Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Atheists, lies and suppressed knowledge of God


In the second half of Craig’s latest "Reasonable Faith" podcast, he talks about how, he supposes, atheists know that God exists, despite the fact that they assert that they don’t. I’d previously said in a post that Craig’s view would seem to have the consequence that atheists are lying about that, then. Actually, maybe that doesn’t follow. In the podcast, Craig denies his view is that atheists are lying when they deny they know God exists. We should accept that denial.

However, Craig’s explanations for why atheists are not, then, lying when they claim they don’t know when they do is not, I think, very convincing.

First he draws an analogy with someone who tries to rationalize away or suppress what they know. His example is of a married man who has an affair.

The human psyche is so capable of rationalization and suppressing things that we find uncomfortable that I think it's very plausible to think that an atheist could somehow suppress the knowledge of God or rationalize it away so that he doesn't have to face it overtly. You can think of cases, especially involving moral misbehavior, where this human ability to rationalize comes out. For example, men who get caught in sexual affairs will, at least in the beginning stages of the affair, typically rationalize away the behavior even though they know that what they are doing is wrong.

Another example would be, I suppose, a man that does not love his wife, but suppresses this knowledge and behaves like and says that he does in a attempt to fool both himself and his wife.

These are plausible examples of suppressed knowledge. But do they make the point Craig wants? Suppose the first man says, “I did nothing wrong,” when asked about his affair. He knows deep down that he did do something wrong. Would we say that this man is lying? Would you?

I’d say he was, both to others and also to himself. True, he may at that the moment he says it mean what he says. But what he says is nevertheless, deep down, a lie.

But if that is right, then Craig’s chosen analogy backfires on him. If the atheist similarly suppresses his knowledge that God exists, and says, meaning it, “I don’t know God exists”, he is also, deep down, lying both to others and himself.

Perhaps Craig would deny the man who has the affair is lying. "A lie", Craig might insist, "Cannot be sincerely asserted. It cannot be meant."  But is this true? It doesn't seem to me to be true (the above example involving the man having an affair seems to be a counter-example, in fact - he means what he says when he says it, but, it seems to me, he's still lying). At the very least, the affair example does not strike me as a clear cut example of someone's not lying. But then it doesn't really help support Craig’s case much, if at all.

Craig’s other thought is to borrow Plantinga’s idea that atheists may have a malfunctioning sensus divinitatis or God-sense. A religious person may know God directly via the operation of their healthy sensus divinitatis. But the poor atheist’s God-sense does not operate properly. It's been corrupted by sin.

That’s an interesting idea, but it hardly helps Craig given that the result of atheist’s non- or mal-functioning sensus divinitatis will be that they don’t know God exists (at least not by that route). Craig's view is precisely that atheist does know God exists – so, as it stands, his appeal to Plantinga actually ends up undermining Craig’s position, not supporting it. It’s odd Craig doesn’t spot this.

Of course, Craig may want to develop his Plantingian explanation in some way, but as it stands it fails.

So, perhaps Craig is right that the view that atheists know that God exists does not have the consequence that they are lying when they say they don't. But Craig has so far failed to come up with a clear explanation of why they aren't lying.

However, the really interesting issue about Craig’s suppressed knowledge thesis is not whether atheists are lying when they say they don’t know God exists. That's not a very significant question.

Craig seems to think we atheists just want an excuse to take offence at the suggestion that we are liars. He says: “I think the reason atheists raise this is because they want to be able to get their backs up and take righteous offense and indignation at being called liars by these Christians and theists.”

Frankly, I’m not bothered at all about that. The more interesting issue is whether we atheists do know God exists, choose to suppress that knowledge, and so do deserve to burn in hell for eternity as a result. Once it’s been suggested that we atheists are so morally depraved and disgusting that we deserve infinite torture (P.S. or punishment, or whatever you want to call it), adding “Oh, and by the way, you’re also lying,” is hardly much of an additional insult.

The main reason I’m interested in this issue is not that I want to take righteous offense at the claim that I'm lying, but rather that this sort of Craigian "suppressed knowledge" view and its connection in his mind with the concept of damnation involves such a foul and twisted – and I think potentially dangerous - vision of humanity. And also that it is pretty obviously false. I’ll post on that shortly.

34 comments:

Mike D said...

So much of this goes back to Craig's assertion that the ultimate evidence of his religion is the "witness of the Holy Spirit". It's powerful evidence of how insular his perspective is when he's utterly unwilling or unable to challenge such a 'revelatory' type of experience with a little critical thinking.

I've had the experience of being 'saved' as well... but in retrospect I could see it was heavily the product of groupthink, confirmation bias, and wishful thinking. I felt exactly want I wanted to feel. Any objective inquiry into the nature of the experience yielded emptiness.

Mike D said...

Btw, kudos on being able to sit through one of Craig's podcasts. I sat through part of his one on a PBS physics show hosting by Briane Greene, and ten minutes of his blathering landed this:

http://www.theaunicornist.com/2012/06/william-lane-craig-tries-to-be.html

I emailed Sean Carroll via Cosmic Variance and asked him if he'd be interested in listening to it and offering a response on his blog. He replied back, writing, "I'm not that masochistic!"

Mark Jones said...

A pedant writes:

That should say 'Atheists' in the title.

Stephen Law said...

oops, fixed.

Stephen Law said...

Mike D - I'd be interested to hear more about your experiences - are they on record anywhere?

Mike D said...

Well, this is sort of a (relatively) quick summary of my experience in the evangelical church, but it at least gives the overview of how I got sucked in and how I managed to get out:

http://www.theaunicornist.com/2011/02/hellfighters.html

Stephen Law said...

Thanks Mike

Angra Mainyu said...

The claim that atheists know that God exist is frankly ludicrous.

Humans have an oversensitive sense of agency, and specially pay attention to the presence and behavior of powerful members of their community. Moreover, humans definitely pay attention to things that threaten their lives or living conditions.

If a person knows that an all-powerful being, willing to inflict unspeakable torment on those who break his rules, is watching her, there is no way she's going to suppress that knowledge (i.e., the claim is not credible).

Also, many atheists start their deconversion process because of moral reasons. That's not like someone trying to get away with doing bad things.

Lee said...

I would love for you, Stephen, to write up something about the sensus divinitatis. Something in the spirit of the evil God challenge, perhaps entitled, "sensus absurdicus", arguing that atheists, or so it seems, have this visceral sense that God, as a concept, is absurd. Truly, it's tiresome to hear religious believers talk about their sense that God exists, knowing without being able to prove it, when all I have is this niggling sense that it's so patently ridiculous a notion as to be dismissed out of hand.

Shouldn't be all that difficult, just take Plantinga's argument and...flip it.

Mike said...

On his Molinist view, Craig also has an enormous problem explaining the DISTRIBUTION of Christian unbelief in the world. On Craig's view, why are most Americans Christian, but less than 1% of people in say, Yemen, are Christian? God allegedly foreknew who would suppress the witness of the Holy Spirit, so he mysteriously stuck high proportions of the foreknown hell-bound in certain countries. What does God have against certain geographical locations such as Yemen? Surely the explanation that Islam is predominant in Yemen, and some of the people there would have become Christian if only they had got to hear the gospel message in detail (with indoctrination comparable to what Craig received as a child) - is far more likely than the idea that almost everyone in Yemen is immune to persuasion!

Anonymous said...

Let Criag have his little mind-reading argument. It can just as easily and just as pointlessly be asserted the other way. Theists know deep down that God doesn't exist. They aren't lying per se, when they say he does, they have simply suppressed this knowledge. To be fair the latter is the view of many atheists. Personally, I am happy to take people at their word. There is a whole realm of debate available about whether "suppressed knowledge" can even be considered knowledge if all your conscious actions are directed and chosen as they would be if you didn't have this knowledge at all? Is knowledge unavailable to you knowledge you can be said to have?
I would like to hear Craig's excuses about how say hindus sensus divinitatis is malfunctioning. They sense gods, just more than one and the correct one isn't even in there. Any reasonable person embracing the sensus divinitatis notion would have to admit that given differing sensings, it would be impossible to devine (by this faculty alone) which sensed god(s) were the right one(s).
Is a hundu lying when they say they believe in Shiva or are they suppressing both the knowledge that they really don't believe in Shiva and the knowledge that do beleieve in Yahweh?

Even talking about Craig gives me the creeps. He is the leading snake oil salesman of the God posse. Yuck!

Steven Carr said...

Craig's inner witness of the Holy Spirit is hyperbolic rhetoric for the banal experience of feeling a lot better after a really good crying session, followed by going outside and seeing a lot of stars in the sky.

This is what his personal testimony claims happened to him and which he describes as the moment he came to know God.

Now, I know for a fact that there were no more stars in the sky that evening than any other evening.

So Craig's talk about the witness of the Holy Spirit appears to be a gross exaggeration of a totally banal event, followed by repeated feelings that he is right and other people are wrong.

Mike said...

Craig's Holy Spirit Epistemology is refuted here:

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/michael_martin/holy_spirit.html

His implicit assumption of strong doxastic voluntarism is refuted here:

http://home.earthlink.net/~writetdrange/beliefatwill.html

Stephen, if you haven't read these two articles then I recommend you do so.

Poulantzas said...

Stephen, I think you are absolutely right to draw attention to this part of Craig's argument. He uses the 'we just know God exists' argument in debates, as he considers it a 'defeater-defeater' (I think is the phrase he uses) i.e. which means that even if anyone could produce evidence that disconfirms his other pro-God arguments, this 'experience' will trump other rational arguments against God's existence.
But the idea that atheists actively reject God is surely simultaneously one of the darkest, yet weakest aspects of his case.
It is dark in the way it attempts to malign the character of non-belivers - witness how this led to Craig publicly denouncing Christopher Hitchens' supposed 'resistance' to God/Christ during his terminal illness. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXbw06bVix8 Craig's commitment to this view meant was not even able to credit a dying adversary with sincerely holding his beliefs with personal integrity.
As for Craig's argument on self-deception etc., he is raising a set of arguments that ultimately help atheists. To take the obvious example: might it not be Craig who has spent years constructing well-crafted arguments to avoid facing what he may 'really know' deep down, i.e. that physical death probably does bring the final death of the individual?

sam said...

The reformed epistemologist believes that the atheist suffers from a form of anosognosia: the patient is in possession of a faculty (sensus divinitatis) of which she is unaware or misidentifies. The atheist believes that the theist suffers from a form of autonetic agnosia: the patient is impaired in the ability to identify certain kinds of self-generated mental events.

Unlike real anosognosia patients, there are no controlled external empirical treatments that could direct either the atheist or theist to a closer appreciation of reality, as these symptoms manifest subjectively within the mind.

It seems at least for the atheist, there are uncontrolled external empirical ‘treatments’ that might make her conscious of her anosognosia. Theists seem to have intuitively understood this possibility for millennia. If the atheist becomes aware of information she could not have obtained from anywhere else but a faculty that grants access to external information (i.e. highly specific knowledge of future events), one might become convinced of a sensus divinitatis, as it would imply that these mental events are not self-generated. Until these uncontrolled events occur, however, the atheist is left to suffer from her anosognosia.

It seems at least for the theist, there are no ‘treatments’ that might make her conscious of her autonetic agnosia. This may simply stem from the greater difficulty in proving a negative. In DT 18:21-22, the reader is given very explicit instructions of how to identify false prophets of yhwh: if a ‘prophet’ makes a prediction & it doesn’t come true, he is not a prophet of yhwh & must be put to death. Yet in Jonah 3, the true prophet Jonah makes a prophecy from yhwh & it doesn’t come true because yhwh simply changes his mind. This invalidates the test for determining false prophecy.

This principle of falsifiability places the atheist at a clear advantage. Either she is not suffering from anosognosia or she, at least in principle, has the opportunity to be made aware of her condition & correct her mistake. The theist, in contrast, has no opportunity to be made aware of her condition, if in fact she suffers from one, as any counter-evidence can be made to conform to the speculation of a sensus divinitatis.

Mike said...

Craig's claim that every human on the planet has had an experience of the Holy Spirit that tells them Christianity is true is not presented by Craig as a reason for doubters to believe, but as an explanation for why there is no need for everyone to be preached to. So it is not the best response to merely say "Craig has not given evidence that all people have an experience of the Holy Spirit telling them Christianity is true." A much better response is to say "Craig's theory that all people have an experience of the Holy Spirit telling them Christianity is true is both obscure and insofar as it is clear, strongly disconfirmed by the evidence." For examples of numerous disconfirming reasons, see the articles by Michael Martin and Ted Drange in my last post.

This is the heart of Craig's exclusivist theory of salvation, and it makes him look utterly ridiculous when it is spelled out.

Paul Wright said...

Here, Craig writes that "Plantinga’s construal of the witness of the Holy Spirit results from his doctrine of the sensus divinitatis as a cognitive faculty functioning properly prior to the fall but then damaged by the noetic effects of the fall—a doctrine that finds no support in Scripture". So it's a bit odd if he's relying on Plantinga's explanation if he himself disagrees with it. Of course, Craig may have changed his mind about Plantinga since he wrote that article, or he might be trying to advance some explanation in which the testimony of the Holy Spirit (Craig's preferred account) is available to, but ignored by, unbelievers, making them without excuse.

Lee's "sensus absurdicus" sounds a bit like Matt McCormick's sensus atheistus. This was discussed a bit over on Common Sense Atheism. I think that it doesn't quite work against Plantinga, but might work against Craig.

As I understand it, Plantinga's argument is that if Christianity is true, Christians can be warranted in believing in it even if they don't know Plantinga's account of why they're warranted or indeed even if they don't have particularly good evidence for Christianity. Note that Plantinga's argument is defensive: it's about shifting he burden of proof, not about demonstrating that Christianity is true.

It seems that an atheist could similarly appeal to their sensus atheistus to show that the burden was on the theist to convert the atheist. Fine, but the theist can accept that burden and immediately point out that, on atheism, there's no particular reason to believe that atheists have a reliable sensus atheistus. Christians do have such a reason for their divine sense, according to Plantinga (the same could also be said of other religions where gods could have given people a sense of the divine, natch).

I think the argument does work against people like Craig who appear to argue that a Christian can ignore actual evidence in favour of believing in something on the basis of mysterious senses (as far as I know, Plantinga does not argue that Christians can ignore de facto arguments against Christianity, whereas Craig's on record as saying some very odd things about what he'd do in the unlikely event that Jesus' body was discovered, say). That's what happens on Common Sense Atheism: drj says that "I will simply have to say that any evidence or argument that controverts the sensus atheistus is simply wrong, even if I cannot readily see why". This is of course very silly (and drj knows that, he's just making the point).

Paul Wright said...

That's Common Sense Atheism. Linkage fail.

Lee said...

"Fine, but the theist can accept that burden and immediately point out that, on atheism, there's no particular reason to believe that atheists have a reliable sensus atheistus."

So what? If that is in fact what we see, in the disparate sensus possessed by human beings, how does that accusation cast doubt on atheism? There's equally no reason, on atheism, to believe that theists have a reliable sensus divinitatis.

Angra Mainyu said...

"The main reason I’m interested in this issue is not that I want to take righteous offense at the claim that I'm lying, but rather that this sort of Craigian "suppressed knowledge" view and its connection in his mind with the concept of damnation, involves such a foul and twisted – and I think potentially dangerous - vision of humanity. And also that it is pretty obviously false. I’ll post on that shortly."

Great point (unfortunately, it's not obvious to them).

The idea of damnation itself is foul and twisted, and so is salvation. I mean, they're seriously saying that people deserve infinite torture (though Craig refuses to call it 'torture', it seems), and the only way out is to follow the rules of an allegedly morally perfect being who, if the rules are not followed, will give people what they allegedly deserve – namely, infinite torture.

Meanwhile, those who follow the rules (which, in this case, amount to believing and accepting the ruler, apparently) also deserved infinite torture, but get saved because somehow the sacrifice of the person who is the allegedly morally perfect being (who still exists since he's indestructible) at the hand of some people who lived many centuries ago, makes it acceptable for the other person who is also the allegedly morally perfect being not to torture those followers forever.

I get that many Christians are very smart and defend sophisticated (even if ultimately bad) arguments in support of some form of generic theism, but the kind of mental gymnastics needed to try to justify belief in a preposterous ancient spinoff of the even more ancient and also preposterous Hebrew religion is mind-boggling.

Paul Wright said...

Right, the link I want is http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=5038

Anyway.

Lee wrote:
If that is in fact what we see, in the disparate sensus possessed by human beings, how does that accusation cast doubt on atheism? There's equally no reason, on atheism, to believe that theists have a reliable sensus divinitatis.

I agree that the accusation doesn't cast doubt on atheism, it casts doubt on the claim that is reasonable to be an atheist on the basis of the sensus atheistus. A Christian could argue that this is not true of Christianity.

If I've got Plantinga right, he's an externalist, namely a reliablist. His claim is that if Christianity is true, a Christian can know God exists without knowing how they know it, because of the sensus, so they need not be worried by generic objections about believing stuff without evidence, say. The parallel claim about a sensus atheistus is not true (or rather, we have no reason to think it is) if atheism is true. (Note that the truth of both of these claims is independent of whether theism or atheism is true, because they're phrased as conditionals).

I'd imagine that Plantinga also doesn't think that Christians can ignore problems with Plantinga's account of what makes a belief reasonable though, being an externalist, he presumably thinks that Christians don't need to know about Plantinga's account for their beliefs to be reasonable, if Plantinga's account is actually true. So he's going to say that the burden is on the atheist to show that Christianity is actually false or that Plantinga's account is wrong in some other way, rather than relying on generic objections like "you have no evidence".

Lee said...

@paul - Given that we don't all possess the same, reliable sensus, Plantinga needs to account for that. He has to either call all of us liars, or give a plausible reason why God would not endow all of us with the same sensus that he possesses.

So yeah, I can't mirror his argument precisely, as I claimed, but that would be a bad strategy anyways, putting me in the same evidential pickle that Plantinga is in. I couldn't possibly justify sensus absurdicus, but if I could, I would then have to explain why not everyone has a reliable version of same(when they really should). Or call everyone else a liar.

Harold said...

What is really interesting to me is that atheist will say the same things about Christians. Like Craig they give their evidence to why Christians don’t really believe in God. Like Craig these atheist say that Christian are lying about what they believe.

A good example of this is over at Debunking Christianity blog. The tread title is “Quote of the Day By Sir-Russ”. He makes the same type of claim as Craig does. Sir_Russ says, “You [Christian] know your god is imaginary just like atheists know your god is imaginary.”

These kinds of statements, like Craig and Sir_Russ are making, just make me cringe. What they are doing is wrong. They are mind reading. Now mind reading is important for us as social creatures. Without is we could not function in a society. However, mind reading is not perfect. We can not know the mind of another person better then they know it themselves.

These types of statements are simply wrong; especially when they are directed to a particularly group of people. We can not know for sure what everyone believes. Further more, the individual knows best what they believe and we must take their belief statements as being true. I think these types of statements are a way to deal with cognitive dissonance caused by people whose believes are different then ours and are as certain about their beliefs as we are about ours.

-Harold

Link http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2012/07/quote-of-day-by-sirruss.html#more

Anonymous said...

Suppose we are evaluating a chess position. Is white or black better?

Person 1 - thinks white is better and he gives his analysis.
Person 2 - thinks black is better and he gives his analysis.

What you don't know is that person number 2 has used a chess engine to come to his conclusion. Craig is like person 2. He doesn't tell you in his arguments for God existence that his analysis that theism is true is based/influence at least partly on the "witness of the holy spirit". Craig should be more upfront about this.

Unknown said...

This sensus divinitatis seems to be the most unreliable thing in history. One person will say that it leads him to a god who is one, another to one that is three-in-one and a third that he is everything and everywhere. One god throws thunder bolts and another is loving and compassionate. It is a recipe for confusion and that is why I doant trust it.

Perhaps the religious are in denial about their sensus skepticus?

Corny said...
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Corny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Corny said...

Hello Dr. Law 

I decided to ask you some questions on your blog pertaining to this post, rather than your FB page.



You said "Frankly, I’m not bothered at all about that. The more interesting issue is whether we atheists do know God exists, choose to suppress that knowledge, and so do deserve to burn in hell for eternity as a result. Once it’s been suggested that we atheists are so morally depraved and disgusting that we deserve infinite torture (P.S. or punishment, or whatever you want to call it), adding “Oh, and by the way, you’re also lying,” is hardly much of an additional insult."



Did Craig say this? Or are you stating that Exclusivism is automatically correct? I know of Christians who wouldn't suggest this, but I'm just interested in how you came to this conclusion.



As an Inclusivist, I wouldn't agree at all with this statement, and if Christianity is true, I don't think anyone in the world knows how judgment of the afterlife would work down to a T.

As far as Craig goes I believe if he said *some* atheists I would fully agree with him.




Here is a factor that I think we must consider:



- Craig goes to many conferences, perhaps there are atheists who are at the point of second guessing their view on the nature of reality and are friends with these Christians that attend the conferences, actually go to the conference and have a one on one with Craig.

I think it's safe to say that Craig interacts with many people on this subject, so if he experiences atheists coming to Theism after a few talks, then I can see him being warranted here. (if he would have said *some*)



The fact is we don't know how many people Craig has talked to, and we can't run a video tape of his entire life of meetings with atheists, but I'm pretty sure he has spoken with a good number of them, and is credible enough to speak on the subject.



I will support Craig by saying there are *some* atheists who act differently about God in one on one discussions rather than speaking to the public on their FB page. There are others that I debate who take a position that seems more along the lines of playing devil's advocate to Bible-Belt Theology which would only be relevant to those of Joel Olsteen or Pat Robertson, sometimes correcting their theology to the "God of the Philosophers" is all that is needed

Stephen Law said...

Hello Corny

I believe it is his view, yes. Craig's views on hell are set out in some detail in his debate here: http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/craig-bradley0.html

Also see this: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/is-unbelief-culpable

In very (perhaps overly) simple terms: Craig supposes hell is just and proper punishment for the free and knowing rejection of God. God has revealed himself to everyone and equipped everyone with the ability freely to acknowledge or reject him. The atheist freely and knowingly rejects him, and thus deserves hell. In support of this view, he quotes scripture, e.g. Paul on atheists being eternally excluded from God.

Check this out too, as it adds much greater detail: http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/politically.html


v best

Stephen

Angra Mainyu said...

Another link that might be of interest:

www.reasonablefaith.org/how-can-christ-be-the-only-way-to-god

Anonymous said...

In regards to this Supernatural Spidey Sense, how would Craig or Plantinga explain it in terms of the massive diversity in religious experience (or lack of) geographically, and throughout  earths history. Are they claiming that somehow only  Christians have a correctly functioning divinity sensor? If this 'ability' has been fairly distributed throughout all human beings at all times (just humans? Homo erectus? Neanderthals?) then it would seem like a very poorly designed ability given the vast amounts of misses in comparison to the hits. Even before the age of reason ...  Does Craig think Tibetan monks are in denial? Hindus are in denial regarding number of Gods? Native Americans? this just seems like something one Christian would say to another to explain away why other people might be different from them. Surely not very persuasive to the other 99% of individuals to have existed. 

Cheers,

Layman

Emily said...

Hell-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8zhnooySk4

Charles Bailey said...

I found it ironic, given that on numerous occasions, WLC has publicly feigned offense at even the slightest suggestion that belief in God is a delusion, that he would then attempt to solve the apparent contradiction between the assertion "atheists 'know' that God exists" and "atheists aren't lying when they say they don't know that God exists" by essentially arguing that atheists are deluded. But then, honestly, what other option did he have? To get around the problem one would necessarily have to assert that atheists are either lying or they're deluded.

I think Craig chooses to argue in an obscure and euphemistic fashion that atheists are delusional for not believing in God since it would be blatant special pleading to insist that atheists are lying when they say they don't believe in God.
Such an assertion is too easily reversed: "Christians are lying when they say they believe in God."

(See the Cambridge Union debate where Craig denies that Christians like he and his colleagues would ever argue that atheists are deluded, and also his debate with Sam Harris where he "gets his back up" when Sam alludes to the fact that belief in God is delusional when he says something to the effect that religion creates a condition where it is possible to respect and revere a belief held by a large group of people that would seem insane if held by just one person)

Anonymous said...

It is ironic that Craig demands to be taken at his word when he refuses that same right to others. Craig claims to have insight into what atheists really know, deep down. They really know, deep down, that God exists; they’re either unaware of what they know, or perhaps they’re repressing this knowledge. Their claims to the contrary can be disregarded, you see, because Craig knows best what’s in others’ minds.

Oh but this doesn’t work in reverse. When Craig says he didn’t really mean that “[a] person who follows the pursuit of reason unflinchingly toward its end will be atheistic or, at best, agnostic” (when no other straight-forward reading of the entire article admits any other interpretation but the obvious one implicit in the quote), he insists he must be taken at his word. Should we? In fairness, yes: He could have been unclear in his presentation, or he may have left out important details explaining his true intended meaning, or perhaps he changed his mind after he wrote the article.

But, let’s be clear, Craig doesn’t deserve this fairness. Craig is a master quote miner, as anyone who’s watched his debates can attest to (see, for example, his repeated misquote of Steven Hawking’s “singularity” statement). Craig repeatedly claims possessing ultimate objective truth because, in his heart, he has witnessed the inner workings of the Holy Spirit. In this contradiction, objective truth resides in Craig’s subjective and entirely emotional experience. What about the experiences of others that attests to the contrary? Well, it is swept aside, with breathtaking and un-self-aware solipsism, as “the Bizarro-testimonies [sic] of those who have lost their faith and apostatized.” Others’ testimonies are “bizarro,” Craig’s testimony is revealed truth.

Self-servingly, and ironically, Craig seems incapable of extending to others the rights he claims for himself.