Saturday, November 27, 2010

Why Do William Lane Craig's Views Merit Respect?

William Lane Craig seems, for some reason that I've never understood, to garner disproportionate respect from theists and even some nontheists. (But then, I'm also mystified by the cult around C. S. Lewis, who seems to me to be a sloppy and childish thinker.)

Take a look at this debate entitled "Does the Universe have a purpose?" and see if Craig lives up to his reputation. Of course, in debates, where there is a limited time, we are all forced to simplify our statements, so perhaps Craig doesn't really believe exactly what he is saying. Nevertheless...

In his opening statement (jump to 13:41) , he piled false claim upon false claim. For example:

"If God does exist, then the universe does have a purpose." Really? That doesn't follow. Just because an intelligent being makes a thing X, that is insufficient to show that X has a purpose. After all, I could pick up a couple of rocks aimlessly at the seashore and put one on top of the other. What would be the purpose of that pile of rocks? Perhaps there is none at all.

"According to Biblical theism ... The purpose of life is to be found in a personal relationship with a holy and loving God. As the Westminster catechism asks, What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever." Huh? This was a non sequitur. The subject of the debate was whether the universe had a purpose, not the purpose of life or man.

Craig relied upon a false dichotomy - the only two choices he presented are "Biblical theism" and "atheism". But these are clearly not the only possibilities. Why couldn't the Universe have been made by a nasty and childish god, who delights in tormenting us in new and ingenious ways? Maybe the purpose of the Universe is to amuse this god with our suffering. Or perhaps there are multiple gods, each wagering on our behavior when confronted with new diseases or painful medical procedures.

"God gives an objectively purposeful life." Not true, since we have no objective way to determine this purpose. Craig think the purpose is spelled out in his holy book. Another might say the purpose is spelled out in a different book. We have no objective way to determine which is correct... or maybe they're all wrong. Maybe a god designed our universe for the purpose of making atheism the single world belief.

"What is evil? - I maintain that evil is a departure from the way things ought to be..." Let's look at the sensibility of this definition. Perhaps I think the way things "ought to be" are that we should all have jet cars and live on Mars. Since the current state of affairs is different from the way things "ought to be", using Craig's definition I would have to say the current state of affairs is "evil". But this would not be assented to by most people who use the word "evil". Yet if I say, "Hitler was evil", this would be assented to by most people. So Craig's definition does not capture the way most people use the word "evil".

"If there is a way things ought to be, then there must be some transcendent design plan or purpose that determines how things ought to be. And so there must be some transcendent being - a Creator in fact - whose will is the basis for how things ought to be. And so evil is actually evidence that God does exist." This doesn't follow at all. Why could not a sense of "the way things ought to be" be the product of biological evolution?

And to top it all off, this was delivered with a kind of wheezy smugness out of proportion to the quality of the arguments. Bleh.

70 comments:

Badger3k said...

Craig is a hack - I've heard him debate several times, and he's always the same. Lies, distortions, errors he has been corrected on, logical fallacies...he's a full house of FAIL. But he delivers it in his best professional debater patter, and tosses so much that his opponents are usually overwhelmed trying to correct his falsehoods. I can somewhat give him respect for his professional skill, even while decrying his lies and other problems. I can't understand why he gets the respect of people who should know better either. It's one reason I can't take Luke too seriously - I can't tell if this respect is just a blip, or part of a larger pattern of ignorance (or whatever).

Anonymous said...

The purpose of life is to be found in a personal relationship with a holy and loving God. As the Westminster catechism asks, What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever.

Isn't this just a multiple example of the fallacies of composition and division?

Can't we make it clear when we are speaking of an individual human being (as in "a personal relationship") and a collective (such as "mankind" or "life")?

I can understand if someone believes that the purpose of his/her/my/your(sing.) life is to be found in glorifying God. But it doesn't make sense to say that that is the purpose of the totality of life (that is, of all things which have ever lived and will ever live), or the purpose of Homo sapiens, the species.

TomS

Matt said...

Oh man, you should see him talk about Bayesian probability.

Brian said...

"The subject of the debate was whether the universe had a purpose, not the purpose of life or man."

I would be comfortable conceding that if something requiring a universe has purpose, the universe containing it has purpose. Also, if someone proves a specific purpose, they have proven the general existence of some purpose.

"God gives an objectively purposeful life."

I think the problem is that even if there were a god who told us what to do, that wouldn't be purposeful in any important way more than if a powerful person told us what to do. It's not just that god doesn't clearly tell us how to live an objectively purposeful life, it's that he can't.

GreatBigBore said...

I recently made a YouTube series about a debate he had with a Muslim a few years ago. I can't believe anyone would waste their time listening to him. I find him pretty unbearable, not to mention an obvious liar.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

Matt, do you have a link for Craig's Bayesian arguments?

There seem to be many half-wits out there who "use" "mathematics" to "prove" their religious claims.

I did a quick search and found Lydia McGrew who seems to specialize on Bayesian probability arguments for various religious purposes.

Oh, by the way, the so-called Bayes' theorem is a total triviality--it hardly deserves to be called a theorem at all. This is, perhaps, the reason that it is popular among innumerate theologians: it is a triviality that can be easily understood and used (abused) but, on top of that, they can call it a theorem and appear to be sophisticated.

Incidentally, Mr Bayes himself was a priest of some kind.

Curt Cameron said...

Takis, I believe Matt may have been talking about Craig's debate with Bart Ehrman. You can find a transcript of that debate on the Interwebs somewhere - I've read it and it was very face-palmish.

I agree with Jeff about Craig's being way overrated. I really think the reason he's so popular with Christians is that he says everything with such an air of authority, and they're big on that authority thing. Skeptics see the fallacies contrasted with the smugness and think he's an arrogant prick.

Speaking of face-palm and C.S. Lewis, a couple of years ago I read Mere Christianity (actually I listened to the audiobook). Talk about piling fallacy upon fallacy. Why was Lewis popular?

Rocky said...

"God gives an objectively purposeful life"

I'm intrigued to know if he has any actual argument as to why whatever God wishes for us is considered any more purposeful (and in particular 'objectively' purposeful, whatever that may mean - it seems like he may be trying to say life is somehow more meaningful on theism, but perhaps he may mean that because God has certain intentions that therefore this achieves some end or goal) than an individual making choices or the universe affecting some outcome. Or is it simply an assertion on Craig's part?

All this is doing is pushing the problem back a step - in what way are God's existence or commands meaningful or the states of affairs he brings about more worthwhile than ones brought about by impersonal mechanical causes or random chance events?

I'd also be interested in how this claim ties in with the supposed free will that many theists claim we also have given that if the outcome of our lives is determined by our own free choices rather than God's interference, God would seem to make no more difference to what we do than if he didn't exist.

David said...

>>Let's look at the sensibility of this definition. Perhaps I think the way things "ought to be" are that we should all have jet cars and live on Mars. Since the current state of affairs is different from the way things "ought to be", using Craig's definition I would have to say the current state of affairs is "evil". But this would not be assented to by most people who use the word "evil".

Wouldn't the reason people would disagree be that they don't think it's evil that people not have jet cars and live on Mars? But this doesn't show that they define "evil" in some other way than "what ought not to be the case". Their disagreement is consistent with their taking "evil" to mean "what ought not to be the case": they might just differ with you on what things ought not to be the case. Your argument rests on a confusion between the sense and reference of "evil."

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

Curt: Yes, I had a glimpse on the video. I couldn't stomach watching him for long. I get the idea...

You say:
"I really think the reason he's so popular with Christians is that he says everything with such an air of authority, and they're big on that authority thing."

Very true. The air of authority is what makes them (religious folk) suport these imbeciles. The air of authority is what makes this guy and fellows like Dembski and Lennox (a religious mathematician from Oxford) be taken seriously by ordinary people: only because they have an air of authority. If you analyze what they say, you will find crap.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

David:

Maybe it's just that my example was bad.

I think most people would agree that it "ought not to be the case" that people accidentally drop their child's birthday cake in the gutter. But would it be evil?

David said...

Jeff,

Thanks for your reply.I see what you mean now. I think you are right that to call something evil, more is required than that it ought not to be the case.

Bayesian Bouffant, FCD said...

If you analyze what they say, you will find crap.

Keep in mind that a lot of people do not have the ability to analyze that stuff in depth. Not everyone has a sound training in science and mathematics, and let's face it, about half the people out there are intellectually below average.

GreatBigBore said...

a lot of people do not have the ability to analyze that stuff in depth

Therefore some of us need to take the initiative to analyze and simplify. I'm working on it! Craig Dembski

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

Bayesian Bouffant, FCD said...

Below average or below the median? Anyway, this is precisely the success of people such as Dembski and the like: their audience consists of mostly scientifically-illiterate people. They say: "We are scientists; we are mathematicians; our analyses show that the religion you believe in is supported by science". And the crowds cheerfully reply: "Hoora! Even scientists now have proven that our gods are as we believe. We are right! Long live our religion!"

TomH said...

Lewis' gets notice because he was good at telling stories, and stories stick, producing memes.

As far as Craig's nonsense, we might at least concede that the Christian conception of God includes His creation of the universe for a purpose, so that if that god exists, the universe has a purpose. Other gods and their lack of purposeful actions doesn't come into it. Likewise, I think "objectively purposeful" is used in a sloppy-but-everyday meaning equivalent to "extrinsically purposeful" and the "evil is a departure from how things ought to be" implicitly means "how God intended" rather than "how we sense."

It seems to me that such public debates always are about acquiring brain-share, and this is most easily done if (a) you are providing a compelling narrative and (b) you are reinforcing your audiences' existing beliefs or biases. Chomsky and others write about a very similar problem faced by the media: given limited time or space, it is very difficult to present information that requires a shift in perspective or bias.

Craig may be a hack, but he'll win most debates if he does a better job than his opponent at telling a good story within his audiences' belief system.

cody said...

Regarding the concept of evil, I've been getting really fed up lately with the concept of absolute morality. It seems to me that the popular acceptance of buying and selling human beings as property just a few hundred years ago should be sufficient to discredit absolute and support relative morality.

Anonymous said...

Question:

Was anything that Mr. Shermer, Dawkins, or the other guy in their "team" really that much better?

James said...

I am an atheist who has a good deal of respect for William Lane Craig. As far as I can tell, none of Shallit's "objections" actually pose any serious threat to
Craig's arguments.

Let's look at some of these objections:

1.) "If God does exist, then the universe does have a purpose." Really? That doesn't follow. Just because an intelligent being makes a thing X, that is insufficient to show that X has a purpose. After all, I could pick up a couple of rocks aimlessly at the seashore and put one on top of the other. What would be the purpose of that pile of rocks? Perhaps there is none at all.

Response: By "God", Craig is referring to the god of biblical theism. Not some vague deist god. Craig is not claiming that if the universe is merely designed that somehow gives it purpose. Craig is not equating "God" with "some intelligent being".

2.) "According to Biblical theism ... The purpose of life is to be found in a personal relationship with a holy and loving God. As the Westminster catechism asks, What is the chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever." Huh? This was a non sequitur. The subject of the debate was whether the universe had a purpose, not the purpose of life or man. Craig relied upon a false dichotomy - the only two choices he presented are "Biblical theism" and "atheism". But these are clearly not the only possibilities. Why couldn't the Universe have been made by a nasty and childish god, who delights in tormenting us in new and ingenious ways? Maybe the purpose of the Universe is to amuse this god with our suffering. Or perhaps there are multiple gods, each wagering on our behavior when confronted with new diseases or painful medical procedures.

Response: The first criticism was that the subject of the debate was whether the universe has a purpose, not whether life has a purpose. But on Craig's worldview the purpose of the universe is to give rise to intelligent life, and the purpose of intelligent life is to worship and glorify god. He may have not spelled that out, though it is implicit in this speech as well as spelled out explicitly in his other writings. The second criticism was that Craig constructed a false dichotomy between "biblical theism" and "atheism". But this is false. The reason why Craig defends biblical theism against atheism was because his side of the panel exclusively consisted of biblical theists and the opposing panel consisted of atheists! Nobody in the debate was defending evil gods or polytheism, so there was no need to criticize these views or others.

3.) "God gives an objectively purposeful life." Not true, since we have no objective way to determine this purpose. Craig think the purpose is spelled out in his holy book. Another might say the purpose is spelled out in a different book. We have no objective way to determine which is correct... or maybe they're all wrong. Maybe a god designed our universe for the purpose of making atheism the single world belief.

Response: The question of whether life actually has an objective purpose is completely independent of whether it can can be objectively determined that life has a purpose. Shallit is just confusing the two questions.

4.) "If there is a way things ought to be, then there must be some transcendent design plan or purpose that determines how things ought to be. And so there must be some transcendent being - a Creator in fact - whose will is the basis for how things ought to be. And so evil is actually evidence that God does exist." This doesn't follow at all. Why could not a sense of "the way things ought to be" be the product of biological evolution?

Response: Craig is not arguing that the way things "ought to be" is a mere sense, but an objective feature of the world. And even if this sense could be explained through biological evolution, that doesn't mean that it is false. That's just the genetic fallacy.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

James:

I'm not terribly impressed by your defense. Craig did imply a false dichotomy, and the excuse that "his side of the panel exclusively consisted of biblical theists and the opposing panel consisted of atheists" is simply pathetic. If x can be in the set {1,2,3}, and I say that the only choice is x = 1 and x=3 and completely disregard x = 2, then I haven't constructed much of an argument at all.

The question of whether life actually has an objective purpose is completely independent of whether it can can be objectively determined that life has a purpose.

What do you understand by the term "objective purpose"?

Craig is not arguing that the way things "ought to be" is a mere sense, but an objective feature of the world.

What do you understand "objective feature" to mean?

By the way, there is no need to submit your comment 3 times. One is certainly enough.

Brian said...

"The question of whether life actually has an objective purpose is completely independent of whether it can can be objectively determined that life has a purpose."

That's a good point because there are two plausible interpretation of "gives" and Craig only fails at one while succeeding for the other. Meanwhile Schallit's criticism only applies for the other definition of "gives". I had also totally missed the ambiguity in the question.

The word "gives" in the question can be fairly interpreted in two ways. Either it means that a God is in fact providing to humans the means to live objectively purposeful lives, or that his existence renders theoretically possible the otherwise impossible task of living an objectively purposeful life.

According to the reading of "gives" as "enables", not providing good evidence of his existence does mean that he is not "giving" an objectively purposeful life. According to the reading of "gives" as "renders possible," even without guiding humans at all there is the possibility for one to act in accordance with his will.

(The objection that "objectively purposeful" is insufficiently defined is probably fatal to this line of argument but that does not directly impact the point here.)

The reason why Craig defends biblical theism against atheism was because his side of the panel exclusively consisted of biblical theists and the opposing panel consisted of atheists!

There is no clear distinction between defining a metaphysical reality and defending it. If he's going to make stuff up with poor evidence, he is obligated to explain how the methodology of believing other things under the same standard of evidence wouldn't lead to believing P=-P

"Craig is not arguing that the way things "ought to be" is a mere sense, but an objective feature of the world. And even if this sense could be explained through biological evolution, that doesn't mean that it is false."

What about biology and "the way things ought to be" prevents biology from *producing* "the way things ought to be"?

It is true that it is possible biological sense could merely track a "way things ought to be" extrinsic from biology, but Shallit points out it could also possibly create it rather than merely track it.

James said...

Jeffrey, I'll get to your response/ questions for me in a bit, but first I'd just like to say I did not submit the post three times on purpose. When I tried to submit the post it redirected to a page indicating an error had occured. So I tried twice more. That's all.

The Atheist Missionary said...

Craig is a very smart hack and darling of Christian apologists (the NZ Christian philosophy sites MandM and Say Hello to My Little Friend practically worship him and Plantinga). However, Craig is not well known for making the following admission: “Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then it is the former which must take precedence over the latter, not vice versa”. [Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, (Revised edition, Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994), p. 36.]

I have previously blogged about the above noted statement as follows:

This is a staggering statement – a true show stopper. It is literally no different than me saying: “I know there are fairies in my garden and nothing you can say or show me will ever change my mind”. Craig's statement is intellectually vacuous and why I would not so much as let him clean my basement. That being said, the statement is consistent with Craig’s frequent assertion that he is a Christian first and philosopher second.

Bayesian Bouffant, FCD said...

James: Response: By "God", Craig is referring to the god of biblical theism.

You're sure he's talking about the God of Biblical theism, aka Yahweh, aka Jealous (Exo 34:14), and not the God of the philosophers? Well then glory hallelujah, game over before it starts. There is sufficient evidence that the God of Biblical theism does not exist. Take for example the geological record, which denies the occurence of a worldwide flood and a young Earth. Or take for another example the fact that insects have six legs rather than four (Lev 11:21-22).

It seems much more likely to me that Craig, who pretends to be a philosopher (although he is instead a sophist and an apologist) would be talking about the God of the philosophers, who bears very little resemblance to Yahweh. Take for yet another example the alleged omni-benevolence of the God of the philosophers, which is entirely unrecognizable in the Bible.

386sx said...

Shorter William Lane Craig: "If it does then it does, if it don't then it don't. Oh, and my opponents have all of the responsibility of proving stuff, not me. However I will babble on and on and take every cheap intellectually dishonest sleazy debate tactic I can think of. So, in answer to the question, yes the universe has a purpose if it does, but if it don't then it don't. Lol."

386sx said...

Response: By "God", Craig is referring to the god of biblical theism. Not some vague deist god. Craig is not claiming that if the universe is merely designed that somehow gives it purpose. Craig is not equating "God" with "some intelligent being".

Oh baloney. There could be all kinds of gods. There could be gods that created people with no immortality. There's all kinds of possible scenarios. Craig has to leap past all kinds of conclusions to get to his "God". (Assuming your generous appraisal of Craig's position is actually a true appraisal.) He might as well skip the gods altogether and come out and say "Yeah I win the debate because I wave my magic wand just because I say so". What's so respectable about that.

Anonymous said...

Jeffrey - why do your views merit respect? Who is Jeffrey Shallit?

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

Anonymous said...

Jeffrey - why do your views merit respect? Who is Jeffrey Shallit?

----------------

This is a classic; usually coming from people who cannot think independently, who require an authority to tell them what to believe; this authority can be a political entity (e.g. the republican party or the tea party) or a religious one (e.g. the god of the zoroastrians); quite often, the two are identical.

They ask: Before I can respect your saying, I need to know who you are. If you are among the set of people whom I find acceptable, then I will respect it.

So, Anonymous says: Who are you Shallit? John Travolta? Tom Cruise? No. So don't speak. We don't care about your views.

Anonymous, you are an idiot.

Brian said...

"...he is instead a sophist..."

I think that as a sophist, his words do not truly have meaning, the way apologists' do. Honest apologists can say and mean "Assuming you are right about X, there is a contradiction because...etc." But Craig is not above any logical fallacy, including equivocation, so when he says "God" the word doesn't "mean" anything, though it tentatively means whatever he thinks it should mean to best convince someone to accept Jesus. Ultimately he is open to it meaning contradictory things or nothing at all beyond being a soothing one syllable pronunciation.

1) "Jeffrey - why do your views merit respect?"

2) "Who is Jeffrey Shallit?"

You appear to be committing a fallacy by arguing from authority. The answer to 1) will revolve around a discussion of those views, not of 2). On the other hand, the answer to 2) will involve 1).

Anonymous said...

Amazing amount of name calling in these comments.

Impressive.

Of course, Professor, you set the tone.

Asshole.

Oops...! Sorry. I guess your crap rubbed on me.

James said...

"James: Response: By "God", Craig is referring to the god of biblical theism.
You're sure he's talking about the God of Biblical theism, aka Yahweh, aka Jealous (Exo 34:14), and not the God of the philosophers? Well then glory hallelujah, game over before it starts. There is sufficient evidence that the God of Biblical theism does not exist. Take for example the geological record, which denies the occurence of a worldwide flood and a young Earth. Or take for another example the fact that insects have six legs rather than four (Lev 11:21-22).
It seems much more likely to me that Craig, who pretends to be a philosopher (although he is instead a sophist and an apologist) would be talking about the God of the philosophers, who bears very little resemblance to Yahweh. Take for yet another example the alleged omni-benevolence of the God of the philosophers, which is entirely unrecognizable in the Bible. "

Me: You are equating Christianity with Young- Earth Creationism. Craig is not a Young Earth Creationist. You accuse Craig of not being a philosopher. On what basis? He has a PhD in philosophy and has done extensive research on the philosophy of time. Just because a philosopher pisses you off does not make that person a non- philosopher.

"Response: By "God", Craig is referring to the god of biblical theism. Not some vague deist god. Craig is not claiming that if the universe is merely designed that somehow gives it purpose. Craig is not equating "God" with "some intelligent being".Oh baloney. There could be all kinds of gods. There could be gods that created people with no immortality. There's all kinds of possible scenarios. Craig has to leap past all kinds of conclusions to get to his "God". (Assuming your generous appraisal of Craig's position is actually a true appraisal.) He might as well skip the gods altogether and come out and say "Yeah I win the debate because I wave my magic wand just because I say so". What's so respectable about that. "

Me: Your response is a non-sequitur. This particular response of mine was clarifying a misconception that Craig was arguing for a broad conception of "God" which could include any of the types that you listed. It is quite clear that he is arguing for the god of the bible, as he is a christian apologist and philosopher. Craig does not need to "skip over these other options (gods)" to get to his god, all he needs to do is present arguments that would support the god of christianity specifically. For example, he argues for the resurrection of Jesus. You should actually watch some of Craig's one-on- one debates and read his work instead of caricaturing him.

"The question of whether life actually has an objective purpose is completely independent of whether it can can be objectively determined that life has a purpose.

What do you understand by the term "objective purpose"?"

Me: As far as I can tell, what I understand as "objective purpose" is irrelevant to the basic principle that I'm spelling out in this quote: The question of whether X is true or not, is not to be equated with the question "can X be known to be true?".

"Craig is not arguing that the way things "ought to be" is a mere sense, but an objective feature of the world.

What do you understand "objective feature" to mean?"

Me: In this case I am referring to objective morality, that moral truths actually exist and are not merely subjective.

How well did you guys think the others did in the debate? Who do you think was the worst debater?

I think Michael Shermer did HORRIBLE.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

Anonymous,
In the absence of any rational argument, and obviously not wanting to hear that your earlier comments were utterly idiotic, you have no means to defend your weak position other than resort to foul language. And this, in full anonimity. Nothing surprising in your behaviour.

In fact, in reading my comments, the only thing that comes to your mind is that you are right, and that everybody else is wrong. Isn't that how you feel? It is called self-righteousness. It occurs to someone, say to a religious person, who has no means of articulating anything coherent other than his/her obedience to a superior being--a god or a politician, for instance.

386sx said...

Your response is a non-sequitur. This particular response of mine was clarifying a misconception that Craig was arguing for a broad conception of "God" which could include any of the types that you listed. It is quite clear that he is arguing for the god of the bible, as he is a christian apologist and philosopher.

I don't know how quite clear it is, but assuming it is quite clear, he has to ignore the evidence for the other gods while presenting what he must know to be the flimsy evidence for his. There's nothing respectable about special pleading. Sorry, he's a religious kook or just plain dishonest.

For example, he argues for the resurrection of Jesus. You should actually watch some of Craig's one-on- one debates and read his work instead of caricaturing him.

Sorry but when he presents such "evidence" like the disciples' supposed willingness to die for their cause, he almost surely must know that evidence is flimsy as hell and utterly desperately inane. Nothing respectable about dishonest arguments thrown in there just to fill up debate time. If he doesn't realize the lameness of that kind of "evidence", then he is horribly deluded (i.e religious kook.)

James said...

"I don't know how quite clear it is, but assuming it is quite clear, he has to ignore the evidence for the other gods while presenting what he must know to be the flimsy evidence for his. There's nothing respectable about special pleading. Sorry, he's a religious kook or just plain dishonest"

William Lane Craig has debated Muslim apologists (many times) and Jewish rabbis as well, so I think it is quite clear that Craig has no problem addressing arguments for other conceptions of god, and certainly does not ignore such arguments.

"Sorry but when he presents such "evidence" like the disciples' supposed willingness to die for their cause, he almost surely must know that evidence is flimsy as hell and utterly desperately inane. Nothing respectable about dishonest arguments thrown in there just to fill up debate time. If he doesn't realize the lameness of that kind of "evidence", then he is horribly deluded (i.e religious kook.)"

Yet again, you have misunderstood the presence of my statement: that Craig argues for christianity specifically, and if his arguments succeed, concerns regarding the identity of god(s) are put to rest.
If his arguments are really "flimsy as hell and utterly desperately inane" then why has he won nearly every debate he has engaged in?

Brian said...

"God gives an objectively purposeful life."

"As far as I can tell, what I understand as "objective purpose" is irrelevant to the basic principle that I'm spelling out in this quote: The question of whether X is true or not, is not to be equated with the question "can X be known to be true?"."


The word "give" is ambiguous. One definition of give is make theoretically possible, which perhaps a god could do by existing without relating his will, as someone coincidentally acting in accordance with the will would be conforming to it. The other is to make reasonably possible, which would require making good evidence of his existence available.

"This particular response of mine was clarifying a misconception that Craig was arguing for a broad conception of "God" which could include any of the types that you listed. It is quite clear that he is arguing for the god of the bible, as he is a christian apologist and philosopher."

No one was under any other impression.

"Yet again, you have misunderstood the presence of my statement: that Craig argues for christianity specifically, and if his arguments succeed, concerns regarding the identity of god(s) are put to rest."

The point is that entailed in "all of his arguments succeeding" is showing that his position does not contain contradictions. One such would be that his standard of evidence leads to acceptance of contradictory religious claims. That's why the following is irrelevant:

"The reason why Craig defends biblical theism against atheism was because his side of the panel exclusively consisted of biblical theists and the opposing panel consisted of atheists!"

Atheists can concede that Christianity has historical justification, provided that one defines justification as "according with anything anyone said or believed ever, for any reason". The problem is that under that standard, someone believing in Christianity would also have to believe in Islam (of which a core tenet is the Jesus never died), etc.

Atheists tell Craig he has nothing admissible under a reasonable standard of evidence. Rather than leave him merely factually wrong about what constitutes evidence, it's appropriate to pile on by pointing out internal contradictions in his beliefs, including that if he had his way here, the arguments for other religions contradict his world view.

Christianity has very little or nothing that is indefensible under at least certain point of view, i.e. for each bit of dogma there is an available doctrine to reconcile it with reality. However, these doctrines are incompatible with each other and other bits of dogma and reality. E.g. one could say the Exodus is metaphorical and the Resurrection was real, but one would have to give a non-ridiculous reason why. One needn't be Christian and believe in the Resurrection to point that out.

James said...

It is clear why no one has replied to Brian, and I will not do so either. His writings are just bizzare and schizophrenic.

386sx said...

Yet again, you have misunderstood the presence of my statement: that Craig argues for christianity specifically, and if his arguments succeed, concerns regarding the identity of god(s) are put to rest.
If his arguments are really "flimsy as hell and utterly desperately inane" then why has he won nearly every debate he has engaged in?


Well then I guess I should have respect for Duane Gish too. Anyone who pretends that the willingness of disciples to die for their cause is supposed to be persuasive evidence that Jesus is the supreme magic-man ruler of the entire universe loses my respect, but I guess I can still respect him as a good speaker I guess?

386sx said...

It is clear why no one has replied to Brian, and I will not do so either. His writings are just bizzare and schizophrenic.

His writings make perfect sense to me. Craig has cheesy evidence and Craig could care less if he special pleads like an intellectual hypocrite. He cites the dumbest things (like Intelligent Design for example.) He reminds me of D James Kennedy, standing up there all faux authoritative with that kooky impenetrable glazed over look.

James said...

"Well then I guess I should have respect for Duane Gish too. Anyone who pretends that the willingness of disciples to die for their cause is supposed to be persuasive evidence that Jesus is the supreme magic-man ruler of the entire universe loses my respect, but I guess I can still respect him as a good speaker I guess?"


Sure Craig mentions that the disciples were willing to die for their beliefs. But he does not make it an argument and is at most a side statement.

"His writings make perfect sense to me (Brian)."

Really!? Take a look at this:

"What about biology and "the way things ought to be" prevents biology from *producing* "the way things ought to be"?

It is true that it is possible biological sense could merely track a "way things ought to be" extrinsic from biology, but Shallit points out it could also possibly create it rather than merely track it."

WTF!?

and this too:

"I would be comfortable conceding that if something requiring a universe has purpose, the universe containing it has purpose. Also, if someone proves a specific purpose, they have proven the general existence of some purpose."

WTF!?

"Craig has cheesy evidence and Craig could care less if he special pleads like an intellectual hypocrite."

I've already refuted that.

Rocky said...

""Craig has cheesy evidence and Craig could care less if he special pleads like an intellectual hypocrite."

I've already refuted that."

There's a good critique of Craig's appeals to historical evidence in Hector Avalos' 'The End of Biblical Studies' for anyone interested in an analysis of why his approach is pretty flimsy in this particular regard.

As for the comment about how he wins so many debates - you don't necessarily need to be right to win debates or even have good arguments, you need to be proficient at formal debating technique, rhetorical tricks, playing to an audience and emphasising your opponent's faults etc., which Craig is very skilled at. That said, for all the talk about how he stomps his opponents, a few people have shown him up (Avalos being one in my opinion, Shelly Kagan was very good against him in their debate as well)

Brian said...

"I would be comfortable conceding that if something requiring a universe has purpose, the universe containing it has purpose. Also, if someone proves a specific purpose, they have proven the general existence of some purpose,"

is the same as

"[On] Craig's worldview the purpose of the universe is to give rise to intelligent life, and the purpose of intelligent life is to worship and glorify god. He may have not spelled that out, though it is implicit in this speech as well as spelled out explicitly in his other writings,"

except that the former is generalized to include not only our case but also other, similar cases.



"What about biology and "the way things ought to be" prevents biology from *producing* "the way things ought to be"?"

is the same as

"...it could also possibly create it rather than merely track it."

and

"This doesn't follow at all. Why could not a sense of "the way things ought to be" be the product of biological evolution?"



"It is true that it is possible biological sense could merely track a "way things ought to be" extrinsic from biology..."


is the same as

"[Not] that the way things "ought to be" is a mere sense, but an objective feature of the world. And even if this sense could be explained through biological evolution, that doesn't mean that it is false."

James said...

Brian, our statements are not equivalent, and I don't give a damn what statements of yours you think are equivanet to each other. The context you used them in was bizzare. Please go back to your psych ward.

386sx said...

Craig flat out hates on evolution in one place, with all the standard creationist baloney, and then in another place he claims he's anywhere between a "progressive creationist" and a theistic evolutionist. Lol, the more I see of him, the bigger the dweeb he becomes in my mind. Lol.

Anonymous said...

Best Jeffrey

Why don't you post this to Dr. Craig on his website...

http://www.reasonablefaith.org

in the form of a weekly question? I'm almost sure you will get a response, especially if you identify yourself as Professor Shallit. Although I am a Christian I feel atheists have an important voice. The pity is that the "debate" between Christians and non-believers often digress into something less than civil discource because of enamoured passions and in the end the truth gets lost.

Please take up this friendly offer and go and extend your questions to him personally.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Anonymous:

The two times I've address Craig, I've sent him an e-mail, linked to him, and invited him to respond here.

He never responded; nor does he do me the courtesy of linking back to me on his blog.

His blog does not offer a real forum for debate the way this blog does.

So, thanks but no thanks.

Wink said...

I don't think Craig is dodging anyone. He has faced many an Atheist in open, fair debate and that fact is provable. It is more a question of choosing his battles. Just because someone has a Blog does not mean Craig is obligated to drop other matters to reply to their request. You are seriously over estimating your importance.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Wink:

You're confused. I said nothing about "dodging".

It is a simple matter of academic courtesy to inform a fellow academic when you criticize their views, and give them an opportunity to respond. I did this with Craig, but he didn't show me the same courtesy.

Wink said...

No you are the one who is confused.

I used the term dodging. I never said you used the term. If I had I would have used quote marks.

Wink said...

No, you are the one who is confused. I used the term dodging. If I was implying you used the term I would have used quote marks around it.

386sx said...

From one of Craig's reasonable faith Q&A's:

Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation. We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy. Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives.

So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgement. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life.

There's no way to argue with that kind of pig-headedness, I'm afraid.

Although I am a Christian I feel atheists have an important voice.

Gee thanks a lot.

The pity is that the "debate" between Christians and non-believers often digress into something less than civil discource because of enamoured passions and in the end the truth gets lost.

Opps, sorry for the "pig-headedness" remark then. Sorry about that. Okay, "reasonable faith" it is. I guess that sounds a lot nicer. Sorry.

Wink said...

The "truth" is the Biblical account describes a tribe that was thoroughly sinful and repugnant to God and had been so for hundreds of years. This wasn't something that came about on a whim from a malevolent God. They were beyond hope, they even sacrificed their own children ( not so repugnant a behavior today since abortion doesn't upset a certain segment of our society). Furthermore the Canaanites were set on destroying the Israelites, the Jews just got them first. And lastly God ,who gives life ,can also take life,unlike you and I.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Wink:

Your view is utterly depraved, just like your god.

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

Wink: Why did god let this society kill their own children for hundreds of years?

"God ,who gives life ,can also take life,unlike you and I."

Have you heard of people killing others because they were ordered by god? I agree, I don't have the right to kill anyone, but if god tells me so, can I go ahead and kill?

For example, god told president Bush to go ahead and have a bunch of Iraqis killed. He had no choice, because god told him, and he did that.

I have a moral problem: If I see god who orders me to kill someone, how can I be sure it was god and not, say, the devil disguised as god? Devil has many ways in deceiving us. I guess one way is to go confess what god told me. But if I say this to the police, they may put me in prison and then I won't be free to execute god's order, presuming it was god and not devil. So then I should go to the local priest and ask him or her to look into my brain and see if it was god or devil who told me to kill. But how can I trust a priest who is also a fallible human being?

I really have a problem. I hope such a god never speaks to me as she/he/it speaks to many people.

Have you ever actually been contacted by god?

Wink said...

What part of "you and I can't take life" do you not understand ?

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Cheap evasion, Wink. If you god commands you to kill, you have to do it.

Right?

Anonymous said...

Best Professor Shallit

Thanks for your response to my question about posting to Dr. Craig at reasonablefaith.org/

Just another question. Have you ever published any of your critiques of Dr. Craig's work or the I.D. movement's philosophies in peer reviewed journals?

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Yes - my article with Elsberry appeared in Synthese. It is readily available online.

Anonymous said...

So you have nothing published in professional peer reviewed journals in response to Dr. Craig and his work?

Jeffrey Shallit said...

No, not directly to Craig. First - I'm not a professional philosopher. Second, professional philosophers are - to the extent they find it interesting - already demolishing his work.

Anonymous said...

I must admit I haven't read any "demolitions" of Dr. Craig's work. As far as I know he's pretty active in professional philosophy, especially on "Time", also highly regarded because of this.

If you don't publish philosophy professionally, and you also don't have the inkling to adress Dr. Craig on his website (because the forum isn't the correct one?), how do you expect a reasonable response to your critiques, and furthermore, how do you expect people to take those critiques serious on a professional level?

Jeffrey Shallit said...

"If you don't publish philosophy professionally"

So my article in Synthese doesn't count?

"how do you expect a reasonable response to your critiques"

I already explained this. You're becoming boring. I answer queries all the time about my work from people who are not professionals. The polite thing to do, when people question aspects of your work, is to reply to them, and to link to their response. Where I come from, that is considered a scholarly obligation.

"how do you expect people to take those critiques serious on a professional level?"

Do you understand what a blog is?

Takis Konstantopoulos said...

Anonymous:
Bravo! Well-orchestrated attempt for soliciting a response.

Let me reply to you: Craig is primarily a religious bigot and secondly a philosopher. Any "philosopher" who takes creationism seriously is not credible. He also doesn't like evolution and he's afraid of homosexuals.

Last but not least, one doesn't need to be a philosopher to comment on the stupidity of a philosopher's ideas if the latter are flawed for obvious reasons (Craig isn't a philosopher anyway). As an analogy, if you find a mathematician who tries to show that addition of integers is not commutative, feel free to call him a moron.(In the same vein, any philosopher who tries to argue against evolution is stupid.)

Anonymous said...

So my article in Synthese doesn't count?

"Not as a response to Craig, no!"

I already explained this. You're becoming boring. I answer queries all the time about my work from people who are not professionals. The polite thing to do, when people question aspects of your work, is to reply to them, and to link to their response. Where I come from, that is considered a scholarly obligation.

"Fair enough."

"The polite thing to do, when people question aspects of your work, is to reply to them..."

Dejavu??

Do you understand what a blog is?

You mean like reasonablefaith.org ??

Anonymous said...

"Craig is primarily a religious bigot and secondly a philosopher."

Well, as long as he's a good philosopher, which he seems to be...

"Any "philosopher" who takes creationism seriously is not credible."

And this follows from your unequivocal proof that the universe was not created by a creator....

"He also doesn't like evolution and he's afraid of homosexuals."

The irony here is palpable. The Bible only speaks against the act of sodomy, not the orientation to be gay...if that is where you're going with this. Something you would have picked up if you read his work!

"Last but not least, one doesn't need to be a philosopher to comment on the stupidity of a philosopher's ideas if the latter are flawed for obvious reasons.... In the same vein, any philosopher who tries to argue against evolution is stupid.)"

Clearly not!!

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Anonymous:

Let me know when Craig's blog publishes all comments, the way mine does. Then I can post a comment to his page where he replies to me, explaining that he misconstrued my point.

Anonymous said...

Best Professor Shallit

There is an open forum where EVERYTHING is adressed and where threads can be started.

Anonymous said...

The Bible only speaks against

I would hope that this and other biblical things follow from your unequivocal proof that the Bible was not created by people. Anonymous gets wackier by the minute. The wacky zany antics of Anonymous. Anonymous should have a sitcom.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

Does Craig's site have a moderation policy? I could not find one. Also, I dislike registering at sites that promise they will send me email spam. No registration needed here...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous•

“would hope that this and other biblical things follow from your unequivocal proof that the Bible was not created by people. Anonymous gets wackier by the minute. The wacky zany antics of Anonymous. Anonymous should have a sitcom.“

Well, first things being first, the bible by people bit would follow after the former has been disproven, no?

Anonymous said...

Professor Shallit:

As far as the forum is concerned, no. As for the weekly selected question, yes there is by implication! Regards.