To Believe Or Not To Believe: MSJC Holds Religious Debate

MSJC student Aaron Hansen and Dr. Roy Mason will debate the subject of Christianity in an event ...

MSJC student Aaron Hansen and Dr. Roy Mason will debate the subject of Christianity in an event on the Menifee Valley campus tonight.
Aaron Hansen is far from being an average Mt. San Jacinto Community College student. At the age of 29, he's almost a decade older than many of his classmates. Standing at 6 feet 4 inches, he also towers over most of them.

On campus, he's worked as a supplemental instructor and tutor in various subjects. Off campus, he's been accepted to top California universities. Recently, he was chosen as a recipient of the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke scholarship.

But even more, Hansen is far from being an average Sun City resident. Although he's living in a primarily conservative area, he's liberal minded and calls himself an "anti-theist" -- someone who doesn't believe in God.

Today at 5:30 p.m. on the MSJC Menifee campus, Hansen will argue his point of view in a debate titled "Is Christianity Good for the World?" His opponent will be Dr. Roy Mason, chair of the Natural Science Department at the college and a life-long practicing Christian. 

"Not only do I not believe in a supernatural being or entity, but I would not want it even if it were there," said Hansen, a history and classical civilizations major.

Hansen said he organized this debate for the sake of argument, which is one of his favorite things to do. He chose this topic because he's particularly passionate about religion, and because it's easier to argue about the effects of religion than it is to argue about whether God exists.

"For me, I don't want there to be a god," said Hansen, who believes that the only purposes of religion are to scare, and monopolize power and profit.

Hansen came up with the idea to debate Christianity after he gave a presentation about the history of human rights last semester. When he brought up the First Amendment and the idea of separation between church and state, he noticed the audience became more lively. At that moment, he said he knew he had to hold another event focused specifically on religion.

Although it's a touchy subject for society, Hansen emphasized he's fine with people who have religious beliefs, and it's not his intent to eradicate them.

"When it gets into my life, in public schools and government, that's when I have an issue with it," he said.

Hansen doesn't expect those in the audience to change their minds about their own beliefs, but just listen. He said said he's looking forward to hearing Mason's point of view during the debate.

Hansen approached Mason after the MSJC Amnesty International Club showed a film about evolution last semester. Hansen was delighted when Mason agreed to the debate, and said he's been nothing but helpful and supportive since.

"I felt [Aaron] would represent the issue well and we could do the debate in a professional academic