Any shoe that fits.

There’s a new post up at Evangelical Realism covering more of Chapter 8 of On Guard by William Lane Craig. Last week, we saw Craig use his 6 criteria of authentic history to try claim that Jesus really did call himself Messiah. As evidence, Craig cited a number of passages in which Jesus did not, in fact, call himself Messiah. Craig cites stories about other people calling Jesus Messiah, and about Jesus allegedly working miracles allegedly associated with Messiah, but having announced that he was going to show that Jesus claimed to be Messiah, he “met” his burden of proof by providing merely what he calls “good evidence that Jesus did…think he was the Messiah.”

That pretty much sums up Craig’s approach to “authentic” history. He “proves” that Jesus claimed to be Messiah by making guesses about what Jesus might have been thinking. Not surprisingly, his guess is that Jesus must have been thinking exactly what modern-day Christians wish he were thinking. And in Craig’s book, that means it’s a historic fact that Jesus claimed to be Messiah. (You see now why I was a tad skeptical when he introduced the criterion about a claim being coherent with “facts” already established about Jesus.)

In today’s installment, Craig takes his mindreading act a step further: he’s going to tell us what Jesus meant by the the things he (Jesus) might have been thinking.

Read more at Evangelical Realism.


Here’s an lightly-edited excerpt from this week’s installment of my chapter-by-chapter analysis of William Lane Craig’s book, On Guard:

In a study published in 2003 [PDF], psychology researchers Gary Wells and Elizabeth Loftus gave an example of how eyewitness testimony can evolve over time. A young woman was sexually assaulted and her friend was murdered. The young woman, Sherry Gillaspey worked with a police artist to put together a composite sketch of the assailant, and based this sketch, a young man named Thomas Brewster became a “person of interest.”

What happened next is a textbook case of how eyewitness testimony can be “improved” over time.

[Read more…]


Freedom is like a muscle: if you don’t exercise it, you lose it. We can’t just sit back and expect the First Amendment to protect us. If all that stands between the wealthy and their profits is a “goddamn piece of paper,” they will find a way around it. They’ll even buy whatever legislative influence it takes to make it all nice and “legal.”

SOPA, PROTECT IP, and now RWA, are all working hard to take something that fails to profit the wealthy (i.e. your First Amendment freedoms), and exchange it for more lucrative controls that keep the money flowing out of your pockets and into theirs, indefinitely. Freedom of the many, versus the profits of the few. It’s an uneven contest, and if we don’t defend our individual liberties, we’ll lose them.

What is SOPA?

Trusting in men

This week’s installment of my On Guard coverage is up. We’re talking about whether there was enough time between the first-century events and the first-century manuscripts for Christianity to have started out as a legend, so some of you might be interested.

Of trees and bullseyes

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: A hunter was out in the woods one day and came across a bullseye painted on a tree, with a single arrow dead center in the middle of it. The bullseye was rather small, and even the tree itself was not too large, so the hunter was impressed. As he continued through the woods, he found more and more of these small bullseyes, each with a single arrow in the dead center. “Clearly,” he thought, “I’ve stumbled onto the domain of a master archer. I must find him and see if he can teach me to shoot as well as he.”

After some searching, he came upon a young man with a bow, a quiver of arrows, small pail of red paint, and a brush. “Are you the one that’s been shooting all those bullseyes?” asked the hunter. “I am,” replied the youth. “Such skill in one so young!” declared the hunter, “Will you teach me?” “Surely,” the youth replied. And with that he set down his paint and brush, pulled out an arrow, drew back his bow, and shot it into a thickly-wooded part of the forest, where it struck a tree. He then took his paint and brush and painted a neat bullseye all around where the arrow had landed.

If you’re a fan of serious déjà vu, you can follow up this story by reading William Lane Craig’s personal testimony about his prayers and how amazingly on-target God’s answers have been. It’s this week’s installment of our ongoing review of Craig’s book, On Guard.

The emotional rationalization of suffering

Over at the other blog, it’s time for this week’s installment of our chapter-by-chapter look at William Lane Craig’s apologetics manual, On Guard.

Craig deals with the problem of suffering by assuming that it’s not really an intellectual problem, since he can imagine the possibility that God might be working under some set of unknown constraints. He may not have any grounds (other than wishful thinking) for supposing this to be true, but as long as he can claim that atheists are unable to prove the contrary, he considers the intellectual argument a non-problem for God.

That leaves what he calls “the emotional problem of suffering.” It’s a bit misnamed, because the problem isn’t our response to suffering. Suffering is evil, and people should have a negative reaction to it. When you see one person suffering, and you know that someone else can help them and simply refuses to do so, without any justification for their refusal, then moral outrage is an entirely appropriate. When Craig tells us that God has the power to relieve suffering, and deliberately chooses not to help, and when he defends this behavior by the excuse that we can’t know for certain that God does not have some secret justification, then that’s Craig’s problem, not ours.

Craig doesn’t really offer a good response to that. Instead, he presents us with a choice selection of emotional rationalizations for suffering. And to be fair, these are not uniquely Christian rationalizations, except to the extent that they apply Christian labels to the higher power or powers that are supposed to be punishing us and/or preparing us for some higher calling. What’s interesting is that Craig declares that “the emotional problem” of suffering is more significant than “the intellectual problem,” and needs a correspondingly more significant answer. But if that’s the case, why does he give it such poor ones?

Continue reading at Evangelical Realism.


God vs suffering

Over at the other blog, we’re wrapping up William Lane Craig’s attempt to look like he’s solving the problem of evil without actually confronting the real issues. Interestingly, one of his arguments suggests that the problem may be unsolvable by evangelical Christians.

Craig’s argument is that God might have a good reason for allowing human suffering, if it allows us to attain a better knowledge of Himself. According to Christian teaching, the Ultimate Good for mankind is to know God, and therefore it’s possible that a good God might co-exist with human suffering (which Craig has substituted for the more difficult problem of evil). But even if we assume that knowing God is a good thing, there’s nothing about this assumption that makes God any more likely to co-exist with suffering, and in fact makes it a whole lot less likely. See below the fold for the reason why.

[Read more…]

Jamming with Dr. Craig

Over at the other blog, we’re in Chapter 7 of William Lane Craig’s On Guard. Here’s an excerpt.

Craig loves to turn the tables and use the atheist’s own arguments against him, and I think this time it really backfires on him.

Although at a superficial level suffering calls into question God’s existence, at a deeper level suffering actually proves God’s existence. For apart from God, suffering is not really bad. If the atheist believes that suffering is bad or ought not to be, then he’s making moral judgments that are possible only if God exists. [Emph. added—DD]

I had to push back from my desk and stare at that one for a while. So in other words, God’s existence makes the world a worse place than it would be without Him. Without God’s existence, nothing would be bad. “Whoa, Jim, that pit bull just chewed your foot off!” “Yeah, I know, I’m in extreme pain, but that’s ok because God doesn’t exist.” “Sally, is it true that your dad went insane and killed all your kids?” “Yeah, I’m suffering terribly, but it’s ok, because there’s no God.” WTF?

I can see where this is something Craig has no choice but to affirm. It’s the logical extension of his arguments about morality. But seriously, it shows both the flaw in his definition of “good” vs “bad,” and the downright silliness of the whole argument. Yes, it’s literally true that by Craig’s own arguments, the world is a worse place if God exists than it would be without God. God’s existence is what makes suffering bad. If it weren’t for God, suffering would be perfectly ok, at least according to a Christian worldview. And folks, that is one seriously screwed up worldview.

I’m just saying.