Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Summary of the William Lane Craig vs Christopher Hitchens debate: Does God Exist?

I got word today that there was an agnostic philosophy student at Dr. Craig’s “Defenders” class today who read this summary of the Craig-Hitchens debate and said it was “perfectly on the money” according to my source. I have not re-posted this summary since 2009, when the debate happened, so I thought I would re-post it today.

Here is the video of the debate has been posted:

TOPIC: DOES GOD EXIST?

MY NOTES ON THE DEBATE: (WC = William Lane Craig, CH = Christopher Hitchens)

WC opening speech:

Introduction:

WC makes two contentions:
- there are no good arguments for atheism
- there are good arguments for theism

These topics are IRRELEVANT tonight:
- social impact of christianity
- morality of Old Testament passages
- biblical inerrancy
- the debate is whether god (a creator and designer of the universe) exists

1. cosmological argument
- an actually infinite number of past events is impossible
- number of past events must be finite
- therefore universe has a beginning
- the beginning of the universe is confirmed by science -  universe began to exist from nothing
- space, time, matter, energy began at the big bang
- the creation of the universe requires a cause
- the cause is uncaused, timeless, spaceless, powerful
- the cause must be beyond space and time, because it created space and time
- the cause is not physical, because it created all matter and energy
- but there are only two kinds of non-physical cause: abstract objects or minds
- abstract objects don’t cause effects
- therefore must be mind

2. teleological argument
- fine-tuned constants and ratios
- constants not determined by laws of nature
- also, there are arbitrary quantities
- constants and quantities are in narrow range of life-permitting values
- an example: if the weak force were different by 1 in 10 to the 100, then no life
- there are 3 explanations: physical law or chance or design
- not due to law: because constants and quantities are independent of the laws
- not due to chance: the odds are too high for chance
- therefore, due to design
- the atheist response is the world ensemble (multiverse)
- but world ensemble has unobservable universes, no evidence that they exist
- and world ensemble contradicts scientific observations we have today

3. moral argument
- objective moral values are values that exist regardless of what humans think
- objective values are not personal preferences
- objective values are not evolved standards that cultures have depending on time and place
- objective moral values and duties exist
- objective moral values and duties require a moral lawgiver

4. argument from resurrection miracle
- resurrection implies miracle
- miracle implies God
- 3 minimal facts pass the historical tests (early attestation, eyewitness testimony, multiple attestation, etc.)
- minimal fact 1: empty tomb
- minimal fact 2: appearances
- minimal fact 3: early belief in the resurrection
- jewish theology prohibits a dying messiah – messiah is not supposed to die
- jewish theology has a general resurrection of everybody, there is not supposed to be a resurrection of one person
- jewish theology certainly does not predict a single resurrection of the messiah after he dies
- therefore, the belief in the resurrection is unlikely to have been invented
- disciples were willing to die for that belief in the resurrection
- naturalistic explanations don’t work for the 3 minimal facts

5. properly basic belief in god
- religious experience is properly basic
- it’s just like the belief in the external world, grounded in experience
- in the absence of defeaters, those experiences are valid

Conclusion: What CH must do:
- destroy all 5 of WC’s arguments
- erect his own case in its place

CH opening speech:

1. evolution disproves biological design argument
- evolution disproves paley’s argument for a watchmaker

2. god wouldn’t have done it that way
- god wouldn’t have waited that long before the incarnation
- mass extinction and death before Jesus
- god wouldn’t have allowed humans to have almost gone extinct a while back in africa
- why insist that this wasteful and incompetent history of life is for us, that’s a bad design
- the universe is so vast, why would god need so much space, that’s a bad design
- there is too much destruction in the universe, like exploding stars – that’s a bad design
- the heat death of the universe is a bad design
- too many of the other planets don’t support life, that’s a bad design
- the sun is going to become a red giant and incinerate us, that’s a bad design

3. hitchens’ burden of proof
- there is no good reason that supports the existence of god
- all arguments for god can be explained without god
- atheists can’t prove there is no god
- but they can prove there is no good argument for god

4. craig’s scientific arguments don’t go far enough, they only prove deism, not theism
- the scientific arguments don’t prove prayer works
- the scientific arguments don’t prove specific moral teachings of christianity

5. if the laws of physics are so great then miracles shouldn’t be allowed
- good laws and miracles seem to be in contradiction

6. extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence
- none of craig’s evidence was extraordinary

7. science can change, so craig can’t use the progress of science
- it’s too early for craig to use the big bang and fine-tuning
- the big bang and fine-tuning evidences are too new
- they could be overturned by the progress of science

8. craig wrote in his book that the internal conviction of god’s existence should trump contradicting evidence
- but then he isn’t forming his view based on evidence
- he refuses to let evidence disprove his view
- but then how can atheists be to blame if they don’t believe
- so evidence is not really relevant to accepting theism

9. the progress of science has disproved religion
- christianity taught that earth was center of the universe
- but then cosmology disproved that

Response to the big bang and fine-tuning arguments:
- was there pre-existing material?
- who designed the designer?

WC first rebuttal:

Reiterates his 2 basic contentions

CH agrees that there is no good argument for atheism
- then all you’ve got is agnosticism
- because CH did not claim to know there is no God
- and he gave no arguments that there is no God

CH’s evolution argument
- irrelevant to christianity
- Genesis 1 allows for evolution to have occurred
- christianity is not committed to young earth creationism
- the origin of biological diversity is not central to christianity
- st. augustine in 300 AD said days can be long, special potencies unfold over time
- also there are scientific reasons to doubt evolution
- cites barrow and tipler, and they say:
- each of 10 steps in evolution is very improbable
- chances are so low, it would be a miracle if evolution occurred

CH’s argument that god is wasteful
- efficiency is only important to people with limited time or limited resources
- therefore god doesn’t need to be efficient

CH’s argument that god waits too long to send Jesus
- population was not that high before jesus
- jesus appears just before the exponential explosion of population
- conditions were stable – roman empire, peace, literacy, law, etc.

CH’s argument that Craig’s scientific arguments only prove deism, not theism
- deism a type of theism, so those scientific arguments work
- all that deism denies is miraculous intervention

CH’s argument that Craig has a burden of proof
- theism doesn’t need to be proven with certainty
- must only prove best explanation of the evidence

CH’s citation of Craig’s book saying that evidence should not overrule experience
- there is a difference between knowing and showing christianity is true
- knowing is by religious experience which is a properly basic belief
- showing is done through evidence, and there the evidence does matter

CH’s rebuttal to the big bang
- there was no pre-existent material
- space and time and matter came into being at the big bang
- the cause must be non-physical and eternal
- cause of universe outside of time means = cause of universe did not begin to exist
- this is the state of science today

CH’s rebuttal to the fine tuning
- CH says scientists are uncertain about the fine-tuning
- craig cites martin rees, an atheist, astronomer royal, to substantiate the fine tuning
- the fine-tuning is necessary for  minimal requirements for life of any kind
- the progress of science is not going to dethrone the fine-tuning

CH’s argument about heat death of the universe
- duration of design is irrelevant to whether something was designed
- cars are designed, yet they break down
- design need not be optimal to be designed
- ch is saying why create if we all eventually go extinct
- but life doesn’t end in the grave on christianity

CH’s rebuttal to the moral argument
- CH says no obj moral values
- but CH uses them to argue against god and christians
- but CH has no foundation for a standard that applies to God and Christians

CH’s rebuttal to the resurrection argument
- empty tomb and appearances are virtually certain
- these are minimal facts, well evidenced using standard historical criteria
- best explanation of these minimal facts is the resurrection

CH’s rebuttal to religious experience
- prop basic belief is rational in the absence of defeaters
- so long as craig has no psychological deficiency, experience is admissible

CH first rebuttal:

it’s not agnosticism
- if there are no good arguments for theism
- then there is no reason for belief in god
- that is atheism
- everything can be explained without god

god wouldn’t have done it that way
- homo sapiens is 100K years old
- for 98K years, they had no communication from God
- lots of people died in childbirth
- disease and volcanos are a mystery to them
- life expectancy is very low
- they die terrible deaths
- their teeth are badly designed
- their genitalia are badly designed
- why solve the problem of sin by allowing a man to be tortured to death
- that’s a stupid, cruel, bumbling plan

lots of people haven’t even heard of jesus
- many of them die without knowing about him
- they cannot be held responsible if they do not know about jesus

the early success of christianity doesn’t prove christianity is true
- because then it applies to mormonism and islam, they’re growing fast

objective morality
- belief in a supreme dictator doesn’t improve moral behavior
- i can do moral actions that you can do
- i can repeat moral positions that you can say

religious people are immoral
- genital mutilation
- suicide bombing

moral behavior doesn’t need god
- we need to act moral for social cohesion
- it evolved for our survival
- that’s why people act morally
- it’s degrading to humans, and servile, to require god for morality

free will
- i believe in free will
- i don’t know why, because i can’t ground free will on atheism
- a bossy god seems to reduce free will because then we are accountable to god

WC cross-examination of CH:

WC why call yourself an atheist when you have no reasons?

CH because absence of belief is atheism

WC but agnosticism, atheism, verificationism all don’t hold that belief, which are you?

CH i think god does not exist

WC ok give me an argument for the claim you just made to know god does not exist

CH i have no argument, but i don’t believe in god because it depresses me to think he might be real

WC would you agree that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence?

CH no i don’t agree

WC moral argument: it’s not epistemology it’s the ontology – have you got a foundation for moral values and duties?

CH i do not, it’s just evolution, an evolved standard based on social cohesion

CH cross-examination of WC:

CH you said that the historical reports of jesus doing exorcisms are generally accepted – do you believe in devils?

WC i commit to nothing, what I am saying there historical concensus on the reports that jesus did exorcisms

CH what about the devils going into the pigs, do you believe that?

WC yes i do, but the main point i’m making is that the historical reports show that jesus acted with divine authority

CH do you believe in the virgin birth?

WC yes, but that’s not historically provable using the minimal facts methods, and i did not use the virgin birth in my arguments tonight, because it doesn’t pass the historical tests to be a minimal fact

CH do you believe that all the graves opened and dead people all came out?

WC not sure if the author intended that part as apocalyptic imagery or as literal, i have no opinion on it, have not studied it

CH do exorcisms prove son of god?

WC no, i am only saying that the historical reports show that jesus exercised authority and put himself in the place of god

CH  are any religions false? name one that’s false

WC islam

CH so some religions are wicked right?

WC yes

CH if a baby were born in saudi arabia would it be better if it were an atheist or a muslim?

WC i have no opinion on that

CH are any christian denominations wrong?

WC calvinism is wrong about some things, but they are still christians, i could be wrong about some things, i do the best i can studying theology so i’m not wrong

WC second rebuttal

Response to CH arguments:

no reasons for atheism
- no reasons to believe that god does not exist
- ch withholds belief in god

why wait so long before contacting humans with jesus
- population matters, not time – jesus waited until there was about to be a population explosion
- there is natural revelation (Romans 1) for those who lived before christ

what about those who never heard
- (Acts 17:22-31) god chooses the time and place of each person who is born to optimize their opportunity to know him based on how they will respond to evidence (this is called middle knowledge)
- those who haven’t heard will be judged based on general revelation

WC re-assess the state of his five arguments:

cosmological argument <signal loss>
- heat death of the universe won’t happen on christianity

moral argument
- if no objective moral standard, can’t judge other cultures as wrong
- no transcendent objective standard to be able to judge slavery as wrong

name an action argument
- e.g. – tithing
- the greatest command – love the lord your god your god with everything you’ve got
- atheists can’t do that, and that is the biggest commandment to follow

moral obligations
- there are no objective moral obligations for anyone on atheism
- on atheism, you feel obligated because of genetics and social pressure
- on atheism, we’re animals, and animals don’t have moral obligations

resurrection <signal loss>
- the belief in resurrection of 1 man, the messiah is totally unexpected on judaism
- they would not have made this up, it was unexpected

religious experience
- experience is valid in the absence of defeaters

CH second rebuttal:

faith and reason
- Tertullian says faith is better when it’s against reason

it’s easy to start a rumor with faith-based people
- mother teresa: to be canonized she needs to have done a miracle
- so there was a faked miracle report
- but everybody believes the fake miracle report!
- this proves that religious rumors are easy to start
- the resurrection could have started as a similar rumor by people wanting to believe it

name an action
- tithing is a religious action, i don’t have to do that

moral argument
- i can be as moral as you can without god
- i can say that other cultures are wrong, there i just said it
- without god, people would still be good, so god isn’t needed

religious people did bad things in history
- this church did a bad thing here
- that church did a bad thing there
- therfore god doesn’t exist

religion is the outcome of man’s struggle with natural phenomenon
- that is why there are so many religions

WC concluding speech

no arguments for atheism presented

What CH has said during the debate:
- god bad, mother teresa bad, religion bad

atheism is a worldview
- it claims to know the truth
- therefore it is exclusive of other views

what does theism explain
- theism explains a broad range of experiences
- origin of universe, CH has dropped the point
- fine-tuning, CH has dropped the point
- moral, CH says that humans are no different from animals – but an evolved standard is illusory, there are no actual moral values and standards, it’s just a genetic predisposition to act in a certain way – that’s not prescriptive morality
- resurrection, CH has dropped the point
- experience, craig tells his testimony and urges the audience to give it a shot

CH concluding speech

HITCHENS YIELDS HIS ENTIRE CONCLUDING SPEECH!

A question & answer Period followed end of the formal debate

Further study

Check out my analysis of the 11 arguments Hitchens made in his opening speech in his debate with Frank Turek. You can also watch or listen to a preview debate that was held in Dallas recently between Craig, Hitchens, Lee Strobel and some other people. Biola University philosopher Doug Geivett’s review is here. He attended the debate.

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How good are the atheistic arguments of Christopher Hitchens?

I thought that I would go over an opening statement from a previous debate featuring Christopher Hitchens to find out what atheists are like in debates. I used his opening speech from his debate with Frank Turek. The audio from that debate is here, at Brian Auten’s Apologetics 315 site.

Now the important thing to remember about a generic debate on whether GOD EXISTS is that there should be no mention of any particular God, such as the Christian God, and no mention of the history of any particular religion. All arguments that assume specific theological or moral doctrines or specific religious history are irrelevant to a debate on generic theism.

The question being debated is: does a God who created and designed the universe, who has all the traditional properties of God, such as omniscience, omnipotence, omni-benevolence, etc. exist? That is the question being debated in a “Does God Exist?” debate.

Frank Turek’s case for theism:

Frank Turek made 4 relevant arguments for theism, each of which alone would support his conclusion, that God exists:

  • the origin of time, space, matter and energy out of nothing
  • the fine-tuning of the physical constants to support the minimum requirements for life of any kind
  • the origin of the biological information in the first self-replicating organism
  • objective, prescriptive moral rules need to be grounded by the designer of the universe

And he also listed 4 features of the universe that are more consistent with theism than atheism (= materialism).

  • non-material minds that allow rationality that would be impossible on materialism/determinism
  • the mathematical structure of the universe and its intelligibility to the scientific method
  • free will, which is required for moral responsibility and moral choices, requires a non-material mind/soul
  • our first person experience of consciousness is best explained by a non-material mind/soul

Hitchens’ case against theism

To counter, Hitchens has to argue against God using arguments in one of two forms:

  1. The concept of God is logically self-contradictory
  2. An objective feature of the world is inconsistent with the attributes of God

The claim that God does not exist is a claim to know something about God, namely, that he does not exist. This claim requires the speaker to bear a burden of proof. In a debate on “Does God Exist?”, Hitchens must deny that God exists. Let me be clear: Hitchens must defeat the arguments for the claim that God exists, and then defend the claim that God does not exist, and support that claim using arguments and evidence.

Hitchens makes 2 basic claims:

  • There are no good reasons to believe that theism is true
  • There are good reasons to believe atheism is true

So far so good. But what are his good reasons for atheism?

  1. I personally don’t like Christianity, therefore God doesn’t exist
    - Premise: I personally don’t like Catholicism getting rid of limbo
    - Premise: I personally don’t like Hell
    - Premise: I personally don’t like some episodes in church history
    - Conclusion: God doesn’t exist
  2. The plurality of religions means that no religious claims can be correct, therefore God doesn’t exist
    - Premise: There are lots of religions
    - Premise: The religions all disagree in their truth claims about the external world
    - Conclusion: No religion’s claims can be correct, therefore God doesn’t exist
  3. I believe in one less God than you, therefore God doesn’t exist
    - Premise: You disbelieve in every God I do, except one
    - Conclusion: God doesn’t exist
  4. Religious people are stupid and evil, therefore God doesn’t exist
    - Premise: Religious people are ignorant
    - Premise: Religious people are fearful
    - Premise: Religious people are servile
    - Premise: Religious people are masochistic
    - Conclusion: God doesn’t exist
  5. Evolution explains how life progressed from single cell to today’s bio-diversity, therefore God doesn’t exist
    - Premise: Modern theists like Turek believe in Paley’s argument, and argued it in this debate
    - Premise: Paley’s argument was refuted by evolution
    - Conclusion: God doesn’t exist
  6. God wouldn’t have made the universe this way, therefore God doesn’t exist
    - Premise: If God exists, then he would have made the universe my way
    - Premise: The heat death of the universe wasn’t done my way
    - Premise: The extinction of species wasn’t done my way
    - Premise: The size of the universe wasn’t done my way
    - Premise: The amount of open space wasn’t done my way
    - Premise: The large number of stars wasn’t done my way
    - Premise: The age of the universe wasn’t done my way
    - Conclusion: God doesn’t exist
  7. Religion makes people do things that I don’t like, therefore God doesn’t exist
    - Premise: Some religions do suicide bombing
    - Premise: Some religions do child abuse
    - Premise: Some religions do genital mutilation
    - Conclusion: God doesn’t exist
  8. If you speak a sentence, I can repeat the same words as you said, therefore God doesn’t exist
    - Premise: Anything that you say is good, I can say is good too
    - Premise: Anything that you say is bad, I can say is bad too
    - Conclusion: God doesn’t exist
  9. Atheists are morally superior to religious people, therefore God doesn’t exist
    - Premise: I act in a way that is consistent with my personal, arbitrary moral preferences
    - Premise: You don’t act in a way that is consistent with my personal, arbitrary moral preferences
    - Conclusion: God doesn’t exist
  10. If I believe in God, I would have to submit to an authority
    - Premise: If I believe in God, then I can’t do whatever I want
    - Premise: But I want to do whatever I want
    - Conclusion: God doesn’t exist
  11. I don’t like certain Christian doctrines, therefore arguments for God from science fail and therefore God doesn’t exist
    - Premise: I don’t like the atonement
    - Premise: I don’t like the virgin birth
    - Premise: I don’t like the incarnation
    - Premise: I don’t like original sin
    - Premise: I don’t like the resurrection
    - Conclusion: Arguments that are built on recent discoveries from the progress of science like the big bang, fine-tuning, origin of life, etc. are incorrect, and therefore God doesn’t exist

General comments about Hitchens’ case:

  • The form of all of these arguments is logically invalid. The conclusions do not follow from the premises using the laws of logic, such as modus ponens and modus tollens.
  • Hitchens cannot complain about morality because he has no foundation for objective moral facts. What he is really expressing is that he personally does not like such-and-such a state of affairs, based on his own arbitrary personal preferences, and the arbitrary social customs that evolved in the place and time that he finds himself in. On atheism, “morality” is just describing what people do – either individually or as groups living in different times and places. There is no objective right and wrong, and no objective way we ought to be. All statements are subjective. They describe what the speaker personally likes and dislikes. Just like taste in foods or taste in dress – which varies by individually, and is influenced by time and place ARBITRARILY.

Specific comments about each argument:

  • Argument 1 tries to disprove God by arguing from Hitchens’ personal preferences about specific Christian doctrines. Christian doctrines are irrelevant to a debate about generic theism. And there is no reason why God should be bound by the personal, subjective preferences of one man. In fact, the concept of God entails that his unchanging nature is the standard of good and evil. So, this argument doesn’t disprove God, it’s just a statement of personal, subjective preference.
  • Argument 2: Just because there are different truth claims made by different groups, doesn’t mean no one is correct. Mormons believe that matter existed eternally, and Jews believe it was created out of nothing. The big bang theory shows that the Mormons are wrong and the Jews are right.
  • Argument 3: First of all, the debate is a about a generic Creator and Designer, not any particular religious conception of God. So the argument is irrelevant. Moreover, Christians reject Zeus, for example, because Zeus is supposed to exist in time and space, and therefore could not be the cause of the beginning of time and space.
  • Argument 4: This is just the ad hominem fallacy. Hitchens is attacking the character of the theist, but that doesn’t show theism is false.
  • Argument 5: This argument can be granted for the sake of argument, even though it’s debatable. The point is that it is irrelevant, since it doesn’t refute any of Turek’s actual scientific arguments like the big bang, the fine-tuning of the physical constants, the origin of information in the simplest living cell.
  • Argument 6: Again, there is no reason to think that God should be bound by Hitchens’ personal opinion of how God should operate.
  • Argument 7: This is the ad hominem fallacy again. The good behavior of religious believers is not a premise in any of Turek’s FOUR arguments for theism. Therefore, Hitchens’ point is irrelevant to the debate.
  • Argument 8: The fact that the atheist can parrot moral claims is not the issue. Being able to speak English words is not what grounds objective, prescriptive morality. The issue is the ontology of moral rules, the requirement of free will in order to have moral responsibility and moral choices, ultimate significance of moral actions, and the rationality of self-sacrificial moral actions.
  • Argument 9: This is just the ad hominem fallacy again.
  • Argument 10: This is not argument so much as it reveals that the real reason Hitchens is an atheist is emotional. One might even say infantile.
  • Argument 11: Again, these specific Christian doctrines are irrelevant to a debate about generic theism. And Hitchen’s subjective, personal preferences about Christian doctrine certainly do not undermine the objective scientific support for the premises in Turek’s 3 scientific arguments.

So Frank Turek talked about facts in the external world, and Christopher Hitchens mistakenly thought that his opinions and preferences about what he would do if he were God were interesting to us. They might be interesting to his psychiatrist, but they are not interesting to us.

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Was Hitler a Christian? Is Nazism similar to Christianity?

One of the strangest things I have heard from atheists is the assertion that Christianity is somehow connected to the fascism, such as the fascism that existed under Adolf Hitler. Two posts by Jewish author Jonah Goldberg from National Review supply us with the facts to set the record straight.

Let’s start with the first post.

Here are some of the points:

1) Hitler wanted Christianity removed from the public square

Like the engineers of that proverbial railway bridge, the Nazis worked relentlessly to replace the nuts and bolts of traditional Christianity with a new political religion. The shrewdest way to accomplish this was to co-opt Christianity via the Gleichschaltung while at the same time shrinking traditional religion’s role in civil society.

2) Hitler banned the giving of donations to churches

Hitler banned religious charity, crippling the churches’ role as a counterweight to the state. Clergy were put on government salary, hence subjected to state authority. “The parsons will be made to dig their own graves,” Hitler cackled. “They will betray their God to us. They will betray anything for the sake of their miserable little jobs and incomes.”

3) Hitler replaced Christian celebrations with celebrations of the state

Following the Jacobin example, the Nazis replaced the traditional Christian calendar. The new year began on January 30 with the Day of the Seizure of Power. Each November the streets of central Munich were dedicated to a Nazi Passion play depicting Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch. The martyrdom of Horst Wessel and his “old fighters” replaced Jesus and the apostles. Plays and official histories were rewritten to glorify pagan Aryans bravely fighting against Christianizing foreign armies. Anticipating some feminist pseudo history, witches became martyrs to the bloodthirsty oppression of Christianity.

4) Hitler favored the complete elimination of Christianity

When some Protestant bishops visited the Fuhrer to register complaints, Hitler’s rage got the better of him. “Christianity will disappear from Germany just as it has done in Russia . . . The Germanrace has existed without Christianity for thousands of years . . . and will continue after Christianity has disappeared . . . We must get used to the teachings of blood and race.”

5) Hitler favored the removal of mandatory prayers in schools

In 1935 mandatory prayer in school was abolished…

6) Hitler favored the banning of Christmas carols and nativity plays

…and in 1938 carols and Nativity plays were banned entirely.

7) Hitler abolished religious instruction for children

By 1941 religious instruction for children fourteen years and up had been abolished altogether….

And now the second post.

8) Hitler opposed the ideas of universal truth and objective moral absolutes

…Just as the Nazi attack on Christianity was part of a larger war on the idea of universal truth, whole postmodern cosmologies have been created to prove that traditional religious morality is a scam, that there are no fixed truths or “natural” categories, and that all knowledge is socially constructed.

Practically everything this man believed was 100% anti-Christian. But he fits in fine on the secular left.

Conclusion

Adolf Hitler was a man influenced by two big ideas: evolution and socialism. His party was the national SOCIALIST party. He favored a strong role for the state in interfering with the free market. He was in favor of regulating the family so that the state could have a bigger influence on children. And he favored the idea of survival of the fittest. His ideas are 100% incompatible with Christianity and with capitalism as well. Christians value individual rights and freedoms, small government and the autonomy of the family against the state. The differences are clear and significant.

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Video: Christopher Hitchens debates William Dembski: does God exist?

Here’s the video:

Details:

  • Opening statements – 15 minutes
  • First rebuttal – 10 minutes
  • Second rebuttal – 5 minutes
  • Q&A – 30 minutes

Summary of Hitchens’ opening speech, snarkified and with spin removed

Contentions:

  1. God has to make the universe the way I would, but he didn’t.
  2. I don’t like some things that people who claim to be religious do.

Arguments from science:

The fact that our current universe is running out of usable energy (entropy) means that there is no God, because God, if he existed, would agree with me that the universe should go on forever.

The fact that the universe is a very big place means that there is no God, because God, if he existed, would agree with me that the universe should be very small.

The fact that the universe is a very old place means that there is no God, because God, if he existed, would agree with me that the universe should be very young.

The fact that the universe contains exploding stars means that there is no God, because God, if he existed, would agree with me that the universe should not contain exploding stars.

The fact that the universe is expanding means that there is no God, because God, if he existed, would agree with me that the universe should not be expanding.

The fact that the Earth is a small rock means that there is no God, because God, if he existed, would agree with me that the Earth should not be a small rock.

Arguments from history:

Although I don’t believe that there is any objective standard of right and wrong, I personally feel that Islamic terrorism is yucky yuck yuck. It’s just my opinion though, since there is no objective standard of morality on atheism, but only arbitrary personal preferences and arbitrary customs that vary by time and place. Since these Muslim terrorists claim to be acting on behalf of God, and I don’t like what they do, therefore God doesn’t exist.

Although I don’t believe that there is any objective standard of right and wrong, I personally feel that Israeli military expansion is yucky yuck yuck. It’s just my opinion though, since there is no objective standard of morality on atheism, but only arbitrary personal preferences and arbitrary customs that vary by time and place. Since these Israeli military expansionists claim to be acting on behalf of God, and I don’t like what they do, therefore God doesn’t exist.

Arguments from the human condition:

Although I said a minute ago that we should be cautious about the good experimental science that supports theism by showing that the universe came into being from nothing, fine-tuned for complex life, based on multiple lines of experimental evidence, I actually think that Darwinian evolution is true beyond a shadow of a doubt, based on ZERO lines of experimental evidence for macro-evolution (the evolution of new body plans and organ types). But since Darwinism is definitely true – as true as man-made global warming! – then God couldn’t exist. Why? Because God would not use a gradual process to create life, because I wouldn’t use a gradual process to create life. God, if he existed, would always do what I would do if I were God. Also, we are similar to chimpanzees which proves that molecules to man evolution is true. Certainly there is no peer-reviewed evidence that human and chimpanzee DNA are actually very different. (Note that the link goes to Nature, the #1 peer-reviewed science journal).

When you were in your mother’s womb, you grew some hair and then it fell off, proving there is no God, because God, if he existed, would agree with me that babies should not grow hair in their mother’s womb, only to have it fall off.

Humans have appendices that have no purpose that is apparent to me, based on my vast experience with biology gleaned from writing snarky columns. Since I don’t see a purpose to your appendix – certainly there is no peer-reviewed evidence that the appendix has any useful biological purpose – therefore God does not exist.

When you were a child, you grew some teeth and then they fell off, proving there is no God, because God, if he existed, would agree with me that children should not grow teeth, only to have them fall off.

There are a lot of species that go extinct in the history of life and this proves that there is no God, because God, if he existed, would not have wanted lots of species to go extinct.

The smart theistic evolutionist Francis Collins believes in Darwinian evolution and he’s smart. I can’t give you any reasons why he believes in Darwinian evolution right now, but you should definitely believe in evolution because of his authority and his skill at avoiding debates on evolution with his critics in the intelligent design movement.

You need to be more humble like me, you ignorant fools. If you simply read more cosmology, physics, chemistry and biology, like we clever journalists have, then you would be a smart atheist like me! And humble, too, you ignorant, illiterate fundamentalists!

Summary of Dembski’s opening speech

Contentions:

  1. Evolution is false, Hitchens’ proofs from his book don’t work.
  2. Hitchens makes historical claims that are falsified by the evidence.
  3. The progress of science falsifies atheism
  4. Theism explains the big question of life better than atheism

Darwinian evolution vs. the evidence:

Junk DNA is not junk because the latest peer-reviewed scientific evidence shows that the so-called Junk-DNA actually has important functions in the cell. (Note that the link goes to Nature, the #1 peer-reviewed science journal).

The fossil record does not show a gradual pattern of emerging body plans because the latest evidence on the Cambrian explosion shows that new body plans emerged fully-formed without gradual developmental pathways.

The inverted retina is not a bad design, the counter-intuitive design actually is superior when the latest published research is considered.

Hitchens’ argument about the evolution of the eye rely on mathematical simulations, not on experimental evidence.

Hitchens is committed to Darwinism whether there is any evidence or not, because he pre-supposes materialism, so some form of evolution MUST be true, regardless of how lousy the observable evidence is for it.

Historical arguments:

Hitchens dismisses Israel’s time in Egypt and at Mount Sinai, but the evidence is written up in books like those of James K. Hoffmeier, published by Oxford University Press.

Hitchens dismisses the historical records about Jesus, but these are again made clear in publications of top academic presses. (E.g. – N.T. Wright, Richard Bauckham, etc.)

The progress of science falsifies atheism:

Atheism requires that chemical evolution be true. Darwin thought that cells were simple because he needed them to be simple for this theory, and he didn’t know anything about what cells were really like. But the progress of science has shown that the complexity of cells is enormous.

You can actually use rigorous methods developed by Bill in his book “The Design Inference”, published by Cambridge University Press, and apply them to effects in nature, like archaeological artifacts, radio signals from space, and… cells and molecular machines.

When you apply the mathematical methods for inferring design to biology in books like “Signature in the Cell” or “The Design of Life”, components of living systems are found to be designed for a purpose.

The big questions are answered better by theism than atheism:

Other arguments: the cosmological argument, the fine-tuning argument, the moral argument, the argument from rationality/reason, the argument from mathematical foundations of reality, the argument from the the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus, etc.

Filed under: Videos, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Christopher Hitchens debates William Lane Craig about God’s existence

Here’s the full debate on video. Hugh Hewitt is the moderator.

Now I think most people are familiar with Christopher Hitchens and his arguments – he was widely regarded as the top atheist debater in the world, and has written bestselling books on atheism. So below is a little more about the Christian debater William Lane Craig. Craig is  regarded as the top defender of Christianity in the world, although many people are unfamiliar with his arguments. Here is a written explanation of the five arguments he uses in the debate with Hitchens, if you want to follow along. This is a good debate for any of you who have never seen a debate on God’s existence before.

About William Lane Craig

Let’s review William Lane Craig’s qualifications:

William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California.

Dr. Craig pursued his undergraduate studies at Wheaton College (B.A. 1971) and graduate studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (M.A. 1974; M.A. 1975), the University of Birmingham (England) (Ph.D. 1977), and the University of Munich (Germany) (D.Theol. 1984). From 1980-86 he taught Philosophy of Religion at Trinity… In 1987 they moved to Brussels, Belgium, where Dr. Craig pursued research at the University of Louvain until assuming his position at Talbot in 1994.

He has authored or edited over thirty books, including The Kalam Cosmological ArgumentAssessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of JesusDivine Foreknowledge and Human FreedomTheism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology; and God, Time and Eternity, as well as over a hundred articles in professional journals of philosophy and theology, including The Journal of PhilosophyNew Testament StudiesJournal for the Study of the New TestamentAmerican Philosophical QuarterlyPhilosophical StudiesPhilosophy, and British Journal for Philosophy of Science.

Craig’s CV is here.

Craig’s list of publications is here.

Here is a partial list of his past debates against the top atheist scholars. Many of those have audio and video. His best recent debate was against the British philosopher Peter Millican. Recommended for advanced students only. For a more basic debate against a very poorly prepared opponent, you can watch the Craig-Atkins debate. Atkins is a retired professor of chemistry from Oxford.

Filed under: Videos, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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