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That was the subject of a debate I saw tonight. But of course the question remains unanswered, at least in any sort of unanimous way. These debates rarely, if ever, result in anything else.

The theist position was actually very well presented. The speaker had a lot of presence on the stage, lots of fancy slide transitions in his slides, and impressive animations. He spoke with a lot of authority and communicated his arguments well.

The atheist, too, was a good speaker, but in a completely different way. While the theist’s presentation was comparable to a physics colloquia, with the atheist I felt like I was listening to Stuart McLean read a story on CBC’s Vinyl Cafe. No, there was no narrative per se, but he did speak directly to his audience as if it were one-on-one, merely talking about the nature of religion without presenting an argument. It was almost hypnotic.

But we were not there to judge speaking styles. I thought it was almost ironic that, at least as far as opening statements, the theist’s sounded more scientific (at times). However, every argument he made I found either horribly exaggerated, naive, or based on false assumptions. The only argument that I wouldn’t have felt comfortable addressing with any sort of strength was the biochemical one, but of course just because I don’t understand it doesn’t mean I need appeal to God (although I admit it could turn out that way).

I was disappointed, though, in the atheist response to his arguments. He certaintly dismissed them all, but I think some of them required more attention than he gave them. Objective moral theory and evidence from scripture are two that I have no problem waving away, but the cosmological and biochemical ones are perhaps not so easy. The atheist did make a good point about cosmology, but it served to show that the theist’s argument that there could only be one God and not “gods all the way up” was not sound, rather than that there could be no God at all. It was certainly a valid point, but only one direction of many he could have used to approach it.

So, I guess I did learn a little something. I also got two free books and a CD from it, and you can’t knock free books. Sure, one is the New Testament, of which I already have one copy, and the other is about Jesus, which is really the least of my concerns, but they’re books nonetheless.

(Incidentally, this is the 500th post in this blog, which surpassed 100 000 words last month, and in a few days will be 5 years old. Happy birthday.)

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