Saturday, October 1, 2011

the great debate: the existence of God

inspiration: The Great Debate: The Existence of God - Jack Hoey, Jr. vs. Herb Silverman

this past thursday, theWell and the Atheist-Humanist Alliance sponsored a debate between Jack Hoey, Jr, Chief Operating Officer at Seacoast Church, and Herb Silverman, a distinguished atheist and professor at the College of Charleston, regarding the Existence of God. it took place at Physicians Auditorium on the campus of C of C and it was packed out!

...and my good friend jonny sharp asked me to blog about it.
(you can also check out my friend Ernest Smith's blog here)

let me just start out saying this...

i am not a debater.
i am not really a fan of debates.
i am what one would call "non-confrontational".
and debates aren't exactly where non-confrontational conversations occur.

and while i have a well established foundation of beliefs, i was nervous about what would take place.
each had a 12 minute time slot to establish the foundation of their argument. they then had a 5 minute time slot to present their rebuttals; this was followed by a more intimate conversational style where they simply went back and forth and asked questions; there was a Q&A time for the audience to ask them questions and the debate concluded with 5 minute closing statements from each debater.

as this was a couple days ago, and like i said, i was very much out of my comfort zone being at a debate, i can't recall word-for-word every detail, but i will blog about the points that i do remember.

but i will say this. it was pretty intense. the two questions that were focused on were 1) Does God exist? and 2) Does it matter?

Herb Silverman, from what i understand, is a very distinguished atheist and has debated his side often and Jack Hoey and he have debated before.

from what i gather and understood, herb does not believe simply because "he has no evidence to prove the existence of a Christian God or for any other god, for that matter". (i will address my opinion about this later). but he grew up an orthodox jew and was bar-mitzvah'd (i have no idea whether that was the correct verb usage of that word...); however, he came to his conclusion that there is no God. he does not believe in the notion of a heaven or hell, he simply believes that our purpose on earth is to be "good" people and to "do good".

jack hoey, on the other hand, is a Christian. he believes in God and believes that our purpose here is to glorify Him with our lives and that the only way to get to Heaven is to believe that Jesus Christ came to save a world from their sins and to redeem us.

issues at hand that were discussed were, in essence, which came first, the universe or God? is the Bible the inherent word of God - why are parts meant to be taken literally and others metaphorically and how can we know which is to be interpreted how?

these are tough questions. and truly, we may never know the answers to either one. all of this to some degree depends on what the root of our faith is.

my opinions of the debate are this: i feel like herb didn't make any good definitive arguments and i felt like jack could've presented more to back himself up - of course, both men were respectful of each other despite their different beliefs and backgrounds. i felt like herb dodged questions and clung to his "there is no evidence of a God" a little too tightly (one woman from the audience even confronted him about that, asking if had ever "sought God" - from the Matthew 7 reference of "ask, seek, knock and it will be given to you", to which he replied he "decided that he never heard from God"). herb was also presented with the testimony of supernatural healing of a young man who was diagnosed with scoliosis - curvature of the spine, but was prayed over and no longer had that and basically was told that "sometimes healing just happens"; jack was asked a lot of tough questions as well (whether the stories in Genesis 1 could be interpreted literally, homosexuality, the eternal fate of his opponent) - it's hard to definitively say how the Bible is meant to be interpreted - sometimes it's meant to be interpreted literally, other times it's meant to be interpreted metaphorically and like a poem. with regard to homosexuality, jack simply commented that "what's 'natural' isn't always right" and he made no comment of judgement about his opponent's eternal fate.

during jack's closing statement, he challenged us to read the Gospels and to conclude for ourselves whether the story of Jesus' resurrection was true - because if it was, it would change everything. and would show that the changing of lives that started with 12 men wasn't just a coincidence.

do you ever have those moments where you are struck with something that you could've said but didn't?
i did - and i posted my thoughts on facebook as my status after the debate.

i wish i could go back and ask herb this:

"The basis of Christianity is that Jesus was the Son of God and that He came to die for our sins and that He was crucified in order to redeem a fallen mankind; but because He was God, He was raised from the dead - His resurrection is the crux of the Christian faith. And as you are aware and mentioned previously, people don't just rise from the dead [herb had mentioned that earlier]. Now, Jesus was radical for what He was teaching and proclaiming and was disliked by the religious teachers of the time. It seems to me that if He didn't rise from the dead, when the disciples were proclaiming that He had risen, someone would've spoken up. It also seems unlikely that it would've been a set up by the disciples, seeing as the tomb was guarded. So, assuming that what the disciples were proclaiming was true, how is Jesus' resurrection not evidence enough that there is a God?"

i know that i serve a God of miracles and unconditional love.
yes, i should live a good and moral life.
yes, i want to leave behind that legacy.
but, sorry herb, i disagree that there is no evidence of a God.
i believe there is evidence all around me of God.

"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." -C.S. Lewis

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