Book of Job Debate

Weekly Debates

Thursday evening the Society gathered to debate “Resolved: Job should have cursed God.” While some have characterized this resolution as esoteric, even as an atheist I believe this is one of the debates most relevant to our everyday lives. It asks us to examine what each of us does in the face of inexplicable suffering. Do we choose to reject God? Or do we, like Job, hold on to faith?

In what the Society praised as two of the best keynotes all year, Mr. Dustin Walker (SFS ’11) and Ms. Emma Green (COL ’12) delivered truly inspiring speeches. Both agreed that the debate centered around two questions: What is the nature of God? And how do we address the problem of evil? Ms. Green added a third: How do we understand the mystery of faith?

On the affirmation, Mr. Walker insisted that the God in the Book of Job, who destroys a man’s life without reason, is inconsistent with the all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing God portrayed in the rest of Biblical canon and therefore does not deserve man’s faith and loyalty. On the negation, Ms. Green argued that Mr. Walker’s analysis was weighed down by reason and ignored the mystery of faith. To denounce God is to stop asking questions and abdicate our fundamental responsibilities as human beings.

During the floor portion of the debate, Mr. Monod delivered a courageous speech on free will. Knowing what it means to have circumstances thrust upon him from birth, he said, free will means being able to curse God. Otherwise, we are degraded to simply accepting our circumstances. Mr. Henderson noted, however, that Mr. Monod—an incredibly vibrant gentleman—is a testament to just the opposite. Instead of cursing God and withdrawing from the world He has created, Mr. Monod has instead chosen to engage life to its fullest.

The value of life in the Book of Job, however, was contested on both sides. On the affirmation, Chancellor Wagner argued that the God in Job does not affirm human life; while on the negation, Mr. Rosenthal contended that Job’s life was the only thing that God forbade Satan to destroy, proving human sanctity.

The Society affirmed man’s right to denounce a seemingly unjust God in a vote of 24-19-1. However, I would encourage everyone to continue to engage this question. When you are faced with unreasonable and unjustified evil, what will you do?

The following outstanding speakers were awarded Merrick points:

  • Mr. Walker—5
  • Mr. Downes—5
  • Ms. Green—3
  • Mr. Cantirino—2
  • Mr. Manchester—1
  • Mr. Henderson—1

This brings the Merrick totals to:

  • Mr. Cantirino—25
  • Mr. Walker—24
  • Mr. Henderson—22
  • Mr. Downes—17
  • Ms. Green—12
  • Chancellor Wagner—8
  • Ms. Wood—4
  • Mr. Sassoon—4
  • Mr. Desnick—3
  • Mr. Spagnuolo—1
  • Mr. Medina—1
  • Mr. Manchester—1

Please join us Thursday, March 31, to debate “Resolved: The crisis in Libya required U.S. humanitarian intervention.”



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