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.
2. Atheists have no doubts
3. Innocent suffering
4. The question of Why
5. Ultimate meaninglessness
6. No objective morality
7. Appreciation of art, beauty; the question of love and happiness.
8. Religious evil
9. Measurability of 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. While I agree with this view, Christians would look to Matthew chapters 24-25 for more detail about the final judgment.