It is my hope to glorify God in this debate. I already met my "opponent,"
who happens to be a Mennonite, and think all will be well. We both seem to
have the same intent and that is to teach each other and the audience.
From: SteamDoc@aol.com <SteamDoc@aol.com>
To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com>; firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: Wednesday, September 13, 2000 9:47 PM
Subject: Re: atheism vs theism
>In a message dated 9/13/00 7:28:54 AM Mountain Daylight Time,
>> I was asked by the Philosophy and Religion student organization on campus
>> I wanted to "debate" a professor of their department who is an
>> am supposed to represent the theistic point of view. I have accepted.
>> comments or suggestions would be appreciated. Moorad
>I have no direct experience in such settings, but I do have a few thoughts
>much in line with what others have said:
>1) I agree with Ted Davis that "debates" are likely to be unedifying. A
>dialog, with each person explaining their position and thoughtfully
>considering the arguments, would be more productive than each person trying
>to "win". I think back to my days on the high school debate team, and my
>preparation and approach to those debates, while successful in that realm,
>were totally inappropriate for actually edifying an audience.
>2) Don't go in trying to "prove" theism. All the standard "proofs", and
>recent variants such as ID, have weaknesses that a philosophy professor
>be familiar with. If you stake your position on being able to "prove" the
>ontological argument, etc., he will be able to make you look bad. One can
>make decent arguments (I like the anthropic arguments of Polkinghorne in
>_Belief in God in an Age of Science_), but they are just *plausibility*
>arguments, not absolute proofs. And if people come away thinking theism
>(particularly Christianity) is plausible, that is progress in such a forum.
>3) George Murphy had a good point that "What God don't you believe in?" is
>good question. Even if not for that professor, at least for many in the
>audience. There may be those who reject Christianity for mistaken reasons,
>such as thinking it requires them to reject biological evolution or to
>believe in a 6000-year-old Earth or to embrace the politics of the
>right". If you can correct such misperceptions of the God they are not
>believing in, and inform them that Christianity is based upon Jesus and not
>this extraneous stuff, that will be progress.
>4) The impression of Christianity the audience takes away will likely be
>governed as much by your deportment as by your arguments. If you come
>as irrational, anti-intellectual, judgmental, and unloving, you will
>reinforce negative stereotypes they already have about Christianity. If
>model the character of Christ, that will speak volumes.
>Dr. Allan H. Harvey, Boulder, Colorado | SteamDoc@aol.com
>"Any opinions expressed here are mine, and should not be
> attributed to my employer, my wife, or my cats"
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