An audience of students and professors filled Olson Auditorium to capacity Wednesday night as members of the Sam Houston Atheist Alliance and Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship went head-to-head on the hot topic issues of the genesis of man, effects of religion on society and the validity of the Bible.
The two organizations faced off in “The Great ‘Truth’ Debate” as both parties presented their views on God and posed questions and arguments to the opposing side. The idea for the debate was brought about by S.H.A.A. who contacted the different organizations on campus to find a willing participant. Chi Alpha was the alliance’s lone response.
“We’re an atheist group and we want to get the information out there on what it is to be atheist,” S.H.A.A. President Brian Louden said. “One of the biggest thing that we unify on is our views on different religions and so we wanted to have a forum where we could have a discussion where we can go back and forth.”
While Chi Alpha was the only organization to reply to the invitation, some represen
tatives of the fellowship admit they were a bit hesitant to accept.
“At first I was a little bit nervous,” Chi Alpha panelist Krystopher Scroggins said. “I know it’s a hot button topic and these things will more often then not go down in flames just because of attitudes. That’s one of the big arguments against Christianity is the attitudes of Christians.”
Though the actions and attitudes of proclaimed Christians were brought into question, the debate centered around topics the two organizations had agreed upon prior to the debate. Dr. Michael Glissmeyer moderated the event, allowing each panel time for introductions, rebuttals and closing statements.
“We also banned a lot of subjects between the two of us,” Louden said. “Both groups agreed not to talk about things such as politics or play the ‘who has more famous people’ game and abortion.”
The debate remained civil with only a small outbreak of disapproval from the crowd during a rebuttal from the S.H.A.A. on the topic of medicine and miracles posed by an audience member during the Q&A portion of the event.
“You can claim something is a miracle but without evidence, you have nothing,” Louden said to the crowd, “Life is real. God is not.”
The ‘oohs’ could be heard outside in the doors of the auditorium where over 150 disappointed students were turned away just an hour before. After the auditorium filled with students and professors, the large crowd was turned away, leaving with complaints of venue and location.
Both organizations agreed the more, the merrier when it comes to spreading their ideas and answering questions for the audience.
“None of us are coming in here with the pretense of thinking that we’re actually going to convert our opponents,” Scroggins said. “I know these guys in the audience have already made up their mind but there could be someone who is actually seeking answers.”