ABC1’s Q & A abandoned its traditional panel on Easter Monday for a two-handed debate between Christianity and Science -and stumped up with one of its best shows yet.
Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion argued against Sydney Catholic Archbishop George Pell on questions of faith, science, history, morality and more.
But it was host Tony Jones who delivered the show’s best moment.
When asked why God would “randomly” provide proof of his existence to a group of Jews 2000 years ago, Pell replied:
“For some extraordinary reason God chose the Jews. They weren’t intellectually the equal of either the Egyptians or-“
“Intellectually?” Jones interceded. “How can you know, intellectually?”
“Because you see the fruits of their civilisation. Egypt was the great power for thousands of years before Christianity. Persia was a great power. Caldia. The little Jewish people were originally shepherds. They were stuck, they’re still stuck.”
“That’s not a reflection of your intellectual capacity is it?” asked Jones. “Whether or not you’re a shepherd.”
“No it’s not but it’s a reflection of your intellectual development,” said Pell. “Many, many people are very, very clever and not highly intellectual.”
“Can I just interrupt, are you including Jesus in that, who obviously was Jewish? And was of that community?” Jones inquired.
“Exactly,” answered Pell.
“So…. intellectually not up to it?”
“That’s a nice try, Tony,” Pell replied. “The people in terms of sophistication, the Psalms are remarkable, in terms of their buildings and that sort of thing, they don’t compare with the great powers. But Jesus came not as an officer to the elite. he came to the poor and the battlers. And for some reason he chose a very difficult, and actually they are now intellectually elite because over the centuries they’ve been pushed out of every other form of work.”
There were plenty of moments of audience applause, and on Twitter last night several hashtags reflected the fervor for the topic:
#qanda, #Pell, #Hitler, #Jews, #Adam and Eve, #Tony Jones, #catholic.
Over 20,000 votes were received for the new iPowow interactive tool. 76% voted “No” to the question “Does Religion make the world a better place?”
Later Pell also attributed Hitler as causing the death of 50 million people.