There’s this Evangelical church near Sacramento, Adventure Christian Church. Last weekend the church hosted a debate between David Marshall, a Christian author, blogger and founder/director of the Kuai Mu Institute for Christianity and World Cultures, and Phil Zuckerman, Professor of Sociology and Secular Studies, Pitzer College in Claremont, California, who reports how things went.
The question at hand: “What provides a better foundation for civil society, Christianity or Secular Humanism?” David Marshall took the Christian position, and I took the secular humanist position.
There was advance planning for months. They provided nice snacks.
I was repeatedly told — via e-mail, as well as in person — that not only would the debate be video’ed by their expert video team, but the video of the debate would be posted on vimeo soon after the debate.
And so we had the debate. And I won. Now, that’s not my opinion — its the opinion of Adventure Christian church, because they now refuse to post the video on-line.
Instead, what they’ve done is post a series of rebuttals to the debate — refutations and criticisms. But they won’t post the actual debate. And they’ve disabled my ability to even comment on their posted refutations.
When I called pastor Bryan, and asked him why they are refusing to post the video — even after repeated promises of doing so — he replied, “It just didn’t go the way we wanted it to go. We were not represented well.”
Thus neatly demonstrating that Christianity of the more absolutist variety (at least) is not good at doing civil society.
Does that sound familiar? Yes, it does. Two years ago, Jerry Coyne debated the theologian John Haught and then Haught refused to let the video be released. I did a post about it at the time.
Zuckerman is surprised and disappointed at Adventure Christian church, but not willing to tar all evangelicals with the same brush.
I don’t think all Evangelicals are like those at Adventure. I am sure that there are many, many evangelical Christians who keep their word, are open to debate and dialogue, and have the courage of their convictions.
But, unfortunately, that wasn’t my experience at Adventure Christian Church. They are indeed afraid to air the underling truth of my position: that no civil society can thrive if it does not exist upon a bedrock of democracy, and democracy is not a Christian value — it is not articulated anywhere in the Gospels, nor is it promulgated, in any way, by Jesus or Paul. Rather, democracy is a secular humanist ideal — something dreamed up and established by and for people.
But the good pastors at Adventure Christian church would you prefer not to know that!
There are Christians who claim – indeed, insist – that democracy is a Christian value and that we wouldn’t have it if it weren’t for Christianity. I think that’s bullshit, but counterfactuals are hard to rebut.