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Is Religion A Force For Evil Debate Pictures
Michael Shermer, notable writer, skeptic and atheist, debated Dinesh D'Souza, notable crackpot religious apologist & physics "relativist" on the USF campus at a free public debate. Datan0de and I attended just to watch the train wreck. Although I'm quite certain that everyone in the audience thinks that the guy they were rooting for "won", it was quite clear that the pro-Shermer fans thought D'Souza was a barking moonbat even if I, personally, felt that Shermer did not adequately defend his position a couple of times.
The audience erupted into laughter at such statements as "we know how fast light travels from this lightbulb because we can measure it, but we can't know how fast light travels in another galaxy because we're not there to measure it!" and "If I hold my arm out and drop this pen, Stephen Hawking would say that gravity caused the pen to fall, but that's not true! I caused the pen to fall by opening my hand!" So either the pro-D'Souza side had much more self-control and were able to resist howling with incredulous laughter at Shermer, or Shermer just wasn't nearly as ridiculous as D'Souza and his fans could find nothing about Shermer's statements to cause them to fall out of their seats. I'm betting on the latter.
Shermer's opening remarks were very well done. They were clear, concise, got right to the heart of the issues, and pre-emptively addressed those points that he predicted D'Souza would make (which he did). Shermer got a little fuzzy towards the end, particularly during the Q&A session, prompting me to write an obnoxiously long LiveJournal post about what my own opening remarks would be if I were in his position (that post is not yet posted because I got sidetracked on the Hitler issue, but I'll add a link here when I get around to finishing it). D'Souza trotted out the same old, tired arguments in favor of religion that do nothing to actually address the question of whether or not religion is a force for good or evil, and were a textbook case of Logical Fallacies 101. I hope logic and debate students were encouraged to attend for extra credit or something, because it was a fantastic opportunity to hear logical fallacies used in real life.
I had never heard D'Souza talk before, but listening to him, even after hearing Shermer miss a couple of points I thought he should have defended better, I can't imagine how on Earth he managed to develop the following that he has. Even with my basic, high school understanding of science (which was more than a decade ago, and I only got Cs in science class back then anyway), I can spot the red herrings, the false premises, the Argument From Authoritys, the Argument From Incredulitys and the plain old wrong facts and lack of understanding that comprised the D'Souza arguments. What a wackaloon!
What are you people smoking that you think he has any idea of what he's talking about? He's clearly an imbicile who thinks stringing a bunch of polysyllabic, sciencey words together makes him sound smart to those with even less understanding of the basic concepts of science than him ... and judging by his popularity I'd have to say, in this single case, he's actually right. It boggles the mind how many people can hear the tripe to come out of his mouth and think he's making sense. It was like stepping into Bizarro World where black means white and up is down and common criminals and thieves are heralded as folk heroes. To quote another notable doctor, "this must be what going mad feels like".
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