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If God Commands Something Evil, Does That Make it Right?

Many Christians believe that we have a moral obligation to obey what God commands. Since God commands us not to murder or commit adultery (Exodus 20:13-14), we are obligated not to do those things. Since God commands us to love our neighbours as we love ourselves (Matt 22:39), we have a duty to do just that. In fact, many Christian theologians and philosophers take this notion a step further, arguing that our moral duties are actually rooted in God’s commands. On this view, if God commands something, then we have a moral duty to follow that command. On the other hand, if God didn’t command anything, then we wouldn’t have any moral obligations or duties. This view, called ‘divine command theory’ (or DCT for short), is appealing to Christian scholars and laypeople alike since it grounds moral duties and obligations in God. In addition, it squares well with what we read in scripture.

A moment’s reflection, however, reveals an obvious objection to this view. If God commanded someone to torture a child, would torturing the child be the right thing to do? If our moral duties are determined by what God commands us to do, then it follows that if God commanded us to do something wicked like torture a child, it would be our moral duty to torture that child. We might spell out the objection like this:

(1) Our moral duties are determined by what God commands us to do.

(2) God can command us to torture children.

(3) Therefore, if God commanded us to torture children, we would have a moral duty to torture children.

Plainly the idea of having a moral obligation to torture children conflicts with our moral intuitions. It seems absurd, or at least strange, that a command from God could transform a wicked and evil action into a morally obligatory one. One might conclude, then, that since grounding moral duties in God’s commands leads to such absurdities, they are likely not the foundation for our moral duties and obligations. As sceptics argue, there must be some other way to ground moral duties.     

However, philosopher Matthew Flannagan thinks that this conclusion is unwarranted[i]. According to Flannagan, the defender of divine command theory has reason to deny premise (2). This is because when Christians refer to ‘God’, they are referring to a being who is holy, just, righteous, loving, etc. As such, what premise (2) really states is that a holy, just, righteous, and loving being can command us to torture children. However, assuming that torturing children is essentially unholy, unjust, unrighteous, and unloving, it is not at all clear that God can issue such a command. If commanding unjust actions makes the commander unjust, then it follows that if God (a perfectly just and righteous being) issues such a command then he is both just and unjust, both righteous and unrighteous—which is a contradiction. Therefore, Flannagan argues, premise (2) is false.

In fact, as Flannagan points out, in order for the objection to succeed, one must implicitly assume that no just, righteous, loving person would command wicked and evil acts. He states “the very reason… sceptics cite this objection is they think… ‘no informed, morally sensible person would ever endorse this [kind of behaviour]’”[ii]. In other words, the notion of having a moral duty to torture children conflicts with our moral intuitions and simply isn’t the type of thing a reasonable, just, loving person could command. But, given that God is a reasonable, just, and loving person, he could not issue such a command. Therefore, premise (2) is false.

With this in mind, it seems that divine command theory is a tenable view for Christians to hold.  In answer to the question, then: God cannot command wicked acts, as the question assumes, and therefore no dilemma arises.


 

Endnotes:

[i] [BiolaUniversity]. (2013, Sep 14). Matthew Flannagan: Can God Command Evil? The Problem of Apparently Immoral Commands. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gjf4AfuilWk&t=253s

[ii] ibid

Christian Morality and the Problem of the Old Testament Wars

Holy War in the Bible: Christian Morality and an Old Testament Problem comes out next month. Edited by Heath A Thomas, Jeremy Evans, and Paul Copan, the book offers a constructive response to the issue of divine judgment and religious violence by drawing upon biblical, ethical, philosophical and theological insights. We’re excited to see the collection of essays also includes a chapter co-written by New Zealand theologian and philosopher Matthew Flannagan (you can read his chapter online here).

Here’s the full description:

The challenge of a seemingly genocidal God who commands ruthless warfare has bewildered Bible readers for generations. The theme of divine war is not limited to the Old Testament historical books, however. It is also prevalent in the prophets and wisdom literature as well. Still it doesn’t stop. The New Testament book of Revelation, too, is full of such imagery. Our questions multiply.

  •     Why does God apparently tell Joshua to wipe out whole cities, tribes or nations?
  •     Is this yet another example of dogmatic religious conviction breeding violence?
  •     Did these texts help inspire or justify the Crusades?
  •     What impact do they have on Christian morality and just war theories today?
  •     How does divine warfare fit with Christ’s call to “turn the other cheek”?
  •     Why does Paul employ warfare imagery in his letters?
  •     Do these texts warrant questioning the overall trustworthiness of the Bible?

These controversial yet theologically vital issues call for thorough interpretation, especially given a long history of misinterpretation and misappropriaton of these texts. This book does more, however. A range of expert contributors engage in a multidisciplinary approach that considers the issue from a variety of perspectives: biblical, ethical, philosophical and theological.

While the writers recognize that such a difficult and delicate topic cannot be resolved in a simplistic manner, the different threads of this book weave together a satisfying tapestry. Ultimately we find in the overarching biblical narrative a picture of divine redemption that shows the place of divine war in the salvific movement of God.

Same-sex Marriage Debate with Colin Craig, Louisa Wall and Matthew Flannagan

On Tuesday, 2 October of 2012, The Auckland University Students Association (AUSA) held a debate on the controversial topic of same-sex marriage. The moot for the debate was “This House supports the legalization of same-sex marriage in New Zealand.” Those who filled the 600+ seat lecture theatre to capacity were treated to an electric atmosphere and night of stimulating arguments and counter-responses. Both teams had three participants each.

On the affirmative team

  • Louisa Wall Labour Party MP and the drafter of the bill to legalize same-sex marriage
  • Levi Joule Queer Rights Officer of AUSA and the Auckland Regional Chair for Young Labour
  • Bonnie Hartfield Co-chair of Legaliselove

On the negative team

You can view the debate in full here. [1] Intelligent comments and questions are welcome below, but keep it civil.

 

A summary of the debate from my perspective.

From my perspective the debate was a success, and credit to Max Lim who organized the event with his team from the AUSA is due. Though the crowd was clearly for the motion and came with a biased and unbending predisposition, the weight of the arguments fell on the negative side.

On the affirmative side of this debate, Labour MP Louisa Wall’s opening speech was bafflingly structured to emphasize the history of the struggle for same-sex marriage. Her sole arguments for the moot seemed to be that widening the scope of those who can marry to include same-sex couples is advancing human rights, equality and tolerance, and is timely reflecting today’s New Zealand society. She pre-empted a possible criticism by strongly stating that her bill would not legitimize polygamous and incestual relationships such as others have claimed, and that those who say so, she believed, were being disingenuous and propagating propaganda based on fear and hatred. Bonnie Hartfield and Levi Joule neither added to affirmative’s case nor responded to the negative team. Hartfield began with a pretext of responding to Colin Craig, but then began on an awkwardly scripted, though humorous nevertheless, pro forma discharge of hot air. Her one point, unaddressed by the negative team, was that the marriage of same-sex couples would not change the significance of other married couple’s commitment to eachother.[2]

The negative team was far more decisive. Conservative Party leader Colin Craig played to audience in a kiwi-bloke-ish style, perhaps obscuring the substance of his arguments but with a flair that was certainly entertaining. This substance was that one cannot simply change the nature of something we all know and recognize with legislation, and that the current law was adequate for maintaining equal treatment for same-sex couples while appropriately and intelligently maintaining the difference between them.

Auckland University Student Chaplain Auimatagi Joe Moeono-Kolio (“Joe”) – my personal highlight – in the style of philosopher William Lane Craig, clearly stated the contentions they were defending,

1. there are no compelling reasons to support the legalisation of same-sex marriage, and 
2. there are good reasons to oppose it.

Then he exposed the affirmative teams arguments both as fundamentally flawed (for marriage is not a universal right) and as emotive sloganeering (for “marriage equality” does not recognize what marriage actually is, which is more than just romance), then summarized his arguments with the following two syllogisms.

A) Universal human rights are universal rights
B) Marriage is not a universal right (since there are exceptions to those who can marry)
C) Therefore, traditional marriage does not deprive same-sex couples of a universal human right.
 
A) A component of marriage’s definition is the ability, in principle, to pro-create.
B) A same-sex couple cannot pro-create, whether incidentally or in-principle.
C) Therefore, same-sex couples do not fit within what marriage actually is.

 

Overall Joe’s presentation was irenic and well-received, clear and focused, and scored some major hits to which the affirmative team would not recover. The sounding of the warning timer appeared to fluster him and diminished the overall impact of his argument. It appeared as if he edited down his speech on the fly to finish sooner. However, he recovered well and finished strong. The wording of the syllogisms could be tightened up a little and would have been a hundred times more impacting had the premises and conclusions been projected for all to see on the screens behind him.

Dr. Matthew Flannagan, an associate of Thinking Matters, first gave three reasons to not support same-sex marriage in New Zealand.

1. If equality is a valid basis for accepting same-sex marriage, then it is a valid basis for rejecting the proposed legislation, for the bill is still discriminatory against other couples.[3] Thus the appeal to equality is contradictory and a red-herrings.

2. But even if the appeal to equality were sound, it wouldn’t justify the conclusion to legalise same-sex marriage, for same-sex couples already have all the rights of married couples[4] and giving something a different name doesn’t change the substance of what it is.[5] 

3. Doing so has the potential to restrict others civil liberties, for should the legislation be passed, people who provide services for wedding ceremonies would be compelled by NZ law to provide those services to same-sex couples as well despite their religious objections.[6] This is a paradigmatic example of restricting the freedom of religion.

Dr. Flannagan then dismantled the affirmative team by showing they had no basis for justifying the legislation. Three examples are as follows. That the law should reflect the people in society, stated by Louisa Wall, is not a good reason to pass the legislation, because there are a lot of single people in society and marriage should not apply to them. That the law should not tell us who we can and cannot have sex with, as raised by Bonnie Hartfield, is not a good reason to pass the legislation, for neither the debate nor the legislation is regarding the decriminalization of homosexuality. That a large number of people believe in this is not a good reason to pass the legislation, because it assumes that because a large number of people believe in something then it is must be just, but the assumption is false and, moreover, not even believed by the affirmative team.

Overall Dr. Flannagan’s presentation was brilliantly thought-out and responsive to the opposing team, cementing their victory over them. Though rushed, it lacked only the polish of presentation one could expect from a seasoned public speaker.

The closing statement of the negative team by Colin Craig, though off-the-cuff, summarized adequately the debate and the arguments, but in doing so lost the overall clarity of the negative team’s coordinated case. The closing statement of the affirmative team by Louisa Wall began more as a first rebuttal, first responding to Colin Craig’s citation of European Court of Human Rights from his first speech, then referencing Section 29 of the current Marriage Act (a flailing attempt to subvert Dr. Flannagan’s third point), and then gave a reason each to discriminate against polygamous and incestual relationships (ostensibly “central to negative’s case,” but in reality not central at all – not even central to Dr. Flannagan’s first argument to not support same-sex marriage in NZ). Her closing however soon collapsed into an impassioned but irrelevant speech about “growing up” as a society, having “grown-up conversations” like other countries, and being able to provide young people, like Levi – who  apparently don’t have the freedom to be safe when exploring their sexual self-determination – with some value and respect.

The question and answer period which followed really made plain the mood of the crowd. There was a barely restrained mixture of anger and amusement, and an unreasoning obstinacy from those, both for and against the moot, who had come to the debate an immovable conviction. To me this showed the incompetence of university students ability to adequately evaluate debates of this sort. It showed the inroads that have already been made by the affirmative team’s powerful but empty rhetoric. The question and answer period further revealed Lousia Wall as a skilled politician as she dodged some very pointed questions and even failed to comprehend pertinent issues that were raised. (Had I not been on the camera, I would have liked to have asked for all the talk about inequality, what universal or human rights do NZ same-sex couples lack?).

The debate overall showed Dr. Matthew Flannagan to be a first-class apologist as he presented his own logical arguments and the logical fallacies and assumptions used by the opposing team, and answered questions from hostile people in the crowd. It also showed me Auimatagi Joe Moeono-Kolio has a very promising future as an apologist and public speaker. I look forward to seeing where Joe goes from here.

The response card and its results I see as irrelevant and a waste of time.

 

Footnotes

[1] Thinking Matters was there to record the event in order to make a resource, particularly for our New Zealand followers who will face the question of the
legalization of same-sex marriage in the coming year. As this subject is also of great interest internationally, and since we have noted a scarceness of good resources generally available with a lack of civil, constructive and intelligent dialogue on this issue, it is also intended to be a resource for our international followers. Much of
the content is specific to the New Zealand context, however most of the arguments offered here can be translated to other contexts without great effort. It is also our hope that providing this full and unedited account of the proceedings that any inclined to misrepresent the debate after-the-fact will be silenced, and those responsible for misinforming the public will be held accountable.

[2] Though since it would change the meaning and significance of the social and civil institution of marriage in NZ for all New Zealanders, the point was indirectly addressed.

[3] Dr. Flannagan mentions there are 15 other types of couples which Louisa’s bill discriminates against.

[4] Two exceptions were mentioned. The first was recognition of relationship status outside NZ (which NZ does not have control over). The second was the right to adopt children (a right which could be obtained by same-sex couples by changing the adoption act, which is already in the process of being done).

[5] Bonnie Hartfield and Levi Joule both put forward the argument that same-sex couples were not currently able to attain the social-status of other married couples had because of the institution’s history and tradition. The argument is unsound, for by attaining the name they would deny that history and tradition.

[6] This was reportedly based on 3 separate legal opinions. For more information visit here

Ethics: What Does God have to do with it?

This July, those of us in Auckland will have the opportunity to hear some of the worlds leading Christian thinkers discuss the relationship between religion and morality.

This issue is one that has long been the subject of debate in western culture. Some philosophers and social commentators argue that morality is entirely independent of religion and that faith is in fact responsible for much evil and immorality in the world. Other theologians contend the opposite: without God, we cannot explain the existence and nature of moral obligations or ground motivation to live a moral life. Other questions have been raised as to whether secularism can account for ideas such as atonement, forgiveness and grace, or whether we need religion to provide these concepts in morality.

The forum will be discussing these issues and others, including:

– Why do we have to do what is right?
– Can someone be a ‘good’ person without belief in God?
– What role do grace and forgiveness play in morality?

On the panel will be Prof John Hare from Yale Divinity School, Prof Mark Murphy from Georgetown University, and Dr Glenn Pettigrove from the University of Auckland. The panel will be moderated by Dr Matthew Flannagan.

Here are the full details:

Ethics: What Does God have to do with it?
A Conversation with Three Christian Philosophers
WHEN: 7pm Tuesday 26 July
WHERE: Room OGGB4/260-073 (Owen Glenn Building, University of Auckland)
A free event.

This event is brought to you by the University of Auckland Philosophy Department and Thinking Matters.

The Facebook page is here.

Is there Evidence for God? Craig v Krauss streamed live at Auckland Uni

The Evangelical Union and the Reason and Science Society, along with Thinking Matters, will be streaming the upcoming debate between William Lane Craig and Lawrence Krauss at the University of Auckland on Thursday 31 March 1-3 pm.

If you’re in the city and free for lunch, come along and join us for what should prove to be an interesting exchange. Christian philosopher, theologian, and blogger Matt Flannagan has also kindly agreed to take some Q&A at the conclusion of the debate.

What: Is there Evidence for God? Krauss v Craig Debate Streamed Live (Q&A with Matthew Flannagan)
When: Thursday 31 March 1-3pm
Where: Cap and Gown Lounge, Level 2, 34 Princes St (AUSA building), The University of Auckland.

Visit the Facebook page here.

Lawrence Krauss is a professor at Arizona State University and an internationally known theoretical physicist with wide research interests, including the interface between elementary particle physics and cosmology. He received undergraduate degrees in both Mathematics and Physics at Carleton University. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of numerous books including a national best-seller, The Physics of Star Trek.

William Lane Craig is a Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in California. He specializes in philosophy of religion and philosophy of time and, as a theologian, in historical Jesus studies. Dr Craig pursued graduate studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, the University of Birmingham (Ph.D), and the University of Munich. He has written over a hundred articles in professional journals and authored or edited over over thirty books including the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology and God, Time and Eternity.

Video from the Bradley v Flannagan Debate

The video footage of the Bradley & Flannagan Debate entitled “Is God the Source of Morality? Is it rational to ground right and wrong in commands issued by God?” is now available for viewing on Youtube. Held at the University of Auckland, in New Zealand, on 2 August, 2010, many people have been eagerly anticipating watching this entertaining and important debate between atheist philosopher, Raymond Bradley and Christian philosopher and blogger, Matt Flannagan. (over 100 people have viewed Part 01/12 before the Part 12/12 is loaded and anyone pointing out it was there.)

Apologies to those to whom the wait has been unbearable.

Flannagan vs Bradley Debate “Is God the Source of Morality” Part 01/12

Flannagan vs Bradley Debate “Is God the Source of Morality” Part 02/12

Flannagan vs Bradley Debate “Is God the Source of Morality” Part 03/12

Flannagan vs Bradley Debate “Is God the Source of Morality” Part 04/12

Flannagan vs Bradley Debate “Is God the Source of Morality” Part 05/12

Flannagan vs Bradley Debate “Is God the Source of Morality” Part 06/12

Flannagan vs Bradley Debate “Is God the Source of Morality” Part 07/12

Flannagan vs Bradley Debate “Is God the Source of Morality” Part 08/12

Flannagan vs Bradley Debate “Is God the Source of Morality” Part 09/12

Flannagan vs Bradley Debate “Is God the Source of Morality” Part 10/12

Flannagan vs Bradley Debate “Is God the Source of Morality” Part 11/12

Flannagan vs Bradley Debate “Is God the Source of Morality” Part 12/12

This debate was brought to you by the Evangelical Union and the Reason and Science Society with the support of Thinking Matters. Written forms of the opening statements and first replies can be found at MandM.

This months Bragging Rights Award goes to Matthew Flannagan

In the April Newsletter from Reasonable Faith, William Lane Craig acknowledges the valuable assistance provided by Matt Flannagan’s interaction with the thought of Michael Tooley. Matt Flannagan runs the Auckland branch of Thinking Matters at Laidlaw and is an excellent Christian theologian and philosopher. He holds a PhD in Theology from the University of Otago and a Masters with First Class honours in Philosophy from the University of Waikato.

Michael Tooley is a well-respected philosophers of religion from the University of Colorado, who has developed a complex argument against God’s existence. William Lane Craig is an eminent Christian philosopher of religion, whose debates have helped popularise his work, and is acknowledged by many to be the world’s leading defender of the faith (you can read our interview with him in our first issue of the Thinking Matters journal here). These two squared off recently on the question “Is God Real?”

Craig says that in preparation for the debate he prepared a four point response which is indebted to Timothy McGrew (who has also on occasion commented here at Thinking Matters) and Matt Flannagan for their helpful interaction.

It has been noted that this is a huge compliment to the quality of Christian scholarship that New Zealand is producing. For those unfamiliar with the more cognitive side of the Christian faith, if you were the Youth Pastor of your church, a comment like this is comparable to Dr. James Dobson singling you out on the Focus on the Family broadcast, and adding, “Here’s what youth groups should look like.” If you can’t possibly imagine yourself as a Youth Pastor, then imagine your specialisation of service for your local congregation is setting out chairs. This is like the World Assembly of Churches’ Arch-Deacon mentioning you by name as an exemplary Seat-Setter in their monthly magazine.

This is a big deal, and a well-deserved recognition of Matt’s service to the defense of the Christian worldview. The Reasonable Faith newsletter is delivered to its many-many members who are interested in Dr. Craig’s work. The Reasonable Faith ministry is arguably one of the most important apologetic organizations around today.

Thinking Matters sends their congratulations on to Matt and the Flannagan household. For more information on the debate, Matt’s blog has the details here.

Audio from Our March 11 Forum: Has Science Disproved God?

If you weren’t able to make our first panel event at Auckland University last week, I’ve uploaded the audio:

Has Science Disproved God? (There’s been some problems with downloading the audio so I’ve hosted it on zShare until we fix the problem)

On the panel were Jeff Tallon, Matthew Flannagan, Robert Mann and Neil Broom. Dale Campbell, associate pastor at Northcote Baptist Church and blogger at Fruitful Faith, kindly moderated the exchange for us.

For the first hour, the speakers addressed four issues:

1. Should a working scientist operate as a methodological atheist? Or, in other words, does the scientific project necessarily exclude God? – Jeff Tallon
2. Scientific beliefs are based on measurable, verifiable evidence. Is belief in God any different? – Matthew Flannagan
3. Does evolution threaten belief in God? – Neil Broom
4. Science and free-will. – Robert Mann

The second hour consisted of questions from the audience.

We’ll have video from the panel available soon. Don’t forgot our second panel (“Christianity on Trial”) is tonight, again at 7pm at Auckland University.

Has Science Disproved God?

This March, Thinking Matters is coordinating two events at Auckland University with the Tertiary Student Christian Fellowship. We’re excited about the speakers that we’ve organized and are really looking forward to the discussion over two great nights. The events are open to both university students and the public, so if you’re in Auckland, come and join us.

Here are the details for the first event (theatre locations will be announced in the next few days). The second event (Christianity on Trial) will occur in the following week (head over to this page to get the full information for that event).

The Thinking Matters Forum

Has Science Disproved God?

Time: 7pm, Thursday March 11
Location: OGGB4
Owen G Glenn Building, 12 Grafton Road, The University of Auckland

Have the discoveries of modern science proved that belief in God is irrational and untenable? Does faith hinder or inspire scientific research? In this public Q and A event, several of New Zealand’s top scientists and Christian thinkers come together to examine the claims of popular atheists, such as Richard Dawkins, and explore the the credibility of God in the context of cosmology, biology, and physics.

Speakers:

  • Neil Broom (PhD) is Professor and Head of the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at The University of Auckland. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2008 and is the author of the book How Blind Is the Watchmaker?: Nature’s Design & the Limits of Naturalistic Science.
  • Jeff Tallon (PhD) is Distinguished Scientist at Industrial Research Ltd and a former Professor of Physics at Victoria University. He is internationally known for his research in high-temperature superconductors, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and in 2002 was awarded the Rutherford Medal, New Zealand’s highest science award.
  • Robert Mann (PhD) previously taught biochemistry and environmental studies at the UoA and and has been on the council of the NZ Association of Scientists.
  • Matthew Flannagan (PhD) lectures in the History of Philosophy at Laidlaw College and specializes in applied ethics and the interface between philosophy and theology. He is a prominent New Zealand Christian thinker, debater and blogger.

Support this event on Facebook

Update: For those who weren’t able to attend the event, here is the audio: Thinking Matters Forum: Has Science Disproved God? (Right-click and “save as” to download the file)

Thinking Matters Forum at Auckland University

This March, Thinking Matters is coordinating two events at Auckland University with the Tertiary Student Christian Fellowship. We’re excited about the speakers that we’ve organized and are really looking forward to the discussion over two great nights. The events are open to both university students and the public, so if you’re in Auckland, come and join us.

Here are the details. We’ll announce the theatre locations this week.

The Thinking Matters Forum

Has Science Disproved God?

Time: 7pm, Thursday March 11
Location: OGGB4
Owen G Glenn Building, 12 Grafton Road, The University of Auckland

Have the discoveries of modern science proved that belief in God is irrational and untenable? Does faith hinder or inspire scientific research? In this public Q and A event, several of New Zealand’s top scientists and Christian thinkers come together to examine the claims of popular atheists, such as Richard Dawkins, and explore the the credibility of God in the context of cosmology, biology, and physics.

Speakers:

  • Neil Broom (PhD) is Professor and Head of the Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering at The University of Auckland. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2008 and is the author of the book How Blind Is the Watchmaker?: Nature’s Design & the Limits of Naturalistic Science.
  • Jeff Tallon (PhD) is Distinguished Scientist at Industrial Research Ltd and a former Professor of Physics at Victoria University. He is internationally known for his research in high-temperature superconductors, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and in 2002 was awarded the Rutherford Medal, New Zealand’s highest science award.
  • Robert Mann (PhD) previously taught biochemistry and environmental studies at the UoA and and has been on the council of the NZ Association of Scientists.
  • Matthew Flannagan (PhD) lectures in the History of Philosophy at Laidlaw College and specializes in applied ethics and the interface between philosophy and theology. He is a prominent New Zealand Christian thinker, debater and blogger.

Support this event on Facebook

Christianity On Trial

Time: 7pm, Tuesday March 16
Location: 260 – 098
Owen G Glenn Building, 12 Grafton Road, The University of Auckland

Today, many best-selling atheists argue that belief in God is delusional and a roadblock to political, moral, and scientific progress. In this public Q and A event, several of New Zealand’s top Christian thinkers come together to consider popular arguments against Christianity and whether belief in God is merely a consequence of superstition and credulity.

Speakers:

  • Jeff Tallon (PhD) is Distinguished Scientist at Industrial Research Ltd and a former Professor of Physics at Victoria University. He is internationally known for his research in high-temperature superconductors, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand and in 2002 was awarded the Rutherford Medal, New Zealand’s highest science award.
  • Matthew Flannagan (PhD) lectures in the History of Philosophy at Laidlaw College and specializes in applied ethics and the interface between philosophy and theology. He is a prominent New Zealand Christian thinker, debater and blogger.
  • Michael Drake (DipTeach) is the principal of Carey College in Panmure and a pastor of the Tamaki Reformed Baptist Church. He has been involved in advocacy for Christian schools and in raising issues about race, education, and Christianity before Parliament. He is also a TSCF Associate Chaplain at the Manukau Institute of Technology.
  • Joe Fleener (MDiv) lectures in Old Testament, Church History, Christian Worldview, Apologetics, and Christian Ethics at The Shepherd’s Bible College.

Support this event on Facebook.

The Thinking Matters Forums are organised by an interdenominational group of Christians dedicated to addressing the difficult questions about faith, truth and life. Our website can be viewed at www.thinkingmatters.org.nz

UPDATE (1/03/2010): The location for the second lecture has been confirmed.