On July 17 of 2012, I appeared as a special guest for a philosophy class titled “Atheism and the New Atheism” for students at Holy Apostles College and Seminary – an evangelical Catholic university in Connecticut. I delivered an opening speech and participated in a question and answer session which followed. The entire event lasted one hour and thirteen minutes.
As promised, the full audio of the event was released and has been made available to the public thanks to Dr. Mahfood. Stream the audio here or download the ZIP file here. The audio is unfortunately spotty at points. I may release a re-mastered version of the audio at a later date.
A text version of my speech can be read here:
Holy Apostles College and Seminary Atheism and New Atheism Speech
(0:00 – 0:25) Introduction by Dr. Mahfood
(0:25 – 0:47) Opening prayer by Dr. Chervin
(0:48 – 1:50) Introduction of Justin Vacula by Dr. Mahfood
(1:50 – 17:50) Opening speech from Justin Vacula
(17:51 – end) Question and answer session
Some of the questions and sentiments (paraphrased) in the question and answer session:
(18:13) Do you use science to determine what is true and false?
(20:33) What good reasons would be sufficient [for you to believe in God]?
(23:30) Do you only believe in something when all the contrary arguments have been resolved?
(27:06) Is there an objective standard for belief or do you have a personal standard?
(29:08) Do you believe something can be universally true?
(30:16) Are you dogmatically opposed, given your commitment to naturalism, to supernatural explanations?
(37:20) Would a supernatural experience lead you to belief in God?
(39:00) Are you looking for hard evidence to believe in God?
(40:52) What about faith?
(42:05) Discussion about the problem of natural evil and omni-attributes
(46:55) Theodicy: This is a fallen world/God’s goodness was evident, but is no longer
(49:20) Theodicy: There is a good that supersedes an evil world. Perhaps suffering leads to good beyond this earth? Perhaps suffering is just a prelude to the afterlife?
(52:00) Theodicy: Evil serves a purpose. We see examples in this world in which suffering is required to achieve certain ends.
(54:00) Omni-attributes seem to be a different matter from God existing.
(55:48) Are you an agnostic?
(59:40) Theodicy: Eternal happiness, in light of limited suffering in this world, seems not to be a problem.
(1:01:43) What about metaphysical arguments for God’s existence?
(1:04:00) Your philosophical studies seem to start with the Enlightenment. What about before that?
(1:10:45) How do you know that your reason without faith fulfills you?