Atheism at Indiana University

Paul K. Williams
Indianapolis, Indiana

"Not only do I not believe there is a God, I am convinced that believing in God is evil. I am an evangelist, and I am doing all in my power to eradicate this evil belief from the minds of people."

The above words are not the ravings of a Russian communist. They are not the words of some weird little dried up character that is more a curiosity than a menace. These, in substance, are the words of Dr. Michael J. Scriven, Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University. They were spoken to an audience of thousands in the IU auditorium in Bloomington, Indiana on March 18.

Dr. J. Edwin Orr from California and Dr. Scriven were engaged in debate on the subject, "Is Christianity Credible?" Interest in the subject had packed the IU auditorium. Each speaker had one 30-minute speech. Then the audience was given the opportunity to address questions to the debaters.

Dr. Orr presented a well-ordered defense of his faith that God has created the universe. Then Dr. Scriven made a no-holdsbarred attack on the Christian belief in God. Afterward, the members of the audience directed questions to Dr. Scriven. No questions were addressed to Dr. Orr, and many of the questions were evidently asked by Dr. Scriven's students for the purpose of allowing him to expound his views at greater length. Of eleven questions asked, only two were in any manner critical of Dr. Saiven's atheism. Even the IU professor who moderated the debate and called on the people whose questions were accepted showed his endorsement of Dr. Scriven's position.

The terribly disturbing thing about all this is not that atheism was defended in public debate. Through intelligent debate the truth can be made to shine brighter and brighter. But the menacing element is that belief in God has a defender for 30 minutes, while atheism has an advocate teaching the students daily! Not only that, but an eloquent, dashing advocate with great sympathy from a large portion of students, if we are to judge from the questions asked. It is to be supposed that Dr. Scriven is not the only professor boldly trying to undermine the faith of students, either. The truth of the matter is that the general influence of state colleges is in the direction of weakening the faith of those students who believe in God and the Bible. Surveys have shown that the faith of students is progressively weakened in such universities, and that the longer the student is in school, the weaker is his faith on an average.

It is sad that our tax dollars are supporting the systematic undermining of faith in God and the Bible. The courts of the land have ruled that teaching religion is not allowable in public schools; yet teaching the religion of atheism and agnosticism is openly engaged in. I fear for the future of this nation. The immorality on college campuses is tied in closely with a lack of religious belief. This is affecting our whole society, and God will some day judge this nation and destroy it for its wickedness if this trend is not stopped.

I was not present at the debate. I have relied on oral accounts given me by Bro. Billy Murrell and Bro. Aude McKee who were present for the facts stated above. I hope to have the manuscripts of the speeches before long and comment on the arguments made.

TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 4, p. 12 January 1965