Theist and atheist debate worldviews of morality before Marshall audience

Hunter Ellis, Reporter

Theist Chan Arnett and atheist Adam Hamby debated the foundations of morality and whether they stem from theistic or non-theistic sources Saturday evening in the Don Morris Room of the Memorial Student Center on Marshall University’s campus in a debate organized by the Secular Student Alliance.

Arnett is a Christian apologist and founder of Faithful Apologetics. Hamby is a Marshall biology major. Isaac McKown, a Marshall alum with a degree in molecular biology, moderated the debate.

The debate was structured with a 20-minute opening statement from each debater, followed by a 12-minute rebuttal period, a five-minute rebuttal period, a Q&A with the audience, a five-minute closing statement and ended with a final Q&A.

Arnett focused on citing God as the only source of morality and claimed that without God, there would be no source for morality. Hamby took the approach that by citing God as the only source for morality for society would be undermining the great achievements of many scientists and the hard work they produce every day.

Arnett gave three examples of “good and bad” for his opening statement. He then used the examples to differentiate between subjective and objective decisions.

Arnett explained subjective as not “good or bad” or “right or wrong” and said subjective views are dependent on human taste and opinion. Objective decisions, he said, were the opposite; they have a definite “right or wrong” and “good or bad” forum, and they are independent of human opinion. Instead, they are dependent on the moral foundations that God sets.

Hamby countered his statements throughout the debate by explaining why science is important. He attributed the founding of modern technology, modern medicine, modern conveniences, longer lives and the best way of knowing what’s true all to science. He said science can reveal emerging truths, and it can create an objective model of morality.

Hamby also used examples of science disproving theistic claims like the Catholic Church claiming the earth was the center of the universe at one point in time, and later, science disproved that theory.

He then cited Bible verses that exemplified what he considered to be cruel punishment and ended his argument by stating that “the god of any major theistic religion is pure evil.”

Hunter Ellis can be contacted at [email protected]