Debate with Rabbi David Wolpe

Total Posts:  1096
Joined  14-08-2008
14 August 2008 17:23

New to the forum - hello everybody. And it feels good to take part in RATIONAL discussion. Anyway, I found the Wolpe/Harris debate entertaining and very intellectually stimulating. Watching Sam debate is a joy. Taking the side of reason demands that one not let your emotions get the better of you, and nobody is better at that than Sam. It also helps that Sam comes prepared and never lacks for intellectual ammunition.

I too liked the debate format. Would love to see more of these.


Total Posts:  1
Joined  08-12-2008
09 December 2008 00:01

Just came across this video and watched it in it’s entirety.
Almost had to throw my monitor across the room because of this David Wolpe guy. UNBELIEVABLE. Grade A dick who can not let Sam talk for more than 15 seconds while he himself goes on for minutes at a time, acts incredibly condescending the entire time, and uses every pathetic attack against atheism imaginable.

Total Posts:  1448
Joined  10-12-2007
12 December 2008 23:53

If ya think Wolpe is rude, wait til you see Dinesh D’Souza debate someone…that guy is a complete moron/asshole.  He reminds me of a rude version of Kent Hovind where he just keeps throwing out mindless bullshit straw men and caricatures of science and history so the opponent can’t get any solid points made on their own time and instad have to spend their time correcting the crap Dinesh has spewed. 

You can find a Dinesh vs. Hitchens debate on youtube, but specifically if yua re going to force yourself to sit through a Dinesh debate, let it be the Dennett vs. Dinesh debate.  Dennett is sooooo polite and respectful and really refutes what Dinesh lies about without tearing into the guy at all really.  He kills him with kindness.  Welcome to the forums btw to all you new members.

neil s
Total Posts:  1
Joined  02-03-2009
02 March 2009 11:51

Although he did get smarmy, the good Rabbi was one of the two best in debates with Harris. The best was Chris Hedges. Both made important points, though neither seemed to want to address the main thrust of Sam’s attack, nor did they come close to defending their baseless belief in a deity.

Sam has done well to point out the three usual “ruts” theistic arguments fall into. I think sometimes he needs to just say “That’s an argument from incredulity fallacy”, or “Red herring”, or “ad populum” etc. More people need to understand basic critical thinking for nonsense beliefs to disappear.

The major problems in this debate were Wolpe insisting 1) on equating God with our highest aspirations and abilities - reason, morality, etc., and 2) that religion is lived and not propositional.

The first claim is a matter of semantics, and needs to be addressed as such. It’s much like the debate in Plato’s “Symposium” where the first two speakers want to attach every positive quality to Love and then dare anyone to speak against it. Sam addressed one problem here; it just doesn’t demonstrate that such a being exists. But the deeper issue here is that even if we allow that point to go unquestioned for the sake of argument, the argument doesn’t support any particular religion. To do that we have to add characteristics to this ephemeral deity, and that *is* adding propositional content. Sam hinted at this formulation, but it was never explicit.

The claim that religion is lived is related, and falls to the same criticism. To live according to a religion requires clear criteria, not merely abstract ideas of something higher. Once those clear criteria are present, we have propositions to be accepted or rejected, and tribalism inevitably emerges. Wolpe refused to acknowledge this.

The one point I saw go unaddressed that I wish would have been was this idea that the extremists frame their world view in a certain way and only those within the same frame can address them. But the problem here is precisely that both the extremists and the moderates frame the issue incorrectly, and that it is this agreement between them that perpetuates the atrocities we see.

Total Posts:  1
Joined  12-11-2013
12 November 2013 23:01

At one point Sam mentioned how people could claim that Elvis is still alive and say that it is also just “a metaphysical claim, not a scientific claim.” Then Wolpe said that claims about Elvis being alive or a celestial teapot orbiting are in fact scientific claims because we can test them through science but that his belief in Sam having a soul (being more than just what Sam thinks he sees) or knowing there is a god is not a scientific claim or “a question of science” because it cannot be tested through the physical sciences (or that’s what he seemed to be saying, anyway). 

The big problem, it seems, with his logic (Though, I guess here he could just go even further and just say “it’s not a question of logic because I’m making a metaphysical claim about something that is not governed by logic” - which makes me also think why doesn’t he just not have debates at all and just say “debates use logic and reasoning and metaphysical ideas and claims don’t live in that world”).  But anyway, the flaw in his argument on the “metaphysical or scientific claim/question” seems to be that he is excusing anything he deems metaphysical from physical world/scientific questioning yet he (or his religious teachings)  is telling us how these metaphysical things affect physical things. Physical things that he seems to agree are open to the rigor of scientific questioning and physical tests. 

So if he is saying that these metaphysical things can affect the physical then everything we know of the physical world(things he agrees are part of the physical world) can be thrown up into the air anytime the metaphysical chooses (or whatever) to affect them.  He can say that God and the soul etc are metaphysical but then, in his line of reasoning, shouldn’t he have to not be able to have his metaphysical things/ideas ever cross over and affect or connect to the physical? (Since he claims that the physical, like Elvis being alive or a celestial teapot, are subject to science.)