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Does God Exist?

By Carlo Valladares and Bendik Sorensen
News Editor, Staff Writer

BASIC College Ministries is holding its second annual debate on Nov. 19 in the Hillwood Commons Lecture Hall, on whether or not God exists. The club, which is a part of a national network and became an official chapter on campus in Spring 2014, aims to “serve and equip local churches to effectively reach and discipline students through vibrant college ministries,” according to its official website.

“There are about 30 colleges in New York State with official chapters,” said Amal Zeidan, a first year Nutrition graduate student and president of the club. She’s optimistic about the event, and is currently looking for more debaters. “We have two theists and one confirmed atheist. I’d like two more atheists and one more theist.” Approximately 400 people attended the debate last year, and Zeidan hopes this year’s debate will be equally successful.

Adam Hornbuckle, a freshman Political Science major, is not involved with BASIC, but is one of the students that will participate in the debate. It will be his first debate with BASIC.

“I’m on the atheist side of the debate,” Hornbuckle said.

He reached out to Zeidan and confirmed his involvement after seeing a BASIC Facebook post regarding the debate.

To prepare, Hornbuckle said that he would be “studying atheist debate tactics/points. Watching famous atheist debaters [like] Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Lawrence Krauss, and Sam Harris. It’s a topic I feel very strongly about,” he said.

“The goal for the event is to bring together people with different interests and talk about their worldviews and what they believe,” Zeidan said. The club aims to host a debate every year, which is open to everyone on campus. “We try to select students who have been in debates but are not fully ‘developed,’ we want keep the door open to people who have never debated, and show that you don’t have to be a professional speaker to show your view.”

The debate itself consists of 10 minutes of introduction for each side; both sides have three students each. Five questions are then posed to either side, for which they will have five to seven minutes to answer.

The five questions will be:

1. Origin:   Where did we come from?
2. Identity:   Who are we?
3. Meaning:   Why are we here?
4. Morality:   How should we live?
5. Destiny:   Where are we going?

The debaters do not have positions – they will work as a team. After the questions there is a Q and A session, first between the two debate groups and then within the audience. Afterwards, Zeidan wants the audience to decide who won the debate. “We want people to judge for themselves.”

“BASIC College Ministries has about 30 members on campus, and there are a few off campus members,” Zeidan said. An off campus member is a non-LIU Post student, according to Zeidan. “BASIC is not just debates; it’s a club on campus that really focuses on people’s relationship with themselves, their relationship with other people, and their relationship [with] God.”

The group is Christian-based, but they also have atheist and Muslim members as well. “We welcome all faiths; no judgment is passed on anyone’s beliefs or opposition. We like to discuss things large and small — spiritual and science based,” Zeidan added. The club meets every Thursday during common hour in the Gold Coast Cinema of Hillwood Commons.

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