In case you haven't seen it, the BBC hosted the Intelligence Squared Debate, which pitted Christopher Hitchens and actor/writer Stephen Fry against Archbishop John Onaiyekan and MP Ann Widdecombe from the Catholic Church. The subject was the motion "The Catholic Church is a force for good in the world". A vote was taken before the debate and another taken at the end. The results of the final vote were astonishing.

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hear hear!
The depravity of the church goes beyond the acts of abuse, it's the cover up and moving around of known abusers. The Church hierarchy is complicent (sp?)
Not only are Catholic churches often near schools, many of them operate schools. A former co-worker of mine was a Catholic. I heard him talking on the phone with his ex-wife one day and he said "I want my daughter to get a Catholic education". Note that he didn't say a good education, but a Catholic education.
I agree. It wasn't much of a 'debate'. But I was blown away but the outcome of the votes at the end. I was honestly expecting that the only difference would be that a few of the undecideds had picked a side. I wish that the Archbishop and Ms. Widdecombe put up a bit more of a fight. They seemed ill prepared for a debate. Hitchens and Fry dominated them, which I loved (I would not like to watch a debate where I felt the atheists had lost) but it would of been more interesting if they had been a bit more prepared.
The Catholic proponents had the last two decades to prepare a defense for such a debate. The fact is, there is no defense against the issues brought up. The Church has tolerated the sexual abuse of children, the castigation of homosexuals and the denial of contraceptives and condoms to women and the needy for centuries. How can anyone mount a defense against such a blatant, dogmatic and reprehensible display of criminal irresponsibility. Thanks to more than two decades of the liberalization of the media, the Church is ever-increasingly caught in the spotlight of public scrutiny. The Pope and his toadies have nowhere to hide. It's no wonder that their proponents could do naught but obfuscate and engage in self-righteous posturing.
He should have instead debated Alister McGrath. Now that would have been a more even match. Though I reject Alistair's theism, I respect his criticism of Atheism when certain Atheists lose their grip on simple things like right and wrong. He makes poignant and convincing arguments that there are plenty of flawed theists and atheists in history to go around. Objectively speaking I agree.
I read the "Twilight of Atheism"' after I read "The God Delusion".
that's stupid. I object to the idea that anyone knows what is truly "right and wrong." To me, atheists are all the more moral than theists because they actively pursue what is moral and why and don't settle for easy answers like theists do.

When a theist tells me that atheists don't know what's right or wrong, I always get pissed because their argument is unfounded, confirmation biased, and hypocritical.

I don't respect that argument at all. Would you mind sending me an article or something about this guy's support for his ideas? i don't understand how that argument could be all that intelligent.

Furthermore, you can't pick on a small portion of a group and claim that the group has no integrity. Atheists have more of almost everything considered "moral" by theists than they do. The logic just isn't there.
As a former theist, I had to take the "infallibility" of a Pope, and "infallibility" of the revealed knowledge of God's will through the Bible. Therefore I apologize for my low threshold for reading things like "To me, atheists are all the more moral than theists...".

The "morality" of an individual does not rest on the system of morality's underpinning their value system, whether based on mythical or fact based systems. It has to do with the person, the character of the individual.

I considered myself to have been a "moral" x-tian in the past, and still consider myself to be a "moral" atheist in the present. NEITHER system has anything to do with my good character. They are mutually exclusive.
"These books, aside from having a few basic rules that every culture tends to follow, are a terrible source for morality"

I think that's much too subjective of you, Duane, although I agree for the most part.

Morality is, of course, extremely relative. At most, you can say that theist morality is antiquated, ineffective, and hypocritical.

Atheists tend to be more stable, levelheaded, and reasonable. If that is your definition of morality then it is simply your definition. It certainly is mine, but I don't pretend that I have absolute truth.

For sure, the pursuit of reason in morality promotes the future instead of being stuck 2000 years in the past.
Hitchens does it again ;O)

Keeping in mind this version on YouTube is edited, one thing I noted is something Stephen Fry brought up so eloquently in his closing comments: That it's like someone whining, "Of course you would bring up that burglary I committed, that murder, that rape, but you're completely ignoring the fact that I got my father a birthday present." This goes hand-in-hand with the other part of Fry's closing comments that Whitcombe made the argument that these past atrocities are indeed in the past; they reflected the societies of their times and do not apply to modern society.

Or as Fry said again so eloquently, "'We couldn't know better because nobody else did.' Well then what are you FOR?!?" An audience member asked the Catholic side along these same lines, "Either your doctrine/ideology is eternal or it is not."

One of so many prime elements that eventually drove me away from the faith from a conscience point of view is just that: The standard answer to past Christian/Church atrocities as saying, "Oops, we made a mistake. We know better now."

A) The audience member is right. Either our beliefs are eternal or they are not.

B) The Christians of the Dark Ages certainly thought they knew better and were righting the wrongs of the past. Every generation believes itself to be the most moral, the most enlightened. By virtue of our own past, what right do we have to say we finally have it right TODAY?

Another problem I have with the Ignore-our-ugly-past-and-look-at-all-the-good-we've-done is that it's kind of like a wife beater excuse. "So I've punched and raped my wife a few times. I work hard, I put a roof over her head, food on her table, expensive clothes, fancy car, jewelry, always buy her something nice after I've sent her to the hospital..." Yes, the Catholic Church has done a vast amount of good. But they act as if without them, that good would never have gotten done. Even the audience member who asked Hitchens and Fry if the 10 commandments aren't a basis of good. Seven of them are, yes, but those same moral standards are thought up by people completely independent of the bible or the Church's help.

Finally, something the Archbishop said rang deep with me: That Church doctrine and ideology is not just 'dreamt up overnight by the Pope.' A lot of careful consideration goes into its stands and policies based on tradition and that aforementioned eternal Word of God. This was in response to the Church's stand on homosexuality. In other words, by their own admission, they aren't against homosexuals simply because it's a sign of the times, but a lot of careful thought goes into that policy of hate.

Overall, a debate everyone should watch: Atheist and Xian alike.




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