21 November 2006


An Open Letter to Theos

No, I'm not writing to God, just to those who consider themselves his representatives on Earth, namely the organisers of the new "think-tank"
Theos. According to their FAQs they represent both protestants and catholics, both evangelicals and liberals, which seems to me to be an impossible task. Their formation has apparently been stimulated in response to the recent upsurge of anti-theist books, in particular those by Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins. At any rate their first Debate is about "The God Delusion". I wrote to them as follows:

Dear Theos organisers,

You don't seem to have given any indication of what subjects you will be debating in future after the current one on "The God Delusion". Nor do you seem to make clear anywhere what line you will take on many controversial issues.

May I ask you pencil in somewhere the following important issues for debate: 1. creationism and evolution; 2. the rights of women; 3. homosexual love. I could list others but these come to mind as probably the three most in need of elucidation.

Since you claim to represent both catholocs and protestants, evangelicals and liberals (if that is the correct term rather than 'mainstream') I find it difficult to see how you can have any consistent views on these issues without alienating a large fraction of your constituency.

Yours sincerely

George Jelliss

(member of Leicester Secular Society)

It seems to me that all they can do is to open up debates on these subjects and let people express their views, but I can't see how they can arrive at any consensus without forsaking part of their supposed constituency.

I've received a reply from Theos, condensed a bit here:

Dear Mr Jelliss, / Thank you very much for your email. / The next debate will commence quite soon. We don’t indicate what the future subjects for debate are, to enable us to respond to issues as they arise. / In terms of the issues that you list, we’re committed to doing public theology rather than focusing on issues of denominational or sectarian debate. Christians, like Humanists, have different emphases on some of these issues. In terms of alienating sections of our constituency, you shall have to be the judge of that, but if you keep an eye on the website, you’ll see that people from right across the spectrum are involved and engaged in the research and discussions we are initiating./ Thank you again for emailing. / Best wishes / Paul

Paul Woolley, Director, Theos - the public theology think tank.
Well the second great Theos debate on world-shattering issues has started. It's not even a grammatical question: "Christmas is cancelled?" It's just some random thoughts by a marketing man on the Farepack closure, a subject the newspapers have already debated quite well. Impact zero.

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