Scientist talks morality, slips on banana peel

There’s been some backslapping and cheerleading in the scientific community lately about morality, and particularly about Sam Harris’s view as opposed to William Lane Craig’s. At SciBlogs, Ken Perrott ruminates on the foundations of human morality and draws some strikingly entertaining conclusions, again indicating that these sorts of questions are well above the paygrade of the average scientist.

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Is God the Best Explanation for Moral Values? The McDowell-Corbett Debate

On February 26 at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, California, Sean McDowell and Jim Corbett squared off to debate the role of God in morality. McDowell is the son of Josh McDowell and a Christian author in his own right, while Corbett is a Capistrano Valley High School instructor.

McDowell defended two contentions on the night:

1. If God does not exist, we do not have a solid foundation for moral values.
2. If God does exist, we do have a solid foundation for moral values.

He also argued that in order for a moral system to be adequate, it must satisfy three criteria:

1. Any adequate moral system must have a transcendent standard beyond human nature.
2. Any adequate moral system must account for free will.
3. Any adequate moral system must account for what makes humans special.

Here is the video from the debate:

Part 1:


Part 2:


Or if you prefer the audio, Brian at Apologetics315 has posted the mp3.

There’s been several reactions to the debate online. Luke of  Common Sense Atheism says:  “When will atheists stop embarrassing themselves in debate? This shows the problem with atheists believing they are, by default, more rational than believers. Atheists don’t think they need to study the relevant subjects, or pay attention to the logic of the Christian’s position. Instead, they just wander in and spout some irrelevant points about the Crusades and religious disagreement. Meanwhile, the Christian can put forth whatever argument he wants – whether it’s a good argument or not – because the Christian will clearly explain why the atheist’s arguments fail, but the atheist will not clearly explain why the Christian position fails. Thus the audience leaves believing the Christian has won. And basically, he has.”

Here’s a few other links to further commentary:

Wintery Knight: Sean McDowell debates James Corbett on whether morality is grounded by atheism.

Incipit Vita Nova: Morality in the Absence of Religion

Sean McDowell: Reflections on My Recent Debate

(H/T: Apologetic Junkie)