Tag Archives: Science

William Lane Craig’s after-action report on the debate with Francisco Ayala

Here is his after-action report. I think it may be behind the registration firewall, so I’ll quote some of it for you.


I had heard Ayala lecture on Intelligent Design last year in China and was dismayed by the caricatures and misrepresentations he gave to the Chinese students. So even though I had never debated intelligent design in biology before, I decided to take on this debate to try at least to set the record straight.

The last few months I prepared diligently for this debate, reading Ayala’s work, familiarizing myself with relevant new developments in biology, studying the recent works of ID proponents, conferring with colleagues who work in this field, and formulating the best strategy for the debate.

[…]Since the question we were debating was not whether intelligent design is true but merely whether it is viable, it was up to Ayala to disqualify ID as a live option. In his published work, he tries to disqualify ID both scientifically and theologically, so my opening response fell neatly into two parts. First, I argued that Ayala fails to disqualify ID scientifically because he cannot show that the Darwinian mechanisms are capable of producing the sort of biological complexity we see on earth. Then I argued that the theological arguments he presents against the designer’s being all-powerful and all-good are simply irrelevant to drawing a design inference (however interesting and important they may be for theology) because the design argument doesn’t aspire to show that the designer is all-powerful or all-good.

The debate turned out to be virtually one-sided! Ayala utterly failed to engage with my arguments. It was almost as if I wasn’t even there. It was pretty obvious to everyone that he was just presenting canned arguments which had already been refuted in my opening statement. I responded to all his points and even went beyond them to tackle the theological problem of natural evil as well. I was also able to call him to account for his misrepresentation of Michael Behe’s work. Ayala likes to indict Behe for saying that the human eye is irreducibly complex, even though it isn’t. Holding up Behe’s book and reading aloud the relevant passage, I responded that this allegation was surprising in light of the fact that Behe says on pages 37-38 that the eye is NOT irreducibly complex and therefore he does not use it as one of his examples of irreducible complexity!

Another interesting feature of this debate was the moderator, a young philosopher from the University of Colorado, Boulder, named Bradley Monton. Though a self-confessed atheist, Monton is convinced that the typical refutations of ID that pass muster today are in fact fallacious, and so he has written a book defending not only the scientific status of ID but even its being taught as an option in public schools! Having read his remarkable book in preparation for the debate, I was able to quote “our esteemed moderator” to good effect during the debate itself to counter Ayala’s assertion that ID was not science.

I note that Reasonable Faith has secured a $65000 matching grant for all donations between now and December 31st. Please contribute generously. There is no one on the planet who does more to defend Biblical Christianity than William Lane Craig. No Christian is more feared by atheists. Atheists laugh at Bible-thumping, hand-wringing fundamentalists who preach only to the choir – but they fear William Lane Craig.

You can listen to the MP3 recording of the debate here at Apologetics 315.

Video of Craig’s opening speech is here.

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What are some popular philosophical objections to Christian theism?

Since we’ve been looking at history and science so much recently, I decided to list some philosophical objections to Christian theism.

Here are a few of the most common objections:

Let me just comment on the first two briefly.

First, the problem of evil. You should definitely start by making the atheist define what evil is, ontologically. This is, of course, impossible on an atheistic worldview, since there is no such thing as an objective moral standard or objective moral duties, on atheism. On atheism, there are only two possible sources of moral values and moral duties: 1) individual personal preferences and 2) arbitrary cultural conventions. Neither of these is adequate to ground a robust notion of evil.

Second, for the problem of suffering. People today are pretty sure that God, if he exists at all, would want humans to make themselves happy in any way that they want. This is, of course, a pretty self-serving concept of God. The purpose of life on Christian theism is to know God, and suffering may be necessary to help us do that. Even Jesus suffered. My own view is that suffering is necessary to cause people to desire God more than they desire earthly happiness and comforts.

Third, the hiddenness of God. Check if your objector is already familiar with the standard scientific arguments for the existence of a Creator and Designer, as well as the minimal facts case for the resurrection. There is a lot of evidence available, but it takes a little digging to find it. God is not interested in coercing people’s will by dazzling displays of his power. He is interested in having a relationship with people who are interested in him, and that means people must seek him.

You can find some less common or less interesting objections in my list of arguments for and against Christian theism.

Indian and Canadian governments defiant against global warming alarmism

Story from the UK Guardian. (H/T Celestial Junk)


Jairam Ramesh, India’s environment minister, released the controversial report in Delhi, saying it would “challenge the conventional wisdom” about melting ice in the mountains.

Two years ago, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN agency which evaluates the risk from global warming, warned the glaciers were receding faster than in any other part of the world and could “disappear altogether by 2035 if not sooner”.

Today Ramesh denied any such risk existed: “There is no conclusive scientific evidence to link global warming with what is happening in the Himalayan glaciers.” The minister added although some glaciers are receding they were doing so at a rate that was not “historically alarming”.

However, Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the IPCC, told the Guardian: “We have a very clear idea of what is happening. I don’t know why the minister is supporting this unsubstantiated research. It is an extremely arrogant statement.”

Ramesh said he was prepared to take on “the doomsday scenarios of Al Gore and the IPCC”.

Jairam Ramesh has gone above and beyond the call of duty in denouncing global warming hysteria. He is from the Congress Party, and from Andhra Pradesh, the same state as YSR Reddy, who I wrote about before. The Congress Party recently passed income tax cuts and Ramesh is an economist.

And Canada is also skeptical of global warming alarmism

I notice that Joanne over at Blue Like You has a round-up of articles, and this quotation from the Conservative Party Environment Minister Jim Prentice:

…Canada will not sign any deal that doesn’t force India, China and Brazil to meet negotiated targets for their own greenhouse gas reductions — a demand that may well be rejected by those countries.

“These countries are responsible for 97 per cent of the growth in emissions,” he says. “Canadians don’t want us to sign on to something that obliges us to reduce emissions, but doesn’t impose obligations on principle emitters.”

So it’s not just India, it’s Canada, too, although Celestial Junk says that India is a lot more defiant than Canada.

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Craig-Ayala debate may be streamed live over the Internet

Check it out! (H/T Brian Auten of Apolgetics 315)

We are working on streaming the event live.

The event, assuming everything works at the Auditorium, will be from ustream.tv.

If the link does not work, here is the address: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/indiana-university—november-5-2009

UPDATE: The audio for the debate is posted here. (MP3)

You can read Craig’s post-debate comments here.

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William Lane Craig vs. Francisco Ayala November 5th at Indiana University

William Lane Craig is debating evolutionary biologist Francisco Ayala in the November 5th, 2009, at Indiana University.

Here’s the skinny:

Intelligent Design: Is it Viable? A debate between Dr. Francisco J. Ayala and Dr. William Lane Craig. Moderated by Dr. Bradley Monton. The debate will occur on Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 7 p.m. EST at Indiana University Auditorium.

Bradley Monton is the atheist philosopher who thinks that intelligent design is a viable enterprise to investigate.

You can read more about William Lane Craig at his web site.

Here’s a bit more about his opponent, Francisco Ayala:

His research focusses on population and evolutionary genetics, including the origin of species, genetic diversity of populations, the origin of malaria, the population structure of parasitic protozoa, and the molecular clock of evolution. He also writes about the interface between religion and science, and on philosophical issues concerning epistemology, ethics, and the philosophy of biology.

He’s written 650 papers and 12 books. I think this is going to be a tough debate for Bill!

UPDATE: The debate is now finished!

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