The Craig-Pigliucci Debate:
Does God Exist?

Dr. Craig's Second Rebuttal

Second Question

The absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence. For example, we have no positive evidence of an early inflationary era in the history of the universe, and yet if you look at many cosmologists, they believe that such an inflationary era actually existed. The absence of evidence is not a proof that it did not exist. And over and over again in the arguments Dr. Pigliucci offered to falsify the God hypothesis, he came back to me by saying that I haven't carried the burden of proof. But his objections, he claims, falsify God. Now if that's true, he's got to carry his share of the burden of proof. All I have to do is show that these objections are inconclusive.

Argument from Imperfections

So, for example, take his argument from imperfection. I responded with three points: (1) He assumes a static theory of creation, but creationists accept microevolution. He didn't respond to that point. (2) I said that it assumes to know what God would do, which is presumptuous. And he says that's true, but we must have an answer. No, not at all; it's he who thinks you have to be able to presume what God would create if He existed to carry the objection. I'm the one here to say, "I don't know, and you don't know; therefore the objection is inconclusive." (3) I said perfection is a relative term. A watch which doesn't function perfectly is still designed. He didn't respond to that.

I then gave the argument from evolution and pointed out that apart from God it's just too improbable to think that natural selection and genetic mutations could have resulted in the sort of biological complexity that we see. He didn't deny the point; he just said that I didn't quote biologists. But notice, he didn't deny the calculations or the point. In fact, Barrow Tipler in that same book reported that there's a consensus among evolutionary biologists today that the life of comparable information-processing ability to homo sapiens is so improbable that it's unlikely to evolve anywhere else in the visible universe.{1} That's what they report as a consensus among biologists today.

Other Objections

He dropped his regression argument, dropped his "Naturalism works" argument, dropped his Problem of Evil argument, dropped his Noah's Ark argument. So I hope that you've not seen any persuasive reasons tonight to think that the God hypothesis is false. Dr. Pigliucci has simply failed to falsify that hypothesis.

First Question

Now what about my reasons for believing in the existence of God?

First Argument

(1) The origin of the universe. Here he admits the premises that Whatever begins to exist has a cause, and that The universe began to exist. "But why," he says, "think that the cause is God?" I gave the arguments in my first speech. I showed that it deductively follows from a cause of space and time that the cause must be timeless and spaceless. Therefore it cannot be anything physical and material that transcends time and space. It must be changeless. And I argued that it must be personal because otherwise you cannot explain how a temporal effect can originate from an impersonal, timeless cause. And he didn't refute any of those arguments. So I think in the formulation of the argument that I gave I answered all of his objections.

Second Argument

(2) What about the complex order in the universe? I explained the theory of probability. I did show why his example of the people in the room is a flawed analogy. "But," he says, "Look, there's no basis for these calculations. We don't know that these things are really improbable." What he's really suggesting to you here is that somehow a life-permitting universe is necessary, that if we knew of some Theory of Everything, we would see that life necessarily exists. And that is an enormously implausible hypothesis. Paul Davies, the astrophysicist, says,

There is absolutely no evidence in favor of it. . . . Even if the laws of physics were unique, it doesn't follow that the physical universe itself is unique. . . . the laws of physics must be augmented by cosmic initial conditions. . . . There is nothing in present ideas about 'laws of initial conditions' remotely to suggest that their consistency with the laws of physics would imply uniqueness. Far from it. . . .

. . . it seems, then, that the physical universe does not have to be the way it is: it could have been otherwise.{2}

And, in fact, as I said, when you alter those constants, those conditions, those laws, you find out that we are balancing on a knife's edge. The origin of the universe is like the Empire State Building's popping into existence out of nothing. That's what the atheistic hypothesis is like, if they believe this really just happened by chance. And I find the design hypothesis far more plausible.

Third Argument

(3) What about objective morality? Here Dr. Pigliucci is clearly in a deep existential dilemma: he affirms that morality is not objective--it is the invention of human beings--, but he cannot bring himself to say that therefore anything goes. He wants to cling to moral values. But, you see, for an atheist these values are floating in the air: they have no objective basis. On atheism moral values are just social conventions. You could have chosen to go on the red and stop on the green. They're just human inventions, the byproducts of socio-biological evolution. But that means that a society like Nazi Germany or South Africa, where apartheid was practiced, or what happened in Cambodia in the killing fields, that those aren't morally wrong, that is, they are morally indifferent. And I, at least, cannot bring myself to believe that. It seems to me far more plausible that there is objective right and wrong; for example, torturing babies for fun is wrong. And if you agree with me tonight that that is objectively morally wrong, then you would agree with me that therefore God exists. For he admits that if we have no God, these things are not objectively wrong, but they're human conventions.

Fourth Argument

(4) What about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus? Here he asks, "Why think that Jesus was special?" Very simply: because of the evidence for his resurrection! No other founder of any religion in history has had such a thing claimed of him. "But," he says, "Isn't it arbitrary to believe in a miracle in this case if you don't believe in miracles in many other cases?" Not at all! You should believe in a miracle, I think, when (1) No naturalistic explanation of the facts is available that plausibly explains the facts, and (2) There is a supernatural explanation suggested in the religio-historical context in which the event occurred. The resurrection of Jesus is significant not just because anyone or someone rose from the dead, but because Jesus of Nazareth, who claimed to be the absolute revelation from God, rose from the dead. And what is significant is that Dr. Pigliucci hasn't been able to deny any of those three facts that the majority of New Testament critics hold to today: the empty tomb, the resurrection appearances, and the origin of the disciples' faith. Those are the historical facts. Now you can pursue agnosticism if you want. You can just say "Well, I don't know the explanation." But I certainly think a Christian is within his rights to say, "You know, it looks to me like those men were telling the truth," that the best explanation is that Jesus did rise from the dead. So you can remain agnostic if you want to, but it seems to me that as a historian I'm certainly within my rational rights to say the best explanation is that Jesus rose from the dead.

Fifth Reason

(5) Finally, the immediate experience of God has not even been discussed tonight in this debate. But I think one can know immediately that God exists as well.


{1} John Barrow and Frank Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), p. 133.

{2} Paul Davies, The Mind of God (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992), p. 169.

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