgin women and then give the virgins to our leaders for their own private investment. We don't need to rejoice while smashing babies' heads out on rocks. We don't need to eat human shit mixed with dough and baked into cakes ... to prove some obscure point of the great divine.
The God of the Bible simply doesn't cut the muster for the perfect model of justice and righteousness.
What then, DOES qualify to be God?
I think it's pretty self-evident that the rules and regulations we follow in ordered societies came directly out of human imagination. The founding fathers of America, for example, didn't lay down the constitution by copying lines out of the Bible. They used REASON and not blind faith or belief.
If anything, the divine God should be constructed on REASON. Whether he physically or spiritually exists, we have never been able to determine for sure ... but ... REASON is bound to bring us closer to "him" than any amount of faith or belief!
A God of reason? Is such a god necessary or needed?
In a sense, yes. Even atheists should agree that for a society to have good decent structure, implementation of law must come from reasoned planning and thinking outside of self-interest. You can call this "God" or call it something else ... but it essentially amounts to the same thing.