Weekend recap: my series on William Lane Craig is finished!

Wee! So I’m now completely done with my series on William Lane Craig, and also with the bigger series I began at the start of the month on arguments for the existence of God. Here’s the complete series on Craig:

  1. Next up: Everything I have to say about William Lane Craig
  2. A note on my sources for Craig’s arguments
  3. The Leibnizian cosmological argument
  4. Kalam I: Why the Big Bang isn’t evidence for God
  5. Kalam II: Philosophical arguments for the beginning of the universe
  6. Kalam III: The very brief part that actually argues for God
  7. Two more revealingly bad cosmological arguments from Craig’s debates
  8. The fine-tuning argument
  9. The moral argument
  10. Craig’s case for the resurrection of Jesus
  11. Jesus’ resurrection: was Paul hallucinating?
  12. Why is Craig so dishonest?
  13. On Dawkins’ refusal to debate Craig

The above list is in the order of posting, except the “note on my sources” which is probably worth reading at the beginning. Actually, the note may not have been explicit enough. I probably should have pointed out that it’s common for Craig’s “popular” works and his “academic” works to say the same thing, verbatim or near-verbatim.

The only argument for the existence of God in Reasonable Faith which I didn’t cover in the above posts is Plantinga’s ontological argument, which I had already dealt with here. Read that post in addition to the ones above if you want a fully complete takedown of Reasonable Faith.

The other big thing I did regarding arguments for the existence of God this week is begin collecting my non-Craig posts on the subject into a book chapter. One of the posts incorporated into that chapter was written just this week: “Privileging the hypothesis: the most common flaw in arguments for the existence of God.”

My lesser blog posts this week include a number of discussion posts on  what books you would recommend to get someone out of religion, what Christian blogs are worth interacting with, and on writing advice.

This week, I also published one very substantial piece of writing somewhere else: a post on neuroscience basics at LessWrong. It’s since been promoted to the front page of LessWrong, whoopee!

In the quick fun stuff category, there was my post “Saint vs. scientist” and my results on a political quiz. Finally, I wrote a post explaining to Rick Warren that humans are animals.

  • MNb0

    “I’m now completely done”
    Fortunately, because frankly I got bored.

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

      How many people did this happen to? If this was a common reaction, I’ll do more shortening when I compile the posts for the book.

  • anteprepro

    Well, I liked the series, if that helps tie things up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1468751142 Kevin

    You know, the main problem with Craig is that he sets the bar so low as to make one wonder whether he even still believes in god himself.

    “Reasonable Faith”….hmmm.

    Dawkins created a 7 point Likert scale and has declared himself a 6.999 recurring.

    And Craig? Reasonable? That’s…well…a milquetoast faith if ever there was one. No more than a 3.5 on Dawkins’ scale. Pretty much smack dab in the middle. Right before “kinda sure” on the one side and “kinda unsure” on the other.

    And yet, that’s the bar he’s established. To him, if it’s kinda sorta maybe not completely batshit crazy, then we should jump in with both feet and be washed in the blood of Jesus. (Evangelicals are just wild about Jesus’ magic blood.)

    Does that make sense? Not to me.

    You’d think that in a matter of such alleged importance, he’d be more definitely sure. Way beyond “reasonable”.

    “Reasonable”. How high tea and cucumber sandwiches of him.

  • Jack

    Chris, thanks for creating this reference series on the topic.

    • N. Nescio

      Seconded. One of the things that got me on the road to abandoning theistic belief was individuals such as yourself taking the time to deconstruct and refute common apologetic I relied upon to justify to myself that I had good reason to believe, even though it were steadily beginning to appear more and more absurd.

      Thank you for helping fight the good fight.

  • Makoto

    I thought each post was long, but in a good way – detailed, with lots of links to explore when I have the time to dedicate to them.

  • rank sophist

    Patent nonsense, as usual. I liked the part where you bit the bullet on the Hilbert’s Hotel paradox. Your appeals to magic with regard to the second law of thermodynamics and the insinuation that the universe could appear from nothing were amusing, too. I find it incredible (uncredible?) that people take this blog seriously. You should try debating Craig sometime–I bet that would be comedy gold.

    • MNb0

      If you say so.
      Because it’s too much effort for you to provide arguments.

    • N. Nescio

      insinuation that the universe could appear from nothing

      Why couldn’t it?

      Whence came this knowledge?

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

      If you think I made an appeal to magic, how is Craig any less guilty of the same? (And to be clear: I’m not saying there probably is an exception to thermodynamics. I’m challenging you and Craig to give a reason to prefer your hypothesis to any of countless others.)

      • rank sophist

        Craig appealed to metaphysics, Hallq. I know Gnus have trouble distinguishing between science and metaphysics. Here’s the difference between your two arguments.

        Hallq (roughly):

        1. Something exempt from the second law could be infinite.
        2. The universe is exempt from the second law.
        3. Therefore, the universe could be infinite.

        Craig:

        1. Whatever began to exist has a cause.
        2. The universe began to exist.
        3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

        You appeal to inexplicable physical events (i.e. magic) to make your argument. Craig appeals to metaphysics (i.e. logical necessity) to make his. If you proposed your argument to a scientist, they’d laugh at you. “Hey, guys: maybe the universe is exempt from the second law just because.” Craig, on the other hand, proposes something that science could not in principle discover: a cause from beyond the universe that must have certain attributes if it is to cause the universe to exist. To do this, he uses metaphysics.

        Why couldn’t it?

        Whence came this knowledge?

        Oh, you wacky Gnus. It must be incredible to live in such a magical world–one where things pop into existence from nothing and where Hilbert’s Hotel can hold an infinite number of guests.

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

          I have no idea where you got the three-step argument you attribute to me.

          As for the rest of your comment: I hereby declare that I am doing metaphysics. Now what’s your objection again?

          • rank sophist

            Congratulations on proving that you have absolutely no understanding of philosophy. And you think you beat Craig? Don’t make me laugh.

            Hallq, a violation of the second law isn’t metaphysical. It’s an inexplicable physical phenomenon–it’s magic. A comment about logical necessity is, on the other hand, metaphysical. I recommend looking at the Wikipedia entry on “Metaphysics”, since you clearly need to educate yourself on the subject.

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

            Are the things God does ever magic?

        • Rick Taylor

          “A comment about logical necessity is, on the other hand, metaphysical. I recommend looking at the Wikipedia entry on “Metaphysics”, since you clearly need to educate yourself on the subject.”

          You might want to check out that article yourself. Since Kripke, most analytical philosophers have held that “logical necessity” and “metaphysical necessity” are most definitely not the same thing (though some use “broadly logical necessity” in place of “metaphysically necessity”).

          Using metaphysical necessity certainly has its advantages though, especially when you invoke them as freely as Dr. Craig does. No need to offer careful definitions, testable hypothesis, or evidence for such, you can just declare something like “Everything that began to exist has a cause,” is a metaphysically necessary principle (isn’t it obvious?), you can even redefine the terms on the fly as you like to deal with minor issues of what “cause” could possibly mean when we’re talking of events before the beginning of time. There’s no need to grapple with the fact when you do physics, it’s hard to see what these necessary principles are even supposed to mean.

          • rank sophist

            This might be a relevant objection over semantics if I had at any point appealed to modal logic. I did not. Craig also does not appeal to modal logic in his kalam argument.

            As for your self-refuting scientism: good luck with that.

            Are the things God does ever magic?

            What a relevant question. So you really don’t understand philosophy or metaphysics, but then attempt to dodge instead?

            For the record, decent arguments for God (like kalam) are based on necessity. But, if you acknowledge that such a God exists, then it follows that he would be able to alter certain physical things if he wished. Does he actually do it? That one’s up for debate. No solid arguments for God are based on miracles, though.

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

            Actually, it’s a perfectly relevant question.

            If I understand your definition of “magic” correctly (not that I care for your definition), then your view is that God is able to do magic, though whether he ever does magic is up for debate.

            Yet you don’t use the word “magic” to describe your view. I think that’s revealing – a sign that you’re using “magic” as a convenient term of derision, something you apply to things other people say but never your own views, even though it’s equally accurate as a description of something you believe.

            (“I am firm; you are obstinate; he is a pig-headed fool.”)

            But anyway, would you please now explain to me why saying “a being who is capable of doing magic, but may or may not actually do magic, did it” is better than saying “magic” simpliciter? And answer without using the word “metaphysics,” as even prominent metaphysicians admit it is difficult (if not impossible) to give a decent definition of that word.

  • http://secularoutpost.infidels.org Jeffery Jay Lowder
  • Rick Taylor

    Congratulations on completing this series. It’s very nice to have all these resources and ideas presented in an organized fashion.

  • Rick Taylor

    I see you haven’t included Craig’s version of the ontological argument. He didn’t use to use it in public debates, probably because he could see how awful it was, but he used it with Stenger and there are more videos where he argues for it.

    I think the ontological argument is easily his worst argument. At least something like the cosmological argument reminds me I don’t know how the universe started, or even if it started, and while the argument from ignorance isn’t persuasive, at least it’s addressing something I’m ignorant of and find genuinely mysterious.

    But the ontological argument is literally nothing but a silly word game. What’s worse, it lacks the qualities of being a good argument to shore up the faith of believers and to encourage them not to question their faith to much, which is the true purpose of his arguments. I think even most believers can sense there’s something fishy that leads from, well it seems reasonable God exists, to, therefore God certainly exists with no doubt whatsoever! Plus it’s appealing to their wish to be logically consistent, which isn’t going to be why most of them hold onto their faith.

    I suppose it could be helpful to someone who was experiencing doubt, who could tell themselves, well I know it’s possible God exists, and that proves he must exist smart philosophers have proven it! But overall, it’s an awful argument, and I cherish the hope it might fall apart some day and his exploitation of it might bite him.

  • Justin Schieber
  • rank sophist

    Hallq,

    If I see an effect, but can’t yet find the cause, is it an appeal to magic to use metaphysics and logic to determine the characteristics of a possible cause? If so, then most science is an appeal to magic–because most science determines causes from their effects. Think of the Higgs boson, as a recent example. Craig asks us what kind of cause the universe would require. Pretty simple.

    What kind of cause would your magical exemption from the second law have? None. There would no explanation for it. Scientists have already determined that the universe isn’t exempt from the second law–and you have provided no arguments to explain how it could possibly happen. If it was to prove exempt according to your theory, the reason would be “just because“–no logic and no sense involved. The same as if the universe had magically appeared from absolutely nothing with no cause.

    • Laurence

      By scientists don’t use metaphysics and logic to tell us the cause of an effect. They use mathematics (a form of logic) to create a hypothesis. That hypothesis is only confirmed when empirical evidence is consistently found by repeat experiments.

      Appealing to god or gods to explain scientific problem is just as magical as appealing to unknown breaks in scientific knowledge. We have just as much reason to appeal to those special exceptions as we do god because there is no empirical evidence to support either one. The one thing the latter does have on its side is that we have been know to make mistakes in our scientific endeavors and this could lead us to finding that there is an exception to this law and could figure out why. God just has popularity.

      Appealing to metaphysics as a reason for god is better than Chris’ explanation seems very silly to me. And empirical evidence trumps logical necessity any day.

      • rank sophist

        You seem ignorant with regard to the scientific process. Large numbers of scientific ideas are, in principle, unprovable. These include the second law of thermodynamics, the law of gravity and so forth. Only the effects of these “laws” can tell us that they exist.

        Further, the cause of the universe could not, in principle, be detected by us. Theories of the multiverse–which would also need a cause–have the exact same problem.

        And empirical evidence trumps logical necessity any day.

        Where’s the empirical evidence to support that claim?

        • Mike

          Insulting overtone…check
          baseless assertions…check
          Topic-changer active…check
          Strawmen-constructor working…check

          It seems you have what it takes to defend the craig-creature…

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