"God, Suffering, and Evil"
President D'Souza Debates Bart Ehrman
NEW YORK, March 15, 2012 – Of all questions leveled against faith in God, perhaps none is stronger than the claimed contradiction between the existence of suffering, and an all-powerful, all-knowing, good God. On March 5th, President of The King's College Dinesh D'Souza debated Dr. Bart Ehrman on the topic "God, Suffering, and Evil." Sponsored by Socrates in the City, the two faced off at The New York Society for Ethical Culture.
The debate was moderated by Eric Metaxas, founder of Socrates in the City, friend of The King’s College, and author of #1 New York Times Bestseller Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.
The debate came on the heels of the release of Godforsaken, President D’Souza’s newest book. In it, D’Souza argues that suffering can be reconciled with a loving and caring God. He takes a fresh look at the problem of suffering by drawing on new discoveries in modern science to offer a solution that will satisfy believers and challenge skeptics.
President D’Souza’s opponent, Dr. Ehrman, is a James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is author of God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question – Why We Suffer. Once a pastor at Princeton Baptist Church, Dr. Ehrman rejected Christianity after finding that he could not reconcile the claims of faith with the suffering in the world. He once told the Washington Post that, "I just began to lose it. It wasn't for lack of trying. But I just couldn't believe there was a God in charge of this mess.”
During the debate, Dr. Ehrman maintained that Biblical reasons given for suffering are insufficient. He also argued that the God doesn't intervene on our behalf today like the God of the Bible, saying “he did it in the Bible. If he doesn’t do it today, in what sense is he the Christian God?” Erhman concluded that God’s apparent inability to help those suffering proves His nonexistence.
President D’Souza responded by arguing that the existence of suffering alongside a loving and powerful God is only a contradiction if it is assumed that no moral justification for allowing suffering exists. He extended his argument by observing that rational moral agents can only exist in a world where suffering is a real possibility. D’Souza said, “Freedom itself requires God to move man out of Eden and into a world of regularity, into a world where free actions have foreseeable actions, so that the world becomes, in a sense, a school of knowledge.”
During the debate, both speakers argued forcefully while maintaining mutual respect in dialogue. The debate ended after a period of questions followed by concluding statements by both speakers. The debate will be available for purchase at SocratesIntheCity.com.
The King’s College educates students in the ideas upon which nations rise and fall. With a focused curriculum in the liberal arts tradition, students are prepared to help shape, and eventually to lead, the institutions of government, civil society, media, law, business, education, the arts, and the church. King’s is a Christian college located in the Empire State Building in New York City.
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