Wednesday, July 25, 2012

William Lane Craig's latest attack on me


William Lane Craig has just devoted an entire 17 minute episode of Reasonable Faith to me, available here. I’m honoured!

The first half of the podcast focuses on my posting a quote from him, a quote that was, at the time, being widely posted and discussed on the internet. Here it is:

The person who follows the pursuit of reason unflinchingly toward its end will be atheistic or, at best, agnostic.

Go check my post here. I provided a direct link to Craig's original full article, and then immediately said: “But does Craig really mean what he appears to mean? You should make your own mind up about that.”

In his latest podcast, Craig says that I should have checked the context of the quote – the original article in which it appeared - and not just repeat it as a soundbite quote out of context.

But of course I did check it. In fact I even provided a direct link to the full article and encouraged readers to go check the original article themselves and make up their own minds.

So Craig is here misleading his listeners – he is missing out key pieces of information about my post, which gives a bad impression of me (P.S. Is Craig deliberately misleading? Well, let me acknowledge the possibility that he might somehow have missed my providing the link to the context - he's just been baffling blind to what's clearly right there in the post.)

Craig later says that I know (and knew) that he doesn't believe what he might appear to be saying in the above quote (about 6 mins - P.S. Yes I know that at about 8 mins he says the he, like me, was suckered by someone into accepting a quote out of context that he should have  checked, but do please pay close attention to 6 mins, where he says: “I think Stephen Law should have checked out the context. And he should have corrected those who sent him this quote to him. He knows that it doesn’t represent my views.”). Craig says I knew the quote doesn't represent his views. So he implies I am deliberately and scurrilously misleading people by posting it. I should have corrected the misinterpretation instead.

But actually, I was, and am, remain deeply (P.S. well, somewhat) baffled by that sentence. Even within the context of the entire article, it is baffling. It's baffling precisely because (i) it doesn't fit well with other things Craig has said, yet, (ii) even when placed in context, does seem pretty unambiguous.

Ironically, at the end of Craig's podcast, while the mood music is playing, he rather condescendingly lectures us - and especially me, of course - on how we should try to read people in the most charitable way, "with sympathy". That is ironic. Shouldn't he have given me that courtesy, rather than (i) asserting that I deliberately posted a quote out of context that I knew misrepresented his view (when I might have been, and indeed was, at that point just baffled), and (ii) telling his listeners I had not bothered to check the context when I very obviously had - I even provided a link.

The other half Craig's podcast looks at my discussion of the view that atheists know God exists "deep down", and my subsequent comment that it would seem to follow that atheists are lying when they say they don't know God exists. Craig explains in the podcast that he does not suppose atheists are lying, and explains why they are not. Now, maybe it doesn't follow from the fact that atheists are asserting what they know not to be true that atheists are liars. That's an interesting issue. But the explanations Craig gives in the podcast for why atheists are not, then, liars both fail. I'll explain why in the next post.

____________
Postscript. By the way here's the quoted sentence in the context of the full paragraph in which it appears:

A robust natural theology may well be necessary for the gospel to be effectively heard in Western society today. In general, Western culture is deeply post-Christian. It is the product of the Enlightenment, which introduced into European culture the leaven of secularism that has by now permeated Western society. While most of the original Enlightenment thinkers were themselves theists, the majority of Western intellectuals today no longer considers theological knowledge to be possible. The person who follows the pursuit of reason unflinchingly toward its end will be atheistic or, at best, agnostic.

I'm still kind of baffled by this. Here's the interpretation that seemed most obvious to me at the time, and which I am still not entirely sure is wrong. Given a non-theistic culture, the application of reason will not lead to theism. It will lead to atheism or at least agnosticism. However, within a Christian, theological world-view, theism and Christianity can be shown to be rationally, internally consistent/coherent. We have two world views - both of which are internally rational and reasonable, each with their own presuppositions.

Notice this interpretation would be consistent with Craig's claims elsewhere that theism/Christianity are rational, reasonable etc, and the title of his podcast "Reasonable Faith". It's also a mainstream religious view (it's Alister McGrath's, I think). So I saw no very obvious reason to reject it as an interpretation of the above passage. And it does make the final sentence come out as true. Craig is not just asserting that this is the mistaken view of secular "Western intellectuals". From within the current dominant intellectual culture, the person who follows the pursuit of reason unflinchingly toward its end will indeed be atheistic or, at best, agnostic.

On another reading, Craig is indeed just saying in the final sentence what most of today's Western intellectuals wrongly believe. The final sentence states, indeed flags up, a falsehood (which would have been clear had it begun, "The majority of Western Intellectuals now mistakenly believe that..." Though on this reading the paragraph ends very awkwardly (it asserts what's actually being denied). It's not the most natural reading, I think.

It would be good to know, just for clarity's sake, what Craig meant. It's certainly an uncharacteristically opaque passage open to various interpretations.

The key point of relevance, here, though, is that I did not know, and am still not absolutely sure, what the quoted sentence (and indeed paragraph) means exactly, and whether it it is meant to be true. Hopefully Craig himself will clarify.

[n.b. another fact which caused me pause for thought is that there are some religious intellectuals who hold two views - a "simple" version, for the punters, and a more "sophisticated" version for the intellectual insiders which is not usually made public except in coded form].
______________
Postscript 2. In retrospect, maybe I've overreacted to Craig's podcast on my misunderstandings. Yes he says I didn't check the context when I very obviously did. And yes, Craig does at one point assert that I knew his actual views, and thus that the quote was misleading, when I didn't. These comments do put me in a poor light. But of course, he's hardly spent the 17 mins of the podcast accusing me of murder, here, has he? Perhaps I should have just shrugged and let it go. The more important task is to engage with his actual arguments....

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

You forgot the part where he admitted that he has made the same mistake in a different context. With that in mind I think that his recommendation should be interpreted as a little less 'condescending' as you put it.

thrik said...

Stephen,

You said, "So Craig is here misleading his listeners – he is missing out key pieces of information about my post in order to give a bad impression of me."

To me, it seemed like Dr. Craig was going out of his way to clear your name. He cited an incident (during the podcast) in which he wrongly took something out of context before. I don't think he was trying to condemn you or lecture you here.

Also, I really enjoyed the debate between you and Dr. Craig. Maybe we'll see a round two? :)

Cheers, Tom

Steven Carr said...

OK, how does Craig think we should read these quotes from him 'with sympathy...'

It looks just like he is claiming that one way to Heaven was to join the Nazis and commit such terrible atrocities that you repent and go to Heaven, while his god planned the lives of people sent to death camps.

Exactly what sort of 'sympathy' is needed to make sense of the following?

CRAIG
...God loves Heinrich just as much as He loves you and so accords him sufficient grace for salvation and seeks to draw him to Himself.

Indeed, God may have known that through the guilt and shame of what Heinrich did under the Third Reich, he would eventually come to repent and find salvation and eternal life.

Paradoxically, being a Nazi may have been the best thing that happened to Heinrich, since it led to his salvation.

Of course, one may wonder about those poor people who suffered in the death camps because of Heinrich.

But God has a plan for their lives, too....,

Lee said...

"So he implies I am deliberately and scurrilously misleading people by posting it."

Atheists are liars, according to Craig. We lie about our (apparent) belief in God, why not about this and anything else that suits?

In his book Reasonable Faith, he talks about sensus divinitatis, and how this allows believers to continue believing when reasons fail (any why no one can be excused for 'honest' skepticism). There is an injunction in the bible for just such behavior. So he may simply be saying that, sans sensus, pure reason can't get you to belief in God. That is, at least, how I read it, and it doesn't appear all that controversial given his writing.

Though, it is a neat phrase, considering his incessant admonitions to "sophomoric" thinking in his opponents and online.

Anonymous said...

Stephen, ironically I was currently listening to WLC's podcast when I came across a link to this. I don't think Craig 'attacked' you at all - and my opinion of you was not diminished listening to the podcast - Craig even admitted in the podcast to making source mistakes himself - and is merely trying to hold fellow philosophers to a high standard. However reading this reply by yourself does diminish my opinion of you more than the podcast to be totally honest. I don't think it's justified.

Anonymous said...

Additionally I think the podcast is making a much more general point about the quoting out of context. It was just your repetition of it going around that caught the attention of Craig and co. I don't think the comments at the end are meant to be directed towards you, at all, but rather at the moment general issue. Although I can understand why you may have taken it this way as considering just before he was addressing your comments as a springboard. I think you're just taking it personally when it was not intended as such. Understandably however. But I think from the perspective of a listener it doesn't come off as an attack. Hope that's somewhat helpful.

Stephen Law said...

Ah, yes Craig admits having once taken someone's word for what a quote meant, and responded to it, when he should have checked the context. But notice he's admitting to something quite different to what he accuses me of - of deliberately posting a misleading quote, out of context, that, he says, I *knew* was misleading. Yes, at one point - about 8 mins - he says I was just suckered like him. But at 6 mins 12 he does say I knew that was not his view. Yet I posted it anyway, out of context with no attempt at correction (or checking the source!). That's not a nice thing to say about someone. Listen again, more carefully.

Thrik, Tom - thanks for the comment. But I am not sure why, having claimed, falsely, that (i) I quoted him out of context, without checking the context, and (ii) that I posted a quote that I *knew* was misleading and could have corrected the misnterpretation but chose not to, Craig's saying that he once innocently took someone's word for the context of a quote when he should have checked constitutes any sort of attempt to "clear my name".

It's a bit like my falsely accusing someone of killing someone as a drunk driver, and then trying to "clear their name" by admitting that I myself once got a speeding ticket. What Craig is admitting is rather less serious than what he is accusing me of. Again, I suggest you listen again, more carefully.

hoongwai said...

By "sympathy", I think Craig means "sympathetic", or more accurately (in my eyes), it should be "charitable". I think Craig used his language in a rather confusing manner.

But here's the thing... Given that:
a) You've personally debated with Craig, so you ought to know that he doesn't actually believe that line. He believes that Christianity is the most rational position one can honestly hold.
b) The quote which was presented is immediately preceded by this line "...the majority of Western intellectuals today no longer considers theological knowledge to be possible." I think it is obvious that it is a direct continuation of the sentence before.

I would say it's obvious that what Craig meant is: "...Western intellectuals today... (are of the mindset that)... the person who follows the pursuit of reason ... will be atheist."
Any other interpretation wouldn't make sense in context of the whole passage as well as our (your) knowledge of Craig's personal beliefs!

Peter Byrom said...

Stephen, I really don't see what there is to be baffled about. That sentence simply describes what many people in Western culture think: that reason leads to atheism. Craig isn't agreeing with it, nor doing anything weird with it, he's simply using it to state a point of view held by others.

For example, suppose I wrote something like: "The Westboro Baptists have no sense of compassion, nor any desire to engage with people of other points of view. If a person were truly following the Bible, they'd be out picketing funerals".

Clearly, there is no attempt being made to endorse the last sentence as being true. It's simply a way of describing what a particular bunch of other people think, and the entrenched degree with which they appear to assume the view.

Stephen Law said...

Peter. Your concatenation of sentences would, actually, leave me a bit puzzled, and I'd probably have to read them a couple of times before I being confident about your intended meaning. However, in your example there is not an alternative interpreation available, which there is in the case of the Craig paragraph. So I'm afraid your analogy is relevantly disanalogous.

There's a further thing to take into account. Were you two combine sentences like that in a first year philosophy essay, I'd mark them up as ambiguous and tell you not to write like that in future. Philosophers are trained to try to avoid such potentially ambiguous sentence constructions. This is a further reason why Craig, as professional philosopher, combining sentences like that is very odd, if he doesn't actually mean to assert the final sentence.

It may well be he doesn't intend to assert the final sentence. But there is a not implausible interpretation of it on which the final sentence is asserted. And that interpretation can, with a little ingenuity, be squared with well known statement of his concerning the rationality of theism.

Anonymous said...

Stephen -

Grow up.

Rod

Stephen Law said...

So we're now down to put downs and insults, Rod?

Stephen Law said...

PS Peter B - apologies for mispelling "to". And just so we're v clear, I am not denying that Craig meant what you say he meant. Given his subsequent comments, I am *fairly* sure you are right that the sentence is supposed to express a view that Craig thinks Western intellectual mistakenly hold. I was just explaining why I was confused about he meant, and even now remain a little unsure...

Stephen Law said...

Maybe I'm missing the point of the above "it's obvious what Craig meant" comments? Is the suggestion I did indeed know what Craig meant all along?

Peter Byrom said...

Thanks for responding Stephen! I agree that any ambiguity in that kind of writing style could be eliminated by wording it differently. For example, "in those people's minds, the person who follows reason unflinchingly will be atheist or agnostic". However, I think we'd both agree that the most important thing is to allow the context of the whole written piece inform our interpretation of that sentence, and it seems to me that would clearly show us this is the meaning of the words Craig used.

By the way, Stephen, I just watched your Think Week talk with Peter Wtkins, and my respect for you has gone up by 1000 after watching you school him on the I adequacy of scientism and the importance of philosophy. It was quite cringeworthy to see such a pompous dismissal of anything that's not science, and I take my hat off to you for your efforts to enlighten him.

I have to say too, Dawkins' frankly naive belittling of philosophy was also quite disturbing. Are you aware that he's even attacked the agnostic philosopher Sir Anthony Kenny recently? After having his central argument from The God Delusion criticised for committing equivocation, Dawkins wrote on his website that Kenny was a "philosopher" (derogatory quotation marks his own) and that he was a meddling chairman with special training in obscurantism.

Peter Byrom said...

Ps sorry, my turn to make typos! Posting from iPhone!

Stephen Law said...

Thanks Peter. Thing is, there is another interpretation, and I wasn't sure about which was correct. So it can't have been that clear, then, can it? Unless I'm a complete idiot?

But anyhoo...

joel said...

to know what which interpretation is right, shouldnt we listen too the author? Craig said that your interpretation is wrong. He dosent mean that! For me, the context was clear. But now the author has confirmed it. Why shouldn't we listen?

Stephen Law said...

No one is saying we shouldn't listen to Craig, Joel. You've missed the point.

But in fact, even now, all he has done is reiterate that he thinks reason supports theism, a fact that is consistent with both interpretations.

However, I do NOW think the interpretation on which the final sentence is not being asserted in any form is more likely to be true.

But in any case, as I say, the issue is, did I know what Craig meant. He says I did (and thus knew the quote was misleading). In fact, I didn't.

Stephen Law said...

Perhaps, Joel, you and Craig should take my word on what I meant. I said I was baffled and didn't know what he meant. Craig says I did know.

Will you be contacting Craig to ask him to correct what he said? Or does this only work one way?

Anonymous said...

Stephen, why should Craig correct what he said? Craig asserted that you DO, in fact, know his position; or at least you SHOULD know his position. Thus, when given this information you could already dismiss it, or know that it is taken out of context. Or to be as generous to you as possible, even after you read the context and still think the quote awkward, you would still know that this is not Craig's position, since you already know Craig's position.
The only thing we need to know is whether you do or should know Craig's position. I think it very reasonable to believe that you should, at least, know Craig's position, and thus not devoted a blog page trying to leave it "open" to what Craig thinks. It shouldn't even be "open" since you already know. Yet you did and it appears, given that you already know his position, that this was malicious on your part.

Stephen Law said...

Dear anonymous. That is not what Craig asserted. This is what he asserts at about 6 minutes:

“I think Stephen Law should have checked out the context. And he should have corrected those who sent him this quote to him. He knows that it doesn’t represent my views.”

Now, (i) I clearly did check the context. I even supplied the link to it. Are you, anonymous denying that?

(ii) Second, Craig says above that I know the quote doesn't represent his views. He doesn't say "or should know", does he? Now, as I have repeatedly explained, I didn't know what Craig says I knew. So Craig needs to correct that too, right? Or are you denying that?

Martin said...

Please note I have only read your blog post, not the preceeding comments.

Stephen I'm really surprised that you're struggling to understand what Craig meant by that sentence you quoted. It just seems pretty obvious to me and I think it should be obvious to all.

Allow me to rephrase it to make what I'm sure is Craig's point especially clear.

"A robust natural theology may well be necessary for the gospel to be effectively heard in Western society today. In general, Western culture is deeply post-Christian. It is the product of the Enlightenment, which introduced into European culture the leaven of secularism that has by now permeated Western society. While most of the original Enlightenment thinkers were themselves theists, the majority of Western intellectuals today no longer considers theological knowledge to be possible. They think that the person who follows the pursuit of reason unflinchingly toward its end will be atheistic or, at best, agnostic."

I think the reason Craig accused you of not putting his quote in context is, to be honest, that he couldn't understand how you could have read that paragraph and not understand that he was simply commenting on how many western intellectuals think about these issues.

Stephen Law said...

Well, yes, thanks Martin for adding to Craig's prose to make your reading clear. Unfortunately that's not what Craig actually wrote is it?

How clear you might think the reading was is, of course, irrelevant. Fact is, I did check the context, as is abundantly clear, isn't it? Craig says I didn't (for whatever reason). Craig says I knew what he meant by the line. In fact, I wasn't sure what he meant. I did not even give a view of what Craig meant. I just said I was puzzled. Which I was. No amount of wriggling by you guys changes the fact that he has misrepresented me.

Anonymous said...

1. I am not denying that you supplied a link to the paper, but that does nothing to tell me of you checking out the context. I will happily take your word for it. But this is rather irrelevant to my post since Craig, and many others, think the context is clear. Given that plus the fact that you "ought" to know what the mans position is on the issue given that you have debated him, is he unjustified in believing you did in fact know his position? Or are you denying that?

2. No Craig doesn't say "or should know", but is that necessary? Do I walk around saying that my brother knows who his parents are, "or should know", because there is a chance he went brain dead 5 min. ago? That would be absurd. So I would agree with Craig that you do know his position, that is unless you have had some sort of memeory problem in the last few months.
It's quite simple; either you know Craig's position or not. If you don't know, then that leaves alot to be explained. Like why you have devoted blog posts about a man whose views you don't even know? What has happened to your memory recently? ect.
But if you do know, then you should not have pretended like it was an open question.
You are obviously a brillant man, you obviously prepared to debate this man very well, your memory hasn't gotten that weak: You know his position.

Oh just call me MR.T, I know it is annoying responding to "anonymous". But thanks! I'm a philosophy major and thus it's just like I responded to a celebrity!

Stephen Law said...

What's relevant is that Craig said I did not check the context when I clearly did. That's misrepresentation number one. You seem to be conceding that now. Good.

Craig also said I knew what he meant by his remark. I have explained why I was, at that point, puzzled about what he meant. So that's misrepresentation number two. To get Craig off the hook on this one, you assert that I really did know what he meant, was not at all puzzled (I just feigned puzzlement), and am now just lying about that.

I note your reading of me is also rather ironic, given Craig's mood-music driven imploration for us all to be charitable and sympathetic in our interpretations of each other...

Stephen Law said...

Of course I thought I knew Craig's position prior to reading the quote. But that quote, even in context, reads rather unnaturally, for the reasons I explained, and there is in addition a kind of sophisticated theological position that makes the final sentence read far more naturally, a position that could actually be squared with Craig's previous claims about the reasonableness of faith. I've explained all this. It's all lies according to you, though...

Not much more to say on this, I think....

Anonymous said...

So the quote can be interpreted this way since there is "a kind of sophisticated theological position that makes the final sentence read far more naturally", and thus Craig could have likely believed it.
-Simple question: Can you show me in the original blog, where you hint at any sophisticated position by which your defense now rests? I couldn't find it.
"Ironically" when others have explained what Craig meant in the quote you say "but Craig didn't say that". Now you say there is a theologial position that justifies your quiery....yet you didn't say that.

Stephen Law said...

Anonymous

No I didn't bother to set out different interpretations. But that hardly shows I wasn't puzzled by what Craig meant, does it? Personally, I'd want stronger evidence before publicly accusing someone of lying and of being, as you put it, "malicious".

In your final sentence you try to show I am guilty of some sort of inconsistency but you just get muddled. You previously said Craig said "or *should* have known" what he meant in that quote. That's false - he says I *did* know. I corrected your mistake. You now conclude that I didn't suppose X is a possible meaning of what Craig said because I didn't actually say anything about what I supposed he meant at the time. That's pretty obviously absurd. Nor is there any inconsistency involved in my jointly holding these views.

Stephen Law said...

Ah, by "but Craig didn't say that". you are referring to Martin's rewriting of Craig so to make Martin's reading of Craig clear? Well, I pointed out Craig didn't actually say the words Martin put in his mouth, and so Martin's rewrite did not show that there was no ambiguity in the original, or that Craig couldn't be read another way.

The moral, however, is the same. My pointing this out is consistent with my pointing out that the fact that I offered no opinion on what Craig meant does not justify your claim that I knew what he meant.

You seem to be scrabbling round trying to find some muck to smear me with but are not doing very well, are you?!

Anonymous said...

No, I conclude that because you never mentioned any possible meaning that I wouldn't know of any such possible meaning which you NOW use to justify your remarks.
So actually I thank your correction, since your remarks are now seen as worse! Craig at least gave us infomation with which can make a reasonable interpretation, you, on the other hand, expect us to interpret you "charitably" on things you never mentioned!
Isn't that absurd?

Anonymous said...

Actually I appreciate your work and are giving you an opportunity to "unsmear" your name. But you are not doing ber well.
So you pointed out that Craig didn't say those words, yet I pointed out YOU didn't say those words which you want my charity with. Craig though, as I pointed out above, at least gave us information to interpret his words that way. You never touched the issues you now use as your defense and ask of us that we interpret you a certain way.

Stephen Law said...

Anonymous, you're not related to Ben Yachov are you - you employ very similar tactics.

You claimed, after reading this post, I am lying about being puzzled about the comments, and that I pretended maliciously to be unsure what Craig meant when I knew full well.

Rather than back this accusation up, you now switch to saying that you would have been justified, prior to reading this particular post, but after reading the original, in supposing that I did know what Craig meant. Well that's a different claim. Giving up on the one you actually made, then?

Stephen Law said...

It's clear you're just going to keep on moving the goalposts, constructing non-sequiteurs and continuing with unpleasant accusations, so forgive me if I don't bother responding anymore. Got some academic stuff to write.

Anonymous said...

1.I shouldn't think anything I have said be inconsistent. I said to start that Craig is justified in beliving that you knew his position, which is what I still say.
Same claim. Where do you see otherwise? I never said your position is justified AFTER reading this post. Again, don't tell me what I said, just copy/paste. And if I did say anything of the sort then I apologize, that is not my position. But please point me there anyway.
2.Me *addressing* points you bring up does not mean that I am "giving up" on the argument. It means I am listening.
3. Where did I say that you are "lying about being puzzled about the comments", and that you "pretended maliciously to be unsure what Craig meant"? Just the quote, and not more of your comments *about* my comments, will be fine. And no I don't expect exact quotes (I'm not that guy), but something close will be fine, because I don't see that.

Anonymous said...

Forgive me if I have done the things you say. That surely was not my intention. But I can comment on them.
1. I don't believe that my responding to your claims, is "moving the goalposts". You bring up new points- I address new points. This is also based on the mistaken assumption that my position has changed (which has been addressed). But just in case I have, and forgive me, let me be very clear.

-Craig was justified in believing that you knew his position.
--- You have debated him, obviously studied him, and written about him several times etc.

Remember THIS is the original post that I responded to -"I said I was baffled and didn't know what he meant. Craig says I did know.
Will you be contacting Craig to ask him to correct what he said? Or does this only work one way?"

- Though it may be the case that you didn't know what Dr. Craig meant, implied by my main claim is that you know what he *didn't* mean. He didn't mean what the quote looks like out of context.
Actually I believe I have just touched on our disconnect. You think I have been arguing that you knew what he meant by the quote, I have not. I am arguing that you know his *position* on the issue about whether reason leads to theism or atheism, and more specifically Christianity. Thus, you know what he *didn't* mean by the quote.
You seem to be equating *knowing what he meant* to *knowing his position*. You can know his *position* and still think he meant something about snowflakes or dragons. BUT you cannot know his position and think he meant what you know to not be his position.

2. If I am constructing non-sequiteurs (which I surely don't want to do), I hope and appreciate that you point them out.
3. Well it seems to me that whatever side of this I fall on will have "unpleasant accusations". I'll try to be more cheery.
4. Please don't let me hinder your academic writing. I'll talk to you, though, as long as you let me (I'm selfish).

Charles Bailey said...

I don't think it's clear at all that Craig doesn't actually believe that reason will lead people to conclude that the God hypothesis is either false or invalid and, therefore, to atheism or agnosticism.

Craig talked a lot about the complexities of human psychology and the mind's ability to suppress and rationalize away that which is rejected initially for purely emotional or psychological reasons, but it wasn't clear to me that he wasn't just projecting his own frame of mind here.

I often get the impression that apologists like Craig are satisfied to rationalize their God-belief in an ad hoc manner--whatever it takes to actually convince oneself of the truth of what one actually takes for granted. It's almost as if they're just happy that the rationalization can be done at all...whew!

Notice that Craig used the phrase "sinful suppression" in his description of what atheists are doing when they claim to not believe in God. If the word "sinful" here does not imply "lying" then, pray tell, what could it possibly mean to sinfully suppress knowledge?

Craig found himself caught in a contradiction and the only way out of calling atheists liars--and to be a good little contrarian--was to hint at the suggestion that atheists are just deluding themselves into non-belief.

In the Cambridge Union debate, Craig says that atheists have to provide good reasons to think that belief in God is a delusion, but then, in the podcast under discussion, he bases his belief and "argument" that atheists really do believe in God (i.e., they are self-delusional)on the mere authority of Scripture. So why does Craig think atheists must have good reasons to think that God belief is delusional, but that Christians need no good reasons for thinking that atheists actually believe in God despite what they might tell you? Given the logic of Craig on this point, why shouldn't it be good enough for an atheist to simply quote a passage from Dawkins' book The God Delusion and say, "see, there you go! Belief in God really is delusional!"

This concludes my little rant for the day...

Martin said...

Okay, Stephen I thing Craig was wrong to say that you didn't check the context.

Ironically, I think Craig probably didn't read your blog post. He should have been more careful, especially given that he was himself arguing for the importance of checking the context.

I think that Craig just assumed you hadn't read it because, honestly, it didn't occur to him that anyone could have read it and not immediately understand his point.

So I think you're both "at fault" really. You made a silly reading comprehension error. Fair enough, we all do it. And Craig should have carefully read your post. His assumption that you would have understood the passage was understanding, but more care would have been appropriate.

Martin said...

understandable*

Anonymous said...

Professor Law, Dr. Craig seemed to be treating you with the utmost respect.

And for you to take his words so personally and so offensively just seems...weird on your part.

Why do you make such a great effort at highlighting slights against you, but make no effort to acknowledge or respond to the grace with which he treats you?

Stephen Law said...

His tone his terribly respectful isn't it? But he includes in inaccurate and damaging remarks about me. You don't deny that, do you?

If someone made such remarks about you, you would want to correct them, right? I guess you'd also be a bit annoyed at them, even if they did make the remarks in a terribly "respectful", perhaps even a little bit condescending, tone?

Charles Bailey said...

WLC respectful? Give me a break! Saying that Craig is respectful is like saying that a pick-pocket is respectful since he doesn't pull out a gun or hit you over the head while he robs you in broad daylight!

I find Craig's argumentative style to be insulting, pretentious, arrogant, condescending, dishonest, and at times even childish. To me, there is nothing respectful about a person who merely pays lip service to respect in order to gain credibility and a more sympathetic audience before he proceeds to disrespect them by insulting their intelligence repeatedly and without apology. From my point of view, Craig isn't the least bit interested in convincing atheists that God exists, he's interested in convincing people who believe that God exists that it's possible to dazzle a loudmouthed atheist with tricks he borrowed from the used car salesman's handbook.

What would Craig do if Christians in his audiences everywhere began to stand up and say to him, "Dr. Craig, you will not be allowed to shift the burden of proof for the existence of God in THIS debate."

Craig often says of atheists that we are committed to a worldview that is meaningless, purposeless, and riddled with despair. That we really believe in God when we say we don't; that we can behave morally but cannot justify doing so; that molesting a child and experiencing a headache are basically the same thing;that we are 'just' animals; that we cannot condemn Hitler and the Nazis for the atrocities they committed; that rape and torture are just unfashionable social behaviors for an atheist, but that there's nothing actually wrong with these things; that elephants can just pop into a room without any apparent cause; and the list of insults just goes on and on. In other words, atheists are basically just a bunch of blithering idiots!

Aside from repeatedly insulting the intelligence of the listener, another 'respectful' thing Craig likes to do is ignore arguments that refute him--or at least expose the fallacy in his arguments, and then proceed as if the rebuttals had never been made, continuing on to make the same tired old arguments ad nauseam and ad infinitum. Don't misunderstand, obviously, Craig doesn't always ignore the rebuttal arguments he's presented with, in fact he confronts many of them head on, but usually only if they're simply irrelevant or are easy to dismiss. His answers to the real problems with his position are usually met with hand waiving and evasion.

Call Craig just about anything, but please come off it with this 'respect' nonsense. Oh, how silly of me, it's so easy to forget when one is dealing with a troll!