At some time, a recording of our ‘debate’ will be available online, so I won’t try to do a play by play now. I will say that I found this one pretty much impossible to prepare for — there was no way this debate could be shoe-horned into a good vs. evil or smartness vs. ignorance conflict, making it a much more complicated discussion, rather than a television wrestling storyline. We’d had a few conversations in email and there were several points of disagreement, and in fact Dr Rue showed those points in a slide, but you know, he had good reasons for all the stuff he got wrong. I read his book, Everybody’s Story: Wising Up to the Epic of Evolution(amzn/b&n/abe/pwll), which is actually very good: he doesn’t advocate the abandonment of religion, but rather the evolution and transformation of religion to incorporate the best of modern science in its cosmology, rather than the best of Babylonian science from the first millennium B.C. We have our differences, but I couldn’t help but feel that I’d be quite content if all the reactionary religious nuts would convert to Rue’s religion, even if they did fall shy of the perfect ideal of atheism.
So we had a discussion rather than a debate, a discussion that revolved around some of our differences, but our intent was more mutual enlightenment than mutual evisceration. We got good probing questions from the audience, too, so I think a lot of us had our thinking caps on. I had a good time. I had two dark ales afterwards to celebrate a pleasant evening.
Some of you loyal readers were there, feel free to chime in with your impressions in the comments. Maybe it looked completely different from the bleacher seats…?
P.S. Greg Laden was there, and he made some really good points about how morality isn’t a product of religion at all in most cultures. We should have dragged him up on the stage to give his perspective, but maybe he’ll expand on that on his blog.