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Up For a Good Debate?

Cheridan Sanders

Monday, January 27, 2014

Who doesn’t like a good old fashioned public debate? The prospect of two sides of a contentious issue going toe-to-toe in a public forum...exciting! Besides the inherent drama, public debates are useful because they clarify the basis of our own beliefs while allowing for a deeper understanding of what others believe. It's a great way to evangelize:
Evangelization also involves a path of dialogue. For the Church today, three areas of dialogue stand out where she needs to be present in order to promote full human development and to pursue the common good: dialogue with states, dialogue with society – including dialogue with cultures and the sciences – and dialogue with other believers who are not part of the Catholic Church. In each case, “the Church speaks from the light which faith offers,” contributing her two thousand year experience and keeping ever in mind the life and sufferings of human beings. This light transcends human reason, yet it can also prove meaningful and enriching to those who are not believers and it stimulates reason to broaden its perspectives
Evangelii Gaudium, 116
As you can see, engaging modern culture is not optional for Catholics. As Pope Francis suggests, we have something vital to offer. The Church, as the custodian of more than thousand years of experience, provides a perspective which opens up new horizons for all. Reason as powerful as it is - has its limitations. Put another way, “reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all.”  Nicely put, eh? Well, you can thank the great Christian apologist, G.K. Chesterton for that one. But perhaps more importantly, public debates are necessary because they model critical thinking and an honest search for the truth. And that, together with a good dose of humility is the beginning of mutual respect, and a path to peace.   
All this to say that if you're up for a good debate check out the Archdiocese of Toronto's  Chesterton Debate Series hosted by the Office of Catholic Youth (OCY).  OCY's inaugural event features Fr. Philip Cleevely C.O. a philosophy professor and Justin Trottier founder of the Centre for Inquiry Canada. They'll be tackling the question "Is There a God?"  
Go ahead, and break out the Summa you'll want to sharpen your wits for this one! The debate is set for February 7, 2014 and by all accounts the only thing interesting enough to warrant braving the winter cold. See you there.
CNS photo

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