Premier Christian Radio Debate 30/07/11: MSP –v- Peter Harris – “Does religion make people kill?”

manicstreetpreacher blows off the cobwebs.

After nearly a 2-year hiatus I decided to accept another invitation from Justin Brierley at Premier Christian Radio and give the atheist point of view on matters of faith on his sceptics debate show, Unbelievable?.  My opponent was Peter Harris, a teacher and a doctorate student of theology and apologetics who has a page on BeThinking.

We were only supposed to debate atheism’s role in the atrocities of Hitler and Stalin’s regime in the 20th century.  However, with the outrage committed in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik (or Andrew Berwick as he Analgised his name, which was my preferred option!) and the mutterings in the press immediately afterwards that he may have been a “Christian fundamentalist”, that topic will have to wait until a fortnight’s time.

We therefore debated the potential harmful effects of religion on people’s minds and whether it caused them to kill.

You can listen live at 2:30pm BST 30 July 2011

London 1305, 1332, 1413 MW
National DAB
Sky Digital 0123
Freeview 725

Listen live from the Premier Christian Radio homepage

Web access

Listen on demand from the Unbelievable? homepage

Download MP3 podcast


Below are the links to a few of the sources upon which I relied.

TIME magazine, “The Atom & the Archbishop”, 28 July 1958

Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Geoffrey Fisher, welcomes the prospect of a nuclear Holocaust with open arms.

Sometimes just to declare Christian doctrine can shock and stir bitter debate – even among Christians.  Last week Dr Geoffrey Fisher, the Archbishop of Canterbury, did just that.

Thomas Sutcliffe, “When is a Bishop like a suicide bomber?”, The Independent, 3 July 2007

A savvy piece of journalism comparing the then Bishop of Carlisle, the Right Reverend Graham Dow’s absurd comments that the July 2007 North Yorkshire floods were punishment for homosexual marriage laws to the Muslim fundamentalist who drove a truckload of explosives into Glasgow airport.

The bishop restricts himself to condoning the actions of a terrorist God, while the human fireball appointed himself as a direct tool of divine wrath.  It’s hardly a distinction to be sneezed at in these dangerous times. But it’s not quite enough to quell the sense that the bishop finds himself in a distant intellectual kinship with the suicide bomber – both worshippers of a God who communicates through the deaths of innocents.

And finally, my write-up of the I2 debate on whether atheism is fundamentalism with my question to the panel during the Q & A.

The clip of me is halfway down the post.  I’m the baldy headed toff in the cream shirt…

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2 Responses to “Premier Christian Radio Debate 30/07/11: MSP –v- Peter Harris – “Does religion make people kill?””

  1. manicstreetpreacher Says:

    Peter Harris emailed Justin and me on 16 August 2011 with this to say about David Robertson’s comments which were read out at the end of the second show, which he has kindly permitted to me to reproduce.

    A response to David Robertson’s criticism

    Dear Justin,

    I have just had a chance to listen to the feedback to Ed and my debate regarding the propensity of religion to cause people to kill and noted with interest David Robertson’s characterisation of our debate as ‘a bit disappointing’. As an apologist, I do not always find Robertson’s style and tone of debating with atheists helpful to the Christian cause as it, and so thought I would respond to his comment.

    The show was subtitled as a response to Anders Breivik’s mass killings, but it was titled ‘Does Religion make people kill?’ Robertson objected to the fact that the show dwelt too little on Breivik and wandered off the topic. You, Ed and I were also criticised for not discussing Breivik’s views more broadly and for omitting to discuss Breivik’s world of warcraft obsession, his racist ideology and his alleged use of drugs. In response, it is clear from the title of the programme that a broader discussion than just Breivik’s lunacy was in the offing. More, it became apparent early on in the debate that Ed and I had no disagreement over Breivik’s ‘philosophy’ and motivation, and that fundamental Christianity was not to blame. The programme therefore had to move on to a more general discussion as agreement does not make for good debate radio! Ed honourably asserted he did not wish to make any capital for the atheistic cause out of Breivik and this also hastened the conclusion of our discussion. In addition, as the news of Breivik was so new, it was difficult to provide an in depth assessment of this man’s views and lifestyle. At the time, those investigating his crime regarded Breivik as not wholly understood and the British press seemed to be having a difficult time delineating the lineaments of Breivik’s world view. Finally, I think both Ed and I did our best to provide an accurate picture of the eclectic picture of Brieivk’s outlook. I remember describing Breivik’s occulticism, Islamophobia, probable anti-Semitism thus his racism was addressed), knights-templarism and extreme right wing politics. Ed supplemented this characterisation by referring to Breivik’s abnormal psychology and rambling political document. To be criticised for not mentioning Breivik’s warcrafting and his alleged use of narcotics seems to be a strong and unfortunate case of nit-picking on Robertson’s part.

    With best regards,

    Peter Harris

  2. Ukip councillor David Silvester displays a disgraceful lack of ‘scholarship’ in the face of Britain’s recent floods. But will the ‘scholars’ actually correct him on it? | manicstreetpreacher Says:

    […] sceptical debate show, Unbelievable?, Justin Brierley and former opponents, Andy Bannister and Peter […]

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