Monday, March 16, 2009

William Lane Craig and Wes Morriston Debate the Kalam Cosmological Argument Tonight

I typically don't care much for debates of this sort, but this is one I'd really like to see. Morriston has written the most forceful critcisms of the argument. So, if Craig can refrain from rhetoric, showmanship, and debate tricks just this once, perhaps some new light will be shed on the argument. I'm not holding my breath, though. In any case, I trust that this isn't an attempt on Craig's part to make an end-run around having to give a rigorous response to Morriston's criticisms where it counts (viz., in the standard peer-reviewed journals).

If anyone gets or finds an audio or video recording -- or at least a transcript -- of the debate, I'd be grateful to get a link to it.

HT: Wes McMichael

SECOND UPDATE: Well, it's been over two years, and still no sign of a link to the debate on the ol' interwebs. However, I've received word that the debate with Morriston was videotaped. Meanwhile, a video series of the complete debate of the Craig/Carrier debate is already online, and yet it occurred after the debate with Morriston. I trust that Craig will ensure that the debate with the person who has developed the most substantial published and widely anthologized criticisms of the kalam argument see the light of day (the most forceful[1] of which are not, to my knowledge, addressed -- or even cited -- in any of Craig's published work, despite those criticisms being published about a decade ago).

UPDATE: Andrew Moon (Prosblogion) just returned from the debate, and offers his thoughts on it, here.
[1] I have in mind here Morriston's criticisms of Craig's a priori arguments against the possibility and traversability of actual infinites. To his credit, Craig has addressed some of Morriston's other criticisms of the kalam argument (e.g., his criticisms of the causal premise, his inference to a personal cause, and his a posteriori arguments for a finite past). The problem is that there's good reason to think the argument's force ultimately hangs on the soundness of the a priori arguments for a finite past. So it's puzzling that Craig fails to discuss -- or even mention or cite -- Morriston's criticisms of these arguments.


Luke said...

Wow, thanks for all those article links! I downloaded them all.

If the Craig-Morriston debate shows up online, you can be sure I'll be linking to it on my page of 400+ atheism-theism debates!

AIGBusted said...

Hey Ex-Apologist,

I was wondering if you had written anything on the classic resurrection arguments. For instance: What explains the empty tomb and the belief that Jesus made post mortem appearances?

exapologist said...

Hey Luke,

Great. I hope you find them helpful.

Hey AIGBusted,

So far, I haven't written much. I've offered an undercutting defeater for Craig's claim that the origin of the Christian faith is best explained in terms of the resurrection, here.

My main basis for rejecting Craig-style arguments for the resurrection, though, is the data for the mainstream view of Jesus as fundamentally a (failed) apocalyptic prophet of an imminent eschaton. Suppose we grant, at least arguendo, that Yahweh exists. Still, given that Jesus is a false prophet, and given that the OT has Yahweh condemning false prophets, the posterior probability of Yahweh raising Jesus from the dead falls well below 1/2 (in my view, the posterior probability here is much closer to 0 than to 1/2). This is so even if Craig's "three great facts" are included in the evidence. I offer a rough (rough!) outline of some of the evidence scholars appeal to for the view of Jesus as apocalyptic prophet here. I plan to write a careful essay on this topic some time down the road.

For the life of me, I can't understand why non-theists want to focus on fringe (and fringe-ish) views of Jesus (e.g., the whole-cloth myth view, the Jesus Seminar views, etc.), when the mainstream, middle-of-the-road view of Jesus as apocalyptic prophet is at once compelling and utterly devastating of orthodox Christianity. Ok, I'll get off my soapbox now...

dvd said...


Actually, Morriston is a Theist! You might want to add to a "Theist Vs Theist" debate list:)

Luke said...


I've thought about that, but I'm just not curious enough to list a whole bunch of theological debates. I do have several "atheist vs. theist" debates listed that are really "theist vs. theist", but where the theist defends a typically atheist position (as when Ken Miller, a Catholic, defends evolution against a Christian creationist).

Wes said...

You can find my brief comments on that "debate" (actually it was billed as a "dialogue") here:

I put a link to it on my homepage at:

There you can also find my opening statement, together with the accompanying powerpoint. The powerpoint includes some extra slides I didn't get to show. Some of them include statements from Colorado physicists that I thought were damaging to the "scientific" part of Craig's case.

I thought it would be fun to push Craig on the possibility of an endless future series of future praises. He did indeed say what one would expect. The endless series is only a "potential infinite." I am surprised that so many people are so easily satisfied by that answer. At the URL listed above, I briefly explain why I think they are mistaken.

I don't think the folks at Westminster College have gotten the video together yet. So don't blame Bill Craig for that. And don't expect too much from it. It was a pretty free-wheeling discussion of a lot of different topics, and we ran short on time. I also said a number of things I'd wish to retract or qualify. And there are other things I wish I'd managed to get in.

Thanks to ex-apologist and others for their interest in my work on this!

One more thing... I am indeed a theist. But I don't fit any of the stereotypes.

Wes Morriston
University of Colorado, Boulder

exapologist said...

Hi Wes!

Thanks very much for your comments. I find your "future praises" case persuasive. It's interesting that he appealed to presentism in reply, since he has criticized that sort of point when used to resist Craig-style criticisms of an infinite past! If I recall correctly, his rejoinder was that it's irrelevant whether the set of past events exists, since they can be counted whether they still exist or not, in which case the supposed absurdities still arise. But now that the tables have turned with your case applied to future events, it appears that he's switched roles with his interlocutor(!).



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