The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Church to atheists: let’s talk

A little news that broke over the weekend:

The Vatican is planning a new initiative to reach out to atheists and agnostics in an attempt to improve the church’s relationship with non-believers. Pope Benedict XVI has ordered officials to create a new foundation where atheists will be encouraged to meet and debate with some of the Catholic Church’s top theologians.

The Vatican hopes to stage a series of debates in Paris next year. But militant non-believers hoping for a chance to set senior church figures straight about the existence of God are set to be disappointed: the church has warned that atheists with high public profiles such as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens will not be invited.


The “Courtyard of the Gentiles”, as the foundation is known, is being set up by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the influential Vatican department that is charged with fostering better relations with non-Catholics. It was founded by Pope John Paul II in 1982 to spearhead his attempts to create a better dialogue with other cultures and faith, including those with no religion at all.

Check out the rest right here.

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posted June 1, 2010 at 1:20 pm

Dawkins and others have been taken to task plenty of times, often by Protestant Evangelicals and Born Agains who do a superb job, yet men like Dawkins are back the following week peddling the same points they have been refuted on many many many times over. These men will not change, they cannot be convinced because they’ve shut their minds off. They are not worth bringing into the picture. It’s better to talk with more open minded atheists or agnostics who are more honest about questioning their beliefs.
Besides which if the Church is serious about approaching these people, it better realize that Darwinian Evolution and Science will be major portions, and taking compromise positions on evolution and the Book of Genesis are likely to only hinder what they’re trying to do. Proofs for Intelligent design are nice but it should be Creationism and Biblical inerrancy with a thorough defense of Genesis and the nature of origins science that are bulletproof for laying the foundation for the Gospels and the Church’s authority.

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posted June 1, 2010 at 6:30 pm

While it is always good to make opportunities everywhere for everyone to learn more about the Catholic position on matters of faith I think
much more effort is needed to heal the divisions and rifts within our
Church body first…we cannot do a very good job of convincing those outside the Faith if we don’t first complete the more urgent task of
inner healing. Just my opinion!

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posted June 3, 2010 at 1:12 am

The Catholic Church has publicly affirmed the truth of evolution and accepts textual criticism of the Bible. I highly doubt that they will argue “Creationism and Biblical inerrancy with a thorough defense of Genesis”.

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posted June 20, 2010 at 9:19 am

@romancrusader: [quote], yet men like Dawkins are back the following week peddling the same points they have been refuted on many many many times over[/quote]
Would you care to share with the rest of us a bit of those ‘superb jobs’ Evangelists have made? I’ve seen none other than the ones that claim that Dawkins is a pity of a man, degrading him and his ‘followers’ without making much sense themselves. Take Alister McGrath’s book for example.

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