Does God Exist?: William Lane Craig Debates Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris & Richard Dawkins

Debates are mod­ern glad­i­a­tor contests—predicated on the blunt force of the oppo­nents’ foren­sic sta­mi­na, charis­ma, and per­son­al con­vic­tion. Speak­ers lack­ing in per­son­al­i­ty make for tedious debaters, and sub­stance seems to mat­ter lit­tle when par­ti­sans gath­er to cheer on their cham­pi­on. Rarely do rhetor­i­cal spec­ta­cles sway the faith­ful. At least in our time, they tend to seem more like com­pet­ing pep ral­lies. We’ve learned, for exam­ple, that such high pro­file events as U.S. pres­i­den­tial debates have lit­tle effect on the out­come of elec­tions. But ver­bal con­tests over who will make the best Leader of the Free World can seem mod­est next to debates between the­olo­gians and philoso­phers over the exis­tence of God. After all, we’ve heard more or less the same argu­ments for cen­turies now, and no one’s any clos­er to a “proof.” And though I’m not aware of any­one who argues thus, there is no way to dis­prove God’s exis­tence either.

Nonethe­less, with the rise of reli­gious fer­vor world­wide, and rejec­tion of the same by vocif­er­ous sec­u­lars, we’ve seen so-called “New Athe­ists” mount chal­lenge after chal­lenge to the author­i­ty and valid­i­ty of reli­gious institutions—primarily those rep­re­sent­ing the big three monotheisms. The philo­soph­i­cal­ly inclined reli­gious have their heavy­weights as well. Bio­la Uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sor of phi­los­o­phy and evan­gel­i­cal Chris­t­ian William Lane Craig has tak­en on the man­tle of defend­er not only of his par­tic­u­lar brand of faith but of the exis­tence of God gen­er­al­ly. Craig is a skilled orator—his fans like to point out that he “wins” all of his debates, though what exact­ly that means is unclear. His crit­ics call him every­thing from “dis­hon­est” and “sleazy” to an apol­o­gist for geno­cide and reli­gious­ly moti­vat­ed pseu­do­science. What­ev­er you think of Craig, he cer­tain­ly does draw a crowd. But so do his most famous antag­o­nists. Today, we bring you two such exis­tence of God debates: at the top, see Craig debate the unflap­pable Christo­pher Hitchens on his home turf of Bio­la. And direct­ly above, he takes on Sam Har­ris at Notre Dame.

You may be won­der­ing, if you’ve fol­lowed these squab­bles at all, whether the infa­mous evo­lu­tion­ary biol­o­gist Richard Dawkins has stepped into the ring with Craig. He has. Dawkins appeared with skep­ti­cal authors Michael Sher­mer and Matt Rid­ley in an intel­lec­tu­al wrestle­ma­nia of sorts at a Mex­i­can con­fer­ence called “Ciu­dad de las Ideas” (City of Ideas). On the oth­er side of the stage sat Craig, his col­league Doug Geivett, and rab­bi David Wolpe. You can see the event above—each speak­er gets up and steps into a lit­er­al ring, com­plete with bright red ropes, and the result is less a debate than bewil­der­ing series of meta­phys­i­cal sales pitch­es. Dawkins him­self did not con­sid­er it a debate. Though he’s made plen­ty of ene­mies among athe­ists and believ­ers alike, accused of intol­er­ance, slop­py rea­son­ing, sex­ism, and worse, Dawkins has won adher­ents for declar­ing a prin­ci­pled stand against appear­ing with Craig in a true debate for­mat, cit­ing Craig’s “dark side” as a “deplorable apol­o­gist for geno­cide.” As with all these attacks and ripostes, not to men­tion the uni­verse-sized ques­tions, you’ll sim­ply have to make up your own mind.

via Metafil­ter

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Christo­pher Hitchens: No Deathbed Con­ver­sion for Me, Thanks, But it was Good of You to Ask

The Unbe­liev­ers, A New Film Star­ring Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Wern­er Her­zog, Woody Allen, & Cor­mac McCarthy

Reli­gion: Free Cours­es Online

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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Comments (9)
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  • ion says:

    “Debates are mod­ern glad­i­a­tor con­tests”

    no. debates are not about killing, but about find­ing the truth.

  • Steven B Kurtz says:

    This is ama­teur hour com­men­tary. An open, bound­less real­i­ty is the Occam’s Razor best posi­tion. A begin­ning for our uni­verse, or for mul­ti­vers­es, or an exam­ple of some­thing from noth­ing have all elud­ed hard evi­dence. Proof for the non-exis­tence of a pro­posed ‘thing’ in this infi­nite­ly com­plex real­i­ty is both log­i­cal­ly and phys­i­cal­ly impos­si­ble. It is entire­ly up to the pro­pos­er to pro­vide evi­dence for claims of super­nat­u­rals.

  • Llewellyn Kriel says:

    In view of ever-accel­er­at­ing sci­en­tif­ic dis­cov­ery and philosophical/theological dis­course, it would be invalu­able to know pre­cise­ly WHEN these debates hap­pened. That way we can con­tex­tu­alise the argu­ments. Please add such infor­ma­tion.

  • Gina says:

    I’ll believe it when I see it. Fair enough?

  • AJ says:

    I don’t under­stand some­thing:
    When look­ing through a sci­en­tif­ic lens, it SHOULD be impos­si­ble to prove or dis­prove a God, since it requires empir­i­cal evi­dence. If a God made the uni­verse, he would have to be out­side of time & mat­ter itself, he would need to be a being out­side of all that we as humans could sci­en­tif­i­cal­ly prove/disprove. The exis­tence of God has to be philo­soph­i­cal.

    And on a side note, isn’t most sci­en­tif­ic evi­dence that we as the pub­lic have sim­ply tes­ti­mo­ni­al, not empir­i­cal. We read arti­cles & books, & all of this sci­en­tif­ic data but unless we’ve done them our­selves we have to trust in those who did the exper­i­ment. That which we can­not observe our­selves we can only know by tes­ti­mo­ny (i.e. His­to­ry).

  • Sean says:

    There does seem to be proof of the exis­tence of God, if that helps.

    The proof is there, but no one wants it.

    If you asked the Bible, who is “The Father” and in code form the answer was “God”, would that seem to be just a coin­ci­dence?

    If you asked the Bible, who is “The Lord” and in code form the answer was “Christ”, would that seem to be just a coin­ci­dence?

    If you asked the Bible, who is “The Father”, “The Son”, and “The Holy Spir­it”, and in code form the answer was “Christ” and “God”, would that seem to be just a coin­ci­dence?

    Go to and click on the flash­ing words “Watch / Lis­ten”. This takes you on a web page tour of such proof of God’s exis­tence, and does so via auto­mat­ic web page scrolling along with com­plete audio cov­er­age.

  • John Berbatis says:

    Theos – The Supreme Good
    Time must exist before mat­ter can be cre­at­ed and only an ani­mate enti­ty can con­ceive of space-time; time must be a sta­bi­lized and uni­form con­di­tion before mat­ter can form, thus monothe­ism is a Truth.

    The uni­verse con­sists of space-time, which is func­tion­al­ly active, sta­ble and grow­ing; and these char­ac­ter­is­tics com­bined are indica­tive of a liv­ing enti­ty, thus Pan­the­ism is a real­i­ty. As a con­se­quence, all mor­tals’ behav­iour and atti­tudes become con­spic­u­ous by our Cre­ator.
    If all elec­tri­cal par­ti­cles were in dif­fer­ent time zones, mat­ter would not form, thus, time is con­trolled elec­tro­mag­net­ic radi­a­tion (ener­gy) E = mc2 To be per­fect, one must know the past, present and future; there is only one, the one that cre­at­ed time.

    John Berbatis,
    Perth, Aus­tralia

  • Dave says:

    What a biased arti­cle. That’s not an accu­rate por­tray­al of Richard Dawkins. You are sim­ply slan­der­ing, with lit­tle fac­tu­al evi­dence, as so many oth­ers do after read­ing a few arti­cles in The Dai­ly Mail or oth­er rags.

  • Jim van Ommen says:

    How do we prove that God does exist, I exist, any­thing exists are pop­u­lar ques­tions that I believe some peo­ple ask not nec­es­sar­i­ly in all sin­cer­i­ty, but more so to appear some­what philo­soph­i­cal, or in search for the deep­er mean­ings in life. In response to that ques­tion I would ask an equal­ly valid ques­tion: how do we prove that any­one or any­thing does not exist. Think about it.
    The answer in my book is, we can­not prove it because what does not exist is not per­cep­ti­ble to the human mind and there­fore beyond proof in the con­text of the mean­ing of the word proof. The only per­son ever to have any real deal­ings with that which does not exist is our Cre­ator God who made this uni­verse and us out of noth­ing.
    If we then are unable to prove that any­one or any­thing does not exist on what basis can we assume that we can prove who or what does exist? What makes us think that we have the under­stand­ing and the capac­i­ty to reverse what God has cre­at­ed in the first place in an attempt to explain away our­selves, God and His cre­ation?
    Def­i­n­i­tion of PROOF accord­ing to the Web­ster dic­tio­nary is: The cogency of evi­dence that com­pels accep­tance by the mind of a truth or a fact…. and the word COGENCY means: Appeal­ing to the intel­lect or pow­ers of rea­son­ing; con­vinc­ing.
    I ask you; what is the sig­nif­i­cance of that which is “ appeal­ing to the intel­lect of the human mind “ as com­pared with the wis­dom of the One who cre­at­ed us out of noth­ing? What does the Bible say about the wis­dom of the wise?
    What we need to real­ize is that the word proof is earth­bound it has no appli­ca­tion or valid­i­ty in the spir­i­tu­al realm of eter­ni­ty. We lit­er­al­ly need to trade that word in for the word faith if we want to earn our wings and have any enlight­en­ment what­so­ev­er. You could call it a kind of grad­u­a­tion to high­er edu­ca­tion, a meta­mor­pho­sis where the but­ter­fly emerges from its cocoon to spread it’s wings as it flies into a new real­i­ty, to the live giv­ing light, the Light of the World. Faith in our Cre­ator God who has revealed him­self in Jesus Christ His Son, who con­tin­ues to show the way to those who hum­ble them­selves and pray and fol­low Him.

    Proverbs 3: 5–6

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