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WHI-1050 | An Interview with Skeptic Michael Shermer

Posted by on in 2011 Show Archive
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On this program, Michael Horton talks with Michael Shermer, editor of Skeptic magazine and author of numerous books including, Why People Believe Weird Things, Why Darwin Matters, and most recently The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths. The conversation centers on Shermer's new book, and why he believes his skeptical and agnostic worldview presents a better explanation for the universe than the claims of the Christian faith. Following the interview, Michael Horton talks with Dean L. Overman, author of The Case Against Accident & Self Organization, about the mathematical improbability of life forming by chance.

On this program, Michael Horton talks with Michael Shermer, editor of Skeptic magazine and author of numerous books including, Why People Believe Weird Things, Why Darwin Matters, and most recently The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies—How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths. The conversation centers on Shermer's new book, and why he believes his skeptical and agnostic worldview presents a better explanation for the universe than the claims of the Christian faith. Following the interview, Michael Horton talks with Dean L. Overman, author of The Case Against Accident & Self Organization, about the mathematical improbability of life forming by chance.




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PDF Document


RECOMMENDED BOOKS
The Believing Brain
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Holman QuickSource Guide to Apologetics
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The Case Against Accident & Self Organization
Dean L. Overman




PROGRAM AUDIO

[audio:http://www.whitehorseinn.org/whiarchives/2011whi1050may22.mp3|titles=WHI 1050|artists=White Horse Inn]


MUSIC SELECTION

Zack Hicks


 
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  • Guest - Kathryn Boehne

    All of your podcasts are fantastic. I especially enjoyed this one as I have a good friend who is an atheist and a big Shermer fan.

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  • Guest - Alberto

    It's great to hear such intelligent discussions; this is way better than listening to Shermer on politically conservative talk shows where what your hear are apologists for the American religion and its god.

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  • Guest - Nathan Rinne

    Bravo! More podcasts like this. This was a good interview and I think that you matched Michael Shermer's arguments well.

    I find his position about the pragmatism of skepticism very interesting, but I think that ultimately you can't even have pragmatism without a solid notion of truth as well, which, quite frankly, he doesn't have. The very act of constructing a theory to explain man’s existence belies an inherent theism within man which evolution is hard-pressed to justify.

    After all, why should it matter whether our reason and senses can accurately map reality or not? What is ultimately important is that they exist to help us survive – and if this means they will “deceive” “us” (what are “we” anyway?) from time to time, perhaps that is for the best. And in the end, if it is true that we exist to pass on our genes, I wonder what would really be so objectionable about those who succeed in this game calling themselves “gods”… gods who will eat, drink, and be merry until they die (until that can be conquered!). Just like some of the gods of the ancient world emerged from the eternal elements of the water and earth, so to, may we… Evolutionary thinking undercuts the value of the powerful concept of truth. Ironically, it would seem to only be a theistic view of the creation (which includes God’s endowing us with reliable powers of sense and reason, or our “epistemic equipment”) that would give us reason for having confidence in our theories or models as “maps” that help us get closer to the Truth “out there”.

    This is my conclusion. The detailed reasoning backing it all up is here:

    http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2011/03/23/blank-slates-babies-and-beyond-of-evolution-and-epistemology-part-vii-of-viii/

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  • It seems to me, after a little reflection on this matter, that Shermer is simultaneously arguing that:

    1. Miracles don't happen. Especially the miracle of Christ's resurrection

    2. Miracles do happen, such as the miraculous odds of the creation of our own universe with it's particular built-in laws that make it capable of creating and sustaining life as we know it. An infinite number of possible universes (in the multi-verse) solves this problem, such that just about anything is possible.

    Is it just me or is there a little conflict between these two ideas? I mean, if just about anything is possible given an infinite supply of universes, then why would you have a problem with a resurrection? Perhaps this is just one of those universes where a dead guy suddenly comes back to life once in a while. Shouldn't we just check out the claims themselves, rather than dismissing the idea out of court in the first place?

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  • [...] White Horse Inn include a couple of interesting conversations. In the first, host Michael Horton interviews well-known skeptic Michael Shermer. This show was particularly enlightening, in that Shermer is a very smart guy, but he makes some [...]

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  • Guest - Tom Booker

    I must confess that I came upon this website while searching for information on Dr. Shermer. At first I was surprised to find Dr. Shermer's book recommended + an entire show devoted to him. Then I listened to the follow-up show which consisted largely of Greg Koukl's attempt to discredit almost everything Dr. Shermer said. I'm just curious - did Dr. Sherman agree to this format? Because I don't think Mr. Koukl refuted Dr. Sherman's remarks at all. There were times in fact, when I wondered if we'd heard the same interview. I understand that you're a Christian website with a Message to spread, but I don't think you treated Dr. Shermer with fairness.

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  • Guest - Kyle

    Tom,
    Which arguments do you feel were not addressed well? I found Dr. Horton's responses to be cogent and causing great tension for unbelievingly world views. His argument about the paint on the wall, which presented a skeptical view toward the reliability of reason in an agnostic framework, seemed to cause a problem for Shermer, who could only respond, "well it's all we've got." I'm not sure why in an agnostic framework we should put our blind trust in reason despite arguments such as Dr. Horton's against it.

    Personally, having listened to countless recordings of Shermer over the years, and I have come to the conclusion that his beliefs are self-defeating. I have found that his unwillingness to discuss first principles and the shallow responses to opponents arguments (i.e. who made God?) show this to be true.

    I'm not sure if Shermer approved of this format, but he and Koukl have had discussions together before, and I know that Shermer claims to be friends with a few Southern Cal pastors and theologians.

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  • [...] 1. White Horse Inn. 21 March 2011. [...]

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  • [...] can listen on their web page, or grab the MP3 file [...]

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