Saturday, April 14, 2012

Would the World Be Better Off Without Religion: NPR debate


PBS show Think Twice sponsored a debate bewteen atheists and theists. The proposition: That the world would be better off without religion. Debating for the motion were:

Matthew Chapman A journalist, screenwriter and director, is the co-founder and president of Science Debate, an organization seeking to get political candidates to debate important science policy issues. The great-great-grandson of Charles Darwin, Chapman is the author of two books, Trials Of The Monkey: An Accidental Memoir and 40 Days and 40 Nights: Darwin, Intelligent Design, God, OxyContin, and Other Oddities on Trial in Pennsylvania. His most recent film, The Ledge, was accepted into competition at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and deals with the ultimately fatal feud between an atheist and an evangelical Christian.

A.C. Grayling, a British philosopher and professor, has written more than 20 books on philosophy, religion and reason, including Against All Gods and The Good Book: A Secular Bible. Previously a professor of philosophy at Birkbeck College, University of London, Grayling is now master of the New College of the Humanities, an independent university college in London. For nearly 10 years, he was the honorary secretary of the principal British philosophical association, the Aristotelian Society, and a trustee of the London Library.


Dinesh D'Souza is president of The King's College and author of What's So Great About Christianity. A former policy analyst in the Reagan White House, D'Souza served as an Olin fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and as a Rishwain scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford. Since releasing What's So Great About Christianity in 2008, D'Souza has gone on to debate atheists such as Christopher Hitchens, Peter Singer, Daniel Dennett and Michael Shermer.

David Wolpe, the rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, has been named the No. 1 Pulpit Rabbi in America by Newsweek. He teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles, and previously taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, the American Jewish University in Los Angeles, and Hunter College. He is the author of seven books, including Why Faith Matters.

Before the Oxford-style debate, moderated by ABC News' John Donvan, the audience at New York University's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts voted 52 percent in favor of the motion and 26 percent against, with 22 percent undecided. Afterward, 59 percent of the audience agreed the world would be better off without religion, while 31 percent disagreed — making the side arguing for the motion the winners of the debate. Ten percent of the audience remained undecided.
It's pretty obvious it was a set up. First of all look at the support against the motion. Where only 3% of the county will identify with being atheists, the distortion of statitics in this way is the hall mark of atheist propaganda. On athiest watch I've documented the way certain organizations bias the data in favor of atheism. In a nation where 80% identify themselves as Chrsitians and 90% believe in God, we are supposed to think they actually chose a random audience in which 50% went in believing the the world would be better off with no religion? That's ludicrous. They obviously invited atheist clubs and not theistic clubs.

Actually in a debate situation with atheists most Christian identified people would probably refuse to accept the resolution. Yet many Christian fundamentalists could actually support the resolution. There are fundamentalists who see the term "religon" as a negative, legalistic, spiritually dead counterfeit of true God worship. The wording is calculated to imply lack of belief in God when in fact it does not.

The arguments were similar to what we find on a good message board on a good day. The talked about the crusades and Hitler. The Rabbi Wolpe had more to say than his colleague D'Sousa. In fact Wolpe was very good, his answers were powerful and to the point. Against the notion that Hitler was Christina he used Hitler's Table Talk, which is what I use, to show that Hitler was neo-pagan and not a Christian (he hated Christianity). That source has been around the message boards for a long time and there are a lot of atheist rebuttals. Most fo them are silly but they can do some damage. The Rabbi cleared up the misconception that Hitler was an atheist. He was not an atheist or a Christian but a neo-Pagan.

The two atheists were typical of atheists and many of those I see on message boards all the time could have done as well. The great great grandson of Darwin did not demonstrate an impressive knowledge of science. He echoed the fortress of facts concept. Through scinece we can prove everything (contrary to Carl Popper). Religion is based upon superstition, yada yada, the same old romanticized story of brave scinece evil stupid religion that was told in the enlightenment.

Chapman's big summary sounded powerful was actually typically unfair. It was the usual atheist assertion of the fortress of facts. Medicine has cured people disease and scinece has created to technology to help people and all religion has ever done is make people feel guilty and have some crusades. This is such a typical biased bunch of Bull crap. No effort is put into rationally accessing what religon actually does for people; the pro religon advocates have no kowlege of Hood or the M scale or any of the studies taht show the long term positive effects, dramatic transformational effects of religious experience. There's no awareness of the fact that science is not in competition with religion it's not the alternative, one can be both, they don't do the same things. For all the good of the negative team, their insight and abilities to make powerful statements, they didn't play to their strengths.

It's clear from looking at this exhibition how set up it was. This illustrates the propaganda power of atheism. It means the typical slogan that atheism is not organized is just a joke.


Aleksios said...

Another interesting dabate:

"Charles Darwin was claimed as a theist by the cardinal, because Darwin ''couldn't believe that the immense cosmos and all the beautiful things in the world came about either by chance or out of necessity'' - a claim disputed by Professor Dawkins as ''just not true''. Cardinal Pell won applause when he shot back: ''It's on page 92 of his autobiography. Go and have a look.''"

"This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist."

Metacrock said...

that's cool. Thanks.

too bad his great great grandson is not as bright as he was.

Loren said...

Pure cherry-picking: Religious views of Charles Darwin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Late in life he decided that he was an agnostic. That quotation describes deism, a heretical viewpoint from the standpoint of traditional Christianity.

He also stated:

I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine. (p. 87 of his autobiography)

Metacrock said...

It's pretty strange that Of all the important issue that I mention Loren decides to ague that Darwin decided he was an agnostic. Taht proves nothing the existence of God or any other issue. Fro the record I've read accounts of eye witnesses who were there when he died and he was begging God to save him. I know that's been challenged by atheists but what else would they say?

just ask think about Loren if it were true would you stop being an atheist? no. of course not. so what difference does it make?

Loren said...

Seems like the infamous Lady Hope Story. That story is a fraud, like so many other deathbed-recantation stories: Infidel Death-Beds. At least there are no such stories about Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, or Christopher Hitchens. Carl Sagan's wife Ann Druyan noted about him and the afterlife question that he didn't want to believe, he wanted to know.

Metacrock said...

Seems like the infamous Lady Hope Story. That story is a fraud, like so many other deathbed-recantation stories: Infidel Death-Beds. At least there are no such stories about Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, or Christopher Hitchens. Carl Sagan's wife Ann Druyan noted about him and the afterlife question that he didn't want to believe, he wanted to know.

Maybe it is. You are arguing from analogy. that's not a disproof.

Moreover, what difference does it make? who cares what Darwin thought? Just becuase he had a good theory about evolution doesn't mean he was right about everything. Agnostic means he didn't know it doesn't mean he disproved God.