Monday, May 03, 2010

Apologist Interview: R. Scott Smith (part 1)

Today's interview is (part one of two) with R. Scott Smith, Associate Professor of Ethics and Christian Apologetics at Biola University. He talks about his background and influences in ethics (J.P. Moreland, Dallas Willard), his opinion on the moral argument, the idea of naturalism grounding morality, the benefits of understanding ethical theory, and his recommended books on morality: Moral Choices by Scott Rae and Relativism by Koukl and Beckwith. Scott's own published works include Virtue Ethics and Moral Knowledge: Philosophy of Language after MacIntyre and Hauerwas and Truth and the New Kind of Christian: The Emerging Effects of Postmodernism in the Church. Scott also mentions the article "Knowledge & Naturalism" by Dallas Willard as well as J.P. Moreland's book Scaling the Secular City.

Full Interview MP3 Audio here (Part 1). (35 minutes)

Giveaway for FREE Apologetics Products
The Graduate Program in Christian Apologetics is giving away two Scott Smith lecture CD to two people: "Truth and the New Kind of Christian" and "The Case Against Postmodernism." To be entered in this contest, leave a comment on this post. Each person will only be counted once, even if multiple comments are left. Giveaway ends on May 7 at 11:59 pm PST. Winners will be chosen at random using random.org and notified by email.

10% off anything in the Biola apologetics product catalog Apologetics Resources.

Only $75! Biola’s Certificate in Christian Apologetics. $20 discount. Special Discount

Biola’s apologetics program will honor such rates until the end of May for all readers and friends of Apologetics 315. If you want to receive the 10% discount off of anything in the apologetics product catalog that is not clickable above, please order by phone (562-906-4570) or email.

Enjoy.

For more apologist interviews, subscribe to the Apologetics 315 Interviews podcast here or in iTunes.

26 comments :

John said...

Hello,

I just wanted to comment to enter to win. So here it is.


John Bray
revbray@yahoo.com

Jeremy said...

Hi,

This is my contest entry.

Jeremy Arnold
old_fashioned_dude@yahoo.com

Michael Baldwin said...

Thanks for this interview Brian. Prior to looking at this I hadn't actually heard of the book, "Moral Choices". Looks interesting though, as well as this other book I've found- "Beyond Bumper Sticker Ethics" which deals with secular theories of morality and an evaluation of each one from a Christian perspective.

Oh and please enter me for the draw. Thanks Brian!
Michael
kenanmike(at)hotmail.com

pgardella said...

I'll try for the drawing!

Patrick
p g a r d e l l a at g m a i l d o t com

Branches said...

Hooray.

kowens83 said...

Helloooooooooooo.

I tend to find the moral argument the most effective. I've made it my lead-off man. :B

Kiefer
kowens83@yahoo.com

Timoteo Zieger said...

I've enjoyed and benefited from your blog greatly for several months now. Thanks for your stedfast work.

~ Tim Z.

tzieger(at)gmail.com

RkBall said...

Not only is objective morality nonsensical apart from a moral Law-giver, so is the notion of morality itself. Yet all materialists take a self-righteous moral stance for rationality and reason against the very people that provide them with an intellectual grounding for moral belief. And we're supposed to be the irrational ones!

Contact me at http://thewaytheBallbounces.blogspot.com. Thanks!

SteveJ said...

RkBall,

First, how do you explain largely non-theistic cultures that have morality (Japan, e.g.)?

Second, wouldn't a social group, even without a belief in God, still need codes of conduct to prevent a complete breakdown of the group? Could it survive if everyone were raping, killing and stealing from one another?

Third, do you really think the book you're recommending to us yields a consistent standard of morality? People quoting the same Bible disagree on right and wrong fairly often. And then there are the morally troubling OT passages -- e.g., a woman who helps her husband in a fight by grabbing the other man's genitals gets her hand cut off (and many, many other examples).

For the record, I'm not an atheist. But I find this perpetual refrain about morality a little tiresome.

bossmanham said...

I want to be entered!

Brennon

bossmanham@yahoo.com

bossmanham said...

SteveJ,

Hope you don't mind me answering.

First, how do you explain largely non-theistic cultures that have morality (Japan, e.g.)?

Either they apprehend the absolute objective morality that does exist, or they have evolved similar socio-cultural behavioral patterns as those of us in the west have. But socio-cultural morality is subject to the society it evolved in, not some objective standard. If another society, or a small segment within that society, didn't agree with the other society, what makes them wrong?

Second, wouldn't a social group, even without a belief in God, still need codes of conduct to prevent a complete breakdown of the group? Could it survive if everyone were raping, killing and stealing from one another?

No one is denying that evolved morality would help in survival. The question would the things that we have evolved to think are bad really bad? How could they be on naturalism? There is no objective standard and there is no one that would hold us ultimately accountable.

Third, do you really think the book you're recommending to us yields a consistent standard of morality? People quoting the same Bible disagree on right and wrong fairly often.

Why would this be relevant in whether an objective morality actually exists?

e.g., a woman who helps her husband in a fight by grabbing the other man's genitals gets her hand cut off (and many, many other examples).

I just spoke with someone on an earlier post on this.

It was in reference to the killing of the Canaanites, but it works in principle to your question here as well. I said:

"If our moral duties come about because of the commands of God (which flow from His nature which is the good) then we are obligated to follow those commands. So I have no right to take an innocent life because God has said so. However, God does not issue moral commands to Himself because He is the locus of morality. He can give and take life as He chooses. That's why we accuse people who think they have that right with "playing god." God is under no obligation to allow anyone to live any longer than He chooses.

So that means that God has the right to take the lives of the Canaanites whenever He sees fit. The problem isn't, then, that He took the lives but that He commanded the Israelites to take the lives. Now you'll say "so He commanded murder!?!?!" No. He commanded something which without a divine command would have been murder.

Said another way, unjustified killing is murder, but with a divine command we have a justifiable reason to kill. Therefore, a divinely commanded killing is not murder."

SteveJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Religitainment said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeremy Dawson said...

Canada Entry?

Russell said...

I would like to enter!

Thanks,

Russ

russellranderson@gmail.com

BO said...

I have had my eye on "Truth and the New Kind of Christian" for several months now...I'd like to enter, thanks.

brian at thewarehouseoc dot com

Jeremy Dawson said...

Entry:
Jeremy Dawson
jeremydawson@gmail.com


thanks!

Larry said...

here's my comment

Chad said...

Entry:

Chad A. Gross
truthbombapologetics@gmail.com

Thanks alot and Godspeed

Peggy said...

I read this blog daily.
Enter me in the CD giveaway contest, thanks!

David said...

black_bishop_@hotmail.com

withalliamgod said...

I am in

withalliamgod said...

Dear StevenJ,

You missed the point, you do not have to believe in God to have objective morals. Believing in God and existence of God are two different things.

Whether you believe in God or not, Objective moral do exist. Any religion or group or belief or atheistic view, all are bound and ought to behave in certain way.

Objective moral exist not because of belief in God,but because of Existence of God.

Therefore whether religion belief is right or wrong, or atheist view is right or wrong or how this moral where discovered or handle down, all these have nothing to do with that "Objective Moral exist".

And sad to say from Atheistic point of view, the only possible ground for Objective Moral is God. Darwinism natural selection fall short, naturalism falls short too.

If Atheism is right, Objective Morals do not exist,
But Objective morals do exist,
Therefore, Sad to say atheism must be wrong.

apologiabyhendrikvanderbreggen said...

This is my comment to enter the draw. Thanks!

hendrikvanderbreggen(at)mts.net

SteveJ said...

withalliamgod, that's fine and I'm not an atheist. But it's not enough to say, "We have objective morality because there's a Supreme Being." Which interpretation of God yields the correct objective morals? Muslim jihadists believe in God, but they also think it's moral and proper to kill infidels.

Abigail said...

Winners of the contest were selected using random.org. Comment #15 won "Truth & the New Kind of Christian" CD. Congrats to Russ Anderson.

Comment #17 won "The Case Against Postmodernism" CD. Congrats to Jeremy Dawson!

I will email contest winners. If they do not claim their prizes within 3 days, I will redraw names. Thank you all for participating!

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