Open Thread – AE #685: The Leavers »« Media fawning over Papal claptrap

More Secular Morality videos: the follow-up panel

At last, we now have the videos (thanks to Catherine Blackwell and the Secular Student Alliance) of the follow-up panel on secular morality that followed Matt’s debate with Hans Jacobse. Abridged from the SSA’s write-up, the panelists include:

  • Gregory S. Paul: Labeled religion’s “public enemy #1″ by MSNBC, Greg Paul is a freelance author and researcher about the effect of religion on society, and vice versa. His work has been featured in Newsweek, Science magazine, Evolutionary Psychology, Philosophy and Theology, and numerous other journals and publications. Paul’s theory centers around the thesis that there is no “God gene” that gives people an inherent propensity for religion, and that “prosperous modernity is proving to be the nemesis of religion.” Greg is a Baltimore native and active in the Baltimore Ethical Society. Find out more about his “science of religion” writings at www.gspaulscienceofreligion.com.
  • John Shook, Ph.D. [debate moderator]: Dr. Shook is a scholar and professor living in Washington, D.C. He is Director of Education and Senior Research Fellow of the Center for Inquiry, and also is Visiting Assistant Professor of Science Education at the University at Buffalo, teaching for its online program in Science and the Public. From 2000 to 2006 he was a professor of philosophy at Oklahoma State University. Shook publishes on philosophical topics about science, the mind, humanist ethics, democracy, secularism, and religion, and he has debated the existence of God with leading theologians including William Lane Craig. He has authored and edited more than a dozen books, including the new The God Debates: A 21st Century Guide for Atheists and Believers (and Everyone in Between). [Shook is the fellow I took to task on NPR 9.9 for a recent HuffPo article chastising his fellow atheists with a variant of the Courtier's Reply.]
  • Matt Dillahunty [debater]: Known for his extensive private collection of meerschaum pipes and inflatable sheep, Matt Dillahunty plays a mean Jew’s harp and once shot a man in Reno just to watch him die.
  • Robert Anderson, Ph.D: Dr Anderson is a UMBC psychology professor and student advisor. He teaches a number of courses, including aggression and antisocial behavior, abnormal psychology, personality study, human sexuality and clinical psychology.

Enjoy. There will be other parts. I understand you need to turn the sound up.

Comments

  1. says

    Forgot to add…The problem with individual studies (As they were talking about in part 1), is that they're the beginning of data collection. Each study can be correctly or incorrectly executed, generating useful or flawed information, respectively.Too often, the media treats these studies as scientific fact, as though science had just reached a conclusion about a topic. It's more like hiring entry-level employees. The ratio of bad-to-good employees is uncomfortably high, but the HR process weeds out the bad ones over time, until they reach higher levels to be considered solid workers.

  2. says

    I watched part 1 and 2 last night and had a few thoughts this morning in the shower, hopefully I can express them clearly here.From watching the porn man and then hearing the woman's comments after, it seems that people are still applying what they think is moral as opposed to where morality comes from. I believe the woman answered this in her own questions. By noticing that what one culture calls moral, but another does not shows that morality grows from the beliefs and practices of cultures.Matt, I have heard you use the example of the two unruly children before, and this morning it hit me as to how excellent an example that is, and to how well it fits here. It has a simple clarity showing how two similar behaviors can come from totally different thinking. Hopefully you wont mind if I borrow that when I have conversations with others.If what we believe and practice is what shapes morality, it makes it all the more important that what we do is done for good reasons. If someone's actions or inactions are based on a possible reward or punishment after they have died, and to make it worse that these beliefs are based on ideas of society based thousands of years ago, that does not help morality evolve.Damn, I know this was better in my head when I was in the shower, someone help me out here, and maybe my other thoughts will come back to me.

  3. Afterthought_btw says

    Excellent! Lots of thanks sent over the internet to everyone involved in getting this up on the web and available to those of us unable to attend in person. (In my case due to thousands and thousands of miles of salty water…) :)

  4. says

    I found what the young, articulate, intelligent muslim woman had to say chilled me to the bone.Especially the part where she tried to rationalise the the statistic about infant mortality. She sat there as someone who has the opportunity to reach adulthood and would not call a god who arbitrarily denied billions of others that chance as evil.The scary part for me was that she was NOT some raving fool but an educated, mostly rational person.She was a great example of how religion can stunt your moral growth.

  5. says

    Another question for the young Muslim woman; you say that Muslim women cover themselves so their inner beauty can be seen instead of superficial beauty. Then why are your men still uncovered? Is it because the women are the OBJECT of this standard (word usage intentional). Also, how is their inner beauty going to be appreciated when in many countries with Sharia law they are forbidden to speak with non-related men at all?Just askin'.

  6. says

    There's an interesting concept there; the willingness to judge god as a sign of moral maturity.On the one hand; I love it and think that's probably not a bad indicator of when someone has finally let go. On the other hand it's hard to condemn anyone for not doing it. God's like family for the religious. Most wouldn't jump to condemning family the minute some talk of them doing something terrible comes up. And god's a difficult target. One of the problems with the billions of babies angle is that given an afterlife, the ultimately unknowable will of god and falability of man's interpretation thereof, god can kill billions of babies just fine and still be great and good. It's circular, as ever, but a circular out is still an out.It is, however, a good approach to get people to think a little harder about what they believe and why and what their religion says and why. If I'm any judge that is. And it looked like it was working.Anyway, cheers for the vids SSA. I take it the Orthodox crowd went off and had their own little post event, as seen in the other videos.I'd have liked it if they were together, but I guess that'd be a hell of a mess. Folks should go watch those too. The father really revs up his argument from gulags again (not that there's much argument to it). I would have liked to have seen him taken to task over that a bit more. The Dostoyevsky angle he goes on about is worth some thought, but I don't think you can really ignore the peculiarities of Russian Nihilism in both FDs writings and any subsequent things the father blames on "the atheist project". Does he really see those sorts of intelectual inhumanities going on in the atheists today?He's tacitly playing that 'when god is dead everything is permitted' card at all times, the assertion being ultimately (I guess) that atheists posess no argument to prevent advancing totalitarian atrocities where christians can pull out the higher power (not that I think he ever said such explicitly, but that's how I've heard it before). But that's an old saw and needed to be interrogated properly. I'd like to see him really grilled on all the things that holiness enabled or at least failed to prevent in the past. His only counter seems to be that, well Stalin was the worst so we now know how bad the crusades or the Frech religious wars or whatever would have been if it weren't for christianity. Which, for someone who wants us us all to read history instead of watching porn, is logic almost retrograde enough to make learning useless.

  7. says

    This is regarding the fellow who brought up "people being forced to be Atheists" (and I assume he means the Soviet Union).Somebody smarter and more patient than me needs to find an definitive answer to this Stalin thing, but until then, how about this; There's a difference between an atheistic government and a secular one. I don't think many atheists would advocate an expressly atheistic country, and most would agree that it's impractical and immoral to force people to believe anything.We in America live in a secular state (whether or not theists will admit it) and it seems to be doing a pretty good job at allowing everyone to believe in whatever they want to without undo hardship.

  8. says

    I watched part of the 'after' discussion with Fr. Hans Jacobse. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ka-4898NN2U&feature=relatedWhoa–it is full of bafflegab. Because atheists do not war (his word) against many gods, but only one, their very atheism is dependent on the christianity they deny. This is emphasized more than once. It is clear why he could not accept Matt's definition of atheism as being a lack of belief in any/all gods. If he did accept that, his whole dialogue would have to be discarded.His explanation/justification of the violence of god in the Old Testament is really quite intriguing. He 'explains' how god could act, in fact it sounds like he is saying had to act, in a way that we now know is wrong. I don't get it and I even tried to look at from the point ofd view of a strong christian which I once was. One idea particularly caught my attention —'If the foundation of reality is narrative, is story, is word like I contend it is, then the only thing that is important is the narriative.' He really does live within his own reality. Something he is so pleased about is that a remarkable thing is happening in India–Christianity is freeing the Hindus from the shackles of mythology. This is just after saying that their world view can not be penetrated as they see it as written into the laws of the universe. But, they are becoming christians. How on earth this 'tremendous moral uplifting…frees them from material poverty and unleashes their creativity' is beyond my comprehension.Overall, iIt seems to me that he gives good reasons to disregard the Old Testament as having any validity in terms of moral instruction.

  9. says

    Muz said"One of the problems with the billions of babies angle is that given an afterlife, the ultimately unknowable will of god and falability of man's interpretation thereof, god can kill billions of babies just fine and still be great and good. It's circular, as ever, but a circular out is still an out"In the above apologetic have assume the goodness of god first before the out works.But "the ultimately unknowable will of god and falability of man's interpretation thereof" leaves us unable to know the goodness or badness of god. The automatic assumption of gods goodness cannot be justified and apologetic fails on its own terms.

  10. Martin says

    Honest_guy, I don't know if you're aware, but the embedded video above is a full playlist of the whole video series. So as Catherine adds new installments, they will automatically be accessible by scrolling left or right using the buttons — and in fact all 7 are there now. Appreciate your helpfulness, but it's not necessary to post individual links to each new part.

  11. says

    Raymond;Well, when your circle (although I think of these faith concepts as more spherical reasoning) won't sit right you prop it up with a few rods don't you. Usually a story or two, some personal experience and maybe some mentor's words on the subject.The ultimate goodness of god is just as subject to unknowabilty as anything else (and which doesn't usually mean it can't be known at all. Just never completely). If you have any doubts of god's ultimate goodness, pick another point on the sphere and start again.But anyway, "how do you know god is good?" with the appropriate followups is another good way to prompt thought from people on this matter. All I'm saying is a tightly wound self reinforcing thought system has ways of ducking out readily at hand.

  12. says

    Not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but it is slightly on topic of morality: http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20445443,00.html?hpt=T2Here's an excerpt:"She had the voice of the demon," Brea said. "I asked, 'Do you believe in God?' She said, 'No, Michael no,' and began screaming. I began slashing her like this," he said, making violent hacking motions with his right hand.

  13. says

    About the question of how to deal with the argument "My faith helped through a lot of really bad moments" I think the best way to go about it is to ask the question "Has anything besides faith been offered ?" Because if the only thing that has been taught to a person is that faith can get she/he through hard times then and that's what this person believes, this person needs to get through some kind of hardship then this person is going to use faith, because it can't see other options.However if other things like reason or hard work or even believing in yourself are offered or suggested then perhaps that person might use one of these things to get through hard times instead of faith.The time I realized this was when a girl I was dating asked me something like "if you don't believe in god, why don't you just kill yourself. As you don't believe in heaven then there is no need to suffer through life". She was a baptist and very religious, and she didn't meant this in a offensive way, she really liked me and just couldn't understand my position on this issue. My reply was something like this, although i can really remember the words I used. If i kill myself when things are going bad, then I am giving up the possibility of being happier, no matter how hard life is there is always the chance that you can improve it and that you should work to achieve that. There is no need for a celestial reward to make life good, life it self is the reward.She did agree with me , but said that she still felt like she needed her faith and religion. This was something like 5 years ago and I haven't been in contact with her for about 3 years, so I can't say if she still is as religious as she was. That conversation was one of the experiences I had that made me see how religion cripples someones mind. The muslim girl in the video seems like a very good person, however I think she was damaged the same way the girl I used to date was.

  14. says

    Martin, Sorry, I was just trying to make it obvious to those who only seen up to part 2 or 3 that the rest had been posted.Also, I'm referencing part 5 of the video at 10:40 where the brave, educated, opinionated muslim girl tells us we can move out of America if we don't like it here. So, I'm wondering why society doesn't think us atheist's are justified to push back on those who believe in such an idiotic belief sytem? The arguments for religion are apparently agregious and fallaciously in error in regard to objective reality. Most people I talk with in Albuquerque(87110) also seem to think we should or can all just 'co-exist' peacefully each being as ignorant as we like. I find myself tending to view religion as a disease of the mind or society much how Samuel Harris seems to regard it. What we believe inherently damages or dumbs down society, especially on large scales if it's false.

  15. says

    I believe us as atheist's care deeply about what objective reality is and having the best possibly understanding of reality through unbiased critical thinking and scientific understanding. We should care about forcing public schools systems to be accountable and teach biological evolution, speciation.,etc in detail. We are in a battle for our kids, their kids and the future course of humanity. Religions want us to just back off and let everyone have their own ignorant belief and yet religions have fought countless bloody wars to establish their foothold that they currently enjoy. Also, they refuse to quit influencing and lobby our politics and laws. We would be fools to listen to them and back off because no movement is won by being passive(survival of the most fit).

  16. says

    Tek, I would have told her the biological purpose of life is to: Survive, Evolve, Adapt and Reproduce not just give up. We pin our hopes and dreams on the future and that we can make it a better place to live and work for our children and their children. Our purpose here is that of self sacrafice and gaining a better understanding of reality. Happiness for the sake of happiness may or may not be relevant or it may be a subfunction of survival. Suicide is for the weak.

  17. says

    @Honest_guy Our purpose here is that of self sacrafice and gaining a better understanding of reality.I'd say, as an atheist, our purpose and meaning is whatever we decide it to be. Purpose isn't something that must be delivered to us on a silver platter.Purpose implies intention. Evolution doesn't have intent any more than erosion is an intention. A chipmunk may intend to gather food and sleep through the winter, but such levels (intelligence deciding things) are about the extent of purpose in the natural world.

  18. says

    A little more conversation with the Muslim girl, and concluding remarks from each panel member. Sorry! We had to rely on the OCF filming, because we haven't been able to track down any members with an HD camera.

  19. says

    Excellent conversation. Less annoying/frustrating than the main debate!It was quite amusing that the troll turned up & spouted off about porn again. WTF.

  20. says

    JT, good catch and I realized it after I posted it. We live in such a heavily indoctrinated christianized society it's hard not to fall into their druken way of thinking at times. I tend to agree that 'purpose implies intention' and most christian's probably know it.Now I'm trying to think what other word I can substitute for purpose without implying any creator.

  21. says

    SSA, that's no problem. This was more than any of use asked for or expected, I think. I appreciated the amount that was available to watch.Also the brave Muslim girl.

  22. says

    The Muslim girl didn't say much about what her faith helped her through, but she did say it was the death of someone close to her. What religion offered her was probably a lie. That lie is the idea that she will someday see that person again. All skepticism can offer her is cold harsh reality. I don't know what we can do to help people who really want a comforting lie.

  23. says

    @RossAlso the brave Muslim girl.It doesn't surprise me, really. When you're surrounded by xenophobic people who can aggressively (if not violently) disagree with you, you tend to develop a thick skin.

  24. says

    The thing that really bothered me about this panel was that there was way too much crosstalk. I also didn't like how they answered some of the questions. When that guy said that he saw an atheist regime kill people and that ruined the panels credibility, that guy went into a spiel about how Hitler was a catholic. That guy in the audience could have been talking about the Soviet Union. The response should have been to point out that his assertion was a straw man.

  25. says

    @Blahface, if you are talking about Gregory Paul's response to the man at the end of part 3, I think his reply was justified. The man said that "the historical evidence contradicts everything that you (Gregory Paul) just said." Mr. Paul replied with historical evidence in his defense; that Catholics ghettoized Jews, the U.S. reservations – The Trail of Tears, German concentration camps for Africans, and the idea for eugenics before even mentioning Hitler.What bothered me was when this man said he knew people that had personally suffered at the hands of atheists, and they were forcing them to become atheists, there was no response from the panel about this. I wish he had been questioned about this, because this seems ludicrous.To the man at the left of the camera: How can you be forced to believe something? Could you even make yourself believe something else if you so desired? Try this simple thought experiment for starters-Think of your favorite color … got it? … good.Now think of any other color …. OK, now make that other color your favorite from now on.If you can't even achieve this with something as trivial as a favorite color, how would someone be forced to change a belief some consider to be the most important thing in their lives?Maybe this panel discussion was not the place to call him out on this, but I do wish that someone had replied to this comment of his as well.

  26. says

    I apologize if I double post, my posted comment disappeared, so I will try to shorten what I typed.@Blahface: If you are talking about the man at the end of part 3 he did mention the gulags in The Soviet Union, but I think Gregory Paul's response was justified. The man stated that historical evidence contradicts everything Mr. paul had said, and Mr. Paul replied with about 6 different historic facts that supported his claims, only mentioning Hitler at the end. What bothered me was when the man said that he knows people that have personally suffered at the hands of atheists, and they were forcing them to become atheists, he was not questioned about this. To say that someone can be forced to have a belief is ludicrous.@The man to the left of the camera: I don't know if you will see this, but let us start with a simple thought experiment.Think of your favorite color … got it? … good.Now think of any other color …OK, now make that other color your favorite for now on.If someone can't change their own mind about something as trivial as a favorite color, how could you force someone to believe something else?Maybe this panel discussion wasn't the proper place to call him out on this, but I still wish something was said about his comment.

  27. says

    I enjoyed the debate and Matt was composed. My criticism is that, considering the title and topic "The Source of Human Morality," and being a grad student studying the evolution of cooperation and altruism in humans, I was rubbing my hands hoping for a good discussing of the rich wealth of empirical and theoretical work we have to explain morality, it's components, and of course, it's evolutionary origins.This was what should have been discussed, considering the title–the source of what we call human morality. I still very much enjoyed the debate, but check this out Matt and co.: not only is a rigorous scientific descriptive basis important when debating a theist (they're position is inherently non-naturalistic with regards to morality in most cases), but it is actually very important to have a rich understanding and acknowledgment of its evolutionary source and related understandings from neuroscience to theories of social norms, etc, as part of our prescriptive basis.To understand the evolutionary relevance, and physiological workings, of nutrition is part and parcel of the wider discussion and emergence of what we might consider a healthy diet. This is precisely the case with moral values, particular if we draw an analogy of society as a form of social organism and consider issues such as social pathology, and unsustainable as well as maladaptive norms and codes. In other words, to take an approach similar to Sam Harris as you discussed, we absolutely need as part of the groundwork, a thorough-going understanding of the evolution of morality: 'the source of human morality'.Rationalization, to paraphrase A. C. Grayling, is about a ratio between data and evidence and the credibility of the arguments employed on its behalf. You cannot simply invoke reason in and of itself: you require a signifiant reference. Yes, female genital mutilation is a no-brainer. It's not okay. But we must understand the social working of morality (which requires evolutionary understanding, social and cultural theory, evolutionary psychology, behavioralism in general, etc), to understand the underlying root cause of something we may consider wrong, and hence more effectively deal with it. This is especially true with regard to psychological and social pathologies, on an individual level and with regard to dysfunctional norms and practices that lead to more suffering. Even deceptively unnoticed issues such as the lack of available natural habitats has a negative psychological, and eventually social, effect. The research has been done, and it's no surprise: interaction with nature so to speak has a profoundly beneficial influence on individual physical and psychological well-being, even in recovery research in hospitals (the wider evolutionary implications are described in the biophilia hypothesis).Negative, dysfunctional, 'immoral' behavior has a direct environmental relevance, and much of it has evolutionary connotations. the understanding not only allows us a glimpse into human sociality, but would provide us with more effective tools to deal with it, and a scientific reference to secular morality, making it pretty damn robust.

  28. says

    The main point is really that, without reference to evolution and the nature of human sociality, discussions of the 'source of human morality' are positively unsatisfying. When it comes down to it, it's really very simple. Do we actually want to understand what this thing is? And have we realized yet that prescriptions do in fact require descriptions and more thoroughgoing prognoses? Without ranting for too long on this last point–I noticed Matt is not a moral relativist. I agree with him on this, but it is important in this regard to remember the distinction between description and prescription, since as a species we do, in fact, garner our social norms from cultural and ecological contexts. That is not a recommendation, but an empirical fact. Furthermore, as a species we are highly adaptable to different physical and social environments, with regards to our behaviors and preferences. Evolution in fact selected this plasticity, as a highly adaptive environmentally contingent capability. We have a remarkably strong feedback to our environment with regard to acquiring a language, a kind of moral grammar, social norms, and other cultural aspects of life, as well as individually learned, ecologically relevant behavioral adaptations that are the result of a kind of evolved cognitive heuristic. Environmental plasticity is one of the secrets of our survival, and cultural diversity.

  29. says

    This is relevant to morality in a couple of ways, not to be confused with an advocation of moral relativism. As Sam Harris discusses, there are many different ways of flourishing and suffering, so to speak, just as there are many different ways to enjoy food without rendering the distinction between actual nutrition and poison superficial. This is not moral relativism, but an acknowledgement of both ecological adaptation, and that the details of social life have a direct relationship, and interface, with the wider environment. To give a basic example, if there is only one plant growing in a community that is needed to sooth the nausea of a cancer sufferer (assume it cannot be regrown fast enough, nor acquired from elsewhere), it is wrong to pluck it to make a fine hat and swagger around the place. In another part of the world, where the plant flourishes in such abundance that it is considered a pest, such behavior would surely not be considered wrong, if not kind of douche-bag worthy.Is this moral relativism? No. What it is, is an acknowledgment of a relationship between social values and their impact on others, and this will not be the same, in it's specific details, with absolutely everything, everywhere. And finally, we have throughout our evolution, continue to do so, and likely always will, derive a variety of our values and notions of fairness from social norms–from society in general. Once again, I need to emphasize that this is not a relativistic prescription, but a description of how social life works. We engage in individual, trial-and-error learning, as well as social learning from others and the wider social environment. There will never, and can never be an elimination of the latter.

  30. says

    Knowledge is serial, culture, technology, practices, social norms, practices, and so on are cumulative, building off of previous forms and/or with reference to others. We cannot learn everything by individual trial-and-error: it is simply not possible. There are many things we have to learn from others. What we ultimately want, and I don't think this is something Matt disagrees with, is applying scientific principles and scrutinizing assumptions and normative claims with a skeptical methodology. Imagine such a world. Even under these conditions, humans would still use their evolved, efficient heuristic of exploiting easily acquired information from social learning to construct a worldview and morality. This would not occur in a vacuum, not remotely. If you have a population of well-informed, scientifically literate people who use reason to develop an emerging and fluid morality, you have a pretty decent self-correcting mechanism with regard to values and norms, their functional relevance, environmental sustainability, social impact, and so on. You can, and will, still garner a consider part of your internalized norms, worldview, and notions of fairness and unfairness, from your society–it's just that your society will be a more reliable, informed, and ultimately reasonable pool of information and practices from which to draw such views and outlooks. And while you would be able to take any issue and scrutinize it's validity, and use a scientific, skeptical eye as part of your individual applications of reason, you cannot, and will not, do this with everything. It is not practical, and not desirable. To go back to the biophilia example of constructing physical societies that see the importance and merit of nature reserves, parks, trees, plants, rivers, lakes, and so on (permeable naturalistic environments) as a part of human psychological wellbeing and hence social flourishing, and of course it's basis in our evolved psychology, consider this: you will internalize this very important social value through simply living in the society and experiencing it. You may decide to test it with computer simulations, scrutinizing psychological research, and so on, but in all likelihood you won't. You will acquire this value from your society, from it's social norms: but this will be a well-informed society using applied science, and will be a better source from which to derive part (not all, but a major part) of what you call your morality.

  31. says

    We cannot learn everything by individual trial-and-error: it is simply not possible. There are many things we have to learn from others. What we ultimately want, and I don't think this is something Matt disagrees with, is applying scientific principles and scrutinizing assumptions and normative claims with a skeptical methodology. Imagine such a world. Even under these conditions, humans would still use their evolved, efficient heuristic of exploiting easily acquired information from social learning to construct a worldview and morality. This would not occur in a vacuum, not remotely. If you have a population of well-informed, scientifically literate people who use reason to develop an emerging and fluid morality, you have a pretty decent self-correcting mechanism with regard to values and norms, their functional relevance, environmental sustainability, social impact, and so on. You can, and will, still garner a consider part of your internalized norms, worldview, and notions of fairness and unfairness, from your society–it's just that your society will be a more reliable, informed, and ultimately reasonable pool of information and practices from which to draw such views and outlooks.

  32. says

    And while you would be able to take any issue and scrutinize it's validity, and use a scientific, skeptical eye as part of your individual applications of reason, you cannot, and will not, do this with everything. It is not practical, and not desirable. To go back to the biophilia example of constructing physical societies that see the importance and merit of nature reserves, parks, trees, plants, rivers, lakes, and so on (permeable naturalistic environments) as a part of human psychological wellbeing and hence social flourishing, and of course it's basis in our evolved psychology, consider this: you will internalize this very important social value through simply living in the society and experiencing it. You may decide to test it with computer simulations, scrutinizing psychological research, and so on, but in all likelihood you won't. You will acquire this value from your society, from it's social norms: but this will be a well-informed society using applied science, and will be a better source from which to derive part (not all, but a major part) of what you call your morality.PS) I'm sorry for putting down so many posts, didn't realize how long the rant was.

  33. says

    My initial post didn't make it: It was essentially saying I enjoyed the debate but the actual topic of discussion was 'the source of human morality', and that was not really discussed. Prescriptive aspects were discussed: where we should get our morals from, but descriptive aspects were generally neglected, particularly considering the title and topic. My main point was any debate or discussion asking what the source of our morality is requires, well, a discussion of what the source of our morality is. This undeniable requires discussions of human evolution. I hope if you have any debates like this in the future, you can introduce to the theist that there are very well-researched, solid discussions of the evolution of human morality.

  34. says

    I feel like a heel here, but I didn't find the "brave, educated muslim woman" to be particularly brave or educated. Nor did I see any sign that she likes to "think outside of the box". I thought she sounded self congratulatory and smug. Well "in my religion we see the inner beauty", "in my religion we think that…yada yada". I may have read too much into that, but I got the feeling she says that a lot. She was literally and overtly afraid to speak her own opinions for fear that it would be outside of the dogma. I didn't even think she listened very well. When presented with a rebuttal she said "I agree" even if it directly contradicted what she had already said and was unable to grasp the problem each time. I don't harbour any ill will towards her in particular. I just didn't see where she deserved a rousing round of applause for simply showing up and telling us what a great person she was. I'm glad she was (almost) willing to throw her hat into the ring of public discourse. I would not want to discourage her from doing so in any way. But if we must roundly applaud each time we eke out such a sparse dialog, I think we have a long way to go.

  35. says

    @rrpostal – That was my problem with it. However, from my own standpoint, I will say that it is brave to sit in a room full of people that you know have a drastically different opinion than you, and attempt to speak your point of view. I don't know if I could speak my mind in a room full of theists.The problem is, of course, that she rarely spoke her mind. And I was glad that Matt pointed that out. It is a common problem in discussions with theists – they either don't wish to go against their dogma, or they already realize that some of the things they personally do or believe don't mesh with their god's behavior or their religion's dogma. And so they stammer and beat around the question and ultimately never answer. It's extremely frustrating.

  36. says

    The porn guy didn't seem to have a problem telling his point of view. I agree that, for some people, it can be difficult to speak your mind in such a gathering. Some people actually enjoy it, though. I don't want to make too much of it. I'm happy she was there. I wish more dissenting groups were represented. It's just that the applause for being "brave and smart" seemed a bit much and kind of pandering.

  37. says

    Her bravery (not that it was vastly heroic) was in turning up in the first place, asking honest questions and sticking around to have dialogue with people. I think its complicated enough to be a self identified muslim female in the West these days as it is, even among well meaning whites. There most discussion of religion is politely avoided at best. To go in knowing that it's the subject du jour, become the centre of attention and still at least engage; It's a good show of character is the thing, I think. Plus being from a group that perhaps isn't engaged with enough.Compare with the others who spoke up, basically ranted for a bit and stormed out (did the guy near the camera storm out? I can't remember). That's the context for her praise, I think.

  38. says

    Damn, that muslim girl was annoying as fuck.I hate it when people are so vague to the point that nothing they say has a real meaing."i believe we are all americans in this room"bla bla bal

  39. sans_Dieu says

    The muslim girl was pretty brave and probably not used to be on the spot like this. So kudos. But On the moral questions she tipe-toed around and didn't know quite what to say. Ultimatly she does the same thing, most Christians do: "I cannot judge my god. Maybe there's a plan." And so on.

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