Photo by Autumn McLeod
By Autumn McLeod
Things got heated Friday night in the Student Activities Center ballroom during a debate exploring whether morality is better explained by God or by science which was fueled by applause and controversy.
The two speakers, the God-wielding Frank Turek, and Michael Shermer, of science, deliberated in front of residents from all over Long Island as well as students and faculty as part of Stony Brook University School of Social Welfare’s first co-sponsored event with the Christian organization “New York Apologetics: The Heart Beat of The Christian Mind.” Stony Brook High School students, who were attending a trip with their teacher, also filled several seats.
The debate became intense as the audience applauded for their favorite debater and yelled their opinions from the balcony.
Turek said that morality is judged by a certain standard and that standard is God’s nature. God’s nature, Turek added, makes the rules that mankind follow given by a “who, not an it.” In rebuttal, Shermer asked the question “If God does not decree something immoral, does that make it moral?” Which sparked additional jeering remarks from the audience.
Moderator Chris Arnzen kept the crowd laughing as he constantly pointed out that none of the debaters were following the rules and even urged the audience not to yell or throw harmful objects at the stage. Nothing was thrown onto the stage.
Turek, a Christian Apologetic believer, is the founder of the non-profit ministry organization, Cross Examined, and is the author and co-author of four books which include “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be an Atheist” and “Stealing From God: Why Atheist Need God to make their Case.” Christian Apologetics is a field of theology that presents a reasoned basis for the Christian faith and defends the faith against objections. Turek has been featured as a leading apologetics expert and cultural commentator. He has also appeared on numerous radio and television shows including “The O’Reilly Factor.”
On the opposing side was Shermer who is the founding publisher of “The Skeptic Society” and is the author to numerous books which including “The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity Toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom” as well as “The Science of Good and Evil.” Shermer regularly contributes essays and editorial pieces to the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and other publications.
Event Goers’ Reviews
Students from local colleges came out of the debate with their own thoughts on how well the speakers presented their case.
“I thought it was very interesting seeing both sides, one prepared and one with contradictions,” Ashley Barnes, of Suffolk Community College, said “Perhaps there is more to think about but in the end, all I know is that I wouldn’t be here without God.”
Not only did college students voice their opinions, but high school students contributed as well.
“I just think it was a really good opportunity for kids to really open their minds up to other people’s views and I think that even if you’re not a Christian, you could side with one or the other,” said Deanna Bottomley, of Stony Brook High School. “I think they both raised some pretty good points although I do think that the man arguing science as the better way contradicted himself very much”.