Today I appeared (errr… featured? contributed to?) on Short Science, a weekly podcast by Elizabeth Hauke. It was an interesting one; the focus of the show was religion and science, with a studiously neutral moderator and miracle worker to produce a 4-person show without a studio (Liz), a defender of faith (Tosin) and a couple of godless scientists (Andrew and I).* Listen to the replay of the show here, and then if you like, keep the discussion flowing in the comments.
It was fun! Due to the nature of the show and the way we were arranged, I tended to get the ‘third word’ which made it a little tricky; a few times I forgot what the actual question was, after Tosin and Andrew had shared their thoughts, or I felt like I wanted to respond to or add on to something that had already been said. I think the balance between discussion and interview was a little blurry in my head!
Due to the nature of the show, we weren’t able to really delve into the nitty-gritty aspects of religion which I’d like – the dubious morality of religious institutions and stories, the reality of religious extremism, the philosophical underpinning of science as opposed to religion. However, on the topics we did speak on, Tosin was admirably open with his thoughts, and I applaud him for that (especially one very brave ‘no’ which, unfortunately, didn’t make the final cut!). I didn’t feel like I had anything to ‘lose’ in the discussion, or anything to defend, but from a religious perspective, there may be. I’d have a lot more respect for religion in general if believers were willing to openly engage and be frank and honest about their beliefs, as Tosin was on the show!
Oh, and need I say it… the Atheist Professor story. Whoa. There’s some shockingly bad apologetics out there. I do like the concept of continuums and whether something like immorality is merely the absence of morality; that could lead to intriguing and fruitful discussions (for the record, I think that morality is NOT quantifiable like light intensity!) However, the straw-man representation of science, as limited to sensory perception, was quite sad. For more thoughts of mine on topics like these… check out this blog post, or leave any questions you might have below!
Unfortunately, the part where things started to get a bit more controversial didn’t make the cut into the final show due to time constraints. Tosin went out on a limb and said that he didn’t think other religions were following the correct God (which is probably a common belief, but it’s rare to hear outright). And I got a little dig in, quoting the statistic that there’s about 2700 gods in recorded history, and basically everyone disbelieves 2699 of them… and for the same reasons I go one further. Oh well! Still a good experience, and I’ll be on the show again talking about forests and chemistry in a month’s time. Much less controversial but I think cooler!
*Labels applied flippantly. And I need to say less ‘ums’ and ‘errs’ on the radio.