Islam, Atheism, Hinduism and Christianity: A weekend of religious debate in Whitby, Ontario

If you’re in or around the city of Whitby this Friday and/or Saturday, a big set of debates is being held. The two day event is titled the 2008 Decide for Yourself Debates. The intellectual War of the Worldviews will be waged by debators Christopher DiCarlo (atheism), Dave Hunt (Christianity), Budhendranauth Doobay (Hinduism), and Shabir Ally (Islam). Frank Sherwin, Colorado-based Christian Creationist biologist and fellow of the Institute for Creation Research (i.e., an institute that starts from the premise of Creationism and selectively looks for anything that could be remotely consistent with this worldview while minimizing the importance of the overwhelming evidence against Creationism and for evolution) will subject his worldview to debate with the audience. The event is being hosted and moderated by Michael Coren. See the event website for speaker bios. Click here to read an article on the event published in the numerous regional newspapers.

Schedule:

Friday Feb. 22 – 7:00pm Hinduism vs. Christianity debate    (Budhendranauth Doobay vs. Dave Hunt)
Saturday Feb.23 – 12 noon Christianity vs. Atheism debate (Dave Hunt vs. Christopher DiCarlo)
3:00pm Darwin vs. Design (YOU vs Frank Sherwin—audience Q&A)
5:45pm Dinner break & film
7:00pm Islam vs. Christianity debate (Shabir Ally vs. Dave Hunt)

Location and Directions:

All Saints Catholic High School (Whitby, ON)

Exit 401 at Brock Street (not Brock Road) Go north 4km to Rossland Road
Go west on Rossland 1km to school on right

I must say that this event seems to be somewhat loaded in the favour of Christianity, having a Christian host, being set at a Christian school, and being organized by a local Christian literalist, Paul MacGregor. I give MacGregor credit, though, for actively looking for strong defenders of the different positions. I am familiar with Chris DiCarlo, and know from experience that he is a great speaker. I am not familiar with the other speakers, but given his invitation of DiCarlo, I trust MacGregor when he says that he actively looked for the best within each community. This should be a very good set of debates.

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Comments
9 Responses to “Islam, Atheism, Hinduism and Christianity: A weekend of religious debate in Whitby, Ontario”
  1. Sounds really good. Wish I could be there. Please keep us posted on the events.
    Thanks

  2. A good following from the Atheism side would be an asset for the sat. 3pm debate. Darwin will be defended by the audience sine the speaker is in favour of Design. Apparently someone was going debate Frank Sherwin but things fell apart.
    Just remembered where I read about this and here is from the CFI Toronto website:

    NOTE: This debate is part of a two day conference with the following components described below. You might also see the poster available for download below. Please note that CFI Ontario was originally sending Chris Reaume, the President of the Mississauga Freethought Association, one of our campus affiliated organizations, to debate Frank Sherwin on Darwin vs. Design but opted not to for a number of reasons. Firstly, the “Decode for Yourself” event organizers (I believe they call themselves “Bible Skeptics”) wished a “scientific” debate on this issue, whereas there is no scientific debate or controversy. The debate is entirely political or social. Secondly, 3 months into the event organizing and long after we had agreed to the plans, a number of changes were made. The previous moderator was replaced by Michael Coren, a Christian advocate who believes in the phenomenon of Christian bashing and who has moderated debates of this kind in a very non-neutral manner in the past (he actually once argued with me on the definition of atheism while moderating such a debate). The location was confirmed as a Catholic school. Then the introduction and conclusion of the conference were introduced, providing time solely for members of the religious camp. Recently, the timetable for the event was released, with the usual order of closing statements in the debates swapped to ensure that the affirmative side (ie: pro-Christian, pro-design) was given the final word, even though they were also to open the debate, a highly unusual and suspicious setup. Clearly, the “Decode for yourself” or “Bible Skeptics” front is nothing more then a setup to bring people into a seemingly fair and neutral series of debates and then to use every tactical advantage available to promote one ideological view. We decided to continue with Dr. di Carlo’s debate on Atheism vs. Christianity but to pull out of the “scientific” debate on Darwin vs. Design. In any case, I invite all of you to attend these events and make it clear where you stand on both the issues presented and the format of these debates.

    – Justin Trottier

    link – http://www.centerforinquiry.net/ontario/events/atheism_vs_christianity_whitby_on/

  3. I wish I was in town this weekend – that’s right in my neighborhood! I’m looking forward to posts (and hopefully video!).

  4. ~The Nut Cracker~ says:

    Sounds very interesting,but unfortunately no buddhists are are mentioned.It would have been nice to have a very atheistic religion like buddhism backing up the atheist!!!

  5. callith says:

    Um, I don’t see how this contributes to anything. What’s the point, or am I just missing it?

    Will it change people’s perception(s) of atheism? I highly doubt it. Perceptions are not changed via intense debate.

  6. ronbrown says:

    Callith:

    Hi. The atheist movement is multipronged. One side of it is the intellectual side: rational debate. Another side of the movement is showing people that atheists are caring, feeling, loving, socially responsible people, too. This side of the movement is promoted by atheists going out and being good people, and by organizations having prosocial causes.

    It’s surely the case that the intellectual side has been pushed harder than the prosocial + community side of the movement. This needs to be balanced a bit more. In many ways the prosocial + community side is more important than the intellectual side. But there are organizations and people doing the prosocial + community side. For instance, a number of CFI locations are running groups for alcohol and smoking addiction.

    I personally think that what very much needs to be worked on is establishing communities in which people come together to support one another, develop wisdom (e.g., through meditation, discussion, lectures), engage in group projects (e.g., prosocial work, developing the secularist centre—e.g., building things together), and the like. The most integral part of religious communities, and that which nonreligious people are missing out on, is having a community which connects people, promotes interpersonal support, prosociality, and a village context for raising one’s family. To promote secularism and reason we need to create cultural alternatives to these very important social services. And really, as I alluded to above, the nonreligious are missing out. These are good things and its about time that they were created for people without obligating them to buy into, pretend to buy into, or supress criticism of supernatural claims in order to enjoy.

  7. matt says:

    Jsut to throw this out there since I think I saw a creationist mentioned, is the article The Case For Intelligent Design by Tom Junod -http://www.esquire.com/features/ESQ0207CASE?par=msn_h%7Cesq%7Cemb%7C-
    where his point is that is if we didn’t evolve, and god was responsible for everything, then everything bad in the world is god’s fault (since he is omnipotent/omniscient but also morally ambivalent etc etc). This really fucks with the christian idea of the calvary or something like that. A good read for christians, but to me Junod basically is a smart christian looking for a way to stay religious even though you know atheism is probably right.

  8. ronbrown says:

    Matt: I read of an argument by Vox Day against what you just offered—it’s a fairly new argument, I understand. His argument had to do with individual free will and the existence of evil while there was an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent God.

    He compared God to an AI programmer. He said something like that AI programmers can have full knowledge of how they programmed something but still be surprised by some its actions. Day compared this to God. However, a rebuttal would be that the programmer is just human. If a God with infinite computational capacity programmed something, then he should always be able to know what will happen next because he would be able to take into account all of the programming and all of the contingencies at once.

    And even if this weren’t true, that wouldn’t mean that God couldn’t jump in after he had been surprised. Even if God was surprised by Hitler’s actions, it wasn’t like Hitler’s actions transpired for one second and then ended. God had years to jump in and tell Hitler to knock it off.

    One could argue that God gave the gift of free will and doesn’t want to revoke it. Well, how good of God to prioritize the free will of the megalomaniac to kill over the freedom of the victim to live and not live in torture.

  9. I wish I could have been there especially since Dave Hunt was there.

    I have heard him time and again on radio and unluckily and he believes yoga is a spiritually dangerous practice designed to expose people to demonic influences.

    Sage Patanjali in his book Patanjali Yoga Sutra summarized YOGA as CHITTA VRITHI NIRODHA.

    CHITTA means MIND
    VRITTI means VIBRATIONS
    NIRODHA means STOPPAGE

    So according to him, SELF-REALIZATION means
    ” Stoppage of Mental Vibrations or mental activity within a man.”

    Sage Vasishta told Lord Rama in the Yoga Vasishta:

    “Chit Chalathi Samsare;
    Nichale Moksha Muchayatha
    when chit [mind] vibrates”

    When the mind vibrates [when one thinks];
    This whole world come to existence”
    When the mind stop vibrating [stoppage of thoughts];
    This whole world is destroyed;
    And person attains salvation

    Hindu salvation is known as self-realization and it is the process a person is realizing that he/she is indeed the ATMAN [ the immortal soul within] and not the perishable material BODY.

    In Hindu salvation, a person is merging with the PARAMATHMAN [ or God].

    Most of his ideas about Hinduism one can read in the book “Death of a Guru”

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