Debates about religion next week in Belfast and Maynooth

I’ll be taking part in two debates next week, in Belfast on Monday 5th December, and in Maynooth on Tuesday 6th December. And one of my opponents in the Belfast debate is Rev Chris Hudson, with whom I worked together on many peace campaigns during the euphemistically-called “troubles” in Northern Ireland.

Monday’s topic is that “Religion has Poisoned Politics on this Island”. I will be speaking in favour, along with author Malachi O’Doherty and Jon Dickinson of the Queen’s Humanist Society. Speaking against the motion will be Leon Litvack and Paul Shannon of Queen’s and Rev Chris Hudson of the All Souls Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church. The debate starts at 8.00 pm on Monday in Room 2.26 Peter Froggatt Centre, QUB. All are welcome, and admission is free.

Tuesday’s topic is that “This House would Kill God”, which I will of course approach from a metaphorical perspective as God doesn’t exist. It’s organised by the NUI Maynooth Literary and Debating Society, and starts at 7pm in Lecture Theatre four of the John Hume building on the north campus. There will also be a member of the theology faculty and student speakers.

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6 Comments

  1. Debating the motion Religion has Poisoned Politics on this Island is like debating whether or not the air I am breathing right now has the correct amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen to maintain life.

  2. Thanks, Stephen, I’ve changed that in my own text. I was using the text of the poster which, to be fair to the organizers, abbreviates many terms to fit the design, including that of Atheist Ireland.

  3. The trouble with atheism and statements such as ‘God doesn’t exist’ is that it leaves no room for uncertainty. Perhaps you’re right and God doesn’t exist and believers are just living in a religious Disneyland and the Pope is just a holy Mickey Mouse. But what if he does exist, and everything that the church believes and teaches is true? The reality is we just don’t know for sure. My decision to believe is as personal and as free as your decision not to believe. But to say ‘God doesn’t exist’ is just arrogant and leaves no room for debate because it is a negative assertion. A more positive approach might be: ‘I believe that God does not exist. What do you believe?’

  4. Yes, Stephen and Michael, you are both right. The correct name of Rev Chris Hudson’s church is All Souls Non-Subscribing Presbyterian, but as it is located in Elmwood Avenue, it is often referred to Elmwood church. So I took the liberty of shortening its name to keep it manageable within the space of the poster. I hope that Rev Chris can find it in his heart to forgive me!

  5. I agree with your comment about that aspect of atheism Ronan, which is why I would class myself as agnostic in that I don’t believe in Christianity or any form of current religion really, but I’m open to the possibility that a higher power could exist that we don’t know about. What I hate however are the Christians who blatantly condemn anyone else’s life choices that don’t abide by what they see as moral Christian values, and will quite happily say that anyone who thinks otherwise is “going to hell.” That leaves no room open for any other beliefs as anyone who has a opinion which does not agree with theirs will apparently eternally burn. Surely if he does exist it’s God’s job to judge and not theirs.

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