Richard Dawkins' book The God Delusion has been a run away best seller. It has stimulated global debate, not always very charitable, about whether Dawkins is right to say that it is probably the case that God does not exist. During this weekend philosophers Marianne Talbot and Stephen Law will discuss the debate from a philosophical point of view. What are Dawkins' arguments? Are they good arguments? Are they conclusive arguments? Where does the debate about God's existence stand now?
A Scientific Hypothesis?
Marianne Talbot gives the first talk on Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion as part of The God Delusion Weekend. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/
The Strengths and Weaknesses of The God Delusion
Stephen Law givs the second talk on Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion as part of The God Delusion Weekend. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/
Has Dawkins shown that God is Redundant?
Marianne Talbot presents the third talk on Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion as part of The God Delusion Weekend. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/
Attacking the God hypothesis in other ways
Stephen Law gives the fourth talk on Richard Dawkins' The God Delsuon as part of The God Delusion Weekend. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/
The God Delusion: Questions and Answers
Stephen Law and Marianne Talbot take part in a panel discussion with Tom Fisher, chairman of the Oxford Philosophical Society, chairing. They answer questions form the audience about The God Delusion and discuss the philosophical issues surrounding it. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/
Interesting but seriously flawed
In the very first lecture Ms. Talbot sets up a straw man of Dawkins argument, specifically she completely ignores the demonstrable fact that Dawkins is speaking to the claim that there is a designer god. When this is brought up the first time she vehemently demands that her belief that Dawkins said nothing about a designer be accepted and claims her assertion is supported by Dawkins's book. Subsequently when it's demonstrated to her that Dawkins was in fact specifically talking about a designer god she claims she can't find her glasses so can't read the passage she so vociferously proclaimed proved her right. It's read and it proves her wrong. She then tries to use the trick of agreeing with the straw man she built of Dawkins position simply so she can say it's not true later.
So, while this could have been interesting Ms. Talbot's incalcitrant refusal to use Dawkins actually argument in the face of repeated explanations and demonstrations of his meaning but instead insists on arguing against the straw man she's constructed makes the whole thing a bit pointless. This is especially frustrating because it's pointed out to her numerous times and every time she makes some completely non sequitur statement. Every time a valid argument is raised to her assertions she ignores them and moves on.
It is good for the logically minded to use to spot really bad logic, not just from the presenters but the audience as well, even the ones you agree with.
The critical reviews are quite confused
Don't let them throw you off, this is a good series if you are interested in understanding the philosophical arguments behind The God Delusion.
TampaMel's review is just confused - the question of God's existence is not just one of "faith," but reasoned argumentation that draws upon various facts about the world (ie the existence of contingent things or the physical constants of the universe). The analogy with unicorns demonstrates an ignorance of the concept of the god of Western monotheism (God). The comment about the scientific method also makes me suspect that he/she did not listen to - or pay attention to - the series.
Mike Bethany is clearly a Dawkins fanboy to some degree. The first issues are simple misrepresentation of the facts of the first lecture (which is what he's talking about; the misrepresentations are bad enough to demonstrate Dawkins-tinted lenses by this reviewer). First of all, Talbot is *explicit* that Dawkins is hypothesizing a designer god. She does not just say she does not have her glasses and that's that, she says she does not have her reading glasses and *asks if anyone else can read the passage.* The passage, once read, also shows that she was correct, not mistaken. On top of all this she was not dismissive of the person questioning, or ignoring them, and I would argue she spent way too much time fielding those sorts of questions; she explicitly stated that she would be glad to talk about those things during the Q&A or during the break, but that she was worried about time and needed to get on with the presentation. The second thing is that Mike is confused about these questions being at all relevant to the discussion at hand.
Anyways, these are the sorts of reviews I expected. Most people with some degree of background in philosophy are not particularly interested in The God Delusion - the audience is going to be those that have difficulty with philosophical concepts (ie the guy in the lecture who was advocating running scientific experiments to decide which moral system was right) and the reviewers incensed enough to write an actual review are going to be the portions of that audience who have an excessively favorable view of Dawkins (which almost universally goes hand in hand with lack of philosophical background. I am not saying here that it's silly to agree with anything Dawkins writes in the book, and the book indeed contains passages and subjects that are genuinely good). But it's perfect for listening to in the car because the topic is nice and simple - meaning it requires no notetaking like many other philosophy lectures, and the speakers give a very fair treatment of Dawkins.
Only pay attention to my review :P
I gave this lecture one star. The star rating was not because there was a problem with the lecture, it is the subject of the lecture that concerns me. The subject, while we can debate the benefits of debating a subject as an exercise in debating, to try to defend any position whether God exists is a waste of time for all concerned. The issue of the existence of God is one of faith and not something that lends itself to discover via any scientific method.
One might as well discuss whether unicorns exist (they do, don't they?)