Saturday, June 27, 2009

Myers vs Alexander on the radio (UK)

First off, I cannot believe that this episode turned out to be the most downloaded of the entire show run, as it is not a particularly shining example of the show. Usually, it is both more informative and more like a debate in which the guests go back and forth trying to prove or disprove some particular proposition. From the get go, the presenter is clearly struggling to provoke PZ into saying something provocative. Thereafter, Alexander keeps trying to drag Myers off the subject of science generally and biology in particular, while PZ repeatedly call him out on it, continually dragging the conversation back to scientific means and methods. Around 42 minutes in, the interlocutors finally get into something like a geniune disagreement, but not for very long. Overall, the discussion was too meandering and random. Both men sounded intelligent and well spoken, but neither one did not came out strongly for or against any particular position or built a case for their position. They both agree on some crucial points, such as whether theology has any place in the laboratory, and how people arose biologically, among other things.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Cave vs Robertson at Gunnersbury Baptist (UK)
(Scroll down to 13 June 2009)

Peter Cave characterizes humanism as he sees it and tries to give us reasons to believe that life isn't completely pointless even in the absence of a supervening intelligence who ultimately controls all events and severely punishes every soul who doesn’t precisely follow his plans, whatever they may be.

David Robertson, for his part, colours humanism in several and various ways, and somehow manages to mischaracterize someone or some idea at each and every point, but he does this quite smoothly and confidently. He also pulls out the Atheism = Maoism/Stalinism/Kimism idea, an old canard one which invariably triggers my gag reflex. He tops this absurdity by calling the Scandinavian nations thoroughly Christian, despite their noteworthy competitiveness for the title of most godless and secular nations on the planet, at least according to the professional demographers of religion.

They then go back and forth for awhile, in a friendly and lighthearted manner, using a direct cross-examination format (my personal favorite). Cave asks some tough questions, although not quite the right ones, and Robertson stalwartly and expertly defends his faith.

Overall, both men did just fine, however, they don’t quite drill down into the fundamental differences between faith-based and reason-based modes of thinking, not even during the protracted Q&A.

Orton vs. Robertson on the radio (UK)

This episode of Unbelieveable was yet another debate over where might get one's moral ideas if not from stone tablets carved out on Mt. Sinai. Honestly, I wonder why Christians think this question is such a stumper. If you define morality to mean absolute commands which come down from above, then of course you'll need to have a god up on high giving out commands.

The atheist in this show is a layman and a bit of a try-hard, he barely gets a word in edgewise, much less a decent argument, though he is constantly being prodded by the host to do so. The Christian apologist, by contrast, rambles on and repeatedly claims that everything good and pure comes from Christianity while discounting any harms it caused along with the moral values of every other culture. Such old school cultural imperialism ought not be too shocking from a British minister and True Scotsman.

This one is not worth your time, even when played at 2x.