Forum promotes religious debates

The Veritas Forum’s Big Questions Week began last Monday. As a non-profit and Christian-based organization, Veritas explores philosophy and religion, particularly in the academic context of college campuses. By bringing to light different ideas and artifacts common in modern ideologies of objective truths, social issues and beliefs in general, Veritas attempts to find answers to some of the most pertinent questions of the day, even though these questions tend to escape criticism and scrutiny.

Veritas began at Harvard in 1992 when a visiting student named Kelly Monroe noticed a striking disconnection between the students and the motto of the school: veritas, which is Latin for truth. Harvard’s roots began with the search of truth through Christian faith and the religious community. Thus, the Veritas Forum began as a Christian organization in search of truth, and it spread from Harvard to Yale, Stanford and eventually Tech.

Veritas began at Tech in 2006 when several students heard about the organization and felt that Tech needed its own. One of those students is Stephen Kump, a third-year Management and Economics major and campus director of the Veritas Forum.

“We knew that Tech needed this badly, as we all seem to go about our business day to day…but we never seem to stop and ask why we’re working so hard. Or even why we’re here on earth,” Kump said. “We are a Christian organization, and unashamedly so, but we definitely welcome all worldviews and ideas into our discussion.”

The organization attempted to assemble the multilateral views at Tech at their events. “The purpose really is to get people talking about these big questions, like ‘Does God exist?’ or ‘What is morality?’…if we can start some conversations about these questions, it will be mission accomplished,” Kump said.

While Veritas may initially seem like another religious organization trying to spread a holy message, its intent is considerably different. “We want people there that aren’t Christians. A discussion is obviously 100 times more interesting when you have different ideas being shared,” Kump said.

Veritas has worked on Big Questions Week since last fall, organizing and gathering resources for the four-day event. From Monday through Wednesday, events were held at 7:30 in the Student Center Theatre and Ballroom, and at 8:00 on Thursday in the Ferst Theatre.

On Monday, Veritas presented a DVD that covered the Richard Dawkins and John Lennox debate on Dawkins’ bestselling book The God Delusion and the subject matter covered by Dawkins.

After greeting the audience, Kump yielded the stage to Larry Taunton, the founder and executive director of Fixed Point Foundation, the producers of The God Delusion Debate DVD.

After the presentation of the video, the audience was opened to question Taunton about the DVD, and Veritas continued discussion outside among the various parties at the event.

Several members of the Campus Atheists were present. Mahmoud Abouelnasr, a fourth-year Chemical Engineering major and an officer of Campus Atheists, expressed his views about the event on Monday.

“[It] seems like a very well put together event…we are just as excited about this event as our own future events,” Abouelnasr said, describing the sentiments of the Campus Atheists.

On Tuesday, Veritas presented Stuart McAllister at a discussion and Q&A session. McAllister is a renowned Christian philanthropist and international speaker with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. He discussed many topics, including morality, culture, relativism and truth, among others.

On Wednesday, award-winning Christian author Robert Bowman was the subject of discussion and was questioned about his beliefs and ideas concerning religious theory, as his specialty is in theological studies. On Thursday, William Lane Craig made a presentation at the Ferst Center about morality outside the realm of religion or the belief in God. Craig is a Research Professor of Philosophy at the Talbot School of Theology.

With active participation and engaging discussion with prominent leaders explicating on cutting edge ideas, Veritas provoked some interesting discussions among Tech students.

Ultimately, Veritas reached its goal in the communal exploration of these philosophical questions through Big Questions Week. Kump reviewed his objectives for the event.

“I hope people really see the importance of these type of events and that they get behind the vision of Veritas—whether Christian or not. We all want truth, and we should definitely seek it out together,” Kump said.

To find out more about Veritas, you can go to www.veritas.org, or check out the Tech Veritas blog at http://veritasgt.blogspot.com.