The video has finally made it online! As promised, here’s Matt’s debate with Jay Lucas, which I recapped earlier. Unfortunately, the audio is a little crappy, but I haven’t managed to find it anywhere else.
Last night at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York, I carpooled over with a couple of friends from the Capital Region Atheists & Agnostics meetup to attend a debate between Matt Dillahunty, president of the Atheist Community of Austin and regular host/co-host of The Non-Prophets and The Atheist Experience, and Jay Lucas, an evangelical Christian apologist and director of The Isaac Backus Project, which is described as “an apologetics ministry dedicated to equipping and encouraging Christians to declare and defend the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
In fact, it sort of pisses me off.
I was recently engaged in a debate on Reddit’s ‘DebateAnAtheist’ forum with a person who defined God in a way that made God an incoherent concept. When I pointed this out to him, he actually agreed, saying that God would have to be incoherent to humans. I don’t think he got my point, which is that the concept was logically incoherent; he was describing a god that (by his own words) didn’t exist and wasn’t a thing, but that he still believed in.
If you’d like to read the thread yourself, it’s right here. You may have to search for me (MikeTheInfidel), but if the scores of the various comments are any indication, I’m not alone in my frustration.
This should fun!
In case you haven’t heard of it: Intelligence Squared (IQ2) is a multinational series of public debates held on often controversial subjects touching issues like race, religion, sexuality, and politics. They’ve got a great backlog of debates featuring prominent speakers from all across the spectrum.
On September 6, IQ2 Australia held a debate over the proposition “Atheists are wrong.” Here’s the summary:
Having been persecuted as a dangerous minority for centuries, in recent years the champions of atheism have achieved celebrity status around the world. Atheists have been quick to point to the evils done in the name of religion and to claim that their criticism of religion is grounded in the demands of reason. Their opponents have championed faith as a source of inspiration and as an essential aspect of the human condition. However, beyond rhetorical skirmishes, in the end, just one fundamental question must be answered: does God exist?
The video isn’t available yet, but when it is, it’ll be online here. I’ve never heard of any of the speakers, which should make it interesting to watch. In any case, judging from the pre- and post-debate audience poll results, it should be interesting to watch; the pro-proposition group decreased slightly, the undecideds almost vanished, and anti-proposition group jumped by 10%.
IQ2 has featured a few debates on the subject of atheism/religion in the past, three of which (on the propositions “We would be better off without religion”, “The Catholic Church is a force for good in the world”, and “Atheism is the new fundamentalism”) are available to watch online. I highly recommend them all.
Frank Turek, professional Christian apologist, founder of the Cross Examined website, and co-author of the book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, recently paid a visit to the University at Albany to give a talk to the Impact Christian Fellowship on the evidence for the existence of the Christian god. I learned about his talk from a student on our local atheist meetup’s mailing list. Having read Frank’s book a while back, I figured it would be worth checking out.
Every week, the Atheist Community of Austin puts out a great public access TV program called The Atheist Experience. The show broadcasts live online at Ustream at 5:30 ET pretty much every Sunday. Typically the show features a pair of hosts discussing a subject related to atheism, skepticism, critical thinking, separation of church and state, and so on, followed by a period where they take calls from the audience. This week, though, they featured famed Christian apologist Ray Comfort (he of Banana Man fame). Continue reading
Famed anti-theist debater, columnist, and literary critic Christopher Hitchens is debating Intelligent Design proponent and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary professor William Dembski this morning at Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano, Texas on the subject, “Does a good God exist?” The debate is streaming live at PCA’s webcast site and I’ll be updating this blog post as the debate goes with my impressions and observations.
It should be an interesting debate. Hitchens is known for his scathing wit and sharp rhetorical skills, and Dembski (while not exactly up to snuff on his science… if you ask me) is a well-trained theologian (whatever that might mean).
(Any times I mention will be Eastern Standard Time, and I’ll largely be paraphrasing since I can’t type fast enough to quote exactly.)
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like most atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, etc. approach theological debate as a hobby, while theists approach it as the driving force behind their entire worldview. It’s strange; when I was a believer, everything I did was influenced by what I believed. The debate was the most important thing in my life. Now that I’m not a believer, I approach the discussion as entertainment and an intellectual exercise. I could take it or leave it; it’s just something to pass the time.
Am I alone in this view?
That’s not to minimize the larger issues behind the influence of religion on our society; I’m talking about <span style=”font-weight: bold;”>just</span> the debating here.