Sean McDowell debates James Corbett on whether morality is grounded by atheism

Brian Auten posted the audio a few milliseconds after the debate concluded!

Here is the MP3 file.

Sean’s case is similar to the one I make, but he only has 3 minimal requirements for morality.

First, he explains the difference between objective and subjective truth claims, and points out that statements of a moral nature are meaningless unless morality is objective. Then he states 3 things that are needed in order to ground objective morality.

  1. an objective moral standard
  2. free will
  3. objective moral value of humans

The question of the foundations of morality is without a doubt the easiest issue for beginning apologists to discuss with their neighbor. If you’re new, then you need to at least listen to his opening speech. He’s an excellent speaker, and his rebuttals are very, very smooth. The citations of atheist philosophers like Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, e.g. – to show that “religious” wars had nothing to do with religion, really hurt his opponent. He seems to cite prominent atheists like Thomas Nagel, Richard Taylor, Michael Shermer, etc., constantly in order to get support for his assertions. That took preparation. I can’t believe that McDowell is this calm in a debate situation.

When I listen to Frank Turek, he seems to struggle in his rebuttals. McDowell sounds like he foreknew exactly what his opponent would say and pre-wrote responses. He even had powerpoint slides made in advance for his rebuttals! I am not making this up – Corbett even remarked on it.

For those of you who want to understand how these things work, listen to the debate. There is a period of cross-examination if you like that sort of thing. I do!


8 thoughts on “Sean McDowell debates James Corbett on whether morality is grounded by atheism”

  1. Somewhat ironically, Jim Corbett teaches at the same high school that I do. There is a student Bible study that meets in my room one day during the week, and a few went to the debate. They spent a week or two during the Bible study time preparing for the debate and possible conversations that would come out of it.


      1. I’ve listened to both of those debates and I enjoyed them both. Although I find D’souza really easy to listen to and fun to see him being sarky to atheists, I think that McDowell’s approach, manner and delivery was far more persuasive and attractive. I think that both of them won their debates absolutely hands down, and most atheists would agree with this. But McDowell was a lot more a lot more careful, focused and precise in his debate, he was also gentle-mannered in a debate against a guy who not only knew nothing about the subject matter but was incredibly arrogant too. D’Souza though also said a couple of things that were simply false; he said that Allah is just the Arabic word for God and it’s the same God as Christianity and Judaism. This is false, Allah is one God, one person, Yahweh is One God, Three Persons. According to the Bible, God is a caring Father who loves everyone, including sinners. According to Islam, God does not love the unbelievers, and deliberately deceives them into thinking Islam is false. I could go on and on, there a few other things that D’Souza said that were really suspect.

        I think McDowell will be the next WLC, actually being even better than WLC because he is more charismatic, more approachable, more humble and just generally a nicer guy. See the difference between McDowell here and WLC’s kind of arrogant, patronizing squeeks right here;


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