Friday, July 10, 2009

Bill Craig still wants to debate Dawkins

I find WLC-style debates do have some limits with respect to scholarly discussion, though they are entertaining. The best reason for someone not to debate Craig would be that one's work is to scholarly and complex to present in a debate format. Dawkins doesn't have this excuse.

32 comments:

Gregory said...

The Kalam Cosmological Argument is an easy enough argument to present, in and of itself....but defending it's premises is where the complexity comes into play. And you are definitely right about his presentation being a bit simplified and watered down.

But consider his publication history. He first writes and publishes a very complex and sophisticated presentation and defense of a pet subject (i.e. foreknowledge and freewill, or God and time) on a strictly academic monograph (i.e. published by Brill). But, then he will turn around and publish a popular treatment of those same subjects (i.e. "Only Wise God" and "Time and Eternity", respectively) for a broader audience.

But, even his popular treatments are difficult to comprehend...at least, they were for me the first time I read them. I think that "Time and Eternity", his popular treatment of the subject, would be just as difficult for someone like Dawkins. This is not because Dawkins is dumb, but because "Time and Eternity" is a really difficult subject, even for a popular work.

So, I would guess that Craig delivers complex treatments of a researched subject in his class lectures, but distill the essence of those lectures for his popular debates, in keeping with his publishing pattern.

dvd said...

Victor says:

"The best reason for someone not to debate Craig would be that one's work is to scholarly and complex to present in a debate format."

How about a dialogue? Like the one Craig had with Wes Morriston? Is that still limited in the same way?

philip m said...

Unfortunately, Dawkins probably saw Craig debate Hitchens and is now congratulating himself on a wise decision.

Craig will be debating Sam Harris this fall, however.

Steven Carr said...

Dawkins wrote the following about Craig

'One of our commenters on another thread, stevencarrwork, posted a link to this article by the American theologian and Christian apologist William Lane Craig. I read it and found it so dumbfoundingly, staggeringly awful that I wanted to post it again. It is a stunning example of the theological mind at work. And remember, this is NOT an 'extremist', 'fundamentalist', 'picking on the worst case' example. My understanding is that William Lane Craig is a widely respected apologist for the Christian religion. Read his article and rub your eyes to make sure you are not having a bad dream.'

I don't think those are the words of somebody hoping to debate Craig any time soon.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I have followed Steven Carr's link and read the article and I am speechless with shock.

Some believers should be answered and debated but Craig has no right to be taken seriously by any decent person.

Victor, I know you admire C.S.Lewis. Can you imagine Lewis writing anything like this?


kbrowne

Blip said...

What's wrong with what Craig wrote???

Anonymous said...

"Craig will be debating Sam Harris this fall."

Is this really true? If so I think Craig will lose because he doesn't shine so well when it comes to the moral argument. I wish Douglas Wilson would debate Harris.

Matthew said...

L├╝demann might be called "scholarly" and everything, but he had arguments like "they went to the wrong tomb" and, suprise suprise, Hume's argument against miracles.

Clayton said...

"What's wrong with what Craig wrote???"

It's a defense of infanticide:

So the problem isn’t that God ended the Canaanites’ lives. The problem is that He commanded the Israeli soldiers to end them. Isn’t that like commanding someone to commit murder? No, it’s not. Rather, since our moral duties are determined by God’s commands, it is commanding someone to do something which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been murder. The act was morally obligatory for the Israeli soldiers in virtue of God’s command, even though, had they undertaken it on their on initiative, it would have been wrong.

That's pretty sick. I know if someone ever says that abortion isn't so bad in these threads, people will jump all over their ass for it. I'm sure now that we know that WLC defends infanticide, he'll receive the same treatment.

Matthew said...

http://www.christian-thinktank.com/qamorite.html

Matthew said...

Talking about horrible things, didn't Dawkins wrote that asking theistic scientists for help when presenting evolution in the public is like appeasing Adolf Hitler?

Matthew said...

And about that Sam Harris thing:
Didn't he wrote that it may be right to kill people because they are religious?

Oh wait. This comment-section is about Craig-bashing. Sorry for acting as if there were fallible atheists.

Steven Carr said...

'Didn't he wrote that it may be right to kill people because they are religious?'

Link please.

Are you saying that Harris is no better than Craig, who thinks children should be killed if they would otherwise grow up to interfere with his alleged God's plans?

Craig's god is like a villain in Scooby Doo.

A few children can wreck his plans.

'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.

How does Craig know what his alleged god 'knew' about what would happen if a child grows up?

Did Craig ask his god what would have happened if those children had not been killed?

Or did Craig simply sit down at his desk and make something up about what his alleged god 'knew'?

Steven Carr said...

Craig writes '[W]hen a person refuses to come to Christ it is never just because of lack of evidence or because of intellectual difficulties: at root, he refuses to come because he willingly ignores and rejects the drawing of God's Spirit on his heart. No one in the final analysis really fails to become a Christian because of lack of arguments; he fails to become a Christian because he loves darkness rather than light and wants nothing to do with God."'

That is the sort of abuse you get from Craig, who thinks nothing of explaining why children have to be killed, yet claims atheists are atheists because they 'love darkness'.

All thiose Muslims in the world 'want nothing to do with God'

They pray 5 times a day, read their Holy Book, give to charity, and spend life-savings on making a pilgrimage, but they fail to become Christians because they 'want nothing to do with God.'

Craig can tell you about the motivations of hundreds of millions of people that he has never met or spoken to.

The sheer arrogance of the guy is breathtaking.

dvd said...

Steve Carr

You honestly seem obsessed with Craig. Your all over the net making comments about this guy. Put into context, Craig makes perfect sense.

Question Yes Or No.

Was the Killing and Burning of the Children in Hiroshima a War Crime?

If the Plane that was headed toward the World Trade Center shot down and the children onboard were killed, is that murder.

Yes or NO?

Are automakers responible for the deaths of children who die in auto accidents? They know full well this is going to happen, yet they continue to make cars? So are they responsible?

Yes or NO?

Now before you try and change the goal posts, and start arguing about God's "omnipotence" think about a real logical response.

Remember 9/11 could've been avoided, we could have had our Freedom's taken away, so that our lives would be Not Free, but it seems freedom matters more to us, at least on this side of the globe.

Steven Carr said...

DVD defends the killing of children because of what they would have done if the god he worships had allowed them to live.

So they were not killed for what they did, but for what Craig claims they *would* have done, if his god had not ordered their deaths.


But does DVD really want to claim that the only way his all-powerful god can prevent 9/11 is by killing people.

Of course, no god prevented 9/11 despite DVD's claim that it would have been good to prevent it.

So why did DVD's god pass by on the other side when people were flying planes into buildings?

Had this alleged god exceeded his quota of killings?

Victor Reppert said...

Craig holds the position that God as the author of life has the right to take it away when and how he chooses. I think his response is simplistic, but if Dawkins thinks that he can demonstrate the moral repugnance of Craig's position on this issue, then he should debate Craig. If it is just that he doesn't personally like the defense of genocide, well, I don't either.

Why should the fact that a person holds morally repugnant positions be a reason not to debate that person? I would have thought that it is a reason to debate that person.

Clayton said...

It depends on how repugnant those views are. Take, for instance, Ahmadinejad and his challenge to Obama to debate at the UN. Debating him seems to give some legitimacy to Holocaust deniers, gives him a format to attract new Holocaust deniers, and given how insane he must be to hold the views that he does it's increasingly unlikely that there are interesting reasons to be exchanged by both sides. Apply the same points to debating someone who thinks that infanticide is okay, like Craig or God (according to Craig).

Victor Reppert said...

First, the political arena has issues all its own that would apply to philosophical debate.

Second, do you really want to sayt that one should not debate Michael Tooley, who holds that infanticide is OK?

Third, shouldn't all positions and all issues be open for discussion in philosophy?

I think once you start attacking the opposing side, you can't then turn around and start worrying about dealing with responses from the other side for fear of legitimizing the other side.

Victor Reppert said...

While I think the issue of divinely commanded infanticide is a serious problem, I think the issue has some complexities to it. I am not satisifed with Craig's response to it, but refuting it may be more difficult than it appears to be at first.

dvd said...

Steve Carr

"DVD defends the killing of children because of what they would have done if the god he worships had allowed them to live."

Or, simply God is the author of life, and knew that there would be greater evil *if* they live.

You said:
"So they were not killed for what they did, but for what Craig claims they *would* have done, if his god had not ordered their deaths."


If the President of the United States has the authority to shoot down a plane with children onboard, or the declaration of war to avoid greater evil, then why is God not allowed to command such?

Who has said anything about "what they would have done?"

It could be what their future generations would have done.

You said:
"But does DVD really want to claim that the only way his all-powerful god can prevent 9/11 is by killing people."

Try and deal with the issue. The United States could have prevented 9/11, by taking away our freedoms in advance. But who wants to loose freedom?

We can minimize crime, by stealing away people's freedom, but people would rather accept the consequences.


I noticed you sidesteped my questions that I asked and brought up a whole list of strawmen.

Let me ask you this...

Is the World a Bad Place with Good things In It?

Or is the World a Good Place with Bad things In It?

philip m said...

Steven Carr: 'Didn't he wrote that it may be right to kill people because they are religious?'

Link please.


I think it's from The End of Faith when he is talking about people who are willing to kill for their beliefs . . . something like 'It may be ethical to kill some people for holding certain beliefs.' (Provided the belief was serious enough.) So he wasn't just saying to kill people because they're 'religious.'

philip m said...

"Is this really true? If so I think Craig will lose because he doesn't shine so well when it comes to the moral argument. I wish Douglas Wilson would debate Harris."

As far as I know, and I think it will be at UNC.

Harris tends to same the same thing most atheists do to the moral argument, i.e. 'What are you talking about? Atheists can be moral.' It's quite beside the point, and atheists had better hope he finds that out before the debate.

Craig said in an interview that the moral argument tends to resonate the best with college students because they do have the intuition of things being 'really right' or 'really wrong.'

But Harris, like Hitchens, does not have much interesting to say about the arguments for God's existence anyways.

Anonymous said...

"Why should the fact that a person holds morally repugnant positions be a reason not to debate that person?"

Well, for one thing, because it is not fair to Christians. If Craig debates Dawkins he will be seen as, in some sense, representing Christians, just as Dawkins will be seen as representing atheists. I have not met any Christians who would not react with horror to that article by Craig.

Dawkins has often been criticised, rightly in my opinion, for talking mainly to uneducated and extremist believers. (His defence is that the supposedly extreme views are mainstream in America and that the moderate, educated Christian leaders in England refuse to talk to him.) I hope he will not debate Craig. If he does people will be tempted to think that all Christians are morally depraved or that Dawkins is once again attacking an easy target.

kbrowne

Doug said...

I doubt that Craig, in a debate with Dawkins, would defend genocide. After listening to his debate with Eddie Tabash and some interviews, it seems that Craig will take a more minimalist perspective. He would argue something like, "at the most, genocide only shows that the Bible is wrong on this point. But, we're not debating Biblical Inerrancy; we're only debating God's existence."

One can believe in God, and be a liberal-leaning Christian, and not hold to the idea that genocide is ever divinely-ordained. Not all Christians hold to Biblical Inerrancy; and even though Craig does, that wouldn't be pertinent to the vast majority of debates he has participated in.

mattghg said...

Good point, Doug. I heard that from Craig too.

Victor Reppert said...

Craig did defend the ban on the Amalekites on the ground that God had the right to give and take life, in a debate on the truth of Christianity against Keith Parsons. In an existence of God debate it would be irrelevant. I suppose he could have pointed out that not all Christians accept inerrancy, and perhaps there are some who do who may not hold that inerrancy requires a moral approval of the Amalekite massacres.

Dawkins did certainly object vehemently to Craig's position on this.

Victor Reppert said...

However, Dawkins did not use this as a reason for refusing to debate. He does not consider Craig to be a thinker of sufficient significance to debate with.

Eric said...

"He does not consider Craig to be a thinker of sufficient significance to debate with."

Right, which only serves to showcase Dawkins's profound ignorance of the field he's willingly entered by publishing 'The God Delusion.' For example, Craig is a much bigger name that Lennox in this field, and Dawkins has debated Lennox three times (well, two formal debates and one 'conversation').

Not only that, but Craig has already debated the likes of Atkins, Ehrman, Crossan, Borg, Stenger, Flew, Nielson, Pigliucci, Smith, Sinnot Armstrong, Kagan, and numerous other undeniably top scholars in their respective fields, so Dawkins's 'reason' rings hollow.

Joshua said...

@Steven Carr - while I find Craig's arguments to be highly speculative, I am not sure what your point is. More pointedly, what do you think about the picture of God painted by those scriptures about the genocide of the Canaanites?

Steven Carr said...

The picture of God as portrayed in the scriptures?

God was created by human beings in their own image, and reflects his creators.

Steven Carr said...

Avalos on Craig

I guess Dawkins will not be debating somebody like William Lane Craig any time soon.

Dawkins has his reputation to consider.