Here is the video from the third debate from Dr. William Lane Craig’s speaking tour in Australia.
- William Lane Craig (15 min)
- Lawrence Krauss (15 min, but was actually 21:40)
- Moderated discussion
- Question and answer
Dr. Graham Oppy, the moderator, is a well-known atheist philosopher. He let Dr. Krauss speak for 21 minutes and 40 seconds, which is why my summary of Krauss is so long.
After careful consideration, I decided not to be snarky at all in this summary. What you read below is what happened. There may be some small mistakes, but I will fix those if people tell me about them. I also included some quotes and timestamps for the more striking things that Dr. Krauss said.
The debate itself starts at 4:50 with Dr. Craig’s opening speech. He does use slides to show the structure of his arguments.
Dr. Craig’s opening speech. (4:50)
- The kalam cosmological argument:
- God is the best explanation of the origin of the universe
- The Borde Guth Vilenkin theorem supports the absolute beginning of the universe
- Even if our universe is part of a multiverse, the multiverse itself would have to have an absolute beginning
- Speculative cosmologies try to challenge the Big Bang theory, but none of them – even if true – can establish that the past is eternal
- Only two types of things could explain the origin of spece, time, matter and energy – either abstract objects or minds
- Abstract objects do not cause effects, but minds do cause effects (we do it ourselves)
- A mind is the best explanation for the origin of the universe
- The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics:
- The underlying structure of nature is mathematical – mathematics is applicable to nature
- Mathematical objects can either be abstract objects or useful fiction
- Either way, there is no reason to expect that nature should be linked to abstract objects or fictions
- But a divine mind that wants humans to understand nature is a better explanation for what we see
- The cosmic fine-tuning for the existence of intelligent life
- There are two kinds of finely-tuned initial conditions: 1) cosmological constants and 2) quantities
- These constants and quantities have to be set within a narrow range in order to permit intelligent life
- There are three explanations for this observation: law, chance or design
- Law is rejected because they are put in at the beginning or matter – they don’t emerge from matter
- Chance must be rejected, because they odds are just too long unless you appeal to a world-ensemble
- We do not observe what the world ensemble hypothesis predicts that we should observe
- Design is the best explanation for finely-tuned constants and quantities
- The existence of objective moral values and duties
- Our experience of morality (values and duties) is that it is objectively real and incumbent on us
- When someone goes into a classroom and shoots at innocent children, that is objectively wrong
- On naturalism, moral values and moral duties do not exist – they are conventional and variable by time and place
- The best explanation for the existence of objective moral values and duties is that God exists
- The historicity of the resurrection of Jesus
- There are three widely-accepted facts that are best explained by the resurrection hypothesis
- 1) the empty tomb, 2) the post-mortem appearances, 3) the early church’s belief in the resurrection
- Naturalistic attempts to explain these 3 boilerplate facts fail
- The best explanation of the 3 minimal facts is that God raised Jesus from the dead
- The immediate experience of God
- Belief in God is a “properly basic” belief – rational even without arguments because of experience of God
Dr. Krauss’ opening speech. (21:12)
Slides: (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14)
- Religious pluralism I
- There have been lots of different gods created by people through history
- We’ve gotten rid of all of them by understanding how the universe works by doing science
- Religion is just stories, and the stories are inconsistent with how the universe works
- Progress of naturalistic science I
- Newtonian physics refutes the idea that angels push planets around
- Darwinian evolution refutes design arguments, including the one that Dr. Craig presented (24:10)
- Biochemistry hasn’t explained how life originated, but we will have the solution soon
- Physics shows us that matter can be created and destroyed without need a God
- Physics shows us that universes can be created and destroyed “no problem”
- Religious pluralism II
- Since we have been able to disprove all the gods we’ve invented, why hang on to the last one
- It’s unlikely that the God that Dr. Craig presented exists, because we disproved all the others he didn’t present
- Hiddenness of God
- There is a complete lack of evidence for the other 999 gods, so how likely is it that the God Dr. Craig presented exists
- Religious pluralism III
- There are inconsistencies between various religions, so therefore there can be no religion that is right
- Progress of naturalistic science II
- Peasants had a very low level of knowledge about the world and they believed in God
- But our level of knowledge has increased over time, so we shouldn’t believe in God now
- Peasants thought that the Earth orbited the Sun, but this is now known to be false
- The Scriptures said that the Earth orbited the Sun, but now we know that’s false from science
- Christianity plagiarizes from other religions I
- There is nothing new or special about Jesus
- He’s just as unpleasant as all the other gods
- Everything particular to Jesus occurs in other religions
- Catholics are inconsistent about what they believe
- I’ll bet most Catholics don’t really believe in transubstantiation
- I’ll bet most Catholics don’t really believe in the virgin birth
- The resurrection is copied from many other religions
- Dionysus, Osiris, etc.
- There is no evidence for the resurrection
- The stories about Jesus were written “decades or hundreds of years after the fact”
- The stories are inconsistent with each other
- Dr. Craig tells me that historical Jesus scholars all accept that the resurrection happened
- That’s like saying that all alien abductions experts agree that alien abductions happened
- It’s unreasonable to think that the resurrection happened because no one saw it happen
- I accept that people reported on appearances, but hallucination theory can explain that
- The timeline for the creation and incarnation are all wrong
- The creation, planet formation, hominids, incarnation, etc. all take place in the wrong times
- If God knew what he was doing, he would done everything at better times to be more efficient
- David Hume’s argument against miracles is sound
- Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence – nothing wrong with this argument
- Miracles are really just coincidences
- Catholic apparitions at Lourdes disprove the historical argument that Dr. Craig made for the resurrection
- God is petty and jealous
- God shouldn’t demand that we trust him, esteem him and consider his character when we make decisions
- The atoning death of Jesus for the sins of the world also makes no sense
- Belief is based on geography
- What you believe is clearly correlated with where you are born
- There is even an Islamic clone of Dr. Craig who “uses the exact same arguments” that he does to prove Islam
- Belief in God is decreasing in the Internet-accessible world
- Science can develop morals without God
- Reason is able to guide our actions to be moral
- Morality evolves over time, so there is no objective morality
- Catholicism teaches things that are immoral
- Some things are prohibited by biological revulsion, such as incest
- But if a brother and sister have sex using condoms “is that morally wrong? I can’t say it is frankly” (37:24)
- Dr. Craig is irrational
- “I came here convinced based on my past interactions and his writing that Dr. Craig was a dishonest Charlatan”
- “Any argument that validates God is reasonable to him”
- “And any argument against it is not only unreasonable but wrong and worth distorting”
- “Because it must be wrong – he’s decided the answer in advance”
- Dr. Craig is immoral
- Dr. Craig thinks it is OK for God to command that Canaanite children are killed
- “So in fact if they were Canaanite children in that schoolroom that he talked about then it would be OK”
- It’s not reasonable to justify genocide in that way, but Dr. Craig is willing to go to those lengths
- The cause of the origin of the space time universe need not be God
- Dr. Craig says that if there is an explanation for the origin or space, time, matter and energy it must be God
- But it could just as easily be turtles or Zeus
- Dr. Craig misrepresents the Borde Guth Vilenkin theorem
- Alexander Vilenkin wrote me an e-mail that says that the theorem doesn’t work in all cases
- “Dr. Craig is so convinced that these arguments must be true that he won’t listen to the fact that they’re not”
- Darwinian evolution explains the fine-tuning
- “Life was fine tuned – we got rid of it with Darwin”
- Mutation and natural selection explain the cosmic fine-tuning argument that Dr. Craig presented
- Suboptimal design disproves the fine-tuning argument
- “We get back aches” therefore “This argument that [the universe] is fine-tuned for life is nonsense”
- William Lane Craig can be proven to exhibit homosexual behavior using logical arguments
- Look, you can construct arguments that are clearly wrong
- Premise 1: “All mammals exhibit homosexual behavior”
- Premise 2: “William Lane Craig is a mammal”
- Seems to be saying that logical arguments can prove false things “it’s nonsense”
- Dr. Craig distorted a podcast that some group made on pain receptors
- Dr. Craig’s faith is so strong that it causes him to distort what this group said
I will not be summarizing everything that was said, just a few main points.
The segment from 52:18 to 57:12 about the Vilenkin e-mail on the BVG theorem is a must-see. Krauss is standing up and gesticulating while Craig is calmly trying to quote a paper by Vilenkin that shows that Krauss is misrepresenting Vilenkin. Krauss constantly interrupts him. After a while, when Craig exposes him as having misrepresented Vilenkin and gets him to admit that all current eternal models of the universe are probably wrong, he quietens down and can’t even look at Craig in the face.
- Craig: The e-mail says any universe that is expanding, on average, requires a beginning
- Craig: There are two models – Aguirre & Gratton and Carroll & Chen – where there is a period of contraction before the expansion
- Craig: The two models are the ones cited in the e-mail that Dr. Krauss showed
- Craig: In the very paper by Vilenkin that I cited, he says that both of those models don’t work
- Krauss: (agitated and interrupting) Vilenkin said that they have to make an assumption about entropy that they have no rationale for
- (as Craig starts to talk Krauss makes an exaggerated, disrespectful gesture and sits down in a huff)
- Craig: Yes, an unwarranted assumption means that they don’t have EVIDENCE for their theories being correct
- Krauss: (agitated and interrupting) “All the evidence suggests that the universe had a beginning but WE DON’T KNOW!!!!!!!” (raising his voice)
- Craig: I’m not saying that we know that the universe had a beginning with certainty
- Craig: I am saying that the beginning of the universe is more probably true than false based on the evidence we have
- Craig: And you agree with me about that – you think the universe had a beginning
- Krauss: (agitated and interrupting) (Unintelligible)
- Moderator: One at a time
- Craig: In your Vilenkin e-mail slide, at the end of the paragraph where the two models are mentioned that Vilenkin specifically shows…
- (I am guessing that Craig is going to ask why so much of what Vilenkin wrote has been cut out of the e-mail that Krauss showed)
- Krauss: (agitated and interrupting) Because it was technical…
- Moderator: Lawrence! Hang on a sec!
- Craig: He specifically shows that these models are not past eternal, and that they require a beginning just like the others…
- Krauss: (agitated and interrupting) We can do the math if you want
- Craig: Now wait. I couldn’t help notice that there on your slide there was a series of ellipsis points indicating missing text…
- Krauss: (agitated and interrupting) “Yeah, because it was technical!”
- Craig: “I wonder what you deleted from the original letter”
- Krauss: (agitated and interrupting) “I just told you!”
- Craig: “Now wait. Could it have been something like this: (reads a quote from Vilenkin) ‘You can evade the theorem by postulating that the universe was contracting prior to some time. This sounds as if there is nothing wrong with having contraction prior to expansion. But the problem is that a contracting universe is highly unstable. Small perturbations would cause it to develop all sorts of messy singularities, so it would never make it to the expanding phase.’
- Craig: “That’s Vilenkin.”
- Krauss: “In this paper, that’s absolutely right”
- Krauss: But it’s ok for theories to assume things that we know are wrong – they are still good theories – it’s unknown
- (Craig turns away and looks through his papers)
- Craig: “Isn’t it true that the only viable quantum gravity models on order today involve a beginning – have a finite past?”
- Krauss: “No”
- Craig: “Well, can you give us one then”
- Krauss: (talks about a variety of possible eternal models) “In my experience in science, all of them are probably wrong”
- Krauss: “You know most theories are wrong, which is why, you know, it’s hard”
- Craig: “Right”
I noticed that a huge number of atheist web sites are taking the Vilenkin quote that Krauss used out of context, like this one and this one. There are probably a lot more of them like that, which I think is interesting. That’s why we have these debates, I guess. To set the record straight about who accuses people of being dishonest, and who is actually dishonest.
- Krauss tried to argue that he had explained the fine-tuning with the Higgs particle, but Dr. Craig said that only applied to the cosmological constant, not all the other examples of fine-tuning. Krauss said that it wasn’t impressive that this universe permitted life and that “It would have been much more surprising if we evolved in a universe in which we couldn’t live”. Krauss argued the fine-tuning was only for “Life like us”. But Dr. Craig explained that the fine-tuning is what allows us to have the basics of any kind of life, like slow-burning stars, chemical diversity, etc. – things that are required for basic minimal life functions in any living system. Craig said that he was working with the current physical laws of this universe (F = ma, etc.) and that he was looking at what changed if we changed those even slightly. Krauss tried to say that if he changed things like the mass of particles then the strength of forces would change. (But the forces aren’t laws!) Krauss argued that the cosmological constant would be even better for life if it was zero, and Craig said that the life permitting range did include zero, but that the range of life-permitting values was narrow.
- Craig reponded to the mystery religions charge, the charge that the evidence for the minimal facts is too late/too weak, the charge that grief visions explained the evidence better, and Hume’s argument against miracles. Craig brought up the early creed from 1 Cor 15:3-7 and explained to Krauss that it was 5 years after the events, and that Jewish standards of oral transmission were strong enough to ensure that the creed was reliable, and most of the eyewitnesses would still have been alive.
Audience Q and A: (1:21:09)
The first topic is the grounding of morality. Krauss agrees that there is no objective morality and no objective moral oughts. He also said that that standards of behavior are arbitrary, and that they change over time and they are adopted for promoting social order. Dr. Craig pressed the point that science itself would collapse without ethical values. It assumes them, but cannot ground them.
The next topic was free will. Krauss is a determinist. Craig asked him how he could reconcile moral responsibility with determinism.
The next topic was the effectiveness of mathematics. Krauss didn’t have an explanation for it and didn’t think it needed one. Then they got into whether the Genesis has been verified by science and whether it is meant to be taken literally.
The next topic was whether philosophy makes any progress. Craig gave the example of verificationism being rejected as too narrow, and self-refuting. Krauss: “I’m going to come to the defense of philosophy for the first time”. Craig: “That’s amazing!” Krauss said that science provides new knowledge. Craig said there were some things that could be known apart from science.
19 thoughts on “William Lane Craig debates Lawrence Krauss in Melbourne, Australia: Does God Exist?”
Haven’t been able to watch any of the video’s so far so really appreciate your transcript. Many thanks.
You’re welcome. I know a lot of people don’t have the time or the bandwidth for a full debate.
Does anyone know why Krauss refused to allow the vids to be released to the public?
I think the main reason was that the moderator was uninformed and incompetent and she sidetracked the debate numerous times with red herrings:
And from here:
I think the woman who was moderating the debate was a spritual “new age” person who was out of her league in a discussion to decide whether religious claims are true or false, using reason and evidence.
In the third debate, Krauss actually made a point of how much he liked that the moderator was not interrupting and redirecting the discussion, but instead letting the debaters debate. The should have got someone similar to Graham Oppy to moderate the second debate.
Uh oh. I might have to add to my answer and say that it might be Krauss after all. He was constantly interrupting and the only moderator who tried to rein in his constant interruptions was the second moderator.
Take a look at this video of his interruptions and see for yourself. Maybe Krauss just didn’t like being told not to interrupt.
yeah I’m not very impressed with Krauss, he acts like a child in debate which is usually a sign of bad arguments and insecurity with your position. You actually see this often in Craigs debate, he’ll have them cornered logically and instead of responding with an argument they’ll resort to a cheap laugh and put a “is this guy for real, am’i right am’i right?” line in as he elbow nudges the crowd
Wow, Krauss is tremendously disrespectful. Hard to watch at the 52 min mark.
I honestly have little patience with Krauss’ approach with the constant interruptions, and it’s only thanks to Dr. Craig’s graciousness and Dr. Oppy’s lack of intervention that make this a tad irritating, even though Dr. Oppy tried to moderate as best he could.
I couldn’t even watch the whole thing because every time Dr. Craig, calmly goes in to an explanation Dr. Krauss rolls over him and stops Craig’s discussion.
The person Craig should be in dialogue with is Oppy. I can’t think of a more sophisticated atheist alive. He makes these “New Atheists” look like sophomoric high schoolers. Just check out his books and, though I disagree with him, will leave you dizzy. That is a debate or dialogue I would pay to see.
Graham Oppy is teh awesome. He has a chapter in “Debating Christian Theism”, which is a great debate book.
Thanks for the summary Wintery. I am staggered that any rational person could think that Krauss caused Christian theism the slightest of problems during any of the two meetings I watched. How many more scientists want to stand up and demonstrate their philosophical illiteracy to the world? It’s becoming almost fashionable. What was priceless was that it appears the ‘philosopher’ and ‘theologian’ had to correct the physicist on matters of physics!
Whether or not the universe is eternal is mostly a matter of opinion at this point considering how little is know for certain about quantum gravity.
Krauss said if he had to bet he would go with the universe having a beginning, Sean Carroll asked the same question said he would bet it was eternal… From what I can tell from reading on the topic it probably leans towards a finite past among the majority, but probably not by much
What this debate (and the section I drew attention to) decides is that the universe is NOT, I repeat NOT, past eternal. That was decided in this debate because of the BVG theory coupled with the expansion of the universe. Certainly, people can believe how they like apart from the science, but the decisive point of this debate was when Craig exposed Krauss for misrepresenting the BVG theory and got him to admit to a beginning of the universe.
People are certainly welcome to hope that what we know TODAY will be overturned TOMORROW. But they have to be called out for being irrational now, based on what we know now. One doesn’t run up debts and then hope to win the lottery as a way out. That’s not prudent.
Craig has posted correspondence with Vilenkin showing that it was Krauss who was mischaracterizing things. Krauss left out parts of the email that would have shown it to be entirely consistent with what Vilenkin has said in the past, which Vilenkin says Craig has accurately represented.
It’s hard to know what Krauss left out, since we don’t have what he left out. But Dr. Craig quotes the actual paper from Vilenkin to show Krauss was misrepresenting Vilenkin.
Check it out – Dr. Craig replied:
Ahh, the multi-universe theory. Sort of like evolution, the theory that suddenly became “fact” in absence of the very scientific proof need to make it so. Still no answer to who created the multi-universe. Or where the matter came from to create the first multi-universe. Or why humans who weren’t created should take seriously the ramblings of a scientist who says we have no special place in the order of species and that our every thought is just a chance encounter of molecules. So, why should we then believe “science” or anything a so-called “scientist” like Krauss has to say about anything?
Thank you for your work on this debate.