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.
AGAINST THE MOTION
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.
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.