Government Building Columns

Greg Bahnsen vs Gordon Stein | The Great Debate on the Existence of God

Updated: May 4, 2020

The first debate on our list almost needs no introduction. It is, of course, the Great Debate between Greg Bahnsen and Gordon Stein. The debate was held at the University of California, Irvine, regarding the positions of atheism and theism. There was one particular moment in the debate that stuck: Dr. Bahnsen: Do you believe there are laws of logic then?

Dr. Stein: Absolutely.

Dr. Bahnsen: Are they universal?

Dr. Stein: They are agreed upon by human beings. They aren’t laws that exist out in nature.

Dr. Bahnsen: Are they simply conventions then?

Dr. Stein: They are conventions but they are conventions that are self-verifying.

Dr. Bahnsen: Are they sociological laws or laws of thought?

Dr. Stein: They are laws of thought which are interpreted by men. And promulgated by men.

Dr. Bahnsen: Are they material in nature?

Dr. Stein: How could a law be material?

Dr. Bahnsen: That’s the question that I’m going to ask you.

Dr. Stein: I would say no. And then it was Stein's turn to cross-examine Bahnsen: Dr. Stein: Dr. Bahnsen would you call good material or immaterial?

Dr. Bahnsen: Immaterial.

Dr. Stein: What is something that’s immaterial?

Dr. Bahnsen: Something not extended in space.

Dr. Stein: Can you give me an example of anything other than god that’s immaterial?

Dr. Bahnsen: Laws of logic. After the debate John Frame wrote that Stein went home a "broken man". The debate can be watched here, however, we recommend that you follow the transcript as the debate was recorded in 1985. The transcript can be found here.


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