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Video: A Godless Public Square – Do ‘Private’ Christian Beliefs Have a Place in Public Life?

The video from our recent panel discussion with Matt Flannagan, Glenn Peoples, and Madeleine Flannagan on religion in the public square is now available.

Here’s Part 1 of 11 (or you can watch the created playlist here):

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Special thanks to Stuart for recording, editing, and uploading the video.

The event took place at Auckland University and was co-sponsored by the Evangelical Union. Patt Brittenden moderated the discussion.

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Byran Bruce’s “Jesus: The Cold Case”

Mark Keown and Glenn Peoples have written comprehensive reviews of Bryan Bruce’s TV documentary Jesus: The Cold Case.

In summary, it is an unbalanced pseudo-investigation, which relies not on evidence but the unsupported speculations of liberal and biased so-called authority figures.

Glenn’s review is particularly damning. He concludes:

What’s worse is the knowledge of the way that wide eye, impressed viewers will see this. Here’s a person who’s willing to ask “hard questions.” What a breath of fresh air! Never mind that it’s the same stale air that has been circulating on sceptical websites and religious studies departments for years. Look, he’s got scholars backing him up! Never mind any of the published responses to those scholars, Bruce can rest easy in the knowledge that his audience won’t even have read them.

Auckland Event: Do ‘Private’ Christian Beliefs Have a Place in Public Life?

Every year the Christian campus groups at Auckland University host a week-long series of outreach events that focus on Jesus and Christianity. This year we’re pleased to be involved in an event examining the role of religious beliefs in the public arena. The event is open to the public, so if you’re in the Auckland area, you’re welcome to join us.

Here are the details:

A Godless Public Square: Do ‘Private’ Christian Beliefs Have a Place in Public Life?
A Jesus Week Panel Discussion
WHEN: 7-9pm Wednesday 3 August
WHERE: Lib B28

Christian theological convictions ought to impact the whole of life both in the private and public spheres; this is what the idea of an “undivided life” means, Jesus is Lord of all aspects of our lives.

Yet this consequence of Christian faith conflicts with a pervasive contemporary attitude: the view that that religion is fundamentally a private matter. It is accepted that a Christian is free to utilise theological convictions when they make decisions about their own life but in a pluralistic society it is increasingly deemed inappropriate to bring such convictions into public discussions about morality, law, politics, economics, education, scholarship and so on. The desire to influence society with Christian ideals or to convert others to the faith is viewed by many as an intolerant desire to impose one’s private views onto others.

It is widely accepted that theological convictions can govern churches and the private lives of believers yet we are told that the public square – government, public policy, the courts, the academy, education, business, arts, media, etc – should be secular only.

This event looks at this issue. The conversation will span Theology, Philosophy and Law led by a panel made up of Christian representatives from each discipline along with you the audience.

Up for discussion are issues like:

– Is it wrong for Christians to impose their ‘private’ religious beliefs onto others?
– Is secularism the neutral perspective it is claimed to be?
– Are public expressions of religion regulated by law?

Bring your own questions and ask them at the Q & A session.

This event is brought to you by the Evangelical Union and Thinking Matters as part of Jesus Week.

Panel:

Moral Truth Matters

“Obviously the project of moral persuasion is very difficult — but it strikes me as especially difficult if you can’t figure out in what sense anyone could ever be right and wrong about questions of morality or about questions of human values . . .

There are impediments . . . the main one being that most right-thinking, well-educated, and well-intentioned people — certainly most scientists and public intellectuals, and I would guess, most journalists — have been convinced that something in the last 200 years of intellectual progress has made it impossible to actually speak about “moral truth.” Not because human experience is so difficult to study or the brain too complex, but because there is thought to be no intellectual basis from which to say that anyone is ever right or wrong about questions of good and evil.

My aim is to undermine this assumption, which is now the received opinion in science and philosophy. I think it is based on several fallacies and double standards and, frankly, on some bad philosophy. The first thing I should point out is that, apart from being untrue, this view has consequences.

In 1947, when the United Nations was attempting to formulate a universal declaration of human rights, the American Anthropological Association stepped forward and said, it can’t be done. This would be to merely foist one provincial notion of human rights on the rest of humanity. Any notion of human rights is the product of culture, and declaring a universal conception of human rights is an intellectually illegitimate thing to do. This was the best our social sciences could do with the crematory of Auschwitz still smoking.

But, of course, it has long been obvious that we need to converge, as a global civilization, in our beliefs about how we should treat one another. For this, we need some universal conception of right and wrong. So in addition to just not being true, I think skepticism about moral truth actually has consequences that we really should worry about.”

Sam Harris at the Edge Conference: “The New Science of Morality”

If you’re living in Auckland, don’t forget our event next week with Glenn Peoples addressing Sam Harris’ claims about science and morality.