Two readers called my attention to an interesting one-hour debate that aired on the BBC1 “Big Questions” show about a week ago. Two big groups of goddies and atheists participate in a total of four videos. If you click on the link below, all four will open in sequence. Things start off pretty tame, but get heated in the third video.
Some of the arguments for God are familiar: religious scientists like Gregor Mendel prove that science and religion are compatible; natural selection can’t explain reciprocal altruism (of course it can, and altruism in humans may be largely a cultural rather than a genetic phenomenon); the cosmological argument applies to the Big Bang (this is handily countered by chemist Peter Atkins); the physical constants of the universe are “fine-tuned” for life (Peter Atkins again responds well); the existence of love testifies to the existence of God, as does the “fruitfulness” of the world; one guy heard God speaking to him (in English, of course), and so on. One person even asserts that we don’t need evidence for God to accept his existence.
The emphasis on personal revelation as evidence for God is pervasive and remarkable (see a remarkable pwning of this notion by atheist Kate Smurthwaite at 5:20 in video 3). In fact, the bulk of the “evidence” adduced for God is of the form “He spoke to me personally.”
At 10:05 in video 2, there’s an exchange about theodicy in which Pastor Acquoi Karbah explains childhood leukemia as the result of sin that God sees as necessary.
Despite the seeming bias of moderator Nicky Campbell towards the goddies (and this may be merely my own bias), they don’t come off as having a coherent position, undoubtedly because they disagree not only about the preferred faith (Muslim vs. Christian), but also about whether God intervenes in the world. The coherence is all on the side of the atheists, and if you spend an hour watching the video, you’ll be proud that you’re on that side.
h/t: Sigmund, Rev. El Mundo