Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I'll Debate at the Vatican!

OMG! It's the symbol of peace and it's coming right at me!

Well, they're already banned Hitchens and Dawkins, and I'm an atheist, so . . . Hey, Pope! I like beautiful architecture and paintings! I'll come to Vatican City and debate you! (Or fly to Europe on your dime and run off to look at all the history. One or the other.)

The Vatican is planning a new initiative to reach out to atheists and agnostics in an attempt to improve the church's relationship with non-believers. Pope Benedict XVI has ordered officials to create a new foundation where atheists will be encouraged to meet and debate with some of the Catholic Church's top theologians.

The Vatican hopes to stage a series of debates in Paris next year. But militant non-believers hoping for a chance to set senior church figures straight about the existence of God are set to be disappointed: the church has warned that atheists with high public profiles such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens will not be invited.

Well, yeah, why would you want Dawkins or Hitchens? They're high profile, experienced debaters, each the author of published books and articles . . . no, wait, that's why you would want to debate them. Unless you knew you couldn't win against them.

But 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".

"Noble athiesm"? What does that mean? Hmmm . . . well, allowed for the fact that Ravasi probably said that in Italian, I'm going with "noble" means "accommodationist", as opposed to those "polemical" atheists who will actually debate you. Do you suppose we can convince the Archbishop that PZ Myers is the least polemical, most accommodating atheist of us all?

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

Oh, I see. An atheist would have to be well versed in all two thousand years of Catholic theology in order to properly debate a Catholic. Surely someone can give PZ a refresher course in Catholic weirdness. I suggest starting with purgatory.

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  1. ... Is Rat licking his lips and trying to CATCH that dove?...

  2. Hmmmm. I hate to say this filth, but I can kind of understand where the vatican is coming from in this matter.

    Let's say hypothetically that they actually want to have a mutual respectful discussion with atheists/agnostics.

    Inviting someone like Dawkins or Hitchens would be a bad idea - they have written polemics against religion (a polemic is a polemic, even if you find it entertaining).


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