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Students protests as speaker questions faith, pushes buttons
Despite protests posed by some Ohio University students, Frank Turek had a full house Tuesday at the Baker University Center Ballroom to present his “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist” seminar.
Turek said he came to OU to answer four questions: Does truth exist? Does God exist? Are miracles possible? And is the New Testament true?
Outside of Baker Ballroom before his presentation, students holding bright yellow signs reading “Standing on the side of Love” greeted Turek, a speaker and author, and the founder and president of CrossExamined.org.
Mike Pistrui, a senior studying anthropology and plant biology, was one of the students holding a sign and protesting Turek’s stated disapproval of “homosexual behavior.”
“We are sending a message of love instead of intolerance,” Pistrui said. “We aren’t protesting the fact that Mr. Turek is here — we support freedom of speech — but we do not support his message.”
Evan Young, campus minister at United Campus Ministry and part-time pastor for the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Athens, said he was standing outside of the Baker Ballroom before Turek’s presentation to support the LGBTA community.
“Turek is a speaker known for hate-speech,” Young said. “We need to stand up to present a different vision. His judgmental attitude is harmful and goes against the vision I cherish where all are welcome.”
Turek’s presentation focused on the fact that he doesn’t have enough faith to believe Christianity is false.
“There are many great arguments for a theistic God,” Turek said. “For example, the fact that the universe had a beginning and there is a design of life, so there must be a designer.”
During his presentation, Turek used humor to appeal to his audience.
“I believe in the big bang — I just know someone banged it,” Turek said. “Seriously, though, nature itself was the effect; it can’t be the cause. Nature was created; it came into existence. There must be something super-natural beyond. Space, matter and time had a beginning.”
Ashley Youmell, a senior studying dance, said she enjoyed Turek’s presentation.
“There were a lot of points that he brought up that I hadn’t really ever thought about, and he gave a lot of material and resources that you can look back and check or do further research for,” Youmell said.
Amy Coombs, a member of Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, said Turek’s presentation was well thought out and researched but didn’t allow further discussion.
Coombs, who described herself as a secular Jew who doesn’t believe in God, said she was offended at how Turek responded to his audience’s questions, including her own.
“When he took questions, he used circular arguments and kept going round and round, and I felt manipulated,” Coombs said.