Getting Started


OK, so this is a new idea here. I’ll try to get things ramped up and going for those interested over the next day or two. I’m relatively certain we’re going to see some ad hominem breakdowns and broken logic.

I will define ad hominem tightly, and it will be removed from posts. There will be no debate about it.

Broken logic, false premises and so forth are going to occur. It will not be my job to remove those or stop them. It will be your opponent’s job to shine the light of truth upon it and your job to do the same. Recognize that your perfection in logic and reason may not, probably not, change your opponent’s viewpoint. Recognize that your opponent may never waiver from his shattered argument. It’s the nature of people to cling to their conclusions. However, you may sway your readers (depending on how many dare venture into such a dry climate). Sound arguments, true premises and good behavior can and will help for those considering the subject matter. Illogical arguments, false premises and poor behavior will do just the same.

We have different skill levels in debate. We have different styles. We have different levels of formality when we write (even within our own posting). I will be the judge of whether an argument has strayed off course and is irrelevant. My failure to recognize your wisdom in matters judging your opponent will be my failure. You do not have to participate. If I botch it enough, and no one wishes to use this feature, so be it.

Precise rules and expectations will no doubt have to be streamlined as we get this thing going – and they will probably vary from thread to thread, certainly based on the consent of the presenters.

At this point, I think I’ll take suggestions for topics. If you want to have a go at a particular member, ask him or her. Ask me, and I’ll ask him or her. If you don’t, I’ll assign it when someone else offers. I’ll post suggestions as they arrive as well. If you see something you want to take a shot at, give me a yell. When we have a pairing, we’ll start something.

I’ll post some general guidelines for structure around Wednesday. If you have thoughts and suggestions, feel free to shoot me a PM.


Here are suggestions:

  1. Are social libertarians “conservatives”?

  2. Can a secularist be a “conservative”?

  3. Can an “anti-abortion” position be justified in a “libertarian” framework?

I’m not particularly interested in (1) or (2), but I think they would be fine “conservative versus conservative” debates.

However, I would be willing to take up the contra position in (3). I think it could be an interesting debate.


How about “Is the modern conservative movement defined by social conservatism?”

I find it fascinating how some of the most fiscally conservative people, such as Ron Paul, are hated by conservatives because on principle they don’t buy into the social conservate agenda of government intrusion into people’s lives, preemptive war and nation building.


There’s an issue in a science fiction story I’m currently writing that I’d be interested in hearing debated from a Christian perspective. “If humans someday manage to create a way of “saving” human conciousness after death on computers, what will it mean for the afterlife?”

Related topics:

“Should a machine capable of human intelligence be granted human rights?”
“Is non-medical genetic engineering immoral?”

Unrelated topics:

“If it’s someday possible to cheaply grow meat from animal muscle cells, should animals be given the right to life?”
“Is diversity a good thing?”

Other Christian Topics:

“Where doesn’t Matthew 5:39-42 apply?”
“How much authority is retained in the Old Testament?”
“Is the Holy Spirit the feminine aspect of God?” (The Jews believe this.)

I’ll sign up for a debate with another youth member if this forum needs a kickstart, but if not, I think I’m going to wait on it for a month or so while I get my life in order.


You should better wait. There’s no reason to risk.

I’ll debate any of the topics that Suds came up with. They sound interesting and not at all rehashed.


It’s probably better to rest. Not worth risking it.

I’d be happy to debate any of topics suggested by Suds with anyone.


I have a topic which might be interesting.

I challenge any conservative here to debate me on the topic of flag burning/defacing, and whether it should be legal or illegal.

I will take the position that it should be legal.


On Suds topics, I am willing to take the following positions if anyone would like to take the other:

“Should a machine capable of human intelligence be granted human rights?”

I am willing to take the negative position on this proposition; i.e., that capacity for “human intelligence” is neither necessary nor sufficient for the granting of rights obligations. But really, the term “human intelligence” is too broad and vague. I’d recommend a more specific question.

“Is non-medical genetic engineering immoral?”

I am willing to take the negative position on this proposition; i.e., that it is not immoral.

“If it’s someday possible to cheaply grow meat from animal muscle cells, should animals be given the right to life?”

I am willing to take the affirmative position on this proposition; i.e., that sentient animals already deserve a prima facie right to life.


This will come as a surprise, but since I believe the Constitution to be the highest law of the land, and since I think Freedom of Speech should include every American citizen, I do not believe it is Constitutional to prohibit the burning of the American Flag. However, since I believe in the Freedom of Speech, I hold the right to call these people Anti-American, Treasonous, and a problem to the betterment of American Society.


Awesome topic ideas. Someone pick one up. Your initial objection on the first, J., would probably make an interesting debate topic. My gut is to agree with you, but I’ve never spent much time with the subject. I’d really like to see a couple folks pick that one up and give me some food for thought – but I think there’s a whole debate about intelligence underlying that topic. I think that discussion might dominate the actual topic. Perhaps we could run that using a list of questions from me :smiley:

Any takers on these subjects. I’d like to see most of them discussed, especially “Should a machine capable of human intelligence be granted human rights?” Someone step up and take the pro on this one with J., please.


I’ll take the pro on the humans vs. machines one. That’s the one I wanted to debate.


My only worry is that my opposition could come to a swift end if my opponent redefines his or her position as “human consciousness” instead of “human intelligence”.

Also, I repeat my challenge for any conservative on the issue of flag burning. This seems to me to be a really classic and symbolic liberal/conservative divide. I think it’s a good topic.


You know, I haven’t really “debated” anybody here in awhile like I used to before. Could be interesting to start back at it again.

I’ll take the mantle up on this, but I must agree with J that we need to define “Human Intelligence.” If this isn’t defined at the start, then that is likely all the debate will be about rather than the question itself. Since Suds proposed the question, I would suggest she be the one to define it for us, that way we are debating within the frame she intentioned when proposing the question.


Oxford English defines “intelligence” as:

1. The faculty of understanding; intellect.

Obviously, that’s not incredibly helpful, so I’ll offer the following suggestion:

“Human Intelligence”: The ability to reason, communicate, solve problems, make plans, and comprehend/understand concepts and ideas.


Oops. Hehe…that’s what I meant. :awkward:


  1. Self-awareness
  2. Emotions
  3. Problem-solving ability of at least the average eight-year-old child (though it’d likely be super good at math, since that’s what computers do). This includes lateral thinking, which modern computers can’t do at all.

The emotions and self-awareness don’t have to be any more refined than, say, a dog, or a monkey. (Better make it a monkey, since I don’t think dogs recognize themselves in the mirror.)


I think it’s ok to burn the US flag, but you have to wrap yourself up in it first.


I think it is included implicitly with your definition, J., but to make it explicit, I’d like to keep in mind this includes the capacity to learn.

J., Maylar, respond here when you’re ready. List ground rules or objections to the arbitrary rules I’ll outline here:

Let’s model this as J. suggested originally.

Five posts of rebuttal

Do you want to impose a size limit?

Cite sources as necessary. No belittling or ad hominem attacks (which is not something I expect out of either of you in any case). I’ll create the thread when we get this settled.


I’m fine with whatever rules you impose RWNJ. Also, make sure you specify which definition we’re using on “human intelligence”.


Those are fine to start with. We’ll impose a word limit next time if it becomes necessary. Of course, Maylar, feel free to comment.

On that definition, if you’ve got Maylar’s agreement, yours is just fine.

Will open the new thread when Maylar consents.


Consented, don’t care about a size limit. I invite J. to start once the thread is created.