NOVEMBER 3, 1994

This, which is the first of my two debates with William Lane Craig, has now been translated into French by Anna Chekovsky <>.  It can be found at

From our Philosophy Department here at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Dr. Michael Tooley will be representing the atheist’s point of view. [v50] Dr. Tooley received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University. He is a noted author whose works include Causation: A Realist Approach.  He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities, a member of the American Philosophical Association, and he has served on the faculties of numerous universities both here and abroad.  It’s a pleasure to have you with us, Dr. Tooley.

Representing the theist’s position is Dr. William Craig. He is currently a visiting scholar at Emory University.  He has a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Birmingham, England, and a doctorate in theology from the University of Munich. . . .

1.  William Lane Craig's Opening Statement

Craig: [v229, 1a 112] I want to begin by expressing my thanks to Campus Crusade for Christ for inviting me to participate in this important debate. I also want to say how pleased I am to be debating Dr. Tooley. I’m sure that many of you will never hear a more powerful case for atheism than the you will hear presented tonight. And I only hope I can do as good a job arguing the case for the existence of God.

Now in tonight’s debate I’m going to defend two basic contentions. [v250] Number one, there are no good reasons to think that atheism is true. And number two, there are good reasons to think that theism is true.

Let’s look at the first major contention, that there are no good reasons to think that atheism is true. Atheist philosophers have tried for centuries to disprove the existence of God. No one has been able to come up with a convincing argument. So rather than to attack straw men at this point, I’m going to wait to hear Dr. Tooley’s answer to the following question: What is the evidence that atheism is true?

Let’s turn then to my second basic contention, that there are good reasons to think that theism is true.

Now I’m not claiming that I can prove that God exists with some kind of mathematical certainty. I’m just claiming that on balance the evidence is such that theism is more plausible than not. Let me present, therefore, six reasons why I think it’s more plausible that God exists than that atheism is true. [v300] We’ll start with the more abstract and gradually get more concrete.

First of all then, God provides the best explanation for the existence of abstract entities. [1a150] In addition to tangible objects like people and chairs and mountains and trees, philosophers have noticed that there also appear to be abstract objects, things like numbers and sets and propositions and properties. These sorts of things seem to have a conceptual reality rather like ideas. And yet it’s obvious that they’re not just ideas in some human mind. So, what is the metaphysical foundation for such abstract entities? The theist has a plausible answer for that question: they are grounded in the mind of God. Alvin Plantinga, one of America’s foremost philosophers, explains:

It seems plausible to think of numbers as dependent upon or even constituted by intellectual activity. But there are too many of them to arise as a result of human intellectual activity. [v350] We should therefore think of them as the concepts of an unlimited mind, a divine mind.

At the most abstract level then, theism provides a plausible metaphysical foundation for the existence of abstract objects. And that’s the first reason why I think it’s plausible to believe in God.

Number two, God provides the best explanation of why the universe exists rather than nothing.

Have you ever asked yourself, why anything at all exists, where the universe came from? Typically, atheists have said that the universe is just eternal, and that’s all. But surely this is unreasonable. Just think about it for a minute.

If the universe never had a beginning, then that means that the number of past events is infinite. But mathematicians recognize that the notion of an actually infinite number of things leads to self-contradictions unless you impose some wholly arbitrary rules to prevent this. [v400] 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, not something that exists in reality.

David Hilbert, perhaps the greatest mathematician in this century, states,

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. [1a200] Therefore the series of past events cannot go back forever, rather, the universe must have begun to exist. This conclusion has been confirmed by remarkable discoveries in astronomy and astrophysics. The astrophysical evidence indicates that the universe began to exist in a great explosion called the big bang, about fifteen billion years ago. Physical space and time were created in that event as well as all of the matter and energy in the universe. [v450]

Therefore, as the Cambridge astronomer Fred Hoyle points out, the big bang theory requires the creation of the universe from nothing. This is because as one goes back in time he reaches a point in time in which, in Hoyle’s words, the universe was shrunk down to nothing at all. Thus what the big bang model requires is that the universe began to exist and was created out of nothing. Now this tends to be very awkward for the atheist thinker. For as Anthony Kenny of Oxford University says, “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 that’s a pretty hard pill to swallow. Out of nothing, nothing comes. So, where did the universe come from? Why does it exist instead of just nothing? There must have been a cause which brought the universe into being. [v500] And from the very nature of the case, this cause must be an uncaused, changeless, timeless, and immaterial being which created the universe. Isn’t it incredible that the big bang theory thus confirms what the Christian theist has always believed, that in the beginning, God created the universe? Now, I simply put it to you, Which do you think is more probable, that the Christian theist is right or that the universe just popped into existence uncaused, out of nothing? I, at least, don’t have any problem assessing these probabilities.

Number three. God provides the best explanation for the complex order in the universe. During the last thirty years, scientists have discovered that the existence of intelligent life depends upon a complex and delicate balance of initial conditions [that are] simply given in the big bang itself. We now know that life prohibiting universes are vastly more probable than life permitting universes like ours. How much more probable?

Before I share with you an estimation, let me just give you some numbers to give you a feel for the odds. [v550, 1a250] The number of seconds in the history of the universe is about ten to the eighteenth power [1018]. Ten followed by eighteen zeros. The number of subatomic particles in the entire universe is said to be about ten to the eightieth power [1080].

Now with those numbers in mind consider the following: Donald Paige, one of America’s eminent cosmologists, has calculated the odds of our universe existing as one chance out of ten to the power of ten to the [one] hundred and twenty-third power [1010123]. A number which is so inconceivable that to call it astronomical would be a wild understatement. Robert Jastrow, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies has called this the most powerful evidence for the existence of God ever to come out of science.

Once again the view that the Christian theist has always held, that there is an intelligent designer of the universe, seems to be much more plausible than the atheistic interpretation.

Number four. God provides the best explanation for objective moral values in the world. If God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist. [v600]

Many theists and atheists alike concur on this point. For example, the late J. L.. Mackie of Oxford University, one of the most influential atheists of our time, admitted,

If there are objective values, they make the existence of a God more probable than it would have been without them. Thus we have a defensible argument from morality to the existence of a God.

But in order to avoid God’s existence, Mackie therefore denied that objective moral values exist. He wrote, “It is easy to explain this moral sense as a natural product of biological and social evolution.”

Professor Michael Ruse, a philosopher of science at the University of Grouth, agrees. He explains,

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 somebody says, “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” they think they are referring above and beyond themselves. [v650] Nevertheless such reference is truly without foundation. Morality is just an aid to survival and reproduction and any deeper meaning is illusory.

Friederich Nietzsche, the great atheist of the last century who proclaimed the death of God, understood that the death of God meant the destruction of all meaning and value and love. I think that Friederich Nietzsche was right. But we’ve got to be very careful here. The question here is not, Must we believe in God in order to live a moral life? I’m not claiming that we must. Nor is the question, Can we recognize objective moral values without believing in God? I think we can. Rather, the question is, If God does not exist, do objective moral values exist? [1a300] Like Mackie and Ruse, I just don’t see any reason to think that in the absence of God the morality evolved by homo sapiens is objective. After all, if there is no God then what’s so special about human beings? [v700] They’re just accidental by-products of nature which have evolved relatively recently on an infinitesimal speck of dust called the planet earth lost somewhere on a hostile and mindless universe and which are doomed to perish individually and collectively in a relatively short time. On the atheistic view some action, say rape, may not be 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, if you can escape the social consequences, there’s nothing really wrong with your raping someone. And thus without God there is no absolute right and wrong which imposes itself on our conscience.

But the fact is that objective values do exist and we all know it. There is no more reason to deny the objective reality of moral values than the objective reality of physical objects. Actions like rape, torture, child abuse—aren’t just socially unacceptable behavior, they’re moral abominations. Even Ruse himself admits, “The man who says it is morally acceptable to rape little children is just as mistaken as the man who says two plus two equals five. Some things are really wrong.” [v750]

Similarly, love, equality, self-sacrifice are really good. But if objective values cannot exist without God and objective values do exist, then it follows logically and inescapably that God exists.

Number five. God provides the best explanation for the historical facts concerning the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

The historical person, Jesus of Nazareth, was a remarkable individual. New Testament critics 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. That’s why the Jewish leadership instigated his crucifixion on the charge of blaspheme. He claimed that in himself the kingdom of God had come and as visible demonstration of this fact he carried out a ministry of miracle working exorcisms. But the supreme confirmation of his claim was his resurrection from the dead. If Jesus really did rise from the dead, then it would seem that we have a divine miracle on our hands and thus evidence for the existence of God. [v800]

It seems to me that there are three main historical facts that support the resurrection of Jesus: his empty tomb, Jesus’ appearances alive after his death, and the very origin of the Christian faith. Let’s look very briefly at each one of these.

First, the evidence indicates that Jesus’ tomb was found empty on Sunday morning by a group of his women followers. [1a350] According to Jacob Kremer, an Austrian scholar who has specialized in the study of the resurrection, “By far, most scholars hold firmly to the reliability of the biblical statements about the empty tomb.” And he lists twenty-eight prominent scholars in support. I can think of at least sixteen more that he neglected to mention.

According to New Testament critic D.H. Van Daalen, “It is extremely difficult to object to the empty tomb on historical grounds. Those who deny it do so on the basis of theological or philosophical assumptions.” But assumptions may simply have to be changed in light of the facts.

Secondly, the evidence indicates that on separate occasions different individuals and groups saw appearances of Jesus alive after his death. [v850] According to the late Norman Perrin of the University of Chicago, “The more we investigate the traditions with regard to the appearances, the firmer the rock begins to appear upon which they are based.” These appearances were physical and bodily and were witnessed not only by believers but also by unbelievers, sceptics, and even enemies.

And thirdly, the very origin of the Christian faith implies the reality of the resurrection. We all know that Christianity sprang into being in the middle of the first century. Well, where did it come from? Why did it arise?

Well all scholars agree that it came into being because the disciples believed that God had raised Jesus from the dead. And they proclaimed this message everywhere they went. But where in the world did they come up with that outlandish belief?

If you deny that Jesus really did rise from the dead, then you’ve got to explain the origin of the disciples’ belief in terms of either the Christian influences or Jewish influences. Now obviously it couldn’t come from Christian influences for the simple reason that there wasn’t any Christianity yet. [v900] But neither can it be explained by Jewish influences. Because the Jewish concept of resurrection was radically different than Jesus’ resurrection. As the renowned New Testament scholar Wilhelm Michaelis [but sounded more like Eurokie Meriomeos] puts it, “Nowhere does one find in the literature of ancient Judaism anything comparable to the resurrection of Jesus.” Apart from the resurrection of Jesus, therefore, there simply is no antecedent historical factors that would explain the origin of the disciples’ belief.

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 three facts. Therefore it seems to me we are amply justified in believing that Jesus rose from the dead and was who he claims to be. But that entails that God exists.

And finally number six. God can be immediately known and experienced. 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 arguments simply by immediately experiencing him. [v950, 1a400] This was the way that people in the Bible knew God, as professor John Hick explains: “God was known to them as a dynamic will interacting with their own wills, a sheer given reality as inescapably to be reckoned with as the storm and life giving sunshine. They did not think of God as an inferred entity but as an experienced reality. To them God was not an idea adopted by the mind but an experiential reality which gave significance to their lives.”

Now if this is the case, then there’s a real danger that arguments for the existence of God could actually distract one’s attention from God himself. If you’re sincerely seeking God, then God will make his existence evident to you. The New Testament promises, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” We musn’t so concentrate on the arguments that we fail to hear the inner voice of God to our own hearts. For those who listen, God becomes an immediate reality in their lives. [v1000, 1a415]

In conclusion then, we have yet to see tonight any reasons to see that God does not exist and we have seen six reasons to believe that God does exist. Together these reasons constitute a powerful cumulative case for the existence of God. Now if Dr. Tooley wants us to believe atheism instead then he must first tear down all six of the reasons that I gave in favor of God’s existence and then in their place present a case of his own as to why atheism is true. Unless and until he does that I hope that we can agree that theism is the more plausible world view.
2.  Michael Tooley's Opening Statement

Tooley: [v1033, 1a425] The question of the existence of God is a most important question and I’m very interested in presenting arguments {bearing} on this matter. The position I’m defending is that it’s reasonable to believe that God does not exist.

I want to begin by briefly indicating how I’m going to understand the term ‘God’ in this next discussion. My view is that the question one should ask is, "What characteristics should an object possess in order to be an appropriate object of religious attitudes?" [v1050, 1a435]

I think that the answer to that is that a being to be characterizable as God in that sense should be a personal being, should be a being that is morally perfect, a being that is omnipotent, and a being that is omniscient. And I’m going to claim that it’s unreasonable to believe in the existence of such a being.

There are four arguments that I’m going to offer, {namely: (1) An argument for the view that atheism is the default position; (2) An argument that involves an extrapolation from the minds that we know; (3) An argument from the apparent hiddenness of God; and (4) A version of the argument from evil.} I’m going to actually sketch the first one very briefly. The reason is that the other three are more important and since I haven’t been permitted by Dr. Craig to transfer time from my second presentation to my first, I don’t want to be forced to halt in the middle of my fourth argument. I will then use any time I have left to return to my first argument.

The central claim in the first argument is that atheism is the default position, and what that means is that, if there is no evidence in support of the existence of God, then it is reasonable to believe that God does not exist. The essential line of thought which I would hope to develop later on is that if you consider other things like fairies, leprechauns, golden teacups orbiting around Venus, and so on, I would suggest that we have no evidence against the existence of those sorts of things, but if I asked you whether you were agnostic I think the answer would be “no.” You would believe there are no fairies, no leprechauns, no golden teacups orbiting around Venus. That illustrates the general principle in regard to God’s existence that the burden of proof {must fall upon the person who is arguing} in support of God's existence. [v1100, 1a450] If there’s no positive support for it, then the other side wins by default.

Let us now move on to my second argument.  It involves an extrapolation from the nature of the minds that we know, and it turns upon the following thesis:

All minds that it is generally agreed that we are definitely acquainted with - namely the minds of humans and other animals - are either purely physical in nature or else are causally dependent on something physical in nature.

Now, one reason that we have for accepting this claim consists of facts that point toward at least a very intimate relationship between mental states and brain states. Among the facts that are relevant here are the following:

First, when an individual’s brain is put into a certain physical state by direct stimulation, this causes the individual to have a corresponding experience, or, more generally, to be in some corresponding mental state.

Secondly, certain types of damage to the brain make it impossible for one to enjoy any mental states at all—either temporarily or permanently, depending on the nature of the damage. [v1150, 1a470]

Thirdly, damage to the brain destroys various mental capacities, and which capacity is affected depends upon the particular region of the brain where it was damaged.

Fourthly, the mental capacities possessed by animals of other species become increasingly complex and impressive as the brain becomes more complex.

Fifthly, in the case of individuals belonging to a single species, the development of mental capacities is correlated with the development of neuronal circuitry in the relevant regions of the brain.

So in short, there is a good deal of evidence which indicates that there is a very close relationship between mental states and mental capacities and the development of the states of the brain.

Many contemporary philosophers and psychologists believe that the proper conclusion is that the mind is in fact purely physical: it is identical with the brain. Other philosophers and psychologists hold that this conclusion is too strong, and that the mind, rather than being identical with the brain, is instead causally dependent upon it.  For the purpose of our discussion tonight though, for the present argument, it doesn’t matter which of these views is the right one since, regardless of whether the mind is actually identical with the brain or merely causally dependent upon it, we can draw the following conclusion: To wit, none of the minds with which we are definitely acquainted can exist independently of physical arrangements of matter. All the minds that we are definitely acquainted with have a material basis. [v1200, 1a485]

If this conclusion is correct, it would seem that we are justified in making a standard inductive extrapolation upon it and concluding that probably there is no mind that exists independently of some associated physical arrangement of matter that it is either identical with or at least causally dependent upon.

Now if one used the term ‘God’ to mean a being that is immaterial or spiritual then it would follow immediately that it is unlikely that such a God exists. I didn’t incorporate that requirement into the definition of God I gave at the beginning but I think there is good reason for drawing the same conclusion none-the-less. The reason is that I think one can argue that, given what we know about the universe, it would be impossible for there to be a being that was omnipotent and omniscient and that was physical in nature. So it seems to me that, even if one does not hold that God is by definition immaterial, what we are presently justified in believing about the nature of minds with which we are acquainted makes it reasonable to believe that it is unlikely that God exists.

That’s the second argument. [v1250, 1a500, 1b10]  My third argument is the argument from the apparent hiddenness of God, and it turns upon two claims. The first is that if it’s true that God exists then that is a very important truth. The second is that if God exists, his existence is by no means as evident as it could be. So if God exists, he is to some extent hiding himself.

Now the first claim probably requires little in the way of defense since most people, I think, will readily grant that, if God exists, then that is a very important piece of information. And it is easy to see why people should take that view.  For if God is defined as above, and God exists, then in the end justice will be done and good will triumph. Moreover if God exists then there’s a real possibility that death is not the end of the individual’s existence. And given that the existence of God has these other consequences, it seems only reasonable to hold that if God exists, that fact is a very important one.

What about the second claim - that is, the claim that if God exists, his existence is not as evident as it could be? Even most people who believe in the existence of God will grant that God’s existence is not exactly obvious, since, if it were, people would be no more inclined to doubt or reject the claim that God exists than they would be to question the existence of tables and chairs, trees and the flowers, people and animals. [v1300, 1b50]

But while granting this, believers attempt to respond that there’s nothing surprising about this. After all, God is immaterial; he has a mind and no body. This response, however, does not meet the point. The relevant claim was not that God’s existence could be as evident as that of physical things. It was rather that the existence of God—or, at least, the existence of an omnipotent and omniscient person—could be more evident, indeed, much more evident than it presently is. And this latter claim can, I believe, be given very strong support, for it’s easy to imagine events that could occur, and which are such that if they did occur, would be sufficient to convince any rational person of the existence of God—or at least of the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient person, if not a morally perfect one.

For example, we can imagine either a voice in the sky speaking different languages over different countries, or else a telepathic communication for all who request it, where the content of the communication involves information that is far in advance of what we now possess. It might involve, for example, solutions to problems that mathematicians have been working on unsuccessfully for centuries.

You could also imagine impressive displays of great power. A voice from the sky announces that the earth will disappear in exactly five minutes and then reappear on the other side of the solar system. [v1350] This occurrence then takes place. If this sort of scenario were appropriately fleshed out, surely it would be true both that one would have excellent reason for believing that there is a being with unlimited knowledge and unlimited power, and that one would thereby have better evidence for the existence of God than one presently possesses.

The argument can now be put very briefly as follows. It is agreed that if it is true that God exists, this is a very important truth.  It has been shown that the world could be such that the existence of God would be much more evident than it presently is. So if God exists, he is to some extent hiding his reality from us, and, thereby, is depriving many people of firm knowledge of a very important truth. [1b100]

The crucial question is, "What explanation could be offered for this fact?" Various answers have been proposed - such as the idea that it is somehow crucial for there to be epistemic, or cognitive distance between ourselves and God. I believe that it can be argued that none of those answers is satisfactory. If that’s right, then if God does in fact exist, his hiddenness is an extremely puzzling fact.  In contrast, if God does not exist, there is of course no problem why the existence of God is not as evident as it might be. [v1400]

The conclusion, accordingly, is that one should accept the belief that God does not exist, since that is the hypothesis that provides the best explanation of the fact that God’s existence is much less evident than it could be.

My fourth argument is the argument from evil. This is also my final argument, as I’m afraid that I have only four arguments rather than six. (Actually I expected Dr. Craig to present about sixteen, so that it would have been a real challenge to answer all sixteen in about twelve minutes.   But answering six in twelve minutes will itself be a bit of a challenge.)

Argument number four - sometimes also referred to as the argument from suffering - is the argument that most philosophers think constitutes the most powerful objection against belief in the existence of God. It’s also, I think, the argument that is most easily appreciated even by people who are not trained in philosophy or religious studies.

The argument focuses upon the fact that the world appears to contain states of affairs that are bad or undesirable, and it asks, in effect, how the existence of such states of affairs are to be squared with the existence of God.

The argument has a number of different forms. [v1450] In one well known variation, it is advanced as an argument in support of the following claim: It is logically impossible for it to be the case both that there is evil and that God exists. [1b150] That argument goes as follows: If God exists, he will want to eliminate evil since he is by definition morally perfect. Being omniscient, he will know about any evil that happens to exist, and being omnipotent, he will have the power to eliminate any evil. So if God exists, he will be willing and able to eliminate any evil that there is. Therefore, if God exists, there will not be any evil. But the world does contain evil.  Therefore God does not exist.

Now that’s a rather striking and initially it might seem like an impressive argument.  But there are serious objections to it. So it’s important to be clear that I’m not advancing any sort of claim that there’s a contradiction between the existence of God and the existence of evil. What I am defending is the following more modest claim: There are some evils that actually exist in the world that make it very unreasonable to believe that God exists; not impossible, but very unreasonable.

[v1500] When the argument from evil is understood in this way, it can be put roughly as follows:

 First of all, isn’t it true that there are a number of changes that can be made in our world or that could have been made in the past, that it is very reasonable to believe would probably have made the world a better place? Think about that question. Isn’t it reasonable to believe, for example, that the world would be improved if a cure for cancer were discovered? Or a cure for mental illness? Or isn’t it reasonable to believe that the world would have been a better place if a polio vaccine were discovered earlier than it was - say in the year 1900 - so that all of the people paralyzed between 1900 and the time of the Salk vaccine wouldn’t have been paralyzed? And isn’t it reasonable to believe that the world would have been a better place if, say, Hitler had died of a stroke, before he had a chance to pursue some of his more ambitious undertakings?

Now note that I’m not claiming that these things couldn’t possibly have made the world a better place. Perhaps if Hitler had died before having had the opportunity of implementing his ‘final solution’ to the ‘Jewish problem’ there might have been someone out of the several million people who would thereby have been spared who would have turned out to be a mad genius who would have constructed a doomsday machine and would have destroyed all of life on earth. That might have been the case. Similarly it might be the case that if a cure for cancer were discovered today the results would be that the world would be destroyed in two years by someone who would have died had the cure not been discovered. But these possibilities do nothing to undermine the claim that it’s reasonable to believe that the changes in question are ones that would make the world a better place. [v1550, 1b200] If you discovered a cure for cancer you would surely not conclude that you should keep it secret on the grounds that it was possible that the cure might save the life of someone who would later go on to destroy the world.

Secondly, notice that it does not matter whether the changes in question are ones that are brought about by human action. Suppose that the ocean just happened to wash some shells up onto the shore in a pattern of some English sentences describing a cure for cancer. If those sentences turned out to be true and cancer was thereby eliminated from the world—by a fantastic accident rather than by human endeavor—it still would be very reasonable to believe that this would make the world a better place.

Suppose we have a person - let’s call him John - who knows a cure for cancer, who is able to communicate it to mankind, but who refuses to do so. Given that it is reasonable to believe that knowledge of a cure for cancer would make the world a better place, what conclusions could we draw about our friend John? The answer would seem to be that either John has an unreasonable belief to the effect that making a cure for cancer known to mankind would not make the world a better place, or John’s moral character is defective - not only does it fall short of moral perfection but John is far less good than the average person.

Similarly, suppose that some person, Mary, knew of Hitler’s plans to kill several million people, and could have killed him, but refrained from doing so. [v1600] Given that it is reasonable to hold that the death of Hitler would have made the world a better place, what conclusion could you draw regarding Mary? The answer, surely, is that either Mary had an unreasonable belief to the effect that the world would be a better place if Hitler were allowed to go ahead with his idea of killing several million people, or else Mary’s moral character was grossly defective.

Suppose finally, that there is a single person who could have done these things and more: a person who knows of a cure for cancer who could communicate it to us; a person who could have killed Hitler or otherwise diverted him from his wicked ways; a person who could have told us how to eliminate polio; a person who could have stopped Stalin from having millions of people murdered; a person who could have eliminated mental illness; and so on through countless changes that, it is very reasonable to believe would make, or have made, the world a better place. What conclusion could you draw concerning such an individual? The answer, surely, is that either that individual would have to have a large number of unreasonable beliefs—to the effect that the world would not be improved by the elimination of cancer or mental illness, that it would not be improved by the elimination of polio in 1900, that it would not be improved by stopping Stalin and Hitler before they had succeeded in killing millions—or else, that individual is not only far less good than the average person, but profoundly evil. [1b250] And either way, such an individual could not be God, since he would have to be less than perfect either in regard to knowledge or in regard to moral character. [v1650]

The argument can now be stated very briefly.  If there were an omniscient, omnipotent being, it would certainly be capable of making the changes in question. As we have just seen, however, if it is reasonable to believe the changes in question would make the world a better place, then it is reasonable to believe that an individual who could make those changes but who does not, could not be God. It therefore follows that if it is reasonable to believe those changes would make the world a better place, then it is reasonable to believe that any omniscient and omnipotent being who happens to exist cannot possibly be God. This means in turn that if it’s reasonable to believe those changes would make the world a better place then it is reasonable to believe that God does not exist. But there are surely reasons to believe that eliminating cancer would make the world a better place, and similarly, that stopping Hitler would have made the world a better place. Therefore it’s reasonable to believe that God does not exist. Thank you.

3.  William Lane Craig's Response

Craig: [v1689, 1b275] You’ll recall I said I was going to argue that there are no good reasons to think that atheism is true and Dr. Tooley has responded by arguing that it is reasonable to believe that God does not exist. [v1700] Now notice first of all that that is not enough to justify atheism. He’s got to argue more than that it’s reasonable to believe atheism’s true, he’s got to argue that atheism is more reasonable than is theism. Now has he managed to justify that? Well, I don’t think so.

First of all, what about atheism as a default position? Frankly, I’m very surprised to hear this argument coming from him because I think it’s clear that the failure of arguments for God’s existence in no way proves that God therefore does not exist. Kai Nielsen, who was an atheist philosopher, makes this point as follows. He says, “To show that an argument is invalid or unsound is not to show that the conclusion of the argument is false. All the proofs of God’s existence may fail, but it still may be the case that God exists. In short, to show that the proofs do not work is not enough by itself, it may still be the case that God exists.” Atheism does not simply win by default.

Let me give you an analogy. In current cosmology many scientists believe that there was an era of inflationary expansion in the early history of the universe. We have at this point no positive evidence however of such an era. Does that therefore mean that no such era ever existed? Of course not. The absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence. Atheism doesn’t simply win by default. [1b300]

Number two, what about the nature of minds? The evidence shows, Dr. Tooley says, that minds are dependent upon physical states and therefore he draws the conclusion that there can be no mind that exists independently of matter. Well, I guess I’m just not impressed by the argument because it seems to me that’s a whopping big inference to make. [v1750] Let me just respond with a couple of points.

First of all, all that the evidence shows is that being embodied is a common property of minds, but that doesn’t show that it’s an essential property of minds. To draw the conclusion that there can be no unembodied mind you’d have to show that this is an essential property. I don’t see how he can do that.

Secondly, he neglected to mention there’s a good . . . number of people who defend dualism interactionism today. many People like Nobel Prize winning scientists Sir John Eckels the great neurologist or his collaborator, Karl Popper, one of the greatest philosophers of science who wrote a book called The Self and It’s Brain and defended dualism interactionism where the self and the brain work together in tandem.

Or number three, how about our experience of human freedom? Surely this counts as some sort of evidence for a mind or soul that exists independently, or can exist independently of the brain. If the mind is simply the brain or is totally causally dependent upon the brain, then everything you think or choose or do is determined by the stimuli that you receive. For surely our experience of human freedom suggests that we are not just deterministic machines, that minds are not simply reducible to the brain or causally dependent upon it. So I think he’s just making a very very large inference here from data that doesn’t support it.

Thirdly, what about the apparent hiddenness of God. He argues that it is deeply puzzling that God is hidden. [v1800] Well here I would simply agree with Pascal, the French philosopher, who said that God has given evidence which is sufficiently clear for those with an open mind and open heart, but it is sufficiently vague so as not to compel those whose hearts are closed. I think that for those who are seeking for God, who are open to God, they will find the evidence satisfactory. In fact the New Testament says that God’s existence is evident to all persons through the created order around us and by the moral law that we sense in our hearts. Moreover, the New Testament says that God hasn’t simply left us to work out by evidence whether he exists, his Spirit also speaks to the heart of every person drawing us to him.

That was my sixth point. If we respond to that, I think that we can come to know God in a personal way and have that experience of him immediately. So that this apparent hiddenness, I think, is just God not being coercive.

Finally, what about the argument from evil? He argues that it’s very unreasonable to believe that God exists. This is the most important argument and I want to make several points by way of response.

Number one, I want to suggest that there is no way for us to know that God doesn’t have morally sufficient reasons for permitting the evils that occur. In his article on this Dr. Tooley admits that the whole argument for evil stands or falls upon the claim that there are in the world evils which are such that God would have no morally sufficient reason for permitting them. And I would suggest that you just can’t know that. [1b350]

Two reasons I think that you cannot prove that God lacks morally sufficient reasons for permitting evil:

Number one, in order to know that that is actually true, Dr. Tooley would have to prove it to be necessarily true. [v1850] You see, otherwise there are possible worlds which are exactly like this one, with exactly the same evils occurring in them and yet in those worlds God justly permits them. So how do you know the actual world isn’t one of those possible worlds? The only way you can know that is by proving that necessarily God can’t have morally sufficient reasons for these evils.

But Dr. Tooley admitted in his article, he admits that he cannot prove that this is necessarily true. He admits, for example, that it’s possible that God prevents animals from feeling pain even though they exhibit pain behavior or that evils could be justified through life after death. So as long as these are possible, he cannot demonstrate that it is necessarily true that God lacks morally sufficient reason for permitting evil. And if he can’t prove that’s necessarily true, I don’t think he can prove that it’s actually true.

Secondly, I want to argue that we’re just not in a good position to assess the probability of this premise being true. Take an analogy from chaos theory. In chaos theory, scientists tell us that even the flutter of a butterfly’s wings could produce forces that would set in motion causes that would produce a hurricane over the Atlantic Ocean. And yet looking at that butterfly palpitating on a branch, it is impossible in principle to predict the outcome of that event. Similarly, an evil in the world, say, a child dying of cancer or a brutal murder of a man, could set a ripple effect in history going such that God’s morally sufficient reason for permitting it might not emerge until centuries later or maybe in another country. [v1900] We’re just not in a position to be able to make these kind of probability judgements.

William Alston, a philosopher at the University of Syracuse, summarizes the point. He says, “The judgements required by the probabilistic argument from evil are of a very special and enormously ambitious type and our cognitive capacities are not equal to this. We are simply not in a position to justifiedly assert that God can have no sufficient reason for permitting the evils in the world.” So I don’t think that you can show that that central premise of his argument stands.

Number two, Christian doctrines increase the probability of the coexistence of God and the evils in the world. Let me just mention a couple of these.

First, on the Christian view, the purpose of life is not happiness as such in this life. Rather it is the knowledge of God which will ultimately produce true and everlasting happiness. What that means is that many evils occur in this life which might be utterly pointless with respect to producing human happiness. But they might not be pointless with respect to producing the knowledge of God. Dr. Tooley assumes, when he talks about changes that would make this world a better place, that the purpose of life is to basically be happy in this life. And I certainly admit that you could make changes that might appear to make this life a better place, make it happier. But that’s not God’s purpose. So that if you understand that the purpose of life is not happiness as such, I think that you can see that the existence of evil doesn’t necessarily cast any probability upon God’s existence. [v1950]

Secondly, it’s also the Christian view that God’s purpose spills over into eternal life. In the after life God will bestow a glory and happiness upon us that is incomparable to what we’ve suffered here on earth. [1b400] And the longer we spend in eternity with him, the more the sufferings in this life shrink by comparison to an infinitesimal instant.

And Dr. Tooley admits in his article that it is possible that immortality could justify such evils. “But,” he says, “it’s very unlikely that there is life after death.” Well, I have two comments. Number one, I’d like him to prove it, to prove that it’s unlikely that there is life after death. Secondly, I suggest that the resurrection of Jesus gives us grounds for hoping in life after death and I’ve attempted to justify that historically. So that given these Christian doctrines, I think you could see that the existence of God and evil is not so improbable after all.

Number three, the point I’d like to make is that the arguments for God’s existence outbalance the argument from evil. Dr. Tooley admits in his article that if one had a proof for God, then one would have a defence which would be compatible with ones not being able to say for any of the problematic evils what morally sufficient reason there is for allowing its existence. In other words, even if you couldn’t explain why God permitted them, if you could have a proof for God, that would solve the problem. You wouldn’t need to be able to explain what his morally sufficient reason was. And in the first speech I attempted to give just such an argument for an omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect being. And I think that these arguments simply outbalance any argument that there might be from evil that there might be in the world. [v2000]

Finally, number four, I think that there is actually an argument for God from evil. It would go like this: . . .Premise

(1) If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist. If there is no God, moral values are either socio-biological by-products or just expressions of personal preference. . . . Number

(2) Evil exists. That’s the premise of the atheist. There is real evil in the world.

(3) Therefore, objective values do exist. Some things are really wrong.

(4) Therefore, God exists.

Thus, given the presence of evil in the world, it actually demonstrates God’s existence because in the absence of God, there wouldn’t be any distinction objectively between good and evil, between right and wrong. So that although evil in one sense calls into question God’s existence, in a much deeper sense, I think, it actually requires God’s existence.

So in the light of these four responses, I think that the argument from evil, as difficult and emotionally pressing as it might be, I think in the end doesn’t constitute a good argument against the existence of God. So I think the four arguments given against the existence of God by Dr. Tooley are inconclusive. You’ve still got my six arguments for God’s existence, and therefore I still think that on balance the evidence favors theism as the more rational world view. [v2050, 1b440]

4.  Michael Tooley's Response

Tooley: I don’t have time to answer all six of Dr. Craig’s arguments. Perhaps his idea is that there is safety in numbers. If you offer enough arguments, some may escape rebuttal. (Actually I’ve prepared responses to four or five of them. Whether I can get through those responses in the limited time allotted is another question!)

Let me begin with Dr. Craig's second argument, and by addressing the question why anything at all exists. The first point to be made about this is that if you bring God into it, the question then is not why the universe exists but why God plus the universe exists. And it’s not clear that one is any better off. Now Craig thinks that one is better off, because of a certain sort of philosophical argument called the Kalam version of the cosmological argument. [1b450] And the crux of that argument, as he indicated, is the belief that there cannot be an actual infinity of things. He offered no arguments for that claim. He simply appealed to authority. I’m going to offer an argument for the claim that there can be an actual infinity of states of affairs.

The argument can be put in terms of the following two assumptions: Assume, first of all, a realist view of space.  That is, assume that space is not just a matter of relationships between objects in space, and that you could have empty space, as Newton thought, and as is compatible with the General theory of Relativity. Secondly, assume that space is continuous: rather than being made up of discrete parts, it’s characterized by continuity. Then take a small stretch of space - take for example the stretch of space that coincides with this distance between my hands. Lets call this a meter.

The continuity of space means that space can be divided up into subregions. [v2100] There’s a subregion that ranges from this end to essentially the halfway point. Call that subregion number one. There’s another subregion ranging from the halfway point to the three-quarter point.  Call that subregion number two. If space is real, both of those regions are real. It is not a matter of any potentiality there; it’s not a matter of dividing up, as one might slice a piece of butter into two pieces. The regions exist regardless of whether there’s anyone around thinking about it, or anything. Similarly, you have another region ranging from the three-quarter point to the seven-eighth point, and so on. In general, in any finite stretch of space, if space is continuous and real, there will be an infinite number of actual subregions all of finite size. (We’re not talking about the points here: we’re talking of regions of finite length.)  So that’s one example of an actual infinity.

Another example is this. People believed for a long while that space was Euclidean. Indeed, some philosophers believed that they could prove that it had to be Euclidean. It was only with the development of non-Euclidean geometry that people came to believe that it was possible for space to be non-Euclidean. In any case, suppose that it is really possible for space to be Euclidean. That means that it has no boundaries. You can take a region that is a meter long, and that region will exist next to another region a meter long, and next to it there will be another region a meter long, and so on. And that’s not a matter of potentialities: it’s a matter of an actual infinity of spatial regions within Euclidean space. So Dr. Craig would have us believe, without offering any argument at all, that that’s impossible.

So that’s one argument - a version of the Kalam cosmological argument. Dr. Craig also appeals to the Big Bang. Here my remarks are based in part on a paper, “Should We Believe in the Big Bang,” by Mark Zangari and Graeme Rhook read at the Philosophy of Science Association  Conference about a month ago. For there are points in their paper which are very relevant to Dr. Craig’s argument.

First, the Big Bang theory has recently been criticized by a number of physicists who contend that it suffers some critical anomalies, such as the flatness problem and the horizon problem.

Secondly, there is evidence against the Big Bang interpretation of red-shift, since there is evidence that nearby objects have intrinsic red shifts independent of their velocity relative to the earth.

Thirdly, the Big Bang theory is supported in part by its prediction of background radiation. That’s one of the main reasons it was adopted. But Zangari and Rhook point out in their article that the Big Bang theory predicts a background radiation of five degrees Kelvin, whereas the measured temperature is not five degrees but two point seven degrees Kelvin. [1b500, 2a0] If you take Hoyle’s theory, which was published in 1946, it also predicted background radiation, and the method used there turns out to predict background radiation of a temperature of two point eight degrees Kelvin, almost exactly the observed temperature. So it's a theory that does a better job of explaining background radiation than the Big Bang theory. [v2200]

Fourthly, in order to avoid serious anomalies - such as the flatness problem and the horizon problem - the Big Bang theory had to introduce an additional hypothesis called the inflation hypothesis. But that hypothesis has recently come under serious attack.

Fifthly, the Big Bang theory predicts an enormous amount of matter that hasn’t yet been observed—something of the order of ninety-eight percent to ninety-nine percent—so-called dark matter. Physicists have been searching for this dark matter, and haven’t succeeded in finding it.

Finally, there are serious inconsistencies between estimates of the ages of the stars and the age of the universe. I noticed that  Dr. Craig mentioned that the universe is about fifteen billion years old. According to the New York Times, October 27th, the best estimate now is that it’s between eight billion and twelve billion years old. And unfortunately, the best estimate of the age of certain stars is about sixteen billion years old. So the theory is hopelessly inconsistent at the present.

Many philosophers, including William Craig - perhaps especially William Craig - are extremely incautious in their use of physical theories. People like Richard Swinburne - who is Professor of Philosophy of the Christian Religion at Oxford University - are much more careful in this area, and Swinburne points out that this area of physics is in a highly unstable state. The first point about the Big Bang version of the argument is, thus, that one needs to be very careful about relying on scientific theories that are not well established.

The second main point is this - that even if the Big Bang theory is right and our present universe goes back to a singularity, it’s just a complete fallacy to think that that means it had to have a non-physical cause. [2a50] It’s perfectly possible that our spatio-temporal world is embedded in a larger spatio-temporal world - a hyper-space - and that within that hyper-space there is a physical explanation - a material explanation - of the origins of the various subuniverses. [v2250] Dr. Craig thinks he can rule that possibility out on the basis of the Kalam cosmological argument. But as we saw earlier, that depends on the completely unsound claim that there cannot be an actual infinity, the claim that I refuted earlier. So there is nothing in the Big Bang argument.

Let us turn now to Dr. Craig's third argument - sometimes called the “fine tuning argument.” This involves certain calculations of the probability of their being a universe that supports life. The first point to be made with regard to this is that these calculations are simply unsound. For the calculations to be sound, you would have to look at all logically possible laws and boundary conditions. But the calculations Craig has in mind aren’t made that way. What they have done is to look only at laws rather like ours, and to consider the extent to which the constants can be changed. But that means that the argument is unsound.

The second important point is that there is an alternative explanation, for an explanation of the many worlds sort is possible. Other people have tried, unlike Craig, to offer arguments against this.  Swinburne, for example, attempts to offer an argument. He tries to maintain that the many worlds account is not as simple as the theistic account. But Swinburne has overlooked a certain type of move that can be made at this point - namely, that it’s not that one has to postulate a number of independent universes in the many universes account, since one can explain all of them in terms of single law.  So in fact the many worlds account, as properly formulated, can be an extremely simple account and, arguably, is simpler than the theistic alternative. (This is what I call the ‘superlaw’ hypothesis - a hypothesis that underpins and explains the many worlds hypothesis. [v2300]

Dr. Craig's fourth argument was the argument from objective values. Craig's setting out of this argumentation was interesting, for there was no real argument offered. It was simply claimed that, if there are objective values, there must be a God. No God, no objective values. [2a100]

That contention goes against certain quite famous philosophical arguments, one going back to Plato's Euthyphro. The argument involves asking whether the gods love the things that are holy because they are holy or whether things are holy because they were loved by the gods.

There is a theory which has the consequence that there cannot be objective moral laws unless God exists - that’s the so-called ‘divine command theory of morality.’ What it says is that an action is wrong because and only because God forbids it. And an action is obligatory because and only because God demands it. If that theory were right, then there would be an argument in support of the claim that Dr. Craig has advanced. But that theory is quite a hopeless theory. because of it’s implications. One of its implications, for example, is that, if God had commanded mankind to torture one another as much as possible, then it would follow that that action was obligatory.  Perhaps Dr. Craig would be happy with that consequence.   But many people, including many religious thinkers, are very unhappy with that consequence, and so have rejected the divine command theory of morality.

The divine command theory of morality represents one way in which one might think that the existence of God was presupposed by the existence of objective moral values.  Unfortunately, Dr. Craig has not offered any explanation of the connection that he believes to exist between the two, so I can’t really offer an argument against his own view concerning the connection.  Perhaps he’ll say something about this later on.

The other point that needs to be made, however, is that there are a number of ethical theories - such as that of the famous British philosopher, G. E. Moore, in which moral values are identified with non-natural properties - which provide one with perfectly objective values even in a world without God. [v2350] Consequently, the existence of God is just completely irrelevant for the existence of objective moral values.

Turning now to Dr. Craig's fifth argument, let me comment briefly on the resurrection of Jesus. Again, there were a number of points which were quickly thrown out, and which it is very difficult to come to terms with in such limited time. If one had a couple of hours to discuss the various considerations, one could do something rather useful. Nevertheless, let me say a few things very quickly.

The basic point I want to make in the time remaining is that there have been many studies of how, given a situation in which nothing exciting happens, where nothing really has taken place, fabulous stories gradually develop which are elaborated over time with the introduction of more detail, and with descriptions of events that are ever more miraculous.

One of the more scholarly accounts is that of A.D. White’s classic book, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology within Christendom, in a chapter entitled “The Growth of Healing Legends” where he’s discussing the miracles attributed to St. Francis Xavier. [2a150] What White shows is that, if you look at the writings of St. Francis Xavier and his contemporaries, there are no references to miraculous events. But when you look at Xavier's early biographers, you start seeing some minor miraculous events coming in. You look further along, at the accounts offered by later biographers, and eventually you have accounts of St. Francis Xavier raising people from the dead, with complete details of the names, the towns and so on where these events supposedly took place.

There have been similar investigations of miraculous claims in the present day - such as Louis Rose’s book on faith healing. All of these investigations have had the same result - namely, the evidence for miracles has turned out never to be satisfactory. Thank you. [v2400, 2a165]

5.  William Lane Craig's Closing Statement

Craig: The contentions that I said I was going to defend:

First, there’s no good reason to think that atheism is true. I think to this point in the debate we have still not seen any persuasive reasons to think that atheism is more plausible than theism. You remember my refutations to his four arguments.

Secondly, there are good reasons to think that theism is true. Let me review my arguments.

First, God is the best explanation for the existence of abstract objects. Dr. Tooley didn’t say anything about this but I think this is an important argument for God as an omniscient mind. The existence of propositions and other conceptual type entities aren’t lodged in human minds, they’re lodged in a divine omniscient mind.

Secondly, God is the best explanation of why the universe exists rather than nothing. I was amazed here by Dr. Tooley’s attack on the Big Bang model which is the reigning paradigm in physical cosmology today, as well as some of his other points. Let me just review them.

Number one, he says you don’t answer the question why God exists. The underlying premise of the argument is that whatever begins to exist has a cause. Since God doesn’t begin to exist, he doesn’t need a cause. That’s not special pleading for God, that’s what the atheist has always said about the universe. It’s eternal and uncaused; it doesn’t need to have any explanation. But now that’s become untenable in light of the Big Bang cosmology as well as my argument.

Secondly, can an actual infinite exist? I did give an argument for this. I said self-contradictions result if you have an actual infinite instantiated in reality, such as infinity minus infinity. I could give [other] specific examples if you would like. But he says, look, if you have a realist view of space and space is continuous then there is an actual infinite. Well I deny the second assumption. I deny that space is continuous in the sense of being composed of an actually infinite number of points. [v2450] That’s just an assumption on his part. It’s question begging. [2a200] I would say that space as a whole or a geometrical line as a whole exists logically prior to any points that you might specify in it. And therefore, while space is continuous in the sense of being potentially infinitely divisible, it is not composed of an actual infinite number of points.

Similarly, he says space could be Euclidean. I don’t see any reason to think that. I would deny that physical space could be Euclidean in the sense of being actually infinite because the notion of an actual infinite results in self-contradictions ultimately.

Then he begins to attack the Big Bang theory based on this one article. And I think the arguments he gave are simply not enough to overthrow this paradigm. For example, the anomalous red-shifts. These have been around for a long time and they continue to be cleared up as better and better measurements are made of the objects that have these shifts.

He says that it predicts the temperature incorrectly. The temperature background for the microwave radiation is certainly given within the measure of error that would normally be allowed for scientific theory prediction. I don’t know of anybody who thinks that Hoyle’s steady state model and [the] attempts to explain away the background radiation temperatures [are] superior to the expansion model.

He says it predicts huge amounts of dark matter which don’t exist. That’s just incorrect. He’s talking about a particular type of inflationary model. But there are many, a wide family, of Big Bang models. In open universes there is no prediction of this kind of dark matter. In fact, I would say the universe is not dense enough to recontract.

He says, now the universe is dated with an age that is inconsistent with the age of the stars. That’s true according to these recent measurements that were made. But what this calls into question is not the expansion of the universe itself, but our theory of galaxy formation which is admittedly very much inchoate and very much in flux. [v2500]

From my reading, from what I understand, the notion of the expansion of the universe is going to be any part of a future model of the universe that is developed even if our theories of galaxy formation and so forth are changed. So unless he’s willing to revise things like the expansion of the universe or the Hawkings-Penrose singularity theorems, he’s going to be positing an origin of the universe.

He says, but there can be a hyperspace beyond space in which our universe originated. That is a postulate of pure faith which is no more scientific and no more rational than belief in the existence of God. And it is especially questionable in view of the fact that there is no independent reason to think that such a metaphysical hyperspace exists where there are independent arguments for the existence of God.

What about God being the best explanation of the complex order? He says the calculations are unsound. I don’t think that’s true, I’ve read widely in the literature on the anthropic principle and every account says that the delicate balance of initial conditions in the universe are wildly improbable. [2a250] I don’t know of anybody who says that these conditions are probable.

He says, why, you can explain them by a many worlds interpretation. Again, notice that he’s appealing to metaphysical entities which are no more scientific, no less metaphysical than theism. I don’t see any reason to prefer these interpretations; especially, I think they are less simple because you’re going to have to have an infinite number of these many worlds, they’re going to have to be random in the distribution of physical laws in order to be able to explain this universe. And that’s certainly less simple than the hypothesis of theism which has as well independent reasons for adopting it. [v2550]

What about God being the best explanation of objective moral values? I certainly did give an argument for this. I said that in the absence of God there is no reason to think that human beings are special. There’s no reason to think they have these non-natural properties that Dr. Tooley seems to posit. It’s much more plausible on the atheistic view that man is just an animal, just a primate, and moral values don’t exist.

He attacks the divine command theory of ethics, but notice that a defensible view of the divine command theory is available so long as you say that God’s commands are not arbitrary but they are rooted in his own moral nature. So that his commands flow necessarily out of his own nature and thus you don’t get into the ‘either/or’ argument Dr. Tooley referred to.

As for God being the best explanation of the resurrection of Jesus, the evidence that I gave already takes into account the hypothesis of legendary development. And as I say, the majority of the critics today hold that you cannot explain away the empty tomb as a late legend akin to St. Francis’ miracles. Nor can you explain away the appearances on that basis. So he’s got to deal with the evidence for the empty tomb, for the appearances, and for the origin of the Christian faith.

The Gospels were written down within the lifetime of the eyewitnesses in the same geographical locale where these stories occurred. There’s no comparable place in history for this kind of rapid legendary development.

The last point that God can be immediately known and experienced hasn’t been dealt with. I’m out of time. I can just say that in my own life God has certainly been an immediate reality and in the absence of any defeaters for that claim I don’t see any reason that I should deny the reality of his existence.

6.  Michael Tooley's Closing Statement

Tooley: [2a288] The problem with the appeal to religious experience is that there are different religions, and believers in these very different religions all have experiences of the deities of their own religions. [v2600] The question, then, is whether or not one can set out any justification for saying, yes, the experiences of Dr. Craig are veridical, but the conflicting experiences of someone in another religion are not veridical. It seems to me the latter claim simply represents a biased point of view, and that there’s no justification for it. Moreover, I believe that the diversity of religious experience provides a reason for concluding that any argument from religious experience to the existence of a certain sort of deity, if it appeals to an experience that can be different from one religion to another, must be an unsound argument.

Let me now indicate why I believe that Dr. Craig has not satisfactorily responded to any of the four arguments that I gave.

In the case of the first argument, I didn’t sketch it fully, because of time limitations. Let me sketch it very briefly now. [2a300] The thrust of the argument, in effect, is that if you consider something like the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect being, there are other types of omnipotent, omniscient beings. There could be an omniscient, omnipotent being who is, for example, morally evil and supremely so. There could also be omnipotent, omniscient beings who have intermediate moral characteristics. You therefore get a range of omnipotent and omniscient beings with as great a variety of possible moral attributes as you care to imagine, and there’s no reason, a priori, why the existence of one of these should be more probable than the other.  But now the crucial point is that at most one omnipotent and omniscient being can exist at any given time. For then, in view of the fact that any number of different types of omnipotent and omniscient beings are logically possible, the probability that any particular one of them would exist - such as an omnipotent, omniscient, and morally perfect one - must surely be (much) less than one half.  But if the probability of a proposition is less than one half, the probability of its being false is greater than one half. And so one would have a reason not to accept that proposition. Therefore, atheism is the default position for that reason.

Secondly, as regards the argument that appeals to a fact about all the minds that we are acquainted with, here, as in a number of places, Dr. Craig distorted my argument. I did not claim, as he said, that there could not be a non-embodied mind, for I believe that non-embodied minds are possible. My argument did not, as he suggested, involve the assumption that dualism is false. [v2650] For I myself am an interactionist dualist, and I was certainly not making assumptions that are contrary to ones I myself believe!

My argument here was a probabilistic argument. The claim was that all the minds we are acquainted with have a certain property - namely, that they are all at least dependent upon physical entities - brains.  But if this is so, then it’s reasonable to project that property onto any other minds that may happen to exist. And if you do project that property, you arrive at a certain conclusion - not that the existence of God is impossible, but, rather, that the existence of God is unlikely. Dr. Craig just did not address that argument at all.

What about his response to the hiddenness of God argument? His response was that one that I had expected from him, although it was also one that I was disappointed to hear - namely, that involved in Pascal's view that "there is enough light for those who wish to see and enough darkness for those who wish to remain in darkness.” For what Craig is saying is that if people of good will really make an effort to arrive at a knowledge of God, then they will do so. I suggest that that claim is simply, empirically false. I suggest that there are people who would like to be convinced that God exists, at least if ‘God’ is defined in the way I defined it - rather than in the way that Craig might define it, where the deity is the creator of heaven and hell, and where hell is a place where many - indeed the majority of people - are going to end up spending eternity.  But if one focuses upon the concept of God as I defined it, then it seems to me that anyone who is thinking clearly would hope that there is such a God. And it also seems to me that I know many people who would like to have that belief, but, having looked at the evidence - including the arguments that I have put forward - are convinced that that belief, unfortunately, is one that is not likely to be true. So I think that’ Craig's response to my third argument was very unsatisfactory one.

Finally, there were a number of distortion in Craig's discussion of my final argument - the argument from evil.  Here, too, it would take some time to go through all of them. The basic point, however, is that, as I emphasized earlier, I was not making any sort of necessity claim. I was claiming that there was a sound probabilistic argument. And that probabilistic argument rested upon claims about the reasonableness of believing that the world could be improved in certain sorts of ways. I claimed, for example, that the world would be improved by the elimination of cancer, or by the elimination of mental illness; that the world would be a better place if Hitler had been killed before he got the holocaust going, and so on. [v2700]

Dr. Craig did not address any of those specific claims. He needs to come out and say right off, then, if he thinks the world would not be a better place by the elimination of cancer. What he did, instead, was to accuse me of some sort of utilitarian approach.  But I’m not a utilitarian. [2a350] My approach to ethics is deontological. It’s a rights-based approach, rather than utilitarian one. So Dr. Craig's response was a distortion of my view.

The point here - concerning the irrelevance of utilitarianism - can be put this way.  Suppose you think there are things other than happiness that matter - as I do.  Do you then conclude that the world would not be a better place by the elimination of cancer? That seems to me to be an extraordinary claim. But it seems to be the claim that Dr. Craig is putting forward.

Dr. Craig also referred to my article on the problem of evil, and ascribed to me the view that, if one had a proof of the existence of God, then one would have no problem with the argument from evil. Again, this is a distortion. In that article, I considered different sorts of arguments that one might put forward for the existence of God, and the point I made is that there are a very limited number of arguments which would, even if they were sound, provide one with a reason for thinking that there was a morally perfect deity. One argument that would do so is the ontological argument. If the ontological argument were sound, then it would follow that there is an omniscient, omnipotent, morally perfect being. Moreover, since that would be a necessary truth, one would have a conclusive answer to the argument from evil.

But I would claim to be able to offer a decisive refutation of the ontological argument, for I believe that, by paralleling precisely the reasoning that is involved in the ontological argument, you can derive a contradiction. (This is something which I’ve shown in one of my published articles.)

Finally, Dr. Craig rebuked me for pressing the question, What about God plus the universe?  What is the cause of that? [v2750] The reason that he thought that I had made a mistake in raising that issue is that, first, he puts forward a causal principle that says that whatever begins to exist has a cause, and secondly, God, of course, if he exists, always exists

My view, however, is that it can be shown that Craig's formulation of a principle of causation is an artificially restricted causal principle. I’ve argued elsewhere that causation is a relation, not between changes, but between states of affairs. So if, for example, you take this table here, Dr. Craig would say that this table could not pop into existence without being caused to pop into existence. Fine, let’s assume that’s so. But what about the existence right now of a table that hasn’t just now popped into existence? I maintain that it must have a cause just as much in that case of the table that pops into existence.  What is the cause? The cause is simply the earlier existence of the table. It’s a matter of the conservation laws of matter and energy. So, in short, there’s a more general causal principle which one must accept, if one accepts the principle Craig accepts. It’s that every state of affairs requires a cause. And once that causal principle is accepted, then it is clear that there is no advantage in adding God to the physical universe, and saying that God is timeless and changeless. The existence of God is still a state of affairs, and it requires a cause just as much as the existence of the physical universe. Thank you very much.

7.  Questions from the Audience [v2788, 2a391]

Q1: [To Dr. Craig.] How do you deal with the statement that even God cannot create a boulder so heavy that he cannot lift it?

Craig: Generally speaking theists have held that God’s omnipotence does not mean that he can do things that are logically impossible. And the idea of a boulder too heavy for God to lift is simply a self-contradictory description. [v2800] It’s not a logical possibility and therefore most philosophers would say that this is not something that should fall within the pale of God’s omnipotence. He cannot do logical impossibilities and therefore this is no infringement of his omnipotence. [2a400]

Now of course, if you do think he can do logical impossibilities then he can create a stone heavier than he can lift and then lift it. So, either way, if he cannot do logical impossibilities it’s no infringement, and if he can then it’s no problem.

Tooley: Well, it’s possible for an omnipotent being to create a boulder too heavy for him to lift, but only at the cost of the sacrifice of his own omnipotence. He ceases to be omnipotent if he creates such a state of affairs. But if you wave that sort of move I would say that it is possible, as Dr. Craig has suggested, to give a satisfactory account of omnipotence to handle that sort of a case. Giving a satisfactory account of omnipotence is a somewhat subtle matter, but I think a satisfactory account can be given.

Q2: [To Dr. Tooley]: You said that there were no people present or no documentation of miracles in our present day. Now there is a teacher [in India named] Sai Baba who has displayed before millions of people what appear to be miracles. He has also shown this to many scientists around the world. My question is, If this is true, if he does exhibit a control over matter, for instance creating things out of thin air, then does this affect your argument in any way?

Tooley: Well, if he had that ability, it might or might not be miraculous, since it could be that he merely has some paranormal abilities that aren’t yet fully understood. [v2850] However, I personally would be extremely sceptical of the claim that he has any such abilities, because if you look at claims that are made in the area of the paranormal, many scientists have thought that claims that have been advanced in areas of the paranormal like telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, and so on, were plausible, but when such claims have been subjected to more careful controls, and more thorough investigation, it always turns out that they don’t stand up. One of the important conclusions concerning investigations of paranormal phenomenon, moreover, is that scientists can easily be tricked. For this reason, it is very important that magicians be involved in such investigations.

For example, there’s a well-known case involving a famous physicist of very high standing named John Taylor in England. Taylor was on a show with Uri Geller, where Uri Geller did his usual collection of tricks like bending spoons, starting stopped watches, and so on. (Uri Geller is, incidentally, a former Israeli stage magician Taylor was very struck by Geller's performance, and wanted to investigate such phenomena himself, and to work out a theory of what was going on in these sorts of cases. So he did experiments with British school children and published a book called Superminds, in which you’ll find pictures of British school children holding up pictures of mangled cutlery. And Taylor tried to work on a theory of how children were able to bend things psychokinetically.

Other investigators were somewhat more sceptical than Taylor was, so they decided to run the experiments Themselves. They were particularly interested in what Taylor had called the ‘shyness effect.’ Taylor noted that, as long as you watched the children closely, their psychic powers seemed to be inhibited. But if you relaxed your attention, and looked out the window, etc., then the children were really able to perform. The investigators, however, in rerunning the experiments, changed one thing: they videotaped the procedures. They found, indeed, that there was a shyness effect operating; but what was happening when you looked away was that little Mary was taking her foot and using it to bend the fork.

The conclusion, accordingly, is that even very great scientists - such as Taylor - can be taken in, and they have in fact been taken in frequently by fraud in the area of the paranormal. [v2900]

Craig: I would simply second that, except to say also that I’d be really suspicious about anybody who would claim to do miracles under the conditions of scientific tests. Because, I can’t imagine that God would allow himself to be trapped in that kind of conjuring performance. [2a450] The notion of miracles in the New Testament is not that these are natural powers that a person does to display to others and so forth. But the miracles done by Jesus were demonstrations of the inbreaking of the kingdom of God and were not sort of conjurers tricks where God would allow himself to be put on display so to speak. I think that the miracles had a religious significance that transcends that.

Q3: [To Dr. Craig.] Usually you seem to try to find hidden problems. I wonder if you’ve found any problems in your theory of … theism.…

Craig: Yes, of course, and I do find the problem of evil to be a very significant problem. And I think Dr. Tooley lays out very persuasively in his article—although in the end I think a defence can be made against it—I think all of us can see intuitively the force of this argument. I’m not very persuaded by arguments against the coherence of the concept of God—many of these have been offered—or the other arguments he gave about the hiddenness of God. So I guess the problem of evil would be the one. . .

But what actually about your [theories]? Have you thought about the question of the problems of in [your theories of Christianity]?

Craig: Well, yes, like the problem of evil. I think we’ve all thought about that, wondering how a good God could exist given the suffering in the world. [v2950] Yes, and I think that would be the one that would give me the most pause. And I’ve obviously asked myself, could this story in the New Testament about Jesus be mere legends and not be historically credible. But at the end of the day I’m persuaded that in fact these objections are not sufficient to overthrow the rationality of Christian belief. But those would be two areas where, yeah, I would ask myself these difficult questions.

Tooley: Very briefly, I agree with some of the things Dr. Craig has said. For example, I don’t think that arguments based upon claims that the concept of God is incoherent are impressive at all. Ass regards Christianity, however, what I would say is that I think that the case against Christianity is actually in a different league from the case against theism. I think there are much more powerful objections against Christianity, and so I think that, if one is a Christian, one should be thinking not merely about the existence of God, but about the objections against Christianity. The one that I mentioned in passing is the doctrine of hell. And if you read the Bible it does say that the majority of  the people in the world are going to wind up in hell - which is a place of eternal torment. [2a490, 2b0] A lot of people are deeply troubled by that, and you will find philosophical theists, such as the late A. C. Ewing, who hold there is good reason to believe in God, but also that there are very good reasons for not being a Christian.

I think one should look at the question of hell.  I also think one should look carefully at the character of Jesus, and that one should look, for example, at Jesus's belief in his Second Coming. Thus, there are passages that indicate that Jesus believed that the Second Coming was going to take place in the lifetime of some of those standing in front of him. (This erroneous belief of Jesus concerning the Second Coming is a theme that was developed by Albert Schweitzer.) In short, I think that there are a number of powerful objections to Christianity, and I think Christians should think more about those objections than about the question of theism versus atheism.

Q4: [To Dr. Tooley.] You said that God is hiding. How do you explain the Bible which is claimed to be his word and in which he reveals himself? [v3000] As a trustworthy document, how would you deal with that?

Tooley: I think it is a very important question, the status of the Bible. I don’t know exactly what your view of it is. If you take the view that it is the real word of God, then you ought to think that it’s relatively free of error. Now one of the exercises I have students do in some of my classes is actually to read parts of the Bible very carefully. I have them read parts of Genesis, for example, and instruct them to try to find beliefs that are so implausible that even most contemporary Christians and Jews would find them implausible. And they come up with things like people living for nine hundred and twenty three years. They come up with verses about there being divine beings who look down on earth, find tempting women there, and decide to have children with them, and we are told that thus arose the great men of old. and so on. [2b50] You find stories like that of Noah’s ark, in which Noah and his family round up at least two of each species and put them on the ark along with sufficient food for a very lengthy journey, and so on.

The students also come up with contradictions. There are contradictions between the creation stories in Genesis one and Genesis two,  for example, with regard to the order of creation.  In chapter two, Adam is created first, whereas in chapter one Adam and Eve are created together.  Or, again, in chapter two Adam is created and God notices that Adam is lonely, so he decides to create a helpmate for Adam.  He creates some cows and sheep, and so on, and brings them to Adam, but Adam rejects all of them. Finally he gets the bright idea of taking a rib from Adam and creating Eve. So the order of creation is different, both with regard to when Eve was created, and with regard to when animals were created.

In the case of the story of Noah, you actually find contradictions with regard to the number of animals that are supposed to go into the ark. In some cases it’s two of each kind, while in some cases it’s seven pair of certain types of animals. In short, if you look at the Bible carefully, you find that there are contradictions in it, and you also find beliefs that are very implausible. [v3050]

Or, again, if you look at the morality of the Bible, you find serious problems again. For example, things like slavery were accepted. There were rules, for example, that if a master had a slave and he had given the slave a wife, and she had had some children, after a certain period of time the slave had the option of going free but his wife and children had to remain the property of the master.

There are also passages that say that certain people should be stoned to death. People should be stoned to death for adultery, homosexuality, having sex with animals and so on. If you read the Old Testament carefully,  you’ll find that there are moral beliefs that I’m sure you yourself will not accept.

Craig: I think that there are good grounds for the belief that God has disclosed himself in the history of Israel as well as in the person of Jesus of Nazareth supremely. Whether or not one then adopts a doctrine of biblical inerrancy, I think, is perhaps an in-house question among Christians—to what degree the Bible has to be free from error in order for it to be regarded as God’s revelation to mankind. I think there are good grounds in regarding the miracles and resurrection of Jesus, for thinking of Jesus, as being that self-disclosure of God. [2b100]

As for contradictions in the Bible, you can pick up biblical commentaries that resolve most of these. Most of these are imagined, I think. For example, the order in the creation story. All it says in Genesis one is that male and female he created them. He made man and woman in his own image. It doesn’t say anything about a different order of creation. It just spells this out in more detail in the second chapter. With regard to Noah’s ark, for example, I know that there are different interpretations among biblical scholars as to whether this was just a local flood or a universal flood. The people living a long time: some speculated this refers to the time of the clan, how long that . . . [survived,] not necessarily the person. [v3100] lived So I think that in all of these cases there’s matter for debate and interpretation but there are good historical grounds for believing that God has revealed himself in Christ and in the narrative of the New Testament.

Q5: [To Dr. Craig.] My question concerns your one assertion concerning the existence of abstract entities. You mentioned propositions and numbers. Numbers, for instance; we do have accounts for numbers in set theory. . . . [Concerning] propositions . . . some semantic theories have extensional accounts. So there are accounts for two of these characteristics of these abstract entities and I’m sure there are others that do not rely on God. So I guess we’re back at square one. Could you please provide an argument for how these abstract entities could prove the existence of God, and a perfectly plausible argument?

Craig: For example, if you think of propositions, what are called singular propositions are composed of particulars. I think then it’s very difficult to explain negative existential propositions where the constituents don’t exist. It seems to me more plausible to think of propositions as being conceptual in nature. And similarly even if you reduce numbers into sets, which is controversial in itself, you [still] have the sets. [2b150] So I think that hasn’t eliminated the existence of these abstract entities just [because we can say] there are other accounts.

Now one of the things that’s interesting about propositions in particular is that propositions have this nature of being about something, they have the nature of being about that which they describe. [v3150] Where does the aboutness come from? Plantinga has pointed out that it’s plausible to think of this as being intellectual in nature in the sense that thoughts are about the thing that they’re about. Whereas the abstract entity doesn’t have that relationship of aboutness to it, … a thought does have that intentional aspect. It’s about the thing that it describes. And that makes the notion of propositions being conceptual or being thoughts then more plausible. That would be some argument in favor of grounding them in the mind of God.

But there are accounts for references also.

Craig: Well sure, but I don’t think they solve that problem that I just mentioned, the aboutness of propositions.

Tooley: Dr. Craig uses the term 'property' in a sense that’s different from the way I use it. By properties I mean things that are not mind-dependent in any way, and which are universals. I’m a realist as regards to the existence of properties and relations, and I’m also something of a Platonist, since I believe that some properties and relations can exist uninstantiated.  What I would then argue is that we should attempt to give an account of mind-dependent states of affairs - like concepts and propositions - in terms of properties, and it seems to me that such an account can be given. If this is right, then one advantage of such an account is that it will turn out that the existence of propositions really depends upon the existence of things with minds. So if we can imagine a world that was not created by God, and that had no sentient beings of any kind, then that would be a world that was devoid of concepts and propositions and sets and things of that sort. It would, however, be a world with properties, in the form of universals, because, as I said, I take a realist view of properties. [v3200]

Q6: [To Dr. Tooley.] For theists the existence of [supernatural phenomena] is enough to prove God’s existence. It seems to me that atheism is [an excessively?] sceptical viewpoint. What would God have to do to prove his existence … beyond a shadow of a doubt to an atheist? [2b200]

Tooley: It’s easy to describe something very spectacular and in my presentation I mentioned the possibility that we could hear voices from the sky in every language over every country. Suppose the voice were to say, “Yes, Andrew Wiles has, at last, proved Fermat’s last theorem—he got it wrong the first time but he’s got it right this time. But let me tell you the proof that Fermat had in mind - which was a much shorter, and more elegant proof.” And the voice rattles off this proof. And you can imagine that being done for a number of unsolved problems. However, someone might respond, “Well, perhaps you know a great deal, but what about power?” The voice might then say, “How would you like me to transfer the earth from this side of the solar system to the other side of the solar system?” You then look through your telescope and you find that your situation in the solar system is very different than it was. I think that things much less impressive than that could be evidence for the existence of an omnipotent and omniscient person. But it seems to me that if you had events of that sort, any atheist that I know would conclude that there was an omniscient and omnipotent being.

Now there is still the problem of evil. But even here it might be possible to imagine some sort of dialogue that was at least helpful. You might say, “This world doesn’t look like such a great place - with cancer in it, for example. If I had a cure for cancer, I’d try to get cancer out of the world. If you’re omniscient, you must know the cure for cancer. Why don’t you get cancer out of the world?” If the voice responded with some sort of plausible story, then perhaps it might be reasonable to believe that the being in question was not only omniscient and omnipotent. but also morally perfect. [v3250] In any case, at the very least there could be evidence that would make the existence of God much more evident than it presently is.

Craig: I think that the detail in those kind of conditions shows how vacuous this argument from the hiddenness of God is. I mean if God would have to do those sorts of things for every individual person in order to convince them of his existence, I think you can see just how irrational it would be to expect God to have to do that. That would be a world that would be so massively irregular, so bizarre. The argument based on God’s hiddenness just looses all force. God has given sufficient evidence for those who want to believe but it’s not going to be coercive evidence. If you don’t want to believe, it’s not going to coerce you. But you’re certainly not going to get voices from heaven and things of that sort in order to compel you to believe in God. [2a250]

Q7: [To Dr. Craig.] My question turns out to be rather similar to one of the previous ones. Dr. Tooley has stated that G. E. Moore and other Platonists can give a perfectly plausible account of objective values. You deny this. Could you expand on this?

Craig: On the atheistic view, I just don’t see why we should think that the ethics that have been developed by homo sapiens are objective, why there are these supposed non-natural properties that make man morally valuable or intrinsically of moral significance. It seems to me that given the atheistic view it’s much more plausible—and again this is a plausibility kind of argument—it’s much more plausible that what we call morality is what we observe in animals. [v3300] It is genetically induced or sociologically induced behavior patterns such as the altruism that you see in a troop of baboons or something of that sort. I don’t see any grounds for believing that human beings would have those sorts of properties. Any evidence that we do have for objective values would suggest to me that therefore God exists. I don’t have any intuition that such boundaries would exist in the absence of God as the source or yardstick of moral values.

Tooley: Two comments. First, it seems to me that Dr. Craig has not offered any argument at all against G. E. Moore’s view. Moore says that there are these non-natural properties, and that we’re intuitively aware of them. Craig says, “Well, moral beliefs just arise through evolutionary restraints.” Moore says, “No, I believe that it’s wrong to torture sentient life, and so on. There isn’t any reason to believe that this belief just arose through evolution."  Dr. Craig is here running an argument he wouldn’t accept for a moment in any other context. We see agreement in different societies on many fundamental values, and it may very well be that the best explanation of that agreement is that there are non-natural properties that people are directly aware of.

The second point is that William Craig has no viable alternative. He keeps claiming that somehow the existence of God helps provide us with objective values. Suppose there is an omnipotent and omniscient being who is a cosmic Hitler, and who wants people to torture one another. That’s his nature.  Moreover he issues commands, not arbitrarily, but according to his nature. So what he commands is that people should go and torture one another. According to Dr. Craig’s theory, it’s now morally right for people to torture one another. That’s just not a satisfactory outcome. Any theory that has that consequence is not an acceptable theory. [v3350] So again, there is no defensible version of the divine command theory - contrary to what Dr. Craig has said.

Q8: [To Dr. Tooley.] I noticed a trend in your arguments that you define God in human terms, [terms] like the ‘mentality of God’ and ‘what God thinks’ and so on. [2b300] Would you clarify how can you describe God in human terms?

Tooley: Some people want a deity that cannot be described in human terms. A God who is changeless and timeless, who doesn’t have any psychological or mental states, who doesn’t have consciousness, doesn’t have beliefs, desires and so on. There are theologians like Paul Tillich who have contended that to believe in deities that can be described in human terms is just superstition. But it’s my view that, on the contrary, if you conceive of a God who doesn’t have mental states, moral attitudes—knowledge that certain things are right and certain things are wrong—who is not able to act in the world in various ways, then what you have done is to shift from a being that is of religious interest - very possibly of great religious interest - to a purely metaphysical construct. It’s not at all clear to me that the existence of these metaphysical constructs that some theologians put forth in place of God really have any bearing on one’s religious life. In short, I think that it is crucial that, in some sense, God possesses a mind. Not necessarily like my mind and your mind, but in the sense that there is knowledge, there are beliefs, there are preferences, there are attitudes which can be attributed to God, and that he is a being that is capable of acting.

In Craig’s view, God created the universe, even though he was changeless and timeless. That seems to me to be an incoherent combination.  The idea of a timeless being that is the cause of the universe is open to serious objections - partly because it seems to me the causal theory of time is correct, and it implies that, if two things are causally related, they both have to be in time. [v3400]

To sum up, my view is that if you can't describe God in human terms, all that you're left with is a metaphysical and philosophical description that’s interesting to metaphysicians and philosophers, but very uninteresting to people from a religious point of view.

Craig: Well, I certainly do think that God must be described in terms of being a mind possessed of intellect and will. I don’t see any incoherence in saying that God without the universe, existing alone, exist[s] timelessly on some relational view of time. There are no events and therefore there would be no time. And that with the creation of time God enters into time in order to sustain temporal relations with creatures. So I would say that God’s creation of the universe is simultaneous with the origin of the universe in the Big Bang. And I don’t see any incoherence in that particular point of view.

Q8: [To Dr. Craig.] In your rebuttal to the hiddenness of God you stated that humankind must seek out God because God is not coercive. But everyone, atheist and theist alike, knows that if you don’t find God and accept him into your heart you won’t go to heaven and thus you will go to hell. Is that not coercion? [2b350] The same question applies to happiness as being connected to acceptance of God. It seems to imply that we must seek and believe “or else.”

Craig: Well, I don’t think it is coercive because obviously there are a lot of folks in this room, including Dr. Tooley, who don’t feel coerced. So it’s clear that people are not coerced, I think. They have the freedom to reject God, to reject his grace, and I believe that God’s will and desire is that no one be separated from him forever. In one sense, God doesn’t send anyone to hell. [v3450] I believe that people separate themselves from God by rejecting his love, his grace. And so in a sense they create their own destiny. God will not force himself upon anybody. There is ample evidence for those who want to believe. His Spirit speaks to our hearts, he draws us to himself. And I think in the end of the day no one rejects God out of their life because of lack of evidence or arguments. They ultimately reject God because they prefer themselves, and to be without him, basically; to separate themselves from him.

Dr. Tooley’s remark, he said that people seek for God but they don’t find him. But it was only a God such as was created in his own image, a God who was not a holy God, who would never send anyone to hell. Well, again, if you only seek a God who fits your description of what you want to find then you may not find God. But if there is a God who loves us and has sent his son, Jesus Christ, to redeem us from our evil, who offers us forgiveness and moral cleansing, when we reject his grace we reject his forgiveness. Then there is no one else to pay the penalty for the moral wrong and evil that we have done. God has no choice but to give us the punishment that we deserve. So we separate ourselves from him forever. And I don’t think of that as being anything that’s unjust if we’ve chosen it ourselves.

Tooley: William Craig has constantly asserted that people who do not know that God exists are people who do not earnestly seek to find out whether God exists. I think that this is an incredible claim. I would suggest that, if we did an empirical study, we would find lots of people who are earnest seekers, and who would genuinely like to come to know whether God exists, and who do so in good will, but who conclude, reluctantly, that there isn’t good evidence for the existence of God. [v3500] So to put it very plainly and simply: Craig's claim is empirically false.

I would also say that Craig's contention seems to betray a certain inhumanity - because Craig is suggesting that those who don’t believe really deserve whatever they get. And what they are going to get in, Dr. Craig’s view, is very dramatic indeed: it’s eternal torment in hell. And if it is said, in response, that each person chooses hell, then one of the problems is that hell is eternal. It’s not that people can try hell out and then get a second chance. For one primary objection to the doctrine of hell is precisely this:  once the door is shut, it’s shut for eternity. And as a number of philosophers like Santayana have argued, this is really a very unsatisfactory conception. [v3520, 2b398]