Athiest & pastor to debate in Beaverton

By Evergreen Presbyterian

This Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. the Beaverton Religion Forum returns to Evergreen. Tom Gebhardt of the Center for Inquiry Portland and Keith Thomas, Assistant Pastor of Evergreen Presbyterian Church will answer the question, “Do you need God to be a genuinely moral person?” The forum’s Master of Ceremonies, Bernie Dehler, atheist in persuasion, will allow each presenter 10 minutes to answer the question, then he will open the floor to questions directed at one or both of the presenters. We continue the forum having enjoyed peaceful and productive conversations between Atheists, Christians, Muslims, and Jews for two years. Keep the forum going by inviting your friends to join us. The forum is a friendly clash of opposing world views on selected topics.

This month’s topic: “Do you need God to be a genuinely moral person?” is central to discussions between Atheists and Christians. Most Christians assume that Atheism necessarily leads to nihilism and thus to immorality. But there is a growing number of Atheists attempting to establish a moral foundation for Atheists and Secular Humanists. Most Atheists assume that Christians believe that no one apart from God can do anything moral or good. But, of course, there is the long standing Christian doctrine of common grace.

The Beaverton Religion Forum is not an attempt to reduce neighbors to common ground, though we find it at times. The purpose is to provide space for clear presentations of conflicting world views while maintaining a friendship between neighbors.

Bernie Dehler, a Christian turned Secular Humanist/Atheist, has remarked to the Forum coordinators that he is unaware of any meeting in the USA like the Beaverton Religion Forum. There are gatherings and events at which Atheists and Christians debate or at which they seek to find common ground reducing all counter-points to a mushy moderation. But he knows of no event with the purpose of kindly presenting two opposing views, allowing them to stand in a context of being good neighbors.

The Reverend Nathan Lewis of Evergreen says, “I am pleased to host and to coordinate the Beaverton Religion Forum alongside my friends, Bernie Dehler of the Westside Science and Religion Discussion Group and Sylvia Benner of the Center for Inquiry of Portland. The three of us along with our presenters are modeling the building of friendships with those who sharply disagree with us. On both sides of any topic we have hopes that at least someone will see it our way and embrace our views. Bernie and Sylvia are just as much evangelists as I am. Of course the term, “evangelism” lexically is inseparably connected to the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ and so my friends must pirate it to describe their passionate proclamation of Atheism. But hey, I’m willing to let them borrow a good term so that we can get a lively discussion going.”

“This topic of God and morality is central to discussions between Christians and Atheists.” A teenage member of Evergreen Presbyterian Church

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