In the past couple of weeks, an amazing written debate on the existence of gods (not God, but gods) was published to the Amazon store. Theist Vox Day (Theodore Beale, for those who care) and atheist Dominic Saltarelli exchanged three rounds of debate concerning the question of whether or not gods could exist. Though it does not establish an airtight case on either side, it serves as an interesting launching point into the debate itself.
For some background, Vox Day is an author, editor, and game designer who blogs at Vox Popoli. He is a self-proclaimed Christian with a history of entertaining and enlightening analyses of a host of political and philosophical subjects. He’s active on Twitter as well, and he is one of the founders and editors at the independent publishing house Castelia House. In keeping with his exceptional grasp of philosophy, logic, and military tactics (he plays Advanced Squad Leader in his spare time), he provides an interesting and effective case in favor of the existence of gods.
Meanwhile, Dominic Saltarelli is a former denizen of many Atheist chatrooms and websites. I know little about him that is not present in his introduction, but he is a logical thinker who strives to make reasonable cases against religious beliefs. In keeping with this, he provides a set of unique arguments against Vox Day’s particular positions and the question of the existence of gods in general.
The debate is handled as a set of exchanges, with the winner of each round presenting the first case and the loser replying. Each debater provides an introduction and closing statement, in addition to their debates. Altogether, it allows each author to craft a message and/or response that serves to forward his case.
Between each round, three judges weigh in on the cases presented by each party. The judge panel consists of one Theist, one Atheist, and one Agnostic, which provides a spread of responses from each set of biases that can reasonably be expected in such a debate. Each judge lays out his analysis of each argument provided by the debating parties, with a final decision for which debater presented the more compelling case.
While the debate tally does eventually favor the case presented by Vox Day, both debaters provide interesting and, at times, incredibly unexpected cases for their position. For example:
- Do reports of encounters with aliens support either theism or atheism
- Is precognition evidence that time isn’t actually linear
- How does the cause-effect relationship work
- What’s the difference between scientody (the scientific method) and scientistry (the profession of science)
Unfortunately, due to the nature of the debate, all of the cases presented are incomplete and poorly fleshed-out. On the other hand, we could look at this as a launching point for deeper and more intersting discussions in the future.
This is not a transcript of some verbal debate, but rather a written debate waged between the two parties (and, at one point, a judge). All authors treat each other with a great deal of respect, and craft their messages to be easily read and understood. Neither of the debating parties are philosophers by trade, so they apply very limited jargon and keep their arguments reasonably clear.
I could not recommend this to the average Middle School or even High School student, given the decay in reading standards applied in modern education, but any late-teen reader with 100+ IQ should be able to follow the arguments and logic reasonably well.
Despite launching on March 18, 2016, it already sits at #13 in all Metaphysics and #39 overall in the field of Atheism. It deserves every ounce of praise that it has received. Atheist, Agnostic, or Theist, you owe it to yourself to read this excellent work.