This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Intelligence Squared debate: Catholics humiliated by Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/andrewmcfbrown/100014133/intelligence-squared-debate-catholics-humiliated-by-christopher-hitchens-and-stephen-fry/

blankI have just witnessed a rout – tonight’s Intelligence Squared debate. It considered the motion “The Catholic Church is a force for good in the world”. Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry, opposing the motion, comprehensively trounced Archbishop Onaiyekan (of Abuja, Nigeria) and Ann Widdecombe, who spoke for it. The archbishop in particular was hopeless.

The voting gives a good idea of how it went. Before the debate, for the motion: 678. Against: 1102. Don’t know: 346. This is how it changed after the debate. For: 268. Against: 1876. Don’t know: 34. In other words, after hearing the speakers, the number of people in the audience who opposed the motion increased by 774. My friend Simon, who’s a season ticket holder, said it was the most decisive swing against a motion that he could remember.

The problem (from the Catholic point of view) was that the speakers arguing for the Church as a force for good were hopelessly outclassed by two hugely popular, professional performers. The archbishop had obviously decided that it would work best if he stuck to facts and figures and presented the Church as a sort of vast charitable or “social welfare” organisation. He emphasised how many Catholics there were in the world, and that even included “heads of state”, he said, as if that was a clincher. But he said virtually nothing of a religious or spiritual nature as far as I could tell, and non-Catholics would have been none the wiser about what you might call the transcendent aspects of the Church. Then later when challenged he became painfully hesitant. In the end he mumbled and spluttered and retreated into embarrassing excuses and evasions. He repeatedly got Ann Widdecombe’s name wrong. The hostility of both the audience and his opponents seemed to have discomfited him.
...
Continue reading
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/andrewmcfbrown/100014133/intelligence-squared-debate-catholics-humiliated-by-christopher-hitchens-and-stephen-fry/

TAGGED: ATHEISM, RELIGION, SPEECHES


RELATED CONTENT

Viewpoints: Why is faith falling in the...

- - BBC News Comments

A new poll suggests that atheism is on the rise in the US, while those who consider themselves religious has dropped. What's the cause? Two writers debate.

From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader

Robert F. Worth - New York Times Comments

A great article about Jerry DeWitt and the growing presence of atheist communities

Playboy Interview with Richard Dawkins

Chip Rowe - Playboy Comments

Playboy Interview with Richard Dawkins

Atheists On Religion, Science, And...

- - YouTube - townsquare Comments

Cara Santa Maria (Senior Science Correspondent, Huffingtonpost.com) leads this week's panel on 'The Point' to discuss these issues and more with Michael Shermer (Publisher - Skeptic Magazine), Sean Carroll (Theoretical Physicist - Caltech), and Edward Falzon (author of 'Being Gay Is Disgusting').

Atheists find a new venue for the...

Kimberly Winston - Washington Post Comments

Last weekend, the Atheist Film Festival showed more than a dozen films about separation of church and state, freedom of religion (and no religion), the conflict between science and religion in public schools.

Albert Einstein's Historic 1954 "God...

- - eBay auction Comments

Albert Einstein's Historic 1954 "God Letter" Handwritten Shortly Before His Death

MORE

MORE BY ANDREW M BROWN

MORE

Comments

Comment RSS Feed

Please sign in or register to comment