(Michael Ramsden at Wits University)
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“What’s going on in the believer’s frontal lobe?”
A Critical Analysis of Piet Croucamp’s Case Against God
by Udo Karsten
In this article I will comment on the merit of Dr Piet Croucamp’s arguments and approach in his debate with Dr Richard Howe at the University of Johannesburg on 15 August 2013 on the topic, ‘Does God Exist?’ (Henceforth: ‘Croucamp’ and ‘Howe’) I want to point out why the approach employed by Croucamp, which is often seen in debates about religious issues, does not foster any real understanding of the issues raised and neither does it encourage further positive dialogue.
The concerned reader can safely dismiss the notion of any personal attack on Croucamp. In this critique of his arguments and approach, no comment will be made on Croucamp’s character nor on any underlying psychological motives that might exist for why he said what he did.
The conscientious reader might first want to listen to the debate in its entirety for contextual purposes. But it would also be perfectly appropriate to merely read the transcript of Croucamp’s side of the debate. My analysis nowhere specifically addresses what Richard Howe said in the debate. Howe’s astuteness and elegance simply outrank this analysis by orders of magnitude and should be experienced in its own right. In some instances I did indicate when Howe said something relevant to my own comments, and there might even be some overlap between my own comments and what Howe himself said in the debate, but such would be incidental.
The impatient reader (or those who think that if the movie hasn’t come out yet, it can’t be real) who wants to delve right into the analysis, can follow the subheadings as a guide to the content:
- The X Files: I Want to Believe (The relation between belief and reality)
- Ghostbusters (The value, and limits, of science)
- Much Ado About Nothing (and everything, like the universe)
- Dazed and Confused (Thinking about the nature of evidence)
- The Gods Must be Crazy (…or must they be?)
- Lost in Translation (Misunderstanding the question of morals)
- Back to the Future (If we could have had a good debate)