Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Great Debate - Does God Exist

I first heard this debate between Dr. Gordon Stein and Dr. Greg Bahnsen sometime in the spring of 1985 - probably during spring break of my junior year in college. It was on a tape that was obviously made from the audience. But I had met Greg Bahnsen about 10 years earlier and knew him to be a captivating speaker. So I pushed on. Within 5 min of placing it in the the "walkman" I was hooked. Within 20 minutes I was cheering and doing involuntary arm pumps. That escalated to a standing ovation with Bahnsen's deadpan monotone answer in the following exchange:

Dr. Bahnsen: Do you believe there are laws of logic then?
Dr. Stein: Absolutely.
Dr. Bahnsen: Are they universal?
Dr. Stein: They are agreed upon by human beings. They are not laws that exist out in nature.
Dr. Bahnsen: Are they simply conventions then?
Dr. Stein: They are conventions, but they are conventions that are self–verifying.
Dr. Bahnsen: Are they sociological laws or laws of thought?
Dr. Stein: They are laws of thought which are interpreted by men and promulgated by men.
Dr. Bahnsen: Are they material in nature?
Dr. Stein: How can a law be material?
Dr. Bahnsen: That is the question I am going to ask you.
Dr. Stein: I would say no.

Dr. Stein cross examines Dr. Bahnsen.

Dr. Stein: Dr. Bahnsen would you call God material or immaterial?
Dr. Bahnsen: Immaterial.
Dr. Stein: What is something that is immaterial?
Dr. Bahnsen: Something not extended in space.
Dr. Stein: Can you give me an example of anything other than God that is immaterial?
Dr. Bahnsen: The laws of logic. [Thunderous Uproar]

But you'll have to listen to the tape to appreciate the full crowd dynamics of this exchange.

I was so impressed with this debate that I began to transcribe it by hand. With no computer and a poor quality audio file, it was a tedious task. Eventually it reached 30 single spaced handwritten pages. I hung on to those papers until 1992 when I purchased my first computer and typed them into digital form - another lengthy process for someone who never learned typing or keyboarding. Now 24 years later, on the 13th anniversary of Dr. Stein's death, I am delighted to post this mighty triumph of Jehovah over unbelief. God defeated the Syrians in the plain because they thought Jehovah was just a God of the hills. It's as if God confounded Dr. Stein who thought he was just the God of irrational faith. In a debate that will certainly be studied for centuries, God showed himself to be the God of Faith and Reason, the God of seen and unseen evidence.

Transcript of the Great Debate

The Great Debate - Part 1

The Great Debate - Part 2

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