About Me

My photo
Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

You can watch the whole debate...

... here!

14 comments:

Flea said...

I find it funny that the bald idiot in his final statement, instead of presenting any arguments, decides to insult you, and the best he can do is compare you with... a preacher!

Russell Blackford said...

I remember that. That comment from Scott didn't seem to be well-received by the audience at the time - perhaps because he'd actually been rather preachy, himself - but I don't know whether that comes through on the video.

Michael Fugate said...

Interesting that Rowland claimed that Christianity is not misogynistic - just that women are separate, different, yet equal. How a woman could even attempt to defend this is beyond incredible. As you point out Russell, they can criticize all other religions with gusto, but can't admit there is a single problem with theirs.
What does it even mean that there can be "no good without god?"

Mathew Varidel said...

A good showing from the atheist side. You were very impressive, Russell. I thought you were too mild mannered to be as aggressive/forthright as that.

It's extraordinary that you can have a debate on god trying to show atheists are wrong and there are no attempts at constructing an argument for the existence of god.

I also couldn't believe Rowland could say Christianity has no problem with women with a straight face.

Russell Blackford said...

Mathew, I do advocate civility ... and I also think that we should address our opponents' strongest points when we're doing philosophy. Note that I didn't attack anyone personally either in the debate or elsewhere. I've had nothing personally nasty to say about Peter Jensen, Tracey Rowland, or Scott Stephens.

The thing about accommodationists is that they seem to think that some things should not be said even in a civil and thoughtful way. That was what the big fuss was about with Chris Mooney a couple of years ago when he said that Jerry Coyne should not have said certain things in a book review. That was what I, among others, objected to.

I certainly don't believe that passion, humour, and satire (as opposed to personal nastiness) are out of bounds in debating. Quite the opposite, as you saw. Hope that clears that up.

Mathew Varidel said...

I agree completely. Sorry if my comment came across not as intended.

Just to clarify, I meant that I thought your style was different in this debate compared to your debate earlier this year (can't remember who that was with at the moment). Your style in the previous debate was more of a discussion with the audience whereas I thought this was more "forceful" (to use Jerry Coyne's words). And I thought it was appropriate and worked well for you.

Russell Blackford said...

No worries. Were you at the debate with Michael Jensen at Macquarie?

Mathew Varidel said...

No, I wasn't. You can find it on youtube though.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFZE9SxM-fo&feature=related

Russell Blackford said...

Hmm, I sort of debated Nick Agar in New Zealand, on another topic. But that was a much more friendly thing where we were largely on the same side of the issue and it was, indeed, more like a discussion. Could you have been at that?

The events with Nick in Dunedin and with Michael Jensen (Peter Jensen's son) at Macquarie University were the only debate type things that I'd done this year prior to the IQ2 bash.

Mathew Varidel said...

Sorry, I was actually referring to the Jensen debate in my comments. I just wasn't there. I heard it on youtube.

Mathew Varidel said...

Maybe it's just the difference between watching it and hearing it. Not sure, Russell. Anyway, I was trying to give you a compliment :)

Russell Blackford said...

No worries - gotcha!

Steven Paul Leiva said...

It was a fascinating debate -- I wish we had this form in the United States. We seem to prefer just yelling at and to each other. I noticed that most, if not all, of the good natured laughs came from the opposition side. That solves the controversy right there! If theism leads to a humorless life of looking desperately for revelations about strange, amorphous, wildly open-to-interpretation ideas such as “grace” and “Love” and “ a hierarchy of values,” as opposed to the facts of reality that’s needed to bring real understanding and meaning to those ideas, then theism’s lack of utilitarian value will be its doom.

I was amused, as I always am, by Peter Jensen’s fallback to “God is Love,” as some kind of evidence that Peter’s god exists. That is nothing but a metaphor. Despite the importance of metaphor in communicating ideas and feelings in both science (from Galileo to Dawkins) and literature (from Homer to Bradbury), for a real gathering of data and facts in an inquiry into reality one must go beyond metaphor. Only the scientific method allows for that, not revelation.

It’s funny, Russell, how you were “accused” of being a preacher just because you have a passionate delivery. I suppose Scott Stephens did not want you to tread on his territory.

steve oberski said...

It’s funny, Russell, how you were “accused” of being a preacher

I'm often bemused by the observation that the religious consider one of the most telling criticisms of atheism to be, well you're just as bad as we are.