Is belief in God reasonable? Debate with David Robertson

On Thursday 20 February I debated with Rev David Andrew Robertson at the invitation of Glasgow Caledonian University Christian Union on the topic ‘Is it reasonable to believe in God?’

You can watch the video bellow and read my thoughts afterwards.

My thoughts below…

David and I had agreed beforehand that we would make the debate as informal as possible, and more of a conversation. I think we managed to pull that off, and it turned out to be genuinely enjoyable for me and I was reassured by the fact that many of the students who attended said so too.

Starting off the debate David suggested that belief in God is rational because he couldn’t accept the idea that the world emerged through random chance, and that he saw the hand of God in this. I tried to offer instead a more broad way of answering the question by offering my own experiences and reflections on the challenges of God belief.

One of the main issues I tried to focus on in the debate was the reliance of religion on a dualist model, whereas I can remain sceptical whilst favouring the materialist conception. I tried to point out to the students present that David, in order to maintain his God belief, has to rule-out a purely materialist conception whilst offering no evidence for the existence of a spiritual dimension.

We also focussed briefly on the issue of personal experience in God belief. When David asked me what it would take to make me a God believer, I tried to offer a slightly different approach, by suggesting that although I am probably likely to be as susceptible to God belief as most people, that would not necessarily true. Although I doubt if I will ever become a God believer again, even if I did, it would not follow that it is true.

Towards the end of the debate, I tried to offer my thoughts on a Godless ethical system in relation to assisted suicide, something which I am quite interested in.

Overall I enjoyed this experience very much, and hope that my thoughts and experiences might be of use to some of the students who came along to listen.

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