Two professors and two contrasting religious views came together at Ohio State’s Mershon Auditorium on February 24, 2016. The venue was packed with hundreds of students, professors, and families. Hosted by the Veritas Forum, philosophy professors William Lane Craig and Kevin Sharp tackle an important spiritual question – is there evidence for a God?
Dr. Craig started the debate from a Christian perspective. According to Craig, God explains why anything exists – the universe, math, fine-tuning of the universe for life, and objective morals. Sharp contradicts his view from an atheist perspective, asking how confident Christians were in their arguments for God. Sharp argues that simple confidence is a weak reason to believe in God; Christians need more than just confidence for a strong argument. Sharp claims that it is almost impossible to determine God’s reasoning, and that all people – including atheists – have moral values. Sharp says there is no magical dividing line between biology and religion; this contrasts Craig’s argument that God specifically designed biological creation. Sharp also says that theism causes hate; for example, many Christians cherry-pick verses to support their own intolerable opinions.
To counter these points, Craig argues that atheists cannot prove that God didn’t fine-tune creation. He argues for non-reductive rationalism; that things like spiritual values can’t be explained in terms of science. To this, Sharp claims that God condemning people to Hell contradicts Craig’s claim of a loving God, and urges students to be critical and forge their own religious beliefs rather than borrowing from others.
From the beginning, Dr. Craig gained the crowd’s favor with his gentle, demure personality. Dr. Sharp came off as abrasive and rude in his arguments, while Dr. Craig remained collected and calm. After many of his rebuttals to Dr. Sharp, the audience would cheer at his answers. The forum did an excellent job of providing a neutral, unbiased space for a peaceful debate. While the ultimate question of evidence for a theistic God remains subjective, it was interesting to hear atheist and Christian professors duke it out over the topic for an hour.