New organization Ratio Christi hosts faith debate
Lori Wilson | Staff Writer
Published: Saturday, February 2, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 21:02
New student organization Ratio Christi held its first official event in Cameron Auditorium Feb.1— a live streaming of the Biola University sponsored debate “Is Faith in God Reasonable?”
Ratio Christi invited all student organizations on campus to join the event for “stimulating discussion.” Members of UNCW’s Faculty Commons, a division of the Campus Crusade for Christ group, the Student Secular Alliance, and the Humanists & Freethinkers of Cape Fear were all there to watch.
UNCW’s new chapter of the nationwide Ratio Christi ministry was introduced by Madison Marston, a junior studying biology. She was raised in a Christian church, and since studying at UNCW, has become interested in Christian apologetics— defending the religion and its establishment through the use of relevant information.
Marston met Aaron Marshall, another Christian apologetic and local Ratio Christi chapter director, at her church while he was trying to get groups started on Wilmington campuses.
“We’re at a university, where students are here to learn and talk about things,” Marshall said.
The chapter started having meetings last year, but was not officially a student organization until this semester. At meetings, they talk about how to bring together faith and reason, in order to explain their beliefs to those who question Christianity. They ask themselves questions very much like those in last night’s debate—is faith reasonable and how can they find evidence to support Christianity?
The speakers from the streamed debate included Alex Rosenberg, an outspoken atheist, and William Lange Craig, a devote theist.
Rosenberg is a R. Taylor Cole professor and philosophy department chair at Duke University. He specializes in the philosophy of biology, social science and metaphysics, according to his website. Throughout his career, Rosenberg has been a visiting professor at several well-accredited institutions and has held fellowships at the National Humanities Center, National Science Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. He received the prestigious Lakatos Award for Philosophy of Science in 1993. Rosenberg’s most recent published book is entitled “The Atheist’s Guide to Reality.”
Professor Craig teaches at the Talbot School of Theology of Biola University in southern California. He is known as the great defender of Christian religion, having spoken at several prominent universities such as Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford and Oxford. He is the founder of reasonablefaith.org, which is dedicated to providing perspective on the issues concerning the truth of the Christian faith, according to the website. Craig has also authored over 30 books and 100 articles in his career.
Although partially sponsored by Biola, the actual debate was held at Perdue University in Indiana as part of their annual event The Symposium— a series of discussions and debates to explore the issues of faith versus reason. The debate can still be reviewed on Biola’s website or discussed on twitter (#GODdebate).
Comments about the debate on twitter and at UNCW were all very similar. Rosenberg supporters claimed that Craig always makes the same over-your-head arguments and Craig supporters said that Rosenberg didn’t give enough argument at all.
“If you were coming into that debate never knowing what a theist or an atheist idea is, than you’d probably be confused by Craig. You need to have already understood those arguments and the terminology. But Rosenberg didn’t quite tackle the issue,” Marston said.
Others, including Rosenberg himself, made complaints that Craig was treating the debate like a courtroom by being too analytical and less scientific. However, Marshall, who has experience as an attorney, believes that a court of law is a good way to think about a faith versus reason discussion.
“Science can’t explain everything,” Marshall said after the debate. “Science can’t even explain some of the rules of science.”
Whether Craig, Marshall and Marston are right about faith and life, the apologetics did win last night’s debate, quite significantly. The in-house Perdue audience vote was 1390-303, the Biola online vote was 734-59, and the personal judge vote was 4-2, all in favor of Craig.
In the future, UNCW’s Ratio Christi hopes to hold similar debates on campus and have plans to bring in more speakers to meetings. It’s open to all ages, students and faculty, believers and non-believers.
“We’re going to have mini workshops to go through material for people on campus,” Marston said. “We want to be a resource for Christians who want to know answers for Christianity and those who have questions.”