“God on Trial” talk went down a treat

“God on Trial” talk went down a treat March 24, 2014

I was invited to speak on the last night of Reason Week at Southampton University, organised by the Atheist Society. I have spoken there a number of ties and know the people who run it and really enjoy speaking there. There are some philosophy students who are involved which means that the chat in the pub afterwards is always engaging and often properly geeky. Nice.

This talk focuses on 5 arguments against God (but I go off on a lot of tangents and include other points too):

•The creation of non-God objects – why would a perfect god create at all?
•Why don’t we photosynthesise? – the problem of evil
•Morality presupposes atheism
•Why create people with more or less likelihood to believe in him?
•The stupidity of (believing in) the Exodus

Sometimes I swap in the morality one for one on the Kalam Cosmological Argument. My last argument on the Exodus is one of my favourites because I try and inject a bit of humour (I try to do that throughout the night) and show how silly a belief in its reality is. It is based on the notes I made here.

I was happy to get some lovely feedback, including:

Capture1 Capture2

I also have some contact details for Cafe Scientifique in Southampton so will follow that up to see if they want a talk on free will.

What was great about the talk on Friday night was that the Christian Union and some Muslims turned up. This made for some great back and forth, especially between a Christian philosophy student and myself. Of course, I had all of the answers! ;) I live for that stuff.

If any organisations in the south of the UK want a talked on philosophy or science, let me know!


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  • Glad to hear it went so well, JP!

  • Luke Breuer

    Why don’t we photosynthesise? – the problem of evil

    This reminds me of some Simone Weil, from Gravity and Grace:

    Attitude of supplication: I must necessarily turn to something other than myself since it is a question of being delivered from myself.
        Any attempt to gain this deliverance by means of my own energy would be like the efforts of a cow which pulls at its hobble and so falls onto its knees.
        In making it one liberates a certain amount of energy in oneself by a violence which serves to degrade more energy. Compensation as in thermodynamics; a vicious circle from which one can be delivered only from on high [see irreversible process].
        The source of man’s moral energy is outside him, like that of his physical energy (food, air etc.). He generally finds it, and that is why he has the illusion—as on the physical plain—that his being carries the principle of its preservation within itself. Privation alone makes him feel his need. And, in the event of privation, he cannot help turning to anything whatever which is edible.
        There is only one remedy for that: a chlorophyll conferring the faculty of feeding on light.
        Not to judge. All faults are the same. There is only one fault: incapacity to feed upon light, for where capacity to do this has been lost all faults are possible.
        ‘My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me.’ [John 4:34]
        There is no good apart from this capacity. (3)

    I’ve always found your photosynthesize comment to be weird. But then Simone argued that we should photosynthesize when it comes to the full human life—energy for acting morally, growing, understanding, etc. And your argument made more sense! Although I suspect that you won’t like photosynthesis of “moral light”. That makes us non-autonomous. :-p

    As to “God on Trial”, you remind me of (a) CS Lewis’ God in the Dock; (b) the first two and last two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, in which humanity is put on trial. :-)

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