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Arguing for God

December 2, 2007

It’s (or he’s) a hot topic these days, what with Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens weighing in for the negative. Does God exist, and why should we believe in him, her or it?

There was an interesting debate a couple of days ago in the US at The Tufts Freethought Society, between Daniel Dennett, atheist (whom I admit I’d never heard of) and Dinesh D’Souza, Christian, of whom I had, but generally vaguely bad stuff.

It’s about God. The nominal topic of the debate was “God is a manmade invention.” (Rather along the lines of Voltaire’s aphorism that “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.”) Daniel Dennett argued the affirmative, and Dinesh D’Souza the negative. But the debate did not really address that question. It was more about whether it was rational, or not, to believe in God.

You can catch all the whole thing at Richard Dawkins’ website. It’s worth the hour or so it takes to watch all 15 YouTube videos.

Or there’s audio of the debate here (thanks to Solomonia, who was there, and with whose readout of the debate I agree).

I didn’t take too much to D’Souza’s megaphone style, but I’d say intellectually he won the day and the debate. For the first time since I read St Anselm of Canterbury, I’m thinking there may be a compelling philosophical case for the existence of God.

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5 comments

  1. Thanks for the link to the audio of the debate. I can’t stand watching these things on youtube but I do like to listen to them on my mp3 player.

    While I obviously haven’t listened to the debate I have read this short post.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if D’Souza won the debate. He is a very good presenter but I don’t have any respect for his intellect.

    Here is a video of D’Souza blaming ‘the left’ for the 2001 terrorist attacks in the USA.


  2. {I’m thinking there may be a compelling philosophical case for the existence of God.}

    You need to read Dawkins “The God Delusion” If you feel “compelled” towards “belief” then delusion is creeping up upon you.

    First chapter here:

    http://richarddawkins.net/firstChapter,1

    But if you want to philosophise, consider Epicurus:

    Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
    Then he is not omnipotent.
    Is he able, but not willing?
    Then he is malevolent.
    Is he both able, and willing?
    Then whence cometh evil?
    Is he neither able nor willing?
    Then why call him God?

    PS If you want to dig deep into an understanding of Darwinian theory, natural selection and the trashing of IDiots and other fruitcakes like D’Souza go here. Warning: if you’ve had no formal training in biology it’s heavy going.

    http://www.scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/

    Cheers.


  3. I thought Dennett was weak not only in the interchanges but also in his 25 minute opening statement. Frankly, I had conversations along those lines when I was 13. But D’Souza’s constant recourse to analogy is effective as a rhetorical trick, but not as a philosophical position. That said, Dennett seemed unable to counter him.

    Still, this is the debate of the ages and is hardly going to be resolved one way or another in this exchange.

    D’Souza hardly gets a word in edgewise in the video you linked, IMHO.


  4. Nothing I’ve read of Dawkins so far has impressed me by much. But Hitchens on the subject might be a rewarding read. I’ve seen some of his video’d addresses. They suffer from the smart-arsedness that the Dude is sometimes cursed with, but interesting nonetheless.


  5. Jesus Kerist, Rob what’s happened? Has the defeat of the Howardistas got you flummoxed, intimidated by Strocci’s descriptive ‘dark forces of Wetness’? Even CL is back in the blogsphere.

    You are conspicuous by your absence, on your own blog WTF?



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