Does God Exist? William Lane Craig vs Peter Atkins

This debate on “Does God Exist?” took place in front of a capacity audience at the University of Manchester (including an overspill room). It was recorded on Wednesday 26th October 2011 as part of the UK Reasonable Faith Tour with William Lane Craig.

William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, La Mirada, California and a leading philosopher of religion. Peter Atkins is former Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Lincoln College.

The debate was chaired by Christopher Whitehead, Head of Chemistry School at the University. Post-debate discussion was moderated by Peter S Williams, Philosopher in Residence at the Damaris Trust, UK.()

15 thoughts on “Does God Exist? William Lane Craig vs Peter Atkins

  1. WLC has still nothing more to offer than “I WANT god to exist”. Not surprisingly after thousands of years, and billions of people looking for it , there is still not the slightest shred of observable evidence, nor the slightest philosophical reason to believe so.

    WLCs verbal self contradictory gymnastics are merely evidence for ….. his ability to engage in verbal self contradictory gymnastics.

    Any position, other than atheism, is by definition irrational.

  2. Crystal, you look around you and find the opposite I do? Evolution, as in a species changing into another, is a myth. Species do NOT change into other species, they simply adapt to cope with changes in their environment. They either adapt to a changing environment or go extinct. There is no proof of the evolution of a species into another because it is impossible.

    Some would have us believe everything started from some primordial ooze and things evolve and before you know it things are crawling out of the sea and next thing you know we have homo-sapiens who evolved from monkeys. Beam me up Scotty. Evolution is non-scientific because science demands proof of a theses. Adaptation is not evolution and when a species successfully adapts to a changing environment it does not change into a new species.

    YOU: Why would he bring up the question of whether God is moral or good, when it doesn’t make any difference? As an anthropologist, I see scientific reasons for human behavior – promotion of the species.

    ME: I’m a simple man and want a simple answer. My simple mind SEES one is Good or Bad. One loves all or hates one, all, or some. One is for Good or against Good. One believes Good is love or one believes Good is _____, fill in the blank.

    So my simple logic makes me believe one against Good is under Bads subjugation. Through history we see the effects of “one under Bads subjugation” and the consequences we suffer. The most recent being James Holmes killing 12 and wounding 50+ in Colorado. If you think you are immune to the affects of Bad you are wrong and if Bad hasn’t visited your Goodless life you have been, so far, very lucky.

  3. Thank you so much, Prayson, as always, to prompt me to think about this. Roy’s comment is delicious to me: for showing how different we humans are. I look at the world around us and find the opposite that he finds: I am impressed at how perfectly evolution is displayed. No need for a god here at all. I like this debate very much. William Craig is obviously intelligent and professional, and his arguments don’t make sense to me at all. Why would he bring up the question of whether God is moral or good, when it doesn’t make any difference? As an anthropologist, I see scientific reasons for human behavior – promotion of the species. I find the fact that God asks for one to behave properly is an irrelevant (but very helpful!) additional piece of interesting human beliefs. “lsf289” finds that Atkins has a weak argument, and I find that it was sharp and compelling. He points out that “truth is not arrived at by majority vote” and “there is no evidence that the Universe has any purpose” and is rather misapplied human experience to the workings of the cosmos. Rather, I found Craig’s arguments nearly always beside the point.

    But ahh…. how beautiful that is! And how revealing! These two are preaching to their choirs. They are speaking different languages, to different focus groups. Isn’t it often the case. I love that I can’t, for the life of me, figure out why Craig’s argument is compelling to some people. It means that I have a lot of studying to do.

  4. i enjoyed this. i never heard of William Craig before. i thought that Atkins didn’t give much of a debate. Thanks for sharing this!

  5. I dont like watching WLC debates anymore, they tend to get me angry, and I write angry blog posts… Yuou can look up dprjones on YouTube for some good videos on how “God is Not Good” and how he refutes WLC.

      • I do understand this, I get angry at his intellectual dishonesty though. Not his arguments, they have been refuted.

        • Sorry Michael, my three months daughter, Eliose, pressed send before I finished writing 🙂

          I wanted to say we are often emotional when we are in a position we do not like and uncomfortable. I used to be when I read atheists blogs and books.

          Now I simply am enjoying, learning, listening and pondering, as I trying to sort my emotions from knowledge.

          I will love to know who refute which argument and how did they refute it. I am more interested with how they refuted. We should try to dance, Michael, with the argument and not the people who hold the argument.

          Thank you for your comment Michael.


  6. I think your right, for some, when they are losing an argument, turn to name calling, ridicule, and belittling but I think Atkins does this, not out of anger, but that he can not win the debate.

    At the end and final conclusion the atheists points to evidence (or lack of in this case). They like to use evidence arguments such as, “The only way we know the chair is real is that we can see the chair, we can touch the chair, therefore the chair is real.”

    “Prove to me that God exists.” That’s the famous challenge an atheist casts at a theist. The defender of the faith now runs through a list of reasons and arguments that make perfect sense to anybody… except to the atheist. Frustrated, the theist lashes back, “Prove to me that God doesn’t exist.” Now it’s the challenger’s turn. “You don’t understand the scientific method. The onus is on you to prove God!”

    And so they go, back and forth, conference after conference, century after century. How many times have we seen the scene, or read of it? A thousand? Is there a solution to this dilemma? Can we break the impasse and move on?

    The simplest way to prove that God exists is to just open our eyes and look around. Where did everything come from? Our planet Earth alone contains more than 100 known elements and more than 16 million known compounds. Our planet is just a mere speck in this vast universe. The physical universe and everything that it contains is beyond human understanding and cannot be measured. Scientist view the universe through the Hubble telescope and get many neat looking pictures and speculate and theorize but at the end of the day the vast complexity and size of it all leaves more questions than when we started.

    The different scientific elements and compounds in the entire universe could never be counted. Now keeping all this in mind, imagine that somebody were to go secretly in your house while you were away. Inside your house this person lays a simple sheet of Aluminum down in the middle of the floor and then immediately leaves your house. Now imagine that you return home and find this same sheet of Aluminum still laying in the middle of the floor in your house. You did not see anybody put it there nor did you find any evidence that anybody put it there. Wouldn’t you want to know how the sheet of Aluminum came to be there just laying in your house? You simply would not believe that the Aluminum just appeared there out of nothing and for no reason. You would know that it was there for a reason and that somebody or something put it there. Now Aluminum is just a single element that is on our Earth and yet we know that it just can’t appear out of nothing. Out of nothing, nothing comes. So how can our vast universe that cannot be measured and which contains countless elements and compounds appear out of nothing? Just like the simple sheet of Aluminum, the universe simply did not appear without a reason out of nothing and without a maker. No, our Earth and the entire universe has a maker and that maker is God!

    If you are interested, I’ve written a post on Seeking Comfort in Our Inability to Truly Comprehend God.


  7. I watched this debate a few months ago, and I was shocked to see the anger in Atkins’ disposition. Many atheists that Craig has debated tend to resort to similar tactics, but I’ve never seen someone try to play the “Gospels are political propaganda” card so frequently. I think Atkins did more harm for his cause than good, as his general attitude is eclipsed only by the rantings of Richard Dawkins.

    • Thank you Cyloor

      Atheist philosopher Michael Ruse stated: “People forget that it is possible to be intensely religious in the entire absence of theological belief. (Michael Ruse, Darwin and Design, p. 335)”

      Love and peace 🙂


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