Is there reason to be good without God?
On Sept. 26, 2009 I debated Dan Barker on "Is there reason to be good without God?" It was a good debate. Mr. Barker opened saying that good is what reduces harm; therefore, it was possible to be good without God. I responded by reading my opening statement and said that his standard of what is good is arbitrary. The whole point was this. If you do not have a standard by which you can judge what is good or bad, you cannot assert that you can be good without God. Furthermore, this standard cannot be arbitrary, an opinion, or arrived at by popular vote. I do not believe that Mr. Barker presented a logical response. Furthermore, I'm firmly convinced that atheism makes it impossible to provide any objective standard of morality. Overall, I thought the debate went quite well.
We had a period of cross-examination where we were allowed to ask each other questions. I opened with this one:
Mr. Barker, in your debate with Peter Payne at the University of Wisconsin in March of 2005, at about 35:40 you said that “Telling a lie can sometimes be a very good moral thing to do.” You also said in the Q&A section of your lecture to the Campus Atheists and Secular Humanists at the University of Minnesota, in October of 2006, 2nd Part, 35 seconds in, that “The action that results in the minimal amount of harm is the right action.” Alright, Mr. Barker, since you say that the right thing to do is the action that minimizes harm, that lying can be good, and religion causes great harm, then shouldn’t you lie in our debate, in order to win the debate, so you can convince people that religion is harmful thereby reducing overall harm in the world?
When I asked the question, the crowd responded with a low rumble. It was a good question. He said he would not lie and, if I remember correctly, he said it would be because he would be found out. He expanded more on this, but I do not remember what he said.
Another question I asked was:
Mr. Barker, in your debate with Peter Payne at the University of Wisconsin, March of 2005, 35:10, you said, “There are no actions in and of themselves that are always absolutely right or wrong. It depends on the context. You cannot name an action that is always absolutely right or wrong. I can think of an exception in any case.” Alright Mr. Barker, I say that for you to torture babies for your personal enjoyment is wrong. Could you please provide an exception and tell us of a situation where you torturing babies for your personal enjoyment is the right thing to do?
He didn't answer it well. He bluffed his way through and could not think of an exception.
Anyway, Mr. Barker is a skilled debater. His arguments aren't very good at all. But he's good at appearing like he knows what he's doing. I will need more experience to get better at debating.
If you want to see a video set up by an attendee, then go http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veXqCSZJ0Us
Sorry for not getting the newsletter out for a whole month. I have been too busy preparing for the Barker debate. Hopefully, I get this going on a weekly basis again. I apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience.
These past few weeks certainly have been eventful here in the CARM world. I had the privilege of spending some time last week in Newburg, OR with Matt Slick, James White, and a number of great Christians at a local apologetics conference. While James and Matt debated Dan Barker on separate occasions this past Saturday, I spent about three and a half hours in the afternoon lecturing on three different topics: “What is Apologetics?” “How to Integrate Apologetics into your Personal Ministry” and “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?”
There were approximately a hundred or so people that attended my lectures including, surprisingly, a number of atheists or skeptics. After my lecture on the resurrection in which I argued that the resurrection of Jesus is the best explanation for explaining 5 core historical facts, one atheist told me, “I don’t agree with your conclusion, but I appreciate your scholarly approach.”
The Christians in attendance definitely seemed to soak up the material that I presented. I strongly emphasized the importance of strong family education and discipleship. I argued that one of the main reasons our churches are weak is that men are not leading their families by discipling them. One young mother approached me regarding how to train her kids in apologetics. I recommended using the CARM Theology School Manual and breaking it down for her kids to understand. However, I now see that CARM needs to produce teaching material for the family so that it is already “broken down” for the kids to understand.
I will be spending the next three weeks here in the Boise, ID area helping Matt shoot footage for the Theology School. Our prayer is that we can get the Theology School in video to be available for teaching material for Sunday school teachers, families, home school groups, etc. It is great to be back in the CARM inter-galactic headquarters!
- TV opportunity on a TV network. http://www.lyngsat.com This is not DirectTV or Dish Satellite. It is Lyngsat, a different network. Last year, 3 million receivers were sold for this network and the network has been up for years. It is worldwide. We don't know how many people would be watching each show, but it would be broadcast with millions of potential viewers in North and South America. So, we need support. If you are interested in this, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. Don't send any money, just let me know if you'd like to support it when the time is right. The cost will be $100 per hour to broadcast. That is a great deal.
Love and Hate Mail
- I just want to say thank you for your site. I've only read about an hour's worth of material and already I feel blessed stumbling upon it. I love the way you guys go into philosophical arguments. Thanks again! Damien
- Dear Matt, I'm sure you receive a lot of email, so a response isn't necessary. I just wanted to say thank you for making such a wide selection of Christian apologetics available online. The CARM website has been a steady and reliable (and trusted) place on the web to get accurate information on what I deal with most: different Christian and non-Christian movements in our culture today. With Gnosticism, and likewise oneness Pentecostalism, growing so rapidly in my part of the country, genuine questions arise as to what truth is. I appreciate you putting real questions and answers on your website. Thanks again and God Speed, Jeremy
- I am a Christian living in [city deleted], Arizona (i.e. a very Mormon town). I do not attend a church but was raised Baptist and hold on to my beliefs. Recently some friends from work who have retired have contacted us to share information about their Mormon religion. I keep avoiding them…since I have heard a few things about the religion but no one ever tells us what they are really about.
I want to thank you for posting the Mormonism in a Nutshell video. It was very informative and for me a real eye opener. I now have the background information that I need to have an educated rebuttal to our Mormon friends…in a nutshell!! Nancy
- I work nights and Shepherd's Chapel would always come on at 4:00 A.M. here. The more I listened to this guy the more my eyebrows began raising to what he was teaching. He comes across as arrogant to mean and acts like he knows everything and has all the answers and his viewers are idiots. A person would have to be pretty ignorant of the Bible to follow "pastor" Murray.
Just today he taught salvation by works by teaching a person gets to heaven by having a "good name." Sorry, but just because someone is respected and has a good standing in the community, doesn't mean he or she is saved.
My jaw about hit the floor also when he said Christ was not tempted in the wilderness! The Bible clearly says in Hebrews that He was in all ways tempted as we are but without sin. His explanation is that Christ was a great teacher and was showing us how Satan works. He obviously is not even qualified to teach Sunday school. Thanks for exposing this False Teacher. Sincerely, Michael from MT
- To whom it may concern;; as to the articles you have on here on Jehovah's Witnesses, you are sadly mistaken on much of the "insight" you've concocted on here for your readers. Instead of bashing a religion you obviously know NOTHING about, try actually talking to persons who are either A. Elders or B. Baptized followers of the Truth, who can help clear these misknowlegements up. Just remember next time you write an article, make sure you actually take time and include the TRUTH,not no concocted made up story just for your few readers!
- To Whom it May Concern: You should do some research before you start to call other people's Holy Books "imperfect." Look at your Bible for example...does it really make sense to you that it came straight from Jesus when it was written well over hundreds of years AFTER his death? Think about that. Also, look at how many denominations there are in Christianity. Why is that? Maybe because regular PEOPLE like you are changing it to however you see fit to living your life. Sorry that Muslims follow their book and live by it, rather than change the book to fit their lifestyle! Is this the only way you can make your falsified Religion look correct? By incorrectly negating others? Yasmeen
- Stop blaming the Jews for killing witches. That's anti-semetic. Christians killed witches; witches never had a horrible history of killing anyone...including jews or blacks etc. Take the log out of your own eye before you try taking the splinter out of someone else's.