Monday, 27 February 2012

A Respectful Dialogue

Since I didn't take notes, here's a few recollections about the discussion.

  • This format is a great way to have a dialogue. Instead of having two people getting the platform to try to rhetorically out-compete the other, they had three people trying to express themselves in a way that was amenable to conversation and understanding by the wider audience.

  • I don't think it would be possible to have a more civilised exchange than this. For all the talk about the tone Dawkins brings to the table, there was nothing there to lower the tone of the conversation.

  • The question the audience had about "unrealised potentiality" reeked of attempting to sound profound, and all it ended up doing was needing clarification - and even then it was the waste of a question.

  • Dawkins was really out of his depth when talking about notions like free will and consciousness being "illusions". It was good to see Williams and Kenny told Dawkins to task for his sloppy use of terminology.

  • It was good to see the Archbishop not shy away from serious questions that were problematic to his belief, and that he willingly admitted faith on his part when asked about certain aspects of his belief.

  • That said, when Dawkins pressed him on why bother to read Genesis at all, Williams failed to give a satisfactory answer.

  • When Kenny asked why Dawkins wasn't an agnostic and Dawkins replied that he was, it wasn't any different to the position Dawkins laid out in The God Delusion.

  • Kenny's explanation of the differences in complexity was refreshing, but it doesn't really resolve the problem. The cut-throat razor may have more functionality than an electric razor despite being a more simple design, but there's only so much structural complexity you can lose without losing the complex function. We might be able to be more simple than we are and keep our capacities, but how much could we really lose in terms of complexity before we cannot have something like language or conscious thought?

  • The jab at the blogosphere at the end was a bit snobbish, more than anything else, and probably could have been done in a more constructive manner.

No comments: