Wednesday 30 November 2011

Four little words to sort the wheat from the chaff

One question, central to the skeptical endeavour, is most likely to identify the real from the imaginary, the genuine from the fraudulent, and the merely deluded from the scam artist. Where claims are made, whether for the existence or power of deities, the efficacy of unusual medical treatments, or the reliability of money-making schemes, the one question that will provoke the most enlightening response is the question of evidence.

Suspicions will be initially aroused if claims lack substantiation. A request for substantiation is reasonable, but often the response is not. Unreasonable responses run the gamut from appeal to revelation (for deities) through conspiracy theory (for secret knowledge), pseudo-science (for nutritional supplements, young-earth creationism, infallible diets, the list goes on...), to legal action (for, amongst other things, alternative medicine).

"How do you know?" If we ask this question when presented with claims for, say, effective treatment for cancer, here are two possible responses (there may be others, but these are the important ones — the ones that tell us most about the motives of the responder).
Response 1: "We did tests. Here are the results. Judge for yourself."

Response 2: "Shut up, or we'll set the lawyers on you."
Time and again this four-word question — "How do you know?" — has separated genuine claims from those that are not. The latest example appears to be that of the Burzynski Clinic, offering a hugely expensive treatment for cancer with apparently no adequate scientific proof that it works — and this has been going on for over 30 years. A number of bloggers have raised doubts about Burzynski's treatment, questioning the evidence for its efficacy.

The Clinic's response: "Shut up, or we'll set the lawyers on you." It speaks volumes.

"Theology is piffle" — a debate worth having?

As part of a recent "Burnee links" I posted this comment:
God without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God’s Absoluteness - You Will Want This Book!
No. You won't. This book-promotion on Choosing Hats comes with a 73-minute video of three blokes (including the author) discussing the book. I watched the first 15 minutes, and I recommend it only as a perfect illustration of why theology isn't about anything that has the slightest relation to what's going on in the real world. These guys appear to be articulate and intelligent, so it's a shame they're devoting so much energy to such piffle.
Here's the video:

...and here's a comment from Chris Bolt of Choosing Hats on the Burnee links post:
Thanks for the link Paul...I think.


Any time you are willing to debate, "Theology is Piffle" let me know!
Is it worth debating? Probably not, because in order to "debate" sensibly about something, both sides must be clear that they are discussing the same thing. Theology is "the study of the nature of God" — and as far as that goes it's less useful than the study of Star Trek.

Theology as a subject is no more than literary criticism — as is Trek fandom. Trek fans can get carried away worrying about continuity lapses and such-like, forgetting that Trek is man-made and that the reason some things in Star Trek don't make sense is that it was created by a fallible human being who made mistakes.

Using literary criticism to analyse Star Trek may produce insights into the nature of Roddenberry, because we start with the knowledge that he really existed and he really did create Star Trek. And we also know that Roddenberry did not present Star Trek as factual representation.

Applying literary criticism to scripture, however, will not produce insights into the nature of God, because we don't know that scripture was written by God, or that God even existed in the first place (regardless of whether scripture is factual, mythical or metaphorical). The best that theology might be able to offer is some insight into the cultural milieu of scripture's authors — who were human. Unfortunately theology persists in its claim that it is studying God, so its efforts are doomed from the start.

Until theologians admit that they are engaged in nothing more than literary criticism they can be left to their own insular devices, just like the more extreme end* of Trek fandom, while the rest of us attend to the real world.

* I have nothing against the more moderate spectrum of Trek fandom. At least they know that Star Trek is fiction.

Sunday 20 November 2011

The Secret Life of Chaos

I watched this one-off documentary yesterday (it was rebroadcast earlier this year, and it's taken me a while to get round to watching it again). Jim Al-Khalili explains how we get complexity from simplicity, and as far as abiogenesis is concerned the implication is clear. It makes "intelligent design" a superfluous theory.

The hour-long documentary is no longer available on iPlayer, but there's a dedicated webpage with several clips, and with luck it will be rebroadcast yet again. (It was apparently available on YouTube for a while, but all instances appear to have been removed.)

Here's the blurb from the BBC website:
Chaos theory has a bad name, conjuring up images of unpredictable weather, economic crashes and science gone wrong. But there is a fascinating and hidden side to Chaos, one that scientists are only now beginning to understand. 

It turns out that chaos theory answers a question that mankind has asked for millennia - how did we get here? In this documentary, Professor Jim Al-Khalili sets out to uncover one of the great mysteries of science - how does a universe that starts off as dust end up with intelligent life? How does order emerge from disorder?

It's a mindbending, counterintuitive and for many people a deeply troubling idea. But Professor Al-Khalili reveals the science behind much of beauty and structure in the natural world and discovers that far from it being magic or an act of God, it is in fact an intrinsic part of the laws of physics. Amazingly, it turns out that the mathematics of chaos can explain how and why the universe creates exquisite order and pattern.

And the best thing is that one doesn't need to be a scientist to understand it. The natural world is full of awe-inspiring examples of the way nature transforms simplicity into complexity. From trees to clouds to humans - after watching this film you'll never be able to look at the world in the same way again.
Inspiring stuff.

Burnee links for Sunday

Matt Dillahunty vs. Mark Allison: Good Without God? - Atlanta atheism |
This was an interesting debate, which I screen-capped from the live stream and watched the next day at a more hospitable hour. Matt easily rebutted the same old arguments, but he did so in an engaging and often original way. (I'm aware that I share the reviewer's bias, so my feeling that his review is nevertheless accurate takes that into account.) You can watch a recording here:

Nazi racial ideology was religious, creationist and opposed to Darwinism | coelsblog
This is an excellent, thoroughly researched blogpost from Coel Hellier. It ought to be the last word on the common misapprehension that Hitler was motivated by atheism and Darwinism.
(Via Malcolm Stein)

A fine-tuned universe argues for atheism | coelsblog
More from Coel Hellier. This is a blog to follow.
(Via Malcolm Stein)

Faster than the speed of light?
Professor Jim Al-Khalili is not yet looking for edible underwear.

Richard Dawkins is wrong to call William Lane Craig morally repulsive | Andrew Brown | Comment is free |
Dreadful article, full of non sequiturs and nonsense.

Robert Lanza, M.D.: Did an Outside Entity Create the Universe?
If you use words in an unfamiliar way you can pretend to be highly significant - even if you're talking rubbish.

God without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God’s Absoluteness - You Will Want This Book!
No. You won't. This book-promotion on Choosing Hats comes with a 73-minute video of three blokes (including the author) discussing the book. I watched the first 15 minutes, and I recommend it only as a perfect illustration of why theology isn't about anything that has the slightest relation to what's going on in the real world. These guys appear to be articulate and intelligent, so it's a shame they're devoting so much energy to such piffle.

Saturday 19 November 2011

New episode of Skepticule Extra

In the latest episode of Skepticule Extra (at least, the latest to be made live), the three Pauls discuss William Lane Craig's Reasonable Faith tour, an ineffective investigation into child abuse in Ealing, a project to alert audiences to fraudulent mediumship, and murderous obsession in the Bible. (In short, the usual stuff.)

Listen, enjoy, comment (

Unbelievable?: The Conference — Big Questions Stream

The Big Questions Stream is the last of three DVDs in this boxed set of Premier Christian Radio's one-day apologetics conference held in May this year. (I have already reviewed Disc 1 and Disc 2.)

Disc 3 begins with Mark Roques and his talk entitled: "Is Jesus the only way?"

It's a dynamic lecture, if a little unfocussed and with iffy sound. Roques claims that all people live by faith, giving as an example some rat-worshippers in India. He says there are four types of response to rat-worship, each conforming to a specific type. The first is that of, for example, James Bond, who would describe rat-worship as irrational. Roques claims this is a "modernist", secular worldview and what he describes is essentially a materialist worldview that denies the existence of anything supernatural. But as a first example it shows how ill-advised it is to use fictional examples to explain what you are claiming as fact. Religionists seem to do this a lot, as if they can't see how it's likely to be interpreted. By picking a fictional example you are essentially basing your factual claims on something that has been made up. If Bible-believers want to convince people that scripture is more than "made up" they should stop doing this.

The second example is the response of Paul Merton, who visited some rat-worshippers during a TV documentary. Merton apparently described rat-worship as "true for them" — which Roques says is a post-modernist worldview, in which everyone is entirely autonomous.

The rat-worshippers' response, however, is that rat-worship is "true" — which is Roques' example of the third type of response.

Roques' fourth type of response is exemplified by Christianity: "Don't worship rats, worship Christ."

He then goes on to list four views of salvation. The first is the "exclusivist" or "restrictivist" view, in which only those who have been called by God will go to eternity in heaven, while everyone else goes to eternal punishment. The second is an "inclusionist" but not "universalist" view, which allows even some people with no knowledge of Christ to be saved. The third is "theological pluralism", which holds that all religions can lead to God, and the fourth is the "universalist" view where everyone will be saved. Unsurprisingly there's disagreement on the matter, but as it's theology there's no way of conclusively resolving the issue — because theology is mostly fabrication. Incidentally Roques says he holds to the "inclusionist" view of salvation.

During a Christian apologetics conference there's bound to be a good deal of dissing of other religions, but some of those other religions have their own conferences, and what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Mark Roques is also guilty of conflation when he claims that for James Bond the god is science, and when later on in his talk he claims people have made "money" their god. Many religionists seem to do this, giving the impression that they are locked into a mindset in which it is impossible for anyone not to believe in a god of some kind. For such religionists, there's no such thing as a true atheist.

Roques is very big on story-telling (likening this to the parables of Jesus), but he needs to be clearer on the distinction between factual and fictional stories, otherwise people will be inevitably drawn to the idea that the whole of scripture and theology is just a series of stories. For myself I'm glad that in this lecture he used his faux "common" accent only once.

Next on Disc 3 is a two-hander with John Lennox and David Robertson on the question "Is there evidence for God?", and it has the assertions, the atheist-bashing, and what I can only describe as self-congratulatory smugness — coupled with attempts at mitigating false modesty — coming thick and fast. I found it difficult to keep up, abandoning my use of the pause button for note-taking purposes and just let the whole thing roll over me.

The usual canards are in abundance: atheists have no grounding for moral judgements, they are closed-minded to evidence by a priori assumptions, and they don't understand the meaning of faith. But throughout their discussion neither Lennox nor Robertson explain what precisely their subjective experience of God is. It's all a tacit admission of mysterious ineffability. They say much but convey little, and I found it frustrating waiting for either of them to deliver even one thing that might be a serious challenge to atheists — either "new atheists" or the plain vanilla variety.

Lennox makes a good point, however, about "nothing buttery" when decrying materialism, but I don't think he realises that he is actually validating the materialist view when he makes it.

So in response to the question "Is there evidence for God?" the answer must begin with "It depends what you mean by evidence." And if you're after compelling evidence, rather than just a subjective feeling, forget it.

Finally we have (again) Mark Roques, with "What about suffering?" beginning with the tale of Cornish Christian boy Thomas Pellow, captured by Turkish pirates and forced to be the slave of the Sultan. He converted to Islam (to save his own skin), and returned to his parents 30 years later. He was, we are told, sustained by his Christian faith.

Roques quotes David Hume's distillation of Epicurus's paradox — according to which an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent God is an incoherent concept. Roques goes on to say, "I want to try and respond to this with some perhaps fresh material." This sounds promising but ultimately leaves us high and dry, as in delivering his talk he often seems to get diverted down side alleys, never returning to the place whence he came.

Asking the question, "Is it possible to be an atheist and also affirm the existence of evil?" Roques then examines materialism, quoting Richard Dawkins in River Out of Eden on the "blind, pitiless indifference" of the universe, as well as Dawkins' response to the 2006 Edge Annual Question — "What is your dangerous idea?"

Dawkins' contribution was "Let's all stop beating Basil's car" in which he floats the (not original) idea that just as Basil Fawlty's defective car is not to blame for its deficiencies, neither are we as material humans "at fault" for our own shortcomings. Given that these essays for the Edge were supposed to be radical and iconoclastic, it's disingenuous of Roques to point to Dawkins and claim that materialists deny that humans have any moral responsibility. The problem — as usual with debates of this kind — is that key terms haven't been properly defined. What does Roques mean by "evil" or "moral"? He's speaking to a largely Christian audience, so he may consider these terms don't need defining. But this is an apologetics conference and the audience will be going out to defend their faith. Without rigorous definition of terms, their efforts could well come across as unconvincing or even sloppy.

Here's an example of what I consider egregious sloppy thinking:
"Materialism declares that only physical things exist and so it is not possible to speak about purpose, goodness and wickedness. Evil is an illusion."
First off, we need to know what Roques means by purpose, goodness, wickedness and evil. By this measure we could claim that thoughts, being "non-physical", don't exist — when they clearly do.
"Evil does not exist. It is an illusion. A delusion. A toothfairy. This is what many atheists believe. It's their religion."
This is the worst kind of straw man fallacy, and teaching it at an apologetics conference is doing nobody any favours. Roques belabours his "no responsibility in materialism" point, but without saying what he means by responsibility. When we consider ideas of materialism and determinism in human action we must be careful what we dismiss. It is possible to hold to a materialist, determinist worldview in which free will does not depend on substance dualism, and still maintain that we are responsible for our actions. The question then becomes not what do we mean by "responsible"? but what do we mean by "we"? The entity — the human — held to be "responsible" comprises the sum total of who "we" are — our current thoughts and disposition, our memories, our experiences, our genetic make-up, our education, even our present environment. Such questions are way deeper and more subtle than Roques portrays in his talk.

Roques may even be going out on a limb relative to his religionist cohorts. He claims that Anselm and Aquinas were wrong about goodness, and that Plotinus — and Plato before him — were bad influences on early Christianity. He makes this challenge:
"If naturalism/materialism is true, then surely both goodness and evil are illusions. So where do you get your notions of evil and goodness from as you rail against God?"
See how disingenuous his approach is? "Rail against God?" This may be a reaction to Dawkins' deliberate caricature of the Old Testament God in The God Delusion, but such emotive language is inappropriate to an honest examination of the problem of evil.

Roques may be a dynamic speaker (despite seeming to lose his way several times in this talk), but the thrust of his argument is superficial. When pressed he is revealed — as far as I could see — to have nothing original or indeed useful to add to the morality debate. In the Q&A the first questioner asks why God allowed evil in the first place:
"There's a sense in which I don't know the answer to that deep question."
And as he offers nothing more of substance in response, there's a pronounced lack of any other sense in which he did know the answer.

So what did I get out of these three DVDs? I could have attended the conference itself, but I would still have needed the DVDs in order to see the parallel streams. The cost of the DVD set is comparable to the cost of the conference, but if I'd attended I would have needed to add the same again in travelling expenses. In any case I think I might have felt uncomfortable in an audience of mostly believers.

On the whole I found the talks as presented on the DVDs disappointing, but also — on another level — heartening. Much was made of equipping Christians for defending their faith in the wider world, but the armoury provided here appeared clumsy, outdated and ineffective. Not once did I find myself thinking, "Gosh, there's an argument I really must look into further." Maybe these evangelicals will be effective in converting teetering agnostics who are confused by recent new atheist literature — or maybe not. It's seems clear, however, that anyone who is happy to self-identify as an atheist on the basis of honest enquiry into the God-question will not find anything challenging on these DVDs.

Monday 14 November 2011

Burnee links for Monday

John Haught - Where's The Tea? - Skeptico
More on Haught vs Coyne, and discussing Haught's fallacious analogy.

A very silly calculation | Pharyngula
P. Z. Myers on the lottery fallacy.

The 50 Most Brilliant Atheists of All Time
Lists of this type always raise questions of arbitrariness — who's on it and who's not — but this one is nonetheless fascinating.

Massimo calls out Templeton « Why Evolution Is True
Jerry Coyne applauds Massimo Pigliucci's rejection of Templeton money.

The Rants of Cherry Black » Blog Archive » Middle of the night, joyful rantings!
Now that Giles is elsewhere (in London I believe), Pompey Skeptics in the Pub is pretty much Trish's sole responsibility. I don't think she's likely to give it up any time soon.

Top 10 Worst Anti-Science Websites
Another list? What the hell, why not?

Saturday 12 November 2011

Expecting the obvious is not "prediction"

Craig A. Evans, in the title of chapter 32 of Dembski & Licona's Evidence for God, asks "Did Jesus Predict His Violent Death and Resurrection?"

According to the Bible (extensively cited) he probably did. But what does it matter whether or not Jesus did so? Considering what he was up to, he might well have expected to fall foul of the indigenous authorities, the consequences of which were not difficult to foresee.

As for predicting his resurrection, this is what Evans has to say:
Did Jesus anticipate his resurrection? It is probable that he did. Once he began speaking of his death, Jesus very likely began speaking of his vindication through resurrection. Had he not anticipated it would have been very strange, for pious Jews very much believed in the resurrection of the dead.
It would have been strange, apparently, if Jesus had not "anticipated" his resurrection, so it remains unclear what point Evans is trying to make. To echo my response to a previous chapter in this section of the book, "So what?"

Thursday 10 November 2011

Burnee links for Thursday

Stephen Law: Craig's website response re our debate
Stephen Law analyses William Lane Craig's analysis of their recent debate. (This also usefully provides a 'deep link' to Craig's analysis without registering at Reasonable Faith.)

Incentivizing online activism – a proposal « Skeptical Software Tools
Tim Farley has an interesting idea (yes, another one). But I'm not a gamer, so I'd probably not be any good at this.

Testing psychics « Derren Brown Blog
Why Sally Morgan should submit to a test — if she's a real psychic.

William Lane Craig and the problem of pain | Pharyngula
P. Z. Myers calls out Craig on his mangled "science". I heard Craig's argument about the pain of animals for the first time at his recent debate with Stephen Law. I thought at the time a lot of pet-owners would vehemently disagree with him.

Skepticule Record — Pompey Skeptics in the Pub

Portsmouth Skeptics in the Pub was tonight, and very good it was too. Audio will be posted as a Skepticule Record episode in due course. Meanwhile you can listen to last month's talk by Alec Muffett:

"Sex, Lies and Instant Messenger"

Enjoy (but not too much...)

Sunday 6 November 2011

Burnee links for Sunday

PRESS RELEASE: Big news for the online atheist community.
The latest herding exercise — maybe this one could work...

Metamagician and the Hellfire Club: Coyne vs. Haught - advantage, Coyne
Russell Blackford on John Haught's whining.

What eight years of writing the Bad Science column have taught me | Ben Goldacre | Comment is free | The Guardian
The state of play in Bad Science, and why it's not all bad news (plus lots of links to interesting stuff).

Guardian writer foolishly claims that religion answers factual questions « Why Evolution Is True
Jerry Coyne on Keith Ward's hubristic Guardian piece.

Skeptics in the Planetarium

(Now that I've booked my own tickets for this event, I'm happy to spread the news...)

It's going to be amazing — just look at that line-up! Crispian Jago has all the lovely details, so go to his site for further links and info about the performers.

 There's also a Facebook event page to confirm your attendance (if you want to) and see who else is going. Oh the anticipation...

Moral imperatives explained

It's been a while since I embedded Morality 2, but here's the third instalment of QualiaSoup's excellent YouTube series on morality:

Seventeen minutes of astounding moral clarity — definitely worth the wait. So far this series has turned out to be the most lucid, concise and comprehensive analysis of morality I've seen.

Saturday 5 November 2011

Biblical authority in doubt?

Ben Witherington III follows his previous chapter in Dembski & Licona's Evidence for God with "Jesus as God", in which he quotes so extensively from the Bible that I wonder if the editors put the sections of their book in the wrong order. This, the third section, is titled The Question of Jesus, but I can't help wondering if it should have come after the fourth (which I've yet to read), titled The Question of the Bible.

I query this because the book is supposed to be directed at skeptics as well as believers. To quote from the back cover:
Challenges to belief in God as he is revealed in the Bible have always existed, and today is no exception. In Evidence for God, leading Christian scholars and apologists provide compelling arguments that address the latest and most pressing questions about God, science, Jesus, the Bible, and more, including:
  • Did Jesus really exist?
  • Is Jesus the only way to God?
  • What about those who have never heard the gospel?
  • Is today's Bible what was originally written?
  • What about recently publicised gospels that aren't in the Bible?
  • Is intelligent design really a credible explanation of the origins of our world?
  • and much more
All but one of those bulleted points rely on the Bible, so shouldn't the Bible's provenance be addressed first? Perhaps the editors felt that the arguments in support of the Bible would not be as convincing as those from science and philosophy. We shall see.

Meanwhile I can summarise chapter 31 as, "Jesus is God because he said so, though he was sensibly cagey about it in certain circumstances."

Not very convincing.

Does it matter how Jesus prayed?

Chapter 30 of Dembski & Licona's Evidence for God is "Son of God" by Ben Witherington III. It seems mostly to be an argument for the idea that Jesus was God's son — because he was reported, in the Bible, to have said as much. The whole thing is so confused, however, that it's hard to draw any conclusions from it.

Witherington points out that Jesus prayed to God using the term "Abba", which is a term of endearment. This, he says, shows that Jesus thought of himself as the "son" of God as distinct from the prevalent usage where kings were also considered "sons" of God. But Witherington immediately undermines this proposition by stating that Jesus also taught his disciples to pray to God using the term "Abba". So this term does not, after all, denote a special exclusive relationship of the kind usually claimed for Jesus.

Added to which, the chapter doesn't address the issue of reliability that's inevitably triggered by a passage such as this:
There can be no doubt however, that Jesus did not view His relationship to God as simply identical to the relationship King David had with God. For one thing, it tells us a lot about Jesus that He prayed to God as Abba which is the Aramaic term of endearment which means dearest Father (see Mark 14:36, Abba is not slang, it does not mean "Daddy.")
We have no records of anything Jesus wrote. We cannot know how he prayed, only how he was reported to have prayed. Witherington's entire chapter is scuppered by his very first sentence:
One of the big mistakes in Christian apologetics is just focusing on what Jesus publicly claimed to be.
There's been much discussion over two millennia about Jesus' public statements — how accurately they were reported, whether his chroniclers' agenda influenced the slant of their reports, or even whether their memories were reliable given that they wrote nothing about Jesus for decades. What Witherington is talking about, however, are Jesus' private prayers. What chance have we of reliably knowing anything about those? And even if we did know, what difference would it make?

Friday 4 November 2011

Miraculous irrationality

Last Saturday's Unbelievable? was a discussion between Gary Habermas, Christian, and Geoff Campos, atheist, recorded during the Bethinking apologetics conference at Westminster Chapel, as part of William Lane Craig's Reasonable Faith Tour. I listened with mixed feelings, as there had been a brief possibility that the three Pauls of Skepticule Extra could have been the ones in conversation with Gary Habermas, rather than Geoff Campos. In the event I think Geoff gave a good account of himself and his position with regard to the question at issue — which was, "Is it rational to believe in miracles?"

Nevertheless I found myself at times disagreeing with everyone in the conversation. A good deal was said about Geoff's stance on the status of the "supernatural", and Justin Brierley — moderating the discussion — made the inevitable point about denial of supernature closing off options, suggesting that perhaps Geoff was being closed-minded if he did not accept that supernatural events were even possible.

This is an invidious position to hold in the face of theistic miracle claims, but I think it's a result of not defining one's terms. Though the definition of "supernatural" was explored, I don't recall anyone clarifying what was meant by "rational". For an event to be rationally believed in, that event must conform to reason and logic. Its causes and effects must be capable of description in rational terms, and those causes and effects must lie entirely in the physical realm — because the physical realm of causes and effects is the only realm in which rationally observed phenomena have been verified to occur.

So the question posed by Justin for this show contained the seeds of its own irrationality. It's not rational to believe in miracles, because by definition miracles are effects without rational causes.

Streaming audio here:{B9C493B0-276B-492F-82B7-C2C5D5F06EFA}

Download mp3 here:

Thursday 3 November 2011

Burnee belated links for Thursday

William Lane Craig on Radio 4 - steve's posterous
It was Andrew Copson who made the comments Steve Zara refers to. That such comments are finding a wider audience (in the light of Craig's UK tour) will surely lead to more exposure of his disingenuous debating techniques.

Whom does God really endorse, anyway? | The Atheist Experience
This is a really obvious question. Will it ever be asked?

Mason Crumpacker and the Hitchens reading list « Why Evolution Is True
This is an awesome blogpost.

C4ID still doesn’t understand science. | Wonderful Life
"It looks designed." Therefore, what — scientifically speaking?

Mississippi’s shame | Pharyngula
P. Z. Myers gets to grips with a skewed understanding of "personhood".

Why I am an atheist – Cathy Oliver | Pharyngula
P. Z. Myers is currently using his blog to publish people's affirmative atheism stories. This is an excellent example.

will someone rid me of this turbulent language | Robinince's Blog
The right to freedom of speech also incurs some duties.

Theology crushed

This is a debate between John Haught and Jerry Coyne, on the question of the compatibility of science and religion. The video contains one speech from each, and then cuts off as the Q&A begins. But never mind that — Jerry Coyne's comprehensive take-down of the follies of theology is a joy to behold:

2011 Bale Boone Symposium - Science & Religion: Are They Compatible? from UK Gaines Center on Vimeo.

Jerry Coyne pulled no punches here, and apparently his uncompromising stance has upset his opponent.

UPDATE 2011-11-05:  The Q&A session is now available:

Science and Religion: Are They Compatible? October 12, 2011 Q+A with Jerry Coyne and John Haught from UK College of Arts & Sciences on Vimeo.