(Cambridge News) The Williams-Dawkins Debate—This house believes ‘religion has a place’

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It was billed as the moral equivalent of an Ali v Foreman title fight. The world’s best known atheist arguing with the man who until a few weeks ago was the Archbishop of Canterbury. Last night, Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, took on Rowan Williams, the new master of Magdalene College, in a debate on religion at the Cambridge Union. And Williams emerged triumphant.

The motion for debate was big enough to attract the very best speakers to the Cambridge Union: Religion has no place in the 21st century.

But the key factor in persuading Professor Richard Dawkins to agree to take part in last night’s setpiece was something else – an admiration for his principal opponent.

“I normally turn down formal debates,” he said. “But the charming Rowan Williams was too good to miss.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalArchbishop of Canterbury --Rowan Williams* Culture-WatchEducationPhilosophyReligion & CultureYoung Adults* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsAtheism* TheologyApologetics

1 Comments
Posted February 3, 2013 at 2:35 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Sarah1 wrote:

And that’s what made tonight’s Union Debate such a one-sided contest: when only one of you has the facts on your side – or indeed even appears to care about the facts, leaving the other to fall back on woolly platitudes about ‘engagement’, ‘compassion’ and ‘inclusion – well, it’s hardly a debate at all. Or, at least, it’s two people having entirely different debates: Dawkins breezily declares he’s not interested in the moral question: as a scientist, he’s interested in the search for truth, because “truth is important”.

In return, he gets vague, well-meaning cant about religion’s “metaphysical commitment to human equality”. To his credit, Lord Williams comes up with the best gag of the night when he thanks God for Richard Dawkins. But, by declining to engage in a robust discussion of fact versus faith in favour of sideshow issues like public versus private faith and opening up the Church to public scrutiny, you can’t help but feel he’s already ceded the intellectual high ground.

RE: “declining to engage in a robust discussion of fact versus faith in favour of sideshow issues like public versus private faith and opening up the Church to public scrutiny . . . “

Sideshow issues are a favorite way of distraction and red-herring-strewing—sometimes called bringing kool-aid to a gin party.

February 3, 10:01 pm | [comment link]
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