Monday, February 25, 2013

Dawkins' failure to debate Bill Craig

In any event, Dawkins' failure to debate Craig is not something I have a problem with per se.

However, I find the charge of "defending genocide" to be somewhat misstated. Could an omniscient being ever be justified in ordering a genocide if he thought that the overall balance of good over bad would be enhanced by so doing? Regardless of what you think the answer is on this, I don't think you could use that as a basis of supposing that your opponent was an evil person, or that you shouldn't be seen on stage with someone like that. Unless you thought this person could end up advocating a present-day genocide, I don't see that such a position would render someone dangerous. And if you really thought someone might end up justifying a real genocide, wouldn't you want to debate them to make sure that such ideas were effectively refuted? I certainly would.

But the fact is, I have no trouble with Dawkins not debating Craig, except that I consider it to be symptomatic of an overall unwillingness to be responsive to critics of his atheistic programme. An atheist might think that a public debate format is a bad setup for that person to engage the points at issue betwee Craig and himself, which is fine. What he has not done is shown either the ability or the willingness to engage, say, Craig's Kalam Cosmological argument, beginning with an effort to state the argument clearly enough so that his audience can be sure he knows how to distinguish that argument from other versions of the cosmological argument. To take a page from Jesse Parrish's book, anyone who writes about the credibility of belief in God should be able to pass this Simple Test For Understanding. Otherwise....


Edwardtbabinski said...

Vic, Just how many women, pregnant women, children and babes do you think you'd be able to slay in total faith and obedience? Or would you, being a smart guy, imagine that an infinite Being probably could figure out some other way to do things?

And Vic, your speculation is of the purest most ad hoc sort, like when you wrote, "[Perhaps] the overall balance of good over bad would be enhanced by so doing?"

Since we don't have a device or any way of measuring the "overall balance of good over bad throughout eternity" you're just speculating, not solving anything, and no better than the questions that remain, that always remain.

If you want to take the Canaanite massacres as literal history in every way, right down to their origin being God's own direct commands to kill everything that breathes in certain cities, go right ahead, though C. S. Lewis thought it best to relegate them to uninspired status rather than risk making God into some sort of demon. To Lewis the idea of the goodness of God preceded the idea of biblical inspiration. So he viewed the tales about God commanding massacres, and even the tale of the slaying of a couple in Acts, as of dubious inspired status.

Bilbo said...

Hi Ed,

I hadn't heard about Lewis's views on the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira. Do you have a link?

Edwardtbabinski said...

The Kalam Cosmological argument is likewise speculation. One can just as easily question its premises, since philosophy of cosmology is a field in which there is less settled than Craig supposes. Evan an expert whom Craig has cited speaks more honestly about the tentative nature of the cosmological evidence that Craig attempts to build his argumentative scaffolding upon.

See for instance:

Or the list of further videos listed in the "about" section above.

And, for my Fine-Tuner Friends there's this free pre-pub paper now online, "PHILOSOPHY OF COSMOLOGY" Due to appear in The Oxford Handbook for the Philosophy of Physics, edited by B. Batterman. I was reading the pages where the author mentions "unique" and "anthropic."

Difficulties in proving anything arise as soon as one realizes that this universe is a set of one, so we have nothing to compare it with, or to compare its "laws" with, and no way to experiment to see if the "laws" of this universe are "laws" elsewhere as well, or whether changing such "laws" is even possible, or if that's the way things are, period [brute factuality as one might say, just as Christians might say of the existence of God], or whether slight changes in one direction are naturally compensated for in another direction, and again that might simply be the way things are.

It also might be an illusion that humans are "it." We certainly seem like top dog to ourselves. But we could die out tomorrow and the stars have plenty of fuel to continue burning for eons without us. Or there could be simple life forms on other planets or moons, or even inside asteroids per a recent view, since there could be liquid water inside asteroids.

And even if there is sentient life elsewhere in the cosmos, maybe their planet features as many different religions and religious views as ours.

There's lots we don't know. But of course apologists know all. They even see beyond the metaphysical curtain and the curtain of death. They see with clarity that if you don't "believe" such and such, you are "damned" as it says in John 3 and in that added section of Mark which was accepted as part of the canon for the past 1500 or so years, and which is still in the Bible, but with an added footnote.

My views is that miracles from all religions (including amazing coincidences that seem to just happen and are not related to a religion), when viewed together, provide a crazy mixed bag of "evidence." So how can "God or WhateverIsOutThere" expect us to know what to make of them?

Edwardtbabinski said...

Hi Bilbo, Here's a link:

Bilbo said...

I thought Lewis was referring specifically to the Canaanite genocide in that letter. The problem is that Peter didn't "strike" Ananias and Sapphira dead. There's no evidence that he ever touched them. Further, both A and S were guilty of hypocrisy, whereas the Canaanite children weren't guilty of anything. So I could see where one wouldn't object to God striking A and S dead, but still object to the Canaanite genocide.

Edwardtbabinski said...

Hi Bilbo, I would call the Canaanite affair a slaughter, a massacre, rather than genocide, if only because the Canaanites continued to live on in a sense through the Hebrews. Hebrew is in fact a “language of Canaan,” as says the prophet (Isaiah 19:18), a conclusion amply confirmed by archaeologically recovered inscriptions. In scholarly terms, Hebrew is a south Canaanite dialect.

As with the language, so with the alphabet: From its earliest appearance until the Babylonian destruction, Hebrew was written in the Canaanite alphabet.

As with language and the alphabet, so with culture generally: Ancient Israelite culture was in many respects a subset of Canaanite culture. The most powerful and extensive demonstration of this last statement comes from the body of literature uncovered at the site of Ugarit.

[The Canaanite] King Kirta of the Ugaritic epic was indicted by his son [in semi-OT prophet fashion] for his lack of solicitude for widows, orphans, and the poor:

When raiders lead raids,
and creditors detain (debtors),
You let your hands fall slack:
you do not judge the widow’s case,
you do not make a decision regarding the oppressed,
you do not cast out those who prey upon the poor.
Before you, you do not feed the orphan,
behind your back the widow” (vi 49-51).
-- Context of Scripture 1.102 vi 25-53

Another clay tablet reveals something of the Canaanites’ family values:

‘Starting from today I Yaremano give up all my properties to my wife Baydawe and two sons Yataleeno and Yanhamo. If one of my sons treats his mother Baydawe meanly, he must pay five hundred pieces of silver for the king. Beyond that he should take off his shirt, leave it on the door’s lock and go into the street. But the one who treats his mother Baydawe with respect and consideration, his mother will give him all the properties.’

The Israelites shared with their neighbors the eastward orientation of their tabernacle and temple, the placement of important cultic objects within them, the designation of areas of increasing holiness, rules for access to the Holy Place and Holy of Holies, as well as practices like circumcision and sacrificial offerings. [Beale's own description, and he's an inerrantist.]

They agreed with their ancient neighbors that it was important to appease a high divinity via building a temple, saying prayers, giving praises, having priests and sacrifices, all important to a nation's blessing and protection granted from its high god.

Edwardtbabinski said...

Also Bilbo,

Concerning other parallels, there's an ancient Egyptian inscription concerning how King Thutmose was told by his high god how that god wanted his temple built. (Compare the LATER king David story involving Yahweh giving commands to David on how He wanted his temple built.)

There's the laws of King Hammurabi showing him receiving them via the direct inspiration of a high god named Shamash. (Compare the LATER Hebrew tale about Moses receiving his laws directly from Yahweh.)

And there's the way such ancient cultures praised their high moral gods. In a ritual for the Babylonian New Year festival, the Babylonian high god, Marduk, was invoked in this fashion:

“My lord is my god, my lord is my ruler, is there any lord apart from him?”

Nebuchadnezzar II prayed at his accession to Marduk:

“Everlasting lord, master of all that exists, grant to the king, whom you love, and whose name you name, all that is pleasant to you. Keep him on the right way...You have created me and entrusted to me the dominion over all peoples.
O lord, let me according to your grace, which you pour over them all, love your exalted might, and create in my heart fear of your divinity.”

And in their creation story, Enuma Elish, Marduk is depicted as:

“The trust of the land, city and people. The people shall praise him [Marduk] forever...At his name the gods shall tremble and quake...Who administers justice, uproots twisted testimony, In whose place falsehood and truth are distinguished...Who uprooted all enemies... snuffed out all wicked ones...his name shall be the truth!” (Tablet VI:135–36, 146 and VII:39–40, 43, 45, 54).

He [Marduk] shall be ‘Lord of All the Gods’...No one among the gods shall [make himself equal] to him.
—Enuma Elish Tablet VI:141 and VII:14

He [Marduk] established the holy heavens... creator of the earth above the waters, establisher of things on high...who made the world’s regions...He created “places” and fashioned the netherworld.
—Enuma Elish Tablet VII:16, 83, 89, 135

He [Marduk] patterned the days of the year...established the positions of Enlil and Ea [referring to the rotation of stars in the sky]...made the moon appear, entrusted (to him) the night...assigned to the crown jewel of nighttime to mark the day (of the month)...[Marduk] d[efined?] the celestial signs [for religious festivals]...the doorbolt of sunrise...the watches of night and day.
—Enuma Elish Tablet V:3, 5, 8, 12–13, 23, 44, 46
[Genesis 1 tells of Yahweh creating the sun and moon for "signs and seasons," literally for religious festivals in Yahweh's honor, same as in the earlier tale in Enuma Elish. The same Hebrew word translated as "seasons" appears elsewhere in the Pentateuch meaning religious festivals.]

He [Marduk] made mankind...creatures with the breath of life...creator of all people.
—Enuma Elish Tablet VI:33,129 & VII:89

He [Marduk] shall be the shepherd of the [Mesopotamians], his creatures.
—Enuma Elish Tablet VI:107

Creation, destruction, absolution, punishment: Each shall be at his [Marduk’s] command.
—Enuma Elish Tablet VI:131-32

His [Marduk’s] word is truth, what he says is not changed, Not one god has annulled his utterance.
—Enuma Elish Tablet VII:151–52

Word of him [Marduk] shall endure, not to be forgotten.
—Enuma Elish Tablet VII:31–2

Let them ever speak of his [Marduk’s] exaltation, let them sing his praises!
—Enuma Elish Tablet VII:24

His [Marduk’s] beneficent roar shall thunder over the earth.
—Enuma Elish Tablet VII:120

[Marduk,] who crossed vast Tiamat [sea goddess] back and forth in his wrath, Spanning her like a bridge at the place of single combat.
—Enuma Elish Tablet VII:74

He [Marduk], profound of wisdom, ingenious in perception, Whose heart is so deep that none of the gods can comprehend it.
—Enuma Elish Tablet VII:117–18

[Quotations from Enuma Elish trans. by Benjamin R. Foster, From Distant Days: Myths, Tales and Poetry of Ancient Mesopotamia (Bethesda: CDL Press, 1995)]

William said...

It is possible to be scared to death. Did Peter in his indignation intend to frighten them that much? Doubtful but who knows?

I have heard Martin Samuels lecturing about Ananias and Sapphira in that regard:

Victor Reppert said...

I didn't take either side on this issue. What I said was that if someone did think that God could be justified in ordering the Amalekite massacre, I wouldn't think of that as sufficient grounds for thinking the person was such an evil person that one wouldn't go on stage to debate that person.

That's an awfully low bar to clear. What I am saying is that I understand why someone might think that.

Here is someone who defends the Amalekite massacres against my position, which he thinks takes too low a view of biblical inspiration.

Now do I buy this guy's position? Certainly not. Do I think his taking this line makes him a bad person, someone I shouldn't engage? Again, no. I have no inclination to demonize, say, Calvinists, even though I certainly don't agree with them. I wasn't trying to defend Craig's position, I was trying to oppose Dawkins' use of that position as a reason not to debate Craig.

Edwardtbabinski said...

Also, Bilbo, on the judgment of Ananias and his wife, it was instantaneous, they were struck dead, one immediately after the other, as soon as they met Peter, and the point for Lewis is that God is depicted as the chief culprit. For what? Lying about having given all their money to the church? Do churchgoers fear that today? Lewis probably would have also questioned Paul's declaration in 1 Cor. that "many of you are [Christians in Corinth] ill and some of you have fallen asleep [died]" due to God's "judgment" for celebrating the Lord's supper improperly. These NT stories echo the ay God was depicted as having acted toward His chosen people in the OT. Being chosen didn't mean you couldn't be chastised, EVEN TO DEATH. "Woe," Lewis might respond. Wait a sec! I'm not gonna worship such a God out of fear. It has to be due to goodness. So, did Paul guess right, and were "many [Christians] ill" due to not celebrating the Lord's supper with sufficient awe and humility? Or was Paul just riffing on the OT and depicting God in a light that might not even have been inspired, per Lewis' questions?

Also, the Ananias story is too derivative of ancient oath tales in general. It's a "stock scene" throughout ancient Hellenistic tales, someone takes a sacred oath and then they break it and die.

See this free online article:

“Divine Judgment against Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1–11): A Stock Scene of Perjury and Death” Journal of Biblical Literature 130, no. 2 (2011) by J. Albert Harrill

From the perspective of Luke’s narrative, the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira are not tragic. Rather, the scene encourages the audience to have confidence that the church (ἡ ἐκκλησία) is blameless of impiety (ἀσέβεια) and that promises about its deity are true. . . The author of Luke-Acts engages the notions of ritual and religious identity in his contemporary culture. He distinguishes the piety of his early Christian heroes by the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira, who scorn the keeping of oaths that God demands.

The story of Ananias and Sapphira begins with a utopian scene of the earliest believers sharing all goods in common. A Levite named Joseph (alias Barnabas) sells his field and lays all the proceeds at the feet of the apostles for distribution to the community’s needy (Acts 4:32–37). Ananias then, “with the consent of his wife Sapphira,” sells a piece of property and appears to follow suit. Ananias, however, lays “only a part” of the sale’s proceeds before the apostles (5:1–2). The apostle Peter berates Ananias for “lying not to humans but to the Holy Spirit” (5:3), and Sapphira for “putting the Spirit of the Lord to the test” (5:9). Upon hearing the apostle’s rebuke, Ananias and Sapphira each die in turn, suddenly and on the spot. The story ends with “great fear” (φόβος μέγας) seizing “all who heard these things” and especially the whole “church”—the first occurrence of ἐκκλησία in the narrative (5:11).

The story’s apparent moral injustice has long offended biblical interpreters. In the third century, a Greek “philosopher,” most likely Porphyry, condemned Peter’s rebuke as hypocritical and irrational: the apostle, who perjured himself by denying Jesus three times (Luke 22:31–34, 54–62), ritually murders the couple for doing a much lesser sin, if indeed the couple’s action was a sin. More recent commentators have shared Porphyry’s shock at the story and its theological implications. To resolve the story’s apparent moral injustice, scholars have proposed various exegetical solutions: [THE AUTHOR OF THIS PAPER POINTS OUT THAT SUCH SCENES WERE COMMON IN MANY ANCIENT CONTEXTS, BUSINESS, EVEN IN COMIC PLAYS, IT'S A STOCK SCENE LUKE IS CONSTRUCTING. HOW MUCH IS BASED ON HISTORY? WHO KNOWS?]

Son of Ya'Kov said...

Ed you are an amazing fundie.

>Vic, Just how many women, pregnant women, children and babes do you think you'd be able to slay in total faith and obedience? Or would you, being a smart guy, imagine that an infinite Being probably could figure out some other way to do things?

Even if we take the commands of Haraam literally there is no ongoing command in the Bible to slay women & children there was at best specific commands at specific instances which cannot be repeated today so that is not a serious question.

I always hit back hard at such emotive nonsense by pointing out what sick hypocrites Gnus are on this issue. Dawkins' friend Peter Singer advocates parents having the power to have their handicaped and defective unwanted childen put to death in hospitals(as the Father of three mentally handicaped children I hold these clowns in contempt).

It's funny most Gnus believe the Bible is nothing but fiction yet Dawkins' "outrage" at Craig in this context is morally no different then being outraged at him if Craig defended Grand Moff Tarkin's descision to blow up the planet Alderaan. It's rather hypocritical and sick to on the one hand bitch about a bunch of fictional deaths of children in the past vs advocating killing real ones today.

Also there is Abortion and Partial Birth Abortion.

Tell me Ed are you at least a Prolife Atheist(http:// or an immoral evil supporter of child murder and partial birth infanticide?

I'll love to see if you have the guts to answer this question.

On another note even the Rabbis in the Talmud argued of one found the living descendent of a Canaanite who was put under the ban you should not kill the person or there would be easy solutions as to why you need not follow the command.

Your objections to Ananias and Sapphira are just weird. Even Walter our resident ex-Atehist turned Deist skeptic of orthodox Christianity has accepted it is not immoral for God to take life directly. He objects to God commanding others to do it but not to God doing it directly. But God not only creates us but causes us to exist here and now and actively sustains our existence here and now. He need not have created us body and soul. If He chooses that our existence should proceed with only our souls (till the resurection) without our bodies then how is it He can't make that choice?

>God is depicted as the chief culprit. For what? Lying about having given all their money to the church? Do churchgoers fear that today?

Ed, seriously? The text says they "lied to God". If I jump off a high building do I get to complain to gravity for pulling me down to my death? No that is merely the nature and consecuence of jumping off a building. Well then why would lying to Truth Itself not have adverse consequences?

You make no sense Ed.

Son of Ya'Kov said...

>Porphyry, condemned Peter’s rebuke as hypocritical and irrational: the apostle, who perjured himself by denying Jesus three times (Luke 22:31–34, 54–62), ritually murders the couple for doing a much lesser sin, if indeed the couple’s action was a sin.

Seriously? This is lamer than Russell condemning Christ for killing a fig tree!

Peter when given the opportunity (after hearing the third cock crow) repented.

Clearly both Ananias and Sapphira had opportunities to repent but blew them off till it was too late. Also Peter didn't lie to Christ directly. He lied to others about knowing Christ.

Ananias and Sapphira OTOH lied directly to a Divinely Inspired Apostle of God and to the Holy Spirit. Which was a direct attack on a God appointed office and thus God.

After all King Saul was a certifiable jerk but David refused to kill him when given the chance.
Why? Because it would have been an attack on God's Anointed.

The Office of the King was a Divinely appointed office with God's authority.

Ananias and Sapphira didn't merely lie to Peter. They lied to the keeper of the Keys an office appointed by God.

God is Truth Itself so why shouldn't lying to Truth Itself not have adverse consequences?

Son of Ya'Kov said...

I can see why this paper Ed cites is "free" online. You get what you pay for but unfortunately free shit is well still just shit.

QUOTE"Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

9 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.END QUOTE

It's seems from the text the issue wasn't them giving them a mere partial donation. Peter said to Ananias it was his property and he could do what he liked with it but lying to and testing Divinely Inspired Apostles and thus lying to the Holy Spirit is a no-no.

It's about rebelling against God directly.

Again why wouldn't lying to Truth Itself not have adverse consequences by nature?

Son of Ya'Kov said...

Let me spell it out to you people. If Ananias and his wife showed up and said "Here is some of the Money. We are not ready to give it all right now" they would still be alive.

But they lied(directly to God) & they died.

Bilbo said...

Hi Ed,

Again, it's not clear that Lewis was referring to the story of Ananias and Sapphira. I can see how someone would not have moral objections to that story but still have moral objections to the slaughter of the Canaanites.

I suspect that the difference between Peter's denial and Ananias and Sapphira's lie is that theirs is out of love of money, while Peter's was merely cowardice. And as Paul tells us, love of money is the root of all evil.

Thanks for all the information of Marduk. I'm curious: any evidence that the other pagan deities forbade the making of images of themselves? .

Edwardtbabinski said...

Vic, You tossed out the possibility of justifying the creation of a greater good via mass slaughter. That leads to more questions, and Lewis would probably find it embarrassing or worse.

I think Dawkins should debate Craig on human evolution, as well as the extinction of so many cousin species of lemurs, monkeys, great apes, even humans. I wouldn't mind seeing how much "evolution" Craig accepts or hear his view on Adam & Eve. Would Craig accept?

Craig has admitted that over half of evangelical pastors believe the universe is less than 10,000 yrs old & calls this "hugely embarrassing," "shocking." Has Craig said that before? Though he also says Christians should learn all points of view concerning interpretations of Genesis 1 and not be indoctrinated into any one view. So what is Craig's preferred interpretation? He should debate Dawkins on THAT matter.

Edwardtbabinski said...

I think Craig can't handle even obvious questions:

What "appeared" to Paul (our earliest source) in 1 Cor. 15? Paul said in the same letter that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable," & "Food [is intended] for the stomach and the stomach for food, but God will finally end [the functions of] both and bring them to nothing [Amplified Bible]." How "bodily" does that sound? Not as bodily as the later tales of Jesus resurrection appearances in Luke-Acts & John.

Paul also apparently believed in a
heavenly afterlife, not an afterlife where a person lives back on earth in a flesh and bone body:

1Th 4:13-18, "We who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."

1Th 5:10 "so that whether we are awake or asleep [dead], we may live together with him."

Paul seems to indicate not just in that verse but in others that the Kingdom of God will be in heaven:

2 Co 5:1 “…we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven…”

Php 3:20a “But our citizenship is in heaven…”

Gal 4:26a “…the Jerusalem which is above is free…”

Paradise is in the third heaven (2 Cor 12:2-4).

Philo of Alexandria also put heaven as the destination of the righteous after death: “And the proselyte…has received as a most appropriate reward a firm and sure habitation in heaven” (On reward and punishment”, ch. XXVI, 152)“…looking upon the heavenly country in which they have the rights of citizens…” (On the confusion of tongues, ch. XVII).

Paul also did not question in 1 Cor 15 that the "appearance" he personally experienced was on par with that of everyone else's. Paul wrote, "Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also." But as we've seen, there remains some question what exactly "appeared" to Paul. And if there's such a question concerning Paul, then that same question remains for all the rest in his "appearance" list. What "appeared" to any of them?

Can Paul's phrase "spiritual body" really fill the gap between Paul's view and later works? In Luke-Acts Jesus exclaims, "I am not a spirit," "I have flesh and bones," and asked for a piece of fish to eat, then "led them out [presumably walking through the city of Jerusalem while digesting the piece of fish in his belly!] to [nearby] Bethany" and rose up into the sky. Acts even has Jesus "preach & share meals" with his disciples for weeks on end! And John, another later Gospel, has the raised Jesus say, ("touch me," and Jesus "cooks fish" and even performs a post-resurrection miracle of a miraculous catch of fish like the one at the start of Luke's Gospel but in John it's placed at the end and performed by a resurrected Jesus, ah the story grows). Such late tales depict the raised Jesus in a more concrete fashion than Paul did in 1 Cor., or Mark or Matthew, which were written EARLIER.

So we have Paul (a list of "appearances," and a mention of "spiritual bodies," but no empty tomb story and not much truck with "flesh, blood, food, stomachs" inheriting the kingdom of God) to Mark and Matthew (the elaboration of the empty tomb story), and finally Luke-Acts, John, when the post-resurrection stories gained their most concrete aspects, "flesh and bone."

Further evidence: In Mark & Matthew the message at the tomb was, "He has gone before you to Galilee, there ye shall see him." But Luke-Acts has Jesus meet with his disciples in Jerusalem & they are commanded to "stay" there until the Holy Spirit arrives. The story changed over time. For more google "Gospel Trajectories."

Bilbo said...

Hi Vic,

I imagine that Dawkins' lack of desire to debate Craig stems from a realization that it would be difficult to win a formal, competitive debate against Craig. Since I was on the high school debate team for four years, I know the huge advantage that gives Craig over his opponents. I would suggest to Dawkins and others who are challenged by Craig, that they insist on an informal debate such as Shelly Kagan had with Craig:

It put Kagan on a much more level playing field and he was able to hold his own against Craig.

Edwardtbabinski said...

Hi Bilbo, Lewis wrote that in an exchange of letters with John Beversluis, and there doesn't seem to be any question between them as to what Lewis was referring to.

As for two people being stuck dead for love of money, Lewis I'm sure wondered why no one was given the slightest chance to repent, or even the chance to simply be expelled from the church (Paul suggests in a letter to expel someone, to ban them, to hand them over to Satan.) Instead this couple get struck dead instantly, one soon after the other. I don't believe it's historical, especially after reading that article about the broken-oath-trope in the ancient world and what people believed happened to people who lied to the gods.

As for not making any images, that was a latter development. And indeed there are ancient images of Yahweh and asherah. Images were only banned LATER in Hebrew history, along with outside holy places, when Jerusalem became the centralized place of worship. A centralization of both politics and worship took place.

Also, the Hebraic religion probably was built in stages. From a high henotheism and a praise of their high deity in Marduk-like fashion, to a praise of an even more monotheistic religion, the Persian religion that conquered the Babylonians and their Marduk! Ahura-Mazda was an even more individual high deity than Marduk and high henotheism. And Ahura-Masda of the Persians had conquered the Babylonians and their high deity! And the Persian king and his empire was larger than the Babylonians and theirs! And Isaiah even called the Persian king Cyrus a "messiah!" The only non-Hebrew messiah in the Bible. I doubt the Hebrew could not have been affected by the rise of Persia and an even higher more singular god ruling their kingdom than the Marduk of Babylon, who also was cited as a high moral god of gods, lord of lords.

Bilbo said...

Hi Ed,

As to the resurrection stories, even in the most concrete stories of the Gospel of John, we have Jesus suddenly appearing in a locked room. His body is not the usual flesh and blood body of normal human beings. One can understand John's resurrected Jesus to have a spiritual body in the sense that Paul means.

As far as the extinction of previous species during the history of evolution: This objection only makes sense if those species had no value to God in and of themselves. But how would you know that?

Edwardtbabinski said...

Hi Ben,

As for two people being stuck dead for love of money, I'm sure C. S. Lewis wondered why no one was given the slightest chance to repent, or even the chance to simply be expelled from the church (Paul suggests in a letter to expel someone, to ban them, to hand them over to Satan.) Instead this couple get struck dead instantly, one soon after the other. I don't believe it's historical especially after reading that article about how widespread the broken-oath-trope was in the ancient world and what people believed happened to people who lied to gods.

Bilbo said...

Since Lewis does not refer specifically to the story of Ananias and Sapphira, I doubt he had that story in mind. The only story he refers to is the one involving Joshua and the slaughter of the Canaanites. For that he would have trouble accepting the doctrine of inerrancy. For a story of divine judgment as an example to others of the poison of greed? I doubt Lewis would lose sleep over it.

I challenge your claim that the prohibition of images was in a later stage of Israel's religion. Finding images of Yahweh or the Asherah does not prove that the prohibition of them came later. Only that the prohibition was not obeyed, which we have plenty of prophets informing us was the case.

Edwardtbabinski said...

Ben, Your talk about "hitting back hard" and calling things "shit" leads no further than your rants against atheist fundies which I am neither.

Your "points" appear to be based on taking the Bible as inspired cover to cover and historically accurate. You can't be much more fundy than that. Even C. S. Lewis did not do that, which was what I was pointing out to Vic right from the start of this thread.

See also my questions concerning miracles, neither necessarily atheist nor Christian questions:

Son of Ya'Kov said...

>why no one was given the slightest chance to repent,

I reject that claim. I'm sure before Peter spoke to them they had an opportunity to repent. Sapphira certainly had an opportunity to tell Peter the truth after he asked "Is this the price you and Anaias got"?
How would that not be a repentence?

>or even the chance to simply be expelled from the church (Paul suggests in a letter to expel someone, to ban them, to hand them over to Satan.) >nstead this couple get struck dead instantly, one soon after the other.

Peter was the Chief of the Apostles & they lied directly to him showing contempt for an Office God set up. If you are going to bring up bishop Paul excommunicating others you have to cite specific texts so I can compare them. I doubt there is any equivolence.

Peter unlike Paul recieved the Keys and that gave him a special office. See Isaiah 22 & compare to Matt 16:18. Peter is the NT version of Eliakim.
Peter is like Eliakim "Father/Pope over the people", "Whatever he shuts none shall open etc".

The text doesn't give us specific time frames of events only a general discription of events. So I have no reason to believe neither had an opportunity to repent.

>Your talk about "hitting back hard" and calling things "shit" leads no further than your rants against atheist fundies which I am neither.

So you are too gutless to inform me if you are pro-abortion/Pro-partial birth abortion or not eh?


>Your "points" appear to be based on taking the Bible as inspired cover to cover and historically accurate.

As defined by the Catholic Church. Which is a rather nueanced rich view. Where as you hold kneejerk to the last Fundamentalist sect you once belonged too back when you believed.

Thus my charge you are a fundamentalist stands. At best you certainly don't have a Catholic view of scripture.

>You can't be much more fundy than that.

Except I don't hold your latent fundamentalist Sola Scriptura or neo-Lutheran Perspecuity of Scriptures Doctrines as the filter threw which one reads the text. I read it threw Church tradition.

Again you read it threw the filters of the last Fundie Prot sect you belonged too.

>Even C. S. Lewis did not do that, which was what I was pointing out to Vic right from the start of this thread.

Again I respect Lewis and he had some good ideas & insights but he wasn't Catholic & I am not obligated to believe him over the Pope.

>See also my questions concerning miracles, neither necessarily atheist nor Christian questions:

I'm sure they are fascinating but changing the subject here seems like a dodge.

I am not moved by such tactics.

WMF said...

Seeing how Dawkins had admitted in the past that on his view there is nothing wrong with genocide, how is this different from refusing debate someone who likes vanilla ice cream?

Son of Ya'Kov said...

Ed you are not a coherent or orderly critic of Christianity.

You are a "Throw as much mud as possible and see what sticks" kind of polemicist.

My initial swipes where at your implicit claims of God's immortality at either possibly literally ordering the death of the Canaanite Women and Children & God directly taking the lives of Ananias and Saphira.

Now you want to discuss miracles and C.S. Lewis.

Don't care.

My points stand. Address them or ignore them. Your choice.

Walter said...

Dawkins would get massacred in a debate with Craig, even if each one argued for the other's position. Dawkins knows he would get soundly defeated, and he fears that defeat would be used to further validate what he sees as a morally and intellectually bankrupt religion.

Dawkins should just admit that he is no match for Craig in the debating arena. His excuse is transparent.

Son of Ya'Kov said...

I agree.

Indeed & it wouldn't automatically make Theism true & Atheism false if Dawkins admitted his limitations.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...


Why is "Dawkins' failure to debate Bill Craig" still an issue? Isn't this old news by now?

Bill Craig has still "failed" to debate me. Is that an issue?


Mr Veale said...

Oh, what the heck...

Mr Veale said...

Another reason scholars are so confident that Jesus followers believed they had seen Jesus after the crucifixion is the testimony of the apostle Paul. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul cites Peter and the Twelve as witnesses to this resurrection.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
This is an extremely important piece of evidence. As NT Wright observes “The whole thrust of the paragraph is about evidence, about eyewitnesses being called, about something that actually happened for which eyewitnesses could and would vouch.” Furthermore, when Paul talks about “receiving” and “passing on” this message, he is using technical language for memorizing and passing on oral traditions. The Corinthian Church was founded about 49/50AD; and we know from the book of Galatians that Paul’s message had the approval of the mother Church in Jerusalem. Paul learned this tradition from the apostles in Jerusalem soon after the events of Easter. Gerd Theissen and Annette Merz explain why historians place so much weight on this passage:

The analysis of the formula tradition about the resurrection of Jesus allows the following conclusion: a tradition in 1 Cor 15v3b-5, which goes back to the events themselves, attests appearances to both individuals and groups. The credibility of this tradition is enhanced, because it is in part confirmed by the narrative tradition, which is independent, and because in the case of Paul we have the personal testimony of an eyewitness who knew many of the other witnesses…There is no doubt about the subjective authenticity of these testimonies; i.e they come from people who attest an overwhelming experience in good faith. The appearances to individuals are particularly illuminating. Peter had denied Jesus. Paul had persecuted his followers. James (possibly) shared the scepticism of other members of his family towards Jesus.

Mr Veale said...

The Gospels and Paul clearly teach that Jesus was “resurrected”. The word “resurrection” could only mean one thing in Jewish thought. It meant bodily rising from the grave to be vindicated by God.[11] You could no more have an “immaterial” resurrection than a “square triangle” or a “married bachelor”. In 1 Corinthians 15 we have Paul, writing about the message he preached, with the other Apostles and disciples, from the Church’s inception. And that message was that Jesus had risen bodily from the grave, had been vindicated by his Father, and that he was now at the Father’s right hand.

Jews were not expecting anyone to be resurrected until judgment day when all the righteous would be resurrected together. At that stage God would bring the world to an end, and create the New Heavens and New Earth. No-one was expecting one person to be resurrected on his own before the end of the world! So why on earth did the first Christians conclude that Jesus had been resurrected? A hallucination would not be sufficient. A mere vision of Jesus might have led the disciples to believe that Jesus’ “angel” was visiting them, or that Jesus soul was waiting with God. They might even have convinced themselves that God had transformed Jesus into a star, or had translated him into the heavenly realm. But something led Jesus’ Jewish followers to believe that he had been raised bodily from the dead. This is very difficult to explain – unless it had actually happened. [13]

But doesn’t 1 Corinthians 15 teach that Resurrection bodies are physical rather than spiritual?

So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body(soma psychikon), it is raised a spiritual body(soma pneumatikon). If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
Paul contrasts “a spiritual body” (soma pneumatikon)[14] with “a soulish (psychikon)[15] body,” not with a “physical body.” Which leaves the modern reader in something of a muddle; what on earth is the difference between a “soulish body” and a “spiritual body”? How can bodies, “sown” into graves be made out of “soul”? The short answer is that they can’t; Paul was not comparing what our bodies are now made of to what resurrection bodies will be made of. So what did Paul mean?

Thankfully 1 Corinthians 2:14-15 clarifies. There Paul contrasts natural (or “soulish”) men with spiritual men.

The natural (psychikos) man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual (pneumatikos) man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one
Paul can hardly be arguing that people outside the Church don’t believe God’s word because their bodies are made out of soul (whatever that could mean!), but Christians are fine because their bodies are made out of spiritual stuff! Paul’s point is that Christians are under the power of the Holy Spirit, and non-Christians are not! Now this illuminates what Paul means by a spiritual body. In Romans 8 v 11 Paul wrote that the Holy Spirit gave life to Jesus body, and that the same Holy Spirit will also give life to our mortal bodies. So when Paul calls the resurrection body a spiritual body he means a body brought to life and powered by the Holy Spirit.

Mr Veale said...

But doesn’t the book of Acts teach that Paul merely had a vision of a heavenly figure, as opposed to a physically embodied person? NT Wright urges caution:

“…a surprising number of people with only limited biblical knowledge have a clear mental picture of what they think happened on the road to Damascus. Paul was riding on horseback when a blinding light suddenly appeared, knocking him off the horse and onto the ground.” [16]
This image owes much to paintings by Michelangelo and Caravaggio; it owes little to the book of Acts, which does not mention a horse, and does mention an appearance by Jesus (who is notably missing from both paintings). The book of Acts tells the story of the Damascus road three times (Acts 9, 22&26)[17]. The book of Acts testifies that Paul saw Jesus on the road to Damascus. A blinding light stopped Paul in his tracks; the source of the light was heaven, however, not Jesus. And we must be absolutely clear – Acts does not portray the resurrected Jesus as an ethereal being of light.

The text is clear that Jesus appeared to Paul alone; yet Paul’s companions saw the light. The light functions to stop Paul in his tracks; it is a sign of divine judgment. It might prevent Paul’s fellow travelers from witnessing Jesus. Then it is gone. This was not a private experience. The others saw the light (22v9, 26v13); they heard the voice (9v7), although they did not understand who was speaking or why(22v9). Paul is clear in 1 Corinthians and Galatians 1 – testimony that precedes the book of Acts by some decades – that he witnessed the same Jesus as the other Apostles. Acts gives us no reason to doubt him

Mr Veale said...

That's all from
And Craig has addressed all these issues in some depth....and Ed knows it. This does get a tad boring...

Papalinton said...

Not a failure on Dawkins part, Victor. A reasonable decision based in the knowledge of the somewhat impermeable and impenetrable nature of Craig's opinion and attitude.

To imagine that Craig has all the answers that cosmologists and physicists have yet to work through simply flies in the face of reality. To imagine that the facts and proofs of the beginning of the universe and all that is contained therein, all lie embedded in the Kalam, is little more than an argument from personal predilection. This is no better explained than by this observation:

"William Lane Craig argues that the first premise is strongly supported by intuition and experience. He asserts that it is "intuitively obvious", based on the "metaphysical intuition that something cannot come into being from nothing"." See HERE.

The two towering 'substantive pillars' of Craig's claim? Intuition and personal experience. Nuff said. Craig's claims are unabashed rhetoric; a facade; all front with no back and sides, a hollow claim rooted inextricably in the implausibility of christian theology. And it is sufficient an explanation for Dawkins not to debate one so ideologically wedded to a text that unambiguously propounds it morally defensible to commit genocide, a justification grounded solely on the basis of perpetration by divine command, 'goddidit' [The corrupt and unprincipled nonsense of 'divine command theory'].

Dawkins showed more than a modicum of wisdom when he intelligently noted, in paraphrase, "It [a debate] would look good on his CV but not on mine." Why give unwarranted oxygen to an aficionado of implausible supernatural superstition?

Papalinton said...

It is also interesting to note that Craig refuses to debate one of his former pupils, John Loftus.

Victor Reppert said...

Jeff: I already indicated a set of reasons why Dawkins might not want to debate Craig that would be perfectly legitimate. It is the way in which he does this that troubles me, and what further troubles me is his failure to engage theistic opponents on a level playing field where the opposing sides follow the argument where it leads. I think he has turned the case for atheism into a propaganda campaign, and this is had ill effects on people like Loftus, for example.

I think you would have an excellent debate with Craig, and I do not know why one has not taken place.

Victor Reppert said...

A Craig-Loftus debate would devolve very quickly into a circus, and in my view would be as embarrassing to atheism as was the D'Souza-Loftus debate at the University of Illinois a couple of years back.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Victor -- I'm having a hard time reconciling the fact that Craig hasn't debated me with the fact that he just debated a blogger ("The Amazing Atheist") on CNN:

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Victor --

Also, I forgot to include this in my last comment. Thank you for this comment:

"I think you would have an excellent debate with Craig, and I do not know why one has not taken place."

Papalinton said...

I too, would be keen to see a debate between Lowder and Craig go forward. Indeed such a match-up should be prosecuted forthwith.

The Lowder-Fernandez debate was impressive.

WMF said...

Victor -- I'm having a hard time reconciling the fact that Craig hasn't debated me with the fact that he just debated a blogger ("The Amazing Atheist") on CNN

Prove me wrong if you can, but I'm fairly sure he didn't get to choose his opponent here.
By the way, is it just me or are the basically two camps of internet atheists, bamely one who thinks Craig's debates are pointless because he always wins anyway and one who thinks Craig's debates are pointless because he always loses anyway?

WMF said...

Also Jeff, I am not sure which video you watched, but what I just watched is not something I would ever call a "debate". Is this the format you want to "debate" Craig in? Do you want a minute for your opening statements, followed by a minute for your closing statement without even directly talking to each other, being able to see the other and not even be in the same building at the time?

Your comment is extremely misleading. Unless you want a scenario like above, I have no idea what you were thinking when you wrote that.
I respect you Jeff and I would like to see you debate Craig but people who don't share my high opinion would probably be justified in accusing you of outright dishonesty when you make comments like that.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

WMF -- I haven't watched the video at all, but I shouldn't have used the word "debate" and so I retract my former statement. What I should have written was this:

"Victor -- I'm having a hard time reconciling the fact that Craig states he won't debate someone without a Ph.D. (including me) with other facts:

* he has debated someone without a bachelor's degree (Ron Barrier)
* he appears opposite an atheist presumably without a Ph.D. (a blogger, "The Amazing Atheist") on CNN."

Yes, there is a difference between an appearance on CNN and the kind of formal debates Craig does. But that sort of difference is not relevant to Craig's stated reason for not debating people without PhDs.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...


By the way, is it just me or are the basically two camps of internet atheists, bamely one who thinks Craig's debates are pointless because he always wins anyway and one who thinks Craig's debates are pointless because he always loses anyway?

Yes, it's just you. I'm an atheist who falls into a third camp: I don't think Craig always wins or always loses.

Craig's victories include: Peter Atkins (#1), Ted Drange, Paul Kurtz, Antony Flew, Frank Zindler

Craig's losses include: Paul Draper, Austin Dacey, Keith Parsons, Shelley Kagan

WMF said...

I'm an atheist who falls into a third camp

I am aware of that. I said "basically two caps" to indicate that this appears to be true about the vast majority (and true about 100% of the reactions to the linked "debate" I've seen). Please don't feel like I'm sweping you under the rug, my phrasing was bad.

Jeffery Jay Lowder said...

Please don't feel like I'm sweping you under the rug, my phrasing was bad.

No worries. I took you too literally, but I wasn't offended. It's all good.