Saturday, November 18, 2006

A modest proposal

A rich tradition of both religion and politics has been lost over the years: the formal debate. Yes, we have what are called “debates” in the presidential races, but they are not actually debates; they are joint press conferences. Most denominations have “debates” over doctrine and practices at their General Assemblies, but once again they are not truly debates- a few arguments are made- often heatedly- with no formal citation, no rebuttal, and none of the rigorous logic and rhetoric of debates past.

I offer the services of CUUmbaya to reclaim the great tradition of religious debate for UUs. I propose that people send to me various topics of interest to the UUA for debate, be they GA statements of past or present, or issues likely to come up. It shouldn’t take that much discussion to frame the “resolveds”, and get volunteers to argue the sides. If there are no volunteers to argue an unpopular position, I will take it on- I’ve done “devil’s advocate” before.

The two champions would then email me their arguments, which I would post on CUUmbaya for comment. I propose each side go a maximum of four specific points, to a maximum of 250 words each, formatted thusly: the first post would be the two opening points. The second post would be the rebuttals, then another point, etc., until done. The champions may answer comments if they wish- but it will count against their 250 words for the post.

When all points have been made and rebutted, readers would vote a winner in the comments section. In order for the vote to count, they must score each point as either made, rebutted, or a value judgment not subject to rebuttal, and then declare a winner. I would require this because I have seen arguments in which each and every point made by one side was completely rebutted, and yet that side was still declared winner because they or their position were more popular; that would keep it honest.

So what do you think? Anyone ready to put their logic and rhetoric where their hearts are? Ready to show that UU is really where reason and religion


Chalicechick said...

This sounds fun.

I vote we debate the "Peacemaking" resolution.


Joel Monka said...

That was one of the first ones I thought of, too.

Karlos said...

The UUA., Help or hindrance to worldwide sociaist revolution!!!