Cardinal George Pell vs. Richard Dawkins – Some Thoughts

Someone directed me to a sort of informal debate between Cardinal Pell and Dawkins, in the form of a moderated Questions and Answers session. Dawkins came across as insecure, accusing the audience of bias (though they routinely cheered for his statements) and repeatedly asking the audience why they are laughing (such as at his comment that the “it depends on how you define ‘nothing.'”

Pell was asked about evolution and his religion. He alleged that those in his communion can believe almost whatever they like about it. He took the position that men are descended from Neanderthals (Dawkins reacted to this much the way a Star Wars geek would react to you talking about Hans Solo instead of Han Solo and Pell blew it off). He said that the first time a soul was “human” was when it had various characteristics of communication and the like. When question about Adam and Eve, he took the position that they were just mythological, like “everyman.” (around 30 minutes) He said he wasn’t sure whether the Old Testament recounts God himself inscribing the ten commandments (33 minutes in).

Dawkins asks where original sin comes from if there is no real Adam and Eve.

When an atheist asks Pell (around 41 minutes in) what will happen to him when he dies, he says

(Cardinal) Well, I know from the Christian point of view, God loves everybody. But every genuine motion towards the truth is a motion towards God. And when an atheist dies, like everybody else, they’ll be judged on the extent to which they have moved towards goodness and truth and beauty. But in the Christian view, God loves everyone except those who turn their back on him through evil acts.
(Moderator): Oh, so athiesm – not an evil act.
(Cardinal): No, not a – well, no I don’t – in most cases its not.

(Moderator): Is it possible for an atheist to go to heaven?
(Cardinal): Well, it’s not my business.
(Moderator): No, but well, you’re the only authority we have here.
(Cardinal): I would say ‘certainly, certainly!’

Dawkins acts shocked that Christians will be bodily resurrected.

Later on the Cardinal asserts that the idea of any child going to hell is grotesque and does not represent the Christian God (48 minutes in)

Around 49 minutes in, the Cardinal shares his views on hell and salvation from it:

(Moderator) Where do you draw the line? Do unbelievers go to hell?
(Cardinal) No, no, no. The only people – Well, (1) I hope nobody’s in hell. We Catholics generally believe that there is a hell. I hope nobody is there. I certainly believe in a place of purification. I think it will be like getting up in the morning and you throw the curtains back and the light is just too much. God’s light would be too much for us. But I believe on behalf of the innocent victims in history, that the scales of justice should work out and if they don’t, life is radically unjust: the law of the jungle prevails.

The Cardinal’s theodicy is, in essence, that freedom is necessary.

-TurretinFan

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25 Responses to “Cardinal George Pell vs. Richard Dawkins – Some Thoughts”

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