Stand-up debates rarely, in my experience, amount to much--at least if one's looking for deep reflection as opposed to the scoring of forensic points. There's just not enough time in your typical debate to discuss a topic fruitfully. This is particularly true, it seems to me, when the topic is philosophical in nature.
In October 2001, Paul Kurtz and William Lane Craig met to debate whether morality is possible if God doesn't exist. Predictably, the debate didn't amount to much. Kurtz rehearsed some general bromides about humanistic ethics, and Craig defended the traditional claims that God is the seat of value, the commander of moral rules, and the source of moral accountability. Neither man put in an impressive showing.
The transcript of this rather lackluster debate is printed in Is Goodness without God Good Enough? (The editors don't explain why the book appears a full seven years after the event.) What makes the book worthwhile are the quite interesting and closely-reasoned articles by seven philosophers that comment on the debate topic. Four of them are written by theists (C. Stephen Layman, John Hare, Mark Murphy, and Richard Swinburne), three by atheists (Louise Antony, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, and Donald Hubin). Kurtz and Craig finish out the volume with responses to their critics. Both essays are much better than the original debate. Kurtz spends most of his energy defending his own brand of humanistic ethics, objective relativism. Craig more pointedly devotes his essay to arguing against his critics. Neither man pulls his punches.
Although all seven of the responsive articles are good, some are better than others. For my money, Antony's piece, "Atheism as Perfect Piety," is the best of the bunch. She argues against divine command theory, but also that genuine contrition for evil acts requires that God not exist, since otherwise the contrition would always be tainted with self-interest (God will reward me or not punish me so severely if I repent).
Hare's article, "Is Moral Goodness without Belief in God Stable?" is an interesting reflection that reminds one of Paul's lament that he knows the better but does the worse. Hare argues that God is necessary in order to bridge the gap between our privileging our own interests and our awareness of what we ought to do. This continuous grace, as theologians would call it, provides the moral regeneration that humans can't pull off on their own steam.
Equally interesting is Hubin's "Empty and Ultimately Meaningless Gestures?" Responding to Craig's claims that acts of self-sacrifice are meaningless gestures if there is no God-based accountability, Hubin argues, reminiscent of Antony's strategy, that in fact the existence of a God who will escatologically reward self-sacrifice empties self-sacrifice of its moral meaning, since a rewarded self-sacrifice isn't sacrificial at all.
A valuable contribution to the on-going conversation, so urgent these day, about the existence of God.