A very heated debate took place about faith and atheism at the BBC’s inaugural ‘100 Women Conference’ on 25 October 2013 in London.
The video shows part of the discussion between formidable opponents Teresa Forcades (Catholic Nun) and Kate Smurthwaite (atheist):
On the subject of atheism, The Guardian reported a month ago that atheism is to be taught to Irish school children; approx. 16,000 primary school kids in the non-denominational sector. They will be instructed about atheism as part of their basic introduction course to ethics and belief systems; however, all other children can watch courses on the internet and smartphone apps. The Catholic church has dominated the Irish education system until now by controlling up to 93% of the state’s 3,200 primary schools. It is rather striking that Richard Dawkins’ book, The Magic of Reality is a key text in the first ever atheist curriculum for Irish children, drawn up by ‘Atheist Ireland’. Dawkins is also the author of the controversial book, The God Delusion.
Michael Nugent, co-founder of ‘Atheist Ireland’ stated “The Irish education system has for too long been totally biased in favour of religious indoctrination… and if parents whose kids are in schools under church control want to opt their kids out of learning religion (as is their right these days) then they can use our course as an alternative for their children to study.”
Osho addresses the situation by explaining the larger picture:
The essence of religion in the past was faith. And faith entails the acceptance of precepts without any kind of verification at all. If a man had no faith he was considered irreligious, because faith was looked upon as the shadow of religion. The essence of atheism, the opposite of religion, was lack of belief. This is only the other side of faith; as opposed to acceptance it involves rejection, but without any verification either.
Without faith, neither atheism nor theism could have existed. Mankind has always swung between these two extremes, between these two polarities. But now, science has given us a third option. It is now possible to be neither atheistic nor theistic, now possible to be absolutely free of belief. Now, mankind can free itself from those so-called principles that have been hammered into its unconscious through generations of tradition, through centuries of teaching.
Osho, The Long, the Short, and the All, Ch 2 (excerpt, translation from Hindi)