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Guest Speakers

By Sarah Beth Costello

For centuries, many have questioned the existence of God, the existence of truth and its correlation with morality. Apologist Frank Turek presented an argument, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist,” in April 2009 and returned Thursday night to speak again.

Turek is the co-author of “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist” and founder of www.crossExamined.org. He has debated this topic with well-known atheists and believes in the existence of God and truth.

The event was co-sponsored by Intervarsity, Campus Outreach, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Baptist Student Union. Turek will return Monday for the second part of his presentation, which will focus on the possibility of miracles and the relevance of the New Testament.

“Truth is what corresponds to reality,” said Turek at the start of his presentation. “In today’s culture our first duty is to state the obvious. People are denying the obvious, they’re denying there’s truth out there.”

Turek explained the law of non-contradiction, which states that two contradictory ideas cannot both be true. Turek argued that all truth is absolute truth and “applies to all persons, at all times, in all places.” He provided six examples of statements people use to discount truth: “There is no truth, you can’t know truth, truth is relative, it’s true for you but not for me, no one has the truth and you ought not judge.” If any of these statements are true then the Bible cannot be true, argued Turek.

“If you apply the claims to themselves,” said Turek, “you can see why they’re self-defeating, and when it’s logically self-defeating it can’t be true.”

Turek also explained the three major worldviews, which are theism, pantheism and atheism. Though many regard the term “religious” as being a follower or practitioner of a religion, Turek argued,”if you define religion as someone’s explanation for ultimate reality – how we got here and where we’re going – everybody is religious to some extent.”

Turek’s argument was met with some debate and conflicting opinions.

“I like that (Turek’s) trying to rationally justify (his beliefs). I think that discussion needs to be had,” said Michael Kleinmann, president of SANE who said he respected Turek even though he did not believe Turek is correct.

“The university is an institution where the free exchange of ideas are shared,” said campus outreach chaplain Michael Lopes. “It’s important in our setting to have representation of different views.

Turek will speak again Thursday in Whitley Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.

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Sarah Beth Costello
April 19, 2009

Frank Turek during his presentation, "I Don't Have Enough Faith the be an Atheist."

Frank Turek during his presentation, "I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist." Photo by Sarah B. Costello

The room was packed. Attendees sat on the floor and stairs, sitting shoulder to shoulder in the hot and cramped room that easily exceeded fire safety regulations.

Hundreds gathered Thursday night in the LaRose Digital Theater in the Koury Business Center at Elon University to hear guest speaker, Frank Turek, present a case for the existence of morality, truth and God. Campus Outreach and Intervarsity sponsored the event.

The audience consisted of a diverse crowd. Most were members of Campus Outreach and Intervarsity. There were also many locals from the surrounding community and churches as well as Elon faculty and staff. In addition to the large gathering of Christians, there were also students that professed to be atheists. Regardless of religious affiliations, the presentation proved to be rather controversial.

“As a Christian I found it incredibly discouraging,” said Elon sophomore, Robert Wohner. “I hate when religion is used as a political tool. I hate that he used religion to promote conservative ideas. Religion and politics really don’t have to mix.”

Turek is the author and co-author of several books, including “Correct, Not Politically Correct,” “Legislating Morality” and “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist,” which was the premise of his presentation.

Turek received his masters from George Washington University and a doctorate in apologetics at Southern Evangelical Seminary. Turek is the founder and president of CrossExamined.org, and uses his skills in debate and knowledge of apologetics to present cases of Christianity, specifically to students on college campuses.

Roughly 75 percent of students walk away from their faith after graduating high school. According to CrossExamined.org, “intellectual skepticism” is one of the dominant reasons so many young people vacate Christianity for atheism or other religions.

Turek said that many college campuses today discount the Bible and regard students as intellectually lacking for acknowledging the Bible as truth. He argued that the believability of the Bible begins with the existence of truth. Either the Bible is true or false, said Turek, “but it cannot be true for you and not true for me.”

Due to limited time, Turek was not able to discuss the 12 points he tackles in his book. He plans to return in the fall to present the second half of the series. Turek discussed two specific questions Thursday night: “Does truth exist?” and “Does God exist?”

Turek said that it is important for Christians to be able to defend their beliefs, especially in today’s post-modern society that regards truth as relative.

“The greatest commandment,” said Turek, “is ‘love the Lord your God with all your heart, strength and mind’ – Christians don’t get brownie points for being stupid. We’re supposed to know what we believe and why we believe it.”

WHY WELCOME UNPOPULAR OPINION?

Turek was welcomed by many, viewed with skepticism by some, regarded as harsh, brash, defensive and weak by others.

“I hated his brash style because it was very confrontational,” said Wohner. ”People will ‘caricature’ Christians as being brash, angry white guys who sound like Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh when Christians should speak with a loving tone. What he was saying in his argument would completely turn off non-Christians. I think he’s hurting the Christian message by doing what he does.”

Not all Christians in attendence agreed with Wohner’s statement. Some said Turek’s argument was sound and effective.

“I think Frank Turek was very effective, both in his presentation, and in communicating his points to those in ‘opposition,'” said Micah Fox, a seminary student at Southern Evangelical Seminary.

Turek was indeed a unique and different guest compared to previous Elon guests. But Campus Outreach and Intervarsity extended the invitation to Turek because of his ministry to college students, and his potential impact on the Elon audience.

“We were really excited about [Turek’s presentation] because we feel that on a college campus there’s probably lots of ideas going back and forth, and we wanted to present a stance on the existence of God,” said Campus Outreach adjunct chaplain, Michael Lopes.

Chaplain Michael Lopes (Video by Megan Wanner):


DOES TRUTH EXIST?

Turek began his segment on the existence of truth by providing a definition, which he said is “telling it like it is.”

“Truth is what corresponds to reality,” said Turek. “In today’s culture our first duty is to state the obvious. People are denying the obvious, they’re denying there’s truth out there.”

Turek explained the law of non-contradiction, which states that two contradictory ideas cannot both be true. He compared two brilliant Oxford professors, Richard Dawkins and John Lennox, who possess opposing opinions in regard to a higher power.

Dawkins says there is no God, while Lennox says there is a God. Turek argued that either God exists or he doesn’t, but both men cannot be right, therefore, one must be wrong.

Turek argued that all truth is absolute truth and “applies to all persons, at all times, in all places.” He gave six examples of statements people use to discount truth: “There is no truth, you can’t know truth, truth is relative, it’s true for you but not for me, no one has the truth and you ought not judge.” If any of these statements are true then the Bible cannot be true, argued Turek.

“If you apply the claims to themselves,” said Turek, “you can see why they’re self-defeating, and when it’s logically self-defeating it can’t be true.”

Turek Explains the Law of Non-Contradictions (Video by Megan Wanner):

DOES GOD EXIST?

“Does God exist? Whenever you talk about this question you have to define what you mean by god. And the god I’m talking about is a theistic god; a god who’s beyond the world, created the world and sustains the world,” said Turek.

Though many regard the term “religious” as being a follower or practitioner of a religion, Turek argues “if you define religion as someone’s explanation for ultimate reality – how we got here and where we’re going – everybody is religious to some extent.”

Photo by Sarah B. Costello

Photo by Sarah B. Costello

Turek said that there are only three major religious worldviews: theism, pantheism and atheism. Theism includes Judaism, Christianity and Islam, which teach “God made all.” Pantheistic religions include Zen Buddhism, Hinduism and New Age, which teach that “God is all.” And atheists say there is “no God at all.”

Turek spent the second half of his presentation arguing for the existence of God by providing scientific and logical evidence. He introduced the acronym “SURGE”, which stands for the Second law of thermodynamics, Universe is expanding, Radiation afterglow, Great galaxy seeds and Einstein’s general relativity.

He spent several minutes discussing each letter in surge, explaining why this was evidence in favor of a beginning of the universe and the existence of God.

CONFLICTING OPINIONS

After Turek’s nearly two-hour presentation, he opened the floor for a question-and-answer session that lasted for another hour. Eight individuals took turns at the mic. Most welcomed the opportunity for a chance to talk, rather than ask questions.

Turek comprised his argument for the purpose of presenting what he believes to be the best logical answer for the earth’s existence. He uses science, logic and contextual examples to support his arguments. While his case is well researched, some have problems with Turek’s lack of Biblical references.

“By trying to make his argument purely scientific, he really undermined Christian ideals. He argued that God created the big bang which is not consistent with the Bible,” said Wohner.

The question-and answer-session was a very heated battle of wits as some individuals attempted to engage Turek in a debate. Ironically, the “answer” part of the question-and-answer session was overlooked by most at the microphone.

“How is it appropriate to have a question-and-answer session where the questioner is a lot less educated than you?” asked one student. “I really appreciate the fact that you said ‘I am a fallible human being,’ but the way that you present arguments, you do present as facts, and you don’t make the point that you also could be wrong throughout your presentation.”

Ken Calhoun is an assistant professor of communications at Elon University

Ken Calhoun is an assistant professor of communications at Elon University. Photo courtesy of http://www.elon.edu.

Sarah Beth Costello
April 17, 2009

Media is constantly changing, adapting and coexisting with other media. With the emmergence of new media comes convergence and collaborative media. Media is combined and incorporated into multimedia platforms.

In today’s society, media encompasses more than passive viewing. Media has become interactive, allowing for audience participation.

Ken Calhoun is a writer and assistant professor of new media at Elon University in Elon, N.C. Calhoun has professional experience in interactive television as well as the entertainment industry.

Calhoun gave a presentation Friday about multimedia and interactive media. “Traditional media is this one directional media,” said Calhoun. “There’s a sender and there’s a receiver. But interactivity allows for active participation.”

Interactive media enables individuals to engage in back in forth communication, and also provides “choice and control.”

“These days because of social media and because you can basically tap the Internet as a database, the permutations of opportunities in certain formats in certain experiences can be endless,” said Calhoun. Calhoun demonstrated choice and control using the example of a tape and a CD.

The tape is linear in that the actual tape can be stretched out and a preferred song can be identified on the tape. A CD is different because it is a round disk that contains information read by a lasor. “You have an enabling choice because if you want to hear song five, you just hit song five,” said Calhoun.

Interactive Media’s Current Status in Media Landscape

Calhoun said that there are three specific “flavors” that make up interactive media: storytelling, responsive visuals and conversation.

“Flavors suggest that there’s some blending and mixing opportunities,” said Calhoun. “It’s not these hard and fast categories. What I like about flavors is that you can kind of see these flavors merging and overlapping in a lot of ways.” Rather than strict definitions, the three flavors represent three available areas of media production.

Calhoun is the mastermind behind the term “responsive visuals,” which he says is a reference to viewers response to graphic visuals available through media. Conversation includes tools like Twitter, Facebook and Myspace – social networks that enable communication that contributes to society.

‘Extending Your Reach’

Calhoun also discussed the importance of being well rounded, specifically as an individual interested in communications. “I think you can create more career options for yourself if you have more skills,” said Calhoun. “I think it’s important to focus on that one skill – whether it’s writing, or it’s video – but the more you touch these different areas of communication, the more likely you are to find yourself a job.”

In today’s day and age where multimedia has become imperative to the survival of companies, it is not always enough to have one particular skill. Often, employees are required to “wear many different hats.” More hats provides more assurance of a job and potential career.

“We make decisions based on what we think will be most effective,” said Calhoun. There are so many options available for communication, and individuals make decisions based on what they perceive to be the most appropriate method. A person may decide to tweet personal information via Twitter rather than send an E-mail or make a phone call. Similarly, companies should work in the same way when attempting to figure out the best way for getting a message across.

As individuals delve deeper into interactive media, they begin exploring more difficult and advanced media methods. “The idea,” said Calhoun, “is that you’re bringing people deeper into the narrative. Multimedia is supposed to do that because it allows you to use sound, images time – all those tools that try to make the experience more immersive.”

Twitter and Social Networking

The Internet has brought a swell of communication methods available to users. One of the newest forms of communicating with a global society is Twitter. These tools enable users to constantly stay connected with not only friends, colleagues or family, but also with your audience. This tools generate “followings” and allow for the constant movement between blogs, Twitter etc.

Sarah Beth Costello
February 19, 2009

Coral reefs - dubbed the underwter rainforests - provide shelter and provision for thousands of species. In recent years, coral reefs have slowly been dying out, a dillema that affects more than just the reefs.

Coral reefs - dubbed the underwater rainforests - provide shelter and provision for thousands of species. In recent years, coral reefs have slowly been dying out, a dilemma that affects more than just the reefs.

In 1975 the Caribbean waters just off the coast of Jamaica were teeming with the vibrant colors of coral reefs, tropical fish, sea anemones and a variety of underwater wildlife.

Almost thirty-five years later, the reefs are nearly unrecognizable. Instead of healthy, living corals, much of the remaining corals are slowly deteriorating and becoming little more than skeletal graveyards.

Coral reefs have been likened to the “rainforests of the sea” and are the life sources for thousands of sea creatures. But in the course of a few years, thousands of coral reefs not only in the Caribbean, but also worldwide, have been dying out.

This relatively new reef “epidemic” is an issue that has recently been brought to the forefront of scientist’s minds.

Dr. Nancy Knowlton is a marine biologist who has spent the majority of her life studying the “evolution, ecology and conservation of coral reefs.” Knowlton visited Elon University in Elon, N.C., Wednesday, and gave a presentation on coral reefs and global warming as part of the Voices of Discovery Tour.

“In the Caribbean we’ve lost 80 percent of all the living coral in the last 30 years…that’s a huge loss,” said Knowlton who spent several years studying coral reefs in the Caribbean region.

Knowlton compares the slow extinction of coral reefs to the destruction of rain forests, although the situation is much worse for the reefs. “The losses,” Knowlton said in reference to the reefs, “if anything are more severe than what we’ve seen in the tropics on land.”

Why the seemingly sudden demise of living coral reefs? The answer lies in human cohabitation. Most reefs survive near coasts that are inhabited by humans. Humans are responsible for foreign and alien substances that have entered into the natural habitats of corals and caused destruction.

CO2, waste, sediment and toxins are negatively impacting the environments. In addition to dumping unnatural content into the ocean, humans are also removing anything larger than five inches, including fish and corals.

Coral Afflictions

Knowlton focused her presentation on three dominant concerns for coral reefs: disease, bleaching and ocean acidification.

“Unfortunately, there are almost more coral diseases than there are coral doctors,” said Knowlton. In the majority of disease cases, scientists are at a loss about the causes. “In general,” said Knowlton, “it would appear that warmer water and dirtier water are contributing factors.”

Coral reefs grow at the rate of one centimeter or half an inch per year. The death of an entire reef is literally the death of a centuries-old organism. Some skeleton-like corals may possess an ethereal beauty, but in reality, a bleached coral is either dead or near death. Coral bleaching is a symptom of stress. Stress often results from heat, light, cold and dark. “It turns out that corals only live about a degree centigrade (about two degrees Fahrenheit) over their normal thermal maximum,” Knowlton explained.

There is some good news in terms of coral bleaching, however. Some corals possess resistance to bleaching and retain a patchiness of live coral. Scientists are hopeful that many corals will remain resilient.

Acidity in the ocean is a serious concern that Knowlton says has caused “coral osteoporosis.” Highly acidic water causes the structures of the corals to disintegrate, resulting in unsupported corals that are similar to sea anemones.

Fortunately, the corals can bounce back to health when placed back into healthy and natural waters. Scientists now know that corals can survive acidic lab waters, but it is still unknown as to weather acid-afflicted corals can survive in natural habitat.

Looking Towards the Future

environment1Reefs do not exist solely for aesthetic purposes. Thousands of organisms depend on coral reefs in order to survive. It’s a giant system where interaction and dependence is imperative for an underwater community to exist. The sharing of nutrients and protection makes it possible for the complexity of the millions of species to cohabit.

Knowlton showed two pictures of Barbados as examples of the drastic changes occurring in the Caribbean. “Just in the course of 50 years 18 percent of the reef has actually vanished and turned into sand,” she said.

The conservation of reefs is an important issue because it affects economies, industries, food availability and the overall environment. Improving water quality and controlling fishing are two huge steps governments can take in combating this issue.

“As a scientist all I can do is say…what the world would be like if we do this, versus what the world would be like if we do that,” said Knowlton as she concluded her presentation, “… but paraphrasing President Kennedy: ‘ask not only what your planet can do for you, but also what you can do for your planet.’”

Sarah Beth Costello
February 17, 2009

December 7, 1941 was a cold winter day for Alamance County, N.C., residents.

A morning car accident, seemingly the worst in the region’s history, had the whole town in an uproar. Dozens arrived at the crash site to witness the tragic scene. It wasn’t too long after when more disastrous news was delivered: Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor.

It was a day that Alamance County would never forget. The unprecedented attacks were considered a tragedy to all and eventually led to a full-front world war.

The county was caught up with the craze and hysteria the coming war invoked. Editor emeritus, Don Bolden, of the Burlington Times-News has devoted much of his career to researching and preserving the history of World War II and it’s effects on Alamance County.

"Winter of Our Warriors" logo

"Winter of Our Warriors" logo. Image courtesy of http://special.thetimesnews.com/warriors/.

Bolden began the “Winter of Our Warriors” series in 1995 to commemorate and honor Alamance veterans. Bolden is responsible for the Alamance County War Memorial erected in Graham, N.C., and has received numerous awards.

On Sunday afternoon, a small crowd gathered in Yeager Recital Hall at Elon University for a presentation by Bolden on “Alamance: A County at War.” Belk Library and Alamance Reads sponsored the event.

Alamance Reads chairwoman, Margaret Blanchard, welcomed a medium-sized audience that mostly consisted of elderly war veterans – many had been featured in the “Winter of Our Warriors” series.

Bolden stood behind a podium, gazing out over the crowd through wire-rimmed glasses. Dressed in a black suit, his stature possessed the demeanor of an instructor or schoolteacher. In his hands he held a large book and began reading in a soft and methodic voice. His slight southern accent added to the moment and his words came to life as he began to describe Alamance County as it was almost 70 years ago.

A hush came over the crowd, and all eyes were on the speaker as he began to tell a story, one of tragedy, heartache and perseverance.

ALAMANCE COUNTY DURING THE 1940s

“We know that in the 1940s Alamance County was much like any other community in the south,” Bolden said as he prefaced his presentation, “small, textile town and if you lived at that time you could park on Church Street – both sides.”

It was a bustling textile and hosiery community, well known throughout the southern states as “the hosiery center of

Pioneer Plant in Burlington, N.C.

Pioneer Plant in Burlington, N.C.

the south.” Baseball was a popular pastime, and one form of entertainment often included visiting the “street preacher” who never failed to deliver sermons on Main Street every Saturday.

Despite the small-town atmosphere and close-knit community of Alamance County, the era of the 1940s would prove to be a time of immense hardship for many families.

“By the end of the war in 1945 more than 5,000 Alamance County people would serve in WWII, and more than 200 would not come home,” said Bolden.

THE COST

Life on the home front required sacrifices for every family. Food, gasoline, housing and tires were rationed. Americans were asked to set aside 10 percent of their wages to purchase war bonds.

Several famous movie stars, breezing through the region on a mission to sell war bonds, visited the county on different occasions. In 1942, Hollywood actors, John Payne and Jane Wyman, arrived in Burlington “as part of a caravan traveling across the nation,” and sold $49,329 worth of war bonds on East Front Street.

It wasn’t long before families began receiving telegrams of the deaths of loved ones. A memorial was erected at May Memorial Library in the early 1940s to honor the fallen soldiers and their families. Names would continue to be added before the war’s end.

“We began to take special notice of the golden stars that were beginning to appear across the community,” said Bolden, “If a family had a loved one in service, there was a blue star on the little flag hanging in the window. But in the event that an individual died in the war, the star turned to gold.”

More difficulties arose in Alamance County with the dreaded polio disease. The third case was reported in July of 1944, which prompted county and health officials to close parks and public places to prevent the spread of the disease. The disease soon became a raging epidemic in the community.

Floods, freezing winters and fuel shortages added to the discomfort suffered by Alamance residents.

“But then in May of 1945 everybody knew that the end of that war was coming soon,” said Bolden.

AN END ON THE HORIZON

On May 7, 1945, the Daily Times-News reported the end of the war. The headlines proclaimed, “Germany Surrenders!” in large, black

This AT-21 was manufactured at Fairchild Aircraft Plant in Burlington, N.C.

This AT-21 was manufactured at Fairchild Aircraft Plant in Burlington, N.C. Photo courtesy of http://tiny.cc/aSHlh.

and bold text. Immediately, churches opened their doors and a celebration ensued unlike anything Alamance County had ever seen.

“Everyone was so excited around here they even canceled baseball games, and all businesses closed for two days to celebrate,” said Bolden.

Though the end of the war was a joyous occasion, many were still consciously aware of the fact that the soldiers were still gone, and some would never return.
Bolden describes Alamance County as it once was:

Click here to visit Bolden’s Blog


Sarah Beth Costello
February 10, 2009

The duties of a reporter have changed significantly in the past 10 years.

Burlington Times-News Online Editor, Alex Kreitma, speaks to a class of Elon University journalism students about journalism's future

Burlington Times-News Online Editor, Alex Kreitman, speaks to a class of Elon University journalism students about journalism's future

Not long ago, most newspapers hired reporters solely for their writing and reporting skills. But journalism has evolved over the last decade as the Internet has increasingly become more prevalent.

Alex Kreitman is the online editor for the Times-News. Kreitman graduated from Elon University in 2006, and has experienced dramatic changes as a journalist in the last three years.

The Times-News is a small local paper in a region many in North Carolina deem as “the country”. The paper is responsible for reporting local news and public interest stories, and has a broad circulation extending throughout Alamance County.

EVOLVING TECHNOLOGY

A couple of years ago, the majority of the Times-News staff were not technologically minded. Any media that accompanied a written piece was appreciated, even if it was a short video captured on a cell phone.

Kreitman expects much more from the reporters as the Internet continues to grow. Over the past year and a half, a big focus has been placed on improving video for the Web site.

Through Freedom Communications,Inc., the owners of the Times-News and many other newspapers and TV stations, Kreitman and other reporters were able to attend several seminars and conferences.

“[Now] all [our] reporters know how to shoot video, most of them can take photos and also, of course, write their stories,” said Kreitman.

The accessibility of the Internet enables reporters to post headlines via cell phones and laptops while in the field. Reporters are able to continually update stories until the full story has evolved.

“Reading our newspaper online, you gain so much,” said Kreitman, “you sort of get the play-by-play.”

INNOVATION IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS

In order to keep a broad audience when the Internet has replaced the need for many to subscribe to a printed publication, journalists must be innovative.

Over the last year, the Times-News has offered several contests to interest and attract readers. Subscribers can participate in online contests during basketball season, and attempt to predict the winners in order to win prizes.

Other contests emerged, including the dirtiest car contest, the best Christmas decorations and the ugliest recliner. The ugliest recliner contest received 45 entries and 50,000 votes. The page views sky rocketed as readers submitted entries, and cast their votes.

THE FUTURE

Despite some pessimism concerning journalism’s future, Kreitman is hopeful that this new era of journalism will be fruitful.

Reporters are not only writing anymore. They are photographing events, capturing and editing video, and updating websites and blogs.

According to Kreitman, the newspaper businesses are looking for younger and innovative reporters who have the ability to do more than write.

“You guys,” Kreitman said to a class of Elon journalism students, “have the biggest advantage the way you were raised and brought up with technology.”

Kreitman discusses the training journalists are now receiving at the Times-News:

Visit Alex Kreitman’s Blog