Thursday night was good… Chippendale pub near Simone with Simone, Craig and friends, then over to the Seymour Centre for a debate on ‘Is god necessary for morality?’ Then back to the pub for chewing the moralistic fat and ending up debating sentience, evolution/history and whether dogs can feel shame!
The debate at the Centre was part of a high-brow philosophy conference ‘Truth and Faith in Ethics’ that brought together Christian theologians with hardcore atheists, including in this very mild and understated debate that frankly got lost in subtle and complex philosophical details and provided accommodation and friendly consensus instead of a real debate.
Still, it was good… the main bit I got out of it is that Christian and humanist ethics can agree on emphasizing the non-instrumental and non-consequentialist nature of ethics and end up agreeing on the promotion of humanist values that are not amenable to a simple pragmaticist attack but need to be defended for their own sake. Would have been interesting to throw in a Peter Singer into that mix!!!
It was also fascinating and amusing to see young nuns and vicars sitting side-by-side with us intellectual university types and rabid atheists. I suspect that this precarious mix of attendance contributed to the muted tone in the debate as both parties were walking on egg shells.
You can hear the debate (warning: very high levels of abstraction and mumbling!) on Late Night Live until next Thursday or download it before that for later.
Or look at the conference here.