In Bridging the God Gap, I suggest that both believers and atheists can make a good case for their positions. To back up this claim, I recently gave a talk in which I debated with myself about the proposition, Resolved: That a personal deity created the universe. I used a modified college debate format in which each side made one initial five minute presentation followed by two shorter rebuttals
The title of my talk was Does God Exist? Pastor Chris Debates Dr. Schriner. To help people keep track of the two contestants, I wore an ecclesiastical stole as Pastor Chris, doffing the stole and donning glasses when Dr. Schriner stepped to the mike. Why not have a little fun while discussing such weighty topics?
Pastor Chris had to show that (1) a personal deity exists and (2) this being created the universe, and he had to accomplish this task in about 10 minutes. Chris defined “personal deity” as a God who does things persons do, such as thinking, feeling, making judgments, and communicating with us.
It’s usually harder to prove that something is true than to show that it could well be false, so the negative side has an inherent advantage. To compensate for this imbalance, the affirmative side of a debate is allowed to begin the contest and also to have the last word. Next week I’ll share a few of the Pastor’s remarks, and then I’ll recap Dr. Schriner’s replies.
In the meantime, think about this matter yourself. What do you see as the most substantial arguments for and against the existence of a personal God that created the cosmos? I encourage you to pay special attention to arguments that contradict your own viewpoint.
When I ask people to think of the best arguments against their own position, they often come up with ideas that are emotionally appealing and yet unsound. For example, some people may want to believe in God because they feel lonely and would like to have a companion, but “I feel lonely” is not evidence of God’s existence.
So I’m not looking for the reasons people do or do not want to believe in God. I’m looking for legitimate reasons for believing that the existence of God is likely or unlikely. What do you see as two or three of the strongest points on each side?
Tune in next week for excerpts from Pastor Chris’ opening salvo.
Roger Christan Schriner
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