Thursday, March 05, 2009

Bill Craig is debating Hitchens

This should be good. Almost as good as a debate with the Dawk.


philip m said...

While of course at first glance it seems interesting, I think the actual debate might end up very boring. Given they have two entirely different styles of debating, there might be a desperate lack of clash. (Clash is a word debaters use to indicate the direct, head-on disagreement of the debaters over the issues in the debate.)

Of all Hitchens' debates I've watched, I don't even think I've ever heard him say the word 'premise.' And although a few people unacquainted with the English language have said that Craig often employs masterful rhetoric, the way Craig conducts himself in debates is far less standoffish than Hitchens, who is a writer who I think was accurately described by Douglas Wilson as having a flair for 'polemical voltage,' a tendency which does not disappear when he speaks.

So it might end up with both of them talking past each other, and each side will think their man won the debate, given they are accustomed to their man's style of debate (which the other did not engage). It depends on the format, I suppose. Though if you watch Craig vs. Atkins or Wolpert in conversation, Craig is never very confrontational, often letting his opponent get away with very unreasonable points. The only time I ever saw Craig really jump on a moment in conversation was with Parsons when Parsons says he wanted a Spielbergian-type miracle to believe, and Craig retorted 'How would you know you weren't just having a hallucination?'

The debate will be necessarily interesting, I suppose, simply because of the cultural following each speaker has, which will garner attention for the debate. I also presume if Dawkins gives the debate a look he will thank himself again for not debating Craig, since Dawkins depends much more on specific arguments for his case than does Hitchens. Hitchens depends much more on his attitude in his debates than anything.

Perezoso said...

Of all Hitchens' debates I've watched, I don't even think I've ever heard him say the word 'premise.'

That's a good sign; "better a witty fool than a foolish wit".
Osiris save us from another philosophaster belching out Aristotelian syllogisms ad nauseum (or even the hack-skeptic whose put a few Bertrand Russell essays to memory).

Debating the existence of God is not solely a truth-functional matter, anymore than politics or ethics are; anyways, in an ordinary, valid AND sound argument (ie non-theological) premises must be confirmed as True, not merely possible--a point lost on the Plantinga 'bots.

Anonymous said...

"anyways, in an ordinary, valid AND sound argument (ie non-theological) premises must be confirmed as True, not merely possible--a point lost on the Plantinga 'bots."

I think this (inter alia) indicates that you've studied very little philosophy. Very few -- if any -- philosophic arguments reaching a substantial conclusion could pass this test.

Perezoso said...

Au contraire. It proves you've studied very little logic--at least beyond the Aristotelian/thomistic...chestnuts---, but probably heaps of philosophical or theological jargon. Paraphrasing Bertrand Russell, better a week with Newton than a year with the jargon of Aristotle and Plato and theologians

(you are correct, only in a trivial way: formal logic can do very little in terms of practical reasoning or induction, or social science. Logical form is tautologous: not really about evidentiary reasoning. Google Toulmin for one. ).

Anonymous said...

"Au contraire. It proves you've studied very little logic"

And you've apparently studied much less -- just look at how you reached the conclusion that I've studied 'very little logic'! Nothing in my post concerned your logic 101 definition of soundness; rather, it concerned how many arguments in real world philosophy live up to this standard. Yet again, you betray your ignorance.

So, Perezoso, kindly provide me with a three sound philosophic arguments that reach substantial (i.e. non-trivial) conclusions. Remember, your reasoning must be valid, your premises *true* -- not probable, plausible, etc. -- and your conclusion non-trivial.

Perezoso said...

I don't have to prove jack to you.
Show me a TRUE theological premise, apart from very obvious (Billy Sunday existed!).

Or prove to me that you don't hold the Book of Revelation to be authoritative. There's a starting point, philosopher (pointed out by Hume for one. When a book features angels and demons, it's not authoritative).

"philosophy" is not magic. I'm quite sure I know as much of first order logic from modus ponens (yeah google that) to undecidability. For that matter, theological issues are not primarily axiomatic: it's primarily evidentiary, even though many theologians consider it some type of pseudo-mathematics. And the evidence is not there.

I don't indulge in shoddy thomistic nostalgia (neither did Kant).

philip m said...


It is emphatically *not* a good thing when someone fails to reify their arguments. If you don't put your arguments in precise form then it is like you don't even know what key assumptions your argument is making. However, when you have an argument with premises, it becomes transparent, since if the premises are truth then the conclusion follows.

Another problem with not having structured arguments is that it allows you to shift ground. If you make arguments with premises, however, then you always have something to refer back to so that everybody can then assess exactly how the conversation has affected the truth of the premises. Without a starting point, it becomes virtually impossible to know where you've ended. You're just lost in the dark, knowing you're somewhere, you just don't know where.

That's all I'll say since, quite frankly, your comment after 'That's a good sign' was quite unintelligble. Which I suppose proves my point that general rambling often lacks clarity.

Gordon Knight said...

Will WLC and Hitchens reallly address the fundamental questions? it would be fun to watch.

Anonymous said...

And so Perry wimps out again. Yawn.

Looking forward to this debate. Somehow I imagine it will be a lot of talking-past-each-other, but at least Craig will have some substance there.

exapologist said...

That's pretty much the last debate I'd be interested in seeing. The one coming up with Craig and Morriston will be a must-see (or at least a must-hear), though.

Anonymous said...

There is a debate but there is also a panel discussion at the Christian Book Expo.I blogged about both events on my blog, but you can find the events by googling.

Craig also has upcoming debates with Wes Morriston (on kalam) and Richard Carrier (on the resurrection).

Dr. Reppert, do you mind if I add you to my blogroll?

dvd said...

Can someone help me with something?
Isn't Wes Morriston a Theist? I am not to familar with him, just some things about the Kalam.

philip m said...


I was wondering that, too. On his website there are no indications he is (and his CV seems to indicate the opposite), but he also seems part of the Society of Christian Philosophers. It is a bit confusing.

I will be at both the debates winteryknight mentioned, by the way, just in case anyone else happens to be going.

Anonymous said...

I believe Wes is a kind of theist. I may be wrong, but I once heard him described as a pseudo-pantheist. Looking through his CV that description appears to be incorrect, though.

Perezoso said...
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Perezoso said...
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Perezoso said...

Craig has no knockdown argument, as even Flew pointed out. He has the usual bamboozle via the Big Bang. Anyways, a logic shootout is not to the theologian's advantage--and some might question whether there are any true theological premises ("a perfect idea must have a perfect cause," isn't one. what mean you by "perfect," for starters, or "idea" for that matter)

Flew's point rather interesting. Some biblethumpers thought he was on their side and now he sounds like he's backslidin.'

At least Hitchens entertains. That said, it wasn't probably the smartest move on Biola's part inviting the Enemy into the chapel, eh. What if Craig loses? Bad for bidness.

Gordon Knight said...

I would be very much interested in the moriston/Craig debate. Two serious people

Gordon Knight said...

Maybe Wes is a theist but not a CRAIGIAN theist. All theists do not agree with Craig on lots of things.

Of coures you can be a theist and deny the soundness of a particular theistic argument (like teh Kalaam)

Blue Devil Knight said...
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Blue Devil Knight said...

Another CCC-style Circus of Confirmation Bias promoted as the greatest intellectual event in the history of the universe.

I guess there is entertainment value so I should lighten up. :)

Victor Reppert said...

Wes is a theist who takes a dim view of Craig-style apologetics and dislikes the Kalam argument, much as Gaunilo criticized the Ontological argument and Anscombe criticized the original Lewisian argument from reason.

Yes, a focused Morriston-Craig debate is probably of greater philosophical interest than a Craig-Hitchens debate. But I like seeing the overblown claims of the New Atheism critiqued, and I think Craig is up that that job.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Craig will destroy Hitchens from a purely philosophical standpoint, but Hitchens probably has him whupped as a speaker. If Craig can get a general audience to engage their rational selves, it's good news; if not, not.