Student leaders of the event, Zach and Rachel. photos courtesy Adam Penning

Atheists and the Inbox

“I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.”

Adam Penning, Cru staff member

Tuesday morning Zach’s inbox was full. Monday night more than 45,000 emails went out to every student on campus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, telling them about the event, “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist.”

Zach, a sophomore leader at Cru set up the all-campus mailing through the university without realizing that it would go out from his personal campus email. Now he was the recipient of some interesting and angry messages from Atheists across campus.

He and a few friends politely responded to every email and encouraged each student to attend the event. To one student, he wrote, “I’m so sorry if you have taken offense to the contents of the email. Our hope is to generate a campus-wide conversation. We really want every viewpoint represented in the discussion that will follow the presentation. I sincerely hope you come out Thursday night to share your thoughts.”

That email and several others turned into a string of ongoing friendly conversations about God and the gospel.

Thursday night rolled around. Zach and another student leader, Rachel, had rented the largest space on campus for the event. Who would show up? Would the room be full? How would the message go over?

At 6:00 p.m., a crowd slowly began to form. By 7:30, when speaker Dr. Frank Turek began to give evidence for the existence of objective truth and God, Zach and Rachel were excited to see nearly 900 students filling seats. Almost everyone that night was eager for the question and answer session that followed.

It was an energetic and intellectually intense hour and a half. Dr. Turek mixed in humor with mind-bending philosophical assertions. One strange moment occurred when a student ran into the hall in the middle of the presentation and screamed, “Hail Satan!” He was followed out by campus security.

Following the presentation, a long line formed for Q&A. Dr. Turek stayed until midnight, 3 hours after the scheduled end of the event, and answered questions and objections.

You could tell he loved the interactions and genuinely cared for the students who stayed. Afterward, one student commented, “I came in tonight believing there was no God. Tonight has changed my mind. I would not call myself a Christian yet, but I cannot call myself an atheist any longer. This has been really helpful. Thank you.”

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