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Atheists (Whatever) Prepare To Be Humiliated
Wednesday marked a somewhat historic moment in South African history with the first (that I know of) international philosophical formal public debate between Christians and atheist/naturalists.
South Africans in general are lazy thinkers and also lazy communicators. We are not used to these types of debates, but they are quite popular internationally, and even part of election campaigns. You have to know your stuff or you will be humiliated. Of course, with African politics lying and shouting will always get you of the hook, nê Malema. That is, however, not the point.
The two sides in the debate were Dr William Lane Craig (www.reasonablefaith.org) and Dr Michael Licona (ex TUKS www.risenjesus.com) which went up against prof Sakkie Spannenberg and Prof Hansie Wolmarans of the new reformation movement.
The topic of the debate was:
A. Did the writers of the New Testament want their readers to understand with that Jesus rose physically from the dead?
B. Is it plausible to believe that Jesus rose physically from the dead?
These questions were considered within a historical background, not as Christian theological debate but as general debate i.e. if we treat these questions as we would treat any random history question, what would the outcome be. The significance, of course, will be the intellectual integrity of believing in the Bible at all. Anyway, it was a David vs. Goliath situation. Spangenberg and Wolmarans was so outgunned by the eloquent, logical and well prepared Licona/Graig duo that it made me really ashamed to be South African, but at least I could be proud to be a Christian. These two men demonstrated that Christianity is logical and intellectually tenable, they demonstrated that Christians can be logical, solid and, for lack of a better word, COOL. In stark contrast, Spangenberg came over as a paranoid conspiracy theorists with the CIA hot on his trail. I had to really strain to follow is ill prepared and irrelevant points. The best way to describe his opening statements would be that, it’s hard to make sense if you are not making sense. In his second speech, the rebuttal, he caught some steam and seemed to at least make a few points, even though they were not applicable to the debate. He came over very strongly in true PW Botha fashion, finger waving making ungrounded statements. His basic reasoning was that the Gospels were narratives, not biography or history, and therefore fictional. He based this on the assumption that the differences between the Gospels of Mathew, Luke, Mark and John somehow “caught them out” as fictional copy and paste efforts. However, logically speaking, he didn’t really have a solid point. In an effort to build on this, he stated that Paul did not preach the same Gospel as the other disciples, and that even later Augustus wrote his own version of Christianity which is “proven” by his addition of the doctrine of the trinity. His point being that the word trinity does not appear in the gospels, but only in later church history. Jesus talked about His Father, and our Helper, thus Father Son and Holy Ghost, out of Jesus’s mouth, what a silly argument, Sakkie. It took Dr Licona about 3 embarrassing (for Spangenberg) minutes to logically disprove the 1 to 1 conclusions Spangenberg were making. I do however feel that he could have explained a little more, but time was limited.
It was clear that Wolmarans/Spangenberg, for lack actually engaging in the debate topic, were trying to create a cloud of speculation, trying to get the listener to make the jump from what they said to what they concluded. Mostly this jump seemed too far for the audience which couldn’t help but chuckle at the “kuikenmoord” that was happening.
I was wondering where Beeld’s liberal theological commentator Neels Jackson was. Jackson is an avid Spangenberg fan and basically the reason Spangenberg got any attention at all. After this massacre I doubt if he would chance writing an article, unless of course he has leaned from spin-doctor Julius Malema and writes a big lie.
For those atheists/naturalists or whatever who think you have things sorted out, come and listen to Dr Licona tonight at the KerkSonderMure in Centurion at 7 o’clock. The topic of his talk tonight is “Can we be good without God”. Incidentally as a final note, Richard Dawkins, the atheist high priest of naturalist religion has refused on numerous occasions to debate Dr Craig because he knows he will be made a fool of. In the end, you can’t mess with the truth, no matter how smart you are.