The Atheist Professor At USC Who Encountered God Through a Piece of Chalk-Fiction! 

 

 

 

 

Summary of Rumor
A notorious atheist professor at the University of Southern California is known for challenging students about their faith.  He dramatically drops a piece of chalk to the floor saying that if God existed, he could prevent the chalk from breaking.  This happens year after year until a particular Christian student becomes a part of the class.  This time, when the professor drops the chalk, it bounces off his clothing and ends up harmlessly on the floor.  The stunned professor runs from the room in shame and the student preaches the Gospel to the remaining class members.

 

The Truth
This has been one of the most commonly circulated inspirational stories on the Internet and one of the most commonly asked-about at TruthOrFiction.com.

We've never found any evidence that an incident of this nature has taken place involving a piece of chalk, but there is a first-hand source of a similar, older story, which the chalk tale may be based upon.


First, the University of Southern California has officially denied that this ever happened there.  Dr. Dallas Willard, a philosophy professor at USC, has told TruthOrFiction.com that he's never heard of it happening in his more than 30 years at the school.

There is a related story, however, told by author Richard H. Harvey in his book 70 YEARS OF MIRACLES. It's a first-hand account of his experience in a Chemistry class at Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania in the 1920's.  Harvey says the professor, a Dr. Lee, was a deist who annually lectured against prayer.   In one of the class sessions, Dr. Lee said he was going to drop a glass flask on the floor and asked if anyone would like to pray first that the flask would not break, therefore demonstrating the reality of prayer.  Richard Harvey volunteered and prayed.  The professor dropped the flask and it rolled off his shoe to the floor without damage.  The class cheered and the professor stopped his annual lectures against prayer.  TruthOrFiction.com has confirmed with Allegheny college that Richard Harvey was a student there and that Dr. Lee was a professor.  Richard Harvey's son, Rev. John Harvey, a minister in Toccoa, Georgia, says this all happened before he was born, but confirms that the story was told by his father.


Updated 2/18/01

For more information:

Statement on the USC website

A real example of the story as it has been circulated:


The following is a true story that happened just a few years ago at USC.

STAND UP!!!

There was a professor of philosophy who was a deeply committed atheist. His primary goal for one required class was to spend the entire semester attempting to prove that God couldnít exist. His students were always afraid to argue with him because of his impeccable logic. For twenty years, he had taught this class and no one had ever had the courage to go against him. Sure, some had argued in class at times, but no one had ever really gone against him because of his reputation. At the end of every semester on the last day, he would say to his class of 300 students, "If there is anyone here who still believes in Jesus, stand up!" In twenty years, no one had ever stood up. They knew what he was going to do next. He would say, "Because anyone who believes in God is a fool. If God existed, he could stop this piece of chalk from hitting the ground and breaking. Such a simple task to prove that He is God, and yet He canít do it." And every year, he would drop the chalk onto the tile floor of the classroom and it would shatter into a hundred pieces. All of the students would do nothing but stop and stare. Most of the students thought that God couldnít exist. Certainly, a number of Christians had slipped through, but for 20 years, they had been too afraid to stand up.

Well, a few years ago there was a freshman who happened to enroll. He was a Christian, and had heard the stories about his professor. He was required to take the class for his major, and he was afraid. But for three months that semester, he prayed every morning that he would have the courage to stand up no matter what the professor said, or what the class thought. Nothing they said could ever shatter his faith...he hoped.

Finally, the day came. The professor said, " If there is anyone here who still believes in God, stand up!" The professor and the class of 300 people looked at him, shocked, as he stood up at the back of the classroom. The professor shouted, "You FOOL!!! If God existed, he would keep this piece of chalk from breaking when it hit the ground!" He proceeded to drop the chalk, but as he did, it slipped out of his fingers, off his shirt cuff, onto the pleat of his pants, down his leg, and off his shoe. As it hit the ground, it simply rolled away unbroken. The professorís jaw dropped as he stared at the chalk. He looked up at the young man, and then ran out of the lecture hall. The young man who had stood, proceeded to walk to the front of the room and shared his faith in Jesus for the next half hour. 300 students stayed and listened as he told of Godís love for them and of His power through Jesus.