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Andysor
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« on: October 13, 2010, 13:03:22 PM »

I think there's a need to make the Skeptical position more visible in South Africa. I know too many people who happily believe in all manner of BS because they are never confronted with any contrary messages. People are showered with Verimark junk and pharmacies sell herbal and homoeopathic crap next to evidence based medicine.

I have only ever heard of one religiously themed debate at my former university (UP) with William Lane Craig, which I attended. Despite the fact that his opponents were incompetent in the art of debating it was still positive in that it showed people that there are alternate views out there and an open debate on these issues.

Can't we as Skeptics try organise more debates, especially evolution/YEC and mount information campaigns highlighting the lack of evidence for the alternative practices that are all too common in our country? There are so many people that don't even know that homoeopathy, energy bracelets and Verimark pills are unproven.
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Gogtjop
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« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2010, 13:27:36 PM »

I'm not so sure I have the energy for something like that. My approach has always been somewhat laissez-faire.

As in "Julle moet fokken aangaan."

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Andysor
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2010, 13:32:27 PM »

I'm not so sure I have the energy for something like that. My approach has always been somewhat laissez-faire.

As in "Julle moet fokken aangaan."



"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing"...
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Gogtjop
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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2010, 13:36:42 PM »

Heh, I don't have a single good bone in my body.

Oh, no, wait... that came out wrong  Grin
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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2010, 13:47:10 PM »

if we actively go out to try and prove the woo is false, then how are we better/different from rhema church, or oom potato's  little shindigs, or angel conferences?
people will beleive what they want, and if they choose te believe crap, then that is entirely up to them.
there is a contingent of of militants and evangelicals here, and thats totally cool.
but im not going to spend my energy trying to convince people that the world is not magical, because they choose it to be so.
its not my place to go about picketing outside of churches (unless its a particular one, and they are doing something fucking insanely stupid), or psychics offices...  that makes me no better than the jehova's witness that knocks on your door.
and without invading people's lives with pickets and pamphlets, how are you going to convince people to attend a seminar on what shit homeopathy is?  or that god doesnt exist?
i really do believe, that a attitude of cela vie is better.  once you push people to believe something else than what they are comfortable with, they will cling even harder to that false belief.
im no anthropologist, im just one of those who sit and observe a lot.
if someone has a seed of doubt, from their own mind, and decided upon their own arguments, then they will approach someone to talk about it, and then they will decide to let go, and keep going as per usual.
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Andysor
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« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2010, 14:02:45 PM »

Invading peoples' personal space and unobtrusively informing people are two different things. I'm not suggesting picketing outside of churches or pharmacies, just somehow raising awareness. The Skeptic Society in the US host lectures at UCLA by prominent speakers. They lobby congress to maintain the separation of Church and state, non-religious science education and mislabelled alternative medicine.

If someone buys simply slim out of desperation, knowing it has no scientific basis, then I have no problem. It's all the people who have never been told that there's a difference between "medicine" and "supplements" or whatever they're required to classify it as.

I don't know what sort of campaigning would be the most effective and realistic, but the voice of reason lacks exposure.
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« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2010, 14:30:15 PM »

i think the idea of having information campaigns are great.  problem is, we have jobs.  in the us, those okes are most probably employed by Skeptic Society, and that is what they do.
we dont have that luxury.
and allso, i think we are still, ah, how does one put this nicely, ... backward.  the majority of our population are still believing in ancestors and witchcraft. and they simply have no interrest in hearing any different.

and no school would allow a skeptic talk to happen in schools.  and since south african schools and unis still very much do the god-thing, it would be hard pressed to get in.
and get feet in there if you get a hall open.
steve does do talks about his book when/if he can.  i attended a mensa one, and even they were uncomfortable with the anti-religion sentiment, which surprised me.

i think, that for now, we can do our pub meetings.  and invite a friend.  we dont have the numbers, or cash, to run a decent campaign.  and i, for one, am too stupid to have anything constructive to say.
if you have someone influencial that is going to have something to say, then people might listen.  joe soap wont get a word in edgeways.
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Andysor
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« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2010, 15:19:57 PM »

The time thing is, of course, true. However, I think it would be possible to approach churches, and maybe philosophy and theology departments at unis, and encourage them to host debates and lectures. Like I said I attended the William Lane Craig debate a few months ago at UP and it was packed! They even set up a screen outside in the cold to handle the overflow from the hall. 500 people easily. While the debate was easily won by Craig I think the exposure to debate was a positive despite the outcome. Perhaps if a Skeptic or rational thinker society were more active and visible in SA we would have been able to organise more competent opposition. The churches and uni departments need to know who to call to organise these things.

To become more visible we need exposure. To get exposure we need money. To get money we need adherents. Dead end.
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« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2010, 15:32:58 PM »

While I'm in agreement with your proposal, you know the saying about herding cats? I'm skittish about being vocal, I had to tread carefully in an apparent casual conversation with a colleague today regarding Noah's ark and the parting of the red sea, and that was just a casual conversation about a programme on DSTV seeking scientific explanations of how biblical stories might have basis in science. Had to shut up in a hurry. I have'nt got the energy nor the strength for this though, and if thats construed as not having a backbone, well, so be it, I do have kids to support, and a place of employment is a dodgy arena for being too vocal.

As for other areas outside work, I'm anti-social on a good day, and so is my S/O, so while I'll support atheist networks and charities, I'm not a front-liner at all.

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Brian
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« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2010, 15:54:39 PM »

I tend to agree with Andysor. Here's a post I did today after Dan Dennet's speech ay Tuft's Univesrity and posted by Samuel H Kenyon on Think Atheist:
Dennet asks:
Quote
He listed three of his potential futures for religion, and mostly discussed the third possibility:

1. Religion will sweep the planet.
2. Religion is in its death throes.
3. Religion transform into creedless moral teams (ceremony and tradition, but no doctrine).

Which do you think is most likely, and why?  What could we do to help steer to that path?

My take on it:
Quote
Something just struck me while reading this post. #3 is certainly possible and we should not under-estimate the impact of the Internet....in the past atheists found it very troublesome to discuss their views as they were spatially as well as socially isolated. The internet is busy changing all that and atheists on forums like these are able to debate, argue, promote etc ideas on religions, non-religion and mysticism.

To achieve Dennet's #3 scenario will be difficult though...I foresee that #1 is going to be a big wave which will try to obliterate atheism through the deployment of the massive resources religions have at their disposal...this is atheism's Achilles heel. We are not organised or able to muster the resources they can.

Our strategies (and they have to be formulated by people like Dennet, Dawkins etc) will require political will (might be the death knell for many politicians though), and use of the Internet to really publicise the dangers of religion. For example: some Xtian groups are touting the second coming of JC next year some time. This may be a great opportunity to use that as a platform to ridicule the notion through clever publicity which advertises his coming and when he fails to materialise, we can highlight the stupidity of these beliefs and grow support from especially marginal believers.

Atheism cannot compete with churches in a head-on confrontational approach. It needs clever strategies almost a guerilla-type of approach which is able to think like the enemy (SunTzu). At the same time atheism should be wary of being exploited by politicians such as totalitarians and communist states. Our hands as atheists are clean; let's keep them that way.
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Andysor
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« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2010, 16:00:58 PM »

I'm not the extroverted social butterfly either, nor am I a practised public speaker. The problem is that many people in our part of the world have had so little exposure to alternative viewpoints that they don't accept its legitimacy. In my circle of Afrikaans friends I'm a real curiosity and none of them had ever met an atheist before they met me. Even if none of them are converted, that is not my mission. At least I know that they all realise that it's possible to be a good, upstanding moral citizen without grounding your lifestyle in religion. The first time I met some of them they literally looked at me as if they were expecting to see little horns strutting out from under my hair or something. I know there are many more like them who haven't yet been exposed to a "good atheist". I think this lack of exposure applies to all woo-woo fields, not just religion.

BTW I just found out that my boss wants to buy a Balance Band from a co-worker dealing in the crap. I work for an engineering company. You would have thought that a scientific background provided some sort of protection... Guess who's definitely NOT going to be taking one for Team-Skeptic.
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Brian
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« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2010, 16:09:13 PM »

You find woo in the strangest places and scientists, engineers and accountants are sometimes as gullible as the rest. I once did some process re-engineering consulting for a wellknown international engineering company and one of the Swiss partners asked if his daughter (billionnaires all nogal) could understudy me and the process. During her stay here (3 months) she wanted to do the 'African'-experience and attend a seance in Soweto with a sangoma: WOW! The CEO (an Engineer and without being racist, a relatively young white guy) came to me and said that evil spirits will definitely create major problems and have already affected the life of the HR manager...pls desist! The CFO, a major woo agreed and they conducted prayer meetings to neutralise the juices.
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« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2010, 16:10:03 PM »

well, at least people are moving away fom the outright religious, towards the more 'spiritual'.  i think thats better than bible bashing.  maybe letting go bit by bit is allso good.
my boss, strangely enough, gave us all a copy of the zeitgeist movie, but he still believes in jesus and god?  i was a bit gobsmacked, but okay.
his missus, who is our md, is totally into her angels, she pays someone to 'talk to her dog'.  her dog allso gets accupunture and lazer therapy.  she loves him to bits, so maybe its just pure desperation.
she allso has this and that homeopathy mutis, and crystals, and whatnot.
it makes her happy, and gives structure to her life.

they all know im atheist, so the god loves you mails have eventually died down.
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Brian
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« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2010, 16:11:31 PM »

so the god loves you mails have eventually died down.
So you see GCG, there is a god!  Evil
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« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2010, 16:13:05 PM »

ja, the god of stfu!   Grin
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Gogtjop
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« Reply #15 on: October 13, 2010, 16:13:29 PM »

Laser therapy seems like a fantasic solution for the yapping mutt next door. Now where'd I put that mercurochrome...?
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Andysor
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« Reply #16 on: October 13, 2010, 16:19:28 PM »

I tend to agree with Andysor. Here's a post I did today after Dan Dennet's speech ay Tuft's Univesrity and posted by Samuel H Kenyon on Think Atheist:
Dennet asks:
Quote
He listed three of his potential futures for religion, and mostly discussed the third possibility:

1. Religion will sweep the planet.
2. Religion is in its death throes.
3. Religion transform into creedless moral teams (ceremony and tradition, but no doctrine).

Which do you think is most likely, and why?  What could we do to help steer to that path?

From my experience in Western Europe the more informed, educated and connected the population the more averse to religion they become. I still go to church on christmas eve as per tradition with my parents, but I don't think either of them really believes Jesus is real. It's an apathetic attitude, but it's nice to take the winter walk and talk about how pathetic the sermon was afterwards. Of course some people in Norway (think around 10%) do identify with believing in a personal God, but most people don't. The New Atheism, which is mainly a reaction to the situation in the US, is not necessary there as people don't feel religion infringes upon anything in society.

In SA the situation is totally different from Europe, and probably quite similar to the more backwaterish US states. Of course there isn't much of an apologetics movement here and people mostly believe with very little intellectual pondering. It's mostly a lack of exposure to anything else. Informed Christians are very rare here. Unfortunately I think religiosity and argumentative skills are too often inversely related making constructive, logical conversation all to difficult. Seeing people being open about their atheism and experiencing their "goodness" is probably the most effective way to, at the very least, reduce prejudice in the workplace and public life.
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Andysor
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« Reply #17 on: October 13, 2010, 16:26:54 PM »

The missis and I have a friend couple (if that's the right description?) who are YECs and the lady lost one of her dogs and consulted a dog-psychic to help find the mutt. The dog eventually came back on its own accord. The MiL also gives her dogs homeopathic remedies which she swears works. Yet another acquaintance (who is a vet) is taking a course in pet iridology. So humans aren't the only victims...
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StevoMuso
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« Reply #18 on: October 14, 2010, 08:06:54 AM »

Unfortunately I think religiosity and argumentative skills are too often inversely related making constructive, logical conversation all to difficult. Seeing people being open about their atheism and experiencing their "goodness" is probably the most effective way to, at the very least, reduce prejudice in the workplace and public life.
Nicely put. I agree. People in SA who are genuinely curious and do honest research into their religion usually end up in the skeptic tent. The ones who remain adamantly faithful are mostly lacking in hard-won knowledge and trying to use logic and critical thinking with them inevitably turns into ad hominum mudslinging. In my experience I have found many people who were surprised to find out, after knowing me for some time, that I'm an atheist. One guy even said, "Really? An atheist? I thought you were such a nice guy!"

Recently someone used that line, "Oh you're an atheist? So you don't believe in anything?" I replied, "I believe in beauty, and honesty, and truth, and integrity, and compassion, and respect ... it's only God I don't believe in." Non-argumentative is usually the best approach. Nice post Andysor Smiley
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« Reply #19 on: October 14, 2010, 15:53:06 PM »

Quote
"Really? An atheist? I thought you were such a nice guy!"
my response to that would be 'really?  i thought you were straight!  just goes to show, you never know....'
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Brian
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« Reply #20 on: October 14, 2010, 16:01:45 PM »

I walked into a store with my daughter wearing jeans etc the other day when I felt a sharp tug at my trousers. This Muslim guy says to me with that look: "Do you know this is a Muslim store?" I turned to him and said "Shame man, I think there are pills to cure that" and carried on shopping.  WTF!!
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« Reply #21 on: October 15, 2010, 07:40:50 AM »

I walked into a store with my daughter wearing jeans etc the other day when I felt a sharp tug at my trousers. This Muslim guy says to me with that look: "Do you know this is a Muslim store?" I turned to him and said "Shame man, I think there are pills to cure that" and carried on shopping.  WTF!!

O-wow, I would'nt be able to resist rounding up my teenage son's girlfriends, dress them up in skimpy outfits and go on a window shopping spree..... Where's this store?  Evil
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Brian
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« Reply #22 on: October 15, 2010, 08:35:25 AM »

In Durban. The Westwood Shopping Mall near the Westville campus of the University is totally owned by Muslims...they forbid the sale of any alcohol; pork in the supermarkets (P&P etc) on the premises. Now I guess they have the right to do that but why do business owners not tell them to freck off? When I go into a shopping mall and I look for products in a normal outlet I want it! So you can go to Spurs in the mall, but no bacon, no beer/wine, all patties must be halaal (no pork mince in them) etc etc. I walked out of the Spur (we were 8 people) and told them to stick their frecking religion where the sun don't shine!
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Andysor
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« Reply #23 on: October 15, 2010, 10:56:44 AM »

I guess it's legal to have conditions when you rent out space to somebody, but it seems very short-sighted if you want to attract more than one type of customer.

I would have serious issues if I was told how to behave or dress, however.
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« Reply #24 on: October 15, 2010, 11:16:05 AM »

im unfortunately one of those ppl who just dont shut up.  i would have sworn at him in languages his forefathers spoke.  this is a free country.  i will go where i will.  dress any way i like.  the fact that it is a public space, means that anybody can go there.
if they will only allow a certain dress code, then they should say so on the door, and then face the constitutional court.
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Andysor
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« Reply #25 on: October 15, 2010, 11:49:55 AM »

im unfortunately one of those ppl who just dont shut up.  i would have sworn at him in languages his forefathers spoke.  this is a free country.  i will go where i will.  dress any way i like.  the fact that it is a public space, means that anybody can go there.
if they will only allow a certain dress code, then they should say so on the door, and then face the constitutional court.

To be nitpicky, although I'm not a lawyer, I don't think a mall qualifies as a public space. It is a private space and they probably have "Right of admission reserved" posted on the door. Malls usually ban roller-blades and skateboards for example. It's like a nightclub or a restaurant with a dress code, or a mosque where you're required to remove your shoes.
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« Reply #26 on: October 15, 2010, 12:00:29 PM »

that's kinda weird then, coz i think, according to the smoking laws passed, you cant smoke in public places, malls for under that.  but ja, i guess if they wanted to, they can tell you get stuffed.
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Andysor
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« Reply #27 on: October 15, 2010, 12:23:12 PM »

I think, legally, there's a difference between "public places" and "public property". If you operate a business with customer access I think that counts as a "public place" while still being private property.

The smoking law is very detailed, specifying places like entrances to buildings, private homes used for childcare, cars transporting children younger than 12 and any place of employment as smoke-free.
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« Reply #28 on: October 15, 2010, 13:11:31 PM »

a mosque where you're required to remove your shoes.
In case of bombs? ....or is that vests?  Tongue
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Julian
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« Reply #29 on: October 16, 2010, 11:06:05 AM »

My but Richard Dawkins was a rather dashing fellow in his youth.
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Andysor
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« Reply #30 on: October 17, 2010, 08:28:45 AM »

Personally, I'm not crazy about the hair, but he does have a sense of style  Cool
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Du Preez
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« Reply #31 on: October 17, 2010, 09:17:41 AM »

I think there's a need to make the Skeptical position more visible in South Africa. I know too many people who happily believe in all manner of BS because they are never confronted with any contrary messages. People are showered with Verimark junk and pharmacies sell herbal and homoeopathic crap next to evidence based medicine.

I have only ever heard of one religiously themed debate at my former university (UP) with William Lane Craig, which I attended. Despite the fact that his opponents were incompetent in the art of debating it was still positive in that it showed people that there are alternate views out there and an open debate on these issues.

Can't we as Skeptics try organise more debates, especially evolution/YEC and mount information campaigns highlighting the lack of evidence for the alternative practices that are all too common in our country? There are so many people that don't even know that homoeopathy, energy bracelets and Verimark pills are unproven.

I have also visited the Sakkie Spangenberg/William Lane Craig debate at Tuks, but it was organized by a religious organization called antwoord.org.za and they made sure that their marketing and support was overwhelming enough to bring their own point across. I think we should try a more liberal university like Wits to host a skeptical debate. If Wits has a philosophy department, one of the lecturers there could be approached with a proposal.
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« Reply #32 on: October 17, 2010, 16:53:28 PM »

A link to a debate that never happened. Also a litany of lies and misrepresentation!

http://aas.uct.ac.za/forum/viewtopic.php?t=331&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=150
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« Reply #33 on: October 17, 2010, 18:20:42 PM »

A link to a debate that never happened. Also a litany of lies and misrepresentation!

LOL @ the froot-loop of a "pastor". I have developed pastorphobia* - every person I have ever encountered who is designated a "pastor" is terminally moronic.

* NOT to be confused with pastaphobia, which is heretical to the FSM.

EDIT. I wonder if TeleoPhroners is a pastor in real life.
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« Reply #34 on: October 17, 2010, 18:41:16 PM »

EDIT. I wonder if TeleoPhroners is a pastor in real life.
Judging by the unadulterated drivel he is consistently capable of stitching together, I’d guess that he’s a few notches up from pastor in the god-squad hierarchy.  My bet would be that he’s probably a lecturer in theology, perhaps even a professor, at some un- or barely accredited diploma mill offering online courses.  That would also explain the extravagant amounts of time he spends online.

'Luthon64
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« Reply #35 on: October 18, 2010, 09:40:57 AM »

I suspect he's a high school teacher...possibly in RE
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Andysor
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« Reply #36 on: October 18, 2010, 11:12:22 AM »

I have also visited the Sakkie Spangenberg/William Lane Craig debate at Tuks, but it was organized by a religious organization called antwoord.org.za and they made sure that their marketing and support was overwhelming enough to bring their own point across. I think we should try a more liberal university like Wits to host a skeptical debate. If Wits has a philosophy department, one of the lecturers there could be approached with a proposal.

I don't know if it was discussed in these forums before, but what was your impression of the debate? Although I don't agree with his views he is a legitimate great philosopher and master debater; a polar opposite to people like Gish and Hovind. Even if it was skewed, exposure to this type of rational, intelligent debate can only enlighten Christians and make them more tolerant.
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« Reply #37 on: October 18, 2010, 21:31:46 PM »

It would be wonderful if we could host a skeptic event but which particular sucker field would top the agenda?

How about the SA skeptic forum launching a monthly/annual award for the biggest sucker or group of suckers reported in the news?

The certificate should have a big picture of a sucker fish and the logo "one born every minute" - P.T. Barnum. The person or the groups name and why they are the suckers of the month or year.

For the religious award I nominate the Rhema congregation for paying for Ray's mansion and plane.

For the dying of stupidity I nominate the ANC voters with AIDs who got Manto Tshabala Msimang put in as Minister of Death. It would have to be a posthumous award to the 360 000 dead.

I agree with the ancient Greek who said that against stupidity even the God's fight in vain.
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« Reply #38 on: October 19, 2010, 19:23:25 PM »

I don't know if it was discussed in these forums before, but what was your impression of the debate? Although I don't agree with his views he is a legitimate great philosopher and master debater; a polar opposite to people like Gish and Hovind. Even if it was skewed, exposure to this type of rational, intelligent debate can only enlighten Christians and make them more tolerant.

William Lane Craig is an absolute brilliant debater, I wish we could convert him... I actually visited the session in the philosophy department the previous night and they told us that we had to visit the debate the next night. I was so frustrated because:

1. Sakkie Spangenberg and Hansie Wolmerans's (The new roformed movement) English is worse than mine and they struggled to bring their point across.
2. Sakkie and Hansie didn't answer the direct questions from William and the other wise ass that partnered with him which gave them the opportunity to make fun of Sakkie and Hansie.
3. William and kie is trained and professional, while Sakkie and Hansie are just not there.
4. 80% of the support was in favour of William and kie.
5. I met more than 10 individuals there who are seriously religious and far right who was good acquaintances before I converted. It led to a couple of awkward and uncomfortable moments for me.
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Andysor
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« Reply #39 on: October 20, 2010, 10:25:57 AM »

I agree that it was a tragically one-sided affair. But this is so often the case as the ability to debate is independent of one's factual knowledge. Someone like Craig has the advantage of being at the top of his field (religious philosophy) as well as having decades of debating experience. Not many people would be able to challenge him.

I do have to question who chose Sakkie and Hansie though, as I'm sure there must have been other, more competent people available. Not that debating skills are high on the priority list of most academics, but couldn't they at least prepare a bit and learn the basic rules of debate?

I wonder if Harris, Dennet or other high profile atheists came to our country (very unlikely) it would be easy to find theist debating opponents.
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Mandarb
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« Reply #40 on: October 20, 2010, 11:29:16 AM »

Dennet was here last year, but only Durban and Cape Town as far a I could remember.
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Andysor
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« Reply #41 on: October 20, 2010, 14:30:42 PM »

Dennet was here last year, but only Durban and Cape Town as far a I could remember.

Cool! That definitely passed me by. Did he debate or just speak?
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« Reply #42 on: October 20, 2010, 15:01:57 PM »

Just talks.
Quote
So I advertized Daniel Dennett's talk at UKZN the other day, but if you couldn't go, some good news: Dennett is giving a couple of more talks in South Africa in the next week. First he'll lecture at SciFest (in Grahamstown) on April 28th (program) on "How materialism transforms our understanding of consciousness", then he'll deliver the TB Davis Memorial Lecture on March 31st at the University of Cape Town on "What should you be free to teach your children about religion?" (press release) and, finally, on April 1st he's at Stellenbosch University with a talk entitled "From animal to person" (press release).

If you're in any of these towns -- go to these events! You will not be disappointed.

http://ionian-enchantment.blogspot.com/2009/03/dennett-in-south-africa.html
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