The Instigator
Matt532
Con (against)
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The Contender
zeromeansnothing
Pro (for)
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Is Atheism more Reasonable than Theism?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/25/2015 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 376 times Debate No: 80149
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (2)
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Matt532

Con

Here is the purpose of this debate: I am interested in discussing topics in this area to better understand atheism so to better understand my own faith through defending my faith (Catholic). The goal is also to be able to debate more effectively while being more courteous, in addition to being more aware about saying things that the other person might not agree with.

I am not picky about definitions, as long as the other side can understand what the first person is saying. Each side is free to define a definition in order to make the point they want to make. For example, one person can define belief to include knowledge, and the other can define belief as only having no reason. In addition, one can ask for clarification concerning that definition. I prefer this way because it is easy to talk about things one is more familiar with than otherwise.

Now, here are some examples of topics I am interested in debating:
(1)Is it reasonable to believe in the existence of God?
(2)Is Pascal"s Wager a valid argument?
(3)Are there valid arguments against the existence of God? (We can discuss the problem of evil, can God make a rock so heavy that He can"t lift it, etc.)
(4)Are there reasons to hope for the existence of God? For example, what about the idea that the Church lasts for an hour that doesn"t seem to be put to good use?
(5)Would God want me to go to a Church where I seem to get nothing out of it? (I have an interesting response for this one)
(6)If one uses the principle of cause-effect to explain God"s existence, then doesn"t one have to ask who created God? (Idea from https://ehyde.wordpress.com....... Other ideas can come from here)

I would also be interested in debating another theist over ideas that I am not convinced about
(1)The idea against evidentialism. Though I haven"t explored the topic thoroughly, I am currently willing to take the side for evidentialism.
(2)Anselm"s Ontological Argument (for the existence of God)(a priori argument)
(3)Descartes" Ontological Argument (for the existence of God)(a priori argument) (I am less confident with this one, mainly because I haven"t explored it as much)

If you have another idea, or comment about any particulars of the debate, post it in the comments beforehand. I will expect at least a few of these to take more than 5 rounds. If that occurs, judging should only apply to the present set of rounds. I put five rounds, but if anyone wants fewer rounds, they can say so (I want to have at least one round to expand on my argument, and I ideally want the capability to critique an argument).
zeromeansnothing

Pro

Is Atheism more Reasonable than Theism?

I will probably allow you to go 'where ever' on this.
I am very familiar with Catholicism.
Many of my family and relations/neighbours and friends are from various religious denominations.

I dislike religion intensely and I find that it is at its most obvious when it is causing hurt and damage to the world.

I believe that the doctrines of most faiths are fantasy and this charecterization applies to Catholicism as much as it applies to Islam, Mormonism, etc.


I have respect for one religion and that is Judaism.

We were having fun last night reading about the miracles attributed to Padre Pio on a Catholic Website. The young cynics that I was with thought that it was hilarious to consider that people actually believe this stuff. I was reading about penance and indulgences. I am wary and mistrustful of religion because I am well aware of what a religious mindset is capable of. Take Cromwell as an example. Take Henry the Eighth, take the Spanish Inquisition, take the ISIS caliphate of 2015. You lot are all the one to me.

Religion is a carte blanche to justify whatever you like. Why would an honourable person participate in this.

I believe that it is more reasonable to reject that which is not. I cannot figure how anyone would disagree with this. Do you want me to make a list? Let's let you lead here. Let's !
Debate Round No. 1
Matt532

Con

Hi Zeromeansnothing,

I was considering debating you on a topic I had typed down, but I think I would rather like to listen to your story, and ask you some questions (and critique to better understand your side, a.k.a. debate).

(1) (a) What makes you dislike religion? (b) Specifically Catholicism?
(2) What justification or evidence do you have for the doctrines of most faiths to be fantasy? Why does it apply to most faiths?
(3) Why do you respect only Judaism?
(4) What is your proof which demonstrates that you can do whatever you want in a religion for Catholicism?
(5) What is your proof which demonstrates that you can't do whatever you want out of a religion? (Unless you think Judaism fits here)
(6) What part of the Spanish Inquisition was specifically problematic for you?
(7) What damage to the world is Catholicism itself specifically doing? / Why is it so dishonorable? (Note the distinction between a Catholic doctrine, and someone claiming they follow a Catholic doctrine, even though they may not, and in fact, actually be anti-Catholics.)

Now, I will say that Catholicism does not justify what Islam, Mormonism, etc., do. If it does for any part of it, then I think it is in a purely accidental way.
So, I will ask, (8) What is your evidence for your claim that most religions are of the same lot, and not in fact contradictory to each other? Unless you just mean that they have a similarity with each other, in that evil things are done in their name.

Now, I must say that I do agree with condemning the many evil actions that do occur. However, the question I have is, (7) does it intrinsically come from the faith itself, or does it come from a misunderstanding of that faith, at least in the sense that that faith has expressly forbidden such things to occur, and they are done anyway? If a faith allows certain actions to occur, I would consider that to be implicitly involved in such actions, though it depends if those are exceptions to the rule or the rule itself. For this part, I am referring to Catholicism.
zeromeansnothing

Pro

I gave you a cameo picture of myself to allow you assimilate my general attitudes. That is not what this debate is about.

Is Atheism more Reasonable than Theism? I think that it is.

Very few of your rambling enquiries relate to this topic. I will try to find some.

You ask:(2) What justification or evidence do you have for the doctrines of most faiths to be fantasy? Why does it apply to most faiths?

My attitude to this is that without evidence for a narrative that is 'real' then that narrative has to be considered fantasy. Some faiths do not have this type of fantastic narrative within them ie Pantheism. Catholicism states that Mary is the Mother of God. This is a fantastical notion that emerges from the early church scholars via some sort of literal/ pagan/expedient fudge. Do you as a Catholic believe that Mary is the Mother of God. Your Pope does.

You ask, (8) What is your evidence for your claim that most religions are of the same lot, and not in fact contradictory to each other? Unless you just mean that they have a similarity with each other, in that evil things are done in their name

I am glad that you agree in this obvious. Islam, Christianity, Mormonism, etc all sell after-life fantasies that are indistinguishable in any real way from each other. They sell Gothic horror and blissful Nirvana in a way that is beyond any reason. Why would I believe in any of this stuff. Why would I attempt to distinguish one of these sects from the other. I might as well read 'Lord of the Rings' if I wish to engage in this gendré of material.

Theism, in the field of comparative religion, is the belief that at least one deity exists.

The more elaborate and evolved the notion of God within human perception the more fantastic it becomes. As religion evolves it flies away from its origins. It refuses to reference itself against the facts of its past and it is almost impossible to reasonably highlight its deficiencies to its devout followers.

Atheism carries little, if any, of this baggage. It tries to explain existence without the intervention of a deity. I care nothing for the Gods of our established religions. I believe that God exists in the same way that Music and the Aesthetics of Art exist.( I subscribe to neither as being real except as being an inevitable consequence of cognitive 'evolution') Music is not real. It is sound. Aesthetics imply a joyful engagement with existence. Theism is 'playing with our nerves(anxieties and cravings)' IMHO. I do believe God belief once had a reasoned natural origin. I believe that the God thing was an environmental response by humans to their existence. Theism today is for the most part Disney. IMHO.

Contradict me on a point of my presentation that you feel confident of gaining the 'higher ground'. I doubt if you can.
Good Luck!

Debate Round No. 2
Matt532

Con

My purpose of posting this debate is more so to discuss particular points, such as the ones I gave. I tried to give a title that would reflect the nine questions plus any other ones that I would be interested in.

Now, the title itself that I gave is not as clear as it could be. So, I should title it instead, "Is Atheism more Reasonable than Christianity or Catholicism?" This is where I want to go, since I am a Catholic and am interested in learning more about my faith by defending it.

Though I don"t want to focus on the title too much, I would like to propose a motivation for religion, a motivation which may move a person from atheism. You actually touched on it in answering my (8). Religion is distinguishable from fairy tales because it answers a serious and practical question that atheism doesn"t have an answer for.

First, I would like to go on an imagination exercise. Let"s imagine that certain things were true, and then ask why it matters. Say that a unicorn exists. Who cares? Not that important. Now say that some thing which gives gold if you get it exists. It seems that some people would go after it, but money doesn"t last with a person after death. Now, imagine a God who has the power to bring people to life after death, and give a life that is much more enjoyable than the present life. If this is true, then this is way better than following atheism, which doesn"t have an answer to dealing with death. So, in seeking theism, a person wishes to have a better idea of life after death than atheism, as an infinitely better and longer life after death, compared to life on Earth, is worth having.

So, that is the motivation for religion and searching for God. It doesn"t guarantee God"s existence. Now, death itself causes other problems that are important to resolve, such as how much dignity does a human person have, and can justice occur after death. Hopefully, the religion which turns out to be true can solve those issues.

Now, I asked if you have evidence which shows faiths to be fantasy. I did it for the sake of having a more orderly fashion: (1) if you have evidence which shows that a religion is a fantasy, which some people do have, then we can discuss that. (2) Since you did not, I will then go and give my motivations. Note that I do it in this order rather than the other way because it wouldn"t matter if you agreed with (2) but had an issue in (1).

So, here is my argument for the existence of God. The principle of cause and effect can be asked about the existence of a thing and the existence of that previous thing, and so on. Now, where does it stop? The Big Bang doesn"t seem to work because one can ask what caused that, as it didn"t cause itself. Now, one problem is that the chain must stop somewhere. If it doesn't stop (meaning there is an infinite chain), then this means that the question never gets answered, so there is no first cause, so there is no cause-effect chain, as the question never gets answered of how the chain can be possible, thus denying the principle of cause and effect. So, one can either: find a First Cause, or deny the principle of cause and effect.

Now, if one is to deny the principle of cause and effect, one has to have a reason or else one is being irrational.

Now, the First Cause has to have the property that one can"t ask where it came from. The only answer that works which destroys the question is that the First Cause is Existence itself, as it is in Existence"s nature to exist. This is what my (Christian) side calls God. Due to space and an opportunity for you to argue on this idea, I will hold off in continuing my logic on this point for now.

Now, you claim that it is a fantasy to think that Mary is the Mother of God. This is a good question to have. Well, in order to demonstrate against this, there are a few ways I could go, but I think I would try to do it this way: (1) Show that God exists, (2) Show that God is the Catholic"s notion of God. (3) Show that the Catholic Church is guided by God. (4) Point to the Church"s Dogma on Mary, and define what Catholic dogma is. I think that (1) is the hardest to show, so I will keep the focus on that for now.

Now, I defined theism as any religion which believes in God. I didn"t mean for theism to be used in the generic sense by itself, but generic in the sense of are any theistic systems better than atheism. So, I don"t agree in using your definition of theism, though it is valid.

I argue that the reason Catholicism has baggage is because people are imperfect, not also because of Catholicism itself. Deficiencies should be resolved and explained to everyone, but that shouldn"t be the focus of the religion, but on God.

Some religions do change from their origins. However, for Catholicism, I believe that it doesn"t change, but its articles of faith are just made clearer.

I think that science tries to explain existence, more so than atheism per se. Also, I believe that Catholicism and known science and reason go together, and don"t contradict each other.

I disagree that Music and the Aesthetics of Art don"t exist. If they didn"t exist, how could we study them or sense them? Now, the concepts exist in a mental way, such that they can only be grasped by persons. However, I think they are objective in the similar sense that math is objective. I think that the idea of counting from one to ten has an objective order, which only persons are capable of grasping. There is a subjective dimension in that a person can grasp it, but it is objective in that we can see this idea in things outside ourselves, as we notice that there are things outside of ourselves.

Music is a type of sound with a certain structure and order to it (talking about sound over an interval of a few minutes). Aesthetics also has a certain structure and order to it. The more order, the more beautiful. I think that the beauty comes from being able to grasp or understand simple, good ideas from a piece of art.

I would agree that the notion of God came from an environmental response. I just think that this environmental response was inexplicable to them, and so they attributed it to God. For example, the thunder and lightning with the Greek gods. Nevertheless, science has made things clearer.

However, to say that science will clear out the questions which brought one to conclude to God, is something that I challenge with my argument for God"s existence through reasoning by the principle of cause and effect.

On a small, unrelated note, I find it contradictory in how you used the word humble (in IMHO) at the end. Humble means that you consider your opinion to be of low value or importance. I think you are confident in the idea that "Theism today is for the most part Disney," as you also talked about theism being a "fantasy."

Now, the after-life that each religion espouses is not the same for each religion, and they are completely distinguishable from each other. One reason for this is that they have different deities. For comparing Islam with Christianity-Judaism, God has different characteristics. The Jews and Christians are an exception, it seems.
zeromeansnothing

Pro

Matt532 states: 'Now, imagine a God who has the power to bring people to life after death, and give a life that is much more enjoyable than the present life. If this is true, then this is way better than following atheism, which doesn"t have an answer to dealing with death'

Thank You Matt532, for your contribution here. Sorry, but I explained to you as clearly as I could that I do not want to 'imagine'. I could dissect your post but I believe our readership can do that for themselves. I asked you to find a point where you felt that you might be able to hold the high ground and I think that I must let you run as hard as you can with point 1.

You state: (1)Is it reasonable to believe in the existence of God?

Let's go with this.
Is it reasonable to believe in God. The answer is Yes. I stated previously that, just like music and the aesthetics of art, that God belief had once a reasoned origin.

Is it reasonable to believe that there is no God.. The answer is again Yes.

Is Atheism more reasonable than Theism. I also believe the answer to be Yes for the reasons I have previously mentioned. Let us consider your ramblings regarding First Cause. Let us consider Catholic logic and science with it's intention of explaining the start of things. I give you the Jewish Genesis, repackaged as an introduction to the New Testament and affectionately referred to as the Bible. Better still , let's listen to your Pope.

https://w2.vatican.va...

Pope Francis: 'The beginning of the world was not a work of chaos that owes its origin to another, but derives directly from a supreme Principle who creates out of love. '

....'As for man, however, there is a change and a novelty. When, on the sixth day in the account of Genesis, comes the moment of the creation of man, God gives the human being another autonomy, an autonomy different from that of nature, which is freedom'.

.....Yawn! The stuff is there for people to read. Tell me what you think Matt and I will respond.

A universe that is created out of love is as likely as .................(What's a zillion times a zillion zillion)

Thanks and read what your leader tells us to believe. I think it reasonable to dismiss the whole lot as complete nonsense. There was no question to be answered in the first place.
Good Luck Matt532
Debate Round No. 3
Matt532

Con

You don"t win debates by assuming that the judges are on your side to begin with in terms of doing the arguing for you. You win debates by making your side understandable too everyone, even to your opponent. Otherwise, I would call that a "rigged" debate. However, my goal in this debate isn"t to win but to understand my opponent"s reasoning against my side"s claims, so you are doing me a disservice in just assuming that I am wrong and that everyone else can see it, when I would like to see it too. So, I don"t care if the judges understand you, just so long as I can understand you.

I pointed out my origin, because there is a reason behind the reasoned origin, meaning that there is a reason people chose to have a belief in God. There are some issues in atheism that theism resolves, and I would like for you to address them and give your counter-argument.

My argument with the principle of cause and effect attacks your claim that it is reasonable to believe that there is no God. Can you respond with other reasons or details?

Now, the details you do give I can comment on. The Bible is a theological book, not so much a historical book, not that everything in it is historically false, though up to Abraham it may be myth. The point of the Bible though is that it gets at certain claims to truths, like how man is made in the image and likeness of God. Now, there are two creation stories, which contradict each other in terms of when animals were made, and the first creation story says that the sun was created on the fourth day, even though a day is measured by the sun, implying another contradiction.

These contradictions can actually be a good thing, as they bring up the point that these things aren"t supposed to be taken literally, that there is another, more important point that the author(s) want to get at. Also, in Jewish times, they expressed concepts through physical things. For example, bone was sometimes used to refer to a person"s substance, or essence of a person. Also, I have heard that some interpretations to be eponymous- "a person place or thing for whom or for which something is named, or believed to be named," (https://en.wikipedia.org...) in the sense that some of the names in the Bible represented nations (more so in the Old Testament).

The fact that you disagree on what the pope is saying goes to show that you don"t seem to understand what the pope is saying. He was actually criticizing the ancient Greek religion, which believed that things started out as chaos. He then goes on to refer to how the dignity of man is raised because of God, which is exactly one of the points I mentioned concerning death which atheists have no answer to deal with.

Yeah, you seem to be trigger happily jumping the gun. My religion claims that God is Existence, but also that God is Love itself, that"s the meaning of saying, "A universe that is created out of love." That though has to be part of the argument, so here is my continuation of my argument that God is Existence.

If God is Existence, then since Existence can only be or not be, then God must be outside of time. Also, if God is Existence, and the only other choice is non-existence, which doesn"t exist of course, then God must be simple, meaning not composed of parts. Now, God created everything because God is Existence, and everything created shares in Existence in a finite, meaning bounded or limited, way, as there is an argument which says that if something created is infinite, meaning that it has no limits, then that thing actually wasn"t created, but was actually God, as there is no distinction between that thing and God, as they are identically the same. Next, love can be defined as giving to another something good. Now, man is good, as it is a being with the power to do things, especially including powers to increase or preserve other beings which have a high value based off of their abilities and such. Then, since God created man, since God created everything, and since man was created good, God loved man. Lastly, since God loved man and God is simple, God must be Love itself.

This sort of thing is actually a philosophical branch called Natural Theology. It is important to note that this means that God is gotten at through the use of human experience and reasoning, and not by assuming God"s existence, which a faith assumes. The argument from the principle of cause and effect is based in human experience, not assumptive faith.

Now, concerning your attitude:

First, I want a serious discussion on the issue, and you are pointing out some things which I can talk about, and I like that.

Now, second, I wish to love you here as a Christian, and I will do so by pointing this out. Other people can see through what both you and I are doing. They can see our attitudes more clearly than we can. So, I advise you to not call your opponent"s words, "rambling" unless you have a strong case, as you win more people over with honey than with vinegar, unless the situation calls for vinegar, in which case you should be as gentle on the vinegar as possible.
zeromeansnothing

Pro

Hi Matt532,


The debate topic is 'Is Atheism more Reasonable than Theism?'

You repeatedly return to this logic of yours, ie Atheism has no explanation/answer for death but that Catholic Theism has. I tried to explain the odds on your premise being correct. In a Lotto with a win probability of a zillion times a zillion zillion it is more reasonable to not buy a ticket. To buy a ticket is to partake. Why would any level headed person do this. Theism, as presented by your Church is 'pyramid selling'. Show me a prize winner and I will concede this point. Accept and deal with the facts of your commitment and allow for the fact that an atheist might pity you.

You speak about rambling. I defy any person to make sense to the following.

Matt532 states: ''If God is Existence, then since Existence can only be or not be, then God must be outside of time. Also, if God is Existence, and the only other choice is non-existence, which doesn"t exist of course, then God must be simple, meaning not composed of parts. Now, God created everything because God is Existence, and everything created shares in Existence in a finite, meaning bounded or limited, way, as there is an argument which says that if something created is infinite, meaning that it has no limits, then that thing actually wasn"t created, but was actually God, as there is no distinction between that thing and God, as they are identically the same'

Let me explain a simple fact to you. You cannot conjectualize yourself a God. Well, actually, you can and you have but do not expect your belief to be 'currency. A premise built on conjecture is nonsense..Look at what follows.

Matt 532 states: ''Next, love can be defined as giving to another something good. Now, man is good, as it is a being with the power to do things, especially including powers to increase or preserve other beings which have a high value based off of their abilities and such. Then, since God created man, since God created everything, and since man was created good, God loved man.'

On what planet is man 'good'.
On what planet does God love man?
Who can follow this logic?

You are now selling the love elixir of the Christian God. Many animals display 'Love' it is primarily mammalian but is also common in reptiles, birds and fish. It is particularly strong in creatures that nurture and it is vital for regeneration of that species. Many creatures/lifeforms show little evidence for this trait ie plants, etc. If you want to confine this 'love' thing of yours to notions of human love then you ask us to buy into a personable God in who's likeness man is created. Have you any logical reason to believe this to be true? Have you actually observed this within the movements of life on this planet. Atheists refuse to entertain these notions, particularly, when dressed up in the fairytale narratives of established religions. They cannot abandon reason to do this.

You have an answer to death but it is one you made up, unfortunately .It is without doubt, a lie and must be dismissed as such by all reasonable enquiry. Theism is telling lies on a grand scale,worse than the VW emissions which at least were an approximate of reality.
Debate Round No. 4
Matt532

Con

You tried to explain your opinion as to what you think the odds are. However, this can bring up Pascal"s Wager, which I don"t have time to respond to your comments on if I say something about it. You didn"t give an explanation as to why this is true, just an assumption.

Just because you don"t understand what I mean, and instead of asking questions about it, assume it is wrong, doesn"t mean that it is wrong or nonsensical.

That point that I gave on that is a second piece which is connected to the first piece I gave which argued that God was Existence. You still haven"t told me where exactly I went wrong on my first piece, as in which premise or logical dedication. The principle of cause and effect isn"t just a conjectured concept, but I claim that it is reality.

My other points are based on the first point. I can"t comment after this round, but if man isn"t good, then what is man? Evil? If man were evil, then doing good should destroy a person, which it does not, but elevates a person. If person A does good to person B, then person B will remember that person A favored them, and person B normally won"t forget this, unless person B doesn"t want to distinguish between good friends and bad friends.

"On what planet does God love man?" If God is unconditional love, then the answer is on all planets.

I"m not selling love, I"m giving it away for free. Now, I prefer reciprocity and not to be attacked. Yes, I agree that animals have that sense of caring for their young. That doesn"t disprove that God isn"t love, that the Catholic notion of God must exclude animals loving their own species, as I disagree with the idea that a Catholic notion of God is a God-of-the-gaps. In fact, for a theist, animal love is a manifestation and reflection of God.

Sure, there are gaps in our knowledge. However, I claim that God can be in both places, both inside the gap, and outside the gap. Yes, there are ideas that don"t need the notion of God in and of itself to be understood, but those ideas don"t imply a rejection of God"s existence.

If you think that love is good, then your saying that mammals love implies that mammals are good. Then, if man is a mammal, then man loves, and therefore man is good.

If you think that love is not good, then you should be fine with the judges not giving you their points, as love means giving a positive thing to another.
zeromeansnothing

Pro

Hi Matt 532,
Within any reasoned consideration of this debate, your responses will appear as a self-inflicted 'coup de grace' for your position. You, in truth offered very little except Lego Block reasoning and an awful lot of pleading. I am going to recap your contributions as they exceed any retort that I might make against them. They truly do, 'stand alone'.

This is my favourite

Matt532 states: 'First, I would like to go on an imagination exercise. Let"s imagine that certain things were true, and then ask why it matters. Say that a unicorn exists. Who cares? Not that important. Now say that some thing which gives gold if you get it exists. It seems that some people would go after it, but money doesn"t last with a person after death. Now, imagine a God who has the power to bring people to life after death, and give a life that is much more enjoyable than the present life. If this is true, then this is way better than following atheism, which doesn"t have an answer to dealing with death.'

Matt532 states: 'I think that science tries to explain existence, more so than atheism per se. Also, I believe that Catholicism and known science and reason go together, and don"t contradict each other.'

Matt532 states: ' The Bible is a theological book, not so much a historical book, not that everything in it is historically false, though up to Abraham it may be myth. The point of the Bible though is that it gets at certain claims to truths, like how man is made in the image and likeness of God. '

Let us now consider your final salvo

Matt532 states: ' I can"t comment after this round, but if man isn"t good, then what is man? Evil? If man were evil, then doing good should destroy a person, which it does not, but elevates a person. If person A does good to person B, then person B will remember that person A favored them, and person B normally won"t forget this, unless person B doesn"t want to distinguish between good friends and bad friends.'

Matt532 states: 'Sure, there are gaps in our knowledge. However, I claim that God can be in both places, both inside the gap, and outside the gap.'



I thank you Matt532 for your contributions here and I admire the sincerity of same. Do not expect any reasoned human being to buy into any of what you describe. You have stood at my door now for some time and I will not be signing up for anything. That would require a desperation and a confusion that I have not yet achieved. I doubt if you have learned anything about atheism. I assume that the Spanish learned little about the early Americans either, except the fact that they possessed gold.
Thanks and Good Luck.
Debate Round No. 5
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Matt532 1 year ago
Matt532
Hey dswd,

I think I'll be around. Just send me a message (or challenge me and I can leave a comment) when you become available if you are still interested afterwards.
Posted by dswd 1 year ago
dswd
I would be willing to debate you on that topic in general but I am pretty busy with other debates and also I think that this topic is much too broad to settle in one debate.
No votes have been placed for this debate.