This discussion ( audio | 1:20s ) took place on the usually solid Unbelievable Christian radio show last weekend. It was between Andy Bannister, a humorous if rather cookie cutter Christian apologist and friend of the blog Ed Turner.
3 Stars: This was definitely more of a Justin and Andy show talking about the latter's new book with Ed Turner jumping in to remind the world that atheism doesn't make nearly as lofty claims as Christianity. 3 stars cause it's always good to hear Ed give a human voice to the more vocal atheists representing us.
Ed told me in an email that he felt he did well considering the skewed
focus of the show and I'd agree with him, though I think he could have
more explicitly linked his criticisms to Bannister's book in general.
Every time I listen to a bunch of Unbelievable episodes and think that it's really improved in quality I hear an episode like this.
Most of the episode was an Andy Bannister interview about his book. The book comes off as uninteresting though not mean-spirited or sleazy like other apologist books I've heard of, but I was irked by Bannister talking about "atheist friends" of his apparently dumbfounded by the ironclad arguments found in the book.
Oh come on. I'm reminded of David Cross' stand-up where he reads from a Promise Keeper's book stories that sound absolutely fictional. It sounds really weak to say atheists were floored by your cutting edge book when there's an atheist in the studio who can speak for himself about the book.
Ed can speed read books, a trait I wish I possessed. Before debating David Robertson, Ed read Robertson's book, plus several of Robertson's references in an impressively short amount of time prior to the interview. I review the interview HERE where Ed gives a good show with all the specific citations to Robertsons' book.
Anyways, come on Bannister and Justin, why not get Ed to say something about the book? Well eventually...about 7 minutes into the program Ed is finally introduced. Now here Ed says some good things but it isn't until over 20 minutes into the show that any criticism of Bannister's book comes around. Ed makes the case that Bannister, besides being such a gosh-darn cut-up about presenting his case, essentially does nothing new and simply tries to shift the burden of proof from the Christian onto the atheist.
Ed's an atheist in the same way he is an a-unicornist, an a-astrologer, an a-Zeusist. Bannister then tries to claim these things aren't the same because Christianity worships a god outside the physical universe, unlike the Greek perception of Zeus which was a deity in the physical world. This is absurdly weak because Ed's argument isn't new and mentions Gods that are outside the physical universe, too...I mean, this is really silly on Bannister's part. This is also where Bannister apparently got an absolutely stupid counter to the argument that we can say a cat is an atheist or a rock is an atheist from an atheist professor. Again, come on. If that's how that anecdote went down then that professor is an idiot.
Ed does call Bannister out on the Zeus =/= Yahweh argument by giving a great comparison involving Conan the Barbarian but he said
something I strongly disagree with. Conan's friend is more a Mongol-analog, no Icelandic. I think I'm willing to result to fist-a-cuffs about this, too.
Sadly, the conversation gets really scattered when they start talking about whether or not the self exists. Ed gives a pretty solid and pragmatic response to it and some back and forth happens but it didn't really relate to Bannister's book. Though Ed says that it actually does so I might have heard wrong but it might be the case that he just couldn't get to the argument.
Then it became a Behind-the-Ed show because Bannister and Justin started asking Ed about his recent personal journey away from atheism. I was interested to hear this because it seemed like Ed and I became disillusioned with the atheist community around the same time and then came back to it at the same time -- this made for some good radio, though not so much good debatin'.
But alas, many of Bannister's claims were sucked into the insipid interview vacuum unfortunately. Maybe Michael Ruse gets a bit more radio play than Ed was allotted.
About the Obvious Christian Bias on Unbelievable
Duh. I know, it's a Christian radio show. I get that. But if the point is to have Christians dialogue with non-Christians then at least introduce the non-Christian before 7 freaking minutes into the show, Brierley! Always like some Justin because he's a bit better at the radio recap than others due to his having a lot of experience but that issue was dwarfed by what seemed like just a plug for Bannister. If that's what it was fine, but it makes me bummed out for Ed who probably prepared quite a bit to articulate the opposite perspective.
Often I'll find good episodes by sifting through the atheist blogosphere and let those quality outliers curb my impression. I forget that probably the majority of episodes are like this one and that it's a good thing I don't download every single episode and depend on only them to comprise my reviews for this blog. Otherwise the posts will be as frequent as they were in 2014.
Update to make myself look less like a schmuck cause apparently Ed sent this post to Brierley and Bannister and thinking of the former reading my insignificant blog has got me wanting to clean up my act at make sure I don't sound like I dislike the guy. Maybe Bannister's an alright cat, too. But I think he should know he doesn't seem to be doing anything unique.