Originally Answered: Why do atheists tend to do poorly in debate against their Christian friends? Case in point this debate here on the radio?
Chances68 is entirely wrong. Atheists lose debate ALL OF THE TIME. It is not because their reasoning is not sound, it is because their reasoning is not correct for debate.
In a debate neither side holds a "burden of proof", but that both sides do.
Atheism is a purely defensive stance. Sure you can attack the view of others, but it is a defensive stance in that since it makes no claims, even when you attack of the views of others is not logically consistent.
Let em explain. In order for me to say that some moral edict of Christianity is wrong, I have to define morality in such a way as to make firm claims of right or wrong.
Now obviously this can be done with secular logic like utilitarianism, humanism, or kantian logic. BUT, the problem is that these learned atheists generally hold to none of these, nor do they study them.
When Dawkins is allowed in a book to posit the problems with various religions, he is not debating but critiquing. Acting as a food critic takes completely different skills than being in a cooking competition.
Atheism is simply not good for debate. It is, however, an entirely defensible position. To make no claim, you place the onus entirely on the people making a claim. Just as you see here.
YA is not a debate, but allows the use of the method of attacking a view, while claiming no view. It allows people to act as critics more than debaters.
With a little bit of patting each other on the back and claiming intellectual superiority, atheists here can ignore the flaws in their debating style. They can ignore that they are engaging in critique and not debate. They can simply see what they consider constant victories, and not even understand that these are not victories in the slightest bit.
Pretending that they were able to show most all religions wrong. That neither proves them right, nor makes all religions wrong. To claim it does is an argument from ignorance. They have successfully provided a critique. Generally, those critiques have already been made and already been refuted. And thsoe refutations have been refuted. And there are refutations of those refutations.
As you said Chances68, debates are about evidence. SO produce evidence that no god exists? What? No evidence for lacking??? If I ask a Christian to produce evidence, they will. You will deny their evidence valid, BUT you will still ahve failed to produce any evidence supporting your own view.
Take my deist beliefs. I am making no claim on morality, no claim on the supernatural, only a claim for the existence of a god. If we debate, then we would only debate on that one point of the existence of god. I will bring evidence. What will you bring? Now what if I added a system of morality to my view? Now we are debating two things. In this case, can may be able to convince others that their are flaws in my stated morality, but if you bring no alternative, ... well that could be a problem.
Now if I brought the Bible, what will you use? There are plenty of attacks on the Bible made. BUT, I know this. Every attack on the Bible ever made also has a refutation. So I can come prepared, furhter, I can simply ask you how you define it as wrong, by what moral maxims.