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Is Religion Dangerous?:

Faith, authority, and power

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This Debate

Julian Baggini, Richard Harries, Nicholas Humphrey, Rupert Sheldrake. Shahidha Bari hosts.

Religion presents itself as a haven of peace and goodwill amid the greed and aggression of the secular world. But is this an illusion? Would it be wiser to see religion as a dangerous authoritarian game, or do we require a plurality of belief systems to offset the monolith of scientific knowledge?

The Panel

Biologist Rupert Sheldrake and Bishop Richard Harries debate with philosopher and writer Julian Baggini and psychologist Nicholas Humphrey.

In association with the New Statesman.

Jump to what you want to see in the debate
  • Julian Baggini
    The Pitch
    Atheism is a beneficial belief about the world
  • Rupert Sheldrake
    The Pitch
    Religion has a positive role to play in the world
  • Richard Harries
    The Pitch
    Religion is an approach to social reform and understanding
  • Nicholas Humphrey
    The Pitch
    Religion is simply self-deception
  • The Debate
    Theme One
    Is religion dangerous?
  • The Debate
    Theme Two
    Science vs. religion
Join the conversation

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jawoww on 25/10/2013 5:39pm

TSituation you raise a valuable if ill-worded point, but I think what Snooki is trying to say is actually that this never really grows to become the debate it could be as the panellists are all arguing from different definitions. Julian thinks its a chance to talk about the exciting 'danger' of religion which is good will, a bit of a curve ball that definitely doesn't work. Rupert Sheldrake goes off on one about scientists again (see anything he's ever written), Richard Harries and Nicholas Humphrey's do alright, a bit stuck out on their own though because the chair isn't really listening to a word anyone is saying. It's a great question though, and I think many interesting points are raised.

TSituation on 25/10/2013 5:17pm

@Snooki, what do you think the primary definition is then? Is science not the antithesis of religion? And therefore is it not only natural that a debate geared to deplore or defend religion might devolve into what you call the 'same old debate'. Some questions never grow old, particularly ones that are so pertinent today.

snooki on 25/10/2013 12:52pm

I can't help but feel like the panellists all defined 'danger' in such different ways that there was no real constructive debate regarding the primary issue here. This devolved to much into the same old science vs. religion argument, and didn't really deal with whether or not there is something intrinsic to religion itself that has led to centuries of crusades, genocides, the inquisition etc.

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