Craig vs Krauss
William Lane Craig is a renowned Christian apologist who, due to his impressive oratory skills, philosophical arguments, and clever rhetoric, has become very popular among Christians seeking validation of their faith. Craig primarily promotes human morality, the intricate design of the universe, and variations of the Kalam cosmological argument to assure people the Biblical God actually exists. This powerful combination has made him somewhat of a hero among Christians. However, Craig is also on record stating his primary reason for believing in the God of the Bible is “through the witness of the holy spirit and this gives me a self authenticating means of knowing that Christianity is true wholly apart from the evidence” (at approximately 7:40 in the following video).
Lawrence Krauss is a theoretical physicist who tirelessly works to improve our understanding of complex scientific ideas. Often during his seemingly never ending appearances he directly challenges religious views as unscientific, irrelevant, unproductive, and often dangerous. Krauss was catapulted into the lime light after his popular presentation entitled “A Universe from Nothing”, which prompted a book of the same name.
Since William Lane Craig’s Kalam cosmological argument and Krauss’s idea a universe can come from “nothing” are at odds, it seems clear these two would collide on regular occasions. I was lucky enough to witness one such collision last week in Brisbane, which was the the first of a series of debates being held across Australia in the coming weeks.
The City Bible Forum, which bills itself as a “non-denominational Christian organisation” which aims to “explore life’s biggest questions” such as “where God might fit into your life … in an open manner that is enjoyable, intellectually credible and which meets the needs of professional life” is hosting the events. Wednesday’s night event was titled “Has Science Buried God?”, whilst the remainder focus on different aspects of debate between faith and fact.
Interestingly, the City Bible Forum’s goal seems to contradict their statement of belief, which reads:
“The City Bible Forum seeks to conform all its activities with the teaching of the Bible. The following statements summarise what we understand those teachings to be…
* The unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in the Godhead
* The sovereignty of God in creation, revelation, redemption and final judgement
* The divine inspiration and infallibility of Holy Scripture, as originally given, and its supreme authority in all matters of faith and conduct
* The universal sinfulness and guilt of human nature since the Fall, rendering man subject to God’s wrath and condemnation
* Redemption from guilt, penalty and the power of sin only through the sacrificial death, as our representative and substitute, of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God
* The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead who is now the Lord and Judge of all creation
* The necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit to make the death of Christ effective in the individual sinner, granting him repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ
* The indwelling and work of the Holy Spirit in the believer
* The one universal Church, which is the body of Christ, and to which all true believers belong
* The expectation of the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ
How one can be both “intellectually credible” whilst accepting the statements above is an exercise I will leave to the reader.
It is not my intention to give a detailed account of the entire evening here. I am informed that a complete unedited recording will be made available in the near future, which was stipulated and agreed upon between the parties. Rather, I wish to summarise my recollections of key parts the evening – hazy as they may be.
Firstly, and as I have come to notice, William Lane Craig was not first to speak. I suspect this is by design to allow Craig to compete an exchange on his terms. As I said; Craig is experienced. Instead Lawrence Krauss fired the opening salvo – and what a salvo it was!
Krauss launched a brutal attack on Craig and his arguments, even accusing him of flat out lying at one point. This was not merely an ad hominem attack, Krauss (ever the scientist) backed his assertion with specific empirical evidence of Craig deliberately misquoting or misrepresenting the position of others. Krauss also demolished, among other things, Craig’s article excusing the genocide of the Canaanites.
Disappointingly, Craig’s response was not up to his usual standards. Either he was shaken by Krauss’s onslaught or thrown by the giggles, groans, and occasional heckling from the crowd. Craig found himself in the unenviable position of having to once again defend the genocide of the Canaanites as the inevitable result of a perfect God’s most loving justice. Seriously, why doesn’t he remove that horrid nonsense from his web site?
Moreover, some of the syllogisms Craig presented where simply appalling. Take this one for example:
- Things that exist are either contingent or necessary.
- The universe is contingent on a necessary being (God).
- Therefore God exists.
Or something like that.
Seriously, the argument was that bad Craig should be embarrassed to show his face in public, let alone be on stage. And remember, this is a man who holds TWO summa cum laude master’s degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and TWO Ph.Ds. in philosophy! With such qualifications you might expect William Lane Craig to recognise the serious and fatal flaws of such an argument. Personally, I suspect Craig does know but simply doesn’t care – he makes a decent living from lying to Christians.
After each side presented it was the moderators turn to encourage discussion and field questions sent in via Twitter or SMS. I found this format disappointing as questions must be vetted by the moderator beforehand, potentially shielding one side from difficult questions. I would have rather seen a microphone being handed around where the speakers could be asked direct questions from the floor regarding the statements they had made. Unfortunately, the moderator seemed to largely ignore what had been said in order to pursue his own line of inquiry.
Nevertheless, as the night went on the responses from Craig became less satisfying. There was an almost tangible shift in the mood of the audience. Atheists seemed to become increasingly agitated and vocal, Christians expressed disappointment at Craig’s portrayal of the Christian God (murdered babies go to Heaven), and the agnostics were irritated by the increasing noise levels.
I’m not sure what was accomplished by the exchange, although I am sure no one changed their views as a result. I do hope the Christians who attended reflect on the syllogisms Craig provided and ask themselves if the wholesale slaughter of an entire people is really the pinnacle of morality.