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Christians, atheists debate at TMC

The two groups gathered at the 19th annual Creation Symposium to discuss their beliefs and debunk st

Posted: March 2, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 2, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

Last Saturday a diverse mix of Christians and atheists shared an audience at The Master’s College to offer the stage to speakers at the 19th annual Creation Symposium.

Speakers from both groups were invited to debate the topic: A Christian Response to Atheism.

The symposium was started to promote a shared mentality of creation-based topics. This year’s speakers included Pastor Douglas Wilson, of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho, Richard Wade, licensed marriage and family therapist and notable atheist speaker, and David Leisure, renowned actor.

More than 500 people from across the valley and the Southland attended the event.

Commonality

Joseph W. Francis, moderator and professor of biological sciences at The Master’s College, said the goal of the evening was to be good neighbors by offering a debate with candid dialogue. He emphasized the importance of speaking as “gentleman debaters” who are courteous of one another.

“I don’t think that people that live in the same community should be afraid of each other,” Francis said. “As believers, we shouldn’t condemn others who disagree with us.”

The evening, which offered debates on many topics, began as Wade offered olive branches to the two other speakers during his opening remarks, underscoring the idea of neighborly debate.

“I’m not here to change your beliefs about God,” he said. “I’m here hoping to change your beliefs about atheists. Set aside your eagerness to win a fight and you will find we have far more in common than differences”

Wade went on to cite many misconceptions Christians and other faith believers often have about atheists, such as the idea atheists have no morals, worship the devil and hate God.

Love thy neighbor

Other topics included the basis for becoming an atheist and misconceptions surrounding that topic, where atheists derive their morals from – if not from the Bible like Christians — and a comical skit prepared by Leisure, which depicted Galileo’s discovery of a heliocentric solar system.

A question and answer period was opened up to the audience and topics concerning mixed relationships — relationships between a Christian and an atheist — and differences in beliefs and tolerances among countries of the world, focusing on England and the U.S.

Wilson spoke in length regarding the meaning of 2 John 9-10. The passage discusses a Christian’s treatment of non-believers and is often debated between literal instruction or scholarly interpretation. He compared the passage to Jesus’ commandment to love others.

“We’re happy to get along with everyone and be good neighbors,” he said. “When Jesus said love your neighbor as yourself, he didn’t say, except for your neighbor who is a Buddhist, an atheist or even a congressman. He said love everyone.”

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