Monday, June 06, 2011

Can there be good without God?

Tomorrow I am at Flinders University, in a team of Christians debating a team from the atheist Foundation. The topic – Can there be good without God? The other team are flying in from interstate (is this Atheist foundation taking prosletyzing seriously), and the largest lecture theatre on campus has been booked. I’m still not quite sure how I got involved, and I have grave misgivings about the forum of a debate to do much more than allow sloganeering.

But for the sake of taking a risk, tonight I will probably be up late reading (Miroslav Volf, Exclusion & Embrace, Rodney Stark, Discovering God: The Origins of the Great Religions and the Evolution of Belief, David Bentley Hart, Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies) and thinking.

And who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Posted by steve at 06:12 PM


  1. good luck with that Steve. I got roped into something similarly polarized: do you believe in God, or in reason? as if you can’t do both. Strikes me you can argue the “good” thing either way, but from a Christian point of view God isn’t there to make you be good, God just IS good. So maybe you could have good without God, but you can’t have God without good…

    anyway hope you manage to be erudite, and above all have Fun! essential to goodness.

    Comment by maggi — June 6, 2011 @ 6:17 pm

  2. I too share your concerns Steve. Debates can only ever be somewhat successful if either side is not prone to being deaf to all but their own preconceptions (somehow I doubt either side having an open mind), but I have no doubt you will make a positive impact 🙂

    Comment by Ryan — June 6, 2011 @ 6:21 pm

  3. Maggi, being devils advocate – you can’t have God without good does invite a lot of finger pointing at OT canaanite texts, crusades and inquisitions.


    Comment by steve — June 6, 2011 @ 6:22 pm

  4. Thanks Ryan. I do wonder if it gives me a chance to offer some real history in response to simple slogans like OT God of genocide. We will see


    Comment by steve — June 6, 2011 @ 6:26 pm

  5. You know, your reply to my comment actually brings up a very, very interesting point. If the Atheist proclaims “There is no God”, then who precisely do they rail against? Why do they seem not satisfied within themselves of their own claim? In other words, it would be difficult for the Atheist to rally against a so-called OT god of genocide, since it would require them to acknowledge such a god existed. Could they then say “There is no God?”
    Or does it seem more of a case of “There is no God, except that one that we need as a Straw Man.”

    Disclaimer: If my comment confuses or makes no sense, my apologies; I’ve spent the long weekend trying to wrap my head around a pretty important math exam…brain fry!

    Comment by Ryan — June 6, 2011 @ 6:37 pm

  6. makes sense. i think there response is a way to score points – ie your God is not good and thus a bad place to get morals and justice from.

    but yes, your point is wise – it does presume that God exists,


    Comment by steve — June 6, 2011 @ 6:40 pm

  7. wishing you well in your final preparations, Steve. May God be with you. May you have a restful sleep.

    Comment by Linda — June 6, 2011 @ 7:50 pm

  8. Not certain how you can have a restful sleep if one of the books you’re reading tonight is Volf! Wow. I’m in my 50s and I had to go back and reread sections at a time! Love Volf, but he is certainly not a light read!

    Blessings and may you shed some light for everyone involved.

    Comment by K. Reux — June 7, 2011 @ 2:55 pm

  9. Yep, Volf is pretty dense. I tried and tried to reduce him to soundbites for the debate, but alas, couldn’t do justice to the complexity of his arguments. Sigh


    Comment by steve — June 7, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

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