Debate dilemma: the Good the Bad and the Ugly ⇒ Kirno Sohochari

Bimal Krishna Matilal, the eminent scholar and noted interpreter of Indian Philosophy writes number of significant books before Yamaduta (messenger of death) torn apart him to the world. His body suffered by cancer but mind was restless to debunk the Indian philosophical quest on existential validity and so on. He was perhaps the last noted legado (legacy) who happily conveyed the features of Indian jargon and earnestly tried to repair the cleft that makes barrier between Indian and western thought patterns. This man was not a historian but his text always echoed chronological facts, so that readers could consider his text in light of history as well.

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Matilal consorted the grand landscape of Mahabharata in his narrative on ethics. The objective of this effort was to mirroring Vedic literature in western epoch. It reflects his earnest desire that philosophical notion is universal despite its notable differences in language and phrasing. He was the strong commentator of Indian logicians, a plaintiff of ancient Sanskrit jargons, even though he never separated himself to the modern jargon of western logicians. Everybody knows there is a lot of missing link yet exists between Indian and western thought patterns. One is ancient, already covered by gray-line in progression of time, whilst another is sprouts forgetting the ancient gray-line as relevant for today’s philosophical quest.

Not like that, modern Indian scholars heavily depended on western discourses to understand or interpret the logical character of any philosophical offering. Western rationalism and its logical method dominate their views when they write something or partakes philosophical debate and refutation process. That means they alienated them to the ancient root, which maybe yet useful if they dig it seriously. Reality is, many Indian scholars feel embarrassed to search their own missing link, albeit, it would be helpful for them to build their own jargons even better.

Dependency on other to interpret mine is not an exceptional culture, not like that it is bad or negative, for example, western philosophers influenced by Indian and Chinese thought-tanks once, and they were deeply depended on in ancient knowledge to build their own self-jargon and shortly did this. Rest of world now influenced by the western thought-tanks to interpret any issues conveyed philosophical sign and significance. Indian scholars of later centuries sadly failed to rebuild their own jargons in light of western progress. They failed to testify western thoughts even in light of their missing signage.


Debate is a process of learning where we educate our own “self” discussed unsolved questions and puzzles. It’s not like a game where contender always tries to supersede each other. 


Today many of them used to think like that, “deep thinking or logical debate is impossible in an Indian outfit”. As Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, the prominent trans-creator and interpreter of Jack Derrida’s “Of Grammatology” once said in an interview that she went US for higher education after successful collegiate period in Kolkata and often realized, though she knows the technique of appear an exam but doesn’t know how to “think”. That means India lost its linkage to the ancient schooling, where deep observation and thinking was the first priority of education, where an educator dedicated his entire lifespan educates one “to think deeply, merely not to pass an exam.”

Ancient Indian schooling once produced valued questions about existential validity by using Sanskrit texture. Vedic religion influenced by the schooling and interpreted life in light of philosophical metaphysics. It was sad that Vedic educators lost their dignity in progress of time. They caged them in fuzzy logic. Main objective of this logic was to manipulate plebeian by caging them in a caste system, where philosophical quest for “Universal Being” rapidly turned down and lost its depth forever.

Bimal Krishna Matilal realized the lacking and dedicated his aptness to recover the loss until his death in cancer. He tried to interpret Indian Guru-oriented schooling, explained its inner character of considering logical methods, and hardly tried to reach the prominent debaters in Indian panorama. Anyway, he is not the subject of my today’s post. I remembered him for a separate reason, recalled his name due to the recent debate between “Atheism vs. Islam” I watched in web. Eminent physicist Lawrence Krauss was a partaker of the debate with a man named Hamza Andreas Tzortzis, a Muslim believer and intellectual activist of Islamic theology.

Krauss is well-known for his works on cosmological “beginning”, debatable for his theory of the universe, a universe which maybe commence to the sight from “nothing”. His recent publication “A universe from nothing” is perhaps one of the most enchanting and interesting addition about the creation of universe. However, professor Krauss is also debatable for his militant attitude to the religious belief-system and philosophical theory of creation. He is an outspoken personality, like to talk and debate in forum and seminar with his famous trademark as a militant atheist and canceller of philosopher’s necessity to realize the universal facts.

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Krauss played an important role popularize science in public. When he participate any debate it attracts people. They enjoy his animated gestures to the opponent, because it reflects his self-confidence to interpret scientific jargons and justify his theory even. Audience gets amused to see his animated opposition and denial to the opponent in a debate session, as he denied Christian theologian William Lane Craig in a series debate about “Why is there something rather than nothing”, arranged by the City Bible Forum of Australia. The debate on “Atheism vs. Islam” is not different to that context. It held in London few years before and later added in YouTube for the viewers. Millions of viewers already watched it on net and commenting lot about the approach or energetic vivacity of the debaters.


Challenge in a debate means a logical conversation between debaters, where some valid point makes an appeal to the audience-mind and perception.


However, Krauss is always vivid in any talk or debate, but is it everything? Is it sufficient to fulfill the ideal condition of debate? Does confident jargons and logical approach help listener to think deeply about controversial fact between theism and atheism? Is it helpful for listener considers the conflict of religion and science in light of scientific progress or discourse? I questioned mine many times after watch the debate and it reminds me Bimal Krishna Matilal’s interpretation about debating methods in ancient India.

I remembered his book “The character of logic in India”, where he mentioned Aksapada‘s (great Buddhist logician) views about debate. In ancient and medieval India Vedic logicians used to classify debate as good or bad, depended on the debater’s ability of represents evidence (Pramana), describe the evidence with relevant example (Bapti) and refute each other by using their own logical jargons. According Matilal, logician Aksapada classified any debate in three categories and that was:

“… (i) an honest debate (called vada) where both sides, proponent and opponent, are seeking the truth, that is, wanting to establish the right view; (ii) a tricky debate (called jalpa) where the goal is to win by fair means or foul; and (iii) a destructive debate (called vitanda) where the goal is to defeat or demolish the opponent, no matter how. This almost corresponds to the cliché in English: the good, the bad and the ugly.”

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Matilal discussed detail about Aksapada’s all three character in his book and today’s post is not a right place to narrate his book, but probably I tried to discuss it at near future. I quote him here because the debate on “Atheism vs. Islam” reminded me Aksapada’s classification again, where I failed to objectify the debate as honest and knowledge-increasing. To me, the whole debate looked bit nearest to Jalpa (Tricky Debate) and largely a Vitanda (Destructive debate), where the opponent (Mr. Hamza) tried to confuse proponent’s (Mr. Krauss) interpretation using tricky logic and unstable metaphors. Proponent Mr. Krauss tried to refute it such an aggressive attitude that seemed like he has been trapped by the opponent’s tricky jargons. Readers, I tried here to focus the debatable point (includes online link) in brief so that you could watch the debate and read its strength or limitation according your own perception.


 … The Poetic Naturalism of science and the Poetic Rhetoric of religion belongs in two opposite poles… Scientist can wrap-up unsolved questions by using some imaginative and inference based Deductive Argument to catch the logical ground and later to prove it by evidence.


I mentioned previously the debate held in London and the day was 9 March 2013. A local Islamic organization arranged the debate under such provocative banner “Islam or Atheism– Which Makes More Sense?” Audience of the debate was youthful believers in Islamic faith, majority of them most probably were students. The debate was long, continued two hours and eleven minutes, where time segments categorized by the organizer in a nine part:

I. 00:00:24 : Introduction -Timothy Yusuf Chambers; II. 00:06:30 : Opening Remarks – Hamza Tzortzis; III. 00:32:02 : Opening Remarks – Lawrence Krauss; IV. 00:59:33 : Rebuttal – Hamza Tzortzis; V. 01:14:28 : Rebuttal – Lawrence Krauss; VI. 01:22:43 : Summary Discussion; VII. 01:42:07 : Question & Answer Session; VIII. 02:06:00 : Closing Remarks – Lawrence Krauss; IX. 02:07:50 : Closing Remarks – Hamza Tzortzis;

Debate is a process of learning where we educate our own “self” discussed unsolved questions and puzzles. It’s not like a game where contender always tries to supersede each other. Challenge in a debate means a logical conversation between debaters, where some valid point makes an appeal to the audience-mind and perception. It does not mean that you harassed the opponent with your words, which two debaters used in the whole session of time. The flow of argument seemed not justified by the knowledge sharing aspects as Bimal Krishna Matilal mentioned in his book, where both debaters are obliged to maintain logical chain for sake of reasoning, knowledge sharing and productive dialogue. Matilal correctly noticed this in his book. I quoted the paragraph here:

“…According to the Nyayasutras, there are five “limbs” or “steps” in a structured reasoning. They should all be articulated linguistically. The first step is the statement of the thesis, the second the statement of reason or evidence, the third citation of an example (a particular case, well-recognized and acceptable to both sides) that illustrates the underlying (general) principle and thereby supports the reason or evidence. The fourth is the showing of the present thesis, as a case that belongs to the general case, for reason or evidence is essentially similar to the example cited. The fifth is the assertion of the thesis again as proven or established. Here is the time-honored illustration:

Step 1. There is fire on the hill.
Step 2. For there is smoke.
Step 3. (Wherever there is smoke, there is fire), as in the kitchen.
Step 4. This is such a case (smoke on the hill).
Step 5. Therefore, it is so, i.e., there is fire on the hill.”

Logical sequencing is the mainframe to expose fruitful thoughts in a debate. It was unfortunately absent in Krauss and Hamza’s debating battle. Flow of argument was takes wrong turn there from the beginning when Hamza started his speech by mislead the rational meaning of “Deductive Cognition”. Professor Krauss was busy to enfold hideous and notorious concept of God and religious scriptures in light of Hamza’s misinterpreted terminology. Yonder term has a profound meaning in philosophical discussion. Key idea of Deductive Cognition in philosophy is commenced from the thought process. It pokes philosophers represent valued logical points, so that anybody could use it for further advancement of logic and reasoning.

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Despite the condition, it is not mandatory that you never-ever doubted to the decision made anybody by sitting in an armchair or coming to a decision without searching any evidence. Many philosophers we see in past (and even in present) have made Deductive Argument and later move to Inductive Analysis, for the sake of philosophical doubt and cognitive principle. Doubt is not a solo phenomenon of science itself. Philosopher could use it for better clarification of his argument on existential validity, God’s existence or whosoever.

Hamza was pathetic in that extent. He failed to clarify the derivation of Deductive Cognition, which drives many ways in philosopher or theologian’s mind. It changes its path according time. Ancient Hindu and Buddhist Deductive Argument was interestingly relates with cognition of Self and materials, where they represented some mind-blowing logical facts about creation of nature and its relation with creator. Yes, they not dealt the question as modern scientist does today, even though they made beautiful hypothesis using their Deductive Intuition and Logic, which Bimal Krishna Matilal discussed with detail in his book.


The flow of argument seemed not justified by the knowledge sharing aspects as Bimal Krishna Matilal mentioned in his book, where both debaters are obliged to maintain logical chain for sake of reasoning, knowledge sharing and productive dialogue.


Ancient gigantic philosophical school of India was aware about the cosmological event happened in their time and tried to understand the event through Yuga. The thought-oriented meditation itself a process of comprehend the relation between observer and non-observable object. Vedas, Upanishads or Buddha scriptures represents better argument than any other religion. Their cognitive quest of creation and its creator is more harmonize in compare to Abrahamic interpretation of creation.

Krauss tried to point this in debate but Hamza’s tricky jargons misguided him a lot. Majority of time he wasted his time by the explanation of what scientific jargon is and what not or what he means in his book and what not etc. Audience was cheer with joy rather questioning and educating them in light of modern theories about creation. It was a wrestling between progress and regress, which drowned the debate in nonsense.

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Anyway, Krauss tried his best to attack the opponent by using his animated gesture but failed to motivate them to his logic. Audience and debater both were motivated in dogmatic belief and determined to win the debate at any cost. This attitude throws the debate in a Vitanda and that was happening there. When deterministic mind motivated to guide the commonsense debate is subsequently meaningless then.

Another painful thing was that Krauss talk lot about Deductive Cognition as an encounter of Hamza’s interpretation, but abortive to clarify the fact that, —why science being careful to consider Deductive Argument as an approval of any unproved proposition. He was also abortive to clarify why science sometime turns to Deductive Argument in case of emergency. Deductive Argument or Cognition, even if it is appeared in science could show hyperbole tendency, where sense of logic perhaps sounds nonsense, but in sometime it could be emergent for a scientist consider the nonsense for better advancement of his theory.

Anomalies not only seen in Philosophy and Theology, even it could appear in scientific cognition. Suppose, cosmological physic now passing a critical phase where many theories are suffering for evidential validity. Science tries to expand it by hiring some Deductive Cognition, apparently in scientific pathway. In some extent science do this for better imagination and advancement of theory. Scientist can wrap-up unsolved questions by using some imaginative and inference based Deductive Argument to catch the logical ground and later to prove it by evidence.

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Physicist Sean Carroll as like to mention the process “Poetic Naturalism”, where reality is yet undefined but we tried to define it by mathematical models, in where consciousness maybe an illusion but we have to trust it for reality’s sake. Carrol’s “Poetic Naturalism” trusts to the phrase that, “In truth, only atoms and the void” could be real to understand the reality as well, rest is poetic theory of nature and reality; in where one set of theory could replace by another set of theory despite their volatility. We have to consider the new theory to define the reality at some extent, where definition of real existence relates with the definition of poetical inference, because proof is not established yet there, but maybe the inference will guide us in right direction.

I think Deductive Cognition is not an evil fact but when we apply the fact to build any inference-based logic, the application of the logic should be stands on some solid proposition. Logician perhaps asked himself, “is it makes sense at all? Is there any legal point to understand the whole logic in a new perspective? Moreover, is it dependable to move forward for proved the proposition I made here? Mr. Hamza missed the whole points and Krauss was extremely busy to deny the Deductive Process according his militant style. That was the fundamental problem to watch a debate between two militant debaters, where one is determined to refute God and another is tricky to establish an Omnipotent God.


Majority of time he wasted his time by the explanation of what scientific jargon is and what not or what he means in his book and what not etc. Audience was cheer with joy rather questioning and educating them in light of modern theories about creation.


Islamic doctrine used to rigid on its Deductive Cognition. Large numbers of Islamic thinkers feel free to live on the rigidity. They called it “Takwa” (being conscious & cognizant of Allah). Tragedy is that “Takwa” always flags its victory over any reverse wording through indisputable rhetoric. It’s difficult to offend the rhetoric. How could you do this when the rhetoric has a self-made power to relate itself with God or whosoever sans any proof, it could turn its feather in any diversion just like the free bird!

Evidence and philosophical doubt are not necessary in any rhetorical text as like Islamic doctrine. This is a big problem for scientific logic to defend the rhetoric through its own cognitive jargons and reasoning. The Poetic Naturalism of science and the Poetic Rhetoric of religion belongs in two opposite poles, where one cannot touch other, where one is pragmatic in its Poetics and another is mythically pragmatic to its Poetics.

Hamza took that advantage in debate. He pointed his rifle to professor Krauss mentioning Occam’s razor law, because this law could easily applicable in any context of problem occurring proposition; maybe it is God or existential validity or to define the reality with certainty. Hamza used Occam’s razor as a solution-maker of God’s problem. He knows the concept of Omnipotent God is more powerful than the Passive Cosmic God. Omnipotent has a tremendous impact on public mind. People love to relate them with such kind of God who gives them reward after life, who is omnipotent and reliable for them to agree the reality that, “God is existed everywhere. Monitor creature’s activity for reward and punishment after life end”.

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People like to choose an Active God instead the Passive Cosmic. For example, concept of Vedic God is passive. He is autonomously belongs with the autonomous creation of universe, where universal life activated without any alteration of that autonomous God. He is cosmological but not eager to monitor the creation, same as not desirous for rewarding or punishment. Whereas Abrahamic concept of Omnipotent God is not like that, He is reverse to the Vedic. Abrahamic God is near to the earth and easy to speculate. He is easier to think and even easier to imagine. This God is the powerhouse of human destiny! He is active with His anger and mercy, ethical to the activities of His creatures, and a final destiny of all the creatures after apocalypse. It’s easier for the people choose their lovely God between Passive and Active, as Hamza chooses the Active using Occam’s razor’s principle. Even when so many reasonable complexes could be existed there!


To me, the whole debate looked bit nearest to Jalpa (Tricky Debate) and largely a Vitanda (Destructive debate), where the opponent (Mr. Hamza) tried to confuse proponent’s (Mr. Krauss) interpretation using tricky logic and unstable metaphors.


Occam’s razor is a good position to escape the doubt and stamping questions about God. Okay, when we think public perception it works well, but not in all cases. When anybody struck by the quest of beginning, when he propelled by the question of ancestral origin, I think Occam’s razor is not fit there as principal solution. Cause, this law is not enough to resolve the doubt, question and quest raised by human-mind in its thousands years journey to the civilization. Educate the Self by question and doubt is necessary to solve the mystery lay behind the relation between Creator and Creation.

Islamic doctrine still not ready to agreed on it and this is the main problem here. I don’t intended to say that it’s only the problem of Islam. Maybe other religion acted like some ways, but they have able to show some progress by educating them in scientific logic, where they tried to reconcile their previous status about Deductive Cognition. However, Islam is not likes others. Core mantra of Islamic belief system liked to stand on a flat-line (Occam’s razor or something else), where alteration is prohibited by the scripture.


When anybody struck by the quest of beginning, when he propelled by the question of ancestral origin, I think Occam’s razor is not fit there as principal solution.


Islam feels comfort to avoid any jeopardy that could interrupt the mainframe of omnipotent God’s reality. Islamic Deductive Argument, in where scholars always tried to prove them rigid to the jargons. They are the worshiper of an Absolute Self, liked to be obedient to the Self they treated as Prime Mover and Finisher of everything. Yeah, it’s certain, indeed not natural, which could be changeable over time. Debate with such kind of doctrine is quite challenging for any debater, Krauss perhaps realized this at the end-session when angry audience tried to attack him verbally, even in physically during his return to the home.

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Anyway, debate is meaningless when Vitanda (destructive debate) captures speaker’s mind, when winning in a debate at any cost motivates the audience even. Debate is a game but objective is different there. The objective of the game is for sharing knowledge, where realization and reconsideration is exigent rather than win the game at any cost. Otherwise, the game goes to vandalism.

Krauss vs. Hamza’s battle was enjoyable as a word-game but their wording was dangling near to the vandalism, where Vitanda tried to manipulate the honest jargons as tricks, leasing and so on. Readers I tried to explain my stands about the word-games, and now it’s your turn to judge the whole game as honest, thought-provoking and fruitful or not.

… Debate is a game but objective is different there…

Link of the debate: Islam or Atheism: Which Makes More Sense?

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Further Information of the debate… Click: The Big Debates: Lawrence Krauss vs Hamza Tzortzis

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Photo Credit: pinterest: explore stay calm; Brain Coax: biblio blog libraryKrauss Quotes; atheist media: Krauss vs hamzarasyonalistexchristian;

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