Vote on who had the best opening speech in the Craig-Ahmed debate

This post is part of a series of posts on the subject of a debate that occurred at Cambridge University between Dr. William Lane Craig and Dr. Arif Ahmed. The topic is “Does God Exist?”.

The full MP3 is here. (H/T Brian Auten of Apologetics 315)

Please listen to the first two speeches (at least) before voting.

UPDATE:

I closed the poll after 1 week.

Wiliam Lane Craig, by a landslide
68%
Wiliam Lane Craig, but it’s close
21%
Too close to call
11%
Arif Ahmed, but it’s close
0%
Arif Ahmed, by a landslide
0%

Please leave your comments about who you think about who is winning and why. Please keep comments SHORT – less than 300 words, please.

I am especially interested in hearing from young earth creationists and their response to Craig and Ahmed’s views on the big bang theory, and what it implies. (I am not a young earth creationist – I think the big bang is based on reliable science, including the red-shifting of light from distant galaxies, the light element abundance predictions and the cosmic background radiation predictions)

Note: I wrote an e-mail to Dr. Ahmed to follow up with him, and got a very gracious reply. He thought that the fine-tuning issue was the most interesting, and he did not change his mind about the intellectual viability of Craig’s worldview as a result of the debate. Anyway, try to be nice. Nicer than me, I mean!

I will not be available to approve comments on Thursday night from 6 PM to about 2 AM on Friday morning.

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8 thoughts on “Vote on who had the best opening speech in the Craig-Ahmed debate”

  1. Listened to it all, and imho, Craig mopped the floor with him.

    I thought Ahmed’s point about how religion warps morality was truly telling about the mindset of unbelievers. First of all, it was completely self-refuting because it acknowledged the existence of morality, but that’s kinda beside the point. The point is that unbelievers generally view God as a hostile enemy. Consider the active homosexual who first hears about God. Ahmed’s objection instantly comes to that person’s mind. He thinks, “If God were real, my actions would be wrong…and that would create a TWISTED moral universe.” He never gives any thought to the idea that God’s rules may be right and his wrong.

    For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. (John 3:17-20)

    Ahmed’s arguments were primarily emotion.

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  2. There’s a further problem with the “religion warps morality” proposition so often put forth, and I think Dinesh D’Souza does a fantastic job covering this in What’s So Great About Christianity? (though he makes a hash of ID).

    If religion warps the mind and causes all kinds of evil, then irreligion should present itself as superior. You can’t say that religion is a corrupting influence without establishing that.

    And this is where the atheist has problems. They will point towards 2000 years of church history and pick out a few admittedly dark blotches. Then he will turn around and compare that to himself. BZZZT. All we need to do is look at the atheist communist regimes of the 20th century in comparison to see how flat this falls.

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  3. I’m going to hold off comments on the response parts in hopes that WK will summarise. :)

    For Dr. Ahmed’s opening remarks, I think he made a horrendous mistake. He responded. Rather than presenting his case, he launched into attacks against his opponent and what his opponent said. In and of itself, this is little more than bad form, but the problem for Dr. Ahmed is that he makes arguments that ammount to little more than appealing to the audience to like him more than Dr. Craig. If you come across snarky, snotty, and presumptuous, then you won’t be making friends and influencing people.

    I also reached the end of his opening remarks entirely unsure if he was defending atheism or arguing for agnosticism. This is an entirely differnt threshhold (and Dr. Craig points this out later).

    On the whole, I found it unoriginal and weak, certainly short of the devastation he tried to claim for himself.

    I’m glad to hear that he found the fine tuning argument intrigueing.

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  4. Dr. Ahmed made three astonishing admissions before he even got around to his opening remarks. 1. The existence of God is a tremendously important issue. Why? If there is no God, belief in anything, including God, is a matter of complete indifference. Nothing, ultimately, matters. 2. “We need to change our lives.” What an astonishing admission! Why should it inexorably follow that, if God exists, there’s something wrong with us or our behaviour? These first two comments point to a deep-seated but suppressed knowledge of God. The third comment: “we must rely on rational argument”. Why? What basis is there for believing in rationality, in an arational, undesigned, purposeless universe. Dr. Ahmed adopts a rationalistic presupposition that is only rationally defensible in a theistic reality — the argument from transcendence comes into play here. When arguing, atheist inevitably do so on grounds that are firm on theistic presuppositions, but quicksand under atheistic.

    And all this before he started his opening comments!

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    1. Richard

      I find your views intriguing because I didn’t interpret Dr Ahmed’s remarks in the way you did. I don’t think they say anything about a repressed and deep-seated knowledge of God.

      By emphasizing how importantly he took the issue of God’s existence Dr Ahmed was saying that for him the debate was not a parlour game.

      If God exists and has created everything for His purpose, then of course people who have lived their lives without taking God into consideration must change. I think that’s a fair point.

      Dr Ahmed also insinuated that Dr Craig, partly because he devotes so much of his time to debating, knows all the tricks of the debating trade but is less concerned about getting at the truth than winning those debates.

      Dr Ahmed made the point that having a debate presupposes the value of logical argument, use of evidence etc. He then quoted Dr Craig to show that Craig does not share this view.

      I thought this was very telling and seriously undermined Dr Craig’s position. What is Dr Craig doing at Cambridge if he feels logic and reason have no bearing on the issue of establishing God’s existence?
      Your point about rationality only being possible in a universe created by a Supreme Being has always struck me as specious.

      This intellectual terrain resonates with me as I, like many people, am conducting my own internal debate to reach the truth. Currently I am (sadly) unconvinced by all my evangelical friends. However, I take heart because I love them for their decency and they love me for mine!

      There is still hope in the World! All the best Richard.

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      1. Dave,

        Ahmed’s comment is very disingenuous – there’s a couple of points really:

        a) The insinuation that Craig is nothing more than a mere huckster, selling his ideas through elaborate displays, simply can’t be maintained in the face of Craig’s published work. His cosmological argument is the most discussed argument in modern philosophy of religion; it simply won’t do to dismiss the man as a vacuous popinjay merely because he’s good at debating: there is substance in his arguments, presented in book form, that transcend his debating appearances.

        b) Ahmed’s second point that Craig dismisses logic in the face on unwavering belief is also disingenuous. Alvin Plantinga has done sterling work in the field of Christian epistemology, and specifically what he calls Reformed Epistemology; Craig subscribes to this type of epistemology. Craig, like all philosophers, makes use of logic to construct viable arguments for the existence of God: to be valid they have to logically follow, however, theistic beliefs have a positive epistemic value that goes beyond logical proofs – that’s what Craig means when he says he believes despite logical proofs: God has a personal relationship to him, just like when believers say they ‘felt the love of God’ – why should they disavow that positive experience because of an atheistic logical proof? That’s Craig’s point, and it’s a valid one. Ahmed either didn’t cotton on to the nuances of that point, or he was being disingenuous.

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  5. I think Craig gave 3 strong arguments for theism. Ahmed used too much ridicule for my taste. I’ve heard Ahmed argue better. Its a shame since Craig is one of the better philosphers he’ll debate. Craig got this one.

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