Debate/discussion: Krauss vs. Craig

UPDATE:  It appears now that the first and third parts of the debate are posted at this link, but I don’t know where part 2 is. They’ve also separated the interviews with Krauss and Craig from the onstage exchange. The Bible Society also has written interviews with Krauss and Craig about the debate.  An excerpt from each:

[Interviewer]: What is your best evidence there is no God, and what’s the best evidence there is a God?

Craig: Well, I would say that the best evidence that there is a God is that the hypothesis that God exists explains a wide range of the data of human experience that’s very diverse. So it’s an extremely powerful hypothesis. It gives you things like an explanation of the origin of the universe, the fine-tuning of the universe, of intelligent life. But also the presence of mind in the cosmos, an objective foundation for moral values and duties, and things of that sort—it’s a wide range of data that makes sense on a theistic worldview.

In terms of the atheistic argument, I think probably the argument on the hiddenness of God would be the best. That God seems so absent sometimes when we need him most. And I think that one response to that hiddenness is to say, well he’s not there. And so that would be, I think, perhaps the best argument that the atheist might offer.

and

[Interviewer]:  What is the most persuasive argument that Professor Craig has; the hardest to refute?

Krauss: I’ve never heard one. I mean, they’re all subtle. I once said to someone, an old line from a Dick Van Dyke show: ‘what on the surface seems vague is in reality meaningless’. The point is that what [Craig] likes to do is take what may sound well defined, and it’s really sneaky. Back in Brisbane I showed a video of a guy nowhere near as subtle or smart as William Lane Craig, arguing that Jesus holds protons and neurons together, and it’s just laughable. But Craig does it much more subtly. It starts like it’s well defined and then he does some tricks.

I find… I will admit… I do believe, that in spite of the fact that I think he knowingly abuses science and other people’s arguments—distorts them— I think he does it because he believes in the end. He amazingly believes, wholeheartedly, in the scriptures. And I think his attitude is that because they’re right, anything goes to prove their right. But that’s not how we learn about the world.

We learn about the world by trying to prove ourselves wrong, not trying to find validation for our ideas. And that’s the dangerous idea that I want people to learn. It’s not just for religion, it’s for global warming and other important problems of our time. If you come into these problems knowing what’s right before even asking the questions, you’ll never get anywhere. So while Craig’s a good example of it, there are many others. Science teaches us to not trust our intuition and to be skeptical of ourselves as much as other people. And that I think is the most important thing.

________________

A few weeks ago, physicist Lawrence Krauss had a “conversation” (a more relaxed debate) with apologist and theologian William Lane Craig in Australia. It was actually in three parts, and called “Life the Universe and Nothing”.  The explanatory website is here, and gives the schedule, topics, and links:

Brisbane Aug 7
Has science buried God?

Sydney Aug 13
Why is there something rather than nothing?

Melbourne Aug 16
Is it reasonable to believe there is a God?

The first debate has now been posted, and reader Derek, who sent me the link, added this:

It almost seems like Krauss agreed to the discussion as an excuse to call out WLC on his dishonesty and distortions of science. The moderator is a little biased in favor of theology/philosophy, but I think LK actually did a good job and this was one of the few debates that wasn’t a clear win for WLC – the format helped as well, since it was more of a discussion and less timed podium switching.

The other videos should be up within a week or so – the word on the street is that Krauss dominated the final one in Melbourne.

I haven’t yet watched this, but I will. In the meantime, I won’t withhold it from the readers.  Do weigh in if you’ve watched the full two hours. The video begins with separate interviews with Krauss and Craig.

NOTE: if you can’t see the video here, just watch it on the Vimeo page. See “update” above for another link that includes part 3 of the debate.

Note: I don’t think I’m violating any rules by posting this, but the site notes that “The copyright for the Life, the Universe and Nothing videos is held by City Bible Forum. Prof Krauss has requested that these videos are not copied on to any device nor uploaded by anyone other than the City Bible Forum.”

93 Comments

  1. Posted August 30, 2013 at 7:59 am | Permalink

    //

    • Posted August 30, 2013 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      the video is unplayable

      • Posted August 30, 2013 at 8:02 am | Permalink

        As it says in the post, there’s another link right above the video. If that doesn’t work, I think you’re out of luck.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted August 30, 2013 at 8:12 am | Permalink

        If you follow the top links they ultimately all end up here

        The videos are playable from there. I assume they should work for everyone because it works in Canada and usually stuff never works for us. ;) I think only the Brisbane videos are up so far hence why they all go to the same Brisbane videos.

        • JBlilie
          Posted August 30, 2013 at 8:21 am | Permalink

          Thanks!

          • Richard Olson
            Posted August 30, 2013 at 8:30 am | Permalink

        • Posted August 30, 2013 at 8:30 am | Permalink

          thank you

        • GeorgeA
          Posted August 30, 2013 at 8:37 am | Permalink

          The video (from Vimeo) is unplayable without streaming bandwidth. I’s prefer Youtube, which permits download for later vieeing.

    • Nick
      Posted August 31, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      Now available on YouTube:

      First debate (Brisbane): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-b8t70_c8eE
      Third Debate (Melbourne): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xcgjtps5ks

  2. Posted August 30, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    LK also had a “bullshit buzzer” during this discussion, but the audio has either been edited out or was too faint to hear. Basically he pushed it every time WLC said something incorrect regarding science. You can see it on his table and there’s actually one clip of him furiously pushing it and the moderator trying to stop him. Hehe.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted August 30, 2013 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      That would’ve been hilarious! Too bad that isn’t in the video! :(

    • TJR
      Posted August 30, 2013 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      Are they made by the same people who make irony meters?

      If so I hope its made more robustly, as irony meters seem to blow out on a regular basis.

    • Posted August 30, 2013 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      If you go right to the 1 hour mark in the Brisbane video and watch for a minute, you’ll see Krauss furiously tapping the buzzer (you can even faintly hear it) during the final part of Craig’s talk. Good stuff.

  3. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    The claim that our sense of morality is evidence of God loses whatever credibility it had when you also go for “divine command” theory of ethics as Craig did. The two claims are in serious tension.

  4. JBlilie
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    WLCs sanctimonius, self-righteous, self-congratulatory tone is just like fingernails on a blackboard. Yikes, what a tool! Almost un-listenable!

    • Jesper Both Pedersen
      Posted August 30, 2013 at 8:50 am | Permalink

      After a little while it becomes white noise to me.

      • Marella
        Posted August 30, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

        I was intending to go to the Melbourne talk, but the thought of having to listen to Craig’s bullshit outweighed the joy of seeing Lawrence, so I bailed.

        • Jesper Both Pedersen
          Posted August 30, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

          Hmm…I’m with you although I would be tempted. :-)

  5. Greg Esres
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    “hypothesis that God exists explains a wide range of the data of human experience that’s very diverse. So it’s an extremely powerful hypothesis.”

    Well, no, you can construct an unlimited number of hypotheses that explain past data; the mark of a powerful hypothesis is one that predicts future data, and the God hypothesis doesn’t do that, which makes it not even weak.

    • Alex Shuffell
      Posted August 30, 2013 at 9:20 am | Permalink

      It’s also very weak in that it doesn’t actually explain anything and it just raises more questions. If the gods hypothesis were to actually explain how they/it did what is claimed of them we could take it seriously. Saying a god did it has just as much meaning as saying my Nan did it.

      • Posted August 30, 2013 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

        Your Nan’s God?!

        /@

        • Alex Shuffell
          Posted August 31, 2013 at 5:08 am | Permalink

          Probably not, but all evidence suggest she’s more powerful. She can talk to more then one person at a time, people can see her, she can move stuff around, makes tea and cakes, etc. Nothing of that could be done naturally.

    • Linda Grilli Calhoun
      Posted August 30, 2013 at 10:00 am | Permalink

      It’s just GOD OF THE GAPS writ large!! L

  6. Chris
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Am listening to the first one. Jesus, Krauss is really going for WLC in the opening presentation.

    “Liar” has been used a lot. Excellent.

    • Posted August 30, 2013 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      I’m loving it. One of the things I have really disliked about typical “debates” of this sort, is that WLC types spout the most horrible, preposterous shit – but with such a civil tone; the opposition is somehow obliged to respond in kind. And then, calling out LIES for what they are… oh no… we simply cannot go there. Not in debates, not in political discourse. No, we need to bend over backwards and use the principle of charity whenever we think we detect nefarious motives and deceptive tactics.

      Screw that. NOT calling out lies and distortions as such is an unnecessary and crippling handicap, especially when that is the opposition’s modus operandi. If WLC and other pricks like him continually demand to share the stage with the likes of Dawkins & Krauss, the religiots should continually be taken to task for their demonstrable lying and their hideous, bronze-age morals.

      Krauss was really kicking it – including getting a few side-digs at that bloviating, biased moderator.

      • Posted August 30, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

        The principle of charity applies, I believe, when it is not known how to take a particular claim. It is evident from WLC’s fetid history at spreading his lies that he really intends to do this; there is no other reasonable assumption. So I believe “charity” does not apply in his regard.

        • Posted August 30, 2013 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

          I think we agree in both regards. Normally, civil discourse demands charity. Repeated, demonstrable deception breaks the rules of civility and demands unmasking and dropping even a pretense of civility in response. Now comes the time for the only logical discourse that remains: shaming and ridicule.

  7. Rens
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    I cant stand the stuff Craig guy says, im pulling my hair out!! The bullets he has on his presentations do not connect at all and make no sense. These people have brains that dont work correctly in abstract thought. Sure they can get up in the morning and brush their teeth, maybe even drive a car with out crashing, but when it comes to imagining things in the universe or deep time there is a giant disconnect.

    Its so frustrating I cant believe it.

  8. bjornove
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Krauss did very well in this debate/discussion

    Of course: christians (on vimeo and youtube) complained that Krauss spent to much time showing the dishonesty of WLC, but I believe it’s time to take the glove of when it comes to show the dishonesty of WLC.

    Finally an opponent to WLC that has done his homework.

    http://www.ex-christadelphians.com/2013/08/a-big-win-for-unbelievers-tonight-in.html

  9. Posted August 30, 2013 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    I’ve watched both videos and Krauss was certainly on form and pulled no punches in showing up WLC to be the liar and charlatan that he is.
    The bald moderator on one of the videos was extremely arrogant and frustrating and came over as a bit of a pseudo-intellectual-asking questions that he thought were smart which Krauss dismissed with great aplomb leaving him confused and struggling to know how to respond.
    The moderator on the other video was much better and seemed to know his own limitations so let the debaters get on with it which is what I’ve been wanting to see for ages. It showed that WLC produces nothing but white noise and allowed Krauss to highlight the incredulity of WLC’s arguments. Krauss also recognises that this kind of ‘softly’ moderated debate is the way forward if meaningful discussions that may lead somewhere are to become the norm in the future.
    Looking forward to the third one if, or when, it’s put online.

    • Nick
      Posted August 30, 2013 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely agree om mod of 1st “debate”. I watched this last night about midnight Pacific Time and posted to the forum in my Coursera “History of Humankin” course:

      ‘At least one of the three planned debates in Australia between Lawrence Krauss (physicist) and William Lane Craig (Christian apologist) is now available on Vimeo. I just watched it and it is pretty good, although the moderator is a bit of an ass and definitely a biased interlocutor.

      Krauss is a bright and passionate speaker, and his 15 minute intro speech is a pretty good smack-down of Craig. It might come across as crude to people who aren’t knowledgeable about the outright dishonesty that Craig normally resorts to in his debates, but actually serves to limit Craig in using his dishonest tactics. I am sure that people who claim “faith” (pretending to know what you can’t possibly know), will have a different perception of who has the best arguments than will the reality-based crowd.’

      I understand that the Sydney (missing 2nd video) might have been even worse; maybe that is why it is missing.

      • Nick
        Posted August 30, 2013 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

        “worse” in the last sentence is meant to refer to the quality of the moderator.

  10. Shawn Beaulieu
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    This ‘debate’ was an abomination. Professor Krauss, I regret to say, delivered one of the most contrived and querulous opening statements I’ve ever had the displeasure of listening to—and I say this as a proud owner of ‘A Universe From Nothing’ and ‘Atom’. His argument was little more than an aggregate of borrowed wisdom, laced with poor humor and impotent rage. He more closely resembled a petulant child than a serious academic.

    I’m not even going to comment on the news that Krauss used a ‘bull shit detector’ during Craig’s speech, other than to say how utterly classless it was.

    …Not that I have anything good to say about Dr. Craig, who was his characteristically condescending and fraudulent self. I just wish I hadn’t wasted my time listening to Krauss, a man I still admire, clumsily recycle old arguments.

    • JBlilie
      Posted August 30, 2013 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

      “characteristically condescending and fraudulent self”

      Oh yes! That hits it nicely! Thank YOU!

      • jh
        Posted August 30, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

        I don’t entirely agree with your assessment, but it never ceases to amaze me how many atheists look really bad at times debating Craig. Krauss performance is actually pretty good all thinks considered compared to some really bad performances put in by atheists in debates with Craig. Again as I said below it mystifies me because essentially the arguments of Craig are hundreds of years old, and yet atheists often stumble over them or their own presentation looks so disjointed that Craig looks better in comparison.

        • godsbuster
          Posted August 30, 2013 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

          The worst own goal would have to have been Hitch who can be seen speaking in tones of awe and reverence of Craig as a formidable and eminent debater just prior to their debate.

          • jh
            Posted August 30, 2013 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

            I respect Dawkins for flatly refusing to debate WLC, in no uncertain terms for his barbarism which cannot be said for Krauss, Hitch, Harris, Atkins, Stenger, etc. Krauss you asked for the hubub about fake review of the Unbelievers movie by debating this guy. You should have done homework an known what a slime ball he is. Don’t give this guy a platform anymore. That ship has sailed.

    • h2ocean
      Posted August 30, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

      I definitely think that he didn’t win over some people in the audience with the buzzer. I think he has every right to get worked up and excited, but when the other person sits back and is calm, it usually makes the excited person look desperate, or arrogant, etc.

      I think Sam Harris did a much better job with Craig, but kudos to Krauss for calling him out on his BS

  11. Posted August 30, 2013 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    I loved the debate. Congratulations to Dr. Krauss for demolishing LC. The moderator was more concerned about enhancing his own image and essentially made a fool of himself. Dr. Krauss showed great tolerance of his comments, and those of LC which were just the same old arguments he and other apologists have repeated for many years.

  12. Robert
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Maybe I shouldn’t post before watching the third one, but I’m very eager to see it and already incensed about William Lane Craig just watching the first one. What a disgstingly immoral person. It’s good that he gets exposed, but we need more taking apart of his argument, too many people just aren’t smart enough to see through it.

  13. JBlilie
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    I had to turn it off after a while. WLC’s nonsense just got to me too much. Hearsay from the 1st century should be taken seriously as evidence?

  14. godsbuster
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    The question I continue to be left with after hearing Craig is: Can he possibly really believe what he says or is it just a lucrative schtick that gets him public appearances, book sales and cred on the biblethumping reservation as the leading christian apologist and purported slayer of Hitch, Harris and Krauss et al?

    • Jesper Both Pedersen
      Posted August 30, 2013 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      Mo’ money, no problems…

      • David
        Posted August 31, 2013 at 11:56 pm | Permalink

        I think WLC believes and he’s a good debater who plays to his audience.

  15. rose
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Was able to watch with no problem.I guess I have streaming bandwidth who knew. I joined Vimeo have a tendency to join everything lately.

    • Jesper Both Pedersen
      Posted August 30, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      Ditto. I just watched the third part. It took a few cups of coffee to stay awake when WLC was talking, but all around an ok debate.

  16. jh
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    One think I have never got a strait answer about in these William Lane Craig debates is why no one explicitly points out that his arguments (except the Jesus resurrection one) at best only argue for a weak form of deism even if you grant them. Also if a deistic god exists, it would be like gravity, the only god that people actually care about is an interventionist god – the god who stops or rescues people from hurricanes or murder or holocausts at a level greater than homeopathy. That god, as far as I can tell doesn’t exist. It’s so easy to cross swords about the origin of the universe, which Krauss himself admits, though theories abound is far from a settled issue, and may be for quite some time. It seems that if you just drive this point home – there is no interventionist god, it would have a bigger impact, because it is more easily to refute.

    Also, I think the reason many atheists don’t do well in arguments with Craig is they underestimate his rhetorical skills and abilities to gish gallop and dodge criticisms, and perhaps don’t study his almost verbatim arguments from debate to debate. I don’t mean that the arguments of Craig come across as legitimate, its just that he’s perfected his technique so well that someone with no background knowledge on science, faith and the arguments presented (unfortunately most people) may come away thinking that arguments for and against god are roughly a draw. Frankly, atheists have unwittingly given Craig an undeserved sense of legitimacy by the fact that so many have felt the need to debate him over the years. Why do we think it is even important to debate arguments that were pretty much refuted by David Hume and others, way before even Darwin.

    • David
      Posted September 1, 2013 at 12:05 am | Permalink

      Craig is smart enough to know that he only has to defend the Deist god whose coattails are, if he’s successful, long enough to drag the interventionist god into viability for the less sophisticated believer. Smart move, eh?

      No. Atheists don’t do well against Craig because they only know science and not theology. If they knew both like Craig they would demolish him and then publicly pity him and so teach his audiences to pity him too.

  17. Posted August 30, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    It seems to me that prof. Krause’s arguments could be enormously strengthened if only he understood the way WLC uses language to deceive. Some easy examples…
    WLC takes a winning hand every time by referring to ‘God’ as if it is a widely accepted, clear and unambiguous concept, equivalent to other things known to exist. In other words he has already won the case for the existence of his ‘God’ by getting others to repeat the word as if it is a real thing. But he, WLC, doesn’t believe in a ‘God’, he believes in the whole panoply of gods, devil, angels saints, and assorted helpers. He always singles-out a ‘God’, because he knows that his single ‘god’ can be assigned particular properties that strongly imply her existence. When you insist, time and again with a religious person that what they believe-in are ‘their gods’, and that their particular collection of gods has parallels in other religions also populated with gods, then their case falls apart, and they are left with no contentious argument. But see this? If ever WLC attempts to define his ‘God’, he uses language a high level of abstraction. You may already know that all metaphysics arguments are based upon a curiosity of metaphysics. It is called in my book, ‘The Abstraction Scales’, and it goes like this. The higher the abstraction the more the ‘truth/falsehood’ content equalises. You can do the abstraction scales yourself. Take a simple statement of fact; ‘The cat sat on the mat’, and then, by degrees, make that statement a little more abstract…
    1 The cat sat on the mat
    2 The mammal was above material
    3 One thing was above another
    4 Two things were in a spatial arrangement
    Voilà, the truth-content has gone missing because the statement has lost all reality. And that, my friends, is why theological debate filled the great libraries of the world with metaphysics, and halted the intellectual progress of humankind!
    Now look at another WLC trick of language. He repeatedly refers to ‘Maximal Great Beings’ But there are no such beings in my world; it is a theological term that cannot be introduced into non theological debate on the existence of the gods; because to allow Maximal Great Being into any conversation is to acknowledge its existence. Don’t just ask WLC to define those pesky Great Beings; simply avow that alongside other supernatural beings, you can only see them as fiction. The fact that they are real to religious folk is their problem.
    Buy Dr Krause is correct about one important thing; that WLC is so utterly convinced of the existence of his gods that he feels justified in parodying the scientific world, and racing over the many dodgy parts of his beliefs.

    • jh
      Posted August 30, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      He gish gallops far better that gish ever could.

    • Vaal
      Posted September 1, 2013 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

      georgerumens,

      I just wanted to mention you’ve said something very well there that I’ve also had to argue when talking to Christians.

      Christians are prone to appealing to abstractions in order to find principles to make sense of God’s morality and His other characteristics. Classic abstractions for our suffering are “Well, God is like our father, and we accept that being a parent sometimes means drawing lines, delivering punishments and lessons, and also at other times allowing the child to learn for herself…”

      What this does is zoom away from the problem of the particulars that need explaining – e.g. how a God could create or allow something like the Ebola, or cholera, or rabies to ravage innocent young children.
      It’s an attempt to zoom away, defocus from the unjustifiable specifics of the suffering involved.

      Sure, we accept principles like “Parents ought to place restrictions on their children” but one can hardly use that principle to justify a parent chaining her child to a hot boiler 24 hours a day. Nor can we appeal to the more general principle “It’s ok for a parent to punish her children” to justify something like torturing a child in boiling oil for forgetting his boots at school.

      We may start with one acceptable principle but if when we take a look at the SPECIFICS of an action it violates some other moral principles, then we have a problem.

      And that’s what Christians can’t get around.
      They think taking the “wider view,” and it’s defocusing of specifics, is the sign of wisdom. But it’s often just the opposite: it’s a form of intellectual negligence.

      Vaal

  18. Marella
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    I couldn’t get through it. WLC is so full of shit I can’t cope with it.

  19. Posted August 30, 2013 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    As far as I’m concerned, the quality of the speaker/speech is entirely secondary to the quality of the statements made; content trumps style. On that measure, I cannot see how LK can lose against WLC.

  20. SkidMarks
    Posted August 30, 2013 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    Actually Krauss changed his mind about Craig being a liar and charlatan by the 3rd dialogue. This can be seen in his speech. Now he just thinks he is wrong.

  21. Posted August 31, 2013 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    Continuing my theme that Christian Apologetics is contained in rhetoric and metaphysics, (and the dangers of the Abstraction Scales whereby religious abstract concepts have equalised truth/falshoods content), it might be observed that it is characteristic of cults that they generate fallacies. In my book, ‘Origins of Belief and Behaviour’ I have detailed over a hundred common religious fallacies, for illustration. With those examples t hand you can outrun any apologist.
    In a sense all forms of reasoning, deductive and inductive, are in the form of syllogisms, whereby conclusions are drawn from early propositions. The religious use of abstract concepts allows WLC to sneak his conclusions into his early premises. And he always does it. His entire debating technique is based upon sneaking his conclusions early into his premises. Many people sense this is what is going on but cannot put a finger on it.
    So, let us look at another Lane Craig claim, that of The Resurrection’. Once again notice how the concept of ‘The Resurrection’ has been presented as a fait accompli (something already existing). Just by getting you to say those two words, you have brought that concept into being. Of the seventy billion people who have existed upon earth not one has ever come back to life. When someone seems to have come back to life, then we know that the vital signs have been overlooked at burial. The only people ever to come back to life are almost all mythological figures from Egyptian, Greek and Roman mythology.
    When a charismatic figure is killed by his enemies it has long been traditional for the enemies to get rid of the body to stop the grave being a centre of dissent. It happened with Bin Laden and it has always happened. The blindingly obvious disappearance of the mini-god Jesus was that the Romans took the body and threw it into a common grave. It has always happened that way.
    When someone dear to you dies then the human brain cannot accept such a final disappearance and OFTEN makes up excuses. It is commonplace that we think we see a dear friend or relative shortly after their death. When my father died, I had a vivid dream that I was looking down at the sick old man, and I heard a noise behind me. My real, live father, looking much younger, was projecting the image of himself on the wall to tease me. What a dream! But when I awoke, I realised that I would have to accept his death. All this kind of hallucinatory experience is so common,. Surely it is more likely than the religious claims of The Ascension (As much as I love Titian’s painting of it in Venice!)?
    If WLC were to debate me, he would get nowhere, because I can point-out the misuse of logic faster than he can talk, (and he talks very fast to try to stop you reflecting upon what he has just said!)
    Science is not really the subject to combat religious nonsense. You need someone skilled in rhetoric.

    • Posted September 1, 2013 at 4:48 am | Permalink

      Hi George!

      Where can I read your book? Is it out yet?

      Looking forward to see you debate Craig some time in the future. ;-)

  22. Peter Ozzie Jones
    Posted August 31, 2013 at 4:34 am | Permalink

    Prof Krauss also had a discussion in Perth, Western Australia on Thur 22nd August 2013 with a pastor, Rory Shiner. Lawrence was on his way to the 90th b’day bash for Prof Dyson in Singapore.

    There is some info on the outcome here:

    http://www.atheistfoundation.org.au/forums/showthread.php?t=19688

    Maybe there is a video of that 4th Australian discussion?

  23. Boris
    Posted August 31, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    I would crush Craig in a debate.

  24. Boris
    Posted August 31, 2013 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    But then so would my cat.

  25. Scote
    Posted August 31, 2013 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Krauss crushed WLC’s dishonesty with irrefutable audio and video clips in the first debate. It is great to see someone really pull the gloves off with the superficially polite yet entirely disingenuous Craig.

    However, Krauss really fell down on the issues of morality and science, saying that science proved that women and minorities should be treated equally because science proves that they are not inferior. Krauss seems to have missed the implied converse, which is that under that kind of morality people who are inferior can be treated unequally. Science can only inform moral judgments, not make them for us. Krauss and Harris both over state the case for science and morality, and it is a trap that allows WLC a partial upper hand.

    Krauss also erred in constantly touting the import of humans as rational beings in relationship to morality. He overstates our rationality. When it comes to morality humans are rationalizing beings more than rational ones. We form snap judgements about morality first, then we come up with rationalizations for why we made the claim. Moral philosophy is just a big convoluted attempt to codify and rationalize our gut rationalizations.

    • jh
      Posted August 31, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Craig is the ultimate rationalizer. In fact I would go as far as to say that Craig doesn’t have faith as much as stubborn pig headed obstinance. That might be helpful if we need assistance in fighting a war, but not so much in determining whether or not there is a god.

      • David
        Posted September 1, 2013 at 1:11 am | Permalink

        Well that works for godists. For them all you have to do is hold your own points and your people to feel vindicated even triumphal.

    • Scote
      Posted August 31, 2013 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

      Grr…I wish Krauss wouldn’t contradict himself on whether science establishes morality. I’m watching the 3′d video and Krauss points out that science isn’t responsible for evil and that people don’t blame architecture, for example, for the evil of the death camp ovens. Then he goes on to claim that science does have a morality, that science tells him that gay people aren’t bad. Wrong. “Bad” is a value judgement. Science just tells him that homosexuality is found in other mammals, not weather that behavior is good or bad.

      Also, I wish both of them would stop saying “The point is…”. Just say the point, not “the point is”.

      The third video is better. Krauss refines his presentation and the moderator doesn’t mistake himself for a panel member the way the annoying guy in the first video did.

    • David
      Posted September 1, 2013 at 1:19 am | Permalink

      Agreed. I would prefer if Krauss acknowledged that the advances we have had in morality were due to societal and cultural advances that have time after time dragged religion kicking and screaming into the present. And Science has educated those societies and cultures so that they are able to make elevated moral choices.

  26. Dermot C
    Posted August 31, 2013 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    WLC is a smart guy; and a wind-up merchant of the first order.

    Oscar Wilde once said, in response to some Whistler witticism, “I wish I’d said that.” You know the rest.

    There are some things that I wish Prof. Krauss had observed; (who appeared at times as heatedly and inarticulately incandescent as I was the last time a Jehovah’s Witness knocked on my door to peddle his latest fantasy about The OT’s timeless wisdom).

    In the back-and-forth between LK and WLC, moderated by that insufferably pompous chairman in debate 1, you could tell that LK thought nonsense of most of his ‘brief’, but eternally verbose, ‘questions’.

    WLC propounded ideas that he knew to be false; BUT, and he knew this, anti-Christian.

    At one point, WLC alleges the idea that Christianity is anti-slavery; it’s not. He knows about the very early Christian concept of kenosis – that you should, following the example of Jesus Christ, ‘self-empty’ your own will, become as a slave to God. Some Pauline epistle, I can’t remember which, recommends the civilized norms with which a master should treat his slave, and the obligations a slave owes his master. Somewhere in the Gospels – again I don’t have the reference to hand – Jesus talks about his God as Master. Jesus is a slave; btw. which god is a slave? Evidence that JC probably existed.

    WLC, knowing his Bible, knows all that about 1st century Christian slavery approbation; he’s winging it.

    Secondly, regarding the Canaanite controversy. I can write, with almost complete certainty, that WLC knows these facts.

    He mentions Canaanite religious degradation lasting 400 years – he knows that in the OT 40 years designates the length of a generation; so any multiple of it is an OT trope, not to be taken literally, to be viewed as a story, myth, legend, nation-building.

    He knows that the Apiru were quite probably the Hebrew polytheistic nomads who moved west into Canaan from east of the Jordan Valley; a generation or so after the Philistines, as a part of the Sea Peoples, occupied what is now the Gaza Strip.

    He knows that biblical Hebrew is a Canaanite language, like Ammonite, Moabite and Edomite, none of whose speakers later did so well under the Israelites – btw, at one point LK really gets to WLC; you can tell because WLC refers to the Israelites as Israelis (sounds petty, but someone as precise and sure of himself as WLC would really be upset at that). WLC knows that the culturally more advanced Canaanites (alphabetized language, city-states, centralized authority) were intrinsically, and possibly ethnically, connected to the (nomadic, polytheistic) people of Isra-El.

    He also probably knows that it was a Canaanite around 1700 BCE, who produced the first alphabet, for which they obviously deserved a good monotheistic kicking.

    WLC probably also knows that there is no archaeological confirmation of the Canaanite genocide story: that the OT story was written 600 years after its Late Bronze Age setting; by Deuteronomic theologians/historians seeking to fetishize the Israelite foundation myth of the God El/Yahweh, not divorced, but largely separated from his female co-God.

    WLC knows that it was a conscious attempt by elements amongst the Israelites to assert the ancient and eternal one God: versus the unfortunate tendency of the Israelites, Judahites and Samarians to worship summat a little less sympathetic to us as the Chosen People; such as Baal, whom the Israelites went back to again and again from at least the 10th to the 6th centuries BCE.

    WLC knows all of this; but he knows the mind of God.

    Lawrence Krauss knows much more than I’ll ever know. But I wish I had had the Socratic disinterestedness to respond to WLC something like it has just taken me hours to write – and fact-check – the above.

    Shalom.

    • Scote
      Posted August 31, 2013 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

      I think Krauss was too charitable in the 3d video when he decided that WLC was not a lying charlatan but rather a sincere person. I think WLC knows many, if not most, of his arguments are balderdash.

      I think Jerry would do far better against WLC than Krauss. Jerry is way better on cutting through the BS of Sophisticated Theology and Philosophy without falling into the simplistic traps that Krauss has painted himself into with his overstated claims of the morality of science.

  27. Dave Hooke
    Posted August 31, 2013 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    The moderator in the “Has Science Buried God” debate should never be allowed to moderate a discussion again. He was insufferably verbose. No-one attended to hear him.

  28. Robert
    Posted August 31, 2013 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

    Having watched the whole of the 2 videos now (parts 1 and 3, also hoping part 2 goes up) there’s so much to say but I think the most important is that Krauss was great in my opinion.

    For one the approach Krauss and Harris both have one thing in common – don’t play the theologians’ (or philosophers’) game. Describe reality. don’t start from scratch and try to build a philosophical model according to their rules.

    Another thing both of them did that was very solid was not only claim that Craig is immoral but show him being immoral. Harris did that wonderfully and Krauss included the typical example of WLC being an immoral piece of shit in his opening. But even better than that, for me, was the stretch beginning at 1:08:28 when the moderator asks about the is/ought problem that leads to WLC asking “Why is it wrong to cause pain to others?”

    Finally, my takeaway from this is the firmness with which Krauss put forward the idea that morality is impossible without science. The quote I liked was “If you don’t know the consequences of your actions, you can’t have morality.” I think that’s extremely important and a very good way of connecting empirical evidence to morality.

    A few random comments about the discussion and the subject in general:

    - The moderator in part 1 was a condescending prick to Krauss.

    - I also liked it when Krauss asked asked WLC about which faith and WLC said “this is a generic argument”. It’s a laughable, expected excuse, but very important this sort of debate he engages in.

    - The other point where Craig says disgusting stuff is pointed out by another comment, 1hr 18 mins or so.

    - TLDR, describing how things work > making shit up. The more these debates can show that, the better. I think Harris and Krauss succeeded in moving the debates in this direction.

  29. Michael M.
    Posted August 31, 2013 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    The most repulsive element of Billy’s performance is during the first debate. Krauss starts talking about of moral/ethical responsibilities when it comes to educating children, eventually stating that teaching religion to young people is a form of child abuse. Craigy bolts upright as though someone just slipped a dildo up where he’s begging for relief, as though he’s never heard the comparison made famous by Dawkins.

    It’s precisely that kind of faux-exasperation fused with his inherent smugness that makes his bullshit all the more repulsive.

    He couldn’t construct an argument without begging the question to save his nonsensical ministry from the dustbin.

    • Posted September 1, 2013 at 5:41 am | Permalink

      As much as I enjoyed the crudity of your remarks, and especially your observations upon WLC’s ’faux-exasperation’ as a technique to avoid damaging argument, – I feel that Freedom Of Religion is such an important freedom, that we should endorse that freedom, even while denying the religious any rights to bully and threaten children with the inevitable religious menaces.
      You will all have noticed how WLC always appears dressed as his father, and ready to take his desk at City Hall, in the ‘Office of Circumlocution’, but my own ‘Human Sub-Set Theory predicts that would always be the case. Human Sub-Set Theory proposes that there is not one type of human consciousness, but many, apparent to us as disparate human groups, – one group, for example, formal, self-conscious, cursed with an over-regard for authority, and displeased with displays of personality and individuality, and members of that group are called ‘Drones’. Prof Krause seems to be a representative of another group (my group) called ‘Workers’, who are careless of their appearance, and act in a spontaneous and individual way whatever the circumstance.
      The importance of the distinction is that it really does allow you to understand religion, perhaps for the first time. Most Drones are religious. ‘Drones’ are that third of any human society to be found in the ‘clerical-administrative- professional-educational’ parts of any society. They are recognisable by their early belief that they can best self-actualise as people by identifying an ‘authority-structure’ and by finding their place within that structure. Those of you who work in academia will recognise that many minor and unremarkable academics seem to have found a hidey-hole within the academic hierarchy, where they serve their time producing nothing original while attending committee meetings and wasting word endorsing the foundational beliefs of their discipline.
      Drones may be found in any society anywhere, typically conservatively dressed, and working within inter-dependent teams. They have remarkable characteristics. They will not admit as much, but for them, all knowledge comes from authority. And that ancient knowledge is starkly in contrast to the living world around them. And so they withdraw into their cells, studies, surgeries, offices and lawyer’s chambers where they are able to control exterior intrusion into their world. My book details the lives, choices, beliefs, behaviour and appearance of Drones, and so runs to 1870 pages! No hypothesis can have credibility without the mountain of evidence.
      The thing is that each of the several extant forms of consciousness is based upon a selection of fundamental beliefs concerning the nature of reality. Those fundamental assumptions seem to mature and be embedded in the adolescent years. It’s not indoctrination, but rather caused by a selective interpretation of the world by the parent and by the surrounding society, which leads the individual to certain precepts, and then to internalise and then utilise those fundamental beliefs, when making sense of the world around him or her. And based upon those fundamental assumptions, and by logic!!, the adolescent comes to believe in an ‘intentional universe’, and that is a short hop and step from believing in gods.
      In my years of study of Drones, what seems extraordinary to me is that the assumptions concerning the nature of reality carried in the head of Drones seem, well, strangely arbitrary; strangely lacking in credibility; and usually weird. But the real impact of their beliefs in authority is that, because the traditional wisdom carried by authority clashes with everything to be observed and known about the universe, Drones from an early age are obliged to lose any ability to ‘process experiential information’. As you see with WLC, his core belief in his authority-structure over-rides any truths from the land of the sentient.

      • jh
        Posted September 1, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

        This could serve as a treatise on ant or bee society or a commentary on 1984. Interesting observations.

  30. Vaal
    Posted September 1, 2013 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Aagh.

    As much as I can get into Krauss’ directness, e.g. shutting down the idea religion deserves a place at the table in terms of understanding reality, I just knew there were going to be some cringe-worthy moments as well. I’m just half-way through the first debate and already Krauss has been committing naturalistic fallacies and missing the point on some issues. But that’s what you get when you think philosophy is to be ignored – you just end up doing it anyway, and badly. E.g. Krauss’ just assuming a moral consequentialism/utilitarianism and not even realizing it or caring, and hence begging the question. It’s not that a case can’t be made for what Krauss is saying; it’s just that Krauss can’t make it unless he understands when he’s doing things like begging the question, and unfortunately for him it actually will take some philosophical acquaintance with the subject to do so.
    He’s such a brilliant guy and has so many tools for a debate, but he disarms himself to the extent that thinking more deeply about his assumptions enters the realm of philosophy, and he won’t be good at defending those assumptions if he remains too squeamish about philosophy to go that deep.

    Of course Craig’s arguments are ridiculous at every turn, and Krauss also makes many good points as well. But…ugh…tough to watch so far because it was obvious Craig will keep dragging out Krauss’ philosophical weaknesses.

    Prof.

    • Robert
      Posted September 1, 2013 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Why does Krauss have to make a case for consequentialism? He doesn’t. What Krauss does is describe things as they are to the best of his power.

      Craig and the moderator can play the game of labeling it whatever they want “Oh, that’s consequentialism, haha, now we’ve got you, let’s see if you can build a model that justifies all this in the first place without any problems, and when we poke holes in them we win.”

      Like I said (I think, I’ve posted about the debate on multiple sites) Krauss doesn’t play that game and good for him. Krauss is demonstrating that answers lie in describing reality, not in rationalizing a given position nor in starting from scratch to build a logically coherent but entirely abstract model to justify something. That philosophical exercise, intellectual and interesting to some though it may be is not required to justify any trust or belief in science. That’s the game we shouldn’t play.

      It’s beside the point that Craig and the moderator oversimplify consequentialism (I think – I suspect you agree they oversimplify it, even if you don’t think it’s beside the point) but it’s interesting to note.

      • Jesper Both Pedersen
        Posted September 1, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        I do wish the field of philosophy would man up and get to grip with reality.

        Why do we have to keep refuting the same old arguments from pseudo-theologic ideas?

        There’s no evidence dammit. Get over it and move on, please.

        • Vaal
          Posted September 1, 2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

          ^^^ Just wondering if that was a joke. Hard to tell sometimes.

          Vaal

          • Jesper Both Pedersen
            Posted September 1, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

            Nope I’m dead serious. But then again, I’m not an expert on philosophy…I like this guy, though.

            (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U88jj6PSD7w&feature=fvwp&NR=1)

            • Vaal
              Posted September 1, 2013 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

              Ok, well I think you have a distorted, or incomplete view of the domain of subjects within philosophy. One part of philosophy is analyzing the problems with arguments.
              For instance, let’s say Fred claims:

              “I know the Bible is true”

              And you ask: “How do you justify that belief?”

              Fred replies: “Because the Bible says it’s true.”

              Normally we can just point out this argument fails as a justification on the grounds it simply assumes the very claim (we can know the bible is true) it was asked to justify.
              Don’t you think we can do that? If so, this is one of the uses of philosophy: identifying problematical structures in arguments, and establishing what makes for good and bad arguments.

              Or do you think it takes some sort of scientific experiment to show what is wrong with that argument, and if so, what experiment would that be?

              Vaal.

              • Jesper Both Pedersen
                Posted September 2, 2013 at 3:49 am | Permalink

                @vaal

                ““I know the Bible is true”

                And you ask: “How do you justify that belief?”

                Fred replies: “Because the Bible says it’s true.””

                To me it is very simple. I don’t accept something is true based solely on what it says in a book. I need empirical evidence too.

                I don’t play along with game that the bible might be true, and thus I feel no need to justify my dismissal of its claims. It’s been more than 2000 years and we have seen no evidence whatsoever about the proposed god. Enough is enough.

                As I stated, I wish the field of philosophy would man up and distance itself frome these pseudo-religious questions.

                Physical reality is all there is as far as we know, and I do wish that more philosophers would stand up against the William Lane Craigs of this world.

                Krauss did a decent job with the means at his disposal, but because he is forced to play the philosophers/theologican game his points about the real physical world takes a back seat in the mind of the spectator. It’s as if he is forced to give credence to the notion that there might just be a god even though, again, there’s no evidence whatsoever.

                I think philosophy is in real danger of somewhere down the line being dismissed as a valid branch of science/the humanities, unless it develops fairly rapidly to conform to the realities of the universe.

                Enough with the meta-physics. Let’s get real.

      • Vaal
        Posted September 1, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

        Robert,

        “Why does Krauss have to make a case for consequentialism?”

        Because at that point the very nature of morality was under debate, so it’s begging the question. Would you be fine if Craig said: “Why do I have to make a case for God’s commands being moral? Allowing Craig to simply assume Divine Command Theory to be true and on that assumption dismiss Krauss’s moral claims?

        “That philosophical exercise, intellectual and interesting to some though it may be is not required to justify any trust or belief in science. That’s the game we shouldn’t play.”

        But you’ll immediately notice you’d never accept such an excuse from theists. The philosophical exercise IS the exercise of justifying a trust or belief in science/scientific method. If you are saying “Well, we don’t have to justify using science” then your opponent can say the same thing. And you will immediately point out when a theist has not justified his beliefs or religious “knowledge,” so it would be very hypocritical to say “You guys have to justify your approach, but we don’t have to.”

        And once you get into such justifications, it takes looking at the assumptions being made, the logical structure of the arguments, the connection of the observations by reason, etc…which is doing philosophy.

        I mean, at one point Krauss says science has shown homosexuality is ok, not evil, BECAUSE science shows it occurs naturally even in other animals.

        This leaves the implicit logic being “if X occurs naturally, it’s not bad.” But, of course, all sorts of things we think are “bad” occur naturally as well. Many animals also devour their infants, or mates, or engage in internecine behavior, rape…and rabies “occurs naturally” as well, so is it good?

        So does it really follow that it’s a good argument to say “X is good BECAUSE we can show it occurs naturally?”

        Clearly the answer is “no,” so Krauss has not really explained the logic there to any degree of satisfaction. It just happens that philosophers have identified such problematical arguments, e.g. “the naturalistic fallacy.” What bugs me is that the anti-philosophy brigade, including Krauss, will just reflexively slip into philosophical mode as soon as they recognize the bad logic and unjustified conclusions of the theist, but when it comes time to aim the critical eye at his own assumptions, then it’s “Oh, let’s not get bogged down in that philosophy and semantic nonsense.”

        Krauss certainly says a lot of true things (we’d agree) but what he too often fails to do when criticizing religion and defending atheism is to provide a cogent argument stringing it together, a justification, for what he’s saying. Craig is canny and pounces on these problems. And it’s just grating because this allows the theistic side, Craig included, to actually be RIGHT when they point out the atheist has not justified his claims.

        Vaal

        (Not that Krauss didn’t make any good arguments, certainly he did. I’m just picking on some weaknesses that just seem sadly unnecessary “gives” to the other side)

  31. Robert
    Posted September 1, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

    Let me start by saying it’s probably more accurate for me to describe myself as anti-false equivalence, not anti-philosophy. Having said that let me try to again defend the idea that we don’t have to play the game Craig plays and philosophers sadly fall into in my reply to your points:

    “Because at that point the very nature of morality was under debate, so it’s begging the question. Would you be fine if Craig said: “Why do I have to make a case for God’s commands being moral? Allowing Craig to simply assume Divine Command Theory to be true and on that assumption dismiss Krauss’s moral claims?”

    Morality is what we call certain behaviors animals engage in. Krauss is descriptive; he is not defending consequentialism. That philosophy has a model called consequentialism that matches some of Krauss’ conclusions is of no consequence to Krauss or to science. Pun totally not intended.

    Craig cannot simply do the same because he is not describing reality, he is trying to build a framework from scratch that can justify reality. He has built his own problem (well philosophy and theology have and he inherited it). Krauss is not playing that game.

    “But you’ll immediately notice you’d never accept such an excuse from theists. The philosophical exercise IS the exercise of justifying a trust or belief in science/scientific method. If you are saying “Well, we don’t have to justify using science” then your opponent can say the same thing. And you will immediately point out when a theist has not justified his beliefs or religious “knowledge,” so it would be very hypocritical to say “You guys have to justify your approach, but we don’t have to.”

    It’s not hypocritical at all, you are falling for the false equivalence. Science works, we describe reality, we succeed in moving forward. What is there to justify? It’s not the same kind of belief and because it’s not this debate begins to break down into word salad and/or dishonest semantics games. Again, Krauss is not justifying anything, he is providing a process by which we can describe things and predict future outcomes reliably.

    Philosophy wants to also provide a framework that can externally justify that approach. Why? Cause it’s been doing this for the longest time (and generally failing at that but succeeding at a lot of other useful stuff). Theology then comes in and says, see, we’re all playing the same game here! We’re on solid ground at least as much as you are. Science then keeps on working, with an internal debate over whether it should pay attention to that particular desire from philosophy or not but still succeeding at making its predictions.

    “And once you get into such justifications, it takes looking at the assumptions being made, the logical structure of the arguments, the connection of the observations by reason, etc…which is doing philosophy.”

    Agreed. Which is why we don’t have to play the game in the first place. Here’s the key part to me: it’s all made up! Philosophy’s approach is to make up a model starting from scratch. It has been trying for longer than modern science has been around. In doing so it has identified approaches such as consequentialism and others that may or may not succeed in providing the justification that it wants when it builds a model so that it can say “hey, philosophy agrees we can justify science!” But so what?

    Science is not about making shit up first. It’s about describing the world. That philosophy wants it to fit into its “well, lets’ start from scratch and how do we get there now?” approach is irrelevant.
    “I mean, at one point Krauss says science has shown homosexuality is ok, not evil, BECAUSE science shows it occurs naturally even in other animals.

    This leaves the implicit logic being “if X occurs naturally, it’s not bad.” But, of course, all sorts of things we think are “bad” occur naturally as well. Many animals also devour their infants, or mates, or engage in internecine behavior, rape…and rabies “occurs naturally” as well, so is it good?

    So does it really follow that it’s a good argument to say “X is good BECAUSE we can show it occurs naturally?”

    There’s a bit of dishonesty here on your part, unintentional as far as I can tell (and I realize even that is harsh but stand by it). You have pulled the comment out of the context. No, I’m not claiming you’ve misquoted, but Krauss is dealing with a culture where one of the objections to homosexuality is that goes against god’s nature or any number of variations on the idea that it’s unnatural.

    Finding it in nature is sufficient to take down the “it’s unnatural” argument. It is the theologian’s problem to then make something better than word salad to re-justify the objection to homosexuality. Krauss does not leave implicit the logic you claim. It is still possible in his view to have things that occur in nature and are bad, just not because god says so.

    “Craig is canny and pounces on these problems. And it’s just grating because this allows the theistic side, Craig included, to actually be RIGHT when they point out the atheist has not justified his claims.”

    What I don’t understand is why people don’t see through this and say “oh now Craig can say he was right”. Why are you playing Craig’s game? Krauss isn’t. There is no equivalence between science and theology just because philosophy wants everyone who tries to make sense of the world to play the same game. Science got the way to describe the world right, theology and philosophy didn’t despite the head start they both had. Philosophy’s not useless, but that doesn’t mean that everyone has to play its game and if you don’t you’re suddenly giving theology a chance to sneak in.

    At this point there are probably a million better ways I myself came up with to answer some of your points, but this is long enough already and I’ll leave it as is.

    TLDR: You did not succeed in explaining why the scientist needs to justify his claims within the framework of philosophy in the first place. Krauss and Harris are not playing that game. That is the “Science works, deal with it” approach. You can beg science to play your game but the fact that philosophy and theology have been around for a while and want to play science’s game isn’t enough to claim that any of their approaches gets to be right just because science didn’t justify itself on their terms.

    • Robert
      Posted September 1, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      1. Holy crap that was long. and 2. Apologies Vaal that was meant to be a direct response to you @2:45pm, not a new thread.

    • Vaal
      Posted September 1, 2013 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

      Robert,

      Krauss is descriptive; he is not defending consequentialism.

      No, Krauss wasn’t just talking of morality from a descriptive stance; he was taking a normative position and claiming that much of what Craig tries to defend, e.g. the killing of the Amalekite children, was MORALLY reprehensible and obscene. He was very explicit about this and also challenged Craig to justify his position that killing the Amalekite children could have been the moral thing to do. And he rejected Craig’s “justification.” He calls the Bible “immoral.” Krauss says we need to bury God in order to build a more ethical world. That’s taking a normative position on what ought to be considered morally acceptable reasons or not.

      And Krauss did so by on a hodge podge of assuming utilitarian-type values that he did not argue for, as well as committing fallacies along the way. And no it’s not remotely dishonest to point out Krauss was committing the naturalistic fallacy, it’s simply descriptive.

      Krauss said on homosexuality:

      “We now know that homosexuality is not evil…we now know that homosexuality is common in all mammals, it’s not unnatural, it’s absolutely normal.”

      And:

      “You might have believed that homosexuality was evil. But science has told us that all mammalian species have homosexuality, there’s nothing unnatural or evil about it.”

      Those are virtually dictionary-perfect examples of the naturalistic fallacy.

      First, note that Krauss’ claim wouldn’t even rebuff Craig’s Divine Command Theory of morality anyway. On Divine Command Theory, if God says homosexual acts are evil then they are evil. That someone may have a naturally occurring desire for homosexual sex no more means it’s “good” to act on it, on Craig’s moral theory, than it would be good to act on any of our other natural tendencies to desire to sin. So Krauss saying science tells us homosexual urges can exist naturally isn’t an argument showing some error in Craig’s Christian morality.

      Secondly, listen to Krauss’s total argument. He isn’t only trying to point to some inconsistency within a theological framework, he was claiming that science and reason can and does tell us what is bad and good, and that science here can tell us that we were wrong to think homosexuality was evil. And the ONLY basis he gives there is to appeal to the fact the science tells us homosexuality occurs naturally…and hence is “not evil.”

      We can’t go making good arguments for Kruass if what he offered were actually bad arguments. That’s just cheerleading where, so long as the conclusion is one we share, we’ll forgive any sloppiness in how the debater got to that conclusion and fill in the blanks as we wish.

      On a general note: It appears to me you think that doing philosophy is only ever the building-castles-in-the-sky or sitting in an armchair dreaming up ideas of how the world is. Certainly you get some people doing that in philosophy, but that is not the whole of philosophy and it’s not the part I’m talking about. I’m talking about the simple analyzing of arguments for logical consistency, fallacies etc, And striving for conceptual clarity, looking at what we can and do mean by our terms, what assumptions we are bringing etc. All of these are useful and necessary to uncover whether we, or any opponent, actually have justifications for our claims, our arguments, our beliefs.

      Yes, Craig DOES try to trick people philosophically, and keep dragging the conversations to philosophy as that is the only realm in which he thinks he has any arguments. But debates are ABOUT justifications, and if our side can’t provide underlying justifications – without question begging and circularity – then we don’t fare very well. And when you say “I don’t really have to justify what I’m about to claim” then what have you won, aside from just preaching to the choir?

      Vaal

      • Robert
        Posted September 1, 2013 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

        Krauss pointed out why he was in those events, and essentially it was to preach, though not necessarily to the choir.

        Again, he did it by not playing Craig’s game and he was under no obligation to do so.

        Krauss’ normative position on morality comes from a descriptive understanding of the world. This is why in my second post (29) above I noted that the statement “If you don’t know the consequences of your actions, you can’t have morality” was one of the most important things to take from all of these videos.

        Morality cannot exist by making shit up. The whole philosophical exercise of creating models of morality is only useful as long as it deals with how things are. Otherwise it’s as useful as building a morality based on the policies of the United Federation of Planets. You can stumble across the right answers, but you’re doing it by metaphor at best.

        The dishonesty I pointed out was not that you claimed Krauss made a naturalistic fallacy, he did technically do that on the surface. The dishonesty is in then concluding that “oh no, in Krauss’ view anything that’s natural is morally ok”. That requires a complete throwing away of context. That is only acceptable if you’re engaging in building a model from scratch. If we were in a philosophy classroom, fine, and that’s what Craig wants to fool everyone into – believing that his opponent is talking in the same context he is. Why do you cede this ground to Craig? The debate does not even call for that so why do you want him to backtrack and start from scratch when morality becomes one of the topics of the discussion? That’s playing Craig’s game and it’s why gish gallops “work”.

        I don’t believe that all philosophy is or can be is building castles in the sky and while I know I’ve come close to painting that picture I did insert the statement that philosophy’s not useless for a reason. I chose not to go into what I find useful though (which I think I can simply say I agree with you on: conceptual clarity, etc.)

        The immediate trap of course is thinking that conceptual clarity magics philosophical ideas into existence but there are other traps and one of them is believing that not having a philosophical model upon which to justify what you do somehow shoots down what you do. It does not. That is a failing of philosophy, not of science.

        The justification for science is that it works. It does not need to play the philosophical game to convince people to “believe” in it. Let’s not even get in to the different definitions of belief that are conflated here.

        Finally, the Divine Command Theory part you commented on. That is a prime example of this word salad problem. Who cares if Krauss didn’t refute it? It’s a joke that does not even deserve to be given attention. It twists language in order to be internally consistent. It cannot be taken seriously and those who take it seriously are failing to employ the conceptual clarity that can be useful in philosophy, instead they are muddying the waters by redefining words and hoping to get away with relying on both definitions at once. If evil means “what god says is evil” we are not doing philosophy, we’re butchering linguistics.

        • Vaal
          Posted September 1, 2013 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

          “The dishonesty is in then concluding that “oh no, in Krauss’ view anything that’s natural is morally ok”.

          I think you’ve misunderstood the point. It’s not that I conclude Krauss thinks anything natural is morally ok; it’s exactly the opposite! We both know that there are many naturally occurring things that Krauss would NOT think is “ok.” And that is where the problem lies, that unexplained inconsistency. When he makes an argument that homosexuality is ok, not bad, “because science shows it is naturally occurring” that’s ALL he gives, all he links, to the claim that we “now know homosexuality is not evil.”

          Of course Krauss would not think rape is ok “just because it also occurs naturally in primates” as well as in humans. But if “naturally occurring” does not entail something is ok, that shows the problem in his logic that homosexuality is ok, which based on the fact science tells us “it occurred naturally.”

          Pointing out these problems and inconsistencies is one of the areas of philosophy and it has nothing to do with just “making shit up.”

          Vaal

          • Robert
            Posted September 1, 2013 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

            I don’t think you actually believed that he believes everything natural is ok based on that statement but concede I did not make that clear.

            I do think that what he said was sufficient to counter Craig and the discussion did not require him to justify his own moral framework’s reason for believing that homosexuality is ok. He was pointing out moral areas where religion was wrong and science showed as much, not building a brand new system from scratch.

            There is no inconsistency unless you assume he is representing his entire position there.

            This is what baffles me. Why is HE the one required to provide an entire background that makes that statement acceptable? You’re falling for the gish gallop when you think it’s correct to nitpick that point here.

  32. quine001
    Posted September 9, 2013 at 1:30 am | Permalink

    I have written about the debates, Part1 and Part3.

  33. Robert
    Posted September 9, 2013 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    For those who haven’t found it yet but might check in here, part 2 is now up at the original link. (I have not watched yet)

    http://vimeo.com/channels/580821

  34. quine001
    Posted September 16, 2013 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    I have written a review of part 2 here.

  35. Maver1ck
    Posted September 20, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    William Lane Craig didn’t lose that debate, in fact there really wasn’t much of a debate happening at all with Krauss interrupting him, talking over him and going off topic anytime time Dr.Craig tried to articulate his point of view. I think the only reason Dr.Craig would put up with this crap 3 times in a row is for the media exposure.


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