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Nov 08 2011

Why I will not debate William Lane Craig

Several people have written in response to my previous post suggesting that I debate William Lane Craig. It’s not going to happen. Here’s why.

  1. He hasn’t asked me. I’m a small fish, not even on his radar, so the whole question is pointless.

  2. I may be a small fish, but still, a debate with a professional prevaricator and con artist doesn’t look great on my CV — the same point Dawkins has made.

  3. Let’s be honest, debating is a skill, Craig is well-practiced in it, and I’m not. Craig would probably ‘win’, and that’s the great lie right there: debate is a terrible way to resolve a truth claim, and a great way to flaunt some rarefied rhetorical talent. He could clobber me six ways from Sunday, and what it would show is that I’m a lousy debater, and he’s good at it; but his fans would all say it’s evidence that he’s right.

  4. I much prefer the written argument, because he can’t run away from his own words. One of his skills in the oral debate is the slippery elide; if someone is hammering him on one point, he’ll just skip over it to a new point. I’d rather get his words down in writing, where I can pin him down, stick a knife in the bastard, and twist it for a good long while. Longer and with more detail and rigor than is possible in a verbal tussle.

So sorry, no debate in the offing (and #1 is really the most relevant issue, anyway).

531 comments

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  1. 501
    Ing

    KG, how do I get to be as well-read and certain about these things as you? I hate being so paranoid about missing something in one of these peoples’ arguments and suspect I’ve been permanently damaged due to hellfire and brimstone threatening.

    I dismiss it all as fruit from the poisoned tree. The idea of the Omni God grew out historically due to challenges and theology around the Christian God, which comes to us through the dark ages back to the Roman Empire where it came from the Jewish texts which came from polytheistic traditions. The bible is wrong, ergo the reason why people believe in god is wrong and all the reasons are post hoc band-aids attempting to salvage an idea they only thought of because of a erroneous text to begin with!

  2. 502
    Kel

    But I’ve seen, read about, and experienced horrible things, and part of me always wonders where the justice is.

    I went to a debate between Michael Shermer and John Lennox a few years ago, and John Lennox’s ultimate argument was that if God didn’t exist then there would be no ultimate justice. Argumentum ad consequentiam, but there’s something interesting in this line of thought.

    The first is that it’s an admission that the world as it is demonstrates the problem of evil. Heaven in that sense is a theodicy, that the afterlife is where injustice gets balanced out. So the world as it stands has a sufficient evidential case against the existence of God. This could be argued to the degree it applies, but I do find it a line of thought worth exploring. Perhaps Eric, when he comes back to show how Craig wasn’t misrepresenting Ruse, might entertain the merits of this line of thought.

    The second is that it’s a reason to strive for the prevention and remedying of injustice in this world. If we don’t like injustice, then that should be an ethical compulsion to strive to not be unjust ourselves, and strive for others to be afforded that same luxury. It puts us, to the extent that it is possible, as having the capacity to change things for the better. No need to be fatalist, no need to think in terms of the whims of the gods; we’re the makers of our own destiny.

  3. 503
    Hazuki

    @504

    Well, I’m all for justice. An eternity of pain, though, isn’t justice. Even we humans have a death penalty. Where did this Platonist line of thought, that God himself can’t unmake a soul he made, enter into Christianity?

  4. 504
    Dave Brown

    @ Dr. Dawkins:

    It’s amazing to me that, as intelligent as you are, you are unable to see the simple logic that Dr. Craig is presenting in his analysis of the Canaanite genocide. It’s really as easy as asking “what if?” You seem to always approach your atheistic argumentation with the presupposition of God’s non-existence. But, IMHO, this is lazy thinking. It doesn’t give a fair analysis to the question at hand.

    I suggest trying this: Ask yourself, “If God DID exist, does Craig have a valid argument?” I have yet to see this kind of academic honesty on your part, and it saddens me.

    Here’s an analogy:
    ____
    If you were an art apprentice studying under Picasso, and were one day standing next to him, watching him paint one of his masterpieces, and suddenly watched (in horror) as he tore it to shreds, would Picasso have done anything wrong? Of course not–the painting belongs to him and is his to do with as he pleases.

    If he commanded you, his apprentice, to shred the painting, would you be charged with an art crime? No, because the artist himself told you to do it.

    If, however, you took it upon yourself to destroy the painting, would there be cause for a charge against you? Yes.

    ___
    God is the creator, sustainer and owner of all life. It is His to do with as he pleases. As such, IF God exists, and IF He owns all life, and IF it is true that He commanded the Israelites to kill the Canaanites, then neither God nor the Israelites did any moral wrong. If, however, man takes it upon himself to kill another man without this directive from the Owner of man, then this is a crime we call “murder” and is punishable by death.

    Hope that helps.

    (I’ll await the slippery slope fallacy)

  5. 505
    Nick Gotts

    Ask yourself, “If God DID exist, does Craig have a valid argument?” – Dave Brown, vile and disgusting apologist for genocide

    No, he doesn’t. If your moral code leads you to defend genocide, that’s a clear indication that you’ve gone very badly wrong somewhere. If the creator of the universe orders the murder of screaming children, it’s plain evil. Like you and Craig.

    If you were an art apprentice studying under Picasso, and were one day standing next to him, watching him paint one of his masterpieces, and suddenly watched (in horror) as he tore it to shreds, would Picasso have done anything wrong? Of course not–the painting belongs to him and is his to do with as he pleases.

    In fact, we do not generally take the view that you can destroy anything that belongs to you. If you set fire to your house, you’ll be charged with arson, even if no-one else’s property was damaged. But more importantly, do you really not see the moral difference between destroying a painting and slaughtering children? How do you live with yourself?

    By the way, scumbag, why are you addressing yourself to Dawkins? This is not his blog.

  6. 506
    Kel

    Whether Craig has a valid argument is debatable. A valid argument, however, does not stop the moral reprehensibility of such a view.

  7. 507
    Hazuki

    God is the creator, sustainer and owner of all life. It is His to do with as he pleases. As such, IF God exists, and IF He owns all life, and IF it is true that He commanded the Israelites to kill the Canaanites, then neither God nor the Israelites did any moral wrong. If, however, man takes it upon himself to kill another man without this directive from the Owner of man, then this is a crime we call “murder” and is punishable by death.

    Hope that helps.

    (I’ll await the slippery slope fallacy)

    You are both insulting our intelligence and revealing much, much more than you intended about yourself with that little analogy.

    Specifically, you are revealing that you are a sociopath, most likely a primary sociopath. Can you see what the flaw in your analogy is?

    Of course not. So I’ll break it down for you: Paintings are not sentient. People are. You display one of the prime signs of sociopathy with this comment, to wit, an instrumental view of other sentient beings.

    Take heart, however, that you are not alone; no less a luminary than Saul of Tarsus makes the exact same blunder in Romans, where he instead compares living breathing humans to pottery. You are in good (actually, no, bad) company. Now have a porcupine and go away.

  8. 508
    Hazuki

    Also, another thing: you have some massive brassy balls to accuse your opponent of “presupposing” anything, shitheel. That’s your line of bullshit, and you and everyone from Bahnsen to van Til milk it for all it’s worth because it bamboozles the hell out of people with no grounding in logic.

    Do you know what people who do understand logic do when we hear presuppositionalist arguments? We laugh. A lot. It may be the blackest of black humor but it’s still hilarious. The punchline? Why, that you are all idolators. Your golden calves are squishy and pinkish-grey and live between your ears. You worship your own minds. In many ways, you are the worst blasphemers on the planet.

    Just remember: “presupposition” is a fancy word for “axiom.” Once this is understood, the whole house of cards comes tumbling down, and not even Plantinga’s slippery modal logic can save you.

  9. 509
    'Tis Himself

    Dave Brown #506

    If I gut my living cat in public and leave it to die then I’ll be arrested for animal cruelty and the majority of people (Craig fanbois excluded) will think I’m a psychopath. Yet if The Big Guy In The Sky™ orders the killing of humans, including children, then that’s just hunky-dory because TBGITS™ owns everyone and can kill them just on a whim.

    TBGITS™ is a real asshole. According to the propaganda he kills people just because he can. And folks like you think this is a good thing. It really doesn’t say much about you that you feel the need to worship a sadistic bully.

  10. 510
    Jessa

    If he commanded you, his apprentice, to shred the painting, would you be charged with an art crime? No, because the artist himself told you to do it.

    So this apologist us now reducing actual human beings to threads of fabric on a canvas? *yawn*

    And they accuse us of disrespecting the sancticy of life.

  11. 511
    Hazuki

    @511

    What he’s not seeing here is that his argument fails because the moral criteria for taking another being’s sentience into account is one of kind, not degree.

    People like him often argue that because the gap between God and…well, anything else really, is infinite, this justifies anything God does. Wrong. Sentience is a binary proposition (though where the line is is debatable). It is either there or not, and the moral branching for dealing with it is either on or off.

    I am more than a bit frightened that people like this are so common, though given the estimated 1.4% incidence of primary and secondary sociopathy in Western populations, not very surprised :/

  12. 512
    John Morales

    [meta]

    Myron @32 already noted that WLC dismisses Euthyphro on the basis of a presupposition.

    (Feeble, that is)

  13. 513
    Ing

    If he commanded you, his apprentice, to shred the painting, would you be charged with an art crime?

    Holy shit, even this question isn’t as simple as you make it. The question of What is Art and to whom does it belong to can’t just be brushed aside like that.

  14. 514
    'Tis Himself

    Hazuki #513

    People like him often argue that because the gap between God and…well, anything else really, is infinite, this justifies anything God does.

    It’s the old “gawd works in mysterious ways, unfathomable to mere humans” jive. What’s really annoying is folks like Craig and Brown insist we’re the ones lacking morality. “Gawd can do immoral things because he’s gawd” is just evidence they realize but won’t admit their god is a sadistic megalomaniac. At least the Calvinists are honest since they acknowledge their god is a bully who hates his creation.

  15. 515
    Hazuki

    @516

    Not even the “mysterious ways” thing. It’s plain old “I’m bigger and stronger so I can do whatever I want.” It’s darkly hilarious how little they realize their conception of the divine resembles the ultimate schoolyard bully.

    I think this also explains why theodicies tend to try and weasel around omnibenevolence instead of omnipotence or omniscience: no one woul worship a well-meaning schmuck, but somehow they don’t mind an all-knowing bully.

  16. 516
    Kemist

    God is the creator, sustainer and owner of all life. It is His to do with as he pleases. As such, IF God exists, and IF He owns all life, and IF it is true that He commanded the Israelites to kill the Canaanites, then neither God nor the Israelites did any moral wrong. If, however, man takes it upon himself to kill another man without this directive from the Owner of man, then this is a crime we call “murder” and is punishable by death.

    Hope that helps.

    Oh, my, yes. It helps that psychopaths and the cowardly sadists who admire cruel bullies show themselves for the sad excuses for human beings that they really are.

    Helps the rest of us not to mistake them for friends.

    You know what that argument makes of humans ?

    Slaves.

    Of xians ?

    Compliant slaves who luuuuurve how their master beats up and slaughter other slaves.

    Even if in your sick mind you think that we’re all subjects to your psychopathic sky bully, you have to admit that at least we have the self-respect to resist.

  17. 517
    Kel

    It’s always interesting to read accounts like Dave Brown’s, because it’s useful to see where such defences put the position. Take this claim: “God is the creator, sustainer and owner of all life. It is His to do with as he pleases.” I’d imagine that Dave Brown would similarly be repulsed by any parent willing to harm their child on that basis – after all, the parents are the ones who create, sustain, and own their children. Saying that God can do what he wants doesn’t answer the charge of God being a moral monster. If we really thought that way, then we’d have trouble condemning anyone – or have to engage in special pleading. Could we condemn anyone for genocide if we’re willing to say that an omnibenevolent deity is able to drown all of humanity, or kill the first born child of everyone in Egypt? Whether God has the authority to do it doesn’t mean his character remains unblemished.

    With the Picasso analogy, we get the same thing. “Of course not–the painting belongs to him and is his to do with as he pleases.” That Picasso can ask someone to destroy a priceless work of art on the basis of it being his would send any lover of art into outrage. How could Picasso destroy something so precious? Yes, it was his to destroy, but the value and meaning of the action is not nullified by his ownership. Art lovers would surely think that there’s something wrong with Picasso for doing so, even if Picasso was in his right to destroy it. Picasso can do as he pleases, but his action to destroy art is antithetical to him as an art lover. Picasso, by ordering someone to destroy the art is doing a disservice to art, even if it’s his to destroy.

  18. 518
    consciousness razor

    Oh my. Analogies are always fun … interesting.

    If you were an art apprentice studying under Picasso, and were one day standing next to him, watching him paint one of his masterpieces, and suddenly watched (in horror) as he tore it to shreds, would Picasso have done anything wrong? Of course not–the painting belongs to him and is his to do with as he pleases.

    Since the premise is that Picasso is a great painter, it’s reasonable to assume that what he painted may have had some aesthetic value. Now remember that this value does not depend solely on Picasso’s judgment. He’s dead now, and the fact is, everyone else continues to value his paintings, more or less as each of us is apt to do. So, it’s quite obvious that Picasso’s judgment, even as a master and as the creator of the painting, isn’t absolute when it comes to the value of the painting. Thus, we can’t assume his destroying the painting is necessarily a neutral or good act. It could very well be a bad thing to do.

    Now of course, this depends on the existence of other sentient beings. The other people losing this work are the ones being hurt (if not also Picasso himself), though it’s impossible to overstate how superficial such a loss would be compared to fucking genocide you fucking asshole. Paintings can’t be “hurt” in the sense of feeling pain, in case you weren’t aware. So for your analogy to work at all, the painting itself would be the one being hurt, which would be utterly absurd — not surprising coming from an apologist, but so it goes.

    Now apply this to your imaginary friend, the sky-tyrant. If you claim it does something bad, then it doesn’t get a free pass just because it’s your imaginary friend and happens to be a sky-tyrant. I’d hate to hear the kinds of arguments you’d come up with if you were friends with Hitler.

  19. 519
    Hazuki

    @520

    Well, Yahweh has a long list of crimes even before the New Testament. Japhtheh’s daughter, the demand that Abraham sacrifice Isaac, most of the wars (“put to the ban” uses the Hebrew word “herem” and the meaning is…not pretty). and so on.

    Of course, if OT Yahweh had a problem with you, at least after he smote you you would fall to lower Sheol and evaporate after a while. None of this passive-aggressive “Wait till My Father, Who is also Me, gets ahols of you after you die. You’re gonna catch Hell. Literally.” bullshit.

    Which makes Craig’s assertion that the Canaanite children are better off for being slaughtered all the more laughable: there was no notion of heaven or hell (and “age of accountability” is a new idea…). The Canaanite kiddies went to Sheol as far as the Israelites were concerned. Ditto the Canaanite adults.

  20. 520
    Olof

    After reading some of the comments, both by Dawkins and the New Atheist ‘fains’ here, I’m kinda glad leaving Atheism. The “reasoning” of people here, claiming to be the ‘brights’ and the ‘rational’, can’t be expressed by words. I’ve been laughing my ass off at the stupidity of many commentators here.

    Dawkins excuses (Is it the 12th now?)are the dumbest ones I’ve ever heard. And people using Craig’s statements on the Cananites as a valid reason to not debate Craig, handed over to them by their master, super-rational, hero Richard Dawkins, is also stupid. Mr. Dawkins(Pulling a Dawkins there), you have made up 12 worthless excuses for not debating Craig. You say you want nothing to do with him, so what do you at your freetime?

    Well, besides having chats with “intellectuals” like Bill O’Reilly you seem to spend your time commiting logical fallacies defending your book ‘The God Delusion’. Your central argument is probably the worst serious (or was it?) ‘argumemt’ put in a book to be published ever. You are only making it worse when you claim that no theologian or philosopher has adressed it.

    So what do you when you see Craig, a philosopher, visit your country critiquing your book that was supposed to show that people with belief in God are deluded? You hide at home writing how disgusting Craig is from your ‘Clear thinking Oasis’, your such a lame psuedo-intellectual Dawkins. You deserve the same respect you give Craig; zero.

    Grow up, change the “For Reason and Science” on your website to “For Ad-Homonems and Scientism”, change “A Clear-thinking Oasis” to “A Close-minded Oasis”, and have a wonderful day.

  21. 521
    ACN

    Are you just yelling for the lulz, or did you actually have a point?

  22. 522
    The Pint

    Approximately 270 words in comment #522 and yet not a single, coherent, nor original, point to be made. I’m already bored.

  23. 523
    KG

    Olof@522,

    You need a remedial literacy course. And a brain transplant.

  24. 524
    Anteprepro

    And people using Craig’s statements on the Cananites as a valid reason to not debate Craig, handed over to them by their master, super-rational, hero Richard Dawkins, is also stupid.

    Yeah. Because no-one should have a problem having a debate with someone whose defense of God’s morality is to claim genocide is moral. Clue: The Canaanite defense debacle not only reflects upon Craig’s horrible standard for what he considers morality, but also is a galling example of how piss-poor he is at arguing truthfully. The fact that he sticks by this defense still and has taken the tact of dismissing critics of the defense as overly emotional just further shows how much of an ass-clown he is. Why would anyone waste their fucking time on him?

    Your [Dawkins'] central argument is probably the worst serious (or was it?) ‘argumemt’ put in a book to be published ever.

    There was a central argument? What was it? The book seemed to intentionally take several different approaches to undermining the conception of God, so what was this elusive “central” one you speak of? But, anyway, his latest book is The Greatest Show on Earth, which is about evolution. I hope to your nonexistent deity you aren’t actually talking about that. But, considering how profoundly stupid you are, it wouldn’t surprise me.

    Final Clue: This isn’t Dawkins’ website, and you know where is website is. Why the fuck are you addressing him as if he’s the one who wrote the blog post?

  25. 525
    Kel

    lol@Craigbots spamming PZ’s website with anti-Dawkins tirades.

  26. 526
    Ing

    After reading some of the comments, both by Dawkins and the New Atheist ‘fains’ here, I’m kinda glad leaving Atheism. The “reasoning” of people here, claiming to be the ‘brights’ and the ‘rational’, can’t be expressed by words. I’ve been laughing my ass off at the stupidity of many commentators here.

    Fains?

    You’re such a transparent liar. It’s clearly you’re either grossly stupid (in which case religion welcomes you with open arms and I will hold the door open for you) or lying.

    It’s clear you haven’t read the thread as no one here called themselves a Bright. The closest was reference to a bright forum. Oy vey.

  27. 527
    Kel

    Your central argument is probably the worst serious (or was it?) ‘argumemt’ put in a book to be published ever.

    I assume this is referring to the ultimate 747 gambit, and it’s kind of confusing to have this called the worst argument to be published. After all, the central point that Dawkins making is one Hume made 250 years ago. Dawkins formulation might be a bit rough, given that he’s not a philosopher it’s hardly surprising, but the rationale for the argument and the evidence the argument is based on is fairly well established.

    Craig’s response, for example, was to say that minds are simple. Yet what reason do we have to think that minds can be simple? Our minds are a product of billions of neurons and synapses. Injure the brain in precise ways and we lose cognitive faculties. And that’s one problem Hume pointed out with design arguments in Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, that minds themselves are products of design. When it takes half a billion neurons firing to be able to say “hello”, calling minds simple and arguing for an infinite all-powerful mind that’s undesigned – that’s going against everything we know about minds.

    Dawkins point wasn’t novel, and it’s a point that really needs to be addressed. Calling God simple (as McGrath did) or complaining that Dawkins is making God out to be an alien (as David Hart did) is missing the point. Plantinga’s response that God might be necessary gets around the complexity problem, though it would be a harder point to establish.

    Worst argument ever put to paper? Seriously?

  28. 528
    Kemist

    After reading some of the comments, both by Dawkins and the New Atheist ‘fains’ here, I’m kinda glad leaving Atheism.

    Ohm goody, another xian who has “left” atheism. Yeah right.

    I bet you did witchcraft, worshipped satan and made tons of money selling drugs before you became a nice widdle xian, Mr. reading-the-actual-fucking-posts-and-writing-something-that-has-something-to-do-with-them-is-for-losers.

  29. 529
    hotshoe

    The rabid theologian William Lane Craig admits he’s forbidden from using reason:

    “The ministerial use of reason occurs when reason submits to and serves the gospel. In light of the Spirit’s witness, only the ministerial use of reason is legitimate. Philosophy is rightly the handmaid of theology.”

    How can anyone take this god-pimp seriously ? How can anyone, no matter how deluded a christian, call WLC a “thinker” or “reasonable” or any such ?

    Craig tells you flat out that he NEVER actually uses his power of reasoning, because god says it’s not allowed. Any independent human use of reason is trumped by the “Spirit’s witness”. All his thinking was already done for him by the gospel. God said it, I believe it; that’s all Craig’s so-called “thinking” amounts to.

  30. 530
    Hazuki

    @531/Hotshoe

    And there you have the essential bedrock of presuppositionalism. The fact that reason is only allowed in “ministerial” context means that you must start from a conclusion and work backwards in his worldview. In his thinking (and Bahnsen, van Til, Frame, etc etc) this already is a fait accompli, and the only purpose of reason is to show how and why.

    It’s very neatly self-sealing, and insidious because it only relies on not questioning the first few assertions; all else flows naturally, and disallowing further questioning closes the loop.

    As awful as the Catholic tradition is, I must grudgingly respect their appreciation of reason and their (general) rejection of presuppositionalism in theology. What you see here is directly traceable back to Martin Luther, who famously opined that “reason is a whore.”

    This may be so. I have certainly seen people use reason in this way. But in an enlightened society, we punish the pimps and the johns, and the apologists are the worst and most abusive examples of same.

  31. 531
    Ingdigo Jump

    I wonder what sexy large tits’s opinion on WLC is?

  1. 532
    nail designs

    nail designs…

    [...]Why I will not debate William Lane Craig | Pharyngula[...]…

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