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[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 Biola.edu, B-I-O-L-A.edu,
and go to the Christian Apologetics page on that site.
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.
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]
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 HughHewitt.com
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 HughHewitt.com.
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.
[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.
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?
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.
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?
>> 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. Wrigh