Most of you probably know who William Lane Craig is: He is, by far, the greatest Christian debater in the world. Now, in writing this post I am not saying that I have the ability to debate Craig. Maybe if I was given 25+ years of nonstop public debating I could. But I am NOT up to such a task now. I do, however, have some thoughts on how one might go about beating William Lane Craig in a debate:
1. Mess with Craig's mind. When you give your opening presentation, steal some of Craig's oft-used debating lines. For instance, Craig will often state that his opponent has the burden of destroying all of his arguments and then building a case for atheism. He does this because he wants to saddle his opponent with a burden that they might not be able to meet in the time given. I say you give him a taste of his own medicine: Give several arguments for the nonexistence of God (the problem of evil, unbelief, etc.) then tell the audience that Craig has the burden of destroying all of your arguments and building a positive case for the existence of God. Memorize the exact words he uses in his debates and then state those same lines, in the same tone of voice, only replacing certain bits of it to suit your own ends, as illustrated above. I have a feeling that this kind of tactic would leave Craig speechless, at least momentarily. Plus, it would be totally funny.
2. Prepare brief but devastating responses to Craig's usual "five facts" case, write them down, and use them in the debate. It'll be a lot easier, and it will mean that you won't have to spend a lot of time rebutting Craig's case, so you can spend more time launching arguments for atheism. This won't be hard: Rebut Craig's Kalam Argument by noting that a being who "acts" outside of time is incoherent and unintelligible. For Craig's resurrection argument, note what Gregory Dawes explained in Theism and Explanation: for theistic explanations to be valid, they must show that the event in question is probable given God's existence. You can turn this argument on its head by finding passages in the old testament that show how God doesn't care for false prophets. Then you construct an evil twin of Craig's argument by presenting five facts that show Jesus predicted the end of the world in his generation. That won't be hard to do, just read books like the following: The Apocalyptic Jesus: A Debate, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, this blog post, and also read some of the contrived Christian responses to this stuff so that you can destroy them and note how contrived they are (make Craig explain all the facts with one hypothesis, as he demands of opponents of his resurrection arguments).
3. Watch a lot of debates that Craig has had, and try to find the inconsistencies so often present in his reasoning so that you can expose them for all the world to see, if they come up in the debate.
4. Read this blog post.
5. Have at least twenty live debates under your belt before you debate Craig, and preferrably you ought to have won most or all of them. Read Craig's work, watch as many of his debates online as you can. Basically, just get to know how he argues and be prepared to argue well yourself.
And that's about it. Craig has won nearly every debate he's been in, although his debate with Shelley Kagan on godless ethics did NOT go well, his debate with Paul Draper didn't go well, and... I'm not sure if I know anyone else who has fared well against the almighty Craig. It certainly is not because it is impossible. Indeed, I think anyone can tell from what I've written here that it is totally possible for an atheist to blow Craig out of the water and strip his "five-facts" case naked.