Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Traveling, Coke Cans, and Sam Harris

I will be posting when I can over the next two weeks, but it will be very irregular. We'll be travelling all over the country -- a wedding in Phoenix, and then moving to Virginia. I'm really very excited about seeing the west, this will be my first time out that far.

Unfortunately, all of this travelling means that I will most likely be missing the PBS airing of A Brief History of Disbelief. The series will be shown in Virginia before we get there, and in Kansas City after we leave! I hear it's on YouTube also, so that looks like how I will watch it. I will also be missing the televisation of the Comfort/Cameron vs. the Rational Response Squad debate! Augh! I have no doubt that will find it's way on YouTube quickly, too. Here's a preview already:

(there is some language in the 'intro' to the piece, so be warned if you're playing this without headphones in a work environment!)

In the meantime, I've found two write-ups so far of the debate, one from a theist perspective and one from an atheist perspective. They both pretty much agreed that while the Rational Response Squad didn't prove things one way or the other, the Way of the Master team was almost too embarrasing to watch. This from Becky Garrison's article:

Even though the atheists failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that God could not have been the spark that set all of creation, they seem to have nailed this debate when Cameron pulled out the get-out-of-hell card. Simply put, this was “what you believe about God will determine where you spend eternity.” At this point, if I wasn’t covering this event, I would have crawled out of the church in shame.

And this from OsakaGuy on the RichardDawkins.net board, who says Comfort sadly did not come onstage with a banana. Instead, he used a coke can to 'prove' that any design must have had a designer. Wait, that's the "scientific proof" he's been proclaiming? That just goes to show that Comfort has just as fuzzy a notion of what science really is as the Kansas board of education.

Who won the debate? I was under the impression that Ray and Kirk were not going to rely on their bible to prove their god exists scientifically. By that standard they both broke the rules by referring to the bible multiple times, and proved nothing with their argument from design, so they failed. If there were any rational fence sitters out there I would assume they must agree. As for the respective choirs on each side, I'm sure they both thought their side won completely.

I was worried when I first heard about this debate. I knew that Comfort and Cameron weren't smart enough to actually come up with something interesting, but I was worried about the way they would treat the Rational Response Squad. I remembered how Ellen Johnson couldn't get a word in edgewise here CNN appearance, and I was worried that a couple of smooth talking presenters would appear to have an upper hand in this format. I am completely unfamiliar with the RRS. Fortunately, it sounds like this worry was completely unfounded. Not only did the RRS hold up very well, but it sounds like it was moderated well, too.

If only we could get some more moderation on the web. A Load of Bright has stumbled on an out-of-context quote being attributed to Sam Harris:

In a another passage [Sam] Harris goes even further, and reaches a disturbing conclusion that “some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them”. This sounds like exactly the kind of argument put forward by those who ran the Inquisition.

Well, that's a horrible quote all right. Horribly out of context! Check out ALoB article for the full context!


MothandRust said...

Kirk looks like a christian. Notice how some people look gay and others look christian.

Kirk just looks as christian as Ned flanders and as equally annoying.

David W. said...

That is almost exactly what my first thought was when I saw that video clip. But then again, I suppose it's good marketing when you dress and look like your target audience's ideal. The part I'm really curious about is which came first -- the audience, or the look?