Posted by Rob Collingsworth on 2009-03-06

Samford's Socratic Club hosted an entertaining and cordial March 3 debate between acclaimed journalist and author Christopher Hitchens and Oxford mathematician and Christian apologist John Lennox. The debate's title–Is God Great?-is a reference to Hitchens' recently published book, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.

Christopher Metress, director of Samford's University Fellows program and advisor to the Socratic Club, served as moderator for the event.

Hitchens, an atheist, opened the debate with a 15-minute argument. "We have three options when it comes to the idea of religion," Hitchens said. "Either all of them are true, all of them are false, or one of them is true."

"Those who do claim to know the mind of this God are deluded," Hitchens continued. "We're more and more awed as we find out how much we don't know about the universe. It's only those who say they are certain about anything we know to distrust."

Lennox took a less strident approach in his address. "We as scientists and mathematicians cannot tell you what energy is, so don't expect me to explain to you the great mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ," Lennox said. "But there is a transcendent change that happens in those who have been saved by this God."

"I do not deduce that God is not great," Lennox added. "As I look back at the failed atheist regimes of the 20th century, I may be tempted to say that atheism is not great."

At the conclusion of their rebuttals Hitchens and Lennox answered audience questions for half-an-hour before making brief closing remarks.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.