The Craig-Jesseph Debate
Does God Exist?

Dr. Craig's Third Rebuttal

Well, this has really been an enjoyable debate!

I. Reasons for Atheism

Let's look at the first contention that I said I would defend, that there is no good reason to think atheism is true.

Problem of Evil

Basically, what it has boiled down to here is the problem of evil on the atheistic side. Does that provide adequate grounds for believing that God does not exist? What Dr. Jesseph says now in response to my final rebuttal is that God is compelling people to believe in Him. Not at all! I am not maintaining that God tortures people or anything of that sort. But I am saying that in a world in which there were no suffering, no evil, it is very possible that people would be spoiled, immature, and irresponsible and would not in fact seek God. If God can win people's salvation and a deeper knowledge of Himself by allowing suffering and evil in the world, then I think that it is certainly worth it, and those who are redeemed and are in eternity with God in heaven, looking back, will say, "I would go through it a million times over to know this joy and this bliss and this fulfillment!" So, when you look at it from God's perspective in eternity, I don't think that the evil in the world provides any sort of disproof of Christian theism.

II. Reasons for Theism

Now what about the claim that God does exist? Are there good reasons to think theism is true?

Cosmological Argument

First, the origin of the universe. Notice that Dr. Jesseph has not been able to supply any sort of explanation of the origin of the universe. He appeals to Stephen Hawking's use of imaginary numbers, saying this is common in physics. It is only an auxiliary mathematical device, a "mathematical trick" in physics -- for example, in quantum physics. It doesn't represent real quantities, and it can't be metaphysically correct because it turns time into space. He says, "Well, that's only if you believe in real tense." Now that is simply not the case. As long as you believe time's elements are ordered by earlier than and later than, you can't buy into Hawking's theory that time is just a dimension of space.

With respect to our own volitions being non-physical causes, he says, "Well, this is absurd. It is incomprehensible. Everything we do has a physical determining cause." Notice that that is an expression of the view of determinism, and I would say that determinism cannot be rationally affirmed because the decision to believe in determinism is then itself determined. It is not a rational choice. It is no more rational than getting a toothache. So determinism is incapable of rational affirmation. And I think that we do have an intuition of ourselves as non-physical causes. That doesn't "overthrow all of physics and so forth." It just means that you don't believe in materialism, which cannot be rationally affirmed anyway.

Dr. Jesseph then says that the universe could have always existed even though it is finite in the past. Look, this is just a word game. To say it has always existed on that view means that at every time in the past that there is, the universe has existed. Granted; but it hasn't always existed in the sense that time is infinite in the past. There was definitely a beginning, and the universe came into existence out of nothing. And that cries out for an explanation, an explanation in a being that is uncaused, transcends time and space, and brought the universe into being.

Teleological Argument

(2) What about the complex order in the universe? Again Dr. Jesseph resorts to the inflationary model, but remember that I pointed out that even if that model is true -- and there is no evidence that it is -- it still requires fine-tuning in order for inflation to occur. So the atheist is making enormous faith commitments here with respect to the chance production of the initial conditions of the universe, as it pops into being uncaused out of nothing.

Moral Argument

(3) What about objective moral values? Well, it appears to me, according to my notes, Dr. Jesseph simply dropped this point. If God exists, then we have a foundation for the moral values that we both want to affirm and hold dear. If God does not exist, then there is no reason to believe in the objectivity of human moral values. They simply become the by-product of socio-biological evolution.

Experience of God

(4) Finally, what about the point that God can be known and experienced? Here I would like to challenge you personally to seek for God in your own experience. I wasn't raised in a Christian home, but when I became a teenager, I began to ask the "big questions" in life, about the meaning of my life, and so forth, and I began to read the New Testament. And as I did, I was captivated by the person of Jesus. I found there a reality and an authenticity that I had never discovered anywhere else. And, to make a long story short, I experienced a sort of spiritual rebirth in my life through which God became a living and ever-present reality with me. I believe you can find this reality as well, if you will seek it with an open mind and an open heart. So that would be my challenge that I want to leave with you tonight. When you go home tonight and you're lying in bed, think about it. Could there be a God who really exists, who wants to know me, and who wants me to know Him and to be His friend? It could change your life, just as it changed mine.

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