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← [Update 5 Nov -Q&A added to “The Video”]The video! (Jerry Coyne & John Haught)

[Update 5 Nov -Q&A added to “The Video”]The video! (Jerry Coyne & John Haught) - Comments

Marc Country's Avatar Comment 1 by Marc Country

"Rabel also threatened me with legal action because of the “abusive” emails he received."

Those Rabel-rousers!

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 00:20:09 UTC | #886644

mirandaceleste's Avatar Comment 2 by mirandaceleste

FYI, The Gaines Center has now posted this video on its site, along with the powerpoint slides and other related information: www.uky.edu/OtherOrgs/GainesCenter/2011_boone_video.html

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 02:08:04 UTC | #886673

Armydude's Avatar Comment 3 by Armydude

When things go in favor of god he is good, when they go against him he works in mysterious ways. I think its rather the other way around; all the suffering shows he is evil and when he does good he works in mysterious ways.

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 02:36:19 UTC | #886680

bigvolcano's Avatar Comment 4 by bigvolcano

Wow, Jerry was sharp. A+!

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 02:42:35 UTC | #886682

Quine's Avatar Comment 5 by Quine

Jerry's quote from Feynman was the best, for me. Science is a method for not fooling ourselves, whereas religion is.

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 05:22:16 UTC | #886705

glenister_m's Avatar Comment 6 by glenister_m

After watching the video, I have to say that considering the topic of the debate/discussion, Haught must have an awfully thin skin to consider Jerry's talk: "a sneering and condescending ad hominem. Rather than using your 25 minutes as an opportunity to develop constructively your own belief that science and religion are always and inevitably in conflict, you were content simply to ridicule rather than refute several of my own ideas, as you interpreted them."

I found Jerry brief and to the point, arguing his case logically and with evidence. Quite the opposite of many creationists, who will slander the character of Darwin, etc. as if flaws in their personal lives have any direct connection to whether their scientific discoveries are true or not. Perhaps Haught's self-reflection on his position caused some cognitive dissonance and transferrence???

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 06:07:48 UTC | #886712

susanlatimer's Avatar Comment 7 by susanlatimer

Jerry's list was great. Up there with his Feynman quote:

"Religion and science reach incompatible conclusions about the universe."

"The bible is not a textbook of science', they say... What they mean when they say that is that the bible is not TRUE."

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 07:21:25 UTC | #886727

Functional Atheist's Avatar Comment 8 by Functional Atheist

It was hard to determine exactly what the hell point Haught was trying to make. I think it had something to do with the different spheres notion, augmented by the hilarious metaphor that there's a hierarchy of nature which renders our imperfect comprehension of god analogous to a rock's imperfect comprehension of a plant, or a plant's imperfect comprehension of an animal. Haught seemed an amiable a fellow, despite his nonsensical presentation, and apparently expected little more than mutual admiration, accompanied by sage beard-stroking and muttering about mysteries.

By contrast, Coyne came prepared for a fight, and delivered a much more pointed and clear presentation of his point-of-view. He was pugnacious, as he admitted more than once, but he was not rude, snide, or unfair. I saw no attempt to conflate the crimes of specific Catholics (like pedophile priests) with Haught personally.

Haught has only himself to blame for his tepid presentation. His subsequent attack of the vapors--"Oh my, the ad hominem attacks, the incivility, I feel faint"--only diminishes his already tarnished reputation.

Haught's over-reaction is evidence only that he is unaccustomed to having his cherished beliefs directly challenged. He doesn't seem a bad person, but he's apparently such a delicate flower that a debate with Hitch would likely send the man to the hospital if not the morgue.

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 08:16:19 UTC | #886740

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 9 by rod-the-farmer

I have not even got as far as Dr. Coyne and his talk, and already he won the debate. This Haught chap is a woo-meister of staggering inanity. I could not listen to it without saying "Oh, there's another claim or statement he should be yanked up sort on...." Every minute or so there was another one. I almost expected him to discuss angels dancing on the head of a pin.

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 09:49:09 UTC | #886758

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 10 by Richard Dawkins

I am about to start listening to Jerry Coyne but, having listened attentively and patiently to the whole of John Haught's speech, I pause to say this. If this is theology, it reveals itself as not just meaningless mind-rot but DISHONEST meaningless mind-rot. It may not be deliberately dishonest, for the theologian is systematically trained to deceive himself before graduating to deceive others. As the Nobel-laureate Sir Peter Medawar said of Haught's hero Teilhard de Chardin, he "can be excused of dishonesty only on the grounds that before deceiving others he has taken great pains to deceive himself." Drunk on metaphor and symbolism, the theologian is quite incapable of distinguishing a good metaphor, which serves to explain something (like the admirable metaphor of the multi-volume book, which Haught uses to explain cosmic time) from a bad metaphor, which serves to do nothing but obscure and confuse (like almost everything else in Haught's speech).

Haught has done nothing to dispel my prior impression that, probably uniquely among named academic disciplines, theology is quite simply not a subject at all. Thomas Jefferson, when planning his beloved University of Virginia, said this: "A professorship of theology should have no place in our institution." His words should be applied to every university in the world. Theology, in the sense of historical or literary studies of the bible, is a respectable academic subject, which a professor might decently pursue. "Theology" (the quotation marks are deliberate) in the sense of the subject pursued by the likes of John Haught, is not a subject at all, and has no place in any real university.

Richard

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 10:37:38 UTC | #886772

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 11 by Cartomancer

Perhaps someone should do a study of one or more university Theology faculties to come to some idea of what exactly is being taught, researched and published there. How much of it is the respectable stuff about real-world phenomena - biblical Greek and Hebrew, ancient and medieval philosophy, church history and so forth - and how much of it is languorous mind-wank premised irredeemably on the existence of beings for which there is no evidence at all? The criterion, surely, should be whether the work done is compatible with what goes on in the rest of academe - is it of any, even theoretical, interest or use to someone outside the charmed circle of theology? One could count up the lectures given, seminars held, tutorials administered, papers and books published (taking careful note of how funding is allocated for each) and come to some conclusion as to just how valid the department is. It wouldn't be difficult, yet it would, especially in these dark times of 80% funding cuts to humanities departments, raise valid questions as to whether we should continue to fund these people in our universities.

Admittedly I am slightly biased, having much cause to envy empty theologians their jobs because I have failed to secure an entry-level academic position of my own for the last two years in the very close field of Medieval intellectual history. But I hope I don't speak entirely from invidiousness here.

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 10:56:36 UTC | #886780

Marcus Small's Avatar Comment 12 by Marcus Small

Theology was best described fro me by John Macquarrie:

'Theology may defined as the study which, through participation in and reflection upon a religious faith, seeks to express the content of this faith in the clearest and most coherent language available.'

Now it might be argued that this is not, or never has been done successfully. Is this the kind of thing that should be studied at a university. One can study and analyse the attempts, the effects of those attempts and the historical context in which those attempts are/have been were made. Which I think is the sort of thing that happens here.

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 11:36:57 UTC | #886792

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 13 by Mark Jones

I think Haught's talk is fine in certain respects. He presents well and actually lays out why the scientific and theological views of the cosmos are in conflict. That part to me is very clear. Obviously, the theobabble I find unintelligible (self-emptying kenosis?), but that's his exposition of the theological view, and one could hardly expect anyone with a non-theistic view to take that seriously. But we can recognise that Haught does take it seriously, and allow for it when examining his world view.

The fatal problem, for me, is that he doesn't present any good arguments for his world view. His 'answer' to the incompatibility he clearly sees between the two disciplines comes over as pure hand-waving - he asserts evolution and self transcendence are different views of the same thing, and God is pulling us toward some transcendent necessarily mysterious future. This doesn't address the key incompatibility science points to; the lack of evidence for any guiding ultimate purpose in the cosmos - the scientific facts do not support the mind-first view even if one posits a God 'pulling us' into the future. I'm sure an argument could be developed to support his view (although I don't see that one could work) but he doesn't present one. And he says that the 'only evidence' for faith is the awareness of being carried away by 'something very large, very important, of ultimate value'. But how can he check that he is not in error? He can't, without science, and science doesn't support his revelation. If he wants to assert that the awareness of being carried away by 'something very large, very important, of ultimate value' is evidence for faith, I can equally assert it's evidence for neurotransmitters resulting from billions of years of evolution. In fact, I have more evidence for my assertion than he does his.

So, in this respect, I think his talk actually leads us to find science and religion more likely to be incompatible than compatible. I discuss it more here.

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 11:44:48 UTC | #886794

Chris Quartly's Avatar Comment 14 by Chris Quartly

I thought Coyne was devastatingly concise, brilliantly done in such a short space of time. I hope they also upload the Q&A session.

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 11:58:57 UTC | #886802

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 15 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 10 by Richard Dawkins

Haught has done nothing to dispel my prior impression that, probably uniquely among named academic disciplines, theology is quite simply not a subject at all. Thomas Jefferson, when planning his beloved University of Virginia, said this: "A professorship of theology should have no place in our institution." His words should be applied to every university in the world.

Oh no, I've just registered in pursuit of such, I'm really interested in the details of how all this nonsense came about. Well, not a Professorship, per se, but a third level qualification at least.

Theology, in the sense of historical or literary studies of the bible, is a respectable academic subject, which a professor might decently pursue.

Thank Darby O'Gill about that, I'd hate to completely waste my time.

"Theology" (the quotation marks are deliberate) in the sense of the subject pursued by the likes of John Haught, is not a subject at all, and has no place in any real university.

Yer right, a no subject that should have no place at no seat of education. Apart from the 'bookcase metaphor', I thought Haught spoke mostly gobbledygook. I enjoyed Jerry's half hour though, even though the slides were out of shot and he could've come across a bit more assertive.

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 12:19:23 UTC | #886812

Mark Jones's Avatar Comment 16 by Mark Jones

Comment 15 by Ignorant Amos

Oh no, I've just registered in pursuit of such, I'm really interested in the details of how all this nonsense came about. Well, not a Professorship, per se, but a third level qualification at least.

Good luck with that. I'm hopeful that one day we may have more theologians (of a sort) who aren't believers than are.

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 12:31:10 UTC | #886817

peter mayhew's Avatar Comment 17 by peter mayhew

Haught's argument: 1. Start by assuming Yahweh provides any cosmic purpose, because that's what Xtians do. 2. Assuming what science says is true, is there still space where Yahweh can hide? 3. Answer "Yes", because science doesn't address the issue of cosmic purpose I think, we don't know the future, and I can use long words like "self-transcendence".

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 12:34:23 UTC | #886818

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 18 by Tyler Durden

Comment 15 by Ignorant Amos :

"A professorship of theology should have no place in our institution." His words should be applied to every university in the world.

Oh no, I've just registered in pursuit of such, I'm really interested in the details of how all this nonsense came about. Well, not a Professorship, per se, but a third level qualification at least.

I can just imagine the carnage :)

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 12:36:47 UTC | #886819

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 19 by Richard Dawkins

After listening to John Haught, I read his open letter to Jerry Coyne. Despite Haught's lamentably unconvincing speech, his letter prepared me to find that Jerry had been unfair, had quoted him out of context, had attacked him ad hominem and had raised contentious issues that were irrelevent to the topic under debate. I was prepared, in other words, to dissent from Jerry's speech on grounds of fairness or good taste, even while expecting to agree with its content. I have now listened to Jerry's speech in full and found nothing of the kind. Not a trace of ad hominem attack, not a trace of unfairness, nothing irrelevant, plenty of articulate assertiveness but always served with good humour.

Jerry's speech was a brilliant tour de force from start to finish. A magnificent exhibition of rational, well-supported argument, and witty and entertaining withal. Many congratulations, Jerry, on a splendid piece of work, thoroughly well prepared and brilliantly delivered.

Richard

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 12:39:01 UTC | #886821

Roper122's Avatar Comment 20 by Roper122

Very nicely done.. thank you for posting this.

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 12:47:05 UTC | #886825

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 21 by Ignorant Amos

Comment 16 by Mark Jones

Cheers.

Comment 18 by Tyler Durden

I can just imagine the carnage :)

I know what yer hintin' at }80)~.....I will need to learn self restraint techniques and perhaps enrol on anger management lessons in tandem. The very least I'll need is a few of these games to keep me grounded.

I'm looking forward to it and I have to thank Marcus Small for his encouragement to look into the enterprise.

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 12:55:02 UTC | #886828

EtotheiPi's Avatar Comment 22 by EtotheiPi

Just watched the talks. Thank you mirandaceleste! Haughts gibberish greatly corroborated my definition of theology: The "art" of finding excuses and adapting to the facts, they grudgingly find untenable to reject. I really don't see, why this would be a field of study.

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 13:18:04 UTC | #886834

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 23 by Peter Grant

Ladies and gentlemen, I present sophisticated theology.

LOL

Would you believe I only finished downloading this now? Started when Jerry posted it on his blog, but links on Vimeo only stay active for a few hours so without a download manager it would have timed out altogether. As it is I had to manually resume it with a new URL 4 times. Would appreciate it if someone would post a torrent, this will take me days to seed. If you include "Jerry Coyne" in the title my search feeds should pick it up.

Getting ready to watch it now, should be funny at least :D

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 13:23:31 UTC | #886837

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 24 by AtheistEgbert

So God is a metaphor for theologians, and God is a metaphor for scientists, or am I mistaken?

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 13:35:39 UTC | #886846

BGHOKIE's Avatar Comment 25 by BGHOKIE

Haught's talk is a perfect example of a conclusion in search of evidence.

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 13:52:50 UTC | #886860

Marc Country's Avatar Comment 26 by Marc Country

Great talk. So plain spoken. So matter-of-fact.

Win.

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 14:03:26 UTC | #886864

NathanH's Avatar Comment 27 by NathanH

Comment 23 by Peter Grant :

Ladies and gentlemen, I present sophisticated theology.

LOL

Would you believe I only finished downloading this now? Started when Jerry posted it on his blog, but links on Vimeo only stay active for a few hours so without a download manager it would have timed out altogether. As it is I had to manually resume it with a new URL 4 times. Would appreciate it if someone would post a torrent, this will take me days to seed. If you include "Jerry Coyne" in the title my search feeds should pick it up.

I think us torrenters are waiting for the promised "professional version" with slides shown on the video before we torrent it (at least... I know I am):

The video! (Jerry Coyne's blog: Why Evolution is True)

Sadly, the Powerpoint slides that accompanied both of our talks aren't shown, but the organizers are working on a professional version with the slides. I'll put that up when it's done. But if you really must have the slides, just shoot me an email.

And if that doesn't come out within the next couple days, then I'll make a torrent with the video and both slides.

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 14:08:19 UTC | #886870

Marcus Small's Avatar Comment 28 by Marcus Small

Amos, I am really pleased that you have to decided to go for study, its good, you might get something for all that reading you do. I would add that study adds a certain discipline that conversations don't. (Something I still find hard. But its good for me).

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 14:14:46 UTC | #886872

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 29 by Peter Grant

Comment 27 by NathanH

I think us torrenters are waiting for the promised "professional version" with slides shown on the video before we torrent it (at least... I know I am)

I've only got a 384kbps connection, I'd download everything using bittorrent if I could.

And if that doesn't come out within the next couple days, then I'll make a torrent with the video and both slides.

Thanks! :D

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 14:36:52 UTC | #886885

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 30 by Stafford Gordon

Didn't understand what that other chap was talking about most of the time, until Professor Coyne said, when you're in a jam make stuff up; then I understood it perfectly. It was "dar": dogma, authority and revelation.

All I'd like to say is, if you haven't already done so, please read Why Evolution is True!

Thu, 03 Nov 2011 16:33:39 UTC | #886949