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Aquinas lecture analyzes atheism

Bridget Meade | Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fr. Robert Barron addressed atheism in his lecture on Tuesday evening as part of Saint Mary’s 14th annual St. Thomas Aquinas Symposium.

Barron, a Notre Dame graduate and professor of systematic theology at Saint Mary’s of the Lake, titled his lecture, “Thomas Aquinas and Why Atheists are Right.”

“New atheists have emerged as strident critics of religion. I have found that more often than not I agree with them, for the God they deny is one that I would deny as well,” he said.

Barron’s address focused on the definition of truth and the perception of God in both believers and atheists alike.

Barron said atheists and Catholics define God in different ways. Atheists focus on what God is not rather than what God is. However, religions are often stigmatized in modern society.

Barron stressed the importance of a Catholic’s ability to address and debate religion in a public setting.

Dr. Joe Incandela, the event’s organizer and Joyce McMahon Hank Aquinas Chair in Catholic Theology, said the message of a deep and clear understanding of God’s existence is both relevant and necessary on Saint Mary’s campus.

“Aquinas brings faith and reason together [in his beliefs],” Incandela said. “When we do that, we’re participating in a theology that, in a sense, is being done through divine revelation.”

The College is a place to discuss theology openly, he said.

“You can do theology in public, and it can be fun,” Incandela said. ” And I think that

Saint Mary’s is a home for that theology.”

Barron’s renowned global media ministry ranges from YouTube to books to podcasts and DVDs, as well as the Eternal World Television Network (EWTN). As an award-winning author, he has been invited to speak across America and abroad, including the Pontifical North American College at the Vatican and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.

As stated by his website, wordonfire.org, his preaching has a straightforward and revolutionary mission: to evangelize the culture.

A crowd of about 150 gathered in the student center to hear Barron. The lecture was sponsored by Joyce McMahon Hank, a 1952 graduate of Saint Mary’ s and member of the College’ s Board of Trustees.