Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

White Horse Inn interviews Michael Shermer on skepticism

Look at what Reformed Seth sent me in my e-mail on Thursday morning! A podcast!

Here is the description:

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.

You can listen on their web page, or grab the MP3 file here.

And here are the questions asked:

  • Tell us about your background, how did you transition to agnosticism?
  • Are you firm in your convictions, or are you open to changing your mind?
  • What is your new book “The Believing Brain” about?
  • Was your skepticism also the result of the subjective, emotional belief-generating process described in the book?
  • How do you explain the mathematical underpinnings of nature?
  • How do you account for the foundational beliefs that make science possible?
  • Are these precursor beliefs for science also the result of the subjective, emotional belief-generating process?
  • How do you explain the fine-tuning of the universe on naturalism?
  • How do you respond to the historical claims of Christianity, like the resurrection of Jesus?
  • Is it accurate to put all religious claims in the same category without evaluating the claims specifically?
  • Why do you think that if there are two large groups that disagree about a claim, that no one is right?
  • Explain why reason itself is not undermined if man is the result of a random process of evolution?

This interview reminded me a lot of the post I wrote analyzing the apostasy of Dan Barker.

I wanted to write an angry refutation of Shermer’s ignorant speculations. But then I found this follow-up program (MP3 here) featuring the magnificent Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason. Greg’s refutation of Shermer is a lot more respectful than what I would say. Maybe it’s better if I wait a bit and then weigh in later in the comments.

You will also benefit enormously from this debate transcript featuring Michael Shermer and Greg Koukl.

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2 Responses

  1. Jared says:

    Notice Shermer mentioned he was a part of the Jesus movement growing up, so it’s easy to understand why he moved to agnosticism so easily. I know he said he was hardcore in the movement, but there was no substance or intellectual rigor in the movement; it was all fluff based on feelings. I do wonder if he would be an agnostic now had he explored Christianity in philosophy.

    I liked how Shermer was honest about the multiverse theory! He said something like, “I would like for it to be true, but it can’t be tested, so we can’t know for certain.”

    Horton should have arranged for Koukl and Shermer to be on the show at the same time.

  2. J. Paul says:

    There is a certain point where I have to consider how much of the will is involved in belief and unbelief. Two men can sit under the same teachings (i.e. Bart Erhman and Ben Witherington) and come out with completely different beliefs. Josh McDowell was also a Christian during the Jesus movement and as the result of his skeptical research, became a believer.

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