News & Politics

Atheist Challenges Christian Theologian: I'll 'Turn Christian' If You Explain Why Evil Exists

The comment from atheist philosopher Dr. Alex Rosenberg came in a debate titled, "Is Faith in God Reasonable?"

A bus in Toronto with the slogan "There's Probably No God. Now Stop Worrying And Enjoy Your Life."
Photo Credit: Canadian Atheist Bus Campaign/Wikimedia Commons

An atheist philosopher threw down the gauntlet in a debate last Friday at Purdue University over the existence of God. He said he would “turn Christian” if his debating partner explained why God would allow evil in the world.

The debate was held last Friday between atheist philosopher Alex Rosenberg and Christian theologian William Lane Craig. Rosenberg issued a stark challenge, as the Christian Post reported: “If Dr. Craig could provide me with any kind of a logical, coherent account that could reconcile the evident fact of the horrors of human and infer human life on this planet over the last 3.5 billion years with the existence of a benevolent, omnipotent agent then I will turn Christian.”

Rosenberg emphasized that evil “needs to be desperately explained.” The Christian theologian responded by saying: “The problem here is that we are assuming that God's purpose is just to make us happy in this life, but on the Christian view that's false. The purpose of life is not worldly happiness as such, but rather the knowledge of God. There may be many evils that occur in this lifetime that are utterly pointless with respect to producing worldly happiness, but they may not be pointless with respect to producing the knowledge of God and salvation and eternal life.”

Audience members, the formal debate panel and online viewers all said that Craig, the Christian theologian, won the debate.

Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.