William Lane Craig’s after-action report on the debate with Francisco Ayala

Here is his after-action report. I think it may be behind the registration firewall, so I’ll quote some of it for you.

Excerpt:

I had heard Ayala lecture on Intelligent Design last year in China and was dismayed by the caricatures and misrepresentations he gave to the Chinese students. So even though I had never debated intelligent design in biology before, I decided to take on this debate to try at least to set the record straight.

The last few months I prepared diligently for this debate, reading Ayala’s work, familiarizing myself with relevant new developments in biology, studying the recent works of ID proponents, conferring with colleagues who work in this field, and formulating the best strategy for the debate.

[…]Since the question we were debating was not whether intelligent design is true but merely whether it is viable, it was up to Ayala to disqualify ID as a live option. In his published work, he tries to disqualify ID both scientifically and theologically, so my opening response fell neatly into two parts. First, I argued that Ayala fails to disqualify ID scientifically because he cannot show that the Darwinian mechanisms are capable of producing the sort of biological complexity we see on earth. Then I argued that the theological arguments he presents against the designer’s being all-powerful and all-good are simply irrelevant to drawing a design inference (however interesting and important they may be for theology) because the design argument doesn’t aspire to show that the designer is all-powerful or all-good.

The debate turned out to be virtually one-sided! Ayala utterly failed to engage with my arguments. It was almost as if I wasn’t even there. It was pretty obvious to everyone that he was just presenting canned arguments which had already been refuted in my opening statement. I responded to all his points and even went beyond them to tackle the theological problem of natural evil as well. I was also able to call him to account for his misrepresentation of Michael Behe’s work. Ayala likes to indict Behe for saying that the human eye is irreducibly complex, even though it isn’t. Holding up Behe’s book and reading aloud the relevant passage, I responded that this allegation was surprising in light of the fact that Behe says on pages 37-38 that the eye is NOT irreducibly complex and therefore he does not use it as one of his examples of irreducible complexity!

Another interesting feature of this debate was the moderator, a young philosopher from the University of Colorado, Boulder, named Bradley Monton. Though a self-confessed atheist, Monton is convinced that the typical refutations of ID that pass muster today are in fact fallacious, and so he has written a book defending not only the scientific status of ID but even its being taught as an option in public schools! Having read his remarkable book in preparation for the debate, I was able to quote “our esteemed moderator” to good effect during the debate itself to counter Ayala’s assertion that ID was not science.

I note that Reasonable Faith has secured a $65000 matching grant for all donations between now and December 31st. Please contribute generously. There is no one on the planet who does more to defend Biblical Christianity than William Lane Craig. No Christian is more feared by atheists. Atheists laugh at Bible-thumping, hand-wringing fundamentalists who preach only to the choir – but they fear William Lane Craig.

You can listen to the MP3 recording of the debate here at Apologetics 315.

Video of Craig’s opening speech is here.

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4 thoughts on “William Lane Craig’s after-action report on the debate with Francisco Ayala”

    1. NO, it’s the opposite of theistic evolution!

      It claims that the effects of intelligent causation, including in nature and living systems, is mathematically detectable on the basis of probability calculations and conformance to an independently specified pattern, e.g. – biological function. It is compatible with young-earth and old-earth creationism, but it is not compatible with naturalistic evolution, because the latter requires all causation to be non-intelligent.

      Here:
      What is intelligent design?

      Like

  1. Hi WK,
    I’ll be attending the apologetics conference in Charlotte, NC tomorrow and Saturday. The conference ends with a debate between Dinesh D’Souza and Christopher Hitchens. Last time I attended a debate down there, you asked that I let you know, so here is your heads up!

    Thanks for all you do with your blog,
    Bill Pratt (Tough Questions Answered Blog)

    Like

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