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"Religion is irrational and today's society would be better off without it"

Tuesday 15 October 2013, 6.30PM

Speaker: Peter Atkins, Peter Cave, Andrew Brown and Selina O'Grady

York Union debate

The newly founded York Union has as its inaugural event a debate on the motion "This House Believes religion is irrational and today's society would be better off without it."

Four speakers will be debating the motion.

After a formal debate, an audience Q and A will take place and audience members will be able to cast a ballot to decide which side has won the day.

To cover the expenses of hosting the event, we have a suggested donation of £1.50 from students and £3 from members of the public.

For the motion

Peter Atkins:

A former Professor of Chemistry at The University of Oxford, fellow of Lincoln College and author of numerous books on Chemistry, Atkins has described religion as "a fantasy" and "completely empty of any explanatory content. It is also Evil." He appeared on a television panel about science and religion with Richard Dawkins and Richard Swinburne. When the latter tried to explain the Holocaust as God's way of giving Jews the opportunity to be brave and noble, Atkins growled: "May you rot in hell"

Peter Cave:

Peter Cave is Chair of the Humanist Philosophers, a group of philosophers who advise the British Humanist Association. He is a lecturer in philosophy for The Open University and City University. He is involved in the media, most recently scripting and presenting a series of philosophical paradoxes for BBC Radio 4, set in a paradoxical fairground, and a BBC Radio 4 programme celebrating John Stuart Mill.  He has taken part in many public debates concerning God and religious belief. He is the author of Humanism : A Beginner’s Guide, which Polly Toynbee described as “A book for our times”, and of the best-selling Can a Robot Be Human? and What’s Wrong with Eating People? 

Against the motion 

Andrew Brown:

Andrew Brown is a British journalist, writer, and editor. He has worked as the editor for the Belief section of the Guardian's Comment is Free and also works as the press columnist of the Church Times. Brown in his columns regularly criticises New Atheism. Brown has also written four books one of which, Fishing in Utopia, won the Orwell Prize in 2009. He has also won the acclaimed John Templeton European Religion Writer of the Year.

Selina O'Grady:

Selina O'Grady-author, historian, journalist- has worked in television and radio throughout her career, as well as co-editing numerous books including Great Spirits: The Fifty-Two Christians Who Most Influenced Their Millennium and A Deep but Dazzling Darkness, an anthology on belief and disbelief. In journalism she has worked for the Catholic weekly, The Tablet, The San Francisco Chronicle ,he Literary Review and Radio 4. Her latest book, And Man Created God, was listed in The Observer Best Holiday Reads 2013.

Location: Room P/X001, Physics

Admission: is by free ticket only. Please book below.

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