On March 30th, 2011 Dr. William Lane Craig and Dr. Lawrence Krauss debated whether there was any evidence of God’s existence. They articulated their arguments quite well and are obviously both highly intelligent and comptent in their respective fields; Dr. Craig is a philosopher and Dr. Krauss is a physicist. While the debate was engaging and eye-opening for me, to a certain extent both men stayed mostly in their areas of expertise, and sometimes seemed to be speaking past eachother rather than actually dealing with what the other had said. Also, when they did venture into unfamiliar territory, they did not fare well. Dr. Craig was schooled in physics by Dr. Krauss, and Dr. Krauss was also quickly corrected when he tried to be philosophical. Despite all of this, it was a good debate. I encourage you all to listen to audio or watch the video of the debate on youtube. I will try and summarize the arguments here and conclude with my own comments.
Dr. Craig’s arguments were consistent throughout the debate. His argument was based on probability. According to Dr. Craig, a if a hypothesis was more likely to be true given certain facts than without them, these facts were evidence in favor of the hypothesis. He went on to support his argument with five facts that made the existence of God more likely:
1) The existence of contingent beings. Contingent beings are things that do not have to exist, such as stars, galaxies, and human beings. There are also necessary beings that do have to exist such as numbers or God. Dr. Craig argued that the contingent beings must have been caused by a necessary being. Since numbers do not cause anything, contingent beings were probably created by God.
2) The origin of the universe. Dr. Craig argued that both science and philosophy agree that the universe had a definite beginning. The existence of an actually infinite number of things might look good on paper, but cause contradictions in the real world. Dr. Craig’s example was, “What is infinity minus infinity?” Dr. Craig also pointed out that according to Borde, Guth, and Vilenkin’s findings in 2003, any expanding universe cannot be infinite. Even if the theory that there are multiple universes (M Theory) turns out to be true, each universe must have a beginning, and there cannot be an infinite number of universes. The most probable explanation for the beginning of the universe is that God created it, rather than it spontaneously appearing out of nothing.
3) The fine tuning of the universe for the existence of intelligent life. This fine tuning is so improbable according to the laws of nature, that it is more probable that a powerful and intelligent being which exists outside nature, such as God, created it.
4) The existence of objective moral values. These values are valid and binding whether anyone believes in them or not. Dr. Craig argued that the most prevalent atheistic explanation, that morality is the natural result of evolutionary pressure to survive, does not explain existence of objective moral values. It is more probable that objective morality comes from God, whose nature is the very essence of morality, rather than being invented by our primitive ancestors as a way to survive.
5) The historical facts concerning Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus claimed the authority to speak in God’s place. Dr. Craig argued that Jesus confirmed His authority through miraculous signs, excorsisms, and most importantly His resurrection from the dead. In paricular, Dr. Craig cited three facts about the Resurrection that are agreed upon by the majority of New Testament historians:
1. The tomb was found empty.
2. Individuals and groups of people, including disciples, believers, skeptics, and enemies, saw the risen Jesus after He was crucified.
3. The original disciples came to believe that Jesus rose from the dead, despite being srongly predisposed to doubt.
William Lane Craig concluded his argument by stating that these facts make God’s existence more probable than not. Therefore, there is evidence for God’s existence.
Dr. Krauss’s arguments are a little more difficult to summarize, mainly because they were simply rebuttals to what Dr. Craig had previously stated. Also, he was not as consistent as Dr. Craig. Sometimes he asserted that the universe had a definite beginning, but other times he claimed that the universe was possibly eternal.
Dr. Krauss started by pointing out that this debate was about evidence, not philosophy or probability. The burden of proof for Dr. Craig was to demonstrate that there was evidence of God’s existence, and the burden on Dr. Krauss was to assess Dr. Craig’s claims to determine whether or not they qualified as evidence. Dr Krauss declared, “Dr. Craig is fixated on probabilities. I am fixated on evidence. They’re not the same.” He elaborated that probability showed that something might be true, but also it might not be true. Evidence is something that is falsifiable; something that can be put to the test. Probabilities only make sense as a mathematical construction, but evidence can be observed in reality.
Dr. Krauss further attacked Dr. Craig’s claims on the grounds that they were philosophical, rather than scientific. He stated that while philosophy provided us with a logical framework to make sense of the world, only reality provided us with evidence. Dr. Krauss explained that what we observe in reality does not always make sense, but whether we like it or not, what we observe is true. We were not present to observe the origin of the universe, so we do not understand what really happened.
He accused Dr. Craig of arguing for a God of the gaps. He said that all of the evidence provided by Dr. Craig did not make sense unless God was presupposed beforehand. Anything that Dr. Craig could not explain in his philosphy was ascribed to God. Dr Krauss joked that Dr. Craig’s claims amounted to saying, “Poof! Out of empty space you all arose. It must be God!”
Dr. Krauss made some interesting comments about physics. He explained that according to scientific observation, things appear out of nothing all the time. In fact, something always arises out of nothing because nothing is highly unstable. However, he later admitted that this definition of nothing was not really nothing in the sense that Dr. Craig meant by nothing. The nothing referred to by Dr. Krauss is actually mass density fluctuations of quantum mechanics.
He also discussed the possibility that M Theory is true, although he spoke of it as though it were a settled fact (it is definitely not!). He stated that proposed scientific theories suggest that there may be an infinite number of universes (a multiverse) that has existed from eternity. Each individual universe has its own seperate laws of physics, therefore physical laws are not prescriptive, but only descriptive of what we can observe. He argued that design was only an illusion in our universe, created by natural selection without any need of supernatural aid.
Then Dr. Krauss shot himself in the foot. He claimed, “Physics tells us that which is not prohibited is required. That which is not impossible must happen somewhere. Many strange and wonderful things happen, and this must be because anything that does not violate the laws of nature must exist.” Wow! Without God, anything is possible.
If Dr. Craig is arguing for a God of the gaps, this is no worse than Dr. Krauss arguing for science of the gaps. At the very least, Dr. Craig has plausible grounds for his claims based on established scientific and philosophical facts. Dr. Krauss’s argument devolves into exotic theories about what may or not be. He began with a very strong argument that probability is not the same as evidence, and if he would have stuck with that, he would have won.
Instead, he insisted that we are not entirely certain how the universe began, but it could not have been the Christian God (although, he would accept the existence of a deist god). He argued that philosophy and probability are not sufficient evidence because some things we have scientifically observed are not always logical. Anything can happen, and must happen somewhere. The problem is that he cannot provide any evidence for this–according to his own definition of evidence–because no one has observed multiple universes with different physical laws. His argument is self-defeating.
“Physics tells us that which is not prohibited is required. That which is not impossible must happen somewhere,” is a philosophical, not a scientific statement. As Albert Einstein once said, “Scientists are poor philosophers.” Dr. Krauss’s argument was strong as long as he stayed in his own area of expertise, science. Once he ventured into Dr. Craig’s area of expertise, philosophy, Dr. Craig pointed out his self-defeating Scientism and had the advantage from then on.
If you’ve listened to the debate, tell me what you think! William Lane Craig vs. Lawrence Krauss Debate Audio: http://bit.ly/ekuVIT