Members of the Secular Student Alliance and the Protestant Bible Fellowship debated the positive and negative effects of Christianity on March 4.
The event, titled “Christianity: A Force for Good?” was held at 8 p.m. in the New Library Auditorium and featured Daniel Yen, junior biology major, and Stephen DeRose, senior philosophy major, arguing for Christianity and Mike Tracey, junior political science major, and Dan Cardinale, senior biology major, arguing against it.
Tracey opened up the discussion with some opening remarks.
“Is Christianity a force for good?” Tracey asked. “Essentially let’s assume that Christianity is the one true religion. It is clear that there is nothing in Christianity to make people act on good.”
According to Tracey, the values and teachings of Christianity, like original sin, damage society.
DeRose delivered opening remarks for the Christianity side.
“Rise of Western democracy and the arts largely rose from Christianity,” DeRose said. “It’s a radical notion that Christianity has no place in history.”
According to Cardinale, morality does not necessarily come from Christianity, but is instead part of human nature.
“It’s been a constraint that has kept society in the dark ages,” Cardinale said. “Science is where this has been most evident.”
Yen counter-argued that Christianity has long been a catalyst for social change and is “fundamental to science.” He said that Christianity could even be considered a religion of change.
“Science and Christianity are both a search for truth,” Yen continued. “Both try to explain phenomena that have occurred.”
DeRose supported Yen’s argument by saying Christianity encourages people to study the natural world, which led to science.
“Christianity was pivotal,” DeRose said.
The debate became heated when the issue of Christianity’s view of homosexuality came up.
“Christianity teaches people to be prejudiced and look at things for their face value,” Tracey said.
DeRose compared this viewpoint with crimes committed by followers of other religions. He argued that Christianity has not been perfect, but has had many positive moments.
“Christanity has struggled, but when it has been at its best, it has been amazing and from it we have the moral world,” DeRose said.
The question and answer session heated the debate further. Lisa Caton, chaplain at Canterbury House, responded to the debate.
“The idea of Christanity is to love God and love each other,” Caton said. “The patriarchal structure of the old testament, we are totally opposed to that since the heart of the religion is the struggle for people to come to terms with this.”
The science side responded strongly to her comment.
“You didn’t deny the fundamental tenets of Christianity,” Tracey said. “The Bible encourages segments of society into second class.”
“I thought it was interesting” Marjorie Blicharz, sophomore sociology major, said. “With religion, it is hard to look at things objectively and both sides did a good job.”