Lots of stuff on the blog these days -- so my apologies if this post starts yet another thread I might not finish up this decade.
Now, guys like William Lane Craig and Norman Geisler approach the Christian faith as if it was a philosophical system. That is, in my opinion, they take it beyond systematics to something that is, in fact, epistemologically modern and really strip it of a necessary, epistemological connection to the Bible.
Let me make sure I say this as precisely as possible. Geisler and Craig are Christians, they have Christian beliefs, and I am not calling them unbiblical heretics. What I am saying is that they have, with good intentions, over time, left the ground of what the Bible teaches to develop Christian-derivative reasoning for the sake of evidentialist apologetics. I strongly disagree with this approach to apologetics because it doesn't start with the Bible, but only occasionally refers to the Bible.
And I bring that up because John W. Loftus showed up at TeamPyro before we locked it up for the month of October, and I offered him ... well, this is what I said to him:
Loftus:And Loftus declined, he says, because I also said this:
I am sure you and your, um, associates have seen my blog DebateBlog in which I have had encounters with a wide variety of people with ideas about Christianity, including one pop-culture movie-making atheist.
Here's a thesis:
All flavors of atheism leave man philosophically unequipped to resolve the problem of evil.
Here's a second thesis:
The message of the Christian Scripture is the only philosophically-credible resolution of the problem of evil.
I am about to start a new job this week, but I will have almost all of my evenings free. I will be willing to defend both theses in separate exchanges with you taking the contrary position.
The blog has a normal set of rules for engagement, but for you I'd be willing to consider the following:
• 1500-word opening statements from both sides
• 150-word limit for questions
• 500-word limit for answers
• 10 Q's and 10 A's from each side
• 1000-word closer from both sides.
• a 500-word summary or analysis from you to close each exchange.
Because you're a a rational guy that Norman Geisler thinks is the cream of the crop for atheists, and because we are closing TeamPyro for a month, it's an open invite for which I happen to have a lot of time. You e-mail me to start the exchange. My only non-negotiable condition is that we must do both theses if we are to do any exchanges at all.
John:See: I read Loftus' book, and of course he goes after everything under the sun in 400 pages, but most interesting is his two chapters (dude: not one but two chapters) on the problem of evil.
You may know me better as "centuri0n".
I am reading your book.
If the only thesis statement you are willing to defend is the one from your link, I think that's a pretty narrow-band thesis -- because all it proves is that people who believe in God are not modern, uncivilized, and scientifically illiterate. It doesn't say anything about whether God exists but only what you think of those who believe it.
I think you should consider at least three things about my two theses:
 Neither of them hang on the actual existence of God. They are about the philosophical consistency of the two positions presented.
 Neither of them cause an ad-hom to be hurled at the other side. So you don't turn out to be "uncivilized" if you hold your position after we're done: your position is either credible or not credible, as would be mine based on the outcome of each exchange.
 These theses reposition your claim to a place where it can actually affirm something rather than merely deny my position. That is, rather than put you in the impossible place of proving the non-existence of something, it gives you the opportunity to show a genuine strength of your position -- by facing the foundational existential issue of suffering.
The reason why I would like to debate you personally is that I think that if you live up to your press -- or the endorsements you have presented -- you have a chance of representing yourself better than most atheists on the internet can. However, I have encountered you at Triablogue, and I have a suspicion that you cannot sustain 10 questions about your beliefs before you present something which will be a double standard against Christian beliefs in favor of atheist belief. In 20 questions, I think you will become completely incoherent.
So the offer is open. Please e-mail me if you are interested. I'm offering to defend the theses rather than ask you to defend anything, so you should have a very distinct advantage.
I think his approach to that particular issue relies almost completely on accepting the Geisler/Craig modernist evidentialist apologetic as the best representation of theistic theonomy, and frankly ignores the Bible in favor of the rationalizations of Christians.
So what I am going to do is take some time this October and think about the problem of evil -- first from the place where it demonstrates a significant problem for agnosticism and atheism (not what you think, btw), and then from the place where the Bible actually speaks about this problem -- and why we should care.
Stay tuned. And keep the TV off because you need that 20 hours a week back to have a decent quality of life.