For some reason, Bill’s March newsletter has not been posted on the RF web site yet. As one of his financial supporters, I get an early version of the newsletter e-mailed to me. So, I think I will share some of that early newsletter with you all.
During March two events stand out as especially challenging: on March 16 at Westminster College in Missouri I have a dialogue on the kalam cosmological argument with Dr. Wes Morriston, a philosopher who has published several articles critical of the kalam argument. Then two days later I have a debate at Northwestern Missouri State with the self-described “internet infidel” Dr. Richard Carrier on the resurrection of Jesus.
…I’ll also be doing some teaching for Impact 360, a high school ministry, and will be speaking several times at the Christian Book Exposition in Dallas. I round out the month with a Veritas Forum at Florida State.
I already blogged about the panel discussion he is doing with Lee Strobel and Christopher Hitchens at the Christian Book Expo here. And here is a bit more on his recent speaking engagement at Columbia University in March:
On the first evening I debated professor Shelly Kagan of Yale University on the question “Is God Necessary for Morality?” Actually, this was not a debate but a dialogue. After we each gave our opening statements, we had a very substantive discussion. Kagan has Christian colleagues at Yale, like Robert Adams and John Hare, who defend moral values and duties based in God, and I was struck by the respect with which he treated the view.
He surprised me by not arguing for his own view of ethics, which is a radical consequentialism. He holds that if torturing a little girl to death would somehow result in greater overall good as a consequence, then that is what we should do! Instead he defended a social contract view of morality, according to which our moral duties are whatever rules perfectly rational people would agree to as a way of governing society. I responded that this makes morality a human convention, rather than objective.
Kagan also affirmed in our dialogue that he is a physicalist and determinist. I charged that determinism strips our actions of any moral significance. We also disagreed over the importance of moral accountability. I claimed that the absence of moral accountability on atheism makes morality collide with self-interest and robs our choices of significance, but Kagan maintained that we don’t need a sort of cosmic significance in order for our moral choices to be significant. All in all, we had an affable and substantive exchange which fairly presented the alternatives.
One feature of our dialogue that pleased and surprised me was how clearly the Gospel emerged in the course of our conversation. Talking about moral values and accountability led naturally to the subject of our failure to fulfill our moral duties and how to deal with that. I was able to explain our need of God’s forgiveness, moral cleansing, and rehabilitation.
Kagan then asked me how Jesus fits into the picture. That gave me the chance to expound on Christ’s atoning death and the fulfillment of God’s justice in Christ’s bearing the penalty for our sin. I was gratified that the Gospel could be shared so clearly and naturally with the students present.
I hope I will be able to purchase all 3 of these debates (Morriston, Carrier and Kagan) from the Biola Web Store later, as I love to lend these out to my non-Christian friends. I would encourage you to support the ministry of the most able public defender of Christianity operating today. Bill is the St. Paul of our day.
If you have not seen any of his debates, go here right now and listen to his debate with Walter Sinnott-Armstrong of Dartmouth College, on the problem of evil and suffering. The book version of that debate, (and another debate), was later published by Oxford University Press and you can purchase it here. This is a great book to put on your desk at work to show people that God is not a matter of blind faith.