Saturday, November 20, 2010

Does the Universe Have a Purpose? Audio Debate

Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer, and Matt Ridley debated William Lane Craig, Douglas Geivett, and Rabbi David Wolpe on the topic: Does the Universe Have a Purpose? This debate is part of the third annual Festival Internacional de Mentes Brillantes (English: International Festival of Great Minds). It took place on Saturday, November 13, 2010 in Puebla, Mexico.

Full English Debate MP3 Audio here. (1hr. 43min)
Video here.


Russell said...


Impeccable timing as always! I am about to leave on a 3 hour trip, and have been eagerly awaiting this debate!

Brian said...

Heh heh...

Now everyone driving/flying home from the EPS conference will have something to listen to.

Nick said...

Every time I hear the atheist side I keep thinking "If this is the best they have, we're in good hands."

Anonymous said...

What a disappointment.. The interruption from the so called scientist with the arbitrary opinions without being part of the debate participant is so handicapped... Are they so afraid of their inability being examined under the microscope? Why just throwing bias comments and claimed to have the authority right to produce their discourse while not giving the other theist part a chance to refute them? Weird... really not ethical and irresponsible... I agree with William Lane Craig in his closing statements how lots of scientists bigotry making statements to theist as if there were no chance to consider theistic view exit..

Not an interesting debate... very lame and no cross fire...

All more toward rhetoric then essence... Especially if we look at how the atheist tried to create purpose without knowing there is an absolute objective purpose... what a subjective purpose is only a pretend purpose in nature...

Matt said...

Richard Dawkins and company were very weak in this debate. They did not understand the question of how does one can account for purpose in their worldview. Craig and company showed that they were philosophically astute, as well as mature. I thought the atheists acted immature at times and very naive when it came to philosophical issues and principles. Dawkins just blows hot air and does not ever offer argument.


Anonymous said...

Im wondering why is it that no one asked Dr. Kaku if he was 100 % sure he was right when charged both sides to be wrong.

Haecceitas said...

Of course Kaku's claim about both sides being wrong was pure nonsense if taken literally. It would amount to the denial of the law of excluded middle. But perhaps his point was about the wrongness of being certain on such a disputed question where there aren't (as he sees it) any clear ways to resolve the issue.

I think this debate was ruined by the horrible format that favoured sound bytes over serious arguments (the theist side did manage to present some arguments as well but not in any great detail).

Davitor said...

But what Apologist will have to come to grips with is that the majority of people in our world agree with is Dr. Kaku's observation.

Russell said...

Do you believe that makes it true?

From what i understand of your worldview, it's based on your personal interpretations of the world. So it seems that no one else would agree with your personal experience.

Davitor said...

Nope that does not make it true, and i don't need your aproval, I'm just pointing to a fact that your up against.

Russell said...

Why point it out at all if it has no bearing on truth?

Nick said...

so I have to come to grips that good thinking is a rarity?


Unknown said...

Davitor, this website exists because apologists have come to grips with the fact that the majority of people in our world suffer from misguided thinking when it comes to spiritual matters. In fact, I think apologists realize this on a much deeper level than most people.

David Carreon said...

I was rather happy about the debate. As an MP3 consumer, I will admit that it was of low quality. But it represented something very important: Atheists are listening. Three theists were invited to a hostile conference and were able to stand mature and rational. Though 60 second arguments are not the best way to rational truth, they are a way. And in these times of decreasing attention spans, perhaps Apologists should learn to use even sound bytes for the Kingdom.

As always, Craig was able to remind anyone listening of the flow of the debate: that the theists made arguments and the atheists ignored them. By his closing statement, even after a direct and sharp attack, all Dawkins could do was ignore him. The Theists were able to force most of the Atheists to un-disguise their belief in ultimate purposelessness. They made a few good plugs for ultimate purpose and, I hope, planted a seed in the minds of the hostile crowd (and, perhaps, those listening in Internetland). Hopefully, Craig provoked Dawkins enough that we may soon hear the two of them go toe-to-toe.

I would not so organize a debate, but so it was organized. The Theists stood their ground and, I believe, so advanced the Kingdom.

Davitor said...

So does this mean that the purpose of God creating the universe was to have a select minority in a Kingdom and the majority in an eternal hell?

Nick said...

I did like also how each time the moderator said "Come to the ring!"

bossmanham said...

The debate was entertaining, but the speeches were frustratingly short and the speakers weren't able to elaborate much. I'd still love to see a one-on-one between Dawkins and Craig, and I hope Dawkins doesn't think this gets him off the hook. I think it's obvious who would win a one on one encounter between them, as Dawkins lacks any substance whatsoever. This will have to do for now, I suppose.


Could you provide evidence that those that inherit the kingdom of God will be a minority?

Unknown said...

Hey Bossmanham, unfortunately I actually have to side with Davitor here. Jesus was very explicit that there would be many more people that go down the road to destruction than those who repent and turn towards God. Christ say's that he is the only way to heaven and throughout history there have been many more people who disbelieve in Jesus than those who have believed in him, and even out of those who do believe in the divinity of Christ only a portion of those have really made Christ the lord of their lives. Jesus says in Matthew 7:13-14, 13“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
I don't know why God decided to do things this way, but it is biblical that the majority will end up in hell.

Anonymous said...

@gnol6ffej & Davitor

I'd have to disagree with both of you and strongly so.


Define "hell" from the Scriptures.


Define "eternal". Is it a concept that is taught in the Scriptures? Where? Where did you hear that most people are going to "eternal hell"?

Regarding the debate:

I thought the sound bites were strong, but short.

Michael Shermer is always going on about something. How he threw in the "homosexual" thing there in his statement was hilarious -- imagine a person condemning people for condemning people and saying how wrong it was! LOL (self-contradictory) Then he even had the nerve to say it was something, essentially, unChristian (suddenly he became an expert on the teachings of Christianity). He's not a skeptic, in my opinion, just a spokesman now. Doesn't the fact that he run a magazine called "Skeptic" give him a vested interest in not seriously considering evidence that may do away with his skepticism?

Ol' Dawkins. Should we expect someone who thinks that the universe has no purpose to be civil and friendly? He just does a lot of insulting these days.

I would agree with Davitor's statement: "But what Apologist will have to come to grips with is that the majority of people in our world agree with is Dr. Kaku's observation."

That's true! The thing is, how can you claim to know that both sides are wrong? What's the evidence for it? What evidence could exist to show that you (and those who hold similar opinions) are wrong?

Thanks in advance!

Grace and peace...

Anonymous said...

I missed it at first, but another interesting part of the panel was when Dawkins was complaining because theists said according to atheism we are all chunks of matter. And then he went on to explain that no, they have emotions, they can love and all: because mutations plus selection made them to be capable of this...

Jesus... Too bad no one commented on that on the event.

Unknown said...

Truth4taiwan, it doesn't make any difference whether or not you disagree with me unless you can show me why I'm wrong based on scripture. There are over 162 references in the New Testament alone which warns of hell. And over 70 of these references were uttered by the Lord Jesus Christ! If you can clear up my thinking on this issue using the word of God I'd be very appreciative because the fact that hell exists and that more people go there than heaven causes me much emotional distress. The fact is that Jesus talked about hell more than anyone in the Bible and he was adamant that anyone who rejects him goes there. That's why he did so much to warn people to repent. In Matthew he says, "If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell," and "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." He told the Pharisees ,“You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?" So there is no doubt that Jesus believed in the reality of hell.

As far as a definition, it's separation from God. I suggest reading Tim Kellers chapter on hell in his book Reason for God. The bible uses many images to describe hell. It is called 'the pit' (Isa. 14:9, 15: Ezek. 32:18-21) and 'the abyss' (Rev. 9:2). . .

The man in Luke 16:24 cries: ". . .I am tormented in this flame."

In Matthew 13:42, Jesus says: "And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."

In Matthew 25:41, Jesus says: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire,. . ."

Revelation 20:15 says, " And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."

As far as it lasting forever, check these verses out:

everlasting fire — Matthew18:8, 25:41
everlasting punishment — Matthew 25:46
everlasting chains — Jude 1:6
eternal damnation — Mark 3:29
eternal judgment — Hebrews 6:2
eternal fire — Jude 1:7
unquenchable fire — Matthew 3:12
the fire that never shall be quenched — Mark 9:43, 44, 45, 46, 48
fire unquenchable — Luke 3:17
mist of darkness is reserved for ever — 2 Peter 2:17
the blackness of darkness for ever — Jude 1:13

Don't get me wrong, I hate hell, but we can't change scripture to fit our preferences. If hell is a reality like Jesus say's it is and it lasts forever like the Bible say's it does, to shrug it off would be a horrible mistake.

Brian said...

Doug Geivett's debate recap can be found here.

Anonymous said...


Thank you for the thorough references. I don't have quite the time or skill to do such a post at the moment.

I would remind you that Jesus didn't speak English, as you surely know. So, just because a translating committee decides to translate 4 different words (1 Hebrew word and 3 Greek words) using "hell" doesn't mean that they are right, does it? (Nor does it imply that the word "hell" means the same to us as it did to them, right?)

Additionally, if they translate a Greek noun as "forever" - which, I'm assuming from your post you think means "time without end" (correct me) - what is "forever and ever"?

If we maintain that "hell" of Christendom is "torture in never-ending fire", how is it then that "hell" (a lake of fire) can be tossed into "hell" (a lake of fire)? (Revelation 20:14) If it is a "lake of fire", how can it be merely "separation from God" as you said or described as "darkness"? Fire and darkness?

But let me get to the key factor here: The entire doctrine of unending punishment in fire, as taught by most of Christendom, entails inherit immortality of human beings and that "die" has some meaning other than its commonly understood meaning. (Just like in Buddhism where I encounter it all the time.)

So, do human beings have inherit immortality (an immortal soul)? Where do the Scriptures teach that?

From the very first book of the Bible, we are told that man is does not have inherit immortality. In fact, by the Grace of God to us through His Son, Christ Jesus, He is going to give us the gift of immortality in the future -- maybe near future. (Getting it implies we don't have it now.)

If I can add, the Scriptures teach this concerning "die" and "death":

Genesis 2:17
Genesis 3:2

Ezekiel 3:19
Ezekiel 18:4
Ezekiel 18:20
Ezekiel 33:9

John 8:24
John 8:21

The oldest lie is "you will not surely die" if you sin.

I don't have the time at the moment to venture into the concept of "heaven", but let each of us think on this and what it means:

John 3:13 - "No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man."

So, did the patriarchs and prophets "go to heaven"? If so, when? How? And what good is the hope of the resurrection if they are already "in heaven"?

When my dear grandmother died this year, I did not tell the people gathered to mourn her that she had gone to heaven. I told them she was, as the Scriptures define it, "asleep" -- dead; she knows nothing, feels nothing (as Ecclessiastes tells us). But we have the hope of resurrection and that is what I wanted people to know. That is why we have Jesus as our elder Brother and Master. He is God's Show-and-Tell. Both the Way and the Goal.

Unknown said...

Truth4Taiwan, I don't believe that many of the Bibles references to hell our literal in the sense there will actually be fire and brimstone etc. If you want to see a description of hell that comes closer to my opinion read The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis.

Your getting into a realm of theology where careful distinctions are a necessity. In order to understand what the Bible is trying to say we need to first use Scripture to interpret itself.

The death in the verses you mention is physical death. All physical bodies die, but our souls remain after they are separated from the physical body. We die physically because our souls our separated from our bodies. However, our souls never die. A person in hell no longer has a body but they still have a soul.

I believe that humans consist of three parts, body, soul, and spirit. Humans are born spiritually dead because we our sinners separated from God who gives life to our spirits. When we our "born again" our spirits our revived. That's why Jesus says in John 3:6,"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." When Christ comes to live in us he revives our dead spirits and through Christ we recover what was lost. Romans 8:10 says, "But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness." As Christians after death we are complete persons. Spirit, soul, and body. Our spirit is what connects us with God, our soul is the bridge between our spirit and body and includes our mental and emotional minds, and the body is perfected.

In other words, what was dead is made alive, and whats made alive again will never die. However, for those who don't have their spirits revived, their soul remains in hell.

Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Anonymous said...


I don't read C.S. Lewis and I definitely wouldn't want to read his work to find out a biblical teaching.

Regarding "death" being just physical death, not the death of the "soul", again I ask you to show that to us in the Scriptures. Where do the Scriptures teach an immortal soul? (Note: In my comment above, "inherit" should be "inherent". I was typing late at night after a long day of work.)

You wrote: "A person in hell no longer has a body but they still have a soul."

Yes, I've heard it, but where is it taught in the Scriptures?

Throughout your comment above, you use "soul" and "spirit" interchangeably.

If we could, I'd like to relate this back to the topic of this thread: purpose. Would God, the Creator of this purposeful Universe, invest so much time, energy, and creativity just so that a very, very small number of people

Again, the only way that Christianity makes sense is that God does, indeed, have a purpose in causing and permitting all things and, especially so in creating this present universe. Otherwise, individuals are immune to His influence, yet His influence is the only reason we care about His word and believe in His Son (if He didn't give us faith, we wouldn't; that's why we can't brag about it). You can recall the verses that say that, can't you?

Unknown said...

I mean this as respectfully as I can, but I'm not going to write a theological book in order to satisfy you. I've done my best to show you why orthodox Christians believe what they do based on at least a dozen scriptures which have had no effect. If you read what I wrote more carefully I use the terms soul and spirit in two different ways. If I've missed the mark I apologize but you can find the answers to your questions by doing your own homework.

Unknown said...

Just so you don't think I'm not answering your question because the answer doesn't exist, check out this link:

Anonymous said...


Well, my intent in asking questions wasn't in order for you to attempt to write a theological book. It was to get you to think about things you may have never considered (I don't know if you have). For example, your comments show you assume that the words translated "everlasting" and "eternal" mean "never ending; without end", as does most of orthodox Christianity that you aline yourself with. Do they mean time without end? (I'm not asking you to answer here.)

No. You claim death, whatever the word means to you (that it doesn't mean the same to us is obvious), will never end; on your view, death is never-ending and eternal. Yet we are told very clearly in plain language that it will be the last enemy "destroyed" (1 Corinthians 15:26).

God ultimately has purpose in our life all the time at every moment, even right now. It is only at the consummation at the end of the ages that the pain, tears, and loses will make sense to us. The universe does have a purpose and humanity is so special and important to its God and Creator and His Son that it is at the center of His purpose in creating the Universe. We can know this because God is intimately in charge of every detail and event - even the bad ones! (remember righteous Job!).

In Christ, all will be made alive. Yes, all.

Unknown said...

Do universe has a purpose?
Yes, Yes, Yes….

Only when Human being discovers or creates the purpose of something then it will only makes sense and be meaningful

Human cannot decide, create, or give purpose of the universe even if it ever has the purpose; he can only discover it, not give, decides or create…

If there is purpose then there must be a one who create, decide, or give it.

I am assuming that Dr. Richard Dawkins and colleagues failed to understand when they stated that HUMANS are purpose giver and can give or create purpose of life. (Absolute purpose?)
No, Human beings cannot be the purpose giver or purpose creators of what he didn’t create. If then who are you to create my life purpose and why should I obey you as my master, Lord or take yours as my final? Visa versa…

Anything created has a purpose of its creator

Human can only create or give a purpose of what he has created not what he discover. Dawkins can never give or decides the final purpose of even his wife as he wants her to be because he is not the creator of his wife. What he and her wife do is, they both discover the purpose of being partner then only it things goes on to be meaningful.

Human exists (created) that his purpose may come to pass why he is created (or exist).
This purpose is discovered, not created, nor decided by human.

The universe is not eternally self existing, which means it begins to exist (Created/formed), so is Human existence too.
And If Human has a purpose as Dawkins and colleague also agrees (to be good, loving…) and that If human is the product of the universe (As they claim) that still shows that the universe must have purpose logically.

Thanks to Dr.Craig, Douglas, and David.
Thanks Brian for this great sharing
praise the Lord

Jo’ Tsela

Mas Ray said...

I thought Shermer gave WLC a big opportunity when he consistently promoted the ability to do "good" without religion. Then concluding that it is "not good" to interfere with other peoples' purposes.

It made made me think of these words attributed to Genghis Khan and popularized in "Conan the Barbarian":

“The greatest happiness is to scatter your enemy, to drive him before you, to see his cities reduced to ashes, to see those who love him shrouded in tears, and to gather into your bosom his wives and daughters.”

In counter to his assertion that Christians discriminate against homosexual activity, WLC could have pointed out that Dawkins wants to prohibit people with religious convictions from studying at Oxford. Thus, one doesn't need be religious to be intolerant.

I think the Theists should have made a list of scientists who are also theists in order to dispel the Naturalists' assertions that being religious means ignoring science and desiring to be ignorant.

Anonymous said...

I wish I was as smart as you guys!

After 72+ years I'm stll trying to be kind and cordial, caring and wise, loving God and mankind, trying to help myself and others experience rest, peace and purpose in relationship with God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Debates, of course, can be contentious even revealing the darker sides of the lust to be right. However, being able to discuss ideas without going to war can be rather energizing.

Cheers and Blessings to you all.

Unknown said...

i was annoyed by the CONSTANT assertion by the theists that athiests see the world in incredibly reductive terms. do i say 'come here my gorgeous conglomeration of cells so i can exchange some bodily fluid with you' no i say 'Come here sexy and give us a kiss!' this idea is quite tired now. this is symmantics and has NO connection with reality or HOW people live their lives. athiests use science and reductionism to help understand how complex things work. next time you hand your child and toy and he takes it apart - THATS what he's doing - trying to understand how it works. the idea that wonder, awe, excitement etc is lost in this process - well this is just a terrible argument. i liked beethovens sonatas. i started LOVING them when i looked at the score and understood the working parts of the piece. this ENRICHED my understanding. listening to this debate just sounded like someone was trying to tell me i cant like beethoven as much as he does because i know the individual notes and chords and time signature.

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