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Run-up to EXPELLED: Ben Stein Hosts Stanford Debate — Hitchens vs. Richards


DEBATE: Atheism vs. Theism and The Scientific Evidence of Intelligent Design
Sunday, January 27th at 4pm PST, Stanford University

Stanford University will play host to a debate entitled Atheism vs. Theism & the Scientific Evidence for Intelligent Design. This debate is being organized by student groups at Stanford: IDEA Club at Stanford,The Stanford Review and Vox Clara: A Journal of Christian Thought at Stanford.

Chirstopher Hitchens vs. Jay Richards

Christopher Hitchens — Contributing editor to Vanity Fair; visiting professor, New School in New York; author of God is Not Great.
Jay W. Richards — Research Fellow and Director of Acton Media at the Acton Institute; co-author, with astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, of The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery.

Hosted by Ben Stein — Journalist, author and actor in the soon-to-be released movie, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.

Moderated by Michael Cromertie — Vice President at the Ethics and Public Policy Center; co-editor, with Richard John Neuhaus, of Piety and Politics.

Sunday, January 27th at 4pm PST

Stanford University
Dinkelspiel Auditorium
471 Lagunita Drive
Stanford, CA 94305

TICKETS: You must have a ticket to attend the event. Tickets can be reserved/obtained at no charge, by emailing: idea.stanford@gmail.com You must provide this information: Name, Affiliation (“Referred by …”), # of tickets. Seating is limited and tickets will be reserved on a first come, first reserved basis. On the day of the debate there will be a table out front for reserved tickets, and you can pick them up there at the event.

Ok, so where are the MP3s and YouTube videos of the debate? CN
The Stanford Daily report: Hitchens knocks intelligent design Atheist debates creation advocate Jay Richards in Dinkelspiel Auditorium January 28, 2008 By Shelby Martin
***Correction: In this article, The Daily inaccurately reported that Jay Richards is a program director for the intelligent design think tank Discovery Institute. In fact, Richards has not worked at the Discovery Institute for more than a year; he is currently the media director of the Acton Institute.*** . . . During an animated debate yesterday in a packed Dinkelspiel Auditorium, atheist Christopher Hitchens and intelligent design advocate Jay Richards clashed over the evidence for God’s existence. “There are no atheists in foxholes, but there are plenty in universities,” said host Ben Stein, famous for his role as the dull economics teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, during “Atheism vs. Theism and the Scientific Evidence of Intelligent Design.” “We are lucky — blessed, I would say — to have two extremely smart people here today,” Stein said, giving both participants 14 minutes for their opening remarks. “I can’t imagine it’ll take me 14 minutes to demolish intelligent design, as I refuse to call it,” began Hitchens, the author of the 2007 bestseller “God is Not Great.” He cited the existence of evil as evidence against a benevolent designer. “If everything was designed,” Hitchens asked, “what are we to make of the designer who has subjected so many generations to barbarism, misery, ignorance, slavery and early death?” He added that any person who looked to nature as evidence for design must contend with the fact that 98 percent of all species that have ever existed are extinct. “Whose design?” asked Hitchens, to applause from many audience members, including a dozen wearing “Atheists of Silicon Valley” T-shirts. “What kind of design? What kind of caprice, what kind of incompetence, what kind of cruelty?’ Richards congratulated Hitchens on his rhetoric, but dismissed the atheist’s perspective. “A sneer is not an argument,” said Richards, a program director for the intelligent design think tank Discovery Institute. Richards encouraged the audience to see atheism and theism as two competing hypotheses, saying he would lay out “a laundry list of facts,” and ask whether they fit better in an atheistic or theistic worldview. For theists, “there is a personal being, a transcendent, eternal, personal being,” Richards said. “This being is by definition goodness and love.” As his first evidence for theism, Richards argued that all people feel “simple moral truths.” “We all know that it’s wrong to torture little children just for the fun of it,” he said. The fact that nature seems to be organized rationally and mathematically suggests evidence for theism, Richards said, as does the “fine-tuning principle” — the idea that the laws of the universe are set up just right to allow for life. He added that the universe’s inception at the Big Bang is also evidence for a creator. “Anything that begins to exist must have a cause for its beginning,” Richards said. The intelligent design advocate next appealed to “irreducible complexity,” one of intelligent design’s central tenets. He cited the bacterial flagellum and the cascade of blood-clotting factors, saying that they must be designed because they need all of their parts at once to work and could not evolve little-by-little. “Processes that require foresight are inaccessible to natural selection,” Richards said. . . .
See full article. DLH
Hitchens argument reveals an independent basis for morality separate from Darwinism, for which he gives no explanation. i.e., the charge of "barbarism" reveals a different moral code from the "might makes right" of "natural selection on which Darwinism is based. DLH
From The Stanford Daily:
“If everything was designed,” Hitchens asked, “what are we to make of the designer who has subjected so many generations to barbarism, misery, ignorance, slavery and early death?”
It seems a little schizophrenic to appeal to objective morality in order to judge a god who supposedly doesn't exist. Within Hitchens' own words is the tacit confession that barbarism, misery, ignorance, and slavery are evil. Also, what is early death? Apollos
glad to see someone called Hitchens on that. I always thought someone should say: "just because you yell, doesn't make your argument more convincing" However, I think what Richards presented, quite honestly, is a defense of deism. So, he should have replaced the word theism with deism. ajl
Turn to your left at the end of sky has posted his observations of the debate, including:
Christopher Hitchens opened for the first 14 minutes and unleashed his standard diatribe against ‘religion’. He seemed a little unprepared but is clearly a gifted rhetorician and quite capable of thinking on his feet. He didn’t say much new and his style was well captured by a later comment from Jay Richards: “A sneer is not an argument and insults do not constitute evidence”. His main argument was that if the world was designed by a creator, it was not a benevolent creator. He frequently resorts to this argument despite it clearly not belonging in a debate on Atheism vs Theism. (Just because one doesn’t like God, doesn’t mean God doesn’t exist). Jay Richards had the floor for the next 14 minutes and presented the most rational, well-thought out argument for theism that I’ve ever heard. He had 6 main points (and a seventh which he added later): 1. Moral truth - we all know what it is, the question is where did it come from and atheism has no answer to that 2. A finely tuned universe - basically a brief overview of the anthropic cosmological argument (every physical constant finely tuned for mankind and unlikely to have occurred by chance) 3. A beginning to the universe in a finite past - therefore something caused the universe which must be God. He used the phrase “resting point” for the basis of a theistic belief and asked what the basis for atheism was 4. Irreducible complexity - he didn’t get into details but cited the bacterial flagellum, asked why it’s obvious that Mt. Rushmore was ‘designed’ 5. Materialism - the atheist, materialist philosophers all conclude that consciousness is an illusion but most people are uncomfortable with that 6. Free will - it’s incompatible with a mechanistic worldview 7. The origin of biological information (added towards end of debate) He ended with the question: which worldview (atheism or theism) best accomodates all the above?
See the post for other comments. DLH
yeah, how did it go? I've watched Hitchens before, and quite honestly he does not appear to be very intellectual in his approach - he's more bullying and offensive in his tactics - trying to take his opponent off guard with really insulting and angry comments. But, I haven't seen Richards either. So I don't know if he is capable of presenting a good argument, especially in the face of having to respond to insulting rabbit trails that Hitchens often throws out there. ajl
Did anyone watch this or know if there is a podcast or video of the debate? jerry
well... just beat um. Frost122585
Stanford's notice: DEBATE: Atheism vs. Theism and the Scientific Evidence of Intelligent Design Note: "DOORS OPEN AT 2:45 PM - SHUT ABSOLUTELY AT 3:30 for LIVE BROADCAST on CCN at 3:55 PM." CCN TV announcement: Atheism vs. Theism & The Scientific Evidence of Intelligent Design "If you are not a CCN subscriber and would like information about receiving this broadcast, click here." DLH

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