Friday, 22 January 2010

My Nasty Suspicious Mind?

I've just noticed that there was a debate on Night Waves on BBC Radio 3 from 9:15 to 10 pm this evening on "Is the Enlightenment still relevant today?" Besides the chairperson, one Rana Mitter, no names are given for the other debaters, only that they include "historians, theologians and politicians" (no mention of philosophers). Perhaps I am overly suspicious that this is going to be a largely anti-enlightenment debate? It does say that "To critics, however, the Enlightenment has become a twisted dogma". I'll have to wait until it is available on Listen Again to find out.

The main BBC webpage tonight has a prominent picture of Michaelangelo's ubiquitous God from the Sistine Chapel, overlaid with the leading question "Why Does God Allow Natural Disasters", followed by "Your thoughts". This however, it turns out, is not a request for our thoughts, but leads to the BBC News Magazine which, it says, earlier this week 19 January published an article with the given title, by Philosopher David Bain, which prompted more than 4,000 emails sent in. It gives a selection of about 20 of these, and there are about 11 on the original article, but no invitation for further responses.

Only one commenter, John O'Toole, responds with the obvious "The reason why god does not reduce suffering and evil in the world is simply because he does not exist!" Though he then goes on to embroider his case unnecessarily. The others are convoluted exercises in theology that all contradict one another. This hardly seems to be a balanced discussion, but perhaps the leading question didn't attract sceptical readers. I've never heard of this magazine before.

EDIT: The "Night Waves" programme wasn't as bad as I anticipated, but it certainly wasn't a celebration of the Enlightenment. Here are details of the speakers, not given on the BBC site:
Justin Champion see also. Phillip Blond see also. Karen O'Brien. Baroness Haleh Afshar and also.

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