Re: atheism vs theism

From: Moorad Alexanian (
Date: Fri Sep 22 2000 - 14:38:20 EDT

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    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.
    Thanks. Moorad

    -----Original Message-----
    From: <>
    To: <>;
    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,
    > writes:
    >> 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 |
    >"Any opinions expressed here are mine, and should not be
    > attributed to my employer, my wife, or my cats"

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