Paul Newby (Moderator): Good evening! My name is Paul Newby. I am an associate justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. I am the moderator of tonight’s debate. Campus Crusade for Christ and North Carolina State wishes to thank you for attending this evening.
Tonight you will grapple with one of the greatest questions facing mankind: the existence of God. You will hear from two experts as they debate whether there is evidence to prove the existence of God. We are fortunate enough to have two of the best and brightest minds in the country participate, Dr. Lawrence M. Krauss and Dr. William Lane Craig.
Dr. Krauss will be arguing that there is insufficient evidence to prove the existence of God. Dr. Krauss is a professor of physics at Arizona State University. He received his undergraduate degree in both mathematics and physics at Carlton University and his PhD in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He’s the author of numerous books, including a national best seller The Physics of Star Trek. Thank you, Dr. Krauss, for joining us this evening!
The other guest this evening is Dr. Craig, who will be arguing there is sufficient evidence to prove the existence of God. Dr. Craig is a professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in California. Dr. Craig received his B.A. in Communications at Wheaton College, a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Birmingham, England, and a Doctor of Theology from the University of Munich. He’s author and editor of more than thirty books. Let’s thank Dr. Craig for joining us this evening!
If you refer to your program, you will see the format of tonight’s debate. Dr. Craig will speak first for a twenty-minute introductory statement; Dr. Krauss will then have twenty minutes for his statement. Each panelist will then have a twelve-minute rebuttal, followed by an eight-minute counter-rebuttal. Each will then end with a five-minute summary. I encourage you to listen closely to the arguments presented, take notes, if necessary, because at the conclusion of the formal debate, you will serve as jurors. You will be asked to cast your vote on whether there is sufficient evidence of the existence of God. After the votes have been cast, I will then open the floor for thirty minutes of questions for our panelists.
Before we begin, I’d like to emphasize the etiquette that is expected during this debate. I anticipate that you will have strong reactions to some of the points presented tonight. However, out of respect for our panelists and other audience members, I ask that you refrain from any outbursts of support or disapproval during this debate. Like members of a jury, you have one vital role this evening, to carefully listen to and evaluate the arguments presented. And like members of a jury, you are not to respond audibly to the arguments that are made. I also ask that you please, at this time, silence your cell phones.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, let us begin! As I said before, the question before us this evening is whether there is sufficient evidence for the existence of God. Dr. Craig, the floor is yours!
Good evening! I’m delighted and honored to have the opportunity this evening to discuss with you the question, “Is There Evidence for God?” And I’m privileged to be doing this with such an eminent scientist as Dr. Krauss. I hope that the debate tonight will be both enlightening as well as entertaining.
Now at one level it seems to me indisputable that there’s evidence for God. To say that there’s evidence for some hypothesis is just to say that that hypothesis is more probable given certain facts than it would have been without them. That is to say, there is evidence for some hypothesis H if the probability of H is greater on the evidence and background information than on the background information alone. That is to say,
Pr (H | E & B) > Pr (H | B).
H = hypothesis
E = evidence
B = background information
Now, in the case of God, if we let G stand for the hypothesis that God exists, it seems to me indisputable that God’s existence is more probable given certain facts—like the origin of the universe, the complex order of the universe, the existence of objective moral values, and so forth—than it would have been without them. That is,
Pr (G | E & B) > Pr (G | B).
G = God exists
E = existence of contingent beings, origin of the universe, fine-tuning of the universe, etc.
B = background information
And I suspect that even most atheists would agree with that statement.
So the question “Is There Evidence for God?” isn’t really very debatable. Rather the really interesting question is whether God’s existence is more probable than not. That is, is
Pr (G | E & B) > 0.5 ?
Now I’ll leave it up to you to assess that probability. My purpose in tonight’s debate is more modest: to share with you five pieces of evidence each of which makes God’s existence more probable than it would have been without it. Each of them is therefore evidence for God. Together they provide powerful, cumulative evidence for theism.
1. The existence of contingent beings.
The deepest question of philosophy is, “Why do contingent beings exist at all?” By a contingent being I mean a being which exists but which might not have existed. Examples? Mountains, planets, galaxies, you, and me. Such things might not have existed. By contrast, a necessary being is a being which exists by a necessity of its own nature. Its non-existence is impossible. Examples? Many mathematicians believe that numbers and other abstract objects exist in this way. If such entities exist, they just exist necessarily.
Now experience teaches that everything that exists has an explanation of its existence: either in its own nature, if it exists necessarily, or in an external cause, if it exists contingently. So what about the universe, where by “the universe” I mean all of spacetime reality, not just our observable portion of it? What is the explanation of its existence? Well, since the universe is contingent in its existence, the explanation of the universe must be found in an external cause which exists beyond time and space by a necessity of its own nature.
Now what could that be? There are only two kinds of things that could fit that description: either abstract objects, like numbers, or God. But abstract objects don’t stand in causal relations. The number 7, for example, has no effect upon anything. Therefore, it follows that the most plausible explanation of the universe is God. Hence, the existence of contingent beings makes God’s existence more probable than it would have been without them.
Although I’ve presented this reasoning inductively, we can also put it in the form of a deductive argument:
- Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence (either in its own nature or in an external cause).
- The universe exists.
- If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
- Therefore, the explanation of the universe is God.
Thus, the explanation for the existence of contingent beings is to be found in God.
2. The origin of the universe.
My first argument is consistent with the assumption that the universe is beginningless, or eternal in the past. But is it?
There are good reasons, both philosophically and scientifically, to doubt that the universe is beginningless. Philosophically, the idea of an eternal past seems absurd. Just think about it! If the universe never had a beginning, that means that the series of past events goes back to infinity, that the number of events in the history of the universe is infinite. But mathematicians recognize that the existence of an actually infinite number of things leads to self-contradictions. For example, what is infinity minus infinity? Well, mathematically, you get self-contradictory answers. This shows that infinity is just an idea in your mind, not something that exists in reality. But that entails that since past events are not just ideas, but are real, the number of past events must be finite. Therefore, the series of past events can’t go back forever; rather the universe must have begun to exist.
This philosophical conclusion has been confirmed by remarkable discoveries in astronomy and astrophysics. 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 Arvin Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin were able to prove that any universe which has, on average, been expanding throughout its history cannot be infinite in the past but must have a past space-time boundary. What makes their proof so powerful is that it holds regardless of the physical description of the very early universe. Because we can’t yet provide a physical description of the first split-second of the universe, this brief moment has been fertile ground for speculations. But the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem is independent of any physical description of that moment. Their theorem implies that the quantum vacuum state out of which our universe may have evolved—which some scientific popularizations have misleadingly and inaccurately referred to as “nothing”—cannot be eternal in the past but must have had a beginning. Even if our universe is just a tiny part of a much grander “multiverse” composed of many universes, their theorem requires that the multiverse itself must have a beginning.
Speculative theories, such as Pre-Big Bang Inflationary scenarios, have been crafted to try to avoid this absolute beginning. But none of these theories has succeeded in restoring an eternal past. At most they just push the beginning back a step. But then the question inevitable arises: Why did the universe come into being? What brought the vacuum state into existence?
Well, unless you’re willing to say the universe just popped into being uncaused out of absolute non-being, there must be a transcendent cause beyond space and time which created the universe. Clearly, then, God’s existence is more probable given the beginning of the universe than it would have been without it.
We can also formulate this reasoning in the form of a deductive argument:
1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
From which it follows logically that
Therefore, the universe has a cause
Again, as we have seen, the best candidate for such a transcendent cause is God.
3. The fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life.
In recent decades scientists have been stunned by the discovery that the initial conditions of our universe were fine-tuned for the existence of intelligent agents with a precision and delicacy that literally defy human comprehension. This fine-tuning is of two sorts. First, when the laws of nature are given mathematical expression, you find appearing in them certain constants, like the gravitational constant. These constants are not determined by 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 very early 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 even a hair’s breadth, the life-permitting balance would be destroyed and life would not exist. We now know that life-prohibiting universes are incomprehensibly more probable than any life-permitting universe.
Now there are three possible explanations of this extraordinary fine-tuning: physical necessity, chance, or design.
Now it can’t be due to physical necessity because, as I’ve said, the constants and quantities are independent of the laws of nature.
So maybe the fine-tuning is due to chance. After all, highly improbable events happen every day! But what serves to distinguish purely chance events from design is not simply high improbability but also the presence of an independently given pattern to which the event conforms. For example, in the movie Contact scientists are able to distinguish a signal from outer space from random noise, not simply due to its improbability but because of its conforming to the pattern of the prime numbers. The fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent agents exhibits just that combination of incomprehensible improbability and an independently given pattern that are the earmarks of design.
So, again, God’s existence is clearly more probable given the fine-tuning of the universe than it would have been without it.
We can also formulate this reasoning into a simple deductive argument:
1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.
2. It is not due to either physical necessity or chance.
From which it follows logically:
3. Therefore, it is due to design.
Thus, the fine-tuning of the universe implies the existence of a Designer of the cosmos.
4. Objective moral values and duties in the world.
By objective moral values I mean moral values which are valid and binding whether anyone believes in them or not. Many theists and atheists agree that if God does not exist, then moral values are not objective in this sense. For example, Michael Ruse, an agnostic philosopher of science, asserts,
morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth. Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. . . . Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction . . . and any deeper meaning is illusory.1
On a naturalistic view moral values are just the byproduct of biological evolution and social conditioning. Just as a troupe of baboons exhibit co-operative and even self-sacrificial behavior because natural selection has determined it to be advantageous in the struggle for survival, so their primate cousins homo sapiens exhibit similar behavior for the same reason. As a result of socio-biological pressures there has evolved among homo sapiens a sort of “herd morality” which functions well in the perpetuation of our species. But on the atheistic view there doesn’t seem to be anything about this that makes this morality objectively binding and true.
But the problem is that objective moral values and duties plausibly do exist. In moral experience we apprehend a realm of moral values and duties that impose themselves upon us. There’s no more reason to deny the objective reality of moral values than the objective reality of the physical world. Actions like rape, cruelty, and child abuse aren’t just socially unacceptable behavior—they’re moral abominations. Some things, at least, are really wrong. Michael Ruse himself admits, “The man who says it is morally acceptable to rape little children is just as mistaken as the man who says 2+2=5.”2 Some things, at least, are really wrong.
But in that case, the probability of God’s existence is 1.0! We can formulate this reasoning as follows:
1. If God did not exist, objective moral values and duties would not exist.
2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
From which it follows logically and inescapably that
3. Therefore, God exists.
5. The historical facts concerning Jesus of Nazareth.
The historical person Jesus of Nazareth was a remarkable individual. Historians have reached something of a consensus that the historical Jesus came on the scene with an unprecedented sense of divine authority, the authority to stand and speak in God’s place. He claimed that in himself the Kingdom of God had come, and as visible demonstrations of this fact he carried out a ministry of miracle-working and exorcisms. But the supreme confirmation of his claim was his resurrection from the dead. If Jesus really did rise from the dead, then it would seem that we have a divine miracle on our hands and, thus, evidence for the existence of God.
Now most people probably think that the resurrection of Jesus is something you just believe by faith or not. But there are actually three facts recognized by the majority of New Testament historians today, which I believe are best explained by Jesus’ resurrection.
Fact #1: On the Sunday after his crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers. According to Jacob Kremer, an Austrian specialist, “By far most scholars hold firmly to the reliability of the biblical statements about the empty tomb.”3
Fact #2: On separate occasions different individuals and groups saw appearances of Jesus alive after his death. According to the prominent New Testament critic Gerd Lüdemann, “It may be taken as historically certain that . . . the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the Risen Christ.”4 These appearances were witnessed not only by believers, but also by unbelievers, skeptics, and even enemies.
Fact #3: The original disciples suddenly came to believe in the resurrection of Jesus despite having every predisposition to the contrary. Jews had no belief in a defeated and dying Messiah, and Jewish beliefs about the afterlife precluded anyone’s rising from the dead to glory and immortality before the end of the world. Nevertheless, the original disciples came to believe so strongly that God had raised Jesus from the dead that they were willing to die for the truth of that belief. N. T. Wright, an eminent New Testament scholar, concludes, “That is why, as a historian, I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity unless Jesus rose again, leaving an empty tomb behind him.”5
Naturalistic attempts to explain away these three great facts—like the disciples stole the body or Jesus wasn’t really dead—have been universally rejected by contemporary scholarship. The simple fact is that there just is no plausible, naturalistic explanation of these facts. Therefore, it seems to me, the Christian is amply justified in believing that the best explanation of the evidence is that Jesus rose from the dead and was who he claimed to be. But that entails that God exists. 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.
In summary, then, we’ve looked at five lines of evidence, each of which makes God’s existence more probable than it would have been without them. God’s existence is obviously more probable given these facts than it would have been in their absence. They therefore constitute evidence for God. Indeed, I think that their cumulative force makes God’s existence very much more probable. But that is an assessment that each one of us will have to make for himself.
Moderator: Thank you, Dr. Craig! Dr. Krauss. . . .
Thank you, Dr. Craig! First, I want to thank Mark Stevens and the Campus Crusade for Christ, who have been remarkably hospitable and gracious to me during the short time that I’ve been here. And I really appreciate everything they’ve done.
Dr. Craig is a professional debater; I’m not. I don’t like debates, actually. I find them combative and not a good way to actually elucidate information and knowledge. But I agreed to come, anyway. Some people have said I’m brave, some people I know are feeling I’m foolhardy, but actually I want to compliment Dr. Craig for his bravery tonight because unlike the other debates I’ve seen him talk in which have to do with the existence of God—which this debate, by the way, doesn’t have to do with—I’m not here to disprove the existence of God in any way, I think that’s kind of a futile and useless activity, something I wouldn’t waste my time on. This is a debate “Is there Evidence for God?” And that, therefore, makes it quite different in spirit. It’s not a debate about philosophy, which is Dr. Craig’s area of expertise, and I would not come to a debate to talk about semiotics or transubstantiation because I recognize that I would not be probably competent to talk about that. But Dr. Craig came here to talk about evidence, which is, I take to be empirical and scientific. And Dr. Craig is not a scientist, as he has demonstrated several times in the last few minutes. The important thing about this debate, also, is that onus is on Dr. Craig to demonstrate evidence for God. The onus is not on me to disprove anything. The onus is on Dr. Craig to demonstrate evidence, and then I guess I’m here to talk about whether I view that as evidence. And that’s very different, I think, in spirit than in the other debates that Dr. Craig has been involved in. And I congratulate him for his bravery to do that, or maybe foolhardiness, we’ll see.
Now extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. In fact, I will get to the fact that Dr. Craig’s claim for what evidence is is not at all what we use in science nowadays. It doesn’t relate at all to what we use in science. But one could imagine—I mean there’s no more extraordinary claim, I think, than the fact that there is a divine, infinitely powerful intelligence that exists, that creates the universe, and then largely disappears, except maybe in a few places making itself manifest to Bronze Age peasants before YouTube or anything else could record the evidence.
Not only that, I should point out that it is a far cry from claiming that there may be cosmological arguments for the existence of a divine intelligence. There’s no logical connection between that and the God that Dr. Craig just talked about, who shows great interest in the personal affairs of human beings roughly a millions of years after they were evolved—in fact, a personal God that Dr. Craig happens to believe in but not a personal God that other people have to believe in. There’s no logical connection between a divine intelligence that might create the universe and Christ. There’s nothing at all.
Now, it would be easy to have evidence for God. If the stars rearrange themselves tonight and I looked up tonight—well not here, but in a place where you could see the stars, in Arizona, say,—and I looked up tonight and I saw the stars rearrange themselves say, “I am here.” Gee, that’s pretty interesting evidence! And, in fact, when we talk about evidence, the only evidence you can have for God is really miraculous evidence because the existence of God implies something that is supernatural, something beyond that which can be explained by physical theory. So if you’re going to have evidence for God, it has to be miraculous evidence. Now I’m also not a huge fan of philosophy, but I thought I would quote a philosopher in deference to Dr. Craig, and that’s David Hume, who defined a miracle to be the following: “No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle unless the testimony be of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish.” So if you’re claiming you have evidence for a miracle, the fact that that evidence is false has to be even stranger than the evidence itself. And, of course, that doesn’t apply to anything Dr. Craig has talked about, as I’ll try and describe.
Therefore, in fact, the kind of evidence that Dr. Craig would need to show is incredibly high. He has to jump a huge hurdle. The criterion that we should use to judge his evidence for this extraordinary claim, this miraculous claim, I repeat, this miraculous claim, you have to ask yourself, “Is the possibility that that claim is false more miraculous than the claim itself?” And I think if you are serious about that logic, you’ll find that in every case that he’s mentioned, it is not the case.
Now the other thing that Dr. Craig has talked about is logic. And the interesting thing about the universe is it is not logical. At least it’s not classically logical. That’s one of the great things about science. It’s taught us that the universe is the way it is whether we like it or not. And much of what Dr. Craig has talked about and will talk about again tonight is the fact that he doesn’t like certain ideas. He doesn’t like the idea of infinity, he doesn’t like the idea of beginning, he doesn’t like the idea of chance. And in fact, it doesn’t make sense to him. He doesn’t like a universe in which morality is defined as allowing rape; doesn’t make sense to him. But the point is, if we continue to rely on our understanding of the universe on Aristotelian logic, on classical logic, by what we think is sensible, we would still be living in a world where heavier objects, we think, fall faster than light objects, because they’re heavier, as Aristotle use to think, instead of doing the experiment to check it out.
We cannot rely on what we perceive to be sensible; we have to rely on what the universe tells us is sensible. What we have to do is force our beliefs to conform to the evidence of reality, rather than the other way around. And the universe just simply isn’t sensible. I think I have an example. I have two quotes from Richard Feynman because I just wrote a book about him which I hope you all buy. But this is really important. This is one of the reasons I’m a scientist, is that crazy ideas end up not being crazy. If you see something that seems impossible, but it happens, the onus is on you to understand why and to force your thinking to conform to that. And it’s been one of the great pleasures of doing 20th and 21st century physics that we’ve been able to do that in many areas from quantum mechanics to relativity. And this idea that something which is completely paradoxical at first, if analyzed to completion in all its details and in all experimental situations, may in fact be paradoxical is of profound . . . may in fact not be paradoxical, I should say, is of profound importance.
We can’t just say, “We don’t like something, and, therefore, God exists,” which is essentially, as far as I can tell, behind every single one of Dr. Craig’s statements that he made tonight. And we’ll have a chance, I hope, to go over some. But let me give you an example. See, I kind of figure I’m not going to change many minds, so I’m an educator, and I figured I’d teach you a little quantum mechanics. O.K.? Because it gives you a sense of how strange and crazy the world is. There’s a famous experiment that’s been performed; If I have a wall with two slits and I have bullets that I shoot through a gun—and I hope no one here has one!—and I just shoot it randomly through those two slits, then the bullet will go in one place or it will go in another place. So what you will expect to see in the slits is either a lot of holes there and a lot of holes there and nothing else. If you shoot a wave through two slits—and some of you may have been subjected to this in physics classes—you’ll find something very different. The wave, in fact, will go through both slits, interfere with itself, and create what is called an interference pattern. If you have ever seen two waves come together in the ocean, you see these beautiful patterns of ripples that are just spectacular to see. It’s one of the great joys of physics to see them. But the amazing thing is that when we shoot electrons, particles, at two slits, what pattern do we see? We see exactly the same pattern we would see with waves. Now that’s crazy, because electrons are particles. So say, well, “Maybe they’re waves?” But no, let’s see. I don’t believe they’re waves, so what I’m going to do is put a light right here at the slits, and I’m going to check where each electron goes through because I want—because right now . . . in order to create this pattern, the only way you could create that pattern, is if the electron went through both slits at the same time. That’s insane. It’s like infinity. O.K.? So that’s insane. So I put a light there, and I shine it. What happens? I see each electron goes through only one slit or the other. Ah-ha! I’ve proved that it doesn’t go through both, but when I look at the pattern, the pattern’s different. If I shine the light and look at the electron, I just see those two lines that I talked about earlier (right here and here). If I don’t shine the light on the electron, the pattern is different. If I don’t shine the light on the electron, we now know the electron goes through both slits at the same time. It does something classically impossible. And when we saw that, we didn’t say, “You know what, God exists!” What we said was, “Well, maybe the laws of nature are stranger than we thought. And maybe we ought to figure out how things behave so we can explain and predict things.” And the universe is stranger than you think, in almost every way.
In fact, I cannot resist this, because Dr. Craig mentioned it. . . . [Unbuttons shirt to reveal his t-shirt that reads “2 + 2 = 5 for extremely large values of 2”] It’s worth a thousand words, so it’s O.K. O.K. “2 + 2 = 5,” my t-shirt says, “for extremely large values of 2.” Now that’s extremely important because, in fact, classical logic such as 2 + 2 = 4, it can’t equal 5, is wrong. Mathematicians and physicists know that for extremely large values of numbers, you have to change the rules. And in fact. . . .
Let’s go to some of the things Dr. Craig talked about. In fact, the existence of infinity, which he talked about which is self-contradictory, is not self-contradictory at all. Mathematicians know precisely how to deal with infinity; so do physicists. We rely on infinities. In fact, there’s a field of mathematics called “Complex Variables” which is the basis of much of modern physics, from electro-magnetism to quantum mechanics and beyond, where in fact we learn to deal with infinity; without the infinities we couldn’t do the physics. We know how to sum infinite series because we can do complex analysis. Mathematicians have taught us how. It’s strange and very unappetizing, and in fact you can sum things that look ridiculous. For example, if you sum the series, “1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6…” to infinity, what’s the answer? “-1/12.” You don’t like it? Too bad! The mathematics is consistent if we assign that. The world is the way it is whether we like it or not.
So let’s talk about the five pieces of evidence that Dr. Craig talked about. The existence of contingent beings. Beings that didn’t have to exist. Well, accidents happen all the time! Many things happen that are just accidental. We assign significance. We are hard-wired to want to believe. That’s very important. We all want to believe in a host of things. We all have to convince ourselves of ten impossible things before breakfast in order to get up in the morning (that “we like school” or “we love the person in the bed next to us” or something). It’s what we need as human beings to exist. We want to believe, we need to believe. But accidents sometimes happen. You can, for example, have a million dreams over a million nights, but let’s pretend it’s not a million, let’s just say it’s a thousand nights; that are nonsensical. One night you dream that your friend is going to break their arm. The next day your friend breaks their leg. Ah-ha! Something significant! But of course, you forget all the times your dreams were nonsensical. Again Richard Feynman used to go to people and say, “You won’t believe what just happened to me; you just won’t believe it!” They’ll say, “What?” He’ll say, “Absolutely nothing.” O.K., because most of the time when things happen, they’re not significant, but we ascribe significance to them. Contingent things happen all the time without necessarily having a cause, but even if they do have a cause, if we don’t understand the cause, it doesn’t mean that God exists. It seemed to me that Dr. Craig’s first example is a characteristic example of “God in the gaps.” “We don’t know all the processes which led to existence of human beings, therefore God exists.” Well, that’s just an awful excuse for God because that God of the gaps argument risks God disappearing when we discover the cause, and we’ll discover the cause is simply physical.
We now know, in fact, getting to his origin of the universe and also whether the universe is contingent or not, the universe, Dr. Craig argued, that we know the universe isn’t contingent, it had to exist. How does he know that? I don’t know that. How do we know that? We don’t know the answer. It’s fine not to know the answer. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing the answer. In fact, not knowing the answer is exciting because it means there’s a lot to learn. To argue that from some basic principle, we know the universe had to exist is myopic in the extreme or perhaps, in my opinion, intellectually lazy. Instead of saying, “Let’s see, let’s go out and try and spend our lives trying to understand what processes might have caused it to exist and whether it might not have existed and whether there may be many universes, I will just make the assumption because I like it.” Well, “God of the gaps” is not good evidence for God. It’s not also good evidence for sound thinking.
The origin of the universe: Again, coming back to Dr. Craig’s argument that it can’t be eternal. Well, we do know, in fact, Dr. Craig said, there’s good evidence for a Big Bang. Well, there’s more than good evidence for a Big Bang, we know a Big Bang happened. The Big Bang is a fact. It happened 13.72 billion years ago, and the fact that we can say so to four decimal places is one of the most remarkable feats of modern science that we should all herald and exalt as an example of how remarkable it is to be a human being that can think. The fact that we now, here sitting in the middle of no place, around a random star in the middle of a random galaxy, in the middle of a universe of 400 billion galaxies, in which the galaxies and the stars are largely irrelevant. And the human beings and the aliens that live on those stars are largely irrelevant. We have now learned that the mass of the universe—less than 1% of the universe is made up of everything we can see. All the stars, all the galaxies, all the planets, everything is a bit of cosmic pollution in a universe made up of dark matter and dark energy, things which are invisible but we know exist because we can measure them, because we can falsify them (that’s the other aspect of evidence). Evidence must be falsifiable. I could argue that Dr. Craig has three legs. I’ll see if he has three legs right here. Oh! But whenever he stands and you look at him he only has two, one disappears. O.K.? Now that’s not falsifiable evidence. I could argue that we didn’t exist less than five seconds ago. How can you prove me wrong? I could argue that God created the universe four and a half seconds ago with all of us sitting here believing we heard Dr. Craig. There’s no way I could disprove that, and there’s no way I would want to try and disprove it because it’s not falsifiable. It’s not, in the scientific sense, it’s not evidence.
Now, actually Dr. Craig, when he talked about Alan Guth, was, of course, wrong. The actual first person to talk about the fact that the universe had to begin at a finite time in a singularity is Stephen Hawking, who made some singularity theorems with Roger Penrose. But the interesting thing is Stephen Hawking has also argued, as, in fact, we now know, given quantum gravity, that universes can spontaneously appear. In fact, one of the things about quantum mechanics is, nothing—not only can nothing become something, nothing always becomes something. Nothing is unstable. Nothing will always produce something in quantum mechanics. And if you apply quantum mechanics to gravity, you can show that it’s possible that space and time themselves can come into existence when nothing existed before. So that’s not a problem. Now, in fact, what Guth has argued, is in fact, a theory that he postulated to explain the data, not because he wanted to answer some metaphysical question about whether God existed or not—a theorem that he made to explain the data called “inflation” actually predicts, essentially, an infinite number of universes in an eternal multiverse that exists for all time and for all space. It’s eternal; it didn’t have a beginning. We don’t know if it had a cause, but it doesn’t matter because our universe could spontaneously appear out of that multiverse, so the idea of the first cause is not relevant.
I’ll go to Jesus of Nazareth later and fine-tuning, where, in fact, Dr. Craig is completely wrong. The universe is not fine-tuned for life. No scientist says the universe is fine-tuned for human life; that is an incorrect statement.
Let me just go last, to his morality argument. We don’t know if there is objective morality. There may or may not be. That’s an interesting question, but whether there is or is not doesn’t imply God. For example, we talked about rape. If God sets objective morality, if God decided that raping two-year old girls was O.K., would it be O.K.? Most of you, I think, would say, “No.” Why would it not be O.K.? Because it’s not moral, but if it’s not moral, then God didn’t have the choice. It’s not God that chose what’s moral. And, therefore, if morality is based on what’s rational, then why not get rid of the middle man and get rid of God?
Moderator: Thank you Dr. Krauss! Dr. Craig, it’s time for your 12-minute rebuttal.
You’ll recall that in my opening speech, I said that there’s evidence for God’s existence just in case the probability of God’s existence is higher given the five facts that I’ve mentioned than it would have been without them. This is the standard definition of “is evidence for” used in probability theory. And I’m astonished to hear Dr. Krauss attacking logic and Bayesian probability theory as the basis for his argument. That is simply unsound. You cannot deny logic without assuming logic in order to deny it. It’s a self-defeating situation. Now, of course, quantum mechanics is surprising, shocking, paradoxical; but it’s not illogical. It’s not as though contradictions are true. So in affirming and going with the rules of logic and with probability theory, I am right in line with rational thought. And if the price of atheism is irrationality, then I’ll leave him to it.
Now he says, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. David Hume’s argument against miracles is sound.” Here, what you need to understand is that that claim is demonstrably false. It is not true. Hume didn’t understand the probability calculus. It wasn’t yet developed in his day. His argument neglects the crucial probability that we would have the evidence which we do if the miracle in question had not occurred. And that factor can completely balance out any intrinsic improbability that you think might occur in a miracle. In any case, why think that a miracle like the resurrection is intrinsically improbable? I think what’s improbable is that Jesus rose naturally from the dead. But, of course, that’s not the hypothesis. The hypothesis is that God raised Jesus from the dead. And you can’t show that that’s intrinsically improbable unless you’re prepared to argue that the existence of God is improbable. And Dr. Krauss isn’t doing that tonight. That’s not the debate topic, as he explained. The topic tonight is, “Is there evidence for God?,” and so we’re not assessing the prior probabilities of whether or not God’s existence is intrinsically probable or not. And so I think the approach that I’m taking tonight is right in line with probability theory and does show that, given the facts that I’ve laid out, God’s existence is more probable than it would have been without them.
He says, “But there could be better evidence. God could rearrange the stars in the sky.” You know, if the stars did that, that would be vastly more probable than the fine-tuning of the initial conditions of the universe that I discussed! And, therefore, if that would be good evidence for the existence of God, so is the fine-tuning that I’ve discussed already.
He says, “But 2+2 does not necessarily equal 4!” “2+2=4” follows from the axioms of Peano arithmetic, which are necessary truths. I cannot believe that he would deny logically necessary, mathematical truths in order to avoid theism.
So let’s talk first of the existence of contingent beings. Here I explained that contingent beings are more probable given God’s existence than on atheism. Dr. Krauss will have to say that the existence of contingent beings is just as probable on atheism as it is on theism. But that seems incorrect because atheism has no explanation for the existence of contingent beings.
Dr. Krauss says, “Well, accidents just happen. Your friend might break a leg after having a dream!” But notice that there are explanations for accidents. That’s why when something goes wrong, for example, in a space shuttle launch, we look for the cause of what made the accident occur.
He says, “Well, is the universe contingent? Perhaps the universe doesn’t exist necessarily.” My argument was that the universe doesn’t exist necessarily, that it’s contingent in its being. Scientists regularly discuss other models of the universe that are logically possible, universes governed by different laws of nature. And clearly the universe is not ultimate in the sense of being self-explanatory. And you can’t say that it’s contingent and yet ultimate-without-explanation because that would be arbitrary and unjustified. It commits what’s been called the Taxi-Cab Fallacy, which is thinking you can dismiss the need for explanation when you arrive at your desired destination. And it’s simply arbitrary to apply the explanatory principle everywhere else in life but then deny it when you get to the existence of the universe itself.
What about the origin of the universe? Here he says that the universe doesn’t need to begin to exist because we know in mathematics how to deal with infinities, for example, how to sum infinities. Well, of course, in mathematics you can do that! Mathematics has certain conventions and rules that you use to prevent contradictions from occurring. For example, in transfinite arithmetic the inverse operations of subtraction and division are prohibited because they lead to contradictions. But while you can slap the hand of the mathematician who tries to break the rules, if you’ve got, say, an infinite number of baseball cards, you can’t stop someone from giving away part of the cards. And so you will have contradictions when you translate it into reality. It may be possible on paper, in the realm of mathematics, but it’s not possible in the realm of reality.
And lest you think that this is not reasoning that impresses contemporary scientists, like me quote from George Ellis, a great cosmologist, when he asks, “Can there be an infinite set of really existing universes?” He says “We suggest that, on the basis of well-known philosophical arguments, the answer is No.”6 And therefore they reject a realized past infinity in time.
Now what about the Big Bang confirmation? Dr. Krauss appeals to Stephen Hawking’s model. Hawking’s model involves an absolute beginning of the universe! It has the beginning of the universe, though it does not have a beginning point of infinite density.
He says, “But it can come into being out of nothingness because nothing is unstable.” This is the grossly misleading use of “nothingness” for describing the quantum vacuum, which is empty space filled with vacuum energy. It is a rich, physical reality described by physical laws and having a physical structure. If a religious person were to so seriously misrepresent a scientific theory as this, he would be accused of deliberate distortion and abuse of science, and, I think, rightly so! What the quantum vacuum is is a roiling sea of energy. It is not nothing. As Dr. Krauss himself has said, “By ‘nothing,’ I don’t mean nothing. . . . Nothing isn’t nothing anymore in physics.”7 Empty space is not empty. “Nothing is really a bubbling, boiling brew of virtual particles.”8
And my point is that that quantum vacuum state cannot be eternal in the past. That was the implication of the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem. Listen to what Vilenkin writes. He says,
It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men, and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past eternal universe. They have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.9
And given the absolute beginning of the universe, the beginning of the quantum vacuum, God’s existence is obviously more probable than it would have been without it.
As to the fine-tuning of the universe, all Dr. Krauss said was that the universe is not fine-tuned for human life. I agree completely. It is fine-tuned for the existence of intelligent, embodied, interactive agents, but not necessarily human beings. And the chances of that happening are so infinitesimal that it’s far more probable to think that this is the result of design.
What about objective moral values and duties in the world? Here he doesn’t deny that objective moral values and duties would not exist without God. Indeed, on Dr. Krauss’s view you do not have objective moral duties because you don’t have free will. He says in his lecture, “I don’t . . . think we have free will.”10 But then moral duties are impossible because it’s an ethical maxim that ought implies can. If you cannot avoid an action, then you’re not morally responsible for it. And so there cannot be objective moral duties in a deterministic universe.
But I submit to you that that is just utterly implausible. And here I’ll appeal to Sam Harris in his recent book The Moral Landscape. Harris says that if there is “only one person in the world [who] held down a struggling, screaming little girl, cut off her genitals with a septic blade, and sewed her back up, . . . the only question would be how severely [he] should be punished.”11 It would not be a question that he had done something horribly, objectively wrong. And yet on Dr. Krauss’s view, you cannot affirm that because everything is working according to the clockwork universe. Ought implies can, and you can’t do other than what you do.
As for moral values, Dr. Krauss says, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, is still there.”12 Well, that occasions the question: “Are moral values real? Are they still there if no one believes them?” Not on Dr. Krauss’s scientism and determinism! And the irony is that science depends upon these moral values. Dr. Krauss has said in his lecture, “The ethos of sciences includes honesty, open-mindedness, creativity, anti-authoritarianism, full-disclosure—the basis of what. . . is a moral society.”13 But the problem is, these are all illusions on his view, so that science is ultimately predicated upon an illusion—which, I submit, is implausible. So given the existence of objective moral values and duties, I think it is more probable that God exists.
What about Jesus’ resurrection? Here all he said was, “How do you connect the existence of God to Christ?” Well, you do it in the following way: Christ claimed to be the absolute revelation of the God of Israel. He claimed that in himself the Kingdom of God had come. If God raised him from the dead, then this is a miraculous event which ratifies and vindicates the radical claims that Jesus made about himself. And, therefore, it follows that the God revealed by Jesus exists.
So it seems to me that Dr. Krauss has got to deny the empty tomb, the resurrection appearances, and the origin of the belief in Jesus’ resurrection because, given those facts, God’s existence is obviously more probable than without them. And yet that would put him in conflict with the majority of New Testament historians today on a subject which, I think, he would admit he knows very little. So given the facts accepted by the majority of historians, it seems to me that it is much more probable that God exists and that God raised Jesus from the dead than otherwise.
In summary, then, it seems to me that when you look at this evidence, clearly God’s existence is more probable, given these facts, than it would have been without them. And that’s all that needs to be established in order to show that there is evidence for the existence of God.
Moderator: Thank you, Dr. Craig! Dr. Krauss. . . .
O.K., we don’t understand the beginning of the universe. We don’t understand if the universe had a cause. That is a fascinating possibility. By the way, [points to PowerPoint slide] there’s the picture of the vacuum that Dr. Craig so adequately described that I talked about. It’s not the nothing that I’m going to talk about in a second; it’s one version of nothing. That’s empty space [points to PowerPoint slide]; that’s what it looks like according to the laws of quantum mechanics and relativity. Empty space is indeed a boiling, bubbling brew of particles. In fact, you have mass because of it. And each of these things up here is—with some random probability—completely contingent. You can’t predict, you can’t say that this particle appears and disappears at that place for an instant for a reason. There’s no reason you can predict it, there’s no insistent cause. It’s a probability. It may happen; it may not. It’s just the way the world works.
But the beginning is fascinating. Now you have two choices: you could say it’s a fascinating thing and we should investigate it, we should try and understand it, we should try and ask the question, “Is there a cause and if there is a cause, what is it?” That’s what science has done. Steven Weinberg, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist says, “Science doesn’t make it impossible to believe in God,” which is absolutely true. He says, “However, it makes it possible to not believe in God.” Because before God, everything’s a miracle. Before God, earthquakes were a miracle. But what you could say is, “Well, I don’t understand earthquakes. Maybe I’ll try and understand them, so that I can predict an earthquake, so I can save people’s lives in Japan the next time there might be one.” So what I can do is say--if I don’t understand something--I can say, “It’s God! I give up, that’s it! God’s will!” Or I can say, “Let me try and understand it.”
So the lack, I repeat, the lack of understanding of something is not evidence for God. It’s evidence of a lack of understanding. And what we should do, if we’re scientists, or anyone, is try and say, “Let’s try and understand it before we go the intellectually lazy route of saying, ‘I don’t understand it, so let me assign it to an entity that I can’t understand, a divine entity beyond my comprehension.’” If I did that—If we did that we wouldn’t be in this room today, we wouldn’t be seeing these images because none of modern science would have happened. Instead we try and understand how things work, and the way science works is if there is a physical effect, we look for a physical cause. And so far, there’s not a single place in the history of science where we’ve been, we’ve gotten to a point where we can’t explain something and we know for certain there’s no explanation. Every time something was—every explanation that’s remarkable is remarkable for that fact: it explains something we didn’t think we’d ever understand. That’s the beauty of science.
Now the interesting thing is that—let me go to discuss “nothing.” I was going to say that Dr. Craig’s an expert on it, but I won’t. But in a sense he is, because he’s studied what I’ve said. I’ve talked about the fact that empty space is not empty. Nothing is not nothing. But that’s not—the point is that that’s one version of nothing. One version is—of yet again, defies conventional wisdom, that defies conventional logic—that a century ago if we’d been having this debate, Dr. Craig would say, “Something can never come from nothing. Nothing can ever arise from empty space. Empty space is empty and the only way you can get something out of empty space is if God creates it.” Well, he could have said that, and that would have agreed with what we understood at the time, but it’s not true. Now we know, “Poof!” out of empty space, you all arose! Out of empty space, all of you arose. Quantum fluctuations in the earliest of the universe produce mass density fluctuations which produce galaxies, stars, people. So, it’s amazing. It’s fantastic and we should just—I love talking about it! I’d rather talk about that than what I’m about to talk about.
But that’s not the only kind of nothing. The kind of nothing that I talked about that Steven Hawking mentioned is a more extreme version of nothing—still not, maybe you might argue, complete nothing, but in quantum gravity—and it’s a theory we don’t yet fully understand, but if we apply quantum mechanics to gravity, and gravity is a theory of space and time—, then quantum mechanics tells us that space and time themselves, not the space in which these things are appearing, but space itself spontaneously appears. There was no space, there was no time. And a region of space and time spontaneously appears. It’s very different than the quantum fluctuations that are happening in empty space in which Dr. Craig talked about. I agree: that’s not complete nothing. It’s a version of nothing, in itself. It’s so remarkable we should be amazed by it. But quantum gravity says that space and time can come out of nothing, so that where there’s no space, no time.
Now, Dr. Craig, I could let him wait and rebut this and then rebut it again in the next one, but I’ll give him a break. You might say Dr. Craig would say, I think, and I bet he would be writing this note because I’d be if I were him, but that’s not nothing either. Because nothing—at least there are laws. At least there are laws. So the laws were there that of which empty space arose. So space—indeed, there was nothing in the conventional sense that there was no space, no time, no universe. It’s perfectly plausible that a universe can be created where there was no space before. In fact, again, in quantum gravity, it’s not only plausible; it’s required! It’s required that you cannot have that event not happen somewhere. But the laws are there.
Well, it turns out, the interesting thing about some of the work that Alan Guth and Alex Vilenkin (good friends of mine) have been working on and I discuss with them all the time, you will notice if you read their paper, unlike Dr. Craig, that you will not see the word “God” mentioned anywhere in their paper. Because although they talk about a theorem of an absolute beginning; they do not in any way say that this proves the existence of God or this is evidence for God. In fact, you won’t find it anywhere! But what you will find is an interesting discussion that this suggests that, in fact, that there are required to be many universes. Maybe even an infinite number of universes! In fact, in eternal inflation, there must be an infinite number of universes, and whether we like it or not, that multiverse may be eternal and infinite. And even if we don’t like it, and even if Dr. Craig doesn’t like to think we can work with it, it may be the case. It’s not up to us to decide. O.K.?
And the interesting thing about that infinite set of universes is each of them has a different set of laws. The laws are random. There aren’t prescribed laws of nature in such a view. The laws of nature are complete accidental. And in such a picture, we arise here not by any fine-tuning anymore (and I don’t know if Dr. Craig accepts the facts of evolution; I believe he probably does, but he can let us know), but this miraculous fine-tuning that he’s talking about is nothing other than a kind of cosmic natural selection. We find ourselves living in a universe in which we can live. It’s nothing more profound than that. We don’t find ourselves living in a universe in which we couldn’t live. It’s like, as Andre Linde, who also works with Alan Guth and Vilenkin on these topics, has said, if you were an intelligent fish, you might ask the question, “Why is the universe made of water?” The answer would be because if it wasn’t made of water, you wouldn’t be around to ask the question. And so, in such a universe, it’s no more miraculous that we exist than that bees can tell the colors of flowers, that animals seem so well-designed to their environment. That illusion of design that occurs in nature and biology is a process of natural selection. We understand it now. We understand how physical processes can produce things that look like they are incredibly fine-tuned. We understand that you don’t need supernatural imposition to make what appears to be fine-tuning. But, in fact—
Well, let me just say that philosophy and “nothing”—when we talk what nothing is—to go back, it’s something I think it’s important—I want to go back to what I was going to say before. That nothing—Philosophy has taught us something about “nothing.” What it’s taught us of is the definition of “nothing” is that which philosophy has taught us about “nothing.” Because what we learned to understand, when it comes to nothingness is not what we think in our minds but what the world tells us. This is one kind of nothing. The nothingness in Hawking’s theory is another kind of nothing. And then nothingness in which there’s no laws of nature, they’re random, they occur with different laws everywhere and physics is an environmental accident, is another kind of nothing; another kind of universe without cause, multiverse without cause, without beginning, without end. We don’t know what the right answer is. But we’re willing to look at all the possibilities. But none of them require anything supernatural.
Now, in fact, let me go back to the statement I made earlier which was kind of ad hominem—and now I’m trying to explain why Dr. Craig does not—why evidence, as he’s described it, is not evidence in science. First of all, a probability greater than 50% is not evidence of anything. It’s evidence that there’s a possibility that a construct might be right. There’s also a possibility that it might be wrong. For example, in my own field of dark matter detection, one of the things I work in, there was a recent discovery of several events. And the experiment [unintelligible] that may be due to these dark matter particles, two events, where we predict none. You find out the probability of that being due to pure accident, is one part in ten: a 10% probability of that being a mere accident, 90% probability of it being, perhaps due to dark matter. The experiment, however, did not claim evidence for dark matter because we don’t claim 90% evidence is good enough, especially for an extraordinary claim. We require two, three, or four sigma or five sigma effects. So when we have a 10% likelihood that something’s an accident, it could be an accident. We never claim discovery based on that.
Now the other thing that surprised me was Dr. Craig claimed to talk about Bayesian statistics. The key aspect of probability, Bayesian probability, as we use them in science, is that if your conclusions change dramatically depending upon your prior, then you haven’t proved anything. And all of his conclusions, of course, are dramatically dependent upon his assumption that God exists. If you just allow for the—the question you have to ask in every one of his cases from the fact that we’re here and we didn’t have to be here, the fact that the universe may or may not have an origin, the fact that there’s fine-tuning (although I will get in last minutes to the fact that there isn’t fine-tuning), the fact that there may or may not be objective values, and the fact that Jesus of Nazareth claimed he was God, you could ask yourself, “Is it equally plausible that we’re here by physical phenomena, that the universe had a beginning that was proved by physics, that there’s fine-tuning that happened in the same way as fine-tuning in biology happened, appears to happen, by natural causes, that objective moral values may or may not exist doesn’t prove anything, and that Jesus may have thought he was God but wasn’t God?” Is that equally plausible?
Given that I have thirty seconds left, I think I will just say that the fine-tuning argument, which I promise I’ll get to in the next phase, is not fine-tuning at all. The laws of physics can change dramatically. In fact, what Dr. Craig said is that the laws of nature are fine-tuned for any intelligence is not true. We don’t know what any intelligence could be like. What we do know is that they allow us. So he got it exactly wrong. They allow humans, but we don’t know if any other kind of intelligence could exist. Since I’m told to stop, I will stop.
Moderator: Thank you, Dr. Krauss! Dr. Craig. . . .
Well, I was gratified that in his last speech Dr. Krauss ceased to attack probability theory and logic! Instead, what he says now is that it’s not enough to prove that God’s existence is more probable, given the evidence, than it is on the background information alone; you’ve got to discuss the prior probabilities as well. He’s absolutely correct, but as he said in his opening speech, that’s not the subject of tonight’s debate. And that’s why we’re not looking at, for example, “What is the evidence against the existence of God?” We’re not asking Dr. Krauss to give the evidence against God’s existence. We’re not talking about the prior probability of God’s existence. We’re talking about one aspect of the probability calculus, namely: is it the case that God’s existence is more probable, given the evidence and background information I mentioned, than just on the background information alone? If it is, it follows that there’s evidence for God. Now that doesn’t prove that God exists. But that’s not the topic of the debate tonight, and I’ve never claimed that it does. I’ve simply argued that there’s evidence that there is a God. And I think that the evidence is clear.
What about the first point of evidence that the existence of contingent beings is more probable on God’s existence than on atheism? He didn’t deny the point. Remember, I explained, to deny the explanatory principle of the universe is to commit the Taxi-Cab Fallacy: it’s arbitrary and unjustified.
What about the origin of the universe? Here he accuses me of using “God-of-the-gaps” reasoning. He says, “We should simply say we don’t understand; we should continue to investigate rather than appeal to God.” Now it’s very important that you understand tonight that I am not using science to prove God. I’m using science as evidence that the universe began to exist. That is a religiously neutral statement that can be found in any textbook on astronomy and astrophysics. Beyond that, I’m making the extra-scientific, philosophical claim that God’s existence is more probable given the beginning of the universe than it would have been without it. So the question is, “Does the scientific evidence support the beginning of the universe?”
Well, the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem requires it. Vilenkin says,
A remarkable thing about this theorem is its sweeping generality. . . . We did not even assume that gravity is described by Einstein’s equations. . . . The only assumption we made was that the expansion rate of the universe never gets below some nonzero value. . . . This assumption should certainly be satisfied in the inflating false vacuum. The conclusion is that past-eternal inflation without a beginning is impossible.14
So we have both philosophical grounds as well as scientific grounds for affirming the beginning of the universe.
Now Dr. Krauss says, “But the Hawking model from quantum tunneling involves a different concept of ‘nothing.’” There’s no classical time and space in the point from which the universe originates, but it is still something, and Vilenkin, who also has a quantum tunneling model, recognizes this. Vilenkin says the initial state from which the universe evolves is not nothing: “I understand that a universe of zero radius is not necessarily the same thing as no universe at all.”15 There’s a three-geometry that evolves through quantum tunneling into our space time; it’s not nothing. James Sinclair, a cosmologist, says, “This approach still does not solve the problem of creation. Rather it has moved the question back one step to the initial, tiny, closed, and meta-stable universe. This universe state can have existed for only a finite time. Where did it come from?”16
Why is Dr. Krauss so insistent on denying that the scientific evidence points to the beginning of the universe? That’s not a supernatural conclusion; that doesn’t imply the existence of God in and of itself. If we follow the scientific evidence where it leads, all of the evidence that I’m aware of points to the fact that the universe is not past eternal. If we have any evidence that the universe is past eternal, I’d love to hear Dr. Krauss present it. I’m not aware that there’s any evidence that suggests that the universe is past eternal. As I said, the attempts to avoid the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem all involve exotic, implausible models which in the end fail to restore an eternal past. They just push the beginning back a step. So we’ve got good philosophical and scientific grounds for thinking the universe began to exist. And since something can’t come out of nothing—and here I mean non-being—, then there must be a transcendent cause to bring the universe into existence, which I think makes God’s existence more probable.
As for the fine-tuning, we keep getting promissory notices on this but haven’t heard yet why the universe is not fine-tuned for embodied agents. Postulating the existence of many worlds, as Dr. Krauss would want to do, doesn’t do anything to explain why we observe a universe structured for embodied, interactive agents, unless you can show that the vast preponderance of observable universes are so structured. And that can’t be shown. For there are observable universes in which a single brain fluctuates into existence out of the quantum vacuum. Such worlds are not fine-tuned for interactive agents like ourselves, but they are observable. And so just appealing to many worlds doesn’t do anything to explain why we observe a world fine-tuned for embodied, interactive agents like ourselves.
And in any case, that really only kicks the problem up one step because then you’ve got to ask about the fine-tuning of the multiverse: “What determined its laws, that they should be so special?” So we’ve yet to hear, I think, any good explanation of the fine-tuning of the universe.
Just to give you a couple stats on this, the fine-tuning of the low-entropy condition of the universe is one part out of 1010 (123)! The fine-tuning of gravity is around one part out of 1036. The fine-tuning of the cosmological constant is around one part out of 10120. Most scientists think that the universe is fine-tuned for our existence. The real debate is, how do you explain it: many worlds or a designer? I think I’ve just shown why the many worlds hypothesis doesn’t solve the problem.
What about objective moral values and duties in the world? Dr. Krauss says, “Well, what if God reset morality so that raping little children was [right]?” That won’t work on my divine command morality theory because I maintain that God has certain properties like being compassionate, kind, just, fair, so that his commandments are necessary expressions of his essence, of his character. And therefore there is no possible world in which God would command that rape would be good and love would be bad. But in any case, on his view you can’t say anything is bad because there are no objective moral duties and values. And if you think that is implausible, then I think you should agree with me that God exists.
Finally, as to the resurrection of Jesus, we’ve not heard any grounds for denying what the majority of historians think about the fate of the historical Jesus: the empty tomb, the post-mortem appearances, and the origin of the Christian faith. It seems to me that those are better explained if God exists than if He doesn’t.
So, in summary, it seems to me that while the evidence isn’t an open-and-shut case, nevertheless God’s existence is more probable given these five facts than it would have been without them. And for the limited purposes of tonight’s debate, that’s enough to prove that there is evidence for God.
Moderator: Thank you, Dr. Craig! Dr. Krauss. . . .
Dr. Craig is fixated on probabilities. I’m fixated on evidence. They’re not the same. Evidence is falsifiable; evidence is something I can test. I can argue about probabilities, especially when I don’t have an underlying theory that probabilities don’t mean a lot. When I don’t have a mathematical—in fact, probabilities only make sense in the concept of a mathematical construction. Otherwise they’re just shooting in the dark.
Of course, what Dr. Craig has argued is on the basis of the evidence; the probability is greater than not that there is a God. I don’t like to necessarily use probabilities, but I’ll use one probability. I’ll take the members of the National Academy of Sciences. Who are scientists who looked at the evidence, O.K. 90% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences don’t find any evidence for God. They don’t believe in God. They were polled. Now does that mean there’s no God? It doesn’t mean that at all! It means 90% of the best scientists in the country who look at the evidence find no evidence for God. That’s a probability. That’s a probability I can actually quantify, not one that I invented in my head. So somehow, the scientists involved who look at the evidence that Dr. Craig has presented don’t see any evidence for God. 90% of them! O.K.? Now not even 50%, if it was 51%, according to Dr. Craig, [unintelligible] 90% don’t believe in God. Now . . . the claim. . . . Alex Vilenkin has one model of creating a universe from nothing, which we actually worked on around the same time. It’s different than Steven Hawking’s. We don’t know which is correct at this point because we don’t have a good theory of quantum gravity. But they’re very different. In quantum gravity, unlike what Dr. Craig has said—and you’ll have to trust me on this because I actually know general relativity—is that there is no three-space. It’s not that a three-space existed before tunneling, there is no three-space. In the same sense that any of those particles that I showed, in coming from empty space, existed before quantum fluctuations produced them. They didn’t exist, they exist for a short time, so short that you can’t measure them, and then they ceased to exist. And that’s the way the world works. In quantum gravity, there’s no pre-existing three-space. It just is created, so that notion is not correct.
Whether or not the universe is past eternal or not, which is again, something Dr. Craig is fixated on, is itself a very fascinating question. In the theory, by the way, that he’s talking about, one version of the theory, the universe is future-eternal. So it is eternal; it had a beginning. There are other versions, however, in which case it is not. It is past-eternal; it is eternal over all times. But that question itself, I repeat, the beginning of the universe is a fascinating thing. We know our observable universe had a beginning. We know that. That’s not a philosophical statement; it’s a scientific one. And I repeat that evidence involves science and not philosophy. Philosophy doesn’t define evidence for anything. It provides a logical framework for understanding things, but the only thing that determines evidence is reality, empirical reality, not philosophy.
And you have to ask yourself the question each time, I repeat, that Dr. Craig claims that this requires God, “Is there a plausible, physical explanation?” And I’ve already shown you that space can be created from nothing plausibly. It’s possible, in a multiverse, that the laws of physics, the laws of nature themselves are created spontaneously. They didn’t pre-exist. It’s possible. You have to ask yourself, “Am I willing to say that because all of these possibilities are interesting, but I don’t understand them, there must be a God who’s compassionate, kind,—what were the words you used?—compassionate, kind, a bunch of other words to describe him or her?”
Well, let’s put it another way. First of all, that’s clearly not the God of the Old Testament, who’s not compassionate, nor kind, right? That’s obvious. So it’s a certain kind of God that you choose to be compassionate and kind. But hold on, isn’t God—doesn’t God define those things? If he’s required to be kind and compassionate, then who required him to be kind and compassionate? Who defined kind and compassionate? Get out of the middle-man! Rationality defines kind and compassionate. All of you, if you did not believe in God, and the people in here who find the evidence for God lacking, are unlikely to go out and kill someone or rape someone tonight because of that. Rationality goes a long way to understanding morality. Rationality, evolution, biology. Does it completely defined morality? I don’t know. In fact, the institute that I run had a wonderful workshop on the origin of morality, to try and look at neurophysiologic basis, philosophical basis of morality; because instead of deciding by fiat that the only origin of morality could be God, we want to look at the question and ask.
I promised I’d get to fine-tuning, so let’s get to fine-tuning. What Dr. Craig gets wrong is that the entropy of the universe is not fine-tuned; it’s generated. We have a dynamical mechanism to generate it. I’ve heard him say that matter, that these certain quantities are not determined by the laws of physics. Well, most of them are. The matter/anti-matter symmetry which he says is fine-tuned for life—which isn’t by the way—is also. We have a mechanism to determine it. We do know that there are quantities whose values are very weird, like the value of energy of empty space, which he said to be fine-tuned to be 10-120. Well, that’s true. It’s fine-tuned. I was one of the first people to show that. But it’s fine-tuned within the context of physical theory. Our physical theories predict it should be 120 orders of magnitude larger than it is. We don’t understand why it’s as small as it is. But its smallness does not fine-tune for life. If it was zero, which is what we thought it was, life would exist perfectly well. And it’s much easier to understand why it’s zero from a mathematical perspective, which is why all of us theoretical physicists thought it was, until the universe told us it wasn’t. All logic, all science, told us that the only sensible value for the energy of empty space in which there is nothing, was nothing. And life would exist perfectly well in such a universe. What did we discover? It’s not nothing. We still don’t understand why. It’s the biggest mystery in science. It means we don’t understand most of the universe. What could be more exciting?
But what we have learned, by the way, is that the fact that it isn’t nothing means we live in the worst of all possible universes for life to develop in. A universe with energy and empty space has life ending before any universe in which empty space doesn’t have energy. So if this miraculous fine-tuning—which I agree is remarkable and I wish [unintelligible] understand—was created for life, then the person who created it didn’t do a very good job; a rather incompetent intelligent designer. The universe is the way it is whether we like it or not. And all the evidence of the universe is that there’s no purpose, no design, no meaning. Should that upset us? No, and I’ll explain why in my concluding remarks.
Moderator: Thank you Dr. Krauss. We now enter the summary segment, Dr. Craig. . . .
In tonight’s debate I’ve tried to show you that God’s existence is more probable given certain facts, than it would have been without them. And that is, by definition, what it means to say that there’s evidence for God’s existence.
First of all, we looked at the existence of contingent beings, and I explained that given the existence of God, it is more probable that contingent beings would exist than on atheism because on atheism there is no explanation for the existence of contingent beings. And to try and say that there need not be an explanation for the existence of the universe is arbitrary and unjustified. It commits the Taxi-Cab Fallacy. So I think the very existence of contingent beings makes God’s existence more probable than it otherwise would have been.
Secondly, what of the origin of the universe? I used both philosophical arguments and scientific evidence to show that the universe began to exist. Dr. Krauss dropped his objections to the philosophical arguments. We saw that while the infinite is a useful mathematical concept, when you try to translate it into the real world, it results in self-contradictory situations and, therefore, the past must be finite. And we saw, secondly, that this is indeed what science has confirmed. The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem shows that the quantum vacuum out of which our material state has evolved cannot be eternal in the past but must have had a beginning. The Hartle-Hawking model itself that Dr. Krauss has appealed to involves an absolute beginning of the universe.
He says, however, that this universe explains how it came into existence from absolute non-being. And I contradicted that by saying that the point from which the universe quantum tunnels is not nothing on these models. Listen to what Hartle and Hawking write in their scholarly article on this. They say,
The volume vanishes . . . at the north and south poles, even though these are perfectly regular points of the four-geometry. One, therefore, would not expect the wave function to vanish at the vanishing three-volume.
In the case of the universe, we would interpret the fact that the wave function can be finite and non-zero at the zero three-geometry as allowing . . . topological fluctuations of the three-geometry.17
So there they’re clearly not talking about something from nothing. Indeed, I mean, think about it, folks: there is no physics of non-being. That’s absurd! There’s only a physics of things that exist, that are real. So it’s impossible for physics to explain how being could arise from non-being. There is no physics of non-being. And, therefore, given that the universe did have an absolute beginning, I think it fairly cries out for the existence of transcendent cause of the universe, which is most plausibly identified as God, rather than some abstract object.
What about the fine-tuning of the universe? Here Dr. Krauss attacked one example of fine-tuning, the low entropy condition, and he says that this is explicable by a mechanism that determines the fine-tuning. I beg to differ. Robin Collins, who has occupied himself extensively with this, writes, “The universe started in a very low entropy state. . . . It is enormously improbable for the universe to have started in the macro-state necessary for the existence of life. . . . The various ways of avoiding this improbability are all highly problematic.”18 And, in particular, he looks at Penrose’s suggestion that the low entropy is the result of a special law and says that Penrose’s proposal has not been accepted by the majority of physicists today.
So, look, we’ve got this universe that in multiple ways is fine-tuned for our existence. And that obviously, I think, makes the existence of God more probable than it would have been without them.
It is highly improbable that this fine-tuning is going to go away. Ernan McMullin of the University of Notre Dame says, “It seems safe to say that later theory, no matter how different, will turn up approximately the same . . . numbers. And the numerous constraints that have to be imposed upon these numbers . . . are too specific and too numerous to evaporate entirely.”19 So fine-tuning is a physical feature of the universe, and I think it’s better explained by God.
Quickly then, what about moral values and duties? Here Dr. Krauss said you can define “kind” and “compassionate” independent of God. Of course, you can! That is a question of moral semantics. Mine is a question concerning moral ontology, that is to say, not the definition or meaning of terms but their grounding in reality. Apart from God there is no foundation for objective moral values and duties. Therefore, if you believe they exist, then you should believe in God.
Finally, the resurrection of Jesus. He’s never denied those historical facts concerning the fate of Jesus of Nazareth. And that gives us good reason to believe that the best explanation of these facts is that Jesus rose from the dead and was who he claimed to be. And that entails that God exists.
Moderator: Thank you Dr. Craig! Dr. Krauss, your summary. . . .
The five points that Dr. Craig has made:
Contingent beings: Somehow he argues that natural phenomena cannot explain things which didn’t have to exist, something I find remarkable. Many things didn’t have to exist. You didn’t have to exist here on earth. But we understand a series of steps by which you were caused to exist naturally, including a large comet that fell in the Yucatan and killed the dinosaurs, making an evolutionary edge for mammals. None of that was required. But more importantly, in fact, if you wish, contingent beings, in fact, must exist in a universe, whether or not there’s a God. Because if there are many universes, having different laws of physics, there must exist one universe in which contingent beings exist. And you can ask yourself, “In which universe will those people ask the question?” They’ll ask the question in the universe in which they exist. If there are many universes, there must be a universe in which we exist. Our existence does not prove anything, except that we exist. And, in fact, it’s required, if that existence is at all possible. In fact, the laws of physics tell us that which is not prohibited is required. That which is not impossible must happen somewhere. That’s the other amazing thing about the universe. The strangest things are happening every second because those things which don’t violate the laws of nature are required. And in many universes, if there’s one universe in which life can exist, it will exist. And then it will ask itself the question, “Why do I exist?”
The origin of the universe: First of all, let me point out there are no contradictions within infinities that I know of. No mathematical contradictions. I don’t like it physically, but it’s possible. And if it’s true, I’ll have to learn to live with it. I’ll just have to learn to live with it. I don’t know if it’s true; I’ll find out. I do repeat, however, unfortunately Dr. Craig, when he talked about the fact that the wave function is not zero at the boundaries, is interesting, but the wave function is not a physical quantity, it’s a mathematical quantity that determines probabilities. So what it’s saying is the probability of creating a universe is not zero. Great! That means, the probability that something will come from nothing is not zero, without God, via the very example that he used.
The fine-tuning: I wish I could clarify this for Dr. Craig. In fact, Alan Guth—who he keeps invoking like a mantra—developed a theory, which is the only theory that we have that explains—I was going to show you the data—explains all the data in cosmology. It’s a beautiful theory; it’s called inflation. It’s a theory that arises naturally, given the laws of particle physics. And it’s a theory where the entropy of the universe increases by 1080 in a time frame of 10-35 seconds, naturally, by known laws of physics. It is, in fact, the way we believe the current edge of the universe developed because it is so beautiful and it also explains what we see. There’s no problem creating entropy. There’s also no problem creating space. There’s no problem creating energy! You can have a universe with fine energy get bigger and bigger and bigger because gravity has something called “negative specific heat” and “negative pressure.” It’s really weird, but it’s true (whether or not Dr. Craig likes it or not). Those aspects that he finds peculiar about our universe are in every way that I know of understandable by known dynamical, physical processes. Moreover, the universe we live in is not fine-tuned for life. No one knows that because we do not know the different kinds of life that can exist.
As for morality, he assumes I assume there is no objective morality. I’ve never said that. I don’t know where he gets that idea. But what I do claim is that whether morality is objective or not is a question for us to determine. An objective morality does not require God because, in fact, for the reasons I said earlier, God, if God exists, if there’s objective morality, then God doesn’t have the freedom to determine the morality, decide that it’s compassionate and kind. Well, some people think it’s compassionate and kind to sexually molest and disfigure young women. It’s compassionate and kind to ensure that they do not enjoy sex. That’s compassionate and kind. Their God tells them to do it. O.K.? I think you would agree that we just should get rid of the middle man and decide what’s compassionate and kind on the basis of common sense.
As for the resurrection, let me make clear right now, by far, since all of the evidence, the historical evidence, is determined by anecdotal eye-witness arguments made by eye-witnesses fifty years after the fact, it is far more likely that the resurrection is imagined than real, just as, I think Dr. Craig would argue, it’s far more likely that Muhammad didn’t rise to heaven on a horse, but someone said he did, and people believed it. And the fact that people believe it, the fact that people are willing to die for it now means nothing, any more than it does than the fact that people are willing to fly planes into New York because they believe someone rose on a horse to heaven, and I know Dr. Craig doesn’t believe that because I’ve heard him. So none of these arguments that he’s given give evidence for anything except for a wonderful universe that we are trying to understand.
Moderator: Thank you, Dr. Krauss!
At this time, I would ask you the audience, to perform your role as members of the jury. Arguments have been presented. It’s now your duty to decide whether there’s sufficient evidence of the existence of God. If you would take your comment cards, you are the sole judges of the weight to be given to the arguments of each panelist. In deciding whether or not you believe there is sufficient evidence of the existence of God, you should use the same tests of reliability that you apply in your everyday lives. Consider whether or not the positions are reasonable and whether or not they are consistent with other arguments made. In other words, apply common sense. The question is whether or not the greater weight of the evidence supports the existence of God. The greater weight of the evidence refers to the quality and convincing force of the evidence. It means that you must be persuaded, considering all the evidence, either it’s sufficient to support the existence of God or not. If you’re persuaded that by this evidence there’s a greater weight of the evidence that God exists, then it would be your duty to answer in favor of Dr. Craig’s position, and if you’re not so persuaded, you should answer in favor of Dr. Krauss’s position. After you’ve voted, please fill out the remainder of the comment card. Feel free to provide any honest comments you have about tonight’s program, and at the end of this program, you will be able to drop your cards in a bucket as you leave. We’ll take just a minute to allow you to do that.
Moderator: At this time, we will enter the question and answer segment. During the question and answer segment, you’ll be given the opportunity to ask questions of our panelists. Let me emphasize that this is a time for you to pose a question and not a time for you to make a statement. If you launch into a commentary, I will interrupt you. The panelist to whom you address your question will have two minutes to answer, followed by a one-minute rebuttal by the opponent. We will alternate microphones. We will continue until our thirty minutes expires. You will see microphones in the aisles. You’ve figured it out! You’re already standing there! If you have a question for Dr. Krauss, use the microphone to your left. If you have a question for Dr. Craig, use the microphone to your right. You have thirty seconds to pose the question. Again, let me state: questions, not comments. And be respectful. Panelists, are you ready?
Krauss: Sure, why not?
Moderator: O.K., we’ll have the first question.
Questioner: Yes. Dr. Krauss said that if he saw the stars rearranged in the sky, to say, “I am here,” he would consider that possible evidence for the existence of God. My question, Dr. Craig, is: what evidence would you consider that says that your position on the existence of God is not true?
Craig: What evidence would I consider to disprove the existence of God?
Questioner: Yes, can—what evidence can you mention?
Craig: Well, I think one of the most powerful arguments against God’s existence would be the problem of evil. That was alluded to tonight. If you could show that it’s improbable that God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting the evil and suffering in the world, that could count. If you could show that there was some kind of internal contradiction in the concept of God, that would count, obviously, against God’s existence. So those would be a couple of arguments that one would typically hear if tonight we were debating, “Is there evidence against God?” But that wasn’t the topic tonight.
Questioner: Thank you!
Moderator: Hang, hang on, hang on. . . .
Krauss: I get my minute?
Moderator: That’s correct.
Krauss: I’ll be even stronger. Or, actually, I’ll be the opposite, of course. I don’t think you can disprove the existence of God. That’s the problem. I think it’s absolutely impossible to disprove the existence of God. You could . . . There’s . . . positive evidence of the type I claimed, or God making a YouTube video during an era when there’s actually ability to record evidence, not just hearsay. And so, I think, I can’t disprove the existence of God any more than I, as Bertrand Russell said, I could disprove the existence, the possible existence, of a teapot orbiting Jupiter right now. I can’t disprove that right now, can’t—but is it, on the basis of everything we know, is it likely? That’s the kind of question we can ask. And, as I say, that me and the preponderance of scientists around the world think that there’s no evidence for God. That’s, however, I repeat, different than saying that there’s no God. I didn’t come here to say that. I just asked if there’s evidence. O.K.
Moderator: Thank you! We’ll hear from this side.
Questioner: My question is for Dr. Krauss. You touched on this a little. Arguments for religion often fall in two categories, the first arguing for the existence of God, the second arguing that if a God exists, it would be—it would care about us or be the God of a particular religion. Which class of arguments do you find weaker: those saying that God exists or those stating that, given the existence of God, it would be a particular God?
Krauss: Thank you! Well, I think the second argument is clearly weaker because the only difference between an atheist and a Christian is that the Christian is an atheist about every other religion, and I’m just, if I called myself an atheist, it’s just one more religion I don’t believe in. But the point is, I actually think Deism, the possible existence of a divine intelligence is not an implausible postulate. And I won’t argue against it. It could be. I mean, the universe is an amazing place! The question is, is there evidence for that? That’s what we tried to debate. So I think the possible existence of a divine intelligence is perfectly plausible and addresses some of the perplexing issues associated with the beginning of the universe. And it may, it may indeed, ultimately, we may find that it’s required. But the relation between that and the specific God that some people believe in here, and the specific God that other people believe in here, is obviously a problem, because not everyone can be right. And everyone believes this fervently, most people who are fundamentalists in their religion, believe this fervently, that their religion is right and everyone else is wrong. And they can’t all be right. And the point is that they’re probably all wrong. In fact, I should say it more clearly: science is incompatible with the doctrine of every single organized religion. It is not incompatible with Deism. But it is incompatible with Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, if you take literally the, the doctrine, and completely the doctrine of the scriptures of those religions.
Craig: I’m not sure I understood your question. Could you rephrase it?
Questioner: So the question is about whether or not you think the evidence for a general God existing is better than the argument, say, given a God existing, it’s the God of one religion or. . . .
Craig: Well, I don’t think the way people argue for particular religions is the way you described it. But I do think there’s a multiplicity of arguments for monotheism or Deism, as Lawrence Krauss described it. And the first three arguments—four arguments—I gave would be arguments for a kind of generic monotheism: a creator, a designer, a necessary being, a ground of moral values. The fifth argument that I gave would be the one to say that this God has revealed himself specially in Jesus of Nazareth. So I think there are more arguments for theism in general than there are for any specific type of theism. But that being said, the evidence for Christian theism is actually very good, especially when it comes as the capstone to a case in which you’ve established a creator, a designer, a ground of moral values. Then to say that that being, already proved, has revealed himself in Jesus, I think becomes very plausible in light of the resurrection.
Moderator: Thank you! We’ll have a question from this side now.
Questioner: Hi, Dr. Craig! Throughout this debate I noticed you concentrated on formal logic instead of science, which talks about the evidence. My question is, through logical argumentation, how would you prove a necessity of purpose or grand design, if you are to assume there was an ultimate cause?
Craig: How would I argue for the existence of purpose and design?
Questioner: The necessity of purpose or grand design.
Craig: Well, I’m not sure I would argue for the necessity of them. What I would argue is, as I did in my debate with Richard Dawkins, is that if God does not exist, then ultimately there is no purpose for the universe, but that if God does exist, then it follows that there is purpose for the universe because God created it for a reason. So I would see the question of purpose as depending on the existence of God. It’s a conditional claim. If atheism is true, we exist to no purpose. Everything will perish in the heat-death of the universe. But if there is a God who exists, then that provides grounds for thinking that he has created the world for a reason. And on Christian theism, it’s for the reason that we can know God personally and be in relationship with him. The fulfillment of human existence is found in relation to God. So I see the question of purpose in life, or meaning to existence, as deriving from the question of the existence of God.
Krauss: Let’s see! What is amazing, I don’t think formal logic can prove anything about the universe. Formal logic is a methodology, but if we’d relied only on formal logic, we wouldn’t have modern science. We need to let the universe tell us how it behaves. Then we apply rational logic and mathematics. But, so formal logic alone doesn’t prove anything, let me make that quite clear. It often leads to, when it comes to the real universe, false conclusions. But, the interesting question is, the universe appears purposeless. Everything you can see about the universe, universe, everything we know about the universe appears as if it doesn’t exist for us. It appears, so God created a universe that looks like a universe that, in fact, we are just completely insignificant, a vast universe of hundreds of billions of galaxies made of stuff that isn’t us, that wouldn’t be any different if we weren’t here. The universe would be essentially identical. So the question is, does a universe that appears to be without purpose, without purpose? The answer is, I don’t know! But, that’s the way it appears. And so God may have just made it appear that way because he wants to trick us, I don’t know.
Moderator: Thank you, Dr. Krauss! Next question for Dr. Krauss.
Questioner: Dr. Krauss, if infinity—if infinity implies there is a contradiction, then it must not be infinity; and if God is infinite, and there’s not infinity, then there must not be—then, like, according to that logic, there’s not God. Is that logic correct, and how does it affect the evidence presented in the debate?
Krauss: Well, yeah, it’s an interesting question from [unintelligible]. First of all, I repeat, infinity is not inconsistent. It’s a well-defined mathematical quantity, and we use that, we use infinities in physics all the time to calculate things. So it’s. . . . We depend on them, in residue calculus and complex variables. We depend on the existence of infinites in order to calculate the electric field around an object, all sorts of interesting things. But the interesting question is, indeed, that’s why I talk about the—in my mind, intellectual laziness. There are big questions having to do with infinity, questions that give you headaches. That’s we don’t like to think about it. So when you don’t like to think about it, you say, God! Because I’ve heard, actually—the interesting thing is, I heard Dr. Craig—I was listening to him . . . debate my friend Christopher Hitchens. And he said, “Well, you know, but God is—God isn’t rushed. God has an infinite amount of time to do things.” Well, if God has an infinite amount of time to do things, why doesn’t the universe? And so, every time you run up with these quantities, which are hard to understand, you attribute them to this being you don’t understand. And that, I think, is intellectual laziness. And the reason, I think, that Weinberg has said that—and I happen to agree with him in some sense—that religion is perhaps the greatest assault on human dignity that he knows of.
Craig: What I argued is that while the concept of the actual infinite is a useful and consistent concept in set theory and transfinite arithmetic, it cannot be translated into the real world, because in transfinite arithmetic, you have certain rules that prohibit certain operations like subtraction and division because when you try to subtract infinity from infinity, you get self-contradictions. But if you can have an infinite number of marbles, for example, nobody can stop you from giving away half of the marbles, in which you’re going to get these sort of contradictions. So, of course, infinity is a well-defined concept, given its rules! Now does that mean that God can’t be infinite? The infinity of God is not a mathematical concept. That is a qualitative concept, not a quantitative concept. It means God is omnipotent, omniscient, eternal, necessary, all good. It has nothing to do with mathematical infinity. Similarly, when we say God has an infinite amount of time to do things, what I meant, Dr. Krauss, is he has potentially infinite time, in the future. But we’re talking here about whether the past can be actually infinite. That’s very different!
Moderator: Thank you!
Questioner: Dr. Craig, scientific theories make testable predictions. For example, Newtonian gravity predicted the existence and location of Neptune.
Craig: You’re going to have to talk slower and more clearly, please.
Questioner: O.K., here’s the question. What testable predictions does the God hypothesis make?
Craig: What testable predictions does the God hypothesis have? Well, if Christianity is true, we should find that the evidence supports that Jesus rose from the dead. If you could show that Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, that would falsify Christianity. If theism is true, it would predict that the universe would exhibit characteristics that are designed for the existence of intelligent life like us. If you could show that’s false, that would falsify that. If biblical theism is true, the universe should have a beginning. If you could falsify that, that would be problematic for biblical theism. So I think that the existence of God is something that is definitely related to the evidence. And the evidence that I gave tonight, I think, increases the probability that God exists—than if we didn’t have that evidence. And that’s all I’ve tried to show. It’s a very modest claim.
Krauss: Well, boy, if that’s a modest claim! O.K., the . . . it’s an interesting question! As Dr. Craig pointed out, the answer depends upon your theology. If you’re a Christian, you happen to believe, you may be required to believe, in the resurrection. Maybe you’re required to believe in the virgin birth, although on a stage with four Christians, including some from the Vatican, I couldn’t get a single person to say that they actually believed in the virgin birth! But—or you may believe that Mohammed rose from, a horse to heaven, from a horse to heaven, if you believe that. You might say that if those things are not true, the theology is not true. But that doesn’t disprove the existence of God. It doesn’t! So God, the existence of an abstract God, doesn’t make any predictions. In fact, interestingly, I’m surprised to hear Dr. Craig fall into what I would have thought would be a trap. He just said to this questioner here that God is not physical; God is beyond physical. Therefore, anything’s possible! God can do anything God wants. And therefore there’s absolutely nothing that God couldn’t do! And therefore, therefore, you can, you know, God could smite me right now. Smite me! He didn’t. But he could have! Or she could have, I should have pointed out. But, so, you know—oh, I’m sorry, I’ve got to stop.
Moderator: Thank you! Next question for Dr. Krauss.
Questioner: Dr. Krauss, you responded to Dr. Craig about Jesus’ rising from the dead by saying that it simply could have been imagined. But Dr. Craig said that, assuming Jesus did rise, God existing and having risen Jesus himself would be the best explanation. Why wouldn’t plenty of other options be better explanations, such as some physical phenomena we don’t know about yet, or actual people having intervened? Those seem more likely, unless we assume God exists in the first place.
Krauss: Well, your point is well-taken. You have to assume God exists at some level. The question is, what’s more likely in the resurrection of Jesus, something which is—no one has ever else been resurrected that we know of. No one’s actually witnessed it today. People don’t die and then three days later arise—It’s a historical claim which Dr. Craig says some historians seem to accept. I’ve debated alien abduction people a lot, O.K.? And people who believe in aliens. And they believe fervently! They can tell me the exact—everything that happened and all the weird, kinky sexual experiments that were done to them on the spacecraft. But again to invoke Richard Feynman, what he says about those kinds of things is that’s more likely due to the known irrationality of humans than the unknown rationality of aliens. And when it comes to the resurrection, the point is that there are many, many claims that are much more simply explained by being imagined, illusion, or in some saints, as you’re point out, being done by people who wanted to make the person they believed in appear to be God. I’m not claiming any of those is true, but it’s quite logical. Just like when someone tells me about an alien abduction, I can say, no matter how implausible it is, that I can—swamp gas or something else caused you to see those flying saucers! The laws of physics tell me it is so implausible that an alien intelligence would be able to create a spacecraft that could come here and would come here, that almost any other physical explanation is more plausible. To me, the resurrection is so implausible and also so undocumented that any other explanation is more plausible. And in particular, the most likely one, the same one that I think falsely makes people think that Mohammed rose to heaven, the same explanation that—I don’t believe the Earth stood still, when, when a trumpet was blown, because it would have killed everyone on earth. There would have been a tsunami; it would have been far worse than anything that happened in Japan. So it’s much more likely that these have other explanations. The most likely explanation is that it didn’t happen at all.
Moderator: Dr. Craig’s rebuttal. . . .
Craig: The historical facts that undergird the inference to Jesus’ resurrection are agreed to by most New Testament historians today: the empty tomb, the post-mortem appearances, the origin of the Christian faith. This is not undocumented. These are not in themselves supernatural. And these are accepted by the wide majority of New Testament historians. So the question is, how do you best explain them? And what I would invite you to do is to look at the work that I’ve published, as well as others who have written on this, as to comparing the other explanations, like the conspiracy theory (the disciples stole the body), apparent death theory, the hallucination theory. Down through history there have been a multiplicity of counter-explanations of these facts, and none of them has commanded the adherence of a great number of scholars. Because they all fail in terms of their explanatory scope, their explanatory power, they’re ad hoc, they’re implausible. They all fail those standard tests for historical explanation that historians use. So once you get rid of your bias against the possibility of miracles (this sort of Humean argument), I don’t see any reason to think that the best explanation isn’t the one the disciples gave, that God raised him from the dead.
Moderator: Thank you! The next question is for Dr. Craig.
Questioner: Dr. Craig, if the divine commands of God are the objective basis of moral values, how do we find out those commands, and how do we gain access to those objective moral values and know that we’ve correctly done so?
Craig: Thank you for this question because it helps us to draw a distinction that is so often misunderstood and blurred! I said in my last speech, I’m talking about moral ontology. That is to say, what is the foundation in reality for moral values and duties? I’m not talking about moral semantics, the definition of moral terms. Neither am I talking about moral epistemology, which is your question: How do we know the moral values and duties we have? There I am completely open to any sort of moral epistemology that someone might want to suggest: moral intuition, divine revelation, logical inference from the intrinsic value of human persons. I don’t carry any brief for any particular moral epistemology. My argument is simply that in the absence of God, we don’t have any ground for affirming the existence of objective moral values and duties. And I think that’s the position that Dr. Krauss is committed to in view of his determinism and his scientism. Since ought implies can, and on his view we cannot do anything other than what we do, we cannot say that we ought to have done otherwise. We have no moral responsibilities. And moreover, since science cannot establish the objectivity of moral values, it follows that we have no moral values that are objective either. So in a world determined by this sort of scientific naturalism, there just are no moral truths. It’s a moral anti-realism, and if you find that implausible in light of your moral experience, then I think you should agree that God exists. So that’s the only argument I’m making tonight and not one about some moral epistemology.
Moderator: Thank you! Dr. Craig—I mean, Krauss.
Krauss: That’s O.K.! People always confuse us! Let’s see, Dr. Craig keeps telling me I’m a—that I have scientism. If that means that I think that there’s nothing other than science, then, of course, that’s wrong. I also at one point said—and I happen—, I don’t think there’s free will. However we act like we have free will. And I think it’s indistinguishable because the universe is very complicated, because we’re made from 1024 particles. We act effectively like we have free will. But what is clear to me from your question, and from Dr. Craig’s answer, is that no one can determine from God what is morally right because if you look at different religions, they all come up with contradictory views of what’s morally right. So these people who are trying to understand the nature of God that they believe in come up with answers which are completely different. On the other hand, everyone I know that is rational comes up with answers to what should be done based on what they know about the universe, which is the same. So if there is a God that determines morality, what’s obvious from human history and from experience is that no religious people come up—can determine the mind of God because not all of them could be right. Just like the reason I have a bias against miracles is for thirty years I’ve studied the universe and I’ve never ever known of one.
Moderator: Thank you, Dr. Krauss! The next question is for Dr. Krauss.
Questioner: Hi, my name is Daniel Foster, and I’m from the UNC Greensboro Atheists, Agnostics, and Skeptics group.
1. Anything that exists has an explanation.
2. God exists.
3. If God exists, a cosmic, fluffy crushiness is the explanation.
4. Therefore, a super cosmic, fluffy crushiness exists.
Dr. Krauss, can you explain why that is equally absurd as Dr. Craig’s first point in his presentation?
Krauss: I thought you were making a comment. I was sure the judge was going to stop you there.
Moderator: I was close!
Krauss: Well, look, I think the point you’re making—let me rephrase it in a way that I understand—is that it—the question has to arise: what’s the cause of God? If everything has to have an explanation, what’s the explanation of God? And you can always ask—you can be like a child and continue to ask that question ad nauseum. Why? Why? Why? And the interesting thing is, we don’t know the answer. But what seems to me is that what people say is, “I get tired of asking that question, so I’m going to stop and just call it ‘God’.” And that’s what bothers me. It just seems intellectually lazy because I don’t know if there’s an ultimate answer. There may be no ultimate answer. That’s what I was going to show from Feynman. There may be no ultimate answer to the universe; there may be no ultimate theory. But at some point, I’m not—if I just stop and throw up my hands and say, “God,” it’s just a lazy way of saying, “I don’t know.”
Moderator: Thank you! Rebuttal.
Craig: Well, what’s lazy is to stop arbitrarily when you get to the universe. That’s what’s committing the Taxicab Fallacy: to accept the Principle of Sufficient Reason everywhere else until you get to the universe, and then arbitrarily stop there. The theist doesn’t arbitrarily stop when he gets to God as the explanatory ultimate. God has an explanation of his existence. “Everything that exists has an explanation, either in the necessity of its own nature, or (if it’s contingent) in an external cause.” God exists by a necessity of his own nature. Even the atheist recognizes that. If a being has a cause, it isn’t God because God by definition is the metaphysical ultimate. So when you get to God, you’ve reached a metaphysically necessary being which has no cause of its existence, and its existence is explained by the fact that it exists by a necessity of its own nature, just like mathematical objects and other abstract objects. And that’s why you don’t run into the slushy crush or whatever it is that you were talking about. It would be logically impossible for God to be caused by slushy crush or whatever it is.
Questioner: I was just trying to escape the circular logic of what you just said.
Moderator: Thank you! The next question for Dr. Craig.
Questioner: I fear my question might be somewhat similar to his, but—
Craig: A little louder, please.
Questioner: I fear my question might be somewhat similar to his, but I’m going to go ahead and—
Questioner:—ask it anyway. So a lot of your argument was based on this question of eternity, how we cannot have an eternal past, and—
Craig: Well, that was my second argument. That was only one that was based on this impossibility.
Questioner: Well, it was the one I liked; it’s the one I focused on. And that everything must have an external cause. And you said that this external cause was God.
Craig: Now wait! You’re confusing two arguments. Pardon me for interrupting you. The first argument says, “Everything that exists has an explanation.” But that might be in the necessity of its own nature or in a cause if it’s contingent. The second argument says, “Everything that begins to exist has a cause.” But I’ve already said that some things don’t have causes, namely, things that exist by a necessity of their own nature—
Questioner: So why does God exist?
Craig: —They don’t begin to exist. So don’t run these arguments together, or you’re going to come up with self-contradictions.
Krauss: Let her ask her question, Dr.—
Questioner: So why does God exist by a necessity of his own nature? Why is God not one of these abstract—why is God not one of these contingent beings? Why is God [unintelligible]?
Craig: Yeah, you’re right! That is the same question the fellow asked! Because the concept of God is that of a metaphysically necessary, ultimate being. If you have a being that itself is caused by something else, you haven’t reached God yet. You may have had small “g” gods; you know, some humanoid sort of thing. But you haven’t reached the concept of what God is, which is the creator of all reality, the metaphysical ultimate, a necessary being. So you’re still dealing there with contingent beings. You’ve got to keep going higher.
Moderator: O.K., let’s have the rebuttal. Thank you!
Krauss: It’s a good question. And I think the answer is—I mean, you define—so Dr. Craig has defined God to be something that meets his question, his desire for necessity. So I define the multiverse to be that. Fine! The multiverse always existed. It is—without the multiverse our universe couldn’t have existed. Fine! Let him call it “God.” I call it “the multiverse.” My difference is that mine is motivated by physics, and his is motivated by myths that are thousands of years old. There’s some difference!
Moderator: Question for Dr. Krauss.
Questioner: Dr. Krauss, thank you for your time tonight! You have said you don’t like philosophy and also that belief requires empirical evidence. On what foundation do you hold to this claim of philosophical positivism? In other words, how do you know that we can only know by empirical, falsifiable evidence? Can you prove this empirically?
Krauss: Look, I think you’re overstating what I said. I believe the question, the question before us, was: what is the word “evidence”? And I take evidence to be something which can be falsified. So there are—I do not deny that humans are—there are many things—What Dr. Craig seems to think is that I think that there’s nothing other than science that makes sense in the world. I don’t think that at all. But when it comes to evidence, things I can falsify, then the empirical methods are the ways to determine reality. It works, it’s worked very well in all of—and none of you would be here today if it—if we hadn’t relied on that methodology to develop the modern world that we have. There are many things that I can’t falsify. There are many things that as a human that I may feel—emotions—that I may never be able to quantify, that I may never be able to falsify. But . . . they’re not evidence in the scientific sense. And to me that’s the question here. Not what I—you know—whether I believe I love someone, or whether I think I’m happy or sad. One day we may have an explanation of those things; I don’t know. But I’m willing to believe that there’s much more to the universe than science can—is appropriate to describe. That’s perfectly possible. But science does what it does, and it determines nonsense from sense by testing. And that is the key, that is—I just wish that one idea would come through: that we don’t determine what’s true by what we like and what we don’t like and what we wish and what we don’t wish. In fact, what I wish for all of you students is that some time during your time in this university, an idea you hold to be true and deep and at the very core of your being is proved to be wrong because that produces an open mind, and that will make you better citizens and better people.
Moderator: Thank you! Rebuttal.
Craig: Yeah . . . as I prepared for this debate, I often wished that Dr. Krauss would be more open to the possibility of theism than he appears to be. I think your question is right on target. He holds, or seems to hold, to an epistemology which says that we should only believe that which can be scientifically proven. And as your questions revealed, that itself is a self-contradictory position because you can’t scientifically prove that you should only believe that which can be scientifically proven! So when he says, “It distinguishes sense from nonsense,” that’s old-line Verificationism, isn’t it, and positivism that went out with the 30s and 40s?
Krauss: It still works!
Craig: It’s a self-defeating position. So evidence is much broader than what science tells us. Science is empirical evidence. But there is moral experience, there are philosophical and metaphysical facts, there are historical facts. And I think that the God hypothesis is so powerful because it makes sense of such a broad range of the facts of human experience, including, but not limited to, scientific facts.
Moderator: Thank you! We have time for two more questions. One more here for Dr. Craig.
Questioner: Dr. Craig, in light of physical revelations like the quantized nature of charge, energy, and time, an informational, digital, or perhaps even computable view of the universe is scientifically tenable. Quantum randomness is a concern, but there are scientists who are of the educated opinion that there may be underlying laws governing this seemingly random phenomena. If the universe is fundamentally computable, could that be a viable consistent theory of cosmogony? If so, what gaps are there left to fill for the God in a deterministic universe?
Craig: I haven’t in any way appealed to quantum indeterminacy being ontic or, rather, say, being real instead of being epistemic. Nobody knows what the correct physical interpretation of quantum mechanics is. We know that the equations work and are highly accurate in their predictions. But there are at least ten different interpretations of the equations, and nobody knows which one is correct. And some of these are fully deterministic and regard indeterminacy as merely a feature of our subjective knowledge or consciousness.
Krauss: That’s not true—[unintelligible]
Craig: And I’m frankly very sympathetic to those deterministic features. But the reason I’m not a determinist is because I believe in the reality of the soul. I think that we’re not just electro-chemical machines. I’m a substance dualist. I think that human beings are body-soul composites and that the soul works with the brain to think. As Sir John Eccles, the great Nobel prize-winning neurologist once put it, “The mind uses the brain as an instrument to think.” And so, given that you have this sort of view of human persons, I think that it’s—we don’t live in a deterministic universe, that there is such a thing as free will, and therefore there are such things as moral duties and values. And, of course, God, being a nonphysical entity who isn’t described by the equations of quantum mechanics, is also a libertarian agent and has freedom to act in the world, or on the world, as he sees fit. So because I’m not a physicalist, I guess, that’s why I see room for human freedom.
Krauss: Well, O.K.! I’m surprised Dr. Craig believes in quantum mechanics in that regard. But let me make—let me clarify something. All theories of quantum mechanics are deterministic. Quantum mechanics is based on partial differential equations which are deterministic. There’s no indeterminism in the fundamental equations of quantum mechanics. There’s indeterminism in measurement, but the underlying theory, when you start with the data set, predicts unambiguously how the world will evolve into the future. Measurements of it are deterministic . . . or indeterministic, but the theory is completely, as any partial differential equation is, is deterministic. Just so he knows! The soul is—I actually proposed an experiment for the soul, which I’d love to do, in my Physics of Star Trek. If we could make a transporter and I could disassemble you and put you together, I’d like to know if you had a soul at the other end. It would be a great experiment, but we can’t make one. But one of the things—but your question is a really interesting one, and I’ve done work on this—it turns out, that we think, and given the fact that there is an energy of empty space, which makes us the worst of all possible universes to live in for the long-term future of life. There are actually a finite number of calculations you can perform, 10120. And given Moore’s Law, we’ll have performed them in about 300 years. So enjoy it while you can!
Moderator: Thank you! The final question is for Dr. Krauss.
Questioner: My question is: our universe came out of nothing. And if our universe came out of nothing, well, that must mean that other universes must have came out of nothing. So that means that our universe must exert a force, and that universe—and that universe must exert a force on us. But as far as I’m aware, there isn’t any forces that are exerted on us from outside universes. And now is this because there’s two universes that exert the same force? And if that’s what it is, would this give evidence for or against a God?
Krauss: Well, it’s a good question. It’s a physics question. I like physics questions! The answer is: you got it wrong, O.K.? You’re absolutely right: if our universe came from nothing—which is plausible, in fact probably required—other universes could have come from nothing, especially if it’s a multiverse. Or even, in fact, in a three-space it’s possible. But, in fact, those universes will not exert any force on each other because they are causally disconnected. As far as we know—for, in fact, Einstein tells us that the forces we measure are restricted to propagate at the speed of light. Other universes that exist in spatial regions which are separated by us, which, in fact, separating from us faster than the speed of light (which is allowed in general relativity) can never communicate to us, can never exert a force on us. So there’s nothing there. Also, there are some ideas—which I have mixed feelings about—about the existence of possible extra dimensions. In such extra dimensions, those universes also may not exert any force on us because the forces we measure may be restricted to our four-dimensional plane. So, unfortunately, there’s really no direct way to measure the existence of such universes by forces. It’s not impossible. It’s possible that—that they could come into causal contact, and people have explored those questions. The only way that we might know about it—it might be more than metaphysics, it might become physics—by the following way: If we had a theory, which we don’t have, that explained why there are four forces in nature, why the proton is 2000 times heavier than the electron, why gravity is 40 orders of magnitude weaker than electromagnetism, if we had a theory that explained all of that, but one of the implications of it was that there was an inflationary phase in the early universe, during which there’ll become eternal inflation, then we would—we would test twenty predictions of the theory and they would all be right, and we’d be willing to postulate that the one that we can’t measure, since the theory, since if it walks like a duck, it quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.
Craig: Well, I would just want to summarize by saying that physical science deals with physical reality. And therefore it’s a gross misuse of ordinary language to use the word “nothing” to characterize either the quantum vacuum, which is a physical reality, or the point from which the universe quantum tunneled into the current state we have in quantum gravity models. These are not non-being. And when the philosopher asks the question, “Why do contingent beings exist rather than nothing?,” he’s using the word “nothing” in the philosophical sense of non-being. And there is no physics of non-being. When the universe comes into being, it doesn’t transition from non-being into being. Then it would exist before it existed! Rather it is an absolute beginning of existence. And, therefore, that points to a transcendent cause, a ground of being in a transcendent, metaphysical reality, which I think is most plausibly identified as God.
Moderator: Thank you! I’m afraid that that ends our time for questions. I’d like to thank each of you, the jury, for your attention and your questions. Thank you, again, Dr. Krauss and Dr. Craig, for your part in tonight’s program! Let’s give each of them a round of applause.
It sometimes surprises me, although it shouldn't, how religious devotees feel the need to regularly reinforce their own convictions in groups of like-minded individuals. I suppose this is the purpose of regular Sunday church services, for example, to reinforce the community of belief in between the rest of the week when the real world may show no evidence of God, goodness, fairness, or purpose.
Nevertheless I was not prepared for the self-congratulatory hype that I have seen spouted on the web, and have received in emails, including a typically disingenuous email from Wiliam Lane Craig to his followers regarding a debate I had with him in North Carolina last week. While carrying out the debate in the first place was something that broke my normal rules--as I said during the debate, I far prefer civil conversation and discourse as a way of illuminating knowledge and reality--I will break another rule and write this blog-like note on my own perspectives, in the hope that it may circulate and counter some of the nonsense that has propagated in the fundamentalist and religious blogs of late. Perhaps Craig will post this on his blog and send it out as well.
I believe that if I erred at all, it was in an effort to consider the sensibilities of the 1200 smiling young faces in the audience, who earnestly came out, mostly to hear Craig, and to whom I decided to show undue respect. As I stressed at the time, I did not come to debate the existence of God, but rather to debate about evidence for the existence of God. I also wanted to demonstrate the need for nuance, to explain how these issues are far more complex than Craig, in his simplistic view of the world, makes them out to be. For this reason, as I figured I would change few minds I decided also to try and illustrate for these young minds the nature of science, with the hope that what they saw might cause them to think. Unfortunately any effort I made to show nuance and actually explain facts was systematically distorted in Craig's continual effort to demonstrate how high school syllogisms apparently demonstrated definitive evidence for God.
Let me now comment, with the gloves off, on the disingenuous distortions, simplifications, and outright lies that I regard Craig as having spouted. I was very disappointed because I had heard that Craig was more of a philosopher than a proselytizer, but that was not evident the other evening.
Craig began with an attempt to demonstrate his scientific and mathematical credentials by writing a rather meaningless equation on this first slide, which he then argued would be the basis for his 'evidence'. The equation, in words said that if the probability, given the data, gave one a greater than 50% likelihood for God's existence, then this was evidence. He even presented this as a pseudo- Bayesian Argument.
The problem is that using mathematical probabilities in this fashion ONLY makes sense if you have a well defined probability measure, and if one can check that the conclusions one draws are not sensitive to one's priors. He did not explain this at all, nor do I think he understood it when I tried to explain it to him. For the rest of the evening Craig simply proceeded to spout his claimed evidence, and then proceeded to state that each gave him a greater than 50% belief in God. The whole purpose of the mathematical nonsense at the beginning was to give some kind of scientific credibility to a discussion which was anything but. It was disingenuous smoke and mirrors. (Moreover, as I tried to explain, in modern scientific experiments, merely finding an unexpected result, with say only a 20% chance of being wrong, is not sufficient to establish evidence. One needs to go to much higher levels of confidence, especially if the claim being made disagrees with all other evidence. It is hard to think of a grander claim than evidence for a divine being who creates the universe without apparent purpose, dominated by dark matter and dark energy and containing hundreds of billions of galaxies, lets it evolve untouched for billions of years, and then roughly a million years into human evolution decides to intervene at a time before Youtube or any other objective recording and archiving tool was available.)
Next, if one is going to frame the argument scientifically, as I argued is essential when discussing empirical evidence, which Craig later took great pains to disavow, one must point out that in science when one is trying to explain and predict data, one tries to explore all possible physical causes for some effect before resorting to the supernatural. Happily it is precisely this progress in our natural philosophy that ended such religious atrocities as the burning of witches. In each and every case the actual syllogism that one ended up with was:
1. Craig either doesn't understand how something could happen, or instead believes that events happened that confirmed his pre-existing belief system.
2. In the absence of understanding physical causes or exploring alternatives, this implies evidence for the existence of God.
3. Therefore there is evidence that God exists.
This is what I framed as the "God of the Gaps" argument and I continue to view, upon reflection, most of the claims of Craig as falling in this well-known theological trap.
Let me work backwards through his 5 "arguments":
1. The resurrection of Jesus, and that fact that the followers of Jesus were willing to die for their beliefs provides evidence of God: I admit that this claim is so sloppy and fatuous that in an effort to demonstrate some margin of respect for Craig I tried to avoid it for as long as I could. Craig argued that most New Testament scholars believe in the resurrection. Even if this were true, though Craig provided no evidence of this, this of course is simply proof that New Testament scholars have an a priori faith that guides them. It is like claiming that most Islamic scholars may believe that Mohammed actually ascended to heaven on a horse. In the first place, there are no definitive eyewitness accounts of these events, and in the case of the claimed resurrection the scriptures were written decades after the claimed event, and the different accounts are not even consistent. Not only are there serious theologians who doubt the resurrection, there are historians who doubt the historical existence of Jesus himself. Whatever one's views in this regard, however, one must ask oneself the simple question: Is it more likely that all known physical laws were suspended so God could demonstrate divinity--and moreover demonstrate this in a hackneyed way that recreated previous resurrection myths, down to the number of days before being raised from the dead, of several previous, and now long-gone religious cults--or is it more likely that those who were preaching to convert fabricated a resurrection myth in order to convince those to whom they were preaching of Christ's divinity? Finally, the remarkable, and completely trite claim that the fact the Christians were willing to die for their beliefs demonstrates the validity of these beliefs would be laughable, if it weren't so pitiful. Especially, as I indicated during the event, in light of the fact that people were recently willing to fly planes into skyscrapers because of their beliefs in a religious framework that I know Craig has openly disavowed. Throughout history people have been willing to die for their beliefs, and it is often the beliefs one is willing to die for that are most suspect. Did Roman soldiers believe in Romulus and Remus. Did Viking warriers believe in Thor. Did Nazi soldiers believe in the superiority of the Aryan race. I found and still find Craig's statement not only facile, and not even worthy of a high school debater, but I find the claim offensive.
2. FineTuning: The appearance of design is one of the most subtle and confusing aspects of our Universe. Charles Darwin, with his Origin of Species, brilliantly and masterfully explained how the modern world, with its remarkable diversity of life forms may have the appearance of design without any design at all. It was one of the greatest and most striking scientific discoveries of all time, and it is the basis of modern biology and medicine, leading to countless other discoveries that have continued to save countless lives. Craig is aware, from his superficial reading of cosmology, of fine tuning problems in Cosmology, which he then immediately argued requires the existence of intelligent life, implying purpose to the universe. Not only does he fall prey to the same fallacy that those who, before Darwin enlightened us, ascribed design in biology fall prey to, he also continually misrepresented the nature of any apparent fine-tuning of quantities that we currently may not understand from first principles. I tried to explain to him that the current entropy of the universe is not fine tuned, nor need the initial entropy be fine tuned, because Inflation provides a mechanism to wipe out initial conditions and produce huge amounts of entropy, without God. I tried to explain to him that the Cosmological Constant, which is perhaps the most confusing finely tuned parameter we know of in the Universe, is fine tuned in a mathematical sense, compared to the naïve value we might expect on the basis of our current understanding of physical theory. While it is also true that if it were much larger, galaxies would not form, and therefore life forms that survive on solar power would not be likely to form with any significant abundance in the universe, I also explained that if the Cosmological Constant were in fact zero, which is what most theorists had predicted in advance, the conditions for life would be, if anything, more favorable, for the development and persistence of life in the cosmos. Finally, even if some parameters in our currently incomplete model of the universe do appear fine tuned for human life to be possible, (a) we have no idea if other values would allow other non-human-like intelligent life forms to evolve, since we have no understanding of the locus of all possible intelligent life forms. And, beyond this, just as bees are fine tuned to see the colors of flowers which they can pollinate as they go about their business does not indicate design, but rather natural selection, we currently have no idea if the conditions of our universe represent a kind of cosmic natural selection. If there are many universes, for example, as may be the case, and as are predicted in a variety of models, none of which were developed to address God issues, we would certainly expect to find ourselves only in those in which we can live. All of these are subtle and interesting issues worthy of discussion by knowledgeable and honest intellects. I found Craig to be lacking in both of the qualities during his discussion of this issue.
3. Absolute Morals: Craig argued that the existence of absolute morality gives evidence for God. Once again this is simple minded. Indeed in a meeting we convened at my Origins Project of distinguished philosophers and neuroscientists we debated the subtle issues of morality and human evolution, the possible variants of morality, and a host of other issues, without once ever resorting to God. As I tried to explain to Craig, paraphrasing fro Steven Pinker, if there were a God, either God would have the choice to determine what is right and wrong or not. But in this case, if God determined that raping and murdering 2 year-olds is morally acceptable would it be so? If not, as reason and experience suggests, then God really has to resort to other considerations, kindness, compassion, etc (except for the Old Testament God!), on which to base God's decisions. But if that is the case, why not just dispense with the middle-man? Lastly, if there is evidence that God provides absolute Morality, it is missing from the world of our experience, where different religious groups, all of whom claim divine inspiration, have incompatible moral views, often leading to horrendous and violent acts against women and children, for example. Indeed, the Old Testament is full of such acts.
4. Contingency: Frankly the argument that humans or the universe do not have to exist but they do as providing evidence for God is something I find unfounded, so I will not devote any more words here to this subject. Many 'contingent' phenomena occur by natural causes, from earthquakes to snowflakes and I do not have to invoke God's will to explain them. What applies to earthquakes and snowflakes applies to the Universe. Just because I cannot yet explain the origin of the Universe does not imply the existence of God...again God of the Gaps.
5. Our Universe had a beginning, therefore God must have created it: Actually the issue of the beginning of the Universe is the only truly interesting question worth discussing here. A host of scientific arguments need to be discussed here, and there is no doubt the question of chicken and egg is a vexing one for cosmologists as well as theologians. However, let me make a few points here: (1) All things that begin may have a cause, even if the cause is rather obscure and purposeless. However, what is important to note is that every known physical effect whose cause we understand has a physical cause. There is no reason therefore to assume the same will not be true of our universe itself. (2) There are no arguments that our universe need be unique and not derived from something pre-existing, or even eternal. Indeed, the Ekpyrotic Universe promoted by Turok and Steinhardt, which I don't find compelling, argues for potentially eternal periods of expansion and contraction. Craig doesn't understand the physics. (2) I continued to try and explain that quantum gravity may imply that space and time themselves are created at the moment of the big bang. This is a rather remarkable statement if true. But if it is true, in the absence of time itself, how one can ascribe arguments based on causality is unclear at best.
This last point illustrates what I tried hardest to explain. Classical human reason, defined in terms of common sense notions following from our own myopic experience of reality is not sufficient to discern the workings of the Universe. If time begins at the big bang, then we will have to re-explore what we mean by causality, just as the fact that electrons can be in two places at the same time doing two different things at the same time as long as we are not measuring them is completely nonsensical, but true, and has required rethinking what we mean by particles. Similar arguments by the way imply that we often need to rethink what we actually mean by 'nothing', from empty space, to the absence of space itself.
What I hoped I could convey to the truly open minded intellects in the audience, of which of course Craig was not one, was that the amazing effort to understand how the universe works reveals wonders far more remarkable than those presented by Bronze age myths, developed before we had any clear understanding of how the universe works. Simply arguing that one doesn't understand the results, or doesn't like the results and therefore one has to resort to supernatural explanations, which was the crux of Craig's rather monotonous repetition of his syllogisms, is indeed intellectually lazy, as I did say at the time.
I have taken great effort to describe our actual understanding of the Universe and its implications for understanding how it might be possible for something to come from nothing, i.e. non-existence, in my new book, which will come out in January of 2012.
Dr. Krauss was evidently smarting after our debate on “Is There Evidence for God?” at North Carolina State! I have delayed responding to his comments, so that cooler heads might prevail.
When Is There Evidence for God?
I realized from the start that the question proposed for debate was unusual in that it did not ask whether God exists, but merely whether there is evidence for God. So what does it mean to say that there is evidence for the hypothesis that “God exists”? Probability theory defines this as saying that the probability of God’s existence is greater given certain facts than it would have been without them (Pr (G | E & B) > Pr (G | B)). Far from being “meaningless,” this construal of the question under debate should be non-controversial. Moreover, it does not presuppose a frequency model of probability, as Dr. Krauss seems to assume.
Dr. Krauss seems to think that I was arguing on the basis of the above that the probability of God’s existence is greater than 50% (Pr (G | E & B) > 0.5). But I explicitly said in my opening statement that I would not be discussing that probability. For that would involve assessing the so-called prior probability Pr (G | B) of God’s existence given the background information alone, thereby turning the debate into a debate over God’s existence, which was not the topic. Dr. Krauss seems to think that the prior probability of God’s existence is very low. I happen to disagree; but that assessment was irrelevant to our debate topic that evening.
Dr. Krauss caricatures my arguments as “God of the gaps” reasoning. But, as I explained, whatever scientific evidence I presented was not for God but for religiously neutral statements like “The universe began to exist” or “The fine-tuning is not due to physical necessity or chance.” These are obviously statements to which scientific evidence is relevant. They may then serve as premisses in a philosophical argument for a conclusion having religious significance. There is no gap here wanting to be filled. Moreover, as the second of these two examples illustrates, a defense of these premisses obviously involves an exploration of alternatives. Rather than misconstrue my arguments, Dr. Krauss needs to engage directly with the evidence I presented for these two premisses.
The Existence of Contingent Beings
It is distressing to me to see how completely an intelligent physicist misunderstood this classic argument for God’s existence. If even he can’t understand it, what hope is there for undergraduates? We can only hope that they have encountered the argument in an Intro to Philosophy course at some time and so have some inkling of what it is about. Obviously, one cannot explain why there are any contingent beings at all by appealing, as Dr. Krauss would, to a contingent being beyond the universe.
The Beginning of the Universe
Dr. Krauss belatedly presents three objections to this argument which he did not raise during the debate: (1) Every physical event has a physical cause. Notice that this is not an objection to either of the two premisses in the deductive formulation of the argument I gave. Therefore, it does nothing to defeat the conclusion that the universe has a cause. Once we have reached that conclusion, the question will then arise whether this cause can be physical. On the standard Big Bang model it cannot be physical, since spacetime begins at a cosmic singularity before which there was nothing, that is, not anything at all. That would give us good reason to think that not every physical effect must have a physical cause. I argued that even on viable non-standard cosmogonic models, the implication of the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem is that the universe and even the multiverse, should there be such a thing, had an absolute beginning. Therefore, we have good grounds for thinking that the cause is not physical.
(2) The Ekpyrotic Cyclic model of Paul Steinhardt and Neil Turock (which Krauss himself does not accept!) will avoid the beginning of the universe. The Ekpyrotic Cyclic model is precisely one of those higher dimensional “brane” cosmogonies covered by the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem.20 Therefore, it cannot be past eternal. (And I don’t understand the physics?)
(3) In certain quantum gravity models, space and time are created at the moment of the Big Bang itself. Exactly! That is why semi-classical models like the Hartle-Hawking “no boundary” proposal or Vilenkin’s “quantum tunneling” model support the premiss that the universe began to exist. What they do not and cannot do is explain how being can come from non-being. Dr. Krauss promises to tell us in January of 2012. I wait with bated breath.
Dr. Krauss adds that if time begins at the Big Bang, then we may need to re-think what we mean by causality itself. I suspect that he thinks so because he is working with some physically reductionistic analysis of causation. He is doubtless correct that such analyses will be exposed as untenable when called upon to explain the origin of the universe.21 But however challenging the beginning of the universe may be for such reductionistic analyses, it will not do anything to overturn the metaphysical principle that out of nothing nothing comes. Since I hold that the universe came about through an exercise of agent causality simultaneous with the beginning of the universe, Dr. Krauss would have to show that similar challenges would arise for my view.
The Fine-Tuning of the Universe
Prof. Krauss now appears to deny (not merely tries to explain) the fine-tuning of the universe. This is very surprising, since otherwise sober scientists would not be flocking to Many Worlds hypotheses to account for the fine-tuning if there were really nothing crying out for explanation. In the debate itself, I gave as examples of fine-tuning the subatomic weak force, the cosmological constant, and the low entropy condition of the early universe.
Dr. Krauss would appeal to inflationary scenarios to explain away the initial low entropy condition. But as Roger Penrose has insisted, any such explanation is “misconceived,” since the second law of thermodynamics will require that whatever condition existed prior to inflation in a single universe scenario will have a lower entropy than the post inflation phase,22 and in a multiverse scenario one must deal with the “invasion of the Boltzmann brains,” an objection which I pressed in the debate and on which Dr. Krauss was strangely and noticeably silent.
As for the cosmological constant, what Prof. Krauss fails to appreciate is that that constant exhibits what Robin Collins calls “one-sided” fine-tuning, that it is say, while it may be decreased without detriment to life, it cannot be much increased without catastrophe. It is exquisitely fine-tuned for intelligent, interactive agents in that its life-permitting range is unfathomably tiny compared to its range of possible values.
Dr. Krauss doesn’t respond to the example of the weak force. These three examples are just a few of the many constants and quantities that must be finely tuned if the universe is to permit intelligent, interactive life.
Dr. Krauss also denies that the universe is fine-tuned for life because “we have no idea if other values would allow other non-human-like intelligent life forms to evolve.” Why has this simple answer not convinced the majority of cosmologists today to simply dismiss fine-tuning? The reason is because in the absence of fine-tuning not even chemistry, not even matter would exist, much less planets where life might evolve and flourish. The simple answer underestimates the truly disastrous effect of altering the constants and quantities. Dr. Krauss may realize this, for he tries to justify the simple answer by saying, “we have no understanding of the locus of all possible intelligent life forms.” Now here we have a plain misunderstanding on his part. In dealing with fine-tuning we are not concerned with the loci of all possible life forms, but only with loci governed by the same laws of nature as ours (but with different values of the constants and quantities). That is why we can predict what the world would be like if the values of the constants and quantities were slightly altered. And the point is that almost all such worlds are bereft of intelligent, interactive agents, so that a world chosen randomly from the ensemble of worlds has no meaningful chance of being life-permitting.
Finally, Dr. Krauss appeals to the Many Worlds hypothesis to explain any fine-tuning that exists. He opines, “If there are many universes, . . . we would certainly expect to find ourselves only in those in which we can live.” This assertion is either trivial or patently false. The sense in which the consequent is true, namely, we cannot observe a universe incompatible with our existence, is trivial and independent of the antecedent clause. But if Dr. Krauss means to say that our observation of a highly improbable, fine-tuned universe is explained by a self-selection effect, namely, that observers must observe the universe to be fine-tuned, then his assertion is false because, as I explained in the debate, observable worlds populated with Boltzmann brains have not been shown to be improbable, in which case we have no reason whatsoever to expect to find ourselves in a world in which we embodied, interactive agents can live.
Objective Moral Values and Duties
Dr. Krauss apparently takes my Divine Command Theory to be a sort of voluntarism, according to which God arbitrarily makes up moral duties. But so to think is to be inattentive to what I said. On my view God is the paradigm (not merely an exemplification) of perfect goodness. He is essentially kind, compassionate, impartial, generous, and so forth, and His commands necessarily reflect his character. Therefore, there is no possible world in which He commands murder and rape to be our moral duties.
Why not dispense with God? Because then one has lost any foundation for objective moral values and duties. Notice that Dr. Krauss was at a complete loss to tell us why on his naturalistic view morality would be anything more than the subjective by-product of biological and social conditioning.
Dr. Krauss’ final complaint, that different religious groups have different moral views, is just irrelevant, first, because we are dealing, not with moral epistemology, but with moral ontology, and, second, because the existence of incorrect moral views does nothing at all to invalidate the view which is, in fact, correct.
The Historical Facts concerning Jesus of Nazareth
It is truly sobering to find an eminent physicist, one who teaches at a major state university, asserting such nonsense as that “there are historians who doubt the historical existence of Jesus himself.” If such an intelligent person can be so ignorant of historical studies and so easily induced to embrace this sort of drivel from the internet and YouTube, what hope is there for the average man?
Prof. Krauss once again shows himself to be inattentive to my argument. I did not assert that “most New Testament scholars believe in the resurrection.” I have no idea whether that is true. Rather I said that most New Testament scholars accept the historicity of the three facts I mentioned concerning the fate of Jesus: (i) the discovery of his empty tomb, (ii) the post-mortem appearances of Jesus, and (iii) his disciples’ coming to believe that God had raised him from the dead. These three facts are multiply and independently attested in very early sources and are consistent in their core. That’s why most historical scholars accept them on historical grounds, not out of theological conviction.
I then claimed that the resurrection of Jesus is the best explanation of these facts. Dr. Krauss evidently misunderstands the two steps of the argument. The willingness of disciples to die on behalf of the truth of their proclamation of the resurrection is evidence for fact (iii) mentioned above, not for the resurrection itself. Their willingness to die shows the sincerity of their belief, in contrast to the old conspiracy theories. Dr. Krauss claims that it is more probable that some conspiracy theory is true than that a miracle occurred. This merely reiterates his allegiance to Hume’s argument against the identification of miracles, which he mentioned in his first speech and which, as I explained, has been exposed as demonstrably fallacious in light of modern probability theory, most recently, for example, by the agnostic philosopher of science John Earman of the University of Pittsburgh in his Hume’s Abject Failure.23 (By the way, Dr. Krauss’ intimation that belief in Jesus’ resurrection derives from the influence of pagan myths is also based on scholarship that is over 100 years out of date.24) Dr. Krauss really doesn’t know what he’s talking about in this area.
I think it is evident that all of Prof. Krauss’ easy refutations misfire. Dr. Krauss is absolutely correct that these arguments involve subtle and interesting issues, and I hope that in the future he will make a genuine effort to engage more substantively with them.25
1 Michael Ruse, “Evolutionary Theory and Christian Ethics,” in The Darwinian Paradigm (London: Routledge, 1989), pp. 262-269.
2 Michael Ruse, Darwinism Defended (London: Addison-Wesley, 1982), p. 275.
3 Jacob Kremer, Die Osterevangelien--Geschichten um Geschichte (Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1977), pp. 49-50.
4 Gerd Lüdemann, What Really Happened to Jesus?, trans. John Bowden (Louisville, Kent.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), p. 8.
5 N. T. Wright, “The New Unimproved Jesus,” Christianity Today (September 13, 1993), p. 26.
9 Alex Vilenkin, Many Worlds in One (New York: Hill & Wang, 2006), p. 176.
10 Lawrence Krauss, “The Great Debate,” Nov. 6, 2010, http://thesciencenetwork.org/programs/the-great-debate/lawrence-krauss-2.
11 Sam Harris, The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values (New York: Free Press, 2010), p. 46, citing Donald Symons.
12 Krauss, “The Great Debate.”
14 Vilenkin, Many Worlds in One, p. 175.
15 Alexander Vilenkin to James Sinclair, 26 October, 2006.
16 James Sinclair, “The Kalam Cosmological Argument,” in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, ed. Wm. L. Craig and J. P. Moreland (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), p. 176.
17 Stephen Hawking and James Hartle, “The Wave Function of the Universe,” Physical Review D 28/12 (1983): 2966, 2962; cf. Alexander Vilenkin, “Quantum cosmology and eternal inflation”, in The Future of Theoretical Physics and Cosmology, proceedings of the conference in honor of Stephen Hawking's 60th birthday (2002), preprint: http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0204061.
18 Robin Collins, The Well-Tempered Universe (forthcoming).
19 Ernan McMullin, “Anthropic Explanation in Cosmology,” paper presented at University of Notre Dame, 2003.
20 See discussion of this and other models in William Lane Craig and James Sinclair, “The Kalam Cosmological Argument,” in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, ed. Wm. L. Craig and J. P. Moreland (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), pp. 101-201; see further William Lane Craig and James Sinclair, “On Non-Singular Spacetimes and the Beginning of the Universe,” in Scientific Approaches to Classical Issues in Philosophy of Religion, ed. Yujin Nagasawa (London: Macmillan, forthcoming).
21 Quentin Smith, “The Concept of a Cause of the Universe,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 23 (1993) 1-24.
22 Roger Penrose, The Road to Reality (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), pp. 762-5.
23 John Earman, Hume’s Abject Failure: The Argument against Miracles (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).
24 For an entertaining popular level exposé of this hypothesis, see Mark Foreman, “Challenging the ZEITGEIST Movie: Parallelomania on Steroids,” in Come, Let Us Reason, ed. Paul Copan and William Lane Craig (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2012), pp. 169-185.
25 All five of these arguments are explored in considerable depth in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, ed. Wm. L. Craig and J. P. Moreland (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009). On the contingency argument see Alexander Pruss, “The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument,” pp. 24-100; on the beginning of the universe see William Lane Craig and James Sinclair, “The Kalam Cosmological Argument,” pp. 101-201; on fine-tuning see Robin Collins, “The Teleological Argument: An Exploration of the Fine-Tuning of the Universe,” pp. 202-281; on the moral argument see Mark D. Linville, “The Moral Argument,” pp. 391-448; and on the resurrection of Jesus see Timothy and Lydia McGrew, “The Argument from Miracles: A Cumulative Case for the Resurrection,” pp. 593-662. As hard as it may be for the uninitiated to believe, Dr. Krauss has scarcely scratched the surface of these arguments.