Thursday, October 20, 2011

Does God Exist Debate

Methodist Central Hall
This week I attended a debate titled, Does God Exist?. Arguing for the existence of God was William Lane Craig. You may have heard of him; he's a well known philosopher, theologian and apologist. I'd met him a couple of times and Kurt took a class with him at Biola. Philosopher Stephen Law, argued against God's existence. It was my first time going to a debate and I found it really intriguing. I want to share a few after-thoughts on the whole thing.

I think Christians are often turned off by the idea of debating, especially when the debate is about Christianity. I myself was a bit skeptical of it's proper place (if any) when I first met Kurt. Kurt's passionate about apologetics and would tell me about different debates he attended or had read. It puzzled me at first because I think as Christians we often feel we're treading on thin ice. We know we're called to witness and that in doing so it's extremely important to rightly represent Christ. This responsibility can be really intimidating! I, and I'm sure others, am often concerned that I'll offend or push away non-believers if I don't witness in just the right way. It's true that some people respond to certain types of witnessing better than others. But I've found myself trying to run an analysis on each person I meet in order to determine which type of witnessing approach I should take - direct, kind of direct, or very indirect (through example). The truth is, I often spend so much time trying to figure out how I should witness that I never actually witness (directly that is). I'm only left to wonder/hope that my example left some sort of impression.

If there's one thing I was reminded of by attending the debate, it's that people want their biggest questions directly addressed (the enormous Methodist Central Hall was completely packed). And this has been the case for thousands of years. The disciples spent a lot of time directly addressing concerns regarding Christianity and defending it (think Paul, and Luke 1:1-4). What makes that even more impressive, is that the disciples didn't have access to some of the information we have today, say the New Testament, for example. Yes, they'd seen Jesus' work with their own eyes (which I'm sure was a huge source of motivation), but we also have the completed Bible and thousands of years of historical evidence at our finger tips. Not to mention, the Holy Spirit to empower us.

Perhaps growing up in Bible-belt South had a poor effect on me in that I didn't realize the importance of being able to "give a defense" for the hope I have (1 Peter 3:15). Perhaps the world in general has become pre-occupied with tip-toeing around everyones' "raw spots." Perhaps we don't really believe there are good answers to whether or not the universe has an infinite existence or why animals die in wild fires every year. Maybe Christians are just lazy. Or are we afraid of learning; do we think we're incapable of knowing (certainly not everything can be known, but a lot can, that's how God created us)? Do we blame it on lack of time?? That'd be absurd.

These are some things I'm thinking about. I'd love to hear your thoughts as well.
I'll leave you with this fitting verse, 1 Peter 3:14-16.
But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 

Link up to my sister's Try New Adventures blog post with your adventure this week.

P.S. I gave my blog a bit of a face-lift for fall :-). What do you think?


  1. Very good points to consider. I think it's so easy to get caught up in our Christian bubble that we forget that their is a hurting world out there that needs God. Sure, not everyone will respond to the gospel of grace, but that doesn't mean we should write everyone off and never tell anyone. Great things to think about. Not being lazy Christians.

  2. I would have loved to have been there. Thanks for sharing your insights.

  3. Wow. This blog of yours has impeccable timing! I have been thinking/talking about how much I HATE debates. Thanks for reminding me how important it is to keep searching & filling myself with the knowledge of Christ. I feel like I don't know a thing & would be totally unprepared in any sort of debate on Christianity; but it doesn't have to stay that way. I gotta start somewhere, right? Time to LEARN & share it! I am reminded of Luke 21:14-15 "But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict." I think it's definitely a combination of learning all we can and relying on the Holy Spirit to guide us and give us the words to say. :)

  4. Couldn't agree more Rachel, we need both knowledge and the Holy Spirit. As the saying goes, you can be right in the wrong way. The Holy Spirit helps us be right in the right way =P.

    Also, I think it's probably true that one of the reasons Christians are turned off by the idea of debating is because they realize they don't know as much as they could/wish they did. It makes us feel insecure in our Christianity. But maybe that's a good thing ;).

  5. I have shared your feelings about debate...mainly I do not want to debate with someone who is unwilling to even listen to what you have to say. What most people call "debating" here is simply trying to get your point out the fastest and cutting the other person off! Not genuinely listening and responding intelligently or thoughtfully. It's that sort of "debating" that I'd prefer to avoid...
    So, did someone "win" the debate?

  6. Agreed Alicia, the word "debate" has a bad reputation and typically for a good reason. I suppose in more intellectual circles they don't view debating in the same light. It seems that people who appreciate debates tend to be people who're more intellectually bent, while those who give "just believe" types of responses or don't like the idea of debating at all tend to be more emotionally bent. A balance of both is what I'm aiming for.

    Who won? haha...Well, Law's main argument against God's existence was the problem of evil. He argued that because of all the pain and suffering in the world that there's no way a good God exists (one of the most common arguments). Craig did a really good job addressing it and explaining that if there wasn't a God, there wouldn't be any moral grounding for such a belief.

    lol, I could tell you more if you really wanted me to. =P

  7. I know what you mean about debate...We had some great debates in high school government class (not so much mine since I hate public speaking =p hehe)...getting the point across, but not necessarily arguing about it, and even taking a position that we don't necessarily agree with, but finding the research behind the stance...anyhow, sidenote: hubby's cousin's name is Stephen Law. =p Love the simplicity of your blog. =)

  8. Joyce, I was surprised actually by how organized and respectful the debate was. Sounds like what they were probably trying to cultivate in your highschool class.

    And that's funny about him having the same name. Good thing I gave a wiki link to the one I was referring to ;).

    Thanks so much! I like simple.


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