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Author Topic: Shame on the Gaines Center for being complicit in the censorship!  (Read 624 times)

Eule

  • Jr. Member
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  • Posts: 97

[*quote*]
Theologe vs. Wissenschaftler: Es tut so weh, wenn man verliert…

Und weil es so weh tut, möchte man natürlich als Theologe unbedingt den Streisand-Effekt nutzen, damit auch wirklich alle davon erfahren. Völlig logisch. So gerade geschehen:

Professor Jerry Coyne (Ökologie und Evolution) an der Universität von Chicago und der Theologe John Haught von der Georgetown University haben im Oktober zum Thema “Are science and religion compatible?” debattiert. Beide hatten im Vorhinein eingewilligt, dass die Debatte inklusive der Zuschauerfragen aufgezeichnet würde. Die Veranstaltung wurde vom Gaines Center for the Humanities an der Universität von Kentucky ausgerichtet, auf der man auch die die Videos früherer Debatten findet.

Jerry Coyne war sich in seinem schriftlichen Report recht sicher, dass er sich sehr gut geschlagen hat. Er hatte als Vorbereitung die Bücher von Haught gelesen (die wohl nicht so extrem spannend sind) und sich frühere Debatten auf youtube mit John Haught angesehen. Coyne hat dabei wohl vor allem mit Zitaten aus Haughts Büchern gepunktet und am Ende gab es sogar Standing Ovations! (nach Angaben des Veranstalters wohl das erste mal überhaupt bei einer von ihnen ausgerichteten Debatte). Es dürfte wohl recht spannend gewesen sein.

Nur, so genau werden wir es wohl nie erfahren. Denn das Video wird es nicht zu sehen geben. Haught hat nämlich quasi im Nachhinein die Erlaubnis zur Veröffentlichung zurückgezogen und der Direktor des Gaines Centers hält ihm die Stange.

Jerry Coyne ist jedenfalls ziemlich verärgert und findet klare Worte:

I am deeply angry about this stand, and can see only one reason for what Haught has done: cowardice. He lost the debate; his ideas were exposed for the mindless theological fluff that they were; and I used his words against him, showing that even “sophisticated” theology, when examined under the microscope of reason, is just a bunch of made-up stuff, tales told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Die Ausstrahlung des Videos mag John Haught verhindert haben, aber der Vorfall ist bereits in der Wikipedia unter seinem Personeneintrag beschrieben und Nachrichtenportale, die es sonst nicht interessiert hätte, berichten darüber. Er hat nicht nur verloren, er hat auch noch für die Verbreitung der Niederlage gesorgt. Und die Niederlage, die sich die Leute vorstellen, wird immer schlimmer sein, als die reale. Es gibt wenig, auf dass das Internet so allergisch reagiert, wie Zensur.

Censorship like this is not good for academic discourse; it serves only to protect the weak bastion of theology from the cannons of reason. Shame on you, John Haught, and shame on the Gaines Center for being complicit in the censorship.
[*/quote*]

here:
http://blog.esowatch.com/?p=4673


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Eule

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  • Posts: 97
Re: Shame on the Gaines Center for being complicit in the censorship!
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2011, 12:14:57 AM »

[*quote*]
Bale Boone Symposium in the Humanities: On Religion in the 21st Century: Jerry Coyne, John Haught
Wednesday, Oct 12 6:00p
 at University of Kentucky Worsham Theatre, Lexington, KY
Price: Free
Phone: (859) 257-1537
Age Suitability: None Specified

Science and Religion: Are They Compatible?
Jerry Coyne, Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago

John Haught, Senior Research Fellow, Science & Religion, Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University

All events are free and open to the public. For more information, please call the Gaines Center for the Humanities at 859.257.1537.
The Bale Boone Symposium is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities

“On Religion in the 21st Century” is co-sponsored by the University of Kentucky College of Arts & Sciences, the Cottrill-Rolfes Chair of Catholic Studies, & The Department of Modern and Classical Languages, Literatures, and Cultures
[*/quote*]

Calendar:
http://calendar.kentucky.com/lexington-ky/events/show/212267304-bale-boone-symposium-in-the-humanities-on-religion-in-the-21st-century-jerry-coyne-john-haught


Event website:

[*quote*]
http://www.uky.edu/OtherOrgs/GainesCenter/

Announcements
2011 Bale Boone Symposium

On Religion In the 21st Century

Are Faith and History Compatible?
 Monday, October 10, 6pm
 Recital Hall, UK Singletary Center

 The Compassionate Community
 Islam and the Relation of Religion to State
 Tuesday, October 11, 6 pm
 Recital Hall, UK Singletary Center

 Science and Religion: Are They Compatible?
 Wednesday, October 12, 6 pm
 Center Theatre, UK Student Center

All events free and open to the public.

For more information, view the poster here.
http://www.uky.edu/OtherOrgs/GainesCenter/2011BaleBooneSymposium.pdf
[*/quote*]


http://www.uky.edu/OtherOrgs/GainesCenter/2011BaleBooneSymposium.pdf
Zitat:
[*quote*]
Science and Religion: Are They Compatible?
Jerry Coyne
Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago
John Haught
Senior Research Fellow, Science & Religion, Woodstock Theological Center, Georgetown University
6 pm Wednesday, October 12
Center Theater, UK Student Center
[*/quote*]


"Sophisticated theology: why we don’t find God"
http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/sophisticated-theology-why-we-dont-find-god/


"John Haught
46:30 - 6 years ago
John Haught is Landegger Distinguished Professor of Theology at http://www.georgetown.edu/departments/theology/courses/haugh.003.html Georgetown University. For more info go to www.meaningoflife.tv."
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=9180346162419927275


http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/my-debate-with-john-haught-in-kentucky/#comment-149148

[*quote*]
Why Evolution Is True
« The L. A. Times gives dubious data in arguing for science/faith harmony

My debate with John Haught in Kentucky


The Gaines Center for the Humanities at the University of Kentucky runs a twice-yearly series of debates, the Bale Boone Symposia, on diverse topics.  Last night I participated in a debate with theologian John Haught on the topic of “Science and Religion: Are They Compatible?” Needless to say, I was on the “no” side.

It wasn’t really a formal “debate”: each of us talked for about 25 minutes and then answered audience questions for about 40 minutes. The crowd was large, as I expected given the topic: the room was filled and many people were forced to stand in the aisles.

Since the talk was filmed, and I’ll make it available here when it comes out, I won’t recount the debate in detail.  I will say that I think our side came out well.  I had read six books by Haught and watched nearly all of his debates and presentations on YouTube, so I think I was well prepared. Much of my talk consisted of explaining the foibles of theology and the mess it gets itself into when trying to harmonize itself with science.

I illustrated those foibles with quotes from Haught’s own books—not to denigrate the man, but because he is regarded as America’s leading theologian who tries to reconcile science and evoluton with religion (Catholicism in his case), and also because he was there and could defend and explain himself. (An encomium for the man: Haught testified on the evolution side in the Dover trial.)

Haught had not prepared to debate me in particular: he gave what seemed to me a canned presentation, not referring to my views at all.  My take was that he seemed perturbed by my using his words against him. During the questions afterwards, took great pains to claim that all of the quotes I gave from him were taken out of context (they weren’t).  He also argued that I was a victim of scientism and that I needed to “get out more” because I didn’t understand religion.

My response (my sole response to a direct accusation, since we weren’t addressing each other) was that his quotes were completely in context and accurate, and that Haught’s sophisticated brand of nearly-apophatic faith did not represent the religious views of most Americans. I claimed that Haught was the one who needed to get out more and see what most American really believe (nearly 80% of us, for example, accept the real existence of angels).

Haught made his usual claims that scientists themselves have a form of faith: a faith that truth itself is worth seeking for its own sake, and a faith that the world is comprehensible through scientific study.  Both of these ideas, he argued, are evidence for God.  Although I didn’t address these directly, I can’t comprehend his logic here; and when we continued the discussion with students and faculty at dinner, Haught flatly denied that he meant those asssertions as any kind of evidence for God.  But he clearly did, and I think he was being intellectually disingenuous.

As for why we seek truth, I think it’s in some people’s nature to seek truth—but not everyone’s. One student, who was interested in music and poetry, said he didn’t really care that much about scientific truth, and we know that 64% of Americans (see previous post) would reject a scientific fact were it to conflict with their faith.  And surely some of our truth seeking stems from our evolved nature to want to understand the world, for that understanding once helped us survive. Now our own scientific curiosity piggybacks on that ancestral desire to understand. (Religion, of course, was the way we understood the universe in our intellectual infancy.)

As to why the universe is comprehensible, well, I fail to see how that provides evidence for God.  In fact, if there were a theistic God—and Haught is indeed a theist who thinks that God intervenes in the world—I would expect the universe to be not comprehensible, for God would be sticking his finger into the works continuously, destroying any physical laws or regularities  The point is that neither a comprehensible nor an incomprehensible universe gives evidence for God.

As I said, Haught denied at the post-debate dinner that this comprehensibility, and the “faith” of scientists in the value of truth, was evidence for God.  But he really does think that, and you can see that by reading any of his books (most of which, by the way, make exactly the same arguments).  Given that, I accused him at dinner of adducing a God-of-the-gaps argument by implying that because the universe was comprehensible, and we don’t know why, that means that God exists.

My own response is that, yes, we don’t understand why there are physical laws, and the answer may be simply “because that’s the way it is.”  But to interpolate God as an explanation is to do what Haught spoke against in his anti-intelligent design testimony at Dover: to use God as an explanation for something we don’t understand. He of course denied he was doing this.

At any rate, I didn’t have to argue much with Haught at the post-debate dinner, for the enormously bright and impressive “Gaines fellows” (all undergraduates selected for their drive and intelligence) pretty much took him down. I just had to sit back and watch these engaging and thoughtful students dismantle Haught’s fluffy ideas.

As for the debate, there was a standing ovation afterwards—the first, according to director Robert Rabel, ever given in these debates as long as he’s been running them.  Twice (once after the debate and once at dinner thereafter), Haught attributed the standing ovation to “Jerry’s groupies—the young people.”  I found this demeaning, and told Haught so: that I would like to think that insofar as the applause was for my side, it was due not to groupies but to the cogency of my arguments. But it’s clear that some of the approbation was for Haught, too, because there was applause for some of the points he made during his talk, and a few of the questions directed at me were hostile.

But I’ll post the video of the debate when it’s available and you can judge for yourself (I hope it includes the questions and answers).

In the meantime, today I’m off to the races: I’m watching the thoroughbreds run at the famous Keeneland Track near Lexington.  Thanks to the generosity of a Gaines board member, the Gaines family (of pet-food fame, now engaged in horse racing and raising), and Robert Rabel, the genial and impressive head of the Gaines Center, I’ll be watching the races from the private box of the Gaines family (coats and ties required to enter the boxes!), and will partake of a fancy lunch that’s been arranged at the track. I’m keen to see the whole megillah, from the parading of the thoroughbreds before the race, to the saddling of horses and their mounting by jockeys, to the races themselves.

I’ll try to document this all with photos.  This will be my reward for fighting superstitition in the South!  In the meantime, here are Professor Ceiling Cat’s groupies:


h/t: Grania Spingies for the photo
Share this:
[*/quote*]
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Eule

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Re: Shame on the Gaines Center for being complicit in the censorship!
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2011, 12:46:21 AM »

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/theologian-john-haught-refuses-to-release-video-of-our-debate/

[*quote*]
Theologian John Haught refuses to release video of our debate

UDATE:  I have received an email from Dr. Rabel, asserting that I have instigated people to write him emails, and claiming that some of those emails have been abusive, calling him a coward and so on.  I did not of course ask readers to write any emails, nor did I provide any email addresses.  But if you write to Rabel or Haught on your own initiative, please be polite!  There is no point in name-calling in such emails; the issue is one of free inquiry, and if you expect to achieve a result (and you won’t anyway, I suspect), you have to be polite.  Anyway, Rabel has threatened legal action against me, so don’t make it worse!

_____________

This is the story of the cowardly and intellectually dishonest actions of a theologian—one who is suppressing release of a video that shows the lameness of his religious beliefs. It’s also the story of an academic center supposedly dedicated to fostering open debate, but actually complicit in suppressing that debate.

On October 12 at the University of Kentucky, I debated Catholic theologian John Haught from Georgetown University on the topic of “Are science and religion compatible?” It was a lively debate, and I believe I got the better of the man (see my post-debate report here).  Haught didn’t seem to have prepared for the debate, merely rolling out his tired old trope of a “layered” universe, with the layer of God and Jesus underlying the reality of the cosmos, life, and evolution.  I prepared pretty thoroughly, reading half a dozen of Haught’s books (you need read only one: they’re all the same), and watching all his previous debates on YouTube. (Note that he’s sanctioned release of those videos.)

Haught seemed to have admitted his loss, at least judging by the audience reaction, but blamed it on the presence of “Jerry’s groupies,” an explanation I found offensive.  I’m not aware of any groupies anywhere, much less in Kentucky!

The debate, including half an hour of audience questions, was videotaped.  Both John and I had given our permission in advance for the taping.  I looked forward to the release of the tape because, of course, I wanted a wider audience for my views than just the people in the audience in Lexington.  I put a lot of work into my 25-minute talk, and was eager for others to see why I found science and religion to be at odds.

Well, you’re not going to see that tape—ever.  After agreeing to be taped, Haught decided that he didn’t want the video released.  Here’s what happened:
Dr. Robert Rabel, head of the Gaines Center for the Humanities, which sponsored the debate, informed me on Sunday that Haught had requested that he did not want the video posted. Note that Haught had already agreed to be taped, so his appeal that it not be made public was a post facto decision.
Rabel decides to honor Haught’s request on the grounds that he didn’t get permission from Haught in advance to post the video.  I find this bizarre because the whole idea of taping the event is to make the debate more public, and because previous debates in this series have been posted.  The idea of posting is implicit when one agrees to be taped, and, believe me, I would not have gone back on that agreement even if I had lost badly. That is not only bad form, but intellectually dishonest.
Eager to at least get my part out, I asked Rabel to just edit the tape omitting John’s talk and his answers in the question session.  Rabel refuses, saying that it would be too much trouble.
I ask Rabel for Haught’s email address so I can try to persuade the theologian to change his mind, or at least find out why he won’t sanction posting of the video (Rabel, Haught, and I had all exchanged three-way emails before the debate, but I lost Haught’s address).  Rabel refuses to give me the email address because he wants to “stay out of it,” telling me that I can search for it online.  I find the address and email Haught, asking politely if he won’t change his mind about releasing the video, and, if not, requesting his reason.
Unwilling to give up, I ask Rabel for a copy of the tape—offering to pay any expenses for it—so that I can edit out Haught’s part and just post mine.  Rabel refuses, saying that he “didn’t think that would work.”
Haught responds to my email asking him to change his mind. His short response says that the event “failed to meet what I consider to be reasonable standards of fruitful academic exchange,” and that he would have no further comment.

I am deeply angry about this stand, and can see only one reason for what Haught has done: cowardice.  He lost the debate; his ideas were exposed for the mindless theological fluff that they were; and I used his words against him, showing that even “sophisticated” theology, when examined under the microscope of reason, is just a bunch of made-up stuff, tales told by idiots, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

The stuff about “reasonable standards of fruitful academic exchange” is laughably dishonest.  Presumably Haught thinks that his discourse was fruitful and reasonable, so the fault here could only be mine. But if that’s the case, then the tape would show that his stance was far superior to mine, and would in his view be worth posting.

Haught is acting like a child, not a respectable academic.  He can’t be the the pitcher (bowler for you Brits), so he’s taking his ball and going home. His actions are contemptible, and I have no qualms about exposing them. And, by bowing to Haught’s post facto refusal to approve posting of a video whose making he approved, the Gaines Center is censoring a lively and fruitful debate rather than offend one of its participants.  This is not academia’s finest moment, and it’s a new low for theology.

I was looking forward to posting or linking to that video, and I’m deeply sorry that I can’t. I’ve tried all avenues of approach, and have failed.

The only good thing to come from this affair is that it exposes not only the follies of “sophisticated” theology, but the cowardice of a famous theologian. (Haught is the most prominent American theologian who writes about evolution and its comity with religion.)  If Haught can’t win a debate, then he’ll use all his God-given powers to prevent anyone from seeing his weaknesses.  I’ve written to other well-known atheists who have debated theologians, and not one of them is aware of anything like this ever happening.

Censorship like this is not good for academic discourse; it serves only to protect the weak bastion of theology from the cannons of reason.  Shame on you, John Haught, and shame on the Gaines Center for being complicit in the censorship.
[*/quote*]
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Eule

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Re: Shame on the Gaines Center for being complicit in the censorship!
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2011, 12:57:37 AM »

Sign the petition!
Gaines Center for the Arts, John Haught and Robert Rabel:
Release the October 12th Debate video featuring Jerry Coyne and John Haught


sign here:
http://www.change.org/petitions/gaines-center-for-the-arts-john-haught-and-robert-rabel-release-the-october-12th-debate-video-featuring-jerry-coyne-and-john-haught#
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Eule

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Re: Shame on the Gaines Center for being complicit in the censorship!
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2011, 01:06:08 AM »

Einer der Kommentatoren hat die Adressen ausfindig gemacht:

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/theologian-john-haught-refuses-to-release-video-of-our-debate/

[*quote*]
Public info , from the Gaines Center web site:
http://www.uky.edu/OtherOrgs/GainesCenter/contact.html

rrabel@uky.edu

Public info, from his own web site:
http://web.mac.com/haughtj1/Site/Latest__CV.html

haughtj@georgetown.edu     I removed the extra space before edu on his CV)
[*/quote*]



http://www.uky.edu/OtherOrgs/GainesCenter/contact.html

[*quote*]
The Gaines Center is located on the northern edge of the University of Kentucky campus. Our address is:

 232 E. Maxwell St.
 Lexington, KY 40506

(campus guide)(google maps) (mapquest)

If you are interested in any of the Gaines Center's programs, please contact the Director, Dr. Robert Rabel at:

rrabel@uky.edu
[*/quote*]


http://web.mac.com/haughtj1/Site/Latest__CV.html

[*quote*]
John F Haught
Latest CV
 
Welcome Brief Biography Latest  CV Books Articles Reviews Lectures Lecture Topics

BOOKS  ARTICLES   REVIEWS   LECTURES   LECTURE TOPICS

JOHN F. HAUGHT

CURRICULUM VITAE

Senior Fellow, Science and Religion
Woodstock Theological Center
Georgetown University
Washington DC 20057-1137
202-687-6119


CONTACT INFORMATION

3713 S. George Mason Dr.

Apt. 205W

Falls Church, VA 22041-3729

haughtj@georgetown. edu

EDUCATION

B.A., St. Mary’s University, Baltimore, 1964
M.A., The Catholic University of America, 1968
Ph. D., The Catholic University of America, 1970
(Dissertation: Foundations of The Hermeneutics of Eschatology)

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

Senior Fellow, Woodstock Theological Center (2007-  )
D’Angelo Chair in the Humanities, St John’s University (Fall Semester, 2008)
Distinguished Research Professor, Georgetown University  (2005-   )
Thomas Healey Distinguished Professor (2002-2005)
Landegger Distinguished Professor (1996-2002)
Professor of Theology, Georgetown University (1986-2005)
Chair, Theology Department, Georgetown University (1990-95)
Associate Professor of Theology, Georgetown University (1977-1986)
Assistant Professor of Theology, Georgetown University (1970-1977)
[*/quote*]


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Eule

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Re: Shame on the Gaines Center for being complicit in the censorship!
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2011, 01:13:30 AM »

http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2011/11/01/theologian-john-haught-refuses-to-release-video-of-our-debate/#comment-148733

[*quote*]
Ben Goren
 Posted November 1, 2011 at 6:38 am | Permalink

Never mind a strong argument — this is exactly the sort of shit that pisses off government funding agencies. Once somebody at the NEH learns of this, this “misunderstanding” will suddenly get all cleared up. That, or the University will suddenly find it s NEH grant money in jeopardy — but I’m sure nobody at UK is stupid enough to play those kinds of games.

Add to the email: info@neh.gov

Cheers,

b&
[*/quote*]
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Eule

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John Haught: official PDF - Video released now
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2011, 08:42:24 PM »

"2011 Bale Boone Symposium – Science & Religion: Are They Compatible?"
from UK Gaines Center on Vimeo.

VIDEO: http://vimeo.com/31505142


The statement by John Haught:

http://www.uky.edu/OtherOrgs/GainesCenter/Letter%20To%20Jerry%20Coyne.pdf
[*quote*]
An open Letter to Jerry Coyne:
Dear Jerry,
Your distorted reading of my motivation for not releasing the video of our conversation in Kentucky has given birth to an inordinate number of hostile letters to me. Because of misleading statements on your website (11/1/2011), I have received a considerable amount of hate mail, often laced with obscenities, though often also tempered with inquisitive politeness. The mail mostly complains about my “cowardly” reneging on an alleged agreement that you falsely assume I made to post online the video of our panel at the University of Kentucky. When I was in Kentucky I was never asked to do so. Later, after reflecting on what to me was a most unfortunate event I wrote to Prof Rabel requesting that any video not be released.
Anyway, Jerry, your own words impute cowardice to me for this refusal, but how do you know that’s the reason for my reluctance? Here is a typical reaction stirred up by your remarks: “What a pathetic, sociopathic dweeb you are. Hiding behind your sick belief system you call a religion. You are an insult to academia, and a dim bulb for the uninformed masses. You deserve the insults you are getting and should be fired. Coward, liar and fool you are, loser. And no doubt a Republican too!” (I’m tempted to say that I can live with every accusation except the last.)
I want to make it clear that Rob Rabel at the University of Kentucky has confirmed that I never gave permission before or after the panel to post the video. You need to make this clear to your audience. I never broke the agreement that you have unkindly caused your readers to assume I made.
However, the more interesting issue has to do with my reasons for refusing permission to post the video, and whether it was wrong for me to do so. I have no regrets about anything I had to say during the panel, and if you agree to post this letter on your site I will be happy to have the video released unedited, for public scrutiny. Those who are reading this blog are free to look at other videos of my comments on science and religion available online. They will see that I have no need to hide my views from the public, and in fact I am quite eager to have my thoughts made available provided they are presented accurately and fairly.
Why then do I hesitate in this case? It has to do with you alone, Jerry, not anyone else, including myself. I have had wonderful conversations with many scientific skeptics over the years, but my meeting with you was exceptionally dismaying and unproductive. I mentioned to you personally already that in my view, the discussion in Kentucky seldom rose to the level of a truly academic encounter. I agree that it was probably entertaining to the audience who gave us a standing ovation at the end. Nevertheless, instead of being flattered by this I went away terribly discouraged at what had just taken place. I wish to emphasize that I do not exempt myself from criticism.
The event at the University of Kentucky did not take place in the way I had expected. My understanding was that each speaker was to provide a curt 25-minute presentation of how he understood the relationship between science and theology. I did just this, and I have no objection to having that presentation made public. People who attended the event, moreover, can testify that in my presentation I avoided talking about or criticizing you personally. Instead I was content to make some very general remarks about why I consider science completely compatible with theology as I understand it.
When Robert Rabel of the Gaines Center at the University of Kentucky, a true gentleman who remains far above reproach in all of this, contacted me last summer and invited me to participate in the event, he asked me for names of people who would differ from my own position. I recommended you as someone who would definitely have a different perspective, to say the least. Prof. Rabel informed me that you agreed to participate with the qualification that you did not want to debate me, but simply to lay out your own way of looking at science and religion. I took this to mean that you would do something parallel to what I did in my presentation.
Instead, you used the event primarily to launch a sneering and condescending ad hominem. Rather than using your 25 minutes as an opportunity to develop constructively your own belief that science and religion are always and inevitably in conflict, you were content simply to ridicule rather than refute several of my own ideas, as you interpreted them. On the other hand, my own presentation, as those who watch the video will see, was a dispassionate attempt to have the audience understand some of the reasons why the new scientific picture of the universe is so troubling to many traditionally religious people. I don’t believe that at any point in that presentation I resorted to ridicule, or that I focused on, much less misrepresented, anything you have written. Instead, I argued in a purely academic way that scientism is simply unreasonable. This was clearly my main point, and I was expecting you to respond to it in an academic manner as well.
Rather than answering my point that scientism is logically incoherent--which is really the main issue--and instead of addressing my argument that the encounter with religious truth requires personal transformation, or for that matter instead of responding to any of the other points I made, you were content to use most of your time to ridicule several isolated quotes from my books. I was absolutely astounded by your woeful lack of insight into, or willingness to grapple with, the real meaning of these passages. Sophisticated argument requires as an essential condition that you have the good manners to understand before you criticize. Your approach, on the other hand was simply one of “caricature and then crush.” Citation of a few isolated sentences or paragraphs, the meaning of which requires reading and understanding many chapters, is hardly useful criticism. You grossly distorted every quotation you used, and then you coated over your [mis]understanding of these statements with your own uncritical creationist and literalist set of assumptions about the Bible and theology. There was no room for real conversation, as impartial viewers will notice.
Instead of trying to convince the audience of the logical coherence and philosophical finality of your belief that science is the only reliable guide to truth, you began by arbitrarily announcing to the audience that John Haught is the chief representative of theology in the conversation of science with religion. You gave no evidence for that, and in fact it is by no means evidently true. I am but one of a great number of theologians involved in the discussion, and many others do not share my views. But your strategy was to show that if the principal figure is stupid, then you need not take his subordinates seriously either. This is a convenient method for shrinking the territory that needs to be covered, but it is hardly a fair way of dealing with all the other theological alternatives to your own belief system.
But let me come to the main reason why I have been reluctant to give permission to release the video. It is not for anything that I said during our encounter, but for a reason that I have never witnessed in public academic discussion before. I’m still in shock at how your presentation ended up. I was so offended both personally and as an academic by the vulgarity of it all that I did not want other people to have to share what I witnessed that night in October. I still don’t.
I’m referring to the fact that your whole presentation ended up with a monstrous, not to mention tasteless, non sequitur, to give it the kindest possible characterization. You put on the screen a list of all the “evils” you associate with Catholicism: its stance regarding divorce, contraception, priest pedophilia, homosexuality--and I can’t remember what all--as though these have anything at all to do with the topic of the panel or with my own personal views on the relationship of science to theology. The whole focus of your presentation was on me, but when you came to your conclusion you never bothered to find out what my own position regarding your list of Catholic evils might be. I have never witnessed such a blatant smear or malicious attempt to impute guilt by association in all my years in university life.
Your list of Catholic evils, contrary to what you were suggesting, has absolutely nothing logically to contribute to your argument that science is opposed to religion. But even if it did, you never asked me whether I dissent from some or all items on your list of “evils,” as many Catholics do, and whether such dissent might, in your twisted way of arguing, perhaps make my own position more credible. Your insinuation could only have been that somehow the priest sexual abuse crisis, for example, discredits my views on science and theology. You should be grateful that I have tried to protect the public from such a preposterous and logic-offending way of bringing your presentation to a close.
There is much more to be said, but if you are willing to post this letter on your blog, go ahead and ask the Gaines Center to release the video as well. These will be my final remarks on this matter.
Sincerely,
John Haught
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