Question: Yes Dr. Craig, I’m slightly puzzled. You, um, said in the beginning of your argument that the universe cannot be infinite because it leads to, um, logical contradictions, such as, "How can you have inifnity minus infinity?", and I accepted your argument at that point. But then in my mind, God Himself cannot be infinite, yet you went on to say God is timeless and you can have infinite happiness in Heaven, so I was somewhat confused. So um, what I basically, I basically ignored that you said that. And I said that God cannot be infinite, and I accepted that, because it does seem like an impossibility to have infinity minus infinity. Okay, alright. But if, if he is not infinite, if he is not that, how then can he be explained, rather than nothing, in the case of the universe?
Dr. Craig: Is my mic on? Uh, this is a good question that students often ask. When theists speak of the "infinity of God", they’re not talking about a mathematical infinity. They’re not talking about, uh, an infinite number of definite and discrete finite parts that make up a whole, like an infinite set. If you will, God’s infinity is not a quantitative infinity; it’s more like a qualitative infinity. It’s a catch-all term meaning that God is morally perfect, eternal, omnipotent, omniscient, and so forth. But God is not made up of an actually infinite number of definite and discrete finite parts, so the notion of divine infinity isn’t this idea of quantitative mathematical idea.
Moderator: Okay, a question over here for Dr. Washington.
Question: Dr. Washington, uh you say it’s wrong to harm an individual for the greater good, and used as an example a small black child who whistles at a white woman. Should we lynch the black boy for the greater good? Uh, I have two questions. One, isn’t this the type of world we live in? Soldiers sacrifice themselves – they die for the greater good. A white man loses his job in reverse discrimination so a black man can get his job. [boos from the audience] And second, don’t you appreciate the fact that you live in this world?
Dr. Washington: You asked me if I appreciate the fact I lived in a world in which Emmett Till [?] was lynched in 1955? No I don’t. Um, do I, am I happy to live in a world where soldiers may, under certain circumstances, give up their lives? Now note this is a soldier making the choice to give up his or her life for the greater good, not someone killing a soldier for the greater [good]. That’s really crucial, okay. That’s, that’s the central point. You cannot make this decision for someone. You cannot kill somebody, okay, just to make other people happy, or to, you mentioned other people’s happiness. Now in certain cases, you know, I’m not going to address your particular example that the question is about, but I want to say that in certain cases, you know you can ask people to make certain sacrifices. But the sort of sacrifices aren’t the sort of ones people seem to be making all the time. Giving up their lives. You know, people are being killed for what could arguably be just "character building," if we accept the kind of arguments that Dr. Craig has been giving tonight. That kind of thing is wrong.
Moderator: Okay, a question over here.
Question: Dr. Craig, I have two brief logical points to bring up. Uh first, on the problem of evil. It often seems to me that, not only does it work as stated, but…
Dr. Craig: Can you speak a little more distinctly? I’m having a little trouble understanding.
Question: Sorry. On the matter of the problem of evil, it seems to me that the free will defense really doesn’t explain not only natural evil to humans, but even more poignantly, suffering which really has nothing to do with moral will, or even because of nature. It’s
living entities that don’t even the possibility of free will, such as animals and children, particularly small babies.
Moderator: Your question?
Question: The question is, how do you reconcile this with uh, the problem, the free will defense, since they don’t have free will?
Dr. Craig: The free will defense is not meant to explain why these things occur. The free will defense is only meant to show that no logical incompatibility has been demonstrated between evil [sic] and harm. When Plantinga proposed this defense, for example, he said, "Maybe all natural evil is the result of demons," so that all moral, all evil is really moral evil. Now that’s an absurd hypothesis, but as long as it’s logically possible, it shows there’s no logical incompatibility between God and harm. Now with respect to natural evils or infant suffering, I already said, it seems to me in a world operating according to natural law, there would be the possibility of such evils and harms befalling us. But I don’t see any logical incompatibility between that and God. Uh, C.S. Lewis once said, "What do people mean that if God is all-good, He won’t allow any harm?" He said, "Have they never been to a dentist?" Clearly, sometimes, we do allow harm or pain in people’s lives in order to achieve greater goods, and God may well do that. It may well be the case that, in order to achieve this much good in the world, God had to allow this much gratuitous evil. And, now I don’t know that, but as long as that’s even possible, there’s no logical incompatibility between God and evil.
Moderator: Okay. A question over here for Dr. Washington.
Question: If you don’t believe in the eyewitness accounts and the other evidence for the birth, life, death, resurrection, and purpose of Jesus Christ here on Earth, uh how do you propose to explain how and why um the Christian religion was created, and why it has become so big, as of late?
Dr. Washington: I’m not a sociologist, okay. And I think that’s a sociological question. One could ask that about many movements. Uh, why did the Muslim religion become, be created, and spread so quickly? How did it happen in Buddhism? You know, Christianity did move very quickly in some ways and I think there are some explanations, you know, I’m told. Part of it is that these people really believed, okay. They sincerely believed in their god, and they proselytized. The Jewish religion was, was so against proselytizing they didn’t have a lot of competition back then, okay. Here people who were very strong believers, very motivated, they went out to try to get converts. I think it’s a very simple sociological explanation.
Moderator: A question for Dr. Craig.
Question: Dr. Craig, isn’t it true that the Apostle Paul, who is, uh, the most prolific and earliest writer in the New Testament, contradicted your argument on the resurrection because he wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:50 that "flesh and blood shall never inherit the kingdom of God"; uh that he did not believe in the empty tomb – he doesn’t mention it anywhere in his writings – and as far as he’s concerned there was none; and that he would totally disagree with you that Jesus was a resuscitated corpse, who had to move a stone. Could you please respond to that?
Dr. Craig: Yes, with pleasure. [laughter] Uh first of all, even if you say that Paul the Apostle believed in a spiritual, immaterial sort of body, that doesn’t deny the resurrection. A good many scholars, for example Pannenberg, under whom I studied, believes in the empty tomb and the resurrection of Jesus, but he believes that Jesus had an immaterial resurrection body. So your point about "flesh and blood" is irrelevant to the reality of the resurrection. That has to do with the materiality of Jesus’ resurrection body. But in fact I think you’re mistaken in your interpretation of that verse. The words, "flesh and blood," is a typical Semitic idiom, meaning mortal human nature. For example, Paul in Galatians 1:18 says that when he, uh, was converted on the Damascus road, "I did not confer with flesh and blood, but went away into Arabia." Paul’s not talking about anatomy there. He’s saying that this weak, mortal human nature cannot inherit the kingdom of God. And therefore the second half of that verse you quoted, in the context, goes on to say, "therefore the perishable must put on imperishability; the corruptible must become incorruptible." So that’s not at all incompatible with the physicality of Jesus’ resurrection body.
As for Paul and the empty tomb, I’m strongly persuaded that Paul actually does believe in the empty tomb and he implies it, in two ways. Number one. In 1 Corinthians 15 when he says Jesus "died, was buried, and was raised," that implies an empty tomb. For a first-century Jew, it would have been unthinkable to say that someone "died, was buried, and was raised", and yet his body lay in the grave. That would have been a contradiction in terms. Third [sic], when Paul says that Jesus was raised "on the third day," that is probably a reference to the discovery of the empty tomb by the women followers of Jesus on Sunday morning, uh, and, the fact that, uh, this dating, uh, of the resurrection, uh, refers to the empty tradition tradition shows that Paul knows and believes in it. So I think that Paul actually gives very strong, uh, credibility to the tradition of the empty tomb.
Question: Yeah, I have a question that basically relates to the logic behind the harming one for the greater good. And just take a hypothetical situation where someone comes to you and says, "You either kill your parents and your family in this house here, or I’m going to uh kill all of them plus everybody that lives on the block." And I think that logically, one person would say, "Well, in this situation, uh, killing these, these few people, harming the small number for the greater good, is in fact the right choice, and that is not an immoral choice to make."
Moderator: Your question?
Questioner: So my question is, how, uh, how can you now basically use that, and say that every case of this is wrong.
Dr. Washington: I wouldn’t do it. [applause]
Question: Um, one of the arguments was about this cosmic lottery with the chance of 10^123 about the outcome of our universe being the one where we can live in and that um, this apparently must have been stacked or guided by somebody to turn out to be this way. However, you brought up the argument that if Mafiosi [sp?] were winning the lotto over and over again, then obviously somebody was pulling the strings, and nobody would doubt that. The cosmic lottery, in which the cosmos was created, was only played once. For all we know, however, from quantum physics and a few other areas of science says there’s also the possibility that indeed all possible outcomes of multiple choice events may indeed happen. So there, we may be the one universe where life is, and this 10^123 of other universes is indeed out there and exists, where life does not exist. What do you have to say about this?
Dr. Craig: The suggestion here, for those who aren’t familiar with this, is that perhaps the "many worlds" interpretation of quantum physics is correct, that in fact our universe is just one of an infinite number of parallel universes to this one. And I guess my response to that would be, well, multiple in nature. First, I think that it is so metaphysically extravagant that theism looks modest by comparison. Uh it, it has a bloated ontology of an infinite number of these worlds. Moreover, they have to be very specially orchestrated. It’s not enough to just have an infinite number of them, but they have to be both infinite and randomly ordered in order to ensure that the proper results will, will come about. And I think it also creates extraordinary problems for personal identity, to talk about your counterpart in this other world. You know, that you exist in this other world, and, and, and then which one is the real you? It seems to me that there are all sorts of extraordinary problems with that, so that I, I in fact see just no reason to think that these sorts of parallel universes and worlds exist. I think theism is a much more plausible answer to the problem of the initial complex order in the universe.
Question: Um, I’m a Christian, and I have the Bible to tell me what’s right and wrong, and I was just wondering um, well I have two questions, but one was how you think that we need to determine what’s right and wrong in a society and if you think we should base our moral choices on our own intuition, and secondly, um, I live in a world with a lot of suffering and death, but I have hope in Jesus and in Heaven, and you live in that world and I was just wondering what hope you had? [applause]
Dr. Washington: I think that’s a great question. I think that’s a really great question. Um, I have lot of hope for this world. There’s a lot of good in the world. There’s a lot of bad, but there’s definitely a lot of good, too. A lot of good people doing many, many good things. Many of these people doing many good things are atheists. And you ask, where do they get their moral values? I think it may vary, you know. Ultimately in some sense it comes back to them. But it may come from their community. It may come from their friends when they discuss things. It’s not easy, you know. The fact that there’s no easy answer where your ethical system comes from, doesn’t mean, you know, that, that it’s wrong, not to be able to open up a book. I think all of us struggle with ethical issues every day, and I think that’s part of what it is to be human.
Moderator: Okay, thank you. [applause]
Question: My question um is real simple. What I don’t understand, and something that’s always puzzled me about Christianity, is how the Bible can say a a person could commit a hundred million crimes, they could be Adlof Hitler, Josef Stalin, murder a hundred million people, they confess their crimes, they accept Jesus, you know, they do the whole Christian thing, and they get to go to Heaven. And you could have, you know, the most perfect, Godly, wonderful man, who does wonderful things for soceity and saves millions of lives, but just because he’s of a different religion, or he was never exposed to Christian doctrine, therefore he goes to Hell…
Dr. Craig: I don’t think Christianity says that.
Questioner: It absolutely does! That’s the whole basis of Christianity.
Dr. Craig: Well, oh, I disagree. Uh, I think I know fairly well what it says, and uh [laughter, applause] in Romans chapters 1 and 2, in the New Testament, Paul says that, uh, salvation is available to any person who responds to the light of nature and conscience, uh if he hasn’t heard the Good News about Jesus Christ, say a person living in North America during the Middle Ages, say, before missionaries came. If this person will respond to the witness of God in nature, that he can see there’s a Creator-God, say, and he senses the moral law of God written on his heart, and he responds, Paul says in Romans chapter 2 in verse 7, God will give that person eternal life. Now that doesn’t mean he’s saved apart from Christ, but it would mean that he may not have a conscious knowledge of Christ, uh which is the basis of his salvation. He would be like a person in the Old Testament who was saved through Christ, even though he hadn’t yet heard of Christ, he, he uh responded to the light that he had. So I think God gives sufficient grace or salvation to every person. God is fair and He’s loving and He wants everyone to come to know Him and be saved.
God doesn’t send people to Hell. People send themselves by rejecting God’s grace, whether it’s in, through witness of Scripture and the gospel, or it’s the witness of nature. So, don’t blame God for the fact that people reject Him. It’s not uh, it’s not, because this is unavailable.
Questioner: So because they disagree, they’re condemned to Hell?
Dr. Craig: Wait, wait, wait, So because they disagree, what?
Questioner: So because they disagree, they’re condemned to Hell and eternal damnation? Basically, Adolf Hitler.. I mean think about! If you disagree, then you’re punished and sent to Hell.
Dr. Craig: No, no, no. It’s not a matter of disagreeing. The idea is this: all human persons have broken God’s moral law, this objective moral law that we’ve talked about. And therefore they find themselves morally guilty before God, in need of His forgiveness, under His condemnation for what they have done, and God offers this forgiveness to people if they will accept it.
It’s like someone on death row, and the governor offers them a pardon, but if that person refuses that person, if that person rejects that grace, then God doesn’t force Himself on people.
Moderator: I’m going to have to hold it there. That’s thirty seconds over time. A question for Dr. Washington… I’ll give it to Dr. Washington.
Question: [hubbub] My questions will come in the form of comments. This microphone stand will dissipate with the concept that made this microphone stand will outlive longer than this microphone stand therefore the absract concept is more real than the physical object involved and therefore by that, a, there is an, the existence of God is therefore on the basis of a concept because mere physicality cannot conceive of an actual infinite, cannot even conceive of a, of that, so therefore there would be one example as to a God. And to as anyone being innocent, if there is no God, there is no innocent, people on this planet. And talking about in-nocent Jesus Christ, innocent Son of God, was slaughtered for all of us.
Moderator: Your question?
Questioner: I said they were in the form of comments. He can now respond to the comments. [laughter]
Dr. Washington: He said all there is to say. [applause, laughter]
Questioner: You didn’t answer! You did not answer!
Moderator: You didn’t ask!
Questioner: I did ask. I did too ask. [strong applause, laughter] I said, [hubbub] … rhetorically valid
Moderator: We have to operate in good faith. You made a comment. It was not a question. He doesn’t have to answer.
Audience: Sit down!
Question: Okay my question is um, a two-part question, in response to the argument from harm, your response to the argument from harm.
Dr. Craig: Yeah.
Questioner: You say that if no harm exists, no responsibility exists, therefore no rationality…
Dr. Craig: Now wait, wait, wait. I said that it’s possible, that in a world in which God intervenes so as to there would be no harm that yes this would result in moral irresponsibility and immaturity, right.
Questioner: Okay, but if you say that, if there were no, no harm existed, responsibility wouldn’t necessarily have a negative or positive value, because if it was God’s will, harmful consequences wouldn’t come from a lack of responsibility. happiness would exist regardless of success or failure, concepts which are measured by soceity’s values.
Dr. Craig: Okay, let me make it clear that I don’t think God’s purpose in life for us is to make us happy. So sure, you know, he could just make us all happy like the pigs wallowing in the mire [?] you know, but I think that God’s purpose for us as human beings is much higher than mere happiness. It has to do with things like maturity, responsibility, uh, …
Questioner: But where does the value on maturity and responsibility come from? Who’s to say what’s responsible and mature?
Dr. Craig: Well, it comes from God ultimately. That’s the source of all objective moral values. But the point is those, those kinds of things wouldn’t be achieved in a world, in which there were no consequences for actions, in which it made no difference what you chose. Don’t, I mean, doesn’t that seem plausible to you?
Questioner: Well it seems plausible that someone who doesn’t believe in God can still be mature and responsible even though they don’t go by the values that you claim.
Dr. Craig: Oh sure they can! Remember I said you don’t need to believe in God in order to, to say, live what we would normally characterize as a good and decent life. But what I said is, in that case, you don’t have any foundation in your world view for those values that you affirm. Those values are just kind of subjective and arbitrary. But, but why choose those values rather than any others? They’re just arbitrary if there’s no foundation for them. [applause]
Questioner: I didn’t get to ask the second part of my question.
Moderator: Beg your pardon?
Questioner: I didn’t get to ask the second part of my question.
Dr. Washington: She can have my thirty seconds.
Moderator: I yield to our gracious friend.
Questioner: Okay the second part is in response to the earthquake statement you made. Umm, if God’s will is the predominant and basically the only factor in world events, including natural disasters, if God could will that no earthquakes occur, if He has that much power, couldn’t He also have the power to control the effects of erosion to preserve the world we live in, to keep us from harm? [applause]
Dr. Craig: See, imagine, imagine what you’re saying. This is what I mean. It’s so easy to say these things. But try to imagine what you’re saying. You’re saying now that we’re going to have a world in which water, you know, falls on the mountains and things, but that they don’t erode. Now what would that mean? I, you know, as I just…
Questioner: You’re believing in all-mighty power, a god. If you can believe in God, why can’t you believe that He can control these things?
Dr. Craig: Well, well think about it. Think about what you’re saying. Water and things would fall on the mountains and they wouldn’t erode. That would mean there wouldn’t be any nutrients in, in the water, that would be, you know, from the soil and things.
Dr. Craig: They wouldn’t irrigate the land. The plants wouldn’t grow. I mean it’s so easy, see, to just say these things. But, but then what adjustments…
Questioner: But what about hydrophonics? Plants don’t always need water.
Dr. Craig: Excuse me. What?
Questioner: Hydrophonics? Plants don’t always need water. There’s nutrients in other ways.
Dr. Craig: Now wait a minute. Hydrophonics is growing plants in water.
Questioner: … suspending it. You can grow it sand. And also you, but you stated that God has the power to control everything. If He can, then why can’t He control that? He’s the almight power.
Dr. Craig: Because it may be possible, that it is not within God’s power to create a world operating according to natural laws, which result in this much good, without also having these harmful effects. Now it seems to me that’s very plausible, becuase when you start mentally fiddling with this, it causes readjustments, all the way down the line, until really these get beyond our scope of comprehension. We simply don’t understand how these adjustments could be made. without creating a world in which moral and rational behavior would be responsible. And I don’t have to prove that. As long as that’s even possible, it shows that there is no logical incompatibility between God and, and the harm that’s in the world.
Moderator: These are very good questions. We are, we are pushing the possibilities of the question and answer period. We’re engaging in real dialogue.
Dr. Craig: I hope you don’t mind.
Moderator: Oh I’m having a great time, but I… [laughter] It is a dangerous thing when a rhetorician is watching the rules, so, a question over here.
Question: Hi, I have a first comment, and a comment by way of illustration, and then the question. And please support the departments that are being threatened.
Moderator: That is technically irrelevant, but somehow I’m moved.. [applause]
Questioner: First, I don’t know who the other speakers might have been, but I think you’ve had a very able opponent tonight. [strong applause] Don’t take my thirty seconds! [laughter] Second, I’ve been to Armenia, and, with the, the smiles, the golden teeth witll tell you they’re a rich people. The Soviets built their apartments. Earthquakes do not kill people, falling objects kill people, and at that, indiscriminately, on whomever they may fall, not just poor people I think. Okay, so the question is I think…
Dr. Washington: I want to ask a quick question. How many people died in the San Francisco earthquake? I think that was a 7.1. About 500, or something like that, okay. How many died in the Armenian earthquake? That was a 6.9. About 25,000. Um, what’s the big difference between the two. It’s largely the structures in which people were living. Clearly the people in San Francisco had better housing. Even if you look at the San Fransisco area, and look at what happened to it, we’ve got a lot of information about the Marina. Okay, these are houses that are basically built on a sand lot. These are rich people, and their houses got messed up.
But the other areas that really got messed up in the San Fransisco earthquake were a lot of the old rooming [?] houses were people lived. Or it was further south near Watsonville migrant works lived. These are the houses that collapsed. These are the people that are poor in relation to the rest of San Fransisco. But the people in San Fransisco are rich in comparison to the people in Armenia. That’s part of the explanation of why their housing is better. That’s why they didn’t get get hurt.
Questioner: I would attribute it to communism and Soviet construction. [laughter] You laugh, but people are forced to live in that housing.
Moderator: We’ve had a question.
Questioner: No I haven’t gotten to the question yet. People have been playing… Can I ask it?
People have been playing fast and loose with the words "evil", "bad," "immoral", um.
Moderator: Your question?
Questioner: The question is this. Traditionally, ethics have been grounded in a larger metaphysics. Uh, do you have a metaphysics? Or what you mean when you say "evil"? You said you wouldn’t do it, I’ve felt pain, I hurt. But can I talk about right and wrong? Can I talk about evil?
Dr. Washington: I think of course we can talk about right and wrong. I’m not quite sure what you’re asking. If you’re asking for a definition, …
Questioner: Yeah, what does that mean? What is it grounded in?
Dr. Washington: Well, I think ultimately you get to some fairly basic concepts, okay, if you start looking at definitions. Some concepts like truth. Some concepts like good. These are foundations of everything. Other things are built on these concepts; they’re not built on something else. You can’t define them in terms of others. But the fact that you can’t define them doesn’t mean we don’t clearly know what they mean. Most people know what it is to say something is true, and I think people generally know what it is to say something’s bad or evil. Definition is kind of a philosopher’s game, largely irrelevant in life.
Moderator: Okay, question over here.
Question: Yes, Dr. Craig, um in response to the argument from harm, you raised the free will defense. Um, I’d like to illustrate by counter example and ask your response to that. Um, Christian Heaven is a place, as you put it, of infinite joy, infinite glory, and infinite fulfillment, which is implicitly free of harm. Consequently it’s possible for this omnipotent Christian God to create a world where that applies, and I would assume that Christians there are um still exercising free will, I would assume. Um, why then wouldn’t this omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent God merely create heaven and those beings who would pass the earthly test, and sidestep the painful testing ground and the punishment for the others, when an omniscient God would know in advance who eventually would make it in? [applause]
Dr. Craig: This is an excellent question that uh raises several important issues. Uh.
Moderator: All of which will be answered in two minutes. [laughter]
Dr. Craig: Ohhh. Okay. Um, first of all, it’s important to understand that Heaven itself is not a possible world. Heaven is the outcome of a possible world.There has to be this, as you put it this "proving ground," or, or, "valley of decision," or whatever you want to call it, that leads to Heaven, uh so that in order to have this as the final state, there has to be this antecedent state leading up to it, that would involve the kind of world in which we live, in which choices are made for or against God, and so forth.
Now you said, why couldn’t God just forego that, by just knowing via His omniscience, what people would do, if they were created, and therefore put them into Heaven immediately? Um, I don’t think that would work because you cannot judge someone simply on the basis of what they would do under various circumstances. You have to judge them only on the basis of what they actually do. For example, if you were born under different circumstances, you might have done all sorts of horrible things. But it would be wrong for me to condemn you or judge you because of what you would have done under other circumstances.
Questioner: But that stricture is usually imposed mainly becuase of the fallibility of humans.
Dr. Craig: What stricture?
Questioner: If I judge you on what I think you would do.
Dr. Craig: Oh no, no, no. It has nothing to do with fallibility. It’s saying that unless, you actually commit a crime, you’re not guilty of it, that’s all it’s saying. I can’t, I can’t say that because if you had been created under a set of different circumstances, you would have stolen, therefore you’re gulity of stealing and, and you should be punished for that. You’re only guilty of that which you actually do. It would be morally impossible for God to create people and send them to Heaven or Hell, on the basis of what they would have done, rather than on the basis of what they actually do. So you have to have this "valley of decision" or "proving ground" first, and, and then the eternal state is the outcome of that.
And beides this, there is no single thing you would have done after all. Under some circumstances, you would have placed your faith in God; under other circumstances you would not. So which ones are the basis for the decision? Uh, it has to be the actual circumstances.
Moderator: Two minutes. Alright, question over here.
Question: Um, Dr., this is a question, that comes out of, it’s an outgrowth of this conversation. It’s actually a paradox I find myself in. With evolutionary theory and the idea that you’re evolving, you know, we don’t know exactly. Alongside with the accumulation of information and technology. We’ve got virtual reality. Um, not 100 years frowm now, or 1000 years from now, but perhaps 100,00 years from now, is there a possibility of us evolving into something what we presume now to be God-like?
Well I think what’s interesting about the advent of culture, over the past 10,000 years or so, is that it took a lot of the pressure off of selection. You know, it’s just not clear what’s being selected for anymore. Before you could say that there’s dangers in the environment and we respond to it, [hubbub] chance of reproducing and surviving. It’s not clear what those things are in today’s world. It’s not clear what kind of things are being selected for. So I really have no idea, you know, what we’ll look like in a thousand years. [I] hope we look good, though. [laughter]