Episode 103 – 23rd September 2011

Were the wrong tactics used to try to save Troy Davis? Should we debate with creationists? What’s happening on Ada Lovelace Day? And much more!

[Direct MP3 Link] [Podcast Feed] [Add to iTunes]

Support the Pod Delusion! Why not subscribe £5 a month to support what we do?

Secular Europe March (1:26) by James O’Malley (ft Keith Porteous Wood and David Pollock)
Death Penalty (11:22) by Drew Rae
Teach Kids To Code (19:33) by Salim Fadhley (ft Emma Mulqueeney)
Ada Lovelace Day (27:44) by Liz Lutgendorff (ft Suw Charman-Anderson)
Michelle Bachmann (35:57) by Adam Cuerden
Keep God Out Of Government (44:05) by James O’Malley (ft Jon Holmes)
BHA Creationism Letter (52:38) by Blakeley Nixon (ft Richy Thompson)
Debating Religion (pt 1) (58:18) by Justin Brierley
Debating Religion (pt 2) (65:40) by Richard Firth-Godbehere
The sketch at the end is by David Lovesy & Brian Two

Follow-Up Links for Drew:

Unfortunately, the sources for Drew Rae’s report are all paywalled. Here are links to a few abstracts which give a flavour of the research he summarised.

Other Follow-Up Links:

Pod Delusion EXTRA:
Pod Delusion ExtraOn the Extra Feed this week, we have lots of exciting things:

The Pod Delusion Episode 103

14 thoughts on “Episode 103 – 23rd September 2011

  1. William Lane Craig? Really? Perhaps Dawkins should also debate Duane Gish, he would get the same level of intellectual honesty.

    It isn’t particularly surprising Toynbee would pull out after seeing him. When told he was one of the foremost defenders of Christianity, she probably thought it would be an honest open debate, where both sides present their facts and draw a conclusion. After seeing him, she would have realised it wouldn’t be and that he would just offer a quickfire string of false assertions and logical fallacies that shw would not have time to adequately address.

  2. I agree to a point, Shelly, however, I have debated the sorts of William Lane Craig and hammered them simply by stating ‘sorry, that’s all white noise, let’s get back to Earth shall we’ and marginalising their rhetorical nonsense. As a result, I’ve found more than one person who was wavering has found my arguments more compelling, and I doubt that can be said for my opposition. In fact I know it can’t.

    The trick is not to get caught up in Craig’s bullying tactics, where he fires off 200 ridiculous notions before breakfast; analysing the flaws in each and every one would take forever. Instead, expose them for the word-conjurers they are.

    Also, who else in the theist world are we going to debate that doesn’t either A. use the same tactics or B. pull out the same old rubbish that has been shot down repeatedly for 2 millennia?

    I am a bit worried that Justin claimed some of Craig’s arguments were ‘powerful’ though. Is he sure he is thinking of the same person?

  3. The trick with Kalam Cosmological argument – which is where IMHO Dawkins fell down in the God Delusion – is to stick to those aspects of the argument that are universal regardless of the precise detail of the latest variation. Print them on a sheet of paper, have it available at the back of the room, and spend your speaking time talking about something more interesting.

    1. Apologists don’t have to prove the existence of a god – they have to prove the existance of a particular God with the properties they claim.

    2. You can’t build a logical argument on contradictory arguments. If “everything must have a cause” then you don’t get to make exceptions part way through the argument.

    3. You can’t magically stop a regression by saying “Goddidit”. If you can’t handle the concept of a universe that existed forever, believing that God existed forever isn’t any easier.

  4. Drew- I like that idea, though I’d have it on a huge banner behind the podium before the debate even begins so everyone can have a good old laugh at Craig when he kicks off.

  5. Let’s assume that (as Craig maintains, in case G is God):

    a) Time begins to exist at t=0.

    b) A being G is the cause of time, and exists temporally at t=0.

    c) The concept of timelessness is coherent.

    d) The world contains a state of affairs S at which G exists timelessly.

    Let E(1) be the event “G changes from being timeless, to being temporal”.

    Then, E(1) is an event that ends at t=0. And events take time.

    Let e>0 be the duration of E(1).

    Then then there is an interval of time [-e,0], or at least a nonempty open interval (-e,0], which ends at t=0.

    Either way, time exists before t=0, contradicting the assumption that time begins at t=0.

  6. In the “Debating Religion (pt 1)” item Justin Brierley mentions various people that have refused to debate William Lane Craig, for whatever reasons.

    As a response to the solicitation that some atheist debate him it is notable that Dr. Craig himself has been repeatedly refusing to debate one of those elusive atheist debaters: John W. Loftus.

    For more information, see the extremely explicit:

    John W. Loftus: I want to debate William Lane Craig

    If you look through some of the various other archived messages and posts, you will see other explicit calls that reiterate the invitation by Mr. Loftus to Dr. Craig for a debate. One of them even describes a recent event (within the recent several years, notably after Mr. Loftus studied under Dr. Craig) where Mr. Loftus delivered the invitation personally to Dr. Craig only to receive the usual rejection of the offer.

    Given your request for such a debate, perhaps you might have more luck with Dr. Craig to see if he truly desires the debate he is so loudly claiming to invite.

  7. I didn’t understand Justin Brierly’s arguments.

    He seemed to conflate “Dawkins doesn’t debate in a certain forum” with “Dawkins doesn’t debate”. Which is nonsense, having myself heard him on Radio4 this week.

    Dawkins debates all the time, but choses not to debate in the forum that Justin wants him to, and so he “doesn’t debate”?

    The whole segment as I understood it, was based on this conflation, so it seemed empty of validity. Have I missed the point?


  8. Justin seemed to define debate just in terms of the public debate forum that he is promoting. I think Dawkins and others are debating in the public sphere via books and other forum. I think there is a false dichotomy about not accepting the format of a live debate with not addressing the issues in any way.

  9. I would be curious as to how Drew Rae thinks there was an argument to be made for the particular case of Troy Davis in any way other than doubts over his guilt.

    You’ve looked at the studies, and they say that claiming that he may not be guilty does little to promote a change in attitude about an execution, but this was the only handle available.

    You say the best way to proceed would have been to call for his death sentence to be commuted to life without parole: but on what grounds? The only grounds for any particular action on his case (outside the general case against capital punishment) is his innocence, or grave doubts as to his guilt. If that’s your handle, then the only reasonable demand to make is for him to be freed, not to have his sentence changed.

  10. Dawkins has said in the past that he doesn’t debate creationists, and William Lane Craig has multiple times argued against evolution – and claims to be against evolution for scientific reasons. Whether or not that should be overlooked in a debate over God is another matter, but Dawkins’ refusal to debate Craig is not inconsistent with a position he’s maintained for a long time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *