Monday, December 5, 2016

A proper debate between a Catholic and an Atheist

Anyone who has ever had the misfortune of trawling through Youtube videos of 'debates' between loosely defined 'theists' and atheists will note that it often descends into philosophy's answer to Jeremy Kyle, with each vying to accuse the others of the worst crimes in their names. 

Even worse are Twitter debates where the first couple of tweets are regularly followed by accusations that the other person's philosophy inspired the Holocaust.

In the age of Richard Dawkins taking a break from calling for Down Syndrome children to be aborted to devote a couple hundred words to flippantly dismissing St. Thomas Aquinas's Five Ways, it is nice to remember that civil, intellectual and productive debate between believers is possible. And less that seem hypocritical of me, it is also important to note that there are men out there with much finer minds and far less moral stains upon their souls than Tony Blair who can defend the existence of God against devout atheists in the public sphere, as he did with Christopher Hitchens some years ago. 

These sorts of debates should be an opportunity to show the rich intellectual history of Catholicism, not just an opportunity for some to nakedly display the inarticulate post-Vatican II generation.

The link below is the recording of one of a series of BBC Radio debates between Thomist scholar FC Copleston and famous Atheist/Agnostic Bertrand Russell. It is a fascinating listen, not only for content but also in tone and in the manner with which both men have developed their ideas. 
Though, in hindsight, Nazis actually do get brought up in the subject matter so maybe some things never change...




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