Atheism and Christianity at center of debate on human rights

Atheism and Christianity at center of debate on human rights

Nearly 300 students, staff, and local residents packed the largest room in BBC's Jackson Hall for a special debate on whether Christianity or atheism presented a better framework for the protection and fostering of human rights.BBC&S

"Human Rights: Does Christianity or Atheism Make Better Sense" featured discussions of a Christian worldview and non-Christian worldviews in a moderated public debate forum. The principals were Dr. Ed Buckner, former president of American Atheists, and Jay Lucas, the leader of a ministry focused on defending Christian truth claims.

"I thought it was interesting to get the atheist point of view," said Rebecca Wagner, a senior in the Degree Completion program. "We can get wrapped up in the bubble we live in. This is a way to be educated in others' views and my conviction in the Word of God."

The two-hour format included opening and second statements by each debater, with time for cross-examinations, questions from the audience, and closing statements.

Listen to audio of the debate at

Making a Case
In making his case, Bucker argued universal objective human rights do not exist. The Constitution of the United States, he said, was a product of enlightened men who provided for later amendments and did not invoke God in the process.BBC&S

"Atheism does better to protect human rights provided there is an allowance for changes by 'we the people,'" he said.

Lucas said objective, universal human rights make perfect sense in a Christian worldview. Each person, in their own hearts, knows justice and human rights are more than preferences, he said, with the duty to justice in Scripture a key element for human rights.

"The right to life is inherent in bearing the image of God," Lucas said. "It is not something we bestow on people. It is something with which they are born."

Disagreeing as Friends
Despite profound differences of fundamental importance to both men, Buckner and Lucas are friends and have debated previously. The focus on disagreeing in a civil way was brought out as a strength of the evening by many in attendance.BBC&S

"I wanted to see people with opposing viewpoints interact in a civil way," said Jen Nichols, who came with her family from nearby Scott Township. "I was encouraged. We can disagree and still be decent to one another."

Bucker is an author, scholar, and activist with American Atheists, a national organization dedicated to working for the civil rights of atheists, promoting separation of church and state, and providing information about atheism. He has recently completed a book with his son, Michael. The working title is "In Freedom We Trust: This is a Free Country - Not a Christian Nation."

Lucas is director of The Isaac Backus Project, a ministry dedicated to training in Christian apologetics. He is also senior pastor of Grace Community Church in Washington Court House, OH. He earned a bachelor's degree from BBC and a M.A. in history from the University of Scranton. He is the author of "Ask Them Why: How to Help Unbelievers Find the Truth" and "The Rights Fight: A Christian Response to America's Debate About Rights."

The debate was moderated by Dr. Stephen Shumaker, Professor and Dean of BBC's College of Arts and Sciences.

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Posted on: 11/2/2011 10:39:55 AM

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