Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why I'm Not Debating Dovid Kornreich

Chaim Gross and Sam expressed disappointment that I said I won't debate Dovid Kornreich upon receiving the latter's offer. Sam said it's because I'm afraid and Gross said that my debate challenge applied to "anyone but the person who offered to actually debate you..."

I'm afraid these individuals are incorrect as to why I'm not debating Kornreich. I received two offers to debate the divinity of the Torah and opted to reject Kornreich's offer. The reason I didn't want to mention this on the blog is that I didn't want other possible opponents to be dissuaded by the fact that I had a plausible offer on the table (I would've taken most other offers sans Kornreich above that one though. Kornreich I don't want to debate because I think most people have already made up their minds about his ideas and think he's either nuts or brilliant. This fellow originally didn't want to discuss what we're now arranging.). As for my future opponent, we are working out arrangements. In the event that those arrangements fail, I'll debate Kornreich. I apologize if I did not handle the situation delicately enough. Still, unless Chaim Gross and Sam are of the view that a kofer like me does not deserve any respect whatsoever, they owe me an apology. But I long ago stopped expecting people to apologize for anything, even at this time of year.


  1. How is this time of year any different for a non-believer?

  2. It's not. But for the believer -- i.e. most of my close and semi-close acquaintences -- it's supposed to be a time of reflection and repentance.

  3. Baruch, I still don't see the point towards any debate. What are you going to discuss?
    L'mashal, I cannot prove to you on scientific or philosophical grounds that God exists. By the same token, you can't prove that He doesn't to me.
    How about Torah MiSinai? Same thing.
    How about the authenticity of the Oral Law? Same thing.
    So what's the point? You're lost your faith. I get that and I feel bad for you even if you don't feel bad for you but there's no point to these kinds of discussions. They lead nowhere.

  4. How about Torah MiSinai? Same thing.
    Hey, God can't be proven to exist...I'm with you on that count! But a lot of people disagree with us. If people said, "We feel it's true" or "we intuit it's true," then we'd just be dealing with a faith-based claim and we could discuss the value (or lack thereof) of faith. But what I'm hearing from a lot of people is that Judaism's different than other religions, that it is mandatory to believe precisely because it is so logical.

  5. You're confusing two separate issues - the religious vs non-religious as opposed to the our religion vs yours.
    In the former, there is no place to debate. You cannot prove to me God doesn't exist. I have faith that He does. Therefore there is no ground for debate.
    When it comes to my religion vs theirs, it's completely different. If I'm going to debate a Chrisian or Muslim, we both start out agreeing that God exists, and that He gave the Jewish people the Torah at Sinai. The debate is what came next? Did He incarnate Himself into a human body? Debate. Did He speak to Mohammed and ask him to create a new religion? Debate.
    That's why skeptics and atheists always zero in on the Kuzari argument and use its "weakness" to disprove Jewish authenticity claims. But Rabbi Yehudah HaLevi wasn't debating an atheist. He was debate a Chrisian and Muslim as to which religion has the authentic tradition, given that one of the three did.

  6. Baruch, don't listen to Garnel, I would love to hear a debate between you and a believing Jew. I have a feeling it would be very interesting.

    I for one love watching all sorts of intellectual debates as many of them I often learn from, from both sides. I also think they are entertaining.

    I can not think of a single debate I watched/read where either of the opposing speakers involved changed their views. If that was the purpose of a debate then there would never be any debate on anything. The point is for the listeners/readers to glean information and hear arguments they may have not heard before and for them to help form opinions on subjects. They are in fact quite helpful for the audience and I would love to see it.

  7. Baruch, don't listn to SR.

    Listen, here's another point you're missing. In order to have a debate, there has to be some point of agreement between you and your opponents. For example, debating whether a laissez faire or command economy is a better method for ensuring the general enrichment of society. Both sides must agree there is such a thing as a marketplace, that it's legitimate but not mandatory for government to play a role manipulating that marketplace and that making everyone in society richer is a good thing. Then you debate the best way to do it.
    Tell me, what will you debate with a believer? I've already noted you can't prove God doesn't exist. Given that, there are NO points of agreement between you and your opponent. As a result, there's nothing to debate.

  8. AAAH! The angel and devil in my head! :P

  9. This is the first time I have read that some people think I've written something brilliant.
    I'm trying to be critical of the media so please excuse me if I'm a little skeptical about that claim...
    I would guess you think my stuff is just nuts so I appreciate your efforts at being balanced.

  10. I'm waiting to see if Pelta will indeed stick to his word (in the above post) and debate Kornreich if his other tentative debating partner doesn't come through.

  11. Skeptiticher,
    You're a godsend :P

    The guy's last message to me read as follows: "l8er." So it's Sukkos and I'm gonna let him respond when he feels like it. If he doesn't respond a week after Sukkos and I don't have any other offers at that time, I'll debate Kornreich.

    But Sam, I debated Dovid Kornreich for months on end back when I had a lot of spare time, particularly from when I'd left Ohr Somayach early to before college started. I'd like to try something new, some green eggs and ham, if you will. You can understand that, can't you Sam?

  12. What I can't understand is why a non-believer is still referring to his timelines based upon events in the Jewish calendar such as "Sukkos"