Saturday, January 17, 2009

Catholic versus Athiest: The Argument of the Month

Last Tuesday night I was able to attend 2009’s first Argument of the Month Club session. Somewhere around 350 other men came to eat, drink alcohol, and defend the Faith. This particular night’s debate was theism versus atheism – or as Fr. Eckert introduced the speakers: Dr. Hippler, “The Hulk” versus “Godless” George Kane. After this introduction, Father asked for the all the atheists present to raise their hands – only to warn them that their cars my be lit afire before they left.

Of course it was all in good fun.

The atheists had their shot, too. The president of a Minnesota Atheist League spoke before the debate calling blasphemy against God a victimless crime.

The debate went well – it was a little less edgy then debates between others I know. For example, Fr. Eckert debating Dr. David Pence is a firestorm waiting to happen, Dr. Hippler, “The Hulk” versus “Godless” George Kane was an intellectual matchup that spared over a Socratic dialogue with Euthyphro in which Socrates posed the question: “Is an act good because the gods will it or do the gods will it because it is good?” If one believes in the former, morality is arbitrary and can be changed at god’s choosing (it’s called the divine command theory, Muslims and some Protestant Christians believe in this). Now if someone agrees with the latter, then morality is above God and God is subject to it and therefore not really an all-powerful God.

If one, however, really believed there were only two ways of answering Socrates’ question, then he would be committing the logical fallacy of false alternatives (also called false dichotomy or false dilemma). This logical fallacy presents two answers as the only options when more actually do exist. In this case, there is at least a third alternative which I’m not going to share with you.

Can you guess what it is? How would you answer the question of Socrates?

To any extent, the night was again one of my favorite monthly experiences. Good natured Catholic men getting together to eat, drink, and laugh while seriously discussing important matters of faith. But there was also diversity there. I sat at a table with an atheist, two Protestants, three Catholics. We ate, joked, and poked at each other’s peculiar religious or non-religious affiliations. We laughed at each others good-natured jabs and rolled with the punches. There was nothing fake about what we did. Fr. Eckert jokingly said that: “Of all the ministries I’m involved with, this is the only one that works!”

It works because it lets men be men. Good food + good beer + good laughs + faith = success!

The Argument of the Month Club has grown from 120 attending men this time last year to over 350 men this year. So if any of you guys out there in the Archdiocese would like to be part of something huge, something powerful, and something that will strengthen your faith, then please join us on February 10th!

No comments: