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Does God Exist? The Craig-Hitchens Debate

April 2009

William Lane Craig vs. Christopher Hitchens

Biola University, La Mirada, California - April 4, 2009


Good evening, and welcome to Biola University. My name is Craig Hazen, and I’m the Director of the Master of Arts in Christian Apologetics here. And I’m honored to be the host tonight to get things started. Although the gym is packed with nearly 3000 people—and it looks like you are stuffed in here pretty well—and my condolences to those of you who’ve already been sitting an hour and have another couple of hours to go. Hang in there! Hang in there! But you are not the only ones watching. There are thousands of people in other venues on this campus. Not only that, there are people in overflow sites across the country and around the world. We have people in 30 states in 4 different countries watching this, and a special greeting to all of you who are watching across campus and in places such as Stockholm and Sri Lanka. I hope you really enjoy this.

A special greeting to some distinguished guests tonight: William Lane Craig’s wife, Jan, is here. Jan, it’s good to see you. Betsy Hewitt is here. My wife Karen Hazen is here. Dr. Barry Corey, the University President is here. Yes, we’ve got distinguished philosophers all over the place: Doug Geivett, J. P. Moreland—Hi, Hope!—his wife. Good. All right. We’re thrilled all of you could come. Well, this event was initiated by the Associated Students of Biola University, and it makes sense that A.S. President, Eric Weaver, should give a quick welcome on behalf of the student body. Eric, come on up.

Weaver: Good evening everyone. Biola is a one-hundred-year-old Christian University, which desires to wrestle with big questions in an honest and open way. In my senior year, my A.S. colleague, Mark Keith, and I thought we should sponsor a blockbuster event that pursues the biggest question of all: Is it reasonable to believe that God exists? A proposal was presented to the Senate, and the student body heartily agreed. So we invited two acclaimed academic leaders in this area: William Lane Craig and Christopher Hitchens. And along with the wonderful people from the Apologetics Program, we’re thrilled to see it on display tonight. On behalf of the students of Biola, I hope you really enjoy this event. Thank you.

Hazen: Thank you for representing the students, Eric. You are a senior—how is that job search going in this economy? Is that going well? Well, we will give you some help. Oh no, our career services on Biola: first rank! Thank you. Well, the students got this going. But there is one other important sponsor, and that is the program that I direct: the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics. If you like wrestling with the big questions: the existence of God, evidence for the resurrection, the problem of evil, the historical reliability of the Bible, reconciling science and faith, this really is a degree program for you. And if you are watching at a distance and you are thinking I can’t do it because you don’t live in southern California, that’s not the case. We have this amazing distance learning program, and it’s really open to anybody. And you don’t need to relocate to Southern California, although it was a very nice day today. You might want to consider it, although they’ve just taxed us into oblivion, so you may want to reconsider that. If you want to find out about these programs, check out B-I-O-L-A.E-D-U and go to the Christian Apologetics page on that site. Well, how is this all going to work tonight? It’s pretty straightforward. In fact, your handy-dandy program will tell you what’s going on right up at the top inside panel. The Program numbers 1 through 8. It will guide you through what’s taking place every step of the way during the debate. So take a look at that.

Toward the end, we will have some time for questions, but as you notice, there is no microphone sitting up in the aisles. We are going to throw it open to the students—we have a student section up there. Bravo! Students of all stripes! Now, it’s your job tonight to think of some tough questions. And I expect you to actually vet them; that is, you may have learned in school that there is no such thing as a dumb question. That is not true! O.K. Not to intimidate you, but check it out. Do peer review. If you come up with a question, run it by the person next to you on either side, and let’s see how it goes. So we will throw it open for some Q&A time, and our thoughtful moderator will make sure it goes well. All right.

Well, when we are done tonight, there is one other thing you need to be considering and that is getting outside of this building to the pavilion right outside here and several places along the walkway to pick up the featured books tonight. One is God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens and another one is Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig, these are the featured books. Pick them up, and you can actually have them signed. To have them signed, just walk out this building and look for all the lights. And there are some tables out there, and our distinguished debaters will be out there signing books and answering your toughest questions right there at the table—I’m sure. If you have got a lot of books at home—in fact, you own a book so you don’t need another one—perhaps you can buy some DVDs or CDs of some dynamite debates and lectures that Bill Craig has done around the world. These are first ranked materials, and our Apologetics Program is actually the center point for getting all of these. So if you want to get them tonight, they’ve got wonderful special deals. Check out the red flyer in your brochure, and that will tell you the scoop. You can even pre-order tonight’s debate, if you’d like to get a copy of it. If it’s something you want to share with a lot of people, you can: pre-order it tonight, fill out the form, take it to the table, and they will move you right through.

Well, we’re delighted to have Mr. Hitchens here on campus, but we realized that we theists certainly have the home court advantage. I mean being in the basketball court, that makes a lot of sense. After all, it’s a Christian University, and [it] even says, “All . . . Glory to God” or something above the bleachers there. So, clearly this is a home court advantage for the theists. And I imagine the crowd here is over two-thirds Evangelical Christians, although I’m thrilled to see the atheists and agnostics community turn out wearing t-shirts. I love that! Yeah, absolutely, yeah [to members of the audience]! I was lecturing at the University of South Florida a few weeks ago, and the entire atheist club came outwearing t-shirts. And we had the best time ever, so I expect the same tonight. Well, since we have the home court advantage, those of you who are theists—believers in God—please let’s be polite to Christopher Hitchens. He is known to say a provocative thing or two. So if you could practice your polite golf clap [demonstrates a golf clap]. All right? Let’s practice it. Practice that. No shouting. No hooting. There will be plenty of opportunity for it, but let’s restrain ourselves. And those of you who are from the atheist and agnostic community, again, no shouting, no hooting, no hollering. In fact Mr. Hitchens, I can guarantee, doesn’t really need a lot of help. I just saw a video of him debating four prominent Evangelical theists in Dallas, and it really wasn’t fair. We needed more theists on the panel. So I think he will do just fine. But we’re grateful for him to come to sort of . . . what, the pit of opposition at Biola University! But we’re grateful to really open up the doors and run through these big, important questions. And if the debate is not resolved at the end, this is a basketball court for goodness sakes, we will lower the hoops, we will turn up the lights and we will let them go one-on-one. Yes, I hear Chris has game, so we will see how that goes.

Well let’s get to it. It’s my pleasure to introduce our moderator of the debate tonight, and he’ll get this party started. Hugh Hewitt, yes Hugh Hewitt. Hugh is a law professor and broadcast journalist whose nationally syndicated radio show is heard in more than one hundred and twenty cities across the United States every weekday by more than two million listeners. Not only locally, this program is heard on KRLA, which is 870 AM, and it goes from three to six—great program. In fact, I think it’s one of the most important, smartest, fast-paced news and issues program on the airwaves today, so check that out. If you live in our outlying regions, check to find out where he is broadcasting or podcasting. Professor Hewitt is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Michigan Law School. He has been teaching Constitutional Law at Chapman University Law School since it opened in 1995. He was a frequent guest on all the big cable news networks. And he has written for the most important newspapers in the country. He has received three Emmys for his groundbreaking television work and is the author of eight books including two bestsellers. Professor Hewitt served for nearly six years in the Reagan administration in a variety of posts including Assistant Counsel in the White House and special assistant to two Attorney Generals. Don’t miss his daily blog at He has always been so very generous with his time toward events like these at Biola, and we are deeply grateful for his help here tonight. Join me in welcoming our moderator, Professor Hugh Hewitt.

Moderator: Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Number one, please turn off your cellphones; I repeat, please turn off your cellphones. Number two, gentlemen to the extent that any of you have jackets that are still on, please as Ronald Reagan once used to say, “Feel free to just throw them on the floor. It is a little bit warm in here.” Our guests, by virtue of this crowd, it is obvious needs no introduction. I am not going to waste time then on elaborate introductions. I just wish to thank them both for being willing to participate in this most important of conversations.

It is the best of times—it is the best of times for those who like to argue about God in the public square, largely because of the rise of new atheists such as Mr. Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, my friend William Lobdell and others who have once again put [at] the center of the public stage the question of whether or not God does exist and whether or not Jesus Christ is His son. And it is up to people like William Lane Craig—prolific author, much beloved professor—here to enter into that conversation in a way that’s both persuasive and winsome. And so without further ado, allow me to welcome up Vanity Fair columnist, prolific author, my friend, and champion of freedom, Christopher Hitchens. And from this extraordinary lighthouse institution, another prolific author and apologist, a scholar extraordinaire who, like Mr. Hitchens, has his Ph.D. from a wonderful English University, Professor William Lane Craig. Please, Professor.

It’s a very structured debate according to classical lines until the questions at the end. We begin with an opening argument [of] twenty minutes to Professor Craig—Professor.

Dr. Craig - Opening Speech

Good evening! I am very excited to be participating in this debate tonight. Jan and I used to sit in those very bleachers right over there watching our son John run up and down this court as a forward on the Biola Eagles, and so I feel like I'm playing on the home court tonight.

And I want to commend Mr. Hitchens for his willingness to come into this den of lambs and to defend his views tonight. On the other hand, if I know Biola students, I suspect that a good many of you, when you came in tonight, said to yourself, "I'm going to check my own views at the door, and I'm going to assess the arguments as objectively as possible." I welcome that challenge.

You see the question of God's existence is of interest not only to religion but also to philosophy. Now Mr. Hitchens has made it clear that he despises and disdains religion, but presumably he is not so contemptuous of philosophy. Therefore, as a professional philosopher, I'm going to approach tonight's question philosophically from the standpoint of reason and argument. I'm convinced that there are better arguments for theism than for atheism. So in tonight's debate I'm going to defend two basic contentions: First, that there's no good argument that atheism is true, and secondly, that there are good arguments that theism is true.

Now, notice carefully the circumscribed limits of those contentions. We're not here tonight to debate the social impact of religion, or Old Testament ethics, or biblical inerrancy—all interesting and important topics, no doubt, but not the subject of tonight's debate, which is the existence of God.

Consider then my first contention, that there's no good argument that atheism is true. Atheists have tried for centuries to disprove the existence of God, but no one's ever been able to come up with a successful argument. So rather than attack straw men at this point, I'll just wait to hear Mr. Hitchens present his arguments against God's existence, and then I will respond to them in my next speech. In the meantime, let's turn to my second main contention that there are good arguments that theism is true. On your program insert, I outline some of those arguments.

1. The Cosmological Argument

The question of why anything at all exists is the most profound question of philosophy. The philosopher Derek Parfit says, “No question is more sublime than why there is a universe: why there is anything rather than nothing.” [1] Typically, atheists have answered this question by saying that the universe is just eternal and uncaused, but there are good reasons, both philosophically and scientifically, to think that the universe began to exist. Philosophically, the idea of an infinite past seems absurd. Just think about it, if the universe never began to exist that means that the number of past events in the history of the universe is infinite. But mathematicians recognize that the existence of an actually infinite number of things leads to self-contradictions. For example, what is infinity minus infinity? Well, mathematically you get self-contradictory answers. This shows that infinity is just an idea in your mind, not something that exists in reality.

David Hilbert, perhaps the greatest mathematician of the twentieth century, wrote, “The infinite is nowhere to be found in reality. It neither exists in nature, nor provides a legitimate basis for rational thought. The role that remains for the infinite to play is solely that of an idea.” [2] But that entails that since past events are not just ideas, but are real, the number of past events must be finite. Therefore, the series of past events can't go back forever. Rather, the universe must have begun to exist.

This conclusion has been confirmed by remarkable discoveries in astronomy and astrophysics. In one of the most startling developments of modern science, we now have pretty strong evidence that the universe is not eternal in the past but had an absolute beginning about thirteen billion years ago in a cataclysmic event known as the Big Bang. What makes the Big Bang so startling is that it represents the origin of the universe from literally nothing; for all matter and energy, even physical space and time themselves, came into being at the Big Bang. As the physicist P. C. W. Davies explains, “The coming into being of the universe, as discussed in modern science . . . is not just a matter of imposing some sort of organization . . . upon a previous incoherent state, but literally the coming into being of all physical things from nothing.” [3]

Now, this puts the atheist in a very awkward position. As Anthony Kenny of Oxford University urges, “A proponent of the Big Bang theory, at least if he is an atheist, must believe that the universe came from nothing and by nothing.” [4]

But surely that doesn't make sense. Out of nothing, nothing comes. So why does the universe exist instead of just nothing? Where did it come from? There must have been a cause which brought the universe into being.

Now as the cause of space and time, this being must be an uncaused, timeless, spaceless, immaterial being of unfathomable power. Moreover, it must be personal as well. Why? Because the cause must be beyond space and time, therefore it cannot be physical or material. Now, there are only two kinds of things that fit that description: either an abstract object, like numbers, or else a personal mind. But abstract objects can't cause anything. Therefore, it follows that the cause of the universe is a transcendent, intelligent mind. Thus, the cosmological argument gives us a personal creator of the universe.

2. The Teleological Argument

In recent decades, scientists have been stunned by the discovery that the initial conditions of the Big Bang were fine-tuned for the existence of intelligent life with a precision and delicacy that literally defy human comprehension. This fine-tuning is of two sorts. First, when the laws of nature are expressed as mathematical equations, you find appearing in them certain constants, like the gravitational constant. These constants are not determined by the laws of nature. The laws of nature are consistent with a wide range of values for these constants. Second, in addition to these constants, there are certain arbitrary quantities put in as initial conditions on which the laws of nature operate; for example, the amount of entropy or the balance between matter and anti-matter in the universe.

Now, all of these constants and quantities fall into an extraordinarily narrow range of life permitting values. Were these constants or quantities to be altered by less than a hair's breadth, the balance would be destroyed and life would not exist. To give just one example, the atomic weak force, if it were altered by as little as one part out of 10100, would not have permitted a life-permitting universe.

Now, there are three possible explanations of this remarkable fine-tuning: physical necessity, chance or design. Now it can't be due to physical necessity because the constants and quantities are independent of the laws of nature. In fact, string theory predicts that there are around 10 to the 500th power different possible universes consistent with nature's laws. So could the fine-tuning be due to chance? Well, the problem with this alternative is that the odds against the fine-tunings occurring by accident are so incomprehensibly great that they cannot be reasonably faced. The probability that all the constants and quantities would fall by chance alone into the infinitesimal life-permitting range is vanishingly small. We now know that life-prohibiting universes are vastly more probable than any life-permitting universe. So if the universe were the product of chance, the odds are overwhelming that it would be life prohibiting.

In order to rescue the alternative of chance, its proponents have therefore been forced to resort to a radical metaphysical hypothesis; namely, that there exists an infinite number of randomly ordered, undetectable universes composing a sort of world ensemble or multiverse of which our universe is but a part. Somewhere in this infinite world ensemble, finely-tuned universes will appear by chance alone, and we happen to be one such world. Now wholly apart from the fact that there's no independent evidence that such a world ensemble even exists, the hypothesis faces a devastating objection, namely, if our universe is just a random member of an infinite world ensemble then it is overwhelmingly more probable that we should be observing a much different universe than what we in fact observe. Roger Penrose has calculated that it is inconceivably more probable that our solar system should suddenly form through a random collision of particles than that a finely-tuned universe should exist. Penrose calls it "utter chicken feed" [5] by comparison. So, if our universe were just a random member of a world ensemble, it is inconceivably more probable that we should be observing an orderly region no larger than our solar system. Observable universes like those are simply much more plenteous in the world ensemble than finely-tuned worlds like ours, and therefore ought to be observed by us. Since we do not have such observations, that fact strongly disconfirms the multiverse hypothesis. On atheism, at least, then it is highly probable that there is no world ensemble.

The fine-tuning of the universe is therefore plausibly due neither to physical necessity nor to chance.

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

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

It therefore follows logically that the best explanation is design.

3. Therefore, it is due to design

Thus, the teleological argument gives us an intelligent designer of the cosmos.

3. The Moral Argument.

If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist. By objective moral values, I mean moral values which are valid and binding whether we believe in them or not. Many theists and atheists agree that if God does not exist then moral values are not objective in this way. Michael Ruse, a noted philosopher of science, explains:

The position of the modern evolutionist is that . . . morality is a biological adaptation, no less than our hands and feet and teeth. Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate that when someone says, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself,’ they think they are referring above and beyond themselves. Nevertheless, . . . such reference is truly without foundation, morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction . . . and any deeper meaning is illusory. [6]

Like Professor Ruse, I just don't see any reason to think that in the absence of God, the morality which has emerged among these imperfectly evolved primates we call Homo sapiens is objective. And here Mr. Hitchens seems to agree with me. He says moral values are just “innate predispositions,” [7] ingrained into us by evolution. Such predispositions, he says, are “inevitable” for “any animal . . . endowed with . . . social instincts.” [8] On the atheistic view, then, an action like rape is not socially advantageous, and so in the course of human development has become taboo. But that does absolutely nothing to prove that rape is really morally wrong. On the atheistic view, there's nothing really wrong with raping someone.

But the problem is that objective values do exist and deep down we all know it. In moral experience, we apprehend a realm of objective moral goods and evils. Actions like rape, cruelty, and child abuse aren't just socially unacceptable behavior. They are moral abominations. Some things, at least, are really wrong. Similarly, love, equality, and self-sacrifice are really good, but then it follows logically and necessarily that God exists.

4. The Resurrection of Jesus.

The historical person Jesus of Nazareth was a remarkable individual. Historians have reached something of a consensus that the historical Jesus came on the scene with an unprecedented sense of divine authority, the authority to stand and speak in God's place. He claimed that in Himself the Kingdom of God had come, and as visible demonstrations of this fact He carried out a ministry of miracle working and exorcisms.

But the supreme confirmation of His claim was His resurrection from the dead. If Jesus did rise from the dead, 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 in, by faith or not, but there are actually three established facts recognized by the majority of New Testament historians today, which I believe are best explained by the resurrection of Jesus.

Fact #1: On the Sunday after His crucifixion, Jesus' tomb was discovered 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.” [9]

Fact #2: On separate occasions, different individuals in groups experienced appearances of Jesus alive after his death.

According to the prominent New Testament critic Gerd Lüdemann, “It may be taken as historically certain that the disciples had experiences after Jesus' death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.” [10] 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 dying, much less rising, Messiah. And Jewish beliefs about the afterlife prohibited anyone's rising from the dead before the resurrection at the end of the world. Nevertheless, the original disciples came to believe so strongly that God had raised Jesus from the dead that they were willing to die for the truth of that belief. N.T. Wright, an eminent New Testament scholar, concludes, “That is why, as a historian, I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity unless Jesus rose again, leaving an empty tomb behind him.” [11]

Attempts to explain away these three great facts—like the disciples stole the body or Jesus wasn't really dead—have been universally rejected by contemporary scholarship. The simple fact is that there just is no plausible, naturalistic explanation of these facts. And therefore it seems to me the Christian is amply justified in believing that Jesus rose from the dead and was who he claimed to be. But that entails that God exists.

5. The Immediate Experience of God.

This isn't really an argument for God's existence; rather it's the claim that you can know that God exists wholly apart from argument simply by immediately experiencing him. Philosophers call beliefs like these properly basic beliefs. They aren't based on other beliefs; rather they are part of the foundation of a person's system of beliefs. Other properly basic beliefs include the belief in the reality of the external world, the belief in the existence of the past, and the presence of other minds like your own. When you think about it, none of these beliefs can be proven. But although these sorts of beliefs are basic for us, that doesn't mean they are arbitrary. Rather, they are grounded in the sense that they are formed in the context of certain experiences. In the experiential context of seeing and hearing and feeling things, I naturally form the belief in a world of physical objects. And thus my beliefs are not arbitrary, but appropriately grounded in experience. They are not merely basic but properly basic. In the same way, belief in God is, for those who know him, a properly basic belief grounded in our experience of God.

Now, if this is right, there is a danger that arguments for God's existence could actually distract your attention from God himself. If you are sincerely seeking God, then God will make his existence evident to you. We must not so concentrate on the external arguments that we fail to hear the inner voice of God speaking to our own hearts. For those who listen, God becomes an immediate reality in their lives.

So, in conclusion then, we've seen five good arguments to think that God exists. If Mr. Hitchens wants us to believe instead that God does not exist, then he must first tear down all five of the arguments that I presented, and then in their place erect a case of his own to prove that God does not exist. Unless and until he does that, I think that theism is the more plausible worldview.

Mr. Hitchens - Opening Speech

Well, am I audible? Am I audible to all? Yes. Well, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades, friends, thanks for coming out—as Senator Larry Craig actually did say at his press conference. Thank you, Mr. Hewitt and Dr. Craig, for being among the very many—very, very many—Christians who have so generously and hospitably and warmly taken me up on the challenge I issued when I started my little book tour, and welcomed me to your places to have this most important of all discussions. I can't express my gratitude enough. And thanks to the very nice young ladies who I ran into at The Elephant Bar this afternoon where I hadn't expected a posse of Biola students to be on staff, but where I thought, "God, they’re everywhere now!"

Now, what I have discovered in voyaging around this country and others in this debate—and debating with Hindus, with Muslims, with Jews, with Christians of all stripes—is that the arguments are all essentially the same for belief in the supernatural, for belief in faith, for belief in God, but that there are very interesting and noteworthy discrepancies between them. And one that I want to call attention to, at the beginning of this evening, is between those like my friend Doug Wilson—with whom I've now done a book of argument about Christian apologetics—who would call himself a presuppositionalist. In other words, for whom really it's only necessary to discover the workings of God's will in the cosmos and to assume that the truth of Christianity is already proven. And what are called, they include Dr. Craig with great honor and respect in this, the evidentialists.

Now, I want to begin by saying that this distinction strikes me first as a very charming distinction, and second as false, or perhaps as a distinction without a difference. Well, why do I say charming? Because I think it's rather sweet that people of faith also think they ought to have some evidence. And I think it is progress of a kind. After all, if we had been having this debate in the mid-nineteenth century, Professor Craig or his equivalent would have known little or probably nothing about the laws of physics and biology, maybe even less than I know now, which is to say quite a lot in its way. And they would have grounded themselves—or he would have grounded himself—on faith, on Scripture, on revelation, on the prospect of salvation, on the means of grace, and the hope of glory, and perhaps on Paley's natural theology.

Paley, who had the same rooms, or had had the same rooms later occupied by Charles Darwin in Cambridge—with his watchmaker theory of design that I know I don't have to expound to you, but which briefly suggests that if an aborigine is walking along a beach and finds a gold watch ticking, he knows not what it is for or where it came from or who made it. But he knows it is not a rock. He knows it is not a vegetable. He knows it must have had a designer. The Paley analogy held for most Christians for many years because they were willing to make the assumption that we were mechanisms, and that therefore, there must be a watchmaker.

But now that it has been—here's where the presuppositionalist-versus-evidentialist dichotomy begins to kick in—now it has been rather painstakingly and elaborately demonstrated to the satisfaction of most people—I don't want to just use arguments from authority—but it's not very much contested any more, that we are not designed as creatures, but that we evolved by a rather laborious combination of random mutation and natural selection into the species that we are today. It is, of course, open to the faithful to say that all this was—now that they come to know it, now that it becomes available to everybody, now that they think about it, and now that they've stopped opposing it or trying to ban it—then they can say, ah, actually, on second thought, the evolution was all part of the design.

Well, as you will recognize, ladies and gentlemen, there are some arguments I can't be expected to refute or rebut because there's no way around that argument. I mean, if everything—including evolution, which isn't a design—is nonetheless part of a divine design, then all the advantage goes to the person who's willing to believe that. That cannot be disproved. But it does seem to me a very poor, very weak argument because the test of a good argument is that it is falsifiable not that it's unfalsifiable. So this I would therefore—this tactic or this style of argument which we've had some evidence of this evening—I would rebaptize, or might I dare say I would rechristen it as retrospective evidentialism. In other words, everything can, in due time—if you have enough faith—be made to fit.

And you too, are all quite free to believe that a sentient creator deliberately, consciously put himself—a being—put himself or herself or itself to the trouble of going through huge epochs of birth and death of species, over eons of time, in which ninety-nine percent—in the course of which at least ninety-nine point nine percent—of all species, all life forms, ever to have appeared on earth have become extinct, as we nearly did as a species ourselves.

I invite you to look up the very alarming and beautiful and brilliant account by the National Geographic's coordinator of the genome project. By the way, you should send in your little sample from the inside of you cheek and have your African ancestry traced. It's absolutely fascinating to follow the mitochondrial DNA that we all have in common and that we have in common with other species, other primates, and other life forms, and find out where in Africa you came from.

But there came a time, probably about one hundred and eighty thousand years ago, when, due to a terrible climatic event, probably in Indonesia, an appalling global warming crisis occurred, and the estimate is that the number of humans in Africa went down to between forty and thirty thousand. This close, this close—think about fine-tuning—this close to joining every other species that had gone extinct. And that's our Exodus story, is that somehow—we don't know how because it's not written in any Scripture, it's not told in any book, it's not part of any superstitious narrative, but somehow the escape from Africa to cooler latitudes was made. But that's how close it was.

You have to be able to imagine that all this mass extinction and death and randomness is the will of a being. You are absolutely free to believe that if you wish. And all of this should happen so that one very imperfect race of evolved primates should have the opportunity to become Christians or to turn up at this gym tonight, that all of that was done with us in view. It is a curious kind of solipsism; it is a curious kind of self-centeredness. I was always brought up to believe that Christians were modest and humble, and comported themselves with due humility and this—there's a certain arrogance to this assumption that all of this, all of this extraordinary development was all about us, and we were the intended and desired result. And everything else was in the discard. The tremendous wastefulness of it, the tremendous cruelty of it, the tremendous caprice of it, the tremendous tinkering and incompetence of it—never mind, at least we're here and we can be people of faith.

It doesn't work me. I have to simply say that. And I think there may be questions of psychology involved in this as well. Believe it if you can, I can't stop you. Believe it if you like, you are welcome. It's obviously impossible, as I said before, to disprove. And it equally, obviously helps you to believe it if, as we all are, you are in the happy position of knowing the outcome. In other words, we are here. But there's a fallacy lurking in there somewhere too, is there not?

Now it's often said—it was said tonight, and Dr. Craig said it in print—that atheists think they can prove the nonexistence of God. This, in fact, very slightly but crucially misrepresents what we've always said. And there's nothing new about the New Atheists; it's just we're recent. There's nothing particularly new. Dr. Victor Stenger, a great scientist, has written a book called The Failed Hypothesis, which he says he thinks that science can now license the claim that there definitely is no God. But he is unique in that, and I think very bold and courageous.

Here's what we argue: We argue quite simply that there's no plausible or convincing reason, certainly no evidential one, to believe that there is such an entity. And that all observable phenomena, including the cosmological one to which I'm coming, are explicable without the hypothesis. You don't need the assumption. And this objection itself, our school falls into at least two perhaps three sections: there's no such thing—no such word, though there should be—as adeism or as being an adeist, but if there was one I would say that is what I was.

I don't believe that we are here as the result of a design, or that by making the appropriate propitiations and adopting the appropriate postures and following the appropriate rituals, we can overcome death. I don't believe that, and for a priori reasons don't. If there was such a force, which I cannot prove by definition that there was not, if there was an entity that was responsible for the beginning of the cosmos and that also happened to be busily engineering the very laborious product (production of life on our little planet), it still wouldn't prove that this entity cared about us, answered prayers, cared what church we went to, or whether we went to one at all, cared who we had sex with or in what position or by what means, cared what we ate or on what day, cared whether we lived or died. There's no reason at all why this entity isn't completely indifferent to us. You cannot get from deism to theism except by a series of extraordinarily generous—to yourself—assumptions. The deist has all his work still ahead of him to show that it leads to revelation, to redemption, to salvation or to suspensions of the natural order; in which, hitherto, you'd be putting all of your faith—all your evidence is on scientific and natural evidence.

Or why not, for a change of pace and a change of taste, say, "Yes, but sometimes this same natural order, which is so miraculous in observation, no question about it, is so impressive in its favoring the conditions for life in some ways, but it is randomly suspended when miracles are required." So with caprice and contempt these laws turn out to be not so important after all, as long as the truth of religion can be proved by their being rendered inoperative. This is having it both ways in the most promiscuous and exorbitant manner, in my submission.

Bear in mind also that these are not precisely the differences between Dr. Craig and myself, I mean, morally or intellectually equivalent claims. After all, Dr. Craig, to win this argument, has to believe and prove to a certainty. He is not just saying there might be a God because he has to say there must be one, otherwise we couldn't be here and there couldn't be morality. It's not a contingency for him. I have to say that I appear as a skeptic who believes that doubt is the great engine (the great fuel of all inquiry, all discovery, and all innovation), and that I doubt these things.

The disadvantage, it seems to me, in the argument goes to the person who says, "No, I know. I know it. It must be true; it is true." We're too early in the study of physics and biology, it seems to me, to be dealing in certainties of that kind, especially when the stakes are so high. It seems to me, to put it in a condensed form: extraordinary claims—such as the existence of a Divine Power with a Son who cares enough to come and redeem us—extraordinary claims require truly extraordinary evidence. I don't think any of the evidence we heard from Dr. Craig, brilliantly marshalled as it was, was extraordinary enough to justify the extreme claims that are being made and backed by it.

"Hypocrisy," said La Rochefoucauld, "is the compliment that vice pays to virtue." [12] Retrospective evidentialism strikes me in something of the same sort of light. It's a concession made to the need for fact. Maybe we better have some evidence to go along with our faith, but look what Dr. Craig says in his book. He says—I'll quote directly—he says, “Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then it is the former which must take precedence over the latter.” [13] He adds not vice-versa, but a good editor, I think, would've told you, you don't have to put the vice-versa in, it's clear enough as it is. I'll say it again, "Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence then it is the former, which must take precedence over the latter." That's not evidentialism, that's just faith. It's a priori belief. It's rephrased in another edition. It says:

"Therefore, the role of rational argumentation in knowing Christianity to be true is the role of a servant. A person knows Christianity is true because the Holy Spirit tells him it is true, and while argument and evidence can be used to support this conclusion, they cannot legitimately overrule it." [14]

Now, then he goes on to say:

"The Bible says all men are without excuse. Even those who are given no . . . reason to believe and many persuasive reasons to disbelieve have no excuse, because the ultimate reason they do not believe is that they have deliberately rejected God's Holy Spirit." [15]

That would have to be me. But you see where this lands you, ladies and gentlemen, with the Christian apologetic, you are told you are a miserable sinner who is without excuse, you have disappointed your God who made you, and you have been so ungrateful as to rebel. You are contemptible. You are wormlike. But you can take heart; the whole universe was designed with just you in mind. These two claims are not just mutually exclusive, but I think they are intended to compensate each other's cruelty and, ultimately, absurdity. In other words, evidence is an occasional convenience.

“Seek, and ye shall find.” [16] I remember being told that in church many a time as a young lad. “Seek, and ye shall find.” I thought it was a sinister injunction because it's all too likely to be true. We are pattern-seeking mammals and primates. If we can't get good evidence, we will go for junk evidence. If we can't get a real theory, we will go with a conspiracy theory. You see it all the time. Religion's great strength is that it was the first of our attempts to explain reality, to make those patterns take some kind of form. It deserves credit. It was our first attempt at astronomy, our first attempt at cosmology; in some ways our first attempt at medicine, our first attempt at literature, our first attempt at philosophy. Good! While there was nothing else, it had many functional uses of that kind. Never mind that they didn't know that germs caused disease, maybe evil spirits caused disease. Maybe disease is a punishment. Never mind that they believed in astrology rather than astronomy—even Thomas Aquinas believed in astrology. Never mind that they believed in devils. Never mind that things like volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tidal waves were thought of as punishments, not as natural occurrences on the cooling crust of a planet. The pattern seeking has gone too far. And it's gone, I think, much too far with what was, until recently, thought of as Christianity's greatest failure, greatest of all failures: cosmology. The one thing Christianity knew nothing about and taught the most abject nonsense about. For most of its lifetime, Christianity taught that the earth itself was the center of the universe, and we had been given exclusive dominion as a species over it—could not have been more wrong!

How are we going to square the new cosmology, the fantastic new discoveries in physics, with the old dogmas? Well, one is the idea of this fine-tuning—about which I've only left myself three and a half minutes. I'll have to refer some of this to later in the discussion. This is essentially another form of pattern seeking on the basis of extremely limited evidence.

Most physicists are very uncertain—as they have every right to be—in fact, I would say for physicists as they have the duty to be, at the moment, extremely uncertain about the spatio-temporal dimensions of the original episode: the Big Bang, as it's sometimes called. We're in the very, very early stages of this enquiry. We hardly know what we don't know about the origins of the universe. We're viewing it from an unimaginable distance, not just an unimaginable distance in space perched on a tiny rock on an extremely small suburb of a fairly minor galaxy, trying to look to discern our origins, but also at a very unbelievable distance in time. And we claim the right to say, "Ah, we can see the finger of God in this process." It's an extraordinarily arrogant assumption. It either deserves a Nobel Prize in physics—which it hasn't yet got, I notice. I don't know any physicist who believes these assumptions are necessary—or it deserves a charge of hubris. Let me make three tiny quick objections to it as it stands, and I'm no more a physicist than most of you are. I'll make these lay objections.

One: Was there pre-existing material for this extra-spatio-temporal being to work with, or did he just will it into existence, the ex nihilo? Who designed the designer? Don't you run the risk with the presumption of a god and a designer and an originator of asking, "Well, where does that come from? Where does that come from?" and locking yourself into an infinite regress? Why are there so many shooting stars, collapsed suns, failed galaxies we can see? We can see with the aid of a telescope, sometimes we can see with the naked eye the utter failure, the total destruction of gigantic, unimaginable sweeps of outer space. Is this fine-tuning, or is it extremely random, capricious, cruel, mysterious, and incompetent?

And have you thought of the nothingness that's coming? We know we have something now, and we speculate about what it might have come from. And there's a real question about ex nihilo, but nihilo is coming to us. In the night sky, you can already see the Andromeda galaxy; it's heading straight for ours on a collision course. Is that part of a design? Was it fine-tuned to do that? We know that from the red light shift of the Hubble telescope, or rather Edwin Hubble's original discovery, the universe is expanding away from itself at a tremendous rate. It was thought that rate would go down for Newtonian reasons. No, it's recently been proved by Professor Lawrence Krauss the rate of expansion is increasing; everything's exploding away even faster. Nothingness is certainly coming. Who designed that? That's all if before these things happen, we don't have the destruction of our own little solar system in which already there's only one planet where anything like life can possibly be supported. All the other planets are too hot or too cold to support any life at all. And the sun is due to swell up, burn us to a crisp, boil our oceans, and die—as we've seen all the other suns do in the night sky. This is not fine-tuning, ladies and gentlemen. And if it's the work of a designer, then there's an indictment to which that designer may have to be subjected.

I'm out of time. I'm very grateful for your kindness and hospitality.

Thank you.

Dr. Craig - First Rebuttal

You'll remember that in my opening speech I said I would defend two basic contentions in tonight's debate. First, that there's no good argument that atheism is true. Now far from being a point of contention tonight, as far as I understood Mr. Hitchens' last speech, he would agree with that first statement that there is no good argument that atheism is true. He says, I simply don't have any positive reason to believe in God, but he doesn't really give an argument against God's existence. Indeed, he seems to suggest that's impossible. But notice that doesn't prove atheism. That just leaves you with agnosticism; namely, you don't know if there's a God or not. So at best, you are left merely with agnosticism. We don't see any good reason to think that atheism is true.

Now he did make some remarks about the theory of evolution, which at least insinuated that this was somehow incompatible with theism, and I have two points to make about this. First, I think that the theory of biological evolution is simply irrelevant to the truth of Christian theism. Genesis one admits all manner of different interpretations, and one is by no means committed to six-day creationism. Howard van Till, who is a professor at Calvin College, writes,

"Is the concept of special creation required of all persons who . . . trust in the creator God of Scripture? Most Christians in my acquaintance who are engaged with either scientific or biblical scholarship have concluded that the special creationist picture of the world's formation is not a necessary component of Christian belief." [17]

Nor is this a retreat caused by modern science. Saint Augustine in the A.D. 300’s, in his commentary on Genesis, pointed out that the days don't need to be taken literally nor need the creation be a few thousand years ago. Indeed, he suggested that God made the world with certain special potencies that would gradually unfold over time and develop. This interpretation came 1,500 years before Darwin so that it is not a forced retreat in the face of modern science.

So any doubts that I would have about the theory of biological evolution would be not biblical but rather scientific; namely, what it imagines is fantastically improbable. Barrow and Tipler, two physicists, in their book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle list ten steps in the course of human evolution each of which is so improbable that before it would occur the sun would have ceased to be a main sequence star and incinerated the earth. And they calculate the probability of the evolution of the human genome to be somewhere between four to the negative 180th power to the 110,000th power and four to the negative 360th power to the 110,000th power. So if evolution did occur on this planet, it was literally a miracle and therefore evidence for the existence of God. So, I don't think this is an argument for atheism. Quite the contrary, it really provides good grounds for thinking that God superintended the process of biological development.

So the Christian can be open to the evidence to follow it where it leads. By contrast, as Alvin Plantinga has said, for the naturalist, evolution is the only game in town. No matter how fantastic the odds, no matter how improbable, it's got to be true because there is no intelligent creator and designer. So in one sense you have got to feel a little sorry for the atheist. He can't really follow the evidence where it leads. His presuppositions determine the outcome. By contrast, if there is a Fine-tuner and Creator of the universe, then already in the initial conditions of the Big Bang you have an elaborately designed universe that permits the evolution and existence of intelligent life, and I think evolution simply layers on more improbability.

Now, Mr. Hitchens says, but why did God wait so long—all that waste during this time? Well, that sort of concern with efficiency is only of importance to someone with either limited time or limited resources or both. But in the case of God, He has both unlimited resources and unlimited time, and therefore, it's simply not important to do this in a quick way.

Well, now, Mr. Hitchens says, but why did God wait so long before he sent Christ? Human beings have existed for thousands of years on this planet before Christ's coming. Well, what's really crucial here is not the time involved; rather, it's the population of the world. The Population Reference Bureau estimates that the number of people who have ever lived on this planet is about 105 billion people. Only 2% of them were born prior to the advent of Christ. Erik Kreps of the Survey Research Center of the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research says, “God's timing couldn't have been more perfect. Christ showed up just before the exponential explosion in the world's population.” [18] The Bible says in the fullness of time God sent forth His Son, and when Christ came, the nation of Israel had been prepared. The Roman peace dominated the Mediterranean world; it was an age of literacy and learning. The stage was set for the advent of God's Son into the world. And I think in God's providential plan for human history, we see the wisdom of God in orchestrating the development of human life and then in bringing Christ into the world in the fullness of time. So I don't see that there are any good grounds here for thinking that this provides reason for atheism.

Now what about my arguments for theism? Mr. Hitchens had some general remarks here. He says it's difficult to get from deism to theism. Now, I want to point out that's a false use of these terms; this is simply confused. Deism is a type of theism. Theism is the broad worldview that God exists. Deism is a specific kind of theism that says God has not revealed himself directly in the world. Now, my arguments are a cumulative case for Christian theism. They add up to the belief in the God that has been revealed by Jesus of Nazareth.

Now, Mr. Hitchens says, but you must prove this with certainty. Not at all! I am not claiming these arguments demonstrate Christian theism with certainty. I'm saying this is the best explanation of the data when you compare it with other competing hypotheses. I think it's more probable than not.

He quotes me as to saying the Holy Spirit's witness is the basis for knowing Christianity to be true, and I affirm that. I think the fundamental way in which we know Christianity is true is through the objective inner witness of God's Holy Spirit—what I called the immediate knowledge of God himself in my fifth point. On the basis of that, we have a properly basic belief in the existence of God and the truth of Christianity. But when it comes to showing someone else that what we know through the witness of the Holy Spirit is true, here we appeal to argument and evidence as I've done tonight.

And the arguments and evidence that I've appealed to are largely deductive arguments. This isn't retrospective evidentialism. These are deductive arguments. If the premises are true then you cannot deny the conclusions on pain of irrationality because the conclusions follow with logical necessity from the premises. So the only way to deny the conclusion is you have got to show me which of the premises are false. That's why you have got that program insert with the premises in your program for these arguments. Mr. Hitchens needs to identify which premises of the argument he rejects as false if he is to reject the conclusions.

Now with respect to my cosmological argument, notice that he didn't dispute whatever begins to exist has a cause, nor did he dispute the philosophical and scientific arguments for the beginning of the universe. All he asked was the question, “Was there pre-existent material?” The answer is no, there was not. As Barrow and Tipler point out, “At this singularity, space and time came into existence. Literally nothing existed before the singularity. So if the universe originated at such a singularity, we would truly have a creation ex nihilo.” [19]; that is, out of nothing. And this isn't talking religion, folks, this is talking contemporary cosmology. So the first argument, it seems to me, is unrefuted.

What about the fine-tuning argument? Here he said, well scientists are terribly uncertain about the fine-tuning argument. Well, I think that's simply not the case. Sir Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal of Great Britain, has said, “The laws governing our universe . . . appear to be finely tuned for our existence.” [20] “Everywhere you look, there are yet more examples . . . Wherever physicists look, they see examples of fine-tuning.” [21] Ernan McMullin, philosopher of science, says, “It seems safe to say that later theory, no matter how different it may be, will turn up approximately the same . . . numbers. And the numerous constraints that have to be imposed on these numbers . . . seem both too specific and too numerous to evaporate entirely." [22] So that it's very unlikely that this fine-tuning is going to vanish or be explained away.

Now, Mr. Hitchens responds, but we're headed toward nothingness. We're ultimately going to be doomed, and therefore the universe is not designed. Well, now this is not a very powerful objection. The temporal duration of something is irrelevant to whether it's been designed. The products of human intelligence and engineering like computers and automobiles will eventually decay and cease to exist, but that doesn't mean they weren't designed. I think the real objection he is getting at here is why would God create mankind only to have it go extinct? But of course, you see, on the Christian view that's false. That is an atheistic assumption. On the Christian view, life does not end at the grave, and God has given assurance of this by raising Jesus from the dead. So the objection simply has no purchase against Christian theism. So it seems to me that the fine-tuning argument is also unrefuted.

What about the moral argument? We saw that without God, there are no objective moral values. Mr. Hitchens agrees with this, and yet he himself affirms over and over again moral statements, like the moral reprobation of religious intolerance and violence in the name of religion. So he does affirm objective values but without any basis for it. What I can offer him as a theist is a transcendent basis for the objective moral values and duties that we both want to affirm.

Fourthly: the resurrection of Jesus. Again, there was no response to this. Let me simply quote N. T. Wright in his recent study of the resurrection. He says that the empty tomb and the appearances of Jesus have a “historical probability so high as to be virtually certain, like the death of Augustus in A.D. 14 or the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.” [23] So we are on very solid ground in affirming these three facts that I mentioned in my opening speech. And I can't think of any better explanation than the ones that the eyewitness gave, namely that God raised Jesus from the dead.

Finally: the immediate experience of God. Unless Mr. Hitchens can show that I'm psychologically deranged or delusional, it seems to me I'm perfectly rational on the basis of my immediate experience of God to believe that God exists, and that therefore this, for me, is a properly basic belief. So I think all of these arguments stand intact despite his refutation. We've seen no argument for atheism. So clearly the weight of the evidence falls on the side of the scale for Christian theism tonight.

Mr. Hitchens - First Rebuttal

There is a terminological problem here, which may conceal more than just terminological difficulty. The proposition that atheism is true is a misstatement of what I have to prove and what we believe. There's an argument among some of us as to whether that we need the word at all. In other words, I don't have a special name for my unbelief in tooth fairies, say, or witches or in Santa Claus. I just don't think that they are there. I don't have to prove atoothfairyism. I don't have to prove asantaclausism. I don't have to prove awitchism. It's just, I have to say, I think that those who do believe these things have never been able to make a plausible or intelligible case for doing so. That's not agnosticism. Because it seems to me that if you don't think there is any evidence, you are wrong to take refuge in saying you are neutral. You ought to have the courage to answer the question, which one is regularly asked: "Are you an atheist or not?" Yes, I will say, I am. You can't tell anything else about me. You can't tell anything else about what I think, about what I believe, about what my politics are, or my other convictions. It's just that I don't believe in the existence of a supernatural dimension, and I've never been shown any evidence that any process observable to us cannot be explained by more satisfactory and more convincing means. The great physicist Laplace, when showing his working model of the solar system to the Emperor Napoleon, was asked, well, your model seems to have no room for a god in it, for a deity. And he said, well, your Majesty, it still all operates without that assumption.

Now, here's what you would have to believe if you thought that this was all designed. Dr. Craig gave a slight parody of what I think about this. It could be true. But you'd have to imagine—let's say, the human species has been, Homo sapiens, has been with us, some people say as long as quarter of a million years, some say two hundred [thousand], some say one hundred thousand. Francis Collins and Richard Dawkins oscillate about this. It's not a very big argument. I'll just take one hundred thousand [years], if you like—you have to imagine that human beings are born—well actually most of them, a good number of them aren't born, they die in childbirth or don't long outlive it—they are born into a terrifying world of the unknown. Everything is a mystery to them, everything from disease to volcanic eruptions. Everything is—life expectancy for the first, I don't know, many, many tens of thousands of years would be lucky to be in the twenties—probably dying agonizingly over their teeth, poorly evolved as the teeth are, and from other inheritances from being primates, such as the appendix that we don't need, such as the fact that our genitalia appear to be designed by a committee—other shortcomings of the species, exaggerated by scarcity, by war, by famine, by competition and so on. And for ninety-eight thousand years or so, heaven watches this with complete indifference. And then—[distraction from audience member] we know where your children go to school, by the way—heaven watches this with total indifference, and then with two thousand years to go on the clock thinks, "Actually, it's time we intervened. We can't go on like this. Why don't we have someone tortured to death in Bronze Age Palestine? That should teach them. That should give them the chance of redemption.” You are free to believe that, but I think the designer who thought of doing it that way is a very, or was a very, cruel, capricious, random, bungling, and incompetent one.

The news of this—Dr. Craig talks as if, O.K., but since then there have been more people born, so it might have been a good time in terms of population growth. Well, there are a huge number of people in the world who still haven't even heard of this idea. The news hasn't penetrated to them. Or where it has, it has been brought to them by people whom Dr. Craig doesn't think of as Christians, such as Mormons, for example. And it's taught to them in many discrepant and competitive, and indeed, incompatible and violently irreconcilable ways. And there's been a lot of argument in the church—in the churches—all this time, about, well, O.K., what is the answer to that? What about all the people who never could've heard the good news? Or who never will hear it? Or still haven't been reached by it? And who've died not knowing about it? What happens to them? How can they be saved? Well, the argument is that it's all somehow made retrospective. And as with so many of these arguments—I just comment on these—well, how convenient. Because if you are willing to make assumptions of this kind, then really, evidence is only ancillary to what you are advancing.

Now, I didn't have the chance—Oh! And just on Mr. Wright—sorry I scrawled a note to myself. In your first round, Doctor, you said that N. T. Wright—[who] is an impressive person—says that no explanation of the success of Christianity is possible that doesn't rest on the terms of its being true. In other words, Wright says, it was so successful it must have been—and the people were so strongly motivated to believe it that it must have been true. I regard that as a very, very unsafe assumption. Or if it is a safe one, then it must surely apply to Islam and to Mormonism. I mean, these are two very, very, very fast growing religions, have people prepared to sacrifice enormously for it, have ancestors who were absolutely determined of the truth of it at the time, and who made the extraordinary conquests in its name. If you are going to grant this for one religion, it seems to me you have to be willing, not just willing, you may indeed be compelled to make this concession for all of them. And that, I think, would be not just an unsafe assumption, but for most of you here a distinctly unwelcome one.

Now, I didn't get the chance—because I outtalked myself. I'm sorry for it—to get to the moral dimension. And I'm interested that the word objective morality is the one that Dr. Craig chooses. Usually arguments about morality are whether the morality is, so to say, absolute, or whether it's relative. As to objectivity, I think it's a very good compromise word, by the way, and I'm very happy to accept it. But the problem with morality is this, in respect of religion: you can't prove that anyone behaves any better if they refer this problem upward to a supreme dictator of a celestial kind.

There are two questions that I've asked in public, and I'll try them again because I try them on every audience. They are very simple ones. First, you have to name for me—or challenges, let's say, rather than questions—you have to name for me an ethical action or an ethical statement or moral action or moral statement made or undertaken by a believer that I couldn't undertake or say, I couldn't state or do. I haven't yet had an example pointed out of that to me; in other words, that a person of faith would have an advantage by being able to call upon divine sanction. Whereas if I ask you to think of a wicked act undertaken by someone in the name of God or because of their faith or a wicked statement made, you wouldn't have that much difficulty, I think, in coming up with an example right away. The genital mutilation community, for example, is almost exclusively religious. The suicide bombing community is almost exclusively religious. There are injunctions for genocide in the Old Testament. There are injunctions and warrants for slavery and racism in the Old Testament, too. There's simply no way of deriving morality and ethics from the supernatural.

When we come to the question of the absolute, well, the most often cited one is the Golden Rule—the one that almost everyone feels they have in common. The injunction not to do to others as you wouldn't want them to do to you. This doesn't, in fact, come from the Sermon on the Mount or from Christianity, or it doesn't originate with it. It's certainly adumbrated by Rabbi Hillel, a Babylonian rabbi, and it's to be found in The Analects of Confucius, too. But it has—since we're talking about objective, relative, and absolute—a crucial weakness in it, unfortunately. We'd like to be able to follow it, but it's only really as good as the person who's uttering it. In others words, if I say I won't treat you as I don't want you to treat me, what am I to do when confronted with Charles Manson? I want him treated in a way that I wouldn't want to be treated myself. Anything else would surely be completely relativistic.

So the argument isn't at all advanced by saying that I couldn't know any of this, I couldn't have any moral promptings, I couldn't decide for myself if I see a pregnant woman being kicked in the stomach that because she's pregnant that's obviously worse than if it was just a woman who wasn't pregnant being kicked in the stomach. This is part of my patrimony as a human being. It's part of the essential, emotional solidarity that I need to have with my fellow creatures to make us realize that we are brothers and sisters one with another. We are dependent upon each another. We have duties. We have expectations of one another, and that if we didn't have these, and try to fulfill them, we couldn't have gotten as far as we have. We couldn't have evolved as a species. We couldn't have ever had a society. There's never been a society found where rape and murder and perjury are not condemned. And these moral discoveries long—or absolutes, if you want to call them that—long predate the arrival of anything recognizable as monotheism.

It's a bit like the argument of free will. People say, "Well, how do you have free will? Do you think you do have it?" Well, it's a very, very difficult subject indeed. Some religions say you don't, in effect, have it, that all is determined by heaven, you are really only a plaything in a larger game. I take that to be some of the point of Calvinism. There are some schools of Islam, also, that say, "It is only as Allah wills." There's no will of yours really involved as long as you are willing to make the prostration and the obedience. So the connection between religion and free will isn’t as simple—as easy as some people like to think it is. But I would say, yes, I think we have free will. And when asked why I think so, I would have to take refuge in philosophical irony and say because I don’t think we have any choice but to have free will. Well, at least I know at this point that I’m being ironic. And that some of the irony is at my own expense, and it’s a risk I have to be willing to run. But the Christian answer is, “Of course you have free will. The boss insists upon it.” This somewhat degrades the freedom and redefines the idea of will.

And it seems to me, also, that there’s something degrading in the idea of saying that morality is derived in the same way. That it comes from on high, that we, ourselves, are not good enough, that we don’t have the dignity, we don’t have the self-respect, we don’t have the character to know a right action or a right statement when we see it or when we want to perform it. It’s this servile element in religion—it’s not strictly speaking the subject of our debate this evening, I know, but I’m damned if I completely forgo it—it’s the idea that, buried in the religious impulse, is actually the wish to be unfree, is the wish for an immovable, unchangeable, celestial authority. A kind of heavenly North Korea that will take our decisions away from us and commit us only to worship and praise and thank a great leader and his son, the dear leader, forever and ever and ever. I’m so glad there’s no evidence that this is true.

Thank you.

Cross Examination - Q&A

Moderator: We now enter the period of cross-examination, which, trial like, allows the questioner to pose and the answerer only to answer and not to repeat the question or to dodge. Six minutes of questions begin to Dr. Craig followed by six minutes of questions to Mr. Hitchens. Dr. Craig, your questions for Mr. Hitchens.

Dr. Craig: All right. Let’s talk first about whether there are any good arguments to think that atheism is true. Now, it seems to me that you are rather ambivalent here, that you say—you redefine atheism to mean a sort of ah-theism or non-theism.

Mr. Hitchens: That's what it means.

Dr. Craig: But, how do you distinguish then the different varieties of non-theism, for example, what is normally called atheism, agnosticism, or the view of verificationists that the statement “God exists” is simply meaningless?

Mr. Hitchens: Well, I mean, there are different schools of atheism, as you say. But there's no claim, I know how to make, that says atheism is true. Because atheism is the statement that a certain proposition isn't true. So I wish you'd get this bit right because—there you go again.

Dr. Craig: Well—

Mr. Hitchens: I've just devoted a little time to this. I said it is not, in itself, a belief or a system. It simply says you can by get by—better, probably, we think—without the assumption, and that no one who wants you to worship a god has ever been able to come up with a good enough reason to make you to do it.

Dr. Craig: Now, so the point is though that on your definition of ah-theism or non-theism, it really embodies a diversity of views such as agnosticism, what is normally called atheism, or this verificationism. Now which of those do you hold to within this umbrella of ah-theism? Are you an atheist who asserts the proposition God does not exist? Or do you simply withhold belief in God in the way the agnostic does?

Mr. Hitchens: Right! On some days, I'm a great . . . no, I'm not going to do you that much of a favor. On some days I'm a great admirer of Thomas Huxley who had the great debate with Bishop Wilberforce in Oxford at the Natural History Museum about Darwinism in the mid-nineteenth century, who was known as Darwin's bulldog—we would now say Darwin's pit bull—and who completely trounced the good bishop. But I can't thank him for inventing the term agnostic. And I can't thank him for some of his social Darwinist positions either, some of which are rather unattractive—

Dr. Craig: I need an answer to this. My time is fleeting.

Mr. Hitchens: Yes, because I think agnosticism is evasive. To me, yes, if you talk about the power of the Holy Spirit and so forth, to me that is meaningless. It is, to me—I'm sorry. I've tried. It is white noise. It's like saying, "There is only one God, and Allah is his messenger." It's gibberish to me.

Dr. Craig: What is gibberish?

Mr. Hitchens: There are many of us, I'm sorry, there are just many of us to whom, of whom this is the case. It may be true—it is true—that religion—

Dr. Craig: O.K., Mr. Hitchens, I've got to press you here because time is—

Mr. Hitchens: Feel free—press away.

Dr. Craig: What is your view exactly? Do you affirm God does not exist? Or do you simply withhold belief?

Mr. Hitchens: I think, once, I have said that I've never seen any persuasive evidence for the existence of something. And I've made real attempts to study the evidence presented and the arguments presented that I will go as far as to say—have the nerve to say—that it does not therefore exist—except in the minds of its—

Dr. Craig: All right, so—

Mr. Hitchens: —except in the Henry Jamesian subjective sense that you say of it being so real to some people in their own minds that it counts as a force in the world.

Dr. Craig: All right, yes, that counts as objective. O.K., so you do affirm then that God does not exist. Now, what I want to know, do you have any justification for that?

Mr. Hitchens: I think I've come unwired in some horrible way.

Dr. Craig: You are still—

Moderator: You are fine.

Mr. Hitchens: Are you sure?

Dr. Craig: Do you have any arguments leading to the conclusion that God does not exist?

Mr. Hitchens: Well, I would rather, I think—I'm wondering if I'm boring anybody now. I would rather say, I'd rather state it in reverse and say I find all the arguments in favor to be fallacious or unconvincing. And I'd have to add that though this isn't my reason for not believing in it, that I would be very depressed if it was true. And that's quite a different thing. I don't say of atheism that it's at all morally superior; that would be very risky. I wouldn't admit that it was at all morally inferior either, but we can at least be acquitted on the charge of wishful thinking. We don't particularly—

Dr. Craig: I wonder if that's the case. Would you agree that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence?

Mr. Hitchens: Well, you know, I'm not sure that I would agree.

Dr. Craig: O.K. Let's turn to the—

Mr. Hitchens: No, I mean, I think . . .

Dr. Craig: —moral argument and talk about that a little bit. I think you have misunderstood the moral argument—

Mr. Hitchens: Given the stakes, Doctor, sorry, given the stakes, I mean, you are not saying—we're not talking about unicorns or tooth fairies or leprechauns here. We're talking about an authority that would give other humans beings the right to tell me what to do in the name of God. So for a claim like that, if there's no evidence for it, it seems to me a very . . . not a small question.

Dr. Craig: No, it's certainly not a small question. But I wonder if that means—

Mr. Hitchens: Because you are making a very, very, very large claim. Your evidence had better be absolutely magnificent it seems to me. And it's the lack of magnificence I think that began to strike me first.

Moderator: One final question, Doctor.

Dr. Craig: O.K., well let's go to the moral argument. It seems to me, there, that you have misunderstood the argument in that we're looking for an objective foundation for the moral values and duties that we want—we both, I think, want to affirm. It's not a matter of whether or not we can know what is right and wrong or that we need God to tell us what is right and wrong; it is, rather, that we need to have some sort of an objective foundation for right and wrong. Wouldn't you agree on your view it is simply the sociobiological spinoffs of the evolutionary process, and that, therefore, these do not provide any sort of objective foundation for moral values and duties?

Mr. Hitchens: That could be true, yes. It could well be true.

Dr. Craig: O.K.

Mr. Hitchens: Yes. I don't want to be too much of a reductionist, but it is entirely possible that it is purely evolutionary and functional. One wants to think that there's a bit more to one's love for the fellow creature than that. But it doesn't add one iota of weight or moral gravity to the argument to say that's because I don't believe in a supernatural being. Just—it's a non sequitur.

Moderator: Mr. Hitchens, your questions for Dr. Craig.

Mr. Hitchens: Ah, well, I'd like to know first, you said that the career of Jesus of Nazareth involved a ministry of miracles and exorcisms. When you say exorcism, do you mean that you believe in devils too?

Dr. Craig: What I meant there was that most historians agree that Jesus of Nazareth practiced miracle working, and he practiced exorcisms. I'm not committing myself, nor are historians committing themselves, to the reality of demons. But they are saying that Jesus did practice exorcism, and he practiced healing.

Mr. Hitchens: So, you believe that Jesus of Nazareth caused devils to leave the body of a madman and go into a flock of pigs that hurled themselves down the Gadarene slopes into the sea?

Dr. Craig: Do I believe that is historical? Yes.

Mr. Hitchens: Right. That would be sorcery, wouldn't it, though?

Dr. Craig: No, it would be an illustration of Jesus' ability to command even the forces of darkness and therefore, an illustration of the sort of divine authority that he was able to command and exercise. This, as I say, is illustrative of this unprecedented sense of divine authority that Jesus of Nazareth had. That he even could command the forces of darkness and that they would obey. So, whether you think he was a genuine exorcist or that he merely believed himself to be an exorcist, what is historically undeniable is that he had this radical sense of divine authority, which he expressed by miracle working and exorcisms.

Mr. Hitchens: Right. And do you believe he was born of a virgin?

Dr. Craig: Yes, I believe that as a Christian. I couldn't claim to prove that historically. That's not part of my case tonight. But I—as a Christian I believe that.

Mr. Hitchens: And I know you believe in the resurrection, but—

Dr. Craig: Yes, and that, I think, that we have good evidence—

Mr. Hitchens: As a matter of biblical, what shall we call it, consistency, it's said in one of the Gospels that at the time of the crucifixion all the graves of Jerusalem were opened and all the tenants of the graves walked the streets and greeted their old friends. It makes resurrection sound rather commonplace in the greater Jerusalem area.

Dr. Craig: It’s—that's in the Gospel of Matthew, and that's actually attached to a crucifixion narrative where—

Mr. Hitchens: That's what I said. It says at the time of the crucifixion.

Dr. Craig: Yes, that's right. At the time of the crucifixion, it says that there were appearances of Old Testament saints in Jerusalem at the time. This is part of Matthew's description of the crucifixion scene.

Mr. Hitchens: I mean—do you believe that?

Dr. Craig: I don't know whether Matthew intends this to be apocalyptic imagery, or whether he means this to be taken literally. I've not studied it in any depth, and I'm open-minded about it. I'm willing to be convinced one way or the other.

Mr. Hitchens: You see the reason I'm pressing you in this is because, I mean, we know from Scripture that Pharaoh’s magicians could produce miracles. In the end, Aaron could out produce them. But what I'm suggesting to you is even if the laws of nature can be suspended and great miracles can be performed, it doesn't prove the truth of the doctrine of the person who's performing them.

Dr. Craig: Not necessarily.

Mr. Hitchens: Would you not agree to that?

Dr. Craig: I think that's right.

Mr. Hitchens: So somebody could be casting out devils from pigs and that wouldn't prove he was the Son of God?

Dr. Craig: I think that's right. In fact, there were Jewish exorcists. The only point that I was trying to make there that this was illustrative of the kind of divine authority that Jesus claimed, especially since He didn't cast them out—

Mr. Hitchens: But if—

Dr. Craig: —in God's name or He didn't perform miracles by praying to God. He would do them in His own authority. So that Jesus exercised an authority that was simply unheard of at that time, and for which He was eventually crucified because it was thought to be blasphemous.

Mr. Hitchens: Well, it was thought to be blasphemous to have claimed to be the Messiah, to be exact. I mean, the people who got the closest look at him, the Jewish Sanhedrin, thought that his claims were not genuine. So, remember, if you are resting anything on eyewitnesses, the ones who we definitely know were there, thought he was bogus. But O.K., I think I've got a rough idea—assuming you make that assumption of his pre-existing divinity, that it's a presuppositionalist case, I can see what you are driving at.

Dr. Craig: Well no, I'm not a presuppositionalist.

Mr. Hitchens: I've got another question for you, which is this: How many religions in the world do you believe to be false?

Dr. Craig: I don't know how many religions in the world there are, so I can’t answer.

Mr. Hitchens: Well, could you name . . . fair enough. I'll see if I can't narrow that down. That was a clumsily asked question, I admit. Do you regard any of the world's religions to be false?

Dr. Craig: Excuse me?

Mr. Hitchens: Do you regard any of the world's religions to be false preaching?

Dr. Craig: Yes, I think—yes, certainly.

Mr. Hitchens: Would you name one, then?

Dr. Craig: Islam.

Mr. Hitchens: That's quite a lot.

Dr. Craig: Pardon me?

Mr. Hitchens: That's quite a lot.

Dr. Craig: Yes.

Mr. Hitchens: Do you, therefore—do you think it's moral to preach false religion?

Dr. Craig: No.

Mr. Hitchens: So religion is responsible for quite a lot of wickedness in the world right there?

Dr. Craig: Certainly.

Mr. Hitchens: Right.

Dr. Craig: I'd be happy to concede that. I would agree with that.

Mr. Hitchens: So if I was a baby being born in Saudi Arabia today, would you rather I was me or a Wahhabi Muslim?

Dr. Craig: Would I be—you rather be what?

Mr. Hitchens: Would you rather it was me—it was an atheist baby or a Wahhabi baby?

Dr. Craig: I don't have any preference as to whether you would be . . .

Mr. Hitchens: You don’t? As bad as that, O.K. Are there any—I'm sorry. I've only got a few seconds. It's a serious question. I shouldn't squander it. Are there any Christian denominations you regard as false?

Dr. Craig: Certainly.

Mr. Hitchens: Could I know what they are?

Dr. Craig: Well, I am not a Calvinist, for example. I think that certain tenets of Reformed Theology are incorrect. I would be more in the Wesleyan Camp myself. But these are differences among brethren. These are not differences on which we need to put one another in some sort of a cage. So within the Christian camp, there's a large diversity of perspectives. I'm sure there are views that I hold that are probably false, but I'm trying my best to get my theology straight, trying to do the best job. But I think all of us would recognize that none of us agree on every point of Christian doctrine, on every dot and tittle.

Moderator: Before Mr. Hitchens succeeds in launching another series of religious wars among Christians, let's get to the responses. Seven minutes for each. Dr. Craig, it is your seven minutes.

Dr. Craig - Second Rebuttal

Well, I think it's very evident that in tonight's debate, we've not heard any good reasons to think that what is normally called atheism is true; that is to say, the belief that God does not exist. Mr. Hitchens withholds belief in God, but he is unable to give us any argument to think that God does not exist, which is what is called positive atheism.

Now, he does mention that the human species has been here for one hundred thousand years, but I’ve already responded to that. What’s crucial there is not the number of years, it’s the population, and only two percent of the population of the earth has existed before Christ. And during that time, God is not indifferent to the lot of those people; rather, he is preparing humanity, preparing the world for the advent of Christ so that in the fullness of time Christ would come into the world. And those people who lived apart from Christ, God cared for them as well and provided for them. The Bible says, “Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made.” [24] Paul says that:

"From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being." [25]

So that those who lived before Christ were covered by the death of Christ, they were covered by his atoning sacrifice, and God will judge them on the basis of the information that they had in their response to general revelation. Similarly for those who haven’t heard of the Gospel yet today, they will be judged on the basis of the information that they do have and how they respond to that. And aren’t you glad that you don’t have to judge them? You can leave this up to the hands of a just and holy and merciful God who will judge people on the basis of how they respond to the revelation that they do have. So we’ve not heard any argument tonight that God does not exist.

Now, by contrast, I’ve given five arguments to show that Christian theism is true.

First, we saw the cosmological argument. Mr. Hitchens has not disagreed with either of the premises of this argument, and so we have good grounds for believing there is a personal creator of the universe.

As for the teleological argument, again he didn’t respond to what I said in my last speech with respect to the fine-tuning being well established in science and that the fact that we’re going towards nothingness, as he puts it, is an atheistic assumption, not a Christian assumption, and therefore doesn’t do anything to disprove design.

Now, what about the moral argument? Here he says that you have to prove that people would behave better if they believed in God. That’s not the argument. I hope that’s clear to everyone. The argument is that without God as a transcendent foundation for moral values, we’re simply lost in sociocultural relativism. Who are you to judge that the Nazi ethic was wrong? Who are you to judge that the ethic of ancient Hinduism was wrong? Who are you to judge that the Africana apartheid is wrong? This is all just the result of sociocultural evolution, and there is no transcendent objective standard apart from God. And that’s what God delivers for us.

Now, Mr. Hitchens says, name one moral action that an unbeliever could not take. Well that’s trivially easy. If God exists, there are all kinds of moral duties that we have that the unbeliever cannot recognize. At the panel discussion last week in Dallas, when Mr. Hitchens demanded that someone name such an action, a pastor on the panel immediately piped up, “How about tithing?” Well, leave it to a pastor to think of that, but clearly that’s an action that only a believer would take. Even more fundamentally, what about the first and greatest commandment? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart . . . with all your strength . . . with all your mind.” [26] That is an action that only a believer can take; no unbeliever can discharge even this most fundamental of moral duties.

But in any case, all of this is beside the point with respect to the moral argument. The point is that on atheism there are no moral obligations for anybody to fulfill. In nature, whatever is is right, and Mr. Hitchens is unable to provide any sort of objective foundation for moral values. Massimo Pigliucci is a philosopher of biology. This is what he has to say, he says on atheism:

There is no such thing as objective morality. . . . Morality in human cultures has evolved . . . and what is moral for you might not be moral for the guy next door and certainly is not moral for the guy across the ocean. . . . And what makes you think that your personal morality is the one and everybody else is wrong? . . . What we call homicide or rape . . . is very, very common among different kinds of animals. Lions, for example, commit infanticide on a regular basis. . . . Now, are these kinds of acts to be condoned? I don’t even know what that means because the lion doesn’t understand what morality is. . . . Morality is an invention of human beings. [27]

It’s just a convention that human beings have adopted to live together, but it has no objectivity. And that’s what I offer Mr. Hitchens tonight—is a solid, transcendent foundation for the moral values that I think he so desperately wants to affirm.

What about the resurrection of Jesus? Here he misunderstood N. T. Wright’s argument. N. T. Wright’s argument is not that the success of Christianity means that it’s true, that would apply to Islam and Mormonism. Rather, N. T. Wright’s argument is that the origin of the disciples’ belief that God had raised Jesus from the dead is so un-Jewish, it is so uncharacteristic, that you have to explain what would bring them to adopt so radical a mutation of Jewish belief as belief in a dying Messiah and a rising Messiah. And he says the only thing he can think of that would explain this is the empty tomb and the postmortem appearances of Jesus, and that’s why Wright concludes that these have a certainty that is comparable to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. So you have got to get the argument right if you are going to deal with it, and, in fact, I think the only explanation of these facts is the one that the disciples gave that God raised Jesus from the dead.

Finally, the immediate experience of God has remained untouched. God is real to me, and unless I’m delusional, I’m perfectly within my rational rights to believe in God on the basis of this experience just as I believe in the reality of the external world or the reality of the past on the basis of my experience. So I think in sum, we’ve got five good reasons for believing that Christianity is true—no reason to think atheism is true, and therefore I think Christianity is clearly the more rational worldview.

Mr. Hitchens - Second Rebuttal

I think it’s—you’ll correct me if I’m wrong—it’s Tertullian, isn’t it, who says something like,—it’s variously translated—credo quia absurdum? That the very improbability of the thing, the very unlikelihood of it, the unlikelihood that anyone would fabricate such a thing—for example, that a Jew could be brought to believe something so extraordinary—is testimony to its truth. I’m sure there can’t be anyone here who doesn’t think that’s a little too easy, a little too facile.

I myself, for example, have followed the career of a woman known vulgarly in the media as Mother Teresa, an Albanian named Agnes Bojaxhiu, a Catholic fanatic operating in the greater Calcutta area. And I watched every stage of her career as a candidate for, and then the recipient of, beatification and shortly, canonization. The canonization will require, as the Vatican demands, the attestation of a miracle performed by her posthumous intercession and the miracle’s already been announced. A woman in Bengal, fortunately already a devout Catholic, by pressing a medal of Mother Teresa to her stomach, made a tumor go away or so she says. All the witnesses to this have since recanted. All the doctors have given a much better explanation of how she was cured of the swelling and the growth and what the medicines were and so forth, but they are still stuck with it. They have to go ahead with this process because—which will lead to countless untold suffering in India because it will appear to license the bogus charlatanry of shaman medicine and intercessory medicine rather than the real thing. All of this will have to be gone through, this awful display, in the name of faith. And I just happened to have watched it at every stage, and I can tell you it’s depressingly easy to get a religious rumor started. You can count on an enormous amount of pre-existing credulity among illiterate, frightened, ill-educated populations. There isn’t a literate, written-down, properly attested witness of any real sort in the Gospels. It is—and you may as well admit it and stick to it because it’s what you are good at—it involves an act of faith.

Second, on the matter of my moral question, yes, it’s true that Doug Wilson said that tithing was something I couldn’t do, but then not just—I’m not moving the goal posts here—I don’t think I’d regard giving all my money to the New Saint Andrews church as a moral act. The only challenge that I’ve had so far that I really couldn’t get out of—I should share it with you—was I was told, well, you couldn’t do this, you couldn’t say: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” [28] No. But nor could you as people of faith; you wouldn’t dare. It would be blasphemy for you to do it. There’s only one person who can do that even on your account.

So, with respect, ladies and gentlemen, I think both my challenges stand. It hasn’t been shown that I couldn’t be a moral person despite my unbelief. And it has certainly not been demonstrated that unbelief will guarantee you against—excuse me that the belief will—I’ll say it again, that unbelief will ensure you against wickedness.

You mentioned things like apartheid and Nazism, well, let me just run it by you—partly this often comes up because people say, “What about the crimes and wickedness of the secular world?” The apartheid system in South Africa was actually a creation of the Dutch Reformed Church. It was justified theologically as the giving of a promised land to one Christian religious tribe in which everyone else was supposed to be hewers of wood and drawers of water. It wasn’t until the Dutch Reformed Church, under pressure, agreed to drop their racist preachments of many years that the apartheid system could be dismantled. The dictatorship in Greece, in 1967 to 1974, was proclaimed by the Greek Orthodox Church as a Greece for Christian Greeks. The Russian Orthodox Church at present—maybe this is one of the churches you don’t recognize as Christian, I don’t know—but it’s currently become the bodyguard of the Vladimir Putin dictatorship in Russia. They are now producing, the Russian Orthodox Church, actual icons with halos around them of Joseph Stalin for distribution to extreme Russian nationalists and chauvinists for whom the church has become the spiritual sword and butler. In Nazi Germany, prayers were said every year on the Führer’s birthday by order of the churches for his survival and well-being. The first concordat signed by Hitler and by Mussolini, in both cases, was with the Vatican. If you take out the words fascist from any account of the 1920s and 1930s, any reputable historical account, and you insert the words “Christian right wing,” or actually, “Catholic right wing,” you don’t have to change a word of the rest of the sentence.

And the third member of the axis, the Japanese empire, was led by someone who actually claimed he was himself a God, and whom everyone in Japan was a serf and had to admit his godhead and divinity. And it was said to all of them, “Where would we know without the Emperor? How would we know what to do? How would we know what a right action was? Without him, there would be screwing in the streets, there would be chaos, no one would know their bearings. Without our God, we would be rudderless.” Many Japanese people, in fact—it is pitiful to report—still actually believe that.

Now, I want to say, in other words, that religion is the outcome of unresolved contradictions in the material world; that if you make the assumption that it’s manmade, then very few things are mysterious to you. If you make the assumption that religion is manmade then you would know why, it would be obvious to you why, there are so many religions. When you make the assumption that it’s manmade, you will understand why it is that religion has been such a disappointment to our species. That despite enumerable revivals, enumerable attempts, again, to preach the truth, enumerable attempts to convert the heathen, enumerable attempts to send missionaries all around the world, that the same problems remain with us. That nothing is resolved by this; that we—if all religions died out or all were admitted to be false instead of, as all believers will tell you, only some of them are false—in other words, we’re faced with the preposterous proposition that, religion, either all of them true or none of them true or only one exclusive preachment is true. And none of these seem (to me) coherent. And all of these seem to be the outcome of a manmade cult.

Assume that all of them were discredited at the same time, all of our problems would be exactly what they are now: How do we live with one another? Where, indeed, do morals and ethics come from? What are our duties to one another? How shall we build the Just city? How shall we practice love? How shall we deal with the baser—what Darwin called the lowly stamp of our original origins—which comes not from a pact with the devil or an original sin but from our evolution as well? All these questions, ladies and gentlemen, would remain exactly the same. Emancipate yourself from the idea of a celestial dictatorship and you have taken the first step to becoming free.

Thank you.

Dr. Craig - Closing Speech

In my final speech, I’d like to try to draw together some of the threads of this debate and see if we can come to some conclusions.

First, have we seen any good arguments tonight to think that God does not exist? No, I don’t think we have. We’ve heard attacks upon religion, Christianity impugned, God impugned, Mother Teresa impugned, but we haven’t heard any arguments that God does not exist. Mr. Hitchens seems to fail to recognize that atheism is itself a worldview, and it claims alone to be true and all the other religions of the world false. It is no more tolerant than Christianity with respect to these other views. He asserts that he alone has the true worldview: atheism! The only problem is he doesn’t have any arguments for this worldview; he just asserts it. So, it seems to me that if you are going to have a worldview and champion it tonight, you have got to come to a debate prepared to give some arguments, and we haven’t heard any. He did have an argument about evolution. But when I explained that, it actually turned out to be supportive of theism. Evolution actually provides evidence for the existence of a designer of the universe. So we’ve not heard any good arguments to think that atheism is true.

Now, I’ve presented five reasons to think that theism is true, and this is what God—or the God hypothesis does give you. He asks, what does it give us? It explains a broad range of human experience: philosophical, ethical, scientific, historical, and experiential. I find the attraction of the God hypothesis is that it is so powerful in making sense of the way the world is. For example, the God hypothesis explains the origin of the universe. Mr. Hitchens has completely dropped this point in tonight’s debate—when we saw that, in fact, scientific and philosophical evidence points to a beginning of the universe out of nothing, and therefore, to a transcendent, personal creator of the cosmos.

The teleological argument: The fine-tuning that is established in the initial conditions of the universe, not to speak of in the biological complexity that then ensued. And again, Mr. Hitchens has dropped that in the course of the debate tonight. So we have a creator and an intelligent designer of the cosmos.

Thirdly, the moral argument: We saw that without God there are no objective moral values. And here Mr. Hitchens has consistently distorted the argument. He has portrayed the argument as, how would we know moral values if we didn't believe in God? We don't need to believe in a tyrant in order to find moral values; unbelief doesn't produce wickedness. That is all irrelevant. The point is that there is no foundation on a naturalistic worldview for the moral values and duties that we both want to affirm, and he agrees with that. This is what he says, and I quote, he says:

Our “innate” predisposition to both good and wicked behavior is precisely what one would expect to find of a recently-evolved species that is . . . half a chromosome away from chimpanzees. . . . Primate and elephant and even pig societies show considerable evidence of care for others, parent-child bonding, solidarity in the face of danger, and so on. As Darwin put it: any animal whatever, endowed with well-marked social instincts . . . would inevitably acquire a moral sense or conscience, as soon as its intellectual powers had become as well-developed, . . . as in man. [29]

That is the sociobiological explanation of morality. The problem is that that moral sense that develops in pig societies, chimpanzees, baboons, and Homo sapiens is illusory on atheism because there are no objective moral duties or values that we have to fulfill. And that's what the theist can offer Mr. Hitchens. And so, I want to invite Mr. Hitchens to think about becoming a Christian tonight. All of . . . honestly, honestly, if he is a man of goodwill who will follow the evidence where it leads, all of the evidence tonight has been on one side of the scale; and he wants to affirm objective moral values, so why not adopt theism?

The resurrection of Jesus has gone unrefuted. The argument is not that it's too improbable to be false. The argument is that you need a historically sufficient explanation to explain why the disciples came to believe this, and there isn't one apart from the empty tomb and appearances. It's not a matter of rumor because the empty tomb was public knowledge in Jerusalem. It would be impossible for Christianity to flourish in Jerusalem in the face of an occupied tomb.

Finally, the immediate experience of God: If there's anybody watching or listening to the debate tonight who hasn't found God in a personal experiential way, then I want to invite you as well to think about becoming a Christian. I became a Christian as a junior in high school, and it changed my entire life. And I believe that if you'll look into it honestly with an open mind and an open heart that it can change your life as well.

Moderated Dialogue - Q&A

Moderator: Mr. Hitchens has yielded his time, and therefore we move to questions. And we are directing those questions to students tonight. I want to repeat something Dr. Hazen said, there are stupid questions. I want to add to it: we are uninterested in your opinions. Only your questions matter to us. I don't know where the microphone is. Can we hear the first question? Each participant will answer every question.

Questioner: Dr. Craig, Mr. Hitchens, thank you so much. It's been great listening to you both. My question is for Mr. Hitchens. Mr. Hitchens, in your book God is Not Great, you say that, "There are four irreducible objections to religious faith." [30] The third being that religious faith "is both the result and the cause of dangerous sexual repression." [31] So here's my question for you: Is it good that the Bible prohibits humans from having sex with animals, or is that an example of dangerous sexual repression?

Mr. Hitchens: With . . . the allusion I was making was not to the man-made, in the ordinary sense nature of religion—that you can tell from studying some of its codes that it's—humans have invented it. That's why so many of the injunctions in the Old Testament are, as you quite rightly say, concerned with agriculture—shall we put it delicately.

Questioner: So—

Mr. Hitchens: But, it's more that it's man-made; it's designed to keep women in subordination.

Questioner: But could you answer the question?

Mr. Hitchens: Yes.

Questioner: Do you think the Bible is right to prohibit humans from having sex with animals?

Mr. Hitchens: I don't know of any good advice about having sex with animals—in favor of it, I mean to say. Look, there are things that if people do—incest is one and cannibalism is another—if you do them, you'll die out. A society that permitted it would. There were societies in New Guinea that did practice cannibalism, and there's a terrible disease that you get called Kuru if you do it. And it seems to me, if you like, there are some rules that are self-enforcing. That's not what I—when I was talking about sexual repression, I was talking about the enormous number of prohibitions on sex between men and women and on the evident fear of female sexuality and the superstitious dread, for example, of female menstrual blood—things of this kind.

Moderator: Dr. Craig, your assessment of that question and answer.

Dr. Craig: Well, I think the question illustrates that apart from God whatever is in nature is right. There is no thing barred in nature if there is no sort of objective moral code. So the question is a good one because it illustrates that here is a guideline for sexual expression that is very good for human beings and not something that's meant to be repressive or harmful to human beings. In fact, the studies I've seen says that religious people have more fun with sex than people who are not religious; that it actually shows that they are more sexually satisfied in marriage and so forth. So I think the questioner makes a good point.

Mr. Hitchens: I think I have to have another bite at this . . . this tempting cherry. You see, if it's true that, as I think it is, that nature is pretty indifferent, pretty callous, pretty random, then who is the designer? But many people say concerning the ban on homosexuality, for example, in the Old Testament, they'll say, "Well, homosexuality is against God's law, and it's against Nature's law." Well, in that case why does Nature see to it that so many people are born homosexual? Or if you want to rephrase it, why does God have so many of his children preferring sex with their own gender? It doesn't help—in clarifying and elucidating this—it doesn't help to assume a supernatural authority. Whereas, if you look at the reasons given by Maimonides and the other sages for the practice of circumcision, it is precisely to dull and to blunt the sensation of an organ, which I don't think even . . . well, I'll leave it there.

Moderator: Our next question.

Mr. Hitchens: It's explicitly designed, in other words, to reduce sexual pleasure—make it more of a painful duty than a celebration. Well, you asked for it.

Questioner: I don't want to misrepresent myself. I was a student here and graduated . . . somewhat by the skin of my teeth. But Mr. Hitchens, you stated that—some of your most strongly stated arguments are that the results of religion: violence, death, destruction—the motivation being religion—discredit those who would promote a belief in God. However, I think there is an imbalance there in that the nuclear bomb was created by physicists and is the most demonstrable violence perpetrated on mankind. So I wonder how you respond to that.

Mr. Hitchens: Well, physics isn't an ideology. Physics isn't a belief system; it's a science.

Questioner: Well that—I think that would be subjective.

Mr. Hitchens: I mean you could—any more than . . . Marie Curie discovering radium makes her practice morally different. I mean, it's not comparing like with like. What I'm talking about are specific religious injunctions to do evil, to mutilate the genitalia of children, for example. To take the pastor, Douglas Wilson, who Dr. Craig was just mentioning—with whom I've crossed swords several times this year, and recently in Dallas—I happened to be mentioning to him about the commandment to exterminate the Amalekites in one of our debates, and he said that commandment is still valid. If there were any Amalekites, it would be his job to make sure they were all put to the sword and some of the virgins left over for slavery—purposes better imagined perhaps than described. I think this is a very serious problem. I'm not taking refuge in the commonplace that sometimes religious people behave badly and that that would discredit religion; that would be a very soft option. I'm saying that there are specific biblical, scriptural injunctions to do evil.

Moderator: Dr. Craig in that regards, those who are announced atheists who have done evil in the world particularly in the last twentieth century—the Marxists, the Trotskyites, the Stalinists—have they done more damage in your view and more evil than the Christians?

Dr. Craig: Well, this is a debate, Hugh, that I don't want to get into because I think it's irrelevant. I, as a philosopher—and I mean this—am interested in the truth of these worldviews more than I'm interested in the social impact. And you cannot judge the truth of a worldview by its social impact; that's just irrelevant. Bertrand Russell, in his essay Why I'm Not a Christian, understood this. Russell said, you cannot assess the truth of a worldview by seeing whether it's good for society or not. Now the irony was, when Russell wrote that back in the '20s, he was trying to refute those who said that you should believe in Christianity because it's so socially beneficial to society. It was just the mirror image of Christopher Hitchens' argument—where [he is] saying you shouldn't believe in it because it's socially detrimental to human culture. But I think Russell's point cuts both ways because it's a valid point. You can't assess the truth of a worldview by arguing about its cultural and social impact. There are true ideas that may have had negative social impact, and therefore we have to deal with the truth of these—the arguments for and against them—and not get into arguments about has Marxism or Chinese Communism been responsible for more deaths than theism in the twentieth century.

Mr. Hitchens: No, I completely concur with what you say there. I mean, I just wanted to say that I think those commandments are injunctions to do evil, but I would much prefer to say that the tribe that thought it was hearing these instructions from God—to kill all of its rivals, exterminate all its rivals for the Holy Land—might possibly have had—I think it's overwhelmingly probable it did have—the need to seek and claim divine approval for the war of greedy extermination, annexation, and racist conquests that it was going to undertake anyway. In other words, I don't think there was an authority issuing that commandment, whether it was morally good or otherwise, as a matter of the truth. But I would add, and I think the concession is very well worth having, that there is absolutely no proof at all that Christianity makes people behave better.

Dr. Craig: Wait a minute! I didn't concede that!

Mr. Hitchens: Even though that's irrelevant to whether it's true.

Dr. Craig: I said I wasn't going to argue that because it's irrelevant, but by no means did I concede that. And I do appreciate as well the way you framed the issue about the Canaanites. I think you are quite right in saying that this is not an issue about whether or not God exists; rather, this is a question about biblical inerrancy. Did these ancient Israelites get it right in thinking that God had commanded them to do these things or did they, in their nationalistic fervor, think God is on our side and do something, which in fact, they weren't commanded to do by God? So that this isn't an issue between atheism and theism, this is an issue about biblical inspiration and inerrancy, and that's an important issue. But it's not one that is on the floor tonight.

Moderator: Our next student question.

Questioner: Hi, my question is mainly directed at Mr. Hitchens. Christian theism, as with all theisms that claim a revelation, say that the purpose of human existence is to serve God—and Dr. Craig might want to expound on that in some way. But Mr. Hitchens, as an atheist with no transcendent being giving you a reason for existence, what then is the best way to live life or what is motivation for living life or what is the purpose of your existence without a transcendent being telling you what to do?

Mr. Hitchens: Well, I find it—you see, this is where I find it hard to accept the grammar of your question. It's as if, if I was only willing to concede the supernatural—you want to say transcendent, I want to say supernatural—then my life would have purpose. I think that's a complete non sequitur. To me, at any rate, I'll have to just make the confession—and this is as real to me subjectively as any William Jamesian apprehension of the divine. I don't get your point at all.

Moderator: Dr. Craig, one of the written questions says, and I think it is consistent with the question from the audience, "You have written that life without God is absurd, but I know unbelievers who are living fulfilling moral lives. In what way is their life absurd?”

Dr. Craig: O.K., let me respond to that and to the question here that was asked. I would say that the purpose of life for which God has created us is not to serve God. Remember, Jesus said, "I no longer call you servants. . . . I have called you friends." [32] And I think the Westminster Confession gets it right when it says the purpose of human existence is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. God is the fulfillment of human existence. It is in fellowship eternally with God, the source of infinite goodness and love, that the true fulfillment of human existence and freedom is to be found.

Now, when I say that apart from theism life is meaningless, I mean objectively meaningless. This is the same distinction that we're talking about with regard to moral values. I'm saying that on atheism there is there is no objective purpose for human existence. As Mr. Hitchens recognizes, eventually the universe will grow cold, dilute, dark, and dead as it runs down toward maximum entropy and heat death, and all human existence and life will be extinguished on an atheistic view of the future of the universe. There is no purpose for which the universe exists; the litter of a dead universe will just expand into the endless darkness forever—a universe in ruins. Now, of course one can still live one's life as an illusion, thinking, "Well, the purpose of life is to hit forty home runs and steal forty bases every year in the major leagues,” and you draw the meaning of your existence from that, but that's not really the meaning of your existence. That's just a subjective illusion. In fact, your existence on atheism is objectively meaningless. So that's the distinction that I was making. Again, it's between objective and mere subjective illusion.

Mr. Hitchens: Well, I think it has it exactly the wrong way around. You see, as I was beginning to say earlier—we didn't have time in the question period—I wouldn't say that atheism was morally inferior. I wouldn't concede that for a second. I don't want to make a claim for its superiority either, but there may be a slight edge here. We don't believe anything that could be called wishful. In other words, we don't particularly welcome the idea of the annihilation either of ourselves, as individuals, the party will go on, and we will have left and we're not coming back, or of the entropic heat death of the universe. We don't like the idea. But there's a good deal of evidence to suggest that that is what's going to happen. And there's very, very little evidence to suggest that I'll see you all again in some theme park—one nice and one nasty experience. There's absolutely no evidence for that at all. So I'm willing to accept on the evidence conclusions that may be unwelcome to me. I'm sorry if I sound as if I'm spelling that out, but I will.

Now, you want to know what makes my life meaningful? Generally speaking it's been struggling myself to be free and—if I can say it without immodesty, Mr. Hewitt kindly said it for me, too flatteringly beforehand—trying to help others to be free too. That's what given a lot of meaning to my life and does still—the solidarity with those who want to be as free as I am, partly by luck and partly by my own efforts and the efforts of others.

Well, one obstacle to liberty—and that's why I mentioned it and gave so many examples of it in history and in the present day—is the poisonous role played by fellow primates of mine who think they can tell me what to do in the name of God because God's told them that they have this power. So that's one thing I'd like to be shot of right here in the here in now. And my suspicion is, if you really ask the religious where do they want power and what's the world they care about, the next one or this one, it'll be this one every time because they too know, per-fec-tly well, that this is the only life we've got.

Dr. Craig: Yes, I don't think that's true. It seems to me that on the basis of the resurrection of Jesus that we have grounds for the hope of immortality. This is the foundation upon which the Christian hope is predicated. So, again, it gets back to whether or not one has good grounds for thinking that Jesus was who he claimed to be, and that God raised him from the dead. Because if he did, then there is hope of immortality.

Mr. Hitchens: But then—I return your question to me—I return it to you in a different form. If there's going to be a resurrection, an ingathering—if in the end all injustices will be canceled, all tears dried, all the other promises kept, then why do you care what happens in this brief veil of tears? Why do the churches want power in the here and now? Why do they want to legislate for things like abortion or sexuality or morality? Why bother? I mean, isn't it just as much the case, as Dostoevsky says about atheism, that without God all things are possible, that with God all things are thinkable, too?

Dr. Craig: Not at all. As Dostoevsky said, if there is no immortality all things are permitted—he said, because it all ends up the same, it all comes out in the wash the same. But if there is a God who exists, who loves human beings and has created them in his image and endowed them with intrinsic moral value and unalienable rights, then you have every reason to treasure other persons as ends in themselves. And the desire of pro-life persons to champion the lives of the unborn or the lives of the dying isn't a power grab, Mr. Hitchens. It's because they genuinely care about the lives of innocent human beings that they believe are being wantonly destroyed. So it's a very positive motivation.

Mr. Hitchens: Agreed, agreed, but there are perfectly good humanist motives for doing all those things. And if you want to have a reason for caring about the survival and health and well-being of others, the idea that you might depend on them for the only life you have got, and they on you, for solidarity, is just as good an explanation for right action.

Dr. Craig: Now don't you—

Mr. Hitchens: But by the—but per contra, if people think God is telling them what to do, or they have God on their side, what will they not do? That's what I meant by the reverse of the Dostoevsky question. What crime will not be committed? What offense to justice and to reason and to humanity will not be—is not regularly committed by people who are convinced that it is God's will that they do that? It's with God that all is possible.

Dr. Craig: If they commit such atrocities it is only because they only act inconsistently with their worldview rather than in line with it.

Mr. Hitchens: Tell that to—

Dr. Craig: Jesus would not have been a guard at Auschwitz or someone who would take away the human rights of another person. You need to ask what kinds of actions are sanctioned by a worldview. And on atheism, as Dostoevsky said, it seems everything is permitted. Humanism, without God as a basis for humanism, is just a form of speciesism—a bias in favor of your own species. I think Christianity affirms the real basis for humanism.

Mr. Hitchens: Auschwitz is the outcome of centuries in which the Christian Church announced, believed, that the Jewish people had called for the blood of Jesus of Nazareth to be on their head for every generation. It's only in one verse in the Bible, I know, but it happens to be the verse the Church picked up on. I don't say Jesus would have been a guard there, that's not the point. The point is that this is not an aberration of religion; it is a scriptural injunction. As is the one to kill the Amalekites—

Dr. Craig: No, there's no scriptural—

Mr. Hitchens: —As is the one to mutilate the genitals of children.

Dr. Craig: It is—the issue is would Jesus have been a guard at Auschwitz because, insofar, as people who claim to be his followers were guards at Auschwitz, they were acting inconsistently and in defiance of the ethic of Jesus of Nazareth.

Mr. Hitchens: Well you should tell that to the Vatican. I mean, we know—Paul Johnson in his very friendly history of Christianity says that up to 50 to 60% of the Waffen-SS were practicing, confessing Catholics in good standing. No one was ever threatened with discipline by the church with excommunication, for example, for taking part in the Final Solution. The only Nazi ever excommunicated by the church was Joseph Goebbels. And, if you like, I'll tell you why . . .

Moderator: To the student.

Mr. Hitchens: His wife was a divorced Protestant.

Moderator: He was going to tell us anyway.

Mr. Hitchens: Excuse me, excuse me, Christianity does have some standards.

Moderator: Next student.

Questioner: Hi, I'd just like to thank both you guys for being here. And in the interest of fairness—I know I'm playing devil's advocate here—pun intended—but I think since almost all the questions are going to be directed towards Mr. Hitchens, I think we should have one for Dr. Craig.

Mr. Hitchens: They are all for both of us.

Questioner: For Dr. Craig, what do you think about Epicurus' argument that if God is omnibenevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent—if He knows about kids in Africa that are born with AIDS—what do you think about him suggesting—Him not intervening, and Him not changing that fact. That's a question that I've always struggled with. So I'm just wondering, could you expand on that, and I'd also like your input [to Hitchens] on it.

Dr. Craig: Yes. The Problem of Evil and Suffering has been greatly discussed by philosophers, and I think there's been genuine progress made in this century on this problem. I think it's important to distinguish between the intellectual problem of suffering and the emotional problem of suffering because these are quite different from each other.

In terms of the intellectual problem of suffering, I think that there you need to ask yourself is the atheist claiming, as Epicurus did, that the existence of God is logically incompatible with the evil and suffering in the world? If that's what the atheist is claiming, then he has got to be presupposing some kind of hidden assumptions that would bring out that contradiction and make it explicit because these statements are not explicitly contradictory. The problem is no philosopher in the history of the world has ever been able to identify what those hidden assumptions would be that would bring out the contradiction and make it explicit. On the contrary, you can actually prove that these are logically compatible with each other by adding a third proposition, namely, that God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting the evil in the world. As long as that statement is even possibly true, it proves that there's no logical incompatibility between God and the suffering in the world. So the atheist would have to show that it is logically impossible for God to have morally sufficient reasons for permitting the evil and suffering in the world, and no atheist has ever been able to do that. So, that the logical version of this problem, I think, is widely recognized to have failed.

Those atheists who still press the problem therefore press it as a probabilistic argument. They try to say that given the evil in the world it's improbable that God exists, not impossible but improbable. Well, again, the difficulty there is that the atheist has to claim that if God did exist then it is improbable that he would permit the evil and suffering in the world. And how could the atheist possibly know that? How could the atheist know that God would not, if He existed, permit the evil and suffering in the world? Maybe He has got good reasons for it. Maybe, like in Christian theism, God's purpose for human history is to bring the maximum number of people freely into his kingdom to find salvation and eternal life. And how do we know that that wouldn't require a world that is simply suffused with natural and moral suffering? It might be that only in a world like that the maximum number of people would freely come to know God and find salvation. So the atheist would have to show that there is a possible world that's feasible for God, which God could've created, that would have just as much salvation and eternal life and knowledge of God as the actual world but with less suffering. And how could the atheist prove such a thing? It's sheer speculation. So the problem is that, as an argument, the Problem of Evil makes probability judgments, which are very, very ambitious and which we are simply not in a position to make with any kind of confidence.

Now, I recognize that that philosophical response to the question doesn't deal with the emotional problem of evil. And I think that for most people this isn't really a philosophical problem; it's an emotional problem. They just don't like a God who would permit suffering and pain in the world, and so they turn their backs on him. What does Christianity have to say to this problem? Well, I think it has a lot to say. It tells us that God is not some sort of an impersonal ground of being or an indifferent tyrant who folds his arms and watches the world suffer. Rather, He is a God who enters into human history in the person of Jesus Christ. And what does He do? He suffers. On the cross, Christ bore a suffering of which we can form no conception. Even though He was innocent, He bore the penalty of the sins of the whole world. None of us can comprehend what He suffered. And I think when we contemplate the cross of Christ and His love for us and what He was willing to undergo for us, it puts the problem of suffering in an entirely different perspective. It means, I think, that we can bear the suffering that God calls upon us to endure in this life with courage and with optimism for an eternal life of unending joy beyond the grave because of what Christ has done for us. And He will give us, I think, the courage and the strength to get through the suffering that God calls upon us to bear in this life.

So, whether it's an emotional issue or intellectual issue, I think ultimately Christian theism can make sense out of the suffering and evil in the world.

Moderator: As the clock winds down I reserve the last question for myself. Mr. Hitchens—

Mr. Hitchens: Yes, I’m not—just on the devil's advocate point, when the Vatican asked me to testify against Mother Teresa, I discovered—which I did—I discovered that the office of devil's advocate has been abolished now. So, I come before you as the only person ever to have represented the devil pro bono.

Moderator: Last question.

Mr. Hitchens: Yes, now, I'm not one of—I was very intrigued by that reply and largely agree with it. If I were a believer, I would not feel God owed me an explanation. I'm not one of those atheists who thinks you can go around saying—complaining—if you make the assumption that there is a deity then all things are possible. You just have to be able to make that assumption. At our debate in Dallas the other day, I mentioned the case of Fräulein Fritzl, the Austrian woman who was imprisoned in a dungeon by her father for quarter of a century and incestuously raped and tortured and kept in the dark with her children for 25 years, and I thought—I asked people to imagine how she must have beseeched him, how she must have begged him (and how the children must have), and how they must have prayed. And how those prayers were not answered, and those begging’s and beseechments went unanswered for 25 years. And Douglas Wilson's reply to me was, God will cancel all that, and all those tears will be dried. And I said, well, if you are capable of believing that then obviously what that woman went through, and her children went through, was perfectly worth while. And her father was all that time, without knowing it and apparently not particularly wishing it, an instrument of the divine will. And as I have said to you before this evening—had occasion to say—you are perfectly free to believe that if you wish.

Moderator: To conclude.

Mr. Hitchens: I do.

Moderator: You could, Mr. Hitchens—you have got 4,000 people here, tens of thousands more watching—you could do the same exchange at Wheaton, at Westmont, at Azusa Pacific, at Point Loma, at Notre Dame, at every great Christian university in the United States. Why do you think so many people come out to see debates with accomplished people like Dr. Craig and you?

Mr. Hitchens: It's a time for this great question to come up again. I think there are two reasons for it. One is the emergence of a very aggressive theocratic challenge in various parts of the world. We are about to see a long-feared nightmare come true: the acquisition of apocalyptic weaponry by a Messianic regime in Tehran, which is already enslaving and ruining a formerly great civilization. We see the forces of Al Qaeda and related jihadists ruining the societies of Iraq, of Afghanistan, and Pakistan. We see Jewish settlers stealing other people's land in the name of God in the hope that this will bring on a Messianic combat and the return of the Messiah. And even in our own country we're not free from people who want to have stultifying nonsense taught to children in school and in science class. So, there's that. It's in the news all the time.

And then there's the existence of a very small group, of which I'm very proud to be a part, that says it's time to take a stand against theocratic bullying and is willing to go anywhere to debate these matters and put these great questions to the proof.

So—and thank you for giving me the chance.

Dr. Craig: Yes . . . I would answer the question somewhat differently. I think that what we're seeing is the fruit of modernity. In the Enlightenment, The Church and The Monarchy were thrown off in the name of free thought and unshackled human inquiry. And the thought was that once mankind was freed from the shackles and bondage of religion that this would produce a sort of humanistic utopia. And instead, I think what we've come to see is the fruit of the naturalistic worldview is that mankind is reduced to meaninglessness, valuelessness, and purposelessness, and that therefore the question of God's existence has become all the more poignant in our age because we're beginning to question, I think, the fruit of modernity and questioning scientific naturalism.

I'm privileged to be part of a revolution in Christian philosophy that has been going on over the last half century that has literally transformed the face of Anglo-American philosophy—as the scientific, naturalistic, atheistic worldview has been challenged, in the name of reason and philosophy, and the theistic worldview reasserted. And I believe that we're seeing a tremendous groundswell of interest among laypeople as this revolution is beginning to filter down to the man in the street.

So I would see us as beginning to question the assumptions of modernity and the bitter fruits of modernity that have been so evident in the twentieth century. And I'm hoping that this will lead to a tremendous renaissance in Christian thinking and Christian faith.

Moderator: To wrap up then, five quick observations and some instructions. Number one: No good society prohibits debates such as this one. Number two: Only confident faith welcomes them, only extraordinary universities stage them, and only very accomplished scholars and intellectuals can make them interesting and entertaining.

Please join me in welcoming and thanking our panelists. Both men—they did agree on one thing, which is that N. T. Wright is a very impressive man. I think Christopher Hitchens said, and therefore to the viewing audience who might not know who N. T. Wright is I would recommend, on Mr. Hitchens' strong recommendation, that you get and read his books.

I also want to tell you that I'm going to ask you to stay in your seats as our panelists exist stage right. There's a book signing. And I want to ask you, if you have a book to stand in line. If you don't, please don't. And to recognize Mr. Hitchens has a five o'clock flight in the morning. So, get your book signed, he loves to do that, but please don't ask him about his third cousin that you once met in Melbourne. Just let them get to talk about the book. So gentlemen, I'm going to let you enter stage left here, and I'll hold them for a second. Thank you very much.

Stay there so they can get around back.

Finally, I want to thank Dr. Craig Hazen, Torrey Honors Institute, and everyone at Biola for coming this evening. Have a safe, productive trip home. Good night.

  • [1]

    Derek Parfit, "Why Anything? Why This?" London Review of Books 20/2 (January 22, 1998), 24.

  • [2]

    David Hilbert, "On the Infinite," in Philosophy of Mathematics, ed. with an Introduction by Paul Benacerraf and Hillary Putnam (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1964), 139, 141-42.

  • [3]

    ABC Science Online, "The Big Questions: In the Beginning," Interview of Paul Davies by Philp Adams, (accessed August 21st, 2014).

  • [4]

    Anthony Kenny, The Five Ways: St. Thomas Aquinas' Proofs of God's Existence (New York, NY: Schocken Books, 1969), 66.

  • [5]

    Roger Penrose, The Road to Reality (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), 765.

  • [6]

    Michael Ruse, “Evolutionary Theory and Christian Ethics,” in The Darwinian Paradigm (London: Routledge, 1989), 262, 268-69 (italics in original).

  • [7]

    Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson, Is Christianity Good for the World? (Moscow, ID: Cannon Press, 2008), 52.

  • [8]

    Ibid., 53.

  • [9]

    Jacob Kremer, Die Osterevangelien--Geschichten um Geschichte (Stuttgart: Katholisches Bibelwerk, 1977), 49-50.

  • [10]

    Gerd Lüdemann, What Really Happened to Jesus? Trans. John Bowden (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995), 80.

  • [11]

    N. T. Wright, "The New Unimproved Jesus," Christianity Today, September 13, 1993, 26.

  • [12]

    François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, Maxims, trans. Leonard Tancock (London: Penguine Books, 1959), 65.

  • [13]

    William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994), 36.

  • [14]

    William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008), 51.

  • [15]

    Ibid., 50.

  • [16]

    Matthew 7:7 (KJV)

  • [17]

    Robert T. Pennock, ed., Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics: Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives (Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2001), 150.

  • [18]

    Erik Kreps quoted in Dinesh D’Souza, What’s So Great About Christianity? (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 2007), p. 64.

  • [19]

    John Barrow and Frank Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), 442.

  • [20]

    Martin Rees, Before the Beginning: Our Universe and Others (Cambridge, MA: Perseus, 1997), 3.

  • [21]

    Sir Martin Rees, "Anything Goes," New Scientist, 6 June 1998, 26-30, 28-29.

  • [22]

    Ernan McMullin, “Anthropic Explanation in Cosmology,” paper delivered at the conference “God and Physical Cosmology,” University of Notre Dame, January 30-February 1, 2003.

  • [23]

    N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God, (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003), 710.

  • [24]

    Romans 1:20 (RSV)

  • [25]

    Acts 17:26-28a (NIV)

  • [26]

    Luke 10:27 (NASB)

  • [27]

    Pigliucci, Massimo and William Lane Craig, “Does God Exist?” Debate, University of Georgia, Athens, GA, 1998

  • [28]

    Luke 23:34 (ESV)

  • [29]

    Christopher Hitchens and Douglas Wilson, Is Christianity Good for the World? (Moscow, ID: Cannon Press, 2008), 52-53 (italics in original)

  • [30]

    Christopher Hitchens, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (New York, NY: Hachette Book Group, 2009), 4.

  • [31]

    Ibid., 4.

  • [32]

    John 15:15 (NIV)