Does God, as portrayed in the Bible, condone immoral acts?
PADADIGM and I have been engaged in an argument in regards to the morality of the Christian God, and the scriptures he believes are undeniable evidence of not only contradiction, but explicit immorality, by God very own standards.
In this Debate I(Paradox) will be taking the position of Con and defending the god of Bibles actions, as not only Just and Absolutely Moral - but that any and all passages brought forth as evidence against God and his Omnibenevolence, can only be understood as such, with assumption and manipulation of context.
PARADIGM, should he choose to accept, will be Pro, and asserting his position, that the God of the bible is not completely moral, and that the very book he declares as his Word, shows evidence of his hypocrisy and immorality.
1st round - Acceptance; Clarifying statements
2nd round - Opening statement; Pro rebuttals
3rd round - Rebuttals
4th round - Rebuttals; Closing statements
Knuckle up b!tch!
I would like to place special emphasis on CON's opening statement: "the scriptures he believes are undeniable evidence of not only contradiction, but explicit immorality, by God very own standards."
This is the focal point and essence of the debate, most specifically that the bible has a tendency to contradict itself, that God (as described in the bible) is inconsistent with His own morals, which inherently negates the notion that the bible (and by extension the God of the bible) is infallible.
I'll start of by thanking my opponent for accepting my challenge. As some of you may have seen, our argument in the forums was getting very heated and it was apparent the both of us shared equal passion about the subject we were discussing. I knew PARADIGM would jump at the opportunity to debate this subject formally, so I look forward to a very entertaining dialogue, as I'm sure you all do as well.
Is the bible infallible? or does it contain just as many errors as any common text would?
I believe it is flawless, and if read with proper context, can be completely understood as such.
I would like to establish, that we are discussing the acts committed and condoned by God, as portrayed in the bible, and therefore we must assume everything said in it's passages are true. This is not a debate on whether or not the bible is the actual word of God, nor are we arguing if God is real or not.
The God of the bible is very clearly portrayed as the creator of the universe; All logic, science, and morality - stem from him. As we read through the scriptures, and seek understanding, we come across many passages that bring us to a halt, and cause us to reflect deeply, as to what there true meanings are.
This is not an easy task for me, as I am attempting to explain what is portrayed as Gods sovereign word. My opponent on the other hand has a much simpler task, and can easily manipulate such powerful words to appear in any light he wishes.
Even with the foundation that has been set, as God the creator and author of all things good, we can still use reason and logic to come to different conclusions about what these passages mean, and if they are in fact contradiction, or if they are sound and with out error.
We may disagree about what is right, and what is wrong - but this discussion is about whether or not God contradicts himself, and/or commits immoral act by HIS own standards.
The God of the bible is described to be beyond comprehension to us mortals, and supremely righteous. He has the only right to pass judgment, has the only right to establish law, and is the only standard by which morality can be measured.
This argument will take place with mostly Pro citing passages and displaying the flaws within them. So there is not much else for me to say, but that you understand the terms set and judge this debate not on your grudge against the bible or your faith in it, but the argument that makes the most sense, and the debater who presents his case the strongest.
Thank you, and I await your response Pro.
1. That multiple contradictions are found in the bible.
2. That God's supposedly rigid and absolute morality changes with time, consequently shifting with the zeitgeist of that time in history with what is deemed (in)appropriate behavior by their respective societies.
3. That the bible has innumerable instances where it promises absurdities that, among other things, defies physics and credulity.
Before I get started, it is also worth mentioning that I will be paying careful attention to modes of speech. What do I mean by that? Much of the bible is purposefully allegorical and metaphorical, often lending itself to poetic prose. Parables, for instance, are generally rhetorical and are not always designed with the intent of conveying realistic occurrences, but rather is simply using illustrations to make a greater, philosophical point.
If CON takes exception to my use of a passage, it is incumbent upon my opponent to sufficiently prove that I am misattributing a piece of scripture.
1. Does God punish the progeny for the sins of the father?
(In other words, is sin commuted through bloodlines of those who have sinned, or does sin remain with individual who sins only?)
"You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me." -- Exodus 20:5 
"At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead." -- Exodus 12:29-30 
"The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father's iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son's iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself." -- Ezekiel 18:20 
"Fathers shall not be put to death for their children, nor children put to death for their fathers; each is to die for his own sin." -- Deuteronomy 24:16 
2. Did Paul's companion hear the voice or see the light?
"Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?' He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?' The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what to do.' The men who were travelling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus." -- Acts 9:3-8 
"While I was on my way and approaching Damascus, about noon a great light from heaven suddenly shone about me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" I answered, "Who are you, Lord?" Then he said to me, "I am Jesus of Nazareth whom you are persecuting." Now those who were with me saw the light but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking to me. I asked, "What am I to do, Lord?" The Lord said to me, "Get up and go to Damascus; there you will be told everything that has been assigned to you to do." Since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, those who were with me took my hand and led me to Damascus." -- Acts 22:6-11 
In example 1. we see that God does afflict innocents simply because their parent(s) have sinned (guilt by association). In Exodus, He even went so far as to slaughter every firstborn male. In sheer petulance, he even slays the firstborn of animals who could not have sinned! Yet in other verses, it's clear to state what we might assume with a honorable God, which is only the one who sins is afflicted with the punishment due to them, and not family members.
In example 2. we have a telling and retelling of the same event, namely the story of Saul's (Paul) conversion. In the first paragraph, the men traveling with him heard the voice, but did not see. In a reiteration of that same event, the opposite is true! The men with him saw the light emanating from Jesus, but did not hear the voice.
An indisputable contradiction.
GOD the Dictator
"Anyone who is captured will be run through with a sword. Their little children will be dashed to death right before their eyes. Their homes will be sacked and their wives raped by the attacking hordes. For I will stir up the Medes against Babylon, and no amount of silver or gold will buy them off. The attacking armies will shoot down the young people with arrows. They will have no mercy on helpless babies and will show no compassion for the children." -- Isaiah 13:15-18 
"Then I heard the LORD say to the other men, "Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! Kill them all – old and young, girls and women and little children. But do not touch anyone with the mark. Begin your task right here at the Temple." So they began by killing the seventy leaders. "Defile the Temple!" the LORD commanded. "Fill its courtyards with the bodies of those you kill! Go!" So they went throughout the city and did as they were told." -- Ezekiel 9:5-7 
Here we see God filled with bloodlust, as he not only condones, but ORDERS the massacre of men, women, children, and even infants, demanding that they show them no mercy by crushing infant skulls on rocks. What these infants could have done to deserve such a fate is totally inconsistent with the God portrayed in the New Testament; so much so, in fact, that it appears to be a completely separate God.
Because I have run out of characters, I will forgo my remaining objective until later rounds. In summary, however, it is clear that the bible does in fact contain numerous contradictions; indeed more contradictions than I could post without running out of characters. God also is guilty of committing atrocities that would gag a maggot, and does so with impunity and vengeance. How the God associated in John's gospel could be associated with the one in the Tanakh (OT) is mystery to me
I thank you all and look forward to the next round.
Sources & Citations
Is it really possible, that all of these contradictions, and fallacies, have passed by unnoticed or deliberately ignored? That the centuries it’s been declared the word of God, was done so by nothing more than ignorant and incompetent fools?
I think that accusation is ridiculous, and almost impossible for no one to have come face to face with the appearance of contradiction.
As of today, there is an estimated 2.2 billion professing believers throughout the world(every country), and this number is actually growing! Now, I am not one to base the correctness of my argument on the amount of people who agree with me, so I believe at most, this can serve as a probability statement; the 2 billion current believers + the unimaginable number of previous believers = no way in hell everyone missed these passages! There must be an explanation.
My opponent has addressed he will recognize modes of speaking, gratitude. However, the languages in which these texts were written, and the meanings of the words spoken, is of utmost the importance, and shall be used to help clarify most of the confusion as well.
2 lives and 2 deaths
The first scriptures my opponent site's are of a very essential nature, and if true contradictions - none of the corresponding scriptures make sense, and completely fall apart.
To reinforce my argument, I will have to provide a bit of context and explanation of the type of existence we humans have in the Bible, and how this existence can be used to properly explain each passage.
We are a union of Spirit and Body: our bodies are subject to this world, and the consequences of the mortal life; our spirits(souls) are of a different nature and suffer no judgment in this life, but rather await reward or punishment eternal, upon Gods final verdict. Our bodies and souls were once in harmony, but as Sin was identified, our world and nature suffered the consequences(Rom. 5:12-14). Our bodies are now at odds with our spirits, and formed within ourselves - what us Christians call - Conviction(Rom. 7:24-25). You may call it your conscience, chemical reaction to displeasing actions, spider-sense, whatever you please.
Bodily, earthly, mortal nature -
Our earthly or bodily nature is subject to the earthly or mortal consequences. If we get a cut, it hurts, and we bleed, if we steal, and are caught, we are thrown in jail and/or beaten up, if we rape a woman, and are caught, we risk imprisonment and potential rape to ourselves, etc. The situations are endless, and we can think of plenty of consequences each could result in. But what of the indirect consequences?
Along with the direct punishments and consequences of any specific transgression(sin) there are indirect consequences and punishment. Think of a family man - he has a wife, and 3 children. If he commits a crime, or behaves immorally his family will be affected. If the father is maybe in deep with a less then noble group, and is set up. His wife and 3 children had little to do with his unlawful business affairs, but do to a disagreement - he and his entire family are slaughtered.The mortal/earthly sins of the father, have been paid for with his and his families mortal and temporal lives. Even if the children never knew their father - they can inherit there fathers sinful nature.
But who says any of them are going to suffer the same fate in the spiritual and eternal life?
Souls, and the spiritual, immortal nature -
Our spiritual nature is our souls, and the another likeness we have with God when he created us in his image(Gen. 1:27) This part of us is unaffected by the sins our bodily life; in the sense no other mortal or natural components can affect its existence or disrupt it. This is biblically, the more important aspect of our existence, as it is eternal. We tend to judge the consequences suffered in the temporal life, as the only one which matters. When a good friend passes, or when a child is killed in a car accident; we immediately feel estranged to any reason why that could be just or good.
This is the clear difference between us and God; we are stuck in temporal bodies, and are bound by our imperfect and damaged minds. God deals in the eternal, and describes our worldly lives as a vapor in comparison to eternity (James 4:13-17)
The scriptures my opponent has used as evidence, we are now able to discern.
Contradiction, or Clarification?
The first 2 (Ex 20:5 & Ex 12:29-30) are referring to the earthly and temporal punishment which a person will suffer, or the punishment that their fathers sins will bring upon them. Though it is uncertain, the souls whom perished in body, may be in everlasting joy and rejoicing in heaven. This does not say they are eternally punished, but inherit the sinful nature of their parents. An understanding of the Law and Gospel are required to make this distinction. So it is very understandable that one whom is not competent in such a revelation, would find trouble in these passages. No one obeys the commandments, and as such - we are all the generations of sinful fathers.
The second 2(Ezek 18:20 & Deut 24:16) are referring to the spiritual aspect of our existence and the individual judgment each will experience.
The book of Ezekiel is almost purely of spiritual description. Throughout its pages we find description of God return, and the final days of the world. It is precisely this book, where we would find description addressing the sin of the parents in a spiritual context. God describes a father whom has lived a good life, and his son rebels - He may answer to a worldly authority; but he will not answer to God for his sons sin, and vice versa.
The passage of Deuteronomy is of a different situation. In this scripture, God is speaking to the Israelites - his chosen people. The rules are laid out, so that they do not act as the pagans do, and since they are chosen to be Gods people, they are not under the righteous judgement of God, as so evidently displayed throughout the Old Testament; these are instruction on how to live as Gods ordained people.
The sins of the father are not to be inflicted upon the sons, by MAN'S own judgement.
Prime example is the scripture my opponent sites from Isaiah 13:15-18. God has fully kept to his nature of a Just and Righteous God whom HATES sin. It's all to alien to us, and we cannot relate; as it should be so - we are imperfect, flawed, unjust, and unrighteous beings - we have no grounds to condemn any one to a bodily end for the sins of their parents. Only God can direct such a punishment, and throughout the scriptures, the only justified killings, have been of Gods direct command!
Contradiction, or Completion?
The second set of scriptures my opponent believes are in opposition of one another, is a simple error of translation. The ancient texts are written originally from 2 main languages: Hebrew and Greek(Aramaic was used as well, but much less). The language used in the new testament is entirely in Greek, and thus the language we must reference is Greek. The language tool I mentioned.
Can this man(Luke) really have contradicted himself within a few chapters, about such a dramatic conversion? I think it isn't much to ask, that a little effort be put forth, before such a bold conclusion is drawn.
In the first passage - they heard the voice, but saw no one.
In the second passage - they saw the light, but did not hear the voice of the one who was speaking.
Akouos(greek) - Hear(used 373 times in NT); or understand(used 57 times in NT).
1: They heard a voice, but didn't see a person; hence why they were not blinded as Saul was.
2: They saw the light, but not Jesus, they heard the voice but did not understand what was said.
This is actually a clarification and a brilliant expounding on the experience Paul's companions had.
They heard a voice but did not understand, they saw the light, but not Jesus.
Sources in the comments - apologies.
P1. CON begins by rhetorically asking if these contradictions have gone unnoticed or have been deliberately ignored, and alludes that it's impossible to believe that. He stands by nothing but his own incredulity, but he forgets that the bible is treated prima facie as the Word of God. Altering the bible in any way is strictly forbidden; indeed, Jesus himself said not one 'jot' not one 'tittle' which are equivalent to apostrophes in Hebrew. That's how serious scribes took it, which certainly accounts for why these discrepancies were never rectified.
P2. He then proceeds to commit the logical fallacy of appealing to consensus, as if the number of Christians is any indication of its accuracy. The entire world once believed the earth was flat and that earth was the center of the universe. The amount of proponents to a viewpoint is NOT a measure of accuracy and often reinforce poor reasons people stubbornly continue to believe various misnomers.
P3. My opponent then goes off on a tangent about irrelevant personal beliefs. (See: 2 lives and 2 deaths, Bodily, earthly, mortal nature, and Souls, and the spiritual, immortal nature. There is nothing to refute as it is not pertinent to the current debate.
REBUTTING Contradiction of Clarification?:
CON begins by conceding the point that the Exodus passages I cited indeed refer to sin being commuted from father to son, but offers the caveat that he isn't sure if this translates to everlasting punishment. As far as I'm concerned, that's a non-answer and quite frankly it's irrelevant. The question was whether or not different passages contradict one another. Attempting to lesson the blow by mentioning that punishment for the transgression may be inclusive of only temporal consequences versus everlasting consequences is a moot point, not to mention the fact that it's entirely speculative.
CON then attempts to reconcile the Ezekiel passage by stating that the Book of Ezekiel is entirely spiritual and, I presume, therefore does not qualify as being in the same standard as the Deuteronomy passages. He states that Deuteronomy is relevant only to the Israelites. But the passages quoted ALL deal with pagans (non-Jews). This extends far beyond only a few tribes, for it includes Egyptians, Amalekites, etc. In every scripture quoted it's an order from God to utterly destroy OTHER nations for their alleged sins.
CON therefore fails entirely to address the contradictions he's required to refute, and is entirely incorrect on his own hypothesis.
REBUTTING Contradiction or Completion?
CON then questions the passages in Acts concerning the events that purportedly transpired on the road to Damascus. He asks the question, "Can this man(Luke) really have contradicted himself within a few chapters...?" Evidently, yes, according to what was written. CON, however, offers the solution of mistranslation which, even if true, still serves to invalidate the theory that the bible is infallible. If one wants to rescue the bible to preserve the notion of its infallibility by stating contradictions are simply mistranslations, that person inadvertently shoots themselves in the foot. Whether it's due to a contradiction or a mistranslation BOTH prove the point that the bible is in fact fallible.
My opponent states that the Greek word Akouos is used in this passage which translates interchangeably to "understand" and "hear." Indeed, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance concurs [1.], however, even granting this theory that they simply didn't 'understand' does nothing to explain why in one verse it says they saw the light and in another they didn't! Remember, this is a two-fold problem of conflicting accounts for both hearing (or understanding) the event that Saul heard (or understood), and seeing the event that Saul witnessed. More to the point, even if it was 'understanding,' in one iteration it has them understanding and in a reiteration they did NOT understand!
Therefore, the contradiction clearly stands.
"Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Jephthah. He crossed Gilead and Manasseh, passed through Mizpah of Gilead, and from there he advanced against the Ammonites. And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD: "If you give the Ammonites into my hands, whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites will be the LORD's, and I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering."
Then Jephthah went over to fight the Ammonites, and the LORD gave them into his hands. He devastated twenty towns from Aroer to the vicinity of Minnith, as far as Abel Keramim. Thus Israel subdued Ammon.
When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of timbrels! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter. When he saw her, he tore his clothes and cried, "Oh no, my daughter! You have brought me down and I am devastated. I have made a vow to the LORD that I cannot break."
"My father," she replied, "you have given your word to the LORD. Do to me just as you promised, now that the LORD has avenged you of your enemies, the Ammonites. But grant me this one request," she said. "Give me two months to roam the hills and weep with my friends, because I will never marry."
"You may go," he said. And he let her go for two months. She and her friends went into the hills and wept because she would never marry. After the two months, she returned to her father, and he did to her as he had vowed. And she was a virgin." -- Judges 11:29-38 
In this next installment of atrocity, we'll read of a God-fearing man named Jephthah who was besieging the Ammonites. Jephthah beseeched the LORD, declaring that if God granted him victory he would offer the first thing that came out of his door as a burnt offering. What should come out of the door first, but his daughter welcoming her father back from battle. Horrified, he unwittingly sacrificed his daughter and is grief stricken. Alas, he is compelled to keep his vow to the LORD even though human sacrifice is forbidden in many places of the bible.
"There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer" -- Deuteronomy 18:10 
And of course there is the most important literary device on human sacrifice within the bible concerning the testing of Abraham. God demands that Abraham sacrifice Isaac. Abraham dutifully gets ready to go through with it when, at the last moment, God prevents him. Yet in the case of Jephthah and his daughter, no such reprieve was offered.
An inconsistent God, a contradictory God, a malicious God is probably no God at all, but rather a mere justification for reprehensible acts by a Bronze Age tribe.
Sources & Citations:
Paradox_7 forfeited this round.
It is said of many theologians that morality is absolute, that is, regardless of extenuating circumstances, context, or good intentions, any deviation of a moral precept is prohibited. Such an instance of rigid morality can be found in the 10 Commandments. If this is the case, then consider the following scenarios:
In Europe, during WWII, a few brave people were aiding and abetting Jews from the Nazi's. They were keeping them in hiding knowing that the SS and Gestapo were rounding up Jews for extermination. Anyone who was colluding with the Jews was deemed as a traitor and subsequently executed for treason. If the commandment, "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor"  is true in an absolute sense then any SS asking questions about the known whereabouts of Jews has to be told in honesty to keep this commandment. If you lie about their whereabouts, you're a sinner destined for perdition. It's as simple as that, IF morals are indeed absolute.
In consequence to this view, the bible itself contradicts the notion of an objective morality. In the book of Joshua, chapter 2 , it details how Rahab, a prostitute, helped out some spies by intentionally and knowingly spreading disinformation to men who were pursuing them. She intentionally deceived (lied) them in order to save the lives of the spies. If lying was always wrong, regardless of circumstances for a much greater good, then why did God praise Rahab for her faithfulness and dedication when it was only by LYING that saved those spies? She's even credited for her deeds outside of the Old Testament:
"By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had received the spies in peace." -- Hebrews 11:31 
"You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead." -- James 2:24-26 
More to the point, if lying is objectively immoral, then why did God himself impart a lying spirit into individuals? Not only does God contradict his stance on lying, but he causes it and nullifies their freewill in one felled swoop.
"I will go and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,' he said.
You will succeed in enticing him,' said the LORD. ‘Go and do it.'
"So now the LORD has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you." -- 2nd Chronicles 18:21-22 
That same event is recorded twice and reaffirmed in 1st Kings 22:22-23 .
It should be abundantly clear at this point that we have an irrefutable contradiction, and that God's supposed moral absolute has a little more wiggle room than previously believed.
Evil: The Absence of Good or the Intent of God?
When presented with the Problem of Evil , many fundamentalist Christians claim that evil is merely the absence of good, not that it's a byproduct of what God has done. This makes very little sense when considering that God is the alleged Creator of all things. Nothing could be created without His explicit approval. This is made especially difficult to believe when it further claims that God made man "perfect." If God created man perfectly, with the "Law written on their hearts," then why do they imperfectly disobey God on a daily basis? How is that indicative of perfection? Indeed, what purpose did Jesus have if human beings were designed perfectly? That makes no sense, whatsoever, when it appears that God is simply a manifestation of what man aspires to be.
If evil is simply the absence of good, then why did God directly state that he is the creator of it?
"I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I, the LORD, do all these things." -- Isaiah 45:6 
Remember: We are dealing with a supposed God who is
His supposed Word is alleged to be:
If all of this criteria is true, then it is unquestionable that God is indeed the author of it. At the very least, God is complicit in the purported evil of the world. In fact, all the actions of an ostensibly evil government have come from God's own hands, again, IF the bible is literal, the text is inerrant, and his morals are absolute.
"Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God's servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience." -- Romans 13:1-5 
There you have it... Every tyrant, despot, and dictator has been appointed by God -- Stalin, Hitler, Hussein, etc have all been installed by God. Therefore, if we are to look at this from a literal perspective, we can ONLY assume that what these individuals have done is good, just, and moral, for why else would a good, just, and moral God install these individuals to power?
Upon review of the debate thus far, it should be more than evident to every reader that CON has not refuted anything I have stated. CON has a mountain of refutations to tackle, especially when considering he forfeited a round. CON must meet all of my challenges with sound refutation.
I, on the other hand, have met every objective with clear, reasoned, and well-sourced arguments.
I thank you for your time and consideration in this debate, and look forward to your vote and bearing in mind that the resolution is AFFIRMED.
Sources & Citations
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