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The Ethical Challenges of Today’s Society and the Ability to Reason

Dr. Dale McGowan to speak at Pacific about critical thinking and ethics
by Lily PenfoldFeb 1, 2012

There are many who argue that in order to be ethical, one must also have a belief in God. This reasoning is so pervasive, that every election cycle politicians clamor to as many churches as possible for photo opportunities to try and prove that they have sound judgment and can be trusted.

This reasoning is flawed, argues Dale McGowan, a renowned author and speaker. He argues that ethics requires reason, not a belief in a higher power, and that religion has little to do with whether an individual will do the right thing when faced with a crisis.

McGowan, author of the secular parenting books "Parenting Beyond Belief" and "Raising Freethinkers," will speak on the nature of critical thinking skills and the importance of ethics at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28 at Pacific's Don and Karen DeRosa University Center Ballroom. The speech is free and open to the public.

Both "Parenting Beyond Belief" and "Raising Freethinkers" are guides for parents who choose to raise their children without religion. McGowan is also the executive director of Foundation Beyond Belief, a charitable organization for humanists (http://foundationbeyondbelief.org). A humanist is a person who focuses on human values and concerns instead of divine or supernatural matters.

"The Philosophy Department is pleased to co-sponsor the lecture by Dr. Dale McGowan.  Philosophers have long contended that ethics need not depend on belief in a higher power, but that is not what many people think," said Professor Ray Rennard, chair of Pacific's Philosophy department. "This is a public discussion that is long overdue.  We look forward to hearing McGowan's thoughts about the role of critical thinking in moral education."

In 2008, Harvard University's Humanist Chaplaincy named McGowan the Harvard Humanist of the Year, an award given to those who exemplify the principles of reason and ethics expelling the constraints of religious beliefs. McGowan also holds this title with others such as Seth MacFarlane, creator and author of the popular show "Family Guy."

McGowan graduated from UC Berkeley and earned his Ph.D. in music composition and theory from the University of Minnesota. Today, McGowan focuses on his writing and speaking endeavors while representing his humanist beliefs.

The lecture is presented by Pacific's Housing and Greek Life and Philosophy department.  For more information, visit https://calendar.pacific.edu/event/do_the_right_think_connecting_critical_thinking_and_ethics#.TxoJRaU9m5I.

about the author

Lily Penfold   Lily Penfold is the Media Relations Assistant at Pacific and also a graduate student in the Communication Department of the College of the Pacific.

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