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LAAG DISCUSSION: DEBATE with A CHRISTIAN Ex-Barrister

This is a rare opportunity to question "the hell out of" a Christian  ...or him persuading the hell into us! . We're really excited about this one and have booked a bigger room AT THE PRINCE OF WALES ( NOTE :NOT THE usual DEVEREUX) as we expect it to be very popular, but you will need to book as usual, and seats are still limited.

Andrew Watts, is an ex-barrister (and now successfully working on the Comedy circuit). There can be little doubt that to be a barrister you need to be educated, quick witted, capable of reasoning and being persuasive. So is it still a case of compartmentalisation and cognitive dissonance, even for people of this calibre?

Or is there any chance that we are missing something?

Either way, it's a rare opportunity to learn something valuable about ourselves and/or what really motives and resonates with intelligent religious people. Following a short talk from Andrew on why he believes what he believes, and thinks it is the reasonable choice, Jason will be putting some questions to him. Then we'll have a debate with Andrew, where he will also have the opportunity to put tough questions to us.

 

MORE ABOUT THIS EVENT:

Just as we have religious people joining this group to " challenge their faith", so too must we be open to questioning ourselves. Of course many "inter-faith" panels have been done - but usually these seem to be afraid of "offending" and as a result end up as little more than a pat on the back for those concerned, having challenged little either within oneself or anyone else.

This isn't one of those! As LAAGers know, we don't do talking around corners!

And the notion of "offence" will be left at the door where it belongs!

That doesn't mean rudeness will be allowed, certainly not, nor will this be a hatchet job, but a fair and balanced debate respecting the fact that Andrew has agreed to come along. Civil but candid and frank opinions are free to be given without fear - both ways.

Don't miss the rare chance for a no-holds barred (but of course civil) dialogue, getting inside the mind of someone who we can't dismiss as lacking an enquiring intellect, as perhaps we tend to do with many religious people.

Any pre-event comments or questions can be added in the comments boxes below, as usual.

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ENTRY:

£5  non members/ non RSVP'd members
£3  LAAG members, £2 NUS (if RSVP'd)

Please note:

People who are no shows more than twice in a year (from 10/9/13) will not be eligible for discount, so please update RSVP's ;-)

RSVP facility will close automatically, at 17:00 on the day of the event. ★★★ If you have a genuine issue after that time, or are a 'maybe' for some reason etc., just please LET US KNOW in the comment boxes below & that'll be no problem ★★★

This is guide only & we won't be draconican in the case of occasional slip-ups etc so don't worry! , but people just showing up or no shows makes organising difficult (& possibly denies others from attending fully booked events) so we do ask for this small courtesy, please.

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SCHEDULE

19:00- 19:20  Arrival upstairs (please get drinks and order any food DOWNSTAIRS first)

19:30 Discussion /Talk starts PROMPTLY, break and then Q & A usually till 21:30 (but flexible)

Social time at the bar, with some nibbles, till 22:30

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HOUSEKEEPING

Though these midweek events are usually structured talks/debates/discussions, they are nevertheless fairly informal; so the bar is usually open upstairs in the break and feel free to order food and have it during the event (here is the menu - food is generally good!).

We start the discussion promptly at 19:30. As a courtesy to others, please try to turn up by 19:20 ... if at all possible :-)   If a late arrival can't be helped, it's not a problem, no worries, just come in quietly :-)

The usual end time for discussion is 21:30pm, but this is flexible if people want to continue with the discussion, and usually we have some social time afterwards until 10:30pm (or until the pub closes!)

(The meetup fee  goes towards costs of running the group and activism)

DIRECTIONS

Just a few minutes walk from either Covent Garden or Holborn Tube (Note that Covent Garden Tube  entrance (Not exit) is closed till November, please check on TFL.Gov.uk)


WANT TO DISCUSS ANYTHING BEFOREHAND?

Feel free to add your own questions or comments in the comments boxes below (these comments boxes are for pre and post event discussion TO DO WITH THIS PARTICULAR MEETUP - please use the forum to start discussions about anything else)

 



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  • Ian G.

    I'm yet to find a humanist who didn't also have faith - it's a question of what to have faith in. http://www.psybertron.org/?p=7608
    (PS will miss tonight after all - a close family bereavement.)

    1 · October 8, 2014

    • Duncan

      You've also ignored the fact that, despite your approach, Jason and Georgi have validated and responded to your Russell argument, agreeing 100% with Russell (as do I) but implying that you need to say why you think it applies to LAAG or any of its members

      1 · October 17, 2014

    • Georgi L.

      Appreciate the support everyone, but it's obvious that Eel isn't capable or willing to follow basic logic, so let's just leave it there, I'd suggest, to avoid wasting our precious time anymore. No doubt having alienated other potential avenues, the desperation of trying to get us to indulge him is showing - he seeks attention in getting people to play with him but isn't willing to play fair. Like other such apologists etc, they never answer questions honestly though, so what's the point.

      This kind of distraction only takes us away from tackling the harm going on caused by relativist and apologist thinking. I think it's arguably as much or even more of an urgent problem than trying to tackle faith itself. Maybe this should be the topic of our next informal discussion groups sunday event in November. Or any other suggestions for that event, please add them to the event page: http://www.meetup.com...­

      3 · October 17, 2014

  • James

    I thought last night's debate was an excellent event. Thanks to everyone who made it happen.

    I have to say I'm really surprised to hear how disappointed people are that they didn't hear a better defence from Andrew about his beliefs. What did you expect? I was skeptical going into this event, but I soon realised that this wasn't about winning any arguments, but about listening to Andrew's point of view, and providing a forum to discuss his ideas and his beliefs openly and fairly.

    And to be perfectly honest, I found myself more fascinated with people's reactions to such a person talking to us. Shaking heads, tuts, stares of disbelief, it was quite interesting how people were dealing with listening to Andrew.

    But nobody could deny the energy in the room was really good, lots and lots of discussion, banter and exchanges. And maybe that was the point.

    4 · October 9, 2014

    • Georgi L.

      Yes Rafa and James, some people seem to have missed that was the point of the event, as stated both in the written blurb above, and before the meetup in Jason's introduction. Eel John actually gave the event a one star rating, meaning terribly organised, presented and content. I do wonder what a person like that is actually satisfied by, but I have to say I really don't give a hoot in this case.

      October 9, 2014

    • Rafa

      I don´t like feeding trolls. That´s all I will say about it :)

      1 · October 9, 2014

  • Christopher C.

    Sounds like you guys had an interesting meeting. Sorry I couldn't be there in the end it would have been interesting to hear what he had to say, although I'm sure I've probably heard it all before in one form or another.

    October 9, 2014

  • Rafa

    Hi all! Some thoughts I'd like to share. It seems to me that many (myself included) wanted this to be a debate with reasoned arguments. I think that's unreasonable . The whole point of religious thinking is not caring about reason and lack of evidence. That's faith and that's the biggest virtue for a religious person. We are not going to change that in an hour or so as he himself said. For me, the interesting thing about it all was trying to empathize with his story and way to see the world. If we want people to be more critical we better understand why they decide not to be in the first place. Also just seeing him n the lions den is interesting from a psychological and even sociological point of view. He is brave! ☺

    2 · October 9, 2014

    • Ian G.

      Winning ?

      October 9, 2014

    • Georgi L.

      Yes winning. Have you got a problem with that, and if so why?

      October 9, 2014

  • eeL J.

    Dismal.

    October 9, 2014

    • Jason

      The beauty of Meetup is that anyone can set one up. We look forward to your contribution when it materialises. I seem to recall you saying something similar over a year ago so with that much planning I'm sure it will be worth the wait.

      1 · October 9, 2014

    • Georgi L.

      We feel the same about your contributions John, please do feel free to leave since you find us so dismal. It's funny when those who are quick to find fault and yet self-aggrandise do so little themselves. As Jason says, what exactly have you contributed?

      1 · October 9, 2014

  • Adrian

    Excellent night I thought, and really pleased we showed Andrew that atheists can be friendly hosts! I was quite stunned, as I'm sure many of you were, that Andrew exhibited massive cognitive dissonance between different compartmentalised parts of his life. I guess this its typical of religious people. Hardly surprising really since they must be adding 2+2 and getting something other than 4. To my mind it also illustrates why I personally prefer exerting effort educating atheists rather than relieving the faithful of their faith. Big thanks to all who came along as always :-)

    2 · October 9, 2014

  • Phil W.

    All I found out was that the unconvincing beliefs of a person of faith don't even seem to have convinced him of very much.

    1 · October 8, 2014

    • Georgi L.

      I'm not sure Phil, I think he was visibly shaken by the end. Maybe he'll get out the god delusion again and rethink his life and position. If we've helped relieve him of his faith burden it will have been a good thing we've done.

      October 9, 2014

    • Roger

      The delivery certainly changed - motormouth at the beginning (nervous? I would be) then almost withdrawn by the last few questions.

      October 9, 2014

  • Georgi L.

    On one hand I found Andrew's "I don't knows" refreshing & honest, on the other also frustrating - I wanted him to mount a stronger defence. I learnt that "truth doesn't matter" is central to Xtianity (at least)- & as a result have even less respect for faith than I had before. I didn't find anything at all that made me question myself or the atheist/naturalist position. What I also found interesting is that Andrew as a comedian is larger than life, very confident and forceful. I imagine he must have been the same in the law. And he sort of started out that way yesterday but became quieter and quieter, even with us going pretty lightly on him really. I was conscious that he didn't have to come and I really respect that he was prepared to challenge his beliefs in such an all-out way. Most religious people ( and others!) run a mile from confronting their sacred cows at all, let alone in such a manner. So kudos to him for that. It takes integrity & guts.

    October 9, 2014

    • Georgi L.

      I really think he'll have a lot to think about after yesterday. He even said, "tell me if I'm wrong so I can have an easier life" That says it all really. It gives me confidence that we can, & should be even more activist in challenging the privilege this BS gets.

      October 9, 2014

  • Stephen I.

    It's a shame I cant make it at the last minute. I was really looking forward to this event. Especially the chance to see some old faces I haven't seen in awhile.

    October 8, 2014

    • Georgi L.

      Yes we miss you Stephen, see you soon. xx

      1 · October 9, 2014

  • Polly H

    Sorry I didn't get to say goodbye to you Georgi especially as you made me feel so welcome.
    In fact everyone made me feel so welcome - I will definitely be back!

    1 · October 8, 2014

    • Georgi L.

      Lovely to meet you Polly! Hope you felt "at home" and look forward to chatting more next time. xx

      October 9, 2014

  • Yussef

    Was great to see you all :)

    1 · October 8, 2014

  • Roger

    One thing sticks in my mind: Andrew added to the kind of evidence he would accept as a lawyer the "evidence" that his belief in the love of his god helps him through his life and gives meaning to it (I hope I'm paraphrasing him reasonably accurately). So by the same token, I can say that as a person who never had a religion, who is completely without the faith vice, I have struggled though life's difficulties by myself and also with amateur and professional help and have arrived at a state where I have created my own value, meaning and purpose, with no supernatural entity involved at any point. I live a good life. This does not "prove" that a god does not exist (I wouldn't dream of trying to prove a negative ;-) but it is "evidence", as Andrew uses the term, that god is unnecessary.

    3 · October 8, 2014

  • Rafa

    That was interesting! I had the opportunity to meet some other fellow laagers and the debate itself was well worth it in my opinion. Thanks everyone. Until next time

    1 · October 8, 2014

  • Charley

    Sorry, I turned up late from work, went to the Devereaux, bought a pint, and learnt I was in the wrong pub, had no idea where the Prince of Wales was, drank my pricey pint, felt pretty stupid, and went home. There's a moral to the tale but I can't be bothered with it at the moment.

    2 · October 8, 2014

  • Rafa

    I'll be there in about 15min I hope its ok

    October 8, 2014

  • James

    It's always been fairly obvious to me that faith is not a matter of intelligence. It's a personal worldview that exists aside from everything we know and experience. And as much as I find this unimpressive, unconvincing and hugely problematic, I understand why it's adopted by many.

    Seeing as there isn't a topic for the debate, what is this debate hoping to accomplish? Or is it going to be a case of asking Andrew to justify his beliefs?

    October 8, 2014

    • Georgi L.

      It also says "to question ourselves"

      October 8, 2014

    • James

      Always a good thing to do!

      October 8, 2014

  • Fiona W.

    Yesterday's Evening Standard quoted a useful saying from Clive James: "There is no reasoning someone out of a position he has not reasoned himself into"! Will our guest try to 'reason' with us?

    October 8, 2014

  • Polly H

    This will my first LAAG Meetup - hope it's interesting. I'll probably keep myself quiet though.

    October 8, 2014

    • Georgi L.

      We have spirits coming? ;-)

      1 · October 8, 2014

    • Roger

      Ah, my seven years at a Quaker school showing...

      1 · October 8, 2014

  • Jason

    James, you make it sound like an inquisition. That certainly isnt the intention. Andrew has offered to come to talk to us about his views so that we better understand how people of faith see things. No one will be converted and no one will be attacked, but we have to ask questions or no one will learn anything. That idea doesn't make Andrew uncomfortable, in fact i know he is looking forward to talking to us, but if it causes you disquiet attendance isn't compulsory. Of course it will be great to see you if you decide to risk it.

    October 8, 2014

  • David M.

    Sorry, will be missing this one. Work related.

    October 8, 2014

  • Anthony H.

    Sorry, won't be able to make it now, rubbish work stuff.

    October 8, 2014

    • Georgi L.

      Just so you know, it's no problem coming late, Tony. Even if it's just for the after-meetup social bit. But otherwise we'll see you some other time!

      October 8, 2014

  • Charley

    I won't be able to arrive until about 8.15pm, but I'm looking forward to the event.

    1 · October 7, 2014

  • Ian G.

    I sincerely hope offence will be left at the door, where it belongs. No point any dialogue without mutual respect. Respect is built-in to the concept of banter. Offence is the realm of the court-jester, the cartoonist-in-residence, the fool of times past - like Mr Fry above. The general absence of any right not to be offended is not a general right to offend. See you guys on the night.

    September 30, 2014

    • Jason

      Thanks for the shot across the bows Ian. I am sure you'll be in the front row letting us know if you are offended in Andrew's behalf. We managed to contain ourselves for Taj Hargey. I am sure we'll be able to do the same for an amiable chap like Andrew.

      1 · September 30, 2014

  • Neil M.

    I can't make this one I'm afraid. I would have enjoyed the banter, but hey ho.

    September 29, 2014

  • Susannah

    :( im working a late that night *sigh* next time.

    September 27, 2014

  • Christopher C.

    Sorry, unfortunately I won't be able to make this event.

    September 25, 2014

46 went

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Refunds are not offered for this Meetup.

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This covers: This is to help with LAAG's activism and the Ministry of Reason project.

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