Wednesday, April 7, 2010

William Lane Craig Q & A

A questioner wrote to Christian Apologist William Lane Craig and asked:
“[Some Atheists] say that the only reason you really have an upper-hand in a majority of the debates is not because your facts are right, but because you are such a great speaker and debater.”

And Craig replied:

“Boo hoo! Poor atheists! Big, bad Bill Craig has debate training, and that’s why they can’t even mount a decent response to the same five arguments I’ve been putting out there for 20 years!

“Seriously, Cris, while debate training (especially knowing how to manage the clock) is undoubtedly a great help in winning a debate, that’s just not a sufficient explanation for the impotence of atheists to offer refutations of these arguments - or to present a case of their own for atheism. Keep in mind that my oral debates are actually a relatively minor part of my work. Most of my work is published by scholarly presses and in peer-reviewed professional journals, where I have been very forthcoming in responding to critics such as Mackie, Grünbaum, Smith, Oppy, Sobel, Morriston, et al.”

Craig’s attitude is half-right. First, he writes as if he has won every debate he’s had in the last ten or fifteen years. That is plainly not true. Although he has won most of his debates, Craig had his clock cleaned by Paul Draper, Arif Ahmed, Shelley Kagan and Antony Flew, to name a few of the debates I have heard in which he has fared poorly.

Secondly, Craig does employ a lot of rhetorical tricks that he surely ought to know better than to use. An example: he’ll claim that even if all the arguments for God fail, one is left with agnosticism unless positive arguments are presented against God. While this is (technically) true, as a trained philosopher Craig ought to know that Occam’s razor implies that we must conclude there is probably not a God if we have no reason to postulate one.

Thirdly, Craig has been adequately responded to on all five of his main arguments in debates, philosophical literature, and books responding specifically to certain arguments (i.e. Kris Komarnitsky’s book Doubting Jesus' Resurrectionexhaustively rebuts the case for the resurrection of Jesus). His arguments are bad and the problems with them could be summed up pretty briefly I think, it’s simply that few of his opponents have done so.

6 comments:

Guy with an Eye said...

I saw quite a few of his debates on youtube, and was quite disappointed in the side of reason.

I went to his website and challenged him to a debate. lol Sadly he declined.

His arguments are avoid and change the subject. I can not stand the cretin. We need someone to call his BS as BS instead of trying so hard to be respectful. He is an idiot and should be treated/mocked as such.

The Uncredible Hallq said...

Flew cleaned Craig's clock? Really? I read the transcript of that debate, and while the comments by other philosophers (Rowe and Martin especially) that were published alongside the transcript rocked, Flew's speeches were rambled and didn't address most of what Craig said.

But I second what Guy says. If an atheist debater just did basic things like challenge Craig whenever Craig tried to change the subject, etc. Craig would be in big trouble. He might still win in a debate on the existence of God because of his ability to cram lots of points in to a short amount of time, but he'd loose on any more manageable subject, like morality or the resurrection.

Nicole said...

If you think he fared poorly against Flew (which I disagree with) then I guess you'd at least have to cede that he lost the battle but won the war.

Francisco Gomez said...

Wow! Flew cleaned Craig's clock? Arif opened up quite well but clearly not a debater of Craig's caliber. Now Kagan definitely cleaned Craig's clock in the Q & A. My question would be this? why do atheists fail so miserably against Craig when he has presented the same arguments for like 20 years????

AIGBusted said...

Hi Francisco,

I think Craig is like the lawyer Johnny Cochran; He's a smooth-talking snake oil salesman with a talent for arguing. In fact, he's so good at arguing that he can "win" an argument even when he is completely and utterly wrong. I think those who are sharp enough to slow down and think about what he is really saying and to research what the real facts are won't be nearly as persuaded by what he says. For example, I bet if you picked a dozen new testament scholars and asked them whether Jesus' resurrection was a fact or faith issue, they'd admit it was the latter, and this would even be true concerning many traditional scholars. Dale Allison admits this much, and there was a conservative scholar on a TV show called Penn and Teller's Bullshit! who admitted this (you can watch this episode on youtube, look up "Penn Teller Bible"). Think about that: biblical scholars don't think of Jesus' resurrection as something proven by the facts, but Craig seems to think it is and has even shammed many of his uncritical teenage fanboys into fiercely (and naively) believing it. Now how could Craig have done that? Is it because Craig's beliefs must be right or because he is a smooth talking public debater?

Paul DeMott said...

Lol At Guy with an Eye. Even the most prominent philosophers would agree that William Craig is intelligent. If you don't think his arguments required reason, then you probably weren't smart enough to understand them. Even more embarrassingly, Craig has won many debates, and if he's not using reason then why aren't the atheists easily beating him?