Here is the video and summary of a debate between Christian theist William Lane Craig and Austin Dacey at Purdue University in 2004 about the existence of God.
The video: (2 hours)
The video shows the speakers and powerpoint slides of their arguments. Austin Dacey is one of the top atheist debaters, and I would put him second to Peter Millican alone, with Walter Sinnott-Armstrong in third place. This is the debate to show people who are new to apologetics. The debate with Peter Millican is better for advanced students, and that’s no surprise since he teaches at Oxford University and is familiar with all of Dr. Craig’s work. The Craig-Dacey debate is the one that I give to my co-workers.
By the way, you can get the DVDs and CDs for the first Craig-Dacey debate and the second Craig-Dacey debate and the second Craig-Sinnott-Armstrong debate. The Peter Millican debate is not available on DVD, but the link above (Peter Millican) has the video and my summary.
Dr. Dacey’s 5 arguments below are all good arguments that you find in the academic literature. He is also an effective and engaging speaker, This is a great debate to watch!
SUMMARY of the opening speeches:
Dr. Craig’s opening statement:
Dr. Craig will present six reasons why God exists:
- (Contingency argument) God is the best explanation of why something exists rather than nothing
- (Cosmological argument) God’s existence is implied by the origin of the universe
- (Fine-tuning argument) The fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life points to a designer of the cosmos
- (Moral argument) God is the best explanation for the existence of objective moral values and objective moral duties
- (Miracles argument) The historical facts surrounding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus
- (Religious experience) God’s existence is directly knowable even apart from arguments
Dr. Dacey’s opening argument:
There are two ways to disprove God’s existence, by showing that the concept of God is self-contradictory, or by showing that certain facts about ourselves and the world are incompatible with what we would expect to be true if God did exist. Dr. Dacey will focus on the second kind of argument.
- The hiddenness of God
- The success of science in explaining nature without needing a supernatural agency
- The dependence of mind on physical processes in the brain
- Naturalistic evolution
- The existence of gratuitous / pointless evil and suffering
One final point:
One thing that I have to point out is that Dr. Dacey quotes Brian Greene during the debate to counter Dr. Craig’s cosmological argument. Dr. Craig could not respond because he can’t see the context of the quote. However, Dr. Craig had a rematch with Dr. Dacey where was able to read the context of the quote and defuse Dr. Dacey’s objection. This is what he wrote in his August 2005 newsletter after the re-match:
The following week, I was off an another three-day trip, this time to California State University at Fresno. As part of a week of campus outreach the Veritas Forum scheduled a debate on the existence of God between me and Austin Dacey, whom I had debated last spring at Purdue University. In preparation for the rematch I adopted two strategies: (1) Since Dacey had come to the Purdue debate with prepared speeches, I decided to throw him for a loop by offering a different set of arguments for God, so that his canned objections wouldn’t apply. I chose to focus on the cosmological argument, giving four separate arguments for the beginning of the universe, and on the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection. (2) I reviewed our previous debate carefully, preparing critiques of his five atheistic arguments. In the process I found that he had seriously misunderstood or misrepresented a statement by a scientist on the Big Bang; so I brought along the book itself in case Dacey quoted this source again. I figured he might change his arguments just as I was doing; but I wanted to be ready in case he used his old arguments again.
[…]The auditorium was packed that night for the debate, and I later learned that there were overflow rooms, too. To my surprise Dr. Dacey gave the very same case he had presented at Purdue; so he really got clobbered on those arguments. Because he wasn’t prepared for my new arguments, he didn’t even respond to two of my arguments for the beginning of the universe, though he did a credible job responding to the others. I was pleased when he attacked the Big Bang by quoting the same scientist as before, because I then held up the book, specified the page number, and proceeded to quote the context to show what the scientist really meant.
Dr. Craig is always prepared!
One thought on “William Lane Craig debates Austin Dacey: Does God Exist?”
Informal versions of the Contingency and Moral Arguments are the ones that I could not get around as an atheist. I suppose I just assumed in my head some loose version of the Cosmological Argument also – “where did all of this come from?!?” I certainly was on the side of the universe having a beginning, even if I was a Sagan groupie, LOL – that oscillating universe seemed…irrational!
I would have discounted the miracles and religious experience arguments on face value as a matter of bias not intellect, but it is interesting that, as a macro-evolutionist, I never really understood that I was accepting far greater “miracles” than the ones taught in the Bible and as performed by “mother nature.”