April 13, 2009

Advice For Debating William Lane Craig

Posted in Advice for Debating..., Answering Apologists, Atheism tagged , , , , , , , , , at 11:31 am by Andrew

In light of the panel discussion with Christopher Hitchens as well as recent (disappointing) accounts of William Lane Craig’s debates with Christopher Hitchens and Richard Carrier, I thought I would post some unsolicited advice from a former debater, debate coach, and practicing attorney to anyone thinking of tackling Craig in a debate.

First, you should know that Craig employs a distinctive, persuasive style that is almost entirely identical to high school Lincoln-Douglas (LD) debate. This means that Craig maintains a flow, calls out drops, and extends arguments. If you don’t know what these terms mean, you are not qualified to debate William Lane Craig. Period.

So the first thing you need to do is to watch a high school LD round and talk to a high school LD coach.

If those two 17-year-olds kids have intimidated you, you are not qualified to debate William Lane Craig. Get yourself some coaching in the basics, watch the video again and again until you can flow it, judge high-level circuit LD, and immerse yourself in the activity until you’re not intimidated. This will take some time. It’s okay; Craig isn’t going anywhere.

Second, understand the principles of word economy. Now Craig doesn’t speak nearly as quickly as the debaters in the linked video — but he does speak deceptively fast, and he picks his words very carefully. In the panel discussion linked below, he offers seven arguments in four minutes. At a normal rate of delivery, four minutes is approximately 600 words — or one single-spaced 8.5 x 11″ page of text. One. If you cannot refute seven arguments in four minutes, you are not qualified to debate William Lane Craig.

This means that when you are preparing your introductory speech and your rebuttal notes, you need to edit and re-edit until you’ve eliminated superfluous verbiage. For example, take the following sample response to one of Craig’s arguments, adapted from an actual response given in an actual debate:

Okay, so the next thing that Dr. Craig says is that he endorses the teleological argument for the existence of God, or the argument from design. This is really nothing more than a gloss on William Paley’s watchmaker argument — if you see a watch in the woods, you know there’s a watchmaker, and it didn’t just occur by accident. Now, Dr. Craig substitutes the supposed “fine-tuning of the universe” for the “watch,” but it’s the same problem, and, like Hume, deserves the same set of responses. First, this is nothing more than an argument by analogy, and the formation of the universe is itself a singular event that is not analogous to any other event.

That paragraph is 106 words long, and will take the average person nearly one minute to read aloud. Keep in mind that Craig’s original claim was made in approximately 30 seconds. So you’ve now spent twice as much time as Craig spent making the claim trying to answer it, and you still haven’t gotten to your good responses! This is how Craig wins debates: he tosses out a ton of arguments in a very concise manner, waits for you to waste time with weak answers, non-answers, wandering anecdotes and excess verbiage, and then castigates you for your “drops” (i.e., the arguments of his to which you have not responded). These are standard debate tactics that every freshman high-school LD debater knows, and it shocks me that so-called “professional” debaters repeatedly don’t understand them.

So if you absolutely must indict the teleological argument as an argument by analogy — preferably as part of a series of responses — then consider the following LD-style response instead:

Next, the teleological argument. First, it’s a bad analogy; universes aren’t like watches.

That’s 13 words, and it makes the exact same point as argument #1 — but in approximately five seconds as opposed to fifty. The bottom line is that if you’re going to debate Craig, you need to be able to write and rewrite your presentation and practice your responses until you can deliver them in an economical manner.

Third, do your homework. As he did in his debate with Hitchens, Craig always offers at least five arguments in every debate: (1) the teleological argument or argument from design; (2) the cosmological argument; (3) the moral argument; (4) the argument from the historicity of the Resurrection; and (5) the argument that belief in God is “properly basic” as a function of religious experiences.

If you do not have multiple offensive responses to each of these points, pared down for purposes of word economy, and you’re not prepared to deliver them in a persuasive and efficient manner, then you are not qualified to debate William Lane Craig.

A corollary to this piece of advice is that you should do as little extemporanous speaking as possible. I don’t care how smart you think you are, you suck at extemporaneous speaking. It’s okay; everyone sucks at it. When you’re being extemporaneous, you speak more slowly and with less conviction, and you use more words to make fewer points. You should not get up there preparing to “wing it” on, say, whether belief in God is properly basic — you should have all of these responses down cold in advance, along with a bunch of others derived from Craig’s other debates. Period.

Fourth, challenge Craig’s efforts to frame the debate. In every debate, Craig will set up a list of criteria that he claims his opponent must meet in order to win. He does this every single time he debates (as do all good high school LD debaters). If you do not respond to this framework and offer a counter-framework, he’ll go back to it in rebuttals (calling out your “drop”) and show that you’ve lost the debate by failing to meet it.

Your prewritten opening speech absolutely must offer an evaluative framework that puts Craig to at least the same kind of burden he intends to put you (i.e., against Hitchens, he claimed that Hitch was required to answer all five arguments plus affirmatively prove an opposition case in order to win). If you’re not thinking strategically about how your arguments should fit in to an overall framework, then you are not qualified to debate William Lane Craig.

Fifth, you need to become familiar with the concepts of offering multiple responses and (in particular) offensive responses to Craig’s argument. An offensive response — in the debate world, this is called a “turn” — is when you show that your opponent’s claim, if true, actually supports your position and undermines his. That then shifts the burden back to Craig to answer your responses in his rebuttals, and not just attack your case and extend his own.

Let me give a practical example, again in the context of the teleological argument. One possible response is to correctly note that physicists disagree whether there is fine tuning; for example, Victor Stenger notes that a wide range of values for key physical properties of the universe nevertheless produce the conditions that permit for the rise of complex life. This is a defensive argument; you’re claiming that the fine-tuning argument isn’t true. That’s fine, but in the context of a debate, if this is all you say, then Craig can simply ignore it if pressed for time, particularly if he’s winning his framework (that you have to disprove all of his arguments). Read that sentence again, because it’s the key to understanding Craig’s strategy. He will simply ignore your defensive responses if pressed for time.

So what you need to do is couple your defensive responses with offensive responses, which Craig must answer. For example: after noting that the universe is not fine-tuned, you would then follow up with a second response that says something like, “In fact, the heavens do not declare the glory of God; they contradict everything specific the Bible has to say about the cosmos, and powerfully show that this is precisely the sort of universe we would expect if there is no God.

Throughout your debate with Craig, you must continually rock him back on the defensive by offering these kinds of offensive “turns” against his case, while at the same time understanding the offensive arguments to which you must respond. If you’re not prepared to think strategically — say it with me, people — then you are not qualified to debate William Lane Craig.

EDIT: Fixed opening paragraph and provided link to Richard Carrier’s writeup of his debate with Craig.

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85 Comments »

  1. Anonymous said,

    Have you thought about publishing this somewhere? I came here because this is the #1 hit for “william lane craig debate advice” on Google. Although dont get a swelled head about that becuase as far as I can tell this is the ONLY page that offers any advice as to how to debate WLC!

  2. Shamelessly Atheist said,

    I would add another way to attack Craig: nail him on how badly he understands physics. His knowledge of the Big Bang is quite appalling and gets it completely wrong, yet he trots it out every time he brings up that idiotic Kalam Cosmological Argument, which I can tear apart in seconds, and twists it to look like it supports his argument. Totally dishonest. Since at this moment we can not look back past the Planck Epoch, we can have no knowledge about what triggered the expansion of the universe from a singularity (which is what the Big Bang describes) or whether matter was created at all (which is what the Big Bang most definitely does not describe). Any cosmologist would maul Craig on that. Philosophical arguments are not an end, but a beginning. If they are not supported by empirical study they are nothing.

    • David Ryan said,

      I searched out sites that might be able to use logic and reason to come up with truth as it pertains to different world views. I find no logic or reason in any comments posted to date. Yes I am a christian and believe that remaining ignorant to other belief systems does nothing but feed into the stereotype that seems to perpetuate this constant mud slinging. I’m curious as to why the post and comments are all focused on defeating WLC instead of logically debating worldviews and using reason and logic to support thier views. We can certainly agree to disagree, but let the dialog create a continuum of realization that we all have arguments that support our worldview and keep an open mind to the content. We can from that point, “beg the question”, within ourselves, what purpose does our view serve for us and the world around us.

  3. Andrew said,

    In the presentations I’ve heard, Craig defends his Kalam Cosmological Argument both via reference to the Big Bang but also as an abstract philosophical concept. So if you were to contend that the universe might well be eternal (because the Big Bang does not necessarily postulate a “beginning”), he would come back with the mathematical gobbledygook about traversing an actual infinite to prove that the universe must have had a beginning.

    It bears repeating: Craig is very good at this. He’s heard the refutations before and has canned one-liner responses. Anyone planning to debate Craig must look at the exchange as a chess match and plan your approach accordingly.

  4. Shamelessly Atheist said,

    Ah, but then I would pull out my copy of Nicholas Everitt’s The Non-Existence of God where he deals with why his view of infinity is nonsense (I highly recommend it), and with Craig’s arguments in particular. There is nothing in physics (the only arbiter I am willing to accept – the road of philosophy is littered with the wrecks where arguments collides with fact) which says that an actual infinite is impossible. It’s simply that Craig can’t get his mind around the concept of infinity, which is not a requirement for its validity. Honestly, Craig (while he may be smart) is not much of a philosopher. He’s just good at emulating one.

  5. Shamelessly Atheist said,

    Oh, I really should have commended the blog. It has a lot of great points on debating in general, not just against Craig. Good show.

  6. first said,

    Thank you for this post. As a theist, and someone who thinks Craig’s arguments are cogent, I think it would be welcome from both sides of the theism-atheism debate for atheists to heed your advice.

    • Madeleine said,

      Yes, in particular, tell Ray Comfort to come and read this before he does his banana routine to refute evolution again.

      • first said,

        Yeah, that was bad bad bad. It was crockoducks all the way down.

  7. first said,

    Shamelessly Atheist,
    When you say, “There is nothing in physics (the only arbiter I am willing to accept – the road of philosophy is littered with the wrecks where arguments collides with fact) which says that an actual infinite is impossible.”

    That’s right. Nothing in physics leads to (or away from) this conclusion, and this because it’s something that physics cannot even in principle speak to in the first place. More generally, scientific theorizing on the whole presupposes all sorts of philosophical issues and thus, cannot be what *adjudicates* among which of its philosophical assumptions are correct on pain of reasoning in a circle (in this case, modal notions, among other things; like whether an actual infinite is possible).

    And when you say, “It’s simply that Craig can’t get his mind around the concept of infinity, which is not a requirement for its validity.”

    Craig has beaten you to the punch on this. This is a common objection from students studying infinity. The problem, says Craig, is not that the absurdities are generated because we can’t get our minds around it. Rather, the absurdities arise precisely because we *do* understand infinity so well.

    • An Equally Shameless Atheist said,

      Check Wikipedia – there is a possibility that infinite numbers of stars exist in the universe and that the universe is infinite in size. Also, the process called ‘renormalization’ can make sense of infinite integrals (an integral is a way of calculating the area below a graph). We use infinities in real-life physics, and actual infinities may (note I said may) exist.

      • J Nernoff III said,

        Infinities? What’s the “God” supposed to be other than infinite? If infinitiely old, Craig has the problem. If not, then it was created, and Craig has the problem. Moreover, what IS the “God”? That remains totally unanswered (unless it is an old man in the sky, embarrassing for Craig, and still his problem).

        Why is this so difficult??

      • first said,

        Equally Shameless,
        Appealing to integrals is no counterexample. You see, Craig doesn’t object to actual infinity as a mathematical formalism. Rather it’s that there can be no actual infinite number of things (in the case of the kalam, it’s temporal moments). If Professor Hilbert is to be believed, if the universe were actually infinite in size and there were an actual infinite number of stars residing within it, there would be no point in space that didn’t contain stars. But there are points in space that don’t contain stars (the space where my hands are, for instance, is one such spot), therefore it’s not the case that….

        It won’t do to appeal to physics, either. One may well use actual infinities all the time in real-life physics (you don’t merely use potential infinites, but actual?). Anyway, by real-life physics, I assume you’re meaning that such numbers appear in the equations. But that’s no problem for Craig. The only way this would be a problem is if one wedded it with the further philosophical commitment that the variables in one’s equations actually correspond to things in the world. That is a HUGE ontological commitment, and arguably far more dubious than one which denies that an actual infinite number of things can exist.

        • Lotharsson said,

          “…if the universe were actually infinite in size and there were an actual infinite number of stars residing within it, there would be no point in space that didn’t contain stars.”

          This is a common fallacy borne out of not understanding infinity.

          Try this:

          “…if the set of integers were actually infinite in size and there were an actual infinite number of even integers residing within it, there would be no integer that was not even.”

          Not quite a perfect analogy, but should get you thinking.

          The key point is that one infinite set can be larger than another.

        • chris said,

          Just a thought. When you say ” If Professor Hilbert is to be believed, if the universe were actually infinite in size and there were an actual infinite number of stars residing within it, there would be no point in space that didn’t contain stars. But there are points in space that don’t contain stars (the space where my hands are, for instance, is one such spot), therefore it’s not the case that….” You can have an infinite amount of star and an infinite amount of space. Consider in mathematics, the set N ( the natural numbers) is infinite.
          N = (0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,…..) Also the set of all even numbers is infinite.
          2N = (0,2,4,6,8,10,12,….)

          so,
          N= (0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10…..) and
          2N = (0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10,……)

          So if you look at these two sets N and 2N you can see that the set 2N is in N and yet there are gaps, i.e the odd numbers. This is where we get the idea of small and large infinities. So it is theoretically possible to have two infinities with gaps in between. So you could have an infinite amount of Universe and an infinite amount of stars at the same time.

        • Wilson F. said,

          Lotharsson and Chris:

          Sorry, but I think that are you who are “not understanding infinity.”

          First,

          You are making confusion between two concepts: the concept of actual quantitative infinite and the concept of potential quantitative infinite.

          The example of the infinite space and infinite number of stars, which would imply that every spot in space should have a star, is a hypothetical example of an actual quantitative infinite.

          The example of the set of numbers is about potential quantitative infinite: the set of numbers is infinite because it will always be possible to add one more.

          To be an actual (and not merely potential) infinite number of things, it would have to be impossible to add one more, because, if it’s possible to add one more, it’s only potential infinite, not actual. But, if it’s impossible to add one more, that’s a limit, and, therefore, that’s not infinite. That’s why the existence of an actual infinite number of things is a self-contradictory idea.

          – Second point:

          The idea that it can be two infinites, one into another, parting from the argument that the set of natural numbers are infinite and the set of even numbers are also infinite and, therefore, there can be two infinites, as far as I know, this is the transfinite theory by Cantor.

          The problem with this theory is that it confuses the actual numbers with the name of the numbers.

          If I count, with the fingers of my right hand:

          1 2 3 4 5

          How many fingers I have counted? Five fingers, right?

          But, if I count, also with the fingers of my right hand:

          2 4 6 8 10

          How many fingers I have counted? Ten? No; only five.

          I just changed the name of the numbers: instead of saying one, I said two; instead of saying two, I said four; instead of saying three; I said six, and so on.

          Then, the set of even numbers exists only as an abstract idea, but in concrete reality it cannot be the number two without the number one, and it cannot be the number four without numbers one, two and three; &c.

          P.S. When one says that God is infinite (or eternal, omnipotent &c.), that’s even another concept of infinite: that’s not a quantitative infinite anymore, that’s a qualitative infinite.

        • Lotharsson said,

          Woo-hoo, a response to a four year old comment!

          > You are making confusion between two concepts: the concept of actual quantitative infinite and the concept of potential quantitative infinite.

          I believe the confusion is on your part, but it’s hard to tell because you appear to be using unclear or incoherent definitions.

          > To be an actual (and not merely potential) infinite number of things, it would have to be impossible to add one more, because, if it’s possible to add one more, it’s only potential infinite, not actual.

          Well, that’s a convenient if somewhat surprising pair of definitions that I suspect will surprise many mathematicians who have identified many sets that are not only infinite in the sense of being unbounded in size but to which one can clearly add new members! Some of those were pointed out on this thread, if I’m not mistaken. However let’s run with your definitions for the moment.

          > But, if it’s impossible to add one more, that’s a limit, and, therefore, that’s not infinite.

          That is fallacious. It would only follow if the limit reached were FINITE. (Demonstrating that a set size is bounded above by a limit that is infinite does not imply that the set size is finite!) You are committing the fallacy of presuming that which you seek to prove, so your conclusion is incorrect (and so are the parts of your argument that rely on it being correct). It doesn’t help trying to understand your position when you appear to have shifted from using the term “potential quantitive(ly) infinite” or maybe “actual quantitative infinite” to merely “infinite” – if you’re going to try and split the concept of “infinite” into two different types, at least be consistent in your use of your terminology.

          However let us continue, and in doing so at least agree that (as you seem to be implying) an infinite set means it has no limit on its size (and hence presumably if the size of set has no upper bound it is an infinite set).

          Let’s look at your “counting the (integer) numbers” example in that light:

          > …the set of numbers is [potential quantitative] infinite because it will always be possible to add one more.

          This confuses the act of *counting off* another member of the set with the act of *adding a new member* to the set. No-one EVER gets to “add another integer” to the set of integers! That set is already defined; any integer that you might claim to be about to add to the set *is already in the set*.

          Now according to your definition above, since one cannot actually add another integer to the set it’s therefore “actually quantitatively infinite”. However you assert that “actually quantititively infinite” implies that it has “a limit, and, therefore, that’s not infinite”. Do you really want to use a definition that implies that the set of integers is “not infinite” because the set already contains all possible integers and no more can be added? Or does this point to incoherence in your procedure for distinguishing between “infinite” and “not infinite” sets – or perhaps suggest that you’re using “infinite” to mean something other than what mathematicians mean by it?

          Let’s come at it from another direction. How many marked points are there in the set of marked points on an infinite line where the marks are located evenly along the whole line at 1 nanometre intervals? Note that the marks are already there and I’m not asking you to add new ones to the set! Does the number of marked points have any “upper limit”? If your answer is “no”, then doesn’t that make the set “infinite in size”? Does your answer change if the points are marked off at 1 millimetre intervals? 1 metre intervals? At 1 kilometre intervals? At 1 light year intervals? At 1 Googolplex lightyear intervals?

          OK, so now we get to add some marks to the set! Is there any limit to the number of new marks that can be added if one inserts each new mark between an adjacent pair of existing marks? If not, doesn’t that mean that one can add an infinite number of new marks to the set? And yet wasn’t the set infinite before we started adding more marks, so that means a set can be infinite and yet still accept an infinite number of additional members?

          So is the infiniteness of the set related or unrelated to *how dense* it is in some other infinite space or set? Is it unrelated to how many additional members it can or cannot accept? Is it purely related to the *absence of any upper bound on its size*?

          Now, take those insights over to the example of counting by twos, or of an infinite 3D space with stars placed at intersection points on an evenly spaced 3D grid rather than occupying every single point in space…

      • first said,

        Hi J Nernoff III,

        The sense in which God is infinite is sort of a catch-all term to describe a bundle of attributes God has. When a theist says God is “infinite”, this is colloquial and isn’t used to denote some sort of quantitative magnitude in God.

        Is God infinitely old on Craig’s view? No. On his view, nothing has traversed an infinite number of past temporal moments simply because there *aren’t* an infinite number of past temporal moments.

        Has the question “What is God” remained totally unanswered? Well, Craig makes this pretty clear in his writings and debates. What’s more, there’s an unimaginably robust (and often very technical) philosophical and theological literature on God and his attributes, so it’s totally uninformed to say the question remains totally unanswered. For a good introductory read, I’d check out Thomas V. Morris’s book “Our Idea of God.” It won’t swamp you in technicalities, but neither is it superficial.

        “Why is this so difficult??”
        I have no idea what you’re talking about.

      • iDeist said,

        There is a difference between a “potential” infinity (which Craig ascribes to), and an “actual infinity. Hilberts hotel refers to a potential infinity, one that is sequential and can never be reached. Numbers are abstract anyway, and mean nothing, expect in the mind of the applicator.

        Craig defines these both, There are reason why Craig has stopped his way through the Atheist community, his arguments are syllogistic, deductive, and logically sound. Just because one doesn’t “agree” with them, does’t change the fact of what they are.

        All of the questions, by the greatest minds, since Aristotle has posited them. If not he would have been beaten by now. Everyone knows his arguments. Agree or disagree is all you can do.

        • Piyush said,

          Craig defines these both, There are reason why Craig has stopped his way through the Atheist community, his arguments are syllogistic, deductive, and logically sound. Just because one doesn’t “agree” with them, does’t change the fact of what they are.

          To explain the physical world it is not sufficient to be logically sound. There should be expertimental evidence.
          Assuming that every person wears a blue shirt every day
          is not logically wrong. From this I can also deduce (in perfect logical sense) that the next person I meet on the street is wearing a blue shirt. Cleary this is a false statement.

          Now if you look at the first statement: Every thing that has a begining has a cause. Is there any emperical evidence for this claim. No so clearly his deduction whether it is logical or not has no relevance. In fact it points to a kind of
          insecurity in the argument. If there were actual evidence he would have pointed it out.

          Besides the most important fallacy is what do you mean by
          cause when time itself began with big bang.

      • Erm, no — the reason he has “stopped his way” (whatever that means) through the atheist community is because he’s been debating nonstop since he was in high school, and is a master rhetorician. Anyone with half a brain can pick his actual arguments apart on paper, and anyone with half a Google can find said pickings-apart if they’re so inclined.

        And btw, Craig HAS been beaten. Not nearly as often as I would like to see, but go watch the Tabash, Ehrman and Kagan debates before you go off about his record.

  8. Luke said,

    This is awesome! Moral of the story? YOU ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO DEBATE WILLIAM LANE CRAIG! :)

  9. Andrew said,

    Luke: Not yet, anyway. The moral of the story is: do your homework! :)

    Part two of this post continues here.

  10. [...] the past couple days, I’ve gotten a request for advice on debating Christians, and seen a pair of somewhat misguided articles on how to debate William Lane Craig by Andrew of Evaluating [...]

  11. Madeleine said,

    Very good advice, you have clearly taken the time to observe Craig’s debate skills. However, your treatment of his skills as a Philosopher need some work. He doesn’t just win on tactics, he also wins on content.

    He is a professional philosopher who has spent years studying these matters and honing his argument. If you are an atheist who believes that all Christians are stupid and all Christian arguments are easily shot down you will also lose against William Lane Craig.

    BTW Craig’s teleological argument is deductive, the watchmaker argument is analogical. Pull that response on Craig and you won’t win no matter how concisely you word it.

    • Andrew said,

      Madeleine,

      I think you will strive in vain to find anything on this site where I claim that “all Christians are stupid” or that “Christian arguments are easily shot down.” Maybe you should check out some of the introductory pages?

      As a side note — since Richard Carrier apparently missed this as well — I am not claiming that “it’s an analogy” is a good response to Craig’s teleological argument. (In part 2, for example, I give some actual responses to the argument.) I merely used that as an example of word economy.

      • Madeleine said,

        I didn’t mean to direct that to you Andrew; I could tell you were someone who actually appreciated that that kind of rhetoric was the stuff of fools by the things you have written on your site.

        I must say I enjoy finding atheist sites that actually engage the higher levels of Christian scholarship, you can really see how the arguments back and forward engage. It is far more interesting to me to read an actual response that attempts to address the issues raised than a rant about how stupid what the other person wrote was and how easy it is to refute them (followed by a lame attempt at refutation or a regurgitation of common objections that have been widely debunked in the literature.)

        I must go and read some more of your site and see your responses in part 2.
        :-)

  12. J Nernoff III said,

    I tried watching the high school debate link but the first (introductory) student talkedsofastIcouldn’tunderstandwhathewasclatteringaboutsoIjustcouldn’twatchanymoreofit.

    • Andrew said,

      Rate of delivery is one way to increase the amount of argumentation you put out in a limited amount of time, so the very best high school debaters — and this was the final round of the Tournament of Champions, so these two are it — often combine outstanding word economy with increased rate of delivery.

      Craig doesn’t speak that fast, of course, but he is deceptive in terms of his word economy. So I would still recommend getting familiar with receiving a ton of arguments in a short period of time as quality preparation. Chris Hallquist has more on this.

      • ptah said,

        So one important part of winning a high school debate is to talk (or read, actually) so fast that the opponent can’t hear whaty you are saying?

  13. Ben said,

    Exactly. Excellent advice.

  14. Steven Carr said,

    Craig believes in the God of Scooby Doo.

    Children have to be killed if they interfere with God’s plans.

    The famous Christian apologist, William Lane Craig, thinks his God is like a villain in a cartoon series. A few children can easily wreck his plans.

    I quote Craig in http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5767 ‘Slaughter of the Canaanites’ God knew that if these Canaanite children were allowed to live, they would spell the undoing of Israel. The killing of the Canaanite children not only served to prevent assimilation to Canaanite identity but also served as a shattering, tangible illustration of Israel’s being set exclusively apart for God.

    Craig’s solution is for his alleged god to have all the children killed.

    Then they wouldn’t be able to wreck his plans

    Killed for something they had not done, because they were killed before they could wreck the plans of the Allmighty
    .

    But Craig is a ‘professional philosopher’, so clearly he has spent years working on the idea that killing children before they can grow up is the best way to avoid God’s plans being wrecked.

    • Madeleine said,

      Steven, in the same way you shouldn’t tell a thoracic surgeon how to do a coronary bypass because you’ve watched every episode of Gray’s Anatomy don’t attempt to do atheist-apologetics if you are not qualified.

      You don’t understand Craig’s argument or the bible passages you refer to and it shows.

      • Steven Carr said,

        Another non-argument by a Christian.

        You don’t understand God’s ways, says Madeleine, as she reads Craig say why children allegedly had to be killed for something they never did , because they were allegedly killed before they could grow up to commit the crime that earned them a death sentence from Madeleine’s all-loving God.

  15. John Huey said,

    If the KCA is true then that proves that the Flying Spaghetti Monster created the Universe. The KCA supports the FSM belief as well as a God belief. Even if true, and that is doubtful, it really tells us nothing useful.

    • first said,

      John Huey,

      Arguments can be valid or invalid and sound or unsound. But not true or false, as you’ve said: that’s just a category mistake. On the kalam cosmological argument and the Flying Spaghetti Monster: the conclusion of the KCA is uniquely consistent with the existence of God, and not with that of the FSM, and this because the FSM, if it existed, would lack the properties that the God of monotheism possesses if he exists (particularly, having the properties of being timeless, spaceless, and personal). Of course, the KCA doesn’t get you all the way to, “Therefore, the Christian God exists”; but then, Craig doesn’t use it for that, either.

    • first said,

      Should edit the properties of the FSM to be that it would lack being timeless and spaceless, but not personhood. For all I know, Dawkins’s takes his noodly creation to be a personal being.

      • John Huey said,

        Pedantic point: The FSM revelation was not given directly to Dawkins. See: http://www.venganza.org/ for more info on the Church of the FSM.

        It is obvious (well, as obvious as the concepts of timelessness and spacelessness) that the property of noodlliness obviates those concepts wrt the creation of the universe: thus the KCA supports the FSM as surely as it supports, say, the cyclic model of cosmology.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclic_model

        I contend, that the KCA supports all the various models of cosmology where the concept of causation maintains. Basically, all the KCA really says is that IF the universe has a cause, then it has a cause. Pretty useless. The extension to the basic KCA that tries to establish properties of that cause a priori, are baseless speculation. On the other hand, It could be that causality is a meaningless concept wrt to universe creation, in which case that renders the KCA meaningless as well.

        So, no matter how you cut it, the KCA is useless, baseless or meaningless.

      • first said,

        John Huey,
        Your post is frankly a good example of what Andrew is talking about on how not to argue against Craig.

        I hope Andrew won’t mind me taking a bit of a tangent on his post. (Thanks Andrew.) I’ll answer your criticisms in order.

        The FSM, were it to exist, lacks the properties that could make it the cause of the universe. The KCA is an argument whose second premise implies that time and space themselves began to exist at a finite point in the past. Any being that counted “noodliness” among its essential properties will also essentially have the property of being spatially extended. The FSM, were it to exist, would therefore depend on space for its existence, and therefore cannot be what causally accounts for the existence space. The God of classical monotheism is not subject to the same objection, because if he exists, he has no essential properties that entail spatial extension. The God of classical monotheism (and abstract objects) are the only things that, if they exist, exist spacelessly.

        Not only does the KCA rule out the FSM as the cause of the universe, it is also inconsistent with any model of the universe, cyclic models included, that entail there being an actual infinite series of past moments. This is because one of the evidences supporting premise (2) is an argument against the possibility of the existence of an actual infinite number of anything.

        Further, you haven’t grasped the KCA if you think it says, “If the universe has a cause, then it has a cause.” That’s a tautology. Rather, it consists of two premises to the conclusion that “Therefore, the universe has a cause.” That’s a substantive claim.

        You likewise fail to deal with the inference Craig makes from the KCA’s conclusion to the existence of a monotheistic God. You just call it baseless. You’ve either not read or not understood Craig’s argument on this then. In a nutshell as I recall: Part 1 – Space and time themselves came into existence at the Big Bang, therefore the cause cannot itself be temporal or spatial. Part 2- The only things that have the essential properties of being timeless and spaceless are abstract objects and minds; abstract objects cannot enter into causal relations with anything; therefore the cause of the universe is a timeless, spaceless mind.

        Moreover, if you think causality is a meaningless concept with respect to the universe’s creation, you’ll need to argue for that.

        As it stands, John, you haven’t brought any troubling objections to the kalam. In some cases, it’s abundantly clear you misunderstand it. My responses aren’t with the intent of getting into a protracted debate on the kalam. Rather it’s with the hope that you’ll see that it might be a time to read from Craig himself on the kalam–preferably from a book, if you’re looking to dig deeply–rather than glibly announce its problems with some, frankly, pretty facile objections.

    • John Huey said,

      (Snips of the Comments made by First are in bold.)

      Your post is frankly a good example of what Andrew is talking about on how not to argue against Craig.

      I don’t disagree: I am much more interested in the truth than I am in winning debating points.

      However, you obviously know nothing about the noodliness of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You need to spend a few years at a FSM university studying the sophisticated and deep details of FSM-ology. If you did you would realize that your glib announcement of problems with the FSM creating the Universe is frankly, pretty facile.

      The FSM, were it to exist, would therefore depend on space for its existence, and therefore cannot be what causally accounts for the existence space. The God of classical monotheism is not subject to the same objection, because if he exists, he has no essential properties that entail spatial extension. The God of classical monotheism (and abstract objects) are the only things that, if they exist, exist spacelessly.

      This is just such a crock. You are claiming knowledge that you cannot possibly know. If the FSM were to exist, it would be from a realm that we have no familiarity with, no information on and not the slightest inkling what is or is not possible there.

      There is absolutely no reason (other than wish fulfillment) to suspect that a ‘mind’ can be ‘timeless’ and ‘spaceless’. Again, these are words that are being bandied about as if the concepts were meaningful and understood – they are neither. They are just baseless supposition. And, even if there should happen to be something we might refer to as a timeless/spaceless mind (or minds), there is absolutely no reason to conclude or suspect that it would have anything to do with the origin of the universe. You are laying claim to knowledge that you really just don’t have.

      The KCA syllogism is not exactly a tautology, since it is possible for the Universe to have a cause but that one or both of the premises are false. But it really is contentless. You think is substantive only because you have been duped by the superficial form of the argument. It pretends to make a substantive claim, base on independent premises but the problem is that the truth value of the first premise can be assessed only AFTER we discover what the nature of the beginning of our universe is. The premises of the KCA are not a priori statements but are just statements of fact that may or may not be true. In order to determine if they are true we have to first understand the origin of the Universe – it is that understanding that will let us know if the Universe has a cause or not. Hence the pseudo-tautology: once we know the cause of the universe we can then determine the truth-value of the premises.

      While I may not be an expert in all the details of the KCA, I know enough to see that is devoid of any real substance.

      You likewise fail to deal with the inference Craig makes from the KCA’s conclusion to the existence of a monotheistic God. You just call it baseless. You’ve either not read or not understood Craig’s argument on this then.

      I have both read and understood Craig’s arguments. I feel very confident in asserting that his inferences are baseless. The simple fact that there are cosmological theories that are not limited to the dimensions of space-time but produce a ‘cause’ of the universe shows that there are other possibilities for the ‘cause’ of the universe other than a monotheistic deity. Craig’s so-called conclusion is just a case of limited imagination, limited expertise in cosmology and a strong case of wish fulfillment.

      Moreover, if you think causality is a meaningless concept with respect to the universe’s creation, you’ll need to argue for that.

      Our concepts on the nature of causality are deeply intertwined with the concepts of space – time, entropy and quantum mechanics. The possibility that our concept of causality may not be valid when we are talking about the origin of space-time is too obvious for words. In fact, it would be rather surprising that a concept about the working of things inside a universe would apply to the universe as a whole. When we talk about these grand ideas we are dealing with concepts that are completely outside our normal experience: our intuition is practically useless.

      As it stands, John, you haven’t brought any troubling objections to the kalam. In some cases, it’s abundantly clear you misunderstand it.

      While it is possible that I may misunderstand the KCA, I seriously doubt it. It is after all a very simplistic, superficial argument. The idea that you think it is substantive strongly suggests that it is your understanding of the KCA that is flawed.

      • first said,

        John,

        You say of my reply, “This is just such a crock. You are claiming knowledge that you cannot possibly know. If the FSM were to exist, it would be from a realm that we have no familiarity with, no information on and not the slightest inkling what is or is not possible there.”

        I don’t think you understand the idea of entailment well, then, if you think I’m engaging in speculation. Noodles are spatially extended objects. That doesn’t strike me as controversial. Moreover, it *is* from a realm I have familiarity with–I ate spaghetti recently for dinner and can tell you with more than a modest degree of certainty it was spatially extended: I had a full stomach, after all! Moreover, I know what many of the essential properties attributed to God are like, so they are from a realm I’m familiar with, too. God, he exists, has no properties that entail spatial extension. This is why the kalam will not help a case for a being, like the FSM, who depends on the existence of space or time for his own existence.

        If you disagree with me on this, it’s not going to be helpful to merely reply, “You can’t possibly know this,” when I just gave you *reasons*–good reasons, it seems to me–for thinking it true that the kalam is a friend to the classical theist.

        And you say this, “Our concepts on the nature of causality are deeply intertwined with the concepts of space – time, entropy and quantum mechanics…When we talk about these grand ideas we are dealing with concepts that are completely outside our normal experience: our intuition is practically useless.”

        Nope. Causation is a metaphysical notion. Like so many other things in science, including quantum theories, particular metaphysical and epistemic views can only be *presupposed* by our scientific theories, and thus, cannot be demonstrated by them. Generally speaking, our view of causation adjudicates what empirical theories we accept rather than the other way around.

        You say, “Craig’s so-called conclusion is just a case of limited imagination, limited expertise in cosmology and a strong case of wish fulfillment.”

        One of Craig’s two doctorates was in cosmology. Accusations of lack of imagination and wish fulfillment, if you take these to be rejoinders to Craig’s view, make you indiscernibly close to committing the genetic fallacy.

        Finally, you say, “While it is possible that I may misunderstand the KCA, I seriously doubt it. It is after all a very simplistic, superficial argument. The idea that you think it is substantive strongly suggests that it is your understanding of the KCA that is flawed.”

        Is it simplistic and superficial? I don’t see you’ve provided reasons to think so. Here are reasons to think it’s not. The argument contains no tautologies, so it’s substantive. The premises are true–and you’ve provided no good reasons to think they’re not. Simplistic? Superficial? Nope. Valid? Yes? Sound? Seems so.

      • first said,

        Correction to the second paragraph.

        Says: God, he exists, has no properties that entail spatial extension.

        Should read: God, IF he exists, has no properties that entail spatial extension.

        The addition of if is so readers understand that the discussion of essential properties hinges not on whether God exists. E.g., Goldbach’s conjecture, if true, is necessarily true, and if false, is necessarily false. This is something like what I’m talking about here. I don’t want to get sidetracked on this, but I thought it’s important to clarify what the philosopher means when she talks about properties and essential properties.

      • John Huey said,

        First wrote:

        “One of Craig’s two doctorates was in cosmology.”

        Really? While Wikipedia is not necessarily a great resource for scholarly work, they are usually pretty good at getting the basic facts out:

        “Craig’s tertiary education commenced at Wheaton College, Illinois where he graduated in 1971 with a B.A. degree in communications.[6] He then proceeded to graduate studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Illinois, where he graduated with two M.A. degrees in 1974 and 1975, one in the philosophy of religion and the other in church history.[6]

        In 1977 Craig earned a doctorate in philosophy under John Hick at the University of Birmingham, England, and in 1984 a doctorate in theology under Wolfhart Pannenberg at the University of Munich.[6] During his doctoral studies, he was a Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung.”

      • first said,

        John Huey,

        Wikipedia is correct so far as it goes. Craig does have a Ph.D. in philosophy. It just fails to mention that his area of specialization for that PhD was cosmology.

        I recently watched a debate video online and remembered that one of Craig’s debate opponents, Bill Cooke, wasn’t aware of this fact either. Cooke criticized Craig’s defense of the kalam along the lines of, “This is such a difficult topic. You’re no expert in cosmology, so let’s leave a discussion of that to the experts.” Craig’s reply, minutes later, if you’d like to hear it from the man himself is just before the 4 minute mark. Go to 3:45 in the time index of the video and listen for 20 seconds or so.

      • John Huey said,

        As has been pointed out, I am not a good candidate for participating in a formal debate: I will ‘drop’ counter arguments to assertions that I think are transparently silly. Do I really have to point out the absurdity of your point about how a magical phantasmal imaginary entity such as the FSM is somehow restricted to having properties like your spaghetti dinner? The tedium of such an activity, would make me cry.

        You wrote:
        “Moreover, I know what many of the essential properties attributed to God are like, so they are from a realm I’m familiar with, too.”

        This is such a strange statement – I am again seriously skeptical to the point of wanting to heap ridicule on you. I don’t buy it. I don’t think it is possible for the the human mind to ‘know’ or be ‘familiar’ with properties such as ‘Timelessness’ or ‘Spacelessness’ or just about any of those other idealized properties touted as attributes of God. We can put those concepts into words or into mathematical formulations; however, they are just intellectual concepts we can manipulate – they are not things we can ‘know’ (in the sense you used in your sentence). We ‘know’ time but we don’t ‘know’ timelessness; We ‘know’ space but we don’t ‘know’ spacelessness. Actually, when I think about those two concepts together, it strikes me as a way to describe something that doesn’t exist.

      • first said,

        John Huey,

        You said, ” Do I really have to point out the absurdity of your point about how a magical phantasmal imaginary entity such as the FSM is somehow restricted to having properties like your spaghetti dinner?”

        Well, you were the one making the silly comparison using a silly FSM, John, not me. I took the discussion to your territory, so don’t fault me for that. But there actually was a deeper lesson despite the silly talk of noodliness and flying spaghetti and I’m glad you raised it. Recall why I was harping on the FSM. You had begun your initial post with the following claim. “The KCA supports the FSM belief as well as a God belief.” To say it another way, perhaps, you were saying that, If the kalam’s conclusion (viz., that the universe has a cause) is consistent with God’s existence, then the kalam is likewise consistent with the FSM’s existence.

        You had an admirable strategy: You were trying to show that if one wants to employ the kalam in a case for theism, it comes at a cost: If the kalam is a good argument for God’s existence, it’s just as much a good one for the FSM. And if it’s not a good argument for the FSM, it’s not a good argument for God. God and the FSM, so say you, stand or fall together.
        (The FSM/God comparison is usually invoked *for this very reason* by the way–a “they stand or fall together” sort of thing).

        My talk about noodliness rebutted that claim–*your* claim about the FSM, noodliness and all. I showed how God and your FSM “come apart” so to speak, so that they stand or fall independently of one another with respect to the kalam. This was the whole point about essential properties. It’s a good point, you just had a silly example, so I took the discussion into your territory. But just because the being in *your* thought experiment is implausible and silly (and by design, at that!), that doesn’t somehow render the one *I’m* arguing for implausible or silly!

        Now, about timelessness and spacelessness being unintelligible, is that an objection to God’s existence? If this is a problem, John, it wouldn’t be a problem for theism, per se; it’d be a problem for anyone who holds to the Big Bang theory!

  16. Madeleine said,

    Steven, one word: “strawman”

    You can look it up in any good textbook on the rules of argument. Wikipedia has a reasonably accurate page on it too.

    Might want to add that to your list of things to do along with lessons in exegesis and how to read and understand someone else’e argument.

    • Steven Carr said,

      Madeleine is unable to produce a single reason why I have made a ‘strawman’, when I quoted the exact words of William Lane Craig, when he was explaining why these children had to die because of something that they would have done, if this alleged god had not ordered them to be killed.

  17. Madeleine said,

    You attributed words to me that I didn’t say. How about you provide chapter and verse as to where I said the things you said I did?

    You then repeated your poorly argued and exegeted misunderstanding of Craig’s words and the scriptures concerned. Steven how about you go back to the myriad of other blogs where you have trotted out the same line and someone has spent their time patiently explaining it to you and read it.

    Do you ever get bored trawling the blogosphere seeking out blogs that reference Bill Craig, posting the same stuff, getting shown up and then repeating the exercise?

    BTW for future reference, if you are quoting the exact words of someone else and then commenting on it with your own paraphrase there’s this key on your keyboard that makes these thingies: ” “ that you are supposed to put around the words of the other person to make it clear where your exact quote of their words stops and starts.

    (you can also indent it using blockquote tags but that might have be the lesson after strawman 101 and exegesis and reading as that’s quite a bit more complicated, there is also this thing called referencing but that’s way advanced)

    PS. Yes, we all know, Bill Craig “is scared” to debate Jeffrey Lowder. *yawn*

  18. Thomas said,

    Came across this post…I think it says a great deal about Craig. It’s not his arguments which are persuasive; it’s the presentation of them and his organization.

    It is such a shame that flare and style have surpassed fact and logic. It seems apparent to me that if one is looking for truth or facts, debates are not the place to find it.

    • first said,

      Thomas,

      This blog post doesn’t communicate that Craig’s debates are won on flare and style *at the expense of* facts and logic. It doesn’t follow that if someone is a clear and powerful communicator then it is because their points lack in substance.

      • ptah said,

        I am not an expert in anything. But I have listened to a few Weak Lard-on Collider debates and I would be prepared to say that he does, in fact, win by flare and style at the expense of facts and logic.

        Oh, another big factor is that his opponents pretty much are morons. With the possible exception of Bob Price who is not a moron, but instead insane.

        Anyway: what I find is that Craig repeatedly throws out a bunch of baseless assertions as if they were fact, and does not support them with argument.

        It might be that he has good arguments for those assertions in his books or whatever, but they do not show up in the debates.

        For several good example of this, see the Craig/Parsons debate “why I am / am not a Christian”.

        I’m starting to suspect that the reason so many of WLC :s opponents think they don’t need to do their homework before debating is that Craigs arguments – as presented in the debates, mind you – simply are laughable.

      • first said,

        ptah,
        thanks for your reply. I saw your name on Doug Geivett’s blog, too, where I was redirected from. I’m not sure I’m an expert in anything either, so no worries. Your criticism that when Craig makes assertions he “does not support them with argument” makes me think you either have never heard Craig debate or that you don’t understand what he’s doing. You see, his his presentation just IS a set of arguments in support of the claim “God exists.” Four arguments, typically–and presented in those debates very clearly and unambiguously in numbered premise form at that.

        The problem with nearly all of Craig’s opponents is that they never address those arguments beyond just objecting to the conclusion. That sort of reply doesn’t cut it though, you see: Craig’s arguments are deductively valid (it’s therefore false that he wins *at the expense of* logic). When the premises of a valid argument are true (that is, when the argument is not just valid, but *sound*), the conclusion follows of necessity. Why all this talk of logical validity and soundness? you ask. It’s important because the only way to show that the conclusion does not follow in a valid argument–any valid argument, Craig’s included–is to show one of the argument’s *premises* false. His opponents rarely even make an attempt at doing this. But when they do take a stab at it, they have their work cut out for them because he also gives further arguments for each of his argument’s premises! Talk about thorough!

        So, if you think he “throws out a bunch of baseless assertions as if they were fact,” realize that he always supports those assertions with arguments and reasons.

        Now, if you think the arguments are laughable, I advise getting specific and showing yourself where the problem lies. If you’re going to laugh at an argument, you only ought to do that after you understand that it has a problem. Otherwise, you risk blinding yourself to evidence. And blinding oneself in this way to evidence for theism is arguably needlessly costly.

        • ptah said,

          I am sorry. To me, a premise followed by a non-sequitur followed by baseless assertion does not constitute an argument, sorry. Not when Craig does it, not when you do it.

        • first said,

          That’s not a successful reply either, ptah. If you wish to deny the conclusion of a valid argument (and be logical in doing so), you need to deny a premise. Which do you deny?

        • first said,

          By the way, to say something’s a non sequitur is another way of saying an argument is invalid (i.e., that some conclusion doesn’t follow from some set of premises). But all his arguments are clearly valid. They’re straightforward modus ponens and modus tollens.

        • ptah said,

          It doesn’t become true just because you repeat it.

        • Tim said,

          It seems to me you don’t understand what I’m doing ptah, and therefore don’t know how to reply properly. You see, you’ve made a charge (e.g., Craig’s theistic arguments are baseless, marked by non sequitur, and mere assertion). I then replied by giving reasons to think your charge is effete, namely, by pointing out that Craig gives arguments and reasons for those claims (and they’re therefore not baseless), and that each of his arguments are indeed valid.

          Your reply: “repeating it doesn’t make it true.” Doesn’t make what true? Doesn’t make it true that the arguments are valid? Correct: they’re valid because they conform to the laws of logic. The repetition (if there was any) was to help you understand some of the basics of how deductive arguments work; the repetition was for *your* benefit, ptah.

          Moreover, just repeating to me that I’m repeating myself won’t serve you as a good reply when the very things I’m repeating to you constitute *reasons* for believing Craig’s conclusions. So, you’re right: pure repetition of some sentence S does not make S true; but if I give reasons for thinking S true, as I’ve done, that’s a different matter altogether. Moreover, you’ve not done yourself the courtesy of giving reasons to think Craig’s got a problem with his arguments.

          In short, if you have specific complaints, you need to come clean and say what they are. This is such an important issue, you owe this to yourself, at the very least, no?

        • Tim said,

          By the way, I’m “first” in the previous post. Maybe first names for now will make things a bit less abstract and internettish, if you know what I mean.
          Best,
          Tim

      • first said,

        By the way, here’s helpful advice for those looking to criticize an argument–any argument, theistic or not. The guy at the website below gives advice to (I assume) undergrads in philosophy. I refer you to point 6 for the pith of what I was getting at in my last post. Point 5 is not bad advice, either.

        http://homepages.nyu.edu/~jtr254/writing.html

      • first said,

        oops. Meant to refer you to point 11, “Don’t Just Object to the Conclusion.”

  19. Steven Carr said,

    Perhaps Madeline can find where I said Craig was ‘scared’ to debate Jeff Lowder. Reference please.

    And Madeline still cannot produce one thought as to why I made a strawman out of Craig’s claims. Not one piece of activity in her brain to produce an argument to refute Craig’s claim that his god wanted children to be killed, because ‘God knew that if these Canaanite children were allowed to live, they would spell the undoing of Israel’

    All she can do is bluster that I did and then tell lies about how I wrote that Craig was ‘scared’ to debate Jeff Lowder – a phrase I have never used.

  20. Caleriah said,

    Funny. Steven attacks Craig for apparently being ok with children being killed. Madeleine is quite right, this is not Craig’s position as anyone who has read Craig’s position (apart from Steven) can see. Steven can be found saying this over and over on the net.

    What Steven is not commonly found doing is calling philosophers who actually do advocate for and justify the killing of children, Tooley, Singer…. wonder why.

    Maybe its not the philosophical justification of killing children he has a problem with.

  21. Steven Carr said,

    I have never heard of Tooley or Singer.

    I shall repeat Craig’s words.

    In http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5767 ‘Slaughter of the Canaanites’ God knew that if these Canaanite children were allowed to live, they would spell the undoing of Israel. The killing of the Canaanite children not only served to prevent assimilation to Canaanite identity but also served as a shattering, tangible illustration of Israel’s being set exclusively apart for God.

    Craig’s solution is for his alleged god to have all the children killed.

    ‘But why take the lives of innocent children? The terrible totality of the destruction was undoubtedly related to the prohibition of assimilation to pagan nations on Israel’s part. ‘

    Why take the lives of innocent children? Craig has no problem with that. Read his article.

    ‘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.’

    This is what Craig said. God did those children no wrong in taking their lives.

    It’s all in Craig’s article…..

  22. Ben said,

    One wonders why he’s against pro-choice since doesn’t be believe that it would be okay for liberal babies to never grow up to be liberals? Aren’t the liberals who want to kill their babies doing God’s work for him? hehe

  23. Matthew said,

    Steven

    Craig’s position if is that there is a rule against killing children in war. However, in one particular instance God granted an exception to the rule for utilitarian reasons.

    You are clearly shocked by this, your position appears to be that its absolutely never under any circumstances whatsoever acceptable to kill innocent children.

    The problem is there are few secular ethicists today who would agree with you here. For starters the dominant secular ethical theory today is utilitarianism which holds that you can kill innocent people if the good that comes about is greater than the evil that would result if they stayed alive.

    Moreover even outside utilitarian circles its actually pretty widely accepted that in certain circumstances killing innocent people is permissible. Its not uncommon for example in the literature to read debates about whether the bombing of Hiroshima was justified this killed thousands of children and those who defend it argue that this was justified for utilitarian reasons. In fact one of the leading war ethicists today Michael Walzer has argued that bombing of civilian cities in Germany under certain narrow circumstances are justified.

    Moreover, and the real irony here is that as Madeleine pointed out many of the leading atheist philosophers who work in ethics today have argued that infants have no rights and are not persons. This claim is very common amougst atheist supporters of abortion. Michael Tooley who is referenced all over the secular web and probably the leading atheist philosopher writing today in fact wrote a book arguing for this thesis. Similar comments have been made by Singer staunch secular critic of religious ethics from Princeton. James Rachels another leading atheist philosopher has made similar claims as has Mary Anne Warren, Joel Fienberg and others, if you actually read many of the leading defenders of secular ethics you’d find pro infanticide statements are not uncommon.

    The point here is that your comments are clearly disingenuous. Craig stated that he thinks that in one circumstance which has rarely occurred and will not occur killing children is permissible. We get shock and out rage from the internet atheists yet even a causal glance at the ethical writings of the philosophers and proponents of the philosophy they expound in ethics and you find comments that justify this sort of thing in much greater numbers today and in fact you find their most academically respectable proponents actually denying children have rights at all. Spare me the crap.

    When you purge all the references and support from these thinkers from the secular web then I might take your outrage seriously.

  24. Steven Carr said,

    Not one single argument there refuting what I wrote.

    Craig claims his god wanted innocent children to be killed, because of what they would have done , if they had not been killed.

    I quote Craig again ‘God knew that if these Canaanite children were allowed to live, they would spell the undoing of Israel’

    So Craig’s alleged god thinks children can be killed , for something they had not yet done.

    And we are discussing Craig, not Peter Singer, or Michael Tooley.

    Craig has no problems with children being killed, for a crime that they never grew up to commit.

    This is so horrible that you can see at once why Christians want to change the subject and talk about other people, not their all-loving, all-powerful God who turns out to be like a villain in Scooby-Doo episode, whose plans can be wrecked by a few children.

    But if Matthew wants to think his god is no better than the people who firestormed Dresden and Tokyo…

  25. Steven Carr said,

    Craig also wrote in his article :-

    ‘Not the children, for they inherit eternal life. So who is wronged? Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli soldiers themselves. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children? The brutalizing effect on these Israeli soldiers is disturbing.’

    Won’t somebody please think of the soldiers?

    They were doing God’s work. No wonder God’s work had a ‘brutalizing effect’ on these soldiers.

    Craig contrasts Allah with Yahweh ‘Allah has no love for unbelievers and sinners. Therefore, they can be killed indiscriminately.’

    Amazingly, Craig had just written :- ‘What that implies is that God has the right to take the lives of the Canaanites when He sees fit. How long they live and when they die is up to Him.’

    I think Craig worships a Satan, who can kill indiscriminately.

  26. Steven Carr said,

    William Lane Craig is very good at debating.

    Take the question. – Do abortion and infanticide lead to gratuitous harm?

    http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/washdeba-craig3.html

    Read how Craig dealt with a top atheist scholar.

    ‘We can summarize this new version of the argument from harm as follows:

    1. If God exists, gratuitous harm does not exist.
    2. Gratuitous harm does exist.
    3. Therefore, God does not exist.

    Now the most contentious premiss in this argument is (2). The first version of the argument from harm posed an essentially internal problem about the consistency of Christian theism, since the Christian is committed by his own theology to the truth of the propositions God exists and Harm exists. But the Christian is not committed to the truth of (2). How, then, will the atheist prove that the harm in the world is truly gratuitous?’

    An excellent point by a top Christian philosopher.

    How is any atheist going to prove that the harm caused by abortion and infanticide is truly gratuitous?

    Here is the challenge to atheists.

    Prove William Lane Craig wrong. Get in a debate with Craig and prove that abortion and infanticide cause gratuitious harm.

    No wonder Craig wins his debates, as atheists have never touched Craig’s point that gratuitous harm does not exist.

    Infanticide, abortion – they do not cause gratuitous harm, as Craig wins debates telling people there is no such thing as gratuitous harm.

  27. [...] Christianity has put up three excellent posts of advice on how to debate William Lane Craig (one, two, three). The reason Craig wins all his debates with atheists is not because his arguments are [...]

  28. Steven Carr said,

    There are some notes on Craig-Carrier, confirming that Carrier won the arguments

    http://bigwhiteogre.blogspot.com/2009/05/cliff-notes-version-of-craig-v-carrier.html

    CRAIG
    Jews had no idea of a messiah humiliatingly executed. Jewish beliefs preclude singular resurrection prior to general resurrection.

    CRAIG
    Carrier says reversal of expectation, but I say it’s fulfillment of expectations.

    CARR
    Guess what? No Jews expected what happened, which Craig says was a fulfillment of expectations.

    CRAIG
    They were so convinced they were ready to die, for this unJewish belief.

    CRAIG
    Can’t psychoanalyze ancient people.

    CARR
    Craig loves contradicting himself, doesn’t he?

    CRAIG
    women’s testimony not highly regarded.

    JOHN 4:39
    Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”

    I guess the Gospellers had not been to a Craig debate or else they would not have had some people beleiving in Jesus because of a women’s testimony about a miracle.

    The author of John would have learned that people would not have believed a woman’s testimony about a miracle, if only he had attended a Craig debate.

  29. Mr. Atheist said,

    Straight and to the point. Cheers!

  30. Karl said,

    Andrew – I just came across this and it’s simply the BEST analysis and advice I’ve even seen regarding debates with WLC. After watching many of his debates, I’m so tired of atheists being so unprepared, it’s ridiculous.

    • tristan said,

      Really ridiculous! After all debates are about logic and reason. And Atheists are saying that they stand on reason and logic. Hear Dawkins talk about aliens or Quentin Smith talk about the Universe creating itself! Or life coming from non-life! (Hey there’s not enough time! 14Billion years is not even enough – try figuring out the number of combination even from life to life (amino acids to proteins to cell – how much more from non-life to life!)

  31. [...] after most of these debates, one can “grade” them (as Andrew at Evaluating Christianity writes, WLC is a pro debater…so much like regular debates are “graded” and [...]

  32. [...] Lane Craig, o Lord Sith dos apologistas cristãos, e que por sinal já fez picadinho do Hitchens, entre outros, aborda a questão. Só que depois de gastar a maior parte do tempo distorcendo os argumentos do [...]

  33. [...] the courtroom… What if God existed?… My personal relationship with Jesus (NSFW)… Advice for debating William Lane Craig… Social conservatism as a coercive tool of the state… Liberals [...]

  34. Casey said,

    I want atheists to debate like high level CEDA folks.

  35. Phil said,

    Debate is theater. I couldn’t watch more than 30 seconds of those high schoolers. Craig is putting on a show, likewise.

    I have learned much more from a civilized discussion format than a debate, because in the former, one can interrupt the other on one point, instead of in the latter having to listen through 30 minutes of opening statements based on fallacies made early on.

  36. [...] of Common Sense Atheism joined Andrew of Evaluating Christianity to make the case that most atheists who debate William Lane Craig shouldn't.  You might know that [...]

  37. lece said,

    Howdy really nice blog site man, amazing, everything is great style information, i’ll bookmark and subscribe for the feeds!

  38. Anon said,

    “It’s okay; Craig isn’t going anywhere.”

    Lol, he’s not going to be around forever. He will be going somewhere, presumably not to long from now, to his grave.

    “In the panel discussion linked below, he offers seven arguments in four minutes.”

    What panel discussion? Can you give a link?

  39. Scott said,

    Then again, maybe Craig wins debates not only because he knows how to debate well (which surely is not a problem, or?), but because what he’s arguing is actually the truth. I always get uncomfortable when someone implies that a debate-winner only wins because of technique. I thought one purpose of a debate was to uncover truths and make sense of the world. What if he wins because he’s right?

  40. […] he would have a very good record indeed. This has led many people to conclude that atheists just shouldn’t debate him at all, or at least not until they have devoted 10,000 hours to learning how to be a good […]

  41. […] Christianity has put up some excellent posts of advice on how to debate William Lane Craig (one, two, three, four, five). The reason Craig wins all his debates with atheists is not because […]


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