Christianity and Atheism
Is Christianity more rational than Atheism?
Approximately 270 people went to the Stanley Burbury Theatre at UTAS on Wednesday 3 March to listen to Ian Robinson the President of the Rationalist Society of Australia debate with David Rietveld from Wellspring Anglican, Sandy Bay. The number of atheists in the audience was about 20 per cent.
Ian Robinson argued that Christians rationalise away their beliefs to make them believable. The Bible is full of contradictions; long ago we believed in many gods, then three, then one and now none. He shared his own spiritual journey to atheism.
David Rietveld explained how we all have presuppositions and that we can edit the evidence to suit them. He challenged us to reconsider our presuppositions in the light of the evidence. He considered the start of the universe, the improbabilitiy of the complexity of universe, the universal religious experience and the person of Jesus.
Both speakers were able to reply to each other and then questions were taken from the audience.
A great night. Very friendly, but frank and there was some great discussion afterwards. A DVD of the debate is available from Wellspring.
Report by Samuel Green
Is Christianity good for the world?
On Saturday 13 March St George’s Battery Point hosted the Tasmanian première of Collision, a film following a series of debates between British atheist Christopher Hitchens and American pastor Douglas Wilson. Almost a hundred and fifty people attended two screenings.
Agnostics, atheists, local residents, Presbyterians and even some Anglicans attended the screenings which provoked a large amount of discussion afterwards. The screening was funded through a grant from Vision 100, a Tasmanian organisation, dedicated to evangelism and the growth of churches. The University Christian Fellowship helped run and publicise the event.
In the film itself Hitchens and Wilson debate the question ‘Is Christianity Good for the World?’ and their consequent discussion focused on the morality of Christianity rather than the origins of the world or the existence of God.
Amid the sharpness of the public debates, the two share a surprisingly warm relationship with mutual respect and a mutual appreciation of PG Wodehouse.
Hitchen’s central criticisms of Christianity centre on its claim that Jesus vicariously takes away responsibility for sin, and that its God is an Orwellian Big Brother, a ruler tyrannising people’s lives.
To criticise a system of belief you need something to criticise it with, and in response Wilson argues that Christianity’s great contribution to Hitchens is that, when his belief system leaves him morally overdrawn, Christianity gives him the moral categories he borrows from Christianity in order to criticise the morality of Christianity.
Review by Luke Isham