God vs. Atheism Debate

This is a bit late, that is a week late, but I thought I’d share my thoughts on Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron’s debate with the atheists on Nightline on ABC. I believe you can watch the whole debate, if you so desire. I should preface my comments by saying that I totally realize that they didn’t show the whole context of the debate and were perfectly able to show the parts they wanted to. There was plenty that was said that wasn’t shown in the small amount of time they gave to it.

The first observation i wanted to make was just my skeptical attitude towards the event as a whole. I’m just not sure this was the best way to go about it for the following reasons.

1. I’m highly skeptical of saying that you are going to prove God apart from the Bible. General revelation presents enough to condemn man, but not save him. That calls for Special Revelation. Comfort was attempting to force General Revelation on people as if it would operate as Special Revelation.

2. Even he was able to prove that there is a God, all you have accomplished is having them trade one form of idolatry for another. You’ve just swayed them to Theism, not Elohim. In human terms, this may bring them closer to a saving knowledge of God, but matters of salvation are not discussed in human terms.

3. Ray Comfort is an evangelist, not a debater. There is a distinct difference. he wasn’t going to add anything to the debate that has been going on for ages. And if the atheists were going to be prepared at all, they could guess what he would do to make his arguments. You could have guessed that he’d do his soda can and banana analogies. You could have guessed that Kirk Cameron was going to do his ‘mising link’ pictures.

One interesting side observation on the debate was the spirit of those who were debating. The atheists came across as sarcastic,
condescending, and hateful. They got very worked up and did not come across as caring and loving as Comfort and Cameron did. They said that they regretted the way they interacted with Comfort and Cameron and that they were a little tough on them.

As a side note, later that night I saw a replay of Oprah (I see so many things I normally wouldn’t while staying up with Micah). She was doing a thing where she provided applause to those that are doing great things without much recognition. She featured the story of a woman who organized the adoption of 570 babies that were going to be abandoned otherwise. it was truly an inspiring story. But it got me thinking of how much applause and love this one lady received, but Comfort and Cameron got blasted and yelled at. here they are giving their lives to preaching the Gospel and warning people of the Hell to come, and they get mocked for it. Just an interesting observation.

Another observation was a question from the audience that really shed a lot of light on their argument of atheism. She asked how a loving, Creator God could create something like cancer. Comfort responded by saying that there was a lot of suffering in the world, and they all jeered him, apparently upset that he was being too general and skirting the question. So he spoke for a bit about the problem of evil and the loving God.

What was interesting was that at that point, the debate ceased to be one about Atheism, but a debate against the idea of the christian God. The question of a good God and evil is irrelevent when it comes to the debate of whether God exists. At that point you have conceded that God exists, but you are now debating his nature. I don’t think anyone realized this, when it happened.

in the end, there really wasn’t that much progress made. Sure, some heard the Gospel, but they had to leave it up to the editing of ABC to get it through. If you want to hear a sweet debate, go and listen to the Bahsen vs. Stein debate. Greg Bahsen smears the floor with the guy, showing that Stein stubbornly held to a untenable position.

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4 comments on “God vs. Atheism Debate

  1. Doug Wilcox says:

    I DVRed this debate, and watched it while I was sick a week ago.

    Overall, I’d have to say it was terrible. There was virtually no content, and Cameron ended up looking like an absolute fool when he brought out the missing link pictures. (The problem of the missing transitional fossils is worthy of note, but the drawings just made Cameron look like a crackpot.)

    I disagree with Tim: From my view, the after-debate comments actually made the atheists look more loving than Cameron and Comfort. The atheists talked about giving Cameron and Comfort “a hug,” while the latter were quoted as saying, “I hate that they are doing this …” Intentionally misleading?

    Cameron and Comfort are evangelists. They are not very good at apologetics, and certainly not skilled (at least as far as the few glimpses of this debate allowed us to judge) in debating. I would have loved to see Lee Strobel on the “God side.”

    I’d also like to throw out for our debate that Comfort and Cameron’s approach to evangelism is often ridiculed. I’ve had [unsaved] co-workers invite me to look at the Flash presentations on the Way of the Master site, with accompanying derogatory rhetorical questions and chuckles. (It was also odd because most of my co-workers know that I am a believer.) I lean very far away from easy-believism (and feel that it has nearly ruined Christianity in our country), and generally run screaming from a “One, two, three, repeat after me,” approach; this is my own personal bias talking.

  2. Mark says:

    I’m a big supporter of “Way of the Master” as most people know, but I have to agree that the debate did not go well for Comfort/Cameron.

    Ray Comfort shed light in his recent “Newsblast” about the “Bible-less” aspect of the debate, and I think it’s worth quoting here:

    There seems to be some confusion about the structure of the debate. A press release headline was changed, stating this would be a “Bible-less debate.” That was never the case. In fact, I provided Brian (the atheist) with a copy of my outline some time before the debate. He knew that I would begin by demonstrating God’s existence without using the Bible or faith (ie. creation proves there is a Creator). He then knew that I would then open up the Ten Commandments (ie. conscience proves there is a moral law and thus a Law Giver). Finally, he also knew that I would end with the gospel. He knew I planned to move from a presentation of the general evidence of God to specific proof about Jesus Christ. So it greatly puzzled us that Brian feigned “shock” when he heard it.

    I wish Kirk hadn’t used the “crock-a-duck” pictures, or whatever they were. I also wish they had answered Brian and Kelly, instead of being a bit passive. Perhaps it was Kelly’s attire that lulled them into a haze???

    Anyhow, I give Ray and Kirk kudos for being willing to defend the faith, and for faithfully preaching the gospel. I don’t think many of us would want to take a beating like that on national television. Also, WOTM has received a lot of good publicity over this, and hopefully people will go to the site God will grant repentance!

    Tim, you wrote:

    What was interesting was that at that point, the debate ceased to be one about Atheism, but a debate against the idea of the christian God. The question of a good God and evil is irrelevent when it comes to the debate of whether God exists. At that point you have conceded that God exists, but you are now debating his nature. I don’t think anyone realized this, when it happened.

    That’s brilliant! I’ll have to do some thinking about that.

    Doug, don’t fret that your co-workers made fun of the flash presentation at the WOTM site. Lots of people have gotten saved through that site. Mockers should not upset us.

    Oh, and I agree wholeheartedly that the Bahnsen/Stein debate is a MUST LISTEN for Christians!

    Part 1: http://www.debategod.com/mp3/DG-2005-06-19.mp3
    Part 2: http://www.debategod.com/mp3/DG-2005-06-26.mp3

    Also, read Greg Bahnsen’s son’s thoughts on the debate here: http://www.dlbthoughts.com/Articles.aspx?IDCol=91.

  3. anonymous says:

    Well, I’m an atheist and i wonder if god really does exist, why does evil exist alongside him in a world he polices. heres 4 facts i came up with.
    1. if he is able, but not willing, he is malevolent
    2. if he is willing, but not able, he is not omnipotent
    3. if he is both willing and able, then why does he not
    4. if he is neither willing nor able, then why call him god
    I do not mean to offend anyone with these facts but i simply wish to express myself in this debate

  4. annonymous says:

    The existence of evil does not negate the existence of God. If God is evil then the existence of evil makes the existence of God even more probable. However, I do not believe that God is evil; I believe that God is good. If God is good, then why is there evil in the world? The answer is ‘Free Will’ or ‘Choice’. God allows human beings to have the freedom to choose between good and evil, and the choices a person makes can affect others as well as himself. Wars can be caused by the evil actions of a few individuals, but many will suffer the consequences. God even gives people the choice of obeying Him or not. God has revealed His will to mankind, and when people follow it great good is the ultimate result. But when people act in ways outside the will of God, great evil and suffering is the ultimate result.

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