Thursday, April 17, 2014

Habermas speaks overseas

Professor Gary Habermas lectured 42 times over a two-week period in Europe

Distinguished researcher, seminary professor and Chair of the Liberty University Department of Philosophy Gary Habermas traveled to Europe Oct. 13-28, giving lectures and presentations at several Swedish universities.

According to Habermas, he spoke 42 times during his two-week tour and was constantly on the move. He presented at the Swedish Parliament as well as several of Sweden’s colleges, such as The University of Stockholm and to University of Lund.

During his tour, Habermas said he primarily focused on two topics — evidence for the resurrection of Jesus and a speech titled “Filling the Naturalistic Void.” Habermas first presented the latter speech at the annual Liberty faculty meeting in 2012.

“Naturalism is the philosophical parent from which atheism, agnosticism and a lot of secular views come,” Habermas said. “And so I gave that lecture where I argued that naturalism is being disproven. There’s a lot of evidence that’s going against it. Christians need to step up to the plate and be a worldview that can assert itself as able to fill the gap left by the fall of naturalism.”

According to Habermas, the people of Sweden responded well to his speeches and appreciated hearing topics that were rarely discussed in their secular culture.

“Every once in a while someone would challenge me,” Habermas said. “But for the most part, I met with skeptics, folks that came up to me and said, ‘I’m a naturalist,’ and they were really easy going.”

During his various “Filling the Naturalistic Void” speeches, Habermas explained that he addressed many topics including modern-day miracle claims, near-death experiences and intelligent design.

“Like (the U.S.), the Swedish culture is a scientific culture,” Habermas said. “We pretty much only respect scientific arguments. Some leading scholars have already said naturalism has died, it’s a goner, and there is going to be a fight for what’s going to be the most dominant worldview.”

While speaking at a medical school in Gothenburg, Sweden, Habermas said he gave a different form of the lecture titled “Reasons to believe the worldview is changing.”

“One fellow characterized the lecture after it was over and said, ‘When you brought up your 10 points, anybody who was skeptical, they could have been skeptical of a point or two,” Habermas said. “You brought up so many categories and so many types of evidence, nobody wanted to take that on.’”

According to Habermas, he was proud to share his beliefs with younger Swedes who were eager to hear what he had to say.

“I felt really good leaving there because the people there probably averaged 25 years old, and a lot of these are brilliant young researchers,” Habermas said. “I think the main response I saw was a lot of people were really excited to hear there was something worth believing in. That there was some reality beyond this world.”

Despite the fact that less than three percent of the Swedish population regularly attends church, Habermas said he feels there is a willing audience for similar speeches.

“Apologetics has grown like crazy in Sweden because Christians realize that, by spreading their faith with evidences, people will listen to them,” Habermas said. “There is a revival right now with apologetics.”

Habermas said he is currently considering the possibility of returning to Sweden for a similar tour.

“I’d go back in a heartbeat,” Habermas said. “I loved it. It’s a great country.”

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