Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Greg Koukl: The New Atheism: old arguments, new attitude

This is a lecture that Greg Koukl delivered at the Apologetics Canada conference in March 2011.

The topic tonight is this: have the New Atheists made a persuasive case against God? It’s one hour long.

Speaker bio:

Greg started out thinking he was too smart to become a Christian and ended up giving his life for the defense of the Christian faith. A central theme of Greg’s speaking and writing is that Christianity can compete in the marketplace of ideas when it’s properly understood and properly articulated.

Greg’s teaching has been featured on Focus on the Family radio, he’s been interviewed for CBN and the BBC, he’s debated atheist Michael Shermer on Hugh Hewitt’s national radio show, and did a one-hour national television debate with Deepak Chopra on Lee Strobel’s “Faith Under Fire.”  Greg has been quoted in U.S. News & World Report and the L.A. Times. An award-winning writer, Greg is author of Tactics—A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian ConvictionsRelativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air with Francis J. Beckwith, and Precious Unborn Human Persons. Greg has published more than 180 articles and has spoken on nearly 60 university and college campuses both in the U.S. and abroad.

Greg received his Masters in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics at Talbot School of Theology, graduating with high honors, and his Masters in Christian Apologetics from Simon Greenleaf University.  He is an adjunct professor in Christian apologetics at Biola University.  He’s hosted his own radio talk show for over 20 years advocating clear-thinking Christianity and defending the Christian worldview.

He’s one of my favorite speakers – very practical, very realistic, very easy to listen to for non-Christians. He speaks in a normal tone of voice, and he is a regular guy. This is as interesting to listen to for non-Christians as it is for Christians, because he was a non-Christian.

By the way, I posted the entire transcript of his debate with Michael Shermer on the Hugh Hewitt show.

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Christopher Hitchens debates William Lane Craig: Does God Exist?

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 is 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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Christopher Hitchens debates William Lane Craig: Does God Exist?

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 is 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.

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

UK Telegraph on Richard Dawkins’ cowardly refusal to debate William Lane Craig

Will Richard Dawkins debate William Lane Craig?

Will Richard Dawkins debate William Lane Craig?

(Image stolen from Glenn Peoples)

Cowardly Richard Dawkins refuses to debate William Lane Craig on this latest UK tour. (H/T Mary)

Excerpt:

Richard Dawkins has made his name as the scourge of organised religion who branded the Roman Catholic Church “evil” and once called the Pope “a leering old villain in a frock”.

But he now stands accused of “cowardice” after refusing four invitations to debate the existence of God with a renowned Christian philosopher.

A war of words has broken out between the best selling author of The God Delusion, and his critics, who see his refusal to take on the American academic, William Lane Craig, as a “glaring” failure and a sign that he may be losing his nerve.

Prof Dawkins maintains that Prof Craig is not a figure worthy of his attention and has reportedly said that such a contest would “look good” on his opponent’s CV but not on his own.

An emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, Prof Dawkins last year supported a plan to charge Pope Benedict XVI with crimes against humanity for his alleged involvement in the cover-up of sex abuse by Catholic priests.

Prof Craig is a research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, in California, and the author of 30 books and hundreds of scholarly articles on Christianity.

He has debated with leading thinkers including Daniel Dennett, A.C.Grayling, Christopher Hitchens, Lewis Wolpert and Sam Harris.

Prof Craig is due to visit Britain in October this year. Four invitations to take part in public debates were sent to Prof Dawkins from The British Humanist Association, The Cambridge Debating Union, the Oxford Christian Union and Premier Radio.

Prof Dawkins declined them all.

[...]Some of Prof Dawkins’s contemporaries are not impressed. Dr Daniel Came, a philosophy lecturer and fellow atheist, from Worcester College, Oxford, wrote to him urging him to reconsider his refusal to debate the existence of God with Prof Craig.

In a letter to Prof Dawkins, Dr Came said: “The absence of a debate with the foremost apologist for Christian theism is a glaring omission on your CV and is of course apt to be interpreted as cowardice on your part.

“I notice that, by contrast, you are happy to discuss theological matters with television and radio presenters and other intellectual heavyweights like Pastor Ted Haggard of the National Association of Evangelicals and Pastor Keenan Roberts of the Colorado Hell House.”

Prof Craig, however, remains willing to debate with Prof Dawkins. “I am keeping the opportunity open for him to change his mind and debate with me in the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford” in October, he said.

Read it all. And please forward this to EVERYONE you know.

Dawkins mentions that he “already debated Craig” in that lame, worthless Mexico event where all the speakers got 2 minutes for their speeches, and one minute rebuttals. That was not a formal academic debate, that was a spectacle. I want a formal debate so Craig can put this blowhard in his place like he did with Hitchens, Harris, and Dennett. I want this nonsense about atheism being a  rational, moral worldview to end NOW. And by now, I mean yesterday.

Why won’t Dawkins debate Craig?

Let’s re-cap Dawkins’ reasons in point form: (with my comments in parentheses)

  • Dawkins claims that he is willing to debate high-ranking clergymen (but Craig is a scholar, not a clergyman)
  • Dawkins claims that Craig is a creationist (but Craig supports his kalam cosmological argument with the Big Bang)
  • Dawkins claims that Craig’s only claim to fame is that he is a professional debater (but see Craig’s CV and publications below, which is far more prestigious than Dawkins)
  • Dawkins claims that he’s too busy (busy cowering in fear hugging his Darwin doll for comfort)

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 Argument; Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus; Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom; Theism, 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 Philosophy, New Testament Studies, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, American Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Studies, Philosophy, and British Journal for Philosophy of Science.

Craig’s CV is here.

Craig’s list of publications is here.

Here are some of Craig’s most recent publications:

From 2007:

  • Ed. with Quentin Smith. Einstein, Relativity, and Absolute Simultaneity. Routledge Studies in Contemporary Philosophy. London: Routledge, 2007, 302 pp.
  • “Theistic Critiques of Atheism.” In The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, pp. 69-85. Ed. M. Martin. Cambridge Companions to Philosophy. Cambridge University Press, 2007.
  • “The Metaphysics of Special Relativity: Three Views.” In Einstein, Relativity, and Absolute Simultaneity, pp. 11-49. Ed. Wm. L. Craig and Quentin Smith. Routledge Studies in Contemporary Philosophy. London: Routledge, 2007.
  • “Creation and Divine Action.” In The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion, pp. 318-28. Ed. Chad Meister and Paul Copan. London: Routledge, 2007.

From 2008:

  • God and Ethics: A Contemporary Debate. With Paul Kurtz. Ed. Nathan King and Robert Garcia. With responses by Louise Antony, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, John Hare, Donald Hubin, Stephen Layman, Mark Murphy, and Richard Swinburne. Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.
  • “Time, Eternity, and Eschatology.” In The Oxford Handbook on Eschatology, pp. 596-613. Ed. J. Walls. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

From 2009:

  • Ed. with J. P. Moreland. Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • “The Kalam Cosmological Argument.” With James Sinclair. In Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Ed. Wm. L. Craig and J. P. Moreland. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • “In Defense of Theistic Arguments.” In The Future of Atheism: Alister McGrath and Daniel Dennett in Dialogue. Ed. Robert Stewart. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

Forthcoming:

  • “The Cosmological Argument.” In Philosophy of Religion: Classic and Contemporary Issues. Ed. Paul Copan and Chad Meister. Cambridge: Blackwell.
  • “Cosmological Argument”; “Middle Knowledge.” In The Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology. Ed. G. Fergusson et al. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • “Divine Eternity.” In Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology. Ed. Thomas Flint and Michael Rea. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Richard Dawkins is eminently qualified to debate uninformed clergymen, but he has too much at stake (in terms of book royalties) to disappoint his loyal horde of foam-flecked fundies by debating a professional scholar who has debated hundreds of times, against the top non-Christian scholars, in hundreds of universities, including Harvard, Cambridge and Oxford.

The Craig-Hitchens debate

This debate was moderated by HUGH HEWITT, host of the nationally-syndicated Hugh Hewitt Show.

This is just an example of what these debates typically look like. No one gets hurt, so what is Dawkins afraid of?

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Review, audio and video from the Christopher Hitchens vs William Dembski debate

The video is here.

The audio is here. (133 megabytes!)

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. 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.

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