This past Monday’s debate – a whole week ago, yes – as to whether or not God exists was suspect. It was put on by an organization called for Athletes in Action, which, if you aren’t familiar with your campus groups, is an off-shoot of the Canadian group called Campus for Christ. As you walked in, you could grab a book on discovering your spirituality, and on a survey they handed out, you could let them know if you wanted to talk to someone about Jesus.
I think they were a lot more confident in their ability to draw people towards Christianity than was warranted.
They further cooked the books by who they brought in to argue each side. For the cause of Atheism was George Williamson, a sessional lecturer at the University of Saskatchewan and an advocacy officer for CFI Saskatchewan. (I can’t remember what CFI stands for, and Lord knows I can’t find it anywhere online.) He was a nice guy with some good points that he didn’t hammer home nearly hard enough.
Michael Horner from Trinity Western, on the other hand, was the type of guy whose PowerPoint presentation for this kind of thing has been refined over years of practice. He’s the kind of guy who not only had a PowerPoint presentation for his opening statements, but also had anticipatory PowerPoint slides made up to rebut some of Williamson’s points.
He opened with trying to a) prove that there are no good proofs to disprove God’s existence, and b) prove that God exists. His arguments included theist gems like suggesting that the design of the universe couldn’t have come about without the guiding hand of a supreme being, thereby negating the theory of evolution without mentioning it by name, and saying that morals could only originate from a higher power. That last one ended with him suggesting that atheists couldn’t definitively say that toddler torture and rape were wrong.
(By the way, toddler torture and rape were mentioned over and over again over the course of this debate. So, discuss God, and you’ll apparently also have to contemplate these two awful things again and again. Oh, and the Holocaust too.)
One of his strangest arguments was against the concept of infinity. His reason for diving into this topic was some atheists advocacy for the Big Bang Theory. “Typically, atheists have said that the universe is eternal and uncaused,” said Horner. To smack down infinity, he asked the crowd to imagine a library with an infinite number of books. I’ll skip to the end, with him stating, “A library with an actually infinite number of books cannot exist.” Well, that’s settled.
Horner and Williamson danced around the issue of morals without really solving anything. Time and time again, Horner went unchallenged on his views on how the world works. “We do know that when we see specified complexity it must be the product of an intelligent mind,” he said with such audacity. His is a version of Intelligent Design that’s particularly opposed to the discoveries of science.
Worse still was the claim that he brought forward several times that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact that could be proven. Unsurprisingly, he also suggested that, despite conflicting messages and outdated edicts, people reading the Bible with an open mind will likely be converted: “If you read the Bible with that attitude, you will find him.”
Williamson had a good comeback to that line when we hit the Q&A period: “I think most atheists would say, ‘Read your Bible,’ because I think that’s how most atheists come into being.”
In general, Williamson hit the right points, though his argument wasn’t as flashy as Horner’s. Horner said that there either was or wasn’t God, that there was no in between. Williamson’s sensible, general thesis could be summed by saying there probably isn’t a God, and that’s OK.
“God is an unknown, and if God is an unknown, then any explanation that attempts to invoke God, then they’re invoking the unknown to explain the unknown,” he said in a statement that Horner simply couldn’t properly rebut.
Horner was putting forth that wherever science hadn’t explained something, that was God. It’s not a problem to admit that humanity hasn’t explained or completely proven something as complex as the Big Bang Theory yet, but insisting on the existence of God for their to be morals or a habitable world to even act those morals out on is ludicrous.
For some more of my observations from this three-hour event, feel free to check out my Twitter feed.