After having skipped all of the Socrates Café meetings last semester, I decided that I had learned to manage my schedule more effectively this time, so I decided to show up for the first one. The usual bright orange advertisements were up around campus the previous week. It’s always a good strategy to start off with a light uncontroversial topic the first time around in order to slowly hook new students into the realm of discussing ideas. So, naturally the topic Does God Exist? was selected.
I happened to know everyone who ended up showing up (5 people, plus me, and 2 professors), and putting it mildly, they are some bizarre people (and I mean that in a good way).
One of the discussions that persisted the longest was whether something can be both condemned and accepted by God at the same time. The first example that comes to college students is homosexuality, so two people debated whether two people can believe different things about how God might view homosexuality and still worship the same God. So it was framed like this:
1. If I believe God condemns someone for their behavior/what they are, and you don’t, it means: A) I’m wrong, B) You’re wrong, or C) We’re both wrong.
2. People have different views on the same God, and they can all be right.
I was tempted at first to agree with the first of the two, since I think it’s clearly more logical, but then I considered that for most of our history we’ve worshiped many gods and goddesses, and the differences between one version of a monotheistic god and another (Catholic vs Protestant, and so forth). So in a way I figure that the only way you can be wrong is if you worship another’s god. From a macro-standpoint I suppose that makes me rather liberal-minded, but on a micro level it really means tradition (alias “bigotry”).
Another friend of mine, who tells me that he is in the midst of training to become a shaman, kept bringing to subject back to Earth and nature. Even when it didn’t seem like it was relevant, he would bring the discussion back to how nature has a plan for all of us. One of his more controversial arguments was that every negative thing that happens to us (including natural disasters, terrorist attacks, wars, famine, etc.) is balanced out by some kind of positive reaction.
As is typical, I don’t think anyone changed their thoughts about anything, but that’s never the point really. I did get some ideas for books to read, so I’ll get right on those in about 3 years after I finish the current pile…
The usual way to start Socrates Café is to define the topic. We didn’t really do that this time, because defining God would probably be a little too long of an intro. The end usually involves using the discussion to determine a topic for the following meeting….we didn’t really do that either. What I can say for sure is that someone did suggest aliens…