Sunday, February 06, 2011

Craig on Mormonism and the Inner Testimony of the Holy Spirit

An area in which he has been often criticized.

44 comments:

Bob Prokop said...

There is no need to bring in "Inner Testimony" when either defending the Truth of Christianity or debunking (if I may borrow that word) Mormonism.

Mormonism falls on the evidence of archeology and literary analysis of the Book of Mormon (as well as other LDS "scriptures"). The late Joe Sheffer once annihilated Mormonism with a single line. ("Somehow on that purported trip across the Atlantic, they myteriously forgot all about the wheel.")

Christianity, on the other hand, is continually and increasingly SUPPORTED by archeological and textual evidence.

Whenever anyone wishes to (rationally) debate Christianity with me from a historical, archeological, or textual perspective, I say "Bring it on!" Can a Mormon say the same? I think not.

Walter said...

Craig spills much ink just to say that his spiritual experience is real, and anyone who has a spiritual experience that leads to a different belief about god(s) is deluded or insincere. And people from other religious traditions would say the same about Craig. This is why I have a problem with religious dogmatists who claim absolute certainty in their beliefs because they *know* that the Creator has supernaturally imbued their minds with the TRUTH!

Believers use "Spirit" epistemology as a way to jump from probability to absolute unquestioned certainty in their religious beliefs.

GREV said...

Are you saying Walter; that Spiritual Knowledge is an unknowable idea?

Blanche said...

Walter:

"And people from other religious traditions would say the same about Craig. This is why I have a problem with religious dogmatists..."

But why is the fact that other people say the same thing an objection? What is the argument? They may claim to have these experiences, but as Craig says, since you don't have them, you should go with the experiences you have.

Walter said...

Professor Matt McCormick sums up my problem with Craig's spirit knowledge:

http://atheismblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/defeasibility-test.html

William Lane Craig insists that nothing could possibly counter indicate the truth of the Gospels because of a self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit in his heart than gives him knowledge independent of all questions of evidence.

...Before I or any other doubter, atheist, skeptic, or non-believer engages in a discussion about the reasons for and against God, the believer must look deep into his heart and mind and ask this question: Are there any considerations, arguments, evidence, or reasons, even hypothetically that could possibly lead me to change my mind about God? Is it even a remotely possible outcome that in carefully and thoughtfully reflecting on the broadest and most even body of evidence that I can grasp, that I would come to think that my current view about God is mistaken? That is to say, is my belief defeasible?

If the answer is no, then we’re done. There is nothing informative, constructive, or interesting to be found in your contribution to dialogue. Anything you have to say amounts to sophistry. We can’t take your input any more seriously than the lawyer who is a master of casuistry and who can provide rhetorically masterful defenses of every side of an issue. She’s not interested in the truth, only is scoring debate points or the construction of elaborate rhetorical castles (that float on air).

In all fairness, we must demand the same from skeptics, doubters, and atheists. They are just as guilty of conflict if they rail against religious beliefs for lacking rational justification, but in turn there are no possible considerations that could ever lead them to relinquish their doubts.

Jason Pratt said...

Good quote, Walter. {g}

JRP

Blanche said...

Matt McCormick is multiply confused.

"William Lane Craig insists that nothing could possibly counter indicate the truth of the Gospels because of a self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit"

I challenge anyone to find me a place where Craig says this. This is a much stronger claim than Craig would make. Crag's claim, as I read him, would be that he can think of nothing sufficiently strong to outweigh the Spirit's evidence - McCormick has him quantifying over absolutely everything.

(That said, I seem to recall him admitting that the discovery of Jesus' dead body would disprove Christianity.)

"Are there any considerations, arguments, evidence, or reasons, even hypothetically that could possibly lead me to change my mind about God? Is it even a remotely possible outcome that in carefully and thoughtfully reflecting on the broadest and most even body of evidence that I can grasp, that I would come to think that my current view about God is mistaken? That is to say, is my belief defeasible?"

But again, Craig wouldn't deny this. His claim would be that he can think of no counter-evidence sufficiently strong to outweigh the internal testimony. Defeasible in principle, but not as a matter of fact.

"If the answer is no, then we’re done. There is nothing informative, constructive, or interesting to be found in your contribution to dialogue. Anything you have to say amounts to sophistry."

This is a stupid thing to say. Let's assume the apologist is irrational and/or that nothing you can say can convince him. Doesn't matter. Not a bit. Not so long as YOU are concerned to do the rational thing, for then what the apologist has to say could still provide convincing reason to change YOUR mind. Even if apologists were machines that printed off arguments - if the arguments are good, you should listen.

Jason Pratt said...

WLC (in the article linked to by Victor, which I should think ought to be read by anyone before discussing the topic): {{You ask how this position is consistent with my “allowing a witness of the Spirit to trump objective evidence.” It’s right in line with it, when you realize that you’re reverting back to the question of how I know Christianity is true. My knowledge of Christianity’s truth, while supported by strong arguments, is not ultimately based on those arguments but on the witness of God Himself. If, therefore, I find myself confronted with a well-prepared and articulate Mormon who blows away my arguments and presents a case for Mormonism that I can’t answer, I should not apostatize, since I have the witness of the Holy Spirit to Christianity’s truth and so realize that although I’ve lost the argument, Christianity is nonetheless the truth (and I need to be better prepared next time!).}}

McCormick (who appears to have read the article as well as other things WLC has said when actually talking on this particular topic): {{William Lane Craig insists that nothing could possibly counter indicate the truth of the Gospels because of a self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit}}

Blanche: {{I challenge anyone to find me a place where Craig says this. This is a much stronger claim than Craig would make.}}

Read the above quoted paragraph from WLC's article again. In principle, his position trumps any even hypothetical evidence to the contary, just like McCormick says (even though McC isn't quoting WLC directly so far as I know).

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Let's suppose for sake of argument that WLC has somewhere acknowledged (as I also half-vaguely recall him doing--perhaps because there's a scriptural quotation from 1 Cor 15 on approximately the same topic, so he has to technically acknowledge the principle) that if the dead body of Jesus was found (i.e. "If Christ has not been raised" per 1 Cor 15) then Christianity would be proved false.

Now let's fit that hypothetical occurrence into his paragraph from the article as quoted (and I could quote other things from that article along the same line), and see what happens:

WLC (modded to include the particular example of Jesus' dead body, bolded emphases mine): "You ask how this position is consistent with my “allowing a witness of the Spirit to trump objective evidence.” It’s right in line with it, when you realize that you’re reverting back to the question of how I know Christianity is true. My knowledge of Christianity’s truth, while supported by strong arguments, is not ultimately based on those arguments but on the witness of God Himself. If, therefore, I [ever found] myself confronted with a [clearly dead body of Jesus having been found, even beyond all reasonable doubt that this was Jesus] [which thus] blows away my arguments and presents a case for [the non-resurrection of Jesus] that I can’t answer, I should not apostatize, since I have the witness of the Holy Spirit to Christianity’s truth and so realize that although I’ve lost the argument, Christianity is nonetheless the truth (and I need to be better prepared next time!)."

Looks like the principle of testimony trumping any hypothetical evidence works just fine. For WLC as for Mormons.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

I am entirely willing to agree, however, that this doesn't mean there is no value for other people in considering and debating WLC's arguments, pro or con, on the Resurrection or any other apologetic topic. WLC could even accept correction on logic, or on minor points of fact that he occasionally defends or asserts (like 1 Cor 15 somehow providing independent testimony, or even testimony at all, not only to the existence of the tomb per se, but to women at the tomb and Joseph of Arimathea).

But there is no point considering and debating WLC's arguments in dialogue with WLC and expecting him to ever be dissuaded from whatever particular shape of theology he believes the Holy Spirit has inerrantly inspired him with the truth of. Indeed, he explicitly demonstrates in this article that if his assurance ever began to "crack" or if the evidence ever led him to "doubt or seek", then his fundamental ground of inspired certainty about the truth of his beliefs would be shown to be completely false.

So it isn't surprising that he excludes, a priori, any even hypothetical possibility of contrary evidence correcting him to a more accurate belief in relation to the truth.

(It's admittedly possible that he is instead just going too far in this article, beyond what he would otherwise self-critically allow in regard to his inspired religious inerrancy. But the fact he would do so ought to be troubling to him, if so.)

JRP

Ana said...

JRP,

In regards to the comment in which you substituted the hypothetical find of Jesus' body into WLC's response -- your comment is intriguing, did you consider submitting it to Craig's Q&A?

"Objective evidence" is not necessarily authentic evidence, so it could be argued that objective evidence of Jesus' non-resurrection is consistent with Christianity being true (and the witness of the Spirit being genuine), if the body of Jesus that is found is a counterfeit that is interpreted as being undoubtedly his body.

The above is possible, but if Craig offered it, then it will leave the reader (and understandably so) that there is no hypothetical reason,argument, evidence, etc that would accept a means of (knowing) his "faith is vain" (1 Cor 15:17) if it is.

I used the word “knowing” because I kept in mind that Craig made a distinction between "knowing" and "showing” : “ it’s important to distinguish between knowing Christianity is true and showing Christianity is true.”

If Christianity is false, and if we borrow the above distinctions, we get :

“It's important to distinguish between knowing Christianity is false, and showing Christianity is false”.

Blanche said...

Hello Jason. You are as verbose as ever.

I have read both the paragraphs you mention. Please derive this

McCormick: "William Lane Craig insists that nothing could possibly counter indicate the truth of the Gospels because of a self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit"

(Or as you put it: "In principle, [Craig's] position trumps any even hypothetical evidence to the contary".)

from these

1) Craig lets a witness of the Spirit trump objective evidence
2) Craig's knowledge of Christianity’s truth, while supported by strong arguments, is not ultimately based on those arguments but on the witness of God Himself.
3) Even if all Craig's arguments get blown away and he is presented with a case for the opposing view he cannot answer, he nevertheless knows, via the Holy Spirit, that Christianity is true.

Good luck!

(Hint: re (1), Craig claims that the HS can trump objective evidence, but not that it always does.)

Blanche said...

Ana says:

""Objective evidence" is not necessarily authentic evidence, so it could be argued that objective evidence of Jesus' non-resurrection is consistent with Christianity being true (and the witness of the Spirit being genuine), if the body of Jesus that is found is a counterfeit that is interpreted as being undoubtedly his body."

Exactly. Craig's position is perfectly consistent with 1 Corinthians 15. He can grant that the discovery of Jesus' dead body would disconfirm Christianity, but that he cannot think of any scenario in which he would be forced to agree that that is what has happened. You could take him back in time and show him Jesus' corpse, but there is always the possibility of hallucination/satanic deception, etc.

Walter said...

Exactly. Craig's position is perfectly consistent with 1 Corinthians 15. He can grant that the discovery of Jesus' dead body would disconfirm Christianity, but that he cannot think of any scenario in which he would be forced to agree that that is what has happened. You could take him back in time and show him Jesus' corpse, but there is always the possibility of hallucination/satanic deception, etc.

That is simply another way of saying that nothing could ever convince Craig that Christianity is false, since Craig can use the escape clause that any contrary evidence might be fabricated by the Devil to deceive him. That is exactly the type of thinking that McCormick is addressing in his article. It's a waste of time to argue with someone who knows they are right because they feel it in their heart. People who cannot accept that they might be wrong are convinced of their own personal infallibility.

Blanche said...

Walter:

"It's a waste of time to argue with someone who knows they are right because they feel it in their heart."

I already addressed this criticism. The quality of argument is independent of the beliefs of the arguer.

"People who cannot accept that they might be wrong are convinced of their own personal infallibility."

I'm sure Craig agrees he might be wrong - we might all be brains in vats if it comes to that. But the point is that such a view is too counterintuitive to take seriously; just as no skeptical argument is sufficient to persuade anyone that they don't know they aren't brains in vats, no atheological argument should should be sufficient to persuade a man with the HS to drop his theism.

Here is a parody of your last paragraph:

"It's a waste of time to argue with someone who knows there is an external world because they find it so intuitive. People who cannot accept that they might be wrong about it are convinced of their own personal infallibility."

Do you endorse it? Most epistemologists wouldn't.

Finally, Walter, since you don't have such experiences, how on earth can you feel qualified to judge whether others are weighing them appropriately? You should stick to your own rational obligations, based on the evidence available to you, and let theists deal with theirs.

Walter said...

Finally, Walter, since you don't have such experiences, how on earth can you feel qualified to judge whether others are weighing them appropriately? You should stick to your own rational obligations, based on the evidence available to you, and let theists deal with theirs.

How do you know that I don't have such experiences? Maybe I interpret those experiences as something that is self-generated within the human mind, and not evidence that invisible and intangible spirit beings are manipulating my mind. Further, how do you know that I am not a theist?

P.Z. Meyers recently made a statement to the effect that if miracles happened before him, he would expect that he had brain damage. Christian bloggers pounced on him for holding to an unfalsifiable belief. Craig is simply the flip side of the same coin. I had much rather have a conversation with someone who is willing to follow the evidence wherever it might lead, than spend time listening to the yapping of smug ideologues.

Blanche said...

Walter:

"How do you know that I don't have such experiences? ... Further, how do you know that I am not a theist?"

Well, in the other thread you banged on a bit about your terrible fundamentalist upbringing (I had one too! Did me the world of good!), so I assumed you were an atheist. Apologies if not.

"Maybe I interpret those experiences as something that is self-generated within the human mind, and not evidence that invisible and intangible spirit beings are manipulating my mind."

Sure, that is an option. But that only works if the implausibility of such experiences being non-veridical is sufficiently small to be outweighed by whatever theoretical benefits your account would bring. Do you have an argument that this must always be the case?

"P.Z. Meyers recently made a statement to the effect that if miracles happened before him, he would expect that he had brain damage. Christian bloggers pounced on him for holding to an unfalsifiable belief."

I don't think it is possible to have access to the kind of assurance that PZ claims absent religious/mystical experience. So I would pounce.

Walter said...

How can one know that a malevolent entity is not tricking them into believing a false religion? Once you open the door to belief that your mind is being manipulated by external, undetectable beings, then pretty much anything goes.

Maybe Zoroastrianism is true and Christians are being mentally manipulated by evil Ahriman? I got the warm fuzzies once when reading through the Avesta. Would that be the inner witness of Ahura Mazda?

Jason Pratt said...

Ana: {{"Objective evidence" is not necessarily authentic evidence, so it could be argued that objective evidence of Jesus' non-resurrection is consistent with Christianity being true (and the witness of the Spirit being genuine), if the body of Jesus that is found is a counterfeit that is interpreted as being undoubtedly his body.}}

That's true--and I don't think I could argue that WLC's position isn't self-consistent as far as it goes (rather like a circular argument is self-consistent as far as it goes). But it's arbitrarily self-consistent (in the popularly negative sense of "arbitrary"), in that it gives absolute privilege to one piece of evidence (and WLC does in fact base his faith on a conclusion from evidence, despite his protestations otherwise--just like every other person who believes anything as a person instead of as an abacus {wry g}), without a sufficiently good reason for granting absolute trump for that one piece of evidence over against any even hypothetical evidence.

Which I'm pretty sure you agree with already; but for sake of illustrating to thread readers by considering your example in a bit more detail... {g} in your suggestion of how someone in WLC's position would deal with my hypothesized example, the solution is to simply deny the truth of the hypothesis and rewrite the proposition to something else. That isn't really dealing with the hypothesis, which was "a clearly dead body of Jesus having been found, even beyond all reasonable doubt that this was Jesus", a body which (per the proposed hypothesis, and based on WLC's own suggested wording) blows away WLC's prior arguments on the Res.

A body that is counterfeit, is not the body of that hypothesis. And a body that is inferred to be counterfeit by comparison to the ATD, isn't the hypothesis either, even if the hypothesis is interpreted (as it could be) to mean that WLC believes the body to be real beyond all reasonable doubt and beyond all argument on his part (even though the body is counterfeit after all): that kind of body couldn't be defeated by reasonably appealing in comparison to the ATD.

Changing the hypothesis, one way or another, so that it doesn't contravene the Absolute Trump Datum, is not the same thing as dealing with the hypothesis as the hypothesis.

I can easily enough acknowledge that something like that ought to be inferred if the Absolute Trump Datum is true; and I even acknowledge that something like that would be reasonably inferred if the ATD is granted immune premise status (even if the ATD is false after all in real life): the body couldn't be real, the hypothesis couldn't possibly be true, because the ATD must be true. (The conclusion would be false, in one or another way, if the ATD is false after all; but this would still be a rational argument.)

However, so much for seriously ante-ing up his own beliefs the way he is expecting non/alt-Christians to do. His ATD isn't a premise formally necessary (tacitly or explicitly) for every argument by anyone to proceed. Or even for every argument by only himself to proceed. But that's the kind of privileged position he's giving that one bit of data.

To his credit, I don't think I have ever seen him trying to argue that other people ought to believe based on his internal feeling on the topic, much less based on treating his own internal emotional feeling as an inerrant datum. Then again, Mormon missionaries are generally taught that they shouldn't expect other people (like WLC) to believe based on the missionary's glowy feeling of inspired certainty, either. So, credit where credit's due either way. {g}

JRP

Blanche said...

Jason:

"it gives absolute privilege to one piece of evidence ... without a sufficiently good reason for granting absolute trump for that one piece of evidence over against any even hypothetical evidence."

The sufficiently good reason is the strength of the experience. And nowhere will Craig claim the trump is absolute.

Rasmus Møller said...

Walter: "How can one know that a malevolent entity is not tricking them into believing a false religion?"

Rasmus: This is probably no "proof", but whenever I hear this conjecture, I always think the "God is bad" charge is internally inconsistent, as the definition of God cannot be untangled from the definition of Good?

1: Compare it to a compass - would we really be tricked, if a supposedly wicked almighty being made us believe - consistemtly - that North is North and South is South when it was "really" opposite?

2: Mark 3:22-27 (King James Version)

22And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils.

23And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan?

24And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.

25And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.

26And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.

27No man can enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house.

Jason Pratt said...

Blanche: {{Please derive this [McC’s and JRP’s statements as quoted] from these [statements about WLC provided by Blanche afterward]. Good luck!}}

I would say I’m really lucky!--but in this case, luck has nothing to do with it.

Each set of statements involves, broadly, three points.

WLC’s position is that he has been inspired with the knowledge that doctrine set X is true. (Blanche, “2) Craig's knowledge of Christianity’s truth, while supported by strong arguments, is not ultimately based on those arguments but on the witness of God Himself”; McC, WLC believes he has “a self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit”.)

WLC trumps other objective evidence to the contrary by appeal to knowledge he believes was inspired by the HS. (Blanche, “1) Craig lets a witness of the Spirit trump objective evidence”; necessarily and obviously implied by McC in his statement about how far WLC goes with this.)

WLC goes so far as to trump any and all other even hypothetically proposed objective evidence to the contrary by appeal to knowledge he believes was inspired by the HS. (Blanche, “3) Even if all Craig's arguments get blown away and he is presented with a case for the opposing view he cannot answer, he nevertheless knows, via the Holy Spirit, that Christianity is true.” McC, “William Lane Craig insists that nothing could possibly counter indicate the truth of the Gospels because of a self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit”. JRP “[WLC’s] position trumps any even hypothetical evidence to the contrary.”)


Blanche (replying to Ana’s example): “Exactly. Craig's position is perfectly consistent with 1 Corinthians 15. He can grant that the discovery of Jesus' dead body would disconfirm Christianity.”

Actually, in Ana’s example WLC would treat the discovery of Jesus’ real dead body (per the hypothesis) as being not really Jesus’ dead body after all, by appeal to his belief in his own inspired inerrancy on the topic.

As I noted, denying the hypothesis could ever happen, or changing the hypothesis to something that works if it happened, is not the same as showing how WLC would deal with the hypothesis if the hypothesis actually happened. Introducing the possibility that the corpse is a hallucination or Satanic deception, much moreso appealing to this possibility in defense, is not the same as “granting the discovery of Jesus’ dead body.” And WLC goes far beyond prudently acknowledging that such a corpse might be this or that instead of the real body.


Blanche (replying to Walter): “I'm sure Craig agrees he might be wrong”

Blanche: “He nevertheless knows [against any evidence otherwise no matter how strong it may seem to him], via the Holy Spirit, that Christianity is true [and so he cannot even possibly be wrong].”

Blanche (hinting to me that I’ll never be able to derive my and/or McC’s position from the list of three statements): {{(Hint: re (1), Craig claims that the HS can trump objective evidence, but not that it always does.)}}

Hint: re (3), Craig claims that the HS always does trump any even hypothetical evidence otherwise. “3) Even if all Craig's arguments get blown away and he is presented with a case for the opposing view he cannot answer, he nevertheless knows, via the Holy Spirit, that Christianity is true.”

Blanche: {{And nowhere will Craig claim the trump is absolute.}}

Hint: re (3) “3) Even if all Craig's arguments get blown away and he is presented with a case for the opposing view he cannot answer, he nevertheless knows, via the Holy Spirit, that Christianity is true.”

I didn’t write that. You did. And that is absolutely a claim that the trump is absolute.

(Moreover, I expect you wrote it for the same reason McC and I wrote our polysyllabic variations: because when you read WLC, you yourself also found WLC saying things amounting to this.)

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

I will reiterate, though, that the problem may only be that WLC went way too far in the linked article, beyond what he would otherwise elsewhere agree was appropriate.

(That wouldn't fit my experience reading him elsewhere on this topic, over the years, but I might be mis-remembering. Certainly I wish he was only going weirdly and inadvertently too far in this article! Despite my occasional critiques of him, he does a lot of good work and I've often found him to be positively quite helpful.)

JRP

Nick said...

The last three paragraphs really trouble me. It seems like Craig is begging the question with this one. He's saying "Well the Mormon really doesn't have the Holy Spirit witnessing. He just thinks he does." Craig is right that the Mormon would say the same thing to him. What's Craig's response? "Well the Mormon has a false witness." The Mormon would say the same thing to Craig.

By what standard is this known? Craig doesn't say. Craig does talk about external evidence, and personally, I think that's where it should stay. I've dialogued with a number of Mormons and any time they jump back to the personal testimony, I realize "I have them trapped and they know it."

I would think the same thing if a Christian used it in a debate with an opponent. I would think that they are feeling trapped by their opponent and just want a way out.

Craig's a highly skilled debater, but I hope one day he drops this argument since there are several better arguments for God's existence. Even though I disagree with the ontological argument, I'd prefer it if he'd even use that.

Blanche said...

Hint: re (3) “3) Even if all Craig's arguments get blown away and he is presented with a case for the opposing view he cannot answer, he nevertheless knows, via the Holy Spirit, that Christianity is true.”

I didn’t write that. You did. And that is absolutely a claim that the trump is absolute.


I'm afraid it isn't. A trump is absolute if there is no circumstance in which it is outweighed. Craig says that his trump would still trump in circumstances in which all his arguments are refuted and a case for the other side made which he cannot answer. Needless to say, that that the trump functions to trump in such circumstances is perfectly compatible with it not so functioning in different circumstances. So the absoluteness claim has not been shown.

Variations on this theme can be applied to your other remarks.

Blanche said...

The last three paragraphs really trouble me. It seems like Craig is begging the question with this one. He's saying "Well the Mormon really doesn't have the Holy Spirit witnessing. He just thinks he does." ... The Mormon would say the same thing to Craig.

By what standard is this known? Craig doesn't say.


I can't believe people don't get this.

He isn't begging the question because he isn't putting his experiences forward as a proof for the Mormon to accept. The issue concerns his own rationality.

The standard by which it is known is of course Craig's experiences, plus some other claims about the Mormon's experiences being at loggerheads with the Christian ones, such that they can't both be veridical.

Blanche said...

Honestly, I am tempted to make this a litmus test for genuine salvation.

If an athiest comes along and refutes all your arguments, are you seriously going to think "Oh well, guess I don't really know God at all."

Weren't your sins forgiven? Weren't you washed by his blood? Don't you regularly come into his presence?

I cannot see how anyone who has really had such experiences can attribute to them any less force than Craig does.

Nick said...

Blanche: He isn't begging the question because he isn't putting his experiences forward as a proof for the Mormon to accept. The issue concerns his own rationality.

Reply: If it is not meant to convince a Mormon, then why bring it up? Why bring it up in a debate? Is he saying the other arguments aren't good enough to convince someone?

Blanche: The standard by which it is known is of course Craig's experiences, plus some other claims about the Mormon's experiences being at loggerheads with the Christian ones, such that they can't both be veridical.

Reply: Yes. Both can't be veridical. Why should I choose Craig's over the Mormon's however? He does not say. I can imagine a Mormon counter-part to Craig saying the exact same argument.

Blanche: Honestly, I am tempted to make this a litmus test for genuine salvation.

Reply: How about making who you say Jesus is and your response to Him a litmus test of salvation. I accept that He is the second person of the Trinity who died for my sins and rose again. Am I unsaved then?

Blanche: If an athiest comes along and refutes all your arguments, are you seriously going to think "Oh well, guess I don't really know God at all."

Reply: I'll do something unusual called study. I'll look at the claims that he raises and examines them. If I honestly sat down and examined the evidence and found that it wasn't good evidence, I would reject it. I think all rational people should do that. Fortunately, I have found all counter-arguments thus far extremely lacking. Why should I expect the atheist to do that which I am not willing to do?

Blanche: Weren't your sins forgiven? Weren't you washed by his blood? Don't you regularly come into his presence?

I cannot see how anyone who has really had such experiences can attribute to them any less force than Craig does.

Reply: So says someone living in a modern individualized culture where personal testimony makes everything legit. I am a strong INTJ personality type. Personal experience does not register with me. I am very hard to move emotionally. I am also a diagnosed Aspie which makes it even more difficult.

To me, your epistemology on this is a train wreck. Faith is not believing in something without evidence. Faith is trusting in evidence that has been shown to be reliable. The apostles did not point to the testimony of the Holy Spirit to confirm the truth of Christianity. They pointed to the empty tomb.

Ana said...

Jason,

You said: " That isn't really dealing with the hypothesis, which was "a clearly dead body of Jesus having been found, even beyond all reasonable doubt that this was Jesus", ...A body that is counterfeit, is not the body of that hypothesis."

That's true and I agree.

I am sure Craig would agree with the statement:

"If Jesus' [actual] body were found, that would disprove Christianity, such that it would be not only apparently true that Christianity is false, but objectively true that Christianity is false".

What Craig might not necessarily agree with, is the statement:

" If Jesus' [actual] body were found, I would [surely] abandon my belief that Christianity is true".

Blanche said...

"If it is not meant to convince a Mormon, then why bring it up? Why bring it up in a debate? Is he saying the other arguments aren't good enough to convince someone?"

He doesn't employ it as one of his arguments in debate, he usually just mentions it in the preliminaries.

"Yes. Both can't be veridical. Why should I choose Craig's over the Mormon's however? He does not say. I can imagine a Mormon counter-part to Craig saying the exact same argument."

You should choose Craig's because presumably you have the same experiences he does. But if you don't then of course there is no reason.

"Reply: How about making who you say Jesus is and your response to Him a litmus test of salvation. I accept that He is the second person of the Trinity who died for my sins and rose again. Am I unsaved then?"

I think you can believe that and still be lost. The HS is supposed to be the seal of confirmation of your salvation. (2 Corinthians 1:22
Ephesians 1:13 and 4:30)

"I'll do something unusual called study. I'll look at the claims that he raises and examines them. If I honestly sat down and examined the evidence and found that it wasn't good evidence, I would reject it. I think all rational people should do that. Fortunately, I have found all counter-arguments thus far extremely lacking. Why should I expect the atheist to do that which I am not willing to do?"

I am not adverse to study - it can show you why the atheist is wrong, but knowledge that the atheist is wrong is available via religious experience. It certainly is to me at any rate.

"So says someone living in a modern individualized culture where personal testimony makes everything legit. I am a strong INTJ personality type. Personal experience does not register with me. I am very hard to move emotionally. I am also a diagnosed Aspie which makes it even more difficult."

Well, do you experience God or not? I don't think he only came to save the emotionally sensitive.

"To me, your epistemology on this is a train wreck. Faith is not believing in something without evidence. Faith is trusting in evidence that has been shown to be reliable. The apostles did not point to the testimony of the Holy Spirit to confirm the truth of Christianity. They pointed to the empty tomb."

1) I broadly agree with you on faith.
2) Nor would I deny that there are other routes to the knowledge of God's existence.

Why do you think I deny either of these?

Nick said...

Blanche:He doesn't employ it as one of his arguments in debate, he usually just mentions it in the preliminaries.

Reply: Have you listened to any of his debates? God explains the existence of the universe, the fine-tuning of it, the reality of morality, the resurrection of Jesus, and then there's the testimony of the Holy Spirit. That's his modus operandi.



Blanche:You should choose Craig's because presumably you have the same experiences he does. But if you don't then of course there is no reason.

Reply: And the Mormon should choose the Mormon's because he has the same experience the Mormon has. Why should an outsider choose either?

How can you get from an internal feeling about reality to an external truth about reality? How I feel about the world cannot tell me how the world is.



Blanche: I think you can believe that and still be lost. The HS is supposed to be the seal of confirmation of your salvation. (2 Corinthians 1:22
Ephesians 1:13 and 4:30)

Reply: Yes. I have no problem with that. I have a problem with making it an idea that the Holy Spirit is supposed to give us some testimony to the truth claims of Christianity. Please show where the apostles taught such.



Blanche: I am not adverse to study - it can show you why the atheist is wrong, but knowledge that the atheist is wrong is available via religious experience. It certainly is to me at any rate.

Reply: And the atheist is ready to reject religious experience. Just keep feeding the new atheist idea over and over. Are you saying you cannot win the debate on reason?



Blanche: Well, do you experience God or not? I don't think he only came to save the emotionally sensitive.

Reply: I would have to know what you mean by that. I don't judge someone's salvation by their feelings but who they say Jesus is and then if they're growing in holiness. A New Ager experiences God. A Mormon experiences God. At least, they claim to. None have truth however.


Blanche: 1) I broadly agree with you on faith.

Reply: Then you should disregard the idea that if there is no evidence, you can justifiably believe. The Mormons say the exact same thing when they visit me and call it faith.

Blanche: 2) Nor would I deny that there are other routes to the knowledge of God's existence.

Reply: Why not go with those then?

Blanche: Why do you think I deny either of these?

Reply: I read what you said. You're saying as long as you have a personal testimony, you are to believe regardless of the evidence.

That's a fideistic approach, not one the apostles taught.

Blanche said...

"Have you listened to any of his debates? God explains the existence of the universe, the fine-tuning of it, the reality of morality, the resurrection of Jesus, and then there's the testimony of the Holy Spirit. That's his modus operandi."

Well, whether he mentions it at the beginning or at the end he still doesn't put it forward as an argument intended to convince the unbeliever.

"And the Mormon should choose the Mormon's because he has the same experience the Mormon has. Why should an outsider choose either?"

As I said, no reason. He has to look at the evidence.

"How can you get from an internal feeling about reality to an external truth about reality? How I feel about the world cannot tell me how the world is."

Well, there goes perception! (Which is all about moving from inner impression to outer reality.)

"I have no problem with that. I have a problem with making it an idea that the Holy Spirit is supposed to give us some testimony to the truth claims of Christianity. Please show where the apostles taught such."

How can it function as a seal if it doesn't provide, at minimum, confirmation of the existence of God?

"And the atheist is ready to reject religious experience. Just keep feeding the new atheist idea over and over. Are you saying you cannot win the debate on reason?"

Not at all. I think a successful natural theology can be put forward. If the atheist lacks religious experience, it is of course a different ballpark for him.

"Then you should disregard the idea that if there is no evidence, you can justifiably believe."

Amen to that. The point is that religious experience is evidence (most powerfully for the subject).

"Blanche: 2) Nor would I deny that there are other routes to the knowledge of God's existence.

Reply: Why not go with those then?"

I go with both!

"You're saying as long as you have a personal testimony, you are to believe regardless of the evidence."

That isn't what I think. Anyone can have a personal testimony. But if you genuinely have religious experience, then you have a body of evidence which needs to be taken into account.

You only think my epistemology is a "train-wreck" because you don't understand it.

Nick said...

Blanche: Well, whether he mentions it at the beginning or at the end he still doesn't put it forward as an argument intended to convince the unbeliever.

Reply: Please listen to one of his debates. The fifth argument is that God can be personally experienced.

Blanche:As I said, no reason. He has to look at the evidence.

Reply: What a novel idea! Looking at evidence! You mean you do that rather than looking at feelings?



Blanche: Well, there goes perception! (Which is all about moving from inner impression to outer reality.)

Reply: What is perception of? Perception is of external reality through sense experience. You perceive that which comes through your five senses. It begins from the outside. The subjective part is our interpretation of the objective data. We look at the world outside of us to learn about the world outside of us.

Please tell me again how you can being with the world inside of you and get to the world outside of you? That was Descartes's problem.



Blanche: How can it function as a seal if it doesn't provide, at minimum, confirmation of the existence of God?

Reply: The Holy Spirit seals us in that having Him in our lives is to give us assurance of our coming glory and that this is done by conforming us to the likeness of Christ. It is not about giving us warm fuzzies when we start doubting. The Holy Spirit does not do our thinking for us.



Blanche: Not at all. I think a successful natural theology can be put forward. If the atheist lacks religious experience, it is of course a different ballpark for him.

Reply: With religious experience, you have to cross two hurdles. You have to show God and then show why the experience is valid. The atheist will ask "Why not the experience of the Muslim or Hindu?" Then you go to the external world. Why not start there to begin with?



Blanche: Amen to that. The point is that religious experience is evidence (most powerfully for the subject).

Reply: The Mormon church wishes to thank you for this. Because of this, they can all go on justifiably believing in something for which they have no evidence because they've experienced the burning in the bosom.



Blanche: I go with both!

Reply: The one of personal experience is just a disaster waiting to happen. It makes God's truth measurable based on the Christian rather than on God's own actions in history.



Blanche: That isn't what I think. Anyone can have a personal testimony. But if you genuinely have religious experience, then you have a body of evidence which needs to be taken into account.

Reply: And the Mormons then have a body of evidence. Thanks for giving them more firepower. I have enough trying to convince them that their experiences aren't valid without other Christians giving them reasons to think they are.

Blanche: You only think my epistemology is a "train-wreck" because you don't understand it.

Reply: Yes. I'm obviously ignorant.

No. I'm making a claim that an internal idea cannot give rise to an external truth. You begin with looking at the world as it is and going from there. Your epistemology justifies beliefs in the absence of evidence based on experience when all experience must be interpreted in a context which relies on external reality.

But then, that means going to evidence, which disproves the idea that an internal experience can give you knowledge of external reality.

Keep trying to figure out how you do that in the idealist camp. I'll be enjoying the camp of realism meanwhile.

Jason Pratt said...

Blanche: {{A trump is absolute if there is no circumstance in which it is outweighed. Craig says that his trump would still trump in circumstances in which all his arguments are refuted and a case for the other side made which he cannot answer. Needless to say, that that the trump functions to trump in such circumstances is perfectly compatible with it not so functioning in different circumstances.}}

What different circumstances??? If he explicitly falls back on the trump for success when all else fails (i.e. when all his arguments are refuted and a case is made for the other side which he cannot answer), what else could fail where he wouldn’t fall back on the trump?! What other category of possible failure is there in principle?

You certainly haven’t provided any examples of a case where WLC clearly wouldn’t fall back on the trump as an absolutely unbeatable defense. The only example you tried to provide was one where he would acknowledge Christianity to be false if the real body of Jesus was found. But when I put this into practice as a hypothetical example, where a body of Jesus was found that even WLC had to either acknowledge as the real body of Jesus or at least could never reasonably claim it wasn’t the real body of Jesus, you changed the example to a case where he could claim it was a Satanic deception or illusion. At best this completely undercuts the attempted example of a case where he would agree Christianity was false (or at least that the total set of doctrines he believes he was given inspired knowledge about is true.)

Leaving you with what example of a circumstance that would outweigh his trump?--over against your own strongly worded agreement about how far he could be expected to apply his trump?

Imaginary circumstances of no content count only proportional to their content (nothing) against strenuous claims of total exclusion otherwise. Until then, I have every good reason to believe the strenuous claims of total exclusion will be applied (strenuously {g}) to totally exclude, maybe only as a last-ditch trump, but treated as being invulnerably infallible.


Blanche (to Nick): {{I can't believe people don't get this. He isn't begging the question because he isn't putting his experiences forward as a proof for the Mormon to accept. The issue concerns his own rationality.}}

I do get that, by the way. And did so, at length, in his favor. WLC typically brings this in as a personal witness, not as evidence that his audience is supposed to adduce in favor of the truth of what WLC is saying (vs. what a Mormon feels and is saying, for example.)

The problem comes when people get the idea, from things WLC says, that he gives this feeling of his own assurance a position of invulnerable prestige which he is entirely prepared to use to trump any even hypothetical challenge to the correctness of what he believes. Mormons are notorious for doing the same thing, so the comparison logically comes up. WLC explains (in effect) that the difference is only that he is clearly right and they’re obviously wrong, duh. When asked why he believes he is clearly right and they’re wrong, ultimately he points to his feeling that he is right--which he also presents as being something he will use to trump any (important) argument that he is wrong about what he believes and feels to be right.

The problem also comes when he gives people the idea that they can do the same thing (as a reason to believe God is such-n-such). Except when he says that they can’t (as a reason to believe God is this-or-that instead.) Because he’s right, because he feels strongly that he’s right, and so people who feel God has characteristics other than what he believes are certainly wrong. Because he feels so certainly about it. He feels very strongly certainly about it, so that strength of emotional experience has to count as proportionately strong evidence he’s right. Unlike anyone else having a similarly strong emotional experience. (But they just haven’t cracked under pressure yet.)

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Blanche (to the audience in general, and me in particular perhaps, since I’ve been talking about this at length): {{Honestly, I am tempted to make this a litmus test for genuine salvation.}}

Here we go. Can’t say I’m surprised to see you being tempted to go this route.

Blanche: {{If an athiest comes along and refutes all your arguments, are you seriously going to think "Oh well, guess I don't really know God at all."}}

Yep: if I agree that they’re doing better than I am understanding the truth about everything I believe (or some relevantly significant set thereof), I’m pretty likely to consider that whatever I think about my feelings of knowledge on those topics are wrong to some significant extent. That’s tautological, actually.

And apparently WLC would agree that’s what I should do, too, in principle. If I was something other than his category of Christian.

Because that’s exactly what WLC expects a Mormon to do if WLC (or I or any other apologist for ortho-trin Christianity), successfully refuted all the Mormon arguments. They ought to reconsider what that glowy feeling of apparent assurance in them, that they know God better than some other people (like WLC or myself), really means or doesn’t mean.

And hey, I agree!--if Mormons have no good arguments for their unique positions, and come to realize they have no good arguments for them, they ought to re-evaluate what they believe their feelings of assurance are testifying to (if anything!)

But sauce for the Mormons is sauce for me, too. That’s because I make a self-disciplinary point of caring about truth more than I care about my beliefs about what is true. I'm an ultra-doctrinaire; but I am not an ideologue (much less a gnostic who believes in salvation by knowledge, whether that knowledge is doctrinal passcards or a glowy feeling of assurance.)

My belief that I have a personal relationship with God and that God can and does have a personal relationship with me, are two of those beliefs which fall under the category of “my beliefs”. {wry g} They don’t get special trump privileges; because they aren’t formally necessary for the sake of every inference I want to make. And they certainly don’t get special trump privileges to protect myself from losing an argument against someone who is doing a better job at accounting for reality than I am.

That would be cheating in my own favor.


Blanche: {{Weren't your sins forgiven? Weren't you washed by his blood? Don't you regularly come into his presence?}}

I believe so. (I happen to have very strong private mystical experiences along this line, too, unlike Nick apparently.)

But my beliefs aren’t the ontological ground of all reality. They don’t get to be an inherently immune superior trump in defense against challenges to me.

That’s a position reserved for God Most High. Not for me.

JRP

Blanche said...

"What different circumstances??? If he explicitly falls back on the trump for success when all else fails (i.e. when all his arguments are refuted and a case is made for the other side which he cannot answer), what else could fail where he wouldn’t fall back on the trump?! What other category of possible failure is there in principle?"

Here are some:

1) He receives a new, different religious experience which is stronger than the ones he has at present.
2) He is presented with an atheological argument which is so strong that it even overpowers/somehow undermines his religious experience. (As I read him, Craig's claim is that he cannot imagine or form an idea of such an argument given his present conceptual resources, but it might be possible for all that. But time travelling back and finding Jesus' corpse is not sufficient, for the reasons I gave.)
3) His experiences get weaker over time/extended reflection and are eventually overpowered.

But because he allows for such things he cannot be operating with an absolute trump, which was your claim.

normajean said...

A lot of confusion here: Craig's "Inner Testimony" talk needs to be couched in the distinction he makes between 'knowing' and 'showing'.

Jason Pratt said...

Blanche,

If the different religious experience is stronger, then he either will use this as evidence or he will not.

You yourself have gone both ways, by the way, maybe following a double standard of WLC himself (which from what I’ve read I could see him doing, too): his knowledge that Christianity is true is directly inspired by a strong feeling he feels and not based on argument; but then when this looks non-rational, the feeling of the experience (in its strength and/or content) is presented as evidence to draw inferences on. And that would indeed be a rational, and rationally responsible, way to treat the experience.

But then a new stronger experience would count as evidence for an argument he cannot answer; and you and I already agree that he says and means that even if all his arguments get blown away and he is presented with a case for an opposing view, he nevertheless knows via his experience of ‘I have been inspired by the Holy Spirit’ that X-Christianity is true.

“All Craig’s arguments” includes any arguments about his current feeling of assurance really being accurate as to objective truth. If those arguments fail for not being strong enough, he can and apparently will fall back on that feeling, regardless of the strength of opposing evidence. Categorically, that would include the strength of any new opposing feeling.

On the other hand, if something overpowered his current feeling of assurance and rewired him to exhibit belief behaviors as a knee-jerk reaction to this new stronger feeling, then we aren’t talking about arguments or evidence anymore. But neither, by the same token, are we talking about his core belief being responsibly rational on his part either. Rationalizations after the fact are no good substitution for a lack of responsible rationality on his part for the core feeling of assurance; which is especially demonstrable when he makes it as clear as he can that he will allow no rationalizations at all, regardless of how successful they might be, to challenge the veridicality of the content of that feeling of assurance.

So he’s fluorescing one color now, and would of course fluoresce another color if something stronger happened to make him do so. But that isn’t a rational belief on his part. No more than a stronger allergen making me sneeze at a different velocity and direction, instead of the way I’m currently sneezing, is even a rational action (much less a rational belief) on my part.

Or, he is self-critically considering his feeling and treating it as evidence for a responsibly rational evaluation pro or con. But then he cannot fall back on this feeling if all his arguments (including about or in relation to that feeling) get blown away by someone (himself or anyone else, it makes no difference) being more competent at logically analyzing and accurately assessing data than he currently is.

If he is being rationally responsible about his feeling, and not letting his feeling do his (non)-thinking for him (including as a last resort of defense against better thinking by other people), then your 3rd element describing his position in the way you yourself stated it, is false; and so will be how McC and I were describing him.

But you and I and McC all had our reasons from things WLC said to believe that even if ALL WLC’s arguments (and all means all) get blown away, and he is presented with a case for a view he currently opposes that he cannot answer, he will fall back on the feeling and treat that as an absolute trump to his rational failure insofar as his failure (and maybe other people’s superior competency at assessing and analyzing data) threatens the veridicality of his current feeling.

Certainly, a man who does this will “believe” (if we want to call it that) something else if a stronger feeling of a different flavor overcomes him. But then we are no longer talking about him having, at bottom, a rationally responsible belief in whatever he currently believes.

JRP

Jason Pratt said...

Blanche: {{3) Even if all Craig's arguments get blown away and he is presented with a case for the opposing view he cannot answer, he nevertheless knows, via the Holy Spirit, that Christianity is true.}}

Which McC and I certainly agree in expecting of WLC.

Blanche: {{ Craig says that his trump would still trump in circumstances in which all his arguments are refuted and a case for the other side made which he cannot answer.}}

Same thing again.

When you insisted that this would not apply in “different circumstances”, I replied “What circumstances??? What other category of possible failure is there in principle?”

Irrationally fluorescing to a stronger feeling of different feel-content, would certainly count as a different circumstance against which his current feeling at lesser strength naturally wouldn’t be able to trump. (That was your first example.) But then so much for his belief being, at bottom, responsibly rational.

Your third example is the same principle but the other way around: WLC’s feeling of certainty gets weaker over time and is eventually overpowered by another feeling (though that feeling hasn’t gotten any stronger.)

You added “over extended reflection”, but that sounds like a situation where his arguments are refuted (by himself or by someone else, makes no difference in principle). And you agree above, in polysyllabic variations, that he would fall back on his trump feeling in that case.


Your second example, then?

Blanche: {{He is presented with an atheological argument which is so strong that it even overpowers/somehow undermines his religious experience.}}

Only if this ‘argument’ somehow creates a new stronger feeling in him for him to irrationally react to. In which case the fact that it is an argument is completely incidental, especially to WLC. It might as well be a brain tumor or a volcano creating a new feeling inside his head instead. He would only be responding irrationally to its power, not rationally.

Otherwise you’re talking about an argument so strong that WLC cannot answer it and it refutes all WLC’s arguments. But then your previous repeated descriptions cannot be true about WLC; he will not fall back on his trump if all his arguments get blown away and he is presented with a case he cannot answer. He will not rely on his feeling of personal inspiration and so be assured that despite the strength of this countervailing argument he still knows correctly that X is true.

So does WLC say that his trump would still trump in circumstances in which all his arguments are refuted and the opposition makes a case he cannot answer? Or do you read him differently than that? Or does he say both things, depending on whichever seems more convenient at the moment? (Which would explain why you read him both ways.)

Blanche: {{But time travelling back and finding Jesus' corpse is not sufficient, for the reasons I gave.}}

I will remind you in passing, since you bring it up, that you changed the hypothesis without explaining why you changed the hypothesis. The hypothesis was that WLC found the real and really unresurrected body of Jesus; how he was supposed to have verified it to be the real body is beside the point. You changed this to a possibility that it wasn’t the real body of Jesus. But that possibility was excluded in the original hypothesis--the hypothesis you yourself brought up as an example of what WLC wouldn’t fall back on his feeling of inspired certainty against, but would accept as evidence definitely meaning his feeling was wrong.

Changing the hypothesis so that WLC doesn’t have to accept it, is not the same thing as providing an example that WLC would accept against his own feeling of inspired certainty on the topic.

JRP

Anonymous said...

Or maybe he really believes based on personal experience if the Spirit tells him "A" and someone gives him a strong argument for "Not-A" he simply chooses to trust the Spirit and concludes arguments vindicating "A" will be forth coming in the future?

Jason Pratt said...

Anon,

That was covered already.

In principle, a belief that he has been inerrantly inspired by the HS on x-topic would be challenged by arguments counter-x. If he goes back and reconsiders his reasons for why he believes he was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and still comes out ahead on that, then he could keep believing both that he has been inerrantly inspired by the Holy Spirit on x-topic, and that x-topic is therefore true.

I noted above (somewhere above the half-way mark of the thread at this point) that this not only would be a rational way to reject otherwise-apparently-successful arguments against 'x', but it would still be rational and reasonable for WLC to do so even if he was factually wrong about being inspired (inerrantly or otherwise) by the Holy Spirit on the topic of 'x'.

But that isn't what we're talking about (or complaining about, those of us who are complaining.)

We're talking about whether WLC would, as he seems to indicate, fall back on his belief of being inerrantly inspired about 'x' in the case of total argumentative defeat. Total argumentative defeat, by definition, means a defeat that one way or another also involves defeat in reasonably applying back to his belief in being inerrantly inspired by the Holy Spirit.

This is why I keep harping on the hypothetical test-case (which I as well as other people seem to recall WLC bringing up himself as a potential defeater) of Jesus' REAL BODY REALLY BEING FOUND. That hypothesis excludes the possibility that it may not be Jesus' real body after all; how this certainty was established is beside the point of the hypothesis.

P(remise) 1.) I am inerrantly inspired by the Holy Spirit.

O(bservation) 1.) I am told by what I believe (per P1) to be the Holy Spirit that Jesus' dead body could not possibly be found.

O(bservation) 2.) A body is found.

Option 1.) Possibly, probably or certainly not Jesus.

Option 2.) Definitely Jesus.


WLC (as I noted above) wouldn't be unreasonable to conclude assuming P1 and O1 that option 2 will never happen and that any body will always be option 1.

But he seems to be also claiming that even if option 2 happened with any certainty that would otherwise require rejecting P1 (or at least O1), he would still reject its truth in favor of keeping P1 and O1.

That's a choice on his part to keep believing P1 even in the face of what would be certain evidence against P1 (or at least against O1. But the characteristic of P1 is such that it ties inextricably to the truth of O1, once O1 happens as an experience to WLC.) And that's rational irresponsibility.

Or, he just automatically "believes" (if we want to call it 'belief') P1 because he can't help it, like a sneeze that he can't stop even if he tries to, although he might be forced to behave otherwise by a stronger sneeze in a different direction instead. But then, since he treats that as his bedrock for belief, his belief isn't ultimately rational and he is behaving irrationally to hold it.

The third option is that he can allow P1 (and O1) to be vulnerable in principle (at least) to real refutation. But if he's going to be consistent about that, he can't also treat P1 before the fact as being an invulernable trump fallback against all argumentation no matter how competent the argument is demonstrating the accuracy of data and coherently analyzing the data for rational conclusion.

JRP

Blanche said...

But then a new stronger experience would count as evidence for an argument he cannot answer; and you and I already agree that he says and means that even if all his arguments get blown away and he is presented with a case for an opposing view, he nevertheless knows via his experience of ‘I have been inspired by the Holy Spirit’ that X-Christianity is true.

Then a large part of this debate is terminological. I don't take the force of inner experience/intuition as argument, and I don't think Craig does either. Notice that Craig says he lets a witness of the Spirit trump OBJECTIVE evidence - he doesn't mention subjective evidence. Then you'd have to start comparing the strength of the two experiences.

Irrationally fluorescing to a stronger feeling of different feel-content, would certainly count as a different circumstance against which his current feeling at lesser strength naturally wouldn’t be able to trump. (That was your first example.) But then so much for his belief being, at bottom, responsibly rational.

Why is it irrational to pay attention to your intuitions?

Also, on your criticism my 3rd example: rational obligations are temporally indexed - the set of evidence available to you change over time.

You say a lot of stuff, but I am a busy man.

Deus Ex Machina said...

I found something Craig said on his post to be curious. Wrote a blog on it here (http://philosophiadeus.blogspot.com/2011/02/william-lane-craig-and-inner-witness-of.html)

Here's what I wrote:

"Craig makes a distinction between how one knows Christianity is true versus how one can go about showing how/why Christianity is true. He claims he knows via the self-authenticating witness of the holy spirit whereas his arguments are used to show others who lack said witness why it is justified. He makes a curious point:

"The answer is that the witness of the Holy Spirit is unmistakable (though not indubitable) for him who has it and attends to it."

He claims the inner witness is not indubitable which literally means there may always be some reason for us to doubt it. Consider the following argument then:

-That which is indubitable cannot be wrong.
-The inner witness of the spirit of the holy spirit is not indubitable
---
Therefore, the inner witness of the spirit can be wrong.


Premise one may be tricky to defend given that there may not be any necessary connection between indubitability and its being necessarily true. Indubitability may always simply be a psychological state. We can think of a possible scenario in which we program an A.I.'s mind into not being able to doubt the goodness of its creators. For the A.I. then, it is indubitable that his creators are benevolent and good beings whereas we know that this isn't necessarily the case. If indubitability is merely a psychological state of affairs then premise one is wrong.

Yet, the way Craig is using "the inner witness is not indubitable" seems to mean that "there may be grounds for doubting its truth and reliability" which therefore means there may be possible overriding evidence that will come in the future that will give us an epistemic defeater for trusting the witness which therefore means the inner witness cannot be the catch-all defeater defeater for all philosophical objections to Christianity as Craig takes it to be. Consider the following statement by him:

"My knowledge of Christianity’s truth, while supported by strong arguments, is not ultimately based on those arguments but on the witness of God Himself. If, therefore, I find myself confronted with a well-prepared and articulate Mormon who blows away my arguments and presents a case for Mormonism that I can’t answer, I should not apostatize, since I have the witness of the Holy Spirit to Christianity’s truth and so realize that although I’ve lost the argument, Christianity is nonetheless the truth (and I need to be better prepared next time!)."

I may be mistaken, but it seems plainly obvious that Craig here takes the inner witness of the holy spirit to be a defeater for every argument thrown his way. But then, why would he say the inner witness is not indubitable? What if we labeled an argument against the reliability of the inner witness of the spirit? To assume the spirit's reliability in order to fight off said argument would be question begging so he'd be forced to defend it on other grounds...but then he's back on to playing the evidentialist game which he claims the inner witness of the spirit does away with.

Something has definitely run afoul here. Either Craig misspoke or his position is self-defeating."

Anonymous said...

>We're talking about whether WLC would, as he seems to indicate, fall back on his belief of being inerrantly inspired about 'x' in the case of total argumentative defeat.

But if we believe Luke M then that doesn't seem likely to happen in the near future since WLC wins the vast majority of his debates.

IMHO unless New Atheists retreat from the field of battle and more rational philosophically competent ones take to the field this trend will continue.