The intelligence squared debate above in 2009 was the motion “the Catholic Church is a force for good”. Christopher Hitchens and Stephen Fry were opposed taking on Ann Widdecomb and the Archbishop of Nigeria.
As always Hitchens was to the point and reminds us of the interlocutor we all miss. Fry though gives a passionate, rational, emotionally controlled challenge to homophobia, which moves anyone that feels love is love when gentle, kind and considerate.
Hitchens observed if St Peter’s Church always reflected those qualities it would be Jesus’ too. Widdecomb’s idea that without collections in churches there would be a lack of philanthropy in the world is absurd. Compassion is moved on us by empathy. The belief in salvation is immaterial when you see a starving child.
The only thing that might be argued is that people are so guilt ridden by original sin, or so moved by desiring salvation in the next life, that they give more. That empathy with Christ on the Cross is more moving for the hand to the collection plate than all the misery that nature and humankind give to each other that we can see.
This view of humanity is one that needs to be challenged.
There are lots of good books and websites (see: The Fallacy Files and Your Logical Fallacy Is ) on critical thinking, logic and fallacies, but unfortunately there’s still widespread ignorance of such things. So, I think it’s always a good idea to discuss common errors in reasoning with a view to explaining why they are errors.
The “Slippery Slope” is one of the most frequently misused and misunderstood argument forms — because those who employ it believe it to be a strong argument form when it is, in fact, the exact opposite. It’s a commonly used phrase and most who use it are attempting to show that if one does “A” then a chain of events will occur which will eventually lead to the undesirable result “D”, for example. The imagery is quite simple: by initiating “A” one has stepped out onto the top of a steeply angled and slippery incline…