In the debate between Christian neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and atheist broadcaster Matt Dillahunty, the question of raping a baby was bound to arise:
[Last time out] He accused Dillahunty of using science as “a crutch” for his atheism.
But now Dillahunty asks the Big One, seriously, if there is a God, why is there evil?News, “Dillahunty asks the 2nd oldest question: If God exists, why evil?” at Mind Matters News
Matt Dillahunty: I am fine with being able to make objective assessments, but I’m not aware of any model where anyone could demonstrate that there is an objective moral law that is universal.
Michael Egnor: I’m not asking whether you think people could demonstrate it. I’m asking, do you believe that it exists? [01:17:00]
Matt Dillahunty: No. I don’t believe in things that people can’t demonstrate exist.
Michael Egnor: You don’t believe that raping a baby is objectively, morally wrong. You think it’s just a matter of opinion?
Matt Dillahunty: I’m on record, for many years now, of advocating for situational morality, situational ethics, and rejecting the notion that because a culture says so that means that it’s so. I define morality as the well-being of thinking creatures. It’s not a complete definition, it’s what I think we’ve been working towards. I think anybody who’s talking about morality is probably talking about well-being of thinking creatures and humans in particular quite often. Once you decide, hey, we’re talking about the well-being of humans, now there are physical facts within the universe that are non-subjective that determine whether or not something is in our best interest or not, like chopping off someone’s head is not good for them. It’s an objective physical fact that chopping off someone’s head is in conflict with those things that are good for them. [01:18:00]
The only objection remaining is someone could say, there’s no reason why anybody has to care about well-being. and on that grounds, yeah. You don’t have to care about well-being, just like you don’t have to care about being healthy. Health isn’t particularly well-defined either, like physical health. We’re learning more and more about it, but it’s not like there’s some objective, true standard of health. Instead, there are a model of, we would like to be healthier, and we learn facts about the universe, and so we get healthier.
Michael Egnor: I had pointed out earlier that raising the question of objective morality stimulates atheists to do an incredible tap dance. [01:19:00]
Michael Egnor: Matt, I’m asking you a simple question. Is it objectively wrong…
Matt Dillahunty: No.
Michael Egnor: Is it objectively wrong to rape a baby, or is it just a matter of opinion?
Matt Dillahunty: It’s objectively wrong if the foundation of your morality holds that it would be objectively assessed as wrong.
Michael Egnor: No, no, no, no. Is it objectively wrong? Or is it just a matter of opinion? And if it is objectively wrong, what mind does that moral principle come from? [01:19:30]
Matt Dillahunty: This gets down to, how do you define morality? If you define it as well-being, once you’ve defined morality, then you can say, is this moral? If you’re just going to say right or wrong, then I need to know what standard we’re going to be using for right or wrong. If we’re going to use mine, which is…
Michael Egnor: I didn’t ask you any of that, man. I said, is it objectively wrong to rape babies? Yes or no, Matt. It’s a one word answer. Yes or no. [01:20:00]
Takehome: Egnor argues that there is an objective moral law against such acts; Dillahunty argues, no, it is all just human judgment.
Next: Does morality really exist? Does it really come from God?
The debate to date:
- Debate: Former atheist neurosurgeon vs. former Christian activist. At Theology Unleashed, each gets a chance to state his case and interrogate the other. In a lively debate at Theology Unleashed, neurosurgeon Michael Egnor and broadcaster Matt Dillahunty clash over the existence of God.
- A neurosurgeon’s ten proofs for the existence of God. First, how did a medic, formerly an atheist, who cuts open people’s brains for a living, come to be sure there is irrefutable proof for God? In a lively debate at Theology Unleashed, Michael Egnor and Matt Dillahunty clash over “Does God exist?” Egnor starts off.
- Atheist Dillahunty spots fallacies in Christian Egnor’s views. “My position is that it’s unacceptable to believe something if the available evidence does not support it.” Dillahunty: We can’t conclusively disprove an unfalsifiable proposition. And that is what most “God” definitions, at least as far as I can tell, are.
- Egnor now tries to find out what Dillahunty actually knows… About philosophical arguments for the existence of God, as he begins a rebuttal. Atheist Dillahunty appears unable to recall the philosophical arguments for God’s existence, which poses a challenge for Egnor in rebutting him.
- Egnor, Dillahunty dispute the basic causes behind the universe. In a peppery exchange, Egnor argues that proofs of God’s existence follow the same logical structure as proofs in science. If the universe begins in a singularity (where Einstein’s equations break down), what lies behind it? Egnor challenges Dillahunty on that.
- Is Matt Dillahunty using science as a crutch for his atheism? That’s neurosurgeon Michael Egnor’s accusation in this third part of the debate, which features a continued discussion of singularities, where conventional “laws of nature” break down.
If the “supernatural” means “outside of conventional nature,” Michael Egnor argues, science routinely accepts it, based on evidence.
You may also wish to read:
Science can and does point to God’s existence. Michael Egnor: Natural science is not at all methodologically naturalist — it routinely points to causes outside of nature. If we are to understand natural effects, we must be open to all kinds of causes, including causes that transcend nature.
The Divine Hiddenness argument against God’s existence = nonsense. God in Himself is immeasurably greater than we are, and He transcends all human knowledge. A God with whom we do not struggle — who is not in some substantial and painful way hidden to us — is not God but is a mere figment of our imagination.