The Ohio State University hosted an intelligent conversation between two renowned philosophers in front of a capacity crowd at Mershon Auditorium. The Veritas Forum, a global organization, has come to OSU annually to address difficult questions by hearing two opposing viewpoints. Speakers Kevin Scharp, an OSU philosophy professor and atheist, and William Lane Craig, a Christian apologist, addressed the question, “Is there evidence for god?” The format of the event consisted of both speakers presenting their respective stances in a short talk, followed by questions from the moderator and concluding with a Q&A session with the audience. The full event video can be found at the end of the post.
William Lane Craig kicked off the night by presenting the argument that God is the best explanation for 6 philosophical questions. His arguments are summarized below:
God is the best explanation of…
- Why anything at all exists
- The origin of the universe
- The applicability of mathematics to the physical world
- The fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life
- Objective moral values and duties in the world (absolute truth)
- God can be personally known and experienced
Kevin Scharp followed Craig by presenting a talk entitled, “21st Century Atheism.” Scharp included an explanation of common misconceptions of atheism and how his definition and belief in atheism differs from these misconceptions. His argument against theism is summarized below:
Craig’s argument is not compelling for the following reasons:
- Belief and confidence levels are related and cannot be discounted. A belief must hold a high confidence level and exceed a predetermined threshold of confidence.
- General beliefs are not the same as particular beliefs.
- Weak beliefs cannot be used to reach the same conclusions as strong beliefs.
I think this event was a wonderful time of discussion. The speakers challenged each other and the audience was left with much food for thought. It is difficult to maintain civility and rationality when such weighty and personal beliefs are being discussed; this event was, save for a few moments, an extremely healthy and productive environment.
Check out the video of the event below!