Point… Counterpoint. That’s the name and idea behind one of Marco Island’s newest social groups. The interactive meetings take place at the Marco Island YMCA from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM on the last Wednesday of each month. All are welcome to attend this free “meeting of the minds” where controversial topics are discussed in an educational, open forum.
Only three months old, Point… Counterpoint has already created quite a stir. With topics such as “Will a Republican defeat Barack Obama in the upcoming election?” and “The 1% vs the 99%,” the conversation is anything but boring. Critical thinkers from one side or another, or from somewhere in the middle, are all given the chance to express their opinion. The goal behind these meetings is not to cause an argument but rather, “to get people thinking, because thinking is the beginning of action,” explains Bernie Turner.
Turner, who participates in Point… Counterpoint, was the inspiration behind the group. In 2006, he began the Center for Critical Thinking in Naples. The once-a-month meeting now hosts 50 to 60 people all coming together to discuss hot topics. Wade Keller, a friend and colleague of Turner, decided to bring this idea to Marco Island. Thus, the creationof Point… Counterpoint in January of this year.
The atmosphere of both the Center for Critical Thinking and Point… Counterpoint is designed to have “a group that’s concerned about the problems within society and have an atmosphere where everyone is welcome, regardless of what their beliefs or non-beliefs are and have it in a situation where everyone has mutual respect,” adds Turner.
Each meeting has a coordinator, or mediator, of the session who introduces the topic of discussion for about five or ten minutes. The mediator gives the essence of the problem, and then opens it to those in attendance. The forum is anything but a lecture. Everyone takes a turn saying whatever they like.
Such was the case at the March 28th Point… Counterpoint. The topic of debate: “Evolution vs. Intelligent Design.” Keller briefly discussed the issue at hand, saying, “let me be both sides.” He then explained the differing opinions. Was the earth created by “The Big Bang Theory” or was it created by some form of Spirit or God? A gathering of over 25 people, from different countries, different religious backgrounds and different ages all had a chance to discuss the issue.
The intelligence of the group was clear, as many brought different books, magazinesand their own personal notes regarding the issue. Throughout the conversation many new questions were raised. Does knowing the origins of life even matter? Is there a happy medium between the two ideas? How does religion play a role in our school system? How do we teach morals without a code such as The Ten Commandments? How do we decide what those morals should be?
These types of questions are the point of Point… Counterpoint. As Turner explained at the end of the meeting, “this is where the critical thinking element applies. You should come out of this with certain conclusions regarding the subject. Then look at various groups you belong to and how it might have impacted that. It is not enough to just discuss, but to act upon the things that you find invalid.”
Keller agrees. “In my opinion, it will be a great opportunity to learn, challenge, and, perhaps, expand our horizons.”
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 25th, from 1:00 PM to 2:30 PM in the gymnasium at the YMCA, 101 Sandhill Street, Marco Island. The topic: “Tax and Tax Reform.” Yet again, another hot one. Start developing your thoughts now and swing by the Y to share them with others interested in intelligent discussion.