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[soft music]
[audience cheering]
>> Good evening and welcome to Biola University.
My name is Craig Hazen, and I'm the director
the the Master of Arts program in Christan Apologetics here
and I'm honored to be the host tonight
to get things started.
Although the gym is packed with nearly 3,000 people
and it looks like you're stuffed in here pretty well,
and my condolences to those of you who
have already been sitting an hour and have another
couple of hours to go, hang in there.
Hang in there.
But you're not the only ones watching.
There are thousands of people in other venues
on this campus.
Not only that, there are people in overflow sites,
really across the country and around the world.
We have people in 30 states and four different countries
watching this and a special greeting to all of you who
are watching across campus and in places such as
Stockholm and Sri Lanka.
I hope you really enjoy this. [audience cheering]
A special greeting to some distinguished guests tonight.
William Lane Craig's wife, Jan, is here.
Jan, it's good to see you.
Betsey Hewitt is here. [audience applause]
My wife, Karen Hazen, is here.
Dr. Barry Corey, the university president, is here.
[audience cheering] [applause]
Yeah, we've got distinguished philosophers
all over the place.
Doug Given, JP Morton, hi-ho.
All right.
We're thrilled all of you could come.
Well this event was initiated by
the Associated Students of Biola University,
and it makes sense that AS President Eric Weaver
should give a quick welcome on behalf
of the student body.
Eric, come on up. [audience applause]
>> Good evening, everyone.
Biola is a 100 year old Christian un&iversity,
which desires to wrestle with big questions
in an honest and open way.
In my senior year, my AS colleague, Mark Keith, and I,
thought we should sponsor a blockbuster event
that pursues the biggest question of all:
it is reasonable to believe that God exists?
A proposal was presented to the Senate
and the student body heartily agreed.
So we invited two acclaimed academic leaders
in this area, William Lane Craig, and Christopher Hitchens,
and along with the wonderful people from the
Apologetics program, we are thrilled to see it
on display tonight.
On behalf of the students at Biola, I hope you really
enjoy this event.
Thank you. [audience applause]
>> Thank you for representing the students, Eric.
You're a senior.
How's that job search going in this economy?
Is that going well? [audience laughing]
We'll give you some help.
Oh no, our career services on Biola, first rank.
Thank you.
Well, the students got this going,
but there is one other important sponsor,
and that is the program that I direct,
the Master of Arts Program in Christian Apologetics.
If you like wrestling with the big questions,
the existence of God, evidence for the resurrection,
and the problem of evil, the historical reliability
of the Bible reconciling science and faith,
this really is a degree program for you.
And if you're watching at a distance and you're
thinking, "I can't do it 'cause I don't live
"in Southern California," that's not the case.
We have this amazing distance learning program
and it's really open to anybody and you don't need
to relocate to Southern California,
although it was a very nice day today.
You might want to consider it.
Although, they've just taxed us into oblivion,
so you may wanna reconsider that.
If you want to find out about these programs,
check out Biola.edu, B-I-O-L-A.edu,
and go to the Christian Apologetics page on that site.
How is this all gonna work tonight?
It's pretty straight forward.
In fact, your hand dandy program will tell you what's
going on, right up at the top, inside panel,
the program numbers one through eight.
It'll guide you through what's taking place
every step of the way during the debate.
So take a look at that.
Toward the end, we will have some time for questions,
but as you notice there's no mics
sitting up in the aisles.
We are going to throw it open to the students.
We have a student section up there, bravo.
[audience cheering]
Students of all stripes.
Now it's your job tonight to think up
some tough questions, and I expect you to actually vet them.
That is, you may have learn in school that there is
no such thing as a dumb question.
That is not true, okay? [audience laughing]
Not to intimidate you, but, check it out.
Do a peer review.
If you come with a question, run it by the person
next to you or on either side,
and let's see how it goes.
So we'll throw it open for some Q and A time
and our thoughtful moderator will make sure it goes well.
All right.
Well when we're done tonight,
there's one other thing you need to be considering,
and that is getting outside of this building
to the pavilion right outside here
and several places along the walk way
to pick up the featured books tonight.
One is God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens,
and another one is Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig.
These are the featured books. [audience cheering]
Pick them up, and you can actually have them signed.
To have them signed, just walk out these building,
look for all the lights, and there's some tables
out there and our distinguished debaters will be out
there signing books and answering your toughest questions
right there at the table, I'm sure.
If you've got a lot of books at home,
and in fact you own a book so you don't need another one,
perhaps you can buy some DVDs or CDs of some
dynamite debates and lectures that Bill Craig
has done around the world.
These are first rate materials and our
Apologetics program is actually the center point
for getting all of these, so if you wanna get
them tonight, they've got wonderful, special deals.
Check out the red flyer in your brochure
and that will tell you the scoop.
You can even pre-order tonight's debate.
If you'd like to get a copy of it,
it's something you want to share with a lot of people,
you can pre-order it tonight, fill out the form,
take it to the table, and they'll move you right through.
Well we're delighted to have Mr. Hitchens here
on campus be we realize that we theists certainly
have the home court advantage, I mean being in
a basketball court, that makes a lot of sense.
After all, it's a Christian university
and it even says, "All glory to God"
or something above the bleachers there,
so clearly this is a home court advantage for the theists.
And I imagine that the crowd here is over
two thirds Evangelical Christian,
although I'm thrilled to see some of the atheist
and agnostic community turn out wearing t-shirts.
I love that.
Yeah, absolutely, yeah. [audience applause]
I was lecturing at the University of South Florida
a few weeks ago and the entire atheist club
came out wearing t-shirts and we had the best time ever
so I expect the same tonight.
Since we have the home court advantage,
those of you who are theists, believers in God,
please, let's be polite to Christopher Hitchens.
He's known to say a provocative thing or two
so if you can practice your polite, golf clap.
[audience laughing] All right?
Let's practice that.
Practice that.
No shouting, no hooting.
There will be plenty of opportunity for it,
but let's restrain ourselves.
And those of you who are from the atheist
and agonistic community, again, no shouting,
no hooting, no hollering.
In fact, Mr. Hitchens, I can guarantee you,
doesn't really need a lot of help.
I just saw a video of him debating like four
prominent Evangelical Theists in Dallas,
and it really wasn't fair.
We needed more theists on the panel,
so I think he will do just fine,
but we're grateful for him to come to sort of
the pit of opposition at Biola University.
But we're grateful to really open up the doors
and run through these big, important questions,
and if the debate is not resolved at the end,
this is a basketball court for goodness sakes,
we'll lower the hoops, we'll turn up the lights,
and we'll let 'em go one on one.
[audience applause]
I hear Chris has game, so we'll see how that goes.
Well let's get to it.
It's my pleasure to introduce our moderator
of the debate tonight, and he'll get this party started.
Hugh Hewitt.
Yes, Hugh Hewitt. [audience applause]
Hugh is a law professor and broadcast journalist
whose nationally syndicated radio show is heard
in more than 120 cities across the United States
every week day by more than two million listeners.
By the way locally this program is heard on KRLA
which is 870 am.
I think it goes from like three to six.
Great program, in fact, I think it's one of the most
important, smartest, fast paced news and issues
program on the airwaves today.
So, check that out.
If you live in outlying regions, check HughHewitt.com
to find out where's he's broadcasting, or podcasting.
Professor Hewitt is a graduate of Harvard College
and the University of Michigan Law School.
He has been teaching constitutional law at
Chapman University Law School since it opened in 1995.
Hugh is a frequent guest on all the big
cable news networks and had written for the most important
newspapers in the country.
He's received three Emmys for his groundbreaking
television work and is the author of eight books
including two best sellers.
Professor Hewitt served for nearly six years
in the Reagan Administration in a variety of posts,
including assistant council in the White House
and special assistant to attorney's general.
Don't miss his daily blog at HughHewitt.com.
He's always been so very generous with his time
toward events like these at Biola,
and we are deeply grateful for his help here tonight.
Join me in welcoming our moderator, Professor Hugh Hewitt.
[audience applause]
>> Thank you ladies and gentlemen.
Number one, please turn off your cell phones.
I repeat, please turn off your cell phones.
Number two, gentlemen, to the extent that any of you have
jackets that are still on, please,
as Ronald Reagan once used to say,
feel free to just throw them on the floor.
It is a little bit warm in here.
Our guests, by virtue of this crowd,
it is obvious, need no introduction.
I am not going to waste time, then,
on elaborate introductions.
I just wish to thank them both for being willing
to participate in this most important of conversations.
It is the best of times, it is the best of times,
for those who like to argue about God in the public square.
Largely because of the rise of new atheists,
such as Mr. Hitchens, Richard Dawkins,
my friend William Lobdell, and others,
who have once again put at the center of the public stage,
the question of whether or not God does exist
and whether or not Jesus Christ is his son.
And it is up to people like William Lane Craig,
prolific author and much beloved professor here,
to enter into that conversation in a way
that is most persuasive and winsome.
And so without further ado, allow me to welcome
up Vanity Fair columnist, prolific author,
my friend, and champion of freedom, Christopher Hitchens.
[audience applause]
And from this,
from this extraordinary lighthouse institution,
another prolific author, an apologist,
a scholar extraordinaire, who like Mr. Hitchens,
has his PhD from a wonderful English university,
Professor William Lane Craig, please, professor.
[audience applause]
This is a very structured debate,
according to classical lines until the questions
at the end.
We begin with an opening argument, 20 minutes,
to Professor Craig.
[audience applause]
>> Good evening.
I am very excited to be participating
in this debate tonight.
Jan and I used to sit in those very bleachers
right over there watching our son John
run up and down this court as a forward
on the Biola Eagles.
And so I feel like I'm playing at the home court tonight.
And I wanna commend Mr. Hitchens for his willingness
to come into this den of lambs
and to defend his views tonight.
On the other hand, if I know Biola students,
I suspected a good many of you, when you came in tonight,
said to yourself, "I'm gonna check my own views at the door,
"and I'm gonna assess the arguments as objectively
"as possible."
I welcome that challenge.
You see the question of God's existence is of interest
not only to religion, but also to philosophy.
Now Mr. Hitchens has made it clear that he
despises and disdains religion,
but presumably he is not so contemptuous of philosophy.
Therefore, as a professional philosopher,
I'm going to approach tonight's question philosophically,
from the standpoint of reason and argument.
I'm convinced that there are better arguments
for theism than for atheism.
So, in tonight's debate, I'm going to defend
two basic contentions.
First, that there's no good arguments that atheism is true.
And secondly, that there are good arguments
that theism is true.
Now, notice carefully the circumscribed limits
of those contentions.
We're not here tonight to debate the social
impact of religion or Old Testament ethics,
or Biblical inerrancy.
All interesting and important topics, no doubt,
but not the subject of tonight's debate,
which is the existence of God.
Consider, then, my first contention,
that there's no good argument that atheism is true.
Atheists have tried for centuries
to disprove the existence of God,
but no one's ever been able to come up
with a successful argument.
So, rather than attack strong men at this point,
I'll just wait to hear Mr. Hitchens present his
arguments against God's existence, and then
I'll respond to them in my next speech.
In the meantime, let's turn to my second main contention,
that there are good arguments that theism is true.
On your program insert, I outlined some of those arguments.
Number one, the cosmological argument.
The question of why anything at all exists
is the most profound question of philosophy.
The philosopher Derek Parfit says,
"No question is more sublime than why there is a universe,
"why there is anything rather than nothing."
Typically atheists have answered this question
by saying that the universe is just eternal and uncaused.
But there are good reasons, both philosophically
and scientifically, to think that the universe
began to exist.
Philosophically, the idea of an infinite past seems absurd.
Just think about it: If the universe never began to exist,
that means that the number of past events
in the history of the universe is infinite.
But mathematicians recognize that the existence of an
actually infinite number of things leads
to self-contradictions.
For example, what is infinity minus infinity?
Well, mathematically you get self-contradictory answers.
This shows that infinity is just an idea in your mind,
but not something that exists in reality.
David Hilbert, perhaps the greatest mathematician of the
20th century, wrote, "The infinite is nowhere
"to be found in reality.
"It neither exists in nature, nor provides a legitimate
"basis for rational thought.
"The role that remains for the infinite to play
"is solely that of an idea."
But that entails that since past events are not just ideas
but are real, the number of past events must be finite,
therefore the series of past events can't go back forever.
Rather, the universe must have begun to exist.
This conclusion has been confirmed by remarkable
discoveries in astronomy and astrophysics.
In one of the most startling developments of modern science
we now have pretty strong evidence that the universe is not
eternal in the past but had an absolute beginning about
13 billion years ago in a cataclysmic event
known as the Big Bang.
What makes the Big Bang so startling is that it represents
the origin of the universe from literally nothing,
for all matter and energy, even physical
space and time themselves, came into being at the Big Bang.
As the physicist P.C.W. Davies explains,
"The coming into being of the universe, as discussed in
"modern science, is not just a matter of imposing some
"sort of organization upon a previous incoherent state
"but literally the coming into being of
"all physical things from nothing."
Now, this puts the atheist in a very awkward position.
As Anthony Kenny of Oxford University urges,
"A proponent of the Big Bang theory,
"at least if he is an atheist,
"must believe that the universe came
"from nothing and by nothing."
But surely that doesn't make sense.
Out of nothing, nothing comes.
So why does the universe exist,
instead of just nothing, where did it come from?
There must have been a cause which brought
the universe into being.
Now as the cause of space and time,
this being must be an uncaused, timeless, spaceless,
immaterial being of unfathomable power.
Moreover, it must be personal as well.
Because the cause must be beyond space and time,
therefore it cannot be physical or material.
Now there are only two kinds of things that fit
that description: either an abstract object,
like numbers, or else a personal mind.
But abstract objects can't cause anything.
Therefore it follows that the cause of the
universe is a transcendent, intelligent mind.
Thus the cosmological argument gives us a
personal creator of the universe.
Two, the teleological argument.
In recent decades scientists have been stunned by the
discovery that the initial conditions
of the Big Bang were fine tuned for the existence
of intelligent life with a precision
and delicacy that literally defied human comprehension.
This fine tuning is of two sorts:
first, when the laws of nature are expressed
as mathematical equations,
you find appearing in them certain constants
like the gravitational constant.
These constants are not determined by the laws of nature.
The laws of nature are consistent with
a wide range of values for these constants.
Second, in addition to these constants there
are certain arbitrary quantities put in
as initial conditions on which the laws of nature operate.
For example, the amount of entropy or the balance between
matter and antimatter in the universe.
Now all of these constants and quantities
fall into an extraordinarily narrow range
of life-permitting values.
Were these constants or quantities
to be altered by less than a hair's breath,
the balance would be destroyed and life would not exist.
To give just one example:
The atomic weak force, if it were altered by as little as
one part out of 10 to the 100th power
would not have permitted a life-permitting universe.
Now there are three possible explanations of
this remarkable fine tuning: physical necessity,
chance, or design.
Now it can't be due to physical necessity because the
constants and quantities are independent
of the laws of nature.
In fact string theory predicts that there are around
10 to the 500th power different possible
universes consistent with nature's laws.
So could the fine tuning be due to chance?
Well, the problem with this alternative
is that the odds against the fine tunings
occurring by accident are so incomprehensibly
great that they cannot be reasonably faced.
The probability that all the constants
and quantities would fall by chance alone into the
infinitesimal life-permitting range is vanishingly small.
We now know that life-prohibiting universes
are vastly more probable than any life-permitting universe.
So if the universe were the product of chance,
the odds are overwhelming that it would be life-prohibiting.
In order to rescue the alternative of chance,
its proponents have therefore been forced
to resort to a radical metaphysical hypothesis.
Namely, that there exists an infinite number
of randomly ordered, undetectable universes
composing a sort of world ensemble
or multiverse of which our universe is but a part.
Somewhere in this infinite world ensemble finely tuned
universes will appear by chance alone
and we happen to be one such world.
Now wholly apart from the fact that there's no independent
evidence that such a world ensemble even exists,
the hypothesis faces a devastating objection,
namely, if our universe is just a random member of an
infinite world ensemble then it is overwhelmingly more
probably that we should be observing a much different
universe than what we in fact observe.
Roger Penrose has calculated that it is
inconceivably more probable that our solar system
should suddenly form through a random collision
of particles than that a finely tuned universe should exist.
Penrose calls it "utter chicken feed" by comparison.
So, if our universe were just a random member of
a world ensemble it is inconceivably more probable
that we should be observing an orderly region
no larger than our solar system.
Observable universes like those are simply much more
plenteous in the world ensemble than finely tuned
worlds like ours and therefore ought to be observed by us.
Since we do not have such observations
that fact strongly dis-confirms the multiverse hypothesis.
On atheism, at least, then it is highly
probable that there is no world ensemble.
The fine tuning of the universe is therefore
plausibly due neither to physical necessity nor to chance.
It therefore follows logically that
the best explanation is design.
Thus the teleological argument gives
us an intelligent designer of the cosmos.
Three, the moral argument.
If God does not exist then objective moral
values do not exist.
By objective moral values I mean moral values
which are valid and binding whether we believe
in them or not.
Many theists and atheists agree that if God
does not exist then moral values are not
objective in this way.
Michael Ruse, a noted philosopher of science, explains,
"The position of the modern evolutionist
"is that morality is a biological adaptation,
"no less than our hands and feet and teeth.
"Considered as a rationally justifiable set
"of claims about an objective something, ethics is illusory.
"I appreciate that when someone says,
"'love thy neighbor as thyself,'
"they think they are referring above and beyond themselves.
"Nevertheless, such reference is truly without foundation.
"Morality is just an aid to survival
"and reproduction and any deeper meaning is illusory."
Like Professor Ruse I just don't see
any reason to think that in the absence of God,
the morality which has emerged among these
imperfectly evolved primates we call Homo sapiens is
objective, and here Mr. Hitchens seems to agree with me.
He says moral values are just innate predispositions,
ingrained into us by evolution.
Such predispositions, he says, are inevitable
for any animal endowed with social instincts.
On the atheistic view then an action like rape
is not socially advantageous and so in
the course of human development has become taboo,
but that does absolutely nothing to prove that rape is
really morally wrong.
On the atheistic view there's nothing really
wrong with raping someone.
But the problem is that objective values do exist
and deep down we all know it.
In moral experience we apprehend
a realm of objective moral goods and evils.
Actions like rape, cruelty, and child abuse
aren't just socially unacceptable behavior,
they're moral abominations.
Some things, at least, are really wrong.
Similarly love, equality, and self-sacrifice
are really good.
But then it follows logically and necessarily
that God exists.
Number four, the resurrection of Jesus.
The historical person Jesus of Nazareth
was a remarkable individual.
Historians have reached something of a consensus
that the historical Jesus came on the scene with an
unprecedented sense of divine authority,
the authority to stand and speak in God's place.
He claimed that in Himself the Kingdom of God
had come and as visible demonstrations of this
fact He carried out a ministry of miracle working
and exorcisms.
But the supreme confirmation of
His claim was His resurrection from the dead.
If Jesus did rise from the dead than
it would seem that we have a divine miracle
on our hands and thus evidence for the existence of God.
Now most people probably think that the resurrection of
Jesus is something you just believe in, by faith or not.
But there are actually three established facts
recognized by the majority of New Testament
historians today which I believe are best explained
by the resurrection of Jesus.
Fact number one: on the Sunday after His crucifixion,
Jesus' tomb was discovered empty by a group
of His women followers.
According to Jakob Kremer, an Austrian specialist,
by far most scholars hold firmly to the reliability
of the biblical statements about the empty tomb.
Fact number two: on separate occasions different individuals
in groups experienced appearances of Jesus
alive after his death.
According to the prominent New Testament
critic Gerd Lüdemann, it may be taken as historically
certain that the disciples had experiences after Jesus'
death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.
These appearances were witnessed not only by believers
but also by unbelievers, skeptics, and even enemies.
Fact number three: the original disciples suddenly
came to believe in the resurrection of Jesus
despite having every predisposition to the contrary.
Jews had no belief in a dying, much less rising Messiah.
And Jewish beliefs about the afterlife prohibited anyone's
rising from the dead before the resurrection
at the end of the world.
Nevertheless the original disciples came to believe so
strongly that God had raised Jesus from the dead
that they were willing to die for the truth of
that belief.
N.T. Wright, an eminent New Testament
scholar concludes, "That is why as a historian
"I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity
"unless Jesus rose again leaving an empty tomb behind him."
Attempts to explain away these three great facts
like the disciples stole the body or Jesus wasn't really
dead have been universally rejected by
contemporary scholarship.
The simple fact is that there just is no plausible,
naturalistic explanation of these facts.
And therefore it seems to me the Christian
is amply justified in believing that Jesus
rose from the dead and was who he claimed to be.
But that entails that God exists.
Finally, number five, the immediate experience of God.
This isn't really an argument for God's existence,
rather it's the claim that you can know that
God exists wholly apart from argument,
simply by immediately experiencing him.
Philosophers call beliefs like these
"properly basic beliefs."
They aren't based on other beliefs rather
they're part of the foundation of a person's
system of beliefs.
Other properly basic beliefs include the belief
in the reality of the external world,
the belief in the existence of the past
and the presence of other minds like your own.
When you think about it none of these beliefs can be proved.
But, although these sorts of beliefs
are basic for us that doesn't mean they're arbitrary.
Rather they're grounded in the sense
that they're formed in the context of certain experiences.
In the experiential context of seeing
and hearing and feeling things I naturally
form the belief in a world of physical objects.
And thus my beliefs are not arbitrary
but appropriately grounded in experience.
They're not merely basic but properly basic.
In the same way, belief in God is,
for those who know him, a properly basic belief
grounded in our experience of God.
Now, if this is right there's a danger that
arguments for God's existence could actually
distract your attention from God himself.
If you're sincerely seeking God then
God will make his existence evident to you.
We mustn't so concentrate on the external arguments
that we fail to hear the inner voice of God
speaking to our own hearts.
For those who listen, God becomes
an immediate reality in their lives.
So, in conclusion then we've seen five
good arguments to think that God exists.
If Mr. Hitchens wants us to believe instead that
God does not exist, then he must first tear down
all five of the arguments that I presented and
then in their place erect a case of his own
to prove that God does not exist.
Unless and until he does that I think that theism
is the more plausible world view.
[audience applause]
>> Well, am I audible?
Am I audible to all?
Well, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters,
comrades, friends, thanks for coming out,
at Senator Larry Craig actually did say
at his press conference. [audience laughing]
Thank you, Mr. Hewitt and Dr. Craig for being
among the very many, very, very many Christians
who have so generously and hospitably
and warmly taken me up on the challenge
I issued when I started my little book tour
and welcomed me to your places to have this
most important of all discussions.
I can't express my gratitude enough.
And thanks to the very nice young ladies
who I ran into at The Elephant Bar this afternoon
where I hadn't expected a posse of
Biola students to be on staff, but where I thought,
"God, they're everywhere now." [audience laughing]
Now, what I have discovered in voyaging around
this country and others in this debate
and debating with Hindus, with Muslims, with Jews,
with Christians of all stripes,
is that the arguments are all essentially
the same for belief in the supernatural,
for belief in faith, for belief in God,
but that there are very interesting
and noteworthy discrepancies between them.
And one that I want to call attention
to at the beginning of this evening
is between those like my friend Doug Wilson
with whom I've now done a book of argument
about Christian apologetics,
who would call himself a presuppositionalist,
in other words, for whom really
it's only necessary to discover the workings
of God's will in the cosmos and to assume
that the truth of Christianity is already proven
and what are called, they include Dr. Craig
with great honor and respect in this, the evidentialists.
Now, I want to begin by saying that this distinction
strikes me first as a very charming distinction
and second as false, or perhaps as a distinction
without a difference.
Well, why do I say charming?
Because I think it's rather sweet that people
of faith also think they ought to have some
evidence and I think it's progress of a kind.
After all, if we had been having this debate in the
mid-19th century, Professor Craig or his
equivalent would have known little or probably
nothing about the laws of physics and biology,
maybe even less than I know now, which is,
to say, quite a lot in it's way.
And they would have grounded themselves,
or he would have grounded himself, on faith,
on Scripture, on revelation, on the prospect
of salvation, on the means of grace,
and the hope of glory and perhaps on Paley's
natural theology.
Paley, who had the same rooms, or had had the
same rooms later occupied by Charles Darwin
in Cambridge with its watchmaker theory
of design that I know I don't have to expound
to you but which briefly suggests that
if an aborigine is walking along a beach
and finds a gold watch ticking he knows not
what it's for or where it came from
or who made it but he knows it's not a rock,
he knows it's not a vegetable, he knows it
must have had a designer.
The Paley analogy held for most Christians
for many years because they were willing to make
the assumption that we were mechanisms and that,
therefore, there must be a watchmaker.
But now that it's been, here's where the
presuppositionalist-versus-evidentialist dichotomy
begins to kick in-now it's been rather painstakingly
and elaborately demonstrated to the satisfaction
of most people, I don't want to just use arguments
from authority, but it's not very much contested any more,
that we are not designed as creatures,
but that we evolved by a rather laborious combination
of random mutation and natural selection
into the species that we are today.
It is, of course, open to the faithful
to say that all this was, now that they come to know it,
now that it becomes available to everybody,
now that they think about it,
and now that they've stopped opposing it or trying ban it,
then they can say, "Ah, actually, on second thought
"the evolution was all part of the design."
Well, as you will recognize, ladies and gentlemen,
there are some arguments I can't be expected
to refute or rebut because there's no way
around that argument.
I mean, if everything, including evolution,
which isn't a design, is nonetheless part
of a divine design than all the advantage
goes to the person who's willing to believe that.
That cannot be disproved but it does seem to
be a very poor, very weak argument because
the test of a good argument is that it is
falsifiable not that it's unfalsifiable.
So this I would therefore, this tactic,
or this style of argument, which we've had
some evidence of this evening, I would rebaptize
or when I dare say rechristen
it as retrospective evidentialism.
In other words everything can,
in due time, if you have enough faith, be made to fit.
And you too are all quite free to believe
that a sentient creator deliberately,
consciously put himself, a being,
put himself or herself or itself to the trouble
of going through huge epochs of birth
and death of species over eons of time in which 99%,
in the course of which at least 99.9% of all species,
all life forms, ever to have appeared on earth have
become extinct, as we nearly did as a species ourselves.
I invite you to look up the very alarming and beautiful
and brilliant account by the National Geographic's
coordinator of the genome project.
By the way you should send in your little sample
from the inside of you cheek and have your
African ancestry traced.
It's absolutely fascinating to follow
the mitochondrial DNA that we all have in common
and that we have in common with other species,
other primates, and other life forms
and find out where in Africa you came from.
But there came a time, probably about
180,000 years ago, when, due to a terrible
climatic event, probably in Indonesia,
an appalling global warming crisis occurred
and the estimate is that the number of humans
in Africa went down to between 40 and 30,000.
This close, this close, think about fine tuning.
This close to joining every other species
that had gone extinct.
And that's our Exodus story is that somehow
we don't know how because it's not written in any Scripture,
it's not told in any book, it's not part
of any superstitious narrative but somehow we escaped
from Africa to cooler latitudes was made,
but that's how close it was.
You have to be able to imagine that all this
mass extinction and death and randomness
is the will of a being.
You are absolutely free to believe that if you wish.
And all of this should happen so that
one very imperfect race of evolved primates
should have the opportunity to become Christians
or to turn up at this gym tonight, that all of
that was done with us in view.
It's a curious kind of solipsism,
it's a curious kind of self-centeredness.
I was always brought up to believe that
Christians were modest and humble,
they comported themselves with due humility.
This, there's a certain arrogance to this
assumption all of this, all of this extraordinary
development was all about us and we were
the intended and the desired result
and everything else was in the discard.
The tremendous wastefulness of it,
the tremendous cruelty of it, the tremendous caprice of it,
the tremendous tinkering and incompetence of it,
never mind at least we're here and we can
be people of faith.
It doesn't work me, I have to simply say that
and I think there may be questions of psychology
involved in this as well.
Believe it if you can, I can't stop you.
Believe it if you like, you're welcome.
It's obviously impossible, as I said before,
to disprove and it equally obviously helps you
to believe it if, as we all are,
you're in the happy position of knowing the outcome,
in other words we are here.
But there's a fallacy lurking in there somewhere too,
is there not?
Now it's often said, it was said tonight,
and Dr. Craig said it in print,
that atheists think they can prove the nonexistence of God.
This, in fact, very slightly but crucially misrepresents
what we've always said.
There's nothing new about the New Atheists,
it's just we're recent, there's nothing particularly,
Dr. Victor Stenger, a great scientist,
has written a book called The Failed Hypothesis,
which he says he thinks that science
can now license the claim that there definitely is no God,
but he's unique in that, and I think
very bold and courageous.
Here's what we argue.
We argue quite simply
that there's no plausible or convincing reason,
certainly no evidential one, to believe
that there is such an entity, and that all
observable phenomena, including the cosmological
one to which I'm coming, are explicable
without the hypothesis.
You don't need the assumption.
And this objection itself, our school falls
into at least two, perhaps three sections.
There's no such thing, no such word though
there should be, as "adeism" or as being an "adeist"
but there if was one I would say that's what I was.
I don't believe that we are here as the result
of a design or that by making the
appropriate propitiations and adopting
the appropriate postures and following
the appropriate rituals we can overcome
death I don't believe that and for
a priori of reasons don't.
If there was such a force,
which I cannot prove by definition that there was not,
if there was an entity that was responsible
for the beginning of the cosmos, and that
also happened to be busily engineering
the very laborious product, production of life on
our little planet, it still wouldn't prove that
this entity cared about us, answered prayers,
cared what church we went to, or whether