Life, the Universe, and Nothing (III): Is It Reasonable to Believe There Is a God?

William Lane Craig vs. Lawrence Krauss

Melbourne, Australia – August 16, 2013

  • Questions & Answers

  • Q&A


Introduction: I would like to make it clear that tonight is not a formal debate. My personal frustration in watching and participating in many formal debates is that the speakers can often fail to engage the nuance or substance of the opponent’s arguments. To this end, tonight both speakers will have fifteen minutes to outline their respective positions. Then we will have a period of moderated discussion, a conversation, which will allow our speakers to actually engage the issues and topics at hand. Hence, tonight is a conversation. And it’s a conversation in which you may also take part. After the moderated discussion we’ll be opening it up for questions from yourselves. You may submit a question either via SMS to the number provided on your screen or via twitter using #lunqa. And whilst you tweet and tap your questions we do ask that you please keep your phones on silent. We would also ask that you refrain from applauding during the conversation; there will be time to do this at the end. Further, we ask that you respect our speakers and please refrain from heckling or shouting. If you would like to heckle, shout, or cheer, then there is a Collingwood-Hawthorn game at the MCG where that would be much more appropriate.

Tonight we are anticipating a respectful, intelligent conversation that stimulates many questions, and that we may indeed consider both sides before committing our lives to the truth. At the City Bible Forum we are serious about intelligent and fair-minded discussion, and tonight we are delighted to welcome an atheist to moderate our discussion, Professor Graham Oppy.

Graham Oppy is Professor of Philosophy and head of the School of Philosophical, Historical, and International Studies at Monash University. He is also Chair of Council of the Australasian Association of Philosophy, and was elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities in 2009. Professor Oppy has written extensively in the areas of philosophy of language and aesthetics, philosophy of religion and metaphysics, and philosophy of science. Graham [is] also featured in the book 50 Voices of Disbelief: Why We Are Atheists. There are few intellects in the world who can understand and critique, at an academic level, the arguments presented by both our speakers tonight, let alone an academic who lives in our city. Please welcome Professor Graham Oppy and our speakers tonight, Professor Lawrence Krauss and Dr. William Lane Craig.

Moderator: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to the third installment of “Life, the Universe, and Nothing”! The question for tonight is: Is it reasonable to believe that God exists? On the affirmative side, closest to me at the moment, we have Dr. William Lane Craig, Research Professor of Philosophy in the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University in La Mirada, California. Dr. Craig holds PhDs in both philosophy and theology and has published prolifically in both fields, including something on the order of thirty books. He’s a veteran of the public debating circuit the United States and has crossed swords with, among others, Richard Carrier, Bart Ehrman, Sam Harris, and the late Christopher Hitchens.

Krauss:And me.

Moderator:Our other speaker, further away, is Professor Lawrence Krauss, Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University in Phoenix, Arizona. Professor Krauss has a PhD from MIT and his extensive list of publications include the best-selling books: The Physics of Star Trek and A Universe From Nothing. He’s well known as a researcher, educator, and public commentator, and is one of the stars of the recent film The Unbelievers.

I now call upon Professor Craig to deliver his initial statement.

William Lane Craig – Initial Statement

Craig:Well, thank you very much! I am delighted to be here this evening. And I want to begin by thanking the City Bible Forum for the opportunity to participate in this extraordinary series of three dialogues with Lawrence Krauss, and I want to thank in particular Dr. Krauss for his participation in the dialogues; they have been spirited, to say the least! And thank you to Graham Oppy as well! It’s an honor to have such an eminent philosopher as our moderator this evening.

Now the question before us this evening is whether it’s reasonable to believe that God exists. I’m going to interpret this question to mean: Are there better arguments for God’s existence than against God’s existence? As a professional philosopher, I think that there are many good arguments for God’s existence. So in my opening statement let me just sketch several of the arguments that I’m prepared to discuss with Dr. Krauss tonight.

1. God is the best explanation of the origin of the universe.

Atheists have typically maintained that the universe is eternal and uncreated, but we now have pretty strong evidence that the universe is not eternal in the past but had an absolute beginning a finite time ago. In 2003, Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin were able to prove that any universe which is, on average, in a state of cosmic expansion throughout its history cannot be infinite in the past but must have a past spacetime boundary. Their theorem implies that the quantum vacuum state, which may have characterized the early universe, cannot be eternal in the past but must have had an absolute beginning. Even if our universe is just a tiny part of a so-called “multiverse” composed of many universes, their theorem requires that the multiverse itself must have an absolute beginning. Of course, highly speculative scenarios have been proposed to try to avoid this absolute beginning. These models are fraught with problems, but the bottom line is that none of these theories, even if true, succeeds in restoring an eternal past.

Last year at a conference at Cambridge celebrating the 70th birthday of Stephen Hawking, Vilenkin delivered a paper entitled “Did the Universe Have a Beginning?” which surveyed current cosmology with respect to that question. He argued, and I quote, “none of these scenarios can actually be past-eternal.”[1] He concluded, “All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning.”[2]

But then the inevitable question arises: Why did the universe come into being? What brought the universe into existence? There must have been a transcendent cause which brought the universe into being. We can summarize our argument thus far as follows:

1. The universe began to exist.

2. If the universe began to exist, then the universe has a transcendent cause.

3. Therefore, the universe has a transcendent cause.

Now by the very nature of the case, that cause must be a transcendent, non-spatiotemporal, immaterial being. Now there are only two types of things that could possibly fit that description: either an abstract object like a number or else an unembodied mind or consciousness. But abstract objects can’t cause anything. The number 7, for example, has no effect on anything. It follows, therefore, that the cause of the universe is plausibly an unembodied mind. And thus we are brought not merely to the first uncaused cause of the universe but to its Personal Creator.

2. God is the best explanation of the applicability of mathematics to the physical world.

Philosophers and scientists have puzzled over what physicist Eugene Wigner called “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics.” How is it that a mathematical theorist like Peter Higgs can sit down at his desk and, by pouring over mathematical equations, predict the existence of a fundamental particle which, thirty years later, after investing millions of dollars and thousands of man hours, experimentalists are finally able to detect?

Mathematics is the language of nature. But how is this to be explained? If mathematical objects are abstract entities causally isolated from the universe, then the applicability of mathematics is, in the words of philosopher of mathematics Mary Leng, just “a happy coincidence.”[3] On the other hand, if mathematical objects are just useful fictions, then how is it that nature is written in the language of these fictions?

The atheist has no explanation for the uncanny applicability of mathematics to the physical world. By contrast the theist has a ready explanation: when God created the physical universe he designed it on the mathematical structure that he had in mind. We can summarize this argument as follows:

1. If God did not exist, the applicability of mathematics would be just a happy coincidence.

2. But the applicability of mathematics is not just a happy coincidence.

It therefore follows that

3. God exists.

3. God is the best explanation of the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life.

In recent decades scientists have been stunned by the discovery that the initial conditions given in the Big Bang were fine-tuned for the existence of intelligent life with a precision and delicacy that literally defy 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. The values of these constants are independent of the laws of nature. Second, in addition to these constants there are certain arbitrary quantities which are just put in as initial conditions on which the laws of nature operate, for example, the amount of entropy 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 breadth, the life-permitting balance would be destroyed and life would not exist anywhere in the cosmos.

Now, there are three live explanatory options for this extraordinary fine-tuning: physical necessity, chance, or design.

1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.

Physical necessity is not, however, a plausible explanation because the finely tuned constants and quantities are independent of the laws of nature. Therefore, they are not physically necessary.

So could the fine-tuning be due to chance? Well, the problem with this explanation is that the odds of a life-permitting universe governed by our laws of nature are just so infinitesimal that they cannot be reasonably faced. Therefore, the proponents of chance have been forced to resort to a remarkable metaphysical hypothesis, namely, the existence of a World Ensemble of other universes, preferably infinite in number and randomly ordered, so that life-permitting universes would appear by chance somewhere in the Ensemble.

Not only is this hypothesis, to quote Richard Dawkins, “an unparsimonious extravagance,”[4] but it faces an insuperable objection. There is no reason to think that most of the observable worlds in a World Ensemble would be finely tuned worlds, rather than worlds in which, for example, a single brain fluctuates into existence out of the vacuum and observes its otherwise empty world. Thus, if our world were just a random member of a World Ensemble, we ought to be having observations like that. Since we don’t, that strongly disconfirms the World Ensemble hypothesis. So chance is also not a plausible explanation.

2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.

It follows that design is the best explanation of the fine-tuning of the universe.

3. Therefore, it is due to design.

Thus, the fine-tuning of the universe constitutes evidence for a Cosmic Designer.

4. God is the best explanation of objective moral values and duties in the world.

In moral experience we apprehend a realm of moral values and duties which impose themselves upon us as objectively binding and true. For example, we all recognize that it’s wrong to walk into an elementary school with an automatic weapon and shoot little boys and girls and their teachers.

On a naturalistic view, however, there’s nothing objectively wrong about this. Moral values are just the subjective by-products of biological evolution and social conditioning. The atheist philosopher Alex Rosenberg is brutally honest about the implications of atheism. He declares, “there is no such thing as . . . morally right or wrong.”[5] “Individual human life is meaningless . . . and without ultimate moral value. . . . We need to face the fact that nihilism is true.”[6]

By contrast the theist grounds objective moral values in God and our moral duties in His commands. The theist thus has the explanatory resources which the atheist lacks to ground objective moral values and duties.

Hence, we may argue:

1. Objective moral values and duties exist.

2. But if God did not exist, objective moral values and duties would not exist.

3. Therefore, God exists.

5. God is the best explanation of the historical facts concerning the resurrection of Jesus.

Most people think that Jesus’ resurrection is something that you just believe in by faith or not. But actually there are three facts recognized by the majority of New Testament historians today which I believe are best explained by the hypothesis of Jesus’ resurrection, namely:

1. The discovery of his empty tomb on the Sunday morning following his crucifixion

2. The appearances of Jesus alive after his death to various individuals and groups

3. His disciples’ suddenly and sincerely coming to believe that God raised him from the dead

And I’ll be happy to discuss in detail any of these during our dialogue.

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 three facts. And therefore, it seems to me, that the Christian is amply justified in believing that the best explanation of the evidence is that Jesus rose from the dead and therefore was who he claimed to be. But that entails that the God who raised Jesus from the dead exists. And thus, we have a good inductive argument for the existence of God based on the resurrection of Jesus:

[1. There are three established facts about Jesus: his empty tomb, his post-mortem appearances, and the origin of the disciples’ belief in his resurrection.

2. The hypothesis “God raised Jesus from the dead” is the best explanation of these facts.

3. The hypothesis “God raised Jesus from the dead” entails that God exists.

4. Therefore, God exists.]

6. God can be personally known and experienced.

This isn’t really an argument for God’s existence; rather it’s the claim that you can know God exists wholly apart from arguments simply by personally experiencing Him. Philosophers call beliefs like this “properly basic beliefs.” They aren’t based on some other beliefs; rather they’re part of the foundation of a person’s system of beliefs. Other properly basic beliefs would be belief in the reality of the past or the existence of the external world. In the same way, belief in God is for those who seek Him a properly basic belief grounded in our experience of God.

Now if this is the case, then there’s a danger that arguments for God could actually distract your attention from God Himself. The Bible promises, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.”[7] 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 a personal reality in their lives.

In summary then, we’ve seen six respects in which God provides a better explanation of the world than atheism. God is the best explanation of:

1. The origin of the universe.

2. The applicability of mathematics to the physical world.

3. The fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life.

4. Objective moral values and duties in the world.

5. The historical facts concerning the resurrection of Jesus.

6. God can be personally known and experienced.

In our conversation to follow, I’m happy to discuss any and all of these arguments with Professor Krauss.

Moderator: Thank you, Dr. Craig! I now call on Professor Krauss to give his initial statement.

Lawrence Krauss – Initial Statement

Krauss: I’ll—I want—before I actually begin my presentation, I want to—well, echo the thanks of Dr. Craig. In, in . . . in many ways I want to, I want to really . . . I want to thank the City Bible Forum, the people have been incredible to me and gracious, honorable—much to my surprise—and, and really charming. And, and I want to thank Peter and Robin and Emma, Craig in the back. Robin, today, I want to thank him also, it’s the second time they’ve done this for me and I want to mention it. I have a little bit of black label Johnny Walker whisky here in honor of my late friend Christopher Hitchens which was provided for me by the City Bible Forum. And, and as I pointed out the other day in Sydney, that is a vast difference between Australia and the United States. There’s never—it would never have happened that a Christian group would provide me with whisky before a talk. So I really do want to thank them. And, and I think they all deserve a round of applause for doing such a great job; I really do.

O.K., so obviously you know then question. Well, the answer to the question is, is kind of obvious—we could get out of here quickly—it’s no. The—but certainly if numbers matter it’s definitely not reasonable to believe in God. You know, humans created lots of gods over their history. Every single thing that happened to humans involved a god at some point or another over the time: the sun, the moon, the planets, the winds, the oceans, there have been over at least—estimates of a thousand different gods over human history, O.K. And there are lots of names, and we’ve gotten rid of them. Dr. Craig doesn’t believe in them—almost all of them but one; so it’s just a difference of one. He’s an atheist about all these other gods for good reason. We’ve gotten rid of them because we now understand how the universe works, and we understand those stories are just stories that are inconsistent with the way the universe works. It’s rational inquiry and physical understanding that has done that. I mean the example that it reminds me of, you know, people don’t—when it’s not raining, you could pray for rain or you could go to a meteorologist, and, and farmers will in general go to meteorologists now because it works, and that’s the fundamental difference.

Now, God is at best irrelevant, and I mean at best irrelevant. Science has gotten rid of God from pretty well everywhere God used to reside—used to have angels pushing the planets in orbits around the sun, Newton got rid of that—used to be special creation, and we’ll get to this, every species looked like it was fine-tuned for the conditions in which it lived, meaning there had to be design. Does that argument seem familiar to you? Have you just heard it? O.K., well it—that was the argument that was applied to life, but Darwin showed, in fact, that natural selection and, and genetic mutation could easily, in fact, not only could easily, but does explain the diversity of life on earth. Biochemistry, while we don’t yet know the origin of life on earth, is quickly convincing us that there’s no divine spark, nothing different between animate and inanimate matter except for biochemical processes. And I suspect that in the lifetime of almost everyone in this room, given that most of you are younger than us, we will, in fact, learn how chemistry turned into biology. We also learned that even matter can be created and destroyed; physics has taught us that. And as I’ve written, and we’ve discussed, we’ve can learn that universes can be created and destroyed, no problem. So many of the things we needed God for are not—are no longer there.

But it’s worse than that, of course. Why do we want—why are some people hanging on to that one remaining god? I mean, if you asked yourself how likely is it given the complete lack of evidence for any divinity that Yahweh, or whatever you want to call him, is not—and not one of the other nine hundred ninety-nine gods that we have dispensed with, how likely it is that that one God exists? Well it’s unlikely given that, you know, the plethora of all the rest don’t exist and, and . . . and Christian apologists would argue against all the rest. Why, given what we know, do we want to apply everything that we don’t understand to an invisible man in the sky when there’s been no evidence whatsoever that any invisible man in the sky actually exists, and not only that, which invisible man in the sky? Because even in, in the modern monotheistic religions there are incredible inconsistencies, and only one of them can be right. In fact on this stage the other day I asked Dr. Craig, “what about Islam?” and of course he said Islam is wrong. So that, that invisible man in the sky, who has his own set of values and morals and, and claims, is inconsistent. So if, even if you—even if you accept it’s one God, that God depends on, as you’ll see, where you live.

But the most important thing is our current understanding of nature has actually changed. We call it learning. It’s developed since the claims were first made by peasants—Iron Age peasants who didn’t even know the earth orbited the sun. We have learned about how the universe works and that has changed our opinion. And, in fact, it has told us that the Scriptures are inconsistent with what we know about science, empirical science and reason. So it’s completely unreasonable to accept these old explanations because they just don’t work. They disagree with the evidence.

And finally, there’s nothing absolutely new or special about Jesus. He’s just as unpleasant as all the other gods, and all the stories of Jesus have occurred elsewhere.

Now, in fact, I would argue most people who even call themselves religious choose reason over God for many reasons. Most people who believe in the Judeo-Christian God, don’t really believe in most part—the way—people are happy to call themselves Christians or Jews, but they, but they pick and choose from the Scriptures. They say, well, Jonah didn’t live inside a whale. You know, I don’t really like the idea that Lot told the, the people of Sodom—he said, O.K., rape my daughters because I don’t want to you rape the angels. So go rape my daughters because they are just women, and women are chattel, and it’s O.K. I doubt many Catholics actually believe—in fact, I would be amazed to find any, including priests, who believe that when a priest blesses a wafer it turns into the body of a first century Jew. I was on a stage with several people from the Vatican—the Vatican astronomer and, and several colleagues of mine: religious Catholics—and I asked them if any of them believed in the virgin birth and not one of them would said they did.

Now the only thing, as Dr. Craig has pointed out, that seems to have gotten any currency is the resurrection. That’s the one thing—and I was just talking to a member of the City Bible Forum who was happy enough to drive me to the airport in Sydney, and he said it was the resurrection that convinced him, and I think for Dr. Craig it’s probably the resurrection. We’ve already discussed this before. But, you know the point is—many of my colleagues, when I write a paper, they say it’s wrong, your paper’s wrong and I did it first. And I think that’s the point; there’s nothing new about a resurrection. It’s as old as every god and every creation myth. There’s lots of examples: Dionysus and Jesus are so close to being identical, they were both born from a virgin mother, they both had a divine father, they both were resurrected, they both transformed wine into water, etc., etc., etc. Osiris, the Egyptian god of life, that he, in fact—the new kingdom—this was almost two thousand years before Christ in principle—the idea was that people would be resurrected with Osiris if they followed the correct religious rituals. But the point about the resurrection is that there’s no evidence of it! There’s no evidence it would pass muster in a science lab, much less a court of law. It’s hearsay—stories written based on oral traditions decades or hundreds of years after the fact, which are inconsistent with each other. There’s nothing—you know, when Dr. Craig tells me, and he said it before, historians of the Bible, theologians and people, scholars of the bible, all accept that the resurrection happened—it reminds me of when I debate alien abduction experts who say, well you know, all alien abduction experts say people were abducted by aliens. Well, that doesn’t mean much to me. Given that it has never been observationally verified, is it reasonable to expect that someone comes back from the dead? It’s never been observed, never been seen. So is it reasonable to expect that it happened once when no one could see it and when no one actually reported on it at the time? No. In fact, the fact that people may have seen Jesus walking, if they did, if they report that, I’m willing to accept their belief that they did. But as Oliver Sacks has described it beautifully in a recent book, hallucinations are real to those people that experience them.

Now the fundamental—Christopher Hitchens really presented the fundamental irrationality of the premise of a savior. We are asked to believe the following: First, that our God created our universe fourteen billion years ago, except in many states in my, my country and maybe Queensland; but anyway, then he waited almost ten billion years before the earth formed; then he waited another four billion years until animals evolved; then over two million years he watches our poor hominid ancestors scrape out this meager, miserable existence without intervening; then waited another two hundred fifty thousand years as the first homo sapiens began to assemble into families and tribes, beset by hunger and illness, individuals who are genetically identical to us, essentially, and presumably therefore have a soul, but who are presumably still suffering through eternity without grace because he chose not to save them. But then to introduce, after such remarkable negligence—he decided to reveal himself not in an era of video cameras like today but in an era of Iron Age peasants in a society at the time beset by myth and superstition and not once since then. Come on! And worse, the fundamental premise of Christianity is, is so ridiculous, that we are born sick and commanded to be well, as Christopher has said.

So, the next aspect of faith and belief in God is miracles. Now I once quoted this, and—in fact, last time we met outside of this country, Dr. Craig said, you know, well, philosophers don’t buy it, but I would like him to explain to me what it’s wrong with the argument. Basically, it says if, if a miracle is something that must be of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish. I mean it’s so—As Carl Sagan would have said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Or as Fox Mulder would have said, I want to believe!

We all want to believe! And we should recognize that. And that’s what science teaches us. We are all susceptible immediately to the idea that coincidences are special; something that happens to us means a lot. And often that belief resides in the discrepancy between the laws of probability and the workings of cognition. When something happens to you, it seems special. You can have a thousand dreams that are ridiculous and one night you dream a friend of yours is going to break their leg and the next day they break their arm, you go, “Cosmic!” But you forget all the nonsensical dreams. It’s a natural tendency. And in science we have to work against that. Coincidences happen. Pope John Paul is now going to be a saint because some woman had a remission of a disease in 2011. Well couldn’t that just be a coincidence? As Feynman pointed out the standards of proof in science are so different from those of the Catholic Church. In science we try to prove ideas wrong as well as right. We don’t just try and say, “We like this. Let’s prove it right.”

And the best example I know, again, comes from Carl Sagan: miracle[s] at Lourdes. You know, there was this apparition of the Virgin Mary at Lourdes and, and many people have gone to bathe in the waters. And the Catholic Church keeps good records of it. And about one hundred twenty-eight million pilgrims have gone there, and I think fifty-six have been cured of diseases. And they can say that they can’t prove that it’s something else and therefore they are miraculous. No one has regenerated an arm, but people have been in remission from cancer. But the interesting thing is there [are] spontaneous remission rates of cancer in society. And if you actually look the probability of getting—having remission from cancer, if you go to Lourdes, is smaller than that in the general population. But if you go to Lourdes and you are cured—and you come back and your cancer goes into remission there’s no way that I’m not going to be able—that I’m going to be able to convince you it’s, it’s just an accident. And that’s the problem of our own cognition and miracles.

Now the other thing that’s obvious about what makes it unreasonable is that the God we’ve created is not the kind of—I mean, you know, if you were a god—omnipotent, would you be so petty and jealous? Would you say, “Hey, let me, let me get you to almost kill your son to see if you believe in me”? O.K. Or, let—“you know what, I want you to prostrate before—prostrate before me five times a day to show you love me.” I mean, if you had an ant farm, would you kill the ants if they didn’t look up at you every day and tell you how wonderful you were? O.K. I mean, it’s just kind of—for an omnipotent being he’s pretty petty, or she. And even Christianity, which is supposed to be this loving religion, says believe in me or go to hell for all eternity. Gee, thanks. Or, based on kill—here’s what I want to do, I am going to kill my own son and torture him to absolve humanity from original sin associated with a non-existent forebear: Adam. I mean, it’s nonsense. And if it was reasonable it wouldn’t depend on geography. What you believe depends upon where you come from. If it’s the U.S. you probably believe in the Bible and Jesus; if it’s India it’s probably Brahman; if it’s the Islamic world you believe in the Qur’an as the perfect word of God and Muhammad is his prophet. And, in fact, you have people—I have debated a clone of, of Dr. Craig’s, an Islamic clone, who uses exactly the same arguments, exactly the same arguments, to prove that the Qur’an is the word of God. The great thing is that the global access to information means that people are now learning that they don’t have to accept those things, they can think for themselves. And for that reason religion is monotonically decreasing. A belief—that unreasonable belief in God is monotonically decreasing in all of the internet accessible worlds.

Now science—Dr. Craig talked about morals. Science develops morals without her (her being God in this case). I would argue that the worldview guiding the moral and spiritual values of essentially everyone in this room is not a worldview given to us by religion but a worldview given to us by science. There’s no need for God to do the right thing. Reason is what guides you. If you stop believing in God and if Dr. Craig stopped believing in God I doubt he would go out and kill his neighbor. Reason guides our actions, and reason based on empirical evidence and knowledge of the world. And, in fact, morality evolves over time. In fact, Dr. Craig agreed that our—that in our society morality evolves over time because we learn things. We get rid of the, the immoral dogma of the Judeo-Christian religions: the fact that gays are, are evil. Well, we now know that, in fact, homosexuality is common in all, all mammals. They’re not—it’s not unnatural; it’s absolutely normal. Women are not chattel. Unlike the last pope, who’s going, who’s still alive—condoms don’t cause aids in Africa. In vitro fertilization—allowing people to have children—is not evil; it’s good. Now there are certain universal morals, which we can talk about. At my institute we’ve talked a lot about them. You can ask, “Do different cultures have different reactions?” And I don’t have enough time to go [into] it, but they can be overruled. So we have biological responses that are hard-wired, but even those can be overruled by reason. And I want to bring up an example, which will, which I used with the Islamic guy, and I have offended him incredibly. Maybe it will offend all of you and Dr. Craig, I don’t know. It involves incest. We all have a revulsion, a natural biological revulsion against incest. And there’s a good reason: it’s a biological taboo. Genetically, sexual reproduction by siblings is bad. And that biological revulsion means we have taboos against it, which then get enfranchised in societies. But I would have to say that—let’s take the example of a brother and sister, an adult brother and sister, who decide that they love one another, decide to have sex, decide to use protection so they won’t reproduce, is that morally wrong? I can’t say it is, frankly.

Now, the best example that, that a belief in God is unreasonable is standing—sitting next to me. I’ve listened to Dr. Craig over the days, and I’ve changed my opinion. I’ve . . . I’m much more charitable. I, I came here convinced, based upon my past interactions with his writing, that Dr. Craig was a dishonest charlatan. I . . . but I don’t believe that anymore. I think that Dr. Craig earnestly believes deeply in the issues he was talking about, so deeply—and as a man of intelligence—he is convinced that there must be a reason he believes that way, and he finds every possible rational argument that he can invent that satisfies him. So any argument that validates God is reasonable to him. And any argument against it is not only unreasonable but wrong and worth distorting because it must be wrong; he’s decided the answer in advance. And I want to give you some examples.

The best example, one of the examples I used before, is this awful aspect of the immorality of the Old Testament in Deuteronomy where God tells the Israelites to kill all the Canaanite children and, and women and children—kill everyone in the cities. It’s awful. That’s the reason we’re happy that we’ve gotten rid of that. We don’t—in the modern world—we don’t appease genocide because we say God did it. Or if a woman drowns her children because she hears God telling her to—there are places for people like that. And, and Dr. Craig likes children, but in order to validate this, this is what he’s written:

But why take the lives of innocent children? . . . If we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation . . . Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives.[8]

So, in fact, if they were Canaanite children in that schoolroom that he talked about, it would be O.K. It’s worse though; it becomes more obscene. Who does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults because they were bad, not the children because they get eternal life, it’s the poor Israeli soldiers who had to kill them. They are the ones who were wronged. And then he has gone back and thought about, and says, you know what, I have rethought about it, and really, the real problem is, the command was just to drive them out of the land. If they had just left they wouldn’t have had to be killed at all. Only those left behind were to be utterly exterminated; that’s O.K. That kind of genocide—rationalizing genocide in that way is not reasonable, but those are the lengths you have to go to.

(To moderator: I have about two minutes, is that right?)

Now, what amazes me is that we’ve had these discussions over the last three days, and Dr. Craig keeps repeating the same arguments even when I’ve showed him they’re wrong, that the science is wrong. This—he used these arguments, and, and this is a version of what—of the argument he used today. Item number two is: If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God. This is from his slide before. It’s now called transcendence. But let’s, let’s look at that. I mean, that is one of the silliest, unwarranted statements I could ever imagine. It reminds of the Sydney Harris cartoon where there’s, where there’s an equation, and in the middle you can see, “Then a miracle occurs.” and the guys says, “I think you should be a little more explicit in step two.” I mean, I could replace God by anything in that: by turtles, or Zeus, or quantum mechanics, or better still, unknown. We just don’t know it. But what logic is saying, if the universe has an explanation, [that] explanation must be God. It’s total—for a man of his intelligence it’s totally silly.

Now, he—I just threw these things in—he keeps quoting Alex Vilenkin, that this theorem works. Alex Vilenkin, you know, wrote me an e-mail after our first debate saying, you know what, it doesn’t work when there is quantum gravity. It’s not true. It’s not even true in the multiverse. So—but he’s so convinced that these arguments must be true, he won’t listen to the fact that they’re not.

Fine-tuning? You’ve already heard it: Life was fine-tuned. We got rid of it with Darwin. The universe can be involved in natural selection of the fundamental constants, if there are a number of universes, for example. But the main point is, just like the fact that you and I are not fine-tuned for our existence: we get back aches because we are not used to—designed to be sitting at computers. The universe actually could be tuned much better for life. This argument that it’s fine-tuned for life is nonsense.

And the last thing: Dr. Craig used five syllogisms. The problem with syllogisms is they’re only as good as the initial postulate. Once you accept that blindly then you come up with nonsense. Let me give you an example:

1. All mammals exhibit homosexual behavior.

2. William Lane Craig is a mammal.

O.K., I think you see where I am going. It’s . . . it’s nonsense. It’s nonsense. And it’s nonsense because the premise is wrong, and you have to be much more careful in your premise. You can’t be so simplistic.

And the last thing I will say is that one of—Dr. Craig the other day said that the biggest problem for him in terms of understanding and believing in God was the problem of human suffering, and in this case, the suffering of animals: How could a compassionate God let animals suffer? Well his answer is that a compassionate God wouldn’t and therefore they don’t; they’re not self-aware, and they do not suffer. Now the point is—and I guess I won’t show it. I was going to show these videos; they’re kind of remarkable. A group did a, did a video saying, you know what, all the scientists say that this—all these statements about pain receptors and, and, and prefrontal cortex and all the things Dr. Craig was talking about are wrong, every single scientist. Dr. Craig then did a podcast saying, no, and distorted it. They responded, and it’s kind of amusing to listen to. And maybe I’ll post it somewhere. But the point is, the reason Dr. Craig distorted what they say, and as they said, they, they quoted every scientist, let the scientist see their statement to see if they misrepresented them, is because he believes that a compassionate God would not allow it, and therefore animals must not suffer, independent of the scientific evidence. And that’s the problem.

So to summarize: By replacing God with reason and empirical inquiry science provides gifts in return: the universal invitation to question anyone’s claims and the universal requirement to exercise due diligence and duty of care to substantiate those claims. We—what we call reason is testing your ideas against external reality, checking for internal consistency, and then testing again, and using that as a basis for future actions. That’s what we call acting rationally. A belief in God doesn’t satisfy any of those criteria. And my main goal tonight is not to worry about God, but to encourage the broad use of these gifts because that is what matters to me. And I think that’s what can make the world a better place.

Thank you.


Moderator: O.K., we come now to the second part of the evening’s entertainment: some questions for our two speakers and some further discussion and engagement between them. I’ll start with a question for Dr. Craig. I’m interested in the way that you interpreted the question. Were you saying that reason doesn’t forbid one from believing that God exists, or were you saying that reason requires you to believe that God exists?

Craig: What was the first part of the question?

Moderator: That reason doesn’t forbid you from believing—

Craig:Forbid you?

Moderator:—So it commits you—

Craig: Commits you.

Moderator: Reason commits you to believe, or—but merely that. Or are you saying that reason requires you to believe that God exists?

Craig: Interpreting the question under debate tonight was difficult. What does it mean to say that it is reasonable to believe something? At one level it seemed trivially easy to prove that it’s reasonable to believe in God, namely, look at all the brilliant philosophers, scientists, historians, and so forth, who do believe in God and who seem to be quite reasonable, reasonable people. It doesn't seem that reason would forbid believing in God.

But I wanted to shoulder the burden of proof; I wanted to make it more difficult for my side. So I interpreted the question, as I said, to mean: Are there better arguments for God than against God? And it seemed to me that if there are better arguments for God than against God, then the rational thing to do would be to believe in God. So that was the way I interpreted the question for tonight.

And that requires you in the audience then, to weigh the arguments I have given for God and Dr. Krauss’s arguments against God, and then make up some sort of decision.

Krauss: Let me—can I jump in just a second?

Moderator: Sure, sure. You get to go.

Krauss:I mean, there’s one fallacy in the first part, which you’re saying is less stringent than, than what you tried to show, and that’s [that] some scientists believe in God. Well some scientists are Republicans; it doesn’t prove anything. Or, we’ll vote for the liberal party here in Australia. The point is that, that people can believe—we, we seem to be able to—and all—each one of us believes ten impossible things before breakfast to get up and, and go to work, half the time. The fact that you can believe in, in, in completely inconsistent notions is not—doesn’t prove that both of those inconsistent notions are true. It means that people can do that, and . . . and we all do it. And so I do not think that that is an argument in favor of the reality of anything. The fact that . . .

Craig: O.K. Well, as I say, I, I interpreted the question to require—

Krauss: Yeah!

Craig: —a heavy burden of proof.

Moderator: O.K., so something of a follow up question, this time for Professor Krauss. So it seems to me that on—by ordinary standards there are lots of intelligent, reflective, well-intentioned, well-informed people who believe that God exists and people who don’t believe that God exists. Given that there are people of these kinds on both sides, is it really plausible to say that all the people on one side are not reasonable? I mean, sure, they’re wrong, but—

Krauss: No, no, that’s, that . . .

Moderator:Sure, they’re wrong, but are they unreasonable?

Krauss: Well, you know, you’ve jumped to the statement that people are unreasonable. The question is: is that particular belief unreasonable? Reasonable people—

Moderator:Yeah, so—

Krauss: —all have unreasonable beliefs,

Moderator:Sorry, in this respect, though—

Krauss: I have lots of them, I am sure. What’s that?

Moderator: —in respect of their believing that God exists, are they unreasonable there, rather than just being wrong?

Krauss: Well, look, I mean, the point is there are many, many reasons that people are religious, not least because, unfortunately, we force it down the throats of children. It’s very, very difficult to overcome that early teaching. And therefore it’s not surprising, and as I said it’s not surprising—it’s kind of amazing that, generally, you find in Christian society the children of Christians are Christian, and that in Islamic society the children of Muslims are Muslim. And I think there’s—so, so there’s lots of pressure from the time you are a child. And so a belief in, in something—plus, in fact, there’s lots of—and we don’t have time—well, maybe we do have time to go into evolutionary psychology—there’s lots of reasons to expect that people are hard-wired at some level to, to look for causes where there aren't, to look for design where there isn’t. So [there] are natural predilections that we are hard-wired into, and that’s what science tries to overcome—those natural predilections to believe that coincidences are significant, to check them, to see, to check your own work—in fact, the easiest person to fool is yourself. And as scientists, I don’t know how many papers I have seen people almost produce, saying, “I discovered something wonderful,” but then, if they’re good enough, they check it and find out it wasn’t; it was just an accident. And so I think it’s not unreasonable; it’s a natural human tendency.

Moderator: O.K., Bill, do you want to comment on that?

Craig: Well, no. I think this is academic because, as I say, the way I’ve interpreted the question tonight is that I intend to provide arguments for God’s existence that I think are better than the arguments against God’s existence. And you haven’t disputed that if one does that then it would be reasonable to believe in God. Even though there are much weaker interpretations of the question that would say that a person who is, say, expert in the area of philosophy and who is a brilliant philosopher and chooses to believe in God, seems quite within his rational rights. But, as I say, that’s all academic; we need to focus on the arguments that have been given pro and con tonight.

Krauss: And, and we need to sometimes recognize that the arguments are wrong because—

Craig: Well, yeah, but that is a double-edged sword, right?

Krauss:—because there’s empirical evidence for that, yeah.

Craig: I mean, what you said about self-deception and having bad arguments, that applies to you equally.

Krauss: But quoting Alex Vilenkin incorrectly is just quoting Alex Vilenkin incorrectly. I mean, you know . . . anyway.

Craig: Well, do we want to talk about that?

Moderator: I think it would be good—

Craig: Because I . . .

Moderator: —to move on to discuss one of the arguments. So, yeah, let’s, let’s take up the question about the BGV theorem, O.K.?

Craig: About what?

Moderator:The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem.

Craig: Oh, yeah.

Krauss:Yeah, yeah.

Moderator:So, so can I . . . can I . . .

Craig: Yes, can we bring up your slide with this private e-mail that you received?

Krauss: I can go—I could go put it back up.

Craig: Yeah, please do.

Moderator: While, while you are doing that, can I ask you a question about this, while you go and do it? So—

Krauss: O.K., O.K., well let’s see if we need to put the slide up.

Moderator: So, so, so my—my question is whether there aren’t models out there, like Anthony Aguirre’s steady-state eternal inflation models, don’t they just show that the implications of the theorem have got to be very limited?

Krauss: Well, the point, the point is, as Alex pointed out—look, first of all, this is a red herring in the first place. It’s like—I’d like to sort of use Dr. Craig’s argument—although now—we’re now on a first name basis, so I’ll call him Bill. It doesn’t matter whether the universe had a beginning or not; that’s not a crucial point. So let me just point out that’s a red herring. You know, I—as I told—as I said the first night, I would—I think—if I were going to guess, I would guess our universe had a beginning, namely, space and time began, O.K. I guess that’s the most likely possibility, but that doesn’t mean in any case that there’s a God. But you’re absolutely right, that there are tons of models, and whether you think they’re better motivated or more poorly motivated, that involve a contracting phase and then an expanding phase, and—in fact, Alex was talking about the fact that he has one, and, in fact, that there’s one for the multiverse. And the key point is, the theorem itself, as he points out, is only as good as its assumptions; it assumes a classical spacetime. We all know that at the—when you go back early enough you have to consider quantum gravity—by the way, we do not have a theory of quantum gravity. We don’t know what’s going to happen. So anything’s possible because the classical theory breaks down. So it’s—it just isn’t even applicable at the time that really matters.

Moderator: Bill?

Craig: Well, I’d like to see this again, this private e-mail put up on the screen—

Moderator: Can you [to Krauss]?

Craig:—to see who has misquoted Vilenkin.

Krauss: Well, I put it up there so that he would quote himself. That’s better than actually quoting him, I generally find.

Craig: O.K., that’s it, isn’t it?

Krauss:O.K., is it up here?

Craig: Yeah. O.K., now notice it says:

Any theorem is only as good as its assumptions. The BGV theorem says that if the universe is on average expanding along a given worldline, this worldline cannot be infinite to the past.

A possible loophole is that there might be an epoch of contraction prior to the expansion. Models of this sort have been discussed by Aguirre & Gratton and by Carroll & Chen. . . . .

Now the thing is, Lawrence, that in the very paper that I quoted from Alex Vilenkin last April, he shows specifically, by name, that the Aguirre & Gratton model, and the Carroll & Chen model, don’t work. That they’re—

Krauss: No, no, he said they have to make an assumption about entropy.

Craig:He said—

Krauss:You have to make an assumption about the evolution of entropy at the point of minimum size.


Krauss:That—so you have to make an assumption, which, he would argue, that they don’t have any rationale for. That’s not the same as saying that they’re wrong.

Craig: Well, yes, it is. He, he argues that all of the evidence shows that the universe had a beginning and that in these models—

Krauss: I would agree that all the evidence shows—let’s look—let’s accept that fact.

Craig:All right.

Krauss: All the evidence suggests that our universe had a beginning.

Craig: O.K.

Krauss: But we don’t know! That’s what I keep telling you. Knowing and suspecting are two vastly different things.

Craig: I, I’m never saying that this is known with certainty. This is a, a mischaracterization on your part. What I argue is that the premise is more probably true than false. And actually you agree with me—

Krauss:Yeah, but . . .

Craig: —on that, that the universe began to exist. But I, I want to—

Krauss:Well, well I say it’s likely that the universe began to exist.

Craig:—focus on this claim that I’ve somehow misrepresented Vilenkin—

Krauss Well, but the, but the key line is the last one, that the theorem—

Craig:Now wait a minute.

Krauss: —breaks down at the point when it really matters.

Moderator: Hang on! One at a time!

Craig: Now, now, there’s more here because I noticed that at the end of this paragraph, where the Carroll-Chen and Aquirre-Gratton models are mentioned, that he specifically shows—

Krauss: Have dropped off it—because it was technical. He said—he talked about the fact that . . .

Moderator: Lawrence, hang on a minute. Just let Bill finish.

Craig: He specifically shows that these models cannot be past eternal, and that they involve therefore a beginning of the universe, just like the others.

Krauss Bill, you could do the math if you want!

Craig: Now wait!

Krauss:I would love for you to do it!

Craig: Now wait! I couldn’t help notice, although it is down from the screen now, that there was a series of ellipsis points following the paragraph—

Krauss: Yeah, because it was technical. And I thought it was, you know—

Craig: Well, I wonder what you’ve deleted from the original letter. Could—

Krauss I just, I just, I just . . .

Craig: Now wait!

Krauss: I just told you!

Craig:Now wait! Yeah, but you didn’t—

Krauss: I just told you! He says that you assume a minimum of entropy at the lowest point for which there’s no rationalization in, in the papers within the context of the model given, and therefore he finds them unpleasant.

Craig: Could it have been something like this:

You can evade the theorem by postulating that the universe was contracting prior to some time. . . . This sounds as if there’s nothing wrong with having a contraction prior to expansion, but the problem is that a contracting universe is highly unstable. Small perturbations would cause it to develop all sorts of messy singularities so that it would never make it to the expanding phase.[9]

Krauss:That—there’s, there’s—

Craig: That’s Vilenkin!

Krauss: There’s a growth—in his paper that is absolutely right! There are many assumptions about entropy and uniformity that make those models looks artificial. But it’s not a—that’s different than saying they’re wrong, especially if the minimum occurs at a point where quantum effects are important and the whole classical theory goes out the window. That’s the key point: quantum mechanics. We don’t have a theory of quantum gravity. Quantum gravity is required to understand the universe at t = 0. Until we do, it’s unknown.

Craig: Isn’t, isn’t it true that the only viable quantum gravity models on order today involve a beginning—have a finite past?

Krauss: No.

Craig: Like—well, can you give us one then?

Krauss Well, it, it depends what you mean. There are model—there are viable models of a multiverse in which the multiverse is eternal. There are conformally, in fact—I noticed—you were maybe—at one point you quoted—you didn’t now, but I was prepared to jump on you in case you did—Roger Penrose, and there’s classically conformal theories that, in fact, involve a cyclical universe and, and, and they’re perfectly consistent at this point. But none of them—the point is, all of them have flaws because—

Craig: Yes.

Krauss: —none of them are a true quantum theory of gravity. So all of them are open to question . . . in my experience in science, all of them are probably wrong. Because—

Craig: Yeah.

Krauss —if—you know, most theories are wrong, which is why it takes—it’s hard.

Craig: Right! Right.

Krauss: And so, I, I always bet—in fact I bet the Higgs wouldn’t exist because most simple theories are wrong.

Craig: You bet against it?

Krauss Yeah, yeah, because is just seemed too simple and slimy. And, and—but on the other hand, the difference is, while I thought it was ugly, it exists! So I’ve changed my mind. And in fact—

Craig: Good.

Krauss: —I wrote a paper that showed that that fine-tuning that you talk about is natural in the context of the models once you have a Higgs. So I actually explained the fine-tuning just last week.

Craig: You’re talking about the cosmological constant?

Krauss: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Craig: But you know that the fine-tuning extends far beyond that. There’s a diverse and multiple range of finely tuned constants.

Krauss: Yeah, but, but as I told you the other day, we don’t have—here’s the problem with the fine-tuning argument, here’s the problem with the fine-tuning argument—one of them. There are many of them—but I told you this the other day. We don’t know the measure—we don’t know the phase space. We—it is true that life—that many aspects of human life appear to—would have been impossible if certain constants were different.

Craig: Yes.

Krauss: Is it surprising—it would have been much more surprising if we evolved in a universe in which we couldn’t live, O.K.?

Krauss: So, it’s just like saying—

Craig: That would be a contradiction.

Krauss:—that a bee, a bee knows the color and can find the flowers—the colors of the flower. So it’s not because the bee is designed, it’s because if they didn’t they couldn’t reproduce.

Craig: No.


Krauss:It’s not too surprising that our—we don’t know if you change the constants of nature whether other life forms with vastly different characteristics couldn’t be conscious. We don’t know enough—we don’t even know what consciousness is! So how can you make this assertion that life is fine-tuned? In fact, as I pointed out to you, if the cosmological constants and other constants were changed, there would be more life in the universe. The universe is not particularly conducive to life. It’s amazing we’re here. There are asteroids that could destroy us at any instant. The fact is most of the universe is a harsh miserable place and life doesn’t exist in almost all of it.

Craig: That’s irrelevantto the requisite fine-tuning of those initial conditions in the Big Bang: the constants and quantities which must be in place if anywhere in the cosmos life is to evolve and exist—

Krauss: No! A life like us!

Craig: And it—

Moderator: Hang on, let Bill finish!

Craig:No, no—no, no, that’s not right.

Krauss: How do you know? How do you know what kind of life can exist?

Craig: Because we are not talking about universes governed by differentlaws of nature.

Krauss: No, I’m just saying, if—all I’m saying is we know of one kind of intelligent life (in some of this room) and, and, and the point is, we don’t know—we don’t—just don’t know what the phase space is. In fact I wrote a paper once showing that if you made different assumptions about what, what kind of life could exist that you [would] predict radically different values for the—

Craig: O.K. you, you’re—

Krauss: —fundamental constants. So we, we just don’t know the answer. It’s a, it’s an interesting question. It’s an interesting possibility, and it may even be right—it may even be right that there’s a lot of universes. But if that is the case it’s not designed. It’s natural selection. It’s cosmic natural selection. We find ourselves living in a universe in which we can live, big surprise.

Craig: Right, that, that’s not a surprise. But that’s, that’s not the argument, Lawrence—

Krauss: But other universes in which the constants are different, either we wouldn’t exist or different life forms exist. It’s not special creation. It’s exactly the same—I was going to say philosophical—it’s exactly the same logical problem that people had before Darwin. Everything looked designed. Life looks beautifully designed. It’s not.

Craig: No, it—that, that is not the same. What we’re dealing with here is, if we talk about life in the most general terms, is the ability of an organism to take in food, process it, reproduce after its kind. Life so generally defined wouldn’t exist anywhere

Krauss:That’s not true!

Craig:—in the cosmos without the fine-tuning. Now let me explain—

Krauss: For example, I’m, I’m going to—

Moderator: Hang on! Hang on! Lawrence!

Krauss: —a conference with Freeman Dyson who’s been having a debate with me about this—

Moderator: Now wait!

Krauss: —and we’ve been talking about exotic forms of life.

Moderator: Let, let Bill finish!

Craig: In the, in the absence of fine-tuning it’s not as though there might be different odd aliens that would evolve somewhere in the universe. In the absence of fine-tuning there wouldn’t even be matter. There wouldn’t even be chemistry!

Krauss: How do you know? How do you know?

Craig: Because, because the laws are kept.

Krauss: There wouldn’t be matter like we measure, but if the quark masses were different there would be different kinds of matter.

Craig:If, if—

Krauss:I mean—in fact—if there’s, if there were different symmetry groups there would be different kinds of matter and different forces. How do you know what’s—

Craig:No, no—

Krauss: —possible if you don’t know what’s possible?

Craig: There aren't different forces—

Krauss: How do you know?

Craig: Because we are considering that subset of universes governed by the same laws but with different values of the constants and quantities, and therefore we can predict—

Krauss:I’m sorry.

Craig: —what would happen if those were changed.

Krauss: One thing you don’t understand is that a different constant means a different force. The weak force is short range; the electromagnetism is long range—radically different—just because of a different constant. If I gave the photon a mass electromagnetism wouldn’t exist anymore. So it’s not as if the forces that exist at a human level depend—are, are different than the constants. If I gave the photon a mass electromagnetism wouldn’t exist. We wouldn’t have lights. We wouldn’t be here. And so—I’m sorry, Bill, you’re not—you just don’t understand the physics. You’re out of, out of your depth here.

Craig: Well, you, you know, you’re not arguing just with me here. You’re arguing with all of the physicists who do accept that the universe is incredibly fine-tuned—

Krauss: There are parameters—

Craig: —for intelligent and interactive life.

Krauss: Look, I was one of the first people to point out that, that—to suggest a value for the energy of empty space, which is ridiculously small—

Craig: Right.

Krauss: —compared to the naïve value; that looks fine-tuned. Now if you say that it’s fine-tuned then people like you jump on it and say, “It’s God.” But the point is, as I tried to explain to you, if it was zero, which isn’t fine-tuned, there would be more life in the universe.

Craig: Now wait! The, the way in which the cosmological constant is fine-tuned is that the life-permitting range is about 1 out of 10120

Krauss:But zero—

Craig: —smaller than its possible range.

Krauss: But, but it’s 10-120 times the value you would naturally expect. Now, that is ridiculous, and it’s the biggest problem in physics and it excites me. It’s wonderful to not understand. That’s what being a scientist is all about.

Craig: Yeah.

Krauss: Loving not understanding. Not knowing the answer before you ask the question. And, and so the point is, it’s ridiculous—we don’t understand it at all! One possibility is that it’s anthropic, another is that we might actually have a theory, as I propose, that fixes the value, but what I want to point out is if it was zero, which everyone of us thought—hold on—which every one of us thought thirty years ago, because it’s the mathematically natural value, then life would be—there would be more life in the universe. So zero, which is smaller than the number we see, is a much better value if you wanted to pick one that isn’t fine-tuned, [if] you wanted to maximize the amount of life in the universe, you would pick a cosmological constant equal to zero.

Craig: I don’t think you understand what fine-tuning means. It doesn’t mean that the cosmological constant couldn’t take the value zero. What it means is that the life-permitting range is—

Krauss: Includes zero.

Craig: —is—Yes, the life permitting range would go from zero to about the Planck energy density. And that—

Krauss: No, 10-120 times the Planck energy density.

Craig: —life-permitting range is incomprehensibly tiny compared to the range of assumable values.

Krauss: That’s if you don’t change any other fundamental constants.

Craig: Well, that is a different argument.

Krauss: If you change δρ/ρ (delta rho/rho), the energy—the, the fluctuations of the early universe, then the life permitting range of the cosmological constant changes incredibly, and the preferred value is very different than the value we pick. So the point is: we don’t know which constants of nature are fixed, which ones can change. We don’t know! And so it’s incredibly—while it’s an interesting suggestion—it’s [an] incredible overstatement to say we know the answer. We don’t know what values change—and I told you, if you change δρ/ρ (delta rho/rho), the fluctuations in the early universe, the preferred value of the cosmological constant will change by a value of ten to the fifth. And we don’t know because we don’t have a fundamental theory, which parameters are fixed by that fundamental theory, which can vary, whether there are more than one universe, whether we are the only universe, we just don’t know. So it is an interesting speculation, and one I have thought about a lot, but to claim we know the answer is to overstate the argument.

Craig: No—gosh, Lawrence, you, you’re—you’re equating my giving an argument, which has premises that are probably true, with some sort of certainty, and I, I’m not suggesting that.

Krauss: But the premise isn’t even probably true. It’s like your—it’s like the statement that I made in your other syllogism. It’s not true that the constants are fine-tuned to, to allow intelligent life. That’s just not—that vastly—that, that’s like saying all mammals have homosexual tendencies. I mean it’s just an overstatement that leads to nonsense.

Craig: I, I don’t think that’s correct, and neither do most physicists. I—

Krauss:Well, you know . . .

Moderator: Maybe, maybe we should move on to a different topic at this point—

Krauss: Yeah, right. I think—no, actually . . .

Moderator: —maybe we have exhausted that one.

Krauss:But . . .

Craig: I want to—

Krauss: One, one thing I want to say, and I’m sure Bill will agree with me here—we—every now and then we agree—I appreciate your allowing us to have a discussion. In the other two debates the moderators felt that they had to—that their views were what people were coming to listen to. And, and, and maybe they are more rational than Bill or I, but the point is that I really appreciate you allowing us to have that conversation.

Moderator: O.K., let’s . . . before we turn to take some questions from the audience that have come up on my iPad, maybe we’ll move to a rather different subject matter, and I have a couple of questions about this. So, this is a question for Lawrence. Elsewhere you’ve raised questions when you’ve been talking about Christianity about whether Jesus existed. And I wonder what you would like to say about, for example, the book of Acts, and the report there of Paul’s behavior. I mean, how would you understand that if Jesus didn’t actually exist?

Krauss: Look, I—it’s highly—look, let me—I just did that to provoke Bill, but—the point is, look, I wasn’t there. If you asked me, is the weight of historical evidence such that Jesus was a real historical figure, I would say, the weight of historical evidence is that Jesus was a historical figure. Is the weight of historical evidence that Jesus is God? No. The weight of the historical evidence is that he was a revolutionary man who had delusions about being God, in particular, his disciples wanted to deify him, I think. But in any case, I, I do no dispute that the weight of historical evidence suggests that he was a real person. Let’s, let’s, let’s get that . . .

Moderator: O.K. Do you want to say something [to Craig]?

Craig: Well, what I wanted to say, Lawrence, is that your comparisons of Jesus of Nazareth with Dionysus and Osiris is based upon scholarship that is more than one hundred years out of date. And I think that honest—no, honestly, you’ve got to get—I think you’ve been fed a lot of misinformation by skeptics and Internet infidel types that are really misleading you on—

Krauss: Look . . .

Craig: —where historical Jesus scholarship is today. Let me explain two things about this, why this view is, is gone now; it’s over one hundred years out of date. Scholars in comparative religion and in the history of religions during the late 19th century ransacked the literature of ancient mythology looking for these kind of parallels to Jesus, and some tried to explain the origins of Christianity from these. That movement soon collapsed, however, primarily for two reasons.

First of all, the parallels turned out to be spurious. When you look at these supposed parallels, between Dionysus and Jesus, or Osiris and Jesus, they just don’t hold up. Dionysus was not raised from the dead. Osiris, in the myths, lives on in the underworld. The, the pieces of his body were scattered and reassembled by his wife; he doesn’t rise from the dead. So, in fact, there is nothing in the ancient world comparable to belief in the resurrection of Jesus in these myths. What scholars have discovered over the last half-century or so is what’s been called the Jewish reclamation of Jesus, that is, the re-realization that Jesus was a Jew—surprise! And it’s against the backdrop—

Krauss: I knew that!

Craig: —of Judaism that he must be understood, that the proper interpretive context for Jesus of Nazareth is not pagan mythology but first century Palestinian Judaism. And when interpreted against that backdrop, the Gospels emerge as very credible historical sources. —

Krauss: Well, I, I, yeah . . .

Craig:—The second thing—well now the second thing to be said about this, this myth theory is that there is no causal connection between these myths and these earliest disciples. These kinds of cults of dying and rising gods weren’t even present in first century Palestine. And it would be unthinkable that these original disciples of Jesus would have come to believe he was risen from the dead because somebody had said something about Osiris.

Krauss: Look—O.K., you know—look, I’m, I’m like you, I don’t want to try and claim that I am an expert in theology or, or biblical history. So one may argue that the connections are spurious, and, and I’m willing to accept that fact, O.K. But that still doesn’t obviate a few things, that there are many different historical—there’s a number one best seller, as you know, in the New York Times best seller list, by someone who says, you know, Jesus was a revolutionary, his followers tried to deify him. He seemed like—it seems like an interesting and credible argument. I, I’m not an expert, but I know a lot of people who say, first of all, there’s nothing new about that argument.—


Krauss: —And the author agrees it’s nothing new, but it’s an interesting argument. But the main point is: big deal! If someone tells me they saw someone rise from the dead I have to ask, how likely is it? How likely it is that I’m hallucinating? Or—


Krauss: —how likely is it—I’m skeptical of everyone. So if I want to create a movement, how likely—how much more likely is it for me to claim the head of my movement is divine and rose from the dead. Well there’s a lot of motivation for that. So I’m very skeptical until someone provides me more evidence than hearsay—and often contradictory hearsay or stories—written many, many years after the fact.

Craig: Well those are all good points to raise, and they are discussed in my published work on, on this subject. I did my doctoral work in Munich on, on the resurrection. And I think that the hallucination theory, for example, has numerous problems that make it less preferable as an explanation. And as for probability considerations, this is this appeal that you made to David Hume,


Craig:—again, earlier. And I think Hume’s argument is simply demonstrably fallacious. He didn’t understand the probability calculus; it hadn’t been developed in his day,—

Krauss: As, as, as didn’t Leibniz, by the way, but, anyway, O.K.

Craig: —and, and so when Hume says that no amount of evidence can serve to establish a miracle—

Krauss: No, he said the evidence—it has to be such that the evidence that falsifies—


Krauss: —it is more remarkable than the evidence that supports it.


Krauss: That seems to be a very rational argument. And you can argue that people disagree, but I haven’t heard a rational argument why, why that, that statement is wrong. It’s really the same statement that Sagan made, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” If you’re going to say that someone rose from the dead, if you’re going to say that someone levitated, then you better have, then, then the claim that—it has to be more remarkable to argue that they didn’t then that they did—

Craig: Yeah.

Krauss: —for, for, you know. And I think that’s perfectly reasonable—

Craig: You’re quoting what is called Hume’s Maxim, and that is the germ of truth that some philosophers try to retrieve from Hume’s fallacious argument. But all that amounts to saying is: which is more probable, that God raised Jesus from the dead or one of these other alternative theories, like hallucination, apparent death, conspiracy theory—

Krauss: Well, so let’s take the—let’s take the argument that Muhammad rose on a horse to heaven.

Craig: Yeah.

Krauss:Which a, which a significant fraction of the world believe, even though he rose from the horse from a place he never apparently visited, but that’s a different story—

Craig: But, but wait! That’s crucial! That’s crucial, isn’t it?

Krauss: Hold on! But, but, but—No, because God can do—God could transport him there, don’t you think?

Craig: Well, I thought you meant that he was never there.

Krauss: O.K., well he was never there that we know of in real—in, in—before he—

Craig: Yeah.

Krauss: —ascended to heaven. But there’s a claim that people believe in. You’ve argued that people—that it—the reason it’s true is because people are willing to die for it.

Craig: No, no—no that wasn’t the argument!

Krauss: Well, unfortunately you know people are willing to die for that other claim.


Krauss: And, and it doesn’t make it true that people I often suggest that claims that people are willing to die for are most likely wrong.

Craig: They have to at least think that it is true! But no, that wasn’t the argument. The, the argument was that the very origin of the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection is something that requires some sort of explanation from the historian. Why did this movement arise? Where would this belief come from? It’s, it’s [an] extraordinarily un-Jewish belief and requires some sort of sufficient explanation. So this is part of the evidence that needs to be explained.

Krauss: Wasn’t there a Jewish belief in a Messiah? Wasn’t there a Jewish belief in a Messiah?

Craig: Absolutely! And Messiah was supposed—

Krauss: So, so there was a lot of people looking for Messiahs back then?

Craig: Absolutely! And, and Messiah was supposed to be a military king who would establish David’s throne in Jerusalem and command the respect of both Jew and Gentile alike. And it’s for that reason that the crucifixion of Jesus was such a disaster for these men. It wasn’t just that he was dead and gone. It had completely evacuated any hopes that they might have entertained that this man was the promised Messiah.

Krauss: If you were—do you not think it’s—I mean, if you want to establish something as reasonable, do you not think it’s reasonable that a group of disciples would, first of all, miss someone so much that they might see him? In fact I know of people who’ve heard voices of dead relatives—


Krauss: —and I’m not going to tell them their, you know, that’s what they want to hear. I mean, it comforts them; that’s fine. But most of us would argue it’s something they need to hear. It’s something that makes them—brings them peace and . . . and allows them to accept the loss of their loved one, as one possibility. Or the other possibility, that if you are a group of hard done revolutionaries, hey, it’s really good to create this story because it make, it makes your leader seem more powerful. I mean, I’m not—who do I—I guess I do want to impugn them, but I mean, I’m skeptical. People—

Craig: That’s fine to be skeptical.

Krauss: —are people, and it’s just as rational to believe in that as—rational [to] believe that something that’s never occurred before in human history, never occurred afterwards, for which there is no direct evidence, actually happened.

Craig: Well, there, there is direct testimonial evidence in history.

Krauss: After the fact!

Craig:Yes, people whose—

Krauss: Not direct, thirty years later!

Craig:No, no . . .

Krauss:If you went to a court of law and said, I saw that happen and that guy said that, thirty years later . . .

Craig: No, no, it is much earlier than that in the sources in the New Testament. For example—

Krauss: How soon after the event?

Craig: Like, within five years.

Krauss: Five years! O.K., great! So you—there’s five years, you—

Craig: Within five years.

Krauss:—stories that are written down five years after the fact making statements which have been oral traditions up to that point are highly suspect; they would be in any court of law now.

Craig: Not in a Jewish context! These—in Judaism, oral tradition was a highly developed, highly prized skill that was passed on with great accuracy.

Krauss: But you also realize that there are inconsistencies in the different oral traditions. Now, they’re minor ones, but they are inconsistencies which represent the fact that they indeed were oral traditions passed down from mother to daughter or father to son—depending upon whether it was a matriarchal or patriarchal society—and, and, and those oral traditions, after five years, after twenty years, after one hundred years, become easier to believe because you weren’t there.

Craig: No! Lawrence, we’re talking about within five years! We’re talking about information about eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Jesus that go right back to the very beginning to the disciples themselves. And the, the question you’re raising is a good one: could these have been like bereavement visions?

Krauss: Yeah.

Craig: And I think that you can argue that, no, that’s highly implausible. In fact, when you look at the psychology casebooks there is nothing comparable to these resurrection appearances. In order to get anything comparable you have to cobble together independent stories to try to make a composite picture. But there’s, there’s nothing—

Krauss: There’s so much—there are so many examples in, in modern times of people seeing things that are more remarkable: people seeing aliens in their room, people being, you know, having weird sexual experiments done to them by aliens, people seeing their loved ones present in the room with them.

Craig: Yes.

Krauss: It happens all the time.

Craig: I, I—I say there are these bereavement visions; that’s true. But what we’re dealing here with is multiple individuals on various occasions, different circumstances, not only people who were believers but people who were unbelievers, not only individuals but groups

Krauss: Well, I can say the same thing about alien, alien visitation.

Craig: No, I don’t—

Krauss:I’ve debated alien abduction people on stage and they’ll give me examples where whole groups of people claim to see alien spacecraft do things. And as Richard Feynman said, it’s must more likely due to the known inconsistency—or irrationality of humans than the unknown rationality of aliens. These things happen.

Craig: I don’t think you would be able to show something comparable to these resurrection appearances that would enable you to explain them plausibly as hallucinations. Moreover, hallucinations only attempt to account for the appearances. They don’t say anything about the empty tomb, for which we have good historical evidence.

Krauss: How do we have good historical evidence?

Craig: We have—

Krauss:We have someone told you the empty tomb—the tomb was empty. That’s historical evidence?

Craig: We have multiple, independent, early sources.

Krauss: By people, by—exactly, we have multiple, independent evidence based on claims by early sources after the fact.

Craig: Well of course—

Krauss: Recorded five years after the fact.

Craig:They go back to within that.

Krauss: Not the next day, not, not when we could check for DNA evidence.

Craig: Well, we don’t know that, we don’t know that. But in any case, this is of a publicly verifiable fact that anyone in Jerusalem could verify, including the Jewish authorities. And the Jewish authorities never pointed to the tomb of Jesus and said, “There’s the body! He hasn’t risen from the dead!” In fact, the earliest Jewish polemic entangled itself in a series of absurdities trying to explain why the body was missing.

Krauss: Well, there are lots of, of—you know, look for Jimmy Hoffa. I mean, you know, the point—there are lots of ways the body could be missing. All I’m saying is, is—you know, look, there’s, there are claims, but the claims are outrageous claims. And there’s no independent evidence for those outrageous claims. God, you know, God could—if there was a god they could do it so much more easily, in a way which was verifiable, or more importantly, falsifiable!

Craig: It, it sounds to me as if you’re not even open to the evidence—to looking at it.

Krauss: No, no, look, look . . . when I, when I read physical review letters, and I read an experiment, and it makes a ridiculous claim about neutrinos going faster than light, I’m highly skeptical. And I try to think of all the reasons that it could be wrong, in spite of the fact that the experimentalists are excellent experimentalists, and Cern is a wonderful institution, but it’s an extremely difficult experiment to do. And I know based on everything I know about other parts of physics that it’s highly unlikely. And, and I, I always use—I think I borrowed my mantra from the publisher of the New York Times—that I like to keep an open mind but not so open that my brains fall out.

Craig: Well, I hope that you will keep an open mind to the evidence for the empty tomb, the post-mortem appearances, and the origin of the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection. Most scholars who have looked at this and have an open mind think that these do belong to the portrait of the historical Jesus. And I don’t find any other explanation that has the same sort of explanatory power, explanatory scope, degree of plausibility, as the hypothesis that these original men gave, that God raised Jesus from the dead.

Krauss: Well, it’s clear you don’t. O.K., let’s go on. I mean I accept that you don’t.

Moderator: O.K., maybe, maybe we should now move to some questions from the audience. We’ve got a bit of time left for those, so—I think this first one is probably intended for Lawrence, so: “Science gives us guidance and nice stuff, but also chemical weapons and gas chambers. Can you discuss?”

Krauss: You know, that argument—I keep hearing that argument—and, and—and you know, Stephen Pinker just wrote a great paper, he said, well you know what, people say that about science, but they don’t say, you know what, architects create beautiful buildings but they also created the Nazi gas chambers. Music—musicians are great except Hitler loved opera. I mean, the point is: science is, is not a thing, it’s a process. It’s a process that allows you to separate fact from fiction, nonsense from sense, make predictions that work, and make the universe a better place. Now, it is a human activity, subject to human constraints, political and economic ones. And in my opinion, what, what—so the process is not evil. Every human process can produce things than happen in both directions. What we need to do is, in fact—and the reason I come to places like this, is to explain what the process of science is, so that we can use it, so people can then make public policies based on empirical evidence that are sound and reasonable, not based on ideology or dogma. And the, the use of science that you’re talking about is, is based on power, dogma, ideology. And the more we get people to be skeptical of politicians and their leaders, and their religious leaders, and the scientists, the better informed public and the better democracy we’ll have.

Craig: The point is . . . the point is that the process of science is morally neutral, and therefore it does not provide a foundation—

Krauss:No, I keep—we’ve had this . . .

Craig: —for objective moral values and duties. As you said, for example, your illustration of incest, the most that is shown is that it’s taboo. But being taboo is very different—


Craig: —from being objectively morally wrong.

Krauss: No, we’ve had this discussion ad nauseam. The point is, science, first of all, is based on honesty, transparency, no authorities—

Craig: And those assumptions can’t be scientifically justified!

Krauss: —those are ethical, those are ethical things which I just wish, for example, were true in the Vatican, O.K. And . . . the argument that some things are, are—the argument of right and wrong depends—you don’t have to mention the word God. Reason tells—reason alone can argue that it’s not sensible to allow murder to happen in, in the streets all of the time. Because, in fact, if you want to have a productive society—and in fact the laws of Australia, the laws of the United States, aren’t based on the Bible, they’re based on, on a Constitution, based on determining—as Jean-Jacques Rousseau said, everyone, you know, is born free but lives forever in chains. We live in a society—we’re constrained by the fact that we live in a society, and we have to try and—therefore we are not free to do x, y, and z because it causes the society to be—have disorder, disruption, lack of productivity, starvation, etc. And so there [are] all sorts of rational reasons not to behave badly. And I continue to argue that I think most of the people in this room don’t behave badly for rational reasons, not because God’s going to send them to hell if they behave badly.

Craig: The question isn't how people behave. The question is: What is the foundation for the objective moral values—

Krauss: What objective moral values?

Craig:—and duties that we want to affirm? Your point actually supports me! What your point shows is that these are just social conventions, like in Australia driving on a different side of the road than in the United States—

Krauss: Or in Christianity one thing, or in Islam another.—

Craig: Ah, now you’re changing the subject!

Krauss:—The point is: there’s no objective moral code because every religion has a separate objective moral code and they’re mutually inconsistent.

Craig:Now, now, you’re trying to escape the point that science is ethically neutral. It, it needs to have ethics from the outside, not from itself—

Krauss: No, it’s based on an ethos; it’s not ethically neutral. That is a misrepresentation of science. It is unethical to be dishonest. It’s unethical to hide results that disagree with, with, with your premise. All of—science doesn’t work if you, if you, if you’re not ethical.

Craig: Yeah. Well, this gets back to our discussion in Brisbane. Remember I argued that science would collapse without the assumption of these sorts of ethical values—

Krauss: But they don’t come from God.

Craig: —but they cannot be scientifically justified. Science merely tells us how the world is, it doesn’t tell us how it ought to be. That moral ought has—

Krauss:I’m sorry. It tell—it, it—it tells me—

Craig:—to come from some other source.

Krauss: —for example, it tells me that gays aren’t bad. It tells me that because, biologically, ten percent of every mammalian species has homosexual—in fact, some long-term homosexual partnerships—in sheep, for example, and, and sheep are not immoral or unnatural. So it tells me that certain moral presumptions that are claimed to be universal and objective are just nonsense. So science does inform my morality. I can’t have a morality if I don’t know how the universe works. If I don’t know the consequences of my actions I can’t determine what’s right and wrong.

Moderator: We done with that question?

Craig: Well, no! I mean, because on, on Dr. Krauss’s view, in effect, we just are sheep. We’re animals, just relatively advanced—

Krauss:We [are] animals with a brain.

Craig:—primates. And in a way that, that I don’t see any reason to think that you can have an objective moral ought that derives from science. Science presupposes—

Krauss: There is no such thing as an objective moral ought!—

Craig: Oh!

Krauss:—Give me one! Every religion has different—

Craig:Oh! O.K., O.K.!

Krauss:—objective moral oughts! They change over time! We use our reason, —


Krauss: —and, and you even said the other day in Brisbane, “we’ve improved in our morals,” didn’t you say that?




[1] Mithani, Vilenkin, “Did the Universe have a beginning?” (April, 2012), accessed June 16, 2014,

[2] Alexander Vilenkin, cited in Lisa Grossman, “Why physicists can’t avoid a creation event,” New Scientist, January 11, 2012, accessed June 16, 2014,

[3] Mary Leng, Mathematics and Reality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), p.239.

[4] Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006), p. 175-176.

[5] Alex Rosenberg, The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life without Illusions (New York: W. W. Norton, 2011), p. 145.

[6] Ibid., 19, 95.

[7] Jas. 4:8 (NASB)

[8] William Lane Craig, “Slaughter of the Canaanites”,Reasonable Faith, accessed June 16, 2014,

[9] William Lane Craig, “’Honesty, Transparency, Full Disclosure’ and the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem”,Reasonable Faith, accessed June 16, 2014,

[10] Mary Leng, Mathematics and Reality (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 239.