On Tuesday night, I debated atheist Christopher Hitchens, author of God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, at Virginia Commonwealth University. The topic was, “Does God Exist?”
Thanks be to God (and to you for your prayers) because I don’t think the debate could have gone much better. There were several atheists who approached me afterwards to say that I had won. One young lady actually apologized for being an atheist! Her position was not well represented, and she said that the arguments for God were.
Hitchens was his usual charming and witty self (I really like him and said as much), but he did not answer any of the eight arguments that I presented for the existence of God. And as many in the audience acknowledged, he dodged nearly all of my questions.
Here is the introduction of a long e-mail sent to me two hours after the debate by a VCU Philosophy professor who attended (this professor told me that he is completely “non-religious”):
Dear Dr. Turek, I wanted to say once again that I greatly enjoyed your talk and that, in my judgment, you clearly and unequivocally prevailed against Hitchens. Your two mind-body arguments were, I thought, very good, as were your modernizations of the cosmological argument and the teleological argument. I was also moved by your argument that, given how vanishingly close to zero are the chances of there being any sort of life, let alone intelligent life, it is more reasonable to infer that there is a God than it is to infer that there isn’t — the first an inference, but not the latter, being an ‘inference to the best explanation’, as philosophers of science would say.
This is from a Christian student who has doubts:
My name is Jeremy and I was at your debate tonight. I will tell you what, you opened up a new can of worms at the VCU campus. You have opened the eyes of many of the “atheists” that go to VCU and well, you did an amazing job. You have really opened my eyes up a little bit more to the fact that God exists. As a Christian, I still have my doubts sometimes. I am not going to lie. But by faith I believe. Something that Mr. God himself Chris does not comprehend. (That was a great closing statement that you made) But thank you so much for coming to Richmond and actually answering questions and having a reliable debate unlike Chris who beat around the bush and really bashed you when he did not have an answer. People on the group said you did a good job and you made up some minds.
Here is an account of the debate from an atheist and a Hitchens fan who was very disappointed: http://rudyhenkel.livejournal.com/2726.html. (Note: This gentlemen erroneously thinks I do this for money. My honorarium for the debate goes to CrossExamined.org. He also dismisses my arguments without answering them and mischaracterizes a few things, but he tells the truth about Hitchens.)
We video recorded the entire debate, and interviewed many who attended. As soon as we produce the final version, I’ll let you know where you can see it (we intend to post it on You Tube and put it on our TV show).
Thank you again for your prayers and support. Our next college event is September 23 at UNC Charlotte.