The two arguments in the debate could not be more different, but Badger Catholic and the Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics student group showed respect for each other while debating several topics on Tuesday evening.
The event, organized by the Wisconsin Union Directorate Society and Politics Committee, drew about 350 people at Memorial Union.
Jack Comeau, a UW junior and director of the WUD Society and Politics Committee, said planning for the event started last spring and the planning involved ensuring each side was comfortable with questions so they “didn’t feel like any side was being targeted.”
Sam Erickson, a UW junior and president of the Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics said instead of believing anything, we should use critical thinking to challenge certain myths and beliefs.
“For example, the myth that we eat spiders in our sleep is a myth,” Erickson said. “It is a myth that came about 20 years ago when someone was trying to see how gullible humans were to information on the Internet. It shows that we believe anything we want to.”
Joey DeGuire, a Badger Catholic peer mentor, said faith isn’t blind acceptance nor is it superstition.
Instead, he said faith is a gift from God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived and goes beyond scientific principles.
“The apparent contradiction between faith and reason is not because faith stops short of reason but because faith goes beyond reason,” DeGuire said. “True faith embraces reason but recognizes the limitations that reason has.”
Responding to a question on whether there is “such a thing as universal morality,” Badger Catholic board member Kevin Mauer rephrased the question as whether there are questions with universal answers.
Mauer emphasized the need for a universal standard for morality.
“For example, you cannot defend a woman’s right to have an abortion without referring to some universal moral principle,” Mauer said. “Appeals to rights are not relativistic. They are universalist.”