I recently posted a blog entry giving the final “score” in a William Lane Craig vs Lawrence Krauss debate, where indications were that Craig had “won”. To be fair, then, I must report on this debate between Craig and Sam Harris entitled "Is good from God". According to Arni Zachariassen “they came out about even”. PZ Myers, on the other hand, thinks, it was a “total rout” in favour of Harris; *Methinks PZ exaggerateth too much*. This vehemently expressed opinion might just have something to do with the fact that Myers is obviously very much in agreement with Harris whatever the outcome of the debate. Therefore he is naturally going to be swayed by notoriously fickle predictors. Viz: “Craig lost on style”, “Harris….spoke thoughtfully and with sincerity…” and “...on body language and tone, Harris is engaging you and speaking from the heart, while Craig is stiff, strident, and running through the well-worn grooves of repetitive theological rationalizations.” If you really hate someone like Myers hates Craig their manner alone is going to cause irritation and leave you wide open to auto suggestive misinterpretations of their style and body language.
The result of debates like this is no doubt very much in the eyes of the beholder, but I think on balance Arni’s cool opinion “they came out about even” wins the day for me. But there is also this: I don’t agree with the view that PZ attributes to Craig: “If we don't ground our moral beliefs in a God, then we do not have a sound foundation for our morality”. After all, the good book itself says:
(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares. (Romans 2:14-16)
So, although atheists (which I identify here with “gentiles”) may not be able to found a morality in an ontology of cosmic import, their hearts will provide a compelling witness as to what is right and they can, if they are inclined, successfully anchor their morality on this. (But anchoring a morality is one thing, following it is quite another; the latter may best prosper under Divine grace) My opinion, then, is that Craig should have “lost”. But the fact that Craig secured a “draw” when, in fact, he should have lost is a sign that he is a pretty smart operator!