Tonight at Biola University (my wife & I are alumni) a debate took place between two famous spokespersons for & against the existence of God. Christian philosopher & thinker William Lane Craig took on one of the new virulent strains of atheit Christopher Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great.
I wasn’t able to go or listen to the webcast, but a friend & fellow Journey-ite Paul Hickock was there. Paul teaches at Christian School & holds a Masters in Apologetics. I asked Paul to blog a few thoughts on the debate. Here they are:
I had been anticipating this for weeks! On Saturday, April 4, 2009 Biola hosted a debate over the question, “Does God Exist?”
Renowned Christian philosopher and apologist William Lane Craig represented the “Yes he does” side while renowned atheist and journalist Christopher Hitchens represented the “Not a chance” side. Both are seasoned veterans of these types of debates and travel all over the world persuading people to either believe in the God of Christianity or persuading people to give up man-made religion. The debate was put on by Biola’s student body and the apologetics department.
Apparently people are interested in these sorts of topics since over 4,000 people showed up and there was a live global broadcast of the event to places like Sri Lanka! There was a general buzz about the place, which was in the gym, and my wife and the 4 students I dragged with me were a bit shocked at how excited everyone was. You would have thought we were at the MGM Grand and Heavyweights were about to slug it out. This seems like decent evidence that people are definitely seeking answers to the biggest questions in life as well as seeking out spiritual things.
Hitchens had no problem entering this den of lambs, although there were also a number of atheists that showed up and made their presence known by wearing tee-shirts and hooting at various points through out as Hitchens would make a good point. This was very cool. Hitchens is known for being witty, sarcastic, and a bit vitriolic, and this proved to be accurate. Craig is the humble overachiever, studying his opponents and preparing precise and calculating arguments, which were on full display as well. At the conclusion, my students walked away bolstered in their trust and confidence in the God they love and serve and they were feverishly rehashing all the arguments and counterarguments on both sides well after the event. It was glorious to behold and encouraged me to see that the life of the mind is still a vital component for living out the Christ-life, particularly for young people. Check out the blog for a blow-by-blow account of the debate (http://doesgodexistdebate.blogspot.com/ ).
Here are the closing arguments by Craig and Hitchens.
Craig: “Have we seen any good arguments tonight that God does not exist? NO. A lot of impugning of religious actions or people but no arguments. Hitchens asserts a worldview as well – atheism. It is a worldview with claims on reality, but he offers no arguments for its truth.
However, The God hypothesis explains so much of the world
1. The Cosmological argument – Where the universe comes from
2. The Teleological argument – The fact that the universe is intelligently designed
3. The Moral argument – The fact that actions have real moral value has not been dealt with. If objective moral values exist, it must be rooted in a God.
4. The evidence of the resurrection has not been refuted
5. The immediate experience of God – I invite anyone listening in who has not experienced God in a real way to invite Jesus to become real to him or her.”
Hitchens: “If you make the assumption that religion is man made you will discover:
1. Why there are so many
2. Why they’ve been such a disappointment to humanity
3. Why they continue to compete with each other
The current circumstances and conflicts of religion is exactly what you would expect if it was made by man.
Emancipate yourself from such a belief.”