The Debate Summit series exists as a forum designed to explain, test and defend various aspects of the Christian worldview by interacting with qualified representatives of non-Christian worldviews in moderated public debates. Our goal is to create and maintain an atmosphere of civility, mutual respect and the open exchange of ideas.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Debate Summit 2010 was held on March 12th and 13th, and it was a success on many levels. All of the debaters had a great time getting to know each other, and at the risk of sounding too sappy, genuine friendships were built. However, the civility and mutual respect did not stand in the way of rigorous debate. Each debate was attended by several hundred people, and the audience was treated to top rate scholarship and thought-provoking arguments.

To my opponent, Dr. Ed Buckner, I can only say that I marvel you talked Diane into marrying you! Thank-you for your participation and I especially want to thank you for the kind letter you sent to me. I hope our paths will cross again and that we will continue our friendly combat. I realize that we both recognize the seriousness of the matters about which we debated. I know I speak for the entire Grace Community congregation when I convey to you and to Diane our very best wishes. I also want to say to the many members of American Atheists that you should be gratified to have a person like Ed Buckner serving as your president. He is a credit to your entire organization.

And then there is Will Provine. Will was a personal delight to me, to his debate opponents (Andy McIntosh and Dennis Sullivan) and to Grace Community Church. Will was candid and passionate and although most of us disagreed with much of what he said, but we can’t help but love the man. I have no doubt that thousands of Cornell graduates would heartily agree that Will Provine is never boring. Will, thank-you for everything and I know that you are not offended when I tell you that the Grace Community family is praying for you. I hope to see you again, especially if it means I get to travel to my beloved Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York.

The two Christian debaters who were Will’s opponents represented the very best of Christian scholarship and Christian kindness. Andy McIntosh continues to believe that the wrong side won the American War for Independence. Come to think of it, didn’t we win the War of 1812 as well? Andy’s British wit was hilarious and his mastery of the data was impressive. We look forward to renewing fellowship with him in the future. Andy, many members of the Grace Community family obviously would rather hear you speak than to listen to me preach, but I will not hold that against you. Thank-you for your faithful service to our Lord and Creator.

Dennis Sullivan was not my first choice to debate Will Provine on free will. But that is not a slight against Dennis; it simply reflects the fact that when planning for Debate Summit 2010 began I did not know who Dennis was. All these months later I now have the privilege of knowing Dennis as a personal friend and I have learned he is a first class scholar. Cedarville University’s Center for Bioethics may have had a humble beginning and it is still a very young (and under-funded!) venture, but a great foundation is being put in place thanks to Dennis Sullivan and his very capable assistant, Jessica Zehring. Dennis is one of those rare individuals who can take complex subjects and master them, yet then turn around and explain them to the rest of us in ways that are interesting and easy to understand. Dennis, thank-you for your defense of the Christian worldview and for manifesting the love of Jesus Christ at the same time. I know you join me in wishing your worthy opponent, Will Provine, the very best.

Not to be overlooked is the world class service provided by our moderator, Fayette County Prosecutor David Bender. Knowing that David was “running the show” set my mind at ease. I can only hope that when David is the Attorney General for the State of Ohio he will still be available to moderate our debates.

Finally, to the staff, the tech crew and the congregation of Grace Community Church, I say thank-you. No pastor ever had a more wonderful group of people with whom to work. Ed Buckner and Will Provine were both impressed and appreciative of your kind hospitality and your desire to hear what they had to say. Andy and Dennis felt the same way. And in a way which glorifies God and not man, I want to tell you that I am very proud to be part of such a special community of believers. Donova, Vickie, Sean, Thom, Sarah and Teresa, you are the best staff any pastor could ever hope for. Josh Wurzelbacher, may God grant you ever expanding opportunities to use your giftedness in graphic design.

To everyone who attended the debates or will watch/listen to them via the recordings, I hope you will experience the full import of Jesus’ words recorded in John 8:32, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free”.


What is next? I do not know. I am just one part of the Grace Community leadership team and as a team we will evaluate Debate Summit 2010 and give prayerful consideration to future plans. I know of two gifted scholars/debaters (one Christian, the other non-Christian) who are ready to commit right now. A couple of others are wanting to be included in tentative conversations. To the readers of this blog, I invite you to recruit potential debaters from various worldviews and topics. We are open to debates that cover a wide range of subjects. The Christian worldview intersects with every conceivable topic humanity engages. If you want to contact me directly, please use



Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Would you like to see the debates again?

DVD's and CD's of the debates are now available for order!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Jay Lucas Article... Part 2

The following article was written by Pastor Jay Lucas as a guest Religion columnist for The Record Herald newspaper. This is Part two of a three part series.

Fayette County Supports Animal Abuse

There is a great moral evil that is rampant in Fayette County. It can be found in our grocery stores, on many of our farms and certainly in groups like 4H. What is this great evil? It is the chronic violation of the rights of animals. It is immoral to use animals for food, selective breeding, clothing and for entertainment. All of these activities are considered immoral if done to humans, so why would we consider it acceptable to treat animals this way?

According to Ingrid Newkirk of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, “There is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a boy. They’re all mammals”. (I believe she said this is in the Washington Times, August 29, 1999). Considering the fact that our grocery stores are filled with meat products, many of our farmers breed and raise livestock for human consumption and many of our residents hunt and fish for sport, Fayette County is guilty of gross violations of the rights of animals.

As a Christian who has a worldview shaped by the Bible, I know the above statements are filled with errors and faulty conclusions. The radical animal rights movement is just one of the many false philosophies that results from a rejection of the Bible and what the Bible reveals about God, about man and about nature. All kinds of special interest groups talk about rights and speak of rights as something to which they are entitled, but from where do rights come? What are they? How do we know? No philosophy, lifestyle or advocacy group which rejects the Bible can give sound answers to these questions. That does not keep people from insisting they have special rights, but they have no true foundation for the claims they make.

On March 12th – 13th, Grace Community Church will be hosting Debate Summit 2010 (see Of the three debates scheduled, none is specifically dedicated to debating the nature of human rights. However, each of the debates covers ground that has many implications for human rights. I invite you to consider that although the debates will cover some technical issues, they have practical applications for questions such as, “Is it unethical for Fayette County farmers to breed and raise animals that will be used for human consumption?”. When considered in that light, it is easier to see and understand the importance of these debates.

I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

For those of you traveling to the debate...

Here are a few local hotels to help you in planning your trip to the area.

810 Victoria Street
Washington Court House, OH 43160
740-333-4478 or toll free 877-809-6241
.04 miles from Grace Community Church

10160 Carr Road NW
Jeffersonville, OH 43128
12.1 miles from Grace Community Church

11484 Allen Road NW
Jeffersonville, OH 43128
13.7 miles from Grace Community Church

123 Gano Road
Wilmington, OH 45177
28.4 miles from Grace Community Church (exit #50 off of I-71)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Jay Lucas Article...

The following article was written by Pastor Jay Lucas as a guest Religion columnist for The Record Herald newspaper. This is Part one of a three part series.

The world has gotten very small in recent years. The advances made in technology have revolutionized communication. Do you remember the original Star Trek television series? The hand-held communicators the characters used reflected the technology envisioned for the twenty- third century. Back in the 1960s, when the original Star Trek was made, it took real imagination to conceive of talking to someone on the other side of the planet with nothing more than a small, mobile device that fits in the palm of the hand. We are nowhere near the twenty-third century, but our current technology already surpasses in capability what seemed to be fanciful science fiction just a few decades ago.

Advances in communication technology means that new ideas (or new versions of old ideas) reach all parts of the world almost as soon as they are first spoken. I can sit in front of my computer in my home in New Holland and listen to and watch live lectures being delivered in universities, legislative bodies and think tanks around the world. I don’t have to wait six months for them to come out in book form. I can read an editorial in the London Times before a person who actually lives in London can purchase it at his or her local newsstand.

If lectures or editorials seem boring, one can turn on the television and watch entertaining programs offered on hundreds of channels. I can purchase the newest movies on my television, computer or phone! And make no mistake about it, new ideas (or new versions of old ideas) are continuously being spread through entertainment. Morals, values, attitudes and beliefs are constantly being shaped and influenced by the saturation of information and entertainment that technology makes so accessible. Add to this, things such as YouTube, Facebook, My Space, twitter and other methods of communication and it becomes obvious that Fayette County is directly connected to New York, Paris, Athens, Moscow, Tokyo and Sydney. In some ways we truly do live in a small world.

The Debate Summit to be held March 12th-13th at Grace Community Church is a deliberate response to the days in which we are living. Philosophies, beliefs and values that are non-Christian permeate our culture. While I love the sense of community that comes with living in a largely agricultural county like Fayette County, I recognize that technology has put the rest of the world right at our doorsteps. To insulate or isolate ourselves is not really an option. Those days are behind us.

The ministry model we are using for Debate Summit 2010 is drawn from the Bible. More specifically, it is drawn from the Apostle Paul’s visit to Athens, an event recorded in Acts 17:16-34. As a Jewish Christian who had been steeped in Scripture since a child, Paul was on foreign soil when he spoke to the Athenians about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of the highly educated and philosophically minded Athenians thought that Paul was a fool for believing in the possibility of a resurrection from the dead. Nevertheless, Paul was willing to engage the Athenians. Paul could not change their hearts any more than we can change the hearts of non-Christians today. Only God can do that. But to be silent and say nothing, or to retreat into a self-imposed isolation, is not an option the Bible gives us. And if we were to succumb to pressure to be silent, our children would have reason to wonder if Christianity is worth believing.

In I Peter 3:15 the Apostle wrote this: “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have”. Regarding Debate Summit 2010 it could be said that we are bringing Athens to Fayette County. But in this fast paced modern world of ours an argument could be made that Athens is already here. Besides, since technology works in both directions we intend to use Fayette County as a base of operation to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to other parts of the world.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Quick Note From Dr. Ed Buckner

I'm really looking forward to this debate, especially since pastor Jay Lucas has promised me that the weather in Washington Court House is always balmy and pleasant in mid-March and that nearly everyone in the audience will be firmly on my side right from the start. Should be fun--and easy!"

Regards to all,

Ed B.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Dr. David Menton to speak Sunday, March 14th

Although not officially part of the Debate Summit, Grace Community is pleased to announce that Dr. David Menton, of Answers in Genesis, will be guest speaker Sunday morning, March 14th, for Grace Community’s worship service. Dr. Menton’s message will be based on Psalm 139:13-14;

For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

Dr. Menton earned his Ph.D. in biology from Brown University. For many years he did research and taught human anatomy at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, where he was twice awarded Professor of the Year. Dr. Menton’s message on Psalm 139 will include a fascinating presentation of the intricacies of the human eye and ear. The public is invited to join us for the 10:00 a.m. service.

The Debates:

WHAT TO EXPECT: Debate Summaries

DEBATE 001: “Moral Foundations: Which makes more sense, Christianity or Atheism?”

(Buckner vs. Lucas)

Every thinking person has moral concerns and some sort of a value system. We think there are right ways and wrong ways to treat people or to be treated by them. How do we account for this? How do we understand the basic foundations of morality? Does Christianity or does Atheism make better sense of morality?

DEBATE 002: “Flight in birds and bats: Is evolution or creation the best guide?”

(Provine vs. McIntosh)

Birds and bats have very specialized characteristics that make the phenomena of flight possible. What is the ultimate source of those physical characteristics? Is naturalistic evolution the best guide for understanding flight, or does flight indicate the design of a Creator?

DEBATE 003: “Free Will: Does it exist? Does it matter?

(Provine vs. Sullivan)

This is NOT a debate about theological free will (an issue theologians raise when considering the effect of sin upon the human will). Human beings are complex organisms, but do we possess a free will or are our thoughts and choices governed by the laws of physics and biochemistry that control the processes of our brains? Does human free will exist or is it a myth? Does it matter? Dr. Provine states that free will is a myth and is “the fangs of religion”. Dr. Sullivan believes that “free will is a reflection of God’s volitional nature”.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010



Tickets are $6 per debate or $15 for all three. Only 800 tickets are available per debate so get yours now!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Word From Dr. Ed Buckner

I'm delighted that I'll be a part of "The Debate Summit" in March and I urge everyone--Christians, Atheists, and everyone else--to attend and to come prepared to learn and to be stimulated, to see things from a different perspective. Jay Lucas has noted on this site that he'd love to see me as "the first Christian President of American Atheists," and I'm flattered and honored at his goal. Mine, of course, is to develop Jay--clearly a good speaker and a fine guy--as "the first Atheist Senior Pastor of Grace Community Church." I fear our expectations may be mutually frustrated, but I hope your expectations are to learn, to think, to enjoy seeing and participating in a mutually respectful, good-natured exchange about matters that all of us think are profoundly important, deeply worth our time and contemplation.

And I hope that your expectations will fare far better than Jay's or mine are likely to.

And if anyone knows some good arguments I can use (or maybe some good dirt on Jay--what the hey, it couldn't hurt, right?), please e-mail come to our website, or post your wisdom on our blog-- (The No God Blog).

See everyone in March!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Meet Dr. Andy McIntosh

1st Class Hons. in Applied Mathematics , University of Wales (1973), PhD “Unsteady Premixed Laminar Flames” Cranfield (1981), DSc “Mathematical modelling of unsteady combustion processes within gases, fluids and solids”, University of Wales (1998).

Professor Andrew C. McIntosh DSc, FIMA, C.Math, FInstE, CEng FInstP, MIGEM, FRAeS holds a chair in Thermodynamics and Combustion Theory in the Energy and Resources Research Institute at the University of Leeds, where he lectures and researches in the field of Combustion and Explosions. His research has included investigations involving fluids (the interaction of pressure waves with flames) as well as solids. In the area of heterogeneous combustion he is interested in the safety of reactive substances, which can include traditional fuels such as coal, but also may include agrochemicals some of which are now being used widely to increase crop yields, but in bulk can have unusual ignition properties. At present he is investigating the ignition of explosives where a double combustion wave phenomenon is apparent. This work is in collaboration with Orica Ltd (ex ICI company based in Canada and Australia). He has over 150 publications in Journals and Conferences on these subjects.

In the last few years he has been involved in research in the area of biomimetics where the minute combustion chamber of the bombardier beetle is being studied. This has led to research first sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council followed by extensive funding from industry to apply the technology discovered to a number of aerospace and pharmaceutical uses. He is a trained mathematician and has worked in aerodynamics at Cranfield University and the Royal Aircraft Establishment (Bedford) before coming to Leeds where he gained a DSc in 1998 and a personal chair in 2000. He became a Fellow of the Institute of Physics in 2002 and in 2003 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society.

*Dr. McIntosh is Speaking in Personal Capacity at Debate Summit 2010

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Meet Dr. Will Provine

Will Provine has been a professor at Cornell since 1969. His Graduate Fields include the homefield of EEB, History, Science and Technology Studies, Zoology, and Education, spanning three colleges. He earned a Ph.D. in the History of Science at the University of Chicago in 1970. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is the author of The Origins of Theoretical Population Genetics (1970) and Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology (1986), both published by The University of Chicago Press. He is currently writing a book on the implications of evolution and another book on random genetic drift in evolution. His huge library on evolution and genetics is being moved gradually to the Cornell Library.

In 1986, he began an evolution course for non-majors in biology and has taught that every year, along with a seminar course on the implications of evolution. Both courses have changed much over the years. He has lectured in many countries, including China, Japan, Russia, Sweden, Norway, France, England, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Canada, Ecuador, and widely over the USA. His greatest interests outside of academia include the rehabilitation of persons harmed by the myth of free will, rebuilding farm tractors and bulldozers, growing gardens (especially garlic), cooking, and country living.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Meet Dr. Dennis Sullivan

Dr. Dennis Sullivan is professor of biology at Cedarville University, Cedarville, Ohio, where he teaches human biology and bioethics. After undergraduate training in chemistry, Dr. Sullivan received his M.D. from Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. He then completed five years of training in general surgery, after which he served in the U.S. Army as a surgeon in the U.S. Army at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Dr. Sullivan and his family worked for twelve years as missionaries with Baptist Mid-Missions, first in the country of Haiti, West Indies, then in the Central African Republic. A major civil conflict in C.A.R. in 1996 forced a return to the United States. Dr. Sullivan then joined the biology faculty at Cedarville University, where he developed courses in human anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, developmental biology, and bioethics. He has been a full professor at Cedarville since 2003. In 2004, He completed his M.A. in bioethics from Trinity Graduate School. He now directs the university’s Center for Bioethics.

Dr. Sullivan is a diplomate of the American Board of Surgery and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He is a member of the American Medical Association, the Christian Medical Association, and the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity. He has authored numerous articles in Ethics and Medicine and other journals, especially in the area of human personhood.

He continues to travel, and has conducted two short-term medical mission trips to Africa, as well as two teaching tours of medical schools in the Republic of Vietnam. Dr. Sullivan volunteers at a local women’s center and is a frequent speaker on bioethics issues in churches, bioethics forums, universities, and medical schools.

Dr. Sullivan enjoys racquetball, biking, and woodworking. He and his wife Barbara live in Beavercreek, Ohio. They have three daughters.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Word From Jay Lucas


Why would a church host the Debate Summit and allow non-Christian beliefs to be explained and defended within the walls of the church building? That’s a fair question and it deserves an answer, and I hope my answer will encourage more churches to host similar events.

American culture (whatever that is) has changed dramatically in the last two centuries and certainly over the last several decades. Back in 1810 America resembled Jerusalem of the New Testament in this important regard: The vast majority of the population shared a common worldview which reflected a scriptural foundation. There were several varieties of beliefs when it came to secondary matters, but there was a general consensus of core beliefs.

Christianity began in Jerusalem with a controversial claim that Jesus of Nazareth was the eternal Son of God, that He was Israel’s Messiah, and that Jesus had been bodily resurrected three days after having been crucified. Many Jews in Jerusalem rejected these truth claims being made by the early Christians (who were fellow Jews). However, both sides shared a common belief in Jehovah and in the authority of the Scriptures (our Old Testament). In this sense we can say that America of 1810 was similar to the Jerusalem where Christianity was born.

The New Testament Book of Acts is a record of the spread of Christianity. What began in Jerusalem (Acts 2) where there existed a common worldview, eventually spread to parts of the Roman Empire where the biblical worldview existed as a very small minority or was completely unknown. A prime example of this was Paul’s visit to Athens which is recorded in Acts 17:15-34. Paul engaged the Athenians and sought to proclaim and explain Christianity to them. Paul’s beliefs sounded extremely foreign and strange to most Athenians. His beliefs struck them as being foolish. Paul had anticipated this, but he was still willing to engage the Athenian culture. He did not retreat from its non-Christian mindset, and he was not about to be assimilated into it. But he was willing to engage it. In many ways, American culture today resembles Athens of Paul’s day, just as America of 1810 resembled Jerusalem. The Debate Summit is intended to imitate Paul’s willingness to respectfully engage the Athenians by explaining and defending key aspects of the Christian worldview. We live in Athens, not Jerusalem.

But to use a church building and allow men with non-Christian beliefs to use it as a platform to promote those beliefs … doesn’t that violate something sacred? No. The true church is not a building, it is a community of believers. That which unites the community (a common faith in Jesus Christ) is sacred, but the building is simply a place where we gather. Besides, if what we believe is true (it is!), then there is nothing to fear in examining those beliefs.

Finally, a few words about my non-Christian friends Dr. Ed Buckner and Dr. Will Provine. I have thoroughly enjoyed exchanging dozens (hundreds?) of emails with them in recent months. The tone has been pleasant and mutually respectful. I know that during the Debate Summit they will not be pulling their punches, for they are passionate about what they believe and they intend to present the strongest case possible. Much of what they say will make Christians uncomfortable. But if what Ed and Will say is offensive to Christians, I don’t think it will be because they seek to offend. Besides, if Will and Ed listen carefully to what I say they will surely find some of it to be offensive. However, I think they know I have no desire to offend them. Offend them? I want to convert them! I think Ed Buckner would do a great job as the first Christian President of American Atheists! (Ed, you know I say that with a smile, right?).

As far as the other Christian debaters, my friends Andy McIntosh and Dennis Sullivan, they have been a delight to work with and I think they have enjoyed their interaction with Will Provine as much as I have enjoyed mine with both Will and Ed. But make no mistake: During the debates, the debaters will be there as opponents. Nevertheless, I believe the debates will be conducted honestly and with appropriate decorum.

I hope to see you there. -Jay Lucas

Meet Jay Lucas

Jay Lucas has served on the staff of Grace Community Church (Washington Court House, Ohio) since 1999. Prior to coming to Ohio he had the privilege of serving as the Pastor of Penn Yan Bible Church of Penn Yan, New York (1988 – 99). In 1983 Jay received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Bible from Baptist Bible College of Clarks Summit, PA. He also earned a Master of Arts Degree in History from the University of Scranton (1988). In addition, he has taken extensive graduate studies in theology at Baptist Bible Seminary (PA) and in history at State University of New York – Binghamton.

Jay served as an adjunct instructor in history at Baptist Bible College (1997-1998) and at Cedarville University of Cedarville, Ohio (2001- 2002). He is also a visiting lecturer in apologetics and church history at Cornerstone Seminary (Vallejo, CA). His book, Ask Them Why: How to Help Unbelievers Find the Truth, was published by Regular Baptist Press in 2007.

Jay is 48 years old and has been married to his best friend, Becky, since 1983. They have been blessed with six children (Sharayah, Courtney, Jonathan, Trinity, Rebekah and Kirsten) and a wonderful son-in-law (Christopher). Jay and Becky reside in New Holland, Ohio.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Meet Dr. Ed Buckner

Each week we will be introducing a debater who will be participating in this years Debate Summit. Today we would like to introduce Dr. Ed Buckner.

Ed Buckner has been President of American Atheists since September 2008.

He has been married since 1968 to Diane; their son, Michael E. Buckner, was born in 1970. Buckner earned a B.A. at Rice University in 1967, and a Ph.D. in 1983 at Georgia State University.

He has been a professor, a technical school administrator, and Executive Director of the Council for Secular Humanism (2001-2003). He and his wife have edited several books and published Oliver Halle's Taking the Harder Right (2006).

Ed wrote the concluding chapter of Kimberly Blaker's Fundamentals of Extremism (2003). He co-edited, with son, Quotations that Support the Separation of State and Church (second edition, 1995). The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief (Tom Flynn, ed., 2007) contained several of his entries. Also, he is the author or co-author of "Secular Schooling" in Parenting Beyond Belief, 2007, ed. by Dale McGowan, and, "This is a Free Country, Not A Christian Nation" (with Michael E. Buckner) in Everything You Know About God is Wrong, 2007, ed. by Russ Kick.

Buckner has debated and spoken across the US, often about the Treaty of Tripoli and "This Is a Free Country, Not a Christian Nation." His “No More Lies!" talk was featured at the Godless Americans March on Washington in 2002. He serves on several national advisory boards and committees.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Basic Info

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