For any readers in or around the Durham, Chapel Hill, or general North Carolina area: I’ll be joining my friend Neil Shenvi in a dialogue this Thursday at Duke. It’s a joint event between the Duke Secular Alliance and the Duke InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, so it should hopefully lead to a great discussion.
A few quick notes: leaf through Neil’s website because he’s a really smart guy and and his writings are, I think it’s fair to say, pretty exhaustive. He and I also go way back (Neil was involved in Yale Students for Christ while I was an undergrad. I was close friends with one of the ministers of the group, and as the president of the Yale SSA, I organized and was involved in a fair number of interactions with the group. Neil and I saw a bit of each other), so we’re trying to keep it friendly.
I think we’re both fairly averse to the standard antagonistic and adversarial debate format. We’re trying to frame this event instead as a cordial and friendly dialogue to explore and press these issues in a warm but challenging environment. We’ll be presenting justifications for our own beliefs (Neil: Why we should believe God exists. Me: Why we should believe God doesn’t exist. Yay for arguing positive positions!) and respectfully pushing back on one another, while leaving lots of room open for discussion and Q&A. We’re both pretty new at this, but hopefully this format will give us a better chance to reach some mutual understanding and have a challenging and thoughtful discussion, without talking over each other’s heads or simply resorting to the intellectual shadowboxing that characterizes most debates on the topic.I spend a lot of my time here on NPS writing about more meta-level issues about the relationship between atheism, science, religion, philosophy, secularism, pluralism, and so on, so it’s nice to talk at a more basic level to explain why I don’t think God exists. (It might be easy to forget but I’m a real atheist, I swear!) I feel like it’s something I don’t get a chance to do very often, so I’m pretty excited. If you’re in the area, I’d love to see you there and maybe even chat afterwards. I think a recording will be taken of the event, so if you can’t make it and are interested, check back after the event to see the videos. Here’s a link to the Facebook page, with a fancy flier that I put together below: