Posted by: keepfishing | March 17, 2007

Curry with moderately famous people

Tuesday saw the return of the public debate to Edinburgh University, when 2 Oxford professors, Alistair Mcgrath (doctorates in biophysics and theology) and Peter Atkins (Chemist) debated “Darwin and Humanity: Should we rid the mind of God?”. Student apathy has been made much of this year, with the Student Union AGM struggling to get 100 people at it and was nowhere near getting close to numbers needed to ratify the votes. So it was encouraging to see the largest lecture theatre on campus (allegedly seats 400-500) full to the rafters. In fact, a good 150 or so were turned away as well, which was a huge shame, but i good indicator of the fact that people are actually thinking about these things.

Actually, I was one of those turned away. But after a few sneaky dashes through fire-exits and doors with big no-entry signs on it, I ended up sitting in the dark behind the stage, unable to see a thing, but able to hear everything just fine. As it turned out, the debate itself was a little disappointing. The title didn’t really lend itself to clashes and most of what the speakers said was rhetoric, keeping things within their camp. Dr Atkins said we should rid the mind of God because it was a delusion for the weak and led to wars etc., Dr McGrath argued that God provided a framework for life. Peter Atkins also said a few interesting things such as how he didn’t be live there were ANY ‘why’ questions that mattered, only ‘how’. And also how he always thought the least complex explanation was right. for example, God creating the universe is more complex than nothing creating it in his eyes and therefore not viable.

Things only really got interesting in the question time, when someone asked why the least complex answer should necessarily be right, which he didn’t really have an answer for. It also threatened to get interesting when the speakers flirted with talking about moral absolutes, but there wasn’t really time. After the debate I was invited out for dinner with the speakers and some other Christians and philosophy types so ended up at the end of the table with a friend from London and a couple of philosophy students. The curry was very good. The conversation was, shall we say, ‘interesting’, but very good for me learning how to be graceful in the face of someone taking cheap shots and just on the lookout for a fight. That said, I had some great conversation with the other girl at dinner and have had some really interesting and fruitful times over the week with other friends who were there.

On reflection, I should have written this on Tuesday. The account of my daring caper with another Christian worker to make sure we were able to hear the debate, despite the authorities attempting to kick us out at least 3 times, would have been much funnier.

Only 2 posts until blog number 100. Look out for something special. Probably.

For those that wanted photos of my alternative parting, I didn’t take any. Have one of the results of my football match today instead.

And I finally finished my bumper newsletter this week. If you haven’t received it and would like to, let me know.



  1. Hey Alasdair.. you have something on your face.. 🙂

  2. interesting to hear how the debate went… perhaps not as ‘fantastic’ as one would have hoped but at least it increased the number of people thinking about spiritual things. time to capitalize on that.

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