Dennis Potter (left) and Blake Ostler debate baptisms for the dead at UVU.
On Tuesday, Utah Valley University hosted a lively debate on the resolution: “Resolved that the practice of proxy baptisms for the dead is neither a rational nor an ethical response to the problem of the unevangelized.”
Affirming the resolution—that is, arguing that baptisms for the dead are ineffectual and offensive—was Dennis Potter, associate philosophy professor at UVU. In opposition was Blake Ostler, a lawyer who has been widely published on Mormon theology.
With Mitt Romney’s presidential bid, Mormonism and some of its more controversial tenets (like baptisms for the dead) have come under increased scrutiny. So this debate couldn’t have been any more timely or relevant. Unfortunately, the turnout was rather poor. But if you were unaware of the event or unable to attend, you’re in luck—I recorded it in full. Click the links below for audio to the debate and the Q&A session.
The debate coach in me is tempted to disclose whose case I felt was more compelling, but I’ll hold off. I don’t want to bias your opinion going into the debate. Please listen to it first. Suffice it say for now, though, that Potter and Ostler are both capable thinkers and each made good arguments.
I may post my analysis later, but until then I look forward to reading your thoughts in the comments!
Today, from 4-6 PM at the University of Utah’s Orson Spencer Hall (OSH) Auditorium, Dr. Victor Stenger will be giving a talk partly based on his latest book, The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning.
Stenger, a philosopher and physicist, is a among the foremost “new atheist” thinkers. He has written several books about atheism and science, including the bestseller God: The Failed Hypothesis and the critically-acclaimedThe New Atheism.
The event, which is being organized by our sister group SHIFT, will be free and open to the public, with free parking available in the visitor parking lot just east of the Union building (just north of OSH). Seating will be first-come-first-served. The doors to the auditorium will be opened 30 minutes before the event.
Some SHAFT readers may know Dan Tate, a USU philosophy major. Dan’s a great guy, and on Thursday we have a chance to do him a favor. There will be a benefit concert for his wife Alexis on Thursday, June 23rd, at 7:30 PM at St. John’s Episcopal Church. She has a chronic case of Lyme disease, and this concert will help Dan and Alexis afford the treatments. Below is a poster with more information.
There are a couple of upcoming events that I think SHAFTers won’t want to miss. The first is a panel discussion about religion and gay marriage, and it will take place tomorrow (November 2) at 1:00 PM in the TSC auditorium. Panelists will include practicing representatives from the Episcopalian, Buddhist, Roman Catholic, Mormon, and Hindu traditions.
There will be a screening of 8: The Mormon Proposition on USU’s campus this Thursday, Oct 21st. It will be screened at 7pm in the Eccles Conference Center auditorium by the Department of Journalism & Communication. There has been a lot of interest expressed in seeing this movie in meetings, so here is your chance!
This screening happens to be during a regular meeting week and several people will be going to the screening after the meeting if you’d like to join us. We’ll be leading a discussion on how we each deal with our atheism and the weird reactions we sometimes get from others. We’re planning on talking about different coping strategies you can use when talking to family members, etc. We’ll talk about work, family, and friends. You can come and not say a thing, or you can yak it up, but this is not a philosophical discussion so please do not treat it as such. This meeting is an attempt to make SHAFT more personal for those who feel that that touch is lacking. (We’re not the Religious Studies club.)
The Exmormon Foundation will host its annual conference this weekend, October 15-17, at the Embassy Suites Hotel in SLC (110 W 600 S).
For those unfamiliar with the Exmormon Foundation, it is a “diverse community of former Mormons or questioning Mormons.” The organization offers emotional support to those who have left or are leaving the LDS Church, and it also sponsors an annual conference about Mormonism. I have never attended one of their conferences, but I’ve been meaning to. I’m advertising this weekend’s conference here because I think it may be of interest to some SHAFTers.
This year’s conference will hear from a range of interesting speakers. The keynote speaker is Jeff Sharlet, author of the nationally acclaimed book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. The book is an exposé of The Family, an evangelical Christian group that wields enormous influence in Congress and Washington at large.
Musician and ex-Mormon Tal Bachman will also speak at the conference. You’ll likely remember his song “She’s So High”, which was a chart-topper in the ’90s. Bachman has been blogging about Mormonism for years, and he was featured in the PBS documentary “The Mormons” and Bill Maher’s “Religulous”.
For more information about the conference, click here.
On Thursday, September 23rd, BYU biology professor Dr. William Bradshaw will discuss the significant role that genetics plays in homosexuality. He will also argue that homosexuality is not a choice and cannot be changed.
It will be an interesting lecture, and I’m thrilled that BYU is hosting it. Here is the event info:
When: September 23rd @ 7:00 PM
Where: Thomas S. Martin building (MARB), rm. 445
(Search “MARB” in the BYU campus map and you’ll find it.)
Dr. Bradshaw gave a similar lecture back in 2004. Read this Daily Universearticle (originally entitled “Professor gives scientific evidence of homosexuality”, but changed to “Professor claims scientific evidence of homosexuality”) about his 2004 lecture if you want a preview of Thursday’s presentation.
For those in Logan: SHAFT will have a presentation of its own this Thursday. At 6:00 PM in Old Main 201, SHAFT officer Chris Gardner will discuss ancient creation myths and how they evolved into modern day religions.
SHAFT will have its first event of the summer this Wednesday. We will be going to the 4:30 PM showing of 8: The Mormon Proposition at the Tower Theatre in SLC (876 E 900 S). Because this is a matinee showtime, tickets are only $6 dollars. The group may go out to dinner afterward, so budget for that too.
If you’re in Logan, SHAFT is organizing a carpool down to Salt Lake. Meet at 2:30 PM at Aggie Ice Cream (750 N 1200 E).
The documentary is about the LDS Church’s involvement in California’s Proposition 8, an anti-gay marriage ballot measure and constitutional amendment. If you’re not familiar with the movie, watch the trailer: