- Published on Monday, 11 April 2011 06:50
- Written by John Draper
- Hits: 2070
William Lane Craig and Sam Harris held a debate on "Does Good come from God" on April 7, 2011 at Notre Dame University. Both debaters are well known in their field and Harris was talking about his recent book "The Moral Landscape". Craig effectively attempted to cut out debate by first declaring that "good" is not a "natural" thing (part of nature) and defines God as "Good" so morality comes from God. His basic theme is that we need a foundation for morality and that this foundation is God. Craig says that without a god telling you what is moral, how would you know what was good? Harris of course says that Science can tell you. One of the big issues is a definition of "good" and both talked about this point.
You can best get a summary of the Sam Harris case from his TED talk. Not in a debate format but a good summary of the ideas in his book. Go here.
Full Debate on Vimeo
Or if you prefer - another view of the same debate.
Full Debate - playlist of videos on You-Tube
14 April 2011
For a good review of this debate by a fairly neutral observer, go here Religion Dispatches Magazine
15 April 2011
Sam Harris has responded to comments about the way he conducted the debate.
While I believe I answered (or preempted) all of Craig’s substantive challenges, I’ve received a fair amount of criticism for not rebutting his remarks point for point. Generally speaking, my critics seem to have been duped by Craig’s opening statement, in which he presumed to narrow the topic of our debate (I later learned that he insisted upon speaking first and made many other demands. You can read an amusing, behind-the-scenes account [at above link from Religious Dispatches Magazine].) Those who expected me to follow the path Craig cut in his opening remarks don’t seem to understand the game he was playing. He knew that if he began, “Here are 5 (bogus) points that Sam Harris must answer if he has a shred of self-respect,” this would leave me with a choice between delivering my prepared remarks, which I believed to be crucial, or wasting my time putting out the small fires he had set. If I stuck to my argument, as I mostly did, he could return in the next round to say, “You will notice that Dr. Harris entirely failed to address points 2 and 5. It is no wonder, because they make a mockery of his entire philosophy.”
As I observed once during the debate, but should have probably mentioned again, Craig employs other high school debating tricks to mislead the audience: He falsely summarizes what his opponent has said; he falsely claims that certain points have been conceded; and, in our debate, he falsely charged me with having wandered from the agreed upon topic. The fact that such tricks often work is a real weakness of the debate format, especially one in which the participants are unable to address one another directly. Nevertheless, I believe I was right not to waste much time rebutting irrelevancies, correcting Craig’s distortions of my published work, or taking his words out of my mouth. Instead, I simply argued for a scientific conception of moral truth and against one based on the biblical God. This was, after all, the argument that the organizers at Notre Dame had invited me to make.