Theism or atheism : which is more reasonable? A public debate (1896) PDF ebook

Theism or atheism: which is more reasonable

Theism or atheism: which is more reasonable

A public debate between Mr. W. T. Lee (lecturer to the Christian evidence society) and Mr. G. W. Foote (president of the national secular society) was held in the temperance hall, derby, May 15 and 16, 1895

The Chairman: Ladies and Gentlemen, —allow me, in the first place, to express my indebtedness to the members of the local committee who are charged with the management of this meeting, for having bestowed upon me the compliment of inviting me to preside over this meeting. In the next place, I should like to assure you of the deep sympathy I feel in every honest effort to get at the truth with regard to matters vitally affecting the peace of mind and happiness of the people. 

Believe me, I have as little sympathy or patience with the gay trifler who, referring to matters of this importance, insists that ignorance is bliss, as I have with those persons who blindly take their orders from the priests and from the bookmen. Let me again frankly admit that I have little sympathy with a reckless and indiscriminate discussion on topics of this sacred character; I hold that the truth can best be arrived at, and a satisfactory solution of difficulties best secured, by temperate and orderly discussion. Happily for us tonight, we are sur- rounded by all the elements of the profitable debate. The contending champions are gentlemen of acknowledged ability, and, I believe, of sterling honesty of purpose. Li j\Ir. Lee — {loud applause) — we have a powerful and high-minded exponent of orthodoxy, who has acquitted himself well upon many a field of controversy; and in his opponent, we have one well qualified to meet him. (Cheers.) I can, perhaps, pay Mr. Foote no higher compliment than to say he has been deemed worthy by his fellow-thinkers to succeed an eminent orator and statesman, one whose acquaintance I was proud to make and enjoy — I refer to the late Charles Bradlaugh. Well, these friends of ours have mutually agreed to discuss a certain topic, which, as you all know, is thus described: "Theism or Atheism: Which is the more reasonable?'^ and, in doing so, they have undertaken to be bound by certain conditions; and perhaps, at this point, I cannot better consult your convenience and your information than by reading some of the more salient parts of the arrangements which have been drawn up: — 
Mr. Lee to open the first night, Mr. Foote the second. Order of debate :

 (a) Opener to speak for thirty minutes ;

 (d) his opponent to speak for thirty minutes. Each to speak twice for fifteen minutes after. 

All the local business arrangements are to be made by the joint committee at Derby. There are other points, which, for obvious reasons, I need not trouble you with. I have now to say, ladies and gentlemen, that you will not elicit from me any critical opinion with regard to the selected topic of discussion; throughout this debate, I shall carefully abstain from making any such observations. I hope to prove to your satisfaction that, in undertaking this duty, I have been actuated by a desire to observe the strictest impartiality; and, with this end in view, I very confidently appeal to you for assistance and support. Let us listen with the utmost patience and consideration to what both our friends have to say, and let us be careful not to indulge in any act, however slight, which may have a tendency to irritate or distract them.

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