Documenting William Lane Craig’s lies about his opponents: a reply to Jeff Lowder

I thought I was done writing about William Lane Craig, but Jeffery Jay Lowder has done two posts challenging my claim that Craig is dishonest. Reading Jeff’s posts makes me think that in my series on Craig, I was trying to do too many things at once: take down his arguments, expose his dishonesty, do it all in a relatively concise way. So I’m going to do least a couple more posts on this, and in this first one I want to deal with the issue of Craig’s misrepresentations of his opponents.

This is a tricky issue to write about. I agree with Jeff that accusations of dishonesty are not to be made lightly, which is why I emphasize that there are few other philosophers, theologians, or apologists that I would make these accusations against. Furthermore, Jeff is right to ask how I know Craig is being intentionally deceptive, as opposed to honestly mistaken, in particular cases. This is hard to know.

For example, Jeff agrees with me in one case that Craig’s claims about Dennett were false, but suggests, “It’s possible that Craig’s high opinion of his own work has caused him to become arrogant, i.e., to mistakenly assume that all discussions of the cosmological argument are about his version of the cosmological argument.”

The case of Craig citing Bart Ehrman in support of the empty tomb is similar. Lowder suggests that maybe Craig got Ehrman’s views wrong because he had forgotten what Ehrman told him in their debate. Now Ehrman was pretty clear about this during their debate. In fact, Craig’s dubious use of authorities was one of Ehrman’s four main criticisms of Craig during their debate. Ehrman said:

I’m surprised by some of his so-called authorities that Bill cites, for the reality is that the majority of critical scholars studying the historical Jesus today disagree with his conclusion that a historian can show that the body of Jesus emerged physically from the tomb. Bill might find that surprising, but that would be because of the context he works in – a conservative, evangelical seminary. In that environment, what he’s propounding is what everyone believes. And it’s striking that even some of his own key authorities don’t agree. He quotes a number of scholars, whom I consider to be friends and acquaintances, and I can tell you, they don’t agree with his views. Does that make him wrong? No, it simply means that his impressive recounting of scholarly opinion is slanted, lopsided, and fails to tell the real story, which is that he represents a minority opinion.

(later) We don’t know if Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea. What we have are Gospel stories written decades later by people who had heard stories in circulation, and it’s not hard at all to imagine somebody coming up with the story. We don’t know if his tomb was empty three days later. We don’t know if he was physically seen by his followers afterwards.

(Note to Jeff: The article by Craig in question appears to have been written approximately two and a half years ago. It was #143 in a weekly Q&A that’s now at #276. It also appears to have been written after the start of Craig’s Defenders Series II, which appears to have debuted in December 2009. Click “details” on the podcast’s first episode.)

As with the Dennett case, an innocent explanation is possible. But even though I think the Ehrman case is pretty damning, individual cases aren’t the reason I’m convinced the misrepresentations are intentional. The reason I’m convinced the misrepresentations are intentional is that Craig engages in them so often, and they’re often extremely damaging taken at face value while also having some plausible deniability.

I hope to hash out a couple disagreements with Jeff about specific cases in his comments section, but here, let me give some further examples,which I’ve mostly never blogged about before. First: during their debate, Sam Harris said:

We are being offered a psychopathic and psychotic moral attitude… it is psychopathic because this is a total detachment from the, from the well-being of human beings. It, this so easily rationalizes the slaughter of children. Ok, just think about the Muslims at this moment who are blowing themselves up, convinced that they are agents of God’s will. There is absolutely nothing that Dr. Craig can s—can say against their behavior, in moral terms, apart from his own faith-based claim that they’re praying to the wrong God. If they had the right God, what they were doing would be good, on Divine Command theory.

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.

You can debate the words “psychopathic” and “psychotic,” but otherwise what Harris says is an indisputably accurate description of Craig’s moral view. Craig has explicitly said the genocide of the Caananites described in the Bible was moral simply because God commanded it. And here is how Craig responded to Harris here:

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.

This is a disgusting smear against Harris, and I am sickened and angered every time I think about it. Harris explicitly said that he was not saying what Craig insinuates he was saying. Hey Jeff, can I call Craig a liar now?

Jeff may wonder why I didn’t include this in my recent post series on Craig, or in my review of the debate (which I saw live). The answer is that the issue was tangential to Craig and Harris’ main arguments, and doesn’t register with me as in any way unusual for Craig.

The other thing I want to say more about is Craig’s many misrepresentations of Stephen Law, who he debated in 2011. Here’s the transcript of that debate, Craig’s post-debate remarks, and Law’s blog reply to Craig’s post-debate remarks. I’m going to go back and forth between those sources here. From Law’s opening speech in the debate:

Notice that this evil god hypothesis is as well supported by, say, Professor Craig’s cosmological and fine tuning arguments. (Sorry, he didn’t run the fine-tuning argument today, it was just the three)… Professor Craig’s cosmological argument, as his belief in his good God hypothesis, that argument failed to provide us with any clue at all as to our creator’s moral character.

From Craig’s post debate comments:

In the debate, Law made the remarkable claim that the cosmological and teleological arguments are not even part of a cumulative case for theism!

Law’s blog reply:

No that is simply not true. I said they make equally as cumulative a case for an evil god. As Craig actually just admitted above. So the challenge I put to Craig is to explain why, if belief in an evil god is absurd, notwithstanding the cosmological and teleological arguments, belief in a good god is not similarly absurd. That is the evil god challenge.

From Craig’s first debate rebuttal:

I think Dr. Law’s mistake is that he thinks that the theist arrives at the doctrine of God’s goodness by an inductive survey of the world’s events. And that’s simply incorrect.

From Law’s first debate rebuttal:

First of all, Professor Craig seemed to be suggesting that I think Christians think God is good because, you know, they draw that conclusion on the basis of what they see of the world around them… That’s certainly not why I think Christians believe that God is good, not at all! So that, that was just an attack on a straw man. It’s not my position, very obviously.

From Craig’s post-debate comments:

Law mistakenly seems to think that the theist arrives at the conclusion that the Creator/Designer is good by an inductive survey of the world’s events.

Law’s blog reply:

No. I don’t do that. I explained why in my first rebuttal. Craig is simply choosing to ignore what I said and continuing to attack a straw man.

In Law’s blog reply, Law also explains how Craig misrepresented Law’s response to Craig’s moral argument. But I feel a bit petty documenting all of these in detail. I think they’re tangential to the biggest problems with Craig’s arguments. The main thing documenting these kind of misrepresentations does is give people a warning not to trust Craig in the future.

And I think such warnings are important to give, but the question is, how many examples do I use when giving them? More than a couple, certainly, they only really become damning when you get enough of them to realize we should expect more of them in the future, and to make it very unlikely that they’re accidental.

Yet the other horn of the dilemma I face writing about Craig is that this post, for example, is already over 1,500 words, and it’s on a topic I’m tired of and at least some of my readers are sick of.  The reason I wrote my post series on Craig was not because I find him that interesting, but because I hoped I could get out the definitive version of what I have to say about him, and then stop talking about it. Obviously I failed at that, but I haven’t given up on trying not to bore my readers too much.

And obviously, I’ve read and listened to a lot of Craig’s stuff, but I’ve reached the point where I actually avoid reading and listening to any more of it, in large part because of the high probability that I’ll just encounter yet another misrepresentation of his opponents. Which will leave me feeling pissed off without me learning anything I didn’t already know about Craig.

When I saw Craig’s debate with Sam Harris more than a year ago, I wasn’t terribly surprised by Craig’s misrepresentations of Harris. And every time I encounter another misrepresentation, I get less and less surprised.

And again, the number and predictability of these misrepresentations makes it hard for me to believe they’re accidental. Because of those things, I’m convinced the misrepresentations are intentional–in other words, lies.

P.S. – To show that I haven’t searched through many different interactions between Craig and his opponents to find a few mistakes by Craig, look at this list of debate transcripts. I’ve here covered Craig’s interactions with three Craig’s opponents in the four most recently transcribed debates.

The fourth opponent from those debates was Lawrence Krauss. You can read Krauss’ comments on his debate with Craig here. Krauss also accuses Craig of lying, though in cases of mathematical and cosmological issues in which Craig is not an expert, the plausibility of the hypothesis that Craig is sincerely mistaken is much higher.

  • Gvlgeologist, FCD

    So the defense of Craig is that he’s incompetent?

    Makes me feel much better.

    He’s still wrong, even to his defenders.

  • anteprepro

    Krauss also accuses Craig of lying, though in cases of mathematical and cosmological issues in which Craig is not an expert, the plausibility of the hypothesis that Craig is sincerely mistaken is much higher.

    Considering how often he debates, how often he writes, how often he sets himself up as an authority when broaching those issues, Craig actually being incompetent is still dishonesty. It is just the dishonesty of misrepresenting his own level of competence, knowledge, and expertise, as compared to knowingly lying. It’s a more indirect dishonesty, since he probably fooled himself first.

    As for that exchange with Law: Maybe Craig isn’t dishonest afterall! Maybe he just fails the fucking Turing test. I mean, he ignored what Law said in order to regurgitate the same argument, almost verbatim. Has anyone ever been generous enough to Craig to assume that he is simply a malfunctioning robot, and not a liar? Principle of charity and all that.

  • Dunc

    Once may be misfortune. Twice seems like carelessness. Dozens of times looks like a pattern.

  • mnb0

    Frankly I don’t care if Craig is lying or not. His morals are disgusting – I completely agree with that quotation of Harris. Craig may be lying or may be mistaken (in both cases he not too smart anyway) but that doesn’t change a bit concerning my disgust.

    “I haven’t given up on trying not to bore my readers too much.”
    My two SRD: concentrate on two, perhaps three of the strongest and most relevant cases you can make against Craig.
    For instance, when you want to tackle the cosmological argument, you can concentrate on Feser and Aquino. It’s not necessary at all to argue against Craig’s version as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/aaronurbanski aaronurbanski

    John Loftus also agrees with Lowder: debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2012/07/lowder-vs-hallquists-claim-that-dr.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/using.reason usingreason

    William Lane Craig’s lies about his opponents

    In other news Ray Comfort lies and water is wet.

  • falstaff

    Can I say that Craig is a lying for Jesus piece of shit? Same goes for Barton.

  • Laurence

    I think you make a pretty convincing case for a cumulative case for Craig’s dishonesty. I think if you take these in isolation, they can seen pretty harmless. But if you take them all together they make a strong case that Craig is dishonest. Sure, he could innocently make a mistake once, but it’s far more probable that he is dishonest if he makes them over and over again. I think this is a case where someone is taking the principle of charity so far that he misses what is actually happening.

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  • Laurence

    After thinking about it even more, I think you are even more justified in your criticism of Craig. It’s pretty clear that he intentionally tries to deceive people about the quality of his opponents arguments by using the debate tactics that Lowder dismisses. I can’t think of anything to call it other than intentional deception.

    • AgeOfReasonXXI

      “I can’t think of anything to call it other than intentional deception.”

      and you’d be right. yet, we have people over at the Secular Outpost and elsewhere saying Hallq owes this greasy, dishonest slime-ball an apology. How ignorant one has be to say something like that.
      What irritates me about Lowder, is his willingness to defend Craig while frequently admitting he hasn’t watched the debates Hallq and others point out to show Craig’s dishonesty. Lowder also seems to think that being a lying, deceitful douche-bag is a normal ‘high-school’ debating behavior. I’m beginning to think that Lowder might turn out to be one too.

    • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b/ cl

      Laurence,

      It’s pretty clear that he intentionally tries to deceive people about the quality of his opponents arguments by using the debate tactics that Lowder dismisses. I can’t think of anything to call it other than intentional deception.

      I can, and Lowder agrees with me: it’s the atheist’s fault for not adequately preparing. I mean, if an observer like yourself can be so astutely aware of Craig’s strategy, why can’t Craig’s opponents do the same? Why can’t they distill short, punchy responses to all of Craig’s arguments, then trot them out, putting Craig on the defensive? It sounds like you’re implying disingenuousness on Craig’s behalf simply because he’s better prepared. In principle, I see no reason an atheist couldn’t capitalize on Craig’s strategy.

      That you can’t think of an alternative to calling Craig a liar simply shows that you’re using an argument from incredulity to sustain a libelous attack on another human being. There’s a reason American jurisprudence frowns on using circumstantial evidence to justify convictions. That is the very antithesis of reason and critical thinking. It betrays the fundamental concept of “innocent until proven guilty.”

      Now, if anybody can show me conclusive evidence, bring it. Else, you’re all guilty of libel.

      • http://alephsquared.wordpress.com aleph squared

        Why can’t they distill short, punchy responses to all of Craig’s arguments, then trot them out, putting Craig on the defensive?

        The truth is a lot more complicated than Craig’s lies innocent mistakes. Krauss, for example, has to actually stay true to what science says, which is far more nuanced than Craig, who can merely repeat short and fallacious elementary-school syllogisms in a loud voice with no problem.

        • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b/ cl

          Krauss can, and has, done the same. Massimo recently tore him to shreds over his misleadingly-labelled book, as have many others, enough that Krauss apologized clarified. Since that clearly doesn’t mean Krauss is a liar, I’m not sure what you gain by your comment. I was responding specifically to the insinuation that Craig’s strategy is grounds for accusations of dishonesty. If you think you can make that claim, I’m interested.

      • Laurence

        So let me get this straight. If you willfully misrepresent many of your debating opponents arguments in debates, it’s not called lying because it’s in the format of a debated. So he’s not being dishonest when he does that? I don’t buy that. Maybe the dishonesty is excusable because it’s within the confines of a debate, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is dishonesty. At least if you consider willfully misrepresenting your opponents arguments as dishonesty which I do.

        I don’t think that fact that Craig’s opponents don’t use the same misrepresenting tactics as Craig really add anything in his favor.

        • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b/ cl

          Laurence,

          If you willfully misrepresent many of your debating opponents arguments in debates, it’s not called lying because it’s in the format of a debated.

          How ironic. That’s not at all what I said. If this were to happen a few more times would I be justified in libeling you as a liar? After all, you’ve grossly misrepresented what said.

          Think about it.

      • eric

        Why can’t they distill short, punchy responses to all of Craig’s arguments, then trot them out, putting Craig on the defensive?

        Reread the Craig/Law exchange that Chris included in his post. That’s pretty short and punchy. What we see here is NOT an opponent failing to give a response. Its Craig ignoring that response – several times in a row – and continuing to argue against a position his opponent never took.

        Shall I summarize it for you?

        Law: Craig’s cosmological arugemnt supports good-god and evil-god equally.

        Craig: Law says we use empiricism to conclude a good god. We don’t.

        Law: I didn’t say that, I said your cosmological argument supports good-god and evil-god equally

        Craig: Law says we use empiricism to conclude a good god. We don’t.

        Repeat ad nauseum.

        ***

        Now cl, how many times would Craig have to misquote Law’s argument in responses to Law’s posts before you accepted that he was lying?

        • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b/ cl

          eric,

          With all due respect—and I’m saying that because of your thoughtful comment at August 1, 2012 at 10:20 am—you have misrepresented the debate entirely. You offer a caricature that omits key exchanges and points, then use this caricature to support Hallquist’s libel. I will write a detailed explanation of what I just said, then come back and post a summary with a link.

          However, note the relevance: you’re saying it’s okay to libel Craig as a “liar” because he “misrepresented” Law’s position in the debate. Yet, here, you misrepresented the debate in the same way you accuse Craig. In your opinion, how many times would it take before I was justified in calling *YOU* a liar in public?

          • eric

            That’s a good question, but I would withold accusations that I’m lying until you at least post decent evidence that Craig is being misrepresented, I access that evidence, and then ignore it. Let me know when you’ve completed step 1 of that.

        • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b/ cl

          eric,

          That’s a good question, but I would withold accusations that I’m lying until you at least post decent evidence that Craig is being misrepresented, I access that evidence, and then ignore it. Let me know when you’ve completed step 1 of that.

          Now that’s interesting. You imply that in order to justifiedly accuse one of being a liar, one must present evidence to the accused. To your knowledge, did Mr. Hallquist contact Craig? If not, on what grounds do you claim Hallquist’s libel is justified? What card are you holding?

  • http://alephsquared.wordpress.com aleph squared

    See, Chris has admitted that Craig is NOT a liar!

    [Nope, even though Chris' position was stated clearly in the OP, so clearly as to be obvious to absolutely anyone, no one is allowed to claim that I'm being dishonest, because it is possible that I simply can't understand basic English!]

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

      +1

  • http://aigbusted.blogspot.com Ryan

    Hi Chris,

    I’ve just published a blog post that shows a few particularly damning instances of Craig’s dishonesty, and I thought this might be of interest to you:
    http://aigbusted.blogspot.com/2012/07/why-you-shouldnt-trust-william-lane.html

    • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b/ cl

      …and here are two responses that challenge Ryan’s claims, which are far from “particularly damning” as he alleges.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

      Ryan, I’m not actually sure these are particularly damning. I partially agree with you on #1 – Craig often tries to set the bar for his own arguments’ success way too low, including by making unsupported assertions and then demanding his opponents disprove them. I doubt Craig really believes what he’s saying when he sets the bar so ridiculously low for his own arguments. But even that, I think, isn’t as damning as Craig continuing to misrepresent his opponents after they’ve explicitly told him what their view was.

  • http://deusdiapente.blogspot.com J. Quinton

    So maybe Craig is a liar. If so, I think he’s completely justified in being a liar, at least from his point of view. Let me explain.

    Say you’re in a relationship with someone. This relationship has its usual ups and downs, but otherwise a normal relationship. However, one day you do the one thing that your SO would possibly break up with you for. What do you do? Do you bite the bullet and tell them? Or do you lie?

    If you value the relationship more than the person, then you’ll lie; if you value their faith in you over the person, then you’ll lie.

    Now what if there was no other person involved and it was just you confronting something that might make you lose faith? If you value your faith more than anything else, necessarily any other option becomes lying or self-deception.

    I think Craig values his faith in Christianity more than anything else, and has to distort any positive argument against Christianity. Whether he is doing it wittingly or not probably doesn’t matter. I’m pretty sure Craig has made statements that pointed in this direction anyway so his behavior should be entirely predictable.

  • mandrellian

    If Craig’s behaviour (which, at the very least, we could agree is consistent) isn’t intentional dishonesty, it’s serial incompetence mixed with woeful reading comprehension and perhaps a blind spot so large as to cause an eclipse.

    Craig may well not be an egregious and purposeful liar, but he still shouldn’t be trusted. He certainly shouldn’t be engaged as just an intellectual equal – perhaps his next opponent should regard him as a hostile witness instead of a fellow scholar with a difference of opinion, and go into the debate with a commensurate level of caution.

  • 1415dr

    WL Craig made me abandon my faith. I was a believer until I read On Guard. Then I saw how pitiful theological arguments really are. For me at least he’s nothing atheists have to worry about. He just exposes the sophistry of Christianity. Great analysis of his debates. Thanks for posting.

    • AgeOfReasonXXI

      “WL Craig made me abandon my faith.”

      I can see that happening. no one had done more to reveal the vacuousness of Christianity than Craig. I mean, if the foremost defender needs to lie, deceive, distort and employe all sorts of debating tricks in order to appear sell his fantasies, while at the same time confessing his faith is not amenable to evidence or arguments (or reason), and he’d actually dismiss all of it if it collides with those fantasies, you know this religion is doomed.

      True to himself (that is, to his own anti-intellectualism and fideism), in his podcast “Does the Web Lead to Skepticism?” Craig assures us that his faith can survive the “age of the Internet”, because faith-heads “are not prisoners of the evidence!”.
      Ha! There you have it! If your faith is not a prisoner, i.e. not constrained by nuisances like evidence, such as those available on the Internet, of course there’s nothing to worry about. Especially if you’re spineless snake-oil salesman, right, Craggie?
      How is it that a person could discredit himself and his stinky faith nearly every time his open his mouth? Oh I got it: if he stinks himself.

      • 1415dr

        faith-heads “are not prisoners of the evidence!”.

        I can’t believe some of the things he says. I think most Christians live very insulated lives, and they might never even hear that there are serious objections to blind faith. In a way WLC is a kind of gateway to critical thinking because he presents the atheist argument, then tries to refute it, and anyone with any honesty has to admit he he’s full of crap. Then you investigate the original question and – boom- you’re an atheist.

        Strangely enough, even though I can’t think of anything good to say about the man, I should be grateful that he led me to be a freethinker. He was such a shining example of piss-poor logic that I couldn’t ignore the loopholes anymore.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ vinnyjh57

    I would note that it is also a lie when Craig says “As an example of an opposition scholar, take Bart Ehrman, who writes.” Ehrman didn’t write that was something he said in a lecture for The Teaching Company where he was giving a brief overview of issues related to the historical Jesus. When he has written about it, as he did in Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium a few years before, or lectured about it in depth, he has been very clear that he questions the historicity of Joseph of Arimathea and the women finding the empty.

    As a debating tactic, I don’t really have much problem with Craig using that quote to try to get Ehrman sidetracked, but when looking at everything Ehrman has said on the topic, it cannot be fairly claimed that he changed his position.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    I’m not sure that I agree with Lowder, but I can think of one thing that might tip the scales in favor of self-deception on Craig’s part rather than intentional dishonesty: Morton’s Demon. As Glenn Morton put it,

    When I was a YEC [Young Earth Creationist], I had a demon that did similar things for me that Maxwell’s demon did for thermodynamics. Morton’s demon was a demon who sat at the gate of my sensory input apparatus and if and when he saw supportive evidence coming in, he opened the gate. But if he saw contradictory data coming in, he closed the gate. In this way, the demon allowed me to believe that I was right and to avoid any nasty contradictory data. Fortunately, I eventually realized that the demon was there and began to open the gate when he wasn’t looking.

    However, my conversations have made me aware that each YEC is a victim of my demon. Morton’s demon makes it possible for a person to have his own set of private facts which others are not privy to, allowing the YEC to construct a theory which is perfectly supported by the facts which the demon lets through the gate. And since these are the only facts known to the victim, he feels in his heart that he has explained everything. Indeed, the demon makes people feel morally superior and more knowledgeable than others.

    Of course, I’m generalizing, since we aren’t talking per se about Craig having YEC views, but the principle is pretty much the same. There’s an all too human tendency to either be blind to or to grossly misunderstand contrary evidence.

    I’m not sure, though, if it matters much whether Craig is willfully dishonest or just very, very wrong. The arguments against his positions are the same, regardless.

  • http://Skepticali.blogspot.com Skepticali

    Chris – I appreciate your series of posts on Craig. Most of your readers may be familiar with him, but I had never heard of him until watching the Harris-Craig debate. The opportunity to become familiar with the arguments he uses, as well as the tactics he uses, serves as a clearing house for much of the bad thinking in defense of theism. I, along with many others, are just now getting serious about the “sophisticated” arguments for a non-theistic world view. The growing stream of (hopefully) rational thinkers is aided by series like this. I appreciate hearing the seasoned, well-reasoned and organized thoughts of those that have already  thought it through.

  • srdiamond

    Loftus (in Comments on his blog) exposes the intellectual dishonesty he shares with Craig:

    “a debate is another beast just like a court room trial. The goal is to win. One simply cannot call a defense lawyer a liar. He’s doing his job.”

    This attitude is the source of the mischievous tolerance exhibited for Craig’s untruthfulness about opponent positions. Some “atheists” embrace debating without concern for truth. Court is different from philosophical debate. Defense lawyers should NOT be concerned with truth as such: our system of justice depends on adversarial stances. The lawyer is his client’s agent, and his job is to get the best for his him. An honest lawyer will never tell you he’s concerned about intellectual honesty in the courtroom.

    The same standards don’t apply to philosophical debate: whereas the goal of criminal defense is an adversarial relationship (in the interest of due process) philosophical debate is only honest if it’s a search for truth. That, after all, is what it must purport to be. Would Craig admit to being the deity’s slick attorney?

    Loftus’s statement exposes his own lack of intellectual morals and unwittingly (and no doubt justly) accuses Craig of the same deficiency.

    It shouldn’t be omitted that the debate circuit is a lucrative enterprise. There seems to be a unity of interest between Craig and some “atheist” debaters to keep it up, which requires maintaining Craig’s intact reputation.

    • http://www.facebook.com/chris.hallquist Chris Hallquist

      Ugh. I’ve previously assumed that Loftus has been defending Craig just because it sucks admitting your former friend and mentor is not a good person. I hope that awful defense of Craig was just something said in desperation, not Loftus’ actual view.

      • srdiamond

        Well, the commented was preceded by a reminder that he had already stated the same point.

    • G.Shelley

      I haven’t read Loftus response yet (and haven’t decided if I will), but based on his many previous posts, I wold expect him to apply different standards for what is dishonest in the everyday world and a debate, not just because he doesn’t want to accept Craig is a bad person, but because he considers it acceptable in a debate, to say anything as long as their is some sort of deniability

      To me, it looks a lot like the argument over biblical inerrancy. A fundamentalist who takes the view that the bible is the inerrant literal word of God will tell you that there are no errors in there, and the so called errors all have explanations if you study in the correct context. A person who is not of that mindset will find many of these so-called explanations to be ludicrous and implausible excuses that only make sense to people already committed to the idea that there are no errors.

      • srdiamond

        “To me, it looks a lot like the argument over biblical inerrancy. A fundamentalist who takes the view that the bible is the inerrant literal word of God will tell you that there are no errors in there, and the so called errors all have explanations if you study in the correct context. A person who is not of that mindset will find many of these so-called explanations to be ludicrous and implausible excuses that only make sense to people already committed to the idea that there are no errors.”

        Which suggests to me that habits of thought instilled by fundamentalism promote intellectual dishonesty, a point Loftus seizes to argue they aren’t dishonest at all: it’s the believer’s “mindset.”

        But I think Loftus’s view unfair to ordinary believers. Here’s an account by a former believer regarding the astonishing dishonesty of the Internet fundamentalists: http://thewarfareismentalfanboy.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/internet-christianity-15-2/

        Stephen R. Diamond
        http://juridicalcoherence.blogspot.com

    • eric

      srdiamond, I think your point is also highly relevant to the ongoing ‘civility’ debate. I.e., we need to ask ourselves whether our responses are intended to sidetrack our opponent and win an argument, or whether we are collaborating with them in a search for truth.

      Insults can be very good at the former. If winning debates is the goal, consider using insults. But if an honest search for truth is the goal, then its counterproductive to sidetrack your opponent or put them ‘on tilt.’ You want them to be at their intellectual best, so that the best and strongest arguments for all sides of an issue can be aired and discussed. Thus, civility.

      In a debate format or trial it makes perfect sense to try and get your opponent to perform weakly. But it makes no sense to do so in science or similar academic studies. In those formats, you want your opponent to be at their best.

  • Hunt

    Everyone here has probably already watched this, but here’s an excellent and pretty humorous ten minute overview of Craig’s technique by Dennett.

  • AgeOfReasonXXI

    William Craig, the worthless hack, in his latest podcast:

    “WE’RE NOT PRISONERS OF FOLLOWING THE EVIDENCE!”

  • Pingback: Why Craig’s case for the resurrection is dishonest | The Uncredible Hallq

  • http://liberalrationalism.blogspot.com Tony Lloyd

    I can see three probelms in this “Chris has libelled Craig” arguement:

    1. Burden of “proof”
    2. Over-precision
    3. Cummulative v total proof

    First up: the Burden of Proof

    Honesty on the part of someone else is a presumption. It’s a presumption we feel compelled to make and we generally make it: someone is thought honest unless we have reasons to the contrary. Notice thought that we assume someone is honest with no evidence whatsoever. If we have formulated a working hypothesis on the basis of no evidence whatsoever, how much evidence do we need to overthrow that hypothesis? I think it depends on circumstance and the nature of the claims the other party is making, but there are many circumstances where it is neither “polite” nor “decent” to believe well of another despite little evidence to the contrary. If you believe the man who is trying to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge because you don’t have evidence that he’s a liar then you are credulous even if you have no evidence whatsoever. You need very little evidence to disbelieve the man selling industrial bleach as a miracle cure, the holographic bracelet that helps you in sport or this weeks’ diet.
    And speakers should be aware of this. They can count on people assuming their goodwill and honesty, but they cannot count on people continuing to assume their honesty. The speaker should appreciate that a reputation is a delicate thing that can be sullied with the tiniest lie, merest stretching of a truth or teeniest bit of bullshit. As a speaker you have to be careful not just to be honest but to be seen to be honest. You can have no complaints if your sharp practice leads people to no longer trust you.
    Craig has lost Chris’ confidence by indulging in what is, even his “supporters” admit, is sharp practice. That’s Craig’s problem, not Chris’.

    • http://www.thewarfareismental.net/b/ cl

      Tony Lloyd,

      You’re welcome for that little code packet. ;)

      …there are many circumstances where it is neither “polite” nor “decent” to believe well of another despite little evidence to the contrary.

      I agree, but the question is whether this is an instance of such a case. Thus far, like Lowder, I see zero legitimate evidence to support this claim. In fact, on the critieria offered, I see just as much evidence to call Hallquist the dishonest liar (even though I am *NOT* calling him that because I think that’s just downright weak). For example, did Hallquist contact Craig to be sure he had interpreted his claims correctly, thus giving him a fair shot? I don’t think he did. If he did, he would certainly have informed us about it. To the contrary, notice how Jeff Lowder contacted Chris to be sure he’d interpreted him correctly *BEFORE* passing judgment. I think that’s honest. Do you?

      Do you think that honest, fair practice, for an aspiring professional philosopher / writer to go on a public smear campaign against another without even contacting them?

  • Pingback: A proposal for all future debates with William Lane Craig

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  • oa

    In his debate with Peter Millican, Craig whipped up more lies against Bart Ehrman.

    1. He says Ehrman agrees with all his 3 facts about the resurrection of Jesus (see: http://youtu.be/9JVRy7bR7zI?t=1h38m24s). See a refutation to this lie here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3jdFXdNbmM

    2. He says that Ehrman rejects the resurrection for philosophical reasons (see: http://youtu.be/9JVRy7bR7zI?t=1h39m7s). Anyone who watches the Craig-Ehrman debate can see that Ehrman denied the resurrection for historical reasons.

    3. He says that for Ehrman, miracles are impossible (see: http://youtu.be/9JVRy7bR7zI?t=1h39m7s).
    Let’s check what Ehrman says about this:

    “What are miracles? Miracles are not impossible. I won’t say they’re impossible.” (see: http://youtu.be/SyUAPhHohIg?t=33m21s).

    • Chris Hallquist

      Wow. No shame at all.

  • Albert Guilmont

    Please point to specific podcast. I’ve listened his podcast files published in July 2012 and didn’t find this line. I want to hear/see him saying that self-killing line.
    *edit:*
    Found it:
    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/mediaf/podcasts/rf_audio/Does-the-Web-Lead-to-Skepticism.mp3

    He explicitly says that on minute 7:00 of the recording.

    Unbelievable! This is a very dangerous guy, especially for the young people, because, in the context of his “interview”, he states that due to such an overwhelming amount of data available to public, there is another way to find the truth, which is not evidence based. In short, only through him one can understand the true value of the Forc… belief!

  • Laurette

    I have now watched ever single Craig debate and it is clear the man is not very bright. He follows a script from which he does not deviate because he cannot,Thinking on his his feet to rebut an opponent lies outside his abilities.

  • Wallace Marshall

    Craig has never claimed that Ehrman or other scholars believe that Jesus rose physically from the dead. People who claim so are simply not paying attention to his argument.

    What he has claimed is that each of the following four NON-SUPERNATURAL facts surrounding Jesus’ death are believed to be historical by the majority of NT scholars:
    1. Jesus’ burial by Joseph of Arimathea.
    2. The discovery of the empty tomb.
    3. Experiences Jesus’ disciples had of seeing him physically risen from the dead (Note that this is NOT saying that Jesus did in fact rise physically from the dead, but simply that some of his disciples had experiences in which they BELIEVED he had appeared physically to them.)

    4. The disciples coming to believe, as a result of these experiences, that Jesus was the Messiah and had risen physically from the dead.

    Now, as to Erhman’s views: In his capacity as a SCHOLAR, he has affirmed all four of the above facts. Here are the quotations and the sources:

    “There are a couple of things that we can say for certain about Jesus after his death. We can say with relative certainty, for example, that he was buried . . . the accounts are fairly unanimous in saying—the earliest accounts we have are unanimous in saying—that Jesus was in fact buried by this fellow, Joseph of
    Arimathea; and so it’s relatively reliable that that’s what happened. We also
    have solid traditions to indicate that women found this tomb empty three days
    later. This is attested in all of our gospel sources, early and late,
    and so it appears to be a historical datum. And so I think we can say that after Jesus’ death, with some (probably with some) certainty, that he was buried, possibly by this fellow Joseph of Arimathea, and that three days later he appeared not to have been in his tomb.”

    [SOURCE: Bart Ehrman, From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity, Lecture 4: “Oral and Written Traditions about Jesus” (The Teaching Company, 2003). This particular section of the lecture is accessible online here: "we can say with some confidence that some of his disciples claimed to have seen Jesus alive" (Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millenium, 1999, p. 200)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOFBOT2JUhU Accessed 1/11/2014].

    “We can say with some confidence that some of his disciples claimed to
    have seen Jesus alive…. For it is a historical fact that some of Jesus’ followers came to believe that he had been raised from the dead soon after his execution.”
    [SOURCE: Bart D. Ehrman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), pp. 200, 231.]

    Now what happens is that when Ehrman gets in a debate context he will suddenly start denying these facts. Here he is in his debate 2006 debate with Craig (the entire transcript of which can be accessed here: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/is-there-historical-evidence-for-the-resurrection-of-jesus-the-craig-ehrman#ixzz2rtsA4XyH):

    “We don’t know if Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea. What we have
    are Gospel stories written decades later by people who had heard stories
    in circulation, and it’s not hard at all to imagine somebody coming up
    with the story. We don’t know if his tomb was empty three days later. We
    don’t know if he was physically seen by his followers afterwards.
    Bill’s going to come up here and tell me now that I’ve contradicted
    myself. But I want to point out that earlier he praised me for changing my mind!”

    Strangely, when Ehrman makes these denials, he alludes to but doesn’t interact at all with his own scholarly statements to the contrary. That is, he doesn’t say, “Well, I used to believe those were facts, too, but after thinking things over I’ve changed my mind, and here’s why.” He recognizes that he’s going to be charged with contradicting himself, but he doesn’t give any explanation for why he used to believe in these facts but now no longer does. And his remarks quoted above were in the first rebuttal; one would have
    expected him to explain himself further in the second rebuttal, but
    nothing of the kind appears.

    What are we to think of this? If one wanted to be uncharitable towards Ehrman, one could simply say that he is speaking out of two sides of his mouth; that feeling the pressure of not having a viable naturalistic explanation of the facts he has himself previously affirmed, he has no recourse but to suddenly deny the facts. But maybe he just means that we don’t “know” these facts with certainty. Of course that would be irrelevant since no historian used that kind of an epistemological standard.

    I have yet to see where Ehrman acknowledges his change of opinion and explains the reasons why. If someone knows, please post the reference so we can all access it. But in the absence of such explanation, I don’t see why Craig or anyone else is wrong to quote Bart Ehrman’s repeated affirmations of these facts in non-debate contexts and assume that Ehrman’s denial of them was a momentary lapse, not his studied SCHOLARLY judgment.


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