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Life, the Universe, and Nothing (I): Has Science Buried God?

August 2013

William Lane Craig vs. Lawrence Krauss

Brisbane, Australia - August 7, 2013

Moderator - Introduction

Moderator: Professor Krauss, we’ve had two of our discussions in this series of three dialogues. Share with us some of your reflections on the experience and perhaps what you’re looking forward to tonight.

Dr. Krauss - Introduction

Well, first I have to say that it’s been a pleasure working with you and the City Bible Forum. Everyone has been incredibly gracious to me and also incredibly well organized. I’ve been very impressed with the earnestness with which people have wanted to carry this out and, and, the good will and, and good faith that, that’s occurred throughout. So, for me, that has been a very pleasant surprise because it isn’t always that way.

The discussions have been—each been different. I think—I’ve come to understand—I’ve debated Dr. Craig one time before—and I am very happy we didn’t do a debate format because a debate format really isn’t an information format; it’s a rhetorical device. Which I think is why Dr. Craig enjoys them. I wanted to have a discussion and we’ve, we’ve tried to do that. I have been—I will say, also, that this has reinforced my notion—the first two—have reinforced my notion that discussions are best done without a moderator. I think the moderator gets in the way, and I think, frankly, both nights, in some ways, the moderator got in the way for different reasons. I think two people who are experienced debaters or . . . discussants could, in principle, have an interesting discussion and go back and forth and question each other, if they were asked to do so, after giving a presentation. And I would be—I would have been intrigued to see how that had worked. We’ll see how it goes tonight. But, but . . . it did confirm an opinion that I’ve had which, of course, as a scientist, I like to think I can change my opinions based on the empirical evidence; unlike Dr. Craig who, as far as I can see, doesn’t.

And as far as discussions are concerned, I’ve learned a lot about, I think, where Dr. Craig is coming from that I hadn’t really appreciated before. The earnestness of his intention to basically, because he believes something, to try and prove that belief to be reasonable, in spite of any evidence or reason to the contrary. Often we, we talk past one another, as I think people expected. But I was very, very surprised at the . . . at the—in my mind—weakness on two fronts: The discussion of justifying the evil in the Bible, which I think was an interesting discussion the first night, and the second night . . . a set of logic that I simply cannot understand, epitomized by the claim that if the universe has an explanation it must be God, without any justification. To me that’s the weakest argument I think I’ve ever heard, and one that indicates to me that a . . . an individual who clearly is educated and thoughtful and intelligent, if that . . . if that is acceptable, then it indicates to me the desire to believe is so strong that anything you say that supports that belief is reasonable. And anything you say that anyone—anything anyone else says that, that questions that belief is suspect. I think . . . I think that’s what we’ve seen a lot during, during, during the discussion. But, as I said, I’ve learned—I guess what I’ve primarily learned is the deepness and earnestness of Dr. Craig’s faith and how it governs him. And I think . . . I’ve also probably . . . learned that, that . . . as I expected at the beginning, a discussion format is indeed far more informative; and I think particularly in the second debate where we got to discuss a little more and the moderator wasn’t spending most of the evening talking. That we—that I think, at least for the audience, even though there may not have been a lot of give and take (and I think there was actually some give and take, some discussion back and forth) at least, at least that discussion, that questioning of each other’s views, is something that was good. And I, I hope that will happen again tonight. I certainly intend to—I certainly don’t intend to step back—I intend to do what I came all along to do, which is question things when I think that they’re wrong or point out distortions of science when I think they’re wrong, and I assume Dr. Craig will do the same thing.

In any case, that’s longer than two minutes. But it has been a, it’s been a, an interesting experience and, as I say, a pleasure working with you all, and I just hope for the audience that they found that their time was worth it.

Dr. Craig - Introduction

I am very grateful to the City Bible Forum for inviting me to participate in this extraordinary series of three dialogues. Each one has been on a different topic, and so the discussion has been an ongoing discussion, which has been furthered in each encounter.

In Brisbane, the topic was “Has science buried God?” And I think what we saw there is that the God that Dr. Krauss has buried is a caricature—it is the God-of-the-gaps, which no one defends today. Rather, I showed that science and theology relate in much more nuanced and subtle ways than what he imagined.

In the second dialogue, in Sydney, we discussed, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” And what we saw there was that Dr. Krauss uses the word “nothing” in an equivocal way, which is quite contrary to normal English usage, in which “nothing” means “not anything.” Rather, we saw that Leibniz argued that from the existence of the contingent universe, we are driven to posit a metaphysically necessary being as the sufficient reason and cause for the contingent universe.

And finally, in the third dialogue, in Melbourne, we discussed the question, “Are there good reasons to think that God exists?” And in this dialogue, I presented six reasons that I think make it more probable than not that God exists. So together these dialogues form a wonderful package discussing the rationality of Christian theism.

Has Science Buried God?

Introduction: Well, welcome, ladies and gentlemen and students! (That wasn’t fair, was it?) Welcome, ladies and gentlemen! I am Glenn Hohnberg. I direct the City Bible Forum here in Brisbane, the organization hosting tonight. We’ve organized tonight because we think the topic of God and science and rationality and truth matter. How do we know what we know? These things matter. Perhaps you’ve thought really hard about these topics and have come to a set position. We hope tonight will unsettle you just a little, because that means that you are actually listening hard and feeling the weight of the other position. Skeptical about your own skepticism: Why is it that I think what I think? Perhaps you’ve never thought much about these topics at all: science and God. We hope tonight will be a great way to get started, as we listen to two great thinkers who have thought hard about this topic and will push us in how we might respond to this.

The City Bible Forum aims to help city workers all around Australia ask the bigger questions in the midst of busy working lives. Tonight our question is one of the biggest ones: Has science buried God? We are very glad you’ve come.

Thanks to our event partners, National Science Week, Queensland Theological College, AFES, and The Center for Public Christianity. We are also thankful to the Skeptic Society and the Australian—the atheist meet-up groups that have been advertising tonight. We are thankful for Dymocks as well, who are selling books and DVDs at the end of the evening.

To set the national scene, this is the first of three events. Tonight, “Has Science Buried God?” “Why Is There Something rather than Nothing?” on August 13th in Sydney. And “Is It Reasonable to Believe There Is a God?”, August 16th in Melbourne. Each of these is a moderated discussion with Dr. William Lane Craig and Professor Lawrence Krauss.

On to the shape of the evening; the outline tonight is very simple. Each speaker will make a presentation for fifteen minutes, starting with Professor Lawrence Krauss, followed by Dr. William Lane Craig. Then there will be a moderated discussion for half an hour. Why a moderator? We see the moderator as an advocate for the audience, asking each speaker to clarify their position if something is unclear, making sure that they are able to finish their ideas, but also giving each other good space to complete their challenges to each other. Following this, the speakers will be asked to respond to questions and comments made by you, the audience. And we are already very thankful for those that have come in through Facebook.

So let me welcome then, onto the stage, Scott Stephens, Professor Lawrence Krauss, and Dr. William Lane Craig.

Let me just tell you a little bit about our moderator, Scott. Scott is a regular guest on ABC Radio National Drive, and he is the editor and driving force behind the ABC Religion and Ethics portal. The themes of that portal are religion, power, faith, and atheism. It’s an excellent forum for engaging further with tonight’s topics. Scott has written extensively on philosophy, theology, ethics, and politics. And he has his own interesting history. His father worked for the CIA, became a pioneer in robotic engineering, and left, and left it all to become a teacher in the Solomons. Scott’s mother was a beatnik, a hippie, and a Christian influenced by a rich, mystic tradition. Scott is a man who’s engaged deeply with many ideas and will help us engage with the issues and ideas raised tonight as our moderator. Over to you, Scott, and welcome!

Moderator: O.K., see, now I am panicking because I am under strict instructions not to hit Lawrence’s computer. So, we’ll do our best to not to [laughter] No, no, you’re fine, you’re fine, you’re fine, you’re fine [to Krauss, as he was getting up to remove the laptop from the podium] Going to try and not to sort of accidentally sabotage anything.

Well, good evening! It is wonderful to . . . to share this time with you and to share this space with you in this really quite extraordinary building. How many of you have been to City Hall, the new refurbished City Hall? It’s kind of something between Hogwarts and a disco, isn’t it? [laughter] I keep sort of . . . I’m not sure if we are supposed to be looking up and seeing levitating candles or, you know, breaking out our bell bottoms. So, anyway, we’ll, we’ll see how we go.

Thank you so much for being here! It should be a very, very enjoyable, thought-provoking, stimulating evening, to say the least, and is of course especially my pleasure to welcome you here to be in the presence of two very esteemed, eminent, public intellectuals. But I think it is the topic that has brought us here tonight that I find so interesting. The topic that has been set for us is “Has science buried God?” And if you’ve in any way been, you know, tuned into public debate, or I suppose if you are alive in any sense, you’d be aware that that has been one of the topics that has been rumbling away like an engine beneath so much of public debate today.

I think what is interesting to me, though, is in the very way that we are framing that question, “Has science buried God?”, I think there’s a fair degree of historical ignorance there. We are presuming in some ways—and I think this is just part and parcel of public debate (I’m not having a go at the people who have organized this), but part and parcel of so much of our public debate is the belief (it seems to me) or the assumption that science and some form of religious belief have always been at odds with one another or that they belong as some sort of great rivalry, at least over the last thousand years. And yet, in fact, as you go back, beginning let’s say, for instance, in the 11th and 12th century, you find extraordinary collaborations between the two. This remarkable period in European life in history when the great Jewish philosopher Maimonides, the great Islamic philosopher Averroes, the great Christian philosopher Aquinas, all living at the same time, all learning from one another, all exchanging ideas with one another! And the three of them, together with the culture, the spirit of the times, creating a remarkable environment, within which scientific thought, mathematical discovery, deep humane humanistic learning, could take place. We are reminded constantly these days that in the 17th and 18th century, the great scientists were themselves also theologians, political thinkers, philosophers. In other words, this idea in many ways that science and religion are the great historical enemies, this is perhaps something that we’ve, we’ve taken a bit of a, I don’t know, a bit of a trend, a bit of a chic, in our modern times and projected it back through history. And yet, as the great historian of science, Peter Harrison, has noted:

"Those who have magnified more recent controversies about the relations of science and religion and who have projected them back into historical time simply perpetuate a historical myth. The myth of a perennial conflict between science and religion is one to which no historian of science would subscribe."

So how have we gotten to this place, where we think that scientists and theologians—people who are scientists or even, say, materialists, or naturalists, and those who have some form of theism or religious belief—how have we gotten to the place where we think that these two groups are bitter enemies? Well, I think that we live in a very particular time in which there is an almost insatiable market for a certain type of book: books that brazenly peddle sensationalist, even cartoonish, depictions of history, ideas, theology, philosophy, science, morality; books that give you the feeling of great learning and yet which themselves are only telling part of the story. And then, as someone who works for a media organization, let me just tell you straight up, the media has not served you particularly well. The media has an almost irresistible attraction to the salacious, to conflict, to big fights, and brazen ideas. Nuance is something the media doesn’t do particularly well with. Friendship, conversation, civility—these are things that the media does even worse with.

It seems to me that it’s for very good reason that Lord Jonathan Sacks, the chief rabbi of the Commonwealth of Jewish Congregations, has described his—has entitled his recent book on the history of the relationship between science and religion as The Great Partnership. I fear, ladies and gentlemen, that we are in a position today where finding commonalities, finding points of agreement, engaging in civil conversation, and also civil rigorous debate, we are almost at the point as a society where that is beyond us. And when you throw this kind of disagreement in the context of this anarchic, incredibly antagonistic space of social media, where we can tune into our own little groups of people that we agree with and tune out to huge vast fields of understanding, of appreciative exploration—since we’ve gotten ourselves to that place, it seems to me that we’ve never—there has never been a more important time for face-to-face conversation; for people to be in a common place, to listen sympathetically to one another; to try to inhabit one another’s world, but also to try to see the world through their eyes. And I know that it’s the great hope of the organizers of this and the following two events that there’s going to be something about the atmosphere of this conversation that will maybe challenge some of the things that you might have previously assumed to be true. That maybe through the warm civility and friendship . . . [looking at Krauss and Craig][laughter] that the two speakers tonight are going to consistently display towards one another, that that might actually encourage you to think that, well, maybe those two things that I thought were polar opposites aren’t after all.

Above all, ladies and gentlemen, it seems to me that the whole purpose of being physically present in these debates is to encourage a kind of humility. Before I introduce our two speakers, I just want to conclude with a brief passage from Lord Jonathan Sacks’ book, The Great Partnership:

"We need moderates, that is, people who understand that there can be a clash of right and right, not just right and wrong. We need people capable of understanding cognitive pluralism, that is, that there is more than one way of looking at the world. We need people who can listen to the views not their own without feeling threatened. We need people with humility."

It gives me great pleasure to introduce our two speakers tonight. You’ve all seen the program, you know that they’ll be coming up to deliver a fifteen minute statement or presentation outlining their position, and then it’ll move on to the other. Then we will have the opportunity for some moderated debate between the three of us. You all can listen in if you want to (or that will be a nice time to go to the toilet or whatever you like—great coffee shops just around the corner!). Then after, after that’ll be the opportunity for you to be able to submit some of your questions, some topics that you would like to put to these two speakers, and then we’ll, we’ll make our way through that towards the end of the evening.

So firstly, on my left—I’m sure that has nothing to do with political orientation!—on my far, sorry, on my far left.

Krauss: Far, far left.

Moderator: And, you know, left of the ABC is saying something, isn’t it! . . . [laughter] Lawrence Krauss is a renowned cosmologist and theoretical physicist. He’s been hailed by many magazines, including The Scientific American, as being a rare sort of public intellectual (with shoes like that, you know why!). He is the author of more—of nine books, including the national best-seller, The Physics of Star Trek, which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about Lawrence Krauss, doesn’t it? —in the best way, though!

Krauss: I agree.

Moderator: I hate Star Trek! But his most recent best-seller, which many of us have read with great interest, is A Universe From Nothing, now being translated into twenty languages. Lawrence received his PhD from M.I.T. in 1982 and shortly thereafter joined the Society of Fellows at Harvard where he was Professor—and then was Professor at Yale University and then Chair of the Department of Physics at Case Western Reserve University before becoming Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University.

On my not-quite-so-far-left, on Lawrence’s right, William Lane Craig. Bill Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in California. Bill earned a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Birmingham in England before taking a doctorate in theology from the University of Munich.Prior to his appointment at Talbot, he spent seven years in the Higher Institute of Philosophy at Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. He has—he is the author or editor of over thirty books including Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology and Einstein, Relativity, and Absolute Simultaneity (and it took me five minutes this afternoon to get “simultaneity” exactly right!).

And so, without any further ado, I would like to welcome Lawrence Krauss to the podium.

Dr. Krauss - Presentation

Thank you. Thanks, Scott. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. While they’re getting my slides up there, (I don’t know if they work) there are two things I want to do before I start my presentation. One was to disagree with you completely. You committed the other journalistic error of saying journalists like to think there is always two sides to every story, but the great thing about science is one side is usually wrong. And then . . . and the other was that you said religion and science are rivals, but that’s like saying Bambi and Godzilla are rivals. Anyway, but before I go on, I want to, I want to actually thank the organizers of this who, who—and thank all of you for coming. I am overwhelmed that all of you wanted to hear this. But also, the . . . the City Bible Forum has been incredibly gracious to me, putting up with a lot of cantankerous behavior in advance and treating me with great respect, and I appreciate it, and—which is one of the reasons why I agreed to do these, these events. And I want to thank Peter and Glen and all the others here and Emma, I guess, and everyone else who has been involved because they are wonderful. I’d really like to give them a round of applause because they’ve done a great job.

And . . . they’re, they’re also very brave, and I want to thank that. They knew that I had to—I was in Australia on Sunday, and I had to go to the United States on Sunday for a meeting on Monday and come back on Monday and gothere today at two, and the likelihood that that would all work out and that I would be awake was minimal. But it has put me in a bad mood, which is useful.

O.K., so, let me now begin with my official . . . presentation.

So for—I really—I come here not to bury God but to praise honesty, full disclosure, and skeptical empirical inquiry which, alas, are burying God. And—but that’s the key thing I want to talk about. And so before I—since I believe in full disclosure—I thought I’d give some full disclosure, which is my biases. What really matters to me is the ethics of science: open questioning, the fact that there are no scientific authorities, that we believe in honesty, transparency, reliance on evidence, peer-review, and testability. All of these, I believe, make the world a better place, and they do so specifically by burying myth and superstition and dogma.

Honesty and transparency are incredibly important. And, and, and what I am going to do tonight is difficult for me (and I should have checked my time now to make sure I go about the right amount of time). I have great respect for rational and honest discussion and no respect for distortion and misrepresentation. Dr. Craig is a fine gentleman, I’m sure, and a wonderful husband, father, etc. but probably so was George Bush. But that didn’t change the fact that I detested the lies and distortions associated with his administration, and I detest the lies and distortion that have been associated with, with William Lane Craig, and I can’t hide that.

Now I—we have limited time here, and I am hoping most of the information content will come from the discussion and questions. So I can’t, obviously in fifteen minutes, give a comprehensive overview of science and religion—much less history, which I wouldn’t attempt to do. But the real purpose of this that I want to do is: raise questions, encourage discussion, motive your skeptical thinking, and motivate you to open inquiry, and, and the rest is just extra.

O.K., so let’s begin.

The title of this, of this thing, as was just pointed out, has one problem, but it has two problems, “Has science buried God?” suggests that there’s one God, like the God that the people who organized this thing and, and William believe in, is somehow special. But that’s not true. There are lots of gods, and science has buried all of them. Human civilization began by putting purpose, an, an, an intelligent purpose, behind gods associated with the sun, the moon, the planets, the wind, the earth, the oceans. There—it’s been, by one estimate, over a thousand different gods throughout human history: Mars, [the] God of War, Poseidon, Thor, Amon, all the rest. And the really important thing is that all of you, or almost all of you, probably, are now atheists regarding those gods. Just—the only difference is it is just one that we may disagree about. But 999, we all agree, have been thrown out, and the reason they have been thrown out is they have been buried by the rise of our physical understanding: science works. And the fact that science works has buried the gods of the wind and the sun and the moon. Farmers now, as I was just saying, when it doesn’t rain, they don’t pray for rain anymore, they go see a meteorologist, and that’s a good thing. In the process, the human condition has improved immensely, and it will continue to improve as science continues to bury the one remaining God.

Now this one God is supposedly left, we might ask a priori (or in advance), “How likely is it in advance that all those other 999 gods were false but this one’s true?” Well, you might argue, if you had a flat prior that it is probably a pretty small likelihood, but it doesn’t really matter. The point is that our current understanding of nature has changed; we’ve learned things, it’s changed and developed since the claims were made by iron-age peasants who didn’t even know the earth orbited the sun; and therefore it's natural that science is inconsistent with those claims based on ignorance. And we shouldn’t revere those ancient claims as sacred; they’re ignorant. There are still many open questions—I will try my one—my ten-seconds of humility; it’ll be the only time tonight. There’s a lot we don’t know about the universe; a lot more we don’t know than we do. That’s the wonder of science. That’s why I am a scientist. But it is intellectual lazy to just stop asking questions and stop looking for physical explanations and just say, “God did it;” that’s lazy.

And the, the other thing that is important in this extra God is that there is nothing special about Jesus that’s any different than the other gods or any other fictional heroes for that matter. First of all, there’s no empirical evidence that he was divine—none, not one iota. In that sense he shares it with every other god that’s ever been proposed. The myths associated with Jesus are associated with all the other myths and the Bible: the Flood myth, the Epic of Gilgamesh, which was written well before the Bible, it’s exactly the same. The hero of the bible was asked to create an ark and put all the species two-by-two in seven levels; same thing. Virgin birth: nothing special about Jesus. Look at all of these; they are all supposed to have been born of virgins. The whole story, in fact—take Dionysus, the Greek god of wine versus Jesus, it is exactly the same. They were both born of the virgin mother, they’re fathered by the king of heaven, they returned from the dead, they transformed water into wine. In fact, you know, they talked about eating and drinking the flesh and blood of the creator, who was—they were taken as liberator of mankind. That story has been told over and over again and this is just one of the most recent renderings; nothing special. And the resurrection is nothing special. The myth of resurrection’s been around since Osiris. You know, Osiris was one of the major Egyptian gods and used to be just the kings in Egypt would be resurrected when Osiris was resurrected but eventually in the new kingdom anyone can be resurrected with, with Osiris (I was going to say with Jesus, but it doesn’t matter) if they followed the correct religious rituals; the same, the same nonsense.

Now the point is that the fact that this, that this— these beliefs are, in fact, being destroyed is related to the fact that the belief depends upon not just time, not just history—and, and the fact is, frankly, that in the Western world, at least, the number of people who have a religious affiliation is monotonically going down—but it depends on where you live. If you were born in the U.S. you probably—and you are religious, you believe in the Bible and Jesus. If you—if you’re born in India and you are religious you might believe in Brahman and, and who is manifest through Ganesha. If you’re from the Islamic world, you think the Qur’an is the perfect word of God and Muhammad is the latest prophet. It’s kind of interesting that your belief depends on where you are from.

But what’s great is we live in a world where information is becoming more freely available, and because of that global access to information we are seeing religion go down because people are learning that the myths and lies that they have been taught, when they learn about the rest of the world, that other people believe other myths and lies that are inconsistent with their myths and lies. And that’s why we are seeing religion dying more and more.

Now the point is—and, and Steven Pinker has a quote I like that just says, “. . . the acquisition of knowledge is hard. . . .Our minds are prone to illusions, fallacies, and superstitions. . . .” That’s the point. Another—it was put more succinctly by Fox Mulder on, on The X-Files, who said, “I want to believe,” and the point is we all want to believe. That’s what we have to remember. And as scientists we have to remember that we want to believe and we have to work hard to overcome that desire to believe. Science: we work with skepticism, open debate, honesty, transparency, knowledge—the fact that we know that we have uncertainty and we know coincidences happen, and we require formal precision and empirical tests. The residual beliefs in religion are due, in fact,—the large part—to the discrepancy between the laws of probability and the workings of cognition. Most people think when an accident happens to them it means something; we’re all conditioned to believe that, and we’ll talk about that more later if you want (in terms of miracles).

Now I don’t have enough time to do adequate justice to science, but science has continued—the evolution of science, getting rid of the gods of the sun, the moon, the wind, fire, the oceans, etc.,—has continued to push God away. Newton, who was a religious man, spent more time writing about God than physics, in fact, also, however, got rid of angels pushing planets around the sun because he didn’t need them; they were gone. Darwin, once he recognized natural selection and evolution, got rid of the notion of special creation for each species. You didn’t need God and miracles anymore to create each species. The divine spark that caused life in the first place is not so divine. Everything we now know about biochemistry and the discovery of complex amino acids in space tells us that it is quite likely that the complex organic molecules on which life is based either arose in space or developed on earth. We don’t know the origin of life, as I’ll talk about, but it is certainly plausible now that you don’t need a divine spark. We don’t need God to say, “Let there be, let there be an earth or a moon or a sun or anything.” We can show from the laws of physics how all matter is created. And when it comes to the origin of the universe, we are coming remarkably close to the realization that you don’t need any miracle for that either. And that’s because our knowledge of the universe is changing; not because we want to get rid of God, but because the more we learn, the less we need anything outside of the laws of physics and chemistry and biology.

But it’s good because science does more than that. It just doesn’t just tell us about the world; it makes the world a better place. It gets rid of the vile, awful, immoral works like the Bible. The worldview that I would argue that guides most of you in this room today, including those of you people of faith (which I assume is some fraction of the people in this audience), those spiritual values of any educated person today are largely the worldview given us by science. You—your worldview is vastly different than it would have been four centuries ago. By stripping ecclesiastical authority of its credibility on factual matters, which we’ve certainly done, we cast doubt on its claims to certainty in matters of morality, which is great, because we now think that women are equal to men, that we don’t hate gays, all of the stupid myths that are permeated by various religions. The facts of science, moreover, force us to take responsibility for the welfare of ourselves, our species, and our planet. And that is what we need to do in the 21st century.

Now, Dr. Craig is an apologist and there’s good reason to apologize. One of the first apologists in the year 208 wrote, this is great, “. . . the Son of God died; just because it is absurd, it is to be believed: and he was buried and rose again; it is certain, because it is impossible.” That’s the rationality of an apologist. Apologists often conjure up a veneer of rational justification and evidential support for their God by distorting and misrepresenting results of science and logic; something Dr. Craig does exceptionally well. In doing so they do a disservice to everyone, including people of faith, which is why I came here because the people of honest faith should recognize when things are being distorted. St. Augustine once said, if you want to go out and convince the heathen of your God, you better show that you are not lying about the real world.

We need to bury God for a bunch of reasons. This is the God we need to bury: In Deuteronomy, he said kill all men and women—he told the Israelites, kill all the men and women in a conquered city—all the men in a conquered city and seize the women, children, and livestock as plunder. But of the cities of these people, you should kill absolutely everybody. Now we live in a world where you can’t preach geno—in the modern world, in the non-fundamentalist world—where you can’t preach genocide anymore because we buried God. You can’t—and if someone drowns their children in a bathtub because they say God is talking to them, we put them in a mental institution.

Now, Dr. Craig is—loves children. But to go to the lengths of enforcing belief, this is what he says to justify this:

"But why take the lives of innocent children? . . . if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation. . . . Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives." [1]

It gets worse. He went on—said:

"So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites?Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgment.Not the children, for they inherit eternal life.So who is wronged? Ironically, I think . . . the Israeli soldiers themselves." [2]

Who were the really . . . people that we should suffer for, the poor soldiers who had to kill them. If that isn’t obscene enough, Dr. Craig then, a third time, went back and thought about this and said, you know what:

"I have come to appreciate as a result of a closer reading of the biblical text that God’s command to Israel was not primarily to exterminate the Canaanites but to drive them out of the land. . . . If the Canaanite tribes . . . had simply chosen to flee, no one would have been killed at all . . . Only those who remained behind were to be utterly exterminated." [3]

Oh, that’s great! That obscenity is the reason that my friend and colleague Richard Dawkins will not appear on stage with this man.

Now, the key thing that I want to emphasize—that will go on in the discussion that’s going to happen, because I have done—been in a debate with Dr. Craig—is a misrepresentation about use of science to justify belief. Now some apologists are better than others. Here’s one who’s kind of not so good at it:

[Krauss plays a video clip of Bryan Fischer, host of Focal Point:]

"You know, one of the age-old questions of science is: What keeps the nucleus together? Remember the nucleus consists of a bundle of protons and neutrons. Now, protons have a positive charge. What do positive charges do? They repel each other. So you’ve got these protons in the very nucleus of the atom, and atoms are the building blocks of the entire universe, and yet at every center of the atom you have a multiplicity of protons that ought to repel each other. They ought to be driven apart; there ought to be no way you can keep them together. And scientists have pondered, since they first understood the makeup of the atom, what is it that holds the nucleus of the atom together? How does that thing stay together? What holds it together? They have been looking for what scientists call the nuclear glue that keeps them from flying apart. Well, now we know. Now we know what the glue is that holds together the entire universe and keeps it from flying apart. It is Jesus Christ, in him. . . ."

O.K., I think I can stop him there. O.K., you got the subtle problem? Now, the point is if you don’t know anything about nuclear physics, you might even say that that’s a big mystery that scientists don’t know anything about. But we understand exactly what holds the neutron and proton together: the strong force. A Nobel Prize was given for it—calculations can be done. But if your audience is scientifically ignorant, you can make it appear as if you are scientific.

Now, Dr. Craig is much more refined and intelligent than that man, I can say, having spent time with him. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t use the same techniques. When you can’t check his facts or he doesn’t think you know them, he will lie. And here is an example that comes close to home. We pro—there’s is a movie that just came out about Richard Dawkins and me called The Unbelievers. I was amazed to discover, Dr. Craig did not one, not two, but three podcasts on the movie and wrote a review. The movie hasn’t been distributed yet. So I was amazed that he’d seen it. Well, then, at first I thought maybe he stole the movie and then he was a thief, or maybe he just lied about seeing the movie in which case he’s a liar. Maybe he is a thief and a liar. Well, the remarkable thing is you can’t see the movie so you can’t see what’s wrong, but let me play these two clips:

[Dr. Krauss plays a clip from Dr. Craig’s podcast.] [4]

Dr. Craig: “For example, there’s a very, I think, uncharitable exchange between Dawkins and Cardinal Pell concerning evolutionary theory where Dawkins clearly tries to set Pell up to embarrass him. He says to him, ‘Do you believe that human beings are evolved from apes?’ And Pell answers, ‘Probably so.’ And then Dawkins says, ‘Do you believe then that human beings are evolved from Neanderthals?’ And Pell says, ‘Probably so.’ And then Dawkins springs the trap, ‘Well, that shows you don’t understand evolutionary theory because Neanderthals are not ancestors of human beings, of homo sapiens; they are our cousins, not our ancestors,’ attempting to show Pell’s ignorance of evolutionary theory. So, this was clearly an attempt by Dawkins to simply set up and embarrass his opponent in an unfair way.”

[Krauss next plays a clip from the movie The Unbelievers:]

Questioner: “[George Pell], do you accept that humans evolved from apes?”

Cardinal Pell: “Yeah, probably, from the Neanderthals, yes.”

[Dr. Krauss next plays another clip from Dr. Craig’s podcast:]

Kevin Harris: “Bill, another point is Krauss’ statement about Darwin. Krauss said that Darwin showed the origin of life is not a miracle.”

Dr. Craig: “Isn’t that a remarkable statement? ‘Darwin showed that the origin of life is not a miracle.’ Darwin had nothing to say about the origin of life. . . . So this is just a scientific error on Krauss’ part in this film.” [5]

[Krauss next plays a clip from the movie The Unbelievers:]

Krauss: “That there’s some similarity. Before Darwin, life was a miracle. You couldn’t ask the question, ‘Where did the diversity of life come from?’ It was a miracle. It was designed. What Darwin showed were very simply laws of biology—natural selection and genetic mutation, essentially—could produce all the diversity of life, of life, the complexity we now see from very simple beginnings, with no miracle. Now, at the time he did it, did it prove it? No. But it was plausible. Now, there’s been a hundred and fifty years of proof. Now we take it the next step—do we know how the first forms of life started, absolutely not. But it’s certainly plausible that given everything we know about genetics, biochemistry, that chemistry by natural processes can turn into biology. Do we know that? No. But it is plausible. And that is worth celebrating, that you don’t need miracles.”

O.K., now I should, I should wrap up. I was going to show some other clips having to do with, in fact, claims by Dr. Craig about the fact that animals don’t suffer—and a beautiful film that’s produced online, which you should look at, which showed that, that, in fact, his claims were spurious. Then he produced a podcast arguing against them and then they did a wonderful . . . clip, or film, that showed, in fact, his claims were, in fact, lies. In fact, my favorite part is one statement where he says, you know, “a scientifically informed philosopher is much better to talk about these neuroscience issues than a philosophically naïve neuroscientist” And then, to compound that, he writes, to a different audience, “This is not an issue of theology. It’s only neuroscience.” But let me just conclude, I’m, I’m not going to show these clips out of deference to the time constraints, even though they’re great. Maybe we can have time for them later. But I just want to summarize:

· Knowledge about the physical world has buried already almost all the gods.

· There’s nothing different about Jesus or Christianity.

· The process of science overcomes our natural tendencies to believe in myth and superstition and replaces dogma with knowledge that works.

· We need to bury God to produce a better moral and ethical world.

· We must openly call out lies and distortions (even if it is uncomfortable, as it was, believe me, tonight). We should foster open questioning, refutation by others, and no false claims of certainty.

That is incredibly important.

Finally, burying God is not a bad thing; it is not a negative thing. Science provides gifts in return: the universal invitation to question anyone’s claims, and the universal requirement to exercise due diligence and the duty of care to substantiate those claims.

And my main purpose tonight, in fact the most important purpose in any lecture I give, my chief goal tonight is to encourage the broad use of these gifts, independent of the question we are talking about tonight.

Thank you very much.

Moderator: Thank you, Professor Krauss! I would like to now invite Dr. William Craig.

Dr. Craig - Presentation

Thank you very much! Well, it is a delight to be here. I want to thank the City Bible Forum for inviting me to participate in this important dialogue, and I want to thank Professor Krauss for making it so interesting! Thank you, as well, to you, for all coming tonight to discuss these important issues with us!

On April 8, 1966, the American newsweekly Time carried a remarkable cover story, “Is God Dead?” And the story described the movement among American theologians at that time to proclaim the death of God.

However, to paraphrase Mark Twain, it seems that the rumors of God’s death were “greatly exaggerated.” For at the same time that the theologians were writing God’s obituary, a new generation of young philosophers and scientists was rediscovering his vitality. Just a few years after its famous “Death of God” issue, Time carried a similar cover story, only this time the question read, “Is God Coming Back to Life?”

And that’s how . . . that’s how it must have seemed to those theological morticians of the 1960’s. During the 70’s and 80’s, interest in the intersection of philosophy, science, and theology continued to grow. In 1991, at a conference on the history and philosophy on thermodynamics, the eminent British physicist P. T. Landsberg began with these words:

"To talk about the implications of science for theology at a scientific meeting seems to break a taboo. But those who think so are out of date. During the last 15 years, this taboo has been removed, and in talking about the interaction of science and theology, I am actually moving with a tide which is threatening to wash us away in a flood of publications." [6]

Over the last quarter century and on into the 21st, a flourishing dialogue between science and theology has been going on in Europe and North America. Numerous societies for promoting this dialogue, like the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology, the Science and Religion Forum, the Center for Theology and Natural Science, and so forth, have sprung up. Not only are there professional journals devoted to the dialogue between science and theology, such as Zygon and Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, but, more significantly, secular journals like Nature and The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science also carry articles on the mutual implications of science and theology. God has even found his way into the pages of Astrophysics and Space Science. The dialogue between science and theology has become so significant in our day that both Cambridge University and Oxford University have established chairs in science and theology.

I share all this to illustrate a point. Folks who think that science has somehow buried God are simply out of date and out of touch. Science and theology have discovered that they have important mutual interests and important contributions to make to each other. And those who don’t like it can choose not to participate in the dialogue, but that’s not going to shut down the dialogue or show it to be meaningless.

Now when Dr. Krauss says that science has buried God, he does not mean that science has shown that God does not exist. Rather he means that God is unnecessary. But unnecessary for what? God is necessary for forgiveness of sins or salvation or eternal life. Rather what Dr. Krauss means is that God is unnecessary for doing science. But in so saying, he is criticizing a very naïve concept of God known as “the God-of-the-gaps,” where God is used to plug up the gaps in scientific knowledge. No one on the contemporary dialogue is advocating a God-of-the-gaps. Dr. Krauss is attacking a straw man. The relationship between science and theology is much more nuanced than a naïve God-of-the-gaps.

I can think of at least six ways in which science and theology are relevant to each other. I have time to talk about only three.

1. Theology furnishes the conceptual framework in which science can flourish.

Science is not something that is natural to mankind. As Loren Eiseley has emphasized, science is “an invented cultural institution” which requires a “unique soil” in which to flourish. [7] Modern science did not arise in the Orient or in Africa but in Western civilization. Why is this so? It is due to the unique contribution of the Christian faith to Western culture. As Eiseley states, “it is the Christian world which finally gave birth in a clear, articulate fashion to the experimental method of science itself.” [8] In contrast to Eastern religions and animistic religions, Christianity does not view the world as divine or as indwelt by spirits, but rather as the natural product of a transcendent Creator who designed and brought it into being. Thus, the world is a rational place which is open to exploration and discovery.

The whole scientific enterprise is based on certain assumptions which cannot be proved scientifically but which are part and parcel of a Christian worldview. For example:

· The laws of logic

· The orderly structure of the physical world

· The reliability of our cognitive faculties in knowing the world

· The validity of inductive reasoning

· The objectivity of the moral values used in science

I want to emphasize that science could not even exist without these assumptions. And yet, these assumptions cannot be proved scientifically. They are philosophical assumptions which are, interestingly, part and parcel of a Christian worldview. Thus, theology is relevant to science in that it can furnish a conceptual framework in which science can exist. More than that, the Christian religion historically did furnish the conceptual framework in which modern science was born and nurtured.

2. Science can verify, as well as falsify, theological claims.

When religions make claims about the natural world, they intersect the domain of science and are, in effect, making predictions which scientific investigation can either verify or falsify. Let me give some examples of each.

First, examples of falsification. Some examples are obvious. The views of ancient Greek and Indian religions that the world rested on the shoulders of Atlas or the back of a great turtle were easily falsified. But more subtle examples are available, too.

Take the claim of many Eastern religions like Hinduism and Taoism that the world is divine and therefore eternal. The discovery during the 20th century of the expansion of the universe reveals that, far from being eternal, the universe came into existence at a point in the finite past before which literally nothing existed. Stephen Hawking writes, “Almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big bang.” [9] But if the universe came into being at the Big Bang, then it is temporally finite and contingent in its existence and therefore neither eternal nor divine, as pantheistic religions had claimed.

On the other hand, science can also verify religious claims. Let me give two examples.

First, one of the principal doctrines of the Judeo-Christian faith is that God created the universe out of nothing a finite time ago. This teaching was repudiated by both ancient Greek philosophy and modern materialism. Then in 1929 with the discovery of the Big Bang, this doctrine was dramatically verified. Physicists John Barrow and Frank Tipler, speaking of the beginning of the universe, explain, “At this singularity, space and time came into existence; literally nothing existed before the singularity, so, if the Universe originated at such a singularity, we would truly have a creation ex nihilo (out of nothing).” [10]

This is not only the case for the standard Big Bang model, but for other models as well. In 2003, Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin were able to prove that any universe which is, on average, in a state of cosmic expansion throughout its history cannot be infinite in the past but must have a past spacetime boundary. [11] Even if our universe is but a tiny part of a greater so-called “multiverse” composed of many universes, their theorem requires that the multiverse itself must have an absolute beginning.

Last year at a conference in Cambridge celebrating the 70th birthday of Stephen Hawking, Vilenkin delivered a paper entitled, “Did the Universe Have a Beginning?”, which surveyed current cosmology with respect to that question. He argued that “none of these scenarios can actually be past-eternal.” [12] He concluded, “All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning.” [13]

A second scientific verification of a religious claim is the belief of the great monotheistic faiths that the world is the product of intelligent design. Scientists originally thought that whatever the initial conditions of the universe were, eventually the universe would evolve complex life forms. But during the last fifty years or so, scientists have been stunned by the discovery of how complex and delicate a balance of initial conditions must be given in the Big Bang in order for the universe to permit the origin and evolution of intelligent, interactive life. In various fields, discoveries have repeatedly disclosed that the existence of intelligent life depends upon an incomprehensibly delicate balance of physical quantities and physical constants such that if any one of these were to be altered by less than a hair’s breadth, the life-permitting balance would be destroyed and life would not exist. In fact, the universe appears to have been fine-tuned from the moment of its inception for the production of intelligent life. Given the incomprehensible improbability of the initial conditions necessary for our existence, it is plausible that these are not the result of chance but of design.

Thus, science can falsify or verify claims of theology.

3. Science encounters metaphysical problems which theology can help to solve.

Science has an insatiable thirst for explanation. But eventually, science reaches the limits of its explanatory ability. For example, in explaining why various things in the universe exist, science ultimately confronts the question of why the universe itself exists. Now notice that this need not be a question about the temporal origin of the universe. Even if the universe is beginningless and endless, we may still ask why there is a universe at all. As the naturalist philosopher Derek Parfit says, “No question is more sublime than why there is a Universe: why there is anything rather than nothing.” [14]

Here theology can help. Traditional theists conceive of God as a necessary being whose non-existence is impossible, who is the Creator of the contingent world of space and time. Thus, the person who believes in God has the resources to slake science’s thirst for ultimate explanation. We can present this reasoning in the form of a simple argument:

1. Every existing thing has an explanation of its existence (either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause).

2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.

3. The universe is an existing thing.

What follows from these three premises?

4. Therefore, the explanation of the existence of the universe is God.

In summary then, we’ve seen three different ways in which science and theology are relevant to each other:

1. Theology furnishes the conceptual framework in which science can flourish.

2. Science can verify, as well as falsify, theological claims.

3. Science encounters metaphysical problems which theology can help to solve.

There are other ways in which science and theology are related as well, but time does not permit a discussion of those now. These are but some of the ways in which science and theology are mutually relevant. And that is why, after all, there is such a flourishing dialogue going on between these two disciplines today.

Moderator: Thank you, thank you, Dr. Craig! Thank you, Professor Krauss! We’ve all been a little bit naughty and a bit, what shall we say, profligate with our time. I’ve, I’ve got a few questions just to begin fleshing out, I think, some of the, dare I say, points of contention and difference between our two speakers. I just want to keep those to, to a couple of questions, though, and then I want to spend as much time as we can handing it over to the questions that you yourself have submitted. I do have a nice big list of questions so far that you’ve sent. The differences have been pretty apparent, but I just want to try to begin with establishing perhaps maybe a bit of commonality between us.

Krauss: Good luck!

Moderated Dialogue - Q&A

Moderator: The great naturalist, E. O. Wilson of socio-biology fame, wrote this, “Science and religion are the two most powerful forces in the world today. If religion and science could be united on the common ground of biological conservation the problem itself would be solved.” The question I wanted to put to the two of you, I suppose suspending for just a moment epistemological disagreement, suspending for a moment, say, philosophical or even metaphysical disagreement, given the fact that science and religion have a kind of peerless role in the world today, as something that can bind, something that can compel, something that can persuade and change minds, I am very interested to know is there any common cause today that you think science and religion can form an alliance in serving or is there some common enemy today that you think science and religion (apart from our obvious differences) can form a united front against? Dr. Craig, you’ve been speaking; I might give you a break for just one moment to grab a drink if you want to. Professor Krauss, would you like to—

Krauss: Well, the first problem with what you said is you treat science as if it is a thing. It’s not a thing. It’s a process. It’s a process of thinking about how the world works and how to tell—falsify things, tell nonsense from sense. And that is antithetical to religion. So it is not as if you’ve got Russia and the United States coming together to do whatever the hell they do. It’s . . . it—and so to argue, it is true that there are two different ways of approaching the world, and so it is true there are evangelicals in the United States who argue, who’ve reversed the old argument that, that the earth is given to us—and our domain and God will take care of it no matter what we do, and we should instead, you know, conserve and do all that stuff. So, so that, so that there are—they can come to statements which agree with what, with statements that arise from empirical evidence and rational thought; but monkeys on a typewriter over a million years would do the same thing.

Moderator: O.K., I’m sure, I’m sure that was an answer to some question, but I’m just not completely sure it was mine.

Krauss: No, no, because you didn’t—I, I—I think the question you ask misrepresents what science is. Science is not a thing. I keep—and, and, it’s probably the biggest misunderstanding of science. And that’s what—I come here to these things to try and talk about science—the process of science—because I think it is an important process that makes the world a better place; otherwise I wouldn’t waste my time. And the process of science is just different than the process of religion. And the process of science works; it’s changed the world for the better.

Moderator: I am going to come back to you and call your bluff on that in a second. Dr. Craig!

Krauss: O.K., good.

Moderator: Dr. Craig?

Craig: Sure! You said, wave the epistemological caricatures that Lawrence Krauss has just provided of the differences between science and religion; so I’ll do that and try to answer your question. I would think environmentalism would be one area where science and religion could really cooperate because those of us who believe that God has created the world and given us stewardship of the earth have a creation ethic to follow that involves the preservation of the natural world, care for the oceans, for the atmosphere, and so forth. And this kind of environmental ethic could mesh very nicely with scientific efforts that are concerned about pollution, climate change, things of that sort. I would also think that the avoidance of thermonuclear war and the arms race is something that would be another area where science and religion would obviously cooperate. We’ve seen the horror of what that is like, and we, I think, again would have common ground in providing ethical controls upon the use of science with regard to weapons of mass destruction. So, science is, is itself ethically neutral—it doesn’t have a method for determining right and wrong, good and evil. And so we need to have, I think, ethical constraints for the use of science, and certainly warfare would be one of these.

Krauss: Science has an ethos. Let me, let me just jump in. Because, you know, you talk about as if religion—let’s take thermonuclear war—religion can certainly come together with science and avoid nuclear war. But it’s not religion. There is nothing in the text. It’s rational thinking. It’s concern about how things work. There’s nothing divine about saying that destroying humanity is a bad thing. So, people of faith can come together with people of no faith to work towards a common good.

Craig: No, the point is—

Krauss: But it’s, but it’s—let me finish—it’s rational thought that’s very important. And, in fact, I would argue, that if, you know, if it was those Canaanites and they had a nuclear weapon you would have been really happy about dropping one on them.

Moderator: O.K.

Craig: The—

Moderator: I’m going, I’m going to wait on the, on the, on the Canaanite quip because I think that was probably a cheap shot.

Craig: Wait, wait, wait—

Krauss: Cheap shot? I quoted him.

Craig: I need to say something here. He’s simply—you’re simply incorrect when you think that science has inherent ethical guidelines within it.—

Krauss: Honesty, full disclosure, transparency.

Craig: —Science, as you have said—you have said many times—, science describes how the world is. It doesn’t tell how the world ought to be.—

Krauss: Yes, I’m sorry. I disagree with you. I disagree with you.

Craig: —In order to have that moral “ought” you have to have something that is extra-scientific.

Krauss: It tells you if you are dishonest and not transparent you’ll come to results which are in disagreement with empirical evidence and you’ll make bad policy. That is ethics.

Moderator: O.K., Lawrence, one of the, one of the standing rules within the history of philosophy, especially over the last three hundred years, has been that an “is” does not necessitate an “ought.”

Krauss: Yeah, I. . . .

Moderator: O.K., I understand you might not agree but you did make a very, very strong claim before in the course of your presentation that there is, in fact, a morality that is founded on science itself. Dr. Craig has said that science—that’s actually part of the limits of science. You obviously disagree with that. I wonder if you can begin making—

Krauss: O.K.

Moderator: —, if you like, not so much the moral case for science but why science has a morality inherent to it.

Krauss: Well, I would say morality is impossible without science. That’s the point. Because—and, and religion is an example, as I say, I can’t think of a more immoral document than the Old Testament. But, but the point is if you don’t know the consequences of your actions then you can’t even decide what’s right and wrong. And so to . . . we have seen people’s morality, if you want to call it morality, change. Slavery might have been O.K. because you might have believed that certain groups were inferior or not human; science has told us that’s wrong. You might have believed, as almost all religions do, that women are chattel; science has told us that’s wrong. You might have believed that homosexuality is evil, but science has told us that all mammalian species have homosexuality. That’s—There’s nothing unnatural or evil about it. So to have a morality without science is empty.

Craig: That would at most show that science is a necessary condition, not a sufficient condition of morality.

Krauss: O.K., fine.

Craig: There is no basis in science­—there is no way you can determine that what the Nazi scientists did in performing medical experiments on living human beings was morally wrong, that—moral values are not found in a test tube.

Krauss: No, I’m sorry, that’s not true. Because, that kind of—that’s such a simplistic argument, and people bring up the Nazis all the time when they want to talk about atheists or science. The point is that it—you could say it’s wrong because it causes pain. It causes pain and torture.

Craig: And why is it wrong?

Krauss: And pain and torture hurt people.

Craig: And why is it—

Krauss: And, and, and to have a sustainable, productive life, you should not be in pain.

Craig: Why is it wrong to cause pain to other members of your species? Animals do that all the time.

Krauss: You can ask what—we could, we—the point is all of these things are based on rationality. It’s—the laws of this country are not framed on Christian principles. They are framed on rational arguments, but what causes the greatest benefit for the greatest number of people. There is nothing Christian about it or Jewish about it or Islamic about it; it’s based on rationality.

Craig: But, Dr. Krauss, Dr. Krauss, surely you can see that the assumption that the good is that which brings about the greatest flourishing for the greatest number of people is itself—

Krauss: It is not an assumption. I can ask that question. I can say, is it better for the greatest number of people to flourish? I can ask that question. What happens to society? What happens to productivity? What happens to reduction of violence? You can ask these questions. Just like this—all these assumptions you make about the orderly nature of the universe. It is not an assumption, we can investigate it. Are the laws of physics today the same as they were yesterday? It’s not an assumption, I can test it. All these things aren’t assumptions, they’re empirical evidence.

Moderator: One of the . . . Dr. Krauss, I am going to put something to you.

Krauss: Good.

Moderator: What you’ve just described is a pretty popular version of two pretty contentious philosophical moral positions about ethical decision making. One is called consequentialism and the other is called utilitarianism.

Krauss: Yeah, I’ve heard those labels.

Moderator: I’m glad you’ve heard those labels.

Krauss: O.K. We had, we had a meeting at my institute on, on, on science and morality, so I got to learn about those labels.

Moderator: Yeah, both, both are highly contentious. I mean—I am speaking in terms of the history of moral debate and philosophical inquiry,—

Krauss: Sure.

Moderator: —both highly contentious. I’m, I’m wondering if you don’t—if you are not trading a little bit on the philosophical and moral ignorance of your usual audiences by throwing out things like that as if they are non-contentious, simply rational given topics.

Krauss: Well, look. The point is . . . I think you’re well aware of my, of my opinion about the utility of philosophy in, in, in—let’s not get there. But the, the, the point is that the claim that rational beings do not—cannot act morally in the absence of any divine or, or, or spiritual belief is just clearly wrong.

Craig: That’s not the claim.

Krauss: Atheists are moral people.

Craig: That’s not the claim.

Krauss: No, but the point is, the point is—

Craig: Nobody has claimed that belief is necessary for morality.

Krauss: What was that?

Craig: No one has claimed that belief in the divine is necessary to act morally. The claim is that in the absence of God to serve as a transcendent foundation for objective moral values and duties there wouldn’t be any objectivity. These would be simply the socio-biological spinoffs of evolution and social conditioning.

Krauss: Well they, they would if we didn’t have brains. And that’s the point. I mean, you know, we say, oh, you’d all be . . . you’d kill your neighbor if you didn’t want to. The point is we have brains that allow us to be rational beings that can impact on other evolutionary psychological basis—on, on, on xenophobia, all sorts of things that are, that are basically natural, our brains can, in fact, ask, is it rational? And you would not, if you—if God did not exist, I would suggest you would still not go out and kill your neighbor.

Craig: Right, that’s what I said. That’s—that’s not the issue, Dr. Krauss.

Krauss: I didn’t say believing—I said if God did not exist, you would not go out and kill your neighbor. Now, of course, can I test that? Well, yeah, I can because I don’t think God exists but—I mean, the point is you are making a statement that, that is just completely empty.—

Craig: No, what—you’re—you’re missing the point.

Krauss: —You’re saying without God we couldn’t have morals. Well, that is a nice statement, but what, what does it mean?

Craig: No, what I said is that without God there wouldn’t be any objective foundation for moral values and duties. They would—

Krauss: So which God? Which God gives you your objective—?

Craig: This argument is—

Krauss: —is it the God of, of Christianity? Or is it the God of Islam?

Craig: Either one. This is a generic—

Krauss: But they are mutually incompatible in their moral statements.

Craig: This is—this is a generic argument for some sort of monotheistic faith that would see God as the foundation for objective moral values and duties.

Krauss: So, there’s only one of those faiths that is right and all the others are wrong.

Moderator: O.K., I am going to call time for a moment. I can feel us descending down a whirlpool and I, I do suspect that we are actually in many ways talking two different languages here.

Craig: Well, I think we just disagree.

Moderator: Well, well now, simply, simply in the sense that it, it, it’s been apparent, apparent to me for some time that philosophy and science might have actually lost touch with the ability in some ways of speaking to one another; perhaps both because, because both attempt to be kind of totalizing discourses, but that’s another point. Dr. Craig, I do want to put something to you. In my remarks at the beginning, I certainly didn’t want to sanitize the relationship between the history of religion and the history of science, or let’s just put it in a bit more, you know, in a more dire fashion than that—the history of morality and what, what we might call humanism; humanistic values and the history of religion. Only someone who is an ignorant bigot or Philistine would want to paper over—

Craig: Sure.

Moderator: —the massive developments, the shifts, the self-criticism, the repentance that’s taken place within the history of religions in relation to their own behavior towards other people, towards other races, towards other sexes, but also the way in which religion, theology in particular, has changed its mind about the nature of the universe. How do you make sense of that? I mean, how can you retain a kind of consistent faith knowing that the development of your own tradition has itself gone through quite significant developments?

Craig: Because I believe in the objectivity of moral values and duties, I believe that moral growth and development is possible. When we say that slavery used to be widely accepted and now no longer is, I can say that’s not merely a moral change, that’s a moral improvement. When we say that the way we treat women is different than it used to be, that’s not merely morally different, it’s a moral improvement. And that kind of value judgment requires some sort of absolute standard against which these differing moral beliefs can be measured. Otherwise, all you can say is that there has been moral change, but not moral development. And so, I would say that certainly we can develop morally. We realize past mistakes.

Krauss: So, so, so—who, who determines what’s—who, who determines what’s moral?

Craig: God.

Krauss: Which God? Is it the Qur’an, the one who still says women are inferior and chattel and, and need to be veiled and put in bags; that, that, that God?

Craig: That remains—

Krauss: I mean, I mean, you know—

Craig: That remains to be decided.

Krauss: —The point is there is moral improvement and the moral improvement is because we have become—because rationality based on empirical evidence, based on the clear empirical fact that woman are not inferior and gays are not bad, that moral improvement has occurred because, because of empirical evidence. And as I say the reason, the reason morality was, was less—needed to be improved—is because we were more ignorant and science has made us less ignorant.

Craig: Those—those statements all presuppose the intrinsic worth of human beings, and that is something that can’t be justified scientifically. You can show that human beings are equal in intelligence and abilities and so forth rather than racially inferior or something. But to affirm the intrinsic value of human beings, of homo sapiens, is a moral judgment that is something that’s incapable—

Krauss: What do you, what do you mean by intrinsic worth?

Craig: —of being scientifically established. What do I mean?

Krauss: Yeah.

Craig: I mean that they are ends in themselves rather than means to ends. We treat persons as ends in themselves rather than as means to be used towards some end. And in that sense, they have intrinsic moral value and therefore need to be treated as such. And that’s not a judgment that science can establish.—

Krauss: I think, I think science can say, science can—no look,—

Craig: —Science tells how the world is not how it ought to be.

Krauss: —I think that’s completely—you know, I understand it. But science can say people are conscious beings. They experience pain and suffering and, and from having experienced those things, it’s unpleasant.

Craig: Yeah.

Krauss: And, in fact, by trying to minimize that we make it more pleasant for ourselves and others, and that’s nothing to do with God or anything else.

Craig: O.K., now that is a very different ethic, Dr. Krauss. That is a self-interest ethic. That’s—

Krauss: No, that, that’s what I mean by intrinsic worth.

Craig: That—that’s totally different than the consequentialism and utilitarianism we heard a moment ago.

Krauss: Well, we also talk about, we also talk about the question, question of rights, which again is not a question of theology but a question of law. If—who, who has the right to determine whether someone should live or die? You’d say it’s God. You’d say God said the Canaanites should die. I mean, I’m going back to it because I find what you said so morally reprehensible that it sickens me.

Craig: Well, you have to look at the historical context. Now—now you folks who are applauding on that, I wonder, have you read the narratives? Have you read the historical context of what that’s about?

Krauss: I read what you said. Do you disagree with anything you said?

Craig: Yes, but you have to look at the historical context. I said a lot more than that. What I pointed out was—

Krauss: The children deserve—are O.K. to be killed because they’re going to have eternal salvation?

Craig: No.

Krauss: That’s what you said.

Craig: That’s a misrepresentation of what I said, Dr. Krauss.

Krauss: Well, let’s, you want to go back and repeat—and read it?

Craig: I would like to explain it.

Krauss: O.K.

Craig: What I said there is that God pronounced judgment upon these nation-states that were inhabiting Canaan—he had waited four hundred years to bring judgment upon them. By the time he did so, these cultures were incredibly evil, incredibly reprobate, and God brought judgment upon them by destroying them as nation-states. That is to say, the command to the Israeli armies was to drive these Canaanite tribes out of the land. They were being divested of the land. That’s what is important to these Middle Eastern peoples and still is today, it’s the land.

Krauss: Absolutely. And you would say, in fact,—Osama bin Laden would say, the United States and Australia are morally reprehensible and we have to destroy them. What’s wrong with him saying that?

Craig: Because—

Krauss: We live—because we live in a world—

Craig: No, no, now see this is—this is—

Krauss: —where we realize those kinds of divine proclamations are nonsense and irrational.

Craig: No, well, but it’s not. See, I’ve given—I’ve given a moral theory (that you didn’t explain) that explains how this is consistent with an all-loving, all-just God.

Krauss: All-loving?

Craig: Yes. Yes.

Krauss: He didn’t love the Canaanites.

Craig: The point is that God brought—God brought judgment upon those adults by destroying these nation-states and driving them out of the land and giving the land to Israel. Now, the difficult part of this is the command that those who remain behind to fight and to resist, to refuse to flee, were to be exterminated, even the children.

Krauss: Yeah.

Craig: And my point there is that God, as the author and giver of life, has the right to take and give life as he sees fit. He is not obligated to prolong my existence for one second more.

Krauss: Who determines what God has decided?

Craig: Now wait, let me—let me finish! God has the right to give and take life as he sees fit. In fact, all of us will die someday, and some children die in — in infancy, earlier than others. God had the right to take the lives of those children if he so willed.

Krauss: But God didn’t. The Israelites did.

Craig: Right, he, he—that is a very good point!—he used Israel as an instrument.

Krauss: How do you know?

Craig: Pardon me?

Krauss: How do you know he used Israel?

Craig: I, well, we’re—

Krauss: How do you know they weren’t just an imperialistic power who wanted to have the land because it was better for growing things?

Craig: Oh, oh, but if you say that, then there is no objection to divine command morality! The whole point here is that you’re, you’re saying there’s some sort of inconsistency in affirming that God is all-just and all-loving and yet he issued these commands. If you don’t think he issued the commands, if you think these are just legends or fables, then there’s no problem. The whole problem only arises if you think that God did that—

Krauss: There’s not—there, there’s a problem for the Canaanites.

Craig: —Now, wait, wait, I haven’t got to my critical point here yet, though—

Krauss: O.K.

Craig: —and that is God has the right to give and take life as he sees fit. He can take a child’s life now if he wants, rather than letting that child live longer. What he did in this case was he took the lives of these children via the instrument of his judgment, namely, Israel. Now the question is: Did he wrong those children in doing that? That’s the issue. Did he do something wrong to those children in some way? And my point is, no. He did not because those children went to an eternity of incomprehensible joy and eternal life in the presence of a loving God. So that—

Krauss: Well, just like, just like—I’m sorry—

Moderator: O.K., O.K., O.K., hang, hang on.

Craig: So there was no wrong.

Krauss: I mean—I have one last thing—just like the people in the World Trade Center went to heaven.

Moderator: I would love to be the speaker at Parliament and I could turn of the microphones. Don’t you think?

Krauss: O.K., sorry.

Moderator: O.K., sorry . . . I’ve given you both very, very long leashes.

Craig: Yes.

Krauss: Thank you.

Moderator: I do fear we might have strayed just a wee bit from our topic this evening, which is “Has science buried God?”

Craig: Right.

Moderator: —just the slightest bit. And I really do want to turn it over to you fine folks for some of your questions. I do, however, have one final very brief question that I would appreciate a very brief answer to.

Krauss: A brief answer—O.K.

Moderator: Historically, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism—all three have renounced the moral principles of utilitarianism (the greatest good for the greatest number), or consequentialism (you judge the worth of the rightness of things by the results that they produce). On a very, very, very simple basis, which is that ultimately divine justice, divine goodness, is best measured not by the care that we give to the most but by the care that we give to the most vulnerable. And this was the motivation, for instance, in the earliest history—it does concern me a little bit that we are often times speaking about religion and morality as if they are static concepts, not taking adequate account, I think, of the relationship between, say, the Old Testament and early Christianity, not taking into account the moral development that took place in the first millennium, in particular of Christianity and, and at the same time within Judaism. But it was that motivation: the care for the least, the most vulnerable, including the children, the widows, the lepers, the dying—it was that that motivated some of the great social and political reforms at the hands of Christians and bishops. So, I’d like to put to both of you that moral principle, the—: a society cannot have open season on the most needy, on those that consume an inordinate amount of society’s goods. How does that moral principle stand with the two of you? I’m going let Professor Krauss go first and then Dr. Craig.

Krauss: You want a brief answer to that question?

Moderator: Sixty seconds, Go!

Krauss: It’s a very—It’s a complex—I am sure one thing Dr. Craig and I would agree on is it’s a complex question, and, and it requires a complex answer, but I’ll try. The point is that I see the evolution of society through the Enlightenment as leading to that goal. I see no evidence of that in religion or religious practice. It may be true in some religious teachings, not all, but I certainly see no evidence of it and, in fact, I generally see quite the opposite. I generally see that children and women are abused by, by religion in different ways in different religions. And I, in fact, take one of the more—takesomeone who the Catholic church I think is—I don’t know if they sanctified her already—that awful woman Mother Teresa. O.K.? She, in—on the name of religious morality, that the weak need the greatest benefits, said, O.K., I’m going to take these kids and put them in my, in my, in my . . . whatever she called them (the places where she kept them) but because I think they are going to be happier in heaven if they suffer here I won’t give them medication to ease their pain, and I won’t help their lives prolong; they deserve to die because God wants them to be happy in heaven. Well to me, that is not taking care of the needy. And so, I don’t see in action—it may be, it may be in, in words, but I, I think actions speak louder than words, and I think the actions that we’ve seen of the rise of democracy is, is due to the Enlightenment and certainly not due to the, to the two or three thousand years of religion we’ve had.

Moderator: Dr. Craig?

Craig: I don’t believe for one second that that accurately represents Mother Teresa’s attitude toward the orphans and the poor that she cared—

Krauss: Well. . . .

Craig: —for in Calcutta. But what I would say is that you are right, Scott, consequentialism is a terrible ethic. If, on consequentialism, raping and killing a little girl would somehow bring about, through some fortuitous impact, the greatest amount of good for the greatest number of people, not only would that action be morally justified, you would be morally obligated to do it, which is horrible; it is morally reprehensible. So what we need is an ethic that has certain objective moral principles that are not dependent simply on consequences but, I would say, are rooted in God, who is a transcendent anchor point for moral values beyond culture, beyond society, beyond mores, and is the plumb line against which all actions and decisions are measured. And part of that ethic, in the Christian faith at least, will, as you say, be concern for the least among us. As Jesus said, insofar as you did this to the least among you, you did it unto me. And he’s talking there about the cup of cold water or visiting someone in prison, things of that sort. So, the Christian faith has this tremendous emphasis, not simply on the greatest good for the greatest mass of humanity, but for every individual created in the image of God and therefore a bearer of intrinsic moral value and unspeakable human worth.

Moderator: Thank you.

Krauss: I’ll bite my tongue on that one.

Moderator: O.K., Well it’s with, with great pleasure that I get to turn to some of your questions, which I am doing my very, very best to keep my eyes on as they are sort of flicking across the screen. The first, the first question—I’m, I’m going to send this one to, to Professor Krauss first. You said that transparency, reliance on evidence, peer-review, and testability—those are the virtues that define science, right?

Krauss: Among the virtues, among the virtues that define science, yes.

Moderator: Among the virtues of science. If no room for faith remains, then what about things like art and love as well? Now, can I just say—just hovering on the top of that—you, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, others, have been criticized, not just by religious folk but also by philosophers, people who are interested in art and aesthetics, that science has tried to fill too much of the field and tried to explain a little bit too much. I understand that you disdain that, but—

Krauss: Yeah.

Moderator: —I am just wondering if you could explain maybe a bit why.

Krauss: Well, that’s an ignorant statement. But—

Moderator: Well why, why—why?

Krauss: Yes, I’ll explain it. I’m not saying you are ignorant . . . the statement is. And, and,—the point is that I . . . science is a human cultural activity and, in fact, if you read my writing you’ll see that I say the worth of science, in my opinion, is not from the technology—we tend to love its technology, which has made the world a happier, healthier place for most people. But it’s the fact that, like art and music and literature, it forces us to reassess our place in the cosmos. It, it, it opens our eyes to the world. And art and music and literature do that but so does science. And there’s no sense in which science reduces the value of art, music, and literature. As, as—and, in fact, the most famous example I know of in that regard is from Richard Feynman. I wrote a book about it. He said a rainbow isn’t any less beautiful because you understand how it’s caused—it is much more beautiful when you understand the amazing things that are happening! In fact, it is much more exciting!

Moderator: Professor [Dr.] Craig, there’s a question here about essentially how can you be so sure about the will of God? You’re speaking quite forthrightly—

Craig: Yes.

Moderator: —especially about the question of Canaanite children.

Craig: Yes.

Moderator: That is what this question is pivoting to. How can you be so sure about the will of God? And again, if I can just sort of throw something in that seems to be hovering above this question, this is also touching upon a very deep theological debate: Is something right because God wills it, or does God will it because it is, in itself, right?

Craig: Right, that is the old Euthyphro dilemma. And I think it is a false dilemma. I think the correct position is that God wills something because he is good. So that the good is God himself, and our moral duties derive from the commands of a just and loving God. Now, what was your question before you got to the Euthyphro part?

Moderator: How, how can you be so sure about God’s will?

Craig: Oh, yes! Well, I, I don’t claim that I am so sure about these things. But, in the case of the Canaanite invasion, the question there was: Is there an ethical theory that would allow us to say that this command given by God in these narratives is consistent with an all-loving and all-good God? And what I attempted to do was to offer an ethical theory that would make that consistent. And it’s not enough to just respond emotionally to this and get, get all upset. You’ve got to deal with the ethical theory that I offered and show that there would be an inconsistency between God’s being all-good and all-loving and his issuing this command. Now, if I’m incorrect about that, then it seems to me that the Christian will have to say, “Well, I guess these narratives are not historical after all!” He’d say what you said—Israel, carried away by its nationalistic fervor, thought that God had commanded it to do these things; but he, but he hadn’t. But I am not persuaded that we need to go that route yet. It seems to me that there is a defensible ethical theory that would enable us to say that God is perfectly loving, perfectly just, and that he issued these commands described in Genesis.

Krauss: Can I just make a little comment? I’ll try not to be tacky in this regard but I think it’s really important to make this comment. I think what you said is correct. You found, you’ve found a way to find an ethical theory that makes those two apparently inconsistent things consistent. O.K.?

Craig: Yeah, right.

Krauss: And I think—and I had a lot of discussions on stage and off-stage with various theologians whose job is to do just that: to find ways to resolve apparent inconsistencies; to find ethical solutions that validate their belief. But, that is what’s wrong. Because the point of science and the reason it works is you don’t just try to prove something you like to be true, you also try and prove it to be false. And that’s what’s really important. You don’t just find—

Craig: Yeah.

Krauss: —a way to say—

Craig: Yeah.

Krauss: —the rainbows are caused by this or that. You actually try to see if your ideas are wrong, and ask what’s more plausible—and based on evidence and inquiry, what’s more plausible. So what I find problematic is that the effort to find a rational excuse for something can work but that doesn’t make it right.

Craig: Well, I think it’s the same method that science uses, and you, you know this! Many times a scientific theory will confront recalcitrant evidence or there’ll be shown some inconsistency. And the scientist doesn’t just throw out his theory. He’ll adjust certain auxiliary hypotheses in order to try to maintain consistency, and then he will retest it again.

Krauss: But, the great thing is that he can also say, you know what, I was completely wrong.

Craig: He could—

Krauss: And that just doesn’t happen in religion.

Craig: —if, if—if he can’t find a solution.

Krauss: Yeah.

Craig: —But you know the scientist, like the theologian, will not simply abandon his view when it confronts a difficulty or apparent inconsistency. He’ll try to develop a consistent theory and account that would make sense of all the data—

Krauss: No, no. No, no, it’s not just that,—

Craig: —That’s what the theologian does.

Krauss: —he’ll try and make predictions that work . . . experiments that have not yet been performed.

Craig: Sure.

Krauss: If science were—the difference between science and religion is science isn’t just a story. If science just said, you know, I can explain, I can, I can explain something I’ve already seen and I can give a story that’s consistent with that, well, then the tooth fairy would work and, and, and leprechauns at the end of the rainbow or whatever. But what we try and do is, we say, I’ve got—my story has to make predictions that work on things I haven’t yet tested and I am willing to throw it out if that theory doesn’t work.

Craig: Sure.

Krauss: —But, that’s, that’s a fundamental difference.

Craig: —But he doesn’t throw it out just because he confronts an inconsistency or recalcitrant data. He will only throw it out when the efforts to develop a consistent account—

Krauss: It’s a change

Craig: —of the data fail.

Krauss: No, no—sorry. If I predict a ball is going to fall up and it falls down, I don’t say, well, I’m going to, I’m going to reassess by what I mean by up. O.K.?

Craig: No, but you might well reassess your theory of gravitation.

Krauss: O.K., anyway, I am sorry.—

Craig: Oh, O.K. Well. . . .

Krauss: —I just wanted to make that point.

Moderator: All right. Might, might I suggest, my friend, that if you think theologians can’t say, “I’m wrong,” you’ve got to do a lot more reading in the history of theology, good heavens!

Krauss: Well, you know, you have, anyway. . . .

Moderator: Professor Krauss. . . .

Krauss: You have to—no. Sorry.

Moderator: There’s a, there’s a . . . there’s a question here. I’m going to give you a choice of two, but it would be great if you could work them together.

Krauss: O.K., I’ll do what I can do.

Moderator: Someone is asking—it looks like it may be the same person—, “Can you speak to the role that Christians played both in the Enlightenment and in the rise of democracy?” As a kind of appendix to that, speaking specifically of someone like William Wilberforce, who was instrumental in stopping the slave trade, I mean, he explicitly did that on the basis of his deep Christian convictions. I’m just wondering if you could say a little something about that.

Krauss: Look, O.K., it’s a stereotype to suggest that people of faith are not good people. Of course that’s ridiculous. And just like it’s a stereotype to say people of no faith are not good people, which unfortunately in certain parts of the world is a death sentence because of religion. Now the point is, it is absolutely true and undeniable—and anyone who knows anything about history would be ridiculous to say, that in the Western world at least, (and I disagree with Dr. Craig about, about the fact that there wasn’t good science in the Islamic world or the Chinese world; there certainly was) but in the Western world there’s no doubt that there was an integral relationship between religion and the development of science. As I said, Newton spent a lot more time writing about his wacko views on God than, and, and alchemy, than he did on . . . the Principia. But the point is we—well, first of all, my first statement is saying “Thanks, you did a good job, now go home.” O.K.? I mean, historically, if that lead to the development of science, that’s great. We should be thankful for that aspect of religion. But there’s a good reason why there is an integral relationship: it was the only game in town. It was the only historical source of power; it was the national science foundation of the 15th century. Galileo and others had to, had to—had to have patrons who were popes and other people because it was the only source of education and, and power. So, it’s not too surprising that in a society in which science developed, the only source of education and power was religion. But, but that historical, that historical fact does not in any way suggest that . . . there’s anything more than the accident of history.

Craig: I have heard you give this response before, and I think it is a failure to understand the argument. The argument isn’t that modern science needed some source of funding, akin to the National Science Foundation. The argument that I’ve given is that theology furnishes a conceptual framework which supplies the critical presuppositions that make science possible. And it’s the absence of that framework, conceptually, that explains why science didn’t arise in the Orient or in Africa, but in Western civilization. And you can’t just say, “Well, thank you very much!” and then dismiss it, because science can’t exist without that—

Krauss: Well, it can exist. In fact—

Craig: —conceptual framework. And those things can’t be proved scientifically.

Krauss: Historically, you’re right. No, no, I think the point is that . . . historically that concept—there was some relationship between, between that conceptual framework, but the fact—the other thing in history teaches us is it’s not too surprising that Newton was religious and even Darwin was religious because at that time, as I say, the education of people was religious education. It is interesting that nowadays, in the National Academy of Sciences—the most esteemed scientific body in the United States, and the same is true in Australia—that, that almost no—that over 90% of the people claim that they have no religious faith. The point is, it’s fine to say—it is just like saying that people believed in the sun god way back when. It doesn’t mean, you know—that was then. This is now. The fact that things have changed is the fact that science has buried God.

Craig: Yeah, that—that’s irrelevant to the conceptual foundations that need to be in place in order for science to exist. But I want to say something else about this silly poll number that’s been thrown around. This is committing an elementary fallacy that social scientists know about, namely, it’s, it’s a post hoc, propter hoc fallacy: thinking that because it is after this, it is because of this. And I have here the study by Elaine Ecklund of Rice University, conducted between 2005-2008 on scientists at major first-rate research universities. And what she found was that scientists do not become irreligious as a result of their becoming scientists. Rather, and this is a quotation, “their reasons for unbelief mirror the circumstances in which other Americans find themselves: they were not raised in a religious home; they have had bad experiences with religion; they disapprove of God or see God as too changeable.” [15] The fact is these folks became unbelievers before they went into science. Their unbelief is not a result of their science. So these polls just are committing elementary fallacies.

Krauss: O.K., well, look . . . the point, the key point—well, there are two key points. First of all, what you’ve demonstrated is that when you thrust religion down the throats of children, which is child abuse, before they even, before they even have a, a—these are deep—you know, you’re, you’re a man who spent most of your life studying the deep questions of theology. They’re deep questions, they’re not something, you know—you don’t talk about libertarianism or conservative ideals to a three-year-old. But you force this down when they are a three-year-old; it’s very, very difficult to, to abandon those things. It is very difficult for any of us who were brought up in a religious house to, to completely abandon those notions because when you are a child you, you don’t have the cognitive abilities—and, in fact, . . . these things just become dogma. But the other thing that you suggest which somehow . . . this myth that, that is pervaded by both of you is that somehow there is this connection between religion and science; there isn’t! Those—you know, there are groups that study religion and science and they talk to other groups that study religion and science. The point is that I have been a scientist for thirty years and I’ve never been, not once, to a scientific meeting, a scientific seminar, a scientific class, where the word “God” has been mentioned. It’s just irrelevant. As Stephen Weinberg says, most scientists don’t even think enough about God to know if they’re atheists.

Craig: Well, you remember—you remember the quotation that I read from P. T. Landsberg about the conference at which he spoke; and the articles and the journals that I referred to.

Krauss: They’re not, they’re not—the point is, what I would like to say is the same thing I said to philosophers, some philosophers, great, you guys study the intersection of religion and science, you work on it, and we’ll go discover how the universe works.

Craig: Yeah. . . .

Moderator: O.K., we’ve . . . we’ve got two last questions. One’s a little bit fun, I’m going to save that till last. Here’s the, here’s the big gun, it seems to me. Professor Krauss and Dr. Craig, you both seem to believe that the universe came from nothing. But you disagree substantially on whether or not nothing is ever really nothing. Please explain.

Krauss: Well first of all, there is an incorrect statement there, I don’t believe anything. Belief is not a word that scientists use—

Craig: Of course you believe things!

Krauss: —Something . . . let me explain. . . .

Craig: You believe what you just said, right? Don’t you believe that?

Krauss: Let me explain what scientists—things are either likely or unlikely. They’re very likely, they’re very unlikely. We try and assess the likelihood of something. So if something, the likelihood of something is near certainty then, then you might call it a belief, but it’s not a belief. It is not something we say, “I believe this,” which means that I have some inner confidence, an inner certainty. That is not how science works.

Moderator: Let’s go to the question of nothing.

Krauss: So, no, no. So, so the word “belief” is not something I’d to say about it. Now, in fact, I don’t know if the universe came from nothing or began, O.K.? What I can show is that everything we know about science is consistent with a universe full of matter, stars, life, human beings, aliens, everything we see, where space and time and laws, when none of that existed before. Now, to me, what you can argue—in fact, you can be a, you can do your PhD thesis on whether that’s nothing, but I don’t really give a damn. The point is, the miracle that, it seems to me, that religion is supposed to try and explain, is how this incredible universe of one hundred billion galaxies each containing one hundred billion stars, how it could come, how it could arise, if they weren’t there in the first place. That seems to violate everything we know logically and everything we think we might know about the laws of physics. What we’ve learned is it’s not true. It can all come from no space—it can all—none of it needed to have existed. And whether that’s absolute nothingness is something I really don’t care about.

Moderator: Dr. Craig.

Craig: Yeah, when you say that you don’t care about it, that’s just an autobiographical comment about your personal psychological state.

Krauss: Fine, it’s my own.

Craig: There are others who do care deeply about it—

Krauss: It’s not a. . . .

Craig: —including, I think, hundreds of people who will be coming to the Sydney event to talk about this very topic, “Why is there something rather than nothing?”

Krauss: But it is just a definition; it’s a semantic definition. I describe an initial state. I don’t care what you call it. That’s semantics.

Craig: O.K. . . .

Krauss: The physics tells me, the physical question is: Did those things exist, did space, did time exist? And by the way, as I say, in fact, one of the many—you heard this [presses a buzzer] during it, this was the William Craig bull**** meter. I hit it every time he talked about, he talked about science and got it wrong. The point is we don’t have any evidence absolutely that the universe began. Even Alex Vilenkin in that paper said it began “probably.” The point is there are . . . the very papers that, that he’s, that, that William Craig talks about, which I am sure you don’t understand because you don’t understand General Relativity, in fact, are based on General Relativity which we know breaks down as a quantum theory. And, in fact, those presuppositions that there must be a singularity or a beginning, there are many theories like Loop Quantum Gravity, some areas of string theory, the Ekpyrotic universe, that, in fact, produce an eternal universe that contracts and expands forever and has been around forever. That is consistent with the known laws. We don’t know the answer, and we’re excited because we don’t know the answer because we’ve got something to learn. We didn’t know the answer to the question before we asked it, like Dr. Craig.

Craig: I really appreciated what you said in your opening speech, when you said you have no respect for distortion and misrepresentation—

Krauss: Yeah, I invite you to call me on it.

Craig: —because I don’t think anyone has misrepresented the notion of creation from “nothing” more than you have. In every case—

Krauss: You, you give me an example . . . like to say that, but I quoted you. You give me an example.

Craig: —and we’ll talk about this in Sydney, we’ll talk about this in Sydney. In every—in every case you were talking about a physical system changing from one state to another. You are not talking about nothing in the sense that not anything. Now, in, in the case of the models—

Krauss: I define very carefully what I talk about.

Craig: —you mention, the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem doesn’t even presume the gravitational equations of General Relativity. It is independent of them. And so it will—

Krauss: Let—you know, at the next talk, we’ll discuss the physics of the next paper, O.K.? We’ll discuss the physics of, say, Loop Quantum Gravity, which has a bounce solution.

Craig: Yeah, I’d be happy . . . actually, I’ve co-authored—

Krauss: Or maybe the Ekpyrotic Universe.

Craig: —if you will look. . . .

Krauss: We’ll discuss the statements that, in fact, say that this theorem breaks down.

Craig: I’m ready to do it! I’m ready to do it. If you will look at the . . . article I co-authored with James Sinclair,—

Krauss: I did.

Craig: —who is a physicist, in The Blackwell Companion for Natural Theology, those very theories that you talk about—pre-Big Bang cosmology, Loop Quantum Gravity—those are all discussed in that article. And Vilenkin discusses them, too, and they are not successful models of a past-eternal universe; they won’t work.

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

Craig: Because of the scientific articles that have been published on them; for example,—

Krauss: What about the scientific articles that have been published, in fact, that are—there are meetings that talk about an eternal bounce universe? Do you think all those scientists just happen to like it and they go to, they go to work and work on this because they have some inner belief that the universe is eternal and they’re actually—they don’t mind that it is inconsistent mathematically? That’s nonsense.

Craig: No, they’re working on trying to find a model like that, but so far it hasn’t been done.

Krauss: We just don’t know the answer, and I wish you would just understand that that’s a good thing. That’s a good thing. Not knowing the answer means there is something left to learn. Certainty in the absence of,—

Craig: Yes, but you shouldn’t deny—

Krauss: —of evidence is, in fact, the source of much of the problems in the world, I would argue.

Craig: When somebody like Alexander Vilenkin, who is one of the premier cosmologists of our day,—

Krauss: He’s a good friend.

Craig: —says, “All the evidence we have says that the universe has a beginning,” that ought to make us pause and take that seriously. Now that’s not to say it is certain, but it is to say—

Krauss: It’s consistent with our universe having a beginning.

Craig: —the evidence inclines on that side of the scale.

Krauss: If you ask me, if you ask me what would I bet? I’d bet our universe had a beginning.

Craig: You’d bet what?

Krauss: I’d bet our universe had a beginning, but I am not certain of it. And I know that the physics—

Craig: Well, I didn’t say I was certain.

Krauss: —Hold on. That is my, that is my—based on what, the physics that I know, I’d say it is a more likely possibility.

Craig: Yeah, right!

Krauss: But it doesn’t say the universe had a beginning! It says it’s likely! That is a fundamental difference that you don’t understand!

Craig: Oh, Dr. Krauss, please, please! Any statement you make can be qualified with the prefix “probably.”

Krauss: Because qualifications are what science is all about. We qualify our uncertainty.

Craig: That—that’s silly.

Krauss: That is what makes science so good!

Moderator: O.K.

Craig: There is no scientific article that contains the word “probably” in front of every sentence.

Moderator: Are they—I have a question here. “Scott Stephens, are you sorry or are you relieved that you are not moderating the next debate?” Well. . . . [laughter] That’s not really there [points to his iPad].

Krauss: O.K. . . . What’s your answer?

Moderator: I don’t know.

Krauss: Yeah, I figured. O.K., good. O.K.

Moderator: Yeah . . . here is our last question for the night. Professor Krauss, Dr. Craig—Professor Krauss, is there anything that would make you suspect that there might, in fact, be a God? Dr. Craig, is there anything that you could discover which would make you doubt deeply that there is, in fact, a God?

Craig: The question that is relevant here is not what would make me doubt deeply, because that could be dependent upon all kinds of psychological and contingent occurrences. If my wife were suddenly killed in an accident, maybe I would lose faith. That’s a psychological question. The relevant question is: Is there anything that should make me abandon my belief in God? And so far I haven’t found anything that I would say provides a good reason for thinking that God does not exist. And I read atheist literature all the time, and most of the arguments that I’ve seen are not very good. I think perhaps the best arguments would be arguments based upon evil and suffering, the silence of God, the hiddenness of God—I think those are powerful arguments for the other side. But at the end of the day, I don’t find them compelling. I think that the arguments for God’s existence make it more probable—there’s that word again—more probable than not that God does exist.

Moderator: The Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said that if Jesus’ corpse was discovered and the resurrection proved to have been nothing, that that would probably, that would probably be enough to do it for him.

Craig: Yes, but again that is a psychological question but it certainly should. If the corpse of Jesus were found then Christianity would be false. So, of course, it would be untrue then. That wouldn’t mean that atheism is true but would mean Christianity would be false.

Krauss: Why would that be? Why couldn’t Jesus make another body? If he is God, why couldn’t he just manifest another body or an image of a body? Why does it actually have to be his physical body? I’m sure there would be theologians saying, you know what, we found Jesus’ corpse but you know what? God can make an image, God can do anything he wants. That body isn’t Jesus – Jesus is a spirit. I’ll give your talk.

Moderator: There are theologians who say that and they are all heretics unfortunately.

Krauss: Well, then I am in good company. Let me answer your question.

Moderator: Is there anything?

Krauss: Sure, there is in fact. [16] If there was the slightly bit of empirical evidence.

Moderator: What would that look like though?

Krauss: If there were the slightly bit of empirical evidence. For example, and I have said this before, if tonight I looked up at the stars tonight and they rearranged to say “I am here,” maybe in Aramaic or Hebrew or maybe in English because I heard people say God spoke English, if any of that happened then I would say, you know, maybe there is something to this. But there is not the slightest bit. The reason that I discuss what I discuss is there is not the slightly bit of empirical evidence that there is a God and in fact everything we know about the universe tells us there is no need for any divine intervention.

Craig: The fine-tuning of the universe is far less probable than the stars rearranging themselves.

Krauss: In any case, if I saw something like that, I would be willing to reassess my attitude.

Moderator: Can I ask you to just take up Dr. Craig’s last point. Does what he describes as the fine-tuning of the universe . . .

Krauss: Oh, it’s pure bull****. It is taken by people who say, look, hey, fine-tuning, God, I can use that. The point is that we don’t know anything about the fine-tuning of the universe because we don’t know what kinds of life can be intelligent. We don’t know if the constants of nature were changed that a different kind of intelligent life would arise. Moreover, one of the worst fine-tuning problems in nature which is one of the ones I first proposed – the cosmological constant problem that dark energy in the universe, the biggest mystery of the universe – that looks like it is incredibly fine-tuned. One hundred and twenty orders of magnitude – the worst fine-tuning problem in nature – and Dr. Craig will jump up and say, look, if it was a lot bigger we wouldn’t have humans. Well, it turns out if it was precisely zero, which is a much more natural number, more life would form.

Craig: Yeah, it exhibits one-sided fine-tuning. That is not a problem.

Krauss: So this claim that somehow you know that if the laws of physics were different life wouldn’t arise means you know a hell of a lot more about the laws of physics than anyone I know.

Moderator: And on that surprisingly complimentary note, I think we should bring our evening to a close. Would you please join me in thanking Professor Lawrence Krauss and Dr. William Lane Craig.

Closing: Ladies and gentlemen, one of the things we hoped for tonight was that it would open up these topics for discussion. So in many ways, from here forward we want to hand over to you but I must warn you, you will not have your own Scott Stephens with you. You will need to keep your emotions in check. You will need to listen to each other as you talk these things through. But it has been a delightful evening and we are very thankful for Scott and his hard work and our speakers, but I will come to that in a moment. There are a few ways you can carry on the conversation with us. There is a feedback form on the back, you can take a moment to fill that out if you’d like. We are glad to hear you comments, questions, and even your reasoned critiques. There are two more evenings so that will be helpful for us as we think about both Sydney and Melbourne. For those who are at the cutting edge, there is an online survey. That takes me to another thing that we are running in the City. In the City and in a few churches we are running a series called “The Reason for God Series.” It is actually a little bit like tonight but less heated. You watch a group of six people who have objections to Christianity engage with a Christian thinker. They raise their objections, they discuss it, he tries to answer them and then in groups we carry on the conversation.

In the foyer there is books on sale by Dymocks. Professor Lawrence Krauss’ books are there, some books by Hitchens, a range of books by William Lane Craig, and also some Smith Lecture DVDs such as “Would we be better off without religion?” and one by Dr. John Lennox on “Has science buried God?” which is where we stole the title from. If you like to purchase those books, we will also have a book signing on stage after this evening is finished so you can come up here and have these two gentlemen sign. I think it would be interesting to have both of them sign the one book, wouldn’t that kind of be interesting? You give that to you friend and I just think that would be great; very interesting.

But finally and most importantly, I would like to thank our two speakers and moderator with another round of applause.

That does conclude our evening. Thanks so much for coming. [17]

  • [1]


  • [2]


  • [3]

    Peter Harrison, “Setting the record straight: Christianity and the rise of modern science”, August 20, 2013. See (accessed August 28, 2013).

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    Jonathan Sacks, The Great Partnership: God, Science, and the Search for Meaning (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2011).

  • [6]

    Sacks, The Great Partnership, p. 296.

  • [7]

    Lawrence Krauss, The Physics of Star Trek (rev. ed., Basic Books, 2007).

  • [8]

    Lawrence Krauss, A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing (New York: Free Press, 2012).

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    William Lane Craig, Quentin Smith, Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993).

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    William Lane Craig, Quentin Smith (eds.), Einstein, Relativity, and Absolute Simultaneity (London: Routledge, 2007).

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  • [14]

    Steven Pinker, “Science Is Not Your Enemy,” New Republic, August 6, 2013. See (accessed August 29, 2013).

  • [15]


  • [16]


  • [17]

    Total Running Time: 2:00:50