BloggingHeads.tv has captured the market in political debate where the debators actually listen to one another and address each others points. They sometimes even agree! Gasp!
I gave up listening to atheist vs believer debates a while back as they never seem to move the argument forward in any meaningful way – there are only so many times you can hear that religion gave us the Inquisition and that morality without God is not possible. I decided to risk one more encounter because I thought the Bloggingheads format might lead to a more enlightening discussion and because I enjoy reading both Ross Douthat’s and Heather MacDonald’s writings.
I was not disappointed.
Heather MacDonald was magnificent. I wish she were getting Ross’s spot on the NYT Op-ed page. It’s great that Kristol is gone and it’s great that a non-crazy, non-partisan conservative is getting his spot – but it would be sooo much more fantastic to have smart, secular conservative who does not argue in ALL CAPS in such a prominent seat.
I have never seen such polite passion as Heather’s in a debate and she has the BEST debate winning technique – if I ever go on BlogggingHeads, I am so gonna get me one of those web cams that will hyper-zoom at the most intense moments so I can go all googley-eyed on my opponent. I don’t know how Ross was able to withstand the pressure.
Ross seemed to be on his best behavior and didn’t fling any of the wild accusations that believers usually fling at non-believers.
Heather made fantastic point after fantastic point – so many I lost track. I don’t know if she had prepared notes but her soundbites could not have been better had she rehearsed them in the mirror beforehand.
Here are a few I remember:
The sermon on the mount is not necessarily a defence of unfettered capitalism.
I don’t think many of us would want to have lived during a time when the church was at the peak of its power.
Humans are endowing Christianity with values that comes from ourselves. not from God.
If you want to posit “God” as a placeholder for ignorance of the first cause, fine, but I will not grant you the Christian version of God as loving and just.
Ross did an admirable job under the googley-eyed circumstances but didn’t quite hold his own. His best defence was to fling non sequiturs whenever Heather landed a particularly powerful shot.
Ross v Heather was worth a thousandÂ Hitchens v Mad Creationist debates. Bloggingheads FTW!