Christian/atheist dinner/discussion/de­bate on morality...

  • February 19, 2012 · 6:00 PM
  • Evergreen Presbyterian Church

    Do we need to study religious
 books to determine how to be good?

Topic: Do you need God to be a genuinely moral person?


Christian
: Pastor Keith Thomas
Secular Humanist: Tom Gebhardt
Moderator: Bernie Dehler
 

 

 Overview:

6:00-6:30: Dinner and small talk (free pizza and soda)
6:30-6:40: Speaker 1
6:40-6:50: Speaker 2
6:50-7:00: Tom and Keith question each other (5 min. each)
7:00-8:00: Audience Q & A

Sometimes people bring their kids to these events (middle school aged and above).  It's a great idea to expose them to other viewpoints.


Note:
Pastor Keith is a new speaker for this series, so here's some more background info on him:

Keith is Assistant Pastor at Evergreen Presbyterian Church, is a Masters graduate of Wheaton College, and career missionary having served in Mexico City and Guadalajara for 18 years. He is fluent in Spanish and is a presuppositional apologist.  

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Preliminary thoughts from Pastor Keith (Christian):

It might surprise atheists to find that Christians do believe that atheists can perform moral acts and conform to a moral standard.  However, the question must go deeper than that for Christians as morality, as everything else in the created order, has as both it's origin and object God himself.   The atheist must answer the very difficult question of what is moral and how he/she knows that or go the other equally difficult path of moral relativism.  

Preliminary thoughts from Tom Gebhardt (atheist, Secular Humanist):

The main question is: Do you need God to be a genuinely moral person? It can also be asked from the position of a nonbeliever, "Does disbelieving in God encourage people to be less moral?"  That actually can be a complicated question because really what is it that encourages me AND discourages me in being moral? Is it love? Is it fear? Are we really all consequentialists at heart? I will try to touch upon these questions and other issues to truly answer the question: Do you need God to be a genuinely moral person? 

Preliminary thoughts from Bernie Dehler (moderator):

Christians look to the Bible for moral guidance.  But what does the Bible tell us about the morality of God?  In the Old Testament, God tells people to take an "eye for an eye, (Exodus 21:24)" as justice.  But in the New Testament, Jesus (also considered to be God by Christians) says NOT to do "eye for eye" but instead to "turn the other cheek (Matt. 5:38-39)."  So did God change his mind... or how can these verses rightly be interpreted?  As for atheists, many of them seemed pleased to do whatever they want, with no fear of eternal punishment or having someone that "knows all" watching them.  Does disbelieving in God encourage people to be less moral, since there are no ultimate consequences according to their worldview?

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  • Bernie D.

    The[masked] event is now online: "Do you need God to be a genuinely moral person?" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=...­

    March 7, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    When I asked Pastor Thomas about his comments that some things are just morally wrong, like genocide or slavery and I mentioned that the Bible apparently approved of both as well as many other terrible acts, he seemed to be unaware of several passages I quoted. It only goes to reinforce my belief that many are so-called Cafeteria Christians, choosing Bible passages they approve of and ignore those they find offensive and cannot logically explain.

    February 20, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    I think both of the speakers made very good points. I especially enjoyed the conversations I had before and after the debate. I had a great time.

    February 20, 2012

  • Brenda

    I like the whole tone and approach this group takes in discussions with religious people.
    There is respect for other views and the emphasis on discussion over confrontation is admirable.

    February 20, 2012

  • Bernie D.

    A large group (I think more than 80 showed-up), and one of the most well-behaved audiences. It was a delight having an intellectual and academic exchange of ideas with mutual respect for each other. What a great opportunity to see others of a different belief system, without demonizing them. Both speakers seemed well prepared.

    February 19, 2012

  • Bernie D.

    Hi Gavin- what I meant by no 'ultimate' consequences (in the atheist view) is that if a person 'gets away with murder,' then dies, then they got away with murder forever. In the atheistic position, there is no ultimate final justice by god(s).

    February 19, 2012

  • Ryan S.

    Ethics and Meta Ethics are extremely difficult subjects to negotiate with philosophical rigor. I think this holds true for theist and atheist alike. Not only what course of action is correct but what principles are fit mediators when two or more values conflict. And what standards, if any, ought to apply to ones preferences. It's the hardest problem I know of.

    February 19, 2012

  • Bernie D.

    Update note: Sometimes people bring their kids to these events (middle school aged and above). It's a great idea to expose them to other viewpoints.

    January 19, 2012

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