OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Socratic Club debate to explore question: Do atheists have faith?

11/05/2010

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The Oregon State University Socratic Club will sponsor a debate on the topic, “Do Atheists Have Faith?” on Monday, Nov. 15, at Gilfillan Auditorium. The event, which begins at 7 p.m., will feature speakers Michael Gurney and Martin Erwig.

The debate is free and open to the public. It will examine the common assertion in conversations between secularists and religious believers that religion is a matter of "faith," which is devoid of any cognitive content and therefore, in the eyes of many secularists, of little or no truth value.

Erwig will argue that those who hold a secularist view reject faith claims altogether and base their views on science, rationalism, and human autonomy. Gurney will argue that faith is commonly found among secularists and religious believers alike because everyone, including atheists, has a faith of some kind.

After both speakers present their side the audience will have the opportunity to ask questions.

Erwig is an associate professor of computer science at OSU, whose interests include functional programming, domain-specific languages, and visual languages. His research is focused on questions of language design and explanations.

Gurney is a professor of theology and ethics at Multnomah University in Portland. He served in the U.S. Navy’s nuclear power program before earning a bachelor’s degree in theology. He is a doctoral candidate in historical theology at Aberdeen University in Scotland.

The OSU Socratic Club is a group dedicated to the intellectual and philosophical discussion and debate of the issues surrounding modern Christianity. This is the second debate hosted by the club this quarter. The next debate is scheduled for Jan. 24 on the topic of “Heaven, Hell, and the Afterlife.”

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