Author: Rev. Matthew Tassey, 2016
Target Audience: High School & Older
Trypho (pronounced "Try-Foe")
Props: Moderator's chair (maybe a table), 2 podiums
Moderator: Welcome, friends, to our debate today between Justin and Trypho on the subject of Christianity. As with all debates we begin by establishing the Status Quo – the standard against which we debate. Today, Trypho has come to debate Justin in the truth claims of Christianity and Theism, in general. Thus, the Burden of Proof lies on Trypho to prove that Christianity is not true. Let's begin. Trypho, you have the first opening statement.
Trypho: Thank you. As a scientist, I was taught to seek truth wherever it might come. I grew up believing in God, but my studies and personal experience have brought me to seek answers about whether God really exists, and if he does exist if he is good. Might there be one God, many gods, or no god at all, and can we say anything on the matter with true certainty. There is enough reason to doubt, and if there is reason to doubt, there is reason not to believe.
Justin: Assuredly, the duty of science is to investigate the truth, especially regarding God. But can science say whether there be one or more gods, whether they or he or she cares for us; loves us? For these statements are the heart of religion's claim on our lives and happiness. It's a very different thing to claim that God made the world but doesn't interact with it, as Deism does, compared to the claim of Christianity that there is one true God who continually cares for and interacts with his creation – so much so that he chose to send his Son to die for us. Is there more to knowing about God than what science can reveal?
Moderator: Thank you both, gentlemen. Let's get down to it. As the Status Quo, Justin, could you lay out for us what idea you entertain respecting God, and what your philosophy is.
Justin: I'll tell you: Science is, in fact, one of the greatest and most honorable studies before God. Without a rational creator, we couldn't have ordered science. The true maturity of science, then, is to look upon and know God. It's the knowledge of what really exists, what's true. God can be understood as that which always is the same, in nature, in manner, and that which is the creator, the cause, of all other things. This Creator of all things, including truth, is revealed by his knowable works in his creation – notably that the Son of God was born of a virgin, worked miracles in his life and taught the blessed truth, was crucified by those who could not recognize him as God, but rose from the dead on the third day – being seen by many witnesses – before publicly ascending back to heaven so that all who believe in him would be saved. That is the Christian truth, and studying that truth is mature science.
Moderator: Trypho, the Burden of Proof falls to you, then, to prove Justin and his position false.
Trypho: Let me start by saying that NO scholar actually believes that science is about God. That's just rid...
Moderator: (Interrupting) I'm sorry, Trypho, but I'll have to interrupt you there. You can't make unsupported generalizations like that in proper debates. It's an ambiguous False Appeal to Authority. Please continue without logical fallacies.
Trypho: (annoyed) Okay. There are scholars who reject that science is about knowing God. The scientific method is all about what we can see or test. Since I cannot see God or test him, I cannot prove him. Therefore there is no reason to believe in him or her or they or whoever on the basis of science.
Justin: They call that Special Pleading, sir. You've set a standard of knowledge based on only one perspective – a perspective that's not true for all knowledge. Some branches of knowledge come to us by testimony, some by experimentation, others by our reason. There are things in this world that don't repeat. You cannot test those things that have happened in the past that don't repeat. Therefore you must rely on the accounts of those who testify to it. You ascribe too much to the power of such a discipline as science because it is not the only way of knowing.
Trypho: You Christians are just afraid of science because you know it proves you wrong. That's why you don't read, don't study, and don't engage in real science.
Moderator: Again, Trypho, I have to interrupt you. Making universal claims against your opponent that you know aren't universally true is a Strawman Argument. And using that to attack your opponent personally, an Ad Hominem attack, is just bad form in a debate. Please continue without logical fallacies.
Trypho: Then, to the evidence of science that disproves Christianity, and Theism, in general: The fossil record shows a gradual change in species over great spans of years – rather than a god who created them. The appearance of man in the fossil record at a much later date than that of other prehistoric animals shows that man was not created in the beginning, as the Bible and Quran claim. The genetic similarity of man with the other primates demonstrate that homo sapiens evolved, and therefore are nothing more than animals, ourselves. Every so-called miracle can be explained with a natural explanation rather than an appeal to the divine. And what's more, the consistent, negative effects of religion on society prove that it is not in the best interest of our continued society to maintain the institution of any deity or religion.
Justin: I have seen the same evidence of the fossil record and come to different conclusions – especially based on the so-called Cambrian Explosion and what we know about Noah's Flood. Beyond that, basing our entire theory of life on an incomplete record with so many gaps and inconsistencies requires more faith than Theism. The similarity in our chemistry is easily explained in the Bible by God creating man and animals from the same dust. While many miracles can be seen to have natural explanations, the miracles of the Bible can just as validly be shown to have only divine causes – like raising the dead. And the Bible's anthropology, it's teaching on who we are as humans, clearly explains that sin in every person – religious or not – is the cause of the continued strife we all daily experience in minor and major ways and only Jesus can cure our sin problem. You seek to show things as Black and White, when really there is more than one way to interpret the same evidence.
Trypho: (Frustrated) You're Biased in your interpretations.
Justin: As are we all, including you. We all bring our assumptions and biases into how we interpret any evidence. You're bias is that there can be no God; my bias is that there is.
Trypho: 97% of scientists say that humans and other living things evolved over time without the working of the divine, according to a 2009 poll by the Pew Research Center. How could that many scientists be wrong?
Justin: Before we all jump on the Bandwagon, look at that poll, again – because you can make statistics say whatever you want. Actually, only 87% said that this evolution occurs by natural processes, alone, without God. Others, for better or worse, claim that God works through evolution. Even though that's still high, it's not as high as your first claim. Besides, basing your beliefs on a statistic about other people's beliefs is far from certainty.
Trypho: How can someone reasonably claim that we all come from 2 people? How can someone reasonably claim that every single creature in the world got on a boat for forty days and forty nights? How can any reasonable person believe the first 11 chapters of Genesis are anything but myth and legend, just like every other religious myth out there?
Justin: While there are many reasons to confirm my belief, including Jesus, himself, who clearly confirmed the truth of Genesis, including the information in our DNA that shows how carefully CREATED, designed we all are, and many other reasons; the Burden of Proof still lies on you to prove it false rather than on me to prove it true. Whether it makes sense to us or not wouldn't change its truthfulness. Spiders don't make sense to me, but they still exist. Now let me ask you: what do you think about man's soul?
Trypho: Science can't prove anything about a soul, therefore it doesn't exist. There is no life after death. No ultimate Judge who will decide whether or not I've been good or bad. There is no spiritual power giving me life; it's all just chemical, biological processes that keep me going until they stop – and then into the ground I go.
Justin: So, then, how did you come to have life in the first place?
Trypho: My parents.
Justin: How did they come to have life and so on? Either life is eternal or it was created. Science, itself, has shown that life had a beginning – it's not eternal. If life was created, what created it? The odds of all of the required parameters randomly coming together to form life is astronomically against reason, even with the most generous odds. It's far more likely life was created than evolved. And if life was created, we have a Creator. He created us and he enlivened us with souls intended to live forever. He has revealed Himself to us at many times and various ways throughout history by the prophets; ultimately in His Son, Jesus Christ, who died that we might have eternal life.
Trypho: And why should we believe your fairy tale is any more true than other religions'?
Justin: Again, Ad Hominem, personal, attacks, like name calling, just devalue your argument. But to the point: Christianity purposefully opens itself up for testing and verification as historical truth. Rather than relying on some mystic's vision, the Bible is 66 books written by over 35 writers, in some cases separated by nearly 1,500 years. It's remarkably consistent and is the most well attested book in all of antiquity. It's verified again and again by archaeological evidence, especially the evidence that Jesus of Nazareth taught and worked miracles, was crucified by the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, died, and we even have some evidence outside of the Bible that fits with the accounts of his resurrection. All of this shows that the Bible is a book unlike any other religious book because it's historically verifiable.
Trypho: How can you prove that?
Justin: One example from within the Bible: even the most liberal scholar dates the book of Isaiah to around 500BC. At least 500, though more likely around 800, years before the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, Isaiah describes in perfect detail Jesus' birth, death, and even resurrection – down to the detail that he would be condemned with other criminals and placed in a borrowed tomb. To prophesy that so many years in advance, shows the reliability of the Bible. That same book tells us why he died: to forgive our sins through his blood, as a sacrificial lamb. So that all who will receive his blood by faith have been forgiven by his sacrifice. It was promised. It happened. It's believable. And if you will believe it, you'll be forgiven, too, and you'll have eternal life.
Moderator: Well, friends, our time's about up for this debate. We'll let each make their closing statements, beginning with Trypho.
Trypho: We have completely different views of the world, Justin and I. I base my beliefs on the information and process that we call science. Our study of the universe unfolds new questions every day, and I'm excited to pursue the answers. We're all products of this constantly unfolding universe, and we're driven to find out where we came from. I'll look for those answers in the provable, compelling, process of science – rather than in the religions of the past. If we abandon all that we've learned in science about nature and our place in it, we stop moving forward. Let's not move backward by rejecting all that science has proven. Thank you.
Moderator: Thank you. Now, Justin.
Justin: We do have very different views of the world. And that's really the point. We all see the same world. Our assumptions, our beliefs, guide our interpretations of it. The desire to constantly move forward, to evolve beyond, is detrimental if we're already in the truth – for then we move outside of the truth and into falsehood. Jesus, himself, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and He has promised that all who believe in Him will have everlasting life. I pray that you'll consider ALL of the evidence and let the Holy Spirit work faith in your hearts through His Word: For God so loved YOU that He gave His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer, die, and rise in victory for YOU, so that believing in Jesus as the Savior from sin, YOU shall not perish, but YOU shall have everlasting life. Thank you.
Moderator: Thank you, both. (to audience) That's the end of our debate today folks. It's up to you to determine whether Trypho met the Burden of Proof against Christianity and Theism or whether Justin showed Trypho's arguments lacking, thus defending the faith. And, in the end, it's really about whether or not you'll believe that Jesus was the Son of God who loved you and died for you. Until next time, Goodnight.