A Dialogue on Death
“A Dialogue on Death”: Atheism and Christianity Panel Forum
Australian Catholic University, 3 April 2018
Death confronts us all. But what is death – and how do we live knowing that we will die?
Nearly 100 people gathered to consider these questions at a panel discussion hosted by ACU’s Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry in Melbourne on Tuesday April 3. Dr David Newheiser of ACU moderated a lively discussion between panel members: Professor Denys Turner (Yale University and ACU); Associate Professor Mark Kelly (Western Sydney University); Dr Robyn Whitaker (University of Divinity); and Dr Jon Roffe (Deakin University).
The panel discussion was part of the IRCI project: “Atheism and Christianity: Moving Past Polemic.” True to the spirit of the project, the conversation moved beyond the typically hostile confrontations between atheists and Christians into a space of shared philosophical and theological interest. One of the points of dialogue concerned the possibility of “absolute death” – defined philosophically as the erasure of all remnants of a person’s existence. For Christians, absolute death is not an option, because even if a person is forgotten by humanity, that person is remembered by God. This raises interesting questions about the enduring nature of self-identity in the case when a person can no longer remember him- or herself.