Historic Debate: Atheism vs. Islam (Jan/Feb 2003)

Dan Barker of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and Hassanain Rajabali of the Tawheed Institute debated the existence of “God” at the Islamic Center in Queens, New York, on Sunday, January 5. The overflow crowd of 400+ attendees included 20-30 freethinkers, mostly Foundation members, some pictured at right (in front of the star with “Allah” in Arabic). The debate was hosted entirely by the Tawheed (“unity”) Institute.

Originally the topic, “Does God Exist?”, was changed by the Islamic organizers to “Does God Not Exist?” due to “sensitivity issues,” they said. This had the effect of giving Dan the affirmative, and the first opening statement. The debate dealt with the “god of the gaps,” appearance of design, falsifiability, “necessary existence,” incompatible properties in the traditional “God,” the problem of evil, and morality, followed by a lively period of astute questions from the audience.

Hassanain and the Muslim organizers were gracious, generous, and very capable, Dan says. They had announced that in light of recent events, especially the 9/11 terrorist attacks, they wanted to show the world that they are not irrational, violent people with devil horns.

Freedom From Religion Foundation