Wednesday 12 December 2007

More Poddie Power

Skepticism, whether spelled correctly the British way [scepticism] or with the deviant North American k, is a good thing I think. Feel the siren call of the latest advertorial gadget on 2AM TV? Be skeptical. Get an email from Nigeria offering a large, easy cash return? Be skeptical.

So how come skepticism - let alone scepticism - is a wicked thing when it comes to religion?

There shall come scoffers in the Last Days... and thank God for that. The garden of the Lord is too full of credulous folk already. Dave Pack has a congregation full of such people; now there's a group who could do with a healthy dose of skepticism, preferably before their bank accounts are drained completely and their homes up for mortgagee sale.

I know I'll be blasted for saying it, but skeptics/sceptics are by and large on the side of the angels. Any faith that can't stand up to hard questions should be toppled off its pedestal.

Which is a long-winded way to introduce the excellent Infidel Guy podcast.

Reginald Finley is a former Christian of the Southern Baptist persuasion - or something very like it. Unlike some of the more confrontational types, Reg is downright polite and reasonable, and Infidel Guy sets a high standard in this kind of discourse.

Guests have included, on the one hand, Kent Hovind (the creationist) and Fred Phelp's son Tim (of God Hates Fags infamy). I know I'd lose it in the first five minutes with people of this ilk, but Reggie handles such guests with aplomb: in fact I'm humbled just listening in. On the other hand there have been superb interviews with Richard Dawkins and Richard Carrier.

But best of all, from my perspective as an uppity part-time theology student, have been the shows with biblical scholars, people like Bob Price (more on him in a moment), Hector Avalos and Bart Ehrman. Occasionally Reggie gets more than he bargained for - as in the Ehrman interview - but overall the tone is respectful, positive and inquiring. Christian media gild the lily, mainstream media dumb issues down, but ol' Reggie digs deep.

Bob Price deserves a separate entry. In fact, that's exactly what I'll do, so stay tuned...

Meantime, check out the IG website and - if you dare - consider subscribing to the free podcast. I haven't become an atheist as a result, but I'm certainly better informed!


Anonymous said...

Thanks, a good resource, I'm listening to the interview of mythicist/ahistoricist Richard Carrier right now !

FYI Again said...

Not only are skeptics on the side of the angels, but Jesus as well. How else can you interpret such statements as "Take heed that you not be deceived" (Luke 21:8)?

The people in RCG are only skeptical up to a point: they are skeptical of EVERYONE but their Dear Leader. I'll say this for Pack, he knows how to run a cult.

        AMERICAN KABUKI said...

Skepticism with an open mind is good thing.

Debunking is often just plain closed minded pig headedness.

There's a huge difference between the two.

The "Amazing Randy" is known for saying he'll pay 1 Million to any psychic who can prove it. When he's faced with paying up on the offer, by people who have that ability, he quickly changes the rules.

Good Science is skeptical, but great science is being open minded enough to examine the evidence that doesn't fit your pre-concieved ideas. Because in that, is new understanding.

HWA was not a fan of the scientific method. But his religion really could have used more "testing" of its "facts".

Tom Mahon said...

I have posted the following because most people who label themselves sceptics don't often know what they are talking about.

"Pyrrhonism, or Pyrrhonian skepticism, was a school of skepticism founded by Aenesidemus in the first century BC and recorded by Sextus Empiricus in the late 2nd century or early 3rd century AD. It was named after Pyrrho, a philosopher who lived from c. 360 to c. 270 BC, although the relationship between the philosophy of the school and of the historical figure is murky. Pyrrhonism became influential during the past few centuries when the modern scientific worldview was born.

Whereas 'academic' skepticism, with as its most famous adherent Carneades, claims that "Nothing can be known, not even this", Pyrrhonian skeptics withhold any assent with regard to non-evident propositions and remain in a state of perpetual inquiry. According to them, even the statement that nothing can be known is dogmatic.

For example, Pyrrhonians might assert that a lack of proof cannot constitute disproof, and that a lack of belief is vastly different from a state of active disbelief. Rather than disbelieving psychic powers, for instance, based on the lack of evidence of such things, Pyrrhonians recognize that we cannot be certain that new evidence won't turn up in the future, and so they intentionally remain tentative and continue their inquiry. Pyrrhonians also question accepted knowledge, and view dogmatism as a disease of the mind."

Anonymous said...

Aww, Tom!

A quote without attribution? Should I believe you are quoting yourself?

Somehow I am skeptical...