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Great debates: William Lane Craig versus Sam Harris tomorrow night


Topic: Is the Foundation of Morality Natural or Supernatural?

(Thursday, April 7 – 7:00pm – 9:00pm Eastern time)

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Live webcast: www.ndtv.net

One viewer commented

… the atheist damage control machine is going full throttle! Craig absolutely wiped the floor with Krauss. It might be the worst debate performance ever versus Craig,


Check out the “damage control” comments from Lawrence Krauss that Richard Dawkins posted on his website!

Krauss on Dawkins’s site

PZ Myers added his usual shower of roses too…

Other views of the Krauss-Craig debate:

Wintery Knight’s summary

Possible Worlds

Always have a reason

Letters to Nature

BA77, It appears you did give credit. I simply overlooked it - an error on my part. CannuckianYankee
CY, I should give full credit where credit is due, winteryKnight is responsible for that excellent, and not too snarky :) , summary. bornagain77
Ba77: "What about the people in the Lord of the Rings, are they going to Hell?" :) - Yes, he actually mentioned this. CannuckianYankee
"Here’s the problem with these debates, which will always get the theists in trouble" Should read: "always get the atheists in trouble." CannuckianYankee
BA77, Good summary. Thanks. I listened to the entire debate, and was rather dismayed that Dr. Harris did not address the ought/is dichotomy even though Dr. Craig mentioned it several times. I know we're going to be hounded for declaring Dr. Craig the winner here, but here's two observations, which will make this obvious. 1) Dr Craig actually addresses what Dr. Harris says in his book, that is directly related to the subject of the debate; while Harris goes off on several tangents that are not related - Such as his red herring regarding God and evil, and his other red herring regarding our problem avoiding hell if Islam is true. 2) Craig keeps the debate on subject, and does not go into side issues. He even objected to two questions from the audience, because the questions were not directly related to the subject of the debate. Here's the problem with these debates, which will always get the theists in trouble - because theirs is more an emotional appeal rather than a reasoned discourse - and Harris is a master of the emotional appeal: They all bring up the same red herrings, and they use them in rhetorical rather than in reasoned manners; Craig is prepared for all the red herrings because they are brought up in debate after debate. Harris tells the audience at the beginning that he was contacted by several colleagues prior to yesterday's debate, telling him to watch himself with Craig. Sound advice, because Craig knows all the angles. However, Harris did not watch himself, and he got pounded. I wonder if Craig tires of these debates. It seems he has to keep addressing the same questions every time from the atheists. Craig's the winner! CannuckianYankee
H'mm: Event: Dr Craig (a philosopher-theologian, with a focus on the cosmological argument and cosmological fine tuning) sweeps the floor yet again, this time twice in as many weeks. "Rationalist" Reaction: "Nothing to see there, let's move on, fellow atheists . . . " Maybe, we need to think again? GEM of TKI kairosfocus
Audio and summary of Craig - Harris debate - This is funny http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2011/04/07/audio-and-summary-of-the-william-lane-craig-vs-sam-harris-debate/ SUMMARY OF THE DEBATE This summary is not AS SNARKY as the Lawrence Krauss summary or the Christopher Hitchens summary. Dr. Craig’s opening speech: Introduction: Harris and Craig agree on objective morality What is the foundation of morality? What makes certain actions right or wrong? Two claims if God exists, then we have a sound foundation for objective moral values and duties if God does not exist, then we do not have a sound foundation for objective moral values and duties 1) Theism grounds morality Objective moral values Theism provides sound foundation for objective moral values - objective moral values are grounded in God - God is the locus and paradigm of moral value - God is, by nature, the standard for what is right and wrong Objective moral duties Theism provides a sound foundation for objective moral duties - God’s nature is expressed as commands for us - God’s commands for us are not arbitrary - they must be consistent with his own nature - and they reflect his moral character - the essence of morality in theism is to love God and also to love your neighbor 2) Atheism does not ground morality Objective moral values What is the basis for objective moral values on atheism? - on atheism, human beings are accidental products of evolution - on atheism, there is no reason to believe that human well-being is any more important than the well-being of any other animal - Harris denies that the objective moral value is from Platonic forms - Harris wants to ground moral values in nature - but nature is morally neutral - the “morality” of humans is just a set of evolved customs that help them to survive and reproduce - this morality is just a set of conventions, it doesn’t refer to anything that has an objective existence - quotes Michael Ruse: “morality is just an aid to survival, and any deeper meaning is illusory” - if we were to rewind evolution and start it again, another set of conventions might have evolved - to say that morality is about human well-being is to commit “speciesism” - quotes Richard Dawkins: “there is no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pointless indifference” What does Harris say: - Harris redefines the word “good” to mean the well-being of humans - Harris “solves” the problem of moral value by just asserting that HUMAN well-being is the good - Harris isn’t talking about what is good and evil - Harris only talks about what is conducive to human “flourishing” Objective moral duties What is the basis of objective moral duties on atheism? - first, natural science tells us only what is, not what ought to be - quotes Jerry Fodor: “science cannot tell us that we have a moral obligation to take actions to increase human flourishing” - on the naturalistic worldview, humans are animals – and there are no OBJECTIVE moral duties - where do moral obligations come from on atheism? - they are just conventions that are ingrained into us by social evolution - as human societies evolve, certain actions are unfashionable - people who act “immorally” against their society’s conventions are just being unfashionable - bad actions like rape and murder happen all the time in the animal kingdom - second, Harris believes that there is no free will – all human actions are causally determined - if there is no free will, then there is no moral responsibility - no one is responsible for the things they do, on atheism - on atheism, humans have no control over the actions they take, and cannot make moral choices, or be morally responsible Conclusion: - Harris and I mostly agree on practical ethics, but only theists have a foundation for objective moral values and duties Dr. Harris’ opening speech: God is not needed to ground moral values and moral duties Good means maximizing human well-being for the largest number of people Religion is not necessary for a “universal” morality Religion is a bad foundation for “universal” morality Facts and values: Moral values are the products of human evolution E.g. – Sexual jealousy is the result of biological evolution And then these ideas of right and wrong are enshrined in cultural institutions like marriage Religious people insert God in to explain values, when evolution is the real explanation Moral disagreements: I personal don’t agree with the ethics of the God of Abraham I have no basis for an objective moral standard, but the God of Abraham fails to meet my personal preferences Dr. Craig lies when he quotes me, half his quotes are of other people I quoted, not me But I’m not going to say which quote he lied about Goodness is what makes you feel happy: Questions of right and wrong depend upon brains Brains are natural entities Science can measure well-being in brain states States of affairs in which the majority of brains have high well-being I’m a good person because I don’t like the Taliban: The Taliban is bad because the majority of their brains don’t have high well-being I think throwing battery acid in women’s faces is bad The Taliban thinks that throwing battery acid in women’s faces is good What determines right and wrong is brain states of well-being Insults against religion = Dr. Craig: religion / Dr. Craig doesn’t value evidence religion / Dr. Craig doesn’t value logic religion / Dr. Craig doesn’t value intellectual honesty Dr. Craig’s first rebuttal: 1) Theism is a good foundation for moral values and duties Harris says: - Craig thinks that if God doesn’t exist, then good and evil would have no meaning Craig says: - But Craig says that he is not saying that God is required for moral semantics - He is addressing the question of the ontological grounding Harris says: - The God of the Bible is mean Craig says: - divine command theory doesn’t require that the Bible be the set of commands - in any case, the old testament passages can be defended in Paul Copan’s book Harris says: - Religion isn’t needed for universal morality Craig says: - the issue isn’t universality, because the Nazis could have won, and put in a universal morality - the issue is if they had won, would there be any standard to condemn them Harris says: - Good and evil are related to the number of brain states of well-being Craig says: - Harris uses good and evil in non-moral ways - Harris isn’t talking about moral good and moral evil - Harris is talking about pleasure and misery - Harris is equating moral good and moral evil with feelings of pleasure and feelings of misery - Harris claims that the property of being good is identical with human flourishing - it is possible that the continuum of human well-being is not identical with the moral landscape - in order for them to be identical, there cannot be this possibility or it fails the law of identity - you could have psychopaths with happy brain states that represent a peak in the moral landscape Harris says: - If we have a moral duty to do anything, we have a duty to avoid feeling miserable” Craig: - moral obligations arise when there is an authority who can issue binding commands - on atheism, there is no authority who can issue binding commands - without free will, morality makes no sense since there is no free will - no free will means no moral duties, and no moral responsibilities Dr. Harris’ first rebuttal: I don’t like Hell and I don’t like suffering and I don’t like Christians: There is no evidence that Hell exists Think of the parents of the children of people who die in tsunamis If God allows people to suffer, then he doesn’t exist, because God’s job is to make us not suffer God can’t exist, because some people are born in the wrong culture, and never hear about Jesus Some people pray to the Monkey God, why don’t they go to heaven? What about the people in the Lord of the Rings, are they going to Hell? What about people who repent just before being executed, are they going to heaven? God is cruel and unjust because he lets innocent people suffer God is worse than a psychopath People who believe in God are evil People who believe in God are narcissists God commanded stuff that I don’t like, so he’s evil Suppose God were evil – then people would have to do evil things Religious people think that saying Latin phrases turn pancakes into the body of Elvis Presley The evidence for God is actually not very good, if you avoid read any Christian scholars Christianity is a cult of human sacrifice The people who wrote the Bible were really stupid Christians are psychopaths Dr. Craig’s second rebuttal: Sam Harris cannot make any judgments about moral values and moral duties on atheism On atheism, there is no foundation for making objective moral judgments Harris didn’t respond to anything Craig said Harris says that Christians only believe in God to avoid Hell Red herrings: Craig says that people who become Christians do it because God is the good Christians don’t pursue a relationship with God for fire insurance The problem of evil - not relevant to the debate topic The problem of the unevangelized - not relevant to the debate topic Evil actually proves that God exists - if evil exists, then there is an objective moral standard - if there is an objective moral standard, then God exists Harris has no foundation for saying that Christian beliefs are morally bad Harris has no basis for making moral judgments Harris’ remark that theists are psychopathic - Harris’ remark is as stupid as it is insulting Harris says that the Old Testament promoted - first, there was no slavery in the Old Testament it was indentured servitude - second, that’s not relevant to the debate topic Harris mentions the Taliban - but the response to the Taliban is not to say that God doesn’t exist - the response to the Taliban is to say that they have the wrong God - the real God never commanded them to do those things Dr. Harris’ second rebuttal: I’m a scientist, Craig is stupid, I’ve meditated with wise yogis and lamas, I don’t like the Taliban: When I make a scientific case for morality, I didn’t really mean that it was scientific You just have to assume that misery is morally evil, and happiness is morally good, even if that can’t be proved scientifically I’m a scientist Science is great Dr. Craig is stupid Dr. Craig is not a scientist Science is better than religion You can ground an objective standard of morality and objective moral duties and moral responsibility on arbitrary brain states of accidentally evolved biologically determined monkeys Dr. Craig’s question for me about my unproven assumptions is a stupid question I prayed to the Monkey God in a cave and he told me about objective morality I have spent a lot of time studying meditation with wise yogis and lamas I consider some people to be spiritual Jesus I can imagine that Jesus was very spiritual and charismatic We don’t have to use logic and reason to debate about morality, we can meditate on the Monkey God i don’t like the Taliban Dr. Craig’s third rebuttal: Harris didn’t reply to anything I said Harris admitted that psychopaths can occupy the peaks of the moral landscape So on Harris’ view, you can commit unspeakable acts of cruelty and still have a brain state with well-being Dr. Harris’ third rebuttal: Dr. Craig is a Muslim, Dr. Craig is the Taliban, Dr. Craig is a Muslim Taliban Muslim Jihadi: How many of you in the audience are Muslims Muslims think that non-Muslims are going to Hell Christianity and Islam are identical Dr. Craig is a Muslim! Dr. Craig is the Taliban! Dr. Craig wants to jihad me! bornagain77
Here is the audio of the Craig - Harris debate; http://www.brianauten.com/Apologetics/debate-craig-harris.mp3 bornagain77
I've pretty much stirred a hornet's nest over at rationalskepticism.org sorry http://www.rationalskepticism.org/nontheism/craig-vs-harris-atheists-prepare-your-excuses-t21174.html Bantay
I've checked out some popular atheist forums. They're already distancing themselves from Harris, already making excuses for why Harris will not prevail. Bantay
To those looking forward to the Craig/Harris debate tonight, here is an inside look; The God Debate II: An Inside Look http://thehub.crc.nd.edu/2011/03/27/the-god-debate-ii-an-inside-look/ bornagain77
I wish to exhort any Christians here to pray for Dr. Craig for this evening's debate if it hasn't crossed your mind yet. Charlie
The equation, in words said that if the probability, given the data, gave one a greater than 50% likelihood for God’s existence, then this was evidence. He even presented this as a pseudo- Bayesian Argument.
I didn't watch the whole thing, but this is NOT what Craig argued. Craig argued that evidence is something that increases the probability of belief in something. In other words, without evidence the chances of belief for that thing are lower, and this is the definition of "evidence." Try again Krauss. tragic mishap

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