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Is God a Delusion?

January 2009

William Lane Craig vs. Dr. Wolpert

Central Hall, Westminster, UK - January 2009


Introductions, Peter May: Good evening, ladies and gentleman. My name is Peter May. I am the Chairman of the Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, known as UCCF. We have organized this two week tour where Bill Craig will travel around the country visiting several universities engaged in other lectures or debates. Tonight is the opening event of this tour. We are delighted that you have come out and braved the wet weather; it’s a fairly gray evening outside the last I saw of it. We look as though we have substantially filled the building.

I have taken the liberty of deciding that we won’t have, after the formal debate, questions from the floor. There were big groans when I suggested that. But those of you who know John Humphrys well knows that he asks good questions on behalf of the public seemingly almost every time. The students may not know this because it is early in the morning – the Today program – but the older folk here know very well that John is always pitching in with the good questions even-handedly asking them both ways and so the reason we have the three chairs set down here is for the latter part, after the formal debate, we are going to assembly our two debaters and John Humphrys and they will have the best part of half an hour to tease out the issues further in a more conversational dialogue style. John is already getting a bit uppity; I suspect it will be a rout. I am sure it is going to be a very gentlemanly conversation.

Church historian David Edwards wrote this, “The Gospel comes alive when it’s been tested against needs and against rivals.” He wrote that Christianity grows strong in the open air. The whole thrust of this two weeks is to bring it into open forum where people can bring their own objections, viewpoints, disagreements and debate will form a very important part of it and question times will be a key feature of everything that we do.

Finally, it remains for me to introduce our chairman for tonight. It is interesting with celebrities like John. Some of us feel we know him so well; he comes into our home almost every morning. Those of you who are not up early enough will know him from Mastermind which he regularly presents on BBC television. Besides his radio journalism and his television work, he is also an author and a broadsheet journalist so I imagine that he is familiar to most of us and it is now my great pleasure to introduce who will then introduce our debaters tonight. Please welcome, the Mastermind presenter, John Humphrys. Thank you. [1]

Moderator, John Humphrys: Thank you very much. I am particularly grateful that you mentioned Mastermind. It has to be said because it is relatively new for me and that I thought I wasn’t going to try anything new ever again. And then they asked me about three years ago, whenever it was, to do Mastermind so I thought I would give it a go. And it’s wonderful. Not necessarily the program, I’ve never actually seen the program, but I can’t tell you, particularly since we are here in Westminster, how wonderful it is. For all of my career – most of my career, I’ve been a hack for nearly fifty years – mostly I have been interviewing politicians. Now I am chairing a quiz and I am talking to people who actually want to answer the questions. It is the ultimate cultural shock, I tell you! You do admit that you get some fairly bizarre answers. You may know we do this Celebrity Mastermind. It has to be said that the people invited onto Celebrity Mastermind are not necessarily – not necessarily – the brightest coins in the mint. Not all of them anyway. We had one on – I’m not sure whether they broadcast the program yet – but we had one on where – we always kick off with a couple of easy questions to get them into the mood and all that – and I asked one of them the opening question, “What breakfast cereal do you associate with prison?” [2] You know what he said? Cheerios! There is a point to it, isn’t there? Maybe he was just commenting on the government’s policy towards our jails. Anyway, I don’t know.

Enough of that. We want to get on to the debate. I don’t want to hold you back from these two esteemed gents. You know them, of course, otherwise you wouldn’t be here. At least I assume you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t know them. You know Bill Craig – William Lane Craig to give him his title – I’m not going to run through his CV or anything like that; it’s too boring for words. You know who he is, what he’s done, what he believes in. What you may not know, and I discovered this this morning, – he may deny this, of course, but too late now – is how he actually got to believe in God. It all has to do with a rather beautiful young redhead at the age of 15 who sat in front of him in class. I will go no further than that. I will leave it to him to see how much of that he is prepared to vouchsafe to you.

What can I say about Lewis? Regular fixture, I am delighted to say, on the Today program. He is a great adornment to the national scene. Indeed, he is essential in my view to the national scene. You know him – well, at least if you don’t, you should acquaint yourself with his work. Buy his book Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast because it is terrific; well, I think it is terrific, but there we are. He had a faith until he was 15. He was Jewish – well, he is Jewish, of course you don’t stop being Jewish – but he practiced his faith until he was about 15. He lived in South Africa, left South Africa, no longer believes as you know and no doubt he will tell us why.

However, we are going to kick off with Bill and the deal is this. They get 20 minutes each then there is a rebuttal, 10 minutes each, then there is a rebuttal of the rebuttal, 7 minutes each, and then there is a 5 minute sort of summary. So that is how it is going to work: 20 minutes, 10 minutes, 7 minutes, and 5 minutes. That is the deal. Then at the end of all that we will sit together, the three of us, and see if there are any other issues to explore or perhaps make it a little more personal, possibly even animated, though I dare say they will be perfectly animated while they are here at the lectern.

So, would you first welcome, please, Bill Craig. [3]

Dr. Craig - First Speech

Dr. Craig: Thank you and good evening. I want to begin by expressing my thanks to UCCF for inviting me to participate in tonight’s debate. I also want to say what a real privilege it is to be sharing the podium with Dr. Wolpert this evening. Of course, I want to thank all of you for coming out to share this evening with us. It is my hope that our discussion tonight will be a genuine, practical help to you as you work through these issues yourself personally.

In asking the question, “Is God a delusion?” it is imperative right from the start that we clearly define our terms. The dictionary definition of a delusion is a false belief or opinion. Therefore, if Professor Wolpert is to persuade us that belief in God is a delusion he must show that belief to be false. Accordingly, in tonight’s debate, I am going to defend two basic contentions. First, there is no good reason to think that belief in God is false. And, secondly, there are good reasons to think that belief in God is true.

Consider then my first contention that there is no good reason to think that belief in God is false. I am going to leave it up to Dr. Wolpert to present arguments against God’s existence and then I will respond to them in my next speech. But I want to simply note in passing that if he is to justify an affirmative answer to the question before us this evening then he does owe us such arguments.

Let’s turn then to my second main contention that there are good reasons to think that belief in God is true. However unfashionable it may appear, I am actually convinced that there really are good reasons to believe that God exists. Let me just sketch tonight briefly some of those reasons.

Number one: God is the best explanation of the origin of the universe.

Have you ever asked yourself where the universe came from? Why anything at all exists instead of just nothing? Typically, atheists have said that the universe is just eternal and uncaused. [4] But there are good reasons, both philosophically and scientifically, to doubt that this is the case. Philosophically, the idea of an infinite past seems absurd. If the universe never had a beginning 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 20th century, writes, “The infinite is no where 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 . . .” [5] 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 and 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 13 billion years ago in a cataclysmic event known as the Big Bang. What makes the Big Bang so special is that it represents the origin of the universe from literally nothing. 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.” [6] 

The Big Bang, thus, marks the origin not only of all the matter and energy in the universe but of physical space and time themselves. Of course, alternative theories have been crafted over the years to try to avert the beginning predicted by the standard model. But none of these has commended itself to the scientific community as more plausible than the Big Bang theory. In fact, in the year 2003, Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin were able to prove that any universe which has, on average, been in a state of cosmic expansion cannot be eternal in the past but must have an absolute beginning. [7] Vilenkin pulls no punches, “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape; they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.” [8] 

That problem was nicely captured by Anthony Kenny of Oxford University. He writes, “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.” [9] But surely that doesn’t make sense. Out of nothing, nothing comes. Such a conclusion is, in the words of philosopher of science, Bernulf Kanitscheider, “in head on collision with the most successful ontological commitment in the history of science;” [10] namely, the principle 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 transcendent cause which brought the universe into being. We can summarize our argument thus far as follows:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

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? First of all, because this event must be beyond space and time. Therefore, it cannot be physical or material. [11] Now, there are only two kinds of things that fit that description: either abstract objects, like numbers, or an intelligent mind. But abstract objects can’t cause anything. Therefore, it follows that the cause of the universe is a personal, transcendent mind. Secondly, how else could a timeless cause give rise to a temporal effect like the universe? If the cause were an impersonal set of necessary and sufficient conditions then the cause could never exist without its effect. If the cause were permanently present then the effect would be permanently present as well. The only way for the cause to be timeless and the effect to begin in time is for the cause to be a personal agent who freely chooses to create an event in time without any antecedent determining conditions. Thus we are brought not merely to a transcendent cause of the universe but to its personal creator.

Number two: God is the best explanation of the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life.

In recent decades, scientists have been stunned by the discovery that the initial conditions 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 given mathematical expression, 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 which are just 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. All of these constants and quantities fall into an extraordinarily narrow, life-permitting range. Were these constants or quantities to be altered by even a hairsbreadth life-permitting balance would be destroyed and life would not exist.

For example, if the atomic weak force or the force of gravity were altered by as little as one part out of 10100 the universe would not have been life-permitting. There are only three possible explanations of this extraordinary fine-tuning: physical necessity, chance, or design. It can’t be due to physical necessity because, as we’ve seen, the constants and quantities are independent of the laws of nature. In fact, string theory predicts that there are around 10500 different universes compatible 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-tuning 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 narrow life permitting range is vanishingly small. We now know that life prohibiting universes are vastly more probable than any life-permitting universe like ours. So if the universe were the product of chance the odds are overwhelming that the universe would be life-prohibiting. Hence we may argue as follows:

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.

3. Therefore, it is due to design.

Thus, the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life implies the existence of a designer of the cosmos.

Three: God is the best explanation of objective moral values in the world.

If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist. By objective values, I mean values which are valid and binding independently of whether anybody believes in them or not. Many theists and atheists alike agree that if God does not exist then moral values are not objective in this sense. [12] For example, Michael Ruse, a noted philosopher of science writes,

"The position of the modern evolutionist . . . is that . . . morality is a biological adaptation no less than are hands and feet and teeth . . . . Considered as a rationally justifiable set of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory. I appreciate that when somebody says ‘Love they 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 . . ." [13]

Like Professor Ruse, I just don’t see any reason to think that, in the absence of God, the morality evolved by homo sapiens is objective. On the atheistic view, some action – say rape – may not be socially advantageous and so in the course of human development has become taboo. But that does absolutely nothing to prove that rape is morally wrong. On the atheistic view, there is nothing really wrong with you raping someone. But the problem is that objective values do exist and deep down I think we all know it. There is no more reason to deny the objective reality of moral values than the objective reality of the physical world. Actions like rape, cruelty, and child abuse aren’t just socially unacceptable behavior; they are moral abominations. Ruse himself admits, “The man who says it is morally acceptable to rape little children is just as mistaken as the man who says, 2+2=5.” [14] Some things at least are really wrong. Similarly, love, equality, and self-sacrifice are really good. Hence, our argument can be summarized as follows:

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

2. But, objective moral values do exist.

3. Therefore, it follows logically and inescapably, God exists.

Number four: the historical facts concerning the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus imply God’s existence.

The historical person Jesus of Nazareth was a remarkable individual. New Testament critics 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 certainly the supreme confirmation of his claim was his resurrection from the dead. If Jesus really did rise from the dead then it would seem that we have a divine miracle on our hands and thus evidence for the existence of God. Most people would probably think that the resurrection of Jesus is something you just believe in by faith or not. But in fact 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 number one: on the Sunday following his crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers. According to Jacob Kremer, an Austrian specialist in the study of the resurrection, “by far most scholars hold firmly to the reliability of the biblical statements about the empty tomb.” [15] Fact number two: on separate occasions, different individuals and groups saw appearances of Jesus alive after his death. According to the prominent New Testament critic, Gerd Lüdemann, “It may be taken as historically certain that . . . the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.” [16] These appearances were witnessed not only by believers but also by unbelievers, skeptics, and even enemies. Fact number three: 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 precluded any one’s rising from the dead to glory and immortality before the end of the world. Nevertheless, the original disciples came to believe so strongly that God had raised Jesus from the dead that they were willing to die for the truth of that belief. N. T. Wright, an eminent New Testament scholar, has concluded, “That is why, as an historian, I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity unless Jesus rose again, leaving an empty tomb behind him.” [17] 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. [18] The fact is that there just is no plausible, naturalistic explanation of these facts. Therefore it seems to me the Christian is amply justified in believing that Jesus rose from the dead and was who he claimed to be. But that entails that God exists. Thus we have a sound inductive argument for the existence of God.

Finally, number five, God can be immediately known and experienced.

This isn’t really an argument for God’s existence; rather, it is the claim that you can know that God exists wholly apart from arguments simply by immediately experiencing him. This was the way people in the Bible knew God. As Professor John Hick explains, “God was known to them as a dynamic will interacting with their own wills, a sheer given reality, as inescapably to be reckoned with as destructive storm and life-giving sunshine . . . To them God was not . . . an idea adopted by the mind, but an experiential reality which gave significance to their lives.” [19] Now, if this is the case then arguments for the existence of God could actually distract us from God himself. If you are sincerely seeking God then God will make his existence evident to you. The Bible promises “draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” [20]

Therefore, I think we have good grounds for thinking that belief in God is not a delusion. [21]

Dr. Wolpert - First Speech

Dr. Wolpert: Thank you very much. I am not sure that I really want to thank the organizers for asking me to do this. It is quite a complex issue and let me try to explain to you why. The vast majority of you here, we worked out something like 90%, believe in God and are religious. I am not against people being religious. I think it helps you a great deal. I am against religion when it interferes in the lives of other people. I am very happy to discuss this; in other words, if you believe for example that the fertilized egg is really a human being – which some people in your religious organizations believe – then I am very hostile to you because it is nonsense. This is one of my subjects – developmental biology. Or, for example, if you are against contraception for religious reasons and therefore AIDS as it were can become more common. So I am not against people having a belief in God. I do believe that that belief is false and I am saddened by the fact that, whatever arguments I give you, I have no delusion that I will persuade you to change your minds. Beliefs are like possessions and I ask you: when did you really last give up a basic belief or your partner or your parent or your child? It is very hard to do so.

Let me remind you of a nice statement from Richard Dawkins who has been mentioned already. He points out that in talking about God there exists a superhuman, supernatural intelligence who deliberately designed and created the universe and everything in it including us. Now, if you believe that, and many of you do believe that, you feel better. And that, I regret to tell you, is why you believe in it. And that really is the origin of religion. People who have religious beliefs are on the whole healthier – not much healthier, don’t get carried away by it. But you do do better on the whole. Also, belonging to a religious community – there is no doubt about it – can have great advantages. I don’t want to argue that religion is always good – I don’t want to get involved in religious wars and something like that. But the real point is, it provides an explanation of a very deep problem and that is why we are here at all.

The problem about believing in God is looking for evidence. I regret to tell you, and we won’t have a discussion with you [pointing to the audience] later but I will with you [pointing to Dr. Craig] later on, there is zero evidence for the existence of God. I am terribly sorry, there just isn’t. [22] Now first of all just let me remind you that every culture in the world – hundreds of them – have gods of some sort. You are focused on the Christian God but may I ask what is wrong with their gods? Why do you think that your God – and I assume you are all Christians – is better than theirs? There is a very nice story from someone who works on religion and anthropology named Pascal Boyer. He was at a dinner in Oxford – maybe it was Cambridge, it doesn’t really matter, but a smart English place – and he was telling them about a group he had been studying in southern Africa who believed that there were witches who flew over the territory there and killed some of their cattle. And the head of the college said, “How can people have such absurd ideas. Isn’t it ridiculous?” And Pascal didn’t have the courage to tell them that these people knew about Christianity and had often asked him, “Why was it that the people in Christianity were still suffering because a couple of their ancestors had eaten some fruit?” Please don’t think that your ideas about the nature of pain and suffering are all that different from religions in other parts of the world.

Now, the other problem with actually finding evidence for God is to – actually to give some evidence – the first problem is: if God exists, who created God? And why does God have a human form? I think if there were a God I am sure he would be much more imaginative than to be like one of us. Good Lord, would he have a backache? That he should take on a human form is natural from our historical point of view – because as I will explain in a moment – but to think that God who might have done all these things was human seems to me to be bizarre in the extreme. Of course there is zero evidence for it.

Let me try and explain to you – you won’t like it one bit – as to why you actually believe in God. First of all, it makes you feel better; you have someone to pray to. And the historical origin of this really goes back to your ancient ancestors, oh, a couple a million years ago. A couple of million years ago, humans, our ancestors, started making tools. You know you’ve all seen those little stone tools. Now making them – animals can’t do that. Please don’t tell me how clever your dogs and cats are, really they are not as clever as you think they are. And I know there are repeated articles in the papers how gorillas and chimps are wonderful toolmakers. They can actually take a stick and actually get some ants out of a tree. But it’s pretty limited. But humans started making tools and in order to make tools you have to have a concept of physical cause and effect. What makes you human is not God but your causal beliefs. You have a concept of physical cause and effect and that led to tool making and technology and that is what drove human evolution. As someone pointed out, to get a feel of the difference between you and animals, imagine seeing the wind blowing a tree and some fruit falling off. You would perfectly well know that in order to get that fruit all you would have to do is to shake that tree. We believe that no animal seeing that would have the foggiest notion that if they shook the tree, the fruit would fall off. They could learn to shake the tree if they did it by accident but they could never actually intuitively do that. It is a slightly controversial field but really what makes you human is the concept of cause and effect. Now when that happened, and I don’t have to tell you the advantage of having tools, that all sorts of people that think that human evolution is really based upon humans understanding each other – I think chimpanzees and baboons have quite a good understanding of what’s going on. It is really quite a reasonable society. And can I just point out to you if you think it is social relationships that really matter, if you had to go into the jungle what would you rather take with you: a friend or an ax? I would take an ax if I were you. However once people had a concept of cause and effect they wanted to understand other things. They wanted to understand why the sun went around the earth – of course it doesn’t – they wanted to understand why we got ill, and particularly they wanted to understand why we died, and in fact they wanted to understand everything. Now the one cause they were absolutely sure of was a cause made by another human being. And that is why they invented gods with human characteristics. So I am sorry to tell you – you won’t like it, it is not attractive – that the origin of religion comes from tool making. It comes from a concept of cause and effect. [23]

And those people who had such beliefs in religion first of all had a great advantage. First of all, they no longer worried about many of these problems as you don’t because you know why we are here – God put us here. It provided explanations for ill health, death, the afterlife, and everything else. It had another advantage – you could pray to that God. And prayer is very comforting even though it may not lead anywhere; nevertheless, it is very comforting. It does offer you something to do. I think that those people who became religious survived better. I would like to argue quite persuasively that you have, not a god-gene in your brain, but a propensity to believe in religion is embedded in the neural circuits in our brain and controlled by our genes. Because those people who became religious survived better.

My evidence that we do have that is the following. First of all – just can I remind you – that many people have actual religious experiences. A wonderful book is by William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, in which he points out that many people have religious experiences which are as real for them as anything in their real life. They are, of course, delusions but nevertheless they are real for them. And these are, I am afraid, in one’s brain. And let me just tell you why I think these circuits are there. If, for example, you’ve – this has just been isolated recently – the active ingredient of magic mushrooms. If you take a group of people, particularly those who have some religious inclination and give them this active ingredient, many of them afterwards have religious experiences or religious like experience. And people do have mystical experiences. I am not going to ask you to put up your hands – I would be absolutely amazed if something like 10% of you have not had some strange experience certainly out of touch with the real world over the last year. That is what most surveys show. You have to ask yourself why if you take LSD, and if you have a look what Timothy Leary and people say, they believed they actually were God, they believed they were the universe. It can’t be this boring molecule that turns on these feelings. It must mean that they are activating these circuits in your brain. I am sorry to tell you, you and all human beings have quite a strong set of mystical circuits in your brain and it comes, I will want to argue, from the fact that those people who believed in religion and mysticism survived better than our ancestors who did not.

So that is I think one way of thinking about the origin of religion. It is not easy, I mean I cannot guarantee you that all these things that I am saying because I am talking about things that happened tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe even a million years ago, but at least I think it makes a plausible story. Because I think when one comes to the existence of God you have to ask once again who created God. You see if you are going to go for causal effects – there is a God, now you have to say, sorry, where did God come from? It is not a question I hear often answered. God – where did you come from? Not even God answers that. And it is bizarre to have a humanlike God who has no cause for his own creation.

And you really, if you go to the Bible now, must I really take seriously that women came from Adam’s rib. I am terribly sorry, I am a developmental biologist and I am a biologist, I want to tell you – yes, women are peculiar there is no question about that but they did not come from Adam’s rib. Whatever their peculiarities are it is not because of the riblike nature of their ancestry – that I can tell you. I think you also have to remember, and this is a slightly delicate area, that the stories, the Gospels about Jesus were written thirty to forty to fifty years after his death. No one who wrote the Gospels actually observed any of the events that they are writing about. That is my reading of the actual stories as I looked at the literature.

And you don’t have to worry too much about morals. You see even chimpanzees are quite kind to each other. [24] They can cooperate. And so can gorillas. You don’t have to have a moral sense from some supernatural being whose creation we don’t understand. Evolutionists have looked at this quite clearly, people like Trivers and Hamilton, and have pointed out that our genes program us to behave really quite well particularly to those who share similar genes. There is also evidence that humans behave quite well. If you are kind to me, on the whole I will be kind to you. If you are nasty to me I am afraid I am going to turn against you. And this makes for a perfectly reasonable moral position without any difficulty whatsoever. If you come to all the complexity, and I mean I know the origin of life is a tricky issue, but evolution is really very clever – no, it is not clever, it is really very dim to put it bluntly but it achieves remarkable results. Randomness and selection can get you to remarkable positions. This is not the moment for me to give you a lecture on evolution. But just remember, evolution proceeds very slowly. I think that anybody thinks that God created you, what about all that evolution? You don’t believe you descended from apes? Just look at some of your friends – aren’t they a bit ape? Come on, you know exactly what I mean. You must be dolt enough to think that.

I think for the moment let me then sum up again, I think the evidence for God is simply non-existent. Yes, there is some evidence for God in the Bible but that was nearly two thousand years ago and I keep asking my religious friends, “Could you please tell me what God has done in the last two thousand years?” And there is a mumbling and a bumbling but no answer whatsoever. Thank you very much. [25]

Dr. Craig - First Rebuttal

Dr. Craig: You will remember in my opening speech I said that I would defend two basic contentions in tonight’s debate. The first of those was that there is no good reason to think that belief in God is false. Now, as I listened to that first speech by Professor Wolpert I discerned basically three arguments that he gave to show that belief in God is false.

The first one is that people are religious because they feel better and that is why they believe in God or, alternatively, it is because of the human concept of causality that leads them to believe in God, in may in fact be hardwired into their brain. The problem with this sort of argument is that if you say that because belief in God is occasioned or caused in this way therefore that belief is false you commit an elementary logical fallacy known to every intro to philosophy student called the genetic fallacy. The genetic fallacy is trying to invalidate a point of view by showing how that view originated. The fact that beliefs arise through people’s wanting to feel better or perhaps through causality or to even being hardwired into the brain does nothing to prove that those beliefs are false which is what he must prove if he is to show that belief in God is a delusion. For example, it has been shown by child psychologists that children have hardwired into them the belief that when an object they see disappears behind a screen and then reappears they believe that the object continues to exist when it goes out of sight. It doesn’t disappear from being and then pop back into being. This is a hardwired belief in children and yet I think none of us would say therefore that belief is false. Now, the fact is that some child psychology studies do indicate that children also have such an instinctive belief in God and I am inclined to view this as God’s provision. Now the skeptic like Dr. Wolpert thinks that this is a delusion. But then if he is to justify his view he owes us some argument to show that the belief is false. Otherwise, he is committing the genetic fallacy. So the issue tonight before us in the debate is not how religious beliefs originate; it is whether or not those beliefs are true or false.

Now he does give a second argument designed to prove that God does not exist and that is that there is no evidence for God’s existence. Well, this is not a good argument frankly because in the words of a forensic scientist I once met in Australia, the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Just because there is no evidence that the butler was the murderer doesn’t mean that the butler was not the murderer. [26] Or to give a scientific example, we have no evidence so far that there was an early inflationary era in the origin of the cosmos but whoa be to the cosmologist who says because we don’t have any evidence of it therefore it did not exist. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. He needs to give a positive argument against God’s existence.

Now his third argument that he offered was the simple question “Who created God?” Well, this is not at all difficult to answer. A timeless, eternal being cannot have a cause. As Keith Ward points out in his book God, Chance, and Necessity, “If one asks what caused God, the answer is that nothing could bring into being a reality which wholly transcends space-time and . . . which is self-existent . . . To fail to grasp such an idea is to fail to grasp what God is.” [27] Moreover, I have given an argument that there exists such a being, namely, my first argument based upon the beginning of the universe. It leads us to the postulation of a timeless, spaceless, immaterial, and uncaused eternal being. So none of these arguments is any good that he has given us against the existence of God. If he is going to answer affirmatively that belief in God is a delusion then we have got to see some better arguments in favor of that proposition.

What about the arguments that I gave? My first argument was based upon the origin of the universe and apart from the “Who created God?” question, I saw no respond to this argument in his first speech. What about the argument based upon the fine-tuning of the universe? Again, there was no response to that but let me reinforce this argument by dealing with a possible objection that often arises. Many times people will say, maybe our universe is just one of an infinite number of parallel universes – a sort of world ensemble – and by chance alone we appear somewhere in the ensemble and therefore we shouldn’t be surprised at the fine-tuning of the universe. The reason this objection does not work is pointed out by Roger Penrose at Oxford University. If our universe were just a random member of a world ensemble of randomly ordered worlds then it is far, far more probable that we would be observing a vastly different universe than what we do observe. For example, the chances of our solar system forming instantaneously by a random collision of particles is about 1 out of 1010(60). Now that number is an inconceivably large number. But as Penrose says, it is incomprehensibly smaller than the improbability that the low entropy level of our universe which is fine-tuned for our existence should exist by chance. [28] Therefore, if we were just one of a randomly ordered world ensemble, we should be observing a much, much smaller universe. The fact that we do not, therefore, disconfirms very strongly the world ensemble hypothesis which suggests that we are not here due to chance; rather, as I said we are here due to design.

My third argument was based upon moral values in the world. You will remember I argued if there is no God then there are no objective moral values. And many atheists agree with this. For example, Richard Dawkins in his recent book is quoted by Professor Wolpert approvingly when Dawkins says “there is at bottom no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pointless indifference. . . . We are machines for propagating DNA. . . . It is every living object’s sole reason for being.” [29] Now the problem is that that is inconsistent with Dr. Wolpert’s own statements of moral value such as “religion should not interfere with the lives of others.” That is a moral judgment on his part. So it seems to me he is caught in a contradiction. On the one hand saying there are no objective moral values on an atheistic evolutionary view but on the other hand agreeing with me and I think with most of us that in fact there are objective moral values. Torturing a child for fun is objectively morally wrong. And if you agree with that then I think you will agree with me that God exists.

Fourthly, I spoke of the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. Here Dr. Wolpert responded to my evidence for the empty tomb, the resurrection appearances, and the origin of the Christian faith by saying that the Gospels were written later and they are not based on eyewitness testimony. I am afraid that is just misinformed. In the review of John Dominic Crossan’s book, The Birth of Christianity, in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion published in 2000, the reviewer writes, “The dominant and, in my mind, the likely view is that the passion narratives are early and based on eyewitness testimony.” [30] Specifically with regard to the empty tomb and the appearances, N. T. Wright in his epical book The Resurrection of the Son of God has concluded that the empty tomb and appearances have a historical probability so high as to be “virtually certain, as the death of Augustus in AD 14 or the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70” [31] Those are the facts. [32] The only real question is: how do you best explain them? And I have never seen a naturalistic explanation of these facts that is as probable or plausible as the resurrection of Jesus.

Finally, what about my argument based on the personal experience of God. Here Dr. Wolpert says, well, there are varieties of religious experience. Certainly there are. And I would say that a person is justified in believing in the object of his religious experience unless he has an overriding defeater or reason for thinking that that experience is delusory. The problem is in tonight’s debate we haven’t been given any good reasons for thinking that belief is delusory. So it seems to me I am perfectly rational to believe in God on the basis of my personal experience of God unless and until he can give me some good reason for thinking that that experience is delusory. He says, well, what has God done in the last two thousand years? Well, for one thing he changed my life. I’ve had a personal experience of God and I see no reason to doubt the veridicality of that experience. So the belief in the existence of God like the belief in the external world or the belief in the reality of the past is a rational belief to hold unless and until someone provides some sort of overriding objection.

So I think so far in tonight’s debate we have not seen any good reasons to think that the belief in God is false. We’ve seen the genetic fallacy; we’ve seen red herrings and other inconclusive arguments. On the other hand, I think we have five good reasons all of which point to the existence of a transcendent creator and designer of the universe who is the locus of absolute value, who has revealed himself in Jesus of Nazareth, and who can be personally known and experienced. [33]

Dr. Wolpert - First Rebuttal

Dr. Wolpert: Thank you. First of all, can I deal with the genetic fallacy? The fallacy is yours, not mine. You didn’t understand my argument at all. My point about genetics was not in order to explain whether God exists or not but I was trying to explain why people believed in God. It wasn’t evidence for or against the existence of God. You totally misunderstood my argument. My argument against God’s existence doesn’t depend upon genes. It is the absence of evidence. And to use catch phrases – the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence – I mean, that is philosophical bunkum. I am terribly sorry; if God exists you actually got to find some real evidence. I am terribly sorry that we scientists do base the way we think on evidence. I mean if I say that I think that you are a kangaroo because I dreamt you were a kangaroo last night that is not evidence of the slightest importance. I think if you want to go and look for evidence, you have got to find evidence. And when I say “What has God done in the last two thousand years?” and his flip reply is “Well, he made me religious” I am terribly sorry if you really want to take that seriously you might as well say, well, almost everything you’ve done has been determined by God and I am afraid that isn’t evidence. You really got to find something more plausible that God has done in the last two thousand years in order to be even in the slightest bit persuasive.

With regard to Jesus, I am slightly out of my depth on the scholarship. The stuff I’ve read says it is totally unreliable and there are many books that actually argue that and I don’t find that very useful. There is no reason. If you go to many societies who have a stronger belief in God as Christian do, how would you persuade them that their beliefs are false whereas yours are actually right?

And when we go back to the Big Bang and we want to explain how it occurred maybe the really true and reliable way to say is, “We don’t know.” There is nothing immoral or unsacred in saying we just don’t know. I mean, I don’t think that that has really come into many philosophers’ minds. We, scientists, by contrast do say sometimes, “Terribly sorry, we just at the moment don’t know and may never know.” But rather than say that, I am afraid believers invent this mythical creature who has no basis – and when I say how was God created is denied that he is so amazing – it’s a he by the way, in a human form – he is so amazing he didn’t need a creator. [34] The universe needed a creator, yes, but not God. Come on, you can’t take that seriously in any way whatsoever.

And as far as fine-tuning is concerned, I am terribly sorry, it may be a very small probability but that is tough luck. The fact that there is the probability at all is why we are here. That all those constants fit with the actual functioning of the universe, that is the way it is. Yes, it is very improbable – tough luck. You just have to live with it. Many things in life are very improbable and you have to live with them. You can’t say they don’t exist just because you don’t like how improbable they are.

Once again, when I come back tomorrow, I see I have here moral values certainly could be genetically determined.

So, I think what one really has to ask also, again and again, is you have to be reminded that all cultures believe in a god of some sort. And yet, and I say you Christians because I think most of you are Christians, believe that your God is the true God and there, of course, is a delusion. I think you really ought to lie in bed at night and ask why are you so sure that your God is the true God and was not created by anybody where as the universe was and whereas their gods are totally unreliable and really totally deluded. I really cannot see, and I repeat it again and again, if one is to believe in God one has to first of all go against an enormous amount of what we know about science in the world that you have got to go into the world of the supernatural which goes against everything we know about physics and biology and I’m terribly sorry I don’t see how you can possibly go that way. Thank you very much. [35]

Dr. Craig - Second Rebuttal

Dr. Craig: Well, I was rather puzzled by that last remark that in order to believe in God you must go against modern science and the evidence since the only scientific evidence we’ve heard in tonight’s debate has been the evidence I’ve presented in favor of the existence of God. Well, what about those reasons to believe that belief in God is false? We both agree that it is irrelevant barring the genetic fallacy on how belief in God originates. So what about the argument based upon the absence of evidence for God? Well, I said the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. He said well that is just a slogan. The point is that in order to justify the belief that God does not exist you have to have some sort of evidence or justification for that. Otherwise, it is possible that God does exist. Even if all of the arguments for God failed that wouldn’t be evidence that God does not exist. So in order to provide some sort of justification for atheism – for thinking that belief in God is false – he needs to give some sort of argument, not just say there is an absence of evidence. And in any case I have presented the evidence in tonight’s debate.

What about the question, “What caused God?” In his last speech Professor Wolpert says, “Well, the universe needs a creator therefore God needs a creator as well.” Not at all. That doesn’t follow. Remember the premises of the argument I gave – everything that begins to exist has a cause. Something cannot come into being out of nothing. But if something is eternal and timeless then it doesn’t fall under that false premise – it doesn’t need a cause. Even atheists like Daniel Dennett recognize that if eternal varieties exist like numbers or mathematical objects they don’t need a cause because they never come into being, they don’t begin to exist. And the concept of God is the concept of an eternal self-existent, necessary being and therefore the answer is simply that God is uncaused. He is self-existent.

So in tonight’s debate we have not heard any good arguments to show that belief in God is a delusion, that that belief is false. Have we heard some good arguments on the other side to think that God does exist? Well, first I said God is the best explanation for the origin of the universe. Here Professor Wolpert says, well, we just don’t know what caused the universe. I am afraid that escape route isn’t going to work. Remember the theorem proved by Borde, Vilenkin, and Guth that showed the universe had an absolute beginning at some point in the finite past. It sprang into being out of nothing – all of space and time. That is all I am using the scientific evidence for – to prove that statement that the universe began to exist. That is a religiously neutral statement that can be found in any textbook on astronomy and astrophysics. [36] Certainly my argument does not fall under his charge that it goes against science. On the contrary, the Christian who believes that the universe began to exist finds himself comfortably within mainstream science. It is the atheist who wants to salvage an eternal universe who finds himself with his back to the wall trying to find some way to avoid the conclusion of Big Bang cosmology and the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem. So, if you agree with me that anything that begins to exist has a cause and that the evidence indicates the universe began to exist – and it just occurred to me, don’t forget the philosophical arguments I gave for that; wholly apart from the scientific evidence, I gave philosophical arguments for the finitude of the past – then you will agree with me that there is a transcendent personal cause.

What about fine-tuning? Here Professor Wolpert says it is just chance, it is just dumb luck. Again, I don’t think that will work because it is not just the probability or the improbability issue here. It is the probability of having a life-permitting universe. To give an analogy: suppose Bob is given a car for his birthday and the license plate has on it CHT-4271. Now there are millions of license plate numbers and that number is highly improbable yet it would occasion no special interest. But suppose Bob was born on August 8, 1949 and he finds on his birthday car the license plate BOB-8849. He would be obtuse if he just shrugged this off and said “Oh well, nothing to be explained about that. Any number is equally improbable and there had to be some number on the car.” But what makes this case different than the other? It is the combination of high improbability with an independently given pattern that results in what design theorists call specified complexity. And it is that that tips us off to the fact that this is not due to chance; it is due to design. So again the theist finds himself comfortably within mainstream science. It is not I tonight who am challenging mainstream science or saying that its conclusions are doubtful. On the contrary, I think mainstream science goes to suggest that there is a designer of the universe.

The moral argument has never been addressed in tonight’s debate, I’m sorry to say. And I think that if there are objective moral values then we are logically committed to God’s existence.

As for the resurrection of Jesus, Professor Wolpert admits that this isn’t his area of expertise but he says believe him when he thinks these are unreliable. Well, why? I quoted from mainstream scholars saying that the majority – the consensus – view of New Testament historians today is that the empty tomb, the post-mortem appearances, and the origin of the disciples’ belief in Jesus are accepted facts about the historical Jesus just like his crucifixion. So it seems to me that again I am well within what the consensus of scholarship teaches on this.

He says, well, why should we believe in your God? Well, it is not my God. The question is why should we believe in the God revealed by Jesus of Nazareth? And the answer is because Jesus claimed to be such a revelation of God and he rose from the dead in vindication of that radical claim. And we’ve got good evidence for it.

Finally, as to the personal experience of God, he says God has to do something since the resurrection of Jesus in the last two thousand years. I think God does do things miraculously in the world. I have no reason to think that God is not miraculously involved in the world but I am basing my evidence on the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus and on my personal experience of God – he’s done something in my life and that is enough for me to believe in him. And insofar as I have no good reason to think that belief is delusory or not veridical I am entirely within my rational rights to believe that the God I experience and know is in fact real.

So for all of these different reasons, I think the person who believes in the God revealed by Jesus of Nazareth is fully rational in doing so. In fact, I would venture to say that Christianity as a worldview stands intellectually head and shoulders above any other –ism or philosophy of life that you might care to enunciate. And for that reason I find myself enthusiastically a Christian theist. [37]

Dr. Wolpert - Second Rebuttal

Dr. Wolpert: Well, we really have a problem about evidence. Say I say to you, and I think this is partly in Richard Dawkins’ book, I believe there is a teapot going around the earth very fast. I don’t know any evidence against that. So do you think the teapot is really going around the earth? So there is the absence of evidence that the teapot is going around the earth so therefore the teapot is going around the earth. I think one’s in a bit of a fix here. If you want to say that the teapot is going around the earth you really require some evidence that there really is a teapot there. Or say that I imagine, or I tell you, that I’ve seen fish that can talk very good Afrikaans (I’m South African you see) and they speak with a dialect that is not that good but they speak very nicely. Would you not like a little evidence for this? The absence of evidence surely would make you doubt it. So when we come to God, it is not a question the absence of evidence that there is no God, the absence of evidence that there is a God. There is not the slightest indication of evidence of the kind that we would use in science and in our day to day lives for the existence of this supernatural being again. I mean, you keep on saying, if I may say, that you need a creator for the universe but you refuse to allow that God himself should have been created. I find that very weird. When you say, “Oh, this all fits in with science beautifully,” I’m terribly sorry but you don’t tell me about the science that God used to create the universe or the science that was used to create God. So I think this is all supernatural; if I were to be very rude, I would say mumbo-jumbo. You won’t like that but I’m terribly sorry but these ideas are really no different to homeopathy or, what do you see when looking at the stars – astrology – and all these things. It is really not using one’s hard based evidence to look at what the real facts are.

I keep on coming back that if there is a cause for the creation of the universe there also has to be a cause for the creation of God. And that God should take on this human form once again is very difficult to put it mildly. This goes against everything that we know in science.

If we come back to Jesus, I’m sorry this is something that happened two thousand years ago. It’s a wonderful story but I think the actual real evidence for someone coming back from the dead goes against absolutely everything we know about the nature of life and therefore I regret to say I do not take it seriously. Sorry. Thank you. [38]

Dr. Craig - Closing Speech

Dr. Craig: Alright. Let’s try to draw together the threads of this debate in my closing statement. You will remember I said I was going to defend two contentions tonight. First that there is no good reason to think that belief in God is false. And I don’t think that we’ve heard any good arguments against the existence of God tonight. What about this claim that in the absence of evidence for God you are justified in thinking that there is no God? He gives the example of the kangaroo and the teapot. You see the failure of those illustrations is that the reason we don’t believe that I’m a kangaroo is not because of the absence of evidence that I am a kangaroo; rather, it is the presence of evidence that I am not a kangaroo. We have good evidence that I am homo sapien. Similarly, the teapot example also fails because the reason we don’t think there is a teapot in the orbit around the earth is not because of the absence of evidence of such a teapot, it is because we have good evidence that no such piece of china has been launched into space by us or that extraterrestrials have put it there. So it is the presence of contrary evidence. But tonight we’ve heard no contrary evidence against the existence of God. So this is just an elementary logical point. A proposition is not shown to be false by the absence of evidence for it. The proposition could still be true in the absence of evidence for it. We just wouldn’t know if it’s true. Now I’ve tried to fulfill my share of the burden of proof tonight and give evidence for God’s existence. But all Dr. Wolpert has offered against God is that God needs a creator. I don’t think I need to repeat the argument here – everything that begins to exist has to have a cause but a timeless, necessary, self-existent being cannot be caused. [39] It would be incoherent logically to say God has a cause. So I think we have got good arguments tonight for the existence of God, the fine-tuning in the universe, objective moral values.

Just because the resurrection of Jesus occurred two thousand years ago doesn’t mean the evidence is unreliable. What is crucial is not the time gap between the evidence and today. Good evidence doesn’t become bad evidence just by receding into the past. What is crucial is the time gap between the events recorded and the first records of them. As long as that time gap is short it doesn’t matter how far they are from the past. Good evidence doesn’t become bad evidence simply by receding into the past. He says, well, it goes against science. Not at all. What science tells us is what lies within the natural capacities of nature. And it is certainly naturally impossible that someone should rise from the dead. That is to say, if Jesus rose from the dead it must have been a miracle. That is why I say it is evidence for the existence of God.

Finally, let me conclude by saying just one more thing about the personal experience of God. I want you to know that I myself wasn’t raised in a Christian home or even a church going family. But when I became a teenager I began to ask the big questions in life – why am I here and what is it all about? And I began to search for meaning in life. As I did so, I began to read the New Testament and I was absolutely captivated by the person of Jesus of Nazareth. There was a ring of truth about his words that I had never encountered before and an authenticity about his life that was just undeniable. After a period of about six months of the most intense soul searching that I have ever been through I just came to the end of my rope and I cried out to God and I experienced this tremendous infusion of joy and God became a living reality to me – a reality that I have walked with now day by day, year by year, for over thirty years. A reality that I believe you can find, too, if you will simply seek him with an open mind and with an open heart. So I would encourage you if you are here tonight and you are seeking to find God as a personal reality in your life, do what I did. Pick up a New Testament and begin to read it and as you go home this evening and you are lying in bed awake before you fall asleep ask yourself: could this really be the truth? Could the truth about reality be far more wonderful than I ever dreamt or imagined? Could there really be a God who loves me and has given his son for me that I might know him? Don’t miss that. If that is true, it is the greatest news ever announced. So I would encourage you to do the same thing I did. Begin to search. Begin to look. And ask God to reveal himself to you. I believe that it can change your life in the same way that it changed mine. [40]

Dr. Wolpert - Closing Speech

Dr. Wolpert: As I said when I started, I am slightly nervous about trying to persuade you to give up your belief in God (not that I have any illusions that I will be able to do that) because I think it really does help you and I think that the basis for your belief is the comfort that it actually does provide you with. Nevertheless, as a scientist looking at the world, one must never be frightened to look at the world as it really is. And when it comes to miracles which we haven’t really spoken about and the only philosopher that I take seriously – David Hume – remember what David Hume said about miracles. No miracle should ever be believed in unless the evidence was so strong and so miraculous that it would be a miracle not to believe in it. I am afraid that isn’t the case with regard to the resurrection of Jesus. I can understand completely what has just been said about the comfort and the pleasure of believing in God. In fact, that is my total argument. I think it gives enormous comfort to people to have these beliefs. But that doesn’t actually make God real. I am terribly sorry about that. I am terribly sorry I don’t want to go back all the way to evidence again but you really have to say that when someone says “Oh yes, God really helps with love” well that is very good. I think Christianity has done some very good things; it has also done some very terrible things historically. So all I would really say is please examine your evidence with care and really think that if you really want to believe that God created the world then you must give up your scientific beliefs because you are actually into the supernatural world for which there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever. Thank you very much. [41]

Moderated Dialogue - Q&A

Moderator: Tell me something, Bill. If – and clearly this didn’t happen, at least I’m making an assumption here – if Louis had succeeded in demolishing your arguments, would your faith have remained intact?

Dr. Craig: Yes, both because my faith is not ultimately based on arguments but also because I have other arguments. [laughter]

Moderator: I am tempted to quote Cecil B. DeMille to you. When asked about his principles he said, “Gentleman, those are my principles. If you don’t like them, I’ve got others.”

Dr. Craig: Yes, well, I mean that sincerely. In twenty minutes, you can only share a limited amount and I do think there are other sound arguments for God as well.

Moderator: You had a bit more than twenty minutes. You had about forty minutes but there we are. But the fact is it wouldn’t have mattered what he said, your faith would have remained intact.

Dr. Craig: Yes.

Moderator: Right, so what’s the point of the argument then?

Dr. Craig: Well, Louis and I aren’t here tonight to try to persuade each other. We are here to try to make this available for the public. I think there are people out there who are searching and trying to find the meaning and purpose of life in the same way that I was. It is the public that we are interested in bringing this information.

Moderator: Let me reverse the question to you, Louis, though it is more difficult obviously in the case of somebody who doesn’t believe. And that is, are you capable of believing in a supernatural God? That is to say, and it is a terribly difficult one of course, but if Bill had succeeded in demolishing your argument might you – is it conceivable? – that at the end of the evening you said, “Yeah, maybe you have a point. I’ll do what you said; I’ll read that New Testament again. I’ll study the life of Jesus and the resurrection of Jesus. And who knows, tomorrow I might be at your church.”

Dr. Wolpert: No argument would have mattered but certainly events could change my mind. A few miracles would certainly make me reconsider. I would have to. I feel a few more resurrections, for example, would certainly undermine a great deal of my beliefs; yes.

Moderator: Would one do?

Dr. Wolpert: One would be a very good beginning, yes.

Moderator: And anybody in mind, in particular?

Dr. Wolpert: Well, I am thinking about myself at my age.


Moderator: Yeah, which takes us to the Pascal Wager I suppose. All right. Did he say absolutely nothing tonight to – not shake you – but did he say anything at all tonight that made you think “Well, eh, there is something there.”

Dr. Craig: No. I did not think these were very good arguments that we heard tonight in all candor.

Moderator: Let me do my bit then. He asked you endlessly to answer his question about what came before God. You tell us that God, without a shred of evidence if I may say as an independent chairman here, created the universe.

Dr. Craig: I gave an argument for that.

Moderator: You gave an argument for it; you produced no evidence for it. Clearly, because you can’t – how can you? All right, put that to one side. But what he wanted to know was who, therefore, created God?

Dr. Craig: Well, to answer that question again, God is by definition a self-existent, timeless, necessary being. So if there is a God – let’s just talk about possibilities – if there is a God, there cannot be a cause of such an entity anymore than there can be a cause of the number 7 or the property of being blue. Things that begin to exist that come into being have causes. But something that is eternal and necessary . . .

Moderator: So God was always there and at some point along the line – although there was no time then, so clearly, I can’t say at some point in time . . .

Dr. Craig: Exactly, very good, that is right.

Moderator: . . . which makes it mildly more difficult to pursue this but nonetheless at some point God decided that he’d create this whole thing.

Dr. Craig: Rather, I would say not that he decided but that at some point he did create the whole thing. [42]

Moderator: Well, presumably, well, all right, he created the whole thing. You haven’t got a better explanation of why the universe came . . . well, you don’t know. You said so.

Dr. Wolpert: Sorry, there is nothing to be ashamed about admitting ignorance. I don’t understand the Big Bang. I vaguely . . . I have discussed it with people and if there are things that we don’t understand we just have to say we don’t know. You don’t have to invent mystical creatures in order to do it.

Moderator: You don’t have to invent mystical creatures?

Dr. Wolpert: No, I don’t think you do. I just think you have to say you don’t know and keep on trying to find out. Maybe we will never find out.

Moderator: And if you found it was a supernatural being?

Dr. Wolpert: Well, I would be absolutely shocked but I would change my mind. But I would think just a tiny bit of evidence would be a good beginning.

Moderator: He has offered you evidence.

Dr. Wolpert: No, that is not evidence.

Dr. Craig: Certainly, certainly there is more than a tiny bit of evidence that is on the table that the universe began to exist.

Dr. Wolpert: No, that is total speculation.

Dr. Craig: Well, the Astronomer Royal Martin Rees would beg to differ with you.

Dr. Wolpert: Well, he can beg if he wishes and I admire Martin very much.


Dr. Craig: In his book, Just Six Numbers, Martin Rees says . . .

Dr. Wolpert: I know Martin well.

Dr. Craig: . . . that modern cosmology is as firmly established as science as the geology of the earth. [43] This is not a matter of airy-fairy speculation.

Dr. Wolpert: Now we are back into the constants again.

Dr. Craig: No, no, this is Big Bang, not fine-tuning, we are talking about now. His book was on fine-tuning but he makes this statement in the course of that book.

Dr. Wolpert: What, that the Big Bang must have been caused by someone? I bet he doesn’t.

Moderator: No, he doesn’t.

Dr. Craig: No, no, he takes an agnostic attitude as far as I know.

Dr. Wolpert: Well, that is good. He says he doesn’t know.

Moderator: What Martin Rees actually does as far as I can tell, and this is above most of us mere mortals, certainly it is above me anyway, is he speculates on this possibility of the multiverse and the idea of – what’s that ghastly film in which we are all just in a computer? – the Matrix. He says we just could be kind of players – you and I argued this morning about the chess game, we used an analogy that eventually ran into the sand, it was a hopeless analogy to begin with. But the Matrix one isn’t bad and he conjectures that this designer is kind of playing a computer game really and we are one of a million, a billion, a trillion, universes and it just kind of happens that way. As far as I consider, I read a bit of what he said and I don’t recall him saying God did that. And he certainly didn’t get into Jesus.

Dr. Craig: No, certainly not. I was simply saying that this is not a mere matter of speculation; that there is more than a tiny bit of evidence on the table.

Dr. Wolpert: Evidence for what?

Dr. Craig: Evidence for a beginning of the universe.

Dr. Wolpert: Yes.

Moderator: We know that.

Dr. Craig: Well, that is what I am offering in this first argument.

Dr. Wolpert: But because there is a beginning doesn’t imply a God.

Dr. Craig: It does if the first premise is true; that whatever begins to exist has a cause. It logically follows.

Dr. Wolpert: Yeah, but the cause doesn’t have to be God.

Dr. Craig: Well, remember I gave an argument for thinking that this cause is timeless, spaceless, immaterial, enormously powerful, and personal.

Dr. Wolpert: I think it is a computer.

Dr. Craig: Well, computers are designed by people.

Dr. Wolpert: No, no. This is a self-designing computer.

Dr. Craig: Ah-ha.

Moderator: Timeless!

Dr. Wolpert: Timeless!

Dr. Craig: Well, that is a contradiction in terms.

Dr. Wolpert: Why? What is contradictory about it?

Dr. Craig: A computer has to function. It takes time.

Dr. Wolpert: No, this is a special computer.

Dr. Craig: Yeah, but it has to be logically coherent.

Dr. Wolpert: Oh, it is logically coherent.

Dr. Craig: Yes, you have to be logically coherent.

Dr. Wolpert: Oh, no, this computer is amazing!

Dr. Craig: No. Besides, it would have to be, as I said, a personal being.

Dr. Wolpert: No.

Dr. Craig: A computer is a physical object.

Dr. Wolpert: Not this computer, oh no!

Dr. Craig: OK, see what you are doing is you are actually, what you are calling a computer is really God. A non-physical . . . it is just another word if you rob it of all the attributes that make it a computer.

Moderator: Surely, Gates is God. [laughter] Come on, go on.

Dr. Wolpert: Go on with my computer?

Moderator: Yeah, absolutely. He has got a point when he says . . .

Dr. Wolpert: No, he hasn’t. I am saying that I don’t know what caused it. And he claims he does know what caused it.

Moderator: But he is saying more than that. He is saying you have got to prove.

Dr. Wolpert: No, I don’t have to prove. I have to admit ignorance.

Moderator: Well, if you admit ignorance and he admits knowledge as it were.

Dr. Wolpert: He doesn’t have knowledge.

Moderator: Well, he believes he has knowledge.

Dr. Wolpert: Ah! That is the whole nature of belief.

Moderator: If we have two people – one of whom says “I don’t know” – I hate all these absurd examples but – I go to two doctors right? And I got a pain in my wherever it is and the first doctor says I have no idea what is causing it, clear off. And the other one says, “Actually it is because you have a pimple in your thingy” and moreover (because this is what his God does) and moreover I can cure it, I’ll go for the second doctor. [44]

Dr. Wolpert: No, but he is not saying a pimple in your thingy, he’s saying there is a really special unimaginable supernatural thing in your thingy. That’s a problem.

Dr. Craig: You are unwilling to accept the idea of anything that exists beyond nature.

Dr. Wolpert: Yes.

Dr. Craig: Well, that is begging the question in favor of atheism. That just is presupposing that atheism is true. That is what the debate is about.

Moderator: But you are presupposing God is true.

Dr. Craig: Oh, no, not at all. I’m giving arguments for God’s existence. What I am looking for is arguments for atheism and this isn’t. I mean, lots of atheists give arguments for their view. You know the problem of evil and suffering in the world.

Dr. Wolpert: Oh, no, that is a terrible argument.

Dr. Craig: Yeah, I know. That is what Richard Dawkins says, too. Dawkins doesn’t use that argument.

Dr. Wolpert: It is absurd.

Dr. Craig: J. L. Mackie of Oxford, he used that argument.

Dr. Wolpert: He must be a philosopher.

Moderator: It may, Louis, be a terrible argument but it is a pretty powerful argument when you are arguing against a Christian God who is supposed to be all merciful, isn’t it?

Dr. Wolpert: What? So you mean we must blame God for all the suffering in the world?

Dr. Craig: Well, I don’t think that. I’m saying atheists offer arguments for atheism and this would be an example. The atheist can’t get off the hook here. He is making a knowledge claim “God does not exist.”

Moderator: Oh, all right.

Dr. Craig: See, that is a knowledge claim. It is the agnostic who makes no knowledge claim.

Dr. Wolpert: I don’t say “God does not exist,” I say there is no evidence for God.

Dr. Craig: Well, then that is mere agnosticism.

Dr. Wolpert: No!

Dr. Craig: Yeah!

Dr. Wolpert: No, we atheists say “We do not believe that God exists.”

Dr. Craig: Well, that is compatible with God existing you see. That is mere agnosticism.

Dr. Wolpert: No, no, it’s not.

Dr. Craig: The atheist says that God does not exist which is a claim to know something and therefore requires justification.

Dr. Wolpert: This atheist doesn’t say this. He just says there is no evidence for God.

Dr. Craig: All right well how would you differentiate yourself then from an agnostic?

Dr. Wolpert: Agnostic says I am clueless as to whether God exists or not and I am a coward to try to make up my mind.

Dr. Craig: Well, now, that is pejorative.

Dr. Wolpert: Yes, it is pejorative and I mean it to be pejorative.

Dr. Craig: All right, what about the non-cowardly agnostic like Bertrand Russell who says, “I don’t know whether God exists; I don’t know whether God does not exist.”

Dr. Wolpert: That’s an agnostic, yes.

Dr. Craig: Well, that’s what you are.

Dr. Wolpert: No! Good lord!

Dr. Craig: If you are not that then you need to give us some warrant for the belief that there is no God.

Dr. Wolpert: No, I just say I know of no evidence or any reason to believe in God whatsoever. This is a supernatural being for which I know of no evidence and he has done nothing that I know of in the last two thousand years.

Moderator: Why did you lose your faith?

Dr. Wolpert: Me?

Moderator: We know why how Bill found his.

Dr. Wolpert: It is shameful. When I was young, I used to pray to God to help me with various things. My prayers were not answered so it was purely pragmatic; I gave it up. Sorry.

Moderator: No. Bill’s was a redhead beauty in the front row. At least I may be slightly simplifying what you told me.

Dr. Craig: Or exaggerating.

Moderator: Possibly. You may have basic laws for God and things – there is a basic law of journalism and we all observe it I promise you this. First simplify then exaggerate. I hold to that. [laughter] So, where we are: you use much of your book to deny the circularity of your argument. What you have been trying to do tonight, forgive me if I’ve got this wrong Louis, is prove that it is in fact entirely a circular argument. Yes?

Dr. Wolpert: Yes.

Moderator: Tell him why.

Dr. Wolpert: Tell him why it is a circular argument? Because you want to believe, you need an explanation for things you don’t understand like why the universe exists. And you are too frightened to admit that you don’t know.

Dr. Craig: That is not the definition of what a circular argument is.

Dr. Wolpert: Well, it is circular-ish. [laughter]

Dr. Craig: No, a circular argument is when your only reason for believing a premise is that you already accept the conclusion. That is what you are doing when you say there is nothing beyond nature. There is no supernatural. That is presupposing atheism.

Dr. Wolpert: But your argument is circular. Because there had to be a creator, therefore, the creator had to be God.

Dr. Craig: No, I gave an argument.

Dr. Wolpert: I know but I think that argument is totally false. We don’t want to get involved with that again.

Dr. Craig: What you need to do Professor Wolpert is to then identify the false premise in the argument because the logic is valid; the conclusion follows from the premises. You have to show me which of the premises is false.

Dr. Wolpert: The premise is that there had to be a personal creator of the universe.

Dr. Craig: OK, if you are going to argue that that is false then you will need to refute the two arguments that I gave for the personhood of the creator.

Dr. Wolpert: Oh, yes, well, there is no evidence for the personhood. [45]

Dr. Craig: Well, I gave two.

Dr. Wolpert: Well, the moral one is absurd. Morality – you don’t believe that is not a strong one.

Dr. Craig: Oh, no. That wasn’t the argument for the personhood. The other arguments actually do give you a personal creator and designer. The arguments were that it must be a timeless and spaceless being and therefore cannot be physical or material and the only things that we know of that could fit that description are either minds or abstract objects and abstract objects don’t cause things. The number 7 can’t cause anything therefore the cause of the universe must be a mind.

Dr. Wolpert: I am very suspicious of anything that is timeless and spaceless.

Dr. Craig: Well, you may be suspicious but that is not really an argument or a refutation.

Dr. Wolpert: I am not a good physicist.

Moderator: Let’s get into the moral bit because you, Louis, offered us various illustrations. You have various arguments as to why we can arrive at a moral state. And effectively what you are saying, if I understand it, we do these moral things because over a long enough period we have concluded that they are in our interest to do them.

Dr. Wolpert: Absolutely.

Moderator: Right. Why do people do those things that are not in their selfish interest but are clearly decent and good? Why do they sacrifice themselves in the cause of something from which they will benefit nothing?

Dr. Wolpert: We are in the whole thing about people’s behavior and how the brain works, about sociology, about mental illness. There are all sorts of complications.

Moderator: Have you never looked at somebody, have you never met anybody – and it might be a Mandela figure, or it might be a Mother Teresa figure, or it might be an atheist – and said, actually, I don’t know this person terribly well, don’t know him at all, don’t know anything about his medical background, whatever, but he is a good guy, a good person.

Dr. Wolpert: I don’t have to go to those great people. I can go to my partner and my apprentice and say they are good people.

Moderator: Absolutely you can. You can say they are good people. Why are they good people?

Dr. Wolpert: Well, because they help me a great deal and I like them.

Dr. Craig: Are you serious? Is that the basis of your moral system? Because they help you?

Dr. Wolpert: And help other people, too.

Dr. Craig: OK. OK.

Moderator: So it is there behavior. You don’t then go the extra step and say why are they doing that, even though it may not be in their best interest to do it?

Dr. Wolpert: Let’s be clear that we don’t really understand how people behave or why they behave.

Moderator: He is offering you an explanation.

Dr. Wolpert: What, by a God? Oh, come on!

Moderator: Don’t shout at me, it was his argument! [laughter]

Dr. Wolpert: Sorry, I won’t shout again. I can behave badly at times; I’m sorry Bill.

Dr. Craig: Not at all, not at all.

Dr. Wolpert: There are lots of people who are criminals who do all sorts of terrible things and we don’t fully understand why they do all those things. Some people have breakdowns and do all sorts of strange things.

Dr. Craig: Could I clarify something about the argument because I think this is apt to lead to misunderstanding. My argument is not that belief in God is necessary in order to do good or live a moral life or be a decent chap. The argument is nothing to do about belief in God. The argument is that without God there isn’t any absolute standard of right and wrong and therefore what we call moral values are just the spinoffs of socio-biological evolution. Altruism like you mentioned – self-sacrificial behavior; a mother rushing into a burning building . . .

Moderator: No, specifically not a mother to save a child because there is a perfectly good reason for a mother saving the child.

Dr. Craig: But if you say that then again you are still misunderstanding my argument. What I was going to say is that on the socio-biological point of view that kind of altruistic behavior is just the selfish gene wanting to perpetuate itself and it is the same kind of behavior you see in a troop of baboons where you see what looks like altruistic behavior or even in an ant heap where fighter ants will sacrifice themselves for the good of the heap. My point is that on the atheistic view that is all moral values are.

Moderator: Right. Is there any difference – you come back in one second but let me just ask Louis whether there is any difference between the altruistic behavior of a human being (somebody who may sacrifice him or herself for a cause which will bring them no particular benefit) and a baboon in a troop?

Dr. Wolpert: Well, there are occasions where there are groups of animals where there is someone who will scream when danger comes. So these can be biologically determined but also there is the whole complex of the nature of the sociology of the society and how different societies behave. And that has got nothing to do with God; that is complex sociology and biology.

Dr. Craig: Yeah, that is exactly what I said.

Moderator: Who imposed the complex biology – where did that come from?

Dr. Wolpert: Evolution. Evolution.

Dr. Craig: Right.

Moderator: We are back to the old . . .

Dr. Craig: No, see that is my argument. That is all that moral values are on atheism and that therefore as I say rape, child abuse, these are socially inconvenient or taboo. [46]

Dr. Wolpert: As an atheist, I am not a rapist.

Dr. Craig: You are misunderstanding my argument. Of course you are not. You are misunderstanding the argument. I am not arguing to be a good person you have to believe in God. What I am arguing is that without God there is no absolute moral values and no absolute moral duties. We are like advanced primates and what we call moral values are just these ingrained socio-biological patterns.

Dr. Wolpert: Yes, that is exactly what they are.

Dr. Craig: OK. So that is your view. I was not sure of that. Well, then you see when you make these moral judgments yourself you are acting inconsistently with your own worldview. When you make moral judgments like “Everyone has the right to believe whatever he wants so long as it doesn’t interfere with others.” Where is this notion of rights suddenly come from?

Dr. Wolpert: History and sociology.

Dr. Craig: Right, just sociologically ingrained behavior. So the pedophile or the rapist or the psychopath, or the person who wants to be a religiously intolerant persecutor is just acting out of fashion. He is like the person who belches at a meal.

Dr. Wolpert: No. Hitler wasn’t acting out of fashion. He acted in his particular way which other people objected to.

Dr. Craig: Right, but there wasn’t anything morally wrong with what he did, right, on your view?

Dr. Wolpert: Of course there was.

Dr. Craig: Well, it was just contrary to the patterns of socio-biological behavior that have been ingrained in the human species not to kill each other off. Why was what he did objectively wrong?

Dr. Wolpert: Because it killed many people and made people extremely unhappy.

Dr. Craig: Alright, but now that goes on all the time in the animal kingdom, right? Killing other animals?

Dr. Wolpert: No, it does not.

Dr. Craig: Well, when a lion kills a zebra . . .

Dr. Wolpert: Well, what about when you kill your turkey?

Dr. Craig: Fine. Use that example. On atheism, these are all morally neutral acts because there isn’t any standard of right and wrong.

Dr. Wolpert: Sure, there isn’t.

Dr. Craig: OK. Then you agree with me that what Hitler did there wasn’t anything wrong.

Moderator: You lost me a bit here, I confess. Because you do seem to be saying that if you are an atheist you are an immoral person.

Dr. Craig: No, no, no. Listen to the argument again. If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist. Louis agrees with that.

Dr. Wolpert: No, no, no.

Moderator: No he doesn’t, of course he doesn’t.

Dr. Craig: Yes, he does. He just said so.

Dr. Wolpert: There are no external moral values, yes.

Moderator: There are no external moral values. Well, all right, define what you mean by external moral values.

Dr. Wolpert: Coming from outer space.

Moderator: Precisely. Exactly. But what you do believe is that within us, there is clearly a moral framework.

Dr. Wolpert: Absolutely, yes.

Moderator: I think you do misrepresent him a bit there.

Dr. Craig: Well, I think not because if you were to rerun the film of evolution and quite different creatures might have evolved having quite a different set of moral values.

Moderator: They might have but didn’t.

Dr. Wolpert: I doubt it.

Dr. Craig: Right. If that were the case there would be no way that one of them could say our values are right and your values are wrong. Or even among cultures. How can you say that National Socialist Germany was wrong and that the liberal democracies were right? It is right according to our point of view but according to them it is right according to their point of view. Everything becomes relative.

Moderator: Louis, is it your contention that this moral framework under which we operate, whether we are atheists or agnostics or theists, the moral framework under which all societies, I think it is true to say, is it true to say that all human societies have some form of moral framework? It may be different from ours but they have one. I mean, cannibals presumably think it is OK to eat each other because well it’s OK to eat each other I suppose.

Dr. Wolpert: I don’t think cannibals do eat other, do they?

Moderator: They don’t any longer. I think they have stopped. They prefer McDonald’s. But where did it come from?

Dr. Wolpert: What?

Moderator: The thing that is inherent in us that you tell us is inherent in us. How did it arise?

Dr. Wolpert: From evolution. Certainly altruism came from evolution. You certainly wanted to help those with similar genes to yourself. Also, from reciprocity; in other words, if you were in a society whereas if you behaved well then the other people would behave well. People learned that you could do much better if you behaved well to them.

Moderator: I can see why we would help others with the same genes but . . .

Dr. Wolpert: I am out of my depth then. I don’t think we understand. That is big sociology and politics and economics. [47]

Moderator: You didn’t hear my question. It was going to be why do we care about the mistreatment of kittens – well, kittens because they have big eyes I supposed – but why ugly animals or something?

Dr. Wolpert: Because we identify with them.

Moderator: With animals?

Dr. Wolpert: Yes, we are an animal after all. I mean the idea that God created us quite separately from all other animals is absurd. You know how animal and we are alike. I am a dog at heart.

Dr. Craig: Animals are not moral agents. When a lion kills a zebra, it kills it but it doesn’t murder it. When a hawk steals a fish from the talons of another hawk, it takes the fish but it doesn’t steal the fish. None of these have any moral dimension to them. And it is the same with human behavior on this atheistic view. We are just relatively advanced primates – there really isn’t any objective right or wrong. It is just evolution.

Dr. Wolpert: Good. Yes.

Dr. Craig: Yeah, and I submit that is morally abhorrent.

Moderator: Now that is interesting. Why morally abhorrent?

Dr. Craig: Because torturing a child for fun is wrong.

Moderator: But he’s not saying it isn’t wrong.

Dr. Craig: Yes, he is. All he is saying is that it goes against the patterns that have been ingrained into homo sapiens into this herd morality by evolution. But there isn’t any objectivity to that. Animals kill their young all the time – infanticide goes on all the time in the animal kingdom. And we are just animals.

Dr. Wolpert: I am terribly sorry; infanticide does not go on all the time.

Dr. Craig: Well, I beg to differ. Many animals will kill their own young.

Dr. Wolpert: What for?

Dr. Craig: I leave that to a biologist to explain.

Dr. Wolpert: I am sorry; most animals do not kill their own young. They might kill somebody else’s young.

Dr. Craig: I didn’t say most.

Dr. Wolpert: It is simply not true.

Dr. Craig: Alright they kill each other’s.

Dr. Wolpert: When did you last see a dog kill a puppy?

Dr. Craig: I haven’t seen that but I have seen mice do this with, you know, pet mice do this kind of thing. It was very awful.

Moderator: Maybe you should have fed them.

Dr. Craig: Yeah. [laughter]

Moderator: All right. Look, we’ve got three minutes left. There is clearly nothing that either of you can say to persuade each other as to your beliefs. Is there any ground that you both occupy? Is there anything? This is the most difficult debate you can chair because there is simply no starting point.

Dr. Wolpert: You are right because our concept of science is totally different.

Dr. Craig: Oh, it is not! I thought you were going to ask where is the common ground and I thought well at least we are both committed to the value of logic and science. Neither of us is some kind of wacky postmodernist who denies the objectivity of science and logic.

Dr. Wolpert: I would say you are.

Dr. Craig: Well, you would be mistaken then. You would be mistaken and anybody who thinks that doesn’t understand contemporary cosmology because I am right in the mainstream.

Moderator: What do you say to your Creationist in the United States?

Dr. Craig: Well, I disagree with Young Earth Creationism. I don’t think it is taught in the Bible and I don’t think it is scientifically tenable.

Moderator: So this is a very substantial section of the Christian community in the United States who have simply got it wrong.

Dr. Craig: I think so.

Moderator: Why might not you be wrong in exactly the same way that they are wrong?

Dr. Craig: Well, because I think that when you look at Genesis 1 it is a much more subtle theological document than what Young Earthers tend to believe.

Moderator: But you are quoting the Bible now as though it were some kind of peer reviewed scientific paper.

Dr. Craig: No, what I am saying is that I thought they were both wrong in interpreting the Bible to believe that the world was created 10,000 years ago in six literal days and that is a question of exegesis. I am saying I think their interpretation, though possible, isn’t the most plausible. But then the second I think there is just overwhelming scientific evidence for the geological time table and the astronomical age of the universe.

Dr. Wolpert: What about evolution of human beings and things like that?

Dr. Craig: I am open to the evidence on that. I honestly am.

Moderator: But not persuaded?

Dr. Craig: Not yet, I think there are some problems . . .

Moderator: So you don’t believe in evolution?

Dr. Craig: No, but I don’t disbelieve it either. I am genuinely agnostic about that. I think that microevolution is well established but the extrapolation from micro- to macroevolution is a huge extrapolation that doesn’t have very, if any, compelling evidence for it and there is some very good evidence against it. So I am genuinely open minded to be convinced on this. I think as a Christian I can be more objective than Louis on this score because I can follow the evidence where it leads. But for the naturalist, you see, evolution is the only game in town. So no matter how improbable, he has got to believe it.

Dr. Wolpert: I don’t have to believe it, the evidence is excellent. Do you believe in intelligent design at all then? [48]

Dr. Craig: Yes, the argument that I gave based on fine-tuning is a form of the intelligent design argument.

Moderator: So you are a Creationist?

Dr. Craig: In the sense that I believe that God created the universe, yes. But I am not what is called sometimes a Young Earth Creationist which is the way that term is often used.

Dr. Wolpert: But you don’t think evolution could have created human beings by random events?

Dr. Craig: I am agnostic about that. I am rather inclined to the view that God has intervened periodically in the process of microevolutionary development to bring about changes that nature left to its own devices wouldn’t have produced.

Dr. Wolpert: So if there are 10,000 beetles, God had his hand there?

Dr. Craig: I wouldn’t necessarily say that. But for example, that sponges and bats would have a common ancestor is so enormously improbable that the sun . . .

Dr. Wolpert: Oh, boy, are you ignorant. Oh my gosh.

Dr. Craig: That sponges and bats have both evolved by random mutation and natural selection from a common ancestor is an extrapolation that goes so far beyond the evidence and it is so improbable that the sun would have probably ceased to be a main sequence star and would have incinerated the earth before it occurred.

Dr. Wolpert: I want to say that I fundamentally disagree with you that the evidence for precisely that is excellent.

Moderator: All right. We are not going to agree on that. I am taking a wild guess here. A finally thought from you, Louis. Evidence of your eyes is there are a couple of thousand people in here, many of them young – most of them probably quite young – all of them, most of them, maybe all of them, bright. They are at university, most of them, they are intelligent people who have given this a lot of thought, I assume, and they have come to a different conclusion from you.

Dr. Wolpert: I don’t think they have given it a great deal of thought along the lines that we have been discussing here and I think that it has helped them a very great deal.

Moderator: So it all comes down in the end to a comfort – my little boy has his little comfort blanket – that’s it. It is a comfort blanket.

Dr. Wolpert: Yes. Sorry. Yes.

Moderator: Sorry. I think that is probably the last word. Gentleman, thank you both. And thank you all very much indeed. [49]

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    “The empirical support for a Big Bang ten to fifteen billion years ago is as compelling as the evidence that geologists offer on our Earth’s history.”, Martin J Rees, Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe, (New York: Basic Books, 2000), p. 11.

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    Total Running Time: 1:47:45