I am unimpressed.
Unfortunately, neither side did very well. And ironically, I do not mean in their representation of their respective positions. They did that quite well. What I mean is that their respective positions are filled with arguments that are weak and inadequate, characterized by misinformation, substantiated by dogma, argumentative, and their responses to direct questions were evasive and pejorative.
The Christian’s response to the question of forgiveness was hesitant, and attempted to explain this complex theology in a round-about way. The atheist’s complete denial of Jesus’ existence does not take into account honest historiology, and dismisses, a priori, any written evidence of the person, both inside and outside the Biblical canon. When rebutting, the Christians’ argument is that “the Bible is the Word of God,” using, again, a dogmatic assertion in a forum where opinionated argumentation ought not be allowed. When asked about moral accountability, this is again the atheists’ “Achilles’ Heel,” in that they relegate moralities to the communal or social conscious, which, as we have seen throughout history, can be unlivable and atrocious. When explaining evolution Cameron dogmatically dismisses the scientific community’s adherence to good scientific research.
That, by the way, is an example of how they presuppose their scientific reasoning will prove God’s existence, while dismissing that exact same scientific reasoning when it comes to evolution. And this “selective logic” is dishonest and irresponsible when it comes to good argumentation. I find that many people “pick and choose” when to apply certain criteria when it best suits their position. We see evidence of that in this debate.
The entire production seemed to sensationalize and exacerbate people’s strong emotional feelings about the subject more than actually creating an intelligent forum for honest discussion and debate.
So, I offer some reflections and principles for all of us regarding this topic, and ask that we all take caution when delving into these kinds of areas.
1. 100% ARGUMENTS ARE ALWAYS ARROGANT. I’m not sure how Cameron or Comfort could even think that proving the existence of God “100%,” “absolutely,” “without the use of faith,” “scientifically,” is possible, but it lacks a sense of honest humility that even secularist philosophers adhere to. There are “arguments” and “reasons.” But few philosophers have the audacity to suggest that any argument is “100%” and “absolute.” The very nature of philosophical discussion is that there are further questions and deeper ideas to be probed. Even the “I think, therefore, I am” conclusion posited by Descartes is open for discussion and debate.
This is especially troubling since it’s in the discipline of theology, an arena of study that values humility and grace over arrogance and prideful suppositions.
2. SCIENTIFIC PROOF OF GOD IS ANTITHETICAL TO THE VERY GOD ONE WANTS TO PROVE. Especially when it comes to a “Christian” idea of God, this kind of argumentation perhaps does more damage to what God really desires for His creation. If Christian theology is “real” and “true,” then proving His existence, especially in a scientific and “absolute” way is not really high on His priority list. Perhaps the greater values are found in justice, mercy, compassion, love, etc.
3. PROGRAMS AND ENDEAVORS LIKE THIS ONLY EXACERBATE PEOPLE’S PRESUPPOSED POSITIONS. This is probably what is most challenging and frustrating about these kinds of venues. For both the audience and the panel, there was hardly any sense of a concession towards seeking to understand better, or even to do battle with good arguments. There was only a staunchly committed pride of personal ideology. There may have been some who were open-minded and willing to engage, but as the evening progressed, and the questions and responses became more banal and emotionally charged, the more the chances of intelligent discussion diminished.
5. CROSS-DISCIPLINARY DISCUSSION IS ONLY EMBARRASSING. I find it perplexing how self-proclaimed non-experts in said fields, dive right in those very fields, almost without apology, with so much confidence and authority. This is where I have a great appreciation for William Lane Craig who, being a scholar in his own right, continually quotes others, across disciplines to help substantiate his arguments. For Cameron and Comfort to utilize science as their platform, while at the same time recognizing their inadequacies in that field is simply baffling to me. Or at the very least, spend years studying logic, philosophy, theology, etc., before coming to debates such as this. I suggest the same for the atheists, who would do well to spend a little more time in historiology and theology, and the many volumes written on the subjects.
6. SO MUCH DOGMA, SO LITTLE HUMANITY. The lack of listening is just saddening to me. One of the questions from the audience was actually a good one, regarding the existence of cancer in the midst of the argument of the creation of the human body. It’s a challenging theodicy question that has many implications. Rather than actually addressing the question, Comfort went to his “suffering” argument. Rather than engaging with the people, and their thoughts and reasoning, he went straight to dogmatic talking points. Disappointing.
Because this subject is so heated, there’s a lot of emotional and heated debates that devolve into emotional tirades. One of the earliest examples of this is Dr. Walter Martin’s debate with famous atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair. But even in the midst of my fairly harsh critique of this debate, there are strong arguments for the existence of God that are well reasoned, thoughtful, and that adhere to the fundamental rules of logic and philosophy. Regarding the arguments against God’s existence, most are very weak. Listening closely, a discerning ear will hear mostly attacks on religion and very few actual philosophical and reasonable arguments against God’s existence.
So, for more intelligent discussions, I suggest researching Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, Dr. Walter Martin, Norm Geisler, Biola’s Apologetics Department, Dinesh D’Souza, and many others. I welcome the discussion, and I welcome the debate. God’s not at all intimidated by our discussion of Him. So, let’s bring it on. Let’s just do so with honesty, respect, humility, and consistency.