#QANDA Cardinal Pell vs Dawkins Bingo Card

About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.

  • StevoR

    Great bingo card there – may have to print that out & turn into a drinking game! ;-)

    I can’t wait to watch the debate & see if any of my questions get asked! Sadly, they don’t even appear to have turned up on the list yet despite trying to ask them on their website (& fb page) all morning. Very frustrating. :-(

    My questions FWIW are :

    ***

    1.Modern astronomy and cosmology tell us we live in a cosmos that is about 14 billion years old, full of millions of galaxies each holding hundreds of billions of stars and no doubt even more planets with our own Milky Way Galaxy being 100,000 light years wide and containing 200-400 billion stars incl. our Sun. Doesn’t this modern scientific understanding make the Biblical God obsessed with one species on one planet seem very small, parochial and bronze-age?

    2. Cardinal Pell, you believe in a God that you claim is all-knowing and all-powerful, able to see into everyone’s hearts and judge them – so why then would your God “call” so many child-molesters to the priesthood and why would your God NOT prevent his priests from molesting the children (and sometimes the adult women too) of their flock?

    3. Question for Richard Dawkins – have you apologised to Rebecca Watson for your “Dear Muslima” sexist and trivialising rant in the “elevator-gate” firestorm in the atheist community yet and do you accept that there is a problem of sexism in the atheist community?

    4. Does anyone really believe in Papal infallibility & does anyone *really* think that in a 100, 500 or thousand years time the Catholic Church will still be refusing to allow women priests, abortion (i.e. women the right to control their own bodies) and equal marriage rights for all including those other than just heterosexuals?

    5. Is the Catholic Church misogynist and homophobic and how does it show it isn’t given the behaviour and statements of its leaders?

    *****
    But I bet they won’t get asked. Sigh.

    • Jonathan Baker

      Sorry they weren’t asked. I am a Catholic. I hope you don’t mind if I have a go.

      1. That one species happens to include me and you, so yeah, that’s pretty important. I’m sure Marsic and Mekbuta (both stars) are important to a couple of astronomers somewhere, but frankly they don’t make much difference to my day. People, especially those very close to me, do. Sorry if that’s too bronze-agey.

      2. This is ultimately the question of sin (evil if you prefer) in all its ugly manifestations, so in a sense it was raised tonight. The Cardinal agreed that this (and its corollary, suffering) is the most difficult question facing theists, and pointed out that the reverses: the question of truth, goodness and beauty is in many way the ultimate question for atheists.

      In general terms, evil is obviously a consequence of human freedom. You are right to be angry by evil in the Church. As the dictum says, “corruptio optimi pessima”, that is, the corruption of the best things are the worst. It may be true, that God “called” some who he knew would betray him (eg Judas), but I think it more likely that most of the molesting priests were not called at all. I don’t want to downplay the serious nature of the particular sicknesses of pedophilia or ephebophilia, but we do need to remember that the incidence in the priesthood is actually lower than the incidence at the population at large. It is indeed a serious problem – to paint it purely as an internal Church problem is, however, to be unjust. Many people with this sort of deviancy seek out places of trust and clearly the priesthood is one of these, but the incidence with teachers, doctors, social workers etc… is also high.

      3. – not applicable –

      4. I believe in Papal Infallibility (I very much doubt you understand what that means, though – big hint: if you think it means that the pope never makes any mistakes or can’t sin you are wrong on both counts). I also think that women’s ordination will never happen in the Catholic Church, for reasons that have nothing whatsover to do with justice. I am equally certain that leadership roles for women will and should be introduced. That is a separate issue.

      I disagree that abortion is women controlling their own bodies, but women destroying the bodies of other men and women, and believe that the Church will continue to teach this for a long time. I think the way you have framed it, the question is a simple biological one. Every cell in the baby has different DNA from the mother: it is not up for debate that we are dealing with a different person.

      There are many different social realities in the world – you can start a club any time you like. The reason why the state endorses and supports marriage is because a stable union of man and women is the best protection for the raising of their natural offspring, and worthy of the state’s protection. That is the only reason why the state OUGHT to support it. If you want to live with your same sex partner that’s a totally separate issue, and as the law stands now, there is nothing to stop you.

      5. You might be surprised to hear that from the very beginning (and especially then) women were more attracted to the Catholic Church than men, mainly because they felt supported. I think it difficult to show that the Church HATES women.

      If by homophobic you mean that the Church thinks that homosexuality is not God’s plan for any human being, then yes she is homophobic. However this issue is a very complex one, and should not be seen purely in such stark terms. The official church has often spoken out affirming the dignity and worth of every human being, whatever their race, creed, sexual orientation, or age (born or unborn).

      I don’t expect you to agree with the statements I have expressed. That’s fine, you’re not Catholic. My question to you is this: should questions like this be open to debate or not? If so, why can’t the Cardinal have his opinion? If not, why not?
      Thanks.

      • Andy

        …”the question of truth, goodness and beauty is in many way the ultimate question for atheists.”

        How is the ultimate question? In what way do these things present any sort of challenge to people who just don’t happen to believe in a creator?

        Rocks exist, water exists, fleas exist. “Truth” exists for many matters while for others it’s not relevant.

        “Goodness and beauty” exist in the sense that they basically are human constructs – but they differ throughout the species.

        These things might challenge atheists is atheism, like religion, was founded on the notion of purpose, but it isn’t.

        • Andy

          Please forgive my typos for I know not what I do.

      • ‘Tis Himself

        That one species happens to include me and you, so yeah, that’s pretty important. I’m sure Marsic and Mekbuta (both stars) are important to a couple of astronomers somewhere, but frankly they don’t make much difference to my day. People, especially those very close to me, do. Sorry if that’s too bronze-agey.

        Good job on dodging the question. That’s the sort of thing we expect from a Christian, especially a Catholic, apologist. Now would you try to answer why, out of the trillions of planets circling the trillions of stars in the billions of galaxies in the vast universe, your god cares about this particular one?

        It may be true, that God “called” some who he knew would betray him (eg Judas), but I think it more likely that most of the molesting priests were not called at all.

        The No True Scotsman logical fallacy raises its head. Why am I not surprised?

        It is indeed a serious problem – to paint it purely as an internal Church problem is, however, to be unjust. Many people with this sort of deviancy seek out places of trust and clearly the priesthood is one of these, but the incidence with teachers, doctors, social workers etc… is also high.

        There’s a major difference between child-raping priests and other pedophiles. When the employers of other pedophiles discover what their employees are doing, they usually call the police or other appropriate civil authorities. When the Catholic hierarchy discovers a child-raping priest, it’s three Hail Marys, three Our Fathers, and a transfer to a new parish. If the Catholic Church turned over child-raping priests to the authorities, then when one was found, nobody would be upset at the Church. But since it’s official Church policy to support and protect CHILD RAPISTS while simultaneously pretending to be “the moral authority on Earth”, people get angry at the Church’s obvious hypocrisy.

        I think it difficult to show that the Church HATES women.

        Of course the Church hates women. What’s the number one requirement to be a priest? Have a penis. Are women allowed to use contraception? Not according to the male professional virgins who run the Church. What’s their authority for this refusal? Another male professional virgin decided Baby Jesus cries when a woman takes the pill. Of course the Church hates men almost as much as women. Baby Jesus cries whenever a man puts on a condom. And as I’ve already show, the Church really hates children. But it likes child rape, since it goes out of its way to do anything and everything to protect child rapists.

        • Jonathan Baker

          Very quickly:

          I was not dodging the question. To spell it out: this planet has beings capable of loving God freely – so far as we know, the only one – so of course it is important.

          I was merely musing about vocation possibilities that I have no more knowledge about than you do. Hardly a philosophical fallacy!

          The Church encourages accusers or those with information about abuse to go to the police. Even if it didn’t, it certainly couldn’t prevent them from doing this. I accept that historically the problem is more complex (in every way, including the psychological understanding of the problem – many times bishops would send priests for counselling and be told that they had been ‘cured’).

          So the Church hates men, women and children, in fact everyone except rapists? Even you, looking from the outside, clearly not understanding most of what you are criticising, must realise that you’ve got the story just a little bit wrong….

          • Andy

            This planet has beings capable of loving Santa freely – so far as we know, the only Santa – so of course that is important too.

            Or were you referring to Krishna? Or Isis? Zeus? Xenu? Or any one of the several hundred other “only one” gods that litter human history – none of which are “known” in the normal sense of the word?

          • Jonathan Baker

            Andy, the question I was answering is why the Biblical God is so interested in the Earth. I don’t pretend to answer for Santa, Krishna, Isis or even you for that matter.

            To my knowledge, apart from a short period in Egypt, the only religions claiming “only one” God are the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Mohammedism & Christianity).

            The Christian God is certainly “known” in the normal sense of the word. The whole point of the Incarnation was that Jesus would become “one of us” and therefore the infinite God could beocome knowable in our limited human way based on sense perception.

            In another sense, however, you are right. In fact, none of us can know another person fully – we don’t even fully know (in the sense of understand) ourselves! St. Thomas Aquinas was not frightened to affirm that the idea we have of God is necessarily so limited as to be almost totally false. This is simply because of the limits of our intelligence compared to the infinity of God. Hence the need for revelation which is most manifest in the person of Jesus as found in the New Testament.

          • Andy

            So Bumba is out then?

            Surely even just two gods is one too many for there to be only one?

  • Ned Champlain

    Loveit

  • StevoR

    Also looking forward to watching Dawkins – & the audience – tearing Pell a new one (or five!) :-)

  • StevoR

    It’s probably too late but if folks are interested & want to contribute, this person (FearBlandness) :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZppvpepYMMs&feature=related

    is asking for help & will be in the audience I think.

    • Seth_S

      Rats – you beat me to linking FB’s channel. :)

  • http://thouwinterwind.wordpress.com Winterwind

    Great bingo card.

    I just caught the last twenty minutes of the programme. I was looking forward to seeing Dawkins rip into Pell. Sadly, as time went on I just felt sorry for the archbishop. He seems to have aged a great deal. He rambled, was slow and unconvincing, and seemed like he didn’t even believe what he was saying. Dawkins deserved a better opponent.

    Will watch the whole thing later.

    • Jonathan Baker

      I have to agree that the debate was disappointing. I found neither speaker in top form, despite some great moments – like when the Cardinal quoted the page number where Darwin affirms his belief in theism, and showing that he knew more about the physicist’s book on the origin of the universe than Dawkins.

      What amazes me is that they are really talking two different languages and it is nearly impossible to translate from one to the other. FWIW I think the Cardinal at least makes an attempt, which is why he can sound stilted at times; Dawkins rarely bothers, though I thought his seemingly genuine intrigue with the Catholic notion of bodily resurrection a rare exception.

      • Andy

        I think Pell might have been slightly over-selling Darwin’s conviction by mentioning page 92

        Sure, he concludes with “…I deserve to be called a Theist”

        But on page 93 we find (my bolding)…

        “This conclusion was strong in my mind about the time, as far as I can remember, when I wrote the Origin of Species; and it is since that time that it has very gradually with many fluctuations become weaker. But then arises the doubt—can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animal, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions? May not these be the result of the connection between cause and effect which strikes us as a necessary one, but probably depends merely on inherited experience? Nor must we overlook the probability of the constant inculcation in a belief in God on the minds of children producing so strong and perhaps an inherited effect on their brains not yet fully developed, that it would be as difficult for them to throw off their belief in God, as for a monkey to throw off its instinctive fear and hatred of a snake.”

  • Cal

    I’m just surprised at how few of them I crossed off! Dawkins definitely made a better showing than Pell, I have to say…

  • Andy

    I was disappointed that no one picked up on Pell saying there needs to be a Hell because Hitler “shouldn’t get away with it” – but then going on to say, twice, that he hopes there’s nobody in Hell.

    If he thinks Hitler should be punished in Hell, why does he also hope that isn’t happening?

    • Jonathan Baker

      Good comment, Andy!
      I have to admit that you are right.
      There is a tension between justice and mercy and we hope on the latter!


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