Debate Topic: “If God does not exist, then everything is permitted”
Event Synopsis : In his novel the The Brothers Karamazov, Russian philosopher Fyodor Dostoyevsky asked the question: "how will man be after that? Without God and the future life? It means everything is permitted now, one can do anything?" This quote encapsulates an idea that seems to resonate with many people - if there is no God, there can be no ultimate, objective source for moral values. If there is no God, then everything is permitted.
In this debate, we will meticulously analyse this idea. Can there be an objective grounding for ethics without God? If Atheism is true, does that mean that all moral values are merely subjective opinion? Can there be a secular basis for ethics independent of God? What basis does a naturalist have for thinking one moral system superior to another?
The speakers will first present their arguments, and then each speaker will have an opportunity for rebuttal. There will then be a moderated discussion between the two speakers, promoted by questions from the audience. Join us for what we hope will be both an enlightening and a challenging evening of honest and friendly engagement with this important question.
John studied mathematics and computer science at RMIT, worked as a scientific programmer, studied theology at Moore College, and now pastors Melbourne Evangelical Church. John is married to Bek and they have three kids, with a fourth due in early January. John's area of interests include philosophy, ethics, free will and God's sovereignty.
Against: James Fodor, University of Melbourne Secular Society
James is studying a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Melbourne, with a focus on maths, physics, and computing. He is currently president of the University of Melbourne Secular Society, a student club which strives to promote rationality, skepticism, and secularism on campus. His other interests include interfaith dialogue, epistemology, effective altruism, science communication, emerging technologies, and history.