Video of the Geivett/Craig vs. Dawkins/Shermer debate from Mexico

Here is the full debate in English if you missed it.

Doug Geivett wrote a blog post about the recent 3-on-3 debate in Mexico on “Does the universe have a purpose?”.

Usually, a debate question features one side taking the affirmative and the other side taking the negative. Here, the question for debate was “Does the universe have a purpose?”It was obvious from the correspondence I received from the debate organizers that I was to team with two individuals who agreed in taking the affirmative, and that the other three would take the negative—that is, they would deny that the universe has a purpose.


The three of us on the affirmative side—William Lane Craig, David Wolpe, and Doug Geivett—all believe that whether the universe has a purpose depends on whether or not God exists. So we could argue that the universe does have a purpose if God exists, even if time did not allow for detailed arguments that God in fact exists. It would be up to the others—Matt Ridley, Michael Shermer, and Richard Dawkins—to argue that the universe does not have a purpose. Presumably, they would have to include arguments that God does not exist, since that would be crucial to their claim that the universe does not have a purpose. Or, they might argue that even if God exists, the universe does not have a purpose.


Each of the six of us was allotted exactly six minutes for initial arguments. We were timed and stopped at six minutes. Strict enforcement of time limits is characteristic of debates, but not always understood by observers. I’ve noticed that some who’ve commented on the debate at various blogs have remarked that the moderator should not have interrupted debaters when they were about to make an important point. (The debate was part of a larger conference program.)

And here is a quote to make you click through and read all of Doug’s post:

Richard Dawkins is hero to many atheists today. So his participation and relation to the other two atheists deserves special notice. You’ll find that Dawkins made numerous assertions and almost no arguments. If you disagree, you should be able to reconstruct his arguments by identifying individual premises and specific conclusions. So far, those who have praised Dawkins’s performance in the debate, all of whom have been atheists themselves, have not attempted this reconstruction. I urge them to try. I will gladly address carefully reconstructed arguments in the comments section of this post. Dawkins called religious belief “pathetic” and accused Bill Craig of making an emotional argument. As I stated in my brief closing statement, it was Dawkins, more than anyone else, who made an “emotional argument.” First, he gave no arguments against the existence of God. Second, he offered no rebuttals of the arguments we presented, and third, he dismissed religious belief as pathetic without argument. If I’m wrong about any of this, I would be happy to see evidence of my error and respond to whatever arguments he did present.

I actually am not really paying much attention to this debate since I watched a little and it looked like a music video with a crazy moderator. The speakers made opening speeches of ONLY SIX MINUTES! I can’t watch a debate with speeches that short. You can’t say anything good in six minutes! But I have to post the video in case you guys are interested in it. I think what is worth your time is Doug Geivett’s summary of the debate. Doug is one of my three favorite philosophers, the others being Paul Copan and William Lane Craig.

8 thoughts on “Video of the Geivett/Craig vs. Dawkins/Shermer debate from Mexico”

  1. Mr. Dawkins didn’t make any arguments? I’m shocked. :)

    Seriously, I was wondering how well this “debate” would go. I haven’t watched the whole video yet, the introduction put me off due to its having a look of an awards show instead of a serious debate. Only six minutes to present your case for whether the universe has a purpose or not? That’s it? How could anyone make a case in six minutes?


    1. I’ve got a summary of the Dembski-Hitchens debate scheduled for 4 PM. That one was a bit better, but still not great. But I also have an amazing EPS post. One of the speakers gave me EXCLUSIVE stuff from his presentation to blog on.


  2. I guess this won’t satisfy the “Dawkins should debate Craig!” crowd. As much as I love Craig’s work I have to say that Matt Ridley’s The Rational Optimist is one of my favorite books.


  3. I just finished listening to the discussion. I skipped the stuff that didn’t come from the 6 main guys. It was a huge waste of time with tons of fancy visual graphics. The format was strange and it seemed like speakers struggled with it. Nothing new or interesting was said. Everyone sounded like they showed up with an intellectual ax to grind rather than a good argument.


    1. Yeah, I felt bad about posting it. I am sorry you wasted some time watching it. That’s why I listed the format and cautioned people about it. But I think Geivett’s comment about Dawkins was good.


      1. Hey, don’t beat yourself up. I think lots of people would be interested in it just because Craig and Dawkins are in the same room.


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