[ref001] The Deaver-Till Debate [ref002] The Deaver-Till Debate On March 25-28, Farrell Ti
The Deaver-Till Debate
The Deaver-Till Debate
On March 25-28, Farrell Till met Mac Deaver, a Church-of-Christ preacher
from Austin, Texas, in oral debate on the campus of Southwest Texas State
University in San Marcos. The issue was Bible morality. Deaver affirmed
that none of the acts done or authorized by the God of the Bible were
moral atrocities; Till affirmed that some acts attributed to the God of
the Bible were actual atrocities that disprove the doctrine of divine
At no time during the two nights he was affirming did Deaver examine any
of the more infamous Bible events, such as the massacre of the Midianites
and Amalekites, to show that they should not be considered atrocities. The
debaters having agreed to exchange five questions prior to each night's
session, Deaver immediately tried to put Till on the defensive by
discussing arbitrarily conceived inconsistencies in Till's answers to the
first set of questions. Specific cases of questionable moral conduct on
Yahweh's part had to be introduced by Till.
The questions directed to Till had been designed to trap him in
contradiction concerning his position on objective or absolute morality.
In his answers, Till had rejected Deaver's concept of objective morality
but had nevertheless recognized the existence of moral standards that man
has an obligation to respect. Deaver perceived this as a contradiction
and spent much of his time from then on pressing the point. Till's
response to this was to show that determination of good and bad has to be
an intellectual process. He cited [ref003]Romans 2:14,
where it was said that the Gentiles who "have not the law"
(revealed objective morality) "do by nature the things of the
law," to show that even the Bible recognizes that people can by
natural processes discover moral principles without having them divinely
By the third night when he assumed the affirmative, Till had forced Deaver
to take the position that God can do anything, even kill babies, and it
would be morally right. Till urged the audience to consider the
consequences of that position. Rather than to think of the Midianite and
Amalekite massacres in vague, abstract terms, he asked that these events
be considered in the specific, concrete terms of what had to occur if both
events happened as recorded in the Bible. Thirty-two thousand Midianite
virgin girls were kept alive for the sexual whims of their captives; this
meant that 32,000 specific cases of sexual abuse of children had to occur.
It also implied that about 32,000 specific male children were killed to
comply to Moses' order to "kill every male among the little
ones" ([ref004]Num. 31:17). The
Amalekite massacre, if it happened according to the Bible account, meant
that there were hundreds or even thousands of specific incidents in which
specific Amalekite women, children, and babies were run through by
Israelite swords. Till urged Deaver to tell the audience if each of these
specific killings of women and children was a "good thing."
Deaver would not answer the question directly, but the substance of what
he said in response indicated that he thought these deeds were all
expressions of God's perfect morality. Till then pressed the audience to
bear in mind that Deaver's position forces one to believe that killing
babies is a morally good act. In the main, Deaver's only defense of this
charge was ridicule. "God didn't do things quite the way that Farrell
Till would have," he chided Till, "so therefore they were
Audio ($15) and video ($30) tapes of the debate can be ordered
from Thomas Gardner, 2229 Lotus, Ft. Worth, TX 76111 (Tel. 817-838-0828).
Both men have agreed to debate the same subject at a later date.
FREE SUBSCRIPTION: A free one-year subscription to _The_Skeptical_
Review_ can be obtained by emailing [ref005]Jftill@aol.com or by writing to P.O. Box
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