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Theorists Debate God’s Existence at Veritas Forum

Two academics debated the existence of God before an overflowing crowd in Science Center B last night, kicking off this year’s Veritas Forum, a week-long examination and celebration of Christianity at the University.

Students crammed into the aisles to hear William Lane Craig and Quentin Smith, co-authors of Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology, debate whether or not God’s existence was a necessary prerequisite for the universe to begin.

Both men said they subscribe to the big bang theory, but they differed on how it began.

“Something cannot come out of nothing, therefore there must be a transcendant cause of the universe,” Craig said.

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Smith disagreed.

“Some scientists are working on a theory where the universe has no cause,” he said.

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Benjamin T. Littauer ’03, the director of this year’s Veritas Forum, said that he hopes the week’s events will bring together Harvard’s Christian community, which, he said, is too often fragmented into many different groups.

“There’s a very big division among the Christian groups,” he said. “We intend to forge relationships among the groups.”

The Catholic Student Association (CSA), one of the largest Christian groups on campus, was the only Christian student group that decided not to co-sponsor the forum, according to Littauer.

“There have been some tensions between Catholics and evangelicals in the past, which is somethings we’re working on,” Littauer said.

Caitlin R. Swanson ’05 , the current President of CSA, could not be reached for comment.

Tzu-Huan Lo ’03, former vice-president of the CSA for community development, said that the Catholic group probably agrees with many of the goals of the Veritas Forum.

“In my opinion, the CSA sympathizes with the goal of Christian unity and welcoming people to share in the love of God,” he said. “But it is not in a position to sponsor events that may advocate views that differ from Catholic teaching, because sponsorship would imply endorsement of those views.”

Littauer said that a primary goal of the forum is to educate non-Christians.

“I would like this to be more for non-Christians,” he said. “I want people to be able to understand our world view.”

—Staff writer Andrew C. Campbell can be reached at acampbel@fas.harvard.edu.

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