There’s a video doing the rounds on Facebook, headed This should keep us all thinking. It tells the story of an atheist professor of philosophy at the University of Souhern California who taught a compulsory class which aimed to disprove the existence of God. Apparently, I was the 18410th person to watch it. I’ll save you the trouble: the story says that for years, no one would argue with or contradict this man until, fortified by prayer, one young man stood up, humiliated the prof and witnessed to his faith.
The trouble is, USC completely denies the story has any truth.
A e-mail that has been received by many USC students has recently caught the atten- tion of the School of Philosophy, which reports that the tale is not true. The e-mail alleges that a USC professor was a “deeply committed atheist” whose main goal in his class was to prove that God didn’t exist.
The first inquiries began a few months ago and have been steadily coming ever since, said philosophy professor Edwin McCann.
The e-mail’s story is one that was written to reaffirm faith in miracles and in God, but includes USC in the telling of the story.
The e-mail claims that at the end of every semester for the past 20 years, the professor is said to have asked his class of about 300 students to stand up if they believed in God, and no one ever stood.
Then he would “prove” God did not exist by dropping a piece of chalk on the floor and saying, “If God existed, he could stop this piece of chalk from hitting the ground and breaking.”
The e-mail says that one year, a young Christian man stood up and said he “still believed in God” when the professor posed the question to his class. The professor dropped another piece of chalk, and this time it did not break. Then the professor fled the lecture hall, the e-mail says.
In response to the e-mail, Mccann began to investigate its legitimacy.
“Professor Dallas Willard, who has been here for 32 years, affirms that nothing like this has happened during the time he was here,” McCann said. “Besides verbal denouncement of the e-mail, there are facts that prove that the e-mail couldn’t be true.”
The only philosophy classes that have 300 students or have been around for 20 years do not discuss God’s existence.
McCann and a colleague found great similarities between the “chalk story” and a story titled “70 Years of Miracles” by Richard Harvey. In this story, there was no philosophy teacher but a chemistry teacher, and instead of a piece of chalk, there was a flask.
If you followed the link to the USC site, you might have noticed that the date on the rebuttal was 1999, and at that stage the story was merely an email. But despite it’s falsehood, the story has continued to be circulated by Christians, even turned into a video which seems to have ‘gone viral’.
Now that does make you think.