Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 76 (4):1363-1396 (2020)

In 1948, Bertrand Russell and Frederick Copleston entertained us with a radiophonic debate, on the BBC, concerning the rational proofs of God’s existence. This debate is primarily a product of Authors’ mindset. In this sense, every argument on each side presupposes a universal reason from which human intellect can grasp a certain degree of truth. Therefore, we would expect that the debate 75 years old to be outdated. Or maybe, Russell’s agnostic position could, at first sight, seem to be more aligned with a contemporary post-modern mindset than Copleston’s theism. However, we disagree with the aforementioned thesis. We will not argue that Copleston won the debate by means of reason alone. We will rather show that both positions emerge from different ontologies. And these ones are intertwined with specific narratives and its respective ways of life. For that matter, the Russell-Copleston debate substantiates the thesis of Radical Orthodoxy. Deep down, John Milbank’s “ontology of peace,” as opposed to the Nietzschean nihilism, emerges from this debate. In this sense, while Copleston’s argumentation grounds this narrative on an ontology of peace, Russell tends to follow in a nihilism capable of destroying the communion between different persons. In this sense, the debate is still up to date.
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DOI 10.17990/rpf/2020_76_4_1363
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