Tag Archives: Moral Argument

Preview of the William Lane Craig vs Lawrence Krauss debate

UPDATE: I have now posted a preview of the William Lane Craig vs. Sam Harris debate!

UPDATE: The video and audio from the Krauss-Craig debate are linked in this post.

I’ve put together some relevant resources to prepare you for tonight’s BIG debate (and to get tweeted by Brian Auten of Apologetics 315, I hope!)

The Big Bang and the Fine-Tuning

First, since Lawrence Krauss is a physicist, I expect that there will be some disagreement about the the kalam cosmological argument and the cosmic fine-tuning argument. To prepare yourself for the cosmological argument, you should print out this peer-reviewed article written by Craig. To prepare yourself for the fine-tuning argument, you should read this paper by Robin Collins.

And then you can watch this 10-part lecture delivered by William Lane Craig at the University of Colorado, Boulder. It is entitled “Beyond the Big Bang”.

Beyond the Big Bang

Here’s part 1:

The full playlist is here.

If you watch the full lecture, you’ll notice that Craig takes a question from famous atheist Victor Stenger. Stenger is a physicist whom Craig had debated before the lecture on the existence of God at the University of Hawaii. You can watch their entire debate on Youtube, and I’ve linked it below.

William Lane Craig vs. Victor Stenger

Here’s part 1:

The full playlist is here.

Keep in mind that Craig recently debated arch-naturalist Francisco Ayala (link goes to Youtube playlist), so he will be fully prepared to debate philosophy of science, should that come up. I don’t recommend watching the entire debate, because Ayala is difficult to understand.

The moral argument

The owner of the Persistent Questions Exchange blog informed me that Krauss has actually spoken out on morality and science in the past, so we may see some sparks flying on the moral argument. It may therefore be worthwhile for you to review Craig’s recent comments on Sam Harris’ theory on scientific foundations for morality. I think that Krauss may say something similar. (Also note that Harris will be debating Craig on April 7, 2011 at the University of Notre Dame).

You should either read Craig’s paper on the moral argument OR watch a lecture he recently delivered at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Here’s part 1:

The full playlist is here.

If you want to see the moral argument played out in a couple of debates, you could watch the William Lane Craig vs. Paul Kurtz debate on Youtube. Yes, that’s the same Paul Kurtz who wrote the “Humanist Manifesto”. Or you could watch the more recent William Lane Craig vs. Louise Anthony debate on Youtube, if you’ve already seen the Kurtz debate.

So, I think that’s where the clash is going to be tonight – on those three arguments.

Extra credit

Brian Auten maintains the William Lane Craig Audio Debate Feed here, in case you get through all of these and would like to see how well Bill Craig performs against other famous challengers, like Marcus Borg, Lewis Wolpert, Arif Ahmed, Bart Ehman, John Shelby Spong, Gerd Ludemann, John Dominic Crossan, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, etc.

Five flaws in the thinking of the new atheists

By UK philosopher Peter S. Williams. (H/T Apologetics 315)

It’s 9 minutes long.

Topics:

  1. Atheists misunderstand the nature of faith.
  2. Atheistic view of epistemology is self-refuting.
  3. Atheistic view of morality is self-contradictory.
  4. Atheistic view of free will is self-contradictory.
  5. Atheists don’t understand theistic arguments.

This is a short presentation of the material presented in this paper.

If you want to hear more from Peter, this debate with an academic postmodern relativist is just awesome.

forumPost:1 AND inner sanctum mysteries

Why do atheists like Dan Barker abandon their faith?

Unbelievable’s latest radio show featured a discussion with former Christian Dan Barker, the founder and co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The MP3 file is here. (60 minutes)

I thought that I would make some general comments about why I think that many people leave the Christian faith, and what you should be careful of in order to avoid following in Dan Barker’s footsteps, specifically.

Basically, there are four major reasons why people leave Christianity.

  1. They want to do something immoral with impunity. This type of person wants to do something immoral that is forbidden by Christianity, like pre-marital sex. They dump Christianity in order to feel better about seeking happiness in this life, apart from God and his moral duties.
  2. They want to pursue happiness in irresponsible ways. This type of person thinks that God’s job is to save them when they act irresponsibly while pursuing happiness. When God disappoints them by not giving them what they want in order to be happy, they leave the faith.
  3. They want to be loved by people, not by God. This type of person thinks that Christianity is a tool that they can use to become popular. When they first try to articulate the gospel in public, they find that people don’t like them as much, and they feel bad about offending people with exclusive truth claims that they cannot back up using logic and evidence. So, they water down Christianity to get along with atheists, liberal Christians and other religions. Finally, they jettison Christianity completely and focus on making everyone feel good about whatever they believe.
  4. They don’t want to learn to defend their faith. This type of person is asked questions by skeptics that they cannot answer. Usually this happens when people go to university after growing up in the shelter of the Church. The questions and peer pressure make them feel stupid. Rather than investigate Christianity to see if it’s true and to prepare to defend it in public, they dump it so they can be thought of as part of the “smart” crowd.

Now listen to the discussion and see if you can identify some of these factors from Barker’s own carefully-prepared words. He is trying very hard to make himself look honest and moderate, because he wants Christians to be sympathetic with his story and his motives for leaving Christianity. But I think that there is enough in his statements to construct a different hypothesis of why he left Christianity.

I’ve grouped the data by risk factor. (These are not his exact views)

Non-rational, emotional approach to Christianity

  • he was raised in a devout Christian family where he probably wouldn’t have faced skeptical questions
  • he converted to Christianity at age 15 as a result of a religious experience, not a serious investigation
  • his idea of God was probably idealized and uninformed, e.g. – a loving God who wants us to be happy
  • he wandered around from church to church preaching, with no fixed address or source of income
  • he earned money by collecting “love offerings” from churches where he performed his music
  • he wrote Christian songs and Christian musicals, but nothing substantive on apologetics and theology
  • he worked in three churches known for being anti-intellectual and fundamentalist
  • there’s no evidence that of any deep study of philosophy, science and history during this time

Desire to gain acceptance from non-Christians

  • he began to notice that some people were uncomfortable with sin and Hell
  • he began to avoid preaching about sin and Hell in order to make these people comfortable
  • he watered-down the gospel to focus on helping people to be happy in this life
  • his manic approach to Christian ministry was challenged by the “real life” needs of his growing family
  • he met liberal pastors while performing his music in their churches
  • he found it difficult to disagree with them because they seemed to be “good” people
  • he watered down his message further in order to appeal to people across the theological spectrum

Ignorance of Christian apologetics

  • he began to think that if there are many different views of religion, then no view can be correct
  • he was not intellectually capable of using logic and evidence to test these competing claims to see which was true
  • he decided to instead re-interpret Christian truth claims as non-rational opinions, so they could all be “valid”
  • he became a theological liberal, abandoning theism for an impersonal “ground of being”
  • he embraced religious pluralism, the view that all religions are non-rational and make no testable truth claims
  • he began to see God as a “metaphor” whose purpose is to make people have a sense of meaning and purpose
  • he jettisoned God completely and focused more on helping people find meaning and morality apart from God
  • seems to think that religion is about having a “great life”, and felt that you can have a “great life” without religion
  • seems to think that religion is about being “good”, and felt that you can be “good” without religion
  • religion makes people feel bad by telling them what to do instead of letting them do anything they want
  • religion makes people feel bad by telling them what is true, instead of letting them believe whatever they want
  • religion makes people feel bad by telling them that God will hold them accountable for their beliefs and actions

So what do I think happened?

I think he abandoned his faith because he wanted people to like him and because he needed to be invited to liberal churches in order to make money to pay for the “real life” needs of his family.

He seems to have thought that Christianity is about having his needs met and being liked by others. I think he wanted to feel good and to make people feel good with his preaching and singing. He seems to have become aware that the exclusive claims of Christianity made other people feel offended, so he cut them out. He hadn’t studied philosophy, science or history so that he would have been able to demonstrate to other people whether what he was saying was true. It’s hard to offend people when you don’t really know whether your claims are true or not, and when you don’t know how to demonstrate whether they are true or not.

I also think money was a factor. It seems to me that it would have hurt his career and reduced his invitations from liberal churches if he had kept up teaching biblical Christianity. In order to appeal to a wider audience, (like many Christian singers do – e.g. – Amy Grant, Jars of Clay, etc.), he would have felt pressured to water down the unpleasant parts of his preaching and singing. Lacking apologetics skill, he instead abandoned his message. He needed to account for his family’s needs and “real life”, and exclusive truth claims and Hell-talk would probably have reduced his ability to do that. It seems to me that he should have scaled back his extreme schedule of preaching and singing, and instead gotten a steady job so that he could afford “real life” and a family without being pressured into altering his message.

Life isn’t a fairy tale. God isn’t there to reward risky behavior. We need to be more shrewd about financial matters so that we have the ability to not care about what people think of us. Look at this blog. I work all day as a senior software engineer with two degrees in computer science so that I can refuse donations. I save most of what I make in case a tragedy strikes. Since I am financially secure, I can say what I think, and disregard anyone who wants me to change my message because they are offended. Becoming a Christian isn’t a license to behave irrationally and immaturely with money. For some people, (like William Lane Craig), stepping out in faith works. But if it doesn’t work, it’s better to retreat and re-trench, rather than to compromise your message for money.

Barker didn’t seem to make any effort to deal intellectually with typical challenges like the existence of Hell and religious pluralism. He just wanted to be liked by people instead of being liked by God. He seemed to have thought that being a Christian would make him happy and that other people would all respond to him and like him without having to do any work to explain why Christianity is true. But that’s not Biblical. When the singing and preaching is over, you still have to know how to give an answer to non-Christians. But Barker couldn’t give an answer – not one that allowed him to retain his beliefs. He had not prepared a defense.

What does Dan Barker think about Christianity today?

Many atheists today are interested in eradicating public expressions of Christian beliefs in the public square, because they hate Christianity and believe that Christians should not be allowed to make them feel bad by exercising their rights of free speech. Is Dan Barker one of these militant atheists?

Well, take a look at this video, in which he objects to a nativity scene and demands that an atheistic denunciation of theism be posted alongside it. In the video, Barker explains that the nativity scene is hate speech, and that the baby Jesus is a dictator. He seems to be totally oblivious to the the idea that if Christianity is true, then it doesn’t matter whether it’s mean and exclusive. And this seems to me to have been his problem all along, from the day of his “conversion”.

So the real question is this: is it true? Barker seems to be much more interested in asking “is it nice?” and “will it make me happy?”.

Opening speeches from the Flannagan-Bradley debate on morality

Details of the debate.

Raymond Bradley and Matthew Flannagan will debate the topic “Is God the Source of Morality? Is it rational to ground right and wrong in commands issued by God?”

Bradley is an Emeritus Professor of Philosophy with areas of specialty in Philosophical Logic, Metaphysics, Logical Atomism; he has previously debated William Lane Craig, Edward Blaiklock and many other Christian scholars and describes himself as an older generation “new atheist”.

Matthew FlannaganFlannagan is an Auckland based Philosopher and Theologian with areas of specialty in Philosophy of Religion, Ethics and Theology; he has previously debated Bill Cooke, Zoe During and, of course, writes for this blog.

Matt posted both opening speeches on the MandM blog.

Opening speech by Ray Bradley.

Excerpt:

I’m going to indict God on four categories of charges. Each category has scores, if not hundreds or thousands of instances. If God is guilty of even one of these instances, that alone would be grounds for his conviction. Drawing upon evidence provided by God himself in his so-called Holy Scriptures, I hold that he’s guilty of them all.

  • Crimes against Humanity
  • War Crimes
  • Licensing Moral Mayhem and Murder
  • Crimes of Torture

Matt went second and responded to this argument.

Opening speech by Matthew Flannagan.

Matt defends a divine command theory of morality and he has 3 responses to Ray:

  • The theist can deny that the Biblical record of what God did is infallible
  • God’s moral duties are for humans, they are not necessarily binding on God
  • Ray misinterprets the meaning and applicability of the Bible stories he cites

I recommend reading the two opening speeches now so you’re ready for when the full video comes out. Brian Auten of Apologetics 315 tells me that he has asked for the video and it should be posted soon. I will link to the video when it comes out.

Flannagan is awesome and you need to start to get familiar with him even though he is in New Zealand. He’s basically the William Lane Craig of New Zealand, and probably that whole area of the world. I don’t know any Australian scholars who are as capable as Matt. I must mention though that I do disagree with him on annihilationism, the view he articulates in this debate.

UPDATE: The audio has now been posted. (H/T Jason from Thinking Matters NZ)

Further study

And here is a blog post on Ray Bradley written by another New Zealander, theistic philosopher Glenn Peoples. Glenn’s post is short and to the point – he excerpts the main argument from a post by Bradley against the moral argument and shows why it has no force.

And you can read more about William Lane Craig’s debate with Ray Bradley on Hell, too.

Upcoming debate on morality: Matt Flannagan vs. Ray Bradley

News of an upcoming debate featuring Matt Flannagan from MandM.

Details:

Raymond Bradley and Matthew Flannagan will debate the topic “Is God the Source of Morality? Is it rational to ground right and wrong in commands issued by God?”

The debate will be held at the University of Auckland on Monday 2 August from 7-9pm in “The Centennial” 260 – 098 OGGB (the bottom level of the Business School) on 12 Grafton Rd, Auckland City.

Bradley is an Emeritus Professor of Philosophy with areas of specialty in Philosophical Logic, Metaphysics, Logical Atomism; he has previously debated William Lane Craig, Edward Blaiklock and many other Christian scholars and describes himself as an older generation “new atheist”.

Matthew FlannaganFlannagan is an Auckland based Philosopher and Theologian with areas of specialty in Philosophy of Religion, Ethics and Theology; he has previously debated Bill Cooke, Zoe During and, of course, writes for this blog.

The format of the debate will be as follows:

  • Dr Bradley: Opening Comments [20 min]
  • Dr Flannagan: Opening Comments [20 min]
  • Dr Bradley: Reply to Dr Flannagan [10 min]
  • Dr Flannagan: Reply to Dr Bradley[10 min]
  • Dr Bradley: Closing Comments [7 min]
  • Dr Flannagan: Closing Comments [7 min]
  • Questions from the floor: [30 min]

And here is an article on the thought of the atheist Ray Bradley by Glenn Peoples. Glenn’s post is short and to the point – he excerpts the main argument from a post by Bradley against the moral argument and shows why it has no force.

And you can read more about William Lane Craig’s debate with Ray Bradley on Hell, too.