EDIT: Here's video of the debate, broken into 9 parts. Here's the official ND video, one long file.
Yeah, this is way outside the realm of what I usually do, but it was cool as shit and I couldn't help commenting on it.
Last night Sam Harris debated William Lane Craig at the University of Notre Dame on what the source of morality is. A friend of mine from ND told me they'd live-stream it over teh interwebs, so I was able to watch it remotely, and it was fucking sweet. I'm sure eventually they'll have video up on their YouTube channel; apparently this was the second in a series, and they have last year's debate up. I'll link it when it goes up, because you should definitely watch when you get a chance.
A Google search of the debate reveals how much a bro's predispositions influence his opinions on the outcome - several athiest blogs seem convinced that Harris crushed WLC, and Christian apologists are already bragging about their debate superstar chalking up another one.
Here's the deal: WLC wrecked Harris' shit.
Let me qualify that: I'm a trained debater, and from the perspective of a trained debater, this was a fucking bloodbath. WLC has a strict flow, he stuck to the proposition at hand (He constantly affirmed that objective morality must be based in God and can't exist without Him) and he easily and consistently dismissed arguments of Harris' that didn't matter to that proposition.
So when Harris trotted out the problem of evil and the problem of the unevangelized, WLC shrugged those off and went about laying waste to Harris' case like a machine. Yeah, if I'm a judge at a debate tournament, and these two get up and say exactly what was said last night, I'm signing a ballot for WLC and giving high speaks all around. I had never heard of WLC before, so I thought that Sam Harris was going to have no problem, but holy shit. Apparently the bro did debate in high school and in undergrad, and it shows.
Okay, here's my caveat: there's no real clear sense of what it means to win one of these things. Yeah, WLC did a better job of affirming the proposition at hand; but Sam Harris was a much more broadly compelling speaker. He was definitely funnier, and the audience just seemed more stirred by what he had to say. Is that closer to a win? Because really, what's at stake here? Google tells me that pretty much everyone knows that WLC is a fucking badass at debate, so it's not like reputation is the issue - national championships don't get handed out at this level, kids, sorry. So when Harris says something like, "It's odd that, when we have all our preconceptions out of the way, when we were dealing with the world as it is, assumptions stripped bare, that's precisely the time when we have nothing to say about the most important questions of humanity - wouldn't that be strange?" And then sits back down, the rippled whispers might be more important than WLC's rhetoric. It's hard to say.
I would imagine that at ND the audience is a pretty fucking sophisticated group of kids; everyone who goes there has to take philosophy and theology, even the engineers. So when Harris mentions the problem of evil, they all go, "Um, don't we have two bros with definitive solutions to that problem on our faculty?" (Maybe that's up for grabs, but they're definitely two of the most important solutions in the last century, and they're both at ND.) and aren't necessarily impressed. They've probably thought through every word WLC had to say three or four times over in their first two years of undergrad. So just because Harris really stirred them doesn't mean he had better points; maybe he just had newer points.
Anyway, I'll post a link to the video when it goes up. It was a really interesting debate, even if there wasn't as much clash as I'd like.