Saturday, August 22, 2009

Duke vs. Price on the radio (UK)

In this episode of Unbelievable Christian Tom Price (of the OCCA) and atheist Barry Duke (of The Freethinker) discuss the question "Does religion make people unhappy?" which could well be an interesting issue to address using statistical data from international surveys. Alas, no such data are presented, evaluated, or even discussed.

The discussion goes back and forth on the various ways that religion might make people suffer or thrive, oftentimes leaning heavily on anecdotes of individual experiences. To quote the host "We've taken two points of view, and traded stories on them today." This approach proves entertaining, but not particular enlightening or persuasive.

Moreover, both speakers have some difficulty avoiding the inevitable meta-question, which is whether any particular religion actually provides an accurate description of the world. Because this problem transcends the question under debate, it seems to me that this debate might have been more fruitful had it been conducted by two unbelievers, with one of them arguing that religion may be instrumentally valuable in providing needed social goods even though it is false.

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