As some of y'all know, William Lane Craig debated Sam Harris in the last day or two on a topic relating to the source of morality - the precise proposition that was to be debated is still not clear to me even after listening to it, though it was doubtless stated at some point in the longish introduction. It was something to the effect of, "Are the foundations of morality best explained as natural or supernatural?" though it seemed, in practice, to be more like, "Given that morality is objective, can it come only from God?"
Damion has a review of it here ... and there is another review here (this one by John Loftus). I can't judge who would be seen as having won the debate from the point of view of a reasonable person actually in the audience, as you lose a great deal from having only an audio recording. From my viewpoint, merely listening to the audio, both speakers were fluent, sounded confident, and probably put the strongest arguments they reasonably could have in the timeframe available.
All in all, I'd score it as a draw. No knock-out blows were delivered. Neither speaker struggled at any point. Either speaker could have sounded plausible to someone predisposed to be sympathetic.
Sam Harris conspicuously failed to engage with one of Craig's points - that he (Harris) rejects both libertarian and compatibilist free will, so one might ask whether this must force him into something like an error theorist position. After all, if you reject even compatibilist free will, is there any sense in which any of us can ever act otherwise than as we do? And if not, doesn't this remove the presupposition that we are responsible for our actions And is that presupposition, Craig can ask, not inherent in ordinary moral discourse?
It's a bit surprising that Harris didn't address this, but perhaps he thought it best to avoid opening up a can of worms relating to free will and determinism ... and he was arguably within his rights to ignore it because atheism does not directly entail that there is no free will. At worst, Harris might be forced to adopt at least some deflationary concept of free will and/or moral responsibility, and he actually does this to a point in The Moral Landscape - he gives an account of how we can be held morally responsible for our actions in many or most circumstances. Perhaps it was better to do what Harris actually did, and let Craig waste time on this issue while concentrating on making a positive case for a naturalised objective morality.
Harris failed to attack Craig strongly where Craig was weakest - in showing just how God delivers an objective morality. Craig kept saying saying that he was not, for example, making a moral semantic claim that "morally good" means "in conformity with God's commands" ... but this left it rather confusing just what he does think it means. He kept insisting that he was making an ontological claim about the source of morality, not a moral semantic claim, but the actual content of the ontological claim ended up being very vague. To someone who was not already sympathetic, it might have sounded like no more than rhetorical gobbledegook.
Which leaves a question as to whether Harris was tactically correct to let it go save for the briefest mention. Enough was said to at least raise the point, while leaving the detailed criticism unargued - anyone who was sympathetic to Craig on this would, perhaps, have been beyond the reach of any more elaborate argument that Harris could have put. Conversely, it's doubtful that Craig's woolly explanation convinced anyone who was initially sceptical. That left Craig's main argument rather inconclusive, to say the least.
Still, someone scoring the debate formally might have deducted points from Harris for failing to engage more over this.
Let's take this slightly further than Harris did. It seems clear enough that commands from a powerful being such as God could have something like the status of weak categorical imperatives, like the norms of law, etiquette, professional practice, and positive morality. The point is: all of these can be ignored by someone who can get away with ignoring them and who doesn't care about their authority. "What is etiquette to me?"
The commands of a powerful and omniscient being such as God could not be ignored in practice - if we ignored them God could punish us. But that gives us only a subjective reason to obey, based on fear. If someone says, "What is that to me?" there will be an answer, but it will appeal to the person's desire not to be harmed. In that sense, it's still subjective.
Craig needs a reason to obey that is not based on such things as desires or fears. He might, of course, have it if the commands (or their content) were good in an objective sense even prior to being issued by God. But that's mysterious, and besides it's a line that Craig can't take. If he admits that that scenario is even possible, he is back to saying that God's issuing of commands is not the ultimate source of objective morality after all.
Perhaps he would have said more about this conundrum if Harris had pressed him harder on the issue, but Harris never did. Again, leaving aside someone formally keeping score, that may have been a smart move on Harris's part, leaving Craig stuck with a claim that sounded weak and unconvincing to anyone who was even mildly sceptical, while allowing Harris time to develop his positive account. Perhaps how we score it depends on who Harris was really trying to persuade to his viewpoint.
Though he seemed rather weak on showing just how God's commands are objectively binding in any interesting and plausible sense, Craig was effective in attacking other possible sources of objectively binding moral authority. Conversely, I thought that Harris was very strong when it came to developing his positive case for objective morality based on purely naturalistic considerations. In the end, I was not convinced - surprise! surprise! - and Craig made the telling point that the argument seemed to rely on something like faith: Harris presupposes the controversial claim that we ought to do whatever maximises well-being. Craig has a point when he says that this is not the sort of thing that can simply be stipulated as an axiom.
Still, it's a point that many people (including some of my regular readers) would grant Harris ... and once you let him that far he is very cogent and eloquent in developing the implications.
In all, this was an impressive performance by both speakers with some tactical (I assume) decisions by Harris that may have cost him points in some people's eyes ... but may not have been bad choices, all things considered. I'd be interested to listen to, or preferably watch, another debate between these two.
Edit: Thanks to the commenter who pointed to a YouTube video.It looks like there are actually nine of them if you want to follow the whole debate. To be honest, I'm not likely to do this soon, having spent a couple of hours yesterday listening to the audio version ... though I'll try to get to it at some stage in the future.