Lawrence Krauss on God and Morality
by Glenn Peoples
“Ah, those silly creationists are at it again. Every real scientist knows that evolution is fact, and then these people with no real experience in science come along and bumble through the issues without understanding them at all. And as for those geographers! I have no real time for geography myself, but pah! Everyone knows the earth is flat!”
Ironic, right? Anyone who would say this is playing by an obvious double standard, and they would look a bit silly, to put things mildly. They would be doing the very thing they complain about others doing. Just imagine my surprise then when I read through Lawrence’s Krauss’s reflections (I think after reading it you might be justified in calling it a bit of an outburst) on his debate with William Lane Craig.
Now, what he says is more or less what one might expect, human nature being what it is. Everyone’s tale of the battle they were in is likely to be a tale of their great and glorious victory. In Krauss’s case it’s nearly (but not quite) like that. Instead it’s a case of him explaining why he mightn’t have seemed impressive on the night – but he really does actually have the better arguments. He complains about the way that people were carrying on after the debate (online), spouting about how Bill Craig won and so on. But, says Krauss, he didn’t use his real knock down arguments in the actual debate, because he’s a nice guy and he wanted to “consider the sensibilities of the 1200 smiling young faces in the audience.” We wouldn’t want to scare them or look mean, you see. But now he’s happy to unleash them in a format where Bill’s not standing there, waiting to reply. Essentially, Krauss opines, Craig’s foray into arguments related to science in that debate really amounted to “disingenuous distortions, simplifications, and outright lies.” He wasn’t just wrong, says Krauss, he was wrong, he knew he was wrong, and he lied. Evidently Krauss was pretty disappointed in how the debate went, because on the face of it this looks like very poor form indeed.
The “I didn’t want to shock you by giving them then, so I’ll give them now” arguments that Krauss shared online after the debate largely boil down do the claim that Craig had nothing more than “God of the gaps” arguments (a phenomenon I commented on back in June 2010). Now I think this is a simple misunderstanding of Craig’s case. It is preposterous, for example, to refer to the Kalam cosmological argument and then to complain that Craig was “Simply arguing that one doesn’t understand the results, or doesn’t like the results and therefore one has to resort to supernatural explanations.” Craig offered specific reasons for maintaining that the cause of the universe had to be timeless, spaceless and personal. By all means argue against the arguments if you don’t agree with them. Say that those reasons fail, but mischaracterising them this way is intellectually disappointing to say the least.
But that’s not what got my attention here…
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