Is Theistic Belief Rational in a Scientific Age? A Philosopher and Astrophysicist Exchange Arguments

Philosopher William Lane Craig and astrophysicist Jeff Hester presented their cases for theism and atheism during a highly-anticipated event

The practice of engaging with difficult questions lies at the heart of a Holy Cross education. On April 9, those packed into Seelos Theatre grappled with a particularly formidable one: Is theistic belief rational in a scientific age?

The highly-anticipated event was structured as a moderated dialogue between philosopher William Lane Craig and astrophysicist Jeff Hester, who presented their cases for theism and atheism, respectively, before volleying points and counterpoints back and forth to one another.

The conversation ran the gamut, covering topics including arguments for the fine-tuning of the universe, objective moral values and the implications of their existence, evolutionary algorithms, tribalism, and the predictive capabilities of the brain. To round out the event, audience members, both present and online, posed questions that further challenged the participants to defend their arguments.

Both Craig and Hester brought a wealth of knowledge as established figures in their fields. Named by The Best Schools as one of the 50 most influential living philosophers, Craig is a research professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology and professor of philosophy at Houston Baptist University. Hester, an astrophysicist, is well known for his work with the Hubble Space Telescope, and is a professor emeritus in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University.

The animated dialogue was moderated by Lawrence Cahoone, professor of philosophy at Holy Cross, and is one of the Deitchman Family Lectures on Religion and Modernity, presented by the Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture at the College of the Holy Cross.

Watch the full dialogue below: