The critical thinking skills of many Oklahoma Christian University students were put to the test last week during the "Question of God" panel discussion held in the DAH auditorium. The event was open to the entire student body and held on March 27 and 30.
Students were invited to watch documentary vignettes, then listen to and partake in the intellectual debates by a panel of Oklahoma Christian professors, Ryan Newell, Jim Baird, Len Feuerhelm, Scott LaMascus and Barrett Huddleston.
"The Question of God" is a book by Armand Nicholi that was later released as a documentary film.
Students were shown parts of the film, which explored the similarities and differences of the lives and ideas of C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud.
There were 61 students in attendance the first night and 51 students the second.
Both meetings lasted approximately two hours with constant crowd participation that sparked questions and debate.
"I saw the documentary broadcasted on PBS about four years ago," Newell said. "I got the book and read it."
Questions within the documentary arose about the existence of God; theism versus materialism.
Students were challenged to defend their beliefs and delve into the reasoning of Freud, who was an atheist, in order to better understand their own convictions.
C.S. Lewis, who was a Christian at the end of his life, was raised much the same way as Freud.
Both grew up in Christian homes, both turned away from Christianity, but only one came back to his original belief in God.
Both stood for differing ideas: Modernism versus postmodernism, certainty versus uncertainty and God versus science.
The question of "What is real?" was asked by the panel.
Students fed off each others' comments, which led to some arguments on their opinions.
"I have the mindset that I need to know how and why things work, though I don't," senior biology major Leigh Bragg said.
The panel of professors lent their ideas on how they felt comfortable with not knowing everything about the way the universe works and just leaving it up to faith.
"Ignorance is bliss, to some degree" freshman Michelle Allred said.
One of the conversation topics steered toward all the advances science has made for humanity.
The question of Christianity or God's productivity for humankind was thrown into the ring of analysis.
"God is only going to let us see exactly how much He wants us to see," Baird said. "One only needs to open his eyes and look around at all that God has done for us."
The professors' tokens of insight into the philosophical and scientific offered incentive enough for some students to come.
"So many times in a classroom setting we as students don't really get to know what our professors really think on a subject," Bragg said. "This panel gave them a pathway to express themselves."
The students and professors were granted an opportunity to interact with one another on an equal playing field.
Giving God the equal amount of discussion time as science is usually such a rare commodity among universities, and it was taken full advantage of by the students who kept popping their hands up to ask and answer more and more questions over the film pieces that were shown.
"I thought the discussion was great," Newell said of both nights. "Hopefully, we will have more in the future."
With discussions on this topic of the existence of God occurring once every year for the past four years, Newell says it is only a matter of "getting together and doing it" again for other future students in the years to come.
"The Question of God" documentary can be purchased as a DVD set for around $35. The book can be purchased for $10 on Amazon.com. Both may also be found in the Oklahoma Christian library.