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Thomas J.J. Altizer - The Death of God
Posted: 03 April 2010 10:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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vinny - 03 April 2010 05:28 AM

Jackson, I appreciate your thoughts on this. And it’s a fair thought that each of the new hosts needs to find their voice.  I’m not a huge fan of Mooney, but I thought his outings so far were strong enough that I’d listen to his shows.  But I’m sort of confused about what POI/CFI is all about.  I’m not sure that

Just like Chris Mooney, Price has access to some of the top theologians.

is a good thing.  Theologians don’t strike me as spokespeople for a reason-based world view.  Am I looking at this wrong in some way?

Okay—I listened to it while spring-raking this morning in summerlike weather—usually the first couple days of April are cold and rainy so fishing season requires dedication…

First *.mp3 was this interview.
Second was [ This downlink from RichardDawkins.net of talks by Dawkins / Myers / Singer at Atheist conference in Australia].  Everyone on this thread who hated the Robert Price interview will enjoy this 2nd one because Dawkins /Myers are easy to understand, speak logically, and use a vocabulary typical of college-educated adults.  Singer is harder to follow—he has a philosophy which is nonstandard and I won’t get into that. But these comments by Dawkins are helpful because both Altizer and Price seem to criticize Dawkins for no good reason.

I agree with Vinny that the Price-Altizer starts with gobbledy-gook reminiscent to an outsider of the “Sokal affair” where an NYU physics professor got a paper published in a “post-modern” academic journal.  And it doesn’t really get a whole lot better. Many of these theologians are remarkably self-centered and don’t seem to understand the need to communicate and perhaps justify their opinions. The [Randy Olson “Don’t Be Such a Scientist”] book could be re-written as a “Don’t be Such a Theologian” book, explaining how a theologian needs to include a little substance and explain terms.

What Robert Price really needs, unfortunately, is a sidekick who can act as an AUDIENCE SURROGATE and ask questions which would naturally arise from audience members who are slightly clueless and very skeptical.  D.J. was good at taking this role himself—he put himself in the ROLE of the audience and asked basic questions to clarify stuff.  Price is too knowledgable and doesn’t realize that he needs to keep reiterating basic points.

In general I thought I saw Christianity as dividing into “metaphorical” Christianity and “literal” Christianity—“literal” Christians think that certain key things described in the New Testament actually happened and that the Nicene Creed represents agreement that these things happened. This is a much easier Christianity for most participants on this forum to understand, and I THINK this is mainstream Christianity.
The other category viewed the Bible stories as metaphor but was using Christianity as a framework for a liberal humanist ‘vision’.
This guy Altizer seems to be something else {literally}—I don’t understand whether he actually thinks any of the key events in the New Testament are “true” in the sense that it happened.  He doesn’t think that Jesus was literally resurrected. But He believes in God—at that point he sort of loses me like everyone else who has posted.

The audio is useful for highlighting the chasm between theologians and the atheist discussion of Dawkins—Dawkins alludes to this in the God Delusion and this is really an excellent example. I hope it can be cited in books in the future, and in that sense Price has done a great job in documenting this.  Why does Altizer think Dawkins is on the wrong track?  He never makes it clear. I think he could if he wanted to.  This would be a good focused topic for Price to dig into in a further interview—what is the chief criticism that theologians have with Dawkins?

I think Dawkins is saying the “emperor” has no clothes, and the “emperor” says that if Dawkins can’t see the clothes, he is not qualified to discuss them.

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Posted: 03 April 2010 10:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Jackson - 03 April 2010 10:31 AM

I think Dawkins is saying the “emperor” has no clothes, and the “emperor” says that if Dawkins can’t see the clothes, he is not qualified to discuss them.

I think there is some justification to that, and I can’t really recall whether Dawkins strays into that area.  I don’t think that arguing against the existence of God is theology, but it is when you start discussing God’s attributes.  You can’t even move into that area of discussion without at least granting hypothetically God’s existence, which, for an agnostic/atheist, hands somewhat of a victory to their opponents.  For a theologian, God’s attributes are not constrained by evidence and they can make up whatever they wish in order to make their assertions seem internally consistent.  That’s alien territory for scientists and they’d better stay away.

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Posted: 03 April 2010 11:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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I’d like to add my voice to the chorus of disapproval. I actually do know something about the “death-of-god” movement- I studied it when I was trying to find some way to hold on to a God-belief. But Price should have challenged Altizer more, especially when he said that the New Atheists weren’t serious thinkers. Maybe they’re not, but is it too much to ask the guest to provide some grounds for saying that?

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Posted: 03 April 2010 11:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Hi, POI-

This episode really cracked me up. I get that it is fun to mess with theists. But then the fawnery and contentlessness of the interview started to drag, and I realized that Price and Altizer were actually serious- that god once existed, that theology isn’t just an enormous, great big steaming pile of hooey, and that this show might be interviewing theologians on an ongoing basis. That would be a problem, frankly.

The most telling bit was when Price asked about the new atheists. Altizer said he couldn’t read them. Can you say cognitive dissonance? If theology is much ado about nothing, (or, at best is a matter of psychology/anthropology), as real atheists hold on the basis of endless evidence, then Altizer might just have this kind of defensive psychological reaction to arguments that destabilize his entire life’s work, even though as Price comments, he can find nothing wrong with the truly atheist arguments. A personal problem for him, perhaps, but hardly the makings of an informative interview.

Sincerely- Burk

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Posted: 03 April 2010 12:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Aught3 - 02 April 2010 10:23 PM

@Stanley
My point is that on one hand Mr Price thinks a lack of theological training does not allow atheists/skeptics to take part in discussion on theological topics and on the other hand he proceeds to have an in-depth theological discussion to an audience composed primarily of atheists/skeptics. Like any field of study, theology has it’s own jargon which can make it hard to understand. You may not be interested in what Mr Price’s guests have to say, but I am.

I agree—I was struck by this—-  why take a such a condescending attitude to the people who are downloading the podcast?

Price should have a lot more references attached to the basic site referencing this interview—something closer to “Altizer for Dummies” because the interview was not addressing the natural questions of the audience (many of which show up in this thread)

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Posted: 03 April 2010 03:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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As a long time POI listener I have to say - What a Brobdingnagian load of irrelevant drivel.  Doubtless it is very artfully arranged irrelevant drivel if one probes deeper but that does not change its nature.  In order for god to die he would have to have lived and there is insufficient evidence for that assertion.  End of story.  Like some others I have been interested in the Good Doctor Price’s exposition on Christian history and unusual biblical gems, but this, this was impenetrable crap. 

These theologians are so disconnected they don’t even realize how disconnected they are.  How much of their deep theology do they suppose reaches the people in the pews?  You know, to the masses half of whom don’t realize the Earth revolves around the sun. This is just mental auto-eroticism, and I hope to see no more of it.  I don’t care how big this guy’s name is.  He said nothing relevant nor interesting.  Show him back to his tower and let him spit on the real atheists from there not here.

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Posted: 03 April 2010 10:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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I was a bit worried when Bob Price became part of the rotation of POI moderators, and unfortunately, those worries have come true.

I am grateful for CFI’s creative efforts to replace DJ Grothe in the anchor’s role. All of the other interviewers have performed with aplomb.

Dr. Price, however, while he is a great interviewee, has always needed someone to rein in his enthusiasm for matters that, to the rest of the world, don’t matter at all.

His recent POI episode contained the unfettered theological name dropping for which he is well known and poorly regarded. (The Paul Tillich story gravitated toward unembarrassed ghoulishness.) When he returned to genuine content, Dr. Price showed undeserved glee when he identified an esoteric tittle of philosophical high ground, one that to others would seem like nothing more than a speck of dust on the prairie.

Give Dr. Price his best role, one where he can occasionally come on the show to expound on his latest book, and disallow him the unbound tedium he is capable of inflicting on the rest of the listening public.

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People often argue over the term “god” without defining it. It is almost as if they are using the same term to refer both to a penguin and to a quiche. While both may contain eggs, that’s hardly their most salient characteristic.

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Posted: 04 April 2010 06:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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I was thrilled.
At 10 minutes in I figured out that this was an April Fools’ joke.
I’m a little embarrassed that it took me 10 minutes.

Look! Somehow Price even got Amazon to cooperate with fake books written by this fake author.
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0791467589?ie=UTF8&tag=poinofinqu-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=0791467589
I was kinda worried about Price hosting the show.
This joke showed my fears unfounded smile

More from Robert!

RonH

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Posted: 04 April 2010 10:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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reminiscent to an outsider of the “Sokal affair”

Jackson, I hadn’t thought of it at the time, but that is excellent comparison.

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Posted: 04 April 2010 11:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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I am a longtime fan of Point of Inquiry and I stopped by here to see if I could learn some more about the “Death of God” episode.  I just didn’t get it.  It looks like others had the same issues as I. 

If found there to be no point and no inquiry.  None that I could see anyhow; I will do some poking around to see if there is something I missed. 
Thanks!

dc

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Posted: 04 April 2010 12:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Is this the guy who also appeared on the Atheist Guy’s show? Have not listened to this episode yet, so can’t comment.

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http://watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com/

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Posted: 04 April 2010 01:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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I listened, I hung in there for 6 excruciating minutes until he postulated that only christians could be atheists. What a load of bollox! What a waste of 6 minutes of my life that I will never recover! I tried to give the podcast a chance, but from the above posts, I refuse to waste another 22 minutes listening to more incomprehensible drivel.

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Church; where sheep congregate to worship a zombie on a stick that turns into a cracker on Sundays…

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Posted: 04 April 2010 02:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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I’m a long-time POI listener (since episode one!), and am pleased that apparently every other listener was just as baffled by this episode as myself.  If Mr. Altizer does indeed have substantive arguments, then they require significant preface and explanation.  Judging by his language, however, my guess is that he falls into the trap of making pseudo-profound statements with no real meaning behind them.  I’m reminded of the style and (lack of) substance of the postmodernists - make utter rubbish have the appearance of something profound.  Only Christians can be true atheists?  Sounds like meaningless pseudo-babble to me.

If anything, this episode helped to confirm my suspicions that theology is the study of nothing.

Also, I never though I would ever hear Derrida and his ilk being praised on POI.  Yuck!

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Posted: 04 April 2010 03:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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I’m am disappointed in this podcast episode too. Maybe it would help if the staff or a select few where able to listen to episodes prior to publication. I think CFI needs to remember that with all the available podcasts on the internet that it’s better just to not publish a bad one, since if a first time listener happened to listen to this episode they might just not want to listen to another one.

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Posted: 04 April 2010 05:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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This is easily the worst I’ve ever tried to listen to!

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