The Lowder-Fernandes Debate
Naturalism vs. Theism
Where Does the Evidence Point?
On September 26, 1999 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Jeffery Jay Lowder, President of Internet Infidels, Inc., and Phil Fernandes, President of the Institute of Biblical Defense, discussed the following important issues:
- Why does the universe exist? Where did it come from?
- What is the origin of living things?
- Is morality objective? What can morality tell us about the existence of God?
- Is there a meaning of life?
- Is there an afterlife?
- Is evil evidence against the existence of God?
- Why is God silent in the face of tragedies?
- Why are there so many different religions in the world?
- Why isn't there better evidence for the existence of God?
The debate was skillfully moderated by Dr. Doug Jesseph, Professor of Philosophy, North Carolina State University.
This Debate Video is Temporarily Out-of-Stock
Praise for the Lowder-Fernandes Debate:
"I thought [Lowder] did a terrific job. I'm not as impressed as [he is] by [some of his arguments], but I thought [he] presented them very well. ... [Lowder's] rebuttals were masterful. [His] opponent never knew what had hit him. ... Throughout, [Lowder was] clear, spoke right to the point, and [was] right on top of the argument throughout the debate."
"Wonderful debate! Fernandes articulated many informed and powerful arguments for theism . . . and Lowder methodically dismantled them all. Fernandes put up a cordial and conversant fight, but only managed to stab at half of Lowder's well-reasoned arguments for naturalism, which Lowder defended deftly and equally cordially. After watching this event, no one will be able to say that naturalism has no case -- or that it lacks a good defender."
-- Wes Morriston, Christian and Professor of Philosophy, University of Colorado at Boulder
-- Dan Barker, Public Relations Director, Freedom From Religion Foundation
"The Lowder-Fernandes debate is one the most decisive victories for naturalism to be caught on tape. Through his clear and eloquent opening presentation, and his virtually flawless rejoinders to Fernandes' misunderstandings and appeals to authority, Jeffery Jay Lowder demonstrates how multiple lines of evidence combine to form a powerful cumulative case for naturalism over theism. Lowder is both a gifted thinker and a talented speaker, and I hope for many more debates to come."
-- Mark I. Vuletic, doctoral candidate in philosophy at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
"Jeffery Jay Lowder and Dr. Phil Fernandes set a high standard for debates between theists and non-theists. The debaters presented arguments commmanding the respect of scholars but accessible to the layman, engaging the concern felt by people on both sides of the question of God's existence. Equally important, each treated his opponent with consummate courtesy, creating an atmosphere of genuine cordiality not only between themselves, but with the audience."
-- Barbara Forrest, Professor of Philosophy, Southeastern Lousiana University
"I think the debate video is wonderful! Any student or group planning a debate should watch this, even if the topic of their debate is not the same. It was a high quality video and my roommate (a doubting Catholic) was deeply impressed as well. While the debate does seem to go in the favor of the naturalists, the debate itself was very fair and organized. I was very impressed with the way the video captured the feel of the debate itself!"
-- Melissa Anne Robinson, freshman, Winthrop University
"This excellent debate between two knowledgable proponents of their respective view points should be required viewing for anyone who wishes to defend nonbelief in a public forum. Lowder combines logical arguments and rhetorical skills in a most impressive way that will delight naturalists and challenge theists."
--Michael Martin, author of Atheism: A Philosophical Justification
"Lowder presented the naturalist position exceptionally well. The debate was very effective and rich in content. One of the finest debates I've attended."
--Amanda Chesworth, Executive Director, Campus Freethought Alliance
"Lowder did a superlative job. I was amazed at the way he kept separate issues distinct and had instant command of all relevant data! The movement simply must contrive for Lowder to be among the vanguard of its leaders in the next generation."
--Robert M. Price, editor, The Journal of Higher Criticism, and author, Beyond Born Again: Towards Evangelical Maturity
"Lowder's performance was great. I look forward to Lowder becoming a major spokesman for atheism."
--Victor J. Stenger, Professor of Physics, University of Hawaii, and author of The Unconscious Quantum: Metaphysics in Modern Physics and Cosmology
"The Lowder-Fernandes debate is a pleasure to watch. Jeff Lowder's defense of naturalism is calm, confident, and exceedingly well-prepared, and he skillfully skewers the arguments of his opponent. I anxiously anticipate a future debate between Lowder and William Lane Craig."
-- Jim Lippard, M.A. in Philosophy (University of Arizona)
"I attended this debate. It is remarkably varied and complete with regard to the many different arguments presented on both sides. I recommend it highly to anyone interested in acquiring both evidence for and against the existence of God."
-- Theodore Drange, Professor of Philosophy, West Virginia University, and author, Nonbelief and Evil
"For anyone interested in a vigorous debate on the topic of naturalism vs. theism, I can highly recommend this video. Lowder and Fernandes ably show how one can address highly technical issues in a manner understandable to the general public. In addition, their civility and obviously respect for each other helps to complement their unyielding advocacy of their positions."
--Timothy J. Madigan, PhD, Chair of the Editorial Board, Free Inquiry Magazine
"Jeffery Lowder presented a far more plausible case for his position and explained his arguments better than his opponent. Many of Phil Fernandes' 'arguments' were not arguments at all but merely assertions. Fernandes also relied too heavily on the far from conclusive 'First Cause' cosmological argument. Overall Lowder presented a better case because the existence of animal suffering and other points are inconsistent with Christian theism but exactly what one would expect if naturalism were true. Lowder made it clear that on the basis of empirical evidence naturalism has far better evidential warrant than Christian theism. By contrast, Fernandes made a case for Christian theism based on obscure philosophical arguments whose conclusions are only binding if one already accepts his dubious assumptions."
--Keith Augustine, philosophy graduate student at the University of Maryland