Thursday, October 04, 2007

Lennox-Dawkins debate - updates

Daniel James Devine live blogged the event last night. Here's how to get a copy of the debate.

Comments variously overheard:

Lennox was persuasive, and was devastating on the topic "Do you need religion to be good," demonstrating that you don't need religion to be good, but without religion it's a moot argument as to what is "good" or "bad" since there is no objective standard. Thus Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, and Islamic terrorists have/could be doing the right thing in their own eyes with impunity in the afterlife.

Dawkins was stumped in several places but especially when Lennox questioned him on "how anyone could act in opposition to their genes?" Dawkins really eluded the question by saying that it was just true that humans do act in a way contrary to Darwinian evolution every time someone uses birth control measures. Dawkins never gave a reasoned basis for that action.

On the issue of the birth control. If Dawkins really understood natural selection he would now that birth control is most certainly NOT something that natural selection is not responsible for. After all natural selection gave us the cognitive faculties necessary to develop the pill, the sponge and so forth. It also gave us the desire to avoid all of the responsibilities that come with child rearing. Is Dawkins saying that natural selection isn't responsible for that?

It sounds to me as though Dawkins's key argument is unravelling. Of course, I was in the Lennox fans section of the stands, so to speak. Go here if you want to hear from Dawkins' supporters.

This comment just came in:

I was there last evening. My sense of the crowd was that there was no dramatic shift of opinion toward Lennox’s arguments, though I thought them all extremely powerful and I am certain that seeds of doubt in Dawkins’ atheistic faith were planted in the minds of many secular humanists in the audience. Lennox’s position was bold and unrelenting. I DID find it interesting that Dawkins’ seemed willing on a couple of occasions to smuggle in tacit acceptance of a deistic God, which is not I suppose too surprising since that would be God no one had to meaningfully deal with anyway. The long line of UAB students eager for Dawkins’ book after the event, however, shows that all of us have a great deal more work to do esp. on our campuses. Still, I thought the air at the following reception for John Lennox was justifiably jubilant.

Go here for the original announcement at the Hack.

Also: Naomi Schaefer Riley reflects on the Lennox-Dawkins debate:
Perhaps Mr. Dawkins was surprised by this reception. He recently referred to the Bible Belt states as "the reptilian brain of southern and middle America," in contrast to the "country's cerebral cortex to the north and down the coasts." This debate marks the first time Mr. Dawkins has appeared in the Old South. Maybe his publishers suggested it would be a good idea. After all, "The God Delusion" and similar atheist tracts have been selling like hotcakes (or buttered grits) down here.
But why? Are Christians staying up late on Saturday night to read these books and failing to show up at church on Sunday morning, as Mr. Dawkins might hope? So far, the answer is no, according to Bill Hay, senior pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church just outside of Birmingham. ...

Didn’t the same thing happen to H. L. Mencken? He persistently portrayed Dayton, Tennessee as a rural backwater - though he actually knew otherwise. Here is my view of why and how that happens, riffing off Leon Kass.

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