Sunday, March 1, 2009

Campus Crusaders and Atheists Together

When I was a student involved with Campus Crusade for Christ at the University of Alberta in the 1980s, we occasionally brought in a guest speaker to debate a volunteer skeptic (usually a U of A professor), but we never teamed up with the skeptics in order to support a mutually agreed-upon cause. The extent to which things have changed is shown by the following:

Event Details
Debate: "Does God Exist?"
A formal debate on the existence of God between atheist Paul Zachary Myers, biologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris, and theist Kirk Durston, national director of the New Scholars Society and PhD. candidate at the University of Guelph. Debate will be followed by a question and answer period.
Tickets will be sold at the door $2 students, $10 non-students

Welcome to the University of Alberta Atheists and Agnostics
[Atheists] Does God Exist Debate, featuring PZ Myers
The University of Alberta Atheists and Agnostics, and Campus for Christ are co-hosting a debate on the existence of God. Arguing that a God does exist is Kirk Durston, national director of the New Scholars Society and PhD. candidate at the University of Guelph, and arguing the other side is Dr Paul Zachary Myers, biologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris, as well as famed author of the blog, Pharyngula.
Date: Monday, January 26th
Time: 5:30 PM
Location: ETLC E1-001
The cost for students is $2, non-students, $5. CFI Friends of the Center are free. All profits will be donated to a local charity.
The debate will last approximately 2 hours, with the second hour being audience questions.

The charity wasn’t publicly specified. In my day the proceeds weren’t given to any charity, because admission was free. I wouldn’t pay $10, $2, or any other price to hear these two speakers (especially since I used to be able to hear Kirk Durston in the ‘80s without paying anything). If the article in The Gateway and this blog review are any indication, it doesn’t sound as though it was much of a debate; both speakers got off topic, especially Professor Myers.
For another blogger's view of the debate, go here and here.

Another difference between the debates of the ‘80s and those of today is that the topics were more interesting then. I well remember a large crowd turning out on a Thursday night (March 5, 1987, to be precise) to hear Jeff Amano of Probe Ministries (author of The Reincarnation Sensation) and Edmonton Buddhist priest Fred Ulrich debating reincarnation vs. resurrection. To debate whether or not God exists is to dumb things down to a kindergarten level.

The New Scholars Society is affiliated with Power To Change (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ, Canada).

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