Day: August 27, 2012

183. The Thinking Atheist Backs Down From Science Debate

Interview examines the scientific evidence underlying an atheist worldview and why atheists are reluctant to defend it. Join Skeptiko host Alex Tsakiris for an interview with The Thinking Atheist, Seth Andrews. During the interview Andrews explains why atheists don’t support scientists who believe ESP has been scientifically proven: Alex Tsakiris:   There is this silly sideshow conversation that always dominates center stage-- “science versus religion, Christianity versus Atheists.” But the science question behind this really boils down to one question -- is your mind purely a function of your brain?  Because if it isn’t then we get into all these other topics that start sounding very spiritual. Seth Andrews:  To say that the reputable science community is advocating that there must be a conduit of spirit out there that is irresponsible, I don’t think that’s accurate. I don’t think it’s reflected by mainstream, especially secular scientists, who are the majority. I think if you spend that much time playing “What if,” you’ll drive yourself nuts. Alex Tsakiris:   That is exactly why I wanted to do this interview in two parts, because I have to tell you, in the dialogues I’ve had, we always get to this point, which is we have to dig through all the opinions that we might have, beliefs we might have, get down to the science. Getting down to the scientific evidence and understanding it the best we can. So that’s my point. If you’re not familiar with Dr. Richard Wiseman – great -- go see what he has to say about ESP. I’m telling you about the near-death experience science and I’m telling you that overwhelmingly hypoxia has been dismissed as a possible explanation. So, go check out the science and then come back so we can have a real debate. Seth Andrews:   So you’re a believer, then, in extra-sensory perception. You believe in ESP personally? Alex Tsakiris:   Personally? Seth Andrews:   I’m not sure why a yes/no question is so complicated for you. I’m just curious. Alex Tsakiris:   Because I don’t what you mean by “personally.”  I don’t have any personal experience with ESP. I think the evidence is overwhelmingly suggestive that it does happen, that there is some form of extended human consciousness that does occur in this way. That’s what the evidence shows. I don’t know what that means. Seth Andrews:   I’m still stuck on ESP. I’m still stuck on it. Alex Tsakiris:   Great, go check out the science. Seth Andrews:   I’m still stuck on it. I honestly think—I mean, I lump ESP in with astral projection, with visions, with crystals, with—I myself think that this is a profound waste of time and energy. But to me, superstition and religion, they go hand-in-hand. Superstition and science do not. I don’t place them side-by-side. They are not bedfellows. They are not partners. Alex Tsakiris:   Science is a method. It is not a position. It’s a set of tools, Seth. It’s just a way of inquiry. Seth Andrews: I think you and I are simply approaching the term “science” from different perspectives. The Thinking Atheist Website Click here for YouTube version Click here for forum discussion Play It: . Listen Now: Download MP3 (68 min.) . Read It: Alex Tsakiris: Welcome to Skeptiko where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers, and their critics. I’m your host, Alex Tsakiris, and on today’s episode I have a dialogue with The Thinking Atheist, Seth Andrews, whose popular YouTube channel has nearly 100,000 subscribers and millions of views. Now, as you know from listening to Skeptiko, it’s hard to book these kinds of interviews. Despite their claims to the contrary, Atheists and skeptics don’t really like to get into debates about science and about the evidence behind their beliefs. So I was delighted when Seth agreed to come on and come onto my new concept. I had this idea for a two-part format where we’d use the first interview to kind of map out our ideas, map out our thoughts, and then use the second part of the interview to really get into the debate. So here then is my first interview with Seth Andrews, The Thinking Atheist. Today we welcome Seth Andrews to Skeptiko. Seth is the creator of The Thinking Atheist, a very popular website and YouTube channel. Seth is also a former Christian and a former Christian broadcaster who challenges his listeners to “Assume nothing, question everything, and start thinking.” Welcome, Seth, and thanks for joining me on Skeptiko. Seth Andrews:   It’s a real pleasure. Thanks for the invite and thanks for allowing me to be a part of the show.