The Hitchens – Dembski debate

I am not a fan of debates. They are more a sport than a mode of informing. And of course each side in a debate has its own fans who are more concerned with “who won” than what they learned.

But a recommend this debate between Christopher Hitchens and Bill Dembski, although I have yet to watch it to the end. I make this exception basically for two reasons.

1: Like many people I admire Hitchens. He is a skilled debater which means he may produce more heat than light. It also means he is a bit of a “street fighter.” I don’t think he is necessarily reliable on scientific questions. But his literary skills are impressive. So he can be enjoyable to lsiten to for his turn of phrase alone.

But I also think he is courageous. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer earlier this year and has been undergoing treatment, particularly chemotherapy. He is also very conscious and candid about what this means for his future prospects.

A close member of my family experienced a similar situation this year so I am very conscious of the debilitating effect of chemotherapy as well as the natural response to what the illness means for life prospects. It takes a lot of courage for such a patient to continue struggling with the ordinary mundane frustrations of life, let alone to accept the sort of challenges Hitchens is doing.

2: In my recent review So you want a conversation? (of  the book Against All Gods by Phillip Johnson and John Mark Reynolds) I suggested that the “militant” theists and intelligent design proponents who wanted to debate scientists and “new atheists” should take the initiative and organise their own.  They have been vocal with demands for their inclusion in scientific and academic forums. At the same time they conveyed a one-sided, pro-theist, version of science and atheism to their own people. So, I suggested:

“Why don’t these ‘militant’ theists get some of these new atheists along to their own meetings and begin the real discussion. It’s just possible the members of those churches and departments will learn something form the “horses mouth” the seminars and theological courses devoted to new atheist strawmannery don’t convey.”

So this debate, organised by the Prestonwood Christian Academy, in Texas, was a step in that direction.The invitation was not exactly completely open (have a look at the 44 page discussion guide for the debate). This was aimed at students of the academy, their parents and members of the church, hoping to provide some sort of immunity to what Hitchens might say. Prominent on page 1 was the biblical advise:

The fool says in his heart, “There is no god.” Psalm 14:1

Now, I wonder of the Bible Colleges, Churches, and religious groups in New Zealand who regularly study their particular “new atheist” straw man, or creation science script would be p[prepared to make a similar invitation to a speaker for atheism or scientific reason?

The You Tube videos of the debate, which was entitled “Does A Good God Exist?”, are given below. Be aware that the first 9 minutes, being part of the immunisation process, can be ignored.


Part I of the Hitchens-Dembski debate held at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, TX on 18 Nov 2010.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Hitchens-Dembski Debate Nov 2010 (1 of 10), posted with vodpod

Part II of the Hitchens-Dembski debate:

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Hitchens-Dembski Debate Nov 2010 (2 of 10), posted with vodpod

Part III of the Hitchens-Dembski debate:

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Hitchens-Dembski Debate Nov 2010 (3 of 10), posted with vodpod

Part IV of the Hitchens-Dembski debate:

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Hitchens-Dembski Debate Nov 2010 (4 of 10), posted with vodpod

Part V of the Hitchens-Dembski debate :

Vodpod videos no longer available.
Hitchens-Dembski Debate Nov 2010 (5 of 10), posted with vodpod

Part VI of the Hitchens-Dembski debate :

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Part VII of the Hitchens-Dembski debate :

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Part VIII of the Hitchens-Dembski debate:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Part IX of the Hitchens-Dembski debate:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

Part X, the conclusion, of the Hitchens-Dembski debate:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Similar articles:

Enhanced by Zemanta

One response to “The Hitchens – Dembski debate

  1. I just want a theist to posit one supportable assertion not based on previous refutations but I realize it’s like wanting the Easter Bunny to bring me a solid chocolate bunny instead of one of those cheap, waxy affronts to chocolate we all receive.

    Wanting a theist to be honest about their “faith” is like wanting gravity to deny itself. A theist can be rigorously honest, scientific, skeptical about everything except their own faith. Otherwise they wouldn’t be theists. It’s just simple logical deduction. They all start out with the unsupported logical assertion that there is a god and try to build support from that logically invalid assertion.

    It may be true, there may be a god or more than one god, but right now I have zero evidence for that. Making the positive assertion that there is one is just… well… silly.

    It’s a bit like assuming there is a light fairy because every time you open your refrigerator the light comes on. Excepting the logically dense, and flawed, arguments of apologists that actually respect philosophy and logic every argument for the existence of a god comes down to three basic logical fallacies:

    The argument from personal incredulity, “I can’t believe such a wonderful universe could have been created without a god character.”

    The argument from ignorance, “I don’t understand how science works therefore a dog, I mean a god, did it.

    Or the laziest argument the Nirvana fallacy, “Science can’t answer everything therefore a god did it.”

    I’m really trying to stop being annoyed at the inherent dishonesty in theism but I think it’s a lossing battle. Theism is institutionalized dishonesty so I really need to stop trying to think it can produce any honest arguments.

    Theisms very basis is rooted in dishonesty so why do I keep thinking it will be honest? I’m a fool with morals and hope. I hope theists will start being honest about their own beliefs but the moment they do they cease to be theists. A theist being honest about their beliefs is some kind of logical oxymoron, but not in a good way.

    Like

Leave a Reply: please be polite to other commenters & no ad hominems.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s