Theologian John Haught refuses to release video of our debate

November 1, 2011 • 4:46 am

UPDATE:  I have received an email from Dr. Rabel, asserting that I have instigated people to write him emails, and claiming that some of those emails have been abusive, calling him a coward and so on.  I did not of course ask readers to write any emails, nor did I provide any email addresses.  But if you write to Rabel or Haught on your own initiative, please be polite!  There is no point in name-calling in such emails; the issue is one of free inquiry, and if you expect to achieve a result (and you won’t anyway, I suspect), you have to be polite.  Anyway, Rabel has threatened legal action against me, so don’t make it worse!


This is the story of the cowardly and intellectually dishonest actions of a theologian—one who is suppressing release of a video that shows the lameness of his religious beliefs. It’s also the story of an academic center supposedly dedicated to fostering open debate, but actually complicit in suppressing that debate.

On October 12 at the University of Kentucky, I debated Catholic theologian John Haught from Georgetown University on the topic of “Are science and religion compatible?” It was a lively debate, and I believe I got the better of the man (see my post-debate report here).  Haught didn’t seem to have prepared for the debate, merely rolling out his tired old trope of a “layered” universe, with the layer of God and Jesus underlying the reality of the cosmos, life, and evolution.  I prepared pretty thoroughly, reading half a dozen of Haught’s books (you need read only one: they’re all the same), and watching all his previous debates on YouTube. (Note that he’s sanctioned release of those videos.)

Haught seemed to have admitted his loss, at least judging by the audience reaction, but blamed it on the presence of “Jerry’s groupies,” an explanation I found offensive.  I’m not aware of any groupies anywhere, much less in Kentucky!

The debate, including half an hour of audience questions, was videotaped.  Both John and I had given our permission in advance for the taping.  I looked forward to the release of the tape because, of course, I wanted a wider audience for my views than just the people in the audience in Lexington.  I put a lot of work into my 25-minute talk, and was eager for others to see why I found science and religion to be at odds.

Well, you’re not going to see that tape—ever.  After agreeing to be taped, Haught decided that he didn’t want the video released.  Here’s what happened:

  • Dr. Robert Rabel, head of the Gaines Center for the Humanities, which sponsored the debate, informed me on Sunday that Haught had requested that he did not want the video posted. Note that Haught had already agreed to be taped, so his appeal that it not be made public was a post facto decision
  • Rabel decides to honor Haught’s request on the grounds that he didn’t get permission from Haught in advance to post the video.  I find this bizarre because the whole idea of taping the event is to make the debate more public, and because previous debates in this series have been posted.  The idea of posting is implicit when one agrees to be taped, and, believe me, I would not have gone back on that agreement even if I had lost badly. That is not only bad form, but intellectually dishonest.
  • Eager to at least get my part out, I asked Rabel to just edit the tape omitting John’s talk and his answers in the question session.  Rabel refuses, saying that it would be too much trouble.
  • I ask Rabel for Haught’s email address so I can try to persuade the theologian to change his mind, or at least find out why he won’t sanction posting of the video (Rabel, Haught, and I had all exchanged three-way emails before the debate, but I lost Haught’s address).  Rabel refuses to give me the email address because he wants to “stay out of it,” telling me that I can search for it online.  I find the address and email Haught, asking politely if he won’t change his mind about releasing the video, and, if not, requesting his reason.
  • Unwilling to give up, I ask Rabel for a copy of the tape—offering to pay any expenses for it—so that I can edit out Haught’s part and just post mine.  Rabel refuses, saying that he “didn’t think that would work.”
  • Haught responds to my email asking him to change his mind. His short response says that the event “failed to meet what I consider to be reasonable standards of fruitful academic exchange,” and that he would have no further comment.

I am deeply angry about this stand, and can see only one reason for what Haught has done: cowardice.  He lost the debate; his ideas were exposed for the mindless theological fluff that they were; and I used his words against him, showing that even “sophisticated” theology, when examined under the microscope of reason, is just a bunch of made-up stuff, tales told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

The stuff about “reasonable standards of fruitful academic exchange” is laughably dishonest.  Presumably Haught thinks that his discourse was fruitful and reasonable, so the fault here could only be mine. But if that’s the case, then the tape would show that his stance was far superior to mine, and would in his view be worth posting.

Haught is acting like a child, not a respectable academic.  He can’t be the the pitcher (bowler for you Brits), so he’s taking his ball and going home. His actions are contemptible, and I have no qualms about exposing them. And, by bowing to Haught’s post facto refusal to approve posting of a video whose making he approved, the Gaines Center is censoring a lively and fruitful debate rather than offend one of its participants.  This is not academia’s finest moment, and it’s a new low for theology.

I was looking forward to posting or linking to that video, and I’m deeply sorry that I can’t. I’ve tried all avenues of approach, and have failed.

The only good thing to come from this affair is that it exposes not only the follies of “sophisticated” theology, but the cowardice of a famous theologian. (Haught is the most prominent American theologian who writes about evolution and its comity with religion.)  If Haught can’t win a debate, then he’ll use all his God-given powers to prevent anyone from seeing his weaknesses.  I’ve written to other well-known atheists who have debated theologians, and not one of them is aware of anything like this ever happening.

Censorship like this is not good for academic discourse; it serves only to protect the weak bastion of theology from the cannons of reason.  Shame on you, John Haught, and shame on the Gaines Center for being complicit in the censorship.

545 thoughts on “Theologian John Haught refuses to release video of our debate

    1. Almost makes me want to email Dr Rabel at the University of Kentucky to express my dissatisfaction at his (in)actions.

    2. Well, at least you learnt that you should seek consent to publish prior to your next debate. Won’t make that mistake again will you?

  1. Your problem is as much with Rabel as it is with Haught. Rabel isn’t acting like an objective academic, is he?

    1. I agree that Rabel is a big part of the problem. He should be fighting to get Haught’s approval, too. The lesson seems to be that you shouldn’t head to Louisville with winning ideas. This reflects poorly on the University.

      Rabel seems wholly uninterested in doing even the reasonable thing. Won’t release. Won’t edit. Won’t let you edit.

      What’s his deal? Am I missing something here?

      1. I’m not sure why he even needs Haught’s approval.

        Fortunately, in the age of the internet, all it takes is for one person at Gaines with access to the video and a sense of ethics and that video will be leaked far and wide.

        1. Doesn’t even need to be video. If anyone there had even a poor quality audio recorder, there can be a transcript. Magna est veritas et praevalebit.

      2. University of Kentucky is in Lexington, not Louisville. That may sound pedantic but there’s a world of difference between those two cities.

  2. Greetings,

    Perhaps, in future, the terms for a debate should be in writing – including that the taped debate is made public: if not, then the debate can’t take place.

    Professor Coyne, would it be possible for you to post your opening statement, at least, if not your rebuttal(s) (if you could remember them)?

    That, at least, would be as close as possible to posting the video of your side of the debate.

    Kindest regards,


  3. Rabel can’t very well “stay out of it” when he’s actively taking Haught’s side. He’s as deep as anyone in this.

    On his side, Haught’s excuse is thin gruel indeed. You’d think someone who spends a career making up excuses for God would be able to come up with something a bit more convincing for himself.

    1. We have all seen the quality of the excuses proffered for Big Sky Daddy. His excuses for himself, I think are just as convincing.

  4. As it usually is with theologians, the less said the better. Theology has a label for this type of transgression ‘The Sin of Omission’ Theology has to the most arbitrary of all of humanities ideas.

  5. Pathetic. Haught’s intellectual standing, such as it was, won’t recover from this. Does the Streisand effect mean nothing to these people?

  6. I wouldn’t call it a new low for theology, but it’s rather pathetic.
    This is him trying to spread his ideas and evangelizing, not at all being interested in debate and reason. Theology does not belong in a university setting.

    1. John Calvin dealt with his theological opponents by convincing his followers to burn them at the stake, setting the bar pretty high for new lows in theology.

        1. Wow. As for intellectual dishonesty, not bothering to check up on historical half-truths. “Them” = one guy, Servetus. And “followers” = the Geneva City Council (a body that previously banished Calvin from the city – hardly his lackies, and who refused Calvin’s request for a less severe form of execution).

          NB I’m defending Calvin, but not Haught and Rabel, whose actions do appear rather lame.

  7. Jerry,

    You have my sympathies – it must be extremely frustrating to have prepared for a public debate, knowing that it was to be filmed and to then have the other party renege on their agreement.

    As ever the word play argument that Haught gave his permission to be filmed, but not for it to be posted online is typical of the sophisticated theologian and their camp followers – sophistry of the worst sort.

    Public pressure is the only response that can encourage these people to alter their cowardly unwillingness to have their ideas publicized.

    John Haught’s email is publically available on the Georgetown University website, I highly recommend emailing him to complain, ditto with Dr Rabel at the Gaines Center.

    Protest! Protest!

    I hope other atheist websites take up this issue. It is simply wrong for someone to arbitarily renege on an agreement to film a public debate. Contemptible.

  8. Apparently Haught had permitted taping the debate only for training purposes: it is presumably shown for a very select audience in some closed theological seminar, as a warning on what can go wrong when you meet a well-prepared and articulate opponent. (For God surely has known, from the Beginning of Time, that Haught would fail miserably – no need for Him to watch the taping!)

    More seriously speaking, intellectual and moral honesty are virtues that are as precious as they are rare. But this is shameful to a degree that would have attracted the attention of Kafka or Orwell…

      1. Or maybe God revealed Himself to Haught:

        “Don’t get disheartened, my son. I always knew that you would fail miserably in this ordeal. Let this be a lesson to you: never ever agree to share anything with any opponents, unless you happen to be clearly on the winning side. Always remember that most people have short memories, and they can be easily influenced.

        So, just insist that different people perceived the whole event in very different ways: the sensible and good Christians perceived your part very positively, while it may have annoyed the fervent atheists etc. etc. Claim that the truth is somewhere ‘in then middle’, for that is the way media presents debates between scientists and their opponents. It is like saying ‘Well, here we have these orthodox scientists who claim that people falling from a skyscraper to a concrete pavement will die, while there are people who are exploring an exciting alternative point of view, i.e. the idea that you can levitate safely to the ground, if you have the right mantra.’ The audience will understand that the truth is both totally relative and that it is somehow in-the-middle: you may have some scratches after the fall, but that is all. Now, go and destroy the tapes!”

  9. Unwilling to give up, I ask Rabel for a copy of the tape—offering to pay any expenses for it—so that I can edit out Haught’s part and just post mine. Rabel refuses, saying that he “didn’t think that would work.”

    Read: “I don’t trust you to not post Haught’s parts anyway”

  10. Not only the cowardice of a theologian, but the quite contemptible cowardice of Dr Rabel of the Gaines Center.

    1. In my view, it’s all Rabel’s fault. Haught could have bitched and moaned all he wanted, but in the end, Rabel was the HOST. He should provide nothing more than the forum and to negotiate the agreed format of the debators. Haught’s reneg or whatever should have had no bearing on the video’s release. Of course Haught is to blame as well, but the buck stops at Rabel…

        1. Agreed. And Coyne is right on the money … 🙂 [Sorry; couldn’t resist; the devil made me do it; entirely determined by my upbringing …]

    1. Anybody good enough with words (i.e. not me) to draft (and post here) an email requesting the publication of the tape that anyone willing (i.e. me) could then just copy and send to Rabel (and/or Haught?)?

        1. If shame were a motivating factor for him, he would disgrace himself and academia by censoring information paid for by public funds for public education in a public debate a Center purporting to promote public conversation and debate on matters of public concern.

  11. This is pretty amazing. I find Rebel’s actions particularly strange – his appears to prefer not to offend Haught over publishing the debate.

    If this situation remains as it is for some time, I suggest you provide your own lecture (perhaps the power-point presentation, assuming you had any, plus voice-over) so that all the work you’ve put into it won’t go to waste – i.e. that the rest of us could see it. It’s not as good as seeing the live debate, with Q&A, but still.

    1. I would second that, I would like to see something like that. Maybe at least that way you can get some more use out of your preparation efforts.

    2. Let me third that.

      If you retape your opening statement and post it then not only do we get to watch your arguments so that they get the higher dissemination you were looking for but it might prompt Haught to allow the debate to be posted rather than to let your critic stand unresponded.

      1. Oh, really, that’s asking way too much of a busy person like JAC. And how much atmosphere would be lost without the introductions, the crowd responses, etc.

        (Though it’s fun to imagine rounding up an audience and having stand-ins for the host & other debater–maybe an inflatable man for Haught…?)

  12. Haught is a disingenuous rat . one has only to read his testomony at the Dover trial to see that.

    “He testified that materialism, the philosophy that only matter exists, is “a belief system, no less a belief system than is intelligent design. And as such, it has absolutely no place in the classroom, and teachers of evolution should not lead their students craftily or explicitly to … feel that they have to embrace a materialistic world-view in order to make sense of evolution.” Nuff said.

  13. That’s bizarre. I would love to hear a detailed explanation from Haught about why the debate didn’t meet his academic standards (not that I think it would be in any way convincing).

    1. What he actually means is ….

      Hey this bloke has blown me right out the window so i will throw my toys out of the pram and not allow the world to see me being well and truly trounced by someone with sense

  14. That’s appalling. He got owned and he’s trying to save face. Utter cowardice and intellectual dishonesty. I see this behaviour everywhere, on a small and large scale, among theologians and other charlatans.

    I hope the consequence is that by trying to cover it up, it gets more exposure, sort of like the Barbara Streisand effect.

      1. Well, if that happens, he’ll be revealed as an intellectually and morally bankrupt coward.

        It would also be de facto admission that everything Professor Coyne has said was 100% true, despite his protestations otherwise.

        At this point he’s backed himself into a corner and the only way he could somehow pull anything resembling a victory out of it is if he somehow succeeds in changing the subject. And with the kind of people he’s got watching him, that seems unlikely.

  15. How disappointing. Jerry showed a lot more respect for the debate by going to great efforts to prepare for it. Rabel should be objective on the matter, but if he’s going to choose to be biased one way, it should be toward the one who took it more seriously. I wonder how he would have responded had it been Jerry asking to suppress the video?

    1. From what Prof. Coyne says, Haught appears not to have prepared at all for the debate. It would seem that it was Haught himself who “failed to meet… the reasonable standards of fruitful academic exchange”.

      1. To be fair, the lecture series was never stated to be a debate, only a discourse/dialogue; so to say that Haught did not prepare at all is misleading. He prepared a statement of his views on science and religion, as was the intention of the organizers.

        1. But both a dialogue and a discourse involve engagement with the other speaker. A dialogue is not just two competing monologues.

        2. Jai, that is a point in Coyne’s favor, not Haught. If the series isn’t debates and if this one wasn’t a debate, then Haught’s demand that it meet some standard of “academic exchange” is unwarranted.

          Haught’s defense only makes sense if he believes it was supposed to be a debate.

  16. Speculation:

    Maybe Dr. Haught’s Bishop bosses told him to refuse to release if he wanted to keep his professorship at G’Town.

  17. First, if anybody in the audience made a recording, now would be the time to leak it.

    Second, Jerry, you might want to contact a lawyer — and don’t forget that most universities have free legal resources available to students and faculty. This may well constitute breach of contract, and there might be other means available to compel the release of the recording.



    1. You can be sure that it was taped from the audience, unless, as is somtimes the rule, no cameras were allowed.

      At the Stephen Hawking event at ASU recently, I was sitting in the seventh row and saw someone near me who had been video taping a portion of it have his camera divested from him.

      It’s obviously a copyright issue.

  18. How I wish you’d give a thorough bashing of William Craig in a debate. That’s one irritating creationist. Although I believe the man has received some terrific putdown from Mr. Bart Ehrman in their debate, I think it’s not enough. He deserves the whole kitchen sink thrown at him.

    1. The only WLC/Ehrman debate I’ve seen was won handily by WLC. In that case, Ehrman was poised (in the beginning anyway), prepared, and knowledgeable, but he didn’t engage with WLC’s arguments so WLC kept repeating right up until the end his points that weren’t addressed by Ehrman and they were fatal.

      In other words, WLC won because he’s the better debater.

      I think he’d beat Coyne handily too. He’s annoying, but credit where it’s due: WLC is a master debater.

      1. WLC has two modes or techniques: lies and Gish Galloping. He leads off with lies and fallacies, and just keeps galloping. He can only be considered a master debater if intellectual and personal dishonesty are viewed as valid tools in a debate. I don’t see it. Sure, he’ll get the sycophantic idiots to ejaculate “put that in your pipe and smoke it”, but he relies on lies to make his points. He Gish Gallops like a fakir skipping across coals: because if he stops too long, he’ll get burnt.

        1. I see where you’re coming from with the “Gish gallop” accusation (which I don’t think is really different from the “lying” accusation), but I don’t quite agree. Oh, I agree that he’s dishonest at some level.

          And I DEFINITELY agree with your “fakir skipping across coals” bit — what a great line!

          But that’s where his brilliance as a debater comes in. At no point in the gallop does he state an outright falsehood. Rather, he leans very heavily on the notion that as long as a premise seems more intuitive than its negation then it should be considered true (which is itself a premise that most skeptics would not assent to) and then uses that principle to make airy-fairy medieval theological arguments seem like they actually have some validity.

          And yes, these are valid tactics in a debate.

          1. Yes! That’s exactly what a debate is! You agree to a set of rules beforehand then you bend them to the point of breaking in the hopes of scoring cheap rhetorical points on your opponent. And that is it.

            That is why debates are entertainment for pretentious people rather than education for serious people.

          2. That is why debates are entertainment for pretentious people rather than education for serious people.


          3. Apparently, you’ve not listened to much of WLC in debates or lectures. It strains the laugh test beyond its breaking point to suggest he doesn’t state any outright falsehoods:

            How old is Earth? 13.7 billion years.

            Angels and souls are immaterial, and just as concrete as rocks, though not ‘physical’ like rocks.

            And of course, he can’t help himself from butchering physics and mathematics:

            Numbers are put in a set with a ‘disembodied’ or a ‘pure’ mind so that the set of ‘abstract objects’ isn’t a set with only one member: god’s mind. (no, I’m not really trying to start a debate that’s been haunting the mathematics world forever – are numbers platonic or not; it’s a difference conversation than the one Craig has both in conclusion and methodology).

            The sequence of past of events cannot be infinite because if it were, we wouldn’t be in time where we are now – and if you ask a [ed note: bad] mathematician, they’ll tell you the same thing. He apparently has missed a couple of generations of thinking on various types of infinities – which he poopoos away as airy fairy specially contrived devices for mathematicians and physicists.

            Then: however, the future set of events is infinite, for the universe will just expand forever and forever for all time until heat death.

            And then: no real infinities can exist because they lead to paradoxes (apparently, he’s slightly brushing over the idea that a paradox doesn’t mean something can’t be true; only that it’s not obviously true and yet still may – see veridical paradoxes).

            God is eternal.

            I’m not sure about the rest of the world, but to my mind any coherent definition of eternal means that one has an infinity of time.

  19. That’s religion: ye listen to what you want to hear like you believe what you want to believe; ignore what doesn’t satisfy your palate – better yet, just get rid of it.

    It’s funny how we can’t access people’s contact details or lives on the internet, yet we can’t see the footage of an academic debate!

  20. I presume Dr Rabel doesn’t want the extra work involved; but an editing facility must have already been in place (he wasn’t going to do it, presumably?) so this facility could still be used without the tape falling into your hands. And you could offer payment directly to that facility, and then there’s no trouble for Dr Rabel, apart from checking that no Haught is included on the final cut?

    Maybe he just doesn’t want the responsibility for any fallout. He wants to wash his hands.

  21. Here’s an idea if you would be up to it: Since you have(a) the details of your own talk and (b) at least notes on the key points made by Haught what do you think about doing a ‘re-enacted’ version of the debate where (i) you lead off with a talk on Haught’s refusal to let the ‘real version’ be shown and then (ii) you and an “actor” re-create the debate. The advantage of doing this is that when people do, as is inevitable, google this, they will see Haught exposed for what he really is as well being able to get the benefit of the debate itself. Seems like fair game to me.

    1. You could have a lot of fun with this. I seriously hope you and Mr Deity get together. I am certain the world would be rolling on the floor laughing at Haught’s way of “thinking”.

    2. Of course, if Dr. Coyne don’t want to limit himself to fair games, he could also have the actor dress up as a circus clown.

    3. I think we could get Prof Dawkins* to take Haught’s part — just set up an empty chair, and voila!

      (*if Prof Dawkins’ schedule permits)

  22. One further idea. There has been much made on the interwebs (e.g., at UD) about the refusal of Dawkins to debate WL Craig while Craig is in the UK. Accusations of cowardice. This example set by Haught goes far, far beyond accusations thrown at Dawkins. Let’s all please bookmark this particular story and make sure to spread it far and wide to show what cowardice REALLY looks like and to show the base intellectual dishonesty going on here.

  23. My guess is that this is simply a misguided case of the Gaines center wanting to play nice with Haught. At the end of the day if a release form is signed that generally allows whoever does the filming to do what they want with the footage. From what it looks like the blame and responsibility for this decision lies with Gaines, not Haught…in which case this should be amplified loud and clear as a warning to all other speakers who go there with the expectation of an impartial forum.

  24. About a year or so ago, I forwarded an email to my sicko cousin – aka Father Bill now – that joined up w/ the Boston seminary to become an ordained moron. The email that I sent him (with documents attached) provided direct and incontrovertible evidence that el pappzino and the rest of ’em were guilty as shit of the current pedophile cover-up policy at the highest echelons of the cult. The World Court is being petitioned by human rights activists to bring these bastards to justice based on the evidence that’s been uncovered.

    In the email, I asked him to express what a person should do if they suddenly found themselves being used as pawns in a criminal enterprise. I choose to use the word “pawns” because because I didn’t want him to think that I believed he was one of the real criminals. (I think he’s probably too stupid to be an actual criminal but he’s definitely smart enough to be a pawn.)

    Did this email and it’s contents phase my cousin? I am happy to inform everyone that, yes indeed, it did. It had a profound effect on him: he changed his email address, refused to send his new one my way and has asked others who know the both of us to do likewise.

    I think Father Bill’s response is exactly what you should expect from a cult of wackjobs whose only real interest is preserving the insanity in which they have invested a big portion of their lives. It explains your cowards MO perfectly as well.
    ~Rev. El

  25. John F. Haught is on the 90-member Board of Advisors with the Templeton Foundation for which I suppose he must get a sinecure:

    “We encourage civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians and between such experts and the public at large, for the purposes of definitional clarity and new insights”

    Therefore the Foundation would want this cleared up wouldn’t they – some clarity? Perhaps Haught was afraid of losing his position with them if the video was released? It can do no harm to drop a note to the Templeton crew & see what happens.

    Demand a rematch!

    1. “We encourage civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians and between such experts and the public at large, for the purposes of definitional clarity and new insights”

      Oh dear. If you know how to translate “liberal theology”-speak, this does not bode well for debate. A debate works under the assumption that both sides are seeking truth and one side is attempting to persuade the other side to change their minds.

      What this little bit from Templeton sounds like is a call for sharing views — each side explains what they think (and, perhaps, why they think it) but it’s all done with the implicit understanding that neither side is going to attempt to argue against the other side. Instead, what is sought is a harmonizing of diversity through a shared agreement to “respect” differences and appreciate where the other person is coming from. It’s not debate: it’s “dialogue.”

      I bet that this is what threw Haught off. The students and others watching the dialogue were passionate enough to want a debate. Liberal theology is mostly ecumenical wanking about how anything might be true so who are we to judge anyone else’s heartfelt chosen spiritual path? It’s all terribly vague and about love and pity the poor atheists who don’t get this because they think all theists are fundamentalists.

      Jerry came prepared and the audience wasn’t in the mood to give an approving nod to any theist who isn’t an “extremist.” Coyne knew Haught clearly enough to know Haught isn’t clear enough — and called him on it.

  26. Obviously consultation with a higher authority is needed here. Therefore in my new role as an ordained minister with the 1st Reformed Church of Perpetual Retreat, I hereby order the release of said tape. I live only to serve – you are all welcome!

  27. I’m shocked. Shocked, I say, to learn that Haught, a professional Liar for Jesus, and crybaby, is also a sore loser, and a bad sport.

    Haught will lose this debate, too, one way or the other.

  28. I believe the proper academic response it to stick one’s thumbs in your armpits, raise and lower the elbows while repeating the phrase “Bawk, Bawk, Bawk”

  29. Congratulations on your victory. Your focus has been “sophisticated” theology’s atrociously poor arguments, but the root problem is the actual fraudulence at theology’s core. Any action that exposes theology’s essential fraudulence is a victory.

    Of course we would prefer that the video be released, but Haught’s pathetic weakling reaction cedes a larger win. Well done.

  30. On the top of the poster it says the series of debates was part of “The 2011 Bale Boone Symposium In The Humanities”

    On the bottom of the poster it says this:
    “The Bale Boone Symposium is supported by the National Endowment For The Humanities” [NEH]

    According to HERE the

    “NEH is an independent grant-making agency of the United States government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities”

    Therefore this series of open-to-the-public free lectures was partly funded with public money. I think a strong argument can be made that the Gaines Centre must release the video for public consumption.

    1. Never mind a strong argument — this is exactly the sort of shit that pisses off government funding agencies. Once somebody at the NEH learns of this, this “misunderstanding” will suddenly get all cleared up. That, or the University will suddenly find it s NEH grant money in jeopardy — but I’m sure nobody at UK is stupid enough to play those kinds of games.

      Add to the email:



      1. Thanks Michael and Ben for suggesting the best route forward so far. I have sent an email to NEH, with copies to the three parties and the UK President’s office. If several of us do this, maybe NEH will hold an ass-kicking party on these clowns.

        I think its a better idea than the petiton to Rabel posted near the top of this thread.

    2. As I noted well below, there’s also the possibility that the State’s FOIA act might apply; I’m not sure on the exact nature of UKY’s relationship to the state.

  31. Nietzsche wrote some beautifully perceptive words about theologians. With regard to Haught’s actions, consider the aptness of the following words from Nietsche’s “The Antichrist”:

    “[The theologian’s] profound instinct of self-preservation stands against truth ever coming into honour in any way, or even getting stated.”

    (I also love the sentence that follows. It is hyperbolic but nevertheless wonderful: “Whatever a theologian regards as true must be false: there you have almost a criterion of truth.”)

      1. an excellent observation. Unfortunately, it seems that so many theists think that no one will notice their deceitfulness, as if their god will draw a curtain over it. Their antics do serve as excellent examples of how theists only selectively beleive their religions and can always excuse their own lies.

  32. But surely someone in the audience that night recorded the lecture on some device. I encourage whoever did so to post the lecture on YouTube, and then send Jerry the link.

  33. What are the odds that Haught’s little tantrum included some kind of legal threat? He would have no justification for any such threat, but the fact remains that an idiot with a lawyer can cause a great deal of disruption. This is hardly Rabel’s finest hour, but he’s a busy man, and not wanting to waste precious time on the histrionics of some middle-aged toddler is understandable.

      1. It’s not commendable, but the desire to avoid lawsuits is understandable.

        Then again, I see from Jerry’s update that Rabel himself has threatened to roll out the lawyers. There goes any lingering respect…

  34. Amazing. I was really looking forward to this as well. If anyone wants to get into a Wiki edit war, there is a page on Haught that comes top of a google search:

    As other have mentioned some kind of youtube video would soon get towards the top of searches and expose this chicken.


      Haught has participated in several public debates about the compatibility of science and religion, sharing the stage with Daniel Dennett at the City University of New York in 2009,[6], Kenneth Miller at the The New York Academy of Sciences in 2011[7], and Jerry Coyne at the Gaines Center for the Humanities at the University of Kentucky in 2011.[8] After agreeing to be taped for his debate with Coyne,[9] Haught blocked the public release of this debate, saying that the event “failed to meet what I consider to be reasonable standards of fruitful academic exchange”[9] and publicly attributing standing ovations for Coyne’s debate performance to “Jerry’s groupies—the young people.”[8] Coyne called Haught’s block of the public release of the debate the “cowardly and intellectually dishonest actions of a theologian,”[9] “laughably dishonest,”[9] and accused Haught of “acting like a child, not a respectable academic.”[9]

  35. “..failed to meet what I consider to be reasonable standards of fruitful academic exchange.”

    I don’t give a brass button for your considerations. I can judge for myself what constitutes fruitful academic exchange.

    1. Given what passes for “academic” for Haught, I’m not surprised. Anything less than a miracle (i.e., Jerry converting and finding Jeebus) must be considered a failure.

  36. University of Kentucky alumnus here, ashamed and embarrassed for the Gaines Center for the Humanities having enabling and being complicit in the suppression of public access to the videotape of a public intellectual debate it sponsored on the University of Kentucky campus, on account of one of the disputants (the disputant representing religious belief in the utterly undemonstrated) deciding AFTER the debate that he didn’t want the debate (as presented by EITHER side) to have further public viewing. No further comment from me is necessary, such anti-scholastic behavior of the sponsoring agency and the reneging disputant speaks for itself.

    1. Actually, further comment from you personally is necessary — it’s just that said comment should be directed to the University. They tend to listen to the alumni more than to the general public.

      Call the President’s office. No, really. Give ’em a call.



  37. Well, I’ve written to Haught. This is completely unacceptable, and it is certainly a black mark against Haught if he continues to oppose posting the video. In any event, I agree that, if it is not posted, Jerry, you should present your speech just as you delivered it. Have someone video it, and then post it here so that we can hear at least what you had to say. I’m sure it will be worth the time to get it out there.

  38. In future, Jerry, it might be worth investing in your own camera and tripod, so at the very least you have your own record of such events.

  39. He *is* a coward.

    And what, exactly, does he think he has legal recourse for?

    Seems he knows as much about law as he does about theology…

  40. I for one sent emails to Haught, Rabel, and the NEH. Respectful, but serious emails. (We aren’t the other side, who send personal threats about such things, after all.) I urge you all to do the same.

    1. For the record, here is the email I sent to Dr. Rabel, copying Drs. Coyne and Haught as well as the UK office of the president and WKYT’s news tip address. I later forwarded a copy to the NEH.

      Dr. Rabel,

      I was dismayed to learn this morning that the University of Kentucky is refusing to release the recording of the public debate that Drs. Coyne and Haught recently engaged in.

      I am at an utter loss to think of any valid reason for a public university to intentionally and actively disrupt the public dissemination of a public academic exercise that it went to such lengths to promote to the public in the first place. This cannot possibly in any way be in keeping with the mission or values of the University, and I cannot imagine any way in which the administration, trustees, parents, alumni, or legislators could possibly condone such censorship.



      Ben Goren
      1022 West Apollo Avenue
      Tempe, Arizona 85283
      (480) 966-9472

        1. Oh, it’s hardly the first time I’ve posted my address to WEIT, and it’s not at all hard to find it through other means. For example:

          It’s waaaaaay too late for me to craw into a hole, or even worry about the possibility that somebody might know where I live. Not that I’m inclined to worry about such things in the first place.



          1. Tanks!

            Jerry, if you ever come to speak at ASU, that’ll be not one, but TWO! TWO entire groupies fawning over you.

            …so, how many more do we need to get you out here?



          2. Wow^2!

            And I live…on 43rd St; in Augusta, not-Georgia, not-Maine, but…Michigan; in the everlovin’ Rust Belt…

            Kill me now!

  41. Jerry, I would suggest for the future to consider taking a “groupie” with you and the video camera and tape the event independently as Dawkins used to do.

  42. Anyway, he’s threatened legal action against me,

    LOL! For what?

    His email address is public.

    It’s not illegal to send impolite emails. Threatening emails would be illegal. Impolite ones are not.

    If you don’t want to be called a coward, then don’t act like one!

    1. I’m not actually advocating sending impolite emails, just pointing out that Rabel’s threat of legal action is baseless.

      Also, calling someone a coward is direct, but not impolite.

      1. Yeah, it’s the whole, “They said mean things to me, now I’m going to sue YOU!” tactic. There could be harassment, but it’s a public address and people get hate mail all the time, Dawkins just reads it out loud in front of a fireplace.

      2. I think it’s worth noting that Dr. Coyne referred to their actions as cowardly, which is significantly different from outright calling them cowards.

  43. With you 100% on this, Dr. Coyne. Haught’s actions are contemptible, and the more the public knows of this shameful episode, the better.

  44. A question whose answer might be quite interesting: Exactly which “reasonable standards of fruitful academic exchange” does Mr. Haught feel the event did not live up to?

    1. Maybe it’s the one where the audience falls asleep.

      I’ll bet Haught is mostly pissed off at the post-debate dinner, where by your own admission

      …the enormously bright and impressive “Gaines fellows” (all undergraduates selected for their drive and intelligence) pretty much took him down. I just had to sit back and watch these engaging and thoughtful students dismantle Haught’s fluffy ideas.

      He’s probably used to students fawning over him because he’s not a creationist and thus makes their own religious beliefs feel reasonable. The debate is done and he’s a jolly good fellow after all. The man was instead put off his dinner. It didn’t stop.

      I suspect that, without this, Haught wouldn’t have bothered to suppress the video. Just a guess on my part. Could be wrong.

  45. You have to admit that it wasn’t fair for the fates to fill the audience with reasonable people — I mean, ‘Coyne groupies’. For all Haught knows, such people could be all over the internet, and then what would happen? The end of the God business? We can’t have that.

    Think of the theologians, people. What are they supposed do — work for a living?!!! Walmart has plenty of greeters already.

  46. I am not a video blogger, but I bet there is one here somewhere.

    When Hitchens debated Dembski here in Dallas, Texas the hosts refused to post the debate despite promising the audience to do so prior to opening remarks. More than one youtuber posted items similar to this one:

    This is a video open letter to Prestonwood regarding their conduct.

  47. Here’s the letter I sent. Even *I* managed to be polite!

    Professor Haught,

    I was disappointed to read on Jerry Coyne’s site that the video of your debate with him on 12th October will not be released to the public because you’ve blocked it. Your statement that the event “failed to meet what I consider to be reasonable standards of fruitful academic exchange” might be a lot more plausible if you’d explain it further. What standards are those? In what way do you feel they weren’t met? Please feel free to be as specific as possible.

    I’d like to encourage you to change your mind and agree to release the video or at the very least explain in much more detail why you will not. While you refuse, the only conclusion we can glean is that Jerry made you look like a fool through superior argument and you’re embarrassed.

    Don’t be embarrassed, Professor Haught. If you were beaten fair and square, chalk it up to experience and face the consequences. If you feel there was unfair play or that you won the debate but for some reason the public shouldn’t see it, by all means tell us why.

    Kicking over the Scrabble board fails to meet what I consider to be reasonable standards of fruitful academic exchange.

    I look forward to hearing from you,



    1. Part of the irony is that Haught probably did somewhat better in the debate than most assume now: a performance equal to blowing saliva bubbbles while babbling in Pig Latin whilst Dr. Coyne calmly and concisely explains the wonders of the universe from a scientific view, necessarily speaking loudly at times to be heard over the gurgling noises coming from Haught’s podium.

      But now Haught’s probably-not-so-bad performance is lost to us.

      1. Yes, until we see the video, we can only assume that Haught was taken by the sudden fear that there might be those in the audience who can tell Pig Latin from Latin and who think saliva bubbles are the Vulgar in a debate, however cute in a sleeping infant.

        In another video, the theologian–er, charlatan (sheesh, why bother to change it)–shouted “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”, but Toto insisted. Haught hopes there’s no Toto this time. Pulling the video out is pulling the curtain shut. But this time, Toto’s a cat, and a determined ratter to Boots!

  48. Haught’s argument is actually that he’s so stupid that he didn’t realize that the talks were being recorded so they could be published. It’s pretty telling that he thinks that admitting to being an idiot who doesn’t understand simple concepts is better for his reputation than releasing the video of his performance.

  49. Anyway, he’s threatened legal action against me, so don’t make it worse!

    Wow. Somehow, though, I doubt this threat is going to make anyone stop thinking he is a coward, though.

    1. So true.

      And now that Rabel has added the threat of “legal action”, we can add that one or more of them is also a bully.

  50. wow. I’m so disappointed. I was really looking forward to this debate. Jerry, sorry you got duped like this. It’s really a shame. Next time we know what to do though, right? Ensure the rights of the tape belong to everyone.

    Not only has John lost the debate, he’s lost credibility as an academic imo. Really, I hate to be so negative towards a person, but this is pathetic.

  51. UDATE: I have received an email from Dr. Rabel, asserting that I have instigated people to write him emails, and claiming that some of those emails have been abusive, calling him a coward and so on…

    I am the one who put the publicly available email addresses here. If either of them want to sue me, bring it on. If their reputation or that of their institutions is sullied, it is because they sullied it.

    I sent an email to both Rabel and Haught.

    1. Maybe Haught thought that UK meant United Kingdom and he would be able to press charges under their attrocious libel laws…Just a possibility

  52. If Rabel is offended by being called a coward, perhaps he shouldn’t engage in cowardly behavior.

    His threat of a lawsuit is meaningless. Just someone who’s angry at being called out in public for reprehensible behavior.

    A lawsuit by you for release of the video would be more likely to be productive.

  53. So, just how mean and uppity New Atheist are you willing to get about this?

    The Gaines Center for the Humanities is affiliated with the University of Kentucky. This would appear to make them potentially subject to Kentucky’s Freedom of Information Act, which providesAny person shall have access to any public record relating to him or in which he is mentioned by name, upon presentation of appropriate identification, subject to the provisions of KRS 61.878“.

    I am not a lawyer; so, is there a Lawyer in the house?

    1. Good find. My reading KRS 61.878 indicates that this public debate does not fall under any of the exemptions of that law.

      Dr. Coyne is therefore well within his rights to request a copy of the tape under article 61.870.

      Dr. Coyne, do you have Jeremy Irons’ email address? I bet he’d be happy to pen a short letter to the UK for you.

  54. Prediction:
    (Particularly once the students get wind of this)
    1) the video will eventually be released, whether an official or bootleg copy.

    2) it will attract FAR more views than if it had just been released without any complaints.

  55. Wait a minute. What these guys are doing IS cowardly. You called them cowardly yourself. Now you want to tell us to not call them cowards?

    Also how can he take legal action against you? For what? People finding his email and emailing him? That’s bullshit.

    1. Agreed. People just scream “legal action” when they get scared. Last I checked we still lived in a free country where we are allowed to express our ideas and opinions. They just don’t like that the emails are critical. If they were receiving thank you letters from “Jerry Groupies” there wouldn’t be a problem. So, it is just further proof of censorship. Can’t they take a little heat?

  56. Mailed Rabel with the below:


    Dear Dr. Rabel,

    I have read Jerry Coyne’s account on his personal blog of your unwillingness to release the recorded debate between Coyne and John F. Haught, Ph. D. Assuming that Coyne’s description of events is correct, it seems that Dr. Haught has succeeded in what can only be called anti-scholarly bullying in persuading you to suppress the hard copy of the recent Gaines debate. This I find quite incredible.

    The alternative is that you agree with Dr. Haught’s take on the evening in question – that your Gaines debate “failed to meet what I consider to be reasonable standards of fruitful academic exchange” – in which case I would respectfully ask what you are doing holding such events in the first place.

    Of course that is entirely hypothetical. I am quite certain that you, like Coyne, stand by the structure and substance of the evening, and thus I can see no reason not to release the tape – as is done with virtually all debates – except out of a mystifying sense of deference to Dr. Haught. Dr. Haught agreed to be taped, he was aware that taped debates are released – he is now looking for a get-out. It is to your credit if you refuse to give it to him. If on the other hand the tape is not released one is left with one of the two uncomfortable conclusions above: that Dr. Haught is incorrect about his perception of the evening yet you are giving in to him; or that he is correct and you organised a bad debate.

  57. Dirty play! Can Prof. Coyne do his presentation again and add Rabel’s comments to the best of his memory and of those who were present? He, of course, would give Rabel an opportunity to correct as he deemed necessary. No doubt Rabel would not participate, but that’s just fine, he had the chance. If Prof. Coyne could do this it would be gratifying and popular to all his fans.

  58. Someone should make a dummy video with the title “Jerry Coyne debates John Haught at the University of Kentucky” with no sound, and a description in text of why the actual video isn’t available. At least then Haught’s cowardice would be displayed on youtube.

  59. My version:

    Dear Robert, Lisa, Colleen, and NEH,

    The recent Coyne-Haught debate (atheism vs theology) organized and sponsored by the Gaines Center was videotaped, after both Haught and Coyne signed an agreement allowing this. After the debate, Haught (the theologian in the debate) apparently did not like the outcome, and refused to allow the debate to be posted on the web. Robert, you agreed to abide by Haught’s demand, even though his demand is illegal and intellectually dishonest, and violates the spirit of the Gaines Center program. The event was a public non-profit event, funded in part by the NEH, in affiliation with the University of Kentucky, a public university. Haught does not have the legal right to prevent the airing of this tape, and Dr Rabel does not have the right to withhold it from Coyne. Kentucky’s Freedom of Information Act states “Any person shall have access to any public record relating to him or in which he is mentioned by name, upon presentation of appropriate identification, subject to the provisions of KRS 61.878“.

    Finally, this childish censorship goes against the spirit and the letter of the guidelines for public funding of such events: “NEH is an independent grant-making agency of the United States government dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities.” It should be understood that if taxpayers funded this public debate, which was taped according to prior agreement by all parties, that tape is public property.

    The community at large hopes that the Gaines Center will reconsider their counter-productive decision to cave in to the unethical and illegal wishes of one of the debaters. He agreed to have the debate taped. Kentucky law requires you to release it.
    Best regards,
    Lou Jost

  60. Does the University have an Ethics office? I would imagine there’s some question about Rabel’s complicity in supporting Haught’s frankly shameful actions, as well as obstructing Jerry’s efforts to reach a settlement.

    Perhaps they should be informed, with a cc to Rabel, of course.

  61. I’m one of the guys from the post-debate podcast with the Evolving Scientist: Don’t pay to have it shipped. We’ll go and get the tape and edit it to whomsoever discretion just to get it out. I doubt this would ever happen, but it’s a reasonable alternative. I’d sign whatever to destroy our master copy, etc.

    1. Dustin here from the Evolving Scientist. We’re all graduate students at UK, and were in attendance that night. If anyone has any ideas as to how to get it released (other than emails) let us know. We are working on a petition as I write this. We’ll keep you up to date.

      1. UK students and faculty have valid cause to seek the video’s release through the UK Ombud Office. Email, but a much more effective course of action is for the group to schedule a meeting with an office representative, respectfully and professionally assert your case, and request their assistance to achieve a timely resolution.

  62. You know, this isn’t actually Haught’s fault, in a way. I mean, he sucked and it was caught on tape. I’d do anything to prevent that going on Youtube, too.

    As a professional musician, I can relate. Sometimes, when you play in public, things just go wrong and you leave the stage with that sinking feeling that you just sucked. We usually try to prevent those concerts from being distributed.

    The fault here is the Gaines Center’s. They obviously did not prepare for this by having Haught and Coyne sign a little waiver agreeing to be taped and agreeing to have that tape distributed.

    Also, they are being extremely unfair in not allowing Coyne’s part in the debate to be released. Jerry Coyne took the debate seriously and prepared very hard, in part because he knew that he would be debating for an online audience of thousands. In fact, he may have even decided to do the debate with that online audience in mind. So the Center has in fact pulled a bait-and-switch on him–he agreed to do a debate under certain promises of public exposure, but it turns out that his career and ideas will not get the publicity promised to him.

    There’s nothing Coyne (or we) can do if Haught doesn’t want his part of the debate released. It doesn’t look like the Center made him sign anything, so their hands are tied. They absolutely SHOULD, however, honour Coyne’s request and release his part in the debate.

    I think we should push for that.

    1. It doesn’t matter whether or not Haught agreed in writing so long as he agreed. Oral agreements are valid. And, frankly, his explicit agreement isn’t actually necessary, he gave an implicit agreement by going ahead with the talk knowing it was recorded. IANAL, but I don’t think Haught has a leg to stand on, not even close. The only thing keeping the video from being released is a misguided sense of deference/loyalty or what not by Rabel.

    2. He agreed in writing to be taped…I, for one, would be shocked, shocked, shocked if that waiver did not include the right of the Gaine Center to distribute the results of the taping.

      Otherwise, why have a waiver?

      1. Yes, if it was a standard, boiler-plate waiver, then Haught agreed to be videotaped for any purpose whatsoever, and granted those rights in perpituity, with no right to review the video or change his mind.

        I wonder what Haught would be saying if he thought he’d one the debate and Jerry tried to censor it???

    3. Michelle wrote : “You know, this isn’t actually Haught’s fault, in a way. I mean, he sucked and it was caught on tape. I’d do anything to prevent that going on Youtube, too.

      As a professional musician, I can relate. Sometimes, when you play in public, things just go wrong and you leave the stage with that sinking feeling that you just sucked. We usually try to prevent those concerts from being distributed.”
      Errr, Michelle, as a “professional musician”, you probably work hard to prevent sucking on stage ; from what Jerry says, Haught didn’t do his homework, or is incompetent at what he does. Haught’s fault, plain and simple.
      And of course he’s going to try to cover it up, which is something he shouldn’t be allowed to get away with.
      Listen : can you hear the “drip, drip” sound of my heart bleeding for him? Of course you can’t, because it’s not.

  63. Jerry,

    One thing you might think about is a request from HuffPo for an editorial on this episode. After all, they love Haught at HuffPo, and we all know that HuffPo never “fail[s] to meet … reasonable standards of fruitful academic exchange.” On the other hand, while such an editorial might look good on HuffPo’s “cv”, it might not look so good on yours.

  64. Yep, I thought so.

    Rabel is violating the Terms and Conditions of his NEH Grant.

    Dissemination of Project Results

    Recipients are expected to publish or otherwise make publicly available the results of work conducted under an award. Unless otherwise specified in the award documents, two copies of any published material resulting from award activities should be forwarded to the appropriate NEH program officer as soon as it becomes available. This material should be labeled with the identifying NEH award ID number.

    All publication and distribution agreements shall include provisions giving the government a royalty-free, nonexclusive and irrevocable right to reproduce, publish or otherwise use the material for federal purposes and requiring the acknowledgment of NEH support. The publication shall also include the disclaimer contained in Article 3 of these General Terms and Conditions for Awards.

    1. Good find. I wonder what the NEH will think about spending money on a talk which is videotaped, only to have the video suppressed.

        1. Yeah, that is really ridiculous. I know Rabel is a Classics Professor not a Law Professor, but I’m curious to know what his legal theory is there. “Unknown third parties said mean things to me”?

  65. Apologies if this point has been covered after 162 comments (which I do no not have time to read – cooking and blogging), but is it worth us all e-mailing Dr. Rabel of the Gaines Centre to request the uploading of the tape?

        1. Write to his superiors too. Scan through the above comments for great email addresses for most of the parties involved–Haught, Gaines Center, NEH, U of Kentucky, even local news stations.

  66. Brave, brave, brave, brave, Sir Rabel
    When danger reared its ugly head,
    He bravely turned around and fled!
    Brave, brave, brave, brave, Sir Rabel!

    On a more serious note lets hope someone recorded the debate on their phone so we
    can at least get to hear it.

  67. Was it officially agreed to ahead of time that the debate* would be posted online? Yes or no, Jerry, we deserve a straight answer to this.

    If not, then you don’t know the reason for the taping, and you don’t really have a right to demand indignantly that it be put online. It depends who paid for it, who did the taping, and for what purpose. Maybe the taping was for the University’s public access channel. Maybe it was for inclusion in a folder that is sent to the funders that sponsor the event, or the sponsoring organization’s dossier of events they have hosted. Maybe it was for some scholar’s scholarly record. And, maybe it *was* intended to be put online, but only if the event was successful in being a scholarly, calm, academic exchange, and maybe the actions of Jerry and/or his fans nixed that. We don’t know.

    What I do know is that I’ve met Jack Haught on several occasions, and worked with him on the Kitzmiller case.** He is a quality individual, very intelligent, incredibly well-read, a friend of science, and he doesn’t have a mean or spiteful bone in his body. His theological arguments might be right or wrong, everyone can make up their own mind about it, but just because you think someone is wrong on pretty abtruse philosophical matters doesn’t mean you get to heap cheap insults and scorn upon them. Well, of course you have the right to do that if you want, but you should neither deserve nor expect cooperation and friendliness in return for that kind of juvenile and uncollegial behavior. And you shouldn’t expect to get taken very seriously amongst professional academics and educators, whatever the popularity of this kind of stuff in the gnu-o-sphere.

    * Jerry consistently refers to this as a “debate”, but neither the Gaines website nor the online PDF flier refer to it this way — they all consistently say “symposium”. We know Jerry treated it like a debate, and came armed to the teeth, but it’s entirely possible Haught was expecting a non-confrontational symposium style. Debating is its own skill, not many academics are good at it, even when they do prepare for it as a debate (as many have found out when debating creationists), and it is an entirely open question whether or not debates and claims of “winning” and “losing” mean much at all in terms of serious academic discussion, as opposed to grandstanding.

    ** What’s that? Armchair critics from the Gnu camp rising in indignant objection? Annoyance at Nick bringing up the Kitzmiller case yet again? Well, too bad. Anyone who hasn’t put in a similar amount of time and effort into defending science, and yet sits around tossing playground insults at those of us who have, mostly in ignorance of history of the issue and the players involved, deserves to have their nose rubbed in it.

    We — not just Jack Haught and I, but also Ken Miller (another one of those good-for-nothing theistic evolutionists who has done more for science education than almost any of the folks around here who throw around cheap insults like “coward”), along with various atheists, agnostics, etc. — kicked butt in that case, there is no denying it. In part success came precisely because the whole legal team decided to not engage in the sort of pointless, counterproductive propaganda and demagoguery so common with the Gnus these days. If we’d turned it into an atheism-promotion event, which is apparently the only goal many of you think is worthwhile*** we would have proven the core arguments of the ID side (evolution=atheism) correct, quite possibly with very bad results.

    In a few decades, people will still be talking about cases like Kitzmiller. What will they say about the Gnu movement and it’s dragging of atheism down to the level of a World of Warcraft newsgroup spam-war? Probably not much.

    *** If you thought otherwise you would have some sense of proportion in the rhetoric and effort you put into going after strong pro-science theistic evolutionists versus the creationists they have opposed for decades. But having a sense of proportion about things is evidently not something that is important around here.

    PS: I’m off to the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting in Vegas, so don’t be insulted if I’m not here to insult you back when you start insulting me for daring to object to the party line around these parts. I’ll probably be drinking instead. Look me up if you’re at the meeting, though, these things are more fun to talk about in person than in text, where everything gets taken in the most serious possible way.

    1. Nick, you are talking out of your nether orifice here. First of all, it was clear to me and the audience (who were told, I believe) that the talks would be posted online. Second, previous Bale Boone talks have been posted online, for example, here.

      And your assumptions about what I said how I acted, or what kind of talk I was asked to give, are just smarmy, like this:

      And, maybe it *was* intended to be put online, but only if the event was successful in being a scholarly, calm, academic exchange, and maybe the actions of Jerry and/or his fans nixed that. We don’t know.

      Oh for God’s sake! You’re acting just like a troll which, of course, is what you are.

      This is my online home, and I won’t put up with nasty insinuations like that.

      1. Agreed. How can accommodationists live with using cold reading like that. It isn’t even smarmy, it’s insinuating.

        _And_ the scepter of Kitszmiller is used again, as the last wall for Matzke to battle behind. Too bad it is see through:

        “Anyone who hasn’t put in a similar amount of time and effort into defending science, and yet sits around tossing playground insults at those of us who have, mostly in ignorance of history of the issue and the players involved, deserves to have their nose rubbed in it.”

        Coyne and many others here, me included (having a PhD), has put in more time and effort building and defending science on various arenas than the parochial religious one alone.

        And we note with disgust that NCSE does not put in an effort in order to shore up science but to promote evolutionary creationism like Miller’s (see their website). So if it looks like we are looking at shit served it is because it _is_. Religion destroys everything it touches.

        1. Well, since I have spent a lot of time battling creationists on the Board of Directors of KCFS, I feel eminently qualified to tell Nick to make the most out a dead rusty porcupine.

          I fully acknowledge the good work Nick, Miller and the others did for Kitzmiller. Nick, you realize that because you were right there, that doesn’t mean you (or Haught) are right here, correct? I’m pretty sure you’re smarter than that. Oh, and you might have a Dr. take a look at that chip on your shoulder and have it removed. Otherwise, the more invasive cranial rectal extraction might be required.

    2. I’m in agreement with Nick here. This behavior and name calling is appalling. This is breeding a kind of intolerance among the atheist community which is increasingly damaging to it, and I won’t be party to it.

      1. Calling people out on their dishonesty and lack of academic rigor is appalling to you?

        Why else would the event be videotaped – to be stored in a vault somewhere?

        If there was some intolerant behavior at the debate on the part of Haught’s opponents, then it is in Haught’s interest that the video be released so everyone can see and condemn this behavior.

        1. Why else would the event be videotaped

          Hell, why else would Haught even speak in public, at an academic event, unless he wanted people at large to be exposed to his arguments? This wasn’t a Scientology secret ritual, or a private Masonic Lodge event, or a corporate board of directors meeting — this was an event at a university, attended by a large crowd. Why even speak at a university if you aren’t willing to stand by your remarks publicly?

      2. This is breeding a kind of intolerance among the atheist community which is increasingly damaging to it, and I won’t be party to it.

        The only thing that the “atheist community” shows intolerance for is intellectual dishonesty.

        And it should.

        If you can’t see that, you really “aren’t helping”.

      3. What the hell are you talking about, Egbert?

        You write a single comment to exclaim that you won’t be a party to “this behavior” and “name calling”?

        FFS, if you aren’t going to be a party, why write any comments at all?

        Could you be a louder tone troll?

    3. Yeah guys! Why isn’t each and every one of us here a nationally recognized academic? What were we thinking, commenting on something when we aren’t even paid to do so on the national stage?!

    4. A symposium doesn’t mean you get to just present your case and not be questioned on it. Symposium or debate, there’s no reason for Haught to object to the video being distributed unless he has something to hide.

      1. By the way, several commenters have posted the copies of the emails they sent to Dr. Rabel. Every single one of them has been nothing but respectful.

      2. A symposium is a Greek piss-up meal. Night out for the boys, with the wine flowing freely, the women-folk in the back room, and the serving slave girls expecting molestation.
        Sounds like fun.

    5. Jerry consistently refers to this as a “debate”, but neither the Gaines website nor the online PDF flier refer to it this way — they all consistently say “symposium”.

      Every PDF I’ve seen (e.g. here) refers to the whole event as a symposium. As in Bale Boon Symposium.
      The whole thing was a symposium, composed of several “events” obviously pitting two opposing view points against each other with an audience to watch. Jerry called those “events” debates. You would call them, what, then?

      1. According to the poster you refer to there were 3 debates (events) within this symposium. Because it is unthinkable that 6 people would debate themselves in 3 different days. The frame of that initiative was called “symposium” which was composed of 3 “debates” – exchange of ideas between two parties/persons. Jerry was on one of them so why to refer to the meeting with Haugh as “symposium”? It makes not sense. It was a debate. It would be like calling a horse a stable.

    6. Mr. Matzke, you accomodationists have consistently asserted that Gnu Atheism is counterproductive on the grounds that calling religious people on their groundless claims will just drive people into the waiting arms of the Creationist movement. Which is all well and good, but what evidence do you have in support of this assertion? After all, the Gnus have been at it for a nontrivial number of years now; if the undesirable consequences you decry were actually occurring, the number of Americans who believe in Creationism should have been more-or-less steadily rising for the past several years, and the number of Americans who accept evolution should have been more-or-less steadily falling over the past several years. But as far as I know, neither has belief-in-Creationism been rising nor acceptance-of-evolution been falling. Mr. Matzke, do you have solid data to support either the proposition that belief-in-Creationism has risen in recent years, or the proposition that acceptance-of-evolution has fallen in recent years? If so, please present that data! And if not, I, for one, will thank you to be kind enough to stop berating your fellow atheists for imaginary, or at best unsupported, evils.

    7. And, maybe it *was* intended to be put online, but only if the event was successful in being a scholarly, calm, academic exchange, and maybe the actions of Jerry and/or his fans nixed that. We don’t know.

      That sentence says more than the rest of your priggish self-righteous diatribe put together.

      Yes, we don’t know. How convenient. You can slander Jerry and “his fans” all you want, without letting pesky things like evidence get in the way.

      1. And let’s not forget that Haught’s insistence on suppressing the video is the very reason that we don’t know. In criminal law, a defendant’s attempts to conceal evidence are almost always admissible as evidence of “consciousness of guilt.” Such an inference seems appropriate here.

        1. That should be “criminal law in the United States,” which is the only criminal law I know about. I apologize for my momentary failure to remember that there are other countries in the world.

      2. I was there for the 12 October rout. As I exited the auditorium (after getting Jerry to autograph my copy of WEIT like a dutiful groupie) I saw a young lady with professional looking camera equipment at the back of the auditorium. When I asked her what she was doing she said they were taping the event for UK and would be posting it to the university’s vimeo site. Clearly, they’d expected to post it. Funny enough, a couple days ago before Jerry’d posted this story, I’d sent Rabel a respectful email asking when the event would be posted to the site. His reply: “Unfortunately John Haught has requested that I not allow the video to be posted on our web site nor elsewhere for that matter, and I feel obliged to honor that request. Bob”

        1. And Jerry has requested that Rabel post the video, but somehow he doesn’t feel obliged to honour that request.

          Why should Haught’s wishes take precedence?


          1. Only in case there is a specific personal problem with publishing, I assume.

            But none has been suggested, so that is unlikely here.

    8. Thank god you’ve appeared, Matzke, because I, for one, was in real danger of forgetting you.

      It is most kind of you to reappear from time to time to remind us of how important you were in Kitzmiller.

      Well, I know you must be off now–drinking, and whatnot in Las Vegas. Of course, no one would expect you to stick around, because you’re important, and Kitzmiller and stuff.

      1. He is really destroying his street cred by bringing it up where it doesn’t belong…

        Excuse me, he _has_ already destroyed his (and NCSE’s) credibility.

        Well, so it goes.

    9. Nick, what is your definition of “going after strong pro-science theistic evolutionists”, exactly?

      Do you think that’s why Haught is being opposed? Because he’s a pro-science theistic evolutionist? Not because he’s doing something wrong?

    10. Nick Matzke wrote:

      If we’d turned it into an atheism-promotion event, which is apparently the only goal many of you think is worthwhile*** we would have proven the core arguments of the ID side (evolution=atheism) correct, quite possibly with very bad results…If you thought otherwise you would have some sense of proportion in the rhetoric and effort you put into going after strong pro-science theistic evolutionists versus the creationists they have opposed for decades. But having a sense of proportion about things is evidently not something that is important around here.

      You’re shifting issues. The topic here was “Science and Religion: Are they compatible?” and the forum was an academic one. The fact that people can believe in both God AND evolution as long as they compartmentalize their science-thinking from their religion-thinking was significant for the legal argument — but it’s a superficial way of analyzing the deeper question. One might as well say that chemistry is compatible with homeopathy as long as chemists agree that, when they use and advocate for homeopathy, they’re not doing so as chemists, or thinking the matter has anything directly to do with chemistry.

      What you’re calling a “sense of proportion” is what I’d call “saving appearances.”

      1. Good point. Kitzmiller was a trial about a specific legal issue. Turning it into an atheism promotion event wouldn’t have made any sense.

        The symposium Haught and Jerry participated in – that Haught agreed to participate in – was about the compatibility of science and religion.

        Nick’s point seems to be that, because Haught performed well in the former, then his performance in the latter should be exempt from criticism.

        Sure, Nick.

    11. Wow. Way to make it about your disagreements with the Gnus again – with a smear and insinuation here and there for good measure. You *are* skilled.

    12. Nick, do you also placate to homeopaths and anti-vaxxers on medical blogs as well when people call them out for being intellectually dishonest?

      Someone in the thread summed up Nick Matzke’s post pretty well when they called it a “priggish and self-righteous diatribe”.

      Matzke and other accomodationists so often miss the point. It’s like they think creationism and ignorance of the natural world are the biggest concerns here.

      Yes some of us use strong language at times, but WE’RE PISSED OFF!! Why are we so pissed off? Is it because people don’t believe in evolution? NO!!!! IT’S BECAUSE WE WANT TO LIVE IN A BETTER WORLD!!! And we know that the way to do this is through reason, logic and evidence.

      Of course we want people to learn science. But more than anything, we want people to learn and respect the “methods” of science because, as Sean B. Carroll and Steven Pinker respectively have put it “When the scientific process is abandoned, the lesson throughout history is failure or outright disaster in human affairs” and “The denial of objective reality is no friend to moral progress”.

      It’s important to hold intellectually dishonest people accountable and to put them on display so that people can understand what it means to be intellectually dishonest.

      This is what it means to be an atheist.

    13. Quisling thought he was helping save Europe from the evils of the Soviets. And he even helped try to broker peace between Germany, France and England back in 1939…

      And no doubt his coup and puppet government saved the lives of many otherwise doomed Norwegian soldiers… And he labored, with great vigor, to win Norway’s freedom and independence through negotiation with Hitler, having many meetings until the very end…

      But was it, really, the right thing to do? Did it really work out for Norway?

    14. “His theological arguments might be right or wrong, everyone can make up their own mind about it”
      No we can’t, he won’t allow for the release of the video!

    15. Let me get this straight. JC calls Haught a coward for stifling the dissemination of a public exchange (call it a debate or a symposium, it doesn’t matter) and somehow that becomes conflated into “heaping cheap insults and scorn.” Calling Haught a coward is not scornful, rather it appears to be an honest appraisal of the facts; And it is not cheap, for he seems to be working very hard to maintain the title. Like the Bible says, a man deserves his pay.

      I do not know Haught’s specific position on Biblical interpretation, but it seems that atheists tend to get a bad rap for using strong language when expressing their views while religion gets a free pass, and all sorts of sophisticated exceptions, when it comes to the offensive language in scripture. It is assumed that we atheists should show more respect to the vile, hateful speech produced by religion.

      I take Christians to task on this below; it deserves more attention.

    16. Anyone who hasn’t put in a similar amount of time and effort into defending science

      Interesting priorities- expending as much or more time and effort DOING the actual science doesn’t qualify one to have an opinion?

    17. Okay, Nick, the video has been posted, as well as the Q&A, and I highly doubt that your speculation (below) holds water:

      And, maybe it *was* intended to be put online, but only if the event was successful in being a scholarly, calm, academic exchange, and maybe the actions of Jerry and/or his fans nixed that. We don’t know.

      That’s just a snarky and invidious attempt to suggest that just maybe Haught was right (you didn’t consider, of course, that he might have been wrong). Before you can post here again I’ll expect an apology for that insinuation.

      I swear, you’re getting nastier and nastier as you get older (far nastier, in fact, than anything I said in the debate), and if you don’t watch it, you’ll wind up like Rosenau.

    1. Dear Dr. Rabel,

      I am writing you in disappointment of your decision not to publish the debate between Dr. Jerry Coyne of the University of Chicago and Dr. John F. Haught of Georgetown University.
      Both my parents and grandparents are proud alumni of the University of Kentucky and longtime residents of Lexington, so it dismays me personally that you have will not honor your initial agreement to release this debate in full. I was looking forward to watching the event online since I was not able to attend in person. Being that both men are noted experts in their respected fields and had ample opportunity to prepare for the debate, it appears as an outsider, the University of Kentucky is attempting to hide an embarrassment and squelch the free exchange of ideas.

      I turn your attention to a local Texas scandal when Prestonwood Baptist Church, one of the largest and most powerful congregations in America, tried to reverse its decision to make the William Dembski vs. Christopher Hitchens debate publicly available online as promised. The debates are now freely available under the url “Prestonwood Cowards.”

      Moreover, it appears that, due to the sudden negative publicity your decision has engendered in the scientific and academic community, Dr. Coyne has been threatened with “legal action” solely because you have received multiple critical emails this morning. I certainly hope that is an idle threat that will be withdrawn immediately.

      I am a member of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, like my husband, both my parents, and my paternal grandparents before me. Sir, your action does not promote the University of Kentucky in a positive light.

      Case in point, this debacle has already made Wikipedia:

      I have copied the Office of the Ambassador of the Order of the Kentucky Colonels as well as the news desk of the Kentucky Kernel. I have also contacted the office of Dr. Ann Stuart, Chancellor of the Texas Womans University, graduate of the University of Kentucky, Kentucky Colonel, and close personal friend.

      You still have the opportunity to make good on your commitment to post these debates and reshape public sentiment. I strongly urge you to do so.

  68. You (Jerry Coyne) should make a new video that more or less copies your previous presentation and then post it. 😀

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