The Instigator
Sensei
Pro (for)
Losing
4 Points
The Contender
RoyLatham
Con (against)
Winning
61 Points

The validity of the theory of special relativity and E=mc2 holds the key to evolution's being false

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 13 votes the winner is...
RoyLatham
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/26/2011 Category: Science
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,043 times Debate No: 14522
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (45)
Votes (13)

 

Sensei

Pro

Albert Einstein's theory of special relativity generalizes Galileo's principle of relativity—that all uniform motion is relative, and that there is no absolute and well-defined state of rest (no privileged reference frames)—from mechanics to all the laws of physics, including both the laws of mechanics and of electrodynamics, whatever they may be. Special relativity incorporates the principle that the speed of light is the same for all inertial observers regardless of the state of motion of the source. I say that the speed of light is not even a constant and because of this theoretical physicists are going nowhere studying it. It is common knowledge that the speed of light changes when it enters a dense material, causing refraction. So if light slows down then how can it be a constant? This is a key argument because evolutionists argue that the stars, which are believed to be millions of light years away (that is a debate for another time), took millions of years for their light to reach earth. In the Sunday Times from UK, the article "Eureka! Scientists Break Speed of Light" by Jonathan Leake, Science Editor, June 4, 2000 United States, states,
"SCIENTISTS claim they have broken the ultimate speed barrier: the speed of light. In research carried out in the United States, particle physicists have shown that light pulses can be accelerated to up to 300 times their normal velocity of 186,000 miles per second."
So if the speed of light is broken, how can we measure stars whose light's speed is not a constant?
RoyLatham

Con

I thank Pro for modifying his challenge to make a more interesting debate.

Pro never states why he believes that the theory of evolution would be invalidated if the speed of light is proved not constant. The implication he makes is that the only way the age of the universe is known is by assuming the speed of light to be constant, so if the speed of light were not constant then the earth might be too young for evolution to have taken place. There are several errors in Pro's argument:
  1. The age of the universe is determined independently of the speed of light
  2. The speed of light is in fact constant
  3. Large uncertainties in the speed of light still would make the universe old enough
  4. Evolution is verified to have occurred using the fossil record and DNA
1. The Age of the Universe is Determined Independently

A Wikipedia article describes how estimates of the age of the universe are cross-checked.

"The estimated age of the universe is 13.75 ± 0.17 billion years,[1] the time since the Big Bang. The uncertainty range has been obtained by the agreement of a number of scientific research projects. These projects included microwave background radiation measurements by Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe and other probes, and more ways to measure the expansion of the universe. Background radiation measurements give the cooling time of the universe since the Big Bang. Expansion of the universe measurements give accurate data to calculate the age of the universe."
http://en.wikipedia.org...

Another check is to date objects in the universe:

"Since the universe must be at least as old as the oldest thing in it, there are a number of observations which put a lower limit on the age of the universe; these include the temperature of the coolest white dwarfs, which gradually cool as they age, and the dimmest turnoff point of main sequence stars in clusters (lower-mass stars spend a greater amount of time on the main sequence, so the lowest-mass stars that have evolved off of the main sequence set a minimum age). On 23 April 2009 a gamma-ray burst was detected which was later confirmed at being over 13 billion years old."

Still another independent check is with the decay of uranium 238, totally independent of the speed of light The uranium dating is 12.5 billion plus or minus three billion. http://physicsworld.com...

2. The speed of light is in fact constant

Newtonian mechanics determined that force equals mass times acceleration, and so forth. So when Special Relativity overthrew Newtonian mechanics, was it no longer useful to say that force equals mass times acceleration? No, Newtonian mechanics were as useful as ever. The reason Newton was preserved is than relativistic effects are only observed a speeds approaching the speed of light, which is to say under circumstance where Newton's laws had never been applied. Newton's laws failed where the failure could not have been observed, and for that reason the law had endured up to that point.

The new claim about the speed of light is that it may be exceeded under very peculiar circumstances. The new theory does affect the speed of light being a known constant under circumstances such as traveling from the stars. A wikipedia article http://en.wikipedia.org... explains apparent faster-than-light phenomena. The experiment Pro cites is one of these. http://arstechnica.com...

One example is to imagine a galaxy size pair of scissors. As the blades close, a point is defined by where they cross. That point can move faster than the speed of light, because it is a coordinate system, not an object. It cannot transmit any information, such as the distance to an object.

Light slows down in media because the photons are absorbed and re-emitted by the atoms of the media. The claim of constant maximum velocity is only for a vacuum. The speed of light was first measured in 1676 using eclipses of the moons of Jupiter as a distant clock. http://galileoandeinstein.physics.virginia.edu... Since then there have been many verifications of the constant speed of light in a vacuum. The distance to stars can also be measured by triangulation, with the angle to the star measured in different places on the earth's orbit.

there is also very good evidence that the fundamental constants of the universe have not changed over time. http://www.weburbia.com...

3. Large uncertainties in the speed of light still would make the universe old enough

If the speed of light varied due to completely unexpected media with a high refractive index, the error would not upset evolution. What matters for evolution is the age of the earth, not the age of the universe. The earth is dated at 4.54 billion years old using multiple radiometric methods. It is confirmed by cosmic ray track methods. http://en.wikipedia.org... Interestingly, the rate of evolution is used to estimate the age of the earth as over three billion years.

4. Evolution is verified to have occurred using the fossil record and DNA

Suppose for the sake of argument that there were no estimates of the age of the earth or the universe. The theory of evolution is nonetheless verified by evidence of fossils and the mis-named "junk DNA." DNA analysis shows, for example, that whales are most closely to hippos and most distantly related to camels. http://www.world-science.net... Junk DNA provides valuable information on evolutionary pathways. http://www.world-science.net...

In other words, if some problem were discovered with the accuracy of dating the age of the earth or the age of the universe, the validity of evolution is not likely to be overthrown as a consequence. Scientists would attempt to figure out how conflicting data could fit within laws of nature.

-----------------------

It is logically possible that the earth with all it's creatures was created miraculously 5000 years ago. For that matter, it might have been created last week, with all the memories and artefact's of history. I cannot disprove such conjectures. However, scientific explanations, those excluding miracles, have multiple cross-checks by different methods. The age of the universe, the age of the universe, that the speed of light in vacuum is constant are well-established.

The resolution is negated.

Debate Round No. 1
Sensei

Pro

I would like to accept my opponent's truth in saying that the speed of light from the stars is in fact constant. However, there are many thoughts that must be taken into consideration when arguing this point. His first to points are correct: in a vacuum the speed of light is a constant and hence does not matter when dating the universe using the stars. But there are other areas that do not make since in this argument.

1. The angle of the earth's orbit is not precise enough to measure stars
2. Fossils and DNA do not prove that animals are related.
3. Uranium dating does not prove the age of stars.
4. His closing statement under Fossils and DNA(but I will get to that later)

1. The angle of the earth's orbit is not precise enough to measure stars.

To understand this, let's establish how to tell the distance to stars.

To do parallax, one needs to measure to position of a star with respect to background stars at an interval of 6 months. (because 6 months is the largest distance you will get between two positions of the Earth on its orbit around the Sun). Then the parallax is the angle made by the two positions measured for the star you are interested in. These angles are very small, only small fractions of degrees in the sky, much less that you can resolve with your eye.

http://curious.astro.cornell.edu...

So, the only way to measure the distance is to measure the angle, essentially making an isosceles triangle. This poses two problems, the first being how does a scientist know when they are exactly on the other side of the orbit? I mean, if it is such an exact science, if they are off by just a couple hundred miles, then they could be off by several million years. The second problem is this: the angles are to big to measure.

The most distant observation points available to an earth bound observer are the positions of the earth in solar orbit six months apart, say June and December. This would create a triangle of 186,000,000 miles, which equals only 16 light minutes. There are 525,948 minutes in a year. Even if the nearest star were only one light year away (and it isn't), the angle at the third point measures .017 degrees. In simpler terms, a triangle like this would be the same angle two surveyors would see if they were standing sixteen inches apart and focusing on a third point 525,948 inches or 8.24 miles away. If they stayed 16 inches apart and focused on a dot 824 miles away, they would have the same angle as an astronomer measuring a point 100 light years away. A point 5 million light years away is impossible to figure with trigonometry. The stars may be that far away but modern man has no way of measuring those great distances. No one can state definitively the distance to the stars.

For a more complex and slightly different answer to the star light question, see the book "Starlight and Time" by Russel Humphry available from http://www.icr.org...

2. Fossils and DNA do not prove that animals are related.

First, what are the odds of life being able to evolve?

"The answer is .5 to the 12 millionth power. Which could also be stated as 10 to the 3 million 600'th power (1 with 3,600,000 zeroes after it). These are the same odds that E Coli developed 12,000,000 right-handed nucleotides by chance without one left handed nucleotide being added. The building blocks of DNA and proteins are molecules, which can exist, in both right and left-handed forms. This is called "chirality." The best result that experiments have shown has been a 3/7 chance. Meaning; from one nucleotide to the next there is a 3/7 chance that it will be the same hand as the previous nucleotide."

http://www.unsolvedmysteries.com...

The chance of getting life is almost nil. Now to answer the dispute over the DNA. Well, it is true that humans are 98% like apes, but our DNA is also similar to sheep and pigs. We also share 93% with cauliflower. We share 80% with bananas. Just one percent difference is a huge area to make up for. But the common DNA does not necessarily prove that the animals come from a common ancestor: it proves they come from a common designer. People do not paint pictures then say that it was a wonderful chance coincidence that it looked good. So then life and creatures, human or not, could not have happened by chance. It took an intelligent Designer to make us, who are much more complex than any picture or computer.

3. Uranium dating does not prove the age of stars.
In the article that Con cited, the journalist said that uranium dating is 'stellar carbon dating'. So let's talk about the validity of carbon dating. The way that carbon dating works is stated very decently on http://www.allaboutarchaeology.org...:

"Since creatures incorporate carbon-12 and carbon-14 into their bodies at about the same ratio as it occurs in the atmosphere during their lifetimes, by looking at the ratio in the atmosphere today and by comparing it to the ratio as it is found in the specimen we are examining, we are able to determine when the specimen stopped consuming more carbon-14 (i.e.. when it died). This is, of course, assuming that we know how long it takes for carbon-14 to decay and that we know that the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-14 in the atmosphere today is about the same as if was during the creature's lifetime. If either assumption is wrong carbon-14 dating doesn't work."

I'm sorry, but I thought that the way the scientific method was supposed to work was that a person 1) observes,
2)hypothesizes, and 3)experiment. Not in this order necessarily, but these three are necessary. So how can an assumption count as science. Also, nobody knows how much was in the fossil to begin with. So that is like me taking a candle, lighting it, letting it sit, then asking you to come in and tell me how long it has been burning. Sure, you might be able to guess at the age, maybe see how fast it is burning, but you have know idea if I disturbed it at all, maybe blew on it to make it burn faster. This is the same idea with carbon dating and, hence, uranium dating. In true science, a person cannot assume anything.

4. His closing statement under Fossils and DNA

Finally, the closing remark was, "In other words, if some problem were discovered with the accuracy of dating the age of the earth or the age of the universe, the validity of evolution is not likely to be overthrown as a consequence. Scientists would attempt to figure out how conflicting data could fit within laws of nature." Wait a minute!! Scientists would attempt to figure out how CONFLICTING data COULD FIT within laws of nature?!?!? So scientist can't change the law, so they will try to figure out how to make it fit with their theory of evolution?? This is not true science, this is a mockery of science. I am not at all saying that evolution should not be taught and that creation should replace it. All I am saying is that true facts should be presented from an unbiased standpoint and left up to the individual to decide. This is true science and how life ought to work.

In closing, I would like to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed this debate. I am glad to have had the chance to argue this point and am willing to take the debate between evolution and creation with a challenge on its effects on any area of life. I believe that this topic is the most important one of all because it shapes a person's world view.
Just think about this. If evolution is true, human life can go on anyway we want: suicide is ok because there is no wrong, murder is alright because there is no wrong, sex outside marriage is alright because there is no wrong, stealing is allowable because there is no wrong, lying is ok because there is no wrong, euthanasia. Do you really want to defend all this?
Now if there is a God, we better get busy finding out who He is and what He wants? This is His universe and He can judge it and destroy it if He wants. But that also means that there is something beyond us.
RoyLatham

Con

1. The age of the universe is determined independently of the speed of light

I cited two ways to determine the age of the universe, neither of which depend upon knowing the speed of light: the level of microwave background radiation and measurement of expansion of the universe. I referenced descriptions of he methods. Pro had no rebuttal, Therefore the universe is old enough for evolution to have occurred and the resolution fails.

The minimum age is also confirmed independently the coolest temperature of white dwarfs and turnoff point of main sequence stars. These establish the age as over 13 billion years. Pro had no rebuttal.

The fifth method I cited was decay of U-238. U-238 dating is radiometric, in that it depends upon the decay rate of isotopes. Pro claims that U-238 dating is like carbon dating and requires knowledge of the original amounts of the isotope. That's incorrect. U-238 dating, like argon-argon dating, does not depend on knowing the initial amount. http://www.astro.ucla.edu... If an isotope A decays to B with half-life Ha and B hen decays to C with half-life Hb, then the ration of the quantities of B to C determines the age. We never needed to know how much A was in the sample. Pro's rebuttal claim is therefore false.

Incidentally, most radiometric methods depend upon there being gaseous decay products. When the rock is molten, the gas is driven off, so the amount is zero. The dating then runs from the time the rock solidified. There are about 20 independent radiometric dating methods. They cross-check each other. Carbon dating is an exception to the genera methodology.

Pro seems to think the assumptions in radiometric dating are not checked. They are cross-checked against a dozen or so non-radiometric methods. I cited four independent cross-checks for U-238 dating of the universe. Carbon dating is checked by sediment layers, coral growth, ice cores, dendrochronology, efflourescence, and radiometry based upon other isotopes. Those are the experiments that verify the science.

2. The speed of light is in fact constant

Pro claimed that star angles could not possibly be measured accurately enough to compute the distance to them. He is saying, in effect, "I just cannot believe they can do that." But they can. the method is described and the results "The parallax technique works for stars out to a distance of several thousand light-years. (ly). The satellite Hipparchus, launched in 1997, has been used for many of these measurements. Many thousands of stars fall within parallax range, including Arcturus (37 ly), Sirius (8.6 ly), and Spica (220 ly)." http://www.christiananswers.net... The method uses very distant stars as a background reference. Keep in mind, we are discussing cross-checks for the speed of light being constant in the vacuum of space.

I also referenced the method of calculating eclipses of the moons of Jupiter. Pro had no rebuttal to that.

3. Large uncertainties in the speed of light still would make the universe old enough

I presented arguments and data that the earth is old enough for evolution, even if the methods of determine the age of the universe were some how in error. Pro had no rebuttal beyond blanket denial.

4. Evolution is verified to have occurred using the fossil record and DNA

Pro references a classic false calculation of the probability of getting the DNA sequence of a simple life form. The calculation assumes that nucleotides are added one at a time to the chain, and that the ultimate long sequence depends upon getting them all in the right order sequentially. That is not remotely descriptive of how evolution works. The evolutionary process starts with single nucleotide and works to very short chains by mutations. If a mutation decreases the chance of survival, then that mutation will be discarded in favor of a different direction.

Viruses are complex molecular sequences, replicating by not complex enough to be deemed life. Yet they evolve, and every year we need a new flu vaccine to counter the latest evolved version. A calculation done like the one Pro referenced could "prove" that we could not possibly need a new vaccine every year. The calculation is bogus.

Pro made no rebuttal of the probability calculations I did related to DNA and evolution, he just presented his conclusion that it couldn't be. Pro is using what is called "God the Trickster" arguments. The idea is that God has planted all sort of clues that make sense mathematically and scientifically, but that they do not really tell what actually happened. I acknowledged at the outset that if miracles are allowed, then I cannot disprove the earth being created last week. The miracle could include all our memories and artifacts of the past. My rebuttal is valid within the realm of science, which is all that can be debated.

Pro proclaims " So scientist can't change the law, so they will try to figure out how to make it fit with their theory of evolution??" Scientists work from data, if, hypothetically, new data is found about the age of the universe that doesn't fit with the data on evolution, then some new theory must be developed to explain the data that supports the current theory. The new data on the age of the universe woud be called into question as well as the theory of evolution. Possibly no explanation of the conflicting data is to be found, in which case conflicting theories are left unresolved. Understand that just about every scientist in the world is currently working on an unsolved problem.

Scientific problems stay unsolved until a scientific solution is found. Religions work under no constraint to leave problems unsolved. A miracle believed as an act of faith can "explain" anything to the satisfaction of the believer. There are no cross-checks because faith always wins. However, religious explanations are not scientific ones. God the Trickster cannot be disproved.

Personally, I wonder why some, not all, religious people believe that God isnot smart enough to accomplish His intent within the bounds of understandable laws of nature, and rather is forced to intervene to set things right. But I have no expertise in such thinking.

-------------------------------------

Thanks to Pro for the debate. I like to do these from time to time. I don't think there is a chance that religious true believers will be convinced by scientific arguments. Nonetheless, it is useful for many others to understand the nature of the controversies.

Debate Round No. 2
45 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
Supernatural is typically defined as that which is not natural, i.e., not possible to verify empirically but claims non-concept existence.
Posted by Sensei 6 years ago
Sensei
Cliff, let's finish our debate and see where we end up after that. The whole idea that the supernatural is undefinable is the whole idea of being "supernatural". Natural is completely definable and not at all outside the laws of physics. Supernatural is not inside these laws. So we cannot propose anything to subscribe it to the supernatural. All we can do is see what is and what has been done.
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
Gavin, I have not actually heard one, not one argument against evolution by a creationist which was actually contending the theory of evolution. Evolutionary theory, the current synthesis, simply states that the frequency or ratio of inherited traits in a population changes over time. That is immediately observationally true and you would need to be completely ignorant or exceptionally dim to note that does not happen.

What tends to be the case is they contest one of the predictions of evolutionary theory such as common descent or they go off on a tangent like Hovind and attack abiogenesis, which is actually a fairly weak claim as at this stage because we have only a varied number of not well supported ideas such as the RNA-world hypothesis and we can not really say for certain which one of the simpler pre-DNA molecules likely formed the first self-replicating systems.

Of course this is where they also admit to micro-evolution and then contest macro-evolution by manufacture of the term kind which is the micro-macro barrier, but of course kind can not be defined except to note it is that barrier and the original ARK animal (which somehow escaped the DNA bottleneck problem for low populations).

Yes it is all nonsense, and the arguments would be similar to claiming that because there is contention between loop quantum gravity and string theory to unify quantum and relativity theories, science can not explain gravity and thus gravity is obviously the divine breath of God. Well yes it could be, but it could just as easily be the farts of Lucifer, if you are going to invoke supernatural and non-falsifiable causes then there is no end to what can be proposed.
Posted by gavin.ogden 6 years ago
gavin.ogden
Fair enough. We agree that evolution is not really a debate at this point in time. All the evidence points to it in one way or another. There is an absolute timeframe, as well as an absolute biological connection between all living species. To deny this, is to deny the very fabric of life, and still does not prove any intelligent process. We should feel lucky that we were born in such a time, where we can propagate the species, instead of debating whether or not a woman spontaneously generated from a man's rib.
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
The most disappointing thing for me is that there are actual scientists such as Behe who clearly are such in name only. His basic argument for irreducible complexity not only has been falsified in theory and experiment but completely ignores that evolution does not proceed by linear progression or replacement but includes duplication and recombination.
Posted by gavin.ogden 6 years ago
gavin.ogden
It seems like we are on the same page, here. I took biology, oceanography, and physics course all the way through school, because so many of life;s questions are answered so simply. It is truly a reward to be able to see the world for what it is. I can appreciate looking up at the stars, and even other moons and planets. Heck, I don't even need a telescope. Understanding how we have come into existence is so much more rewarding than just believing in fairy tales our whole lives. Human beings are an exceptional species, and when I see some that are clearly inferior, in terms of brain power and personal acceptance, it does make me sad. I don't feel pity for the individual, but I do feel pity for the fact that these people believe that they should have equal say in what is taught in schools. These people are parasites to the advancement of the species, and should be ridiculed and mocked mercilessly. They should hide in shame because they are an abomination to our species. Their brains are not ready for the progression, and they simply must be left behind.
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
I did all my bio labs at 7-10 PM, and as bio tends to have the highest percentage of non-science students, I remember a lot of lab partners that generated a high frequency of dur moments, I was just laughing while imagining you raging at some idjit, I thought it more than once - usually with stronger language.

"It's frustrating to know that there is a large portion of our population that is completely and willfully ignorant to knowledge that we achieved over 150 years ago."

Frustrating, sad and quite frankly prone to immense pity. My all time favorite is the "Have you ever seen a dog give birth to a cat? Ha, then evolution is false!" Who is teaching that evolutionary theory says that dogs should give birth to cats when they are different species and can not even breed. If I saw a dog give birth to a cat I would conclude that some geneticist had far too much time on his hands.

My second favorite is that evolution has been falsified, but all the evidence is suppressed by the "evolutionists" who control all reporting media, scientific journals, educational institutions and courts. God is more likely to exist before that is possible.
Posted by gavin.ogden 6 years ago
gavin.ogden
Hovind and Massimo are quacks, and liars.
Posted by gavin.ogden 6 years ago
gavin.ogden
@Cliff
Although, I am sure you are mocking me, you make my point very clear. This guy's arguments can be invalidated by intro-bio. It is EASY stuff to understand, and as you move further into the sciences, you can see it in great detail. I'm not an eloquent speaker, and I don't like to waste time explaining things that should have been taught by age 12, or so. It's frustrating to know that there is a large portion of our population that is completely and willfully ignorant to knowledge that we achieved over 150 years ago. It was tested and re-tested, and put up against all comers, and it proved true, over and over. I respect a person to certain point, but as soon as they try to delude me, their own mind, or anyone else, I must admit that I get offended. That is all...
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
"We can see how a strand of DNA is made, you half wit."

Gavin, you missed your calling, you should definitely be teaching intro-bio.

"Hence, those who believe the Bible also believe DNA was created from rock."

This argument almost word for word Hovind and Massimo :

Massimo responds exactly the same to Hovind, great minds Roy.
13 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by Man-is-good 5 years ago
Man-is-good
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro made an array of mistakes that unfortunately led to--to put it humorously--the demolition of his case. In addition to failing to link the theory of special relativity and E=mc^2 to evolution, he makes almost no-rebuttals to numerous points, even conceding to Con's points that the speed of light is constant and the universe's age can be determined regardless of such but makes classic fallacies, miscalcuations, and o on while presenting his rebuttal, even drawing on "God the Trickster" as well
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con's arguments were far more logical with plenty of backup. He not only proves that the speed of light is constant but also that the age of the Universe is determined independently of the speed of light. Pro drops some of his initial arguments and argues without proof that the probability of evolution is low. Overall, not even close.
Vote Placed by resolutionsmasher 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: see comments
Vote Placed by XimenBao 6 years ago
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Vote Placed by gavin.ogden 6 years ago
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Vote Placed by Atheism 6 years ago
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