Monday, May 7, 2007

Impartiality, Atheism, and the Intellect

Nick Milne asks: why are religious debates always "Pinky Vs. The Brain" - like matchups?

Note one key line in his post:

"The trend in question is that of media institutions sponsoring "debates" on religious matters..."

Note the "media." It is pretty well-known that newsmen tend to be leftist, as do atheists. It is also well-known that human nature makes us slant the field - as far as possible - in favor of our side. And if only one group is sponsoring a debate, they can easily invite only those whom they expect will work well. Not very virtuous, but it happens.

Then again, most influential religious personages in America just aren't all that smart to begin with. Primarily because they usually are 'better living through theological fast food' types. Not to say that all American religious leaders are dumb, or that all the dumb ones are Protestants. But American Protestantism isn't known for encouraging heavy reliance on reason. Catholicism, I would say, is a better choice for the born sophist (me!) to protect him from himself.

This is where I'm glad of our current Pope - theology is not an easy intellectual pursuit, even if you don't believe it, and his ponderings are definitely high-grade. Closer to home, I'm not so confident. I can't name a bishop with the rhetorical smarts to out-talk Hitchens.

But I hope those bishops use the excuse: "Oh, I'd happily debate, but I'm too busy doing God's work and keeping my diocese from going belly-up."

As to the existence of God.........well, Voltaire was right when he said we'd have to invent a God if He didn't exist. Our nature is to believe in God - at least some overarching authority to which all men (theoretically) must yield, which dominates the universe - and the universality of religion proves it (almost the whole world's population believes in a God, and intellectuals are generally split on this). The only real question is to find what sort of God exists, and what He wants. That, at least, is my theory.

As an aside, if I thought God didn't exist, life would be hell within my neighborhood (until I got shot, that is). Hitchens is probably a more virtuous man than I, seeing as he's not been shot yet.