OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

OSU Socratic Club Debate to Focus on ‘Does Morality Need God?

11/07/2006

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University Socratic Club will feature a debate on the topic, “Does Morality Need God?” on Monday, Nov. 13, starting at 7:30 p.m. in Gilfillan Auditorium on the main campus. Speakers are Michael Gurney of Multnomah Biblical Seminary and Richard Daniels, formerly of OSU.

The debate will explore the question of whether it is possible to construct a system of ethics apart from a belief in God and a moral system that is grounded in absolute values. Many ethicists have maintained that unless there exists an absolute good (God) that serves as the source of morality, ethical standards will be relative, determined merely by time and place. The two speakers will present divergent points of view.

Gurney will argue that standards of morality have their basis in absolute values that are derived from God. Daniels will argue that ethical values are not based on divine or supernatural authority and that they do not lose their force or meaning by virtue of their being human constructions.

Gurney teaches theology and ethics at Multnomah Biblical Seminary. His academic interests are in the area of the history of interaction between philosophy, theology and science.

Daniels is associate professor emeritus of English at OSU, where he taught medieval literature. He works in the areas of critical and aesthetic theory and continental philosophy, and is writing essays on contemporary uses of the work of the German thinkers Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin.

The debate is the second in the Socratic Club’s fifth year as a student organization at OSU. It is modeled on the original Socratic Club, which was founded at Oxford University in 1941 by C. S. Lewis.

Each speaker is given 20 minutes to present one side of an issue, after which the two discuss their differences before the floor is opened to questions from members of the audience. Two events are planned for each quarter.

For information go to http://oregonstate.edu/groups/socratic.