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Tearing Down Mr. Hume’s Wall

On Thursday October 19, 2017, I appeared on stage at California State University, Fullerton to debate professors Douglas J. Navarick and Ryan Nichols on “Solving Moral Dilemmas: How Do We Know What’s Right?” The debate was moderated by the I Doubt It podcast hosts Jesse Dollemore and Brittany Page, the latter of whom was a graduate student at CSUF under Dr. Navarick, as I was some four decades earlier. Dr. Nichols, Associate Professor of Philosophy, was largely in agreement with Dr. Navarick, although came at the topic from a different perspective. You can listen to the entire debate here ( Dr. Navarick presented his case against moral realism, based on his article published in this issue of Skeptic. What follows is the slightly expanded text of my onstage defense of moral realism, primarily based on arguments I presented in my 2015 book The Moral Arc,1 and more recently from my 2017 article in the journal Theology and Science titled “Scientific Naturalism: A Manifesto for Enlightenment Humanism,”2 available online3 and in audio format read by me,4 both free.

THANK YOU TO THE ORGANIZERS FOR INVITING ME here tonight and for taking my ideas seriously enough to hold a public event to discuss them. And thank you especially to Doug Navarick who, 40 years ago this year, accepted me into his lab and taught me to think like a scientist. I was a born-again evangelical Christian then, but by the time I left Doug’s lab I was an atheist. I’ll let you be the judge if that’s a good thing or not. Or more to the point, if I’m wrong then God can judge us both, Doug. Interestingly, this happened without anyone trying to talk me out of religion. My religious beliefs just fell away, replaced as they were by science and reason.

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