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John Dickson reflects on Q&A and our social media wrap

OPINION | John Dickson

Wednesday 20 February 2013

John Dickson, Director of Centre for Public Christianity, appeared on ABC’s Q&A program on Monday 18 February. Here, he provides ‘Eternity’ with some reflections on his experience. 

I am glad to offer just a few brief reflections about my ABC Q&A experience.

First, I now have even more respect for the other Christian leaders who have been previous guests on the panel, Peter Jensen, George Pell, Jim Wallace and Stephen O’Doherty. It is very difficult. The preparation required to think through the complex issues that can be discussed on any given night is daunting. I have to thank my colleagues at the Centre for Public Christianity, especially Justine Toh and Simon Smart, for the hours of reading, thinking and talking that we shared over the last week.

Secondly, I have regrets. I always do. I regret not chiming in once or twice more – especially, for example, when Professor Lawrence Krauss suggested that science was responsible for the end of slavery. I also regret not being more gentle and measured at two points. I don’t think I should have used the term (of Prof Krauss) ‘new atheists’. This is a badge that now has tainted connotations, mainly due to the bad behaviour of people like Richard Dawkins. I shouldn’t have used it. Secondly, I regret not being a little more gracious to my 6-Day Creationist brothers and sisters. Only afterwards – outside the pressured environment – did I think that I probably hurt people I care for and will spend eternity with in God’s kingdom. I do think Genesis 1 is better read in a non-concrete way and I do believe the science is overwhelmingly in favour of an old earth, but there are better ways of airing my disagreement than the way I did.

Thirdly, I am more and more impressed with the ABC’s commitment to fair content. Some people have told me they felt Tony Jones gave preference to the atheist case. I think Tony was merely acknowledging the fact that Professor Krauss was an international guest with a huge following and reputation – in scientific and atheist circles. It was appropriate that he held the floor a little more than most. But it is more important for me to point out that the sincere goal of the ABC producers was to offer up a more nuanced and sophisticated conversation about ‘religion’ than sometimes appears on Australian television. I can’t tell you how impressed I was with the producers’ kindness to me personally and with their hope that the night would represent a fresh and friendly approach to the usually combative discussion about God and atheism. The Centre for Public Christianity has been saying it for years: while the media does not always get Christians, they are not always out to get them! This was brought home to me very strongly last night. I am praying that many of us will have opportunities to show an open and friendly approach to both the public broadcaster and the commercial stations!

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Our wrap of social media surrounding John Dickson’s appearance on Q&A. 

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