Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Blackmore vs. McGrath in Bristol, UK

In this debate Susan Blackmore sketches out the basic concepts and implication of memetic theory, and points out that religious ideas have evolved to closely emulate a set of ideas as efficient self-replicators.  She also sketches out a bit how the memetic imperatives may make humans act even more violently than they ordinarily would in the competition for scarce resources. 


Alister McGrath, meanwhile, makes the claim that the Christian worldview allowed him to make sense of the world whereas he found his previous life as a freethinker unsatisfying.  He defends faith-based religious ideology against Blackmore’s arguments by invoking the favorite tu quoque of theistic apologists, that is, the faith-based irreligious ideology of Marxism.  This mouldy old trope gets more mileage than my 1978 300D (which to my knowledge is low-riding around Albuquerque to this very day).


The rebuttal periods are all too brief.  Just as each speaker revs up to really lay the boots into the other’s arguments, someone’s Timex goes off with a most annoying series of beeps.  Alas!  Altogether, this debate has the feel of a friendly back and forth over tea and scones, which is a nice change of pace from Hitchens’ relentless abuse or Craig’s incessant calling out drops. 


Overall rating: 3.5 stars






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