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Does God Exist? The Craig-Smith Debate 2003

April 2003

William Lane Craig vs. Quentin Smith

Harvard Science Center, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States - April 2003

Opening Speech - Dr. Smith

The question [of whether] God exists may sound as if the atheist knows that she does not exist, which is no positive theory about what does exist. You know, this has been true of traditional atheism. Well, I believe here that there should be a new form of atheism, one that presents a positive theory of what exists and that this positive theory has a logical consequence that God does not exist.

1. One form of the existence question is this: did God create the universe? I reject the traditional atheist response, as well as the theist response. The traditional atheist response is that the universe does not need an explanation of why it exists and therefore does not need a divine Creator to give an explanation. I reject this since I think the universe's existence does need and does have an explanation. The universe created itself. After this I argue that atheism, but not theism, explains humans' moral behavior.

Scientists have been saying for a long time that the universe began about 15 billion years ago with an explosion they call the Big Bang. Bill believes the Big Bang was caused by God and I believe it both caused itself to exist and caused the later states of the universe to exist. At the Big Bang there is a line of simultaneous causes and effects. This is implied both by a Bohmian interpretation of quantum mechanics and by the EPR correlations - for those of you in the audience who are science majors - which imply - you don't need to understand either of the sciences to understand my talk - and these theories imply that there are instantaneous causal relations between simultaneous events.

I agree with Bill and some philosophers and physicists that Einstein's relative time merely describes how time appears to us and that time in reality consists in successive states of absolutely simultaneous events. In fact, Bill and I are co-editing a book that will contain essays by the leading physicists and philosophers who argue for absolute simultaneity. So that's one common belief that Bill and I will have throughout this debate.

The first state of the universe consists of an indefinitely or infinitely long chain of simultaneous events that are causally connected to each other. Now I drew a picture of this on the board.

craig smith debate figure 1

Fig. 1.

OK, this is the very first state of the universe, time t0 and the horizontal lines are lines of the simultaneous events. So these numbers stand for events. And these dots mean this goes indefinitely or infinitely long off to the left in space. And these dots mean this line of events goes off indefinitely or infinitely off to the right in space. So at the very first time the universe began, there is this simultaneous line of events where there was simultaneous causation. So event -2 instantaneously caused event -1. And that also simultaneously caused event 0. And 0 simultaneously caused event 1. And that simultaneously caused 2 and so on, for an indefinite or infinite number of events going off in that direction.

So at the very first state of the universe, there are an infinite number of events, but every single event is fully caused and it's fully caused by another event and each of these causes are part of the universe. So we can see already why we don't need a God to create the first state of the universe. And to say that it creates itself just means that this causes that, that causes that and that causes that and so on. Now these events also cause this arrow here, these arrows mean simultaneous causation.

These vertical arrows mean causes a later event. So -2 causes the later event -II. And -1 causes the later event of -I. And this caused the later event that. And this caused the later event that. And that and that. And so here, we have every single event has a cause. This is caused by that. And, this is caused by that. And there is no event left anywhere for God to cause. So that's what the paradoxical or metaphorical phrase, "the universe caused itself", means.

Furthermore, the whole universe does not need an extra cause. If all the parts of the universe are caused to exist, that logically implies the whole exists. It is really a simple logical deduction from all of the parts of the universe, the parts here - when I say parts, I am referring to these events that I drew on the board. All the parts of the universe exist and they caused each other to exist, now that logically implies the whole of the parts exists. So this nullifies the typical theist claim that even if all the parts are causally explained by each other, the whole is not causally explained. And thus we need God to cause the whole. Now I venture to predict that this is what Bill will say in his response to me, if it's not impolite to predict what Bill will say. And also if it's not impolite, I will also counter his response in advance.

The theists and Bill's claim is false, I contend, since the existence of the whole is already explained by the causal explanation of the parts. The reason the whole exists is that the parts cause themselves to exist and the existence of the parts logically implies the existence of the whole. If the universe is self-caused in this manner, there is no divine cause to the universe. Now Bill might and probably will, if I can predict again, mention features of the whole universe that no parts have, such as density, expansion, temperature, etc. and say well, these features need to be caused by something, namely God. But my response is that these are really features of large parts of the whole. Density is a feature of the part of the whole that is matter. Expansion is a feature of a large part of the whole that is space. Temperature is a characteristic of the part of the whole that consists of the movement of the molecules. Now these cannot be features of the whole universe, since electrons are not expanding, have no temperature and so they would be excluded from the part of the universe that has those features. So that, for that reason, these features cannot be features of the whole universe that need an extra cause, God, to cause them. And furthermore, certainly animal and human minds have no temperature or density or expansion. And so these or any other accidental or contingent features that might be mentioned as features of the whole that don't logically follow from the parts are not really features of the whole, they are features of just large parts.

So the whole universe has no characteristics that are not logically implied by the parts. So the explanation of the existence of the whole is really a simple logical deduction from the existence of the parts, which are causally explained.

Theists and Bill might ask, what explains why this universe exists, rather than some other universe or nothing at all? My answer is that of all the possible universes, only in our universe do the parts actually cause each other to exist. Part -1 exists and is caused by part -2. But no actual causation occurs in any other possible universes and that's why they don't exist.

I think Bill and other theists will ask, as they often do in these discussions, they'll ask, well, what explains the basic laws of nature we have? My answer is not that God created them. My answer is that laws of nature are series of events that occur in similar patterns, similar to each other. The laws are nothing other than these causally connected events. The laws are caused in the sense that each event in the causally connected series is caused by another event in that series. And so that explains the causation of the laws of nature. "The laws of nature" is a funny kind of phrase. It sounds like a judicial law, when in fact laws of nature are just events in nature that are similar to each other, occurring in repeatable and regular patterns.

2. OK, my second major argument is about morality, about the foundation of objectivity of morality. But first I'll talk about the foundation of morality. Now theists, including Bill, have a moral argument for God's existence. They say we need God in order to have a foundation or ground of morality and moral behavior. We need God, they say, to explain why moral behavior exists.

Well, I think this is false. Biologists have already explained how moral behavior came into existence and its ground or foundation. The explanation is that in mammals living millions of years ago, the mother wanted her offspring to survive and reproduce. This means the mother selected for her sex partner the male mammal who is most likely to care for the offspring. By selecting caring men, the genetic trait of caring and helping became the predominant trait of our ancestors. Caring and helping is the genetic trait we inherited, both from mothers and fathers caring for their children.

Also mammals, including early humans, could survive better if they formed a harmonious group where everybody cared for everyone else. This is the genetic origin of altruism, benevolence and the general desire to help other people. We act morally because we genetically inherited a moral conscience that tells us what we ought to do.

Further, if the theist brings in the idea that humans need the threat of punishment in Hell in order to act morally, I think the reasoning here is mistaken. Well, first of all, atheists behave just as morally as theists, as all of the various studies that have tried to determine this have now found out. And that fact alone is sufficient evidence to show that belief in God is not required to act morally. So really all you need to point out is that these studies show that atheists do behave morally. Therefore God doesn't play a part in explaining moral behavior.

And further the theistic idea of fear of punishment for acting immorally has this problem: that fear is a selfish motivation, not a moral and altruistic motivation. And if theists think that humans are purely selfish and you need to fear the punishment of God in Hell in order to act morally, the theist's theory of human nature is mistaken. It's extremely pessimistic. Humans are not purely selfish. They are selfish sometimes, but they are also innately moral and do good things just because they have a desire to do something good. The foundation of evil and good is that humans inherited from their ancestors both selfishness and caring for others.

Now objectivity of morals is a slightly different question. Now some theists such as Bill believe that unless morals are objective, we have no reason or motive to act morally. I would suggest that Bill and some other theists may be mistaken about the meaning of saying that morals need to be objective.

First, many atheists do hold that moral values exist, intrinsic to reality and are not dependent on any mind, human or divine, for their existence. So morals are objective in the strongest possible sense of the word, for these atheists. Examples of atheists who hold this are Panayot Butchvarov, Peter Railton, Nicolai Hartmann, G. E. Moore and many other atheist philosophers, including myself. I argue that there is an intrinsic moral structure of reality that is not created by humans, or God, or any other mind at all. I argue that goodness is a thing realizing its nature, its natural potentialities. And this theory I developed is rather complicated to explain so I'll just refer you - I won't say anything more about it - I'll just refer to a book in which I developed it, which is Ethical and Religious Thought in Analytic Philosophy of Language published in 1997 by Yale University Press.

OK, a second point. It is not necessary that morals be objective in this strong sense in order for humans to act morally. Morals are objective in a second sense if they are not subjective. Morals are subjective if different moral values are arbitrarily created by each different person. Morals are not subjective because they are inter-subjectively valid. This means that if it's morally wrong to rape somebody, this is morally wrong for every person. This is the very meaning of moral values, that they apply to everybody. Even if these moral values are created by a genetically acquired human consciousness through the processes of evolution. "Rape is wrong" does not mean "rape is wrong for me to do, but OK for others to do". Rather it means, “rape is wrong for anyone to do”. The very meaning of morals, right, wrong, good, evil, ought to do, ought not to do, is that these values hold for everyone.

So Bill and other theists are not fully accurate if they believe inter-subjective validity is not a sense of objectivity that obligates people to act morally. So even if morality is not intrinsic to reality, but is created by humans, the mere fact that it is inter-subjectively valid among all humans, it applies to all humans, that's a sufficiently strong sense of objectivity to motivate and give humans reason to behave in a moral manner.

Furthermore, it is in fact the theist who is committed to morals being non-objective and purely subjective. The theist says something is good because a certain person, a divine person, believes it is good. God subjectively creates his own morals and imposes them on other persons and punishes them if they do not act in accordance with his subjective moral beliefs. If God exists, how do we know his subjective beliefs about morals are right? Was God morally right in murdering the Egyptians with the plague? Was he right for torturing Job? For demanding that Abraham kill his own son in order to prove that Abraham liked God better than his own son? How do we know that God is good?

There are many things that God does, or allows, that we would naturally call evil. For example, why does God allow people to die prematurely of cancer? Why are there famines and plagues, smallpox, or other diseases at all in a world a perfectly good and all-powerful God would create? Remember we're talking about God here. Bill and I share - we're talking about one definition of God. God is all-powerful. He's all knowing, perfectly good and perfectly free. So why would an all-powerful and perfectly good God create a world that had all of these terrible things in it? Bill's theory is that the goal of life is not happiness, but to come closer to God. So he says, well, suffering is not an objection to God's existence since suffering brings people closer to God. But that does not seem plausible. If I have a headache and I'm suffering from it, does that motivate me to come closer to God? If I break my leg, does that motivate me to come closer to God? Or rather to hope an ambulance comes?

And what about all the animals who are burnt to death in forest fires? If a deer Bambi burns to death and no human ever learns that this happens, how does this horrible burning lead anyone to come closer to God? Not any humans, because they don't know about it. Not Bambi, because Christians believe that deer cannot have a concept of God. So it is an evil for no purpose. The God who created such a world - would we call that God good? I would not.

I suppose - Bill says God is good by definition. I would say that the definition is false and that the theist needs to explain why it is true. But suppose it is true. Then I would respond that given that definition of God, then God doesn't exist. Because no such God would create a world like ours, full of so many evils. Bill believes that God allows suffering so that people will come closer to God. Well this is factually false. According to one survey, a Gallup poll...

Opening Speech - Dr. Craig

Good evening! I'm delighted to have the opportunity to debate my good friend Quentin Smith on this most important question: “Does God exist?”

Now in the debate tonight, we need to ask ourselves two fundamental questions:

I. Are there any good arguments against God's existence?


II. Are there any good arguments for God's existence?

I. Well, what about that first question: Are there any good arguments against God's existence? Quentin thinks that there are, and he presented two arguments to prove that God does not exist.

1. His first argument is that there cannot be a divine cause of the universe because there is an infinite regress of simultaneous causes.

Now, I'm not sure, frankly, what Quentin is talking about here. I assume that he's talking about a simultaneity class of events, quantum events, perhaps, that are simultaneously related. But I think that we can avert this question by simply considering what is the cause of the initial cosmological singularity that spawned the universe. For the initial singularity is part of the universe. The universe is comprised of all its space-time points and its boundary points. The initial singularity is the beginning of the universe, the first state of physical reality. As Stephen Hawking explains, “All the matter and energy [were] compressed into a single point, or singularity . . . . the entire observable universe . . . started out compressed into such a point.” [1] And since that point is not governed by quantum laws of physics, there cannot be this infinite regress of simultaneous causes at the singular state.

So the real question is, where did the singularity come from? Did it just pop into being out of nothing? The theist claims that God created the initial singularity and thereby caused the universe to exist. Now in order to rule out this possibility, Quentin in his most recent work has to stipulate that the initial singularity exists both necessarily and a se. [2] That is to say, it exists not only in every possible world, but it does so independently of any other reality.

But now the problem is that there's just no evidence whatsoever that the initial singularity has such extraordinary properties. Nothing in classical or quantum cosmology even suggests that the singularity is metaphysically necessary. In fact, there's no evidence to suggest that the singularity is even nomologically necessary. That is to say, it's not even necessary according to the laws of nature. The laws of nature permit all sorts of non-singular cosmological models. Thus, the singularity cannot be metaphysically necessary.

Moreover, there's no reason to think it exists a se either. Quite the opposite is true: the singularity is the boundary of the space-time manifold; so if the manifold didn’t exist, neither would its boundary points. Quentin, in his written work [3], admits that the space-time universe did not have to exist; but he imagines that its singular boundary point, like the smile of the Cheshire cat in Alice in Wonderland, would still continue to exist even in the absence of the reality it bounds! But there is no physical reason to believe such a remarkable assertion.

Now, if this is correct, then not only is there no inconsistency in the theist's view that God created the singularity, but Quentin's supposed argument for atheism actually turns out to be an argument for God's existence. We can formulate such a contingency argument as follows:

1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in some external cause.

2. The universe (including any singular state) exists.

It follows from (1) and (2) that the universe has an explanation of its existence. Premiss (3) states:

3. The universe (including any singular state) does not exist by a necessity of its own nature.

4. Therefore, the universe has an external cause.

The explanation of the universe must be found in a being which transcends space and time, is metaphysically necessary ,and is changeless and immaterial. Now the only things we know of that can exist in that way are either abstract objects, like numbers, or a mind. But abstract objects don't stand in causal relationships and so cannot be the explanation of the universe. So the explanation of the universe is most plausibly a transcendent Mind, which is minimally what everybody means by "God". So thank you, Quentin, for the first argument!

But that's not all. The reason that Quentin thinks that the atheistic hypothesis is more probable than theism is that he claims, in his written work again, that it's more probable that the singularity, rather than God, would produce a chaotic Big Bang. [4]

But the fundamental problem with this argument is that it's false that the Big Bang was chaotic, or disordered. One of the most important discoveries of the past generation is that the Big Bang was not like a chaotic explosion, but was an extraordinarily low-entropy, highly ordered event. The old chaotic cosmology championed by people like Charles Misner is dead and gone. As the philosopher of science Ernan McMullin explains, what has been discovered instead is that in order for the universe to exist as it does today, its initial conditions had to be severely constrained. He writes,

Were a ‘chaos’ . . . sufficient to give rise to the sort of universe we now have, no question would arise about why its parameters had the initial values they had. But if the present universe severely constrains the range of possibilities for a plausible starting-point, a question about the significance of that constraint immediately presents itself. [5]

When you compare the range of assumable values of the fundamental quantities permitted by the laws of nature with the range of life-permitting values, the range of life-permitting values is incomprehensibly small in comparison with the wider range of assumable values. The probability that all of the constants and quantities would fall by chance alone into the razor-thin life-permitting range is vanishingly small. We now know that life-prohibiting universes are incomprehensibly more probable than any life-permitting universe like ours.

So, if Quentin is right that it is much more probable that an orderly universe would come from God's hand than from the singularity, then it follows that it is probable that God exists. And we can formulate such a teleological argument as follows:

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

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

3. Therefore, it is due to design.

So, in short, Quentin's probability argument renders it more probable that the Big Bang is the result of God's creative action than of the blind out-spewing of an unconstrained singularity. So, we now have a second argument for God's existence.

2. Well, that now brings us to Quentin's second argument for atheism, which is that God cannot be the foundation of moral values and duties. He gives two reasons for this.

a. First of all, he says that if moral values are grounded in God, then this is subjective because it's just God's opinion.

Well, I think not. On the theistic view, the Good is identical to the moral character of God. God's character is necessarily holy, loving, just, kind, etc. And these attributes are constitutive of the Good. Now God's moral nature in turn expresses itself toward us in the form of certain divine commands, which become for us, then, our moral duties. And thus these commands are not arbitrary or subjective, but they flow necessarily from God's nature. As the prominent philosopher William Alston says, “If God is essentially good, then there will be nothing arbitrary about his commands; indeed it will be metaphysically necessary that he issue those commands.” [6]

b. What, then, about the problem of evil? Well, I would simply say that God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting the suffering and evil in the world. Quentin knows philosophy of religion well enough to know that no atheist has ever been able to shoulder the tremendous burden of proof of showing that God does not or cannot have morally sufficient reasons for permitting the evil in the world. So if he's going to take that line, I await his argument.

Now what about Quentin's own view of ethics, as explained in his book that he mentioned? [7] Well, his view is that the Good is the actualization of one's nature. Now I think that there are lots of problems with this view, but the main problem is that it's arbitrary. If you say that the Good is the realization of human nature, then you’re guilty of specie-ism, which is an unjustified bias in favor of your own species. There’s no reason to think that given atheism, humans beings are special.

Now Quentin realizes this, and so to avoid specie-ism he claims that the Good is the actualization of anything's nature. But this identification of the Good is not only arbitrary but, I think, preposterous. On Quentin's view--he says this explicitly -- a big rock has greater moral value than a little rock, because its nature is more fully realized! [8] Or when a slime mold increases in size, it increases in moral value. Now, I take this to be self-evidently ridiculous. And even if you think it's not self-evidently ridiculous, you have to agree that scarcely anybody else believes such a thing, so that Quentin's identification of the Good is, I think, at best idiosyncratic and hardly a foundation for a compelling argument for atheism.

And once again, I think Quentin's argument for atheism supplies the materials for an argument for God's existence. For if there is no God, then it's plausible that the moral values and duties which have gradually evolved among homo sapiens are not really objective. By “objective” I mean “valid and binding whether anybody believes in them or not.” For example, to say that the Holocaust was objectively wrong is to say that it was wrong even though the Nazis who carried it out thought that it was right, and it would still have been wrong even if the Nazis had won World War II and succeeded in brainwashing or exterminating everyone who disagreed with them. Many atheists and theists alike agree that if God does not exist as a transcendent anchor point, then the moral values and duties that have evolved in human society are not objective in that way.

In other words,

1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

Now this first premiss seems eminently plausible. For on the atheistic view, human beings are just animals, relatively evolved primates; and animals don't have moral obligations. When a lion kills a zebra, it kills it, but it doesn't murder it. When a great white shark brutally forces a female into submission, it copulates with her, but it does not rape her. For animals are not moral agents with moral duties to observe.

But on the atheistic view, human beings are just animals. Their morality is just the result of socio-biological evolution. Just as members of a troupe of baboons will exhibit altruistic behavior because it is advantageous to the species in the struggle for survival, so human beings have evolved certain behavior patterns which enable us to cohabit in society and so are beneficial for the species. But there’s nothing objective about this herd morality.

Now if you find such a view morally abhorrent, then I agree with you. It’s evident, I think, that objective values do exist, and deep down we all know it. Quentin and I, in fact, agree on this. Actions like rape, cruelty, and child abuse aren’t just socially unacceptable behavior; they're moral abominations. Some things are objectively wrong. Similarly love, equality, and self-sacrifice are really good. Accordingly, we can affirm:

2. Objective values and duties do exist.

But then it follows logically and inescapably that:

3. Therefore, God exists.

God thus provides a foundation for the moral values which the atheist just has to accept by faith.

In summary, then, far from giving us good reasons to think that God does not exist, Quentin has provided us with three positive arguments for God's existence, namely, the contingency argument, the teleological argument, and the moral argument.

II. In effect, then, we've already answered the second question that we put ourselves tonight, namely: Are there any good arguments for God's existence? We've already got three!

But in my remaining time let me add one more: the cosmological argument. We have good reasons, philosophically and scientifically, to believe that the universe is not eternal in the past, but had an absolute beginning. But something cannot come into being out of nothing. Therefore, there must be a transcendent cause of the origin of the universe.

We can formulate this argument as follows:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

Now by “begins to exist” I mean “comes into being,” and the idea here is that things don’t just pop into being uncaused.

Now in his written work, Quentin claims that certain cosmological theories, like the Hartle-Hawking theory, can explain how the universe comes into being without a cause. [9] But the fundamental problem with Quentin's objection is that his interpretation of the Hartle-Hawking equations is, I think, incoherent. For Quentin interprets them to give an unconditional probability, say, 99%, that the universe would come into being uncaused out of absolute nothingness. And it’s important to appreciate that by “nothingness” we mean not a physical void or empty space, but absolute non-being. But how can being arise from non-being, especially with a 99% probability? What explains the origin of the universe in this lawful way?

Well, you might be tempted to say that the laws of nature explain why the universe comes into being out of nothingness with 99% probability. But that can’t be right because, as Quentin himself said in his first speech, the laws of nature are simply propositions in a certain mathematical form describing the regular behavior, potentialities, powers, and dispositions of things in the natural world. The laws of nature are at most abstract entities which can’t cause anything. But the origin of the universe can’t be explained in terms of the potentialities, powers, and dispositions of things in the natural world because those factors don’t exist until the natural world exists, and we’re trying to explain the origin of the natural world.

So it seems that the powers, potentialities, and dispositions must belong to nothingness itself. Nothingness must possess some disposition to spawn a universe with 99% probability. But this is clearly incoherent. For nothingness, absolute non-being, has no properties whatsoever--no dispositions, no potentialities. Such properties inhere only in actual things.

So Quentin's interpretation of the Hartle-Hawking equations is, I think, clearly incoherent. And that's why, to my knowledge, nobody else agrees with his interpretation. I talked with James Hartle about this at U.C. Santa Barbara, and he told me that Quentin's interpretation of his and Hawking's model is just wrong. And in fact, none of the quantum cosmologists I’ve talked to, including Donald Page, Chris Isham, Alex Vilenkin, and so on, interprets these quantum models as Quentin does. Again, I think that it’s his own idiosyncratic and, I fear, incoherent interpretation of the model.

So premiss (1) seems necessarily true. If the alternative to theism is the claim that the universe popped into being uncaused out of nothing, then it takes more faith to be an atheist than a theist!

Now, premiss (2) is that:

2. The universe began to exist.

Recall, by “the universe” we mean all physical states, including whatever exists at any point in, or on the boundary of, space-time. And Quentin and I agree that the universe is not infinite in the past but began to exist.

From the two premises it follows that:

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.

Conceptual analysis of what it means to be a cause of the universe enables us to deduce that as the cause of space and time, this cause must be an uncaused, timeless, changeless, immaterial, personal agent of enormous power which created the universe.

So in conclusion, then, we’ve seen no good arguments, I think, to believe that atheism is true. And we have seen four reasons, namely, the contingency argument, the teleological argument, the moral argument, and the cosmological argument, to think that God does exist. Therefore, it seems to me that theism is the more rational world view.

First Rebuttal - Dr. Smith

Well, Bill said I provided the theists with three arguments for God's existence. But that's ok, because I think Bill provided the atheists with four arguments for God's non-existence.

Now this starts off with his talk of a singularity.

craig smith debate figure 2

Fig. 2.

Now, what Craig is suggesting is that prior to this first line there is some other event up here that will be the first event, earliest event, called the singularity, the Big Bang singularity and that God created that. But no physicist holds that the Big Bang singularity actually exists. The Big Bang singularity is an ideal mathematical limit to a series, in a sense of calculus. It's a limit that is approached but never reached. And what approaches it are events as they go backwards into the past. But they get closer and closer to the singularity, but they don't reach it. And they don't reach it because the singularity does not exist. And why doesn't it exist?

Well, it can't exist, because the definition of a singularity is of a self-contradictory entity. The singularity is supposed to be a zero-dimensional point. It's a spatial point, it doesn't have height, it doesn't have width, it doesn't have depth. It doesn't have 3 dimensions, 2 dimensions or 1 dimensions. It has zero dimensions! And this zero-dimensional point is supposed to be infinitely curved. Well, how could something that has no radius or size at all be curved whatsoever? It would be meaningless. You have to have sides to be curved in some way. But a zero-dimensional point has no sides. So this singularity that Bill wants to claim is the first event that God caused, it doesn't exist! It's a part of the mathematical equations of Big Bang cosmology that physicists interpret as not corresponding to anything real.

And secondly, the Big Bang singularity is metaphorically said that if it did exist, it would have infinite temperature. It would be infinitely hot. But temperature is the motion of molecules, or particles against each other. But the Big Bang singularity is a single zero-dimensional point. Nothing is moving. So it can't have infinite temperature. Temperature doesn't apply to it at all. And this zero-dimensional point is supposed to be infinitely dense. Well, it can't be infinitely dense, because it's got no matter in it. It's just a point. It's really nothing. And this singularity, if you try and mathematically represent it, it comes out to be mathematically ill-defined. Meaning that it is undefined mathematically and has no mathematical meaning. Because if you try to define it, you would have to have zero spatial dimensions. And then say the density - let's say there are trillions of tons of matter in the universe, but let's just imagine that there are 15 tons - so you have 15 tons divided by 0. But, you know from mathematics that you are not allowed to divide by 0. It's an undefined term in mathematics. It makes no sense. That's just a meaningless expression. Say, there's 15 divided by 0. I mean, it doesn't even mean that. It's just like saying "jabba, jabba, jabba". It has no meaning whatsoever.

And further, the contradiction is even worse what we know with this. That the matter is 3 dimensions of space. Height, width and depth. Well, this has zero dimensions! Zero "d"! So how could something with 3 dimensions fit inside something with zero dimensions? Well, it can't, it's a contradiction. So that's why physicists agree that the singularity does not exist. And therefore, there is not this earlier strange event.

Now here, n being something over 0, now the "earlier than" line, now that would be either uncaused or caused by God, there's nothing at all here. This is the beginning of universe, that first line, where all events are caused. And in fact, when Bill says that Hawking believes there is a singularity, he is incorrect on 2 accounts. First, Hawking used to believe that, in the 1960s and early 1970s, but all he was saying is that when we go back in time, we get to this mathematical representation of a limit, that we can never reach because it's a contradiction. So the universe can’t be extended beyond that contradictory point because it doesn't exist. But in his later theory, starting in 1983, he said the universe doesn't go back to this abstract limit called the singularity. He said the universe goes back to a timeless 4-dimensional space that's uncreated. So we have a timeless 4-dimensional space that's uncreated on Hawking's theory. There's no need to create it, it has no beginning. And Bill's basic argument is that everything that begins to exist needs a cause. Well, a timeless space, since it's not in time, doesn't begin to exist and needs no cause.

And as for Bill's claim that the leading physicists in this area told him that they didn't agree with my interpretation of their theories. Well, my response is that Hawking, Hartle, Vilenkin, Isham, Linde and the others, when they communicated with me, they told me they agreed with my interpretations of their equations. So we have a battle here of either they are saying opposite things to each of us, or something else is going on.

And when Bill talks about our universe being improbable, he is misusing probability theory. Now, there would be an infinite number of possible universes. Mathematicians would it “continuum many”. And you can get more mathematical. If the continuum hypothesis is true there would be the infinite number, aleph-1. But in any case, that's implied by a mathematical theory called measure theory, that if there are that many possibilities, then each possibility has a zero chance of ever becoming actual, has a zero prior probability. And anything that has a zero chance of becoming actual, a zero prior probability, must have a zero posterior probability. So Bill's argument about our universe being improbable is based on a misuse of probability theory. I mean if it used his theory, it would follow that our universe, like every other universe, would have a zero chance of becoming actual. But since we are actual, that's not true.

Now, as for the big rock realizing itself. Of course that would be an interesting way to characterize my theory in my book Ethical and Religious Thought in Analytic Philosophy of Language, but it would not be an accurate one. Basically what I was doing in that book was taking environmental ethics, which says that even plants - any life forms, ecosystems - have moral value. And I was taking that one step further than anyone so far has taken that. So it's a new type of ethical theory and new types of ethical theories will always meet initially with responses of less than plausible. So it's like when Tom Reagan (?) came out with his book that animals have rights, everyone said "that's crazy, that's insane". But now that's fairly widely accepted. So what I'm saying is take environmental ethics further and say that even inanimate things have value. Let's say that matter has value. Time has value. And if to be good is to develop your nature, well, what is it for time to realize itself? It's for time to keep on going, to continue. So the longer time lasts, the more it develops its nature. And what is it for a spatial extension to realize its nature? Well, it's to achieve a greater spatial extension, it's to get bigger. Now, there is of course a hierarchy of values. Inanimate objects have the lowest value of all, so that's why we never pay attention to them. I mean the values of animals and humans are much greater than of inanimate objects, so that's why we are rarely concerned with breaking apart inanimate objects, even though that would prevent them from realizing their nature.

I wasn't clear about Bill's argument that humans are animals and primates and for some reason that means they can't understand morals, or can't ground morals, or somehow they're not moral. I couldn't really follow that argument. But, certainly humans are animals, as everyone grants, they're rational animals. But they have a cerebral cortex that's evolved so it's large enough to understand moral values. And understand inter-subjective moral values. And understand their validity. So we have, in that sense, we have objective moral values.

But Bill is going back to what I discussed in my opening remarks, saying that, well, with theism you have objective values because God's commands give objective values. But God's commands are just God commanding his own beliefs and that's purely subjective. God is saying "I believe such-and-such is good". But what reason do we have to believe that what this one person God - why should we believe that what he believes is good is good? And what I was going to say before I was cut off at the beginning...

First Rebuttal - Dr. Craig

Now you'll remember that in my opening speech I said that there were two questions we needed to answer tonight.

I. Are there any arguments against God's existence?

and then,

II. Are there any good arguments for God's existence?

I. Well, let's look first at the two arguments against God's existence.

1. The first one is that because there is an infinite regress of simultaneous causes, the universe is fully explained by those causes, and therefore God cannot be the cause.

I responded to Quentin's view in his written work, in which he argues that the singularity is metaphysically necessary and exists a se, and that is the explanation. Now he has completely abandoned that view and tells us that far from being metaphysically necessary, the singularity doesn't even exist at all!

Now in saying this, he contradicts his own view. But I don't think that that matters because actually this [new position] approaches the view whichI have defended myself in print, namely, that the singularity is simply an ideal point. [10] And what this implies, then, is simply that there is no first instant of the beginning of the universe, even though there is a first finite interval of the existence of the universe.

Well, then, what about this simultaneous regress of causes that Quentin talks about? Well, first, notice that he has yet to identify for us that any such thing exists. I still don't know what causes he's talking about. But, secondly, I would suggest that this sort of circular causation ultimately doesn't work. Imagine that our space-time is doughnut-shaped, so that time goes in a circle. In that case you could have every slice being caused by a prior slice. So ultimately the universe would be circularly caused. This is the sort of scenario Quentin envisions. But that still leaves the question unexplained: where did the doughnut come from? Granted that all the slices in the doughnut explain each other, you've still got to answer why you've got a doughnut rather than just nothing at all. And that was my contingency argument, which I don't think Quentin responded to directly. So I don't think that the gambit of circular causation is any more plausible than maintaining that the singularity exists necessarily.

2. What about his second argument based on God's not being able to be the foundation of moral values? Well, here he argued that things simply have value because it’s a development of their natures. But my argument against that, you remember, was that that's arbitrary. Quentin himself admits that this is a new and novel view. I want to know why, on atheism, to identify the good with the development of a thing's nature. Indeed this leads to absurdities, such as his saying in his book that the moon has more moral value than a boulder because it's bigger, which to me is obviously defective as a moral theory.

Now I mentioned that there were several other problems with Quentin's moral theory. Let me just mention some of these now. Remember that on his view, goodness is the property being the development of a thing’s nature.

First, on this view, goodness is a property which belongs to another property or state of affairs. For example, goodness belongs to an object's being large. But then it follows that the object itself is not good. It’s its being large that is good. And therefore it follows that on Quentin's view neither persons nor their actions are good. And thus people, on Quentin's view, have no moral value; they are morally worthless.

Second, Quentin's theory leads to a paralyzing relativism. Quentin admits that the goodness of actualizing one’s own nature can be overridden by the need of other things to actualize their natures. So, he says, we must aim to actualize the overall goodness of the whole. But that, I submit, is an impossible calculus, which renders moral decision-making impossible.

Third, Quentin's theory entails morally false--and I would say even morally offensive--conclusions. For example, Quentin claims that a serial killer's murdering people is intrinsically good because it satisfies his desires. Now this good just happens to be overridden by the greater good of his victims’ getting to live and satisfy their desires. But, nevertheless, on his theory he says that a serial killer’s murdering people is intrinsically good.

Another example: Quentin says that love relationships are not intrinsically good. He says, and I quote, “the primary reason love is good is that it satisfies our desires to love and be loved.” [11] But again, such a self-centered justification is morally repugnant. He also denies that friendship, knowledge, health, and any other such thing is intrinsically good.

Another false moral statement, I think: He says that even plants and rocks have moral rights. He says a mountain has a moral right not to have a tunnel dug into it. Vegetables have the moral right not to be eaten. Luckily, these are overridden by our moral right to survive! But I take it that this is obviously absurd, that things like mountains and vegetables have these sorts of moral rights.

Fourth, Quentin's theory has an inadequate foundation for moral duties. Why am I obligated to develop my nature? Suppose I don't want to. Who or what lays such an obligation on me? Well, Quentin says that a state’s being good is a self-justification for a person to actualize that state. For example, he says, “David’s becoming a chemist is good, and so David ought to become a chemist.” [12] But this is inadequate because David's becoming a diplomat, or a firefighter, or a doctor is also good. So being good is alone insufficient to ground moral duty. What is the source of moral obligation on his theory?

Fifth, and finally, Quentin’s ethics degrades other people's moral worth. He says, and I quote, “A person who develops her theoretical reason is a better and more valuable kind of person than other kinds of people. The best possible person is someone who discovers why the universe exists.” [13] Well, isn’t that convenient? This self-congratulatory analysis is so morally repugnant that I think it’s unacceptable as a moral theory. So for all of these reasons, I think that Quentin's atheistic moral theory is inadequate.

But remember the more fundamental point that I'm trying to make tonight is that it’s totally arbitrary. There is no reason to think that if atheism is true, then the good is identical with the development of a thing’s nature, or that we have a moral duty to do such a thing. So I don’t think that either of Quentin’s arguments for atheism is compelling tonight.

II. Now what about my arguments for theism? Well, you remember that I presented four of them.

1. First was the contingency argument. Quentin really didn’t respond to that. If it’s true that everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in its own nature or in an external cause, then it follows that the universe must have a cause of its existence in some external being, which I argued must be a personal reality.

2. Second, the teleological argument based upon the fine-tuning of the universe. I argued that this cannot be due to physical necessity or chance. Now Quentin responds that this is based upon a misuse of probability theory, that when you compare the range of life-permitting values to an infinite range, everything has zero possibility. Well, that would be correct if that were the comparison. But we needn’t take an infinite range of values. We can simply take any range of universe-permitting values, and that would be a finite range. When gravity, for example, gets to too extreme a value, everything would simply be a single singularity. So you can take any universe-permitting values as a kind of finite range and then compare the range of life-permitting values to that, and it is vanishingly tiny. It is extraordinary that we should exist in so finely-tuned a universe, and this does indeed cry out for some sort of explanation. And I can think of no better explanation than the hypothesis of design.

3. Now my third argument, you remember, was the moral argument, where I argued that if God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist. Now Quentin says, “I don’t follow the argument; human beings can understand moral values.” Well, sure they can! But the question is the objectivity of the values that evolved in human society. As the humanist philosopher Paul Kurtz puts it, “The central question about moral and ethical principles concerns their ontological foundation. If they are neither derived from God, nor anchored in some transcendent ground, are they purely ephemeral?” [14] It seems to me that they would be ephemeral, if they are not so grounded.

My colleague J. P. Moreland has put it this way:

On an evolutionary, secular scenario, . . . human beings are nothing special. The universe came from a Big Bang. It evolved to us through a blind process of chance and necessity. There’s nothing intrinsically valuable about human beings, in terms of having moral, non-natural properties. The view that being human is special is guilty of specie-ism, an unjustifiable bias towards one’s own species. [15]

It does seem to me that this is what the atheist is guilty of when he affirms that things like cruelty, child abuse, torture, intolerance, and so forth are objectively morally wrong.

But, we’ve seen, secondly, that moral values and duties do exist. If you agree with me that there are objective moral values and duties, as we both agree tonight, then I think it follows logically and inescapably that God exists as a foundation for those values.

4. Finally, fourth, my cosmological argument. I argued that whatever begins to exist has a cause and that the universe began to exist. Now here Quentin says, “On the Hartle-Hawking model, there is a timeless space which exists, out of which the universe came.” But even on the Hartle-Hawking model, that space-time is finite in the past. And as John Barrow points out, on these quantum cosmologies, the universe still comes into being, just as it does on the classical cosmologies,.but it just doesn’t do so at a beginning point or singularity. [16] So by having a closed geometrical surface to space-time on a finite past, the Hartle-Hawking model actually implies the beginning of the universe, and the question of why the universe exists rather than nothing is left unexplained.

If you interpret this as being a timeless space, well, then I think Quentin would know that that’s a bit of gratuitous metaphysics --that the 4-dimensional Euclidean time that is postulated in the model is, as Hawking says, merely an instrumental reality. It is not meant to be a metaphysical description of reality because time is distinct from space. These are metaphysically distinct , and so that is just as much a gratuitous piece of metaphysics as Quentin claims the singularity is.

So in conclusion, then, I think that we’ve got good reasons from the contingency argument, the teleological argument, the moral argument, and the cosmological argument for thinking that there is a Creator and Designer of the universe who is the locus of absolute goodness and love and that the atheistic arguments we’ve heard tonight do not serve to subvert that conclusion.

Second Rebuttal - Dr. Smith

Well, I don't think I like Bill's doughnuts. In particular, because they don't have the same shape as my theory. His doughnuts are circular and he concludes from that that I am committed to a theory of circular causation.

craig smith debate figure 3

Fig. 3.

Where this causes that, that causes that, that causes that and that causes that again, which is circular. But, if I look at that line up there, unless I am going blind, that's not a circle. Isn't that a straight line? So if we have a culinary comparison, this is more like a very long hot dog, the first state of the universe. So what we have instead of like a circle, if it were a circle then it would be this causing that, that causing that and that causing that and that causing that. And that of course would be a circular causation, but that's exactly the opposite of what I'm saying. What I'm saying is there is an indefinitely or an infinitely long line of events at the first state of the universe. So there's no circle at all. This goes on indefinitely in this direction, it never wounds up and ends up in a glazed doughnut, or anything like that. What happens is that each event - this is caused by that - and that never happens in a circular way or this ends up causing that. That causes that, that causes that, that causes that, that causes that and so on, indefinitely or infinitely. So there is no circular causation at all. So there is no problem with the causality at the first time.

And Bill also asked, “what do I mean by the first time?” Well, I'm using a Bohmian cosmology, not Hartle's and Hawking's cosmology. And on Bohmian cosmology - just to briefly get into a couple scientific sentences. On their cosmology, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle is merely epistemic, it's a limitation in our knowledge and doesn't correspond to reality. So whereas the Heisenberg principle of quantum mechanics would say that the shortest possible time is 10-43 seconds, the Bohmian cosmology that I am using says- no, that's just the shortest possible time that we can measure. The shortest time is the zero duration instant. But that really doesn't matter, because I suppose that none of these are zero duration instants. But they are all discrete times, as Heisenberg would say in quantum mechanics. So each of these events, they last 10-43 seconds. The shortest possible time of any time.

And Bill also - he wondered what these causes were. Well, what they are is they are the elementary particles of the universe as they exist at time t0. And the two most predominant examples of elementary particles are electrons and quarks. So this might be an electron as it exists at t0. And what it causes is a later state of that same electron as it exists at time t1. But then there is another theory, called super-gravity, which is purely speculative and unproven, is that at the earliest times, the particles were not differentiated. That's based on what Bill is talking about - his fine-tuning argument. And that claims the supergravity 8 - let's name the theory - says well, at first there were particles called superparticles - that was the only kind of particle. And there was only one force, the superforce. And that differentiated into the strong electro-weak force and then the gravitational force. Then those divided into the electro-weak force, the strong force and the gravitational force. Then those divided into our current 4 forces: the strong force, weak force, electromagnetic force and gravitational force.

But that theory is speculative, there is no experimental evidence that it's true and many, such as Hawking, in fact, deny that it is true. In fact, Hawking's 1982 article explicitly denies that that's true. He says that all elementary particles like electrons and quarks should emerge simultaneously at the beginning of the universe. Of course that issue would not be devastating to anything you said. But other things are though, I think.

OK, you had said a lot about my ethics. Well I think - you made statements that were out of context. Like you said I'm committed to saying that a serial killer is intrinsically good to satisfy his or her desire to kill. Well what I was saying was - satisfaction of desire is intrinsically good. But whether it is overall good depends on what the desire is for. If the desire is for killing people then extrinsic matters, like the death of other people, make that desire overall bad. And I think that it is fairly obvious for any ethical theory that satisfaction of desire is something that is intrinsically good. And if satisfaction of desire and pleasure is not intrinsically good, then it's hard to know what is intrinsically good. But of course most cases of desire satisfaction are extrinsically not good because if you desire the wrong thing then a lot of bad consequences happen.

And he says that my ethical theory implies that knowledge and love are not intrinsically good. I'm not sure where you got that from. He said that if a person has a - he said I claimed that if a person has a talent as a chemist then they ought to be a chemist. Well, that's out of context. The person ought to be a chemist only if it's not overridden by other considerations. Let's say the person's whole family would die of starvation unless the person feeds them, instead of being a chemist. Then the person ought to feed them.

And as for saying that the best person is an intellectual person, like myself. Kind of a self-congratulatory claim that I am the best kind of person. Of course I didn't say that at all. I just distinguished about numerous different senses of the best type of moral person. And on one sense, someone like Martin Luther King might be the best possible person. And in a different sense, the person who was kindest to their family would be best person. Who contributed to the most happiness of others would be the best type of person. And so on.

And also his long critique of my ethical theory ends up not being relevant to my atheistic argument because as I said in my original presentation that even apart from my atheistic argument which is about morals being objective in the strongest sense that if morals are merely inter-subjectively valid then that is sufficient for morals to be valid, like in Rawls’ theory. So morals would be ephemeral in that sense because humans might eventually die out, but it's irrelevant. All that matters is that they are valid.

Second Rebuttal - Dr. Craig

I. Let's look again at Quentin's two arguments on behalf of atheism.

1. The first one, you remember, was that God cannot be the Creator of the universe because at each time in the history of the universe there is an infinite regress of causes that does not terminate; and so God cannot be the cause of this. Now I asked Quentin, what are these causes that you're talking about? I was surprised to hear from him in his last speech that these causes just are the elementary particles and that he apparently thinks of these as standing in some sort of hierarchical causal relations.

But surely that's incorrect. I mean, after all, if the universe is finite, then there will be a huge but finite number of elementary particles, and so ultimately you will have circular causation. And even if the universe were spatially infinite - which Quentin cannot prove, but which is what he would have to prove to show this regress is infinite - even then there's no reason to think that these causes are hierarchically arranged in the way that Quentin has suggested. So my skepticism about this first argument is simply to demand: how does he know that there is such an infinite series? I don't think that there is an infinite series of hierarchically arranged causes.

But secondly, and, I think, more fundamentally, my contingency argument doesn't presuppose a beginning of the universe. We can still ask: why are there any elementary particles at all, rather than just nothing? Anything that exists has an explanation for why it exists, either in its own nature or in an external cause. There's simply no reason in his theory why we should have this cluster of elementary particles in existence rather than non-being. So we need to have a metaphysically necessary being which will explain why there is something rather than nothing.

2. Secondly, as for his moral theory, Quentin claimed that in my critique, I was taking statements out of context. I simply want to assure you that, as an honest philosopher who wants to offer serious critique, I would never do such a thing. I have the quotations here with me, printed from Quentin's Internet site. For example, on the point about the serial killer's desires’ being bad, this is the quotation:

A serial killer has the desire to murder people; this desire (as is any desire) part of the killer's essence qua animal. Does it follow from perfectionism [Quentin's view] that it is good that he moves so as to satisfy this desire? [17]

He says,

We know how such objections should be answered: We consider the overall state of affairs, the killer murdering Jane, Bob, Beth, and Richard and recognize that this overall state of affairs is bad. [18]

But then he goes on to say, “One of its parts is good, the killer moving so as to satisfy his desires, but we can't imagine this part without the overall badness,” and so the killer's right, or good deed, is overridden. [19] Again, I say that as a moral theory that is just morally flawed--to think that in and of itself the killer’s murdering people is intrinsically good.

I also argued that on his view people or persons are not good because goodness is a property of other properties or states of affairs; that it leads to a paralyzing relativism; and that it entails morally false statements. I can again give you the quotations from the web site where he denies that friendship, knowledge, or anything else is intrinsically good, including love. [20] And he certainly does think that plants and mountains and vegetables and carpet have moral rights, which I think is just clearly mistaken.

As for the foundation for moral duties, Quentin says, “Yes, David's obligation to become a chemist might be overridden.” But I'm not talking about that. In a situation where there aren't any overriding things to be balanced out, it's equally good for David to be a chemist or for him to be a doctor. Therefore, he has no moral obligation to do one or the other. (Or else, on Quentin's view, he has contradictory moral obligations, if moral obligations come simply from the goodness of a state.) So I submit that Quentin has no basis for moral obligation in his theory.

And finally, as to the point about degrading people's moral worth, it's quite correct that Quentin does say that there are other ways of being the best possible person than by being knowledgeable. But what remains true, as I said, is that he ranks people according to their value. He degrades certain people morally by saying that they are less valuable than other people. I submit that a better view is the Christian and theistic view that all persons are created equal and, as Thomas Jefferson said, are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable human rights.

But all that is beside the case in one sense because the main point is that Quentin’s view is arbitrary. On atheism there is just no reason to think that a thing's developing its nature is identical with moral goodness. That's the fundamental critique that I think I have to offer of his view.

II. Now what about my four arguments?

1. The contingency argument has never been addressed. It asks, why is there anything rather than nothing? The answer to that question, I think, has to be found in a metaphysically necessary being.

2. The teleological argument. Quentin didn't re-raise his points about probability. When you consider that finite range of assumable values, it is enormously more probable that a non-designed universe would fall into the range of life-prohibiting universes. There are vastly more life-prohibiting universes that obey our laws of nature than those that fall into the life-permitting range. And, therefore, I think, this calls out for explanation.

3. My moral argument, based upon the need for a foundation of objective moral values, hasn't really been refuted tonight, I think. As Quentin seems to recognize in one context, if God doesn't exist, then moral values and duties are just a sort of herd morality that has evolved among homo sapiens to enable us to live together in society without killing each other off. But there's no reason to think that these moral values and duties, on atheism, are objective. But if you think that there really are objective moral values and duties, that things like love and tolerance and generosity and self-sacrifice are really goods, then I invite you to embrace theism. Theism will give you a foundation for the common moral values that we both wish to affirm.

4. And, finally, the cosmological argument does appeal to the beginning of the universe. We have good grounds for thinking that the universe began to exist and that it needs to have some sort of a transcendant cause that brings it into being. Atheism cannot account for that. Atheism ultimately has to say that the universe just popped into existence, uncaused, out of absolutely nothing. I submit to you that that is worse than magic. I mean, at least in magic, when the magician pulls a rabbit out of the hat, you've got the hat! --and you've got the magician! But on atheism, the universe just pops into existence uncaused out of absolutely nothing. I think that, again, that takes more faith to believe than theism.

So for all of these reasons, I think that the case for theism is far more compelling than the case for atheism. And therefore I think that theism is, in fact, the more rational worldview.

Conclusion - Dr. Smith

[Note: The transcription of this five minute speech is not reliable because the recording is not clear enough].

Ok, Bill said that I have no reason to believe that the line of events there extend indefinitely to the left or indefinitely to the right and that I have no reason to believe that the universe is spatially infinite. Whether that means potentially infinite or something else. But in fact there is very strong scientific confirmation of that view since 1998. And now all the astronomers and cosmologists believe that. You're not going to find anyone who does not believe that the universe is spatially infinite. And what happened in 1998 is they observed two quasars that were accelerating at a faster pace than they should have been according to the previous theory. And the explanation of that is that the expansion of space is accelerating at an ever increasing rate and that implies that the universe will expand forever. Now it follows from Einstein's general theory of relativity, particularly the solutions by Friedman, that if the universe expands forever it is spatially infinite, if what you mean by infinite is potentially infinite. And so, therefore, there is very very strong scientific evidence that that first line there goes on indefinitely, or potentially infinitely in both directions. That space is infinite. And so what reason do I have to believe that? Well, because all astronomers and cosmologists believe that, because of the basis of evidence.

Ok, I think that I might grant to Bill that he is an honest scholar, at least for the sake of argument, I'll grant it. OK, and I think that the quotes from my book are right and accurate and that he did present them right by saying that it's the whole of the facts of the serial killer makes the serial killer wrong. And that the desire of the serial killer by itself is just a part of the whole, it is only a part, is intrinsically good. Now the reason why it's intrinsically good is because we consider only the satisfaction of the desire from the person. But once you consider the whole, which means the consequences of satisfying the serial killer's desire, then you realize that the whole is wrong, therefore the whole should not exist and therefore the serial killer should not satisfy his or her desires.

And he claimed my ethical theory is ethically wrong or repugnant or otherwise worthy of scorn or criticism, because it implies people can be ethically right. Well, obviously some people are ethically right. Some people are better than others, morally. It's a fact of common sense. If you say that every single person of the world is just as morally good as everybody else - who believes that Hitler is just as morally good as Ghandhi? Whether people are morally right depends on how good they are.

And as for Bill's final remarks, if atheists believe the universe is uncaused then it popped into existence. Well, I spent the whole night explaining this theory that says that the universe did not pop into existence without a cause. The universe does not have a cause. Everything in the universe has a cause. This didn't pop into existence uncaused, it was caused by that. That didn't pop into existence, it was caused by that. So there is nothing that lacks a cause and since everything is caused by some other part of the universe, there is nothing in the universe that lacks a cause, therefore there is nothing that needs God for its cause. I mean, what theists need to show - what is it that God needs to cause to exist? Everything that exists has a cause. And if you add God to it, what did God do? If God exists, he was already caused to exist by some other part of the universe. That's not what God is though.  necessary something it actually contradicts   universe.

Conclusion - Dr. Craig

In my final speech, let me try to draw together some of the threads of this debate to see if we can come to any conclusions. You remember that I said that we needed to compare the arguments against the existence of God with the arguments for the existence of God, to see which is the more compelling case.

I. Now has Quentin given a compelling case for atheism tonight? Well, personally I don't think so.

1. He argued that God could not be the cause of the universe because there is this infinite regress of simultaneous causes in the elementary particles of the universe. Now notice that this requires that the universe be spatially infinite. If it's finite, then you do have circular causation. He says the universe is spatially infinite because the expansion is accelerating. I'm afraid that that's a non sequitur. It is true that the expansion is probably accelerating, but that doesn't mean the geometry of space cannot be closed. If you have a positive cosmological constant --a sort of anti-gravity force--, then you could have a universe which is geometrically closed, like the surface of a globe, but which will expand forever.

Now Quentin said, "Well, it could be potentially infinite in its expansion." But that's not enough to avoid the problem of circular causation. Potentially infinite expansion will still give you only a finite number of elementary particles at any point in time, and so you'll have this circular causality. In any case, I don't think that even having all these elementary particles’ being the cause of one another gives you the hierarchical regress that he's talking about. This is totally gratuitous, and I don't see any reason to think there is such a hierarchical regress of causes at any point. So I don't think that the first argument is compelling.

2. What about his moral argument? Well, I think that here Quentin is clearly on the defensive. Remember, this is supposed to be an argument for atheism. He's supposed to be arguing that God cannot be a foundation of moral values. I don't think he's shown how [this is impossible]. On the contrary, I think we've seen that his own moral theory is beset with difficulties--especially that it is completely arbitrary on atheism to identify moral goodness with the development of a thing's nature. So I don't think we've seen compelling arguments for atheism.

II. What about the arguments for theism?

1. Well, the contingency argument, I think, has really gone unrefuted tonight. Why is there something rather than nothing? There must be an explanation, not for the beginning of the universe, but for why there is anything at all rather than nothing. That can be found in a personal, metaphysically necessary being.

2. As for the teleological argument, you've got only three choices here. The fine-tuning is due to either chance, necessity, or design. It's not due to necessity because these are contingent initial conditions, not required by the laws of nature. It's probably not due to chance because the chances of this happening by accident alone are infinitesimal. So design seems to be the best explanation for the observed fine-tuning.

3. As for the moral argument, again, my difficulty here is that, quite honestly, even if I were not a Christian theist, I just don't see why on atheism you would think that human beings have objective, intrinsic moral values and duties. Atheism just doesn't have the foundations for objective moral values and duties, which we all like to believe in deep down. So what I'm offering to you tonight is a foundation for those moral values and duties that I think most sense in God.

4. Finally, the cosmological argument: Whatever begins to exist has a cause; the universe began to exist; therefore the universe has to have a cause. As I said, it cannot be this circular or imaginary hierarchical set of causes. There needs to be some sort of a transcendent being that brings the universe into existence. So I think that we've got good grounds for believing that God exists.

Now let me close simply by saying this. Some of you are thinking, “Well, goodness, if believing in God is a matter of weighing all of these sorts of arguments, then how can anybody know whether God exists? You'd have to be a philosopher or a scientist to figure out whether God exists!” In fact, I agree with you. A loving God would not leave it up to us to figure out by our own ingenuity and cleverness whether or not he exists. Rather a loving God would seek to reveal himself to us and draw us to himself. And this is exactly what Christian theism teaches. Jesus of Nazareth said, "If any man's will is to do God's will, then he will know whether my teaching is from God, or whether I am speaking on my own accord" (John 7.17). And Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit of God would be given by him to convict and draw persons into loving relationships with himself.

About thirty years ago I had a dramatic and personal conversion experience in which God became a living reality in my life. If you were to ask me why I believe in God, I would point not only to these arguments, but even more fundamentally to the experiential reality of God in my own life, a reality that I believe you can find, if you'll search for him with an open mind and an open heart.


  • [1]

    Stephen Hawking, “The Edge of Spacetime,” in The New Physics, ed. Paul Davies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p.61.

  • [2]

    See Quentin Smith, “Time Was Created by a Timeless Point,”in God and Time, ed. Gregory E.Ganssle and David M. Woodruff (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. 112-113.

  • [3]

    Ibid., p. 115.

  • [4]

    Ibid., p. 117.

  • [5]

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

  • [6]

    William Alston, “What Euthyphro Sould Have Said,” in Philosophy of Reilgion: A Reader and Guide (New Brunswick, N. J.: Rutgers University Press, 2002), p. 285.

  • [7]

    Quentin Smith, Ethical and Religious Thought in Analytic Philosophy of Language (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1997).

  • [8]


  • [9]

    Quentin Smith “Why Stephen Hawking’s Cosmology Precludes a Creator,” Philo 1 (1998): 75-94.

  • [10]

    William Lane Craig, “A Criticism of the Cosmological Argument for God’s Non-Existence,” in Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology, by William Lane Craig and Quentin Smith (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), pp. 257-260.

  • [11]

    Smith, Ethical and Religious Thought, p.

  • [12]

    Ibid., p.

  • [13]

    Ibid., p.

  • [14]

    Paul Kurtz, Forbidden Fruit (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1988), p. 65.

  • [15]

    J. P. Moreland, “Ethics Depend on God,” in Does God Exist?, by J.P. Moreland and Kai Nielsen (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1990), p. 112.

  • [16]

    John D. Barrow, Theories of Everything (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), p. 68.

  • [17]

    Smith, Ethical and Religious Thought, p.

  • [18]

    Ibid., p.

  • [19]


  • [20]