Tag Archives: Fine Tuning

Video of the Stanford debate between Jay Richards and Christopher Hitchens

Remember this debate?

Atheism vs. Theism and The Scientific Evidence of Intelligent Design
Sunday, January 27, 2008 at 4pm PST, Stanford University

Christopher Hitchens — Contributing editor to Vanity Fair; visiting professor, New School in New York; author of God is Not Great.
VS.
Jay W. Richards — Research Fellow and Director of Acton Media at the Acton Institute; co-author, with astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, of The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos Is Designed for Discovery.

I just found the 10 videos in a youtube playlist. Each video is about 10 minutes.

Part 1 is just introductory, so I skipped it.

Here’s part 2, which is the start Hitchens’ opening speech:

Part 3 is the rest of Hitchens and the start of Richards’ opening speech:

And part 4, which is the rest of Richards’ opening speech:

You can click through to the playlist for the rest. Or you can listen to the full MP3 audio provided by Brian Auten of Apologetics 315.

This is the one where Richards gives his famous line “A sneer is not an argument and insults do not constitute evidence”. Richards has his Ph.D in philosophy from Princeton University, and he is extremely careful with logic and arguments.

Related posts

Biology and physics professors debate whether Christianity is true

The new Unbelievable debate is up, and this time Justin found a fine Christian. A professor of nanotechnology who has enormous intellectual firepower and an incredible scientific background. The atheist is Lewis Wolpert, a very high-profile atheistic cell biologist in the UK, who debated William Lane Craig a while back.

The speakers:

Atheist scientist Lewis Wolpert debates believing scientist Russell Cowburn. Professor Lewis Wolpert is Emeritus Professor of Biology at University College London. Professor Russell Cowburn is Chair of Nanotechnology at Imperial College.

Cowburn is formerly of Cambridge University. Although he does concede evolution in the debate, yuck! That part where he concedes evolution is a little annoying. Still, he is a fine speaker, he radiates competence and confidence, and does a great job of explaining Christianity. I wish I could send him a Signature in the Cell. We have so much more evidence for intelligent design today, that there is no reason to make those concessions!

The MP3 file is here.

One funny thing occurs when Lewis Wolpert says that he gave up belief in God (as a Jew) when God wouldn’t help him to find his cricket bat. He also says that he has never heard of any evidence for God’s existence, which is odd since he debated Bill Craig.

If you listen to the whole thing, Justin also says that Wolpert will be back to debate William Dembski in January 2010 as part of a series on intelligent design. (Expelled is going to be released in the UK in 2010)

Wolpert’s case:

  • Religious belief exists because it provides an evolutionary advantage
  • There are so many different religions so Christianity cannot be correct
  • There haven’t been enough recent miracles

Cowburn’s case:

  • The kalam cosmological argument
  • The fine-tuning argument
  • The historicity of the resurrection

The full debate is available here at the web site of the church which hosted the debate. I note that it’s a independent evangelical Baptist church and I’m an independent evangelical Baptist, so yay! Just take a look at this church’s web page – it’s filled with debates! Now this is the church I would attend if I lived in London.

MUST-LISTEN: J.P. Moreland lecture on Christianity and science

I found the lectures here at Apologetics 315. These are GOOD. He covers a lot and you’ll get a lot of interesting stuff to think about. This is actually a great lecture – the old J.P. Moreland back in fine form. He’s going over a ton of arguments for theism from science. I’ve counted SIX so far, so this is a really good lecture, and perfect for beginners.

    • The full MP3 audio is here.

      He doesn’t talk about habitability at the galactic, stellar, or planetary level, though.

      I am a little busy mailing out everyone’s gifts today! I apologize for the light blogging. Please go and read just a few chapters of that Dalrymple book that I posted yesterday if you need something to read, or check out these round-ups:

      More from Neil Simpson: Another reason it is hard to stay in the Methodist church

      Neil Simpson is a methodist??? How is that even possible?

      Mailing these gifts will only take a few hours, and then I’m on vacation until January 4th!!! I promise I will write a ton then. I’m also working on an application for the Droid platform, but it’s a secret.

      I’m giving away this stuff to people this year:

      • Unlocking the Mystery of Life DVD
      • Icons of Evolution DVD
      • The Privileged Planet DVD
      • Darwin’s Dilemma DVD
      • Signature in the Cell book
      • The William Lane Craig vs Christopher Hitchens debate DVD
      • Money, Greed and God book
      • Greer-Heard Forums from 2005 and 2009
      • and other specific things they asked for

      If you guys are giving away apologetics gifts, please write your ideas in the comments. I did gift exchanges with atheists, so now I have atheist books to read! Bleh! I only want to read atheists in debates, because listening to them blab without rebuttal is very annoying.

      Does God exist? Is there any scientific evidence to prove that God exists?

      Since I haven’t talked about science in a while, I thought that now would be a good time to list some of the more common arguments for a Creator and Designer of the universe and/or intelligent life. I like to use arguments drawn from mainstream science that do not assume the Bible or inerrancy or anything specifically religious. The arguments below all show that the reality we live in exhibits effects in nature that are not explained by particles in motion, chance and the operation of natural laws.

      First, here’s the list of a few of the better-known arguments:

      The average knuckle-dragging atheist will not be familiar with any of these arguments, will have never seen them used in academic debates, and will not even click through to read about them. That’s atheism these days – it’s non-cognitive. Atheism is all about escaping from moral values and moral obligations, which are not even rationally grounded by atheism.

      The point of being familiar with these arguments is to show that religion and science are virtually identical. Both are trying to explain the external world. Both are bound by the laws of logic. Both use evidence to verify and falsify claims. For example, the discovery of the origin of the universe falsifies Hinduism, Buddhism and Mormonism, but it leaves Christianity, Islam and Judaism unscathed. All religions make truth claims and those claims can be tested against what science tells us about the world.

      What is the significance of scientific progress for Christians?

      Some general points to know when presenting these arguments.

      1. You need to emphasize that atheism is in full flight away from the progress of science. Each of these arguments has gotten stronger as the evidence grew and grew. For example, scientists had to be forced to turn away from the eternal universe as new discoveries arrived, such as the cosmic microwave background radiation measurements. Scientists had to turn away from the view that the cosmological constants are nothing special, as more and more fine-tuned quantities were discovered.

      2. Christians need to pay attention in school and score top grades in mathematics and experimental sciences. Science is God-friendly, and we need to have Christians doing cutting edge research in the best labs at the universities. Think of the work done by Doug Axe at Cambridge University in which he was able to publish research showing that very few sequences of amino acids have biological function, so getting functional sequences at random is virtually impossible. One of Doug’s papers is here. We need more people like him.

      3. Each of these arguments needs to be studied in the context of polemics and debates. The best way to present each of these arguments is by presenting them as a struggle against opposing forces. For example, when talking about the big bang, emphasize how atheists kept trying to come up with eternal universe speculations. When talking about the fine-tuning, talk about the unobservable multiverse. When talking about irreducible complexity, talk about the co-option fallacy. Don’t preach – teach the controversy.

      4. Don’t make lazy excuses about how scientific evidence doesn’t persuade non-Christians. Science is absolutely the core of any argument for Christianity, along with the case for the resurrection of Jesus. Christianity is about knowledge. Christians who refuse to subject their faith to science are probably just trying to make sure that Christianity isn’t so true that it dictates how they should live. They like the uncertainty of blind faith, because it preserves their autonomy to disregard Christian moral teachings when it suits them.

      5. The purpose of linking your Christian faith to scientific arguments is to demonstrate to non-Christians that Christianity is real. It is not a personal preference. It is not something you grew up with. It is not something you inherited from your parents. When you link your Christian faith with scientific facts in the external world, you are declaring to non-Christians that Christianity is testable and binding on everyone who shares the objective reality we live in. You can’t expect people to act Christianly without showing that Christianity is objectively true.

      6. Scientific arguments are tremendously useful even for believing Christians, because sometimes it is difficult to act in a Christian way when your emotions are telling you not to. When your feelings make it hard for you to behave Christianly, that is when scientific evidence can come into play in order to rationally justify acts of self-denial and self-sacrifice. For example, scientific evidence for the existence of God is a helpful counterbalance to the problem of apparently gratuitous evil, which often discourages Christians.

      My complete index of arguments for and against Christian theism is here.

      UPDATE: I notice that in the popular culture, people are not really aware of these arguments, and are still arguing for religious faith based on pragmatism and personal experience, not on evidence. Using reason and evidence is much better, and it’s what the Bible teaches, too.

      Science News reports that habitable planets less common than previously thought

      Story from Science News. (H/T ECM)

      Excerpt:

      According to the most popular formation theory, planets coalesce from a swirling disk of gas and dust that surrounds young stars. Since the disk rotates in the same direction as the star, the planets spawned by the disk should revolve in the same direction. But in an overcrowded planetary system, where a gravitational game of billiards is all but inevitable, orbits can get scrambled. A close encounter between planetary siblings can push one body outward while flinging the other inward, elongating and tilting the inner planet’s orbit.

      In this scenario, the solar system may have been unusually lucky. Either it avoided catastrophic gravitational encounters between massive planets or it suffered such interactions so long ago that most of the planets had the chance to resettle into nearly circular orbits with little or no tilt, says Frédéric Pont of the University of Exeter in England.

      “The presence of advanced life on Earth may be contingent on our planetary system having avoided the brunt of planet-planet scatter,” keeping Earth on a circular, Goldilocks-style orbit—neither too hot nor too cold for life as we know it, he speculates.

      The circularity of the orbit is crucial for maintaining liquid water at the surface. If the the planet’s orbit is too eccentric, then the temperature variations will either freeze the water, or evaporate it into the atmosphere. Either condition is fatal to complex life.

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