The Catholic Church Wants to Debate Atheists… There’s Just One Catch

The Vatican is planning to host a series of debates in Paris next year where atheists will be pitted against the Church’s “top theologians.”

The “Courtyard of the Gentiles”, as the foundation is known, is being set up by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the influential Vatican department that is charged with fostering better relations with non-Catholics. It was founded by Pope John Paul II in 1982 to spearhead his attempts to create a better dialogue with other cultures and faith, including those with no religion at all.

Wouldn’t you love to see Christopher Hitchens in a debate against the best the Catholic Church has to offer?

That’s Pay-per-view right there.

There’s just one catch…

Prominent atheists won’t be allowed to participate.

… In an interview with the National Catholic Register, Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, made it clear he would not be willing to give a platform to certain prominent atheists.

The foundation, he said, would only be interested in “noble atheism or agnosticism, not the polemical kind -– so not those atheists such as [Piergiorgio] Odifreddi in Italy, [Michel] Onfray in France, [Christopher] Hitchens and [Richard] Dawkins”.

Such atheists, he added, only view the truth with “irony and sarcasm” and tend to “read religious texts like fundamentalists”.

In other words, the atheists who make a living out of pointing out the flaws of religion and the church… the ones who debate for a living… they can’t do this because the Catholic representatives would be humiliated.

The people who are allowed to battle their “top theologians” are atheists who have never treated religion with contempt or sarcasm, and who have never read the Bible as if it was to be taken literally (as most Christians do).

This narrows the field down to… *scratches head*….

You know, if you’re trying to reach out to atheists, then go all the way. Don’t say you’re open to dialogue… except with people who already criticize you.

You will never hear a seasoned debater like Dan Barker say he won’t go up against particular Christians.

When you have stronger arguments, it doesn’t matter who your opponents are.

Makes you wonder what the Catholic Church is afraid of.

  • Jenny

    Are you invited? You’re friendly and polite.

  • Bridget

    sigh…not surprising on many levels

  • jemand

    Well, then GET Dan Barker, he wasn’t on the list! Or Greta Christina, or anyone not on that list. There are PLENTY of capable atheist other than those four or five, if 20 atheists all offer to debate, and all are shot down, the church will lose anyway. Better yet, each atheist should offer a list of 2 “top theologians” he or she refuses to debate and give spurious reasons for it to make fun of their stacking the deck.

  • John

    What is the Catholic Church afraid of?? Uh, truth, maybe?

  • http://uiucatheists.blogspot.com Franklin

    When you have stronger arguments, it doesn’t matter who your opponents are.

    I wish this were the case. If it were then atheists would always win debates, which is obviously not the case. Just take a look at the debate at U of I with Loftus versus D’Souza. It should read “When you have stronger arguments and equal debating skills, it doesn’t matter who your opponents are.” Then it would be quite accurate.

  • Evilspud

    There’s an easy solution.

    Pick your average but charismatic and articulate atheist and have him/her be prompted BY prominent atheists.

    I assume that you will be allowed to have your arguments written down and on-hand.

    I’m all for the debate, personally, it would be far more humiliating for the church to be beaten by a stranger.

    I would do it, if the church is willing to pay for my transport, I’m given adequate time to prepare and my opponent speaks english.

    Chicks dig the guys no-named strangers who knock down the establishment.

  • JD

    Maybe Neil deGrasse Tyson?

    I wonder if maybe the article above reads a bit too much into what they’re saying. The examples are people that have a particular level of hostility or animosity that’s above just disagreement. For example, I wonder if Atheists would really want to be on the same stage as someone like Phil Donahue (anti-semite & a pro-Vatican lackey, I’m pretty sure it’s not the former afternoon TV talk show guy).

    How much do debates like this matter? Chance are the partisans won’t change their mind, and those are the people most likely to be watching like it’s a sports rivalry, seeing if their side scores all the points and applause when their side gets in the intellectual equivalent of a zinger. I wonder how many “fence-sitters” would be interested enough to watch a long, dry debate.

  • http://rationallythinkingoutloud.wordpress.com/ Jerrald Hayes

    Wouldn’t the solution to this be to turn the table around on the Church and have atheists to organize and host a series of debates where we would invite the Church’s “top theologians.” and invite the very best they have?

  • ronald

    good luck.

  • Kyle

    After reading just the headline, I was guessing the “catch” was “but you ONLY get to debate with half your brain tied behind your back.”

    Like the average religionist, apparently. Yep, dumb it down.

    I’m all for Barker. He’s very good at what he does and he comes from experience.

  • Andres

    What this leaves is actual atheists familiar with the philosophical literature and who want to engage in rational argumentation rather than, yes, polemics.

    How about Graham Oppy, Kai Nielsen, Paul Kurtz, Paul Vitz, Louise Antony, are among a few.

    Shouldn’t you be happy that the idiots are going to be weeded out and rather leave room for philosophers of religion who can carry out an actual argument rather than the scrambled mess people like Hitchens make when debating people like Craig?

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    JD: I think that’s BILL Donahue. heh.

    Andres: I’d much rather see them debate someone who is willing to point out that the emperor is naked, rather than someone who will debate what sort of fabric the clothes might be made of…

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    @Andres — Who’s to say Barker is an “approved” debater for them?

    Also, there’s a reason it’s a big deal they’re banning those atheists — they’re interesting to listen to.

    I’ve heard philosophical debates with smart debaters. They’re boring as hell and no one will care.

    You get a big name in there — who knows his/her stuff — and people will pay attention.

    And if this isn’t about getting people to tune in to the debate, why do it in the first place?

  • JD

    MikeTheInfidel; Thanks, you’re right. I was trying to figure out why I couldn’t find him. Phil just didn’t seem to be the person, he was quite amicable and reasonable in interviews, Bill was often anything but.

  • MICHAEL GREEN

    I use to be Catholic. It doesn’t surprise me. They’re somewhat “Chicken”. Yet they will bring their “experts” to the fight. GO DAN BARKER, GO !!!!!!!! (maybe we can send cheerleaders to ! )

  • ckitching

    I think they’re just looking for a softball opponent. Templeton fellows would probably be the people they’re looking for, since they’d likely pay the Church the deference they believe they are due. After all, we wouldn’t want anyone feeling like their beliefs are being threatened or challenged, would we?

    Clearly, they wouldn’t want a repeat of this debate from 2009, where the question, “The Catholic church is a force for good in the world” was debated and they lost… badly.

  • http://mx.myspace.com/EdSG EdSG

    “They do not want to see themselves as an object of mission or to give up their freedom of thought and will

    I like my thoughts and will free alright, thankyouverymuch!

    Also, what about sending people from *other* religions? I bet they would receive Deepak Chopra or any Islam apologist with arms wide open right?

  • Kaylya

    I don’t think anywhere near the majority of Christians take the bible “literally”, at least in the sense of treating stuff like Genesis as a history and science textbook that allows us to date the earth at 6000 years old and such. Perhaps in the US, but certainly not worldwide. Catholicism makes up about half of Christians worldwide and they don’t teach that, for one.

  • Justin

    I had to laugh when reading this. Do they honestly think that this is the correct way to conduct a debate?

    Anyway, I don’t think there is anything left to debate. I haven’t seen one original religious argument or one that hasn’t already been addressed(usually demolished) by atheists or agnostics.

    I also love “noble atheism/agnosticism”. I thought we were all horrible sinner who were on a one way trip to hell’s basement, funny to see they think there are nobles amongst us.

  • http://diaphanus.livejournal.com/ Ian Andreas Miller

    Ah, so they’re basically saying, “Hey Atheists! Come debate with our top theologians! Oh, and no fair sending your top atheologians!”

  • http://uiucatheists.blogspot.com Edward of AAF

    “Top Theologian” is a bit like “most renowned astrologist”. Hemant is correct.. the Vatican will pick only the safer and probably super boring (even if competent and skilled) speakers.

  • Catinthewall

    I would love to see this done with proper debating points, a klaxon going off every time they use a logical fallacy. QI meets debate club.

  • lynn

    I would do this.

    My argument would consist of one basic thing: “Where’s the evidence?”

  • Richard Wade

    IT’S A TRAP!
    Admiral Ackbar

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  • http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com Iason Ouabache

    Oh, I know. We can send over Stephen Fry. He’s not a profession atheist, right?

  • Alt+3

    Screw it. You don’t need to go after the scientific illiteracy of the bible. Take the moral high ground. Ask them if hell exists. If yes, they’re sick sociopaths with no moral compass that support an unjust god. If no, then what do we need Jesus for?

  • Andres

    Hemant, yes, Hitchens is interesting to listen to, but because he’s a great wordsmith, he is a journalist after all, but again, if you want to have someone there that will make the best case for Atheism that one can muster, Hitchens is the last person you’d want.

    Why? Because Hitchens doesn’t really make many arguments, he rambles on about the evils of religion which, if the debate is centered around a topic like “Is religion good or evil for the world?” would be a good tactic, but if you’re debating the existence of God, the historicity of certain biblical documents, etc. such an approach would be nothing more than a distraction and irrelevant to the issues at hand.

    Intelligent academics don’t necessarily have to be boring to listen to. William Lane Craig is a prime example of a grade A philosopher who is also fun to listen to and someone who can engage the audience.

    Atheism needs its polemicists to strike a chord with people who are immune to arguments, but atheism is best defended when people are mature enough to leave aside the polemics and finally choose to address the *arguments* themselves.

  • SpencerDub

    Yeah, this is just pathetic.

    I like Jerrald Hayes’ solution: Let’s turn the tables, host our own debate– and invite their very best, no holds barred.

    Of course, we’d probably see the same old arguments, just dressed up in loftier language, but hey, if they want to take the low road, we can take the high road.

    (And we’ll be in Scotland ‘afore them.)

  • Richard Wade

    In other news, Chuck Norris has announced that he will take on all comers in a full contact, no-holds-barred cage match with any patient from the Sunnyville Clinic for Asthmatic and Anemic Paraplegics. None of those professional martial artists who actually can kick serious ass will be considered.

    What the hell is “noble atheism”?

  • Erp

    Ideally we need someone who knows the Catholic positions well and who knows how their theologians think (e.g., a former Catholic theologian or philosopher turned atheistic). Among Americans Daniel Dennett as a professional philosopher may be the best choice.

    Btw [Piergiorgio] Odifreddi of Italy is a mathematician who according to Wikipedia wrote a book “Perché non possiamo essere cristiani (e meno che mai cattolici)”, Longanesi, 2007, ISBN 978-88-304-2427-2 (Why we cannot be Christians (much less Catholics)) (Reading the google translation of the Italian Wikipedia entry certainly shows why the Church doesn’t want him [he seems to be at the Hitchens level of scathingness]; however, he does seem to have Catholic seminary training so he would know Catholic thinking).

    [Michel] Onfray is a French philosopher, atheist, and anarchist. His book “Traité d’Athéologie” was a best seller in both France and Italy.

    (At least is won’t be like the medieval disputations with Jews with the threat of conversion or expulsion hanging over their heads.)

  • JulietEcho

    Richard – I get the impression that a “noble atheist” is allowed to *doubt* theological claims, but not to actually *criticize* them. Ideally, such atheists will also be properly depressed and melancholy about believing that they live in a world without God.

  • Mikey

    Hemant, you can do better than this. This isn’t about winning a debate, it’s about opening up lines of dialogue with other cultures and faiths, including atheists. Do you seriously think that Dawkins or Hitchens are capable of having an open dialogue with people of faith?? That’s why they’re not invited to this debate.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    @Mikey — The word debate is used in the article, first of all.

    Also, Dawkins and Hitchens are both open to dialogue. They always are. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be critical, and they’re both vocal critics.

    The Catholic Church’s intent by doing this is to bring “the Gospel back to Western societies that have lost their Christian identity.”

    Well, if that’s their goal, they should be open to rebuttals. And there are many atheists who can do a good job of this, including Hitchens and Dawkins.

  • beanfeast

    I feel we should be treading somewhat carefully on this issue since there are a number of examples out there of atheists laying ground rules for debates.

    I know that Richard Dawkins and Stephen J. Gould refuse/d to debate creationsts/IDers. A quick search shows Dr. Nicholas Gotelli refusing to debate creationists and an NPR transcript where Eugenie Scott explains why you shouldn’t debate scientific ideas. I am certain I have come across other instances too.

    As rationalists, I feel we should not be accusing others of faults we are clearly demonstrating ourselves.

  • Richard Wade

    How about faux atheist S.E.Cupp? She believes in this, she believes in that,… The Catholic theologian heavyweights would be very confused at first, but we’d end up seeing a hilarious conversion right on the spot. The comedic value would be worth watching what otherwise will be a futile waste of breath.

  • Richard Wade

    JulietEcho,
    Oh I see. Thanks. So a “noble atheist” is someone who doesn’t believe but really wishes he did, so he’s listening intently for any tiny shred of convincing argument from his opponent, and isn’t going to knock down and stomp on the fallacious arguments. How noble.

    If it airs during the Chuck Norris/asthmatic anemic paraplegic cage match, I might have to miss the debate. Darn.

  • Andres

    Dan Dennett would be an awful choice. His field of specialty is Philosophy of Mind, not Philosophy of Religion. The fact that he got the Cosmological argument so horribly wrong in his book suggests he honestly doesn’t do much reading on the arguments at all.

    Again, there are plenty of intelligent people who not only are able to debate intelligently, but are also able to have *dialogue* that won’t stoop to cheap shots like Hitchens and Dawkins love to do.

  • http://aboutkitty.blogspot.com/ Cat’s Staff

    Such atheists, he added, only view the truth with “irony and sarcasm” [...]

    I’m reminded of the Jefferson Quote…

    “Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus.”

  • fritzy

    Go ahead and let them set their rediculous ground rules. With each potential debater they exclude, the power of their apoligetics is dulled. This is an institution quickly digging it’s own grave.

  • SickoftheUS

    Dawkins and others who avoid dealing with creationists are entirely justified, I believe, and don’t present a situation parallel to what the Catholics are doing here. The creationists have to be cut off because they attempt to score points with the public by constantly trying to wear down prominent atheists through repetition and low-quality “arguments” – like telemarketers who never give up calling. This Church-sponsored event, on the other hand, will be somewhat unique, insofar as they open any dialogue at all with opponents, and atheists certainly don’t have a history of pestering or flooding the Church’s public dialogues – because they don’t exist.

    Dawkins is a halfway decent writer and definitely an intelligent academic with excellent arguments, more than capable of being a good representative for atheists here.

  • jon

    I would love to see Dan barker and Matt Dillahunty take them on. Matt from The Atheist Experience is pretty damn good with his arguments.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    “Top theologians”? “the best the Catholic Church has to offer”?

    Not setting the bar very high are they?

  • trixr4kids

    Hemant, most Christians do not take the Bible literally.

    Andres, have you actually read Dawkins? He does not take “cheap shots”. He may sometimes call bullshit on duplicitous creationists, but he is perfectly civil toward (honest) believers.

  • littlejohn

    Michael Shermer is an inoffensive guy who can hold his own with anyone. He is mostly known for debating creationists and Holocaust deniers, so he might not scare them. And he likes to debate.
    Plan two: Fit Hitchens with dark glasses and a false mustache and introduce him as Professor Thomas Aquinas Smith of Holyroller Baptist Seminary. Of course Hitch would have to disquise his Scotch in a coffee cup.

  • Bráulio

    I would loooove to see the pope on a debate!!!

  • Casimir

    but atheism is best defended when people are mature enough to leave aside the polemics and finally choose to address the *arguments* themselves.

    All right, I’ll bite. What arguments have not been addressed?

  • Greg

    Andres:

    William Lane Craig is a prime example of a grade A philosopher who is also fun to listen to and someone who can engage the audience.

    Was that tongue in cheek?

    The only fun I’ve ever had listening to WLC was when I played a logical fallacy drinking game.

    I didn’t feel great the next day mind.

    WLC intentionally obfuscates what he is saying to try to disguise just how poor/non-existent his arguments are.

  • Lou

    Too bad fight “fixing” is only illegal in boxing.

  • http://www.decrepitoldfool.com george.w

    I can see where it might not be productive no matter who takes part. Online I’ve been debating an old friend of mine from college; he became a minister and I turned out to be a bad ‘ol atheist. For months this has gone on. We keep slugging it out, but if it were a real fistfight neither one of us would have survived the opening rounds.

    Particularly frustrating is that he says I misunderstand science, history, and theology.

  • http://thoughtfulfaith.wordpress.com Chucky

    Richard Dawkins refuses to debate philosophers – which is convenient because it excludes him from having to debate WLC, or pretty much anyone else who would take him apart. If you’re going to accuse people of avoiding obvious debates, I think you should start a little closer to home.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    Dawkins doesn’t debate philosophers because it’s pointless to argue for or against the existence of something on a basis other than evidence.

  • jcm

    Sounds like a perfect opportunity for SE Cupp to shine.

  • http://krissthesexyatheist.blogspot.com krissthesexyatheist

    I’ll do it.

  • Peregrine

    There are obviously those among us who enjoy a good debate. I am not one of them. I tend to avoid debates if I can. Formal debates aren’t my forte, and they seldom accomplish anything. So I ain’t biting.

    If they’d proposed something along the lines of a “dialogue”, a “conversation,” an “Open discussion”, a “round table”, or something like that, then I might be tempted.

  • Aguz

    Really? You know, those four are not the best we have to offer.
    My vote goes to some cool agnostic like Neil deGrasse Tyson or some philosopher like Dan Dennett.
    What about James Randy? He’s cool and isn’t included on the list LOL

  • Peregrine

    Why are we operating under the assumption that there’s a list? Let’s read that list again, shall we?

    The foundation, [...] would only be interested in “noble atheism or agnosticism, not the polemical kind – so not those atheists such as [Piergiorgio] Odifreddi in Italy, [Michel] Onfray in France, [Christopher] Hitchens and [Richard] Dawkins”.

    The key phrase is “not those atheists such as”, implying that the list in the article is not a complete list of persona non grata; just an example of the type of famous “polemical” atheists that the church isn’t interested in debating with.

    They probably don’t have an official “list”. If they do, I haven’t found it yet. But I’d imagine if someone like PZ Myers were to step up, he’d probably be instantly recognized, and turned away at the door. Probably Harris and Dennett too, I’d imagine.

  • Carol B

    I nominate my husband! I tried playing the Christian theologian part today, and he shot me down right and left. Eh, his logic! His maddening insistence on “evidence.” Damn, he’s infuriating. ;-)

  • Justin

    This is nothing more than attitude inoculation. They will, of course, screen any atheist contender, and only debate people they know they can beat. Their followers can then consider the issue dead, and automatically dismiss any atheist argument without even listening.

    Honesty and the Catholic Church are like oil and water.

  • Dan W

    I’m willing to bet the Catholic Church would make sure that the atheists they allow to debate their “top theologians” are atheists that are not particularly good debaters anyway. This sounds like an attempt to stack the deck with people who will most likely lose against their theologians. Then the Catholic Church could claim that their pathetic, tired old arguments have merit.

  • http://www.quietatheist.com Slugsie

    Makes you wonder what the Catholic Church is afraid of.

    No, not really. It’s very obvious what they’re afraid of.

  • balcerman

    There is no need to involve top theologians in the debate with Richard Dawkins. Even I can do it…

  • http://notidentical.blogspot.com BH

    Why are we entertaining the idea of anyone working with the Catholic church? I know it’s fallacious to say so, but until they voluntarily hand over the people responsible for child abuse and its covering-up to civil authorities, until they allow women into meaningful authority positions, and until they stop endorsing misinformation about AIDs relief efforts in Africa, the church has nothing to say to me and in my opinion shouldn’t get to debate at the adults table.

  • Franklin

    get matt dillahunty

  • christopher

    like is a islamic cleric saying, I will debate any atheist, except those who do not love Muhammad

  • Mariana

    The proportion of Christians who are ‘fundamentalists’ is actually anything but the majority. Especially considering the Catholic Church, the largest denomination, does not teach Bible literalism.

    So there wouldn’t be Bible literalists on either side of this hypothetical debate, thank you very much.

  • Zer0

    The Vatican should try debating some of these facts…

    http://gatelessgate.wordpress.com/category/christianity-the-deadliest-poison/

    http://gatelessgate.wordpress.com/category/a-witch-wise-woman/

    “You have to be blind to be a Catholic.

    If your eyes open, it becomes impossible for you to remain confined to superstitions, lies of all kinds, and to go on believing in fictions when your intelligence raises doubts.

    The Catholic religion is such a poor religion; it has no arguments.

    They are standing on fictitious ground. They have no argument for existing anymore; they cannot provide any reason why they are needed.

    Who will be the pope when there is no God? What will be his position?

    God is the central focus of the whole fiction. Remove that central idea and the whole palace made of playing cards simply falls on the ground.

    All the basic foundations of the religion are so poor, indefensible.

    The virgin birth of Jesus Christ… there is no way to prove it; it is so unscientific. The concept of God as a trinity: God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost… and this “holy ghost” made the poor girl Mary, Jesus’ mother, pregnant – without any license – and still he is holy? Then what is unholy? And in this trinity there is no place for any woman?

    The pope pretends to be infallible. He has to pretend it, because the logic is that he represents Jesus Christ: if he is fallible then Jesus Christ is fallible. Jesus Christ represents God: if he is fallible then God is fallible. To make God infallible you have to make Popes infallible, for the sheer sake of logic – it has no existential truth in it.

    They are keeping people in every way retarded just so that they can exploit them.

    And they have been exploiting for centuries. They have repeated their lies so often that they almost appear as truths.

    Your church demands of you, never to doubt – that is the greatest sin.

    But intelligence never grows without doubting, without questioning. It is the natural growth of intelligence to question. Just to believe means the intelligence need not grow – for what and why? There is nothing to seek and nothing to search for, you simply have faith in the priest and keep your eyes closed.

    Catholicism cannot live without the concept of sin, because sin is the technique of creating guilt in people.

    Do you understand the whole strategy of sin and guilt. Unless you make a person feel guilty, you cannot enslave him psychologically. It is impossible to imprison him in a certain ideology, a certain belief system. But once you have created guilt in his mind, you have taken all that is courageous in him. You have destroyed all that is adventurous in him. You have repressed all possibility of his ever being an individual in his own right.

    If people start talking to themselves you call them mad, but if they say they are doing prayer you call them great saints, religious people.

    These are also mad because there is no God, no evidence, no proof.

    But they raise their eyes towards the sky, hoping that, sitting on a golden throne, God is listening.. Either he must have gone mad and jumped out of his golden throne or committed suicide. Nobody’s prayer is ever heard and nobody’s prayer is ever answered – all your prayers are monologues.

    All the morality – also called religious discipline – is nothing but to keep people in control.

    Be in your own control, take responsibility in your own hands.

    Can you think that if you had been left alone by your parents and the society, without any imposition to be a Catholic, you would have been a Catholic?

    Conversion is a beautiful name for spiritual enslavement.

    A single Catholic emperor, Constantine, killed ten thousand people in a single day. He just called an assembly of all those who were not Catholics in a great auditorium in Rome, and ordered the army to kill everybody: “We don’t want anybody other than Christians in Rome.” He forced the whole of Italy to become Christian… just at the point of a sword.

    The whole history of Christianity is of wars and nothing else – killing and violence.

    All the mystics of the world, of all the ages, are agreed on one point, that truth cannot be brought down to the level of language. All the theologians are doing just the opposite. All the mystics are agreed that there is no way of organizing truth, it is a love affair between the individual and existence; you cannot organize it.

    No priests are needed, no theologians are needed, no churches are needed.

    Religion is absolutely personal. It does not involve anybody else but you.

    The whole idea that somebody else can represent the truth, the experience of somebody else, is basically false. Either you know the truth or you don’t know it. Those who know it will not represent anybody else. Those who do not know it, their representation is a lie, is a fundamental falsehood. They are pretending to be somebody they are not…”

    Osho – Socrates Poisoned Again After 25 Centuries

  • colin

    Let’s send Stephen Colbert. It would be funny at least.

  • Mark Brighten

    I think it’s because they alrdy know the viewpoint of these guys, no way are they stacking the deck in any way. They want to see the viewpoint of the everyday atheist who is respectful enough and smart enough to feel comfortable in debating this subject with a “Top Theologian”

  • Rosanna

    Look, I’m a believer but I follow this blog because I like so many of the things you said, how you fight against intolerance, for example.

    But you try for a moment to reverse the roles. Imagine that you organize a conference to debate with Catholic apologists. Would you be interested in hearing “arguments” from people who only knows how to mock and belittle? I doubt! You would want serious, logical objections, definitely NOT people trying to put you in jail because you don’t think the way he likes (read: Dawkins, who applies tolerance from Christians to Atheists, but somehow doesn’t show the same respect when the roles are reversed — and so does Odifreddi).

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  • Peggy

    With all the conniving and complaining, I would say that you all are the ones that are afraid of not being able to debate. Surely, there is not only a handful of people that are atheist that can hold a debate. If that is the case, then you are the ones that are in trouble. And, the comment re the Pope being infallible is the stupidest argument I have ever heard. Obviously written by someone who only thinks that he knows about the church. What a crock. Thank God I am Catholic and proud of it and as far as women in the church go, we love it. The Church supports women in many endeavors as well as they place women on a pedestal and appreciate all their attributes.

  • Jude

    Hi…with all due respect you should be honest or better informed. When you claim that most Christians believe the Bible is to be taken literally you are misleading your readers. Catholics (more than half of Christians) do not take the Bible literally. If your proposed debate participants do not grasp this either, then the debate will be a waste of time, no? I would love to see a respectful (any atheists respectful these days?) debate on the existance of God…you know…Natural Law and all that stuff. But seeing arrogant atheists insult “stupid” Christians doesn’t do much for me. 

  • John

    And we wonder why Hitchens was afraid to debate Patrick Madrid or Tim staples ( members of catholic answers http://forums.catholic.com ) in a public setting.


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