Daily journal, which actually evolved as a post on sources and debates between theists and atheists

Berkeley, Monday 20, 2019 11:40 PM

Yesterday, I slept extremely late. 2:40 AM.

I should get rid of that habit because the morning start late as well then.

I checked the newspaper at breakfast. Opened a framed cork board that I bought for pining up my schedule and to do list. Still I need to get some nails for hanging it in the wall.

I stayed at home in the morning. I prayed, read Thomas Aquinas, comment on a post from a friend, had lunch, and left to campus.

I did grading during the afternoon, and took a 20 minute nap.

I submitted my grading, and tried to buy 100 percentage chocolate, but the Berkeley Student Food Collective store is close until May 28.

I was able to get to the Poulet to get some food for dinner.

It was interesting to listen a podcast from William Lane Craig, who is prominent Christian Philosopher, apologist, and created a program called Reasonable Faith. He is a very good debater. You can check out many of his debates against the Atheist. What I was listening was about his story on how he met his wife and his life with her. https://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/reasonable-faith-podcast/when-bill-met-jan/

Video 1. William Lane Craig about time for leisure and time for his wife Jan.

The lesson was great about the time commitment that he put aside for his wife. This time was nights and weekends. He respected the commitment. Then, his wife, Jan, give a lot to him, while she was more flexible during finals. The limit time pushed Dr. Craig to be more effective at work.

Furthermore, Jan have committed to to support him a lot in his academic path. Prof. Craig tried to reattribute that by learning some of the topics that Jan was interested such as finances. However, they made the project of Reasonable Faith together, https://www.reasonablefaith.org/, were both of them lead it. Dr. Craig is Professor of Philosophy at Biola University, and one of the 50 most influential contemporanian philosophers.

I definitely have a lot to learn from Dr. Craig, and I am grateful with him for evangelizing in a short assessment I did. However, still for the protestants, I do not have a clear reason, why they left the Catholic Church, which track back his origens to Jesus, who delegated it to Peter. The Catholic Church also acknowledge the Judaism, as it is based in the Old Testament, and acknowledges that Jesus came to correct it. Beyond this clear data and evidence, one can push for reforms, but I did not see the need to leave from it, unless there is a major event.

I skimmed, or passed quickly, an interesting dialogue between Bishop Barron and Dr. Craig from 2018. Both are very respectful, and they agreed to made it a dialogue rather than a debate. Both are very active evangelist. From them I have learnt about the Apologetics, and Bishop Barron have opened my curiosity about Saint Thomas Aquinas, who I am reading currently.

Video 2. Dialogue between two very active Evangelists

In that dialogue, I learned that both of them wake up at 5:30 AM.

I learned about a bit more how to pray, and they opened my curiosity about the Fathers of the Church.

Further, I learned from Bishop Barron, about Dr. Peter Kreeft, a professor in the Department of Philosophy, at Boston College.

Dr. Peter Kreef is a charismatic speaker, who was raised as Calvinist. He thinks that the best two things in his life was to convert to Catholicism and to marry his wife. Following a short introduction about him. He has the fame to be a prolific and productive author. I have not read his books yet, but just here I have mentioned three excellent contemporanean authors. He had studied Thomas Aquinas, and write a book, which extract the best from Aquinas’ books. It could have same some time, but I happy, I am reading piece by piece Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, which consists on 4 volumes in 5 books. I also got 2 volumes from Saint Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae.

Some things to read, in separate time, without hopefully investing too much time on these videos, which I can say are illustrative.

Video 3. About Professor Peter Kreef

I have seen plenty of debates of these people among others, against the Four Horsemen of Atheism: clockwise from top left: Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris.

Video 4. Ciudad de las Ideas 2010. Debate Does the Universe have a purpose?. The origins of the future
Video 5. Ciudad de las Ideas. Debate: Hitchens, Harris, Dennett vs Boteach, D’Souza, Taleb.

I reviewed more carefully video 4. Dr. Craig is a great debater. I think they got a great team in 2010, and had strong points against the atheist. Many atheist fear Dr. Craig in general, if you search him in the web. He is a great Evangelist. I sustain my theory that as we continue evolving we continue understanding and exploring our question about God. D’Souza in 2009 also had strong arguments that made me reflect, and I think made reflect the opposition as well. He was debating at that time against three out of the four Four Horsemen of the New Atheism. I need to read more about them as well. Those are men of morals, who have not allowed themselves to humble and seek for God, and for wisdom and understanding through prayer. They limit knowledge to science, and everything else is uncertain. I disagree that it is a holistic view of the Universe, and our purpose. There are morals, wisdom, and knowledge that does not come from science. Check Saint Catherine of Siena.

Video 6. Video 6. St. Catherine of Siena. CATHOLICISM The Pivotal Players by Bishop Barron.

Still, as I said, I will read a bit more about Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris to can talk about them. Bishop Barrons endorsed Christopher Hitchens (+) as a unique character, defending his values, and a person of morals, and passionated about what he defended. In a random search, some heaters accuse him from alcoholism. He, as seems, a transparent man, did not hold back, and spoke about the benefits of alcohol consumption in his life. He said “alcohol makes other people less tedious, and food less bland, and can help provide what the Greeks called entheos, or the slight buzz of inspiration when reading or writing.” I do not agree with that, but I after skimming that article, I admire his efficiency. He has been a highly productive writer. He said he never had missed a deadline. He had never arrived late. He produced thousands of printable words per day. He gives about 4 lectures per month. Still, I do not know that much about him.

Video 7. Bishop Barron on Christopher Hitchens

Richard Dawkins rather seems a bit arrogant. Still, I do not too much about him. All of those are some impressions, on some procrastination, where I build my arguments and faith.

About Andres Roemer, organizer of the event Ciudad de las Ideas, seems to be an interesting character. He did his PhD in Public Policy at UC Berkeley. He had brought those debates to the public discourse as he explores his own believes. When I watched the 2010 debate, (Video 4), I though that he should have been more prepared about the introduction to the speakers. I thought he just was a showman. In that introduction to the speakers he praised Dr. Dawkins, and kind of asked to the others who you are and what books you have read. I think the moderator should introduce himself to the speakers. He also praised too much Prof. Michio Kaku. I am not against praising them. They deserve due to their hard and influential work. However, he had 6 speakers, so please treat all of them equally respectful.

Richard Dawkins have declined to debate against Professor William Craig for several occasions. Why?

Dr. Sam Harris seems to be a rational persons, however, lacks of emotions or passions in his debates. Still, I do not that much about him, and his writings, rather two videos that I have seem him, which I even passed quickly. He did debate against Dr. William Craig in 2011 at University of Notre Dame.

Video 8. Is Good From God?. Debate between Dr. Sam Harris and Dr. William Craig

Dr. William Craig also debated Christopher Hitchens, on April 4, 2009 at Biola University, about the question Does God exist? It seemed to me a great debate. Both are good debaters. I did not watched all the arguments in detail, but Dr. Craig seems that was much more convincing. I did not check if there was a verdict. I think he won the debate from what I saw. Beyond that the point is that they bring important questions to the table and to rationality of faith, and hopefully to open some seeking to God to the unbelievers, who have not search for Him, and rather want a probe, often in the podium.

Video 9. Debate: Does God Exist? Dr. Craig vs. Christopher Hitchens.

I forgot to mention from the debates from Ciudad de las Ideas, video 4 and video 5, that I do not like the center agnostic please. I hope that they take the decision to move forward to a side, but they cannot argue that both sides are wrong. Dr. Michio Kaku did that in 2010, and Robert Wright did that in 2009. The parts I listened from Dr. Wright were not that convincing. At least I would prefer to take a position.

I have not read that much about Dr. Daniel Dennett. there is a TED talk I watched few minutes of it some time ago. This is the second time that I see him in a debate (Video 5). He looks a respectable man. His age made him look with some wisdom. I cannot recall the video, I saw long time ago , in video 10, I see in the beginning he said let’s teach about religion. It can be in that TED talk or in other, were he still took an insulting position to religions. Well, that is his position. He is one of the 4 horseman of the new atheism, who have not allowed themselves to go beyond rationality and search for god in the prayers.

Video 10. Let’s teach religion. Ted Talk. Dan Dennet

Regarding the other speakers in the ciudad de las ideas. I did paid more attention to the 2010 event. Rabbi David Wolpe looked passionated and emotional. Honestly, I skimmed so I cannot recall his arguments. He seems that took personally a point. He as the others next speakers, I know even less than the ones I referred before, but it is fair to at least give my impressions.

Douglas Geivett seemed that had some points and was well prepared. I might look further about him. Michael Shermer seems to be an author that I will also look further more. He was in the atheist site, but raised some interesting points. I cannot recall the arguments by Matt Ridley, while he seemed a good scientist, I got an impression that the fields of Theology and Philosophy looked unfamiliar to him, same as to Dawkins in that debate. It might be just an impression as I do not that much about those authors.

In the debate from 2009, the speakers that I had left to mention were Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and Nassim Taleb. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach was passionated but it got personal and lost. I did not watched in detail the 2009 debate, beyond some strong points from D’Souza. Rabbi Boteach seems that did not acknowledged well the theory of the evolution. That is a mistake. The theological debate cannot be traced back centuries. He need a good scientific background. In general the current theological thinking is that the theory of evolution also supports God. At least, in my personal opinion, there is not conflict between science and God. The problem is that some scientist want to reduce knowledge and wisdom to science. I do not think that Nassim Taleb did that well, but again I just skimmed the debate.

Back to the Catholic professor champion, Dr. Peter Kreeft, he interestingly highlighted very good points about Muslim in a conversation in this topic against one of his former students. (Video 11). That video came across, and I myself, have read few pages (56) of the Koran. I mentioned this, because my impressions from the 2009 debate are not because of the religious affiliation of the speaker that I mentioned. Well, I can be able to talk more about Dr. Kreeft, after I learn more from him, and to talk after the Koran after I finish it. However, I do agree that it rescue some good points from the Old and New Testaments. Interestingly, Dr. Kreeft was playing the role of defending Muslim in that conversation. Beyond what they have covered there, which again, I just skimmed, in one of the curiosity procrastinations to learn about Dr. Kreeft, I respect the five times of praying from the Muslim in a day, and their strength during the fasting period, which I can tell from some Muslim friends. [Following an update on 5/21/2019]: However, I have some questions and thoughts: why Mohamed restricted his followers to read the Old and New Testaments? Why did he tried to ‘correct’ them? Those changes and restrictions of Bible, which is catalogued as Divine, made me skeptical from Mohamed. Was there any divine intervention to him, or was it just his idea? Why to restrict his followers to read the Bible? (Aquinas, ~1250)

Video 11. Conversation about Muslim by two Catholics Peter Kreeft and Robert Spencer (Catholic at that time)

Finally, actually second last, a debate that I really enjoyed the part I watched. It was in the early years from Dr. William Lane Craig, June 27, 1993. The debate was about Atheism vs. Christianity: Which Way Does the Evidence Point?, where Dr. Craig debated Frank R. Zindler, at Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL.

Video 12. Atheism vs. Christianity: Which Way Does the Evidence Point?. Dr. Craig vs Frank R. Zindler.

Finally, a Catholic defensor champion, Ann Widdecombe. She participated in 2009 in a debate in London, about The Catholic Church is a Force for Good in the World (Video 13). I just watched her opening speech, which was kind of a rebuttal to Hitchens as well. The panel of speakers was conformed by Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens on the atheist site, against Archbishop John Onaiyekan and Ann Widdecombe over the defense of the Catholic Church. Ann Widdecombe speeach was very conving. Since, then I look forward to learn a bit more about her as well.

Video 13. Debate The Catholic Church is a Force for Good in the World, London, 2009

The content of this post obviously changed from a report from the day, to a report of sources to authors about theism and atheism. Those influential authors, and those debates, have expanded my curiosity and knowledge about God, and hopefully have prepared me better to explain my arguments to support my faith and the Catholic Church, in addition to my personal experience, which is an important argument as well.

I have learned, still a bit, about these group of Apologetics, which seems to be the people contributing with knowledge to Christianity. I think that there are also branches of apologetics in Christianity, which you can explore by Googling Christian Apologetics. To finish this with one quotes from a site, which seems to be discontinued, Catholic Apologetics Academy: “”always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for the hope that is in you, but do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15-16). It also encourages us to “earnestly contend for the Faith” (Jude 1:3).”


Regarding videos, I embedded here, so you can further check in YouTube for the source. Regarding some citation in the text, those were mainly from websites, except full book names that I also mentioned in the text, the author and name of the book. Links to websites, when I referred to them are embeded. Finally, a reference to an audio interview is also embedded.

I acknowledge that this is not the best way to cite. I ended up writing a long post of many sources I have checked over the last 3 weeks. I do not want to invest more time, on formatting the citations, and there might not be need for it here. I am glad I put these sources here for some reference at some time. However, I will focus next on my own work, and on some of the reading material I mentioned here.

[The following reference updated on 5/21/2019]:

Aquinas, T., 1975. Summa Contra Gentiles: Book One: God, translated by A. C. Pegis. University of Notre Dame Pess.

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