Thursday, May 11, 2006

William Lane Craig vs. Bart Ehrman

Has anyone heard anything about a debate between William Lane Craig and Bart Ehrmann? I had heard that the parties had agreed to publish a book about it, but that Ehrman was pulling out of the agreement on the grounds that he did not want to give a venue for Craig's views. Doesn't make sense to me, Craig's views are about as well-known as anyone's could be, and Ehrman agreed to a debate. Am I misinformed about this?

I have included a link to the website where the debate will be posted in June. Thanks, Jason.


Jason Pratt said...

A webcrawl this morning has turned up nothing (yet) about Ehrman pulling out of a subsequent book. The website for Holy Cross appears to be where the transcript will be (initially?) posted.

The debate did apparently take place on March 28th. HC says there are delays in reproducing the transcript, but expects to have it up by mid-June. This might be evidence there will be no book from the debate (as publicly posting a transcript on a website would be tantamount to "publishing", and very likely more than 2% of the material of a book on the debate.) Couldn't find an online journal by either author, and neither author's main page (at their respective universities) seems to reference the debate at all. Haven't yet found any interviews of Ehrman where he talks about the debate (though that doesn't mean there aren't any).

As a bit of an aside, I did turn up an interesting number of Islamic apologetic sites who think Ehrman's books are pretty cool. {g} (The reason should be sufficiently obvious.)

Victor Reppert said...

So I'll ask the question that comes to my mind: do you think that Ehrman is preventing a book being published because Craig demolished him in the debate?

Anonymous said...

Woudn't it be better to first find out if Mr. Ehrman really is trying to prevent the debate being published before speculating on his motives?
Where is your evidence for this book-supression claim?

Jason Pratt said...

I agree with Tim. {s} Even if you're privy to good information on this, _we_ would be jumping the gun to accept it yet, much less discuss it (especially since the information would seem to be against BE.) Sorry.


Victor Reppert said...

Agreed. Let's wait and see.

Victor Reppert said...

Though I got a confirmation from WLC on this just now.

Tim said...

Whatever Ehrman's motives, he clearly got the worst of the debate.

It would not surprise me if, embarrassed by some of his own cheap shots (e.g. the one about his teaching at a "research university" -- news flash, Bart, this isn't impressive to those of us who also teach at research universities) and his absolute cluelessness about the structure of probabilistic arguments, he did pull out of the agreement. In a way, however, this makes it worse for him since the debate proper is already out there in cyberspace.

Tim (but not the previous Tim)

questblog said...

transcript indicates the debate was audio and video taped. Any idea where/how to obtain?

Unknown said...

Well I read the transcript and there is not much news in the debate: the conclusion on whether or not there was a ressurection is a matter of belief.

Bart Ehrman had the clearest argumentation and was responding to all Craig's comments. Craig was using cheap tricks (false summaries, strawmen) and refused to answer questions. He is clearly a believer without the capability of stepping aside from his own personal believes. The mathematics he kept referring to are plain ridiculous.
Ehrman came with the most relevant examples, except for his suggestions of what might have happened, which were not very effective in the debate.

Unknown said...

Ehrman's argument was sooo much better - he SHOULD have got it published.

In fact it was Lane who was unable to answer most of Ehrman's points convincingly.

And from the Q&A session it seemed ppl gave it to Ehrman

Nate said...

I don't think Craig "demolished" Ehrman in the debate, and I don't blame Ehrman for not wanting to help Craig sell books. The fact is, Mr. Craig is all flash and no-substance, and plenty of no-brains find his rhetorical pomp impressive; in fact, he's less than a third-rate philosopher, and I do not say this on account of his religious convictions.

What's Craig's position, in a nutshell, we make probability estimates on the basis of background knowledge; the background knowledge relevant to the Jesus case is, presumably, the existence of the Judeo-Christian God. And to corroborate this, Craig would probably rehash the Fine-Tuning Argument, the KCA, and while these arguments are unpersuasive enough on their own terms, even conceding that their conclusions follow from their premises, you cannot, by any logical move that I can see, get to the conclusion, "it is probable that the particular Judeo-Christian God exists." Craig alluded in the debate to historical information as well, but the background historical information we would have, even conceding that the Judeo-Christian God exists and that the canonical Old Testament presents accurate information does not obviously by any logical move I can see yield the conclusion that the Messiah ought to have come in the form that Craig suggested. In fact, this was a viewpoint that Jews of the day were disinclined to; Ehrman alludes to this fact in the debate, and the fact that contemporary Jews would have felt the need to read back into the texts for some explanation of the disappointment that had been Jesus says quite a lot (to a perceptive person) about the background knowledge we have to work from, and how well it supports Craig's viewpoint.

If Craig would like to explicitly lay out his arguments from A to B to C, that's one thing. Of course, to my satisfaction, he hasn't even gotten to A yet. His arguments for the existence of God are hardly convincing, but try making the point in ten minutes. There are plenty of articles about these that present criticisms that I find persuasive.

Ehrman is obviously not a debater, and Craig obviously is, but if you read between the lines, and make due concessions for the fact that a person unskilled in the art of rhetoric may not sound as good but may actually say more of value, I think the debate acquires a different complexion.

I don't expect your average reader to see that; I doubt Ehrman does either, or even Craig for that matter.

With regard to the issue of methodological atheism, it's interesting, and in some sense, the critical issue in debates of this variety; I do not think historians "need" to proceed according to a methodologically atheistic approach, but it works well enough, and its opponents will need to offer a different standard that does not fall prey to the porridge problem, i.e. their approach to history should not function in such a way as to exclude well-accepted historical cases, nor should it include things that we collectively reject as unhistorical. I frankly doubt that they can do that. They are welcome to try, heck, they may make a great contribution to the study of history if they can, but for ought I can see to the contrary, they don't seem to want to make the effort.

Anonymous said...

After giving the Debate a careful review, I think that Craig did not demolish Ehrman, Craig absolutely slayed the poor fellow intellectually!I agree that Ehrman gave in to the personal reason of embarrassment not to publish.I can't say that I blame him. As a prior reply so clearly pointed our Craig is already famous and needs no help in selling his books, Ehrman on the other hand ....

Lucas said...

I come to this conclusion:
I have a great tendency not to listen to arguements.