John Shook - The God Debates

October 15, 2010

Host: Robert M. Price

Our guest is philosopher and author John Shook, discussing his experiences debating religious believers and whether such debates are a good idea.

Some say no, that such spectacles merely serve believers by making it look like atheists take them more seriously than they deserve. Others say yes, because debates provide a precious opportunity to introduce believers to atheistic arguments they might otherwise never hear.

Price and Shook compare notes about debating superstar apologist William Lane Craig, discuss interesting insights on Presuppositionalism and Postmodernism, and talk about Dr. Shook's new book, The God Debates: A 21st Century Guide for Atheists and Believers (and Everyone in Between), an introduction to major issues in the philosophy of religion, as well as debate topics old and new.

Books Mentioned in This Episode:


Related Episodes

David Koepsell - Why Secular Humanism?
May 18, 2007

Comments from the CFI Forums

If you would like to leave a comment about this episode of Point of Inquiry please visit the related thread on the CFI discussion forums

As far as debating a Presuppositionalist:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EW4LXxTZ0S4

Greg Bahnsen also did a good job of debating Tabash

Posted on Oct 17, 2010 at 7:38pm by Cardsharq Comment #1

:cheese:   


I thought that was a great inteview with Mr. Schook.  I agree that we need to develop the skills to argue rationally without the fear of offending.  Religion is open game for questions.  There is no such thing as “too many questions.”

Posted on Oct 20, 2010 at 5:56am by questionsaboutfaith Comment #2

I wish the new interviewer would stop injecting so much of his own opinion in the questions, just give him open ended questions and let him answer.  I kind of miss DJ Grothe.

Posted on Oct 20, 2010 at 5:57am by questionsaboutfaith Comment #3

I wish the new interviewer would stop injecting so much of his own opinion in the questions, just give him open ended questions and let him answer.  I kind of miss DJ Grothe.

I agree. Robert Price is so bad he is not even an interviewer. Karen Stollznow should be the sole host of PoI.

Posted on Oct 20, 2010 at 7:16am by DarronS Comment #4

With a few exceptions, I really don’t enjoy Price’s interviews precisely for that reason. He also comes across as condescending towards his audience.

Posted on Oct 20, 2010 at 1:28pm by asanta Comment #5

Agreed, I really don’t care for his “interviewing” style. He basically answers his own question then asks the guest if he’s correct. I want to hear the guest talk more than the host. ;)

Take care,

Derek

Posted on Oct 20, 2010 at 3:08pm by harry canyon Comment #6

the computer won’t let me give you a link to common sense atheism and debates with William Lane Craig

http://commonsense    atheism.com/?p=392

this was really irritating.

I thought this was one of Price’s best interviews, but I still like Karen S.‘s better (like most everyone).


See if you get the same “s p a m ” error..

Posted on Oct 20, 2010 at 5:16pm by Jackson Comment #7

Price is obviously very smart, but I wish his questions would have been more penetrating.  I think Richard Dawkins would make a most interesting host, but he seems gun shy about openly debating creationists, because it lends them too much credence.  I think it is time for Point of Inquiry to do an interview with Christopher Hitchens on the meaning of life and death.  Now that would be good, but Mr. Price, give him enough time to talk please!

Posted on Oct 20, 2010 at 7:34pm by questionsaboutfaith Comment #8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wf9-vwnzqOo

  Here’s the link to the debate with William Lane Craig.

  IMHO it’s sort of boring.  Will just waxes poetic about the big bang and gets into a big mess of logical fallacies.  Why do theologian think that they can hold their own in a scientific debate.  When they start referring to the Authority of Scripture as if it’s scientific fact, they start to sound pathetic.  That’s why I prefer debates that are more philosophically based….. What is Truth? What is Justice? What is Good? What is Evidence?  That’s the place where I think the atheist and theist have an interesting point of view.

Posted on Oct 20, 2010 at 7:44pm by Cardsharq Comment #9

Why spend so much time on Craig?  He cant argue reality (avoids it like the plague) and is interminably boring.  Using the same argument for the past 17 years.

The Geek shouldn’t have honoured this idiot with a mention.

Posted on Oct 22, 2010 at 4:00am by Henk van der Gaast Comment #10

PS, us Australians all live along a short road.  Karen was a neighbour.. all Australians say she was a neighbour. You are doing wonderfully!

and may I add, chops, boiled spuds and broccoli is on me..is that a 50 or 90 minute boil?

Posted on Oct 22, 2010 at 4:04am by Henk van der Gaast Comment #11

Was this a podcast about John Shook’s book, or was this a podcast about Robert Price’s criticisms of Richard Dawkins?

Posted on Oct 22, 2010 at 4:38am by 1000 Needles Comment #12

No, Dawkins does (only sometimes) need a kick up the bum… leading atheists is still leading believers.. Conversely, Price believes in a lot of waffle we scientists generally gag at (yes Bob, we do math…)

This position is one that Price and Dawkins straddle, but from opposing ends.  If its not sensible to believe in junk (and they both say that in their talks) then its not sensible to believe in any junk.


As I said elsewhere today, who knows where the words assumption and belief parted giving the greater weight to the latter.


Selective stridency is bad. Prof Dawkins has a far smaller belief set than Prof Price. But having said that, I stand in awe of both of them!

I enjoy their prose and speech immensely.


On the other side of the coin, take a scientific mind set into any conversation with any alt med or a chiropractor. You will find religion far more preferable as a life stand point.

I have to get my browns gas engine going for the shire fair… see you all later.

Posted on Oct 22, 2010 at 5:15am by Henk van der Gaast Comment #13

The great Richard does a lot of dickhead detection, but truly I wish he emphasised it far more. I have to deal with atheists on a daily basis who idolise Richard and do not extrapolate his good work to their beliefs.

I wish he made a movie called “Dumb and Dumber” so as to only reinforce that stupid ideas cloud your life’s decision. It would be great if it was mandatory viewing for every school kid, apprentice and uni student.. three times a year.

Posted on Oct 22, 2010 at 5:21am by Henk van der Gaast Comment #14

It would be great if God Debates were shown more often in the public schools, but there is a sort of underlying poiltical correctness.  Students know when they are stepping out of political bounds and know they would be ostracized if they step out.  The obvious question…..  Are our schools doing their very best to give positive reinforcement to critical thinking?  They are great at getting kids to march in line, but what about teaching them that it is OK to ask the big and penetrating questions?  It seems that those kinds of questions are stifled by the 2nd or 3rd grade.  In some cases conformity is more important than open sharing of knowledge.  Any controversial subjects are usually shunned in public settings, including public schools.

Posted on Oct 22, 2010 at 5:55am by questionsaboutfaith Comment #15

Since we’re all proverbially picking scabs (we miss DJ, Robert Price isn’t a good interviewer whatsoever, PoI’s hosts (save Karen) can’t refrain from injecting their own opinions, etc), I’ll go ahead and compare this to the last episode.

I loved John Shook’s response to the (incredibly leading) question about how New Atheists ignore theology and dismiss it because it is “about nothing.”  As I recall, he replied “well, they’re right, it is about nothing, but maybe some of us should pay attention to it because a lot of people care about it.”

This struck me as honest and direct, and ought to appeal to both “sides” of the accommodationist/New Atheist debate.  The NAs should like it because it’s honest about theology, and accommodationists should like it because it acknowledges that theology still needs to be addressed by atheists/skeptics/etc.  What do you guys think?  Am I naively missing something to hate in there?

Posted on Oct 22, 2010 at 6:46am by cheglabratjoe Comment #16

Its pretty frustrating when “faith” can invent “absolute logic”, “philosophy” and “morals” to bolster their argument.  These terms are impressive to the uninitiated and yet, the religious application is superfluous as each time one of these terms are marched out they are applied to sophistry.

In the sense of the first, the logic is not absolute and is flawed. For the second, its philosophy to the exclusion of outlying thought (whether real or not) and for the latter, morals vary from person to person as the idea of god does.

You can’t have critical thinking if you are bound to these “ideas”  (better known as meme sets).


I’ve been told that pack cooperation is very easy on the brain.  This is to say, if the predominant thought is held by the seniority then it is held by the “pack”.  Saves brain energy and chemicals to be consistent within your community. This allows further exploration elsewhere. This idea sounds appropriate, how correct it is (neurologically) I do not know.

on Craig;

I am certain that William Craig has a huge following with his brand of “logic and philosophy” but he presents fairly tame argument from old ideas.  There appears to be a lot of appeal to authority when you meet his adherents.  The arguments are weak (no matter how emphatic he is) and the authority is his only.

After all, if Craigs arguments are correct, satan could be the creator as much as the god of the old testament (El) or the god of Israel (Yahweh)... even Brahma. His argument does not distinguish any priority. Further more, if the universe has a beginning he continually argues that the universe must have been created. This is unhelpful. Who knows why physics is lambasted when the gods of the religions only created heaven and earth?

Posted on Oct 22, 2010 at 2:27pm by Henk van der Gaast Comment #17

It comes down to one thing I think.  You cannot reason someone out of something they were not reasoned into in the first place.  Deprogramming fundamentalists would take a long long time.

Posted on Oct 23, 2010 at 7:25am by questionsaboutfaith Comment #18

You cannot reason someone out of something they were not reasoned into in the first place.  Deprogramming fundamentalists would take a long long time.

Yep. this is just a lot of talk about psychological bullshit.

psik

Posted on Oct 23, 2010 at 9:23am by psikeyhackr Comment #19

It would be great if God Debates were shown more often in the public schools, but there is a sort of underlying poiltical correctness.  Students know when they are stepping out of political bounds and know they would be ostracized if they step out.  The obvious question…..  Are our schools doing their very best to give positive reinforcement to critical thinking?  They are great at getting kids to march in line, but what about teaching them that it is OK to ask the big and penetrating questions?  It seems that those kinds of questions are stifled by the 2nd or 3rd grade.  In some cases conformity is more important than open sharing of knowledge.  Any controversial subjects are usually shunned in public settings, including public schools.

Also, note that children do this to themselves, too, as part of “peer pressure”.  Truly successful critical thinking programs should find ways of weakening this effect, or to subvert it so that rewards critical thinking.

Posted on Oct 23, 2010 at 11:10am by TromboneAndrew Comment #20

Are our schools doing their very best to give positive reinforcement to critical thinking?  They are great at getting kids to march in line, but what about teaching them that it is OK to ask the big and penetrating questions?  It seems that those kinds of questions are stifled by the 2nd or 3rd grade.  In some cases conformity is more important than open sharing of knowledge.  Any controversial subjects are usually shunned in public settings, including public schools.

Are you trying to start some kind of cultural revolution to create a Vulcan culture or something?

You obviously need to be reported to Homeland Security.  :lol:

http://www.gutenberg.org/files/23197/23197-h/23197-h.htm

psik

Posted on Oct 23, 2010 at 11:53am by psikeyhackr Comment #21

A Vulcan culture may be more peaceful, but emotions are what makes humans very special.  Vulcans would be able to evolve past primitive war culture.

http://richarddawkins.net/videos/536409-the-poetry-of-science-richard-dawkins-and-neil-degrasse-tyson

Posted on Oct 23, 2010 at 12:56pm by questionsaboutfaith Comment #22

The last post is one of the most interesting discussions I’ve seen in some time on youtube.

Posted on Oct 23, 2010 at 12:57pm by questionsaboutfaith Comment #23

A Vulcan culture may be more peaceful, but emotions are what makes humans very special.  Vulcans would be able to evolve past primitive war culture.

http://richarddawkins.net/videos/536409-the-poetry-of-science-richard-dawkins-and-neil-degrasse-tyson

Nice!

Posted on Oct 23, 2010 at 1:14pm by TromboneAndrew Comment #24

Just came across a link to a debate John Shook has tonight in Greensboro NC
http://eyeonapologetics.com/blog/2011/04/10/debate-richard-howe-vs-john-shook-414-greensboro-nc/
http://eyeonapologetics.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Richard-Howe-vs-John-Shook-Debate-Greensboro-NC.jpg

Posted on Apr 14, 2011 at 3:41pm by Jackson Comment #25

This is a link with many debates by William Lane Craig with skeptics/secularists/atheists/agnostics

http://www.philvaz.com/apologetics/audio.htm

Craig’s arguments are covered by Dawkins in the God Delusion but it is interesting to see how each of these speakers handles it on the fly.
It’s like Jeopardy - it’s easier to answer the questions at home on your couch than in the studio…


Including at least these who have been interviewed on POI:

John Shook
Massimo Pigliucci
Eddie Tabash
Austin Dacey (round 1 and round 2…)
Hector Avalos
Robert Price (!)
Victor Stenger

Posted on Apr 24, 2011 at 1:11pm by Jackson Comment #26