Saturday, September 19, 2009

Turner vs. Robertson and Morgan on the radio (UK)

David Robertson is such a blisteringly arrogant prick. He is talks for less than sixty seconds before dropping the Stalin and Hitler bombs and accusing secularists of being crazed utopian fundamentalists who will inevitably take society to hell given half a chance. Ed Turner counters that it is folly to link any sort of totalitarianism (religious or irreligious) with the liberal secular humanism advocated by secularists in Britain. This leads to a lengthy tangent on the nature of morality, in which the theists argue that there is no point being moral for the sake of other people, only for the sake of pleasing God. Indeed, they seem to say that morality cannot be understood except as a set of supernaturally ordained rules.

Robertson's lack of historical perspective is glaring throughout the show. At one point he actually claims that the ideals of "democracy and concepts of tolerance and free speech stem from Christian theology and philosophy" which seems to ignore the one and a half milennia between the ascendency of Christian ideas and the rise of modern liberalism which Robertson praises. He also conflates modern liberal secularism (which depends upon freedom of speech and religion) with the great totalitarian regimes fueled by Stalinism, Maoism, Kimism, and the like. Can these be any more different?

Morgan is an interesting figure, making a case that cultural secularization has ruined France, causing the France to turn to anti-depressants, wine, and the like. Not very persuasive, but it's a different angle on things.

I've got to give Ed Turner credit for keeping up with several Christians, all of whom are hoping to see him falter and fail. He really did his homework prior to the show, especially repecting Robertson's worldview and arguments.

The topic question for this episode was supposed to have been whether Europe would be better off Christian or Atheist. Oddly, no one took the oppotunity to graph out some quantative indicators of societal health (e.g. infant morality rates) along with self-reported religiousity measures (e.g. church attendance) in Europe over time. Doing so would have been quite instructive.

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