There were six (!) speakers in the debate, and Russell was by far the best. Jane Caro was funny and made some good points, though her focus was really too narrow. In the future, I hope Russell does some one-on-one debates.
But Russell isn’t what really stood out. The most notable thing was how awful the arguments on the affirmative side were. Here’s a snippet of the speech given by Anglican archbishop Peter Jensen:
My problem with many contemporary atheists is that they seem like flat-earthers: they look at our world, its origin, character, nature and history, and declare that it can all be explained on simple materialistic principles. They are simplistic. They turn a world charged with grandeur into grey on grey. They forget that William of Ockham and even Galileo are actually ours, not theirs.
They fail to give an adequate account of all reality. How can something come from nothing? How does the personal arise from the impersonal? Where does the moral law come from? What is love? What is the good life? What do we make of the constant, almost universal religious experience of human beings? What are the limits of science?
I know that atheists have their answers, but the answers are commonly stressed out in trying to avoid the obvious.
This amounts to a very un-self-aware version of “it’s just obvious I’m right.” Combined with that are two obvious fallacies: bundling up atheism with a narrow philosophical materialism, and treating “God did it” as the default answer to any questions we have trouble answering (though I’m a little confused by some of his questions: does he think the limits of science are God?).
I’m pointing this out just because some religion critic critics (in particular critics of Dawkins and Dennett) have the idea that nobody makes arguments as terrible as the ones they attack, or at least nobody of any importance. But in fact you get arguments like this not just from Ray Comfort, but also from philosophy professors, theologians, and church higher-ups.