Popular SJC Debate to Explore Faith and Philosophy


Courtesy of Thi Lam

From left: David LeMaster, Will Parent, Nikki Vogel, Thi Lam and Steven Pena pose for a picture at last year’s debate.

“The unexamined life is not worth living,” is an ancient quote from Socrates, but its modern influence is still relevant in the mind of Professor Thi Lam.

A professor at San Jacinto College Central Campus and author of the textbook “Readings in Philosophy,” Lam is the driving force behind the scenes of the philosophical debates hosted by the philosophy department.

This semester, a debate will take place in the Ballroom of the Student Center on Central campus Tuesday, Sept. 30 beginning at 7 p.m. Admission to the event is free of charge, and Lam encourages everyone to attend but advises seating is limited.

According to Lam, this year’s theme, Faith and Philosophy, will give participants the chance to discuss the social aspects of philosophy.

“The topics are controversial, so speakers and audience members sometimes get emotional. This is to be expected, however, civility is encouraged at all times,” Lam said.

Participants include Central campus’s philosophy professor Steven Pena, as well as University of St. Thomas graduate student, and former Marine, Tom Peeler.

“Debaters will discuss questions such as the existence of the theistic God, the problem of evil, and the relation between reason and faith,” Lam said.

During the first half of the event, debaters will argue and discuss the topic. The audience is invited to ask questions during the second half, Lam said.

“My goal is not to get them to agree with my point of view, but to encourage them to critically-think on their own,” Lam said. “Philosophy can be intellectually stimulating, and I try to help students develop an appreciation for the discipline.”

The philosophy debate was originated by Lam in 2005 at South campus. Last year, the theme explored God and philosophy. Although no place awards are given, the results are always open to interpretation, Lam said.

“I really enjoyed last year’s event. It got pretty heated at one point, and I was really entertained. I could really feel the passion in a lot of people’s opinions, and it was really moving. I definitely plan on attending this year,” local resident Kymberley Lenders said.

Meanwhile, Lam said he hopes the debates will inspire people to have philosophical discussions outside of the events.

“Life can be more meaningful,” Lam said, “if one takes the time to philosophize or self-reflect every now and then.”