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Panel of professors and local priest discuss religion and faith

November 3, 2018

Graphic by Kaitlyn Biri

Graphic by Kaitlyn Biri

On Oct. 30, Nicholls State University hosted a forum titled “Faith in America” where professors and a local priest discussed topics pertaining to religion and faith.

The panel was composed of Brice Higginbotham, a priest from Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church; Robert Alexander, head of interdisciplinary studies; David Whitney, associate professor for political science; Chad Young, professor of physics; and Scott Phipps, instructor of history and geography.

Paul Wilson, department head of history and geography, initially conducted the questions for the panel, and then the audience asked questions of their own.

The forum began with an introduction from each panelist. Then, the panelists were asked questions pertaining to the meaning of faith and faith in America.

Alexander said that growing up in Tennessee, he was surrounded by the Protestant faith, however, he realizes that in south Louisiana the core religion is Catholicism. He asked the audience and his colleagues on the panel to keep in mind that there is a great variation in what people consider faith to be.

“For me, faith is really about trust. It’s really a question of what or who you’re going to trust to make it right with God,” said Young, a Christian astrophysicist. “That assumes that there is a God, one, and two, that man is not right, man is not okay.”

Higginbotham agreed with Young. He said that one of the most accepted doctrines of the church is that of original sin. People know that we are not born perfect, and Jesus is the answer to making that right again.

However, Phipps did not agree. As a secular humanist, he said he agrees with philosopher John Locke that a child is born with a blank slate, rather than being born good or evil.

“For me, the whole concept of being born with sin as an infant, before you’ve even done anything expect drool, I do have a problem with that concept,” Phipps said. “I don’t buy original sin.”

The debate between the men continued for the rest of forum, which lasted a total of two hours. Wilson continued to ask the panel questions such as who Jesus was and the existence of good and evil or free will.

The forum then moved onto questions from the audience. Only a handful of questions were asked by the audience since time ran out.

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