Having been persecuted as a dangerous minority for centuries, in recent years the champions of atheism have achieved celebrity status around the world.
Atheists have been quick to point to the evils done in the name of religion and claim their criticism of religion is grounded in science and reason. Their opponents have championed faith as a source of inspiration and as an essential aspect of the human condition.
However, beyond rhetorical skirmishes, in the end, just one fundamental question must be answered: does God exist?
At a lively IQ2 Debate in Sydney, two teams battled it out on the notion that: “Atheists are Wrong”.
At each IQdebate the audience is polled on the topic, both before and after the debate takes place. Here are the results for this debate:
Pre-debate poll Post-debate poll
Peter Jensen is Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Sydney and across New South Wales. He is a former lecturer and Principal of Moore Theological College, having earned a doctorate of philosophy from Oxford for his research on Elizabethan Protestantism. His book, “At the Heart of the Universe”, is used around the world as an introductory text on Christian Doctrine at many universities. His 2005 Boyer Lecture series for the ABC, “The Future of Jesus”, has been published as a book.
Dr Tracey Rowland is the Dean of the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne and a Permanent Fellow in Political Philosophy and Continental Theology. She is also an Adjunct Professor of the Centre for Faith, Ethics and Society of the University of Notre Dame, Sydney. Dr Rowland holds a doctorate from the Divinity School of Cambridge University and has published widely including two books on the theology of Benedict XVI.
Scott Stephens is the Religion & Ethics editor for ABC Online. Before joining the ABC he taught theology and theological ethics for many years. He has written extensively about the intersections among philosophy, theology and politics, the work of Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, the political theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and John Paul II, the moral problem of secularism and why atheism stems from the theological revolution of Christianity.
Dr Tamas Pataki is honorary Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne’s School of Historical and Philosophical Studies and honorary Fellow of Deakin University. He studied philosophy at the University of Melbourne and psychoanalysis at University College, London University. Dr Pataki has been a lecturer in philosophy at RMIT, University of Tasmania and University of Melbourne. He is the author of the book, “Against Religion”.
Jane Caro runs her own communications consultancy and lectures in Advertising Creative at UWS. She is author of three books and is currently writing about atheism. Caro appears regularly in the media, is an occasional radio host and a panelist on ABC-TV’s “The Gruen Transfer”.
Russell Blackford is a philosopher, literary critic and creative writer. He is a Conjoint Lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Newcastle. His qualifications include separate PhDs in English literature and philosophy. Blackford is Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Evolution and Technology and the author of many books, articles, essays and short stories. His books include “50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists” (2009), co-edited with Udo Schuklenk. His new book, “Freedom of Religion and the Secular State”, is due for publication in 2011.
Dr Simon Longstaff is the Executive Director of St James Ethics Centre and has a PhD in Philosophy from Cambridge. Before that, Dr Longstaff worked in the Northern Territory in the Safety Department of BHP subsidiary, GEMCO, lectured at Cambridge University and consulted to the Cambridge Commonwealth and Overseas Trusts. His book “Hard Cases, Tough Choices” was published in 1997.