Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Richard Dawkins and Stephen Law - Think Week

On Friday 15th February as part of Oxford Think Week, Richard Dawkins and Stephen Law met on stage in the Sheldonian Theatre.

The discussion was generally an interesting revision of the sorts of things that I hear on scientific and skeptical podcasts, week in and week out, and I write about here.  A few of the audience were a little disappointed that there was nothing very new in it.

However, I can listen to these two men for a very long time without getting bored, and you have to admire their dedication to their cause.  They give up their time (and indeed money by sponsoring the event) in order to be visible to another audience - predominately of young people. 

Getting the message of rationalism and science out to the public takes a lot of effort and they show little sign of tiring.

As usual, the questions asked by the audience varied in quality.  Some were thinly veiled angry responses from a religious world-view that had clearly found itself on the back foot.  Others were more statements than questions in spite of the chair imploring people to keep their questions short.  Also as usual there were questions which were politely answered, but could have be met with simple advice to go and read a book.

Asked about objective morality and how one should address the competing requirements of different moral values we learned that RD claims to be a consequentialist.  SL agreed that he had got the description correct.  I doubt that the questioner felt satisfied with the answer that he got as he was clearly under the impression that he had deal the knock-out blow.

I for one thought it was the best answer available.

When the video of the event is posted I will link to it here.

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