Debate: Atheism is the New Fundamentalism

I just finished watching this debate live online, and it was a lot of fun!

I had a bit of a hard time following the actual debate because I was also reading the #iq2atheism Twitter feed at the same time, but I’m going to post my brief take on the debate now, and when the recording of the debate is posted I’ll try to go into more detail. (follow me on Twitter @EnlightningLinZ)

The motion was “Atheism is the New Fundamentalism”.

Arguing for the motion: Richard Harries (former bishop of Oxford), and Charles Moore (former editor of the Daily Telegraph)

Arguing against: Professors Richard Dawkins and A C Grayling

The arguments for the motion were pathetic. They didn’t even argue for the motion. They didn’t define fundamentalism, nor did they provide examples to show why they think atheists are fundamentalists. Instead, it was just a run of ad hom attacks against Dawkins and atheists in general, as well as several uses of Godwin’s Law.

Grayling was a teddy bear, whose main point was that he was also a-pixie and a-father Christmas, but only needs to speak on his a-theism because of the influence of religion in the world. How is that fundamentalist?

Dawkins was, unless I missed it, the only one to actually define “fundamentalism”, and with his definition alone destroyed the motion. I can’t remember exactly what the definition he used was at this point (should have taken notes!), but I’ll be sure to talk about that in my follow-up post on the debate.

Dawkins made his case very effectively, but there were a couple of moments that stood out in the twitter feed.

One was his quoting of Vic Stenger: “Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.”

The second was his response to the question “Are you saying that there may be a God?”…

Dawkins: “There may be a leprechaun.” Which prompted me to do this…

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8 Responses to “Debate: Atheism is the New Fundamentalism”


  1. 1 Cathy M November 29, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Leprechaun is the new meme!

  2. 2 Pam D November 29, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    Thanks Cathy – the new meme!

  3. 3 Jonas F. November 30, 2009 at 3:25 am

    Hi Lindsay,
    A great post, and I completely agree with your characterization on the different levels of reasoning. I followed it from my home in Stockholm (in Sweden) but had quite a lot of interruptions in the stream. I did however catch the mentioning of a leprechaun which quite upset the ol’ bishop. Great fun.

    I’ve bookmarked your blog. Keep up the good work.

    Jonas in Stockholm

  4. 4 cubiksrube November 30, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    I enjoyed following people’s commentary on the #iq2atheism hashtag, and cringeing quite a lot. The guy telling Dawkins that he never seemed to admit to any doubt or lack of certainty in his book, and being reminded of the chapter heading about how there “almost certainly” is no god sounded like a highlight.

  5. 5 EnlightningLinZ December 1, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    Thanks for the comments everyone, I got an email from Intelligence Squared today saying that the video of the debate is up on their website now, so I’m hoping to do a more detailed post some time in the next week.

  6. 6 Jonas F. December 3, 2009 at 8:20 am

    Come to think of it. I like your proposed bus ad a lot. It could be a good follow-up campaign.

    “There’s probably not even a leprechaun”

  7. 7 EnlightningLinZ December 10, 2009 at 1:31 am

    Come to think of it. I like your proposed bus ad a lot. It could be a good follow-up campaign.

    “There’s probably not even a leprechaun”

    EVIL A-LEPRECHAUNIST!!!!!!!


  1. 1 Tweets that mention Debate: Atheism is the New Fundamentalism « Struck by Enlightning -- Topsy.com Trackback on November 29, 2009 at 4:08 pm

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