Saturday, March 03, 2007


Craig vs. Wolpert - a mini-debate from radio 4

Have a listen to this mini debate between William Lane Craig and Lewis Wolpert on BBC Radio 4.

Wolpert just doesn't get Craig's philosophical points, which are correct. Having said that he thinks there is evidence for God (Craig mentions the kalam cosmological argument, the moral argument and the fine tuning design argument), Craig challenges Wolpert's assumption that one must have evidence for God in order to rationally believe in God. Craig points to the existence of properly basic beliefs, beliefs that are rational to hold but which are not justified on the basis of other beliefs. If there were no properly basic beliefs humans could not rationally believe anything because we would have to have an infinite regress of evidence for all our beliefs, which is impossible. Havind had this explained with several analogies, Wolpert reveals that he just didn't get the point by simply repeating the same objection.

The same point about infinite regress and explanation comes into play when Craig answers Wolpert's 'who designed the designer?' objection to the design argument. Craig points out that for an explanation of some set of data to be rational, one need not have an explanation of the explanation - if one did have to do that, then explanation would be inmpossible because once again to explain anything would invoke an infinite regress, in which case science would be impossible. Hence Wolpert's use of the 'explain that explanation' demand is rather ironic!

Tom Price has a neat summary of the actual debate between Craig and Wolpert, which shows Wolpert failing to learn the lessons of his mini-debate with Craig:

William Lane Craig vs. Lewis Wolpert

Craig, 'God exists, here is the evidence.'
Wolpert, 'God doesn't exist, there is no evidence.'
Craig, 'God exists, here is the evidence.'
Wolpert, 'God doesn't exist, who made God?'
Craig, 'God does exist, he is an uncaused eternal being. Here is the evidence.'
Wolpert, 'God doesn't exist. He hasn't done anything in the last 2,000 years.'
Craig, 'That's chronological snobbery. You don't tell the time with an argument, you don't tell if an argument is true or false, of if evidence is good or bad with a watch.'
Wolpert, 'God doesn't exist. We believe because we have a notion of cause and effect, this leads to toolmaking, and also to belief in God.'
Craig, 'That's the genetic fallacy. To confuse the origin of a belief with it's truth or falsity. You need to deal with the arguments and evidence that I have presented.'
Wolpert, 'God doesn't exist. There is no evidence. Who made God?'
Craig, 'Here is the evidence. God is an uncaused being. God does exist.'
Wolpert, 'God doesn't exist. There is no evidence.'
Craig, 'God does exist. Here is the evidence.'

Here is another eye-witness report of the Lewis-Wolpert debate from Raskolnikov (P.S. The Peter Williams who has a comment on this page is not me!)

Craig is currently touring England with UCCF in the 'Reasonable Faith' Tour of debates and lectures.

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