Home > Apologetics > William Lane Craig vs. Peter Atkins Round 1

William Lane Craig vs. Peter Atkins Round 1

My second debate I listened to today was between William Lane Craig and Peter Atkins. Atkins was your typical scientist, whom upon denying the existence of God, has nothing left to try and answer the reason for the universe and all that lies therein except for evolution. Atkins argued that the arguments for theism do not work, yet just arguing they don’t work does not make the conclusions invalid to the theist arguments. In order for Atkins to really dismantle the theist arguments he must not only show that they don’t work, but must erect in their place, arguments that will be valid once the premises are reasoned to their logical conclusions.  This he did not do.

Atkins had as much faith in science as a theist has in his belief in God. Atkins argued that science can give an answer for all there is in this closed system or universe. Atkins believed that science can explain all things. Nevertheless Craig took him to task and showed that science cannot prove or explain mathematical equations, science cannot show the foundation for logic and reason, science cannot explain aesthetics, nor can science prove that science is true because the scientific method cannot be done on science itself.

Of course, Atkins used the famous argument against cause and effect that most atheist use. He stated that we know that cause and effect works within this closed system called the universe, but we do not know whether or not cause and effect works on the universe itself to bring it into existence.. Of course, before he was finished he actually admitted that nothing exist, in this universe or outside of it. As Atkins closed he lamented that he had been misrepresented.

Of course Craig took Atkins to task and dismantled his arguments. But Atkins could not receive truth because he trusted in science as if it were a god.

You can listen to this debate here.

This debate took place in 1998. There is a more recent debate between these two.


  1. Born After TV
    March 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    What a load of crap lol

    • March 28, 2012 at 3:32 pm

      I appeciate you commenting on my blog, thanks.

      I agree that Atkins views are far fetched and do not show that Atkins is using reason or logic.

  2. March 27, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    I’ve heard about a number of debates between atheists/evolutionists and theists/creationists recently. Since you are someone I can actually ask, do you know what effect these debates end up having? Not that it’s likely the atheist is going to change, someone that far into it is going to have to go through a lot of world shaking to loosen up, but in the audience.

    I know we are to have an answer for the HOPE that is in us, but is a formal debate an effective venue for this answer?

    Thanks in advance!

    • March 28, 2012 at 3:31 pm

      Thank you for your comment. I like your blog and subscribed to it.

      You ask what effect do these formal debates have?

      I would say that we could ask the same about preaching the gospel. Those that debate against theist on the existence of God and so forth, will not be moved no more than one who hears the gospel, unless the Holy Spirit works upon the heart. We have no power to convert souls, whether it be by debates, preaching, or witnessing. All we can do is put forth the proofs for God’s existence and preach the gospel and pray for God’s will to be done.

      Therefore we will not really know the effect of our witnessing, preaching, or debating until we reach heaven. We are sure that our efforts will not go unrewarded. When we get into heaven we will see the results of our efforts before God’s throne praising him.

      Remember apologetics never saves anyone, but God never saves anyone without apologetics. There are many methods of apologetics and one of the most common is called testimonial apologetics. This is where we go into the world and tell what great things God has done for us through his Son. So I am pretty sure that even though the atheist may remain unmoved, nevertheless there are many in the audience whose heart God will touch through what is being presented.

  3. March 29, 2012 at 10:03 am

    Thanks for the thoughtful response. It got me thinking about what I really wonder about which is, do you know of anyone who later accepted Christ after hearing a debate? I would really love to hear that the answer is ‘yes’, but up to now I haven’t ever heard of a conversion using this means.
    God commanded us to preach with no concern for the results as they are God’s, but there is no command to formally debate. I do think it is an excellent means of helping us
    think through just what the differences are between God’s Word and humanist thinking, but I’ve yet to hear that it makes a difference in unbeliever’s lives.
    If you haven’t heard such testimonies either, I might ask at Creation Today or John Mackay’s site. 🙂

    • March 29, 2012 at 1:01 pm

      Thanks again for your comment. As for knowing anyone who has been saved by listening to a debate I would have to say that I know of no one who has been saved by listening to a debate.
      But I also have never been to a public debate, nor do I know of anyone who has. Debates like these do not go on around my area.
      I will say in closing, however that all week I have been listening to debates on my job. We have had a construction crew remodeling our building here. Those on the crew are not saved. But they have had to listen to these debates to seeing that they are working in my area. Therefore who knows, God has a purpose for all things and so it might just be that one on that crew has been having questions about these things and God may convert him through what he has heard.
      I hope so anyway.

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