Harris vs. Craig Today!

Posted: April 7, 2011 by Amy Hall in God is Real

Today at 7:00 p.m. (Eastern), William Lane Craig will debate Sam Harris on the question, “Is good from God?” Harris will argue that science provides the basis of morality, and Craig will argue that morality must be grounded in God.

Since we can watch this streaming live at www.NDtv.net, let’s all gather in the STR Place living room and watch it together. We can give our comments and chat together on this post as we watch.

So grab some popcorn and take a seat. The show is about to begin!

  1. Adrian Urias says:

    I dunno, the title makes me a bit nervous. I’m not so sure I would say Good is FROM God. God being the paradigm, I would prefer the title be “Is Good God?” To say instead is it from God seems to be setting itself up against Euthyphro.

    • Amy Hall says:

      I think it’s just another way of saying it’s grounded in God. But I imagine that Craig will have to clarify that he’s not saying either that God declares things to be good, so they’re good, or that God finds things to be good by comparing them to a standard. I’m sure it will come up!

      • Amy sounds like she has listened to Dr. Craig’s Defenders podcast on the attributes of God. His discussion on God’s goodness addressed that exact question, which he rightly identified as a false dilemma. It’s not just A or B, but there is an option C, which I’m confident Dr. Craig will share in the debate.

  2. Amy Hall says:

    So Harris is a moral realist–he thinks morality is real. Interesting.

  3. Rob says:

    Audio is low here too, and the connection is a bit shaky. I’m interested in hearing how morality can be objective without God though…

  4. Amy Hall says:

    Craig sets out two propositions:

    1. If God exists, there are objective moral values, regardless of what any person thinks.
    2. Theism grounds objective moral duties.

    There’s no way for naturalism to ground duties. Who would we have the obligation to?

  5. Rob says:

    Is it just me or does sam harris look like ben stiller in zoolander??

  6. Amy Hall says:

    If naturalism is true, “morality” could have been different. Harris has a serious problem trying to explain how it can be objective.

  7. Amy Hall says:

    I’ve found that atheists will often just redefine what “good” means, as Craig is saying. I have trouble getting them to understand the difference.

    Is anyone else having trouble with a choppy feed, or is this my connection?

  8. Adrian Urias says:

    audio is fine. movement is SLIGHTLY choppy

    • Amy Hall says:

      Yeah, I reset my router and it seems to be working better. I missed the beginning of Harris, though.

  9. Amy Hall says:

    He has to show why we should prefer human well-being to non-well-being. Science can’t make a value judgment like that.

  10. Adrian Urias says:

    sounds like he just basically said values are culturally relative…

    • Adrian Urias says:

      for morality to be real, there must be something to have the potential to realize it? huh…

    • Amy Hall says:

      He’s grounding morality in human consciousness, so the only way he can avoid this is if he’s the person in charge of deciding who has the best morals.

  11. Amy Hall says:

    He still hasn’t given us a scientific reason why non-pain is better than pain. He can’t just say it’s self-evident.

  12. Brett Kunkle says:

    Arrrgghh. The debate is not loading for me.

  13. Amy Hall says:

    There is no such thing as health in a naturalistic world because there’s no “ought” to the way things should be. There is only “is.”

  14. Adrian Urias says:

    sounds utilitarian…i wonder if he thinks being dead is immoral?

  15. Adrian Urias says:

    lol. paul copan…that threw me off, but totally awesome.

  16. Rob says:

    So what about Jeremy Bentham and cannibalism? Under Sam’s philosophy this maximizes well-being and thus murder can be morally good.

  17. jd says:

    I have great audio and video stream. Yes, Harris could rock the Magnum look, but he won’t rock Dr. Craig’s arguments tonight.

  18. Amy Hall says:

    Ummm…not sure where he’s going with this…

  19. Amy Hall says:


  20. Amy Hall says:

    He can’t resist mocking God, even though he’s gone totally off topic at this point.

  21. Shawn White says:

    Sorry I’m late to the party…did I miss Craig’s opening?

  22. Adrian Urias says:

    omgoodness…Craig has this in the bag…harris has thrown away his rebuttal, and essentially, the debate.

  23. Rob says:

    What is he talking about? I think he is reading his notes for another debate!

  24. Amy Hall says:

    What’s happening now? I can’t get a steady feed. So frustrating.

  25. Adrian Urias says:

    fire insurance hahahahaha

  26. Brett Kunkle says:

    Oooh, I like it, Craig doesn’t pull punches!

  27. Shawn White says:

    Craig just laid out some verbal pugilism…he called Harris’ statement about belief in God as psychopath as “stupid” – brilliant…

  28. Midas says:

    I haven’t been able to see any of the debate bc my wifi is down; im doing this on my phone. Could anyone here give a summary of the events that have transpired?

  29. Shawn White says:

    Did Harris just say that “values” are in the realm of science? Did I hear that right?

  30. Rob says:

    Sam’s argument was as follows:

    Good and evil depend on conscious minds. Conscious minds are a natural phenomenon. Therefore good and evil are natural phenomenon.

  31. Colleen says:

    How do you decide what “the worst possible misery is?” Maybe I would be miserable if I don’t eat my neighbor for dinner.

  32. Shawn White says:

    Nice close by Craig, especially that final quote. Do you remember who he said that was and were it was from?

    • Amy Hall says:

      Gah! I’m finally getting the feed again. I’m going to have to listen to this again later. I’m sure they’ll have an MP3. But it seems, just coming back into this now, that Harris is still talking about a completely different topic (i.e., the topic that God is lame and so is hell).

    • Neil Shenvi says:

      Leff (maybe Artur Leff?). It’s quote by Tim Keller in Reason for God.

  33. Adrian Urias says:

    wait…i dont get his first response to Harris objection that Craig was doing the same thing Craig accused Harris of doing. with the word play. someone explain that to me?

  34. Adrian Urias says:

    well…thats another one for craig…

  35. Amy Hall says:

    The sad thing is, I don’t think Harris realizes how much he embarrassed himself. And what’s even sadder is that a lot of the audience probably doesn’t either.

  36. Amy Hall says:

    And there it is…Euthyphro!

  37. Rob says:

    Craig dismissed a good question. Supposing there is objective morality with a God, how do we deal with so much disagreement among believers? Since we can’t agree on the same objective morality, then how do we proceed?

  38. Amy Hall says:

    Thanks for stopping by, guys!

  39. Philip Motes says:

    I’m sad that I missed this. Unfortunately my computer is down and my phone wouldn’t do the live stream. Was the debate really one-sided?

  40. Malebranche says:

    Harris certainly put forth no effort to stay on topic tonight and betrayed no understanding of the difference between questions concerning the semantics of moral statements and the metaphysics of moral properties/ontology.

    He also seems invincibly blind to the fact that the substantive identification of the property of goodness with the property of flourishing is not a claim science needs in order to explain any event or series of events in nature. They needn’t even recognize the existence of a property of goodness in order to do their science! To add such an axiom concerning morality to our best scientific theories would be a plain violation of Occam’s Razor, as it would make our scientific theories less simple while providing no additional explanatory strength with respect to natural facts.

    Harris is clearly relying on an a priori intuition concerning a substantive proposition about the way the world is. In so doing he is just as much the dogmatic metaphysician as Leibniz or Spinoza. Clearly he hasn’t the disposition to follow his empiricism where it leads.

  41. Graffight says:

    did it get recorded, can i see it somewhere?

  42. This was a clear win for Dr. Craig. Harris failed to provide any substanital grounds for morality and strayed off-tpoic all night.

    My question is more cosmetic: Is it just me, or is Harris a really, really, boring speaker?

    • JD says:

      Hi Scott, I just posted a question below about Harris’ opening speech and a woman on President Obama’s Council for Bioethics. Do you know who this might be?

  43. Phil says:

    I was at the debate with a friend tonight. I wouldn’t call it a debate at all. Harris had no answers for the topic so he took the easy route of bashing God in a forum that didn’t allow for a fair defense. No logic. Just emotion. Amazed that the audience seemed to lean secular. Lots of snickering and disrespect to Craig from students.

  44. JD says:

    Did any of you catch Harris’ opening remarks about the woman he had a conversation with who refused to deny as immoral even the most egregious actions, like gouging out the eyes of kids? He then went on to say that President Obama appointed her to his Council on Bioethics. I literally felt ill for a long time after that during the debate.
    I really want to know her name if anyone knows it.

  45. JD says:

    Weird moment of the night, (questioner): “God appeared to me last night and told me that all marriages, straight or gay, are as beautiful as each other and to accept them. Then he told me I’d be misunderstood for telling others.”
    Umm…..next question

  46. Regarding the rude students, my guess, based on my own debate experience, is that the snickering atheists were not that great in number even if they were vocal. Indeed, given the nature of Harris’s attacks on Theism, the rude ones were simply copying the tactics of their leader, who got creamed tonight. I saw this happen in my debate with Kathryn Kolbert, who refused to stay on topic, respect time limits, and interrupted my own speeches. As she got more and more desperate, her clones in the audience got more and more rude. As the old saying goes, if you have the facts pound the facts. If you don’t have the facts, pound the table and do it loudly. The moderator published an op-ed two days later in the school paper expressing shame at her behavior and announcing that he had changed from supporting abortion to opposing it based on the arguments he heard at the debate. My hunch is that happened for many of Dr. Craig’s listeners.

  47. Mike says:

    I attended the debate last night and I must say I thought Harris would be better prepared. As one of the figure heads for the ‘new’ atheist movment I assumed he’d do his homework on Craig and be able to offer some kind of semi-coherent rebuttle of Craig’s arugments. Craig stuck to his two premises without any issues and for whatever reason Harris went down an alley and tried to talk about a variety of issues unrelated to the topic at hand. His main argument for a moral foundation without God seemed to be based on his subjective use of the terms good and bad, redefining those terms for his own use, but then made moral judgements regarding events in the world, hell, etc.

    A friend of mine who attended the debate with me commented that if this is the best the new atheists have to offer maybe they just agree to these debates to sell books! 🙂

  48. RonH says:

    Didn’t get to watch. Neither side could have had much of a case, it seems. But Harris has a bit of an edge: we all know science exists.