November 19, 2008
I must say from the start that I have a fond memory of my most recent debate with Dr. James White. Certainly I find James to be a generous person, as demonstrated in his lavish gifts to me of valuable Christian literature. I hope that these encounters and the exchanges to follow will continue to foster a friendly relationship between us despite our obvious theological differences.
One of the disappointing features of these debates is the one-sided nature of the aftermath. During the debate itself every effort is made to ensure balance in the presentation of the views from the two sides. Equal time is allotted to the two speakers, and the moderator maintains a neutral position. But after the debate some parties begin to post on the web one-sided commentary and selected materials from the debate with the aim of promoting one side only. I would expect that some serious but unbiased analysis will follow these debates.
My case in point is that James has written an article in which he argues a central point that I feel I had painstakingly deconstructed during the final cross-examination and summarized in my closing remarks. As if to reclaim the deconstructed position, James has posted a portion of the debate in which he had explained his position. To this he has appended his now written response to my deconstruction of that position. But nowhere in his post do I find a careful analysis of what I actually said. He might have done well to post the clips of my comments along with his own and invite me to write a commentary which will be posted along with his. This would reflect true balance—the sort which we tried to maintain in the debate itself.
I realise that this ideal is difficult to maintain. We will each in our own circles find it necessary to offer some comments on how things went. But to continue as if one is offering a final rebuttal after the debate is over strikes me as being oblivious to the need for fairness.
I am sure that James does not mean to be unfair in his treatment of the debate materials. Perhaps this was only an oversight driven by the urge to answer a point he feels he could answer better now in hindsight. But James and I spoke for three hours that night in the double-debate. It is time to hear from others. James has, however, broken the needed silence, and I feel that my response to follow may help him understand the point I made about consistency, double standards, and the wearing various thinking hats.