Last night I attended the Great Debate at the Wesley Centre in Sydney, where along with an audience of several hundred, I watched Dr. Michael Shermer debate Professor John Lennox on the Subject: "Does God Exist?".
Here is the transcript of that debate:
Moderator: Hello, I'm that bloke from the ABC, you probably recognise my voice. No? Oh. OK then. Anyway, here are the contestants who will enter thunderdome tonight.
Audience: two men enter, one man leave... two men enter, one man leave...
Shermer: Does God Exist? No. Thank you very much I'll see you after the show. No but seriously, try the veal. [introduce self] [introduce science][explain own former christian roots and deconversion] Scientology, Isaac Hayes [cogent arguments for non-existence of god], [conclude opening remarks]
Lennox: blah blah [Sermonise] [argument from design] blah blah [appeal to authority] [appeal to scripture] blah [more argument from authority] [argument from personal revelation] [I'm a scientist, you know] [cosmological tat], [god is great]
[Questions from the audience]
Lennox: [story of personal tragedy and near death experience]
Shermer: yes, that's very moving but still isn't evidence for god, in fact it's a problem [problem of evil explained] [prayer studies]
Lennox: [further appeal to authority], [sermonizing], I've been to Auschwitz you know..
Audience: OOOOH! Godwin's Law is in effect, Lennox loses, let's carry Shermer down the street shoulder-high.
Moderator: I know not of this Godwin of whom you speak. Shut up, you lot.
Shermer: OK, if we're ignoring Godwin: Gott Mit Uns on belt buckles, [slight misspeak]: First World War
Audience: Surely that was the Second World War?
Moderator: I need to wee-wee. Waaah!
Lennox: You go and wee-wee, it's what god wants [sermonize], Dawkins Sucks because he quoted a professor of German! What a Goose!, [Penzias's Nobel Prize] [argument from respected theist scientists, of which I'd like to be one, can I please?] God is Brill!
Nutter in the audience: AMEN!
Audience: Respected scientists such as Anthony Flew? Fuck Off. And besides, Penzias's prize was split with Robert Wilson. What about his view?
Shermer: Yeah, so what? Individual scientists can be wrong about all sorts of stuff and are on a regular basis; [statistics from the NAS showing tiny rates of theism]. Turn your microphone off while you wee-wee. [Douglas Adams, 42]
Moderator: OK, I'm going now...
Lennox: [appeal to majority opinion] surely all those people can't be wrong?
Shermer: Yes, they can.
Lennox: Like, whatever, talk to the hand girlfriend. And Dawkins still sucks. I like E.O. Wilson though, 'cause he doesn't say god's stupid.
Moderator: That was a very nice wee-wee. Can we close now? I want warm milk and a story.
Audience: Shut up. we want more.
Questioner: Question on Young Earth Creationism and some tat about radiation levels in the troposphere
Audience: Uh? [double-take]
Lennox: Oh no, I believe in a 14 billion yeah old universe, [crap on about biblical days not really being days]. [I'm a scientist, honest] [I'm from Aaarmaaaagh, faith and begorrah] [Bishop Ussher's dodgy math] To sum up, I agree with the creationist at the back.
Questioner: Neat question about why god would forbid adam and eve from eating the fruit of knowledge
Lennox: I notice that question was first asked by a snake! Ho Ho Ho! [platitudes about that not being a personal slur], [appeal to scripture] [smug grin]
Christian Audience: Hahahaha! 0wned! Amen!
Rest of audience: WTF? I thought this was part of science week, how did we get to talking snakes? Hello?
Lennox: Bible doesn't really say that anyway. Wrong tree! haha, I'm funny and I'm scientist, you know.
Questioner: Actually it does say that, numbnuts [semantic explanation of the hebrew original]
Audience: Nice fuckin' work, that'll shut him up
Lennox: Oh, err... yeah, I wasn't aware of that. [argument from personal incredulity] Chomsky! Did I mention I'm a scientist?
Shermer: Uh, are you crazy?
Moderator: You know, I could really do with that warm milk and bedtime story. Nursey is waiting for me. Closing arguments please?
Shermer: Fact is god doesnt exist, we don't need him, and anyway we're more awesome than he is anyway [genetic engineering, regeneration of limbs] Salamanders! Hello row 2! God's a nasty fucker anyway. [awe and wonder at the universe]
Lennox: [appeal to vague emotional need for god] [even more appeal to authority] [smug grin] [sermonize], [check time limit], [spend some time sermonizing and praising jeebus] God invented science when he told Adam and Eve to name all the animals. [no, really, I'm a man of science, and if I repeat it often enough it'll be true]
Audience: double-WTF? You're claiming taxonomy was a gift from god now? how the fuck did we get here??
Lennox: Tonight's episode was brought to you by the word: hope and the letter: J
Moderator: Thanks everyone, by the way I hope you like my coat. kthxbye.
That's how it really happened. I was there, I should know.
UPDATE 28/8/08 - The debate recording is now available via CPX as an iTunes podcast, and I'll shortly get around to transcribing and critiquing the actual content. I promise, though, that it won't be that far off the summary above.
posted @ Sunday, August 24, 2008 11:40 AM