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Pell, Dawkins wage battle of belief - Comments

TheColonial's Avatar Comment 1 by TheColonial

I am really looking forward to this debate. It's not often we get to see things like this on Prime Time in Australia so it'll be very much welcomed on my TV screen.

Be sure to keep an eye on the #qanda hashtag on Twitter as well, as the discussions that happen there can be just as interesting!

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 04:38:16 UTC | #933202

Reckless Monkey's Avatar Comment 2 by Reckless Monkey

Getting exited

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 08:14:40 UTC | #933228

Stafford Gordon's Avatar Comment 3 by Stafford Gordon

"Different premises"; excellent! Should be fun though.

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 09:20:40 UTC | #933241

Skeptic Pete's Avatar Comment 4 by Skeptic Pete

I can't wait!

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 09:50:06 UTC | #933252

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 5 by Cartomancer

Why is Richard referred to as an "ardent" atheist, but Mr. Pell doesn't get called an "ardent" theist? Is he notoriously lacklustre in his commitments or something?

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 09:50:22 UTC | #933253

StephenH's Avatar Comment 6 by StephenH

Media up to their tricks again

Using words like: battle - locking horns

No blood on the carpet - part two?

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 11:18:58 UTC | #933273's Avatar Comment 7 by

I am watching this right now.

The only assessment I can give it is "Biologist versus idiot".

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 12:24:38 UTC | #933282

Reckless Monkey's Avatar Comment 8 by Reckless Monkey

Missed the first half have to catch up via vodcast. What I saw Pell was meandering about trying to create some sort of logic out of his internal contradictions. It was quite a tense atmosphere the audience kept laughing, Richard was couldn't understand what they were laughing about.

Here's my take for what its worth. ABC viewers tend to be fairly left leaning, educated people. When Pell brought up Hitler and Stalin. I laughed at home, not because I think the murder of millions of Jews and soldiers to be funny but because the head of the NSW Catholic Church walked into an obviously ridiculous argument and I knew what was coming, Richard was going to rip him to shreds (metaphorically). I think they were largely on his side. I don't think ridicule was intended I think the audience was on his side but I wasn't there.

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 13:03:15 UTC | #933299

lifehappenstoadapt's Avatar Comment 9 by lifehappenstoadapt

Just listened to this debate. But George Pell didn't know the basics of evolution or natural processes, or even our current understanding of human history.

Sadly George Pell was more interested in Quote mining and making fun of Richard Dawkins then any meaningful contribution to the debate.

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 13:04:14 UTC | #933301

gslab's Avatar Comment 10 by gslab

Dawkins - the heavyweight finding himself surrounded by lightweights. Painful to watch.

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 13:04:28 UTC | #933302

Reckless Monkey's Avatar Comment 11 by Reckless Monkey

I couldn't believe Pell made the comment about "preparing some boys". Tony was also pretty good to lead Pell into saying that Jesus wasn't very intellectual.

Pell surely couldn't have gotten into his position without some skills or intelligence of some sort (I could be wrong here). So I can only conclude that this is clear proof that the Catholic Church is a boys club and an echo chamber where you can spend you're entire professional career without having to confront the obvious contradictions of your belief. You could see his style was political rather than honest. For example he made (mistakenly I believe) the statement that no-one suffered more than the Germans in WW2. I assume he meant the Jews, Tony Jones tried to help him out and suggest that the Jews perhaps suffered more. Now the honest thing to do would have been to say "Sorry, of course I meant the Jews" but no, he starts waffling on about there being great suffering on both sides. Typical Cardinal.

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 13:19:58 UTC | #933307

aquilacane's Avatar Comment 12 by aquilacane

Comment 5 by Cartomancer

Why is Richard referred to as an "ardent" atheist, but Mr. Pell doesn't get called an "ardent" theist? Is he notoriously lacklustre in his commitments or something?

But he's an atheists! Cartomancer, a damn atheist, I tell you!

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 13:31:05 UTC | #933312

Ichneumonid's Avatar Comment 13 by Ichneumonid

I think poor Richard just gave up towards the end. After all, how can you have a constructive debate with a blithering idiot?!

The 'preparing the boys' passage was a classic ironic moment, but Pell is so dumb he didn't seem to realize what was going on. All Pell's little anecdotes ended up failing awfully, not least the trouble he got into regarding the holocaust.

Richard, please don't accept any further invitations on this show unless they can guarantee somebody who has some sort of intellect. Last time it was Steve Fielding, this time George Pell...apologies on Australia's behalf!

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 13:44:11 UTC | #933319

squeegee's Avatar Comment 14 by squeegee

I've always disliked Pell, I find him to be an ignorant yet smug waffler who has a holier than thou manner about him and tonights "debate" saw him in vintage form displaying all the qualities that for some strange reason he feels proud of.

Richard [who for the record was suffering jetlag] by contrast was very good I thought. Honest, to the point, interesting and extremely patient. His obviously superior intellect was in direct contrast with Pell's, who's annoying tactic of scoring short lived cheap shots against Richard just made him look small and unworthy.

A real mismatch, it's a shame the ABC couldn't have found a more suitable opponent.

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 13:56:03 UTC | #933327

Reckless Monkey's Avatar Comment 15 by Reckless Monkey

Pell is like most religious people I've heard. His style of delivery, and his content make debate or follow difficult if not impossible. He inclines to ridicule, rarely answers questions as directly as they are put, and seems satisfied to please many of his followers by appearing to be well-read and informed by throwing out names and ideas willy nilly.

I partly agree, but who do you get? You either get a political animal like Pell using instincts that serve him fine in an environment where no-one will question his faulty logic or you get a more shrewd hypocrite who essentially says nothing other than without some external being there is no morality.

The more I think about it as frustrating as it must of been for Richard trying to follow what Pell was saying because he didn't say much at all. What he did say made him look a complete idiot or at best ignorant and morally compromised. This is an important function. Richard is shinning a light on what the Catholic church believes and also what questions it is NOT PREPARED TO ANSWER! Now that, has to be worth a great deal. You couldn't have felt comfortable as an honest, intelligent catholic watching that debate.

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 14:05:40 UTC | #933331

Reckless Monkey's Avatar Comment 16 by Reckless Monkey

Oh by the way anyone overseas Ivew is up now don't know if you will be able to watch that OS but worth a try and the vodcast should be up soon

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 14:12:07 UTC | #933334

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 17 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 16 by Reckless Monkey :

Thanks, but its Az only!

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 15:45:29 UTC | #933361

TheRationalizer's Avatar Comment 18 by TheRationalizer

So now Richard Dawkins debates creationists?

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 15:53:42 UTC | #933367

Kurt Unwise's Avatar Comment 19 by Kurt Unwise

It is available for download here -

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 17:13:26 UTC | #933385

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 20 by God fearing Atheist

Comment 19 by Kurt Unwise :

It is available for download here -

Thanks. Downloaded and viewed.

I thought RD started out as if he was already annoyed. Was that jet-lag, or was there an un-filmed warm up session to start?

I thought it was good that RD pressed Pell on bodily resurrection and wafers. Pell continued to play with smoke 'n' mirrors to both have his cake and eat it. Why the fuck should I care what Aristotle thought about the nature of matter? The last 400 years of physics and chemistry shows he was an ignoramus. Same for "philosophical nothing". Same for "metaphysics".

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 18:44:04 UTC | #933406

Mr DArcy's Avatar Comment 21 by Mr DArcy

I haven't watched it, but I imagine the Cardinal's comments were pretty Pellish?

(Runs for cover!)

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 19:18:21 UTC | #933412

kev_s's Avatar Comment 22 by kev_s

Re: Comment 18 by TheRationalizer

So now Richard Dawkins debates creationists?

Having just watched the debate I can't see how anyone could say that the Catholic cardinal is a creationist. (Is he even a Catholic as most people would know one?) Pell does not believe in the literal truth of Adam and Eve (it's a metaphor) although in fairness he uses English words in a way that most normal people do not use them so it is hard to be certain exactly what he means. Richard tried to pin Pell down on what he means by 'body' when he says he believes the wafer becomes the body of Christ, but all we got was from Pell was waffle about the wafer. Pell seems to accept that man evolved from a common ancestor (although he thought the common ancestor was a Neanderthal) which means he can't believe in the literal truth of Genesis either. Frankly if Pell did not call himself a Christian it would be hard to know he was one.

The fact that Richard can do this while jet lagged is some kind of miracle though. Amazing that Richard can keep explaining the science and teaching people even in this kind of forum. Really important to challenge the audience like you did, Richard, when they laughed at stupid things or applauded stupid things. (Reminded me of Hitch telling the audience to F-off on Bill Meyer!) In summary, I thought this was one of the best 'head to heads' I've seen in a long time and nice to have a presenter willing to expose the logical absurdities of Pell's position.

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 20:20:25 UTC | #933428

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 23 by Neodarwinian

" wage battle of belief "

Not really.

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 20:33:21 UTC | #933432

gordon's Avatar Comment 24 by gordon

My goodness. The bish came across like some poorly educated idiot. Why oh why do they keep bringing up this myth about Hitler? He obviously hasn’t read Mein Kamf. Hitler was a Catholic. He makes references to God over and over again. Why do they keep referring to atheists as if we want to live by a golden rule by survival of the fittest? Slavery, keeping women under our control as chattel, stoning, place non-believers in hell, sin, chastising gays, fiddling with altar boys; ring any bells?

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 20:41:54 UTC | #933436

Sample's Avatar Comment 25 by Sample

No longer, if ever, papabile. Perhaps that was the Cardinal's true motive for airing his thoughts so publicly. Ratzinger is slowing down, Conclave is coming.

The Cardinal cited page 92 of Darwin's autobiography wherein the Cardinal claims him for theism.

Subsequently, the Cardinal essentially waved off any problem with atheists and heaven when responding to a viewer's question. How I wish someone would have said, on Page X we read:

Atheism, in the Catechism for the Catholic Church:

2123 "Many . . . of our contemporaries either do not at all perceive, or explicitly reject, this intimate and vital bond of man to God. Atheism must therefore be regarded as one of the most serious problems of our time."58

2125 Since it rejects or denies the existence of God, atheism is a sin against the virtue of religion.

Cardinal, sin cannot enter heaven, so it follows no atheist can either. That was an insincere and intellectually dishonest response to the view in order, I presume, to appear inclusive.

Congratulations Professor, I hope you have the opportunity to engage future Cardinals and one by one render them not papabile by simply letting them talk.


Mon, 09 Apr 2012 21:15:50 UTC | #933443

Reckless Monkey's Avatar Comment 26 by Reckless Monkey

Pell in his argument with Richard claims Darwin was a theist and yells out "Its on page 92 of his autobiography". Convenient as Richard had no version of the book before him. Here is the quote in question.

Another source of conviction in the existence of God, connected with the reason and not with the feelings, impresses me as having much more weight. This follows from the extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist.

Now here is the paragraph that follows directly after...

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.2

And here we see the quality of the integrity of Cardinal Pell. Does he really expect people to believe that having read to page 92 he couldn't read the next few sentences.

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 21:58:17 UTC | #933450

Anonymous's Avatar Comment 27 by Anonymous

Comment Removed by Moderator

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 23:38:47 UTC | #933470

CEVA34's Avatar Comment 28 by CEVA34

There is an Australian forum where I often have fruitless arguments with faith-heads, and the last time I looked the debate had started, and the religiosos thought Pell was wiping the floor with the "lightweight" Dawkins. Never underestimate the stupidity of these people.

Mon, 09 Apr 2012 23:53:59 UTC | #933478

Premiseless's Avatar Comment 29 by Premiseless

I have seen this kind of thing where a believer gets high on the emotive appeal by their woo mongers and utterly misses the pointedness of any rational victory. It's as if reason is second fiddle to whatever excites their already heavily invested devotion.

Faith heads practice seductive psychology, rather than expect reason to win the day. Much like matchmaking around the campfire. Reason is the last resort and not that desirable.

My contempt for the religious leaders is magnified due their motive, whom in many instances I feel sure know better but play act for power, kudos, popularity and status.

Tue, 10 Apr 2012 00:05:30 UTC | #933482

Sample's Avatar Comment 30 by Sample

Comment 29 by Premiseless,



Tue, 10 Apr 2012 00:14:45 UTC | #933487