In 1985 at the University of California, Christian Dr. Greg Bahsen debated atheist Dr. Gordon Stein. The title of the debate is simply “The Great Debate: Does God Exist?”, and for us Christians the debate lived up to the greatness in the title. This is now considered a “classic” debate, and one we can all learn from.
Notice at the beginning of the debate Dr. Bahnsen say’s:
“It is necessary at the outset of our debate to define our terms; that is always the case. And in particular here, I should make it clear what I mean when I use the term “God”. I want to specify that I’m arguing particularly in favor of Christian theism, and for it as a unit or system of thought and not for anything like theism in general, and there are reasons for that. The various conceptions of deity found in world religions are in most cases logically incompatible, leaving no unambiguous sense to general theism – whatever that might be. I have not found the non-Christian religions to be philosophically defensible, each of them being internally incoherent or undermining human reason and experience.
Since I am by the grace of God a Christian, I cannot, from the heart, adequately defend those religious faiths with which I disagree. My commitment is to the Triune God and the Christian world view based on God’s revelation in the Old and New Testaments. So, first I am defending Christian theism.” –Apol_Bahnsen_Stein_Debate_Transcript
One “classic” moment during the debate occured during the cross examinations…
Bahnsen: I heard you use “logical binds” and “logical self-contradiction” in your speech .
You did say that?
Stein: I used that phrase, yes.
Bahnsen: Do you believe there are laws of logic then?
Bahnsen: Are they universal?
Stein: They are agreed upon by human beings not realizing it is just out in nature.
Bahnsen: Are they simply conventions then?
Stein: They are conventions that are self-verifying.
Bahnsen: Are they sociological laws or laws of thought?
Stein: They are laws of thought which are interpreted by man.
Bahnsen: Are they material in nature?
Stein: How could a law be material?
Bahnsen: That’s the question I’m going to ask you.
Stein: I would say no.
B. Stein Examines Bahnsen
Stein: Dr. Bahnsen, would you call God material or immaterial?
Stein: What is something that’s immaterial?
Bahnsen: Something not extended in space.
Stein: Can you give me any other example, other than God, that’s immaterial?
Bahnsen: The laws of logic.