Thanks for all the feedback re WLC debate

Apologies if I do not respond to every comment. There have been a lot.

I'm genuinely grateful for all the feedback - positive and negative. I want to believe what's true, of course. So counter-arguments are to be welcomed - especially if they're good ones!

Apparently I will burn in hell for all eternity for failing to believe in Craig's God, if he exists. So would prefer not to get this wrong.

I'm in Sweden for a few days from tomorrow, so won't be posting much if at all.


I was asked to prepare some questions for Craig for the Q&A session at the end. In fact I was never given the opportunity to ask any. But I had prepared a couple. Here they are:


You claim to just know in your heart, with utter certainty, that God exists and Christianity is true.

I want you to imagine that you have become President of the United States. Imagine also that there’s a red button on the table.

You know that pressing the button will bring about a nuclear holocaust, unleash unimaginable horror, and bring about a nuclear winter that will render humankind extinct with a decade or two.

It now suppose it seems to you that God wants you to press the button. In fact it seems as clearly and unambiguously true that this is what God wants you to do as it seems true to you that God exists.

My question is: what would be the reasonable thing for you to do, and why?

[p.s. I am pretty sure Craig would say "Press the button". Which is worrying. Let's hope he never stands for office.]


You believe that every human knows in his or her heart that your God exists. So there’s no excuse for unbelief.

So am I just, well, lying when I say “There is no God”, and when I tell you I have no such inner knowledge? For, according to you, I'm telling you something that I know not to be true, right?

Follow up point: If I know God has not made himself known in my heart, but Craig’s God is one who makes himself known in every human heart, then I can know immediately that Craig’s God does not exist.

Prof Craig says he just knows his god exists. It turns out, that, if he's right, I can just know he doesn’t!


I would not for my life destroy one star of human hope, but I want it so that when a poor woman rocks the cradle and sings a lullaby to the dimpled darling, she will not be compelled to believe that ninety-nine chances in a hundred she is raising kindling wood for hell. - Robert Ingersoll.
Mike Gage said…
Re: the lying question -

I know in Craig's debate with Austin Dacey, Schallenberg's argument from hiddenness was presented by Dacey. I don't recall exactly what Craig's response was, but I think it would run along similar lines to how he may have answered your question.
Thrasymachus said…
Hello Stephen,

Thanks for doing the debate. I've done a review of the debate, but with a twist: unlike the usual partisan wall-o-text, I've diagrammed the map of both your and craig's arguments, and the various objections and counters offered. Linky:

If you get time, I'd be grateful for any comments and criticisms you had, given you were one of the participants! (Obviously, anyone else reading this is encouraged to have a look too).

Best wishes
Paul said…
1.) Nuclear question. I would suggest that to most Christians it is a meaningless question. No Christians that I know would make such momentous decisions based upon impressions.

In fact, I would question how you have phrased the question. How would an impression be "clearly and unambiguously true"?

2.) Lying question. Are you lying or deceived? Is it possible to have a knowledge of something and yet not be cognizant of it or understand it? To your follow-up point "if I know God has not made himself known in my heart", how do you know that you know? Do you know yourself exhaustively?
Anonymous said…
I think you misunderstand reformed epistemology rather badly. Craig argues that belief in God is properly basic because, if Christian theism is true, it is highly probable that it would be. But if atheism is true, it is not highly likely that atheism is a basic belief. And on Christian theism, it isn't likely that any particular command of God (like to press the red button) would be properly basic either.
Opus said…
You are (I am afraid) handicapped in debating with an xtian, because the xtian can always pull out a card that is not in your deck (to use a metaphor) i.e. God. Thus, he can insist that you know God exists, and even if he accepts your protestations that you don't, he will say it is because you have yet to open your heart, or some such circular reasoning.

Although this option was not open to you (given that you entered into debate) I usually find that the best method of dealing with xtians is to profess utter ignorance, and wait and see what nonsense they will come up with. No one is offended and you don't feel as if you are beating your head against a wall. They mean well (usually).
Stephen Law said…
Thanks thrasymachus - v much indeed! I checked the Q&A one and it looked good but have not had time to look at others yet...

Paul, these questions are asked because given what Craig has said elsewhere, he would seem to have no option but to answer "yes" to the first and "yes, I'm lying" to the second. I know these answers are nuts. That's kind of the point of the questions!

His view requires I must be cognizant of the fact that God exists.

And his view re religious experience is his is "self-affirming", whatever that means, exactly. But it certainly means he can justifiably ignore all and any evidence to the contrary. No matter how powerful and compelling it might be. He must not waver. If he does - he's sinning. But then ditto pressing the button. Irrespective of the consequences in terms of suffering caused, etc.
Paul P. Mealing said…
I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with your ‘lying’ argument. The whole problem with arguments about God is that it’s purely subjective, and evangelists like Craig insist that their experience of God is universal when the evidence demonstrates the contrary. Did George Bush and Osama Bin Laden believe in the same God?

The ‘red button’ argument is a hypothetical, yet Bush apparently believed it was God’s will that he invade Iraq. Having said that, I expect it was his ideological beliefs that led him to invade Iraq and God is part of his ideological beliefs.

Regards, Paul.
Unknown said…
Hi Stephen. I have been enjoying reading and hearing your work recently, including the Craig debate and I am especially impressed with the Evil God Challenge.

I want to ask something in regards to the lying question. We say that Craig is "nuts" to say atheists are lying to when they say they believe there is no god. However, I just read a post by you on The God Delusion where you say "...even if you in, all sincerity, believe you believe, that doesn't mean you believe. Have a look at how you actually behave, and ask yourself - do I really believe what I think I believe about eternal life, about doing God's will, and so on?" Sometimes we are wrong about our own beliefs.

Couldn't Craig say something like this about atheists believing they don't believe in God?
education said…
Sir i am from pakistan and i am a student of seventh class therefore my English is not so good but after reading your nuclear question i just understand that you have a doubt about the existing of God i advised you that you should read or see his CD"s on the existence of God in which he scientifically proved the existence of Almighty God

This forum is not for kids!!!
redshift said…
Mr. Law, you were ridiculing theodicies with the evil god challenge, and it was such a pity you did not go all the way! Craig used his moral argument to argue for benevolent god, but the same argument can also be used for an evil god! So the moral argument cannot prove God's moral nature because it can be ridiculed just like theodicies! I was surprised you didn't recognised this. Let me clarify: Craig is claiming that some action is good because it is consistent with his nature, which is the source of objective morality. So any action that is not in accordance with god's nature is evil!

But this kind of reasoning can be flipped around: every action that is not consistent with evil god's nature is good, and vice versa. So we can have objective morality with evil god if we apply this kind of reasoning.

Of course, moral argument is absurd and morality doesn't come from god, but at least we can ridicule this argument like we can ridicule theodicies. Agree?
education said…
Hey man don"t call me a kid i was only giving my point of view may i am more gineous than you therefore give significance to my view.