Bronze-level articleWilliam Lane Craig

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Dr. WIlliam Lane Craig, "professional philosopher".
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The way in which I know Christianity is true is first and foremost on the basis of the witness of the Holy Spirit in my heart. And this gives me a self-authenticating means of knowing Christianity is true wholly apart from the evidence. And therefore, even if in some historically contingent circumstances the evidence that I have available to me should turn against Christianity, I do not think that this controverts the witness of the Holy Spirit.
— William Lane Craig, professional philosopher[1]

Dr. William Lane Craig, born August 23, 1949 in Peoria, Illinois, is an American Christian apologist, philosopher, and theologian. He received a Bachelor of Arts from the evangelical protestant Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, a summa cum laude Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Birmingham (England),[note 1] and a Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Munich. Craig claims that religious faith must be spread through appeals to reason and logic or atheism will triumph.[2] However, this is more about crafting a more effective "sales pitch", than any real commitment to reason as Craig is essentially willing to abandon reason if it provides the "wrong" answers (i.e. those incompatible with Craig's religious dogma):

I think Martin Luther correctly distinguished between what he called the magisterial and ministerial uses of reason. The magisterial use of reason occurs when reason stands over and above the gospel like a magistrate and judges it on the basis of argument and evidence. The ministerial use of reason occurs when reason submits to and serves the gospel.... Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then it is the former which must take precedence over the latter.
—William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith (1994), p. 36 as quoted in Chris Hallquist's review.[3]

Craig has authored numerous books on subjects including cosmology, philosophy of science, theology, the Christian church, Christian apologetics, metaphysics and epistemology, and history. However, all of Craig's work has a tendency to be fodder for his apologetics; for instance, his work on philosophy of time seems to consist of little more than trying to promote A-theory of time because that's required to get his Kalām cosmological argument to work. Indeed, promoting the Kalām and attempting to use it as proof for the existence of God is what Craig is best known for. His work is heavily dependent on the perspective of Reformed epistemology, which suffers from the same problems and weaknesses as presuppositional apologetics, namely engaging in a circular argument that's depending entirely on the a priori unwarranted assumption that God exists — something that's not alleviated by simply claiming that God's existence is axiomatic.

Contents

[edit] Profession

Craig is always keen on telling anyone who cares to listen that he's a "professional philosopher", while rarely playing up his Ph.D. in Theology, so it's important to consider his 1979 Ph.D. in Philosophy: Though Craig is curiously silent about this, it was actually a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Religion. Craig specifically chose[4] as a supervisor John Hick who was a former Evangelical who had mellowed with age, but more importantly was a Professor of Theology at the University of Birmingham. Hick is perhaps best known for his part in the writing of "The Myth of God Incarnate", a book which Evangelicals such as Craig profoundly disagree with.[5] Craig himself described the object of his Ph.D. research as being to "develop a cosmological argument for God’s existence".[4] Note that the underlying a priori premise is that God is already presumed to exist and that the philosophical argument is simply invoked to affirm this assumption. This is what the rest of us calls apologetics.

Similar to his penchant for credentialism, Craig will play up his status as a professional academic and therefore it's quite interesting to see which academic establishments he has chosen to work at. Craig has been a Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University since 1996 and a Visiting Professor of Philosophy at Wheaton College since 2003. In 2014, Craig also became Professor of Philosophy at Houston Baptist University, which employs Lee Strobel as "Professor of Christian Thought" thus inadvertently pwning both its own academic and employment standards and the state of said Christian thought processes in general...[6][note 2]

The Talbot School of Theology website includes this "Doctrinal Statement" (also found at Biola University's main page):

The Bible, consisting of all the books of the Old and New Testaments, is the Word of God, a supernaturally given revelation from God Himself, concerning Himself, His being, nature, character, will and purposes; and concerning man, his nature, need and duty and destiny. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are without error or misstatement in their moral and spiritual teaching and record of historical facts. They are without error or defect of any kind.[7]

As for Wheaton College, its "Statement of Faith and Educational Purpose" proudly proclaims:

WE BELIEVE that God has revealed Himself and His truth in the created order, in the Scriptures, and supremely in Jesus Christ; and that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are verbally inspired by God and inerrant in the original writing, so that they are fully trustworthy and of supreme and final authority in all they say.[8]

Houston Baptist University describes its "Mission and Values" as:

Founded under the providence of God and with the conviction that there is a need for a university in this community that will train the minds, develop the moral character and enrich the spiritual lives of all people who may come within the ambit of its influence, HOUSTON BAPTIST UNIVERSITY shall stand as a witness for Jesus Christ expressed directly through its administration, faculty and students. To assure the perpetuation of these basic concepts of its founders, it is resolved that all those who become associated with Houston Baptist University as a trustee, officer, member of the faculty or of the staff, and who perform work connected with the educational activities of the University, must believe in the divine inspiration of the Bible, both the Old Testament and New Testament, that man was directly created by God, the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, as the Son of God, that He died for the sins of all men and thereafter arose from the grave, that by repentance and the acceptance of and belief in Him, by the grace of God, the individual is saved from eternal damnation and receives eternal life in the presence of God; and it is further resolved that the ultimate teachings in this University shall never be inconsistent with the above principles.[9]

All three of these statements would be an embarrassment to any legitimate academic institution. They are the very antithesis of what an academic institution should represent; namely the promotion of free enquiry, discovery, understanding and learning.

The mere fact that Craig has associated himself with these three institutions, and only these three institutions, reveals a lot. This is especially clear when he openly admits that he will dismiss any and all evidence that doesn't jive with his faith because he believes Christianity is true due to the "Holy Spirit" in his "heart".[10]

[edit] Craig's debates and his 5 arguments for God's/god's existence

All of Craig's philosophy is intimately tied to his apologetics to the extent that his philosophical work simply serves as "ammunition" for his apologetics, an M.O. which can be spotted as early as his Ph.D. thesis in Philosophy (of Religion). Similarly, because his Kalām cosmological argument doesn't work under B-theory of time[wp], Craig began to write on philosophy of time and promoting A-theory while in effect denying Einsteinian relativity in favor of what Craig calls a "Neo-Lorenzian interpretation".[wp] Unless speaking to a very devoutly Christian audience, Craig will mostly follow an Intelligent Design-like approach of not explicitly invoking God as the justification for his selective use of science, but any observant reader/listener with a minimum of background knowledge of Craig or the topics he discusses will quickly be able to spot the various nudge nudge[wp] elements.

What Craig is actually known for is his debates. On his own website he has transcripts going back to 1991[11] and what is most remarkable is how many of them are verbatim recycling of earlier scripts which, had we been talking reuse of actual paper, would've made Craig a great environmentalist, but it's also interesting to see that Craig doesn't actually incorporate any of the excellent counterpoints and rebuttals he has received over the decades into his next debates beyond perhaps adding more name-dropping to his barrage of quotes. Basically, the overwhelming number of Craig's debates fall into two categories:

  1. "The Big Show" is Craig's large buffet of arguments for God's/god's[note 3] existence, typically under the heading of Does God Exist?[note 4] or some variant thereof. This is where Craig presents his 5 arguments for God's/god's existence, using a script which, thanks to his website's archive of old transcripts, seems to date largely from the mid-1990s.
  2. "The Little Show" is simply an expansion on one of Craig's 5 arguments from "The Big Show", specifically his claim that Jesus' resurrection was a real historical event, which, in "The Big Show", is used as an argument for God's existence, whereas in "The Little Show", God's existence is used to explain the resurrection...

Craig's debates on God's existence, i.e. "The Big Show", are his claim to fame and he has obligingly stuck to the same 5 arguments for decades and even kept presenting them in the same order as they appear below. In contrast to Craig's claim, however, these 5 arguments do not "constitute a powerful cumulative case that God exists",[12] but are a set of separate arguments, three of which yield only some generic theistic deity/deities, the fourth (which is the one that's supposed to support the existence of the Christian God) is implicitly relying on biblical inerrancy, while the fifth is simply an appeal to personal feelings (faith) and thus not really, as Craig himself admits(!), an argument at all.

[edit] The Kalām cosmological argument

Craig is best known for his (version of the) Kalām cosmological argument[wp] (KCA). Craig's KCA is a variation of the centuries' old cosmological argument originating in Islamic philosophy which argues for the existence of a personal first cause for the universe. In 1979, Craig popularized this argument, based on his aforementioned Ph.D. thesis in Philosophy of Religion, and some theists still see it as wonderful proof of the existence of God:

(P1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
(P2) The universe began to exist.
(C) Therefore, the universe must have a cause.

The conclusion we are supposed to reach from this, usually via a few additional arguments (that the cause must be personal,[note 5] that this means a god, and that this god must be the one in the bible), is that God created the universe.

[edit] Why the Kalām Cosmological Argument fails

The first premise of Craig's argument is flawed.

In quantum mechanics, things happen which are not caused, such as radioactive decay, or when an atom in an excited energy level loses a photon. No cause is evident in the decay of a radioactive nucleus. Craig has said that quantum events are still "caused" just in a non-predetermined manner — what he calls "probabilistic causality." Craig is thereby admitting that the "cause" in his first premise could be an accidental one, something spontaneous and not predetermined. He therefore destroys his own case for a predetermined creation. Even if the KCA was sound, why would the cause itself not be natural?

The KCA's second premise of his argument is also flawed, because it simply assumes that the universe has a beginning. Not enough is known about the early stages of the Big Bang or about what, if anything, existed before it. We don't know what the universe was like before the first 10−43 seconds after inflation started and, contrary to Craig's assertions, it is far from certain that the universe had a beginning. Instead, various possibilities exist.

  1. Before the expansion started, the universe existed in a stable state eternally.
  2. The multiverse could have existed before our universe started.
  3. There could have been a Big Crunch prior to the Big Bang
  4. Something else entirely could have existed.

It follows from the above that the conclusion is inconclusive, because even if we reason that the universe has a cause, we know nothing about the nature of this cause and certainly not enough to ascribe godhood (with properties such as awareness and intelligence) to it. The cause of the universe may very well lack mind or will. There is even less reason to assume the cause of the universe is the Abrahamic God, and the argument also suffers from several formal errors.

Another problem is the way apologists like Craig only seem to pay any mind at all to the laws and limitations of physics when (they think) it helps prove their point, disregarding the rest of it, as if doing that constitutes anything but a pseudoscientific approach to the implications of cosmology. For one, the big bang erupted out of a singularity. A singularity is a point where our predictive theories stop working and our math breaks down - on top of us lacking empirical data about the singularity itself.

About the one thing that we do know about a singularity like the big bang, however, is that nothing from before the big bang could have affected anything that came after it. This is because the very premise of the universe itself, of time itself and of reality - in the most literal sense - was set up at the point of the big bang. This, despite the way our primitive apeloid cerebrum struggle to grasp the implications of that.

It would thus appear entirely contradictory to claim that the big bang was in fact caused by anything that preceded the singularity - and since even the laws of cause and effect that we observe in our universe today had broken down at the point of the singularity, it's not even a plausible premise to conclude that the principles of cause and effect must have operated, never mind existed, before the big bang. This undermines all three of Craig's original premises for the Kalām cosmological argument.

Furthermore, Occam's razor comes into play (as it always does when people try to multiplicate unecessary hypothesis), reminding us that even if we entertain the conclusion that the cosmos was created by a God, it still doesn't explain where that God came from - who designed the designer? And if we simply conclude that the God created itself (or always existed), then why not just save a step and simply conclude that the cosmos created itself (or always existed).

An even simpler problem with premise one is that it's actually about things beginning to exist within the universe (aka spacetime) which it then applied to the question of the origin of the universe itself (premise two) to which it cannot simply be assumed to apply. An analogy would be to claim that since a monarch is defined as the offspring of another monarch, the only possible explanations are either the obviously false one that monarchs and monarchies are eternal or that there must have been some mystical divine prime mover behind their origins. This of course ignores that a royal line of succession necessarily requires the prior existence of a monarchy, just like Craig's inductive examples of things "beginning to exist"[13] necessarily requires the prior existence of the universe.

[edit] Begging the question

The KCA of Craig is an example of begging the question or circular reasoning. Craig presumes that the phrase "whatever begins to exist" is God. This presupposition puts God into the premise of the argument that was supposed to prove his existence in the first place. This is also most likely an example of special pleading, as the first premise, "Everything that begins to exist has a cause", can be rewritten as "Everything that is not God has a cause" (unless there exists some other thing or things which did not begin to exist). In addition, another way of looking at this is with the following syllogism:

  1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore the universe has a cause.

Even if this syllogism is valid, it does not imply what that cause is. To state that the cause is a god, the Christian God, or any other entity requires additional statements, not to mention that it contains no definition of "God" or "god", making Craig's discussion fail in several ways.

In addition, if some things exist did not begin to exist, then even accepting the other premises does not lead to the Christian God as the answer. Craig offers no evidence for a god (or God), but merely asserts that a god must have been the cause. Craig's description is an example of an argument from ignorance.

[edit] Compositional errors

The two premises that support the conclusion both commit compositional errors. The first premise, "Whatever begins to exist has a cause", suffers from a fallacy of composition. As Francois Tremblay put it:

Dr. Craig is no doubt aware, however, that to infer a necessary causality on a whole -- the universe -- on the basis of observation of such attribute in the parts -- the existents around us - is a fallacy of composition. The attribute being transposed here, being caused, is relational and therefore cannot be transposed. Thus he cannot generalize from caused entities around us to the universe in this matter.[14]

The second premise, "The universe began to exist", forces us to draw an inference between the items in the set (things within the universe) and apply it to the set as a whole (the universe itself). For that to be valid, one must fallaciously presuppose a realm beyond the universe in which the universe itself is part of a larger set within which it is contained, limited, and defined. This leads to another compositional error, via begging the question, since such a realm beyond the universe adds another, entirely unsubstantiated and unexamined, speculative realm (this also verges on bringing up infinite regress issues).

[edit] Defining essentials

The KCA fails to identify one of its key concepts (the universe) and define its essential properties, either through its syllogism, or subsequent explanations for its syllogism.

Craig's KCA insists that the Big Bang was the beginning of everything and if it is not, then a part of existence is unaccounted for. This larger whole may be eternal, or may never have begun to exist, or caused the Big Bang (as a local inflationary expansion), or caused the rest of the multiverse.

If, instead, Craig was to define the universe in his KCA as the totality of existence, the argument would again be rendered nonsensical, because the universe could not have been created by something outside itself under this definition: For something to create the totality of that which exists, we end up with the creating agent being non-existent. Furthermore, if the universe is defined as the totality of existence, it could never have been caused as a whole, since that would entail that at one point existence was non-existent, which is simply incoherent.

[edit] Who created God?

Another reason why the KCA is invalid is because it can be expressed in a competing syllogism.

(P1) Everything that is sentient has a cause.
(P2) The Abrahamic god is (said to be) sentient.
(C) Therefore the Abrahamic god has a cause.[15]

This syllogism can easily be applied to any god, since most, if not all, gods are said to be sentient in some form or fashion and because all referrals to reality attest that sentience does not arise without antecedent causation. Pantheism, in its belief that God simply is the universe, does not necessarily impute sentience to God, making it a notable exception.

The most common apologetic evasion of this problem is an unabashed handwave: define God as being exempt from the laws of logic He is purported to have created. This is a textbook example of moving the goalposts.

Craig finesses his P1 by using the phrase "begins to exist", opening the obvious escape hatch that God did not begin to exist, because He is eternal. However, Craig's version is (as usual) even more convoluted: Craig cannot use the obvious eternity escape hatch, because he argues elsewhere that infinity is impossible in the physical world (as opposed to in mathematics). This is Craig's attempt to get around the possibility that the universe might be eternal (i.e. infinitely old) and thus not fit his P1 which would invalidate his conclusion. Thus, Craig can't call God eternal, since that would exclude God from the physical world and turn Him into something intangible like a mathematical concept. Instead, Craig invents the term "timeless". One of Craig's online Q&As makes his mental contortions jarringly obvious. Craig defines an entity (e) "beginning to exist" using four criteria, one of which seems to serve the sole purpose of creating a God-shaped hole into which Craig can slot his preferred deity: "(iii) there is no state of affairs in the actual world in which e exists timelessly."[16] Since Craig thinks only God exists timelessly,[note 6] he has essentially written God into one of the premises in an argument that is supposed to demonstrate God's existence. According to Craig, it apparently means that God isn't infinitely old, but somehow exists outside time from where He can apparently pop in to rant against foreskins, impregnate virgins, get "killed", or appear on your toast as required.

[edit] Nonsense approach to time

The KCA is also dependent on the controversial A-theory of time[wp] (aka the "tensed" theory of time), which states that the present moment is uniquely real. Craig is very explicit about this:

The moments of time are ordered by past, present, and future, and that these are real and objective aspects of reality. The past is gone, it no longer exists. The present is real. The future has not yet come to be and is not real. And so the future is not sort of out there ahead of us down the line, waiting for us to arrive. The future is pure potentiality, only the present is real.[17]

The common objection to the A-theory comes from Einstein's theory of relativity, which states there is no absolute present moment and time is relative. Opposing this, Craig has written a lot of books on the subject of time, promoting an interpretation of relativity that he calls Neo-Lorentzian,[wp] and which includes an absolute present moment. Craig claims that such an interpretation is observationally equivalent to special relativity. Of course this is seriously disputed, but even if this is the case, there is no reason why we should prefer Craig's interpretation (which is very complex) to Einstein's interpretation (which is simpler and works completely fine by itself). Addressing the issue of why we should prefer his "Neo-Lorentzianism" and the A-theory of time, Craig writes:

...we have good reasons for believing that a neo-Lorentz theory is correct, namely, the existence of God in A-theoretic time implies it, so that concerns about which version is simpler become of little moment.[18]

So, it seems that Craig is saying that the existence of God implies "Neo-Lorentzianism", which is needed for the A-theory of time to be correct, which is then necessary for the KCA to work, so Craig can prove the existence of God. That is clearly circular.

Craig does have four other arguments for God, however.

[edit] The teleological argument

Craig's second argument is the teleological aka the fine tuning argument. The common objection to the notion of fine tuning is that it is a tautology, weakened by the multiverse theory (Craig never says a multiverse is impossible). Craig's response to this objection is that:

...the hypothesis of a Cosmic Designer...is again the better explanation because we do have independent evidence of the existence of such a Designer in the form of other arguments for the existence of God.[19]

However, we have already seen that we cannot rely on the Kalam to tip the scale in favor of the cosmic designer hypothesis, because that just gets us in the same circle we were in before.

If the universe seems to be fine-tuned or seems to be designed with human beings in mind, in no way does such seeming design or seeming fine-tuning imply the existence of a fine tuner or designer. Logically, Craig must first demonstrate the existence of a designer or fine tuner, then show that that fine tuner or designer designed or tuned the universe, not the reverse.

In addition, it is more likely that life on earth adapted to the conditions of the universe via the process of evolution and natural selection than to say that the universe was changed to accommodate life.

[edit] The moral argument

In his third argument, Craig claims that if a god/God does not exist, then objective moral values do not exist:

  1. If objective moral values exist, then God exists.
  2. Objective moral values exist.
  3. Therefore, God exists.

This is a common argument among Christian apologists and is logically valid as an instance of modus tollens. However, validity does not entail soundness — neither premise is well-supported. There are two assumptions assumed in this argument. For one, there are numerous ways of formulating systems of morality that don't require a god. Craig says that "objective" moral values exist. That statement is arguable because different cultures have often different moral values, so moral values are relative. For instance, some cultures value dogs as pets, others don't; some cultures denounce gay sex, others find it acceptable; and so on and so forth.

Demonstrating that a god is a necessary condition for objective morality requires either one or more a priori arguments to discredit the various alternatives. Secondly, the argument assumes objective morality is consistent with the existence of god, a notion challenged by the Euthyphro dilemma. Craig says that, according to divine command theory, God had goodness built into his character in such a way that everything God does and commands is good. However, that still does not solve the conundrum. If something is good because God says so, this leaves us with nothing more than a tautology, redefining good such that we are unable to truly judge what is good. If, by contrast, God says something is good because it is good, then there is an underlying assumption that there exists some moral standard that is independent from God.

Craig's definition of objective morality is "that something is right or wrong independently of whether anybody believes it to be so", but note that by making it dependent on God's whims, this morality is not so much objective as exogenous (located outside humans) because anything God decrees is deemed to be moral, especially since Craig adheres to divine command theory. Even worse, Craig simply asserts that objective moral values do exist, his defence basically being that our personal experiences of morality makes it true as he uses a blatant appeal to emotion:

On the atheistic view, some action, say rape, may not be socially advantageous and so in the course of human development has become taboo. But that does absolutely nothing to prove that rape is really morally wrong. On the atheistic view, there’s nothing really wrong with your raping someone. And thus without God there is no absolute right and wrong which imposes itself on our conscience. But the problem is that objective values do exist, and deep down I think we all know it. There is no more reason to deny the objective reality of moral values than the objective reality of the physical world. Actions like rape, cruelty, torture, and child-abuse aren’t just socially unacceptable behavior. These are moral abominations. Some things are really wrong. Similarly, love, equality and generosity are really good.[20][note 7]

Craig says that god presents us with societal values and that we need religion to provide us with those values. However, we learn our morals from our friends and relatives. To determine if something is "right" or "wrong," we look at the penal code and not the Bible (which, for example, condones slavery).

In April 2011, Craig published an explanation for why the genocide and infanticide ordered by God against the Canaanites in the Old Testament was morally defensible.[21] In a nutshell it boils down to claiming that when guilty people get killed, they deserved it because they were guilty and bad, but when innocent people get killed (including innocent babies) it's okay because they went to Heaven and thus avoided being corrupted by their elders and ending up in Hell. Here are some key points:

God had morally sufficient reasons for His judgement upon Canaan, and Israel was merely the instrument of His justice, just as centuries later God would use the pagan nations of Assyria and Babylon to judge Israel.[22][23]

And:

Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation. We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy. Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives.[22][23]

And:

So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgement. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life.[22][23]

Please bear in mind that Craig is not some cruel dogmatic wingnut. He’s not some extremist Fred Phelps type, ranting about how God’s hateful vengeance is upon us for tolerating homosexuality[24]. He’s not some itinerant street preacher, railing on college campuses about premarital hand holding. He’s an educated, widely-published, widely-read theological scholar and debater. When believers accuse atheists or non-believers of ignoring "sophisticated modern theology", Craig is one of the people they’re talking about.

Modern theology, and especially such fundamentalist varieties as Craig's, cannot escape the dogmas of the cruel theology of the ancient times. Educated apologists like Craig must argue that as long as God orders such things to happen, it’s perfectly moral to take the lives of these people. Killing bad people is tolerable, because they’re bad and they deserve it. This implies the problem of evil and the folly of attempting to understand the motives of a capricious and inscrutable god (not to mention trying to base a moral code on these motives).

Killing innocent and good people is just as tolerable, because they wind up in Heaven. As long as God approves it, it’s acceptable to systematically wipe out entire races, including babies and children.

Craig said — not essentially, not as a paraphrase, but literally, in quotable words — "the death of these children was actually their salvation." This viewpoint is not something unique to Craig, but is one that apologists often choose to adopt when tasked with explaining the war crimes perpetrated under God's command in the Old Testament. The ethical framework of the Old Testament, if taken in whole, is completely incompatible with most contemporary conceptions of morality. It is difficult to discern whether or not apologists like Craig are devoted enough to this viewpoint to act on it, but it is safe to say that the objective morality that fundamentalist apologists à la Craig support is anything but objective. What it actually is is exogenous, i.e. external to humanity (being located in God), but also arbitrary because anything that God commands apparently becomes morally okay. Craig is fond of using appeals to emotion in his debates when claiming that objective moral values actually exist:

Actions like rape, cruelty, and child abuse aren't just socially unacceptable behavior. They are moral abominations. Some things, at least, are really wrong.[25]
However, it turns out that Craig doesn't actually believe this, because he has built in a barn door sized escape hatch by which even killing infants become moral (or at least not immoral) as long as God commands it which lead us to...

[edit] Divine command theory

Craig is an adherent of divine command theory, which he describes as follows;

But the transcendent and sovereign God sees the end from the beginning and providentially orders history so that His purposes are ultimately achieved through human free decisions. In order to achieve His ends, God may have to put up with certain evils along the way. Evils which appear pointless to us within our limited framework may be seen to have been justly permitted within God’s wider framework.[26]

So basically, God has ordered everything throughout history to unfold through free will. This means that God does not intervene with human life, otherwise freedom would be eliminated. This is also problematic because it begs the question and it does not answer any ethical problems. According to divine command theory God allows necessary evil as a part of His plan and whatever God commands must be the morally correct course of action. Therefore, if/when God endorses genocide, infanticide, animal sacrifice, slavery, or rape, those things are good, whereas if/when he forbids eating certain foods or working on certain days or having certain kinds of kinky sex, those things immediately become bad. This makes divine command theory a subjective (from God's point of view) and arbitrary theory of morals as the morality of a given action can change at God's whim. Objections like "God wouldn't do that" don't help at all because, as Craig himself has highlighted, examples can readily be found in the very scriptures that Craig bases his religious beliefs on.

Whether divine command theory is true or not (and there seems to be no reason to think that it is), it is often not an effective method of settling moral dilemmas. It offers no clear distinctions for when a "divine dispensation" applies (or even how we can be sure that Craig's God and holy book are presenting us with the correct divine get-out-of-jail-free card), a problem exacerbated when religious texts contain a host of conflicting, arbitrary, or excessively specific rules. These rules rarely allow a clear method of generalizing from scripture to every possible or even to any concrete situation, so a believer is forced to do much the same thing that an atheist does, which is to work out moral principles and ideas for herself. Often, the fact that the believer is bound to respect certain statements as absolute truth makes this process even harder, because those statements may not make good sense, or may make sense in most situations but be absurd in others. Divine command theory thus fails to provide moral guidance for much the same reason that religions often fail to provide moral guidance.

[edit] The resurrection of Jesus

Craig's fourth argument is that the resurrection of Jesus was a real historical event and that this proves not only the existence of a god, but the Abrahamic one and specifically the Christian variant. This is actually a key argument as it's the only one that isn't overtly based on subjective experience (as is his final "argument") while it ends with a conclusion in favor of the Christian God, unlike the three preceding arguments which, even if we grant Craig his conclusions, only result in some generic theistic deities, not the God that Craig actually believes in.

As with Craig's other arguments, this one contains several presupposes several facts that need to be accepted to reach the conclusion Craig insists is the correct one. Craig bases his conclusion that a supernatural divine intervention is the best explanation of the (supposed) resurrection of Jesus on four "facts":[27]

  1. "After his crucifixion Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea in a tomb."
  2. "On the Sunday after the crucifixion, Jesus’ tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers."
  3. "On different occasions and under various circumstances different individuals and groups of people experienced appearances of Jesus alive from the dead."
  4. "The original disciples suddenly and sincerely came to believe that Jesus was risen from the dead despite their having every predisposition to the contrary."

However, all of these "facts" are based on the hidden premise that the New Testament presents us with an unvarnished historical record — hardly an incontrovertible or unassailable assumption, given what else is claimed in the NT, the internal inconsistencies between the accounts, questions of dependency and that the accounts were hardly composed by unbiased observers and cannot be externally verified when it comes to their core claims about Jesus, his life, death and supposed resurrection. This makes it all the more bizarre that Craig steadfastly refuses[28] to debate the status and credibility of the source material from which he draws the "facts" that form the basis for his expansive and bombastic conclusion. Any argument for the historicity of some past event always begins with the source material, and Craig's insistence that an examination of the source material is beyond the scope of a debate on the historicity of Jesus' resurrection is simply evasion amounting to methodological special pleading. What's even odder, though, is that several reputable scholars, such as Bart Ehrman and Richard Carrier, who specialise in the New Testament and take a sceptical approach (unlike Craig's fundamentally, pun intended, theological one) to the NT have agreed to debate Craig on the resurrection under these absurd restrictions.

Quite apart from the dubious hidden premise that we can trust the NT to give us anything like an accurate account of Jesus' death and resurrection, one common objection to Craig's claim that Jesus' resurrection is evidence for God's existence is that any naturalistic explanation, no matter how crazy it may seem, is much more probable, not to mention plausible, than the divinely orchestrated miraculous resurrection story. Craig addressed this objection in a debate with Bart Ehrman on the historicity of the resurrection where Craig claimed that because the resurrection was a supernatural event caused by God, such naturalistic concerns do not apply:

What, after all, is the resurrection hypothesis? It’s the hypothesis that Jesus rose supernaturally from the dead. It is not the hypothesis that Jesus rose naturally from the dead. That Jesus rose naturally from the dead is fantastically improbable. But I see no reason whatsoever to think that it is improbable that God raised Jesus from the dead.[27]

Note what Craig is doing here: He is sidestepping the objection that resurrection is an extremely improbable and implausible explanation of the events (we're granting him his "facts" for the sake of argument) by essentially saying that, yes, it is — except that because Goddidit, it actually is not only a probable and plausible explanation but the best explanation.

Alternately, even if we accept the extraordinary proposition without proof that Jesus did rise from the dead, as Craig says, that assumed fact does not lead to the conclusion that Jesus was divine or that God exists, as Cristopher Hitchens has pointed out.

The logical fallacy appears like this:

1. Jesus died.
2. Jesus rose from the dead.
However, we cannot without further facts and conditional statements then conclude:
3. Jesus is divine or God exists.

So, Craig claims to prove the existence of God by invoking the resurrection of Jesus, which is itself explained by presuming that God exists to supernaturally resurrect Jesus. Again, circular.

[edit] The immediate experience of God

This fifth and final "argument" is not an argument, and even Craig admits that it "isn't really an argument for God's existence, rather it's the claim that you can know God exists wholly apart from arguments simply by immediately experiencing Him."[29] The problem is that this non-argument could be used by any believer to argue for the existence of a preferred deity or deities. As we have seen, Craig's other four arguments do not stand the test of rigorous logic or factuality and three of them yield nothing more than bland theistic deities, while the fourth is circular and it relies on assumptions that the bible's depiction of the events surrounding Jesus' crucifixion, death, and resurrection are historically accurate. Once the fourth argument can be discounted, Craig's only tenuous thread connecting his theistic deities from arguments 1-3 to God is his personal and highly subjective faith.

Craig is using his own subjective feelings as the basis for his claims. The "deep down I think we all know it" argument for the existence of objective morality is a version of Craig's general elevation of faith over reason, which he most famously expressed as:

The way in which I know Christianity is true is first and foremost on the basis of the witness of the Holy Spirit in my heart. And this gives me self-authenticating means of knowing Christianity is true wholly apart from the evidence. And therefore, even if in some historically contingent circumstances the evidence that I have available to me should turn against Christianity, I do not think that this controverts the witness of the Holy Spirit.[1]

Both in the specific case of his claim of the existence of objective moral values and in his general claim for the existence of God, Craig relies on his personal feelings and intuition, which is far from being the "reasonable faith" he claims to espouse. Craig essentially says that objective moral values exist because he thinks that they do, which proves his conclusion that God exists, and anyway if evidence contradicts his feelings then the evidence must be discounted.

Despite his claim that his arguments are based on reason, all of Craig's arguments for God's existence ultimately rely on his inner personal experience of God--which is neither testable nor verifiable by any observer. Furthermore, Craig claims his experience that his personal experience with his god trumps any countervailing argument or evidence he may encounter, as demonstrated in Craig's two quotes from the lead of this article about the superiority of the "witness of the Holy Spirit" to any conclusion reached by reason. These statements make a mockery out of Craig's participation in debates, because he has already declared that such debates and their reliance on arguments and evidence are utterly irrelevant to the issue of belief, and that no amount of evidence or arguments could ever make him change his mind. In a brilliant example of projection, Craig adds insult to injury by claiming that the reason others don't accept his arguments for God's existence must be that they are intellectually dishonest:

[W]hen a person refuses to come to Christ it is never just because of lack of evidence or because of intellectual difficulties: at root, he refuses to come because he willingly ignores and rejects the drawing of God's Spirit on his heart. No one in the final analysis really fails to become a Christian because of lack of arguments; he fails to become a Christian because he loves darkness rather than light and wants nothing to do with God
—William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith (1994), pp. 35-36 as quoted in Chris Hallquist's review.[3]

This attitude of Craig's led Robert M. Price[wp] to deliver this scathing characterization of Craig's enterprise:

Craig, then, freely admits his conviction arises from purely subjective factors, in no whit different from the teenage Mormon door-knocker who tells you he knows the Book of Mormon was written by ancient Americans because he has a warm, swelling feeling in his stomach when he asks God if it's true. Certain intellectual questions have to receive certain answers to be consistent with this revivalistic "heart-warming" experience, so Craig knows in advance that, e.g., Strauss[wp] and Bultmann[wp] must have been wrong. And, like the O.J. Simpson defense team, he will find a way to get from here to there. Craig would repudiate my analogy, but let no one who can read doubt from his words just quoted that, first, his enterprise is completely circular, since it is a subjectivity described arbitrarily in terms of Christian belief (Holy Spirit, etc.) that supposedly grounds Christian belief! And, second, Craig admits the circularity of it. [...]

If an "unbeliever" doesn't see the cogency of Craig's brand of New Testament criticism (the same thing exactly as his apologetics), it can only be because he has some guilty secret to hide and doesn't want to repent and let Jesus run his life. If one sincerely seeks God, Craig's arguments will mysteriously start looking pretty good to him, like speaking in tongues as the infallible evidence of the infilling of the divine Spirit. [...]

Craig's apologetic has embraced insincerity as a structural principal. The arguments are offered cynically: "whatever it takes." If they don't work, take your pick between brimstone ("God holds you accountable") and treacle ("God still loves you").[30]

[edit] Craig's debating tactics and criticism of opponents

Given that Craig's arguments are easily debunked, it may seem surprising that he's often touted as having "won" debates against well-known opponents. However, a major reason for this perception is that Craig makes heavy use of aggressive U.S. high school debating tactics, something which most of his opponents are too polite to either stoop to or to call out (one exception was the blunt denunciation of Craig's tactics by Lawrence Krauss[31]). Unless the audience is attuned to the polite phrasing usually employed in academia, the severity of the criticism leveled against Craig by his opponents can easily be missed.

Furthermore, Craig doesn't shy away from reaching into the same bag of disreputable tricks used by (other) apologists and the reader should take note that the list below is not meant to be exhaustive, but merely indicative of Craig's general level of duplicitous shiftiness when it comes to trying whatever it takes to "win" a debate:

[edit] The Gish Gallop

While it may not be immediately obvious, Craig's 5 arguments for God's/god's existence amount to an example of the Gish Gallop, containing a hailstorm of misrepresentations and dubious statements, wrapped up in a few obvious facts. Since rebutting statements takes up more of his opponent's time than it took him to deliver them, he later is able to list out those statements of his which were not replied to, owing to the strictly controlled format and time limit in most debating environments. Craig's 5 arguments may seem to be a simple and short list, but they each contain multiple and highly dubious premises, and not only the formal ones stated by Craig, but also several underlying premises, such as the assumption that the bible presents a trustworthy account of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Furthermore, Craig's 5 arguments draw on widely disparate academic disciplines such as cosmology/physics/mathematics (the KCA and teleological arguments), (moral) philosophy, theology, history and even psychology and anthropology (which you need to delve into when addressing Craig's moral and personal faith claims). Just as the late Duane Gish, Craig will insist that if his opponent doesn't address each of his claims and in the exact way Craig has defined them, the opponent will have conceded Craig's point.

[edit] Straw manning and misrepresentation

Craig is a big fan of straw manning opponents and likes to respond to them with an undertone of humour, thereby lessening the credibility of both. After straw manning and misrepresenting his opponent's views, he then sets down his own set of points that he feels his opponent must prove in order to support his position. In most cases, those views have nothing to do with his opponent's position and are completely different from what his opponent was going to assert. These points are usually absurd and tailored to back the opponent into a corner.

  • If his opponent chooses not to toe Craig's line and instead asserts his own points, Craig can then later list out his own twisted caricatures of his opponents views as points his opponent has failed to assert.
  • If his opponent chooses to try and prove Craig's points, he can rebut them easily as he frames them in an extremely biased way which makes them difficult or impossible to support.

YouTuber A Roaming Freethinker (née nooneleftalivekibo) has put together a list entitled The Strongest Case for William Lane Craig's Dishonesty[32] where Craig's versions of other scholars' opinions are contrasted with their actual words.

Atheist blogger Chris Hallquist, who has written extensively on Craig, has also compiled a list of Craig's misrepresentations.[33]

Atheist philosopher Stephen Law debated Craig in 2011 where he suggested that Craig's arguments for the existence of a good God could equally well support the existence of an evil God and highlighted the hypocrisy of accepting the former conclusion while rejecting the latter as patently absurd. Commenting on a Q&A entry on Craig's website where Craig responded to questions related to the evil God problem and the debate, Law discussed Craig's repeated misrepresentations of Law's positions, incl. suggesting that Law's evil God relies on the presumption that Christians deduce God's perfect goodness from empirical evidence. By contrast, Law's actual argument only relies on an acceptance that God is good, not necessarily perfectly good, and likewise Law doesn't suggest that theists deduce perfect goodness from empirical evidence, but only some undefined level of benevolence.[34]

Sam Harris was straw manned by Craig in their 2011 debate and called the audience's attention to what Craig was attempting to do:

[Harris] Now, I’m obviously not saying that all that Dr. Craig, or all religious people, are psychopaths and psychotics, but this to me is the true horror of religion. It allows perfectly decent and sane people to believe by the billions, what only lunatics could believe on their own.

[Craig] He also says it’s “psychopathic” to believe these things. Now, that remark is just as stupid as it is insulting. It is absurd to think that Peter van Inwagen here at the University of Notre Dame is psychopathic, or that a guy like Dr. Tom Flint, who is as gracious a Christian gentlemen as I could have ever met, is psychopathic. Uh, this is simply, uh, below the belt.

[Harris] Well, you, uh, perhaps you’ve noticed Dr. Craig has a charming habit of summarizing his opponent’s points in a way in which they were not actually given, so I will leave it to you to sort it out on Youtube. Needless to say, I didn’t call those esteemed colleagues of his psychopaths, as I made clear.[35][note 8]

[edit] Name-dropping/Arguments from authority

Craig frequently name-drops and has a barrage of well-rehearsed quotes in which he refers to the works of famous scientists, historians, theologians and apologists, in lieu of presenting an actual rebuttal to his opponents statements. This usually takes the form of "My opponent's arguments have already been replied to by XYZ famous writer, hence I will just make a statement that it is invalid, without actually telling you what that rebuttal is." This is the height of intellectual dishonesty because,

  • He completely ignores the facts that he is the one who is debating, not some long dead writer.
  • Some vague reference to a rebuttal is not an actual rebuttal, but in the eyes of the spectators, it is valid.

[edit] Quote mining

It's well worth checking out each and every quote Craig dishes out in his name-dropping spree as he quote mines extensively. This allows him to present his opponents past statements out of context, and out of line of any recent historical and scientific developments. Indeed, it is clear that he uses public resources (eg. Youtube) to gauge public opinion about his opponent, and this allows him to subtly attack his opponents reputation and character. For example, he praises Bart Ehrman for a minor shift in opinion that he made years before the debate date, and he is thus able to convince the audience that the morally and scientifically proper thing for Ehrman to do is to continue to shift towards Craig's position.

[edit] Appeal to emotion, ad hominem and argument by assertion

Craig not only appeals to emotions when trying to use the audience's "gut feeling" to make his moral argument seem more than a simple argument by assertion, he also tries to paint his opponent as a bumbling moron while he's the supposed academic scholar. When his opponents take objection to his tactics, he can accuse them of bluster. He disses New Atheist authors like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris as:

While Craig likes to boast that he is a "professional philosopher" and engage in "academic" debates that concentrate on the arguments, not on personalities, Craig has also stated that while Richard Dawkins may be a good scientist, he is a "layman" in philosophy and theology and The God Delusion is a "very unsophisticated book. As a philosopher, I was just appalled by the arguments he offers in that book. It is an embarrassment, really, I think." Curiously, this dismissal of "layman" non-specialists' opinions seems not to apply to Craig himself, as he constantly appeals to physics and other scientific disciplines in his arguments and has even attacked Stephen Hawking for the latter's positions on cosmology.

Craig has repeatedly attempted to invite cajole, harass and defame Richard Dawkins into a debate. Dawkins has consistently refused to do so, on the grounds that "That would look great on your CV, not so good on mine". In 2011, Craig proposed to place an empty chair on a stage in Oxford to symbolize Dawkins' absence. Dawkins offered not only not to appear in Oxford, but also not to appear in several other British cities that same evening, and published a grimly surgical dissection of Craig's views on the divinely-ordered massacres in Deuteronomy 20:13-17. (Craig's opinion is that the Canaanites had it coming, but that PTSD among the Israeli [sic] fighters is a bit of a worry.)[36]

[edit] Exploiting the debating format

If able, Craig will twist or ignore the rules of the debate (if any) and this gives him an advantage over his opponent, who is usually civilized enough to stick to the format. He takes a very brief part of his opening statement to state his own views, and takes the majority of the time speaking against his opponent. This has the following effects:

  • He is able to misrepresent his opponents views before his opponent has had the chance to present them himself.
  • By the time his opponent presents his points, the audience already has Craig's rebuttals in their mind, and hence they cannot truly analyze them objectively.
  • He is able to start his rebuttal period with a statement to the effect that he has not heard any rebuttals to his points, completely ignoring the fact that the time period for his opponents rebuttals is yet to arrive.
  • By the time his opponent begins his rebuttal, he is virtually back to his starting position in the audience's mind, due to Craig's double rebuttal.
  • Since he states his arguments very briefly, his opponent lacks sufficient ammunition to rebut them in any detail. Indeed, this lack of detail in his initial arguments allows him to present qualifications for them after his opponents have presented counterarguments. This provides the illusion of an adequate rebuttal and makes it looks as if his opponent has misunderstood or misinterpreted his points.
  • Craig's "Little Show" about the historicity of Jesus' resurrection relies entirely on Craig's insistence on the precondition that the historical reliability of the sources for the resurrection (spoiler: this means the New Testament) should not be part of the debate. This is, of course, a bizarre demand that instantly renders any discussion of the topic meaningless, since it's exactly the dubious reliability of the sources which is the main reason for rejecting the resurrection story.

[edit] Equivocation

Craig loves to switch back and forth between arguing for a god and God. Thanks to the way in which the propositional statements of most controlled debates are framed, Craig is almost never in a position in which he has to simultaneously prove the existence of a god, and the assertion that the god is in fact the Abrahamic god.

  • This is advantageous for him because 3 of his 5 arguments (the KCA, teleological and moral arguments) do not point to the existence of the Abrahamic god and could, in principle, be used to argue in favor of the existence of any number of supernatural entities.
  • Since his arguments for the Abrahamic god are extremely weak compared to his general arguments for a god, he never uses that line of argument against competent opponents like Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens, and only unleashes them against opponents who, at least in principle, believe in a higher power.
  • Another benefit in these oral debates is that the audience cannot hear if there is a capital "G" in "God"/"god" leading to an impression that Craig has argued for the Christian "God", rather than a generic "god". It also provides Craig with flexibility: If challenged, he can emphasise that he's not arguing for God/Yahweh, but a generic deity. If not challenged, it can easily appear to the audience that Craig has indeed argued for God/Yahweh.
  • In his debates on the existence of God/god(s) (as opposed to those solely on the historicity of the resurrection) Craig will even play on this conflation between generic deities and his Christian God by claiming that his arguments form a "cumulative case" for the existence of the Christian God. This is blatantly false as Craig's only argument for the latter is the circular one in which he posits that the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus is plausible due to God's intervention, while he simultaneously claims that it proves the existence of God.[37] Once this argument is dismissed, none of the other arguments are in any way cumulative, though Craig's audience, raised in monotheistic cultures, can easily get that impression.

[edit] Ad hoc, escape hatches, special pleading, and hand waving

Craig has used all of these tactics at various points, but his argument for the KCA and the impossibility of infinite sets existing in physical reality (as opposed to in mathematics) contain all of them:

  • First he creates the escape hatch that only things that begin to exist need a cause to avoid the infinite regression of who created God etc., but as it becomes clear that only God didn't begin to exist this is actually a piece of special pleading to make God exempt from the general premise that Craig is basing his KCA on.
  • Craig then moves on to pre-empt the universe being substituted for God as the only thing that didn't begin to exist by insisting that since the consequences of an infinitely old, i.e. eternal, universe lead to conclusions that seem absurd and contradictory to him, the universe must've had a finite past. However, this gives Craig the problem that an eternal God would face the same difficulties as an eternal universe, so instead Craig defines God as timeless - a rather murky concept which apparently allows God to pop into time whenever it's theologically convenient.

[edit] Dubious use of scholarship/Use of dubious scholarship

In a cross-over between misrepresentation and quote mining, Craig has supported some of his most dubious claims about the consensus of scholarship or trends in an academic field with some rather suspect (use of) sources. A case in point is Craig's claim about the majority of New Testament scholars agreeing that Jesus' tomb was found empty after his crucifixion. First of all, the title of "New Testament scholar" is practically always synonymous with "theologian" and if Craig wants to argue for the historicity of the resurrection, shouldn't he be asking historians? Even if we ignore the problematic issues of basing the historicity of the empty tomb story on the consensus among theologians, Craig has used two sources for this claim, each with their own particular problems:

  1. Originally, Craig relied on the 1977 book, Die Osterevangelien: Geschichten um Geschichte, by the German theologian Jacob Kremer. It's quite unclear whether Kremer actually conducted anything like a rigorous survey of New Testament scholarship, so later Craig has switched to a more recent source.
  2. Today, it seems that Craig's preferred source his fellow evangelical apologist Gary Habermas' meta-analysis of New Testament scholarship, but that is a highly problematic source,[38] especially when used as the cornerstone of Craig's case for the historicity of the resurrection:[39]
    • Habermas doesn't say which papers he's surveyed to get that figure.
    • Habermas seems only to have counted papers in which the author either supports that there was an empty tomb or says that there was not an empty tomb, and disregards authors who think that we cannot know, with the available evidence, whether there was an empty tomb. (The excluded middle fallacy)
    • According to Habermas, 75% of the scholars he surveyed supported the empty tomb story, but this is hardly an indication of an "overwhelming majority" — imagine if 25% of historians doubted the historicity of the Holocaust or if 25% of astrophysicists (or of NASA employees) doubted the historicity of the Apollo landings.
    • Considering that "NT scholar" is essentially synonymous with "theologian" and that these are overwhelmingly professing Christians, the community is apt to be extremely sympathetic to an interpretation that dovetails with Christian scriptures. Thus, Habermas' conclusion might as well be rendered as: "A sizeable minority of Christian scholars admit that there probably wasn't an empty tomb".

However, relying on two sources, one of them a decades old theology book in German, once again provides Craig flexibility, such as when he debated Richard Carrier on the historicity of the resurrection. Here, Carrier had prepared a scathing criticism of this key claim in Craig's argument for the resurrection by picking apart Habermas' methodology, but Craig simply replied that he was relying on Kremer, not Habermas as if just bantering Kremer's name about made the claim about scholarly consensus self-evidently true and unassailable. Given that Craig hasn't hesitated to rely on Habermas' far more recent study elsewhere, it's hardly a leap of faith to suspect that Craig's switch back to Kremer was merely a convenient escape hatch to avoid any discussion of the data underpinning Craig's insistence that the consensus of NT scholars backs him up.

[edit] The ontological argument

See the main article on this topic: Ontological argument

While he usually doesn't bring it up in his debates, Craig also defends Alvin Plantinga's modal version of the ontological argument for the existence of God.[40]

[edit] Craig and creationism

Craig has stated that young Earth creationism is an embarrassment[41] and that Christianity is compatible with evolution,[42] much to the chagrin of fundies.[43]

However, Craig wouldn't be Craig if he didn't talk out of both corners of his mouth on the topic of evolution too; so Craig also denies that macroevolution is true,[44] and has defended creationism Intelligent Design.[45][46] He also believes that Adam and Eve existed and were the first two humans from whom all subsequent humans descended. He thus posits that (micro)evolution happened, but that the genetic bottleneck in human genetic history was just two people and then reverts to ID talking points.[47]

[edit] Now, try an experiment

Switch to Craig's Wikipedia entry[wp] — note the difference? Unfortunately, Wikipedia's article on Craig reads like a puff piece. This is due to at least two factors, one systemic and one partisan.

To start with the second factor, Craig's fans are systematically adding positive stuff and phrases to make it appear that Craig isn't some crappy apologist (no matter his Ph.D.s) employed at a couple of two-bit fundie schools. Among the more ludicrous examples was the claim that Craig has defended his "The universe began to exist"-premise in his Kalām Cosmological Argument "scientifically", because:

  1. Craig claimed to have done so in an article on his own webshite website,[48] and
  2. it said so in a book by J. P. Moreland[wp][note 9] entitled The creation hypothesis: scientific evidence for an intelligent designer.

See? Craig has defended his premise "scientifically" because two evangelical apologists/theologians/philosophers (one of them being Craig) say so! Peer review? We don't need no stinking peer review! And after all, who understands science better than evangelical apologists, right? Fortunately, this particular piece of blatant bullshittery was later removed.

As for the systemic problem this is due to Wikipedia's policy of generally avoiding blog entries, YouTube videos etc. as sources. Since very few serious academics[note 10] bother with Craig's nonsense outside his debate circus,[note 11] while Craig can still get his "stealth apologetics" published by "reliable third parties",[note 12] Craig's fans can cite all of this wonderful material. Conversely, most of the sources here on RW would immediately be countered with the "That's not according to WP policy!"-hammer (check the Wikipedia article's talk page and archives). This is of course tied to the "partisan problem" since it appears that some of Craig's fans are very diligent in monitoring his Wikipedia page.[note 13] The real irony is that very few would probably have heard of Craig if it wasn't for his thirty-odd years of touring with his debating circus - exactly the kind of thing which falls outside of Wikipedia's definition of "reliable sources"(!)

[edit] See Also

[edit] External links

[edit] Notes

  1. Actually it was in Philosophy of Religion, his supervisor was Professor of Theology, and Craig's research bears more than a passing resemblance to apologetics, but more on that later.
  2. Fun fact: Lee Strobel's son, Kyle, is now a colleague of Craig's at Biola "University"'s Talbot School of Theology — indicative of how small a pond this fundie school environment is (and, conversely, how easy it is to become a big fish in it).
  3. Craig absolutely loves to equivocate on this one
  4. Again, note that because of capitalization conventions it's unclear whether it's about God's or god's existence
  5. In 2009, Arif Ahmed pointed out (1:48-2:34) that Craig is ascribing personality to the cause because he adheres to Cartesian dualism as his philosophy of mind, but that this assumption of Craig's is simply outdated as modern neuroscience is thoroughly materialist and that only fringe versions disagree with this. As with the KCA itself, Craig is once again dredging up outdated concepts and ideas from the pre-scientific era (or in the case of Descartes possibly from the very infancy of the scientific era) and recycling them while ignoring subsequent discoveries in a way remarkably similar to how creationists pick out bits and pieces from On the Origin of Species while ignoring the discoveries of modern genetics.
  6. Otherwise, Craig would allow for other entities to replace or supplement God in the creation of the universe
  7. Craig used the same argument (down to repeating it verbatim) when debating Arif Ahmed at Cambridge in 2009 with hilarious results. Curiously, this is one debate that Craig's Reasonable Faith website does not have a transcript of...
  8. See also this YouTube video by the aforementioned The Passionate William Lane Craig Fan which contrasts Harris' words with Craig's misrepresentation as well as Harris subsequently calling out Craig's straw manning
  9. Yup, he was one of the guys involved in drafting the Wedge Document and he also just happens to be one of Craig's colleagues at Biola "University"'s Talbot School of Theology.
  10. Especially actual scientists; some of Craig's articles appear in theological journals while his philosophical publications tend to appear in journals dedicated to philosophy of religion (read: sophisticated theology) or metaphysics (ditto). None of Craig's articles are actually published in journals dedicated to the natural sciences that Craig claims backs his premises and arguments - wonder why...
  11. No, not a typo. When you keep rehashing debunked crap for over 30 years it's not a debating circuit, but an apologetic circus.
  12. I.e. printed on real paper, in a real book from a "reputable printing house" —- wow! For just one concrete example of why this is not a terribly good bullshit filter, try checking out McGrew & McGrew's Bayesian argument in favour of the historicity of Jesus' resurrection in this excerpt from The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, specifically p. 5
  13. Update: In late April, 2015, a rebellion against the Craigists seems to have begun on both the Wikipedia article and its talk page.

[edit] Footnotes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Dealing with Doubt. In this (in)famous interview "professional philosopher" Craig also claims that the Devil is real and responsible for instilling doubt about the truth of Christianity and explains to his fellow believers how to deal with such doubts. Basically, the faithful should trust their private experience of the Holy Spirit and, eventually, evidence will turn up to vindicate their religious beliefs.
  2. William Lane Craig, God Is Not Dead Yet, Christianity Today, July 3, 2008
  3. 3.0 3.1 Chris Hallquist's review of William Lane Craig's Reasonable Faith (1994) on Internet Infidels
  4. 4.0 4.1 Double Doctorates from the Q&A section on Craig's Reasonable Faith website.
  5. http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/philosophyofreligion/about/index.aspx
  6. Lee Strobel's CV at Houston Baptist "University"
  7. Talbot School of Theology's Doctrinal Statement is also the one that the entire Biola "University" subscribes to.
  8. Wheaton College, Statement of Faith and Educational Purpose
  9. Houston Baptist "University's" Mission and Values
  10. YouTuber TheMessianicManic highlighting Craig's bad faith in not actually being willing to accept contravening evidence
  11. Debate transcripts from Craig's Reasonable Faith website.
  12. Transcript of Craig's 1998 debate with Edwin Curley
  13. Youtube Takes Out the Cosmological Argument! from the Q&A section on William Lane Craig's Reasonable Faith website where he wallows in reductio ad absurdum and straw manning
  14. Dr. Craig's Unsupported Premise a post by Francois Tremblay on talk.origins, June 15, 2004
  15. Providing that the Abrahamic god exists and is sentient, of course.
  16. Begginning to Exist from the Q&A section on William Lane Craig's Reasonable Faith website
  17. The Nature of Time an interview with William Lane Craig by Robert Lawrence Kuhn[wp]
  18. Time and the Metaphysics of Relativity (p. 179)
  19. God? (p. 14)
  20. From the transcript of Craig's 1999 debate with Ingmar Persson entitled Does God Exist?
  21. Slaughter of the Canaanites from the Q&A section on William Lane Craig's Reasonable Faith website, or: Killing babies? Totally moral when commanded by God.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 One More Reason Religion Is So Messed Up, By Greta Christina
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 It’s about morality, stupid: why Dawkins won’t debate William Lane Craig
  24. Christian Apologist Says Church Losing Battle Against Hate Label for Homosexuality Stance. William Lane Craig, Hard Questions, Real Answers (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2003), 129–144. A Christian Perspective on Homosexuality. Christian Homosexuals?.
  25. Transcript of Craig's 2009 debate with Christopher Hitchens from Craig's Reasonable Faith website. Craig has used practically identical emotional appeals in his 2011 debates with Stephen Law and Lawrence Krauss, something which began as early as his 1991 debate with Kai Nielsen. Just search the transcripts of his debates on variants of the "Does God Exist?"-topic for the word "rape". This kind of verbatim recycling is another characteristic of Craig's debating performances.
  26. The Problem of Evil, William Lane Craig
  27. 27.0 27.1 From the transcript of the Craigh/Ehrman debate from 2006 entitled from Is There Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus? available on Craig's Reasonable Faith website
  28. Richard Carrier's Pre-Debate Comments from the Q&A section on William Lane Craig's Reasonable Faith website
  29. Transcript of Craig's 1995 debate with Corey G. Washington. This phrase is one of those that crop up verbatim in several other debates.
  30. By This Time He Stinketh an essay written by Robert M. Price in 1997 which later formed Price's introductory statement in his 1998 debate with Craig
  31. "Now, Dr. Craig is much more refined and intelligent than that man, I can say, having spent time with him. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t use the same techniques. When you can’t check his facts or he doesn’t think you know them, he will lie."
  32. The Strongest Case for William Lane Craig's Dishonesty a YouTube playlist by nooneleftalivekibo The Passionate William Lane Craig Fan A Roaming Freethinker
  33. Chris Hallquist, Documenting William Lane Craig’s lies about his opponents: a reply to Jeff Lowder from the blog The Uncredible Hallq, July 31, 2012
  34. Stephen Law, Stephen Law, Craig's website response re our debate], November 7, 2011
  35. Transcript of the 2011 Craig/Harris debate on Craig's website
  36. Dawkins, Richard (20 October 2011). "Why I refuse to debate with William Lane Craig". The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/oct/20/richard-dawkins-william-lane-craig. 
  37. Here Craig tries to word fuck use sophistry "argue" why this isn't blatantly circular.
  38. Scholarly Consensus for the Resurrection?, Bob Seidensticker, Cross Examined, February 17, 2042
  39. Why Craig's case for the resurrection is dishonest, Chris Hallquist, The Uncrdible Hallq, August 2, 2012
  40. Existence of God (part 23), a transcript of Craig's lecture on the ontological argument from his 2010-2011 Defenders Podcast series Excursus On Natural Theology.
  41. William Lane Craig: Creationism is an Embarrassment
  42. Is Evolution an Issue with Christians? by (in)famous YouTuber drcraigvideos
  43. http://creation.com/william-lane-craig-vs-creation
  44. Craig denying that macroevolution is true in his 2007 debate with Lewis Wolpert
  45. Craig defending ID in a 2009 debate with biologist and philosopher Francisco Ayala
  46. Craig answering a fellow believer's worries about evolution being incompatible with Christianity by claiming that the "neo-Darwinian paradigm" is "so speculative and so weakly confirmed" and supporting this claim by citing ID nonsense and Alvin Plantinga's anti-naturalism BS
  47. William Lane Craig: young-earth creationism is an embarrassment, Chris Hallquist, The Uncredible Hallq, February 17, 2013.
  48. How Did the Universe Begin?, Reasonable Faith, September 6, 2009. Incidentally, this was a speech made at the Saddleback Church



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