The Great Debates

Allan Little holds the ring as today's leading theologians and historians argue on behalf of their historical counterparts.



The first programme re-visits the controversy between St Augustine of Hippo and the British 'heretic' Pelagius over Original Sin and raises questions about human nature, free will, and the source of good and evil.


Allan Little holds the ring in another re-match of a classic historial debate.

Professor Carla Pinto-Correia and Professor John Durrant restage the 18th Century arguments between Albrecht von Haller and Caspar Wolff about how life develops from a fertilized egg to a human being and look at how little we still know in today's age of the genome.

0103 LASTBurke V Hastings: The Moral Accountability Of Empire2004122920050101

Allan Little presides over a historical debate about power and accountability.

In 1787, Edmund Burke MP instigated the impeachment of Warren Hastings, the Governor-General of Bengal, for 'high crimes and misdemeanours.

In this modern-day rematch, we hear leading historians and present-day commentators argue over the moral legacy of Empire.

0201Thomas Jefferson V Alexander Hamilton2006010420060107

The focus is on the dispute between Hamilton and Jefferson about the US Constitution.

Hamilton believed in strong centralised national institutions, Jefferson dreamt of an America with minimal government.

Leading historians tell the story of how Hamilton's political rivalries led to his death in a duel and how his dispute with Jefferson shaped democracy in America.

John Redwood and Bonnie Greer assess the legacy of their ideas for today's democracies.

0202Desiderius Erasmus V Martin Luther2006011120060114

Emmanuel College in Cambridge is the setting for this edition of Great Debates.

It was here that one of the leading Humanist thinkers Desiderius Erasmus was Professor of Greek in the 16th Century and it is his very public clash with Martin Luther over the nature of free will which the programme re-visits.

To what extent are human beings truly free to determine their own choices? How accountable can we really be for our actions?

Allan Little is joined by Dr Richard Rex, Dr David Bagchi, Fergus Stokes and the Reverend Mary Cousins to discuss these issues in front of an invited audience.

0203Dr Martin Luther King V Malcolm X2006011820060121

Allan Little chairs a restaging of the debate between two towering figures of the Civil Rights Movement - Dr Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.

Both men were charismatic leaders, committed to achieving freedom for African-Americans yet they held very different views on how to achieve equality.

Should one use non-violent direct action and work to shame one's oppressors, or should civil rights be achieved by 'any means necessary'?

To debate this in front of an invited audience in Birmingham are Dr David Muir, Public Policy Director for the Evangelical Alliance; Simon Woolley, Director of Operation Black Vote; Dr Hakim Adi, Lecturer in History at Middlesex University and Toyin Agbetu, Founder of the African British Equality Authority.