My Upcoming “Debate” in NY this Weekend…

My Upcoming “Debate” in NY this Weekend… May 20, 2014

I hesitate to call it a “debate”.

For the obvious reason, the word typically implies two people disrespectfully talking right past each other on stage, only to retreat to their respective “sides” to get cookies from their supporters. I prefer “forum” as to imply an exchange of ideas.

This Saturday, May 24th, Adam Lee and I will meet again live at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Central Nassau in Garden City, New York at 2pm. This will be our second in-person forum, our first at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg, PA last December, where we fielded some great questions from the moderator and audience, then did our best to humbly present our views. We also recently had a live radio exchange on the Nick Givas Show at Fairfield University, which was also memorable.

This weekend, I imagine some of the FAQ’s will surface – generic arguments for/against God’s existence, morality, the historical basis/non-basis of Christianity, etc. We also spent a fair amount of time discussion “church and state” issues such as abortion, healthcare, the ideal government for “the just city”. As before, we’ll be seeking live questions from the audience to help shape the agenda as we are both seeking  a dynamic experience for all participants.

I must say how much I have appreciated my exchanges with Adam, written and live. I’ve enjoyed learning about his views, how he’s come to his views, how he responds to atheists and theists that disagree with his views. Equally, I’ve enjoyed putting my own views on the hot seat. What better way for discovery than to actually discover? Both about my own views and Adam’s, I’ve gained much.

I’ve appreciated getting to know Adam personally as well. To be honest, I may have had more fun at our last post-debate party, where Adam, Nick Givas, my wife Naomi, and I all grabbed some dinner and then headed back to my house for some more discussion, French press coffee, and a movie (Man of Steel).

So if you’re around Garden City, New York this weekend, we’d love to have you at our friendly forum.

Make no mistake, Adam and I have and will certainly challenge each other’s views, but you will not see a display of chest-beating, Ad hominem, arrogance. I’ve yet to feel personally disrespected by Adam and hope I’ve held up the same spirit of humility and friendship. As a philosopher, I’m committed to the idea that worldview discussions should be handled critically. Why do we believe what we believe? How do we make sense of Y, given X? All good questions. But I am actually more committed to genuine curiosity, humility, and civility. Without a sincere interest in a civil and productive exchange, why even have the discussion?

On that note, Naomi was driving with our two girls this morning listening to the radio. Natasha is almost 5 and she’s starting to memorize the names of her favorite songs and artists. A Bryan Adams song came on and Natasha asked Naomi who the artist was. Naomi replied, “His name is Bryan Adams.” The name Bryan excited Natasha as she naturally associated the name with her brother Brian.  “Adams”, in her reflection, she quickly associated with “Adam” and exclaimed:

“That’s dad’s friend!”

Exactly.

We’ll see you in Garden City.


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