Civilized debate

Last week, I attended “The God Debate,” and I wasn’t the only one.

Students, faculty and community members packed IRC 120 for the event sponsored by Student Secular Alliance and the Truth Discovery Project. Despite arriving ten minutes before the event began at 7 p.m., there was only standing room. Early birds filled the chairs and late arrivals sat in the aisles or lined the back wall.

Apparently, people were quite eager to hear Stephen Kozak, a Christian author, and Justin Schieber, co-host of an Atheist radio show, debate the existence of God. However, I don’t think the event was what the crowd was expecting.

Media personalities like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly have given Americans the false impression that debate includes raised voices, inflammatory words and finger pointing. Rather than arguing the issue itself, Limbaugh and O’Reilly choose to attack the character of the individual they are opposing.

Although Kozak and Schieber’s beliefs are on opposite ends of the spectrum, the two speakers treated one another with dignity and respect. The debate was civilized—a concept unfortunately foreign to too many people.

In addition to being civilized, both speakers were intellectual. It was refreshing to witness two sides arguing so eloquently.

My biggest revelation at the event had nothing to do with the existence of God. “The God Debate” reemphasized the importance of critical thinking. Too often people, myself included, get caught up in the hustle and bustle of their daily lives and forget to take an analytical approach to the world around them.

I understand philosophical debate isn’t part of most people’s daily routine, but the importance of well-reasoned and civilized debate cannot be understated. Imagine what the world would be like if more people approached controversial issues with a critical mindset.