Haught finally gave permission to release the video of the Coyne-Haught debate — you can watch it now.
Haught had to get in the last word, though, he released it with a letter. It’s quite a letter, too. He explains that he didn’t withhold the video because he was a coward, oh, no — it’s entirely because Jerry Coyne was such an awful, bad, wicked man.
But let me come to the main reason why I have been reluctant to give permission to release the video. It is not for anything that I said during our encounter, but for a reason that I have never witnessed in public academic discussion before. I’m still in shock at how your presentation ended up. I was so offended both personally and as an academic by the vulgarity of it all that I did not want other people to have to share what I witnessed that night in October. I still don’t.
That makes you want to watch it even more, doesn’t it?
Rather than answering my point that scientism is logically incoherent–which is really the main issue–and instead of addressing my argument that the encounter with religious truth requires personal transformation, or for that matter instead of responding to any of the other points I made, you were content to use most of your time to ridicule several isolated quotes from my books. I was absolutely astounded by your woeful lack of insight into, or willingness to grapple with, the real meaning of these passages. Sophisticated argument requires as an essential condition that you have the good manners to understand before you criticize. Your approach, on the other hand was simply one of “caricature and then crush.”
I’m listening to it right now. So far, I’ve only gotten into Haught’s mealy-mouthed babble, and I don’t have much sympathy for him. What does “encounter with religious truth requires personal transformation” even mean? It’s a bald assertion. He gripes that science couldn’t detect cosmic purpose…why? And why should we believe theology can?
I’ll also add that Haught’s letter is a rather nasty, vicious, personal attack in itself. I’ll report back after I’ve heard Coyne’s part — I’ll be listening to see if it’s quite as cantankerous as Haught makes it out to be.
Yeesh. Haught’s closing statement is to tell us to read our bibles and consider kenosis and revelation — it’s pure theo-babble. Where does Haught get any kind of reputation as anything other than a very silly man? He’s just going on and on with this ridiculous crap.
I’m halfway through Jerry’s talk. No ad hominem so far; he’s arguing that there is a conflict between science and religion, and he quotes a few comments from Haught, but I’m not hearing any insults. Coyne disagrees with Haught, which is the whole reason they’re having the debate…is Haught upset because his opponent dares to present an argument in opposition to his?
I am totally baffled by Haught’s complaints. Coyne’s entire talk is on topic, emphasizing that science assesses reality effectively while religion…doesn’t. He points out that theologians, including Haught, fall back on the claim of the metaphorical interpretation, but that’s not an insult, that’s the simple, obvious truth. Sure, he points out that Catholicism has committed evil acts, but that’s part of the argument — if religion were a true source of great moral knowledge, as the religious claim, then why isn’t it legitimate to show that those claims are patently false?
Coyne’s sin is making his case strongly. Nothing more. It was a good, thorough dissection of Haught’s claims, and I can see why Haught would resent it being made publicly available, since he does a great job of making theology look feeble and ineffective and phony. But Haught’s 3-page open letter is far more defamatory than anything Coyne said.