NEW YORK – A New Zealand-born evangelist, with assistance from a popular 90s television star, will attempt to prove the existence of God without a Bible this week during a debate hosted by ABC.
The debate, which was originally planned for May 5, was rescheduled for this coming Wednesday so that the Christian speakers – Ray Comfort (author of God Doesn't Believe in Atheists) and Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains) – and their two atheist opponents would have more time to speak their views and so that a larger audience could be captured for their discussion.
The original given time slot was only four minutes, but the producers have now given the two sides 13 minutes to show whether or not God exists.
"I'm ecstatic," explained Comfort in a statement. "I can prove the existence of God in that amount of time."
As a main premise of the debate, the Christians must use only facts that are not from the Bible to prove that God exists. Comfort has affirmed that he can "absolutely" do this.
"Is there actually evidence for God?" posed the best-selling author. "That's the most important question any of us will ever consider."
The debate is partially in reaction to a movement called the "Blasphemy Challenge," which began late last year. The two atheists who began the challenge encouraged everyone to videotape themselves with a short "blasphemous" message that would "damn themselves to hell." Anyone who submits a tape should recite the line "I deny the Holy Spirit," which is an unforgivable sin according to the Bible. They could then upload their submission onto the video sharing website YouTube.
Comfort and Cameron felt that these two atheists would be some of the most difficult to convince of God's existence, and invited them to debate.
ABC agreed to bring the two sides together and will broadcast the entire discussion on their website, abc.com, starting at 1 p.m. ET. A live audience of 100 individuals – half atheist, half Christian – will witness the debate, and the event will be moderated by Martin Bashir, co-anchor of Nightline.
A shorter version of the debate will also be aired on Nightline on May 9.
"We are excited that the network has decided to do this, because we have something very relevant to present," explained former TV star Cameron. "Most people think that belief in God is simply a matter of blind faith, and that His existence can't be proven. We will not only prove that God exists, but as an ex-atheist, I'll show that the issue keeping so many people from believing in God – Darwinian evolution – is completely unscientific. It's a fairy-tale for grownups."
ABC's website is the seventh most visited news site, bringing in 19 million visitors every month. Comfort expects to draw in a larger audience, however, because 177 million people in the United States consider themselves Christians and would be interested by the content.
Comfort has spoken before at several atheist events, one in which was the 2001 convention for the American Atheists, Inc., where he was a platform speaker.