I believe it is fine to debate religious ideas, within reason. However, we need to understand that when people’s core beliefs are threatened they become defensive and inflexible regardless of the content of those beliefs. To pound, willy-nilly, on issues they find threatening will only stifle debate, not extend it. Furthermore, to attempt to alter someone’s core beliefs without offering something that will adequately replace the framework of his life is to attempt cruelty of the first order.
Many of the issues that troubled me decades ago have contributed to this decline. Some, like those related to contraception, homosexuality, and family life, are considered matters of divine or natural law—the will of God—and, therefore, are immutable. I disagree, and I’m not alone, but we have been unable to persuade the church to make changes. Other matters are considered a product of human law, which is alterable if the church thinks that doing so is in its best interest. The vow of priestly celibacy is one such statute: none, I believe, would be easier to change or, quite possibly, is more important to the short-term health of the church.
One hundred seventy-seven years ago today, a young and untried naturalist named Charles Robert Darwin set sail on HMS Beagle for a trip that would change history, science, and ignite controversy that extends (albeit without warrant) to the present.
The Free Dictionary has a great article about Darwin’s life, studies, and the effects they had on the society of his day. Well worth a read.