In a new book, simply titled God?, Christian apologist William Lane Craig and atheist professor Walter Sinnott-Armstrong debate the question of God’s existence. Both men are eminently qualified, and the result is a quick-paced and informative debate from men with two diametrically opposed viewpoints.
The book starts off with Craig’s essay in which he discusses five reasons why he believes God exists. As usual, he packs an astonishing amount of information and solid argumentation into a very small space. Craig develops the Cosmological, Teleological, and Moral arguments in impressive detail. Then, he turns to the evidence for Christ’s resurrection, and finally discusses the argument from Personal Experiences. This opening chapter contains many of the concepts and ideas discussed in other Debates Craig has participated in.
The real surprise, however, was Sinnott-Armstrong’s response. I must admit that Sinnott-Armstrong’s response was the best I have ever seen from an atheist rebutter. He quickly exposes what he feels are flaws in the various arguments provided by Craig. In the third essay, Craig responds quite well to almost all of those supposed flaws, but I feel it is worth mentioning that Sinnott-Armstrong clearly shows himself to be a formidable opponent.
Unfortunately, the first section of the book is only 3 essays long. It seems to me that Craig “wins” the first round- but he also receives the last word and there is little time to see a clear winner because neither participant has enough time to defend and/or support their arguments.
The book continues with a second section, and in this section Sinnott-Armstrong defends the viewpoint that atheism is more plausibly true than theism. Unsurprisingly, he develops the Problem of Evil, as well as an obscure form of the Argument from Nonbelief. More interesting, however, is his exposition of the “Problem of Action”, in which he claims that an eternal God is unable, even theoretically, to act in time. In my opinion, Sinnott-Armstrong is not very strong in this essay. His Problem from Evil relies on many assertions and his Argument from Ignorance is merely an ineffective and boring way to state the Argument from Nonbelief (which is not too good of an argument anyways, and Sinnott-Armstrong offers almost no evidence that it is a good argument.)
Craig’s rebuttal in chapter five is very effective. He points out that the Problem of Evil relies on too many bald assertions, and points out that the Argument from Ignorance suffers from the same flaw. In dealing with the Problem of Action, Craig emphasizes that his own construal of the relation between God and time leads to no problems. This leaves the final chapter, in which Sinnott-Armstrong defends his arguments against the objections offered by Craig. Once again, Sinnott-Armstrong is fairly impressive.
In God? it is a relief to find that both participants are fine representatives of their respective positions. Pick up a copy for yourself and decide who you think the victor is.