I have been out of the loop; I completely missed this when it was news. Here’s a link to an announcement from the Vatican Information Service, dated March 18, 2011, about a formal dialogue between believers and non-believers.
Elsewhere, courtesy of Hemant Mehta at The Friendly Atheist, we learn that the Vatican’s desire to debate atheists comes with one catch: they are not interested in debating “polemical atheists” like Hitchens or Dawkins.
I, for one, don’t have a problem with the Vatican’s preference on this. I expect that the Catholic theologians in the debate were not ‘polemical Catholics’ but rather very serious religious scholars, so I respect their decision to try to get some balance between the two sides. I have no idea who the Vatican picked to represent atheism in their debates, but I certainly hope that whoever it was, it was someone with a strong background in the philosophy of religion.
Disclaimer: just before I clicked the button to “publish” the post, I remembered that just a while ago I posted an article engaging in shameless self-promotion of my debate with Fernandes. For the record, then, I want to make it clear I am not in any way suffering from “delusions of grandeur” and suggesting I think I should be debating top theologians from the Vatican. I don’t think I’m qualified to do that. The timing of these two posts was purely coincidental.