WTAMU Lecture to Debate Christian and Atheist Doctrines

Feb. 14, 2012

COPY BY:    Rana McDonald, 806-651-2129, rmcdonald@mail.wtamu.edu

WTAMU Lecture to Debate Christian and Atheist Doctrines

CANYON, Texas—West Texas A&M University’s Willson Lecture Series has partnered with Freethought Oasis to bring a debate on the topic “Should America Be a Nation Under God?” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23 at the Alumni Banquet Facility on campus.

Matt Dillahunty, president of Atheist Community of Austin, and Abdu Murray, president and founder of Aletheia International, will be the keynote speakers of the annual lecture series. Dillahunty was a fundamentalist Christian for more than 20 years, but his studies in faith and religion were weakened when he discovered works by Robert Ingersoll, Voltaire, Richard Dawkins and more. He changed his plans to attend seminary and embraced studies in such areas as religion, philosophy and history to better understand reality and enjoy life without the compartmentalized religious beliefs he grew up with in a loving southern Baptist home. His organization, the Atheist Community of Austin, is a nonprofit educational corporation that supports the atheist community, promotes secular viewpoints, encourages a positive atheist culture and defends the first amendment principle of state-church separation. He also hosts The Atheist Experience, a cable access television show in Austin. The show is a two-time winner of the “Best Public Access TV Show" in the Austin Chronicle Best of Austin Awards.

Murray was born into a Muslim family, where he was encouraged to study the Qur’an, Islamic doctrine and Islamic history. It was during his study of historical and philosophical underpinnings of the major world religions that he realized the evidence for the historical Christian faith could withstand the toughest challenges. This led him to put his faith in Jesus, and he has dedicated his ministry to reaching non-Christians, especially Muslins, with the Gospel and teaching Christians to do the same. He is an author and national and international presenter and has appeared numerous times on radio and television. He is a member of the Evangelical philosophical Society, the Evangelical Theological Society and maintains active relationships with such ministries as InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Campus Crusade for Christ and the North American Mission Board.

The Dillahunty/Murray presentation is sponsored by Freethought Oasis, Jo and John Mazola and The Willson Lecture Series. The Willson Lecture Series at WTAMU was established in 1947 by the J.M. Willson family of Floydada to provide colleges and universities with a religious emphasis on campus.

The Thursday night lecture is free and open to the public. Parking is available at the First United Bank Center with free shuttle runs from 6-9 p.m.

For more information about the presentation, call 806-651-2044.



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Jancy Richards
on 3.13.2012

I was very impressed with the turnout and, as a Christian, was very impressed by the views and intellect of both participants, as well as the excellent turnout. My brother, writer and speaker Jay W Richards, debated the late Christopher Hitchens @ Stanford Univ, so as a WT student, was very proud we had an event of this type.

on 2.25.2012

I am grateful to the organizers who did an excellent job of conducting the debate. I thought it was a worthwhile educational activity that in some ways served to bring the University community together overall. I appreciated very much the amiable characteristics that both debaters genuinely displayed toward one another. Congratulations to Matt Dillahunty, Abdu Murray, Freethought Oasis, Jo and John Mazola, and WTAMU for your courage and success with this debate, and thank you again for making it happen!

M. B.
on 2.24.2012

Though I was looking forward to this debate, I was seriously dissapointed. While I believe Matt D. did a great job presenting and rebutting the case at hand, I feel Murray was wildly unprepared to debate anything except "inalienable rights". This was established in his opening and then reiterated to the point of annoyance every time he spoke. I watch a great many debates with renown Christian scholars (debating against Harris and Hitchens)and though I am not swayed by their view, it is at least a stimulating argument. This debate, in my opinion, left the desiring theist and non theist..well, bored. I am thankful for the forum to debate however and for the interest in this community.

on 2.23.2012

Who do you think won the debate?

WT Student
on 2.23.2012

I thought that this event was very well organized. I don't know of another appropriate location to have a debate like this. Great job WT. Keep up the good work of challenging the student body.

WT Student
on 2.23.2012

I loved it!!! Both sides had great points of views... I'm just hoping that everyone will learn to accept people for who they are, and not what they believe in! Open your eyes and dont be closed minded. (: Peace, Love & Understanding

WT Grad
on 2.23.2012

Personally, I'm proud that my alma mater is hosting this event. It's only a heated topic because we've made it that way. Just because people disagree, it doesn't make either group right or wrong. Last I checked, we are free to choose our religious beliefs. I don't know about you, but my beliefs aren't nullified because someone disagrees with me. And, it's not going to be the "downfall of the nation," as someone previously commented, to listen to what many perceive as "the other side." We are so concerned about being "right" that we have stopped listening to one another. Let the debate be a learning experience for all of us. This country will be great again when we can embrace our diversity with tolerance and an open mind and quit fighting to be "right." Besides, have you ever truly asked an atheist or a Christian why they chose their particular belief system? You might be surprised at the answers you hear. See you tonight!

on 2.22.2012

Some religion has betrayed society, and other religions helped society maintained their sanity. Not all religion is bad. Christianity, on the other hand, is a controversial religion that can manipulate people. For instance, Jesus Christ is not a light skinned person (Caucasian) descent with blue eyes and dark blonde hair, he may be black African descent! Religion is based on race, ethnicity, and/or culture. The term "A Nation Under God" is a bold and powerful statement. Whose God? Which God? Male or Female? We need to understand what both speakers are going to speak about, and guide us to our own answers. Not to manipulate us. I am surprised that Atheist's and Christian's are speaking under one roof. Let see who else shows up and share the same view points to an extend.

on 2.22.2012

@John Nesbitt Please read the Mayflower Compact first before you go touting how atheists are wrong about the founding of this country. The Mayflower Compact was a governing document for the Plymouth Colony (a colony that no longer exists, by the way) meant to allow the colonists to practice Christianity in their own way. It did not contribute to the writing of the Declaration of Independence, (which was what 'allowed' America to form, as you put it) nor did it influence the content of the United States Constitution (the governing law of our country.) There is no mention of God, Christianity, or Jesus in the U.S. Constitution, nor does the Constitution give credit to God or Christianity as the foundation for the formation of the United States. "Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven." This is not a reference to God or Jesus, it was simply the standard way of expressing the date. And even if it was meant to reference God or Jesus, it wouldn't matter because the Constitution explicitly establishes in the First Amendment that no preferences or obstructions are to be made to any religion by the government. So please, do some actual research before you start typing up comments on topics such as this. Thank you.

on 2.22.2012

To William- Some Christians may see atheists as a threat just as much as some atheists see Christians as a threat. That's the world we live in. Same as some straight people see homosexuals as a threat, & vise versa...as with races, etc. It's an unfortunate part of life. There has been many atheists I've come across that have made me feel threatened, & enjoy making me feel that way...but on the other hand, there are many that don't, & that I'm good friends with. Once again, that's life. There is so much anger behind peoples' beliefs, when in fact there shouldn't be. Be solid in who you are, and nothing will upset you. To all- On the topic of this debate- I understand we all have the freedom of choice & speech. As a Christian, I believe God blessed us with that...so this debate doesn't anger me. I would love to attend this. It's always interesting to me to hear why others believe the way they do...and what roads led them to those beliefs. It seems to me though that all beliefs come down to emotions & experiences in our lives. They are driven by these, and are sometimes circumstantial & changeable. Believe what you like, but know if your heart ever tell you different, follow it. Always show love, peace, & compassion...

on 2.22.2012

So, what Michael Massey is saying is that the problem with our country resides in allowing different people with different viewpoints to debate in an educational institution? That confuses me. Speaking of the Mayflower Compact,it was written because there was no government in place when the pilgrims(who intended to settle in Nortern Virginia) decided to settle (instead) in New England, and people felt they had no legal obligation to remain within the colony and supply their labor. So the Mayflower Compact was written in order to establish a temporary form of government, in actuality. Also, one must emember that not everyone is a christian, just as not everyone is a muslim, atheist etc. Going back to the "problem with this country", noone can simply blame the country's problems on any one thing, especially on religious beliefs or debates. I assume you are a Rick Santorum fan... Who believes that religious law should ALWAYS rule over secular law, which bears resemblance to the beliefs of another man you may know, Osama Bin Laden. This is simply an educational lecture provided for free to the students and community. It is a wonderful oppurtunity, and quite frankly I am thankful and ecstatic about the chance to e there. P.S.- I agree that a muslim representative would be a good idea and addition. That is all.

William Cohorn
on 2.21.2012

Dear Christians, Why do you view atheists as a threat. I and my fellow non-believers have never personally wronged you nor have we ever questioned your right to choose which religion you practice or what Deity you believe in. The Constitution of the United States gives all of it's citizens the right to practice any religion they choose, or abstain from such practices if they so desire. I am not, nor have I ever been unpatriotic, nor do I feel that someone is less of an American than I because of what they choose to believe. However, once people learn of my Atheism, that automatically makes me a bad person. I am a student here as well, and by hosting this lecture/debate, my university has shown that it does care about my beliefs (or lack there of). For my fellow students who see this lecture/debate as a blight against our beloved University I have one question; West Texas A&M is suppose to be a place where we can freely and openly express and exchange ideas with out fear of persecution or dismissal. Why sully that purpose with sectarian hate and persecution? Your negative comments are a debasement to the principals on which this university was founded. It does not show a quest for understanding or higher education.

Ashley Farren
on 2.21.2012

Why is a public university not supposed to host an academic debate? Especially on a topic that touches the life of every American. Furthermore, why should a believer care if this topic is discussed in public if their faith and their god is unshakeable? Agree or disagree on the existence of a god, but be kind enough to allow others the same courtesy.

Cade Klink
on 2.20.2012

I think it's funny that they are debating about not believing in anything. Doesn't that defeat the purpose? I lost a lot of respect for my University for supporting this. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead. -Acts 17:31

Michael Massey
on 2.20.2012

This is the problem with this country, allowing this in our universities. Which will be the ultimate downfall of our nation.

on 2.19.2012


on 2.17.2012

Just curious, so why isn't there a Muslim represented on this forum especially when considering there are like one billion Muslims in the world today? If we are going to have a discussion about this, especially if one of the presenters is a Muslim convert, wouldn't it have been only rational to have a Muslim that could defend the legitimacy of his faith too? I think if we are to have a legitimate discussion it's only fair to have all the major parties involved.

jason skoch
on 2.17.2012

i see it says "free to public". but, what is the recommended dress attire? is it Southwest Airlines for seats? meaning, first come, first serve? I want to makesure I can go to this with my wife. jason skoch wtamu vb

Jancy Richards
on 2.16.2012

I'm very much looking forward to this, and so happy such a hotly debated subject will be discussed at my university. My brother, Jay W Richards, PhD, debated the late Christopher Hitchens at Stanford about five years ago.

Victor Parra
on 2.16.2012

I can't wait!!!