By Joshua Manning
For thousands of years, one question has plagued mankind: Does God exist? As we all know, there is no simple way to answer this question because nobody has ever seen Him, or Her for that matter. On Thursday night, Nov. 12, Brothers and Sisters in Christ (BASIC) and the Debate Team co-sponsored an event that highlighted the longstanding conflict between atheism and theism. The Hillwood Lecture Hall was packed with members of the LIU Post family, as well as those in the surrounding area.
Dr. Amy Karofsky, an associate professor of Philosophy at Hofstra University, advocated for the belief that there is no God, while Anthony Uvenio, an elder at Church on the Sound in Stony Brook, N.Y., defended the belief that God does in fact exist, specifically from a Christian perspective. Both sides seemed to be very well prepared for the debate, not only because of their studies, but also because of their personal experiences.
Karofsky, who has been atheistic for over thirty years and who has also published work that seeks to dispel the theistic worldview, used a couple of different ideas to support her position. Karofsky referred to the idea that our solar system was so tiny in comparison to rest of the Universe, several times. She also stated that the probability of our world coming into existence was nearly impossible and that alone should make us grateful. Uvenio’s argument also included some points about the design of the universe and about how the universe itself can be used as evidence for the existence of God.
Whenever you hold a discussion about God’s existence, it is inevitable that the next question that will pop up is “If God created us, who created God?” During the cross-examination portion of the event, Karofsky presented this exact question to Uvenio and he responded simply by saying that God is eternal. I am going to try to explain this as briefly as possible. In order for something to be eternal, it must remain constant. This also means that it has no beginning and no end, so in Uvenio’s worldview God has no creator. Karofsky still seemed to have an issue with this, stating that if we as intelligent beings had an intelligent creator, than that creator would need to have been created as well.
Another major topic that was discussed was morality. Morality is one of those things that cannot necessarily be explained. It seems as if we are all born with some sort of moral compass, or in other words, a conscience. During the debate, Uvenio mentioned that in his worldview, the Bible was his standard of morality. Karofsky rebutted this by stating that there are plenty of things in the Bible that we would argue are not moral. One example that was brought up was a text in the Old Testament, which supported the ownership of slaves. Uvenio responded by encouraging Karofsky to read the passage in its entirety before taking it out of context.
During their closing statements, each debater encouraged audience members to examine their own personal beliefs. The main takeaway from Karofsky was that if you cannot accept the whole Bible, then you should just drop it all together. Uvenio also left the audience with something to think about: “Science says that you are a whole lot of matter, but God says you matter a whole lot.”
Outside the content of the debate, it seems that the event itself went over very well with those who attended. Audience members were able to tweet questions and comments using the hashtag #BASICDebate.
“I had the opportunity to speak to some of the other students who came from different schools to this event as well as some of our own students. All of them were still talking about the debate and all seem genuinely intrigued by it,” said Caitlin Kennedy, sophomore Health Sciences major and president of the Debate Team.
“Bringing people together based on their differences, rather than similarities, is really beautiful to me. It opens doors and opportunities for so many things,” said Amal Zeidan, senior Nutrition and Dietetics major and BASIC president.
Unfortunately, the event was cut short because of a scheduling conflict. However, video recording of the debate will be uploaded to YouTube soon, so be on the look out for that as well.