Friday, May 8, 2009

CT panel with Craig and Hitchens

Video and audio are available here of the Christian Book Expo / Christianity Today panel debate with William Lane Craig, Christopher Hitchens, Douglas Wilson, Lee Strobel, and Jim Dennison.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pre-Order the Debate DVD

Biola has pre-ordering set up for the DVD of the entire Does God Exist? debate between William Lane Craig and Christopher Hitchens.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Thank You!

Thank you for joining us. We have only been able to capture a small part of this debate. I encourage you to register at so you can purchase the debate audio or video in its entirety.

Good night.

Wrap Up

Hitchens wraps up his time by noting how recent trends in religion damages societies, such as Wahabbism and even how some in America seek to restrict the rights of others.

Craig believes the movement of modernity - the idea of our rational self sufficiency without god - is what has left us bankrupt. Craig is excited to be apart of the renaissance on Christian philosophy and feels it will lead to greater thought about God as we continue.

Hitchens on Evil

Hitchens notes a man who kept his wife and children prisoner and who raped beat and tortured them for 25 years. So, am I to conclude that he was doing something that should be considered justified- that their horrific suffering serves a purpose?

Problem of Suffering

A student asks about Epicurus' argument: If God is all loving and all powerful, why is there evil in the world?

Craig: These two ideas are not in direct contradiction. There is no logical contradiction in them. Usually the atheist is making a probabilistic argument and not an explicit argument. But if we add one statement - God has sufficient reasons to allow the evil in the world that we see now - we can see the argument doesn't hold logically. Emotionally, I understand the problem and we don't like to see suffering, but there is no way that we can say ourselves what is or isn't in God's mind that makes such suffering sufficient.

Extended discussion

Craig and Hitchens are engaged in an extended discussion on whether Christianity can be held responsible for things like Auschwitz. Craig holds that one cannot judge a worldview by its adherents that act in contradiction to its basic tenants.


To Craig: I am an atheist and I have meaning in life. You have stated that life is meaningless for the atheist. How can this be?

Craig: My statement is that life is objectively meaningless for the atheist. There is no ultimate purpose - we are all heading toward emptiness and death. You may hold to atheism and feel you have meaning in life, but you cannot point to some ultimate good that you accomplish, since all of reality will eventually die a heat death and there will be nothing more.

Hitchens: What gives meaning to my life is the fact that I am free of false beliefs. I have real liberty. Those "primates" who think they can tell me what to do on the basis of their beliefs. I am free of implausible beliefs. If you ask them really which world they care about, you will find it will be this one because they know this is the only real world there is.


To Hitchens: you said that the most violence had its basis in religion, but look at the atomic bomb - that was discovered by physicists. How you you react to that destruction?

Hitchens: The discovery of how such things work have no basis on how they are used. Look at the Biblical story of the Amalekites - people were commanded to wipe them out.

Hewitt: What do you make of the evil acts of atheistic regimes such as the Soviet Union?

Craig: I don't think that you can asses the truth of a worldview by arguing about it's social impact. That doesn't determine truth.

Hitchens: I completely concur with that, but I did note that those evil commands of God are noted in the Bible.

Craig: This is an issue not of the existence of God, but an issue dealing with biblical inerrancy.


To Mr. Hitchens: your book states "Religious faith results in dangerous sexual repression". Is it good that the Bible prohibits humans having sex with animals?

Hitchens:There are certain actions if people do them the society will die out. (Cannibalism, incest). When I was talking about sexual repression, I was not intimating these actions, but things like laws against sex during menstruation.

Craig: I think this illustrates that the Bible does promote moral actions that are protective and not repressive.

Hitchens: I think nature is pretty indifferent in sex. Homosexuality, for example, If that's bad, why does nature (or God) see to it that so many are born homosexual?

Craig - closing arguments

Have we seen any good arguments tonight that God does not exist? NO. A lot of impugning of religious actions or people but no arguments.
Hitchens asserts a worldview as well - atheism. It is a worldview with claims on reality, but he offers no arguments for its truth.

However, The God hypothesis explains so much of the world
  1. The Cosmological argument - Where the universe comes from
  2. The Teleological argument - The fact that the universe is intelligently designed
  3. The Moral argument - The fact that actions have real moral value has not been dealt with. If objective moral values exist, it must be rooted in a God.
  4. The evidence of the resurrection has not been refuted
  5. The immediate experience of God - I invite anyone listening in who has not experienced God in a real way to invite Jesus to become real to him or her.

Hitchens - second session

If you make the assumption that religion is man made you will discover:
  • Why there are so many
  • Why they've been such a disappointment to humanity
  • Why they continue to compete with each other
The current circumstances and conflicts of religion is exactly what you would expect if it was made by man.

Emancipate yourself from such a belief.

Hitchens - second session

Hitchens noted that his to original challenges stand, that apartheid had its basis in the Dutch Reformed Church, in Nazi Germany prayers were said every year on Hitler's birth, and the first accord of the Axis was signed with the Vatican and the third member of the Axis believed the Emperor was a god.

Hitchens - second session

Hitchens: "I have followed Mother Theresa's path to sainthood: her beautification, the claim of a miracle (although other physicians claim that there is no miracle). However, they have to go through all the motions for this where there will be suffering and pain because to undo it would threaten the sytem in a great capacity.

The immediate experience

Craig notes that God is real to him and unless he is delusional, the experience of God is as reasonable as a person claiming to experience anything else.

Craig - The moral argument

If we reject the theist basis of morality, we are left with subjective relativism. And what we call murder is committed in many many ways in the animal kingdom. We cannot tell the lion is wrong to commit murder of another animal - the lion doesn't even understand what right and wrong are.

Craig - Second Session

We have not heard any arguments to believe that God does not exist. We have heard that the human species has not existed for 100,000 years, but those who lived prior to Jesus' coming represent only 2% of the entire population of humanity in history.

Those who lived prior to Christ's coming, they will be judged on their general revelation through the work of Jesus. Similarly, those who haven't heard will also be judged in the same way.


Hitchens: do you regard any of the world's religions to be false? Can you name one?

Craig: Islam

Hitchens: Is it immoral to preach a false religion to a babv?

Craig: I believe so.

Hitchens: If I was born in an Islamic nation would you rather have me be an atheist or a Muslim?

Craig: I have no preference either way.

Cross Examination: Hitchens to Craig

Hitchens: Do you believe that Jesus cast out demons, such as those that were cast into pigs?

Craig: I believe that historically.

Hitchens: Do you believe in the virgin birth?

Craig: Yes as a Christian, but that's not part of my argument.

Hitchens: Do you believe the story in Matthew of all the people coming out of the grave?

Craig: I don't know whether to take it as apocalyptic imagery or as actual events, I've not studied it, but I'm open minded.

Cross Examination: Craig to Hitchens

Craig: On the moral argument -there is a difference between what may be called immoral and what is objectively immoral. Wouldn't you agree that We need an objective source for such values to be held as objective?

Hitchens: Yes.


Craig: But wouldn't you agree that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.

Hitchens: Given the stakes - not unicorns, but a claim that gives certain people the authority to tell me what to do on the basis of a God, I think its a bigger issue.

Cross Examination: Craig to Hitchens

Craig: You make a distinction between theism and a-theism, but how do you distinguish between the various positions of nonbelief in god - atheism, agnosticism, or verificationism.


Craig: Which do you hold to?

Hitchens: I'm a great admirer of Huxley, but I don't like this term.

Craig: but what is your view?

Hitchens: I've never seen any positive evidence for the existence of God I'll go so far as to say that God does not exist-

Craig: OK - do you have any justification for that?

Hitchens:I find any arguments in favor to be fallacious or unconvincing.

Free Will

I believe you have free will and if you ask I must retreat to the philosophical irony that We are predetermined to have free will, but the Christian must say "of course we have free will, God demands it."

It is like a heavenly North Korea where we must be obliged to a heavenly dictator and I am so glad that such a system does not exist.

The problem with the Golden Rule

The Golden Rule is relativistic - its only as good as the person you're in front of. "Do unto you as you would have them do unto you" What do I do if it's Charles Manson who is the basis of comparison?

However, standard moral beliefs are necessary to a stable society. There is no society that exists where rape is glorified and murder sanctioned.

Rebuttal on the moral argument

The problem with morality is this: you can't prove that anyone behaves better if they are closer to a supreme dictator than if not.

You must point out a divine sanction that a person of faith can make that I cannot also make.

However, if you look at evil acts, such as genital mutilation, these are almost exclusively religious in nature.

What you have to accept to believe in God

You must imagine that a human beings are born (those that don't die in child birth) into a confusing and terrible world. Many die in infancy, others are afflicted with suffering. They have appendixes and other unnecessary appendages. This means a designer who thought of doing things in such a way is a very cruel, mean designer.

You must believe that God chose to not reveal to a great number of people across the world and across time that they need to believe in his son in order to be saved. This also is a cruel position to take.

Rebuttal - Hitchens

The proposition "Atheism is true" is a misstatement that I have to prove it. I don't have to prove tooth fairies or Santa Claus doesn't exist. However, since the term "atheist" is popularly used in the debate, (unlike be an a-tooth fairy) it seems people assume I have to prove such a position.

The Moral argument and the Resurrection

Craig notes that Hitchens does affirm morals, but he offers no basis for holding such morals. Hitchens offers no objection to the resurrection, but Craig quotes N.T. Wright to show the historical certainty of the resurrection.

The Teleological Argument - answer

Craig offers several quotes form scientists who show the intricate design of the universe. He then notes that Hitchens seems to complain that since we're heading toward nothingness, that disproves design. It does no such thing.

In order to reject the conclusion, you must reject the premises

My five points lead to a logical conclusion that God does exist. in order for Mr. Hitchens to logically reject my conclusion, he must demonstrate the fallaciousness of the premises.

Deism vs. Theism

Mr. Hitchens blurs the concepts of deism and theism - deism is a type of theism, it doesn't stand in contrast to theism. Both hold to the belief in a real God.

Why did God wait so long to send Christ

The reason for God's timing is not ability, but a problem of population. By waiting "in the fullness of time" God was able to reach people more readily in sending Jesus when he did.

Rebuttal 1 - Craig

Hitchens noted that he has no positive argument for the nonexistence of God.

He mentioned evolution,m but the concept of biological evolution has no bearing on whether a god exists. Genesis 1 does not mention the way God created biological beings, but holding to such is not to the point. If I object to evolution, it is on a scientific basis not a biblical one.

However, the atheist is not left with such a choice. evolution is the only choice left to him. Mr. Hitchens says "Why did God wait so long? All that wasted time!" But God has unlimited resources and unlimited time, so that doesn't make the objection tenable.

The fact that the universe is heading for destruction doesn't show fine tuning.

The fact that our planet is the only one that can support life and is destined for destruction in the future is not fine tuning.

The failure of Christian cosmology

Christianity has a terrible track record in cosmology.

Fine tuning is a claim based on extremely limited evidence. Most physicists are extremely uncertain about the actual events of the Big Bang.

How can fine-tuning account for the enormous destruction of enormous swaths of the universe - black holes, etc.?

The Christian conflict

Christianity holds that you are a sinner, miserable and in need of A God to send his son down to save you, but you are a worm. However, the entire universe was made for you. These two claims are not only mutually exclusive, but seek to compensate for one another.

Atheists shouldn't be required to prove there is no God

We believe that there is no plausible evidence to believe that such a being should exist.

If such an entity existed, it wouldn't prove that it proves such a being cares about us. You cannot get from deism to theism without assumptions.

Dr. Craig must prove to a certainty that God exists. I take the role of a skeptic and can simply claim that I doubt such a being exists. The claims such as the resurrection is an extraordinary claim and it requires extraordinary evidence. I don't believe Dr. Craig offers such evidence in is statement.

An Arrogance to the Christian view

It seems that there is an arrogance to the Christian view that all of this design and creation is only for us. I can't swallow it.

Retrospection of Evidentialism

Hitchens holds that some Christians faced with the evidence of evolution will state "well that's how God did it! That's how he created us." But this isn't a falsifiable argument. 99.9% of all life forms ever to appear on earth have become extinct as we almost did ourselves.

Opening Arguments - Hithchens (20 minutes)

Mr. Hitchens notes that most of the arguments he hears on the existence of God seem to be similar. He notes that there has been a movement in Christianity recently that Christians are looking for facts for their faith whereas the debater of the 19th century may have relied on faith. He noted Paley's arguments of a watch implying a watchmaker made sense in its day. However, today, we can know that we weren't designed but we evolved.

In summation

If Mr. Hitchens is to prove that God does not exist, he must disprove my five arguments and provide positive evidence that it is irrational to hold to a belief that God exists.

The final argument - the personal experience of God

Experience of God is a properly basic belief - like the belief in the past or beliefs in other minds. This is not an objective argument, but experience is evidence for God.

The Argument of the Resurrection of Jesus

Dr. Craig notes that there are at least three established facts held by the majority of New Testament scholars
  1. The tomb was found empty by the women followers of Jesus three days after his crucufixion.
  2. The disciples of Jesus held that they saw the risen Jesus after his crucifixion
  3. The original disciples help strongly to the belief that Jesus really did rise for the dead - so much so that they were willing to die for their faith.
These three facts have no reasonable explanation other than Jesus really did rise from the dead - which is by all standards a miracle and therefore which must entail the existence of God.

The Moral Argument

Craig argues that true morality and ethics must come from God. He notes professor Ruse holds to an evolutionary development that benefits the species. However, Dr. Craig notes that such a view of morality do not state that things like rape is really wrong - it just becomes socially unacceptable. However, a true moral framework holds that certain actions are wrong regardless of their effect on a society.

The Teleological Argument

The fact that the universe shows such complexity and fine tuned conditions for life, that it argues for an intelligent designer. Once such example is the atomic weak force - if it is altered in as much as 1 part in 10 to the 100th power life wouldn't be sustainable.

This type of precision should not be thought of as coming into being randomly. Another objection may be that our universe is one of a multitude of universes and our just happens to be tuned in a way that supports life. However, we should be able to observe other universes, since these types of universes would be much more likely and therefore much more numerous than our own.

Craig - The cosmological argument

The first argument offered is that the universe exists and has come into being. Craig notes that the universe could not have existed an infinite time ago since an infinite past would lead to logical contradictions.

He notes that if the universe came into being, then it could not have come into being from nothing, for out of nothing, nothing comes.

If the universe came into being, it must have come from something that is outside of time and space (since they are part of the universe) and that something must have a mind to determine to create.

Dr. Craig Opening Argument (20 minutes)

Dr. Craig welcomes Mr. Hitchens and thanks him for coming into "this den of lambs".

He states "The question of God not only engages people on the basis of religion, but also on the basisi of philosophy. I will therefore try to engage Mr. Hitchens in a philosophical context."

Dr. Craig argues that:
  • There's no good argument that atheism is true
  • There are good arguments that theism is true.

Moderator Hugh Hewitt

Hugh Hewitt welcomes both Hitchens and Craig. He notes that authors such as Dawkins and Hitchens have reengaged society in the debate on the existence of God making interaction with people like Dr. Craig necessary.

Books by the debate participants

Dr. Hazen notes that the books by the debaters, God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens and Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig will be available after the event and the authors will be available to sign them.

Debate sponsors

The debate tonight is sponsored by the Biola Student Association as well as the Christian Apologetics department at Biola University.

The Debate Kicks Off.

The audience is raucous as the clock counts down the final seconds until the debate begins. Host Dr. Craig Hazen welcomes the audiences and notes that we have viewers in 30 states and countries as far away as Stockholm Sri Lanka.

Pre-debate photos

The floor of the Biola gym fills up fast.

Christopher Hitchens preparing back stage.

Host Dr. Craig Hazen makes last minute adjustments.

Debate Moderator and Host

Debate Moderator

Hugh Hewitt, J.D., is a law professor and broadcast journalist whose nationwide radio show is heard weekdays in over 120 cities. He is a graduate of Harvard and the University of Michigan Law Schools and teaches at Chapman University Law School. He has appeared on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of eight books, including two best sellers. He writes daily for his blog (, which is among the most visited blogs in the country.

Debate Host

Craig Hazen, Ph.D., is the director of both the M.A. program in Christian Apologetics and the M.A. in Science and Religion at Biola University. He holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of California and degrees in International Human Rights and Biological Sciences. His latest book is the novel Five Sacred Crossings.

How the Blog Will Work

If you are following this debate via the blog, we will publish new posts every few minutes as the debate unfolds. The posts will be summations of the action on the floor and won't be a word for word transcription (unfortunately, we don't have the capability at this time to do a live transcription).

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Introducing the Participants in Tonight's Debate

William Lane Craig, Ph.D., D. Phil., is one of the world’s leading philosophers of religion and holds the position of Research Professor at Talbot School of Theology and is on the teaching faculty in the M.A. Degree program in Christian Apologetics at Biola University. He earned doctorates from both the University of Birmingham, England and the Univ. of Munich, Germany. He is the author of scores of books and articles on cutting-edge philosophy, theology, and apologetics, and has lectured and debated around the world on the Resurrection of Christ, the existence of God, and other topics of vital interest.

Christopher Hitchens is one of the best-known and most controversial writers and critics in the media. He has been a columnist for Vanity Fair, The Nation, and Slate. He is also a frequent contributor to the London Review, the New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times Book Review, and Atlantic Monthly, among others. As a foreign correspondent and travel writer, Hitchens has written from more than 60 countries including current hot spots such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, and North Korea. His book God is Not Great was on the NYT bestseller list for 20 weeks.


Welcome everyone to the real-time blog capturing the debate between Christopher Hitchens and William Lane Craig on the question: "Does God Exist?"

We will be encapsulating the remarks from the debate floor as they happen, so you can read all the main arguments and objections from each of our participants tonight. In the next few days, we will also make recordings of the debate available for purchase. if you haven't done so, please sign up at for email updates as to when these items will be available.

The debate is being held at Biola University. It is hosted by Craig Hazen with Hugh Hewitt as the moderator. The debate will begin at 7:30 PM Pacific Daylight time.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Does God Exist? A Debate with Christopher Hitchens and William Lane Craig
April 4, 7:30 pm (PST) at Biola University, California
Moderated by Hugh Hewitt and hosted by Craig Hazen