Unreasonable Faith: William Lane Craig

WLC

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/PageServer

manicstreetpreacher analyses the apologetics of William Lane Craig following his debate with Christopher Hitchens at Biola University, 4 April 2009.

I used to hate William Lane Craig.  I first saw him debate one Professor Mike Begon at Liverpool University in 2007.  Unfortunately his opponent on that occasion did not know enough to refute Craig properly and was far too passive; playing for the draw as opposed to the win.  Craig walked all over him.

Since then, I saw Craig debate several other atheists and my loathing of him grew and grew.  His style was far too lazy; trotting out the same five “arguments” in respect of God’s existence and the same four “facts” in relation to Jesus’ resurrection.  I also found him thoroughly pompous.

In arguing that objective morals can only be grounded in God, Craig made the grotesque assertion that “an atheist cannot say that torturing children for fun is wrong”, when of course someone who will torture a child – possibly not for fun, I grant you – but certainly because they feel that they are objective moral in so doing will do it precisely because they acting in accordance with God’s will.  Female circumcision anybody?

When I first heard that Craig and Hitchens were going to debate on 4 April 2009 at Biola University, I very nearly bought a plane ticket to Los Angeles to see it for myself.   Hitchens is by far my favourite writer/ speaker/ public commentator at the moment.  I can’t get enough him verbally and logically crushing an opponent at the lectern.  I was looking forward to the prospect of him giving Craig similar treatment.

Therefore, it was with great dismay that the newspaper reports and the blogs gave a resounding victory to Craig.  Hitchens was, they said, too rambling and unfocused, evasive of Craig’s arguments and going off on his own tangents.  One atheist blogger commented, “Frankly, Craig spanked Hitchens like a foolish child”.

Oh God, how could you have let this happen?

I was dreading watching it for myself.  My agony was only prolonged by Biola University guarding the video like a jealous child.  Bootleg clips and recordings were swiftly banned from YouTube.  I eventually saw the full video after downloading it from a torrent website.

Whilst it is true that Hitchens wasn’t on his usual top form, he actually acquitted himself very well.  Reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated.  He conducted himself with an understated dignity that I have never seen in him before.  Hitchens didn’t massacre his opponent like his usually does, but I saw something better perhaps.

Craig wheeled out the same five arguments he’s been using since the George Bush Senior administration and topped them off with his usual brand of smugness; declaring that Hitchens had failed to answer his arguments and presenting no positive evidence for atheism.  However, I don’t hate Craig any more.  If anything, I feel a little sorry for him.

I was confronted with the sight of an apparently intelligent and rational adult indulging in the worst kind of childish wish fulfilment.  This was the first time I’ve seen Craig argue so vehemently about the coming of the Kingdom of God and the promise of eternal life after we are returned to the dust.

Craig waxed lyrical about the purpose of human life is, as Hitchens rightly pointed out, to end up in some theme park in the sky.  Mark Twain once said that most people cannot bear to sit in church for one hour on a Sunday, so how are they supposed to cope being stuck somewhere very similar to it for an eternity?  Are we sure that’s what we really what?  Worshipping and singing your leader’s praises for eternity?  Sounds like hell to me!

Craig also displayed a detestably Richard Swinburne brand of theodicy.  When asked by a member of the audience to answer Epicurus’ objection that God is unable or unwilling to preventing evil then he is not omnipotent/ omniscient/ omnibenevolent, Craig replied that an atheist would have to show that God had an immoral purpose for allowing suffering an evil to occurring.    This is simply making excuses for your lord and master and simply shows how desperately Craig wants it all to be true and will grovel in the dust and undergo any humiliation.   He is God’s plaything and will allow himself to be abused and humiliated and be thankful for it.  I was reminded of Richard Dawkins’ tale of Swinburne arguing on a television panel debate that the Holocaust gave the Jews a splendid opportunity to be noble.  Apparently their Oxford colleague, Peter Atkins, growled at Swinburne (in an exchange that was alas edited out of the final broadcast version), “May you rot in hell!”

Craig is desperately trying to hold on to the idea that someone up there loves him, that’s it’s all about him and he will twist and distort his opponents’ arguments and declare himself to be right no matter what.  In the Hitchens debate he finally showed his true colours: he’s a fundamentalist, not an academic scholar.

After debating (actually, during the debate itself would be more accurate!) bookish Christian apologist Peter S Williams at Liverpool University earlier this year and seeing how different our approaches were, all the ontological and scriptural arguments for God’s existence seemed so trivial.  We don’t have sophist philosophical conundrums to argue for the circumference of the Earth or the historicity of the Holocaust.  We have good old-fashioned, undeniable evidence.

I could accept every one of Craig’s five arguments; you still have all your work ahead of you convincing me that the Pope, the holder of the keys of St Peter, Christ’s vicar on Earth is objectively moral to go to Africa and say, “AIDS might be bad, but condoms might be worse”.  This is a sinister and immoral aspect to religion that interests me more than the mere existence of God and the truthfulness of the scriptures; one which Hitchens tackles head on, but Craig wilfully evades.

Craig’s arguments, particularly the resurrection of Jesus, seem so petty and irrelevant.  As Richard Dawkins has contended, having a “skyhook” to come in and arbitrarily change the laws of nature is an affront to the majesty of the natural order.  Carl Sagan’s famous passage from Pale Blue Dot hits Craig’s nail on the head:

In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe.  How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought!  The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant.  God must be even greater than we dreamed”?  Instead they say, “No, no, no!  My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.”

And as Hitchens pointed out in the debate, even if it were all true and could be proved beyond doubt, it changes nothing with regard to our daily lives.  All our problems would still be with us.

Craig’s style of arguing is deeply flawed.  He will only consider his five arguments and nothing else.  In the debate with Hitchens he avoided defending the Bible, stating that the immoralities of the Old Testament were irrelevant to the questions of whether God actually exists and was the arbiter of objective moral values, but was determinate of whether the Bible is inerrant and whether the Israelites had interpreted the will of God in slaughtering the Canaanites, which was “not on the table tonight”.  What we weren’t told was that Craig teaches at Talbot School of Theology at Biola which teaches that the Bible is inerrant.  I’m still waiting for a convincing answer as to how we are supposed to know which are the nice bits of the Bible that we are to follow in the 21st century.

Prolific blogger Steven Carr made a very amusing point in a dry, sardonic way that only he can with respect to Craig’s four facts surrounding the resurrection of Jesus on the Premier Christian Community forum:

Craig comes up with four pseudo-facts and demands people explain them.  Imagine if people used that approach in other fields.  Suppose a Holocaust-denier came up with these four facts.  And these are real facts, unlike Craig’s pseudo-facts:

Fact 1: Hitler never signed a document ordering Jews to be liquidated in Europe.

Fact 2: No German ever recorded hearing Hitler saying orally that all Jews were to be killed.

Fact 3: The building now known as Gas Chamber 1 at Auschwitz was an air-raid shelter in 1944.

Fact 4: After the war, trained historians like David Irving and clergymen like Bishop Williamson testified that there was no systematic killing of 6 million Jews.

Now these are all genuine facts, unlike Craig’s claim that it was a fact that a person called Joseph of Arimathea (where’s that?) buried Jesus.  Imagine if Holocaust-deniers suddenly demanded that people explain these four facts, and refused to consider anything else in a debate.  Craig’s four facts approach to a debate is so bad that even Holocaust-deniers do not use that kind of logic!

In the Hitchens debate Craig drew upon John Barrow & Frank Tipler’s The Anthropic Cosmological Principle and posited an argument that sounds utterly ridiculous.  Apparently Barrow and Tipler give ten points that make the evolution of Homo sapiens so improbable, that if it did occur on Earth, then it would be a miracle and thus be good evidence for Christian theism.  While I would be certainly be grateful for an evolutionary perspective from any scientists reading this, even as a layman this sounds like anthropic nonsense.

I would strongly recommend a marvellous little book called Irreligion by mathematician, John Allen Paulos.  He puts paid to Craig-style tactics of frightening audiences with massive improbabilities.  The chance of being dealt any combination of cards in a game of bridge is something like 600 billion to one, but we would only say that the eventual hand was improbable if it were determined a priori.

Watch and listen to Craig’s debate from 2003 with American cosmologist, Victor Stenger, author of the superb Has Science Found God? and God, The Failed Hypothesis.  The video stops half way through, but stick with the audio and Stenger truly wallops him for his God of the Gaps mentality and on the reliability of the New Testament documents.  “Dr Craig keeps mentioning ‘the majority of scholars’.  I don’t know where he takes these polls of scholars.  You take them at Bob Jones University?!”

And a classic from Stenger’s first rebuttal:

Low probability events happen every day.  What’s the probability that my distinguished opponent exists?  You have to calculate the probability that a particular sperm united with a particular egg, then multiply it by the probability that his parents met, and then repeat that calculation for his grandparents and all his ancestors going back to the beginning of life on Earth.  Even if you stop the calculation at Adam and Eve, you will get a fantastically small number.

To use Dr Craig’s own words, ‘improbability is multiplied by improbability by improbability until our minds are reeling in incomprehensible numbers.’

Dr Craig has a mind-reeling, incomprehensibly small probability for existing, yet here he is before us today.

Genius!

Craig is so obsessed with probabilities that he even used Bayes Theorem to argue for the probability of miracles contra-Hume in his debate (video/transcript) against Bart Ehrman on the resurrection!  Ehrman wisely didn’t respond to all the equations and later in the Q & A section condemned such idiotic reasoning as capable only of “convincing people who want to be convinced”.

Once again, John Allen Paulos recounts an amusing fable that perfectly sums up Craig’s approach:

Catherine the Great had asked the famous French philosopher Denis Diderot to her court, but was distressed to discover that Diderot was a vocal atheist.  To counter him, she asked the mathematician Leonhard Euler to confront Diderot.  On being told that there was a new argument for God’s existence, the innumerate Frenchman expressed a desire to hear it.  Euler then strode forward and stated, “Sir, (a + bn) / n = x.  Hence God exists.  Reply.”  Having no understanding of math, Diderot is reported to have been so dumbfounded he left for Paris.

I seriously doubt the story, but it is perhaps suggestive of how easily nonsense proffered in an earnest and profound manner can browbeat someone into acquiescence.

As Ehrman rightly stated in his closing remarks in that debate, Craig is an evangelist masquerading as an historian (and certainly masquerading as a scientist!) who wants people to follow his false prophet.  I have no doubt now that he does believe all he says.

I just don’t see the point in arguing with anyone like that…

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97 Responses to “Unreasonable Faith: William Lane Craig”

  1. Steve Zara Says:

    Stenger talks savagely of Lane Craig. He says that Craig knows his arguments have been refuted, so he is clearly lying for Jesus.

    Just one quibble – Lane Graig is hardly a decaying old man – just turned 60!

  2. PaulJ Says:

    I stayed up late last night watching the Craig/Hitchens video. I agree that Craig seems to use the same arguments in debates, unmodified in response to refutations. It’s as if he knows they must be irrefutable, despite how many times they are countered.

    What I found most objectionable was his recasting of the motion “Does God Exist?” It was not up to Hitchens to prove that “atheism is true” – the existence of a god is not something we can assume until we find evidence for the contrary. I think Craig did this because of where the debate was held. Placing “atheism is true” against “theism is true” introduces some obfuscation that would play better with that particular audience than would the simple question of the existence or not of God.

  3. Jay Says:

    Craig is an academic scholar whether you like it or not, and may I add, quite a prominent one at that. That doesn’t change just because you feel differently. And the notion that he is a fundamentalist is absurd. Fundamentalism is the antithesis of reason and consideration of argument. Fundamentalism is characterized by emotion (like your piece) rather than the analysis of arguments and evidence and a strong unwillingness to change at any costs. I don’t see anything like that with Craig. I just see your tremendous personal dislike of Craig which explains your accusations of him.

    I don’t think there was much substance to this piece. A lot of what you said, could, easily apply to any person, including yourself. As an example, you write:

    “Craig is a decaying old man. The skin on his hands is so tight; it’s almost transparent enough to see his bones. He’s desperately trying to hold on to the idea that someone up there loves him, that’s it’s all about him and he will twist and distort his opponents’ arguments and declare himself to be right no matter what.”

    Ignoring the fact that Craig has a neuro-muscular disorder that affects the extremeties of his hands and feet (which explains the decaying of his hands, not the rest of him), one could easily say this about Hitchens. Hitchens has stated over and over again that no amount of evidence could be provided to him that would make him believe that Theism is true. Not even an appearance of God to him. Now that is desperation. You could easily say Hitchens is desperate to hold onto his Atheism and declare himself right no matter what. And as I said already, you could say this for pretty much anyone, like Dawkins, Harris, and yourself. This is just a mere opinion of yours and nothing else.

    So about the Craig-Hitchens debate. I’m curious, do you think Hitchens came out on top? Even if you don’t think it was a knock down for Hitchens, I think you would be pretty desperate to say Hitchens came out on top.

    • manicstreetpreacher Says:

      Hello Jay

      I didn’t realise that Craig has a neuromuscular disorder that affects the appearance of his hands. Another blogger commented on it, which is how I noticed it. Thank you for pointing it out to me. I realise now that it was in poor taste and have removed that segment.

      I realise that much of my piece is pretty strong-worded, but I am attacking Craig’s arguing style as much as his arguments, which I believe are often below-the-belt.

      When has Hitchens ever said that no amount of evidence would convince him of the existence of God?

      I admit that the idea of an invisible Big Brother in the sky doesn’t exactly appeal to me in much the same way as I would not like to be under the heal of Hitler or Stalin. However, I would still accept it if there were any good reasons to believe it. Fortunately there are none.

      I thought Hitchens came out well and truly on top in terms of arguments, although it wasn’t anything like the massacre like his debate with Alistair McGrath. Craig completely misrepresented his views and redefined the debate from “Does God Exist?” to “Is atheism true?” Atheists don’t have to prove the non-existence of God any more than the non-existence of Santa Claus.

      Craig’s views on the improbability of evolution are completely wrong. Why do we still have an appendix? Why do we share the same genes as a fruit fly? Why are we only one chromosome away from chimpanzees?

      Hitchens said that there is so much that scientists don’t know about the origins of the cosmos. Atheists are the first to admit when they don’t know something. Craig fills gaps in scientific knowledge with God.

  4. Steven Carr Says:

    ‘Ignoring the fact that Craig has a neuro-muscular disorder….’

    Guess what? No God exists to heal Craig, despite Craig’s ‘personal relationship’ and Craig’s faith.

    Craig preaches that his God healed people throughout history, yet Craig is living proof that if there is a god, he passes by on the other side even when his most faithful beloved children are suffering.

    • Jay Says:

      Steven Carr, only you would be crass enough to use someone’s disability against them. For your information, Craig has stated in interviews (more than once) that it was precisely his disability that led him to a life of the mind. Because he couldn’t excel at sports or any type of physical activity, he therefore pushed himself hard academically, determined to reach some sort of academic fame. Well now look where he is. The guy’s like the most famous Christian apologist alive today, having written a book that has become one of the most influential in the philosophy of Religion today. Top that with an academic reputation as one of the top philosophers in this same category and I’d say it doesn’t get much better for a Christian apologist.

      Honestly, if some disability, suffering, evil or whatever allowed me to gain even half the fame and reputation Craig has I’d trade for it in a heart beat. Care to revise your theory about how God just doesn’t care for his beloved children?

      • paul collier Says:

        I am sorry for Craig’s afflictions, I am sure he is heart-rendingly sincere, he may even be smart–but none of that excuses him for being a sloppy thinker, a poor scholar/historian, and a pompous twit. His core argument, if you could call it that, seems to come down to this: “But it’s in the Bible! And surely nobody would dispute the Bible!” He doesn’t cite the Bible much, but he conjures up these “historical facts” which don’t exist anywhere outside the Bible and offers no further validation for them.

  5. Damion Says:

    To those of you who think Hitch did okay, which of Craig’s argumenthere’d he refute? I watched this event live and recall being rather disappointed that he did not attack any of Craig’s arguments head on.

  6. Damion Says:

    Not only did Hitch fail to refute or even address Craig’s arguments, but (IIRC) he put forth precious few valid arguments of his own.

    My review:
    http://agnosticpopularfront.blogspot.com/search/label/Hitchens

  7. manicstreetpreacher Says:

    It’s a favourite dirty trick of Craig’s to say that his opponent has not answered his challenges.

    Cosmological argument

    Hitch said that we don’t know enough to say that the universe began with the Big Bang at all. No one has ever won the Nobel Prize for Physics on this point. Watch and listen to Craig’s debate with Vic Stenger, which I have linked in my main piece. Stenger says that the idea that the universe had a beginning and will have an end is a theological notion, not a scientific one. Our universe could well have come from a parent universe, itself uncaused. WE DON’T KNOW. Saying “God did it” is the same as saying “Santa Claus did it.” Scientific explanations may not answer everything, but at least they answer something. Supernatural explanations answer nothing; they only raise more questions. It’s not all that long ago that people thought that death and disease were God’s punishment for sin…

    Fine tuning

    Hitch pointed out that we do not live in a fine-tuned universe at all. We can see all around us the abortive attempts nature has made to get life started. We live on one pale blue dot, surrounded by cosmic waste, that will itself soon be returned to oblivion. Some design! The fine-tuning argument is basically theists saying, “OK, so space is obviously a lot bigger than we first thought, but look!!! Life in the universe is sooooooo rare and improbable that we are still special in some way. Besides, the argument shoots itself in the foot before it has even left the starting blocks. Physical parameters ought to be irrelevant to an omnipotent god. He could have designed us to survive in a cold, hard vacuum if he wanted to.

    Jesus’ resurrection

    Ok, I have seen Hitch do better here. Watch this hilarious clip of his debate at Freedom Fest 2008 against Dinesh D Souza:

    However, Craig’s assertion that Christianity is true because the early Christian’s died for their faith is flat-out arrogance and not an argument that he would accept for Islam, as Hitch pointed out (but of course Craig moved the goalposts and redefined his argument). The 9/11 hijackers died for their faith. As Bart Ehrman pointed out in his debate with Craig, there is absolutely no evidence that Jesus’ disciples DID die for their faith.

    Objective moral values

    The Hitchens Challenge on morality remains unanswered and Craig’s attempts to do so were pathetic. See also my comments on torturing children for fun: it’s all very well asserting that moral values can only come from God. The argument falls flat on its face when people have such differing opinions of what God considers to be right and moral. As an atheist I can see that the Holocaust is wrong because I have an innate sympathy with the victims and would not like to undergo the same experience myself.

    Personal experience of God

    What about those whose personal experience tells them to circumcise their child without their consent to commit mass murder because other people are worshipping the “wrong” god? On what basis can Craig say that they were mistaken? None whatsoever is the answer. Better to rule it out a priori.

    Craig’s five “arguments” (if they even warrant such a description) have been refuted many times and he’s deluded himself and his audience by saying that they still stand.

  8. eheffa Says:

    Craig’s arguments all depend on the veracity of these undated, anonymous, interdependent late first century to early second century evangelistic tracts we call the “Canonical Gospels”.

    There is no good evidence for the existence of an historical Jesus, let alone one who died & rose from the dead. The only people convinced by Craig’s bluster are those who want to believe it & be reassured that there might be some rational support for these unsupported assertions of the faith.

    To any neutral observer, it is nothing more than polished pious bull$hit.

    I believed it once but I won’t be fooled again.

    -evan

  9. Rob R Says:

    Low probability events happen every day.

    This line of reasoning is not helpful. Noting that things that have happened often have an extremely low chance of happening (in terms of the minute specifics) doesn’t help when we have any uncertainty. We have little uncertainty about the things that have observably happened. For that which we hypothosize about in the past and that which we predict in the future, probability is very useful. Common descent, and more so naturalism are not observable, hence it is perfectly reasonable to assess their viability through considerations of probability.

    • manicstreetpreacher Says:

      Probability calculations after the event are pointless. If probability is the be all and end all, how come Bayes geniuses don’t win millions predicting the outcome of the World Cup or democratic elections?

      What matters is whether an event is within the natural, materialistic realm, requires no supernatural intervention and has plenty of evidence to support it. Scientists have traced the evolution of man from the first puddle of slime using DNA, radiocarbon dating and the fossil record. Creationists and ID proponents haven’t proved anything and never will.

  10. Damion Says:

    Ed – You are showing that Craig’s arguments can be rEadily rebutted, but I remain skeptical of the claim that Hitch pursued any of these lines of defense to any significant degree. If you’ve seen or heard the Stenger debate you know what a real rebuttal to Kalam and fine-tuning sound like, and I’ve not heard Hitch do that. I’ll have another listen, but I am very much prepared for disappointment.

    • manicstreetpreacher Says:

      I’m not saying that Hitchens did the best job on Craig. It was a very understated performance and Craig says that his arguments still stand no matter what. I am simply recommending Craig’s debate with Stenger as one of the rare examples when Craig gets a real dusting.

  11. Rob R Says:

    Probability calculations after the event are pointless.

    Not when the event is in question.

    If probability is the be all and end all, how come Bayes geniuses don’t win millions predicting the outcome of the World Cup or democratic elections?

    Perhaps because their statistical data isn’t good enough in those situations.

    And math genuises have indeed done well in vegas anyhow.

    What matters is whether an event is within the natural, materialistic realm, requires no supernatural intervention

    So what matters is that we accept these scientifically untestable assumptions and decide a priori that super natural occurances don’t happen.

    and has plenty of evidence to support it.

    And statistics are one of the tools of science to measure the degree to which the evidence may support this or that claim.

    Scientists have traced the evolution of man from the first puddle of slime using DNA, radiocarbon dating and the fossil record.

    It organizes much data relatively well, same thing with Newtonian physics for a while, until we found that the formulas ceased to work when the numbers were too big, too small or too precise.

    Creationists and ID proponents haven’t proved anything and never will.

    That could be the case, but it’s beyond my ability to judge the evidences. But of course even some of the specialists make bad arguments that even I can understand, like the one that highlights that low probability events happen every day.

    • manicstreetpreacher Says:

      Even if I accepted Craig probability scaremongering (which I don’t!) what is the threshold by which we say, “OK, it’s soooooo unlikely to have occurred naturally, it must have been The Thing That Made The Things For Which There Is No Known Maker?”

      I’ll say it again: supernatural explanations answer nothing. Saying that “God did it” is the same as saying that “Santa Claus did it”. It’s a cop out, a non-answer, an “I dunno” dress up in spirituality and ritual.

      • Rob R Says:

        “OK, it’s soooooo unlikely to have occurred naturally, it must have been The Thing That Made The Things For Which There Is No Known Maker?”

        Got me. I’m not a scientist. I doubt there is any specific objective threshold, but I doubt that really matters. Who’s leading the charge to get statistics out of science on those grounds? I geuss on those terms, you’d be debunking all of science in light of the current claims of quantum mechanics and their implications that just about every physical thing that happens is a matter of probability.

        I’ll say it again: supernatural explanations answer nothing.

        It explains that certain things didn’t happen by by pure chance or via unguided processes and it explains that some or most or all of what we experience is the result of an intentional intelligent being.

        It surely isn’t a complete explanation, and since when do explanations have to be complete to be of value? Who’s to say that we will ever figure out the most fundamental physics that will explain the different forces, the absolute nature of particles and so on. If we never do, if we are never capable of building a big enough particle accelerator, does that mean all of the science we have was worthless? Hardly.

        And an explanation of divine guidance behind the universe has a chance to explain things which science is completely inept in explaining, such as what is moral, intrinsic human worth, and whether history has a point or not. It may even be useful towards a question which science is utterly unable to explain, and that is the validity of science.

  12. Steven Carr Says:

    So God cared for Craig by giving him a disability?

    JAY
    For byour information, Craig has stated in interviews (more than once) that it was precisely his disability that led him to a life of the mind. Because he couldn’t excel at sports or any type of physical activity, he therefore pushed himself hard academically, determined to reach some sort of academic fame. Well now look where he is.

    CARR
    I guess God really cares a lot for Stephen Hawking.

    Why, God cares so much for Hawking he has totally paralysed the guy!

    Thank goodness God does not care for me!

    • Jay Says:

      As I suspected, you’re just twisting everything to score some rhetorical points (as you always do). It’s not about God caring only for those who he has disabled. The point is that even if one is inflicted with suffering or evil, there can be a greater good that comes out of it, whether it is for the person individually affected, or for someone else. You’re not seeing the bigger picture because you’re only looking at it from your own limited perspective.

      Claim what you will about evils and suffering in the world, but one thing for sure you can’t do is claim that Craig’s disability didn’t do him any good in this life.

      Let’s see…I’ll make a prediction about how you’ll respond. You’ll respond by giving more empty rhetoric while twisting my response even more. No surprise though, since you’re extremely gifted at doing so.

  13. Russ Says:

    When Craig considers events which he wishes to be improbable to extent that he then considers supernaturalism to provide a better explanation, he intentionally assumes that each related sub-event is completely random and independent. This is appropriate for systems that are, indeed, completely random and independent like throwing dice and flipping coins, but it is erroneous to apply it to biological systems which are not random and independent.

    Craig has at times mentioned physiologically active proteins and ascribed very low probability to their forming spontaneously using a random independent model. Of course, no biological systems, whether single-celled or simple multi-cellular or metazoan, would exist if the biochemistry of living things were random.

    As Craig would look at it, the 51 amino acid hormone, is so improbable, if formed randomly, that we must invoke a supernatural entity to get one. But, just as a stamping machine can provide me with near 100 percent certainty of getting a new head gasket with each drop of the die, so too does the biological machine, the ribosome, give us near 100 percent certainty of getting a new biologically active insulin molecule with every translation from DNA to protein.

    Craig’s choice of model gives a probability of about 1 in 10 to the 66th power(51 amino acids chosen randomly from a pool of 20), a very low probability indeed. But, in a real live human being the ribosome increases that probability to very nearly one.

    As I see it, for someone to keep using the same flawed argument, especially after it has been brought to his attention(I’ve told him myself), is truly dishonest.

    dealing with events which Craig operates with the assumption that all

    • Rob R Says:

      This is appropriate for systems that are, indeed, completely random and independent like throwing dice and flipping coins, but it is erroneous to apply it to biological systems which are not random and independent.

      natural selection and common descent aside, to my knowledge, there is no known non-random process by which the cell clearly may have developed.

      Of course, no biological systems, whether single-celled or simple multi-cellular or metazoan, would exist if the biochemistry of living things were random.

      the non-random features of the molecules and elements of life have not, to my knowledge, explained how they came together. They only explain how the function as they are currently put together.

      But, in a real live human being the ribosome increases that probability to very nearly one.

      Right… in a LIVE human being. Nobody is raising a controversy about the simple fact of how life comes from life.

      • Russ Says:

        Rob R,

        You miss the point.

        When Craig seizes on probability to make his case he assumes that proteins and other biomacromolecules arise from the random ordering of the amino acids or other biological monomers. These are topics which Craig has never fully explored. The field is, in fact, far too vast, too much is known for any one person to absorb it all. Craig appropriated enough of the language to sound convincing to an uninformed listener, but not enough to formulate valid arguments based on the science. His target audience consists largely of those who neither know nor care about the science, and who, further, will accept as scientifically valid any set of phrases composed from scientific sounding words. Sadly, this is even true of many scientifically illiterate doctorates in philosophy, who are completely bamboozled by the marketing schemes dreamed up by the Discovery Institute.

        When you say, “the non-random features of the molecules and elements of life have not, to my knowledge, explained how they came together,” you need to understand that we can look to science with the real hope that it will provide answers where and when it can, while we know just as surely that Craig’s adored religion has never provided us with anything we can rely on. Ever.

        That no scientist has delved into, or perhaps gotten funding to delve into, what you consider to be your favorite science stumper, in no way justifies desperately grasping for a supernaturalistic I-must-have-an-answer-right-now-at-any-cost fix. For that matter if your favorite science stumper is genuinely unanswerable, religion will not tell you that, science will. Honestly saying “I do not know” is in no way embarassing.

        Next time you want to propose what you think is a scientifically intractable problem, pass the same problem on to your local clergyman and have him tell you how religion answers it. History has repeatedly shown us that they’ll give you an answer and it will be wrong.

        We have no reason to accept anything Craig says about his religion since it has been wrong so many times, about very important factual and moral claims, and its unalterability commits its followers to re-experience those same failures time and time again. Science learns from its errors and rejects its failures, so over the centuries, it has accrued a huge store of reliable information. People say they have faith in religious notions, but they don’t.

        In every aspect of their lives, when the need is real – food, medicine, emergency care – they turn to science and science delivers. They do not turn to religion. Sure, the religious misattribute disaster relief, emergency medical assistance, and other fruits of modern science to their particular Christianity’s version of a deity even though the credit is due to science. The science works with no regard to race, creed, religion, income or celebrity status. Religion is expendable in today’s world. Science is indispensable.

  14. Steven Carr Says:

    CARR
    Is it morally right to torture innocent babies for fun?

    JAY
    The point is that even if one is inflicted with suffering or evil, there can be a greater good that comes out of it, whether it is for the person individually affected, or for someone else. You’re not seeing the bigger picture because you’re only looking at it from your own limited perspective.

    CARR
    Is abortion morally right?

    JAY
    The point is that even if one is inflicted with suffering or evil, there can be a greater good that comes out of it, whether it is for the person individually affected, or for someone else. You’re not seeing the bigger picture because you’re only looking at it from your own limited perspective.

    CARR
    Remind me never to ask Jay for advice on morals.

    His arguments are the arguments that evil people have used throughout history to justify evil and suffering.

    Jay’s arguments are so obviously bad that they can be used to justify even the Holocaust.

    Was the Holocaust morally wrong?

    JAY
    The point is that even if one is inflicted with suffering or evil, there can be a greater good that comes out of it, whether it is for the person individually affected, or for someone else. You’re not seeing the bigger picture because you’re only looking at it from your own limited perspective.

    CARR
    I quote from a report of a Craig debate

    http://secweb.infidels.org/?kiosk=articles&id=147

    ‘Craig actually said that God has the right to commit murder, and that God allowed the Nazi holocaust in order to get the nation of Israel refounded in 1948.’

    Where there is Christianity, there are no morals, as Christians like Craig will tell you that you are not ‘seeing the bigger picture’ when you weep for 6 million dead Jews.

    • Jay Says:

      Man, for someone who writes so much about WLC, you sure don’t know anything about him or his arguments. Nor do you know even the basic argument that is being put forward here. Perhaps this is just you twisting things again like you always. But then again, maybe you’re just totally ignorant of the issue here.

      The point isn’t that things like the Holocaust and other evils are moral. They’re not. Likewise, diseases, disabilities and other things which produce suffering do actually produce suffering (as if I need to state the obvious). Again, the point is that God can use evils and suffering to produce a greater good. God doesn’t commit the evil, rather he allows it to happen. This is just the standard Theistic response to the problem of evil and suffering. Just because God may allow suffering or evils to take place doesn’t mean they are any less evil or painful in the case of suffering. This isn’t about their moral nature but about whether they produce greater goods. For your information Craig never said the Holocaust happened for the creation of Israel. He stated it as a possibility of what God could have allowed in order to bring forth a greater good.

      “His arguments are the arguments that evil people have used throughout history to justify evil and suffering.”

      No, it’s just the answer to the problem of evil. Those answers aren’t used to justify doing evils, they are explanations as to why God may permit evil and suffering. Seriously, I thought you knew this. I’m shocked that you don’t. Anyways, why am I wasting time arguing with you. Sorry, but you clearly lost your initial point. You stated that because God didn’t heal Craig that he is living proof that he doesn’t care for him. Once I threw that theory back to you you never came back to defend it. I’m not here to debate the problem of evil with you. I only responded to you in the first place to refute your using of Craig’s disability against him and you have to admit I totally owned you on that one.

  15. manicstreetpreacher Says:

    It’s all very well Craig banging about how low a probability naturalistic explanations have in produced what we observe today. He has NEVER addressed the probability of the laws of nature being altered, which must surely be even lower than any naturalistic explanation.

  16. Steven Carr Says:

    Jay says it is moral to allow the Holocaust to happen.

    • Jay Says:

      When did I say it was moral to allow the Holocaust to happen?

      I said God may allow certain evils to come about to bring about greater goods . It would be immoral for us to allow an evil to occur if we were in a position to stop it. But since God sees everything and knows everything that will happen that changes everything. It could be moral for God (not us) to allow an evil to occur to bring forth a greater good.

      And why are you even talking about what is moral and immoral. You’re an Atheist and your Atheism doesn’t afford you any right to make normative statements. There is no real morality on your view. It’s all subjective preference on your view so don’t be complaining about Christians and their morality when you can’t make moral judgments, at least in any meaningful sense.

      • Paulj Says:

        I don’t get this. If God “may” allow certain evils to come about to bring about greater goods (as Jay says) I assume those actions (the allowing of certain evils) are moral actions, as a theist would understand “moral”. Does that mean that every evil in the world is a means to a “moral” end, or just some of them?

        If the evil is in the world, God has allowed it, so it must, in this way of thinking, be something that will lead to a greater good. As far as I can see, this messes up any sensible definition of “evil”.

        To go back to what Jay says above, if God may allow certain evils to come about, are there some others he doesn’t allow? And how would we know (if he hasn’t allowed them)? If the answer is that we can’t possibly know, this comes back to “God moves in mysterious ways” – making all discussion of the problem of evil futile (which incidentally is fine by me).

  17. Steven Carr Says:

    And Jay never says what good came out of the Holocaust that his alleged God could not have got by stopping the Holocaust.

    And Jay never says what greater good abortion leads to.

    Just think if God healed Craig tomorrow by a miracle – during one of his debates. Just think how Craig would preach if he had been healed miraculously during a debate.

    Perhaps the ‘greater good’ is that atheists can see, know and believe that no god exists to heal Craig , which would be an amazing testimony if Craig had been healed during a debate.

    Sorry, Jay, but your argument that God allows Craig’s illness to let him concentrate on apologetics can be refuted by a 4 year old child, who would at once see that Craig’s apologetics would be much stronger if there was a God who healed Craig miraculously debate.

    Please feel free to keep serving up these balls for me to knock out of the park!

    • Jay Says:

      Right, I don’t say what the goods are that come about for these evils, because I don’t know. The point about this explanation isn’t about explaining what goods come about but that they are possible and because of that God may be within his rights to allow evil and suffering to obtain.

  18. Steven Carr Says:

    Jay claims his God is moral to allow babies to be tortured for fun.

    Jay claims he can answer all atheists by telling them that God allows babies to be tortured for fun, because torturing babies for fun leads to a greater good….

    I can even quote Jay :-

    JAY
    The point is that even if one is inflicted with suffering or evil, there can be a greater good that comes out of it, whether it is for the person individually affected, or for someone else. You’re not seeing the bigger picture because you’re only looking at it from your own limited perspective.

    CARR
    When God looks at a baby being tortured for fun, he sees the bigger picture and knows that a greater good comes out of it.

    Why are Christian arguments so absurd that if you quote their own arguments, they accuse you of ridiculing them?

    Is it because Christians say ridiculous things that you can ridicule them simply by repeating what they say?

    • Jay Says:

      CARR
      When God looks at a baby being tortured for fun, he sees the bigger picture and knows that a greater good comes out of it.

      JAY
      I guess Carr must be one of those people who wouldn’t take his son or daughter to the hospital to get treated for a disease or some illness if he knew it would cause them pain. Let’s imagine that everyone. Carr would refuse to let his son go on some painful medication that cures him because he couldn’t watch his son be tortured like that. Even though there’s this obvious greater good that comes about we should all expect Carr to save his son from going through that horrible experience, indeed any experience. We should expect nothing less from him. Even in the case of getting a shot to prevent meningitis, the flew, or a simple tetanus shot that can make the simple difference between life and death we should still expect Carr not to take his son to get one, since the needle is painful.

  19. Steven Carr Says:

    Jay claims God allows abortion because it leads to a greater good.

    In fact, William Lane Craig himself claims that God will not allow some children to grow up.

    CRAIG
    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.

    CARR
    Craig’s god is like a Scooby-Doo villain whose plans can be wrecked by a few children.

    JAY
    When did I say it was moral to allow the Holocaust to happen?

    I said God may allow certain evils to come about to bring about greater goods .

    CARR
    I see.

    God allows the Holocaust to happen, and Jay himself claims it was not moral to allow the Holocaust to happen…..

    Can Jay actually string together a coherent argument?

    Is it moral to allow the Holocaust to happen?

    William Lane Craig claims God was moral in allowing the Holocaust to happen, because it led to the creation of Israel.

    • Jay Says:

      Alright, to hell with it. You want to play these word games then fine by me. I’ll do the same thing and show you just how annoying it is to argue with someone like you.

      CARR
      God allows the Holocaust to happen, and Jay himself claims it was not moral to allow the Holocaust to happen…..

      JAY
      It appears that yet again Carr is not paying attention. Jay clearly stated that it wasn’t moral for people to allow evil to happen, but for God it’s different given his omniscience.

      CARR
      Can Jay actually string together a coherent argument?

      JAY
      Does Carr know how to read properly or is he only good at misrepresenting what other people say?

  20. Steven Carr Says:

    JAY has no idea why it is morally correct to allow babies to be tortured for fun.

    And yet William Lane Craig writes a book called ‘Reasonable Faith’ and even Craig’s own supporters admit they cannot tell you why it is morally correct for their alleged god to allow babies to be tortured for fun.

    This is not ‘Reasonable Faith’ It is self-confessed BLIND faith.

    Christians cannot tell you how they know they are not worshipping a Satan.

    All they know is that if this being strikes people down dead for gathering sticks on the Sabbath, they are going to go to church and sing hymns of praise because they worship a being who they claim kills people.

    • Jay Says:

      Stop writing in the third person. You’re not impressing anyone.

      “Christians cannot tell you how they know they are not worshipping a Satan.”

      Stop babbling and answer the responses that I gave to you. Tell me, is it impossible or immoral that God allows certain evils to come about if there is a greater good in allowing it to happen? I’m going to keep asking you this question until you answer it. You can’t just assume that there isn’t such reasons if God exists.

  21. Jay Says:

    “Jay claims he can answer all atheists by telling them that God allows babies to be tortured for fun, because torturing babies for fun leads to a greater good…”

    You’re just full of rhetoric. For once, actually engage the conversation seriously instead of resorting to emotional language. Here, let me give a good example. If you can refute it, then I’ll admit you have a point.

    Suppose two trains are coming on a track and 1 of them is destined to a hit a little boy playing on the track and the other is destined to hit a bus packed with 50 people on it trapped on the track. You have a choice. You can either save the little boy, or you can save the 50 people in a bus. Which do you choose? Being rational you decide that saving 50 people would be the greater good than saving 1 individual and so you proceed to help the 50 people before the train arrives. Now here’s the question. Which action brings about the greater good? Clearly the saving of 50 people no doubt. Would you be immoral for letting the train hit the little boy? No, you wouldn’t. Well just like the train example, this may be the case for God allowing evil and suffering. Since it’s possible that he sees greater goods that result from evils, even horrific evils that we see from our perspective, he may be justified in allowing certain evils to come about. Unless you can prove that God doesn’t have such reasons then you can’t refute the Theistic response.

  22. Steven Carr Says:

    JAY
    You have a choice. You can either save the little boy, or you can save the 50 people in a bus.

    CARR
    I guess Jay doesn’t believe in a god who can save all 51 people.

    Guess what? Neither do I.

    Now how can Jay give evidence he is not worshippng a Satan.

    2 Samuel 12

    Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt,the son born to you will die.”

    15 After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill.

    Jay’s God kills innocent children.

    Jay worships a child-killer!

    • Jay Says:

      CARR
      I guess Jay doesn’t believe in a god who can save all 51 people.

      Guess what? Neither do I.

      JAY
      I guess Carr isn’t familiar with the whole concept of a God who always interferes to save people from evil only to let worse things come about. Yup, NOPE, he’s not

      CARR
      Now how can Jay give evidence he is not worshippng a Satan.

      JAY
      Now how can Carr give evidence that he is not being an annoying prick. Ummm, good question. He can’t!

      CARR
      Jay’s God kills innocent children.

      JAY
      And Carr’s Atheism kills children and makes it totally insignificant. Carrs Atheism makes killing children equivalent to Carr squashing a mosquito.

  23. Steven Carr Says:

    And Jay’s argument is that God allows abortion because it leads to a greater good.

    God allows babies to be tortured for fun, because torturing babies for fun leads to a greater good.

    In fact Jay BOASTS that nobody can refute his claim that torturing babies for fun leads to a greater good.

    No wonder Jay sought out a child-killer to worship.

    • Jay Says:

      CARR
      “And Jay’s argument is that God allows abortion because it leads to a greater good.”

      JAY
      And Carr’s argument is that because he’s ignorant of what those goods are, they therefore must not exist. Carr needs to go back to school and learn that ignorance is not a substitute or an excuse for someone being wrong.

      Carr boasts about his Atheism, but is he willing to boast about how the killing of children on his view is not wrong?

  24. Steven Carr Says:

    JAY
    Tell me, is it impossible or immoral that God allows certain evils to come about if there is a greater good in allowing it to happen? I’m going to keep asking you this question until you answer it.

    CARR
    Jay, I thought you were going to keep on asking me to show that torturing babies for fun does not lead to a greater good.

    How come you’ve stopped asking me the question if torturing babies for fun leads to a greater good?

    I’ll keep asking you to show you are not worshipping a Satan and you can keep asking me to show that torturing babies for fun does not lead to a greater good…

    1 Samuel 6
    When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. 7 The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God.

    Why did your child-killing God strike somebody down for touching his stuff?

    • Jay Says:

      CARR
      I’ll keep asking you to show you are not worshipping a Satan and you can keep asking me to show that torturing babies for fun does not lead to a greater good…

      JAY
      I’ll keep asking you to first and foremost show that you aren’t (1) An annoying prick and (2) Someone who doesn’t promote Nihilism. Honestly, how could Carr possibly hold to a view that implies that the killing of children is meaningless, comparable to killing rodents.

  25. Steven Carr Says:

    Jay was going to keep asking me to refute his boast that torturing babies for fun leads to a greater good.

    I wonder why he stopped asking me to refute his claim that torturing babies for fun leads to a greater good which is why his God allows it

    . Gee, I never knew that the Holocaust lead to a greater good until Craig explained that it did.

    He is now reduced to claiming that atheists are just as evil as the god he worships and sings hymns of praise to.

    Of course his god is just as evil as people. It was people who created William Lane Craig’s god, and then made up stories about it. You cannot expect a creation to be any better than its creator.

    • Jay Says:

      CARR
      I wonder why he stopped asking me to refute his claim that torturing babies for fun leads to a greater good which is why his God allows it

      JAY
      I’m constantly surprised at Carr’s refusal to answer my question on how he could hold to a view that sees the killing and torturing of children as equivalent to killing rodents or mosquitoes.

      Carr appears not to have understood my response to the above. I say God may have morally sufficient reasons to allow evils and all Carr could say in response is that “I’m ignorant of the outcome, therefore there is no greater outcome”.

      CARR
      Of course his god is just as evil as people.

      JAY
      Of course Carr holds to this amazing hypocrisy of claiming we worship an evil God when on his view there is no evil or good. He of course fails to mention the fact that this view leads people to commit attrocities and evil in the name of moral nihilism. But of course you can’t expect anything less from a person who has borrowed the concept of objective morality from religion to ironically refute religion. Carr just can’t see how much of a hypocrite he is here.

  26. Steven Carr Says:

    Jay BOASTED that nobody could refute his claim that torturing babies for fun leads to a greater good.

    Now he has gone all quiet.

    Why does Jay’s God strike children down dead?

    I quote Craig again ‘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.’

    Will Craig repent of his sin of worshipping a child-killer and calling child-killing moral?

    • Jay Says:

      CARR
      “Jay BOASTED that nobody could refute his claim that torturing babies for fun leads to a greater good.”

      JAY
      I remember Carr boasting about how God didn’t care about his children like Dr. Craig but then when I responded back he dropped the point. Now he is all quiet.

      CARR
      Why does Jay’s God strike children down dead?

      JAY
      Why does Carr hold that the killing of children is equivalent to killing rodents? Carr refuses to answer this question and keeps dodging this.

  27. Steven Carr Says:

    Jay continues to boast that torturing babies leads to a greater good and that he is going to worship a being that allows babies to be tortured.

    In fact, Jay has a book which alleges that his own god killed children, which is why Jay worships a child-killer.

    William Lane Craig claims the Holocaust leads to a greater good.

    No wonder Craig sickens decent people.

    No wonder Craig cannot explain why his God is not a demon.

    • Jay Says:

      CARR
      Jay continues to boast that torturing babies leads to a greater good and that he is going to worship a being that allows babies to be tortured.

      JAY
      Carr continues to boast about his Atheism and therefore boasts about how killing and torturing babies is equivalent to killing rodents.

      In fact Carr explicitly stated his view does lead to this sort of subjectivity.

      No wonder why Atheism leads people like Stalin to kill millions of people. No wonder it leads people like Pekka-Eric Auvinen to a school shooting.

  28. Rob R Says:

    @ Russ

    You miss the point.

    Not really. I just focused on problematic claims you utilized to make your point.

    These are topics which Craig has never fully explored.

    I haven’t read or heard Craig on these topics but I know he’s not an expert. That wouldn’t stop him from making non-falacious appeals to authority. Did he do that? I don’t know.

    His target audience consists largely of those who neither know nor care about the science, and who, further, will accept as scientifically valid any set of phrases composed from scientific sounding words.

    This is more or less true of all laymen and the same criticism could apply to an audience receptive to common descent or naturalism when hearing that explained from a naturalism proponent.

    Many in the audience are indeed not qualified to judge these things and that’s a point that cuts both ways. If only they’d accept naturalism, they’d still be just as unqualified to judge the highly technical aspects.

    Sadly, this is even true of many scientifically illiterate doctorates in philosophy, who are completely bamboozled by the marketing schemes dreamed up by the Discovery Institute.

    At least they aren’t bamboozled by scientists who don’t understand the limits of science and the self defeating nature of science when it’s made to be a requirement and measure for all knowledge.

    you need to understand that we can look to science with the real hope that it will provide answers where and when it can

    Yes, I perfectly agree with this. It will provide answers where and when it can and it won’t provide answers where and when it can’t. And I suspect that science is capable of demonstrating that naturalism doesn’t work. Maybe it won’t, but there’s no reason to embrace that as an absolute unquestionable dogma.

    while we know just as surely that Craig’s adored religion has never provided us with anything we can rely on. Ever.

    No, we don’t know that. And that’s a claim that science cannot verify. If it has, can you point out the scientific journal where this has been published?

    Furthermore, that contradicts the experience of countless people who’s lives have been improved by following Christ. And that distorted religion of all kinds have had terrible effects really doesn’t contradict that.

    what you consider to be your favorite science stumper,

    That’s really presumptuous. There is far more that can be said about the validity of religious answers than the scientific considerations can deal with. The world is a far richer place than that.

    That no scientist has delved into, or perhaps gotten funding to delve into,

    So what am I to think that when I repeatedly see this claim about the absence of scientists looking into this and then I read and see of tenured, published scientists trained at accredited schools claiming otherwise. I’m just going to conclude, as many other people will, that it wasn’t honest or grossly misinformed. Perhaps they aren’t real scientists, and then as far as I can tell, we have what is in fact an excellent display of the no true Scotsman fallacy.

    Course you probably mean to suggest that there are no scientists directly testing Intelligent Design or the ideas behind the anthropic principle. I don’t see why that should matter if the arguments are drawn from implications of research that has already been done. Irreducible complexity is based upon knowledge of how parts of the structure work in relation to the whole. Scientists already know this sort of thing. Of course I’m aware that there is disagreement on how well these implications have been drawn.

    For that matter if your favorite science stumper is genuinely unanswerable, religion will not tell you that, science will.

    Right, and religion can benefit from the implications of that science.

    Next time you want to propose what you think is a scientifically intractable problem,

    Next time? when was the first time? I didn’t propose any such intractable problem. I’m not qualified to do so. But that doesn’t keep me from criticizing poor refutations.

    We have no reason to accept anything Craig says about his religion since it has been wrong so many times,

    I know of several things that Craig is wrong about apart from these discussions.

    But you’ve been wrong a few times. Does that mean I have no reason accept anything you say?

    People say they have faith in religious notions, but they don’t.

    I don’t know what you’re talking about, but all knowledge, scientific or religious involves epistemic risk, that is the concievability that something that is believed could be wrong or that it is at some level unprovable, or to put it shortly, all knowledge requires some level of faith. Even math and logic, the most undeniable of all forms of knowledge cannot be proven externally. So to put it shortly, all knowledge requires some level of faith.

    In every aspect of their lives, when the need is real – food, medicine, emergency care – they turn to science and science delivers.

    Often by religiously motivated people.

    The science works with no regard to race, creed, religion, income or celebrity status.

    In a limited capacity. Don’t forget that science also makes us more effective killers from abortions to nukes. And there is no experiment that can demonstrate why we shouldn’t use either. What is good what ought to be done and what is worthwhile is beyond the grasp of science. Of course you can speak of humanism, but there’s no scientific validation of that or how it should be carried out. Science can tell us nothing about the worth of individuals and significance of humanity.

  29. Rob R Says:

    @ edthemanic…

    It’s all very well Craig banging about how low a probability naturalistic explanations have in produced what we observe today. He has NEVER addressed the probability of the laws of nature being altered, which must surely be even lower than any naturalistic explanation.

    Actually I have seen him indirectly address it in his debate with Erhman who suggested that miracles where too improbably to consider for history.

    Craig’s point was very good noting that it’s absurd to speak of the probability of miracles without doing theology.

    But discussing whether or not God would perform a miracle is not really an investigation of statistical numbers so much as it would be an investigation of reasoning. God after all is a person, not a natural quantifiable object.

  30. Dutchman Says:

    Citing probabilities of any outcome as ecidence of God is absurd. Consider the probability of anyone existing. The specific sperm and egg must meet at the right moment. Consider also the chance of the parents actually meeting… and their sets of parents… and so on and so on. Does that mean that God orchestrated the entire family tree? Absurd. There are lies, damn lies and statistics. William Lane Craig sounds like a zealot with a closed mind.

  31. Steven Carr Says:

    ROB
    Craig’s point was very good noting that it’s absurd to speak of the probability of miracles without doing theology.

    CARR
    Craig’s standard arguments for God is that the resurrection is evidence for the Christian God.

    Is he also claiming in his Ehrman debate that you have to assume the Christian God exists before you can assess the evidence for the resurrection?

    That would be circular reasoning.

    If there is a God of the Christians, it is reasonable to believe there is a high probability he would raise Jesus.

    But how do we know there is a Christian God?

    Easy. The resurrection of Jesus raises the probability of the God of the Christians existing.

  32. horatiox Says:

    When asked by a member of the audience to answer Epicurus’ objection that God is unable or unwilling to preventing evil then he is not omnipotent/ omniscient/ omnibenevolent, Craig replied that an atheist would have to show that God had an immoral purpose for allowing suffering an evil to occurring. “””””

    WL Craig seems sort of like a used-car salesman for the Almighty. He does present his case fairly effectively, however bombastic, yet relies on a typical sunday school manipulation ie. –non-believers must disprove theism. Au cuntraire! It is believers who must prove theism, which they cannot do. They can suggest it, but the Thomistic chestnuts themselves are not necessary proofs. Note also Craig’s usual shift from the philosophical and scientific to the theological. Big bang to the bible;evolution as a designer, etc. Also not at all established (and Hitchens hinted at that vis a vis the deism to theism point, but CH more of a polemicist, not philosopher, however witty).

  33. Steven Carr Says:

    ‘….Craig replied that an atheist would have to show that God had an immoral purpose for allowing suffering an evil to occurring.’

    Once again theists boast that nobody can refute their claims that it is moral to allow babies to be tortured for fun, and that torturing babies for fun leads to a greater good, which is why their alleged deity allows it.

  34. Steven Carr Says:

    ROB
    Science can tell us nothing about the worth of individuals and significance of humanity.

    CARR
    Nor can religion.

    Only people can.

    All you have are people claiming that individuals have worth.

    They do, but you don’t need to cloak yourself in a religion to say that.

    Saying ‘I’m a vicar, so I am expert on morality’ is not a valid argument.

    Humanists are just as qualified as religious people to pronounce on moral matters.

    Religions will tell us that some people are untouchable low-caste people because they are being punished for sins in a previous life.

    All other religions can do is that they don’t agree.

    There is no ‘knowledge’, only a shouting match between different religions, each claiming falsely to have knowledge where the other religions have falsehoods.

  35. Rob R Says:

    @ steve:

    Is he also claiming in his Ehrman debate that you have to assume the Christian God exists before you can assess the evidence for the resurrection?

    Craig was refuting Ehrman’s approach of ruling out miracles a priori, apart from the specific evidence in question on the grounds of probability. Craig in essence was suggesting that if you are going to approach the issue from the direction that Ehrman was, you’d have to do theology to be thorough. Craig was not approaching the evidence from the same direction in his argument.

  36. Rob R Says:

    Nor can religion.

    Only people can.

    False dichotomy.

    All you have are people claiming that individuals have worth.

    based on what?

    Religions will tell us that some people are untouchable low-caste people because they are being punished for sins in a previous life.

    Oh. I geuss all religions are wrong then because one of them said something that is wrong. Nothing illogical here.

  37. Steven Carr Says:

    CARR
    All you have are people claiming that individuals have worth.

    ROB
    based on what?

    CARR
    Based on them calling themselves a pastor, or a vicar or a Father.

    And I see Rob cannot refute the obvious point that all religions teach subjective values, and not knowledge.

    Science shines a light in the dark. You don’t suddenly get knowledge by switching off the light, even if it is correct to say that not everything is being illuminated.

  38. Rob R Says:

    Once again theists boast that nobody can refute their claims that it is moral to allow babies to be tortured for fun, and that torturing babies for fun leads to a greater good, which is why their alleged deity allows it.

    It is moral to allow people to be responsible for babies. If they are tortured, God wasn’t responsible because he successfully made someone responsible who failed that responsibility. God is responsible to judge that person for failing their responsibility.

    You could deny that it is possible to create beings responsible for their own actions. But I don’t know why I should agree with that.

  39. Steven Carr Says:

    But historians do rule out miracles a priori.

    That is why history has made progress.

    Just as medicine only started to make progress when it junked the Biblical view that illnesses were sometimes caused by demons or sin, so history made progress when it threw away the idea that things happened because invisible gods made them happen.

    Craig wants to drag us back to the Dark Ages, where supersition ruled.

  40. Steven Carr Says:

    Rob still claims that it is moral to allow child-killers to look after children.

    And that God should not interfere when a child-killer is torturing children, because his imaginary god should pass by on the other side.

    Of course, this god passes by on the other side when children are being tortured, but strikes people dead on the spot (according to the Bible) if they do not hand over all their money to the church.

    I guess God likes his money, but not his children.

    In fact, this alleged god loves killing children

    2 Samuel 12

    Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt,the son born to you will die.”

    15 After Nathan had gone home, the LORD struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill.

    Rob’s God kills innocent children.

    Rob worships a child-killer!

  41. eheffa Says:

    Rob R says:
    “Oh. I geuss all religions are wrong then because one of them said something that is wrong. Nothing illogical here.”

    Rob; you’re misrepresenting the argument.

    All of the world’s competing religious assertions cannot be simultaneously true. One must sort through these contradictory positions to find out if any of them have any veracity. Some of them have to be wrong. The possibility exists that they are in fact all wrong. A bald statement from authority or from some sort of holy prophetic book stating that God says this or that about questions of morality is simply not admissible unless the assertions are testable or falsifiable. The skeptic (& we are all skeptics to some degree) will not feel compelled to accept these claims of authority without corroborative evidence.

    Moralistic claims made by the various holy books are nothing more than unsupported claims that have no more inherent value than people claiming that they derive their morals from thinking about and doing what would be best for themselves, their neighbours and their community. You don’t need god to tell you this, but if you want bludgeon people into submission, it helps to have some sort of vengeful sky-god on your side.

    Until you can show that your holy book is reliable on things that are testable or falsifiable, you cannot claim that its metaphysical assertions are to be respected or regarded as true. In this regard the Bible fails the test at many levels & can be safely disregarded as a source of any sort of authoritative moral guide or as a source of information as to the creator deity’s express wishes.

    This is where WL Craig’s arguments are just so much hot air. Arguing that the resurrection is an historical fact is meaningless if your historical sources are nothing more than pious fiction. This, in fact, is far more likely than any of his ridiculous bayesian calculations.

    -evan

  42. Russ Says:

    Rob R,

    My point about Craig’s debating tactics is simple: he intentionally employs what he knows to be fallacious probability arguments in his debates. These have been pointed out and explained to him many times, but he persists in using them. Apparently, he has repeated them often enough that he has come to “believe” them very much in a sacred religious sense. Even when faced with the facts to the contrary, he cannot incorporate that better understanding into his debates.

    This exemplifies why that religious mindset is so dangerous. In their personal affairs and in decisions affecting others, everyone needs the best information they can get. Yet, the intentional perpetuation of known factual errors about the state of the world is not the exception in religion, it is the rule, religion’s standard operating procedure. We see it in religious authorities everywhere. We see it in the Roman Catholic clergy telling devastated people in AIDS-ravaged Africa that condoms cause AIDS. We see it in the Biblical literalist clergy lying about simple observations like the age of the earth and claiming that the science of evolution causes every evil known to man.

    Craig is more of the same. The facts don’t fit his agenda, so he ignores the facts.

    You note that,

    This is more or less true of all laymen and the same criticism could apply to an audience receptive to common descent or naturalism when hearing that explained from a naturalism proponent.

    This is quite true as it stands, but in the context of Craig’s debating tactics, realize he is seeking to harness the authority of science among his target audience, religious believers. He wants to tap into the religious believer’s justifiable confidence in science, not unjustified faith, as you suggest. Moreover, Craig wants his audience to perceive him as scientifically authoritative.

    Earlier, I said,

    while we know just as surely that Craig’s adored religion has never provided us with anything we can rely on. Ever.

    To which you responded,

    No, we don’t know that. And that’s a claim that science cannot verify. If it has, can you point out the scientific journal where this has been published?

    Yes, we do. Realize that every claim of benefit you make for religion, or your god, I can also make for my pet rock, a sacred squirrel or a divine table leg. If it is unverifiability that gives your religious claims legitimacy, then that same unverifiability elevates my similarly senseless claims to the same level of legitimacy. If it needs to be written down, I can do that, too. What’s more, I know I can find people who will unfailingly believe it in the same way other religious followers do.

    You said,

    Many in the audience are indeed not qualified to judge these things and that’s a point that cuts both ways. If only they’d accept naturalism, they’d still be just as unqualified to judge the highly technical aspects.

    By how they conduct their lives we see that even the religious accept naturalism. They are told to say otherwise for their group’s unity, but they accept naturalism.

    What’s more, they know that if they want a different Christianity, there are thousands of doctrinally distinct ones to choose from, all claiming to be the true one. There are atheist Christianities. One’s that don’t believe in the divinity of Christ. One’s that don’t accept miracle claims like resurrections. One’s that reject hell. One’s that reject original sin. And, those are all from denominations many would consider orthodox. Everyone knows that not all the truth claims made among orthodox Christianities can be true. Among non-orthodox Christianities, we can see that their clergy’s imaginations constitute the only constraint on doctrine. Their is no Christianity per se. There are thousands of doctrinally incompatible Christianities. It’s not a thing to have ‘faith’ in.

    You said,

    At least they aren’t bamboozled by scientists who don’t understand the limits of science and the self defeating nature of science when it’s made to be a requirement and measure for all knowledge.

    Science is the only reliable way for us to accrue useful information. I can make the same claim for my imaginary friend, Stoochkey, that you make for your imaginary friends, your version of the Christian god, your version of Jesus and your version of Satan. Remember it is your claim that your inability to disprove Stoochkey, allows me to attribute truth claims to him, it, her, they, whatever.

    Most scientists understand that science has its limits, and they are completely comfortable with that. However, it is wrong to contend that someone else’s lack of understanding or their lack of a ready explanation somehow gives you the right to fill in the gaps with silly supernatural speculations.

    You said,

    Yes, I perfectly agree with this. It will provide answers where and when it can and it won’t provide answers where and when it can’t.

    Religion counts for nothing as an explanatory tool. Realize that when science can’t give an answer, numerous incompatible religious explanations will abound.

    You said,

    Furthermore, that contradicts the experience of countless people who’s lives have been improved by following Christ. And that distorted religion of all kinds have had terrible effects really doesn’t contradict that.

    Does it seem to hold the same weight if we plug in Buddha, or Muhammed, or Vishnu where you put in Christ? “Following Christ” is a euphemism for “experiencing the social benefit of hanging out with others all of whom agree to say they believe the same stuff.” And, not all “following Christ” is equivalent, though is it?

    Me:

    what you consider to be your favorite science stumper,

    You:

    That’s really presumptuous. There is far more that can be said about the validity of religious answers than the scientific considerations can deal with. The world is a far richer place than that.

    You can’t tell me even one religious notion that rises to level of knowledge. Religion has no legitimate answers, it has assertions which it calls revelations. Perhaps, I’m wrong. So, go ahead, tell me something that is actually known to be true, not the same as me attributing the same thing to a sacred totem pole, that is uniquely religious. Not the religious experience, being born again. Not a deity. But, give it a shot.

    Me:

    That no scientist has delved into, or perhaps gotten funding to delve into,

    You:

    So what am I to think that when I repeatedly see this claim about the absence of scientists looking into this and then I read and see of tenured, published scientists trained at accredited schools claiming otherwise. I’m just going to conclude, as many other people will, that it wasn’t honest or grossly misinformed. Perhaps they aren’t real scientists, and then as far as I can tell, we have what is in fact an excellent display of the no true Scotsman fallacy.

    Course you probably mean to suggest that there are no scientists directly testing Intelligent Design or the ideas behind the anthropic principle. I don’t see why that should matter if the arguments are drawn from implications of research that has already been done. Irreducible complexity is based upon knowledge of how parts of the structure work in relation to the whole. Scientists already know this sort of thing. Of course I’m aware that there is disagreement on how well these implications have been drawn.

    Not everyone knows everything that’s been published in science. So, honest mistakes do get made by scientists reporting on the current state of scientific understanding. That’s rather different than the common practice by religionists of perpetuating lies.

    ID is simply creationism. ID’ers merely adjust the point of the creating. In the Genesis creation account, one version of the Christian God created the whole species all at once, perfectly adapted to a specific ecological niche. Since science has shown that to be myth as written, and lie went passed off as true, the ID movement moved their creationism to the molecular level where its inherent flaws can only be exposed by highly trained individuals.

    The ID types say life exists because the intelligent designer caused it to exist and further that the design of life was such a botched job that frequently, that same designer, via no mechanism discernible by man, is required to step in to make the design continue along a path it has chosen. ID is creationism repackaged in an attempt to circumvent the US Constitution’s First Amendment Establishment Clause.

    If ID was science, scientists would embrace it. Period. ID is a marketing program only. Whereas science proceeds slowly via the rough and tumble of the peer-review process. The marketing scheme called ID skips the tried and true forge of science, peer-review, choosing instead to hit sympathetic school boards and politicians. Science has institutional integrity; ID has no integrity.

    Me:

    People say they have faith in religious notions, but they don’t.

    You:

    I don’t know what you’re talking about, but all knowledge, scientific or religious involves epistemic risk, that is the concievability that something that is believed could be wrong or that it is at some level unprovable, or to put it shortly, all knowledge requires some level of faith. Even math and logic, the most undeniable of all forms of knowledge cannot be proven externally. So to put it shortly, all knowledge requires some level of faith.

    As a society, we have outlawed many of the notions of justice laid out in the Bible. Slavery is not allowed. We eat pork and shellfish. No cutting off body parts for petty crimes, no stoning adulterers or rebellious children, or gluttons or drunks, and on, and on, and on. We do not believe it, Rob R. Believers latch onto original sin and hating homosexuals, but they reject everything else. It’s like they say, “My God was wrong about pork, but he was dead on about them gays, so I’ll ignore God about pork and I’ll make every gay person pay for his wicked ways.” Believers pick and choose, and there’s nothing at all that they share as doctrine, even the existence of a god.

    Here, you abuse the word ‘faith.’ Faith in a religious sense really does mean “in the face of all evidence to the contrary, I refuse to update my worldview.” I’m sure you chose the word ‘faith’ to apply to science for its derogatory flavor. Where notions in science are accepted, there is a confidence that underlies that acceptance, but still all ideas in science are held to be tentative, even those for which oceans of evidence exist.

    I can’t prove the sun will appear over the horizon tomorrow, but billions of years of its having done so imparts a high level of confidence that it will. There is a low probability that some cosmic event could destroy Earth, the Sun or all of humankind before I see the next sunrise, so I know their are things in science that are accepted with a real confidence, but not the derogatory religious faith you want to claim science is similarly infected with.

    Me:

    In every aspect of their lives, when the need is real – food, medicine, emergency care – they turn to science and science delivers.

    You:

    Often by religiously motivated people.

    I applaud anyone who helps the needy, but I’ll bet there are lots of consequences of religious motivation from which you would rather distance yourself. Religious motivation is one of those double-edged swords you mentioned earlier.

    Me:

    The science works with no regard to race, creed, religion, income or celebrity status.

    You:

    In a limited capacity. Don’t forget that science also makes us more effective killers from abortions to nukes.

    Whether someone wants an abortion, a nuclear warhead, fertilizer, medication, a heart transplant, an in vitro fertilization, or Viagra to cop a hardy woody, my statement stands: the science works with no regard to race, creed, religion, income or celebrity status.


    And there is no experiment that can demonstrate why we shouldn’t use either[meaning nukes and abortions].

    This is demonstrably false. Science constantly evaluates the physical and psychological consequences of all manner of human endeavor. Science is the tool used to assess the efficacy and potential consequences of its own output. With such assessments in hand, the human community can make sound decisions.

    Earlier you mentioned the notion of religious knowledge. We witness the inhumanity of religious knowledge every day in Africa as the entire continent is torn apart by the religious knowledge that “AIDS is bad, but condoms are worse.” Science assesses the damage of ‘religious knowledge,’ too.

    Bloodletting was religious knowledge. It killed millions during the more than one thousand years it was used. Science fixed that.

    Demons causing disease was religious knowledge. It, too, led to the torture and murder of millions until science put that stupid religious knowledge to rest.

    Anybody want to return to religious knowledge as a way of understanding man and how to address his needs? No.


    What is good what ought to be done and what is worthwhile is beyond the grasp of science.

    Nonsense. Science focuses, informs, and clarifies those decisions that it is not directly involved in.

    If you want chaos regarding what is good or what is worthwhile, survey the landscape of religion. Want to walk down the street with your girlfriend –and, stay alive? Don’t do it in many Muslim countries. Want your daughter to reach adulthood with her labia and clitoris intact? Don’t raise her in many Muslim countries. Don’t want your child to die of a treatable affliction like tonsillitis, juvenile diabetes or appendicitis? Don’t be a Christian Scientist. I could go on all my life long. The list is long, very long, and ponderous.


    Of course you can speak of humanism, but there’s no scientific validation of that or how it should be carried out.

    Sure there is validation of a humanistic approach to morality. Check out Scandinavia, for instance. The Scandinavians enjoy a far more pleasant life experience than your typical US citizen. Humanism means real caring, real compassion, and real concern. Not the peer-pressured facades flaunted by the Christianities.


    Science can tell us nothing about the worth of individuals and significance of humanity.

    Good German Christians annihilated Jewish people in WWII, and the Nazis paraded about wearing their “Gott mit uns”(God with us) belt buckles. Good Christian George W. Bush orchestrated the murders of tens of thousands of Iraqi men, women(many pregnant, no doubt) and children. Christianities do not care about people, except in cases where ostensible high-profile public compassion is part of a self-serving marketing plan. While it seems hardly possible, some other religions are even worse.

  43. eheffa Says:

    What great comments Russ!

    So well articulated – thanks

    …some of these issues / arguments are what ultimately caused me to question & ultimately reject my Christian beliefs. e.g. the fact that “revelation” has never provided any reliable information about truth unless it is unfalsifiable.

    -evan

  44. Rob R Says:

    But historians do rule out miracles a priori.

    Rarely. The vast majority of the time, it isn’t an issue. Then there are so many historians of all sorts, mostly conservative but even some like Borg who consider some supernatural claims are historical. (oh but are those real historians? lets just make an example for the no true scottsman fallacy).

    Just as medicine only started to make progress when it junked the Biblical view that illnesses were sometimes caused by demons or sin,

    That wasn’t consistently the biblical view, scripture paints a more varied picture, such as when Jesus noted that a lame man neither sinned nor his parents prior to his healing. That tragedies in general where always the result of specific sins was contradicted when Jesus noted that the tower that fell on a group of persons wasn’t due to any special sin either.

    Paul gave medical advice to Timothy to drink a little wine for a stomach ache (which actually works in some cases as the wine kills bacteria .

    Scripture presents a picture similar to the world we live in… a complex one.

    Based on them calling themselves a pastor, or a vicar or a Father.

    I misread your statement believing you to have stated that people can just simply claim that humans have worth and it is so.

    Humanists can indeed claim this and there’s no good reason to challenge it. Not one single GOOD reason can be made to suggest that humans don’t have deep intrinsic worth. That still leaves the question why. materialistic views are incapable of answering this.

    And I see Rob cannot refute the obvious point that all religions teach subjective values, and not knowledge.

    That wasn’t obvious at all. But no absolute refutation can be had that the subjective values that religious and secular humanists is also truth. I don’t have to refute such an idea. it is good enough that I have good reason for holding my subjective values to be truthful and universal. And it is surely no liability that I embrace it’s subjectivity considering that even objective truth is second hand information gained through subjective experience which is the only thing we have direct contact with.

    Rob still claims that it is moral to allow child-killers to look after children.

    No, I didn’t say that. That’s something we haven’t explored.

    And that God should not interfere when a child-killer is torturing children,

    Why should God interfere when he’s already involved? God convicts the torturers heart, morns the beast that the torturer has become and God identifies intimately with the child. God suffers every part of it. And God will either redeem or judge the torturer since this was something that never should have happened.

    if they do not hand over all their money to the church.

    he was struck dead for lying about his contribution, and scripture makes it clear that the whole of it wasn’t required. The New Testament has several examples of others who gave generously but kept some for themselves. Zacheus is an example who did nearly the same thing, giving half of his belongings and he was praised for what he did.

    In fact, this alleged god loves killing children

    Not as much as you love lying about what Yahweh loves and you will be judged for it if you don’t repent. The episode you cite was a grievous one for God.

    Rob’s God kills innocent children.

    The innocent child is alive to this day and his life always belonged to God as does ours. Those of us who have lived here though are responsible to submit to that ownership as we are part of the alienated rebellious family of Adam. (Of course, this relationship is only from one angle.)

  45. eheffa Says:

    Rob R said:
    Paul gave medical advice to Timothy to drink a little wine for a stomach ache (which actually works in some cases as the wine kills bacteria .

    Actually, which Paul would that be? The author of the canonical letters to Timothy was almost certainly not the same author “Paul” who wrote Galatians or Romans. The letters to Timothy were written by a forger pretending to the real one & only “Apostle Paul”; but it’s still God-inspired Holy Scripture – right?… – or is it?

    How would you distinguish between God-inspired revelation & the make-believe or fraudulent versions? Why don’t you accept Joseph Smith’s helpful additions to the New Testament anthology?

    -evan

    • Rob R Says:

      I haven’t investigated those claims. I don’t know what basis it is made. It could have been a student of paul’s who wrote the letter. If you get a letter from President Obama, chances are, it was actually written by a staffer who faithfully expressed the mind of Obama. Was it a lie? I wouldn’t think so.

      How would you distinguish between God-inspired revelation & the make-believe or fraudulent versions?

      Apostolic connection, consistency with the rest of the new testament (and old, in the way that is appropriate, which is to long to explain in this post, I explain though in my next response to russ though that I will post after this)

      Why don’t you accept Joseph Smith’s helpful additions to the New Testament anthology?

      Cause I saw a south park episode on it.

  46. Rob R Says:

    .

    Russ,

    Yes, we do. Realize that every claim of benefit you make for religion, or your god, I can also make for my pet rock, a sacred squirrel or a divine table leg.

    So Russ, when I claim from experience to know religiously motivated people who have taken care of the poor on many different accounts even to a sacrificial extent, you’d make the same claim for a pet rock or squirel. Okay. You go ahead and claim that. It is what I expect of the futile thinking in which atheists have lost themselves.

    So if I speak of benefits of a more abstract level, answers about what happens after death, about human significance and worth, about the universal spirituality in people, about the presences of beauty and about the general meaningfulness in life, you’d attribute this to a rock or a squirel. You go and claim it. For those who need a refutation to this, there’s very little hope for them.

    If it is unverifiability that gives your religious claims legitimacy,

    In this context, if my views are suggested to be inferior because they are unverifiable like scientific notions, then presumably we are speaking of scientific means of verification. Much of what I believe does not subject itself to so many of the tools of science. No one would suggest that the strength of their view lies in it’s lack of ability to be verified by science and I certainly didn’t and wouldn’t. But lack of verifiability on the grounds of science hardly is a showstopper considering so many of the assumptions of science cannot be verified scientifically. Logic cannot be proven. that the universe is a logical place cannot be tested. The the rules of mathmatics and probability are valid cannot be verified (obviously if you try to demonstrate the validity of probability on the basis of how many times it works, you are using itself to prove itself begging the question). Uniformity is not verifiable. Cause and effect is an interpretation that cannot be proven. And then there is the reliability of the scientific community as a whole since no one can perform science at every level.

    Once you try to use science as a requirement for epistemology at every level, you are going to invalidate all of knowledge including all of science.

    By how they conduct their lives we see that even the religious accept naturalism.

    No, naturalism is a view about everything. Our views about everything are different. And a life of prayer and sacrifice does not presume naturalism. Conducting one’s life in the expectation that God will renew the world and judge everyone is not comparible to an acceptance of naturalism.

    generally conducting one’s actions with the expectation that gravity will pull us down to earth, technology makes things convenient, seeking medical assistence for our health is not enough to establish that one is a naturalist. Coping with a damaged world with the scientific knowledge that God has enabled within us through his design of the mind does not make one a naturalist.

    What’s more, they know that if they want a different Christianity, there are thousands of doctrinally distinct ones to choose from, all claiming to be the true one.

    And atheists make truth claims that differ even more. And atheists disagree even with each other. Do you agree with Stalin on how to run a just government?

    Pointing to the variety of belief within a tradition really doesn’t make that good of an argument. So what if their are disagreements? that says nothing about whether some differing views are better than others. The only way to determine that is to get in the specifics. Hovering at the level of generalities does nothing here.

    I’m in the Weslyan tradition that points out some very helpful basics in dealing with theological ideas. They are to be judged on the basis of reason, experience, tradition, and scripture. Neglect any part of that and severe problems will follow.

    Science is the only reliable way for us to accrue useful information.

    And what scientific study has been published describing what information is useful and what isn’t.

    What scientific study has been published explaining why we should have slaves or why we shouldn’t euthanize those who are fairly handicapped and of lower than average mental abilities?

    Most scientists understand that science has its limits, and they are completely comfortable with that.

    Right, there are scientists who are comfortable with that, but I can’t tell that you are comfortable with that as you seem to argue that where science is silent, so should we be so.

    However, it is wrong to contend that someone else’s lack of understanding or their lack of a ready explanation somehow gives you the right to fill in the gaps with silly supernatural speculations.

    Okay, good thing I didn’t do that.

    Realize that when science can’t give an answer, numerous incompatible religious explanations will abound.

    I realize that and I realize that we can apply reasoning and experience to the numerous views to analyze them in terms of what is better. It doesn’t matter that they contradict each other since no one (accept pluralists and relativists) is arguing that they are all right.

    Does it seem to hold the same weight if we plug in Buddha, or Muhammed, or Vishnu where you put in Christ?

    Yes, because even those views have different degrees of beneficial truth. And those who’ve followed those views have also done so to a damaging level because of damaging deceptions that exist within those views, or even, just as in Christianity, there have been distortions, mistakes, and outright rebellion even within the adherents.

    “Following Christ”

    is following his teachings.

    So, go ahead, tell me something that is actually known to be true,

    There are no greater entities that we have immeadiate external experiential access to than humans just like yourself who derive deep meaningful lives from moral goodness, beauty, community (down to the level of family), the pursuit of truth made possible by the mystery of conscious awareness, and (for most of them) spirituality, though they fail in all of these all of which conspires to fit a picture that we are created in the image of God and yet failing that status.

    ID is simply creationism.

    And this is simply an application of guilt by association since ID doesn’t require one to try to get an entire physical history of the world out of the bible. But you know this since you go on to describe a difference anyhow.

    Since science has shown that to be myth as written,

    maybe, I’m not qualified to judge that though. Though it’s not clear that myth is the right genre even if it isn’t literally true.

    can only be exposed by highly trained individuals.

    To other trained individuals though other trained individuals disagree with that all these flaws are real.

    Of course they can also (and do) use poor arguments which even the laymen can understand.

    life was such a botched job that frequently, that same designer, via no mechanism discernible by man, is required to step in to make the design continue along a path it has chosen.

    Its not botched if he wanted to use designs that by nature could not evolve gradually.

    If ID was science, scientists would embrace it. Period.

    Unless they are philosophically biased. History shows that science can be wrong (like in newtonian physics) and acedemia (which doesn’t excludes scientists) can be very stuborn about being wrong when it is philosophically/theological(atheologically) biased, (like with geocentrism).

    As a society, we have outlawed many of the notions of justice laid out in the Bible. Slavery is not allowed.

    Scripture has two means of confronting the ills of society. One is through flat out condemnation (as with adultery, murder, etc.) and the other is through undermining as with polygamy and slavery. And of course the slavery spoken of in the old testament was not the model of slavery in America which was racist and made people slaves by default. Slavery was not to be a necessarily permanent status but was a temporary occupation. In the New Testament, Titus was commanded to recieve his run away slave as a brother (an equal) for the sake of Paul, and it is through this that slavery was undermined. It was not immeadiately tossed out, but it surely is no wonder that abolition was lead by very religiously motivate people like William Wilberforce and the abolitionist churches in the US.

    We eat pork and shellfish. No cutting off body parts for petty crimes, no stoning adulterers or rebellious children, or gluttons or drunks, and on, and on, and on. We do not believe it,

    I’m not a Jew Russ, and Paul explained why we Gentiles do not have to become Jews and follow the Mosaic Covenant in order to be Christians since the law has been fulfilled in Jesus and faith in Jesus is now the standard for how people can become a part of the family of God. As Paul explained, the new covenant follows the pattern of an older covenant, that of Abraham who believed God so it was thus attributed to him as righteousness.

    “My God was wrong about pork, but he was dead on about them gays, so I’ll ignore God about pork and I’ll make every gay person pay for his wicked ways.”

    My god was right about everything and has changed the game plan through the work of Jesus Christ. And the old game plan exibits his wisdom. So many of the purity laws where meant to keep the Jews seperate from the other nations which did not know God and could be a danger to that relationship, and the supposedly harsh laws that you hate, such as the death penalty of homosexuals reflected that sexuality is deeply sacred, as sacred as life considering that gender is an intrinsic part of us that reflects the image of God.

    Here, you abuse the word ‘faith.’ Faith in a religious sense really does mean “in the face of all evidence to the contrary, I refuse to update my worldview.”

    Know, you want me to stick with the shallow definition of faith, blind faith, so that you can dismiss it. There isn’t an ounce of rationality in it.

    But I readily admit that faith as I defined it is not identical to religious faith. But that faith has nothing to do with your definition either. Faith in God is believing and following, it is about trusting and being faithful (having a loyal love and integrity). It isn’t about going against the evidence, though persistence when there is contrary evidence may be involved until an answer may come. But that is the epistemic virtue of epistemic sobriety, which notes that it isn’t wise to jump ship immeadiately at contrary data. It remains possible that the data can be explained or the view can be adjusted.

    Epistemic faith, or epistemic risk is involved in the religious faith spoken of in scriptures, but it is not the whole thing.

    I’m sure you chose the word ‘faith’ to apply to science for its derogatory flavor.

    Why would I be derogatory about something that I like, about something that is a part of God’s plan, about something that is so useful?

    All knowledge involves epistemic risk. I’m not derogatory about that.

    Where notions in science are accepted, there is a confidence that underlies that acceptance, but still all ideas in science are held to be tentative, even those for which oceans of evidence exist.

    And this leaves us two routes. We don’t believe anything that science suggests to be true, or in believing we recognize that we have faith.

    But I don’t sense an tentativeness in you regarding naturalism which does not present a discretely testable theory/hypthesis.

    I can’t prove the sun will appear over the horizon tomorrow, but billions of years of its having done so imparts a high level of confidence that it will.

    that’s right. We have faith that it will, though it is, most of us would subjectively agree (including myself) that it is a low level of faith/ epistemic risk.

    I’ll bet there are lots of consequences of religious motivation from which you would rather distance yourself.

    But there’s that generalization again that cannot be applied rationally to all of the specific instances.

    This is demonstrably false. Science constantly evaluates the physical and psychological consequences of all manner of human endeavor.

    These consequences are “is’s”. Not oughts.

    With such assessments in hand, the human community can make sound decisions.

    Only in combination with non-scientifically gathered moral considerations. The consequences are not the moral considerations. The moral considerations come at a different level.

    Really, how do you test goodness or evil? How do you test “oughtness”. with think we ought not anhilate the human race with nukes, but where’s the science in that? We may have a survival instinct and motive to not do so, but I’ve got motives and instincts to be religious. psychological knowledbge about motives, about feelings of well being just describe the way things are or could be. When we discuss Ougtness, we applying something that didn’t come from the data.

    Earlier you mentioned the notion of religious knowledge. We witness the inhumanity of religious knowledge every day in Africa as the entire continent is torn apart by the religious knowledge that “AIDS is bad, but condoms are worse.” Science assesses the damage of ‘religious knowledge,’ too.

    Right. Some religious views are wrong. This is not news to a Christian. Hasn’t been for 2000 years. This is the last time I’ll address this logical fallacy.

    Sure there is validation of a humanistic approach to morality. Check out Scandinavia, for instance. The Scandinavians enjoy a far more pleasant life experience than your typical US citizen.

    so people ought to live pleasent lives. This is another one you won’t find published in a scientific journal.

  47. Russ Says:

    Rob R,
    Kindness, generosity, love, compassion, caring, support are not exclusive to the religious. As I said, tell me a uniquely religious notion for which I cannot legitimately make the same claim for my inspiring toadstool or magic cricket.

    Realize that the origin of religiously-motivated charity and group generosity derive from the same church greed as clerical celibacy. By having the poor and needy take care of themselves under the guise of being religiously-motivated, the church avoids commiting church resources for the care of the indigent or destitute while getting the credit for it. Regarding celibacy, the church wanted the wealth accrued by clergy to revert to the church, not heirs, so they disallowed marriage.

    Today, US churches rake in several hundred billion dollars a year, but only a fraction(between 10 and 15 percent) of that revenue goes to charitable causes.

    I don’t suggest that people can’t be goaded into doing good works out of religious motivation, but, I know that none of those religiously-motivated things they do are unique to religion. Humanitarianism is human, not religious. If they could feed the hungry by praying, I would concede, but they can’t. Prayer does nothing. Every humanitarian act a person performs out of religious motivation, is performed completely naturalistically, using all 100 percent supernatural-free methods and materials.

    You said,

    So if I speak of benefits of a more abstract level, answers about what happens after death, about human significance and worth, about the universal spirituality in people, about the presences of beauty and about the general meaningfulness in life, you’d attribute this to a rock or a squirel. You go and claim it. For those who need a refutation to this, there’s very little hope for them.

    All these things you mention are things which if you can attribute them to a god, I can attribute them to my space monkey. Each of these things is a human construct. Meaningfulness in life? We make our own. Some may build it in part from constant badgering to join the clergy or recognizing that the clergy have respect and authority without accountability(and if you’re Roman Catholic, you’ll be fed a constant stream of potential rape victims). Others find their meaning in their work, families, hobbies, etc. We all make our own meaning out of the raw materials we learn to value. Many religions have revered icons like stones, trees, mountains, the sea, bears, eagles, and deer.

    You use mentioned “the universal spirituality in people.” This spirituality is a suite of neurological responses to various stimuli, some internal, some external that is observed throughout mankind, but is not “universal.” Many people do not have these experiences. Among the manifestations of this are detecting the presence of others and the sense of oneness with the universe. Depending on which tribe or sect you belong to these might comprise transcendence.

    Mankind has suffered greatly and continues to suffer to this day because shamans, brahmans, witchdoctors, Christian clergy and other superstition hawkers were first to provide explanations of these psychological phenomena. Of course, the explanations served to bolster the power, wealth and prestige of those doing the explaining, and the explanations were made exempt from question, analysis or disagreement by statutory death sentences.

    Today, we understand those phenomena as a completely natural neurological responses, and for those predisposed to experience them, they can often be turned on and off by machines or drugs, that is, completely naturalistically-induced. That it is experienced by most, yet the explanations vary greatly from the “Born Again” to the “Great Jujube” to fear to anxiety to paranoia, tells us that there is no common explainer, but that every group or culture contrives its own explanation. There is no universal spirituality in the sense of something “out there” inducing it. It is universal only in the sense that human neurology is the common factor, and then again not everyone experiences it.

    Please tell me what you use as an epistemology if not a scientific approach. If someone told you your lover was unfaithful, you would demand verification that would pass as scientific before you would know if your heart was broken.

    That science shows itself reliable millions and millions of times a day has a lot going for it. That religion can’t demonstrate even one notion of its own that can be shown reliable shows that religion does not have a lot going for it. For me, the gulf between the two should make all religious persons form new allegiances committed to humanitarian aid, not the warehousing and dissemination of old superstitions.

    Rob R, your version of some Christianity’s god did not give us science, my Cosmic Gonad did. Hell, Rob R, science even tells you when you can declare that your god performed a miracle. As I pointed out earlier, people don’t believe or act on what is contained in the Bible, the Qu’ran, or other holy books. They know it’s completely arbitrary and their religious involvement fills a social need.

    You said,

    Pointing to the variety of belief within a tradition really doesn’t make that good of an argument.

    Some Christians believe their is a god, other Christians believe there is no god. There is no Christianity. Get over it. God versus no God is an irreconcilable difference. Don’t try. You make it up.

    Don’t blather on about atheist truth claims. Atheists aren’t bludgeoning children with fear of hell. Hell is a lie. Again, there was no Adam and Eve, so no original sin, so no need of a savior or a hell. Hell is a lie.

    Rob R, you, like every other religionist, use your holy book like a coupon flyer. Oh, I like that one. Nope, that one’s not for me. It’s not real.

    Do you really want to proclaim your Christian solidarity with Fred Phelps, the Mormons, the Roman Catholics, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses? Remember it’s your rule that salvation is detemined by being a specific kind of Christian, doing the right Christian stuff, exactly the way it is absolutely known that your version of the Christian god wants it done. Whatever you believe, you are in the minority among Christianities.

    You said regarding incompatible religious views,

    It doesn’t matter that they contradict each other since no one (accept pluralists and relativists) is arguing that they are all right.

    This is fucking stupid. Several hundred children of Christian Scientists parents die in the US every year only because their parents are Christian Scientists. It really matters greatly that they contradict each other. People are dying the world over due precisely to the fact that they contradict each other and they violate a general human moral sense. And you have the balls to claim it doesn’t matter that they contradict each other. You truly are morally corrupted by your religion.

    I’m done.

  48. Rob R Says:

    Kindness, generosity, love, compassion, caring, support are not exclusive to the religious.

    Yes, I know that. at the risk of not double checking what I wrote (I do make mistakes in writing down my thoughts) I wouldn’t have implied otherwise. After all, the bible itself says that God has enabled people to some degree to act ethically without access to his special revelation. I disagree with the direction of much of Christian apologetics to suggest that people can’t be moral without belief in God. To be sure, I believe that we are moral because God created us (regardless of whether it was done within a week or through gradual evolution). So how can atheists be moral people? Because God created them. Obviously you don’t have to believe in God in order to be created by him. That’s not to say that religion is of no benefit to morality. It is one of those things that is best if cultivated after all.

    As I said, tell me a uniquely religious notion for which I cannot legitimately make the same claim for my inspiring toadstool or magic cricket.

    Except that we’d know that what you say was invented by you and is ad hoc claim to beg a question (inventing a religion (an intentionally absurd one at that) to prove that our claimed revelation was similarly invented). I have confidence in your ability to copy legitimate ideas and claims and attach them to what we know is an invention of your mind. There’s no reason to be impressed by that. But what I have was handed down by a community (more on that later).

    Realize that the origin of religiously-motivated charity and group generosity derive from the same church greed as clerical celibacy.

    I realize that I don’t have confidence in your sociological claims about the catholic church (of which I am not a member) or churches in general, not that I feel compelled nor have the need to defend anything and everything religious including catholicism. Granted, I already know that flawed people are involved in those organizations (including myself) and that people do fail the principles which they desire to uphold.

    Humanitarianism is human,

    It sure is. Why? Because it just happened to be something that lead to the proliferation of a population (via Dawkins selfish gene?) or because people have real value and worth. If they have real value and worth, why do they? Because they merely have brain chemistry and physiology that generates the feeling? So is chemistry the source of human worth? Does that mean that there’s nothing tragic about someone who doesn’t have this but has children whom they don’t see the need to take care of?

    I can attribute them to my space monkey.

    You go ahead and make your ad hoc claims, which we know to come from you out of insincerity which are not on the same epistemic footing as that which was revealed to a community that was sincere.

    Each of these things is a human construct. Meaningfulness in life? We make our own.

    Hitler made his own meaning. Why is the meaning you manufacture superior to his? It all comes from neurochemical physiology. Why is your neurochemical physiology leading to a more valid meaning than his?

    And wouldn’t your answer just be arising from more neurophysical structures? How do you apply ought to what is about neurophysical structures?

    As for human constructs, so is science. But that says nothing against its validity and ability to significantly explain the world.

    Others find their meaning in their work, families, hobbies, etc. We all make our own meaning out of the raw materials we learn to value.

    When I look at fractal images, I find them beautiful and awe inspiring. I didn’t choose to feel this way (granted I can play a role in cultivating that feeling). So my options are that this is just the way it is that materialism has worked out and the transcendence implied is illusory, or I can choose to believe that contemplating these deeper things of reality is part of God-likeness. Reason doesn’t demand it one way or the other. But the deeper one is clearly better and compounds that depth. I cannot rationally deny that this subjective experience is part of the reality that I must try to explain, and I refuse to call it an illusion in favor of a needless interpretation of the subjective experience I have of other aspects of “objective” reality.

    This spirituality is a suite of neurological responses to various stimuli, some internal, some external that is observed throughout mankind,

    So is our ability to reason, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t reflect reality as well.

    but is not “universal.”

    Which I’ll grant though I’d mention that psychological researchers have stated otherwise. I can say that it is virtually universal but for a minority of westerners.

    But a thorough ability to reason is even less universal (demonstrated on the web over and over again). But that doesn’t mean it isn’t valid.

    they can often be turned on and off by machines or drugs, that is, completely naturalistically-induced.

    Drugs and machines can produce all sorts of illusions even of the type of normal every day sensory data. So if that religious experiences can be manufactured in these ways indicates that they are illusory, does that mean that our sensory data that also can be so manipulated in this way is also illusory? Our ability of judgement and reason can be altered by drugs. Is it too on shaky grounds?

    That it is experienced by most, yet the explanations vary greatly from the “Born Again” to the “Great Jujube” to fear to anxiety to paranoia, tells us that there is no common explainer, but that every group or culture contrives its own explanation.

    It just means we need more than the experiences themselves to explain these things, and we do have more tools at our disposal. Just because we don’t have a common answer doesn’t lead us to conclude that there is no answer but the naturalistic one. You’ll never demonstrate that one on deductive nor inductive grounds.

    Rob R, your version of some Christianity’s god did not give us science,

    He did better. He gave consciousness, and reason, part of the rich vast entity we know as minds.

    Please tell me what you use as an epistemology if not a scientific approach.

    I thought about coherentism, which is the epistemic view that a justified belief is one that is coherent with the rest of the views held, but I suppose now I’m an epistemic pluralist. There are many roads that lead to knowledge. I don’t believe that all roads lead there. I don’t have a fully worked out epistemology so I would say I have an epistemic approach. I don’t lack a scientific approach. I just recognize the inability of science to reveal and support many important truths such as so many assumptions behind science. Some of these are intuitions that we believe even without a full realization of why we believe them. The laws of logic are such intuitions. We can show that so many of the basic laws of logic are consistent with each other and we can derive some rules on the basis of other rules, but internal coherence is not proof. Intuitions are important, but if we can unearth them (so they are no longer intuitions) then we are better for it.

    I very much take to N.T. Wright’s approach where he demonstrates that the world of humans has certain features (that anyone can see and agree to), of justice, spirituality, community and beauty, all of which present various dilemmas. We can’t prove that these aspects require God, but we can demonstrate how the Judeo-Christian God elegantly fits this world. Wright calls these echoes and I note that there are more echoes that he lists (consciousness, ability to reason, intentionality, our value of history, valuing individuals with intrinsic worth, seeking truth for it’s own sake, etc.) . It may be possible to give a materialistic explanation of all of these things, but it’s not clear that doing so is better and on many accounts, it’s worse. Ability of explanation is not quality of explanation. And there’s going to be subjectivity in the mix and that’s unavoidable.

    So I have an organic approach to epistemology. Anything certainly doesn’t go, but I’m going to be cautious in applying and absolutizing rules that were successful in one area. Logic provides some epistemic absolutes, but many of the methods of science which deals with a narrower range of matters does not. And to absolutize scientific method of forming hypothesis, testing data and so on only invalidates science. There just is no scientific test or experiment for this statement: “All knowledge must be validated by science.” Thus it’s either false or unknowable.

    That’s not to say that we can’t learn lessons from science on knowledge and apply them elsewhere. One important implication of science is the abandonment of individualistic epistemology. While you can speak of testing and directly observing phenomena, for all of humanity, the fact is, we must trust the observations of others. No one can observe observational or experiential evidence of all phenomenon in any one branch of science in such a way that the distinct rules and principles of nature are distinguishable. There is just too much phenomena to explore for any one human to do it. There are limits of time, limits to our skills to assess these phenomenon, limits in money to get training, limit in time for all sorts of training, limits in money for costly experimentation and so on. Scientific advancement simply cannot belong to individuals. It is for communities.

    For the history centric faith of Christianity, the reliance on a community and identification with the community is essential. So while an atheist may complain that they’ve never seen a miracle, I would say that we Christians have seen them. I haven’t seen any spectacular ones that clearly go against the usual laws of nature, but I am part of that group of people, Christians that is, who have seen. It is similar with science. I have never personally witnessed the detection of a neutrino, but I am part of a group who has, modern technological westerners. Does this give me absolute proof of truth? Whether we are speaking of science or religion, no it doesn’t. Scientific communities can be mistaken (Such as with Newtonian physics), and so can religious communities (as we protestants would say of catholicism). So communal epistemology is an important and essential part of the process.

    So that is a fair chunk of my epistemic approach. It’s not everything, but it shows many important parts.

    If someone told you your lover was unfaithful, you would demand verification that would pass as scientific before you would know if your heart was broken.

    A scientific approach would be very useful in this situation. But a situation where a scientific approach would be necessary for knowledge would for example be the question, would a specific wife forgive her husband if he cheated on her. The husband doesn’t need an experiment for that. Granted there is plenty of data from other marriages on that, it is nevertheless true that he can know this without a scientific approach. It would also be an unethical exploration, and that highlights another limit to science and why we can’t use science to arive at morality.

    Ethical considerations come before the science should even be done. If we didn’t need to bother with ethical considerations, think of all the medical advances we could make if we had free rain to experiment directly on humans. No more guess work based on the similar but still different animal experimentation. But it wouldn’t be a science for humans but for those losing their humanity in the name of science.

    Some Christians believe their is a god, other Christians believe there is no god. There is no Christianity. Get over it. God versus no God is an irreconcilable difference. Don’t try. You make it up.

    Why would I try to reconcile this. I don’t have to defend false views that I don’t agree with. They are mistaken. They are wrong. Logic is satisfied in that. In whatever sense they could be said to be Christians, it doesn’t extend to that claim.

    Rob R, you, like every other religionist, use your holy book like a coupon flyer. Oh, I like that one. Nope, that one’s not for me. It’s not real.

    I don’t know what you are talking about and the only examples you gave I dealt with. Thus you are backtracking and you are not contributing to the discussion on this point.

    Do you really want to proclaim your Christian solidarity with Fred Phelps, the Mormons, the Roman Catholics, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses?

    I’ll claim solidarity with them on points of agreement and on points of disagreement, I won’t and don’t need to. But some things can be so mistaken to the point where the benefit of the agreements may be eclipsed. Fred Phelps for example in his zeal to oppose a perversity has done so to a perverse extent distorting the gospel.

    Remember it’s your rule that salvation is detemined by being a specific kind of Christian, doing the right Christian stuff, exactly the way it is absolutely known that your version of the Christian god wants it done.

    Hogwash. Christianity is not worldviewanity. God will not judge us according to how shiny and perfect our worldview is and not all mistakes are equal, not all mistakes are damning. The way of Jesus is first and foremost a relationship with God and each other where we are to respond positively to his grace. Relationships come in various shapes and sizes and in different degrees of quality, but we are to move forward in that relationship. The world view is an important help in this and a means to an end. Orthodoxy (with a small “o”(though it was at the beginning of this sentence)) is a big tent.

    It’s about relationship and Christ centeredness, not a check list.

    This is fucking stupid. Several hundred children of Christian Scientists parents die in the US every year only because their parents are Christian Scientists. It really matters greatly that they contradict each other.

    Yeah it matters and I explained the situation in which it’d matter. It doesn’t matter for the purposes to which you put this matter. So you’re saying because someone disagrees with me on something and because of that belief which I don’t believe, people die, and I’m wrong. I have a hard time understanding why you don’t understand how irrational that is. When bad things happen as a result of something that someone else believes that I don’t believe, clearly it’s because of what they believe and not what I believe. I don’t understand how something so basic can escape you.

    People are dying the world over due precisely to the fact that they contradict each other and they violate a general human moral sense.

    So if we’d all just agree with the Christian scientists, then there’d be no contradiction and hence people wouldn’t die due to their beliefs. C’mon, think about what you’re saying! Did you make a typo because this is silly plain as day.

    People aren’t dying because their beliefs are rightfully contradicted by other Christians. People are dieing because their specific beliefs on the specific topic of medical treatment is wrong (and unbiblical to boot)

  49. manicstreetpreacher Says:

    I posted the following comment on Doug Geivett’s report of the debate some months after the debate:

    Glad to see this debate is still ongoing 9 months after the event!

    Since providing my views on the Craig/Hitchens debate, I have since discovered Craig’s appalling take on the God-ordered massacres of the Old Testament which totally undermines his own “argument” from objective morality. No wonder he is careful to cordon off that topic from discussion in debates!

    I’ve also blogged on Richard Dawkins’ recent public refusal to debate Craig, which I think was a good call, as well an attempt by Craig to slander Dawkins’ views on religious child abuse.

    Finally, I’ve also provided a full analysis of Craig’s encounter with Victor Stenger at the University of Hawaii in 2003. Note Stenger’s comments in a recent public lecture that he refuted Craig’s cosmological argument at this debate and Craig is clearly “lying” to his scientifically ignorant audiences by continuing to use it.

    Vic has very kindly posted the link on his own website.

    MSP

  50. manicstreetpreacher Says:

    Warrick Walker posted this comment in reply to me:

    Dear manicstreetpreacher: Re your comment on the continuing debate. Were we listening to the same debates? Hitchens got crushed by Craig and justly so for A) lousy preparation and B) for often not grasping the fundamental question under discussion and going off on some irrelevant tangent. Stenger did somewhat better in that he was at least consistent throughout. Please tell me you aren’t putting your faith in “uncaused effects”. Not only does that border on the superstitious, it is at the very least unscientific. Does that mean you also believe in Santa clause and the Easter bunny? And they say people who believe in an invisible God are crazy! In light of the Big Bang and modern cosmology, it seems to me that “uncaused effects” is all that the atheist is left with. The real problem with the unbeliever’s position is that a finite mind cannot understand the infinite. We may not be able to comprehend God fully but we can at least apprehend the concept, as a friend of mine likes to say. Assuming God exists then, by definition, we have no grounds by which to criticize His creation or what He chooses to do with it. He’s God and we’re not. We may not like certain aspects (say the way morality plays out in history) but as the Maker He is free to do as He wills. “As the heavens are higher than the earths so are the Lord’s thoughts higher than our own” to paraphrase Isaiah. Or again,” does the clay say to the potter what are you making”? Anything else is simple human arrogance. Arguing that God doesn’t exist because you don’t like the way He operates (which seems to be the sticking point for most atheists) is not really addressing the question. If you really are a person of science you need to respect its findings. Namely, that time, space and matter had an actual beginning at some time in the past. In order for there to have been a natural or materialistic cause for the universe, natural or materialistic forces would first have had to exist. As science tells us they did not, that leaves only a supernatural explanation. It is possible at some time in the future that a naturalist explanation for everything will be found but until then the science compels us to believe in an external Supernatural cause. But look on the bright side. You can always change your mind if science ever finds an alternative explanation! Sorry to make it so simple, but there you have it.

    As regards the so called slander/libel, (Dawkins doesn’t even seem to know which he’s accusing Craig of) if Mr. Dawkins feels he has a case then simply bring it forward. That he hasn’t to date (to my knowledge) speaks volumes. While we are on the subject, doesn’t he have like a yellow pages or something? I mean, asking via television and the internet for legal advice doesn’t give me much confidence in this champion of the new atheism.

    Sadly, the atheist position leads to moral relativism, a sort of self serve salad bar approach to living. Christians have struggled (and still do) with many of the same questions as atheists, in particular the problem of evil and why bad things happen to good people, or in this case Victor Stengers child with leukemia example.

    As Mr. Stenger seems to be claiming the moral high ground, can I assume he is leading the charge against third world hunger and poverty, homelessness, the slaughter of millions via abortion, and all the other atrocities happening in our world instead of some hypothetical stump the scholar scenario? Practically wherever I look it is people of faith that are leading the charge against these horrors. Just once I’d like to pass an abortion clinic and see crowds of placard waving atheists demanding a stop to the massacre happening inside. The reason I don’t is because the atheist doesn’t believe in absolutes. Rather, we can all decide for ourselves. My heart also breaks when disaster strikes and innocent lives are lost. I can assure you, I will be at the head of the line when the time comes to ask God the answers to those and endless other questions that I can’t fully explain right now. Just as assuredly, I trust that God has the answers and when seen from His perspective (the perspective of eternity) the only comment I will be left with will be “Ah, now I see! How could I have missed it?”! I suspect Doug and Bill Craig would tell you the same thing. To believe that we should be able to answer every question about God in order to accept the existence of God is simply starting with a faulty premise.

    If Victor Stenger had refuted the KCA, atheist websites would have long since informed us. The fact that no one seems to cite their debate as a refutation speaks volumes, or as I like to say “the roar of silence is deafening”.

    Finally, I sincerely hope your reference to the “pious” Islamic extremists who executed the 911 attacks was an attempt at factitiousness as otherwise you have proven once again how bankrupt moral relativism really is. God bless.

  51. manicstreetpreacher Says:

    I posted the following comment in reply to Warrick Walker on Doug Geivett’s blog, but it wasn’t approved. I subsequently saw that Doug’s comments policy has a limit of 200 words. I sent Doug a message and he confirmed that my comment was a tad in breach of this limit (!), so I have posted on this thread:

    Hello Warrick Walker

    Thank you for your long post. I have been through many of your points before with my write-up of the debate, so I tried to make this reply brief as possible. And failed miserably!

    1. Although I agree with Hitchens’s views, he did lose this debate partly for the reasons you gave (lack of preparation into Craig’s “arguments” and going more for the social effects of religion, which Craig cowardly avoided), but also because of Craig employing a wealth of dirty tricks making it impossible for Hitchens to answer all of his points. Craig’s debating style means he could present a plausible case that the Holocaust never happened.

    2. I don’t think belief in “uncaused effects” is a faith position that verges on the superstitious at all. All our current knowledge of cosmology and physics shows that is perfectly possible that “something” came out of “nothing” without the assistance of a supernatural creator.

    Craig’s cosmological argument is based on a thesis that Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose have now recanted. Stenger has shown that Craig and Dinesh D’Douza actually quote-mine A Brief History of Time. In What’s So Great About Christianity, D’Souza does some fanciful mental gymnastics as he misapplies a Stephen Hawking quote. In his most recent book, The New Atheism Stenger clarifies:

    D’Souza has glanced at A Brief History of Time, mining quotations that seem to confirm his preconceived ideas. He quotes Hawking as saying, ‘There must have been a Big Bang singularity.’ D’Souza has lifted it out of context and given it precisely the opposite meaning of what Hawking intended… Hawking was referring to the calculation he published with Penrose in 1970, and D’Souza cut off the quotation.

    This act of editorship makes it look like Hawking is confirming that the Big Bang actually happened when in fact the full quote reveals just the opposite. The full quote from BHT is:

    So in the end our [Hawking and Penrose] work became generally accepted and nowadays nearly everyone assumes that the universe started with a Big Bang singularity. It is perhaps ironic that, having changed my mind, I am now trying to convince other physicists that there was in fact no singularity at the beginning of the universe – as we shall see later, it can disappear once quantum effects are taken into account. (p.50)

    The Kalam Cosmological Argument appeals to the common sense of his scientifically ignorant audiences and is the kind of reasoning that tells us that the Earth is flat.

    Besides, what caused God? Why should God be immune from the infinite regress? Merely asserting that God is eternal, infinite and uncaused simply begs the question. Saying “God did it” passes on no more information that saying “Santa Claus did it” or “the Easter Bunny did it”. How did God do it?!

    I’ve read LOADS of pieces that have refuted the Kalam Cosmological Argument. But even if these refutations weren’t as widely publicised, all that would mean is they are is not being widely publicised.

    It has been widely published that intercessionary prayer has no discernible effect and that there is no evidence for a soul that is separate from our bodies. That hasn’t stopped believers from still holding onto their fairy tales.

    And I love the way theists use the Argument from Silence / Absence of Evidence when it suits them. Every time an atheist uses these arguments, believers (including Craig) retort “absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence”. Do you and Craig believe in the stories of Greek mythology just because they have not been disproved 100% by extensive scholarly papers?

    3. I take your point that much atheist thought is based on not liking what God does if indeed he exists. Although a lot of atheists deny it, they are actually employing the Argument from Evil. All the gratuitous pain and suffering we see in the world may not rule out the possibility that an invisible, undetectable, supernatural designer is behind all of this. However, it does call into question whether this agent is worthy of the title “God”, is all knowing, all powerful and all good and therefore deserves to be worshipped. The amount of natural evil that we observe in the world is actually best explained without a God.

    4. Richard Dawkins is a scientist, not a lawyer, hence not knowing the difference between slander and libel. Perhaps he did take legal advice on Craig’s video. Who knows? My post was merely drawing people’s attention to the fact that Craig is attempting to take on Bill O’Reilly’s role as a loud mouth conservative TV pundit making such stupid accusations. Which is yet another reason why serious atheist academics should not make Craig look credible by sharing a platform with him.

    5. I strongly disagree that atheism leads to moral relativism. Quite the opposite is the case. Practices like slavery were defended precisely on the basis of a divine warrant. If you have read my piece on Craig’s appalling views on the God-ordered massacres of the Old Testament, (which Richard Dawkins described in a comment on the debate forum of his website as “dumbfoundingly, staggeringly awful”), you will see that Craig thinks that if God tells you to go and murder children, it is moral and right to murder children.

    Sorry, but if God does exist, I would disagree with him on this one and tell him to do his own dirty work.

    6. I don’t know whether Stenger himself does any charitable giving, but there are plenty of secular aid agencies that do, such as Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders and Human Rights Watch. And they don’t do it to proselytise; they do it for the sake of helping their fellow human beings. Besides, the whole justification of Hamas and Islamic jihad in the Middle East is because they provide charitable services for the poor. Is that claim valid for them as well?

    7. I’m in favour of abortion not because I think that it is a wonderful thing of which we ought to be encouraging more, but the alternative is worse. I feel that it is more important that women have access to contraception and abortion. If you have seen the 1969 film Alfie with Michael Caine, you will know what the consequences will be if abortion is illegal and forced underground.

    However, I do believe in the concept of “the unborn child” and that every foetus should have a chance in life. I would certainly think long and hard before deciding to have an abortion with a partner of my own. For me, it would be a last resort, but I believe that women should have the choice.

    Some Christians have firebombed abortion clinics and murdered their doctors. Is that a valid method of opposing the practice?

    8. Finally, I have some bad news for you: I am standing by my description of the 9/11 hijackers as “pious”. They were not psychopaths. They were not affected by social and economic deprivation. They were 19 very sane, rational and well-educated men who really believed in God.

    For further insight on the 9/11 hijackers, I suggest you read L A Times journalist Terry McDermott’s book, Perfect Soldiers.

    And for further insight into why Muslims blow themselves up in crowded marketplaces (or volleyball matches) and fly planes into buildings and Tibetan Buddhists do not, I suggest you read the Koran and the Hadith.

    manicstreetpreacher

  52. Warrick Walker Says:

    I just posted this over at Doug’s blog but it may not make it in due to the comments policy. Here it is for you,just in case.
    Dear manicstreetpreacher: Let me make a few points in closing & then you can have the last word.I mean, there doesn’t seem to be much new being offered up so let’s just agree to disagree.
    1) I’m still waiting for someone,anyone, to give me evidence that things just pop into existence out of nothing.I mean, when is the last time you were present when it happened? If you are referring to vacuum particles in your post, this theory has already been discredited as being unable to explain why or how the universe exists( both questions which seem to be equally important).
    2) Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Hawking postulate “imaginary” time aa the means to eliminate the sigularity? Of course,imaginary time has no basis in fact as it is simply that,imaginary, and thus could have no impact on the physical world.By the way, Hawking has recently,2005, published a “laymans” version entitiled A BRIEFER HISTORY OF TIME in which the big bang is th de facto reality around which his entire book is based. At NO point does he repudiate this almost universally accepted starting point.Strangely, he often talks in spiritual terms, as if in his heart of hearts he knows there is a God but just can’t bring himself to admit it.As Hawking so poignantly asks:”What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe”?
    3)Asking what caused God( if something did) is irrelevant to the question of His existence. The point is, even if He was caused, He is still the best explanation for the universe around us.
    4) People keep saying that they know the KCA has been refuted but they always seem to neglect to share the refutation with the rest of us.
    5)Not much more to say about Dawkins that hasn’t already been said.
    6)As I said before, I have lots of questions (perhaps even more than you!)to ask when I finally meet God face to face. Just because I don’t have all the answers to all the tough questions doesn’t detract from my faith. Rather, my faith informs me there are things that ONLY God has the answers to and He won’t be sharing them in this life.
    7)With regard to moral relativism, let me ask you a simple,but revealing question. How many parents do YOU know that can’t wait for their 3 year old son to grow up and meet another nice boy so they can get married and live happily ever after? None, I suspect and I doubt you are hoping for that for your son(if you have one) either. The reason? We know in the deepest part of us that it’s wrong, political correctness notwithstanding. Remember, passing a law doesn’t make something right. How I wish people would stop and reflect on just how they determine right and wrong in their lives. The results of such introspection would be startling. Instead, people continue as if by inertia,just going along with the flow.
    8)I suspect(though I don’t know) that many of the people in the organizations you mentioned are themselves people of faith. I’d still like to know why I don’t see groups of atheists protesting outside abortion clinics. Could it be that all their talk of being concerned for their fellow man’s rights is just that,talk? Instead of asking why doesn’t God stop the suffering, a better question might be, why don’t we?
    9)You say on the one hand “you are in favor of abortion” yet then you say you”believe in the concept of the unborn child and that every fetus should have a chance in life”. Then you say that women should have the choice but you personally would have to think long and hard about having an abortion. Seems to me your moral relativism is showing through again. I mean, you just can’t bring yourself to say it’s right or wrong,but rather taking an innocent life would depend on the circumstances!
    10)The taking of innocent lives either by so called christians bombing clinics or muslim extremists crashing into the world trade centre is equally reprehensible and only differs in degree. Neither act is noble. They may have been sincere believers but they were sincerely wrong.Truth is not something we decide on the basis of how sincere we are.
    In conclusion let me say that the best we can do as human beings is to try to make sense of the world around us. To me, the story of a creator God makes the most sense. I hope you will resist the urge to judge christianity by the actions of some of its adherents. In other words, don’t throw the baby Jesus out with the bath water!. Thanks for listening and God bless.

    • manicstreetpreacher Says:

      Hi Warrick

      I’ll try to make this BRIEF!!!

      1) The naturalistic alternative to the KCA that Stenger proposed cannot be proved (neither can the KCA for that matter!), but it is a plausible explanation over a supernatural one which explains nothing. And again, why is there God rather than nothing? Saying that God is eternal, infinite and uncaused simple begs the question and is no more helpful than saying that the universe is eternal etc.

      2) I actually bought my own copy of A Brief History of Time the other day. I have read my father’s copy and understood virtually none of it, but thanks to scientists such as Stenger who phrase matters far more comprehensively, I might be able to get my head around it know. I’ll definitely check out A Briefer History of Time and might get back to you on “imaginary time”. The point is that reality is far more complicated than the linear concept of time that glancing at clock would have us believe.

      I think Stephen Hawking is a pantheist and talks about God in the metaphorical Einsteinian sense rather than believing in a God who answers prayers and performs miracles etc. Hawking’s God is the indescribable force that binds the universe together. This language means that he is often mis-portrayed and quote-mined theists attempting to use his words to support their position. I think Dawkins is a pantheist as well and worships at the alter of science, but he purposefully avoids using religiously tinged language.

      3) No further comments.

      4) Ditto.

      5) Ditto.

      6) Ditto.

      7) How many parents do I know that can’t wait for their 3 year old son to grow up and meet another nice boy so they can get married and live happily ever after? Probably all the gay mothers and fathers of this world, which must number several million by now. I take your point that most of the planet’s heterosexual couples do not want their children to turn out to be gay, but this doesn’t mean that their view on the matter is morally right. What matters surely is they love and respect their children however they turn out. Our best scientific knowledge shows that a person has as much control over their sexuality as their skin colour. Ethics has nothing whatsoever to do with it.

      How do I determine what is right and wrong in my life? Whatever increases my personal happiness and/or reduces my suffering as long as it does not adversely affect anyone else’s wellbeing. I also try to improve the happiness and reduce the suffering of my fellow human beings where I can. That’s as good a starting point as any, I think.

      Eight) I know a few atheists who oppose abortion, but none that protest outside abortion clinics. Probably because they are more concerned with the genuine human suffering that things like torture and genocide entail, which involve people who most definitely have personal feelings as well friends and families who care about them.

      9) I don’t think that my position on abortion is morally relative at all. Abortion is a complex ethical issue and I struggle with it greatly. I suppose at the end of the day, I don’t know the answer is and tread the waters very carefully.

      10) I’m pleased that you concur with my views on terrorism and bombing abortion clinics. As for the Christian God providing meaning and purpose to your life, I defer to Sam Harris in his “Atheist Manifesto” for my views on this line of thinking:

      The absurdity becomes obvious the moment we swap the notion of God for some other consoling proposition: Imagine, for instance, that a man wants to believe that there is a diamond buried somewhere in his yard that is the size of a refrigerator. No doubt it would feel uncommonly good to believe this. Just imagine what would happen if he then followed the example of religious moderates and maintained this belief along pragmatic lines: When asked why he thinks that there is a diamond in his yard that is thousands of times larger than any yet discovered, he says things like, “This belief gives my life meaning,” or “My family and I enjoy digging for it on Sundays,” or “I wouldn’t want to live in a universe where there wasn’t a diamond buried in my backyard that is the size of a refrigerator.” Clearly these responses are inadequate. But they are worse than that. They are the responses of a madman or an idiot.

      Best wishes

      MSP

  53. JC Says:

    Hitchens talks about reality -what actually happened and the past and in the present, Craig in the other hand reasoning is just a logical mental masturbation, he doesn’t care about his “brothers in Christ” in the third world where people are starving, the same called Christian are owners of companies that exploit people around the world, sad that Craig’s logical proposition doesn’t help those people that they also exploit by not allow them to come out of their ignorance that they perpetuate on them with their arrogant beliefs. In the name of what they call God –that in reality is their Ego,- they manipulate their followers, even, in their own churches, the EVIDENCE expose their hypocrisy of their so called preachers and the immorality that in their own churches happens . What use has the logic to prove God’s existence if people are dying in the name of their conception about God. The fact that they said they believe, it means they don’t know!!!!! They just decide to believe a concept, an idea that “smart” people like Craig promote. Finally, Your God is not a divine entity but the logic principle that other human developed. Viva!! Hitchens!!!!

  54. andyzb Says:

    Sorry MSP, but your criticisms just aren’t viable.

    In the Preface alone (of God: The failed Hypothesis) Stenger makes it quite plain that he is out of step with most other scientists, including those who are members of the US National Academy of Science, whom he accepts as being “the elite of American scientists) see page 10 in paperback version. They say that “Science can say nothing about the supernatural. Whether God exists or not is a question about which science is neutral”.”(page 28) Yet only one page later Stenger insists that HE knows how to subject the question of God’s existence to “scientific” verification or falsification (page 29).

    This is especially remarkable since Stenger also admits that (a) “… the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God is not well defined ..” (page 11) and in any case “No consensus exists among philosophers of science on what distinguishes science from pseudoscience or nonscience” (page 12)!

    You might also want to check out Stenger’s so-called “Scientific God Model”, which is allegedly the basis for Stenger’s investigation. Stenger claims thjat his model identifies 8 “attributes” of the God he has dreamed up. Unfortunately, however, only 1, 2, 4 and 6 are genuine attributes (signified by “God is”), and 4 is just an extended version of 1. Points 3, 5, 7 and 8 are things that God is either said to have done, or is doing/not doing.

    If that makes Stenger a competent advocate for atheism, so be it.
    You’ll have to forgive me for not agreeing with you.

  55. andyzb Says:

    MSP writes:

    “He [William Lane Craig] has NEVER addressed the probability of the laws of nature being altered, which must surely be even lower than any naturalistic explanation.”

    Excuse my cynicism, but I really doubt whether you have a complete record og EVERYTHING that WLC has EVER said or written .

    In fact your implied question isn’t quite as simple as you seem to think. But here’s an answer I’ve come across several times (from various writers) and which I *think* WLC would endorse:

    1. The answer is based on the belief that God created our universe. If you don’t accept that then this answer is unlikely to satisfy you – though it does have the advantage of being coherent.

    2. If God created our universe then this was, from our point of view at least, a one-off act of God, also known as a miracle.

    3. If God created our universe then God’s actions related to the universe are “natural”

    4. If God created our universe then He also built-in the various controlling factors (not just the DESCRIPTIVE “laws” such as the so-called “laws of nature”)

    5. So if God does anything that APPEARS to be out of step with the “laws of nature” this would not, in fact, be a violation of those “laws” but only an extension of them.

    Hence the “answer” to your suggestion that: “the probability of the laws of nature being altered, which must surely be even lower than any naturalistic explanation”, is:

    Not if God is the one doing the altering.
    On the contrary, the idea that the laws of nature, or any other human concept, could alter the manifestation of those laws is nil. And that’s about as improbable as you can get (in the practical world).

    • PaulJ Says:

      “So if God does anything that APPEARS to be out of step with the “laws of nature” this would not, in fact, be a violation of those “laws” but only an extension of them.”

      Unhelpful. If God can do anything, then anything that happens can be attributed to him. An unfalsifiable hypothesis may be interesting but it has no explanatory power.

      • andyzb Says:

        Paul

        “If God can do anything, then anything that happens can be attributed to him.”

        If that is how you think I’m not surprised you have problems with WL Craig’s presentations and arfguments.
        It reminds me of the story about the man who asked for a fresh cup of tea when his cup is already full to overflowing.

        So I guess I’ll just leave you to it.

        Bye, bye.

  56. andyzb Says:

    Hi again, MSP. Sorry to keep popping up, but I hate it when people write posts that wander through half a dozen subjects, inspiring responses that are even longer, which inspire … etc.
    So I try not to do it.

    On this occasion I WILL deal with a couple of topics, but only because they are directly linked [in my mind, at least 😉 ]

    If you don’t like WLC’s presentation style it is worth remembering that the DVDs are mainly of debates in front of American audiences, and I guess he is stuck in a bit of a rut. Maybe he figures “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?)

    As regards his presentation on morals, in particular, you say:

    “In arguing that objective morals can only be grounded in God, Craig made the grotesque assertion that ‘an atheist cannot say that torturing children for fun is wrong’, …”

    You might want to remember that several of the New Atheists, independently or following Dawkin’s lead, actually agree with WLC’s comment. Dawkins, for example, has on various occasions said/written something along the lines of “the universe doesn’t recognise “right” or “wrong”, “good” or “bad.” And of course he is right. The universe, as Stenger also rightly says, consists of atoms, protons, and quarks, and vast amounts of space. Where in all that would one expect to find moral standards? It is certain that science cannot provide us with ethical or moral standards, no matter how inherent you might imagine. Remember, we only worry about people harming child because we know there are quite a lot of people who in one sense or another enjoy doing precisely that.

    But having said all that, it would certainly help us to understand WLC’s comment if we look at the more detailed version:

    1. A set of moral values can be either subjective (if it is based on the viewpoint of one or more individual humans), or objective, if it doesn’t rely on a potentially variable basis.

    2. For WLC this means that objective moral values must be based on God, since there don’t seem to be any other candidates. The fact that large numbers of people agree on some point – like torturing children is wrong – is NOT an objective standard. That is, it is a logical fallacy to argue that any “truth” can be established by a majority vote. It is also logically false to suppose that any “truth” can be established by an appeal to authority. Except that in the case of Gos, since He is the basis of all truth, He constitutes the ultimate category of authority.

    3. So, what WLC actually means, and he has put this in writing in books such as “Reasonable Faith”, is NOT that non-believers cannot tell the difference between right and wrong (they can), and it DOESN’T mean that they cannot behave just as morally as any believer (they can, and the sad reality is that some non-believers lead more moral lives than some believers).
    What it DOES mean is that non-believers have no credible BASIS for their moral values except their entirely subjective personal opinions.

    Hope this makes sense.

    • PaulJ Says:

      “If you don’t like WLC’s presentation style it is worth remembering that the DVDs are mainly of debates in front of American audiences, and I guess he is stuck in a bit of a rut. Maybe he figures “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?)”

      I attended one of WLC’s debates in the UK last year. He’s still using the same old stuff. Stuff which has been challenged (successfully in my view) but that doesn’t stop him repeating it. I’ve watched videos of some of his other UK debates last year — and they’re all essentially the same, and the same as his US debates. It is broke, and it needs fixing.

      • andyzb Says:

        Paul

        “I attended one of WLC’s debates in the UK last year”

        So you said. But I don’t see the value of your objection..
        I agree that he recycles his material, but you surely understand that this is no reason, per se, to question it’s value.
        Indeed, having seen his debates from as far back as 2003 to the last year or two it looks to me like he is basically refining what he regards as a winning formula.

        It is nonsensical to suppose that a person’s response to particular questions becomes incvalid over time unless they are based on time-sensitive evidence.

    • PaulJ Says:

      Andy, I think you are perpetuating a myth.

      1. A set of moral values can be either subjective (if it is based on the viewpoint of one or more individual humans), or objective, if it doesn’t rely on a potentially variable basis.

      I’d take issue with your “potentially variable basis”. A set of moral values is, I agree, subjective or objective. But objective is simply the obverse of subjective. Objective values can change.

      2. For WLC this means that objective moral values must be based on God, since there don’t seem to be any other candidates.

      There are other candidates, such as the well-being of the entire human race.

      The fact that large numbers of people agree on some point – like torturing children is wrong – is NOT an objective standard. That is, it is a logical fallacy to argue that any “truth” can be established by a majority vote.

      It’s not about “truth”, it’s about moral values, and how they are to be derived in order to maximise the well-being of the entire human race (for example).

      It is also logically false to suppose that any “truth” can be established by an appeal to authority. Except that in the case of Gos, since He is the basis of all truth, He constitutes the ultimate category of authority.

      Indeed truth cannot be determined by an appeal to authority, including the so-called authority of God (which you merely assert).

      When it comes to deriving a coherent set of moral values, I place far more trust in those who have considered the wider consequences of their actions than I would in any Christian with a crib-sheet.

  57. Steven Carr Says:

    Here are some interesting quotes from William Lane Craig, pointing out that becoming a Nazi was the salvation of some people, and indeed his god had planned their life so that they would become Nazis…

    CRAIG
    …God loves Heinrich just as much as He loves you and so accords him sufficient grace for salvation and seeks to draw him to Himself.

    Indeed, God may have known that through the guilt and shame of what Heinrich did under the Third Reich, he would eventually come to repent and find salvation and eternal life.
    Paradoxically, being a Nazi may have been the best thing that happened to Heinrich, since it led to his salvation.

    Of course, one may wonder about those poor people who suffered in the death camps because of Heinrich. But God has a plan for their lives, too,….

    CARR
    So Craig’s god planned the lives of people sent to death camps….

    I wonder if Craig’s god could have chosen a different plan for their lives.

  58. Christopher Hitchens Debate Reviews: The Not So Good | manicstreetpreacher Says:

    […] “Does God Exist?”, Biola University, Los Angeles, 4 April 2009 (Video / MSP review / MSP review one year on in three parts).  This one hurt quite a lot.  While not the massacre […]

  59. Mo Says:

    Thank you for starting off the article admitting your hatred for WLC. Never once have I seen or read any comment by WLC saying such a thing about anyone, or about atheists in general. Never.

    ***

    “In arguing that objective morals can only be grounded in God, Craig made the grotesque assertion that “an atheist cannot say that torturing children for fun is wrong”, ”

    Why is it grotesque? In the atheist worldview, “good/moral” and “evil/immoral” have no meaning. Without a transcendent standard, right and wrong become simply one person’s opinion versus another.

    “…when of course someone who will torture a child – possibly not for fun, I grant you – but certainly because they feel that they are objective moral in so doing will do it precisely because they acting in accordance with God’s will. Female circumcision anybody?”

    This statement is incoherent. For one thing, religions teach different things. Christianity certainly doesn’t teach FGM is moral. Second, I don’t see how this addresses the point that without a transcendent standard, right and wrong have no meaning other than people’s personal preferences/opinions.

    That’s as far as I read. I have no time or interest in the rest.

    • Steven Carr Says:

      ‘ In the atheist worldview, “good/moral” and “evil/immoral” have no meaning.’

      Sheer gibberish.

      Of course, the standard a Christian has is an Old Book written by people.

      No god has ever told any human beings that cutting off foreskins is wrong, or that it is immoral to eat pork or burn witches.

      • Mo Says:

        @ Steven Carr –

        “Sheer gibberish.”

        Notice how you don’t actually address the point. The point was that outside of a transcendent standard, right/wrong become merely one person’s opinion over another’s.

        After all, some people think it’s right to rape children or put people in concentration camps or rob someone’s home or murder someone or cheat at school or be dishonest in their financial dealings.

        Again, if God – and a very specific God, the one described in Scripture – does not exist, who’s to say these things are right or wrong? In fact, what meaning would “right” or “wrong” even have?

        Those words would be “sheer gibberish” because there would be nothing by which to ground them and give them meaning.

      • Steven Carr Says:

        Some people think it’s right to stone adulterers because their god says so.

        As a believer in a god, all you can do is cheer on the people throwing stones because they are have a transcendent standard and so are perfectly entitled to kill you if you piss off their god.

    • manicstreetpreacher Says:

      Thank you for your comment, Mo.

      I’ll admit that in hindsight this post was published in anger. I have re-edited it a number of times, but it is far my finest hour on this blog. I was a big fan of Hitch and was pretty furious with all the web’s fawning Cragophiles declaring that Craig put him six feet under when my viewing of the tape revealed no such thing.

      I think this was the third or fourth debate of Craig’s I had seen and apart from the debate against Mike Began at Liverpool University, he had been solidly beaten by Bart Ehrman on the resurrection and Victor Stenger on the existence of God (Round I). I had seriously underestimated his skills as a debater when I first published this post, but now I know better. I also know that Craig’s “groupies” declare him the winner any and all his clashes.

      Craig can be pretty rude about his opponents as well as this tape confirms (although he cleverly wriggles out of charges of ad hominem).

      I know that Christianity does not teach FGM (and indeed many Muslims argue that Islam does not either!), but it is one of the most extreme example of how religious morals can be utter detached from the health, happiness and wellbeing of conscious creatures.

      Christians may not practise FGM, but they do torture children in other ways, such as threatening them with eternal fire in the afterlife if they do not obey Christian teaching.

      Saying that you need a supernatural transcendent standard of human morality to judge is like saying that you need a supernatural transcendent standard of mathematics in order to judge how many people are in a room: specious and unnecessary.

      Humanist morality begins with caring for the wellbeing of human beings. There may be many different ways to achieve this and we may not always get the answer right. But ask yourself, why would God think that the Holocaust was wrong (notwithstanding the fact that he did nothing to prevent and indeed created all the perpetrators in his own image)? For exactly the same reasons that I do: because it caused immense human suffering and death that I would not want visited upon me.

      If you have the time or the interest to read them, I will point you towards other posts of mine where I have dealt with Craig in a far more reasoned and dispassionate way.

      Re-examination of the Hitchens debate one year one: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3.

      The burden of proof for the theist in claiming that human morality is absolute and comes from God.

      Summary of a Lawrence Krauss Q &A I attended at Liverpool Uni a few weeks ago where he called Craig a “con-artist”.

      Review of Craig’s debate against Sam Harris on morality at Notre Dame, with a separate post examining Harris’ books in detail and how Craig had sort to misrepresent Harris.

      As I stated and the end of my posts on Krauss and Harris, I am now actively avoid Craig as I am fed up with all the deliberate lies and distortions that he spouts in order to promote himself and discredit his atheist opponents. He has been corrected ad infinitum his arguments, but will not admit when he is wrong. There is no point wasting any more of my time on him.

      • Mo Says:

        “I was a big fan of Hitch and was pretty furious with all the web’s fawning Cragophiles declaring that Craig put him six feet under when my viewing of the tape revealed no such thing.”

        I haven’t watched the debate so I can’t speak to any of that. But I apologize on behalf of any Christians who may have been behaving unseemly. In my view, the purpose of any debate on any topic should be to get the ideas out there and each side to support them as best they can. The audience can then decide which side presented the stronger case. But then, I am an idealist like that.

        “Craig can be pretty rude about his opponents as well as this tape confirms (although he cleverly wriggles out of charges of ad hominem).”

        Well, the charge by the audience member was that WLC was engaging in ad hominem attacks. Craig explains what ad hominem actually means. Now, I haven’t seen all the examples given to see if/why/in what context this all was said. But even if it is, if he’s accurately describing a person or their arguments – especially if he was asked to do so – then what’s the problem? It’s not like he was using vulgarity/profanity or anything like that.

        What this audience member is doing is exactly what he accused of WLC. He’s dismissing Craig’s views based not on the content/strength of his arguments but based on WLC supposedly saying “mean” things.

        “I know that Christianity does not teach FGM (and indeed many Muslims argue that Islam does not either!), but it is one of the most extreme example of how religious morals can be utter detached from the health, happiness and wellbeing of conscious creatures.”

        I would agree. But FGM was mentioned elsewhere on here as though Christianity teaches it or Christians routinely practice it as a custom of their religion.

        “Christians may not practise FGM, but they do torture children in other ways, such as threatening them with eternal fire in the afterlife if they do not obey Christian teaching.”

        That’s simply false. Christianity nowhere teaches anything about children being tortured in hell. Nor is such a thing done as regular practice in any church that I have heard of.

        Christianity does teach about adults that we are all sinners and one day will be judged for those sins. Hell is not torture. It’s justice for our innumerable sins against other people and (most importantly) against a holy, perfect God.

        But God has provided an option for forgiveness. That is to accept Christ’s death on our behalf. It is as if you are in court because you owe a fine of thousands of dollars. You know you legitimately owe it. You don’t contest the fact that you owe it. But you simply do not have it. And then then the judge decides to pay that fine for you out of his own personal money.The law is satisfied and you are forgiven your debt. (Not a perfect analogy, but that’s the basic idea.)

        But what if the guy who owes the fine reject’s the judge’s generous offer? Why would it be the judge’s fault that he goes to jail? He had an opportunity for freedom and forgiveness of his debt, but chose not to take it.

        It’s interesting also how you haven’t actually dealt with any of WLC’s arguments on anything. For someone who doesn’t like him for whatever reasons, you spend a lot of time talking about him, without actually dealing with the content of what he says.

        Anyway, thanks for your time and response.

  60. worx92 Says:

    Craig’s debating always reminds me of why I reject Christianity.

    • Mo Says:

      This is months old, so I don’t even know what the discussion was.

      Please tell me what WLC has said that you disagree with, and upon what basis.

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