Thursday, April 05, 2007

Big Guns fight old battle

Here is a write-up of a recent debate on the motion 'We'd be better off without religion'. Old Dawkinsy, AC Grayling and Chris Hitchens were for; Julia Neuberger, Roger Scruton and Nigel Spivey agin'.

The heathens won. But then with Dawkins and the Hitch on board you'd expect that, since as I tried to explain to deaf ears elsewhere, when every argument that can be made has been made, only style matters.


Mark said...

Of course it didn't exactly help the opposing cause that Spivey described himself as non-religious but liked religious art and Neuberger was so diffident about what her religion was as to make it sound like some vaguely sacral form of social work: and both those two spoke from notes, which is a killer in a public debate. So the opposing motion was essentially only put by Scruton.

In the voting, by the way, the motion won on the intial, opening, vote as well. In other words, not many minds were changed, unsurprisingly.

Brit said...

They won on the grounds that at the end they got more of the pre-debate neutrals.

Which really means they won on style.

Peter Burnet said...

What a very strange proposition and what a lot it says about the modern mind. I can see the Victorians or even Renaissance types debating whether religion is true or not, but useful? There must be lots of religious types who would vote with the yeas on that one.

Hey, who is up for a debate on whether we would all be better off without mothers-in-law?

Neil Forsyth said...

Good point, Peter. One would have thought that a debate about usefulness would only take place after something has been established as true. The usefulness of falsehoods, or at least what is highly questionable, is normally only debated in a political context (and behind closed doors).

Peter Burnet said...


Wouldn't it be fun to see a debate between atheists who think religion is very useful and religious folks who can't for the life of them figure out what it is good for? I'd love to see the official dunnoist position on that one.

Adelephant said...

I like Grayling's reclassifications - naturalists and supernaturalists. You could then have a debate over the usefulness of Santa Claus and Darwinianism.

Hey Skipper said...

Might as well whether we would be better off without viruses.

It is a vacuous notion, becuase there is no getting rid of them.

And it may well be that, no matter how much suffering viruses cause, we can't live without them in any event.

Better off looking for a vaccine. Like, say, Dunnoism.