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Friday, September 22, 2006

Philosophy Roundtable

I have been asked to fill in for my friend, Humanist minister Ross Henry, in a philosophy roundtable. The discussion forum will be held San Jacinto college this December 2nd, moderated by Professor Thi Lam. I attended one of these in the past as an audience member and it was quite interesting. There was a representative of Christianity, Islam, Atheism, and Buddhism at the table, each of whom answered a variety of questions posed by the moderator and the audience. It was wonderful seeing audience members learning new things about other beliefs that they hadn't heard before.

This year they're going to have a chair at the table representing Humanism and Ross has flattered me with his referral. I'll do my best to represent that position, hopefully without interjecting my individual views which might be a little more specific than what one might call general Humanism (at least, not without notice to the audience). We have been told what the moderator questions will be, tentatively. Rather than answering them now, I figured I'd simply post them, and encourage readers here to explore answers for themselves. After the event I'll likely post a report, along with several of the answers the panelists gave...

1. Do you find the Divine Command Theory to be persuasive? Is it a viable ethical theory that one can use in the real world to resolve ethical problems? Are there any difficulties in its application?

2. Can one lead a morally virtuous life without belief in God? If so, how?

3. How can parents best teach their children about morality?

4. From your position, what is the meaning of life?


  1. Daniel,

    At least the questions are easy. During my bar exam, I frequently couldn’t make heads or tails out of that part of the process, and I thought it was quite unfair to be expected to know the answers as well.

    Q. What do you call a guy who had to take the bar exam eleven times before passing?

    A. An attorney.

    I should have liked to learn, once and for all, how many angels can fit on the head of a pin, and why there is something instead of nothing, but “what is the meaning of life?” will have to do for now. I’ve occasionally wondered that myself :)

    Seriously—congratulations for having been chosen to present and represent Humanism. It is a large and challenging assignment, one for which you are eminently qualified.