James Kirk Wall critiques Lawrence Krauss vs Muslim theologian debate

Lawrence-Krauss--d_2510273b

On March 9th, 2013 the University of London hosted a debate between Lawrence Krauss and Hamza Andreas Tzortzis. Krauss gained a lot of recognition as an atheist and cosmologist from a brilliant one hour lecture about a universe from nothing and later a book by the same name. Tzortzis gives lectures on Islam and resembles Ringo Starr in the early 80s.

The theologian begins the debate with the classic argument from ignorance. We don’t know how the universe began, therefore god. We don’t know how something can come from nothing, therefore a god that’s always been. An infinite beginning cannot exist, therefore god with an infinite beginning. Since it must be a deity, it must be a god with will that wanted the universe to be here.

Then Tzortzis brings up Occam’s razor, the principle of which is to minimize assumptions and select the simplest explanation. For example, if you hear a sound outside like a dropping acorn, and the assumptions as to what produced the noise are an acorn or Hitler’s ghost, go with the natural and simple explanation. “God did it” is supported by Occam’s razor according to Tzortzis. And then he gets into why it can only be one god and not many gods as apparently that’s supported by Occam’s razor as well. Because one is simpler than two, or three, etc. One god is perfectly reasonable, but more than one god? That’s just crazy talk.

The theologian then targets Krauss specifically on his lectures about nothing not being nothing in the quantum universe. Feeling rather smug, he makes statements such as “nothing taste great with whip cream.” He then brings up deductive and inductive reasoning, which is “top-down” vs. “bottom-up.” Inductive reasoning is often criticized as not seeing the forest from the trees, and making generalizations rather than disciplined propositions.

Apparently Tzortzis is arguing “God did it” is deductive and the potential matter and energy of empty space is inductive. But both “God did it” and “a quantum fluctuation did it” begin at the universe being in existence. Often theologians bring up terms and definitions that have absolutely nothing to do with their argument, but talking about them gives the illusion that it does. Smoke and ambiguity are the friends of a deceiver.

Tzortzis then starts listing what he calls atheist clichés when he brings up Krauss’s something from nothing. However, well known non-believers such as Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher and Bill Nye have repeatedly stated that we don’t know how the universe came to be. And it’s rather hypocritical for someone who brings up an argument from ignorance to make a statement about clichés.

Our innate perception of causality is mentioned to apparently argue that there must be a cause. With only a few minutes left, he then gets into the Quran specifically. Going back and forth between English and Arabic, he quotes some general and meaningless statements from people we never heard of. But this is short lived as he quickly leaves the Quran and starts a long rambling about what a miracle is.

His example of a miracle, Moses’s staff that turned into a snake. We then get a ludicrous rant of how the Quran can’t be literally reproduced and therefore must be a miracle and the divine word of god. So since we apparently have a hard time (haven’t tried it myself) reproducing the literacy style of Prophet Mohammed, it must be the word of god. This is true the same way as if we can’t reproduce the literacy style of Dr. Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham was written by god. And then thankfully the 25 minute opening was over. If there is a hell, it’s hearing this guy give lectures.

And then it was Lawrence Krauss’s turn. Krauss grabs a metal chair and slams it on Tzortzis head! Then puts him in a choke hold! Tzortzis responds with “red herring!”, “straw man!” and “Fox News!” Krauss then does a suflex, big leg drop, stone cold stunner, a tombstone piledriver, and makes the pin! One! Two! Three! That it! The debate is over! Krauss wins!

But seriously, Krauss appears uncomfortable and agitated. He’s annoyed by the silly theistic rhetoric. He rightly calls out the theistic babbling as nonsense and provides reasoning as to why. Krauss clearly provides a better argument for atheism over Islam, but comes across as overly antagonistic and somewhat unprofessional.

In debating theists, one should slice their opponent’s arguments into quivering bloody sushi, but be likable at the same time.

Note: In this debate an attempt was made to segregate the men and women in the audience. After Krauss started to leave as he would have no part in that nonsense, the attempt to segregate was stopped. Thank you Dr. Lawrence Krauss.

-James Kirk Wall

References:

UCL bans Islamic group from campus in row over segregated seating – The Guardian

The Friendly Atheist Hemant Mehta shares some debating tips

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Tags: atheist, islam

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