Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Harris vs. Wolpe in Los Angeles, CA

This event was not so much a debate as a lightly-moderated relatively rapid back and forth between the rabbi and the skeptic, which makes for a nice change of pace.  They argue for quite a bit over which sorts of knowledge may be validated or falsified, and at one point Wolpe makes the fascinating and revealing claim that Agnesë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu could not have been nearly quite so morally exemplary without her (presumably false) belief in Jesus Christ.  I say ‘presumably’ here since the fact that Jesus was not the Messiah has to be on the short list of socially relevant propositions which one might reasonably expect a Jewish rabbi and a religious skeptic to agree without any contestation.  I know, right? 

It should also be noted that Rabbi Wolpe never quite made an argument for the existence of any god, although he staunchly defends the idea that certain metaphysical claims should be respected in the absence of evidence.  These guys go back and forth on ethics and metaphysics for about an hour until the Q & A, at which point the audience starts lobbing rotten fruit on the stage.  This isn’t the very most insightful dialogue ever  recorded, but it was entertaining in about the same way as a welterweight bout.  Enjoy!


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