Over Christmas dinner with friends this afternoon the host made reference to a debate he had recently listened to between two eminent philosophers on the validity of the cosmological argument. As I had not heard it before I watched it on YouTube. It’s a very civilised and insightful discussion. Enjoy!
My thoughts (for what they are worth): I think Bertrand Russell (an atheist) comes across as being dogmatic whereas Father F. Copleston, his Catholic interlocutor, comes across as possessing the more reasonable position. Russell is a dogmatic empiricist which prevents him from admitting that the universe (that is, the sum total of contingent things) requires an explanation for its existence. The sum total of contingent things cannot have an explanation in terms of another contingent thing, therefore the explanation must be a necessary being (that is something that cannot not exist). Ergo God must exist.
At the end of the debate:
Copleston – Well if a question for you has no meaning , it’s of course very difficult to discuss it, isn’t it?
Lord Russell – Yes, It is very difficult. What do you say, shall we pass on to some other issue?
What a classy exchange!!!
(BBC Radio recording January 28, 1948.)