On January 28, both the Freethinkers and the Interfaith Clubs will be participating in a panel discussion. The discussion is being put on by a popular Evangelical Christian group on campus. As such, the questions tend to reflect their beliefs. Here are my answers to their tentative question list:
What is your perspective on the meaning or purpose of life?
There is no intrinsic meaning or purpose of life. The meaning that life has is whatever meaning we give it.
What is your perspective on the nature of humans? Are we inherently good? Are we inherently evil? Why is the world the way that it is?
Humans are just humans. Sometimes the things we do are considered good, sometimes they aren’t. Most of the time the things we do are neither good or bad. We aren’t inherently good or bad, we just are. The world is the way it is for a number of reasons. The human element of why the world is the way it is is far to complex to discuss in any meaningful way. Some of it has to do with politics, some of it results from greed, but mostly it’s just the way it is because humans are a social species.
What is your perspective on morality? Do right and wrong exist independent of humans? How do we decide how we should live?
Do right and wrong exist independent of humans? That depends. If all humans were to die tomorrow, does right and wrong continue to matter? If yes, then morality is independent of humans, if no then it is dependent on humans. I would say that if humans ceased to exist, then right and wrong would lose all meaning. We decide how we should live as a society. I would go into what I mean by this further, but I have discussed this issue fairly in-depth in other posts.
What do you believe happens when we die?
Our bodies decompose.
What do you believe is the solution to all of the problems in the world, or to the problem with humans themselves if you believe there is one?
There is no single solution to any problem. Nothing is so black and white. There are a number of problems in the world, both related and unrelated to humans. Each problem needs to be looked at and solved individually. If God was the answer to any of these problems, then there would be no problems.
How do you believe we should approach the discovery of truth? Through science, philosophy, personal experience?
What do you mean by truth? There is no one right way to discover what is true. I don’t think that we can ever know what is true with 100% certainty, but I believe that we can be fairly sure whether or not something is true. Both science and philosophy are two great ways to discover whether or not something is true.
What is your perspective on sexuality? What is sex for and why should there be (or not be) any restrictions on our sexual behaviour?
Sex is for many things. Pleasure is an important aspect of the act of sex. Restrictions on sex should be for the purposes of protecting those who cannot consent.
How do you believe we should interact with those who hold different perspectives from our own? What is your view on tolerance of differing perspectives?
We should interact with those who hold a different perspective from our own as equals. We should be respectful of their beliefs, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t question them. I don’t think other beliefs should simply be tolerated. I think that we should encourage dialogue and understanding.