Does God Exist? William Lane Craig vs. Christopher Hitchens – Full Debate [HD]

[soft music] [audience cheering]>>Good evening and welcome
to Biola University. My name is Craig Hazen,
and I’m the director the the Master of Arts program
in Christan Apologetics here and I’m honored to be the host tonight to get things started. Although the gym is packed
with nearly 3,000 people and it looks like you’re
stuffed in here pretty well, and my condolences to those of you who have already been sitting
an hour and have another couple of hours to go, hang in there. Hang in there. But you’re not the only ones watching. There are thousands of
people in other venues on this campus. Not only that, there are
people in overflow sites, really across the country
and around the world. We have people in 30 states
and four different countries watching this and a special
greeting to all of you who are watching across campus
and in places such as Stockholm and Sri Lanka. I hope you really enjoy this.
[audience cheering] A special greeting to some
distinguished guests tonight. William Lane Craig’s wife, Jan, is here. Jan, it’s good to see you. Betsey Hewitt is here.
[audience applause] My wife, Karen Hazen, is here. Dr. Barry Corey, the
university president, is here. [audience cheering]
[applause] Yeah, we’ve got distinguished philosophers all over the place. Doug Given, JP Morton, hi-ho. All right. We’re thrilled all of you could come. Well this event was initiated by the Associated Students
of Biola University, and it makes sense that
AS President Eric Weaver should give a quick welcome on behalf of the student body. Eric, come on up.
[audience applause]>>Good evening, everyone. Biola is a 100 year old
Christian un&iversity, which desires to wrestle
with big questions in an honest and open way. In my senior year, my AS
colleague, Mark Keith, and I, thought we should sponsor
a blockbuster event that pursues the biggest question of all: it is reasonable to
believe that God exists? A proposal was presented to the Senate and the student body heartily agreed. So we invited two
acclaimed academic leaders in this area, William Lane
Craig, and Christopher Hitchens, and along with the
wonderful people from the Apologetics program, we
are thrilled to see it on display tonight. On behalf of the students
at Biola, I hope you really enjoy this event. Thank you.
[audience applause]>>Thank you for representing
the students, Eric. You’re a senior. How’s that job search
going in this economy? Is that going well?
[audience laughing] We’ll give you some help. Oh no, our career services
on Biola, first rank. Thank you. Well, the students got this going, but there is one other important sponsor, and that is the program that I direct, the Master of Arts Program
in Christian Apologetics. If you like wrestling
with the big questions, the existence of God,
evidence for the resurrection, and the problem of evil,
the historical reliability of the Bible reconciling
science and faith, this really is a degree program for you. And if you’re watching
at a distance and you’re thinking, “I can’t do
it ’cause I don’t live “in Southern California,”
that’s not the case. We have this amazing
distance learning program and it’s really open to
anybody and you don’t need to relocate to Southern California, although it was a very nice day today. You might want to consider it. Although, they’ve just
taxed us into oblivion, so you may wanna reconsider that. If you want to find out
about these programs, check out,, and go to the Christian
Apologetics page on that site. Well. How is this all gonna work tonight? It’s pretty straight forward. In fact, your hand dandy
program will tell you what’s going on, right up at
the top, inside panel, the program numbers one through eight. It’ll guide you through
what’s taking place every step of the way during the debate. So take a look at that. Toward the end, we will have
some time for questions, but as you notice there’s no mics sitting up in the aisles. We are going to throw
it open to the students. We have a student section up there, bravo. [audience cheering] Students of all stripes. Now it’s your job tonight to think up some tough questions, and I
expect you to actually vet them. That is, you may have learn
in school that there is no such thing as a dumb question. That is not true, okay?
[audience laughing] Not to intimidate you, but, check it out. Do a peer review. If you come with a question,
run it by the person next to you or on either side, and let’s see how it goes. So we’ll throw it open
for some Q and A time and our thoughtful moderator
will make sure it goes well. All right. Well when we’re done tonight, there’s one other thing
you need to be considering, and that is getting
outside of this building to the pavilion right outside here and several places along the walk way to pick up the featured books tonight. One is God Is Not Great
by Christopher Hitchens, and another one is Reasonable
Faith by William Lane Craig. These are the featured books.
[audience cheering] Pick them up, and you can
actually have them signed. To have them signed, just
walk out these building, look for all the lights,
and there’s some tables out there and our distinguished
debaters will be out there signing books and
answering your toughest questions right there at the table, I’m sure. If you’ve got a lot of books at home, and in fact you own a book so
you don’t need another one, perhaps you can buy
some DVDs or CDs of some dynamite debates and
lectures that Bill Craig has done around the world. These are first rate materials and our Apologetics program is
actually the center point for getting all of these,
so if you wanna get them tonight, they’ve got
wonderful, special deals. Check out the red flyer in your brochure and that will tell you the scoop. You can even pre-order tonight’s debate. If you’d like to get a copy of it, it’s something you want to
share with a lot of people, you can pre-order it
tonight, fill out the form, take it to the table, and
they’ll move you right through. Well we’re delighted to
have Mr. Hitchens here on campus be we realize
that we theists certainly have the home court
advantage, I mean being in a basketball court, that
makes a lot of sense. After all, it’s a Christian university and it even says, “All glory to God” or something above the bleachers there, so clearly this is a home court
advantage for the theists. And I imagine that the crowd here is over two thirds Evangelical Christian, although I’m thrilled to
see some of the atheist and agnostic community
turn out wearing t-shirts. I love that. Yeah, absolutely, yeah.
[audience applause] I was lecturing at the
University of South Florida a few weeks ago and
the entire atheist club came out wearing t-shirts
and we had the best time ever so I expect the same tonight. Well. Since we have the home court advantage, those of you who are
theists, believers in God, please, let’s be polite
to Christopher Hitchens. He’s known to say a
provocative thing or two so if you can practice
your polite, golf clap. [audience laughing]
All right? Let’s practice that. Practice that. No shouting, no hooting. There will be plenty
of opportunity for it, but let’s restrain ourselves. And those of you who are from the atheist and agonistic community,
again, no shouting, no hooting, no hollering. In fact, Mr. Hitchens,
I can guarantee you, doesn’t really need a lot of help. I just saw a video of
him debating like four prominent Evangelical Theists in Dallas, and it really wasn’t fair. We needed more theists on the panel, so I think he will do just fine, but we’re grateful for
him to come to sort of the pit of opposition at Biola University. But we’re grateful to
really open up the doors and run through these
big, important questions, and if the debate is
not resolved at the end, this is a basketball
court for goodness sakes, we’ll lower the hoops,
we’ll turn up the lights, and we’ll let ’em go one on one. [audience applause] Yeah. I hear Chris has game, so
we’ll see how that goes. Well let’s get to it. It’s my pleasure to
introduce our moderator of the debate tonight, and
he’ll get this party started. Hugh Hewitt. Yes, Hugh Hewitt.
[audience applause] Hugh is a law professor
and broadcast journalist whose nationally syndicated
radio show is heard in more than 120 cities
across the United States every week day by more
than two million listeners. By the way locally this
program is heard on KRLA which is 870 am. I think it goes from like three to six. Great program, in fact, I
think it’s one of the most important, smartest, fast
paced news and issues program on the airwaves today. So, check that out. If you live in outlying
regions, check to find out where’s he’s
broadcasting, or podcasting. Professor Hewitt is a
graduate of Harvard College and the University of Michigan Law School. He has been teaching constitutional law at Chapman University Law School
since it opened in 1995. Hugh is a frequent guest on all the big cable news networks and had
written for the most important newspapers in the country. He’s received three Emmys
for his groundbreaking television work and is
the author of eight books including two best sellers. Professor Hewitt served
for nearly six years in the Reagan Administration
in a variety of posts, including assistant
council in the White House and special assistant
to attorney’s general. Don’t miss his daily
blog at He’s always been so very
generous with his time toward events like these at Biola, and we are deeply grateful
for his help here tonight. Join me in welcoming our
moderator, Professor Hugh Hewitt. [audience applause]>>Thank you ladies and gentlemen. Number one, please turn
off your cell phones. I repeat, please turn
off your cell phones. Number two, gentlemen, to the
extent that any of you have jackets that are still on, please, as Ronald Reagan once used to say, feel free to just throw them on the floor. It is a little bit warm in here. Our guests, by virtue of this crowd, it is obvious, need no introduction. I am not going to waste time, then, on elaborate introductions. I just wish to thank them
both for being willing to participate in this most
important of conversations. It is the best of times,
it is the best of times, for those who like to argue
about God in the public square. Largely because of the
rise of new atheists, such as Mr. Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, my friend William Lobdell, and others, who have once again put at the
center of the public stage, the question of whether
or not God does exist and whether or not
Jesus Christ is his son. And it is up to people
like William Lane Craig, prolific author and much
beloved professor here, to enter into that conversation in a way that is most persuasive and winsome. And so without further
ado, allow me to welcome up Vanity Fair columnist, prolific author, my friend, and champion of
freedom, Christopher Hitchens. [audience applause] And from this, from this extraordinary
lighthouse institution, another prolific author, an apologist, a scholar extraordinaire,
who like Mr. Hitchens, has his PhD from a wonderful
English university, Professor William Lane
Craig, please, professor. [audience applause] This is a very structured debate, according to classical
lines until the questions at the end. We begin with an opening
argument, 20 minutes, to Professor Craig. Professor? [audience applause]>>Good evening. I am very excited to be participating in this debate tonight. Jan and I used to sit
in those very bleachers right over there watching our son John run up and down this court as a forward on the Biola Eagles. And so I feel like I’m playing
at the home court tonight. And I wanna commend Mr.
Hitchens for his willingness to come into this den of lambs and to defend his views tonight. On the other hand, if
I know Biola students, I suspected a good many of
you, when you came in tonight, said to yourself, “I’m gonna
check my own views at the door, “and I’m gonna assess the
arguments as objectively “as possible.” I welcome that challenge. You see the question of God’s
existence is of interest not only to religion,
but also to philosophy. Now Mr. Hitchens has made it clear that he despises and disdains religion, but presumably he is not so
contemptuous of philosophy. Therefore, as a professional philosopher, I’m going to approach tonight’s
question philosophically, from the standpoint of
reason and argument. I’m convinced that there
are better arguments for theism than for atheism. So, in tonight’s debate,
I’m going to defend two basic contentions. First, that there’s no good
arguments that atheism is true. And secondly, that
there are good arguments that theism is true. Now, notice carefully
the circumscribed limits of those contentions. We’re not here tonight
to debate the social impact of religion or
Old Testament ethics, or Biblical inerrancy. All interesting and
important topics, no doubt, but not the subject of tonight’s debate, which is the existence of God. Consider, then, my first contention, that there’s no good argument
that atheism is true. Atheists have tried for centuries to disprove the existence of God, but no one’s ever been able to come up with a successful argument. So, rather than attack
strong men at this point, I’ll just wait to hear
Mr. Hitchens present his arguments against God’s
existence, and then I’ll respond to them in my next speech. In the meantime, let’s turn
to my second main contention, that there are good arguments
that theism is true. On your program insert, I
outlined some of those arguments. Number one, the cosmological argument. The question of why anything at all exists is the most profound
question of philosophy. The philosopher Derek Parfit says, “No question is more sublime
than why there is a universe, “why there is anything
rather than nothing.” Typically atheists have
answered this question by saying that the universe
is just eternal and uncaused. But there are good reasons,
both philosophically and scientifically, to
think that the universe began to exist. Philosophically, the idea of
an infinite past seems absurd. Just think about it: If the
universe never began to exist, that means that the number of past events in the history of the
universe is infinite. But mathematicians recognize
that the existence of an actually infinite number of things leads to self-contradictions. For example, what is
infinity minus infinity? Well, mathematically you get
self-contradictory answers. This shows that infinity is
just an idea in your mind, but not something that exists in reality. David Hilbert, perhaps the
greatest mathematician of the 20th century, wrote,
“The infinite is nowhere “to be found in reality. “It neither exists in nature,
nor provides a legitimate “basis for rational thought. “The role that remains
for the infinite to play “is solely that of an idea.” But that entails that since
past events are not just ideas but are real, the number of
past events must be finite, therefore the series of past
events can’t go back forever. Rather, the universe
must have begun to exist. This conclusion has been
confirmed by remarkable discoveries in astronomy and astrophysics. In one of the most startling
developments of modern science we now have pretty strong
evidence that the universe is not eternal in the past but had
an absolute beginning about 13 billion years ago
in a cataclysmic event known as the Big Bang. What makes the Big Bang so
startling is that it represents the origin of the universe
from literally nothing, for all matter and energy, even physical space and time themselves, came
into being at the Big Bang. As the physicist P.C.W. Davies explains, “The coming into being of
the universe, as discussed in “modern science, is not just
a matter of imposing some “sort of organization upon
a previous incoherent state “but literally the coming into being of “all physical things from nothing.” Now, this puts the atheist
in a very awkward position. As Anthony Kenny of
Oxford University urges, “A proponent of the Big Bang theory, “at least if he is an atheist, “must believe that the universe came “from nothing and by nothing.” But surely that doesn’t make sense. Out of nothing, nothing comes. So why does the universe exist, instead of just nothing,
where did it come from? There must have been a cause which brought the universe into being. Now as the cause of space and time, this being must be an
uncaused, timeless, spaceless, immaterial being of unfathomable power. Moreover, it must be personal as well. Why? Because the cause must
be beyond space and time, therefore it cannot be
physical or material. Now there are only two
kinds of things that fit that description: either
an abstract object, like numbers, or else a personal mind. But abstract objects can’t cause anything. Therefore it follows that the cause of the universe is a transcendent,
intelligent mind. Thus the cosmological argument gives us a personal creator of the universe. Two, the teleological argument. In recent decades scientists
have been stunned by the discovery that the initial conditions of the Big Bang were fine
tuned for the existence of intelligent life with a precision and delicacy that literally
defied human comprehension. This fine tuning is of two sorts: first, when the laws
of nature are expressed as mathematical equations, you find appearing in
them certain constants like the gravitational constant. These constants are not
determined by the laws of nature. The laws of nature are consistent with a wide range of values
for these constants. Second, in addition to
these constants there are certain arbitrary quantities put in as initial conditions on which
the laws of nature operate. For example, the amount of
entropy or the balance between matter and antimatter in the universe. Now all of these constants and quantities fall into an extraordinarily narrow range of life-permitting values. Were these constants or quantities to be altered by less
than a hair’s breath, the balance would be destroyed
and life would not exist. To give just one example: The atomic weak force, if it
were altered by as little as one part out of 10 to the 100th power would not have permitted a
life-permitting universe. Now there are three
possible explanations of this remarkable fine
tuning: physical necessity, chance, or design. Now it can’t be due to
physical necessity because the constants and quantities are independent of the laws of nature. In fact string theory
predicts that there are around 10 to the 500th power different possible universes consistent with nature’s laws. So could the fine tuning be due to chance? Well, the problem with this alternative is that the odds against the fine tunings occurring by accident
are so incomprehensibly great that they cannot
be reasonably faced. The probability that all the constants and quantities would fall
by chance alone into the infinitesimal life-permitting
range is vanishingly small. We now know that
life-prohibiting universes are vastly more probable than
any life-permitting universe. So if the universe were
the product of chance, the odds are overwhelming that
it would be life-prohibiting. In order to rescue the
alternative of chance, its proponents have therefore been forced to resort to a radical
metaphysical hypothesis. Namely, that there
exists an infinite number of randomly ordered,
undetectable universes composing a sort of world ensemble or multiverse of which our
universe is but a part. Somewhere in this infinite
world ensemble finely tuned universes will appear by chance alone and we happen to be one such world. Now wholly apart from the fact
that there’s no independent evidence that such a world
ensemble even exists, the hypothesis faces a
devastating objection, namely, if our universe is
just a random member of an infinite world ensemble then
it is overwhelmingly more probably that we should be
observing a much different universe than what we in fact observe. Roger Penrose has calculated that it is inconceivably more probable
that our solar system should suddenly form
through a random collision of particles than that a finely
tuned universe should exist. Penrose calls it “utter
chicken feed” by comparison. So, if our universe were
just a random member of a world ensemble it is
inconceivably more probable that we should be
observing an orderly region no larger than our solar system. Observable universes like
those are simply much more plenteous in the world
ensemble than finely tuned worlds like ours and therefore
ought to be observed by us. Since we do not have such observations that fact strongly dis-confirms
the multiverse hypothesis. On atheism, at least, then it is highly probable that there is no world ensemble. The fine tuning of the
universe is therefore plausibly due neither to
physical necessity nor to chance. It therefore follows logically that the best explanation is design. Thus the teleological argument gives us an intelligent designer of the cosmos. Three, the moral argument. If God does not exist then objective moral values do not exist. By objective moral values
I mean moral values which are valid and
binding whether we believe in them or not. Many theists and atheists
agree that if God does not exist then moral values are not objective in this way. Michael Ruse, a noted
philosopher of science, explains, “The position of the modern evolutionist “is that morality is a
biological adaptation, “no less than our hands
and feet and teeth. “Considered as a
rationally justifiable set “of claims about an objective
something, ethics is illusory. “I appreciate that when someone says, “‘love thy neighbor as thyself,’ “they think they are referring
above and beyond themselves. “Nevertheless, such reference
is truly without foundation. “Morality is just an aid to survival “and reproduction and any
deeper meaning is illusory.” Like Professor Ruse I just don’t see any reason to think that
in the absence of God, the morality which has emerged among these imperfectly evolved primates
we call Homo sapiens is objective, and here Mr.
Hitchens seems to agree with me. He says moral values are
just innate predispositions, ingrained into us by evolution. Such predispositions,
he says, are inevitable for any animal endowed
with social instincts. On the atheistic view
then an action like rape is not socially advantageous and so in the course of human
development has become taboo, but that does absolutely
nothing to prove that rape is really morally wrong. On the atheistic view
there’s nothing really wrong with raping someone. But the problem is that
objective values do exist and deep down we all know it. In moral experience we apprehend a realm of objective
moral goods and evils. Actions like rape,
cruelty, and child abuse aren’t just socially
unacceptable behavior, they’re moral abominations. Some things, at least, are really wrong. Similarly love, equality,
and self-sacrifice are really good. But then it follows
logically and necessarily that God exists. Number four, the resurrection of Jesus. The historical person Jesus of Nazareth was a remarkable individual. Historians have reached
something of a consensus that the historical Jesus
came on the scene with an unprecedented sense of divine authority, the authority to stand
and speak in God’s place. He claimed that in
Himself the Kingdom of God had come and as visible
demonstrations of this fact He carried out a
ministry of miracle working and exorcisms. But the supreme confirmation of His claim was His
resurrection from the dead. If Jesus did rise from the dead than it would seem that we
have a divine miracle on our hands and thus evidence
for the existence of God. Now most people probably
think that the resurrection of Jesus is something you just
believe in, by faith or not. But there are actually
three established facts recognized by the
majority of New Testament historians today which I
believe are best explained by the resurrection of Jesus. Fact number one: on the
Sunday after His crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb was discovered
empty by a group of His women followers. According to Jakob Kremer,
an Austrian specialist, by far most scholars hold
firmly to the reliability of the biblical statements
about the empty tomb. Fact number two: on separate
occasions different individuals in groups experienced appearances of Jesus alive after his death. According to the prominent New Testament critic Gerd Lüdemann, it
may be taken as historically certain that the disciples
had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared
to them as the risen Christ. These appearances were
witnessed not only by believers but also by unbelievers,
skeptics, and even enemies. Fact number three: the
original disciples suddenly came to believe in the
resurrection of Jesus despite having every
predisposition to the contrary. Jews had no belief in a dying,
much less rising Messiah. And Jewish beliefs about the
afterlife prohibited anyone’s rising from the dead
before the resurrection at the end of the world. Nevertheless the original
disciples came to believe so strongly that God had
raised Jesus from the dead that they were willing
to die for the truth of that belief. N.T. Wright, an eminent New Testament scholar concludes, “That
is why as a historian “I cannot explain the
rise of early Christianity “unless Jesus rose again leaving
an empty tomb behind him.” Attempts to explain away
these three great facts like the disciples stole the
body or Jesus wasn’t really dead have been universally rejected by contemporary scholarship. The simple fact is that
there just is no plausible, naturalistic explanation of these facts. And therefore it seems to me the Christian is amply justified in believing that Jesus rose from the dead and
was who he claimed to be. But that entails that God exists. Finally, number five, the
immediate experience of God. This isn’t really an
argument for God’s existence, rather it’s the claim
that you can know that God exists wholly apart from argument, simply by immediately experiencing him. Philosophers call beliefs like these “properly basic beliefs.” They aren’t based on other beliefs rather they’re part of the
foundation of a person’s system of beliefs. Other properly basic
beliefs include the belief in the reality of the external world, the belief in the existence of the past and the presence of other
minds like your own. When you think about it none
of these beliefs can be proved. But, although these sorts of beliefs are basic for us that doesn’t
mean they’re arbitrary. Rather they’re grounded in the sense that they’re formed in the
context of certain experiences. In the experiential context of seeing and hearing and feeling things I naturally form the belief in a
world of physical objects. And thus my beliefs are not arbitrary but appropriately grounded in experience. They’re not merely basic
but properly basic. In the same way, belief in God is, for those who know him,
a properly basic belief grounded in our experience of God. Now, if this is right
there’s a danger that arguments for God’s
existence could actually distract your attention from God himself. If you’re sincerely seeking God then God will make his
existence evident to you. We mustn’t so concentrate
on the external arguments that we fail to hear
the inner voice of God speaking to our own hearts. For those who listen, God becomes an immediate reality in their lives. So, in conclusion then we’ve seen five good arguments to think that God exists. If Mr. Hitchens wants us
to believe instead that God does not exist, then
he must first tear down all five of the arguments
that I presented and then in their place
erect a case of his own to prove that God does not exist. Unless and until he does
that I think that theism is the more plausible world view. [audience applause]>>Well, am I audible? Am I audible to all? Yes. Well, ladies and gentlemen,
brothers and sisters, comrades, friends, thanks for coming out, at Senator Larry Craig actually did say at his press conference.
[audience laughing] Thank you, Mr. Hewitt
and Dr. Craig for being among the very many,
very, very many Christians who have so generously and hospitably and warmly taken me up on the challenge I issued when I started
my little book tour and welcomed me to your
places to have this most important of all discussions. I can’t express my gratitude enough. And thanks to the very nice young ladies who I ran into at The
Elephant Bar this afternoon where I hadn’t expected a posse of Biola students to be on
staff, but where I thought, “God, they’re everywhere now.”
[audience laughing] Now, what I have discovered
in voyaging around this country and others in this debate and debating with Hindus,
with Muslims, with Jews, with Christians of all stripes, is that the arguments are all essentially the same for belief in the supernatural, for belief in faith, for belief in God, but that there are very interesting and noteworthy discrepancies between them. And one that I want to call attention to at the beginning of this evening is between those like
my friend Doug Wilson with whom I’ve now done a book of argument about Christian apologetics, who would call himself
a presuppositionalist, in other words, for whom really it’s only necessary to
discover the workings of God’s will in the cosmos and to assume that the truth of
Christianity is already proven and what are called,
they include Dr. Craig with great honor and respect
in this, the evidentialists. Now, I want to begin by
saying that this distinction strikes me first as a
very charming distinction and second as false, or
perhaps as a distinction without a difference. Well, why do I say charming? Because I think it’s
rather sweet that people of faith also think
they ought to have some evidence and I think
it’s progress of a kind. After all, if we had been
having this debate in the mid-19th century, Professor Craig or his equivalent would have
known little or probably nothing about the laws
of physics and biology, maybe even less than I know now, which is, to say, quite a lot in it’s way. And they would have grounded themselves, or he would have grounded
himself, on faith, on Scripture, on
revelation, on the prospect of salvation, on the means of grace, and the hope of glory
and perhaps on Paley’s natural theology. Paley, who had the same
rooms, or had had the same rooms later occupied
by Charles Darwin in Cambridge with its watchmaker theory of design that I know
I don’t have to expound to you but which briefly suggests that if an aborigine is walking along a beach and finds a gold watch
ticking he knows not what it’s for or where it came from or who made it but he
knows it’s not a rock, he knows it’s not a vegetable, he knows it must have had a designer. The Paley analogy held for most Christians for many years because
they were willing to make the assumption that we
were mechanisms and that, therefore, there must be a watchmaker. But now that it’s been, here’s where the presuppositionalist-versus-evidentialist
dichotomy begins to kick in-now it’s
been rather painstakingly and elaborately demonstrated
to the satisfaction of most people, I don’t
want to just use arguments from authority, but it’s not
very much contested any more, that we are not designed as creatures, but that we evolved by a
rather laborious combination of random mutation and natural selection into the species that we are today. It is, of course, open to the faithful to say that all this was, now
that they come to know it, now that it becomes
available to everybody, now that they think about it, and now that they’ve stopped
opposing it or trying ban it, then they can say, “Ah,
actually, on second thought “the evolution was all
part of the design.” Well, as you will recognize,
ladies and gentlemen, there are some arguments
I can’t be expected to refute or rebut because there’s no way around that argument. I mean, if everything,
including evolution, which isn’t a design, is nonetheless part of a divine design than all the advantage goes to the person who’s
willing to believe that. That cannot be disproved
but it does seem to be a very poor, very weak argument because the test of a good argument is that it is falsifiable not that it’s unfalsifiable. So this I would therefore, this tactic, or this style of argument, which we’ve had some evidence of this
evening, I would rebaptize or when I dare say rechristen it as retrospective evidentialism. In other words everything can, in due time, if you have
enough faith, be made to fit. And you too are all quite free to believe that a sentient creator deliberately, consciously put himself, a being, put himself or herself
or itself to the trouble of going through huge epochs of birth and death of species over
eons of time in which 99%, in the course of which at
least 99.9% of all species, all life forms, ever to
have appeared on earth have become extinct, as we nearly
did as a species ourselves. I invite you to look up the
very alarming and beautiful and brilliant account by
the National Geographic’s coordinator of the genome project. By the way you should
send in your little sample from the inside of you cheek and have your African ancestry traced. It’s absolutely fascinating to follow the mitochondrial DNA
that we all have in common and that we have in
common with other species, other primates, and other life forms and find out where in
Africa you came from. But there came a time, probably about 180,000 years ago, when, due to a terrible climatic event, probably in Indonesia, an appalling global
warming crisis occurred and the estimate is that
the number of humans in Africa went down to
between 40 and 30,000. This close, this close,
think about fine tuning. This close to joining every other species that had gone extinct. And that’s our Exodus
story is that somehow we don’t know how because it’s
not written in any Scripture, it’s not told in any book, it’s not part of any superstitious narrative
but somehow we escaped from Africa to cooler latitudes was made, but that’s how close it was. You have to be able to
imagine that all this mass extinction and death and randomness is the will of a being. You are absolutely free to
believe that if you wish. And all of this should happen so that one very imperfect race
of evolved primates should have the opportunity
to become Christians or to turn up at this
gym tonight, that all of that was done with us in view. It’s a curious kind of solipsism, it’s a curious kind of self-centeredness. I was always brought up to believe that Christians were modest and humble, they comported themselves
with due humility. This, there’s a certain arrogance to this assumption all of this,
all of this extraordinary development was all about us and we were the intended and the desired result and everything else was in the discard. The tremendous wastefulness of it, the tremendous cruelty of it,
the tremendous caprice of it, the tremendous tinkering
and incompetence of it, never mind at least we’re here and we can be people of faith. It doesn’t work me, I
have to simply say that and I think there may be
questions of psychology involved in this as well. Believe it if you can, I can’t stop you. Believe it if you like, you’re welcome. It’s obviously impossible,
as I said before, to disprove and it equally
obviously helps you to believe it if, as we all are, you’re in the happy position
of knowing the outcome, in other words we are here. But there’s a fallacy lurking
in there somewhere too, is there not? Now it’s often said, it was said tonight, and Dr. Craig said it in print, that atheists think they can
prove the nonexistence of God. This, in fact, very slightly
but crucially misrepresents what we’ve always said. There’s nothing new
about the New Atheists, it’s just we’re recent,
there’s nothing particularly, Dr. Victor Stenger, a great scientist, has written a book called
The Failed Hypothesis, which he says he thinks that science can now license the claim that
there definitely is no God, but he’s unique in that, and I think very bold and courageous. Here’s what we argue. We argue quite simply that there’s no plausible
or convincing reason, certainly no evidential one, to believe that there is such an entity, and that all observable phenomena,
including the cosmological one to which I’m coming, are explicable without the hypothesis. You don’t need the assumption. And this objection
itself, our school falls into at least two, perhaps three sections. There’s no such thing, no such word though there should be, as “adeism”
or as being an “adeist” but there if was one I
would say that’s what I was. I don’t believe that we
are here as the result of a design or that by making the appropriate propitiations and adopting the appropriate postures and following the appropriate rituals we can overcome death I don’t believe that and for a priori of reasons don’t. If there was such a force, which I cannot prove by
definition that there was not, if there was an entity
that was responsible for the beginning of the cosmos, and that also happened to be busily engineering the very laborious product,
production of life on our little planet, it
still wouldn’t prove that this entity cared about
us, answered prayers, cared what church we went to, or whether we went to one at all,
cared who we had sex with or in what position or by what means, cared what we ate or on what day, cared whether we lived or died. There’s no reason at all why this entity isn’t completely indifferent to us. That you cannot get from deism to theism except by a series of
extraordinarily generous, to yourself, assumptions. The deist has all his work still ahead of him to show that it leads to revelation, to redemption, to
salvation or to suspensions of the natural order in which hitherto you’d be putting all of your faith, all your evidence is on scientific
and natural evidence or, why not, for a change of pace for a change of taste say, “Yes, but sometimes this “same natural order, which is
so miraculous in observation, “no question about it, is so
impressive in its favoring “the conditions for life in some ways, “but its randomly suspended
when miracles are required.” So with caprice and
contempt these laws turn out to be not so important after all as long as the truth of religion can be proved by their
being rendered inoperative. This is having it both ways in the most promiscuous
and exorbitant manner, in my submission. Bear in mind also that these are not precisely the differences,
between Dr. Craig and myself I mean,
morally or intellectually equivalent claims. After all, Dr. Craig,
to win this argument, has to believe and prove to certainty. He’s not just saying there might be a God because he has to say that there must be one otherwise we couldn’t be here and there couldn’t be morality. It’s not a contingency for him. I have to say that I appear as a skeptic who believes that doubt
is the great engine, the great fuel of all
inquiry, all discovery, and all innovation and
that I doubt these things. The disadvantage, it seems to me, in the argument goes
to the person who says, “No, I know, I know it it
must be true, it is true.” We’re too early in the study
of physics and biology, it seems to me, to be
dealing in certainties of that kind especially
when the stakes are so high. It seems to me, to put
it in a condensed form, extraordinary claims,
such as the existence of a divine power with
a son who cares enough to come and redeem us, extraordinary claims require truly
extraordinary evidence. I don’t think any of the
evidence we heard from Dr. Craig, brilliantly marshaled as it was, was extraordinary enough
to justify the extreme claims that are being made, backed by it. “Hypocrisy,” said La Rochefoucauld, “Is the compliment that
vice pays to virtue.” Retrospective evidentialism strikes me in something of the same sort of light. It’s a concession made
to the need for fact. Maybe we better have some
evidence to along with our faith. But look what Dr. Craig says in his book. He says, I’ll quote directly, he says, “Should a conflict arise between “the witness of the Holy Spirit to “the fundamental truth
of the Christian faith “and beliefs based on
argument and evidence “then it is the former
which must take precedence “over the latter.” He adds not vice-versa
but a good editor would’ve told you you don’t have
to put the vice-versa in, it’s clear enough as it is. I’ll say it again,
“Should a conflict arise “between the witness of the Holy Spirit “to the fundamental truth
of the Christian faith “and beliefs based on
argument and evidence “then it is the former which must take “precedence over the latter.” That’s not evidentialism,
that’s just faith. It’s a priori belief. It’s rephrased in another edition. It says, “Therefore the role of rational “argumentation in knowing Christianity “to be true is the role of a servant. “A person knows Christianity is true “because the Holy Spirit
tells him it is true. “And while argument and evidence can be “used to support this conclusion “they cannot legitimately overrule it.” Now, then he goes on to say the Bible says all men are without excuse. “Even those who are given
no reason to believe, “and many persuasive
reasons to disbelieve, “have no excuse but
because the ultimate reason “they do not believe is that they have “deliberately rejected God’s Holy Spirit.” That would have to be me. But you see where this lands
you, ladies and gentlemen, with the Christian apologetic. You’re told you’re a miserable sinner, who is without excuse; you’ve disappointed your God who made you and you’ve been so ungrateful as to rebel; you’re contemptible; you’re worm-like; but you can take heart, the whole universe was designed with just you in mind. These two claims are not
just mutually exclusive but I think they’re intended to compensate each other’s cruelty and,
ultimately, absurdity. In other words, evidence is
an occasional convenience. “Seek and ye shall find.” I remember being told that in church many a time as a young lad. “Seek and ye shall find.” I thought it was a sinister injunction because it’s all too likely to be true. We are pattern-seeking
mammals and primates. If we can’t get good evidence
we’ll go for junk evidence. If we can’t get a real theory we’ll go with a conspiracy theory. You see it all the time. Religion’s great strength
is that it was the first of our attempts to explain reality, to make those patterns
take some kind of form. It deserves credit. It was our first attempt at astronomy; our first attempt at cosmology; in some ways our first
attempt at medicine; our first attempt at literature; our first attempt at philosophy. Good, while there was nothing else, it had many functional uses of mankind. Never mind that they didn’t know that germs caused disease,
maybe evil spirits caused disease, maybe
disease is a punishment; never mind that they believed in astrology rather than astronomy. Even Thomas Aquinas believed in astrology. Never mind that they believed in devils; never mind that things
like volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tidal waves were
thought of as punishments, not as natural occurrences on
the cooling crust of a planet. The pattern seeking has gone too far and it’s gone, I think, much too far with what was until recently thought of as Christianity’s greatest failure,
greatest of all failures: cosmology, the one thing Christianity knew nothing about and taught the most abject nonsense about. For most of its lifetime Christianity taught that the earth
itself was the center of the universe and we had been given exclusive dominion as a species over it. Could not have been more wrong. How are we going to
square the new cosmology, the fantastic new discoveries in physics with the old dogmas? Well, one is the idea of this fine tuning about which I’ve only left
myself three and a half minutes. I’ll have to refer some of this
to later in the discussion. This is essentially another
form of pattern seeking on the basis of extremely
limited evidence. Most physicists are very uncertain, as they have every right to be. In fact, I would say for physicists as they have the duty
to be, at the moment, extremely uncertain
about the spatio-temporal dimensions of the original episode, the Big Bang at it’s sometimes called. We’re in the very, very early stages of this inquiry. We hardly know what we
don’t know about the origins of the universe. We’re viewing it from an
unimaginable distance, not just an unimaginable
distance in space, perched on a tiny rock on an extremely small suburb of a fairly minor galaxy, trying to look, to discern our origins, but also at a very unbelievable distance in time and we claim the right to say, “Ah, we can see the finger
of God in this process.” It’s an extraordinarily
arrogant assumption. It either deserves a
Nobel Prize in physics, which it hasn’t yet got, I notice. I don’t know any physicists who believes these assumptions are necessary. Or it deserves a charge of hubris. Let me make three tiny quick objections to it as it stands, and
I’m no more a physicist than most of you are. I’ll make these lay objections. One, was there pre-existing material for this extra-spatio-temporal
being to work with, or did he just will it into
existence, the ex nihilo? Who designed the designer? Don’t you run the risk
with the presumption of a god and a designer and
an originator of asking, “Well, where does that come from, “where does that come from,” and locking yourself
into an infinite regress? Why are there so many shooting stars, collapsed suns, failed
galaxies we can see? We can see with the aid of a telescope, some we can see with the
naked eye the utter failure, the total destruction
of gigantic unimaginable sweeps of outer space. Is this fine tuning, or
is it extremely random, capricious, cruel,
mysterious, and incompetent? And, have you thought of the
nothingness that’s coming? We know we have something now, and we speculate about what
it might have come from and there’s a real question about ex nihilo, but nihilo is coming to us. In the night sky you can already see the Andromeda galaxy,
it’s heading straight for ours on a collision course. Is that part of a design? Was it fine tuned to do that? We know that from the red light shift of the Hubble telescope, or rather Edwin Hubble’s original discovery, the universe is expanding away from itself at a tremendous rate. It was thought that rate would go down for Newtonian reasons. No, it’s recently been proved
by Professor Lawrence Krauss the rate of expansion is increasing. Everything’s exploding away even faster. Nothingness is certainly coming. Who designed that? That’s all if before these things happen we don’t have the destruction of our own little solar system in which already there’s only one planet where anything like life can possibly be supported. All the other planets
are too hot or too cold to support any life at
all and the sun is due to swell up, burn us to
a crisp, boil our oceans, and die as we’ve seen all the other suns do in the night sky. This is not fine tuning,
ladies and gentlemen, and if it’s the work of a designer, then there’s an indictment to which that designer may have to be subjected. I’m out of time, I’m very grateful for your kindness and hospitality. Thank you.
[audience applause]>>Dr. Craig, a 12 minute rebuttal.>>You’ll remember that
in my opening speech, I said I would defend
two basic contentions in tonight’s debate. First, that there’s no good
argument that atheism is true. Now, far from being a point
of contention tonight, as far as I understood
Mr. Hitchens’ last speech, he would agree with that first statement that there is no good
argument that atheism is true. He says, “I simply don’t
have any positive reason “to believe in God.” But he doesn’t really
give an argument against God’s existence. Indeed, he seems to
suggest that’s impossible. But notice that doesn’t prove atheism. That just leaves you
with agnosticism, mainly, you don’t know if there’s
a God or no, so, at best, you’re left merely with agnosticism. We don’t see any good reason to think that atheism is true. Now he did makes some remarks
about the theory of evolution which at least insinuated
that this was somehow incompatible with theism, and I have two points to make about this. First, I think that the
theory of biological evolution is simply
irrelevant to the truth of Christian theism. Genesis, one, admits
all manner of different interpretations and one is by no means committed to six-day creationism. Howard van Till, who is a professor at Calvin College,
writes, “Is the concept of “special creation required of all persons “who trust in the
creator God of Scripture? “Most Christians in my acquaintance “who are engaged with either scientific “or biblical scholarship have concluded “that the special creationists’ picture of “the world’s formation is
not a necessary component “of Christian belief,
nor is this a retreat “caused by modern science.” Saint Augustin in the AD 300s, in his commentary on Genesis, pointed out that the days
don’t need to be taken literally nor need the creation
be a few thousand years ago. Indeed he suggested
that God made the world with certain special potencies that would gradually unfold over time and develop. This interpretation came 1500 years before Darwin so that it is not a forced retreat in the face of modern science. So any doubts that I would have about the theory of biological evolution would be not biblical but rather scientific, namely, what it imagines is
fantastically improbable. Barrow and Tipler, two
physicists in their book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle list ten steps in the
course of human evolution, each of which is so improbable that before it would occur the sun would have ceased to be a main sequence star
and incinerated the earth. And they calculate the
probability of the evolution of the human genome to
be somewhere between four to the negative 180th
power to the 110,000th power and four to the negative 360th
power to the 110,000th power. So, if evolution did occur on this planet it was literally a miracle,
and therefore evidence for the existence of God.
[audience applause] So I don’t think this is
an argument for atheism, quite the contrary, it
really provides good grounds for thinking that God superintended the process of biological development. So the Christian can
be open to the evidence to follow it where it leads. By contrast, as Alvin Plantinga has said, “For the naturalist, evolution
is the only game in town. “No matter how fantastic the
odds, no matter how improbable, “it’s got to be true because there is “no intelligent creator and designer.” So in one sense you’ve
got to feel a little sorry for the atheist. He can’t really follow the
evidence where it leads, his presuppositions determine the outcome. By contrast, if there is
a fine tuner and creator of the universe then
already in the initial conditions of the Big Bang you
have an elaborately designed universe that permits the
evolution and existence of intelligent life and I think
evolution simply layers on more improbability. Now Mr. Hitchens says, “But
why did God wait so long, “all that waste during this time?” Well, that sort of concern with efficiency is only of importance
to someone with either limited time or limited resources or both, but in the case of God,
He has both unlimited resources and unlimited time and therefore it’s simply not important
to do this in a quick way. Well now Mr. Hitchens says,
“But why did God wait so long “before he sent Christ? “Human beings have existed for thousands “of years on this planet
before Christ’s coming.” Well, what’s really crucial
here is not the time involved rather it’s the
population of the world. The population reference bureau estimates that the number of people
who have ever lived on this planet is about
105 billion people. Only two percent of them were born prior to the advent of Christ. Erik Kreps of the Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research says,
“God’s timing couldn’t have “been more perfect. “Christ showed up just
before the exponential “explosion in the world’s population.” The Bible says in the fullness of time God sent forth His son and when Christ came the nation of Israel had been prepared; the Roman peace dominated
the Mediterranean world; it was an age of literacy and learning; the stage was set for the advent of God’s son into the world and think in God’s providential plan for human history we see the wisdom of God in
orchestrating the development of human life and then in bringing Christ into the world in the fullness of time. So I don’t see that there
are any good grounds here for thinking that this
provides reason for atheism. Now what about my arguments for theism? Mr. Hitchens had some
general remarks here. He says it’s difficult to
get from deism to theism. Now I want to point out that’s a false use of these terms,
this is simply confused. Deism is a type of theism. Theism is the broad world
view that God exists. Deism is a specific kind of theism that says God has not revealed
himself directly in the world. Now my arguments are a cumulative
case for Christian theism. They add up to the belief in the God that has been revealed
by Jesus of Nazareth. Now Mr. Hitchens says, “But you must prove this with certainty.” Not at all, I am not
claiming these arguments demonstrate Christian
theism with certainty. I’m saying this is the best
explanation of the data when you compare it with other
competing hypotheses. I think it’s more probable than not. He quotes me as to saying,
“The Holy Spirit’s witness “is the basis for knowing
Christianity to be true,” and I affirm that. I think the fundamental way
in which we know Christianity is true is through the
objective inner witness of God’s Holy Spirit. What I called the immediate knowledge of God himself in my fifth point. On the basis of that we
have a properly basic belief in the existence of God and the truth of Christianity. But when it comes to showing
someone else that what we know through the
witness of the Holy Spirit is true here we appeal to argument and evidence as I’ve done tonight. And the arguments and
evidence that I’ve appealed to are largely deductive arguments. This isn’t retrospective evidentialism, these are deductive arguments. If the premises are true, then you cannot deny the conclusions on pain of irrationality
because the conclusions follow with logical necessity from the premises. So the only way to deny the
conclusion is you’ve got to show me which of
the premises are false. That’s why you’ve got
that program insert with the premises in your
program for these arguments. Mr. Hitchens needs to
identify which premises of the argument he
rejects as false if he is to reject the conclusions. Now with respect to my
cosmological argument, notice that he didn’t
dispute whatever begins to exist has a cause, nor did he dispute the philosophical and scientific arguments for the beginning of the universe. All he asked was the question, “Was there pre-existent material?” The answer is no, there was not. As Barrow and Tipler point out, “At this singularity, space
and time came into existence. “Literally nothing existed
before the singularity. “So if the universe originated
at such a singularity, “we would truly have a creation ex nihilo, “that is, out of nothing.” And this isn’t talking religion, folks, this is talking contemporary cosmology. So, the first argument, it
seems to me, is unrefuted. What about the fine tuning argument? Here he said, “Well,
scientists are terribly “uncertain about the
fine tuning argument.” Well, I think that’s simply not the case. Sir Martin Ryse, the Astronomer
Royal of Great Britain has said, “The laws
governing our universe appear “to be finely tuned for our existence. “Everywhere you look there
are yet more examples. “Wherever physicists look they
see examples of fine tuning.” Ernan McMullen, philosopher
of science, says, “It seems safe to say that later theory, “no matter how different it may be, “will turn up approximately the same “numbers and the numerous constraints “that have to be imposed on these numbers “seem both too specific and too numerous “to evaporate entirely.” So that it’s very unlikely
that this fine tuning is going to vanish or be explained away. Now, Mr. Hitchens responds, “But we’re headed towards nothingness, “we’re ultimately going to be doomed “and therefore the
universe is not designed.” Well now, this is not a
very powerful objection. The temporal duration of something is irrelevant to whether
it’s been designed. The products of human intelligence and engineering like
computers and automobiles will eventually decay and cease to exist but that doesn’t mean
they weren’t designed. I think the real objection
that he’s getting at here is why would God create mankind only to have it go extinct? But of course, you see, on the
Christian view that’s false, that is an atheistic assumption. On the Christian view life
does not end at the grave and God has given assurance of this by raising Jesus from the dead. So the objection simply has no purchase against Christian theism. So it seems to me that the fine tuning argument is also unrefuted. What about the moral argument? We saw that without God there
are no objective moral values, Mr. Hitchens agrees with this
and yet he himself affirms over and over again moral statements like the moral reprobation
of religious intolerance and violence in the name of religion. So he does affirm objective values, but without any basis for it. What I can offer him as a
theist is a transcendent basis for the objective
moral values and duties that we both want to affirm. Fourthly, the resurrection of Jesus. Again, there was no response to this. Let me simply quote N.T. Wright in his recent study of the resurrection. He says that, “The empty
tomb and the appearances “of Jesus have a historical
probability so high “as to be virtually certain, “like the death of Augustus in AD 14 “or the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.” So we are on very solid
ground in affirming these three facts that I
mentioned in my opening speech and I can’t think of
any better explanation than the ones that the eye witnesses gave, namely that God raised
Jesus from the dead. Finally, the immediate experience of God. Unless Mr. Hitchens can show
that I’m psychologically deranged or delusional, it seems to me I’m perfectly rational on the basis of my immediate experience of God to believe that God exists and that therefore this, for
me, is a properly basic belief. So I think all of these arguments stand intact despite his reputation. We’ve seen no argument for atheism, so clearly the weight
of the evidence falls on the side of the scale for
Christian theism tonight. [audience applause]>>There is a terminological problem here which may conceal more than
just terminological difficulty. The proposition that atheism is true or is a misstatement
of what I have to prove and what we believe. There’s an argument among some of us as to whether that we need the word at all. In other words, I don’t
have a special name for my unbelief in tooth
fairies, say, or witches, or in Santa Claus. I just don’t think that they’re there. I don’t have to prove “atoothfairyism.” I don’t have to prove “asantaclausism.” I don’t have to prove “awitchism.” It’s just, I have to
say, I think that those who do believe these
things have never been able to make a plausible or
intelligible case for doing so. That’s not agnosticism
because it seems to me that if you don’t think
that there is any evidence you’re wrong to take refuge
in saying you’re neutral. You ought to have the courage
to answer the question which one is regularly asked,
“Are you an atheist or not?” Yes, I will say, I am. You can’t tell anything else about me. You can’t tell anything
else about what I think, about what I believe,
about what my politics are or my other convictions. It’s just that I don’t believe in the existence of a supernatural dimension. I’ve never been shown any
evidence that any process observable to us cannot
be explained by more satisfactory and more convincing means. The great physicist
Laplace, when showing his working model of the solar system to the Emperor Napoleon, was asked, “Well, you’re model seems to
have no room for God in it, “for a deity,” and he
said, “Well, Your Majesty, “it still all operates
without that assumption.” Now, here’s what you
would have to believe if you thought that this was all designed. Dr. Craig gave a slight parody
of what I think about this. It could be true, but
you’d have to imagine, let’s say the human species has been, Homo sapiens has been with us, some people say as long as quarter of a million years, some say 200, some say 100,000. Francis Collins and Richard
Dawkins oscillate about this. It’s not a very big argument. I’ll just take 100,000 if you like. You have to imagine that
human beings are born, well actually most of them, a good number of them aren’t born,
they die in childbirth or don’t long outlive it. They’re born into a terrifying
world of the unknown, everything is a mystery
to them, everything from disease to volcanic eruptions. Everything is, life
expectancy for the first, I don’t know, many, many tens of thousands of years would be lucky
to be in the twenties, probably dying agonizingly of their teeth, poorly evolved as the teeth
are and from other inheritances from being primates such as the appendix that we don’t need, such as the fact that our genitalia appear to be
designed by a committee, other short comings of the
species, exaggerated by scarcity, by war, by famine, by
competition and so on and for 98,000 years or so
heaven watches this with complete indifference.
[phone pings] We know where your children
go to school, by the way. Heaven watches this
with total indifference and then with 2,000 years
to go on the clock thinks, “Actually, it’s time we intervened. “We can’t go on like this,
why don’t we have someone “tortured to death in
Bronze Age Palestine? “That should teach them; “that should give them
a chance at redemption.” You’re free to believe that,
but I think the designer who thought of doing it that way is a very, or was a very cruel,
capricious, random, bungling, and incompetent one. The news of this, Dr. Craig talks as if, “Okay, but since then
they’ll be more people born “so it might have been
a good time in terms “of population growth,”
well, there are a huge number of people who still haven’t
even heard of this idea. The news hasn’t penetrated
to them, or where it has, it’s been brought to them
by people who Dr. Craig doesn’t think of as
Christians, such as Mormons, for example, and it’s
taught to them in many discrepant and competitive
and indeed incompatible and violently irreconcilable ways. And there’s been a lot
of argument in the church and the churches all
this time about, well, “Okay, what is the answer to that? “What about all the
people who never could’ve “heard the good news or
who never will hear it “or still haven’t been reached by it “and who’ve died not knowing about it? “What happens to them? “How can they be saved?” Well the argument is that it’s all somehow made retrospective. And as, with so many of these arguments, I just comment on these,
well how convenient. Because if you’re willing
to make assumptions of this kind then really
evidence is only ancillary to what you are advancing. Now I didn’t have to chance,
oh, and just on Mr. Wright, sorry I scrawled a little note to myself, in your first round, Doctor,
you said that N.T. Wright, who is an impressive person,
says that no explanation of the success of Christianity is possible that doesn’t rest on the
terms of its being true, in other words Wright says,
“It was so successful, “it must have been that
the people were so strongly “motivated to believe it,
that it must have been true.” I regard that as a very,
very unsafe assumption. Or, if it is a safe
one, then it must surely apply to Islam and to Mormonism. I mean, these are two very, very, very fast growing religions; have people prepared to
sacrifice enormously for it; have ancestors who were
absolutely determined of the truth of it at the time and who made extraordinary conquests in its name. If you’re going to grant
this for one religion it seems to me you have to
be willing, not just willing, you may indeed be compelled
to make this concession for all of them and that, I think, would be not just an unsafe assumption but for most of you here a
distinctly unwelcome one. Now, I didn’t get the chance,
because I out-talked myself, I’m sorry for it, to get
to the moral dimension and I’m interested in the
fact that “objective” morality is the one that Dr. Craig chooses. Usually the arguments about
morality are whether the morality as, so to say, “absolute,” or whether it’s “relative.” As to objectivity I think
it’s a very good compromise word by the way and I’m
very happy to accept it. But the problem with morality is this, in respect of religion: You can’t prove that
anyone behaves any better if they refer to this problem upward to a supreme dictator of a celestial kind. There are two questions
that I’ve asked in public and I’ll try them again because I try them on every audience. They’re very simple ones. First, you have to name
for me, challenges, let’s say, rather than
questions, you have to name for me an ethical action
or an ethical statement or moral action or moral
statement made or undertaken by a believer that I
couldn’t undertake or say, I couldn’t state or do. I haven’t yet had an example
pointed out of that to me. In other words, that a
person of faith would have an advantage by being able to call upon divine sanction. Whereas if I ask you to think
of a wicked act undertaken by someone in the name of
God or because of their faith or a wicked statement
made, you wouldn’t have that much difficulty,
I think, in coming up with an example right away. The genital mutilation
community, for example, is almost exclusively religious; the suicide bombing community is almost exclusively religious; there are injunctions for
genocide in the Old Testament; there are injunctions,
warrants for slavery and racism in the Old Testament too. There’s simply no way of deriving morality and ethics from the supernatural. When we come to the question
of the absolute, well, the most often cited
one is the Golden Rule, the one that almost everyone
feels they have in common. The injunction not to do to others as you wouldn’t want them to do to you. This doesn’t in fact come
from the Sermon on the Mount or from Christianity, or it
doesn’t originate with it. It’s certainly adumbrated by Rabbi Hillel, a Babylonian rabbi,
and it’s to be found in The Analects of Confucius, too. But it has, since we’re talking
about objective, relative, and absolute, a crucial
weakness in it, unfortunately. We’d like to be able to follow it but it’s really only as good
as the person uttering it. In others words, if I
say I won’t treat you as I don’t want you to treat me, what am I to do when
confronted with Charles Manson? I want him treated in a way that I wouldn’t want to be treated myself. Anything else would surely
be completely relativistic. So the argument isn’t at all advanced by saying that I couldn’t
know any of this; I couldn’t have any moral promptings; I couldn’t decide for myself
if I see a pregnant woman being kicked in the stomach
that, because she’s pregnant, that’s obviously worse than if it was just a woman who wasn’t pregnant
being kicked in the stomach. This is part of my
patrimony as a human being. It’s part of the essential
emotional solidarity that I need to have
with my fellow creatures to make us realize that we
are brothers and sisters, one with another. We are dependent upon each
other; we have duties; we have expectations
of one another and that if we didn’t have these,
and try and fulfill them, we couldn’t have gotten as far as we have. We couldn’t have evolved as a species; we couldn’t have ever had a society. There’s never been a
society found where rape and murder and perjury are not condemned. These moral discoveries
long, or absolutes, if you want to call
them that, long predate the arrival of anything
recognizable as monotheism. It’s a bit like the argument of free will. People say, “Well, how
do you have free will? “Do you think you do have it?” Well, it’s a very, very
difficult subject indeed. Some religions say you
don’t in effect have it. That all is determined
by heaven, you’re really only a play thing in a larger game. I take that to be that some
of the point of Calvinism. There are some schools
of Islam also that say, “It is only as Allah wills.” There’s no will of yours really involved as long as you’re willing
to make the prostration and the obedience. So the connection between
religion and free will isn’t as simple, as easy
as some people think it is. But I would say, yes, I
think we have free will. And when asked why I think so,
I would have to take refuge in philosophical irony and say, “Because I don’t think we have any choice “but to have free will.”
[audience laughing] Well at least I know at
this point that I’m being ironic and that some of
the irony is at my own expense and it’s a risk I
have to be willing to run. But the Christian answer is, “Of course you have free will,
the boss insists upon it.” [audience laughing] This somewhat degrades
the freedom and redefines the idea of will and it seems to me also that there’s something
degrading in the idea of that saying that morality
is derived in the same way. That it comes from on
high; that we, ourselves, are not good enough, that
we don’t have the dignity, we don’t have the self respect, we don’t have the character
to know a right action or a right statement when we see it or when we want to perform it. It’s this servile element in religion. It’s not strictly speaking the subject of our debate this evening,
I know, but I’m damned if I completely forgo
it, it’s the idea that, buried in the religious impulse, is actually the wish to
be unfree, is the wish for an immovable, unchangeable,
celestial authority, a kind of heavenly North Korea
that will take our decisions away from us and commit us only to worship and praise and thank a
Great Leader and his son, the Dear Leader, forever
and ever and ever. I’m so glad that there’s no
evidence that this is true. Thank you. [audience applause]>>We now enter the period
of cross examination which, trial like, allows the questioner to pose and the answerer only to
answer and not to repeat the question or to dodge. Six minutes of questions
begin to Dr. Craig followed by six minutes of
questions to Mr. Hitchens. Dr. Craig, your questions
for Mr. Hitchens.>>All right. Let’s talk first about whether
there are any good arguments to think that atheism is true. Now, it seems to me that
you’re rather ambivalent here, that you say, you redefine atheism to mean a sort of ah-theism or non-theism.>>Christopher: That’s what it means.>>But, how do you distinguish, then, the different varieties of non-theism. For example, what is
normally called atheism, agnosticism, or the view
of verificationists, the statement “God exists”
is simply meaningless?>>Well, I mean, there
are different schools of atheism as you say,
but there’s no claim I know how to make that
says atheism is true because atheism is the statement that a certain proposition isn’t true. So I wish you’d get
this bit right because, there you go again. I’ve just devoted a little time to this. I said it is not, in itself,
a belief or a system, it simply says you can by
get by better, probably, we think, without the assumption and that no one who wants you to worship a god has ever been able to come up with a good enough reason to make you to do it.>>Now, so, the point is, though, that on your definition of ah-theism or nontheism, it really
embodies a diversity of views such as agnosticism, what is normally called atheism,
or this verificationism. Now, which of those do you hold to within this umbrella of ah-theism? Are you an atheist who
asserts the proposition “God does not exist” or
do you simply withhold belief in God in the way
that the agnostic does?>>Right. On some days I’m a great–
[audience laughing] No, I’m not going to do
you that much of a favor. On some days I’m a great
admirer of Thomas Huxley who had the great debate
with Bishop Wilberforce in Oxford at the Natural
History Museum about Darwinism in the mid-19th century, who was known as Darwin’s bulldog. We would now say Darwin’s pitbull. And who completely
trounced the good bishop. But, I can’t thank him
for inventing the term “agnostic” and I can’t
thank him for some of his social Darwinist positions either, some of which are rather unattractive–>>I need an answer to
this, my time is fleeting.>>Yes, because I think
agnosticism is evasive. To me, yes, if you talk about the power of the Holy Spirit and so forth, to me that is meaningless,
it’s, to me, I’m sorry, I’ve tried, it’s white noise. It’s like saying, “There is only one God “and Allah is his messenger.” It’s gibberish to me. There are many of us, I’m
sorry there are just many of us to whom, of whom this is the case. It may be true, it is true that religion–>>William: I gotta press you here, ’cause time is fleeting. What is your view exactly?
>>Press away.>>Do you affirm God does not exist, or do you simply withhold belief?>>I think once I have said
that I’ve never seen any persuasive evidence for
the existence of something, and I’ve made real attempts to
study the evidence presented and the arguments presented, that I will go as far as to say, have the nerve to say, that
it does not therefore exist except in the minds of its–>>William: All right, so–>>Except in the Henry
Jamesian subject of sense that you say of it being
so real to some people in their own minds that it
counts as a force in the world.>>Craig: Okay, so you do affirm then that God does not exist. Now, what I want to know, and do you have any justification for that?>>I think I’ve come unwired.>>William: You’re fine.>>Are you sure?
[audience laughing]>>Do you have any arguments
leading to the conclusion that God does not exist?>>Well I would rather,
I think, I’m wondering if I’m boring anybody now. I would rather say, I’d
rather state it in reverse and say I find all the arguments in favor to be fallacious or unconvincing. And I’d have to add, that
though this isn’t my reason for not believing in it, that
I would be very depressed if it was true. That’s quite a different thing. I don’t say of atheism that
it’s at all morally superior, that would be very risky. I wouldn’t admit that it was
at all morally inferior either, but we can at least be acquitted on the charge of wishful thinking. We don’t particularly–>>I wonder if that’s the case. Would you agree that
the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence?>>Well you know, I’m not
sure that I would agree.>>Okay. Let’s turn to the moral
argument and talk about that a little bit. I think you’ve misunderstood
the moral argument–>>Given the stakes, Doctor,
sorry, given the stakes, I mean you’re not
saying, we’re not talking about unicorns or tooth
fairies or leprechauns here, we’re talking about an
authority that would give other humans beings the
right to tell me what to do in the name of God. So, for a claim like that if
there’s no evidence for it, it seems to me a very, not a small question.>>No, it’s certainly
not a small question.>>Because you’re making a
very, very, very large claim. Your evidence had been be
absolutely magnificent, it seems to me. and it’s the lack of magnificence I think that began to strike me first.>>Hugh: One final question, doctor.>>Okay, well let’s go
to the moral argument. It seems to me there
that you’ve misunderstood the argument, in that we’re looking for an objective foundation for the moral values and duties that we want, we
both I think want to affirm. It’s not a matter of
whether or not we can know what is right and wrong,
or that we need God to tell us what is right and wrong, it’s rather that we need
to have some sort of an objective foundation
for right and wrong. Wouldn’t you agree on
your view it’s simply the socio-biological spinoffs
of the evolutionary process and that therefore
these do not provide any sort of objective foundation for moral values and duties?>>That could be true, yes.>>William: Okay.>>Could well be true. Yeah. I don’t want to be too
much of a reductionist, but it’s entirely
possible that it is purely evolutionary and functional. One wants to think that
there’s a bit more to one’s love for the fellow
creature than that. But it doesn’t add one iota of weight or moral gravity to the
argument to say that’s because I don’t believe
in a supernatural being. It’s a non sequitur.>>Hugh: Mr. Hitchens, your
questions for Dr. Craig.>>Ah, well, I’d like to know first, you said that the career of Jesus
of Nazareth involved a ministry of miracles and exorcisms. When you say “exorcism,”
do you mean that you believe in devils too?>>What I meant there
was that most historians agree that Jesus of Nazareth
practiced miracle working and he practiced exorcisms. I’m not committing myself, nor are historians committing themselves, to the reality of demons
but they are saying that Jesus did practice exorcism
and he practiced healing.>>So you believe that Jesus of Nazareth caused devils to leave
the body of a madman and go into a flock of
pigs that hurled themselves down the Gadarene slopes into the sea?>>Do I believe that’s historical? Yes.>>Christopher: Right. That would be sorcery wouldn’t it, though?>>No, it would be an
illustration of Jesus’ ability to command even
the forces of darkness and therefore an illustration of the sort of divine authority that he was able to command and exercise. This, as I say, is illustrative
of this unprecedented sense of divine authority
that Jesus of Nazareth had that he even could command the forces of darkness and that they would obey. So, whether you think he
was a genuine exorcist or that he merely believed
himself to be an exorcist, what is historically undeniable is that he had this radical sense of divine authority which he expressed by miracle
working and exorcisms.>>Right. And do you believe he
was born of a virgin?>>Um. Yes, I believe that as a Christian. I couldn’t claim to
prove that, historically. That’s not part of my case tonight. But I, as a Christian, I believe that.>>And I know you believe
in the resurrection but–>>Williams: Yes, that I
think we have good evidence.>>As a matter of biblical,
what shall we call it, consistency, it’s said
in one of the Gospels that at the time of the crucifixion all the graves of Jerusalem were opened and all the tenants of the
graves walked the streets and greeted their old friends. It makes resurrection
sound rather commonplace in the greater Jerusalem area.>>That’s in the gospel of
Matthew and that’s actually attached to a crucifixion
narrative where–>>Christopher: That’s what I said, it says at the time of the crucifixion.>>Yes, that’s right, at
the time of the crucifixion it says that there were
appearances of Old Testament saints in Jerusalem at the time. This is part of Matthew’s description of the crucifixion scene.>>Christopher: I mean,
do you believe that?>>I don’t know whether
Matthew intends this to be apocalyptic imagery or
whether he means this to be taken literally. I’ve not studied it in any depth and I’m open minded about it. I’m willing to be convinced
one way or the other.>>You see the reason
I’m pressing you is this: Because, I mean, we know from Scripture that Pharoahs’ magicians
could produce miracles. In the end, Aaron could outproduce them, but what I’m suggesting to you is even if the laws of nature can be suspended and great miracles can be performed, it doesn’t prove the truth of the doctrine of the person who’s performing them. Would you not agree to that?>>William: Not necessarily,
I think that’s right.>>So somebody could be
casting out devils from pigs and that wouldn’t prove
he was the son of God?>>I think that’s right. In fact, there were Jewish exorcists. The only point that I was
trying to make there was, that this was illustrative of the kind of divine authority that Jesus claimed, especially since He didn’t cast them out–>>Christopher: But if–>>In God’s name or He
didn’t perform miracles by praying to God, He would
do them in His own authority, so that Jesus exercised an
authority that was simply unheard of at that time and,
for which He was eventually crucified because it was
thought to be blasphemous.>>Well, it was though to be blasphemous to have claimed to be
the Messiah, to be exact. I mean, the people who got
the closest look at him, the Jewish Sanhedrin,
thought that his claims were not genuine so, remember,
if you’re resting anything on eye witnesses, the ones
who we definitely know were there thought he was bogus. But okay, I think I’ve got a rough idea. Assuming you make that assumption of his pre-existing divinity, that it’s a presuppositionalist case, I can see what you’re driving at.>>Well no, I’m not a presuppositionalist.>>I’ve got another question
for you, which is this: How many religions in the world
do you believe to be false?>>I don’t know how many
religions in the world there are, so I can’t–
[audience laughing]>>Fair enough. I’ll see if I can’t narrow that down. That was a clumsily asked
question, I’ll admit. Do you regard any of the
world’s religions to be false?>>William: Excuse me?>>Do you regard any of
the world’s religions to be false preaching?>>William: Yes, yes, I think, certainly.>>Would you name one then?>>Islam.>>Christopher: That’s quite a lot.>>Pardon me?>>Christopher: That’s quite a lot.>>Yes.>>Christopher: Therefore,
do you think it’s moral to preach false religion?>>No.>>Christopher: So religion
is responsible for quite a lot of wickedness in
the world right there?>>Certainly. I’d be happy to concede that,
I would agree with that.>>So if I was a baby being
born in Saudi Arabia today, would you rather I was
me, or a Wahabi Muslim?>>Would you rather be what?
[audience laughing]>>Would you rather it was
me, it was an atheist baby, or a Wahabi baby?
[audience laughing]>>I don’t have any, uh,
preference as to whether you– [audience laughing]
[applause]>>As bad as that, okay. Are there any, sorry, I’ve only got a few seconds. It’s a serious question,
I should squander it. Are there any Christian
denominations you regard as false?>>William: Certainly.>>Christopher: Could
I know what they are?>>Um. Well, uh, I’m not a
Calvinist, for example. I think that certain tenets of Reformed Theology are incorrect. I would be more in Wesleyan camp myself. But, these are differences among brethren. these are not difference on which we need to put one another into
some sort of a cage. So, within the Christian camp, there’s a large diversity of perspectives. I’m sure there are views that I hold that are probably false
but I’m trying my best to get my theology straight,
trying to do the best job but I think all of us
would recognize that none of us agree on every point
of Christian doctrine, on every dot and tittle.>>Before Mr. Hitchens
succeeds in launching another series of religious wars among
Christians let’s get to the– [audience laughing] Let’s get to the responses,
seven minutes each. Dr. Craig, it is your seven minutes.>>Okay. [William clears throat] Well, I think it’s very evident
that in tonight’s debate, we’ve not heard any good
reasons to think that what is normally called atheism is true, that is to say the belief
that God does notexist. Mr. Hitchens withholds
belief in God but he’s unable to give us any argument to think that God does not exist which is what
is called positive atheism. Now he does mention that the human species has been here for 100,000 years but I’ve already responded to that. What’s crucial there is
not the number of years, it’s the population and only
two percent of the population of the earth has existed before Christ. And during that time
God is not indifferent to the lot of those people,
rather he is preparing humanity, preparing the world for
the advent of Christ so that in the fullness
of time Christ would come into the world. And those people who
lived apart from Christ, God cared for them as well
and provided for them. The Bible says, “Ever since
the creation of the world, “God’s invisible nature,
namely His eternal power “and deity has been clearly
perceived in the things “that have been made.” Paul says that, “From one man
God made every nation of men, “that they should inhabit the whole earth “and He determined the time set for them “in the exact places
that they should live. “He did this so men would
seek Him and perhaps reach out “for Him and find Him, for
He is not far from each “one of us, for in Him we live
and move and have our being.” So that those who lived
before Christ were covered by the death of Christ, they were covered by his atoning sacrifice
and God will judge them on the basis of the information that they had in their response
to general revelation. Similar to those who haven’t
heard the Gospel yet today, they will be judged on the
basis of the information that they do have and how they respond to that. And aren’t you glad that you
don’t have to judge them? You can leave this up
to the hands of a just and holy and merciful
God who will judge people on the basis of how they
respond to the revelation that they do have. So we’ve not heard any
argument tonight that God does not exist. Now, by contrast, I’ve
given five arguments to show that Christian theism is true. First, we saw the cosmological argument. Mr. Hitchens has not disagreed with either of the premises of this
argument and so we have good grounds to believe
in the personal creator of the universe. As for the teleological
argument, again he didn’t respond to what I said in my last speech with respect to the fine
tuning being well established in science and that the
fact that we’re going towards nothingness as he puts it, is an atheistic assumption,
not a Christian assumption and therefore doesn’t do
anything to disprove design. Now what about the moral argument? Here he says that, “You have
to prove that people would “behave better if they believed in God.” That’s not the argument, I
hope that’s clear to everyone. The argument is that without
God as a transcendent foundation for moral values, we’re simply lost in
socio-cultural relativism. Who are you to judge that
the Nazi ethic was wrong? Who are you to judge
that the ethic of ancient Hinduism was wrong? Who are you to judge that the
Africana apartheid is wrong? This is all just the
result of socio-cultural evolution and there is
no transcendent objective standard apart from God and
that’s what God delivers for us. Now Mr. Hitchens says, “Name one moral action that
an unbeliever could not take.” Well, that’s trivially easy. If God exists there are
all kinds of moral duties that we have that the
unbeliever cannot recognize. At the panel discussion
last week in Dallas, when Mr. Hitchens demanded that
someone name such an action, a pastor on the panel
immediately piped up, “How about tithing?”
[audience laughing] Well, leave it to a pastor to
think of that, but, clearly, that’s an action that only
a believer would take. Even more fundamentally,
what about the first and greatest commandment? “You shall love the Lord
your God with all your heart, “with all your strength,
with all your mind.” That is an action that
only a believer can take, no unbeliever can discharge even this most fundamental of moral duties. But, in any case, all of this is beside the point with respect
to the moral argument. The point is that on atheism there are no moral obligations
for anybody to fulfill. In nature, whatever is,
is right and Mr. Hitchens is unable to provide any
sort of objective foundation for moral values. Massimo Pigliucci is a
philosopher of biology. This is what he has to say. He says on atheism,
“There is no such thing “as objective morality. “Morality in human cultures has evolved “and what is moral for
you might not be moral “for the guy next door
and certainly is not moral “for the guy across the ocean. “And what makes you think
that your personal morality “is the one and everybody else is wrong? “What we call homicide or rape,” he said, “Is very, very common among
different kinds of animals. “Lions, for example, commit
infanticide on a regular basis. “Now, are these kinds
of acts to be condoned? “I don’t even know what that means because “the lion doesn’t
understand what morality is. “Morality,” he says, “Is an
invention of human beings.” It’s just a convention that human beings have adopted to live together. But it has no objectivity. And that’s what I offer
Mr. Hitchens tonight, is a solid, transcendent
foundation for the moral values that I think he so
desperately wants to affirm. What about the resurrection of Jesus? Here he misunderstood
N.T. Wright’s argument. N.T. Wright’s argument
is not that the success of Christianity means that it’s true, that would apply to Islam and Mormonism, rather, N.T. Wright’s argument is that the origin of the disciples’ belief that God had raised Jesus from
the dead is so un-Jewish, it is so uncharacteristic, that you have to explain
what would bring them to adopt so radical a
mutation of Jewish belief, as belief in a dying Messiah
and a rising Messiah. And he says the only thing
he can think of that would explain this is the empty tomb and the post mortem appearances
of Jesus and that’s why Wright concludes that these have a certainty that is comparable to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. So you’ve gotta get the argument right if you’re going to deal with it and, in fact, I think the only
explanation of these facts is the one that the
disciples gave that God raised Jesus from the dead. Finally, the immediate experience of God has remained untouched. God is real to me. And unless I’m delusional, I’m perfectly within my rational rights to believe in God on the
basis of this experience just as I believe in the
reality of the external world or the reality of the past on
the basis of my experience. So I think in sum, we’ve
got five good reasons for believing that Christianity is true, no reason to think atheism is true and therefore I think Christianity is clearly the more rational world view. [audience applause]>>I think, you’ll
correct me if I’m wrong, it’s Tertilian, isn’t it,
who says something like, it’s variously translated
“credo quia absurdum?” That the very improbability of the thing, the very unlikelihood of
it, the unlikelihood that anyone would fabricate
such a thing, for example, that a Jew could be brought to believe something so extraordinary,
is testimony to its truth. I’m sure there can’t be
anyone here who doesn’t thinks that’s a little too easy,
a little too facile. I myself, for example,
have followed the career of a woman known vulgarly in
the media as “Mother Teresa,” an Albanian named Agnes
Bojaxhiu, a Catholic fanatic operating in the greater Calcutta area, and I watched every stage of
her career as a candidate for, and then the recipient of, beatification and shortly, canonization. The canonization will require,
as the Vatican demands, the attestation of a miracle performed by her posthumous intercession. And the miracle’s already been announced, a woman in Bengal, fortunately
already a devout Catholic, by pressing a medal of
Mother Teresa to her stomach, made a tumor go away, or so she says. All the witnesses to
this have since recanted, all the doctors have given
a much better explanation of how she was cured of
the swelling and the growth and what the medicines were and so forth, but they’re still stuck with it. They have to go ahead
with this process because, which will lead to
countless, untold suffering in India because it will appear to license the bogus charlatanry of shaman, medicine and intercessory medicine rather than the real thing. All of this will have to be gone through, this awful display, in the name of faith. And I just happened to have
watched it at every stage and I can tell you it’s depressingly easy to get a religious rumor started. You can count on an enormous
amount of pre-existing credulity among illiterate, frightened, ill-educated populations. There isn’t a literate, written-down, properly attested witness of
any real sort in the Gospels. It is, and you may as well
admit it, and stick to it because it’s what you’re good at, it involves an act of faith. Second, on the matter
of my moral question. Yes, it’s true that Doug
Wilson said that tithing was something I couldn’t
do, but then not just, I’m not moving the goal posts here, I don’t think I’d regard
giving all my money to the New Saint Andrews
church as a moral act. The only challenge that I’ve had so far that I really couldn’t
get out of, I should share it with you, was I was told
well you couldn’t do this: You couldn’t say, “Father, forgive them “for they know not what they do.” No, but nor could you as people
of faith, you wouldn’t dare. It would be blasphemy to do it. There’s only one person
who can do that even on your account so, with respect, ladies and gentlemen, I think
both my challenges stand. It hasn’t been shown that I couldn’t be a moral person despite my unbelief and it has certainly not been demonstrated that unbelief with guarantee you against, excuse me that the belief will, I’ll say it again, that unbelief will ensure you against wickedness. You mentioned things like
apartheid and Nazism. Well, let me just run it by you. Partly this often comes
up because people say, “What about the crimes and
wickedness of the secular world?” The apartheid system in South Africa was actually a creation of
the Dutch Reformed Church. It was justified
theologically as the giving of a promised land to one
Christian religious tribe in which everyone else was supposed to be hewers of wood and drawers of water. It wasn’t until the Dutch Reformed Church, under pressure, agreed
to drop their racist preachments of many years
that the apartheid system could be dismantled. The dictatorship in
Greece in 1967 to ’74 was proclaimed by the Greek
Orthodox Church as a “Greece for Christian Greeks.” The Russian Orthodox Church at present, maybe this is one of
the churches you don’t recognize as Christian, I don’t know, but it’s currently become the body guard of the Vladimir Putin
dictatorship in Russia. They are now producing, the
Russian Orthodox Church, actual icons with halos
around them of Joseph Stalin for distribution to extreme
Russian nationalists and chauvinists for whom
the church has become the spiritual sword and butler. In Nazi Germany prayers
were said every year on the Führer’s birthday
by order of the churches for his survival and well being. The first concordat signed
by Hitler and by Mussolini, in both cases, was with the Vatican. If you take out the word
“fascist” from any account of the 1920s and ’30s, any
reputable historical account, and you insert the words
“Christian right wing,” or actually “Catholic right wing,” you don’t have to change a word
of the rest of the sentence. And the third member of the
axis, the Japanese Empire, was led by someone who
actually claimed he was himself a god and to whom everyone
in Japan was a serf and had to admit his god had
indivinity and it was said to all of them, “Where would
we know without the Emperor? “How would we know what to do? “How would we know what
a right action was? “Without him there would
be screwing in the streets. “There would be chaos, no one
would know their bearings. “Without our god, we would be rudderless.” Many Japanese people, in fact, it is pitiful to report,
still actually believe that. Now, I want to say, in
other words, that religion is the outcome of
unresolved contradictions in the material world, that
if you make the assumption that it’s man-made then very few things are mysterious to you. If you make the assumption
that religion is man-made then you would know why. It would be obvious to you why
there are so many religions. When you make the assumption
that it’s man-made you will understand why it is
that religion has been such a disappointment to our
species that despite enumerable revivals, enumerable attempts again
to preach the truth, enumerable attempts to
convert the heathen, enumerable attempt to send missionaries all around the world, that the
same problems remain with us. That nothing is resolved by this. That we, if all religions died out or all were admitted
to be false instead of, as all believers will tell you,
only some of them are false, in other words, we’re
faced with the preposterous proposition that religion,
either all of them true, or none of them true, or
only one exclusive preachment is true. And none of these seem, to me, coherent, and all of these seem to be
the outcome of a man-made cult. Assume that all of them were
discredited at the same time, all of our problems would be
exactly what they are now: How do we live with one another? Where, indeed, do morals
and ethics come from? What are our duties to one another? How shall we build the just city? How shall we practice love? How shall we deal with the baser, what Darwin called the “Lowly stamp of “our original origins,” which comes, not from a pact with the
devil, or an original sin, but from our evolution as well? All these questions, ladies and gentlemen, would remain exactly the same. Emancipate yourself from
the idea of a celestial dictatorship and you’ve
taken the first step to becoming free. Thank you. [audience applause]>>Dr. Craig, your closing argument. Five minutes.>>In my final speech I’d like to try to draw together some of
the threads of this debate and see if we can come
to some conclusions. First, have we seen any
good arguments tonight to think that God does not exist? No, I don’t think we have. We’ve heard attacks upon
religion, Christianity impugned, God impugned, Mother Teresa impugned, but we haven’t heard any
arguments that God does not exist. Mr. Hitchens seems to fail
to recognize that atheism is itself a world view and
it claims alone to be true and all the other religions
of the world false. It is no more tolerant than Christianity, with respect to these other views. He asserts that he alone has
the true world view: atheism. The only problem is he
doesn’t have any arguments for this world view, he just asserts it. So it seems to me that
if you’re going to have a world view and champion
it tonight you’ve got to come to a debate prepared
to give some arguments and we haven’t heard any. He did have an argument
about evolution but when I explained that it
actually turned out to be supportive of theism,
evolution actually provides evidence for the existence of
a designer of the universe, so we’ve not heard any
good arguments to think that atheism is true. Now, I’ve presented five
reasons to think that theism is true and this is what God, or the god hypothesis does give you. He asks, “What does it give us?” It explains a broad range
of human experience, philosophical, ethical, scientific, historical, experiential. I find the attraction of
the god hypothesis is that it is so powerful in making
sense of the way the world is. For example, the god
hypothesis explains the origins of the universe. Mr. Hitchens has completed
dropped this point in tonight’s debate. When we saw that in fact scientific and philosophical evidence
points to a beginning of the universe out of
nothing and therefore to a transcendent, personal
creator of the cosmos. The teleological argument. The fine tuning that is
established in the initial conditions of the universe, not to speak of in the
biological complexity that then ensued. And again, Mr. Hitchens has dropped that in the course of the debate tonight. So we have a creator and
an intelligent designer of the cosmos. Thirdly, the moral argument. We saw that without God there
are no objective moral values. And here Mr. Hitchens has
consistently distorted the argument. He’s portrayed the argument as, “How would we know moral values
if we didn’t believe in God? “We don’t need to believe
in a tyrant in order “to define moral values. “Unbelief doesn’t produce wickedness.” That is all irrelevant. The point is that there is no foundation on a naturalistic world
view for the moral values and duties that we both want to affirm and he agrees with that. This is what he says and I quote, he says, “Our innate predisposition to both good “and wicked behavior is
precisely what one would “expect to find of a
recently evolved species “that is half a chromosome
away from chimpanzees. “Primate and elephant
and even pig societies “show considerable evidence
of care for others, “parent-child bonding,
solidarity in the face of danger, “and so on. “As Darwin put it, any
animal, whatever endowed “with well-marked social instincts, “would inevitably acquire
a moral censor conscience “as soon as its intellectual
powers had become “as well developed as in man.” That is the socio-biological
explanation for morality. The problem is that that
moral sense that develops in pig societies, chimpanzees, baboons, and Homo sapiens is
illusory on atheism because there are no objective
moral duties or values that we have to fulfill
and that’s what the theist can offer Mr. Hitchens. And so, I want to invite Mr. Hitchens to think about becoming
a Christian tonight. [audience laughing]
[applause] Honestly, if he is a man
of good will who will follow the evidence where it leads, all of the evidence tonight
has been on one side of the scale and he
wants to affirm objective moral values so why not adopt theism? The resurrection of
Jesus has gone unrefuted. The argument is not
that it’s too improbable to be false, the argument is that you need a historically sufficient
explanation to explain why the disciples came
to believe this and there isn’t one apart from the
empty tomb and appearances. It’s not a matter of rumor
because the empty tomb was public knowledge in Jerusalem. It would impossible for Christianity to flourish in Jerusalem in
the face of an occupied tomb. Finally, the immediate experience of God. If there’s anyone watching or listening to the debate tonight who hasn’t found God in a personal experiential way then I want to invite you as well to think
about becoming a Christian. I became a Christian as
a junior in high school and it changed my entire life and I believe that if
you’ll look into it honestly with an open mind and
an open heart that it can change your life as well. [audience applause]
[cheering]>>Mr. Hitchens has yielded his time and therefore we move to questions and we are directing those
questions to students tonight. I want to repeat something Dr. Hazen said. There are stupid questions.
[audience laughing] I want to add to it we are
uninterested in your opinions. Only your questions matter to us. I don’t know where the
microphone is can we hear the first question? Each participant will
answer every question.>>Dr. Craig, Mr. Hitchens,
thank you so much. It’s been great listening to you both. My question is for Mr. Hitchens. Mr. Hitchens, in your book God
is Not Great, you say that, “There are four irreducible objections “to religious faith.” The third being that religious faith “Is both the result and the cause “of dangerous sexual repression.” So here’s my question for you: Is it good that the Bible prohibits humans from having sex with animals, or is that an example of
dangerous sexual repression?>>Um.
[audience laughing] The allusion I was making
was not to the man-made, in the ordinary sense nature of religion, that you can tell from
studying some of its codes that it’s, humans have invented it. That’s why so many of the injunctions in the Old Testament are
as you quite rightly say, concerned with agriculture,
shall we put it delicately? But, it’s more that it’s man-made, it’s designed to keep
women in subordination.>>Man: But could you answer the question?>>Yes.>>Do you think the Bible
is right to prohibit humans from having sex with animals?>>I don’t know of any good advice about having sex with animals, in
favor of it, I mean to say. Look, there are things that if people do, incest is one and cannibalism is another, if you do them, you’ll die out. A society that permitted it would. There were societies in New Guinea that did practice cannibalism
and there’s a terrible disease that you get
called Kuru if you do it and it seems to me, if you like, there are some rules
that are self-enforcing. That’s not what I, when I was talking about sexual repression,
I was talking about the enormous number of prohibitions on sex between men and women
and on the evident fear of female sexuality and
the superstitious dread, for example, of female menstrual blood. Things of this kind.>>Dr. Craig, your assessment
of that question and answer.>>Well, I think the
question illustrates that, apart from God, whatever
is in nature is right. There is no thing barred in nature if there is no sort of
objective moral code. So, the question is a good one because it illustrates that here is a guideline for sexual expression that is very good for human beings and not something that’s meant to be repressive or
harmful to human beings. In fact, the studies I’ve seen says that religious people have more fun with sex than people who are not religious and it’s actually shows that they are more sexually satisfied in
marriage and so forth. So I think the question
makes a good point.>>I think I have to have
another bite at this– [audience laughing] This tempting cherry. You see, if it’s true
that, as I think it is, that nature is pretty
indifferent, pretty callous, pretty random, then who is the designer? Many people say, concerning
the ban on homosexuality, for example, in the Old
Testament, they’ll say, “Well, homosexuality is against God’s law “and against Nature’s law.” Well, in that case, why
does nature see to it that so many people are born homosexual? Or, if you want to rephrase it, why does God have so many of his children preferring sex with their own gender? It doesn’t help, it doesn’t, in clarifying and elucidating this. It doesn’t help to assume
a supernatural authority. Whereas, if you look at the reasons given by Maimonides and the other sages for the practice of circumcision,
it is precisely to dull and to blunt the sensation of an organ which I don’t think even, well, I’ll leave it there.
[audience laughing]>>Hugh: Our next question.>>It’s explicitly
designed, in other words, to reduce sexual pleasure, make it more of a painful
duty than a celebration. Well you asked for it.>>I don’t want to misrepresent myself. I was a student here and graduated– [audience laughing] Somewhat by the skin of my teeth. Mr. Hitchens you stated that, some of your most strongly stated arguments are that the results of religion,
violence, death, destruction, the motivation being religion, discredit those who would
promote a belief in God. However, I think there’s
an imbalance there in that the nuclear bomb
was created by physicists and is the most demonstrable violence perpetrated on mankind. So I wonder how you respond to that.>>Well physics isn’t an ideology. Physics isn’t a belief system. It’s a science.>>Well that, I think
that would be subjective.>>I mean you could, any more than Marie Curie discovering radium makes her practice morally different. I mean, it’s not comparing like with like. What I’m talking about
are specific religious injunctions to do evil. To mutilate the genitalia
of children, for example. To take the pastor, Douglas Wilson, who Dr. Craig was just mentioning, with whom I’ve crossed swords
several times this year, and recently in Dallas. I happened to be mentioning to him about the commandment to
exterminate the Amalekites in one of our debates and
he said that commandment is still valid. If there were any Amalekites it would be his job to
make sure they were all put to the sword and some
of the virgins left over for slavery, purposes better imagined perhaps than described. I think this is a very serious problem. I’m not taking refuge in the common place that sometimes religious
people behave badly and that that would discredit religion. That would be a very soft option. I’m saying that there
are specific biblical, scriptural injunctions to do evil.>>Dr. Craig in that regards, those who are announced
atheists who have done evil in the world particularly
in the last 20th century, the Marxists, the
Trotskyites, the Stalinists. have they done more damage in your view and more evil than Christians?>>Well, this is a debate, Hugh, that I don’t want to get into because I think it’s irrelevant. I, as a philosopher, and I mean this, am interested in the
truth of these world views more than I’m interested
in the social impact. And you cannot judge the
truth of a world view by its social impact,
that’s just irrelevant. Bertrand Russell, in his essay
“Why I’m Not a Christian” understood this. Russell said you cannot assess the truth of a world view by
seeing whether it’s good for society or not. Now the irony was when
Russell wrote that back in the ’20s, he was trying to refute those who said that you should
be believe in Christianity because it’s so socially
beneficial to society. It was just the mirror image of Christopher Hitchens’ argument, where he’s saying you
shouldn’t believe in it because it’s so socially detrimental
to human culture. But I think Russell’s point cuts both ways because it’s a valid point. You can’t assess the truth of a world view by arguing about its
cultural and social impact. There are true ideas that may have had negative social impact and
therefore we have to deal with the truth of these, the arguments for and against them and not get into arguments about has Marxism or Chinese
Communism been responsible for more deaths than theism
in the twentieth century?>>No, I completely concur
with what you say there. I mean, I just wanted to say that I think those commandments are
injunctions to do evil but I would much prefer
to say that the tribe that thought it was hearing
these instructions from God, to kill all of its rivals,
exterminate all its rivals for the Holy Land,
might possibly have had, I think it’s overwhelmingly
probable it did have, the need to seek and claim divine approval for the war of greedy extermination, annexation, and racist conquests that it was going to undertake anyway. In other words, I don’t think there was an authority issuing
that commandment whether it was morally good or otherwise, as a matter of the truth. But I would add, and
I think the concession is very well worth having, that there is absolutely
no proof at all that Christianity makes people behave better.>>Wait a minute, I didn’t concede that. I said I wasn’t going to argue that, because it’s irrelevant but by
no means did I concede that. And I do appreciate as
well the way you framed the issue the about the Canaanites. I think you’re quite right in saying that this is not an issue about
whether or not God exists. Rather this is a question
about biblical inerrancy. Did these ancient Israelites
get it right in thinking that God had commanded them to
do these things or did they, in their nationalistic fervor, think God is on our side
and do something which, in fact, they weren’t
commanded to do by God? So that this isn’t an issue
between atheism and theism. This is an issue about
biblical inspiration and inerrancy and that’s
an important issue, but it’s not one that
is on the floor tonight.>>Our next student question.>>Hi, my question is mainly
directed at Mr. Hitchens, but, Christian theism, as with all theisms that claim a revelation
say that the purpose of human existence is to serve God, and Dr. Craig might want to
expound on that in some way. But Mr. Hitchens, as an atheist with no transcendent being giving
you a reason for existence, what then is the best way to live life or what is motivation for living life or what is the purpose of your existence without a transcendent being
telling you what to do?>>Well I find it, you
see this is where I find it hard to accept the
grammar of your question. It’s as if, if I was
only willing to concede the supernatural, you
want to say transcendent, I want to say supernatural,
then my life would have purpose. I think that’s a complete non sequitur. To me, at any rate, I’ll have
to just make the confession. This is as real to me subjectively as any William Jamesian
apprehension of the divine. I don’t get your point at all.>>Dr. Craig, one of the
written questions says, and I think it is
consistent with the question from the audience: “You’ve written that life
without God is absurd, “but I know unbelievers who are living “fulfilling moral lives. “In what way is their life absurd?”>>Okay, let me respond to
that and to the question, here that was asked. I would say that the purpose of life, for which God has created us, is not to serve God. Remember, Jesus said, “I
have not called you servants, “I have called you friends.” And I think the Westminster
Confession gets it right when it says the purpose
of human existence is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. God is the fulfillment of human existence. It is in fellowship eternally with God, the source of infinite goodness and love, that the true fulfillment
of human existence and freedom is to be found. Now, when I say that, apart from theism, life is meaningless, I mean
objectively meaningless. This is the same distinction
that we’re talking about with regard to moral values. I’m saying that on atheism, there is there is no objective
purpose for human existence. As Mr. Hitchens recognizes, eventually the universe will
grow cold, dilute, dark, and dead as it runs down
toward maximum entropy and heat death and all human existence and life will be extinguished
on an atheistic view of the future of the universe. There is no purpose for
which the universe exists; the litter of a dead
universe will just expand into the endless darkness forever, a universe in ruins. Now, of course one can
still live one’s life as an illusion, thinking, “Well, the purpose of life is to, say, “hit forty home runs and
steal 40 bases every year, “you know, in the major leagues,” and you draw the meaning of your existence from that but that’s
not really the meaning of your existence, that’s
just a subjective illusion. In fact, your existence on atheism is objectively meaningless. So that’s the distinction
that I was making. Again, it’s between objective
and mere subjective illusion.>>Well, I think it has it
exactly the wrong way around. You see, as I was
beginning to say earlier, we didn’t have time in
the question period, I wouldn’t say that atheism
was morally inferior, I wouldn’t concede that for a second. I don’t want to make a claim
for its superiority either, but there may be a slight edge here. We don’t believe anything
that could be called wishful. In other words, we don’t
particularly welcome the idea of the annihilation
either of ourselves, as individuals. The party will go one, we will have left and we’re not coming back. Or of the entropic heat
death of the universe. We don’t like the idea, but there’s a good deal
of evidence to suggest that is what’s gonna happen. And there’s very, very
little evidence to suggest that I’ll see you all
again in some theme park. One nice and one nasty experience. There’s absolutely no
evidence for that at all. So I’m willing to accept
on the evidence conclusions that may be unwelcome to me. I’m sorry if I sound as
if I’m spelling that out, but I will. Now you want to know what
makes my life meaningful? Generally speaking it’s
been struggling myself to be free and, if I can
say it without immodesty, Mr. Hewitt kindly said it for me, too flatteringly beforehand, but trying to help others to be free too. That’s what’s given a
lot of meaning to my life and does still. Solidarity with those who
want to be as free as I am, partly by luck and partly by my own efforts and the efforts of others. Well one obstacle to liberty, and that’s why I mentioned it and gave so many examples of it in history and in the present day, is the poisonous role
played by fellow primates of mine who think they
can tell me what to do in the name of God because God’s told them that they have this power. So, that’s one thing I’d
like to be shot of right here in the here in now. And my suspicion is, if you
really ask the religious whether they want power
and what’s the world they care about, the next one or this one, it’ll be this one every time, because they too know perfectly well that this is the only life we’ve got.>>Yeah, I don’t think that’s true. It seems to me that, on the basis of the resurrection of Jesus that we have grounds for
the hope of immortality. This is the foundation upon which the Christian hope is predicated. So, again, it gets back to whether or not one has good grounds for thinking that Jesus was who he claimed to be and that God raised him from the dead because if he did, then
there is hope of immortality.>>But then, I return your question to me, I return it to you in a different form. If there’s going to be a resurrection, an ingathering, if in the
end all the injustices will be canceled, all tears dried, all the other promises kept, then why do you care what
happens in this brief veil of tears? Why do the churches want
power in the here and now? Why do they want to
legislate for things like abortion or sexuality or morality? Why bother? I mean, isn’t it just as much the case, as Dostoyevsky says about atheism, that without God all things are possible, that with God all things
are thinkable too?>>Not at all. As Dostoyevsky said, if
there is no immortality, all things are permitted, he said, because it all ends up the same, it all comes out in the wash the same. But, if there is a God who exists, who loves human beings
and has created them in his image and endowed them
with intrinsic moral value and unalienable rights, then you have every reason
to treasure other persons as ends in themselves. And the desire of pro-life persons to champion
the lives of the unborn or the lives of the
dying isn’t a power grab, Mr. Hitchens, it’s because they genuinely care about the lives of
innocent human beings that they believe are
being wantonly destroyed. [audience applause] So it’s a very positive motivation.>>Agreed, agreed, but there are perfectly good humanist motives for
doing all those things and if you want to have
a reason for caring about the survival and health
and well being of others, the idea that you might depend on them for the only life you’ve got, and they on you for solidarity, is just as good an
explanation for right action.>>William: Now don’t you–>>Par contre, if people
think God is telling them what to do, or they
have God on their side, what will they not do? That’s what I meant by the reverse of the Dostoyevsky question. What crime will not be committed? What offense to justice
and to reason will not be, is not regularly committed
by people who are convinced that it is God’s will that they do that? It’s with God that all is possible.>>If they commit such
atrocities it is only because they only act inconsistently with their world view
rather than in line with it. Jesus would not have
been a guard at Auschwitz or someone who would take
away the human rights of another person. You need to ask what kinds of actions are sanctioned by a world view? And on atheism, as Dostoyevsky said, it seems everything is permitted. Humanism, without God
as a basis for humanism, is just a form of speciesism, a bias in favor of your own species. I think Christianity affirms
the real basis for humanism.>>Auschwitz is the outcome of centuries in which the Christian
Church announced, believed, that the Jewish people
had called for the blood of Jesus of Nazareth to be on their head for every generation. It’s only in one verse in the Bible, I know, but it happens to be the verse the Church picked up on. I don’t say Jesus would
have been a guard there, that’s not the point,
the point is that this is not an aberration of religion, it is a scriptural injunction as is the one to kill the Amalekites–>>No, there’s no scriptural–>>Christopher: As is the one to mutilate the genitals of children.>>It is. The issue is would Jesus have been a guard at Auschwitz
because insofar as people who claim to be his followers
were guards at Auschwitz, they were acting inconsistently and in defiance of the
ethic of Jesus of Nazareth.>>Well you should tell
that to the Vatican. I mean we know, Paul Johnson and his very friendly history of
Christianity says that, up to 50 to 60% of the
Waffen-SS were practicing, confessing Catholics in good standing. No one was ever threatened with discipline by the church with
excommunication, for example, for taking part in the Final Solution. The only Nazi ever
excommunicated by the church was Joseph Goebbels and, if
you like, I’ll tell you why.>>Hugh: To the student.>>His wife was a divorced Protestant.>>Hugh: He was going to tell us anyway.>>Excuse, excuse me, Christianity
does have some standards.>>Next student.>>Hi, I’d just like
to thank both you guys for being here and in
the interest of fairness, I know I’m playing devil’s advocate here, pun intended, but I think
since almost all of the questions are going to be
directed towards Mr. Hitchens I think we should have on for Dr. Craig.>>Christopher: They’re
all for both of us.>>For Dr. Craig, what do you think about Epicurus’ argument that
if God is omnibenevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent,
if He knows about kids in Africa that are born with AIDS, what do you think about Him suggesting, like Him not intervening and
Him not changing that fact? That’s a question that
I’ve always struggled with so I’m just wondering, could you expand on that and
I’d also like your input on it.>>Yeah. The Problem of Evil and Suffering has been greatly discussed by philosophers and I think there’s been genuine progress made in this century on this problem. I think it’s important to
distinguish between the intellectual problem of suffering and the emotional problem of suffering because these are quite
different from each other. In terms of the intellectual
problem of suffering, I think that there you
need to ask yourself is the atheist claiming, as Epicurus did, that the existence of God
is logically incompatible with the evil and suffering in the world? If that’s what the
atheist is claiming then he’s got to be presupposing some kind of hidden assumptions that would bring out that contradiction and make it explicit because these statements are
not explicitly contradictory. The problem is no
philosopher in the history of the world has ever
been able to identify what those hidden
assumptions would be that would bring out the contradiction
and make it explicit. On the contrary, you can actually prove that these are logically
compatible with each other by adding a third proposition, namely, that God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting the evil in the world. As long as that statement
is even possibly true, it proves that there’s no
logical incompatibility between God and the
suffering in the world. So the atheist would have to show that it is logically impossible
for God to have morally sufficient reasons for
permitting the evil and suffering in the world and no atheist
has ever been able to do that. So, that the logical
version of this problem, I think, is widely
recognized to have failed. Those atheists who still press the problem therefore press it as a
probabilistic argument. They try to say that, given
the evil in the world, it’s improbable that God exists, not impossible but improbable. Well, again, the difficulty
there is that the atheist has to claim that if
God did exist then it is improbable that he would permit the evil and suffering in the world. And how could the atheist
possibly know that? How could the atheist
know that God would not, if He existed, permit the evil
and suffering in the world. Maybe He’s got good reasons for it. Maybe, like in Christian theism, God’s purpose for human
history is to bring the maximum number of people freely into his kingdom to find
salvation and eternal life and how do we know that
that wouldn’t require a world that is simply
suffused with natural and moral suffering. It might be that only in a world like that the maximum number of
people would freely come to know God and find salvation. So the atheist would
have to show that there is a possible world
that’s feasible for God which God could’ve created that would have just as much salvation and eternal life and knowledge of God as the actual world but with less suffering. And how could the atheist
prove such a thing? It’s sheer speculation. So the problem is that, as an argument, the Problem of Evil makes
probability judgements which are very, very
ambitious and which we are simply not in a position to make with any kind of confidence. Now, I recognize that that
philosophical response to the question doesn’t deal
with the emotional problem of evil and I think that for most people, this isn’t really a philosophical problem, it’s an emotional problem. They just don’t like a god
who would permit suffering and pain in the world so
they turn their backs on him. What does Christianity have
to say to this problem? Well, I think it has a lot to say. It tells us that God is not some sort of an impersonal ground
of being or an indifferent tyrant who folds his arms
and watches the world suffer. Rather, He is a god who
enters into human history in the person of Jesus
Christ and what does He do? He suffers. On the cross, Christ
bore a suffering of which we can form no conception. Even though He was innocent,
He bore the penalty of the sins of the whole world. None of us can comprehend
what He suffered. And I think when we
contemplate the cross of Christ and His love for us
and what He was willing to undergo for us, it puts the problem of suffering in an entirely
different perspective. It means, I think, that
we can bear the suffering that God calls upon us
to endure in this life with courage and with
optimism for an eternal life of unending joy beyond the grave because of what Christ has done
for us and He will give us, I think, the courage and
the strength to get through the suffering that God calls
upon us to bear in this life. So, whether it’s an emotional issue or intellectual issue I think ultimately Christian theism can make sense out of the suffering and evil in the world.>>As the clock winds down I reserve the last question for myself, Mr. Hitchens.>>Just on the devil’s advocate point, when the Vatican asked me to
testify against Mother Teresa, I discovered, which I
did, I discovered that the office of devil’s advocate
has been abolished now. So, I come before you as the only person ever to have represented
the devil pro bono. [audience laughing]>>Hugh: Last question.>>Yeah, now, I’m not one
of, I was very intrigued by that reply and largely agree with it. If I was a believer, I would not feel God owed me an explanation. I’m not one of those atheists who thinks you can go around saying, complaining, if you make the assumption
that there is a deity then all things are possible. You just have to be able
to make that assumption. At our debate in Dallas the other day I mentioned the case of Fräulein Fritzl, the Austrian woman who was imprisoned in a dungeon by her father for quarter of a century and incestuously
raped and tortured and kept in the dark with
her children for 25 years and I thought, I asked
people to imagine how she must have beseeched him, how she must have begged him, and how the children must have, and how they must have prayed, and how those prayers went unanswered, and those beggings and
beseechments went unanswered for 25 years and, um, Douglas Wilson’s reply to me was, “God will cancel all that “and all those tears will be dried,” and I said well if you’re
capable of believing that then obviously what
that woman went through and what her children went
through was perfectly worth while and her father was all that
time, without knowing it, and apparently not
particularly wishing it, an instrument of the divine will and as I have said to
you before this evening, had occasion to say, you’re perfectly free to believe that if you wish.>>Hugh: To conclude–>>I do.>>You could, Mr. Hitchens, you’ve got 4,000 people here, tens of thousands more watching. You could do the same exchange at Wheaton, at Westmont, at Azusa
Pacific, at Point Loma, at Notre Dame, at every
great Christian university in the United States, why do you think so many people come out to see debates with accomplished people
like Dr. Craig and you?>>It’s a time for this great
question to come up again. I think there are two reasons for it. One is the emergence of a very aggressive theocratic challenge in
various parts of the world. We are about to see a
long-feared nightmare come true. The acquisition of apocalyptic weaponry by a Messianic regime in Tehran which is already enslaving and ruining a formerly great civilization. We see the forces of Al
Qaeda and related jihadists ruining the societies of Iraq,
of Afghanistan, Pakistan. We see Jewish settlers
stealing other people’s land in the name of God in the hope that this will bring on a Messianic combat and of the return of the Messiah. And even in our own country we’re not free from people who want to have stultifying nonsense taught to our children in school and in science class. So, there’s that, it’s
in the news all the time. And then there’s the existence
of a very small group, of which I’m very proud to be a part, that says it’s time to
take a stand against theocratic bullying and
is willing to go anywhere to debate these matters and
put these great questions to the proof, so. And thank you for giving me the chance. [audience applause]>>I would answer the
question somewhat differently. I think that what we’re seeing
is the fruit of modernity. In the Enlightenment, the
Church and the Monarchy were thrown off in the
name of free thought and unshackled human inquiry. And the thought was that once mankind was freed from the shackles and bondage of religion that this would produce a sort of humanistic utopia. And instead I think what we’ve come to see is the fruit of the
naturalistic world view is that mankind is reduced
to meaninglessness, valuelessness, and
purposelessness and that therefore the question of God’s existence has become all the more
poignant in our age because we’re beginning
to question, I think, the fruit of modernity and questioning scientific naturalism. I’m privileged to be part of a revolution in Christian philosophy
that has been going on over the last half
century that has literally transformed the face of
Anglo-American philosophy. As the scientific, naturalistic,
atheistic world view has been challenged, in the
name of reason and philosophy, and the theistic world view reasserted, and I believe that we’re
seeing a tremendous groundswell of interest among laypeople
as this revolution is beginning to filter down
to the man in the street. So I would see us as beginning to question the assumptions of modernity and the
bitter fruits of modernity that have been so evident
in the 20th century and I’m hoping that this will lead to a tremendous renaissance
in Christian thinking and Christian faith.>>To wrap up then–
[audience applause] Five quick observations
and some instructions. Number one, no good society prohibits debates such as this one. Number two, only confident
faith welcomes them. Only extraordinary
universities stage them, and only–
[audience applause] Only very accomplished
scholars and intellectuals can make them interesting
and entertaining. Please join me in welcoming
and thanking our panelists. [audience applause] Both men,
[audience applause] both men,
[audience applause] they did agree on one thing, which is that N.T. Wright
is a very impressive man, I think Christopher Hitchens said, and therefore to the viewing audience who might not know who N.T. Wright is, I would recommend, on Mr.
Hitchens’ strong recommendation, that you get and read his books. I also want to tell you that
I’m going to ask you to stay in your seats as our
panelists exit stage right. There’s a book signing and I want to ask you if you
have book to stand in line. If you don’t, please
don’t, and to recognize, Mr. Hitchens has a five
o’clock flight in the morning. So, get your book signed,
he loves to do that, but please don’t ask him
about his third cousin that you once met in Melbourne. Just let them get to
talking about the book, so gentlemen I’m going to
let you enter stage left here and I’ll hold them for a second. Thank you very much. Stay there so they can get around back. [audience applause] Finally, I, I want to thank Dr. Craig Hazen, Torrey Honors Institute,
and everyone at Biola for coming out this evening. Have a safe, productive trip home. Good night.
[audience applause]>>Narrator: Biola
University offers a variety of Biblically centered degree programs, ranging from business, to ministry, to the arts and sciences. Visit to find out how Biola could make a difference in your life.

100 thoughts on “Does God Exist? William Lane Craig vs. Christopher Hitchens – Full Debate [HD]

  1. craig with his baseless claim for not any god, yet he pretends his magical jew god who does not meet the jew god requirements is real! LOL

  2. Well Christopher Hitchens tore this guy apart. If anyone listens to that and doesn't debate their faith then they are seriously indoctrinated into the supernatural.

  3. The imaginary god of the immoral bible invented by some stupid bronze age goat herders had no plan for humans because those stupid bronze age goat herders had no plan!


  4. Best argument: The brilliant scientist, mathematician and inventor Sir Isaac Newton along with NASA's Director and #1 rocket scientist Wernher von Braun both believed in the God of the Bible and science. Compare them with the atheists Dicky Dawkins, Chris Hitchens and Sham Harris, who have ZERO scientific inventions. Theism = Success. Atheism = Failure.

  5. God Is Not A Man Or A Woman God Is Both Male And Female In Unison Called Shiva Shakti! The Cosmic And Nature In Unison! For This You Can Be An Atheist And Still Be A Hindu! God Is Not Singular,God Is Plural In Inclusive! What We Believes Exists In The Mind What We Don't Believes Doesn't Exists! It's An Illusion Of The Minds! A NEEDLE IS THE GOD OF A SOWER? GOD IS A CONCEPT OF WHAT IS IMPORTANT IN THE TIMES OF NEEDS! (Vadic Schools Of Thoughts)

  6. Unless someone can explain where the earth, galaxy, universe and all that came to be from, until then you can't say God is not. Why don't we all just get along in the fact no one knows. No matter how far we try and look back into the beginning there is always the question of "then where did that come from". If the big bang (molecules of some sort created the big bang, then ask where the molecules come from). If God (where did God come from)
    At some point long long ago there was nothing. And then POOF, there was something. But was again, where'd the poof come from

  7. THE EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE IS IN EVOLUTION! It proves organic life is a CREATION! It's crazy you can't see it. junk world…habituation doesn't allow you to see it. crazy. Look at halibut. Explain the reason he's a crushed and tortured little thing. It's a negative mutation in a limited gene pool. All organic life is such. Poorly mutated or what you call evolved. Would you agree that halibut was once a good and whole creature? Yes. He started perfectly and mutated. (I should get a Nobel prize for that empirical proof.) So too are you. We must have been lovely once. In some worlds we still are. When we were created we were perfect. It's an old world and it has been declining for a long time. There are other worlds. Space creatures live here and there. They pick up dead bodies from worlds and give them life. They can go back and forward in time. Are you a person they would want? It's that simple. Because you are arrogant you think you are smart. The evidence is right there. Don't you see? You have free will to do good or not. To fix or break. up to you but I am not playing any games with creatures who kill children and families. nope…

  8. The fun doesn't start till the first question. The brilliant thing that Christopher does when he answers the first question is insinuate the fact he already knows where the question is coming from and it's from a homosexual urge inside the bald-headed man. To be fair Christopher is wrong it's only the cannibals that ate the brains that contracted the Kuru or laughing disease as it's known which were caused by proteins called prions. But he is making the point that humans already knew they were having sex with animals and they already knew it was wrong they already know where it leads just like homosexuality cannibalism and the rest of it. It leads to Extinction.

  9. 1:36:51 tithing is a sort of tax (or it was in past) and I do believe taxes should be paid
    1:37:10 why limit yourself, aren't we all made in the image of God and deserve love
    I am atheist.

  10. Just because you don't know what was before the Big Bang you must assert it was the handy work of god. Atheists and scientists at least recognize that they don't know what's before it and they are working on it to solve the question. Theism has a very arrogant point of perspective.

  11. Its pretty funny how people claim to “know” when we can’t even run our world in a intelligent manner, our world is incredibly behind to any chance of understanding our universe we can just throw out random opinions and big words and act like its true

  12. Why Rev. Billy Graham was invited to Speak at TED conference and Everyone listened so calmly and Enjoyed his Sermon… ???

    No bad Comment was thrown at him….. Why is that ???

  13. All's I saw was a burden of proof shift.

    Theist Claims God exist because Atheist can't prove God does not exist.

    I don't believe this Theist's self labeling as a "philosopher" it appears more like he studies philosophy to assert his confirmation bias.

    The Theist cannot get around proving their number one premise that must be accepted to validate all of their arguments, "God exist" every argument simply tries to get around proving the premise or even giving reason to accept it beyond that every single religious argument falls apart without it.

  14. Is there a reason to believe in God-
    1.We have the supernatural
    Which confirms lucifers
    2. We have the history of Jesus and other historical records that match the bible.
    3. We have knowledge given at a time when ,
    That knowledge was unknown to man, until at least a thousand years later. When it was discovered via scientific means etc.
    4. We have prophecies
    To many for them to have been predicted by chance, to the point of being mathematically impossible to equate the likelihood of them
    Coming true.
    5. Science & philosophy –
    Ontological argument.
    Cosmological argument.
    Teleological argument.
    Infinite regress.
    Symbiotic relationships.
    Moral absolutes.
    Ultimate truths.
    6. Other evidences-
    Bible codes.
    Fiction isn’t really fiction.
    History of the movement for a NWO.
    Secret societies.
    Non control of reality/certainty.
    knowledge as of yet not accessed by mankind.
    Lack of documentation & evidences based on other theories.

  15. I think William Lane Craig destroyed atheism’s points. Christopher is a very imaginative and great story teller without a doubt. But his moving stories cannot move me past the person of Jesus. He is the certain one man who convinced me of God’s existence.

  16. After reading most of the comments section , I feel ashamed to notice there's still so much stupidity in the 21 st century …conclusion : having a debate with religious people is scientifically proven to be a total waste of time … moving on…

  17. And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
    -Acts 16:31

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
    -John 3:16

    Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
    -Matthew 3:2

  18. You could defeat WLC's opening argument with one statement. That is, even if what you have is said is totally true, it STILL does not prove the existence of God. The question remains, not who, but how? (And also, not why, but why not?) As in, it's just as likely to happen as not to happen.

  19. The usual compendium of stridently voiced, yet baseless assertions and assumptions in a framework of logical fallacy from the christian camp, then?
    Quelle surprise.
    I can only surmise that it was the thought of the fee he was earning from the gig that allowed Hitchens to get through this farce without dozing off. It certainly can't have been the intellectual challenge represented by his opponent.

  20. 17:00 WLC: "The infinite is nowhere to be found in reality"……………."therefore an infinite being called God must exist!"

  21. This guy Craig, although well turned out and speaking in a pseudo intellectual manner! Has absolutely nothing of consequence to say! Faith and belief are his watch words! Which as any human with even the smallest IQ knows, is simply worthless in a debate.

  22. Christianity never mandated a geocentric belief to be the "center of the Universe." It's the center of Purpose. Washington D.C. in 21st Century America is certainly not the geographic Center. It is, however, the administrative and focal center.

  23. Believe it or not, it's the christians that made me believe religion, specially evangelism, is full of crap. Always want non followers to "go to hell". Of course an afterlife sounds nice and all but I'm assuming after a while in "heaven", we will get tired of each other just like here on earth and come to say 'f' this, I want out of here too.

  24. At 1:25:16 Craig is simply lacking n his education. Morality is an evolutionary advantageous way to behave and the foundations of morality are evolutionary. This has been demonstrated in many experiments on humans and now on other animals, from birds to apes to dolphins. Craig is just wrong and I hope today he doesn't use this argument any more. Another nail in the coffin of superstition.

  25. Why does Craig keep backing into the "is Atheism true?" argument? I thought this was his opportunity to prove a god exists. lame and dodging

  26. "Evolution actually provides evidence FOR a designer of the universe" … Oh my, how hard these Christian apologists have backpedaled. We should sit them all on exercise bikes and force them to watch nat. geo … their incessant backpedaling could solve the climate crisis!

  27. remember there is a difference between evidence and proof. The bible is a kind of evidence for the certain theism but it is not proof.

    The Russels teapot analogy is also something worth reading up on that describes the burden of proof.


  28. There's a land bridge under the red sea located where the biblical account describes the
    hebrews' crossing.
    had the hebrews described this feature instead of mistaking it for a shallower uniform depth, atheism would no longer exist. what's wrong with this assertion??

  29. Two things. Humans, how smart, can't prove that there is God or there is no God. It's up to each individual either you anchor to your faith or want to believe on what you see that can be explained.

    Either way, there is no right or wrong. By the end it will be only the truth. When we die, either we just simply vanish from existence or live eternally.

    No debate can disprove or approve this.

  30. How often, these days, would a college crowd allow to speak guests who differ from them? And how often, these days, would speakers who differ from each other treat each other with respect and courtesy?
    How horribly things have changed over the past decade.

  31. Given —- from nothing, nothing comes
    Therefore — Creation is not possible
    Given — Something exists, [self evident]
    Therefore — By brute fact something has always existed
    Therefore — A creator is not necessary

  32. (1:06:44–1:07:44) I paused the video, so Dr. Craig may be responding to this already. In Christopher Hitchen's comments on terminology in defining atheism and thus laying much of the burden of proof on the Christian theists, one needs only to look at Chapter 5 in The Best Things in Life by Peter Kreeft. In this section, the subject of universal propositions come up, specifically the difference between a positive one and a negative one. Before we go into this, we should always remind ourselves that with faith (whether it is belief or unbelief), comes wisdom. And with wisdom comes a whole lot of humility in recognizing that we don't truly know the knowledge that we hold on to. That is because pure knowledge is not the end we seek, knowledge is the means to wisdom.

    In writing on propositions, we are reminded we need to be reminded of our English classes. The "subject" and the "predicate." Here are some example propositions, statements if you will. "All men are mortal." "No Dogs have hands." The subjects here are men and dogs. The predicate in the first statement is mortality, and the predicate in the second statement is having hands. However, you notice that even with our analyzing, there is a difference in polarity. The polarity makes a difference.

    With our "All men are mortal" example it is a universal positive proposition. This means we are taking all of the subject (men), and INCLUDING them in the predicate (mortality). However, look at our negative universal proposition example, "No dogs have hands." The relationship is different. Through this statement, we are EXCLUDING the subject (dogs) from the predicate (having hands). When we exclude the subject from the predicate, we show that we have knowledge about all of the predicate as well as the subject. (It is pretty easy to know about what it means to have hands and what it means to not have hands.) In including the subject into the predicate, we don't have to know about all of the predicate (we don't know much about everything that is mortal or what it really means to be mortal).

    Here is another example. Take two propositions. One is positive and the other is negative. "There is a spider in my room." "There isn't a spider in my room." The positive proposition would only require us to have been in a small section of our room before we have seen the spider (or maybe just happened upon it.) The negative proposition would require us to search the entire room before we were certain there weren't any spiders in the room. This means every nook and cranny.

    Now if we take the spider example and make it relevant, let's say that the spider is God and the room is all of reality. I am doing this because of two propositions that are made through Theism and through Atheism, "God is real" and God is not real." The subject here is God. The predicate here is all of reality. I believe it is wise to have faith. Whether it is belief or unbelief, it is good to have faith but with that comes wisdom and humility. This means a lot of "I don't know."

    In laying the burden of proof on Christian Theists, Christopher Hitchen was in error because his own beliefs also require an inordinate amount of faith. I would say, looking at what we have looked at here, it requires more faith to be an Atheist that to be a Theist. Here is why. "God is not real" is a negative universal proposition. This means this statement EXCLUDES God from all of reality. In order to believe this, you either have to have a lot more faith than a theist or you are God himself. I say this because to be certain that there is no God, you would have to know every nook and cranny of REALITY. In other words, all-knowing. In other words, omniscient. This is a quality of God. (We get a bit circular in there, but the point is unbelief requires more faith than "I don't know." )

  33. Ok here we go …….so here's the thing for me …….I am a believe in God also having been shown evidence also of his existence that I can not prove to those with a argument but I know what happen to me ………so this Craig is a little off in his way and approach to try and prove the existence of God … can he do it unless God gives it to him and clearly it looks and appears that he's not sent by God to prove his existence…….because his evidence is weak in terms of trying to win an argument ………his big mistake is trying to prove God existence with his way of thinking and without God giving him the wisdom and answers and demonstrations……..he's trying to prove God through human study and human evidence which still fails to prove Gods existence……. the other Guy Hitchens is more on point and makes better sense and is actually right in a lot of what he's proposing ……he's not saying that there is no God …….he just needs proof

  34. Refreshing to see a great debate without the two participants throwing mud at each other. I agree with Hitchens more than Craig, but I think they both do a good job of advocating their positions.

  35. Craig was tolerable until the last argument when he misrepresented everything Hitchens said. Outright lies. Mighty Christian of him.

  36. Mr Hitchens missed a great opportunity with this debate. Easily winnable, he avoided the topic mostly and on numerous occasions couldn't give a straight answer. In his defense I think his brain is just too busy, being a smart man and all.

  37. I have listened and listened over and over again to them ………….yaw need to really listened to what they are saying here ……both of them are unprepared

  38. Hitchen's opening was fucking brilliant. An orator, a literary, not a scientist, just bent fine-tuning over his knee, whipped it and placed it back in the corner.

  39. 57:16 Christopher Hitchens knows where the simpletons in the audience sit now.

    I understand Craig may have been making a joke here, but it’s just to rich.

  40. I am absolutely astonished that this moron used the resurrection of Jesus as one of his arguments. Are you fucking kidding me lol, this is meant to be a serious debate how can you embarrass yourself like that

  41. Lane hasn't a clue…he takes selected pieces from books thinking they will prove his point. The "Big-Bang" theory being his first mistake…and a "big" one it is. I would try to explain, but realize, if one can't see his mistake on the "Big-Bang" being, in his view, to be something coming from nothing, then surely only "God" will be able to explain the bullshit he's serving to his audience. PS. Individuals, like Lane, are frightening…most people have heard…"The patients have taken over the asylum." Let's hope they don't take over the Earth. What a repeat nightmare that would be.

  42. We are living in India. I think it is a wasteful effort if you talk about God. It is a story evolved into human history.

  43. If no one can prove how hugely compressed dusty particles ignited that big bang

    And when we die to decompose or burn back into that dust of that beginning

    I propose we are everlasting for this reason and not any religious creator put in the place of reason just to close the gaping mouths of incredulity

    “Dust to dust” that’s it,

    Just be good as you live, and we will all meet again as dust heading for our next big bang together

    Just think one day we all will travel faster than the speed of light

  44. "The third principle or teaching of Bahá'u'lláh is the oneness of religion and science. Any religious belief which is not conformable with scientific proof and investigation is superstition, for true science is reason and reality, and religion is essentially reality and pure reason; therefore, the two must correspond. Religious teaching which is at variance with science and reason is human invention and imagination unworthy of acceptance, for the antithesis and opposite of knowledge is superstition born of the ignorance of man. If we say religion is opposed to science, we lack knowledge of either true science or true religion, for both are founded upon the premises and conclusions of reason, and both must bear its test."

    The Promulgation of Universal Peace (part1) (p.107)

  45. I love Christopher…I do believe in god! I don't need to hear a debate!. You either have faith or you don't. R.I.P. Christopher 1 of the greatest athiests of all times. Enjoy your time with god x

  46. Sorry but Craig just made an argument for the flying sphagetti monster. Literally nothing he said differentiated Christianity from any other random religion

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