Resolved, that the Jewish God Exists!
by Thomas Katsampes

March 23, 2008

In what could be considered a controversial decision by some, I decided to celebrate Easter morning at the National Conference of American Atheists. Mr. Dennis Prager debated Dr. Frank Zindler on the question of the existence of God, and it was a debate I am glad I did not miss.

The primary argument of the atheist, Dr. Zindler, centered on the premise that God is not empirically verifiable. I can say God exists and someone else could say that undetectable microscopic unicorns gather in his room every night at the stroke of midnight and we could both be right. The scientific method is the only way to have knowledge. Only a scientific statement can be true or false. Statements that cannot be verified by science are essentially meaningless. Mr. Prager made a number of good arguments, which I will get into in a moment. But I want to first point out that in some respects the two men talked "past each other" as it were. For Dennis said that he is not interested in proof that God exists. He concedes that it is a matter of faith. But Mr. Zindler kept coming back to the question of proof. I think it is because, as Dennis pointed out, the atheist is circumscribed by his inability to accept that any truth can come to man through non-empirical means. The entire spiritual realm is shut off from the non-spiritual because the latter limit themselves and refuse to accept the possibility of divine revelation.

Now I'll proceed to discuss Dennis' arguments. I apologize ahead of time if I mis-state anything. I am writing from notes I took. We got a great seat by the way. We were at the table right in front of the podium.

1. Human models win people over.
If there was anything I learned from this debate it was that theology is a nice discussion but in the end what wins people over is not a convincing argument about how many angels dance on the head of a pin but rather how we treat our fellow human beings. The primary commandment is to love God with all one's heart and love one's neighbor as oneself. People are far more persuaded by how we act towards others than they are whether we believe that Christ was actually born on December 25th or whether He was born on some other day.

2. Atheists have no doubts
Religious people confess their doubts. Every religious person, even Mother Teresa, has doubts about God and their faith. Atheists on the other hand are certain and they have no doubts. This is an odd position to take given that atheists are by nature skeptics. Everything is open to question except the proposition that God does not exist.

3. Innocent suffering
Dennis acknowledged that the problem of innocent (unjust) suffering is an enormous challenge to those who believe in an omnipotent, omni-benevolent God. However, the theist only has to account for the existence of unjust suffering; the atheist has to account for the existence of everything else.

4. The question of Why
Atheism is incapable of answering the question of why we exist. Science can answer the question of how we exist, but why is a theological question. Since atheism cannot answer the question of why, it is lacking in completeness.

5. Ultimate meaninglessness
If there is no God, the universe and all the meaning in it (i.e. the meaning that we create) is ultimately meaningless. Atheism must acknowledge this.

6. No objective morality
If there is no God, there cannot be an objective morality. All morality is subjective and a matter of personal opinion. If there is no God, then whether murder is right or wrong is, in the end, a matter of opinion just as whether or not one likes vanilla ice cream.

7. Appreciation of art, beauty; the question of love and happiness.
One's appreciation of art and beauty cannot be measured by scientific means; however, we would be foolish to say that beauty does not exist. By the same token, science cannot measure happiness but we innately know that happiness exists. There are many things which science cannot measure but we intuitively know exist. So the argument that science cannot verify the existence of something does not necessarily preclude its existence.

8. Religious evil
Dennis conceded that of course there has been evil done in the name of religion. But the evils committed in the name of secularist ideologies (Nazism, Communism) were far greater. No one has a monopoly on evil. It is part of the fallen human condition.

9. Measurability of God?
If God were measurable or containable, then God would not be God.

In conclusion, the most important things in life are not scientific. Science can answer the question of how but it cannot answer the question of why. We have to look to religion to do that. I personally look toward Christianity. But Dennis is not interested in debating theology. For Dennis, the issue is whether people do good. If one's religion makes one a better person, then one should embrace religion. If atheism makes one a more decent person, one should embrace atheism. Dennis believes that God rewards and punishes people according to the good or evil that they do in this world. I agree with this view but I would also add that belief in the Son of the God must be a priori.


Dennis Prager
Theologian

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