William Lane Craig lectures on the moral argument at Georgia Tech

Making sense of the meaning of atheism
Making sense of the meaning of atheism

This video has 3 parts, as well as questions and answers in individual clips.

For those who cannot watch the video, you can read this essay by Dr. Craig which covers exactly the same ground as the video. The essay is for Christians already familiar with basic apologetics.

Part 1 of 3:

Part 2 of 3:

Part 2 of 3:

Here’s a quick couple of quotes from the essay for those who cannot watch:

If there is no God, then any ground for regarding the herd morality evolved by homo sapiens as objectively true seems to have been removed. After all, what is so special about human beings? They are just accidental by-products of nature which have evolved relatively recently on an infinitesimal speck of dust lost somewhere in a hostile and mindless universe and which are doomed to perish individually and collectively in a relatively short time. Some action, say, incest, may not be biologically or socially advantageous and so in the course of human evolution has become taboo; but there is on the atheistic view nothing really wrong about committing incest. If, as Kurtz states, “The moral principles that govern our behavior are rooted in habit and custom, feeling and fashion,”5 then the non-conformist who chooses to flout the herd morality is doing nothing more serious than acting unfashionably.

The objective worthlessness of human beings on a naturalistic world view is underscored by two implications of that world view: materialism and determinism. Naturalists are typically materialists or physicalists, who regard man as a purely animal organism. But if man has no immaterial aspect to his being (call it soul or mind or what have you), then he is not qualitatively different from other animal species. For him to regard human morality as objective is to fall into the trap of specie-ism. On a materialistic anthropology there is no reason to think that human beings are objectively more valuable than rats. Secondly, if there is no mind distinct from the brain, then everything we think and do is determined by the input of our five senses and our genetic make-up. There is no personal agent who freely decides to do something. But without freedom, none of our choices is morally significant. They are like the jerks of a puppet’s limbs, controlled by the strings of sensory input and physical constitution. And what moral value does a puppet or its movements have?

[…]Moreover, if atheism is true, there is no moral accountability for one’s actions. Even if there were objective moral values and duties under naturalism, they are irrelevant because there is no moral accountability. If life ends at the grave, it makes no difference whether one lives as a Stalin or as a saint. As the Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky rightly said: “If there is no immortality, then all things are permitted.”

If you want a much shorter, slicker version of this argument to share, Reasonable Faith has produced this nice 5-minute video that you can tweet or share on your Facebook page or whatever:

The moral argument is the easiest argument in the world to discuss with non-Christians, as everyone has to have an answer to questions like “what makes humans valuable?” and “why should I do the right thing when it goes against my self-interest?” and “will evildoers who escape justice in this life be punished when they die?” and “do humans have free will to make moral choices?” These are interesting questions, and people can just give their opinion and then think about it as they discuss it.

If you want to show this lecture and Q&A to your apologetics group, you can find the DVD here.

You can also read a debate transcript where Dr. Craig puts his ideas to the test, against Dr. Richard Taylor. I found this debate very helpful for answering the question that everyone should be able to answer: “why should I be moral?”

6 thoughts on “William Lane Craig lectures on the moral argument at Georgia Tech”

  1. Reblogged this on Site Title and commented:
    Hopefully, man in general will look to a higher, perfect power and strive to match, as the Bible has given us.

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  2. Regretfully, science’s expanding ability to read brain activity has given rise to the argument that animals act in civil ways because they realize the benefits to themselves in doing so; hence, this is a basis for the claim that mankind’s “civility” is nothing more than evolved reactions to situations, as they claim the brain activity of animals shows. However, the Bible states, thousand+ years before any brain scan, that God’s law is written on every man’s heart. So sad that “scientists” (acting actually as philosophers) are blinded to all truth. (See Jordan Peterson’s videos re such.)

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    1. It sounds like you are confusing our knowledge of morals with the existence of morals. We are not obligated to act in a way that gives us an evolutionary advantage, but we are obligated to act morally.

      Also, the Islamic practice of turning women into baby factories gives them an enormous evolutionary advantage. We do not conclude that such practices are morally good, much less obligatory.

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  3. I tried to talk with this guy about Jesus just an hour ago. While it’s fresh off my head, things I think are salient:
    I started talking to him after he saw me running. He made a joke about me rushing to get somewhere, and he looked homeless, so I started talking to him. He told me he was waiting for his wife, who was in the store. I pointed at one of his tattoos and he told me all about them. He showed me two tattoos on his left arm: The Grim Reaper on his forearm, and Jesus being crucified on his bicep. He told me then that he was raised Christian, but he now doesn’t believe in the God of the Bible. He is an agnostic.
    He then told me he had previously studied native religions, Satanism, and other stuff in order to find truth. I told him about how the Jews didn’t dispute that there wasn’t a missing body, even though they had an interest in seeing Christianity ridiculed on that account, and that none of the disciples, even though they were tormented and persecuted, “squealed” concerning the supposed con concerning stealing the body of Jesus. I then went on to talk about how the disciples couldn’t have been insane, because if they were that severely schizophrenic, then they would have had a host of negative symptoms that would have made them too uncharismatic to start a cult (I would have gone on to other psychotic disorders too, but I never got that far).
    He told me that the problem he had with Christianity was “all the contradictions” and also that the Messiah thing wasn’t unique. Before I could bring up info about Zeitgeist, he threw a curveball and told me about Native American legends about white buffalos or something, so I didn’t know what to say. Later in the conversation, I learned that his mother killed himself. His preacher told him his mother was in hell. He broke the preacher’s nose. That’s when his quest to find different religions started.
    He said he has seen some weird stuff and has had out-of-body experiences, though he admits that some have to do with drugs. He started talking about seeing spirits, and all I could say was an analogy to something that Glenn Miller (the Christian think-tank guy) said about interactions with the supernatural: “If you’re in a maze, and there’s a one-way mirror going down on top of it, and someone is on top of it, calling out directions, you have no way of knowing that the guy on top isn’t s**tting you or anything. That stuff is some scary s**t.” [by the way, is there any proof that God isn’t pulling that on us? The moment that I said that, I was worried that he would say, “But how do you know that God isn’t doing that to you?”].
    We then went on to talk about other stuff, like literature and music, because that is where his side of the conversation went. I could only follow. I feel like less of a man.
    Major thing: He could lead conversations in multiple directions after I gave a response to the last thing he said. Soon after mentioning those facts about the Resurrection, I never was able to bring up Jesus again, except for something about Plato (in fact, when I told him about Socrates saying that learning is just recollection, possibly from a past life, in the book Meno, that is when he started talking about spirits and drugs).
    What could I have done better or improved?

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  4. You won’t win every witness in one shot. Plant some truth and that may be all they can recieve at the time.
    I don’t think there is a perfect path to answers that work for all people, and hoping to give all logical answers to those that agree with spiritism gets tough.
    If someone believes on spiritism they often believe the unknown eternal universe. So you can bring in proof of a big bang origin. Points in the massive size of the universe that only an omnipotent God is able to create.
    But once again it all depends on how time and the conversation leads. If they aren’t receptive at the time there is little we can do. We merely teach the truth do God’s creation and leave the holy spirit to teach them the working of it as he softens their heart

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    1. That’s the problem. He does believe in a god. I do realize that it is because of my wording, but he does believe in a god. What should you do with those kind of folks (aside from bringing up the minimal facts)?

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