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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