My looong review of William Lane Craig’s book Reasonable Faith

It’s in my “Links to my stuff” tab, but probably most of you haven’t checked that, so here’s the link. It’s long, like 20,000 words, but it covers a lot of things I don’t often talk about here, including some really crappy arguments for the claim that life is absurd without God, Kalam, various philosophical arguments against miracles, and what Jesus claimed about himself. Many of you will want to check it out, though not right away if you’re busy.

  • advancedatheist

    For some reason Craig and similar theologians have constructed a kind of fantasy atheist who started out as a theist, but who wakes up one morning and perversely decides from then on to have a meaningless life. Some European philosophers apparently held similar views, and they got away with it for awhile because we didn’t have large enough samples of real atheists to observe if, in fact, they behave this way.

    Now, thanks to the tools of modern social science, I think we have ways to test this fantasy atheist model. According to the research of sociologist Phil Zuckerman:

    Atheism, Secularity, and Well-Being: How the Findings of Social Science Counter Negative Stereotypes and Assumptions

    http://www.pitzer.edu/academics/faculty/zuckerman/Zuckerman_on_Atheism.pdf

    “It is often assumed that someone who doesn’t believe in God doesn’t believe in anything, or that a person who has no religion must have no values. These assumptions are simply untrue. People can reject religion and still maintain strong beliefs. Being godless does not mean being without values. Numerous studies reveal that atheists and secular people most certainly maintain strong values, beliefs, and opinions. But more significantly, when we actually compare the values and beliefs of atheists and secular people to those of religious people, the former are markedly less nationalistic, less prejudiced, less anti-Semitic, less racist, less dogmatic, less ethnocentric, less close-minded, and less authoritarian.”

  • http://skepticali.blogspot.com Skepticali

    Thanks – I look forward to reading this!

    I’m really immersed in Dr. Craig and his style of apologia. I first watched the Craig-Harris debate on YouTube last year, and have caught several more since then. Deacon Duncan’s review of Craig’s “On Guard” (http://realevang.wordpress.com/) is also a great reference. It dawned on me that, while I sensed the rhetorical sleight-of-hand and twists of logic amid his tremendously slick speaking (or writing) style, it pays to see a critique done line-by-line (hence Duncan’s review). I’ve started my own review of an old debate transcript just to absorb and understand each sentence that he utters – I’m floored at what he gets away with!

  • Annatar

    Some 20th century authors believed life was meaningless
    Therefore, without God, life is meaningless.

    I lol’d

  • Jon H

    My thought is that life with the Christian God is absurd. First Christian doctrine turns the entire purpose of our earthly life as one big true or false theology quiz where the only thing that matters is whether or not we check off the right box with regards to the question of the divinity of Jesus. Then there’s the afterlife, where we spend all eternity devoting ourselves to worshiping a perfect being who by His nature needs no worship.

    Frankly I’ll take non-objective purpose that feels fulfilling over a pointless objective purpose. I’m reminded of George Carlin’s bit about humanity being a tool invented by nature to produce plastic, that would be an objective purpose but I doubt anyone would find that any better than no objective purpose.

  • John

    This is fantastic stuff! I became pretty heavy into reading Craig’s stuff as I deconverted, trying to keep myself in the faith.

    I’ve been reading a lot of objections to his arguments, but a lot of them he seems to be able to successfully waive away, however a lot of your objections really seem to stick in ways I’ve not seen addressed.

  • mnb0

    “in part because some miracles are overtly inconsistent even with quantum mechanics, and in part because nothing within relativity theory is indeterminate.”
    This doesn’t make sense. Relativity is an entirely different theory and as such says nothing about QM.

    “The Indian prince …..”
    It actually works that way. I live in Suriname, a tropical country. If I tell my pupils that in The Netherlands ditches sometimes freeze over they are highly sceptical. And they are right: I am the one who must provide evidence. That’s obviously doable.

    Regarding the myths attached to Jesus I happily refer you to

    http://www.livius.org/ea-eh/edges/edges.html

    This makes several points of Blomberg and Craig irrelevant. The themes of virginal birth and resurrection from death were quite common in Antiquity. An early example of the latter is Aristeas of Proconnesus. If we have to read the NT like any other ancient text the only reasonable conclusion is that these stories are myths.

    “the whole point of a legend is that at least a few people believe it.”
    Actually not. The authors and the readers of the ancient texts didn’t care about distinguishing legend from historical facts, as the link to Livius.org makes clear. This is the reason why christian fundies simply are wrong ánd quite a few atheists who attack them. Liberal christians have their own problems. I really hope you will address them in your book, as New Atheists usually fail to do so. As for Craig I repeat that most myths accumulated around Jesus were well known and understood by the educated back then – and everybody who could read and write was well educated. It is very likely that the authors of the Gospels deliberately included them. As for Paul’s account of the Resurrection it strongly can be doubted that it was independent.
    All in all an excellent analysis. I learned a few things.

  • http://disagreeableme.blogspot.co.uk Disagreeable Me

    I think I have hit upon a relatively novel way to attack the Kalam argument that you might want to add to your rebuttal.

    http://disagreeableme.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/beginnings-and-beginnings.html

    The argument rejects the premise that the universe began to exist, even if the big bang was the beginning of time in the universe.

    If you view the universe as a static structure in 4D spacetime, then it can exist eternally, even though it has its own internal concept of time.

    Two analogies:

    1) A movie does not begin to exist with the title sequence. That’s just the first event within the timeline of the movie. However a movie does actually begin to exist, so…

    2) The sequence of prime numbers does not begin to exist with the number 2. We can view the number 2 as the first ‘event’ in an infinite sequence of events forming something analogous to a timeline. Though this sequence begins, it does not begin to exist.

    • http://disagreeableme.blogspot.co.uk Disagreeable Me

      But to clarify, all the matter and energy created at the big bang do begin to exist, because beginning to exist actually has a meaning when you’re talking about a physical object within the universe. It doesn’t apply to the universe itself or to the laws of nature in that universe.

      So in my view the universe did not begin to exist, even if it has a first moment of time. Stuff in the universe did begin to exist, and the cause for this stuff beginning to exist are the laws of nature that define the universe. Inflation, quantum mechanics etc.


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