October 29, 2010

Holy rigamarole

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You can’t spell “g-o-o-d” without “g-o-d,” but can you be good without God?

The Philosophy Club, Secular Student Alliance, and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship all thought they had the answer, at a debate called “Do you need God to be good?”

The debate, which took place in Stuart on Monday night, was moderated by Philosophy professor Michael Kremer, and co-sponsored by the three associations. The 60-person-capacity room was at overflow; people sat in the aisles, on the floors, and would-be attendees were turned away.

“We are doing this to give people a chance to think and explore,” said second-year chemistry graduate student Ben Zalisko, who spoke at the event.

The panel was divided into secularists and theists; PC had members on both sides.

The secularist panel argued for consequentialism and attacked faith as a basis of morality.

“We do things because of consequences, the Universe does not care about what we ought to do, Humans do,” Zalisko said. “Faith is the willful suspension of critical thinking; it poisons rational thought.”

In response, the theists argued that something objective and transcendent provides the reasoning to be moral.

“[Morality] has nothing to do with the desires of a person…the existence of God provides us a purpose,” third-year PC member Ajay Ravichandran said.

Third-year Paul Dueck of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship furthered the argument. “Only transcendent things qualify as reasons to actually do something.”

Kremer concluded with a quote from Plato’s Euthyphro: “Is something good simply because God commands it, or does He command it because it is already good?”