(February 26, 2008)

Contact: Rick DelaHaya, Centenary News Services, 318.869.5073

Centenary College's Forum Presents Second Part to 'Value and Virtue' Series March 3

SHREVEPORT, La. — The Forum, an annual event that examines a social issue in open-to-the public sessions, will present student and citizens' responses to "Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe" March 3 at Centenary College.

The Forum will present respondents beginning at 7 p.m. in Kilpatrick Auditorium. Students include Jason Blillie, philosophy major; and Travis Hill, religious studies and communications major. The Shreveport Times Citizen Editorial Board responders include David Burroughs, environmental engineer; and Roy Fish, community member.

Value and Virtue
Erik Wielenberg, associate professor of philosophy at DePauw University, discusses the issue of virtue, value and atheism February 25 before a packed house in Kilpatrick Auditorium. Students and The Shreveport Times Citizen Editorial Board responders will have the opportunity to respond to Wielenberg's "Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe" March 3 at Centenary College.
—(Photo by Rick DelaHaya)

Philosopher and author Erik Wielenberg, associate professor of philosophy at DePauw University, discussed the issue of virtue, value and atheism February 25 before a packed house in Kilpatrick Auditorium. "Atheism does not mean an absence of morality, the philosophy professor argued before a packed house Monday at Centenary College," reports this morning's edition of the Shreveport Times. "A lot think the views 'there is not a god yet there are objective truths' are in conflict," said Wielenberg. "I'm not going to argue for atheism. What I am going to do is make the case that there isn't this dependence."

According to his book of the same name, Wielenberg's premise is "Suppose there is no God." This might imply that human life is meaningless, that there are no moral obligations and hence people can do whatever they want, and that the notions of virtue and vice and good and evil have no place. Erik J. Wielenberg believes this view to be mistaken and in this book he explains why. He argues that even if God does not exist, human life can have meaning, we do have moral obligations, and virtue is possible. Naturally, the author sees virtue in a Godless universe as different from virtue in a Christian universe, and he develops naturalistic accounts of humility, charity, and hope. The moral landscape in a Godless universe is different from the moral landscape in a Christian universe, but it does indeed exist. Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe is a tour of some of the central landmarks of this under-explored territory.

Following his presentation, students, some faculty members and members of the community asked a wide range of questions, attempting to get more definitive answers on his beliefs.

The Rev. Betsy Eaves, chaplain here at Centenary, said the discussion of ideas is good for all, and that the College has a responsibility to engage the students in thoughtful conversations.

"While I am a strong believer in God, I appreciate the opportunity to have an exchange of ideas with people who think differently," she said. "It doesn't brainwash me. It sharpens my thinking."

According to Rev. Eaves, as a liberal arts institution, the College is committed to teaching students to think, to articulate ideas, and to grow in knowledge and understanding on issues and opinions differing from their own.

"I do believe as a person of faith and Chaplain of the College, it is our responsibility to continue the conversation that began last night...it doesn't end here," Rev. Eaves continued. "This created the opportunity for students to be exposed to different ideas and discover for themselves what it is they believe. I have the responsibility to keep the faith issue alive for them while talking with them on how our faith impacts our engagement to these ideas."

Dr. Chris Ciocchetti, assistant professor of philosophy, coordinates the annual event, which presents opposing points of view and then features responses from students and members of The (Shreveport) Times Citizen Editorial Board, as well as audience questions.

For instance, from the Feb 23 Times:

This event is free and open to the public. For further information, contact Ciocchetti at 318.869.5246 or email or visit the Forum web page at www.centenary.edu/forum.

About Centenary College of Louisiana

Centenary College is a private, four-year arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church. Founded in 1825, it is the oldest chartered liberal arts college west of the Mississippi River and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Centenary is one of 16 colleges and universities constituting the Associated Colleges of the South and is regularly rated as one of the top colleges in the South. In 2008 Centenary College celebrates 100 years in Shreveport and Bossier City.