Skip to comments.Richard Dawkins in debate with Archbishop of Sydney George Pell
Posted on 04/10/2012 12:57:08 AM PDT by iowamark
Atheist Richard Dawkins is in Australia this week for the Global Atheist Convention which started in Melbourne on Good Friday, and on Monday night the academic faced up against Archbishop of Sydney George Pell, the highest ranked clergyman in Australia, in a televised debate on faith and religion.
Pell, the Australian cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church in Australia, who has served in his position since 2001, took on Dawkins in a Q&A session hosted by ABC TV. Journalist Tony Jones moderated the debate, which he predicted would be an intense encounter between the two prominent figures.
''This is a remarkable match-up -- a title fight of belief,'' Jones said, according to the Canberra Times.
As expected, the debate was a largely evenly-matched affair, but the audience at the end gave the edge to Dawkins, author of the bestselling book, The God Delusion.
"Billed as a kind of final countdown, a day of reckoning for the chattering classes, the exchange was often not much better than a feral snarl-off. Pell ran circles around his own arguments (frequently of the how-many-angels-can-you-fit-on-the-head-of-a-pin type) while Dawkins threatened to bite off the heads of those in the audience who dared titter at his crisp assertions of scientific verity. 'What,' he snapped more than once. 'Why is that funny?,'" The Age shared.
The television program also conducted a poll beforehand, in which 76 percent of the 20,000 Australian respondents apparently voted that religious belief does not make the world a better place.
Archbishop Pell was given the early lead in terms of points by the audience when he highlighted that science could not answer some of life's most profound questions, such as "why are we here."
"The question why is not necessarily a question that deserves to be answered," Dawkins fired back. "'What is the purpose of the universe?' is a silly question."
According to the report, Pell started losing points when the debate turned to evolution, and he mistakenly said that humans probably descended from Neanderthals. Dawkins was quick to correct him that Neanderthals are only considered cousins of the human lineage, as opposed to direct ancestors.
Secularism in Australia has grown significantly in the past century, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, citing that in 1901, a census found less than one percent of Australians said they belonged to no religion, but by 2006 that number had risen to 18.7 percent.
The Global Atheist Convention may significantly be coinciding with one of the holiest Christian holidays of the year, Easter, but several Australian churches made sure their voices were heard by writing an open letter addressed to Dawkins and nailing it outside their buildings.
The letter apparently challenges some of the famed atheist's most prominent beliefs which he penned in The God Delusion. Among the biggest points the letter argues is the historical evidence for the life and death of Jesus Christ, which Dawkins denies. The churches also challenged the notion that the universe has ''no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but pitiless indifference'' and the assumption that religion is '"a significant force for evil in the world."
Dawkins has never held back when pointing fingers at religion, and at one of his most recent public speeches, at the Reason Rally in Washington D.C. in March, called for atheists to outright target and mock religious people.
"Do you really believe, for example if they're Catholic, that when a priest blesses a wafer, it turns into the body of Christ?," Dawkins professed.
He added, "Mock them, ridicule them in public. Don't fall for the convention that we're all too polite to talk about religion."
In it one of the scientists says something to the effect that the organism causing the illness has no amino acids and can therefore not be alive! The other scientist says something to the effect of “yes, but look at it's crystalline structure, I've theorized life can begin this way.”
I heard with my own two ears Dawkins use the exact crystal line from the movie when asked how life began. I got a good laugh because supposedly the “worlds most famous Atheist” gets his one liners from mediocre 70’s Sci-Fi movies. Next he'll tell us we're made up of an offshoot of Dilithium Crystals!
Anyways, this is like watching mixed martial arts (MMA). I am an avid watcher of MMA and have been involved in one martial arts or the other since 2nd grade (more recently a mix between traditional XingYi and reality based Kali). As a lover of MMA I have always seen people ask silly questions like 'if Krav Maga is so good why don't you see people using Krav Maga at the UFC?' Silly question because the UFC has certain rules that work best if you are using a system based on Muay Thai/kickboxing type striking and Sambo/BrazilianJujitsu/wrestling type grappling.
What's the point of all that? Well, basically if you are going to participate in something (be it an intellectual argument, a financial bid for a merchant banking transaction, or a joust on horseback) you have to ascertain that the rules do not work against you! If you use boxing in a judo match you will lose - no matter how good a pugilist you are! Same thing if you use judo in a boxing match in Vegas - you could be the reincarnation of Jigoro Kano himself and you will lose! The rules are against you.
The Christian took on the Atheist on a platform that used the rules of the world. There was no chance of winning unless the Lord did a direct miracle.
And shunting this to politics - it makes me wonder about Romney vs Obama using Obama-rules. It is like attacking me in my dreams - where I am a deity and can control the very fabric of that reality. A liberal-lite versus a liberal? May not end up well for Romney (you can almost feel the electricity in the ether as the Obama machine spools up for a thrust at Romney). Oh, and I realized last week Romney is not a RINO. Be is a Republican. It is us Conservatives who are RINOs - Republicans in name only because the GOP is actually FAR to the Left of where the Democrat party was in the 1960s.
Anyways, staying on thread. It is prudent to understand the rules of the joust. This one was oriented for the Atheist.
Cardinal Pell apparently accepts the theory of evolution as valid, but he certainly is not an expert in it, nor does his role require that he be. Dawkins seized on this error about current scientific viewpoints to attack a clergyman who accepts evolution - rather clearly indicating that his real purpose is to attack religion and the religious on general principle rather than actually really discovering or promotion any sort of truth.
Mr Dawkins must be a sad and perplexed individual.
I can’t understand why members of the clergy would enter into this type discussion as their position is based on faith, not verifiable fact. One simply cannot debate faith from an objective perspective as it is an entirely subjective thing.
“Mr Dawkins must be a sad and perplexed individual.”
I don’t mind having debates/discussions about various aspects of religion, but I always strive to keep things civil and I do respect views other than mine. But why do people like Richard Dawkins have to be such tools about it?
Some pretty nasty things have been done under the banner of religion, but than again there have been some pretty nasty atheists in history (Stalin and Mao I’m looking at you).
Well Dorkins....it seems recent DNA data finds Neanderthal to have interbred with European and Asian peoples in recent (30,000-40,000 years)...which most likely explains the intellectual advances of those peoples...
even if he is right, faith is a comfort to most people...and as nature abhors a vacuum and he is too cowardly to try to convert Islamics to his atheism, all he does by destroying western religion is to open the door to Islam and Sharia law to fill the gap...and eventually make it a criminal offense to believe in another religion or to believe in no religion.
Way to go Dorkins.
Perhaps those who are willing to enter this type of discussion don't believe, as you do, that it IS entirely subjective.
you go that right....faith in Christ is not just some feeling, it is based on historical facts, including the greatest we celebrated a few days ago, the resurrection and triumph over death....
im so tired of faith being ‘subjective’, and treated like a poor red headed stepchild to some atheist’s supposed and assumed ‘facts’ of science so-called.
You may be right, I hadn’t allowed for them being wrong! :)
I suppose “wrong” means “objectively” wrong.