Why is Craig so dishonest?

Now that I’ve thoroughly documented Craig’s dishonesty, I want to say a bit about why Craig is so dishonest. I’ve written before about what Craig really thinks of reason, and given his views, it isn’t surprising that he doesn’t really care whether his arguments are any good. But there are a couple telling comment he’s made that I don’t think I’ve ever discussed.

In his book Hard Questions, Real Answers, that Christian professors who expose students to criticisms of Christianity without defending responses to those criticisms are acting as “instruments of Satan.” Craig appears to mean that quite literally, which unfortunately makes sense in the context of his belief that non-Christians are damned.

Similarly, Craig tells his fans that atheist websites are “literally pornographic (evil writing) and so ought in general to be shunned. Sure, somebody has to read them and refute them; but why does it have to be you?”

Think about what this means. If Craig ever found an argument he couldn’t refute, he believes it’s his duty to keep quiet about it, lest he act as an “instrument of Satan.” And if atheist writings are to be shunned, it’s probably best not to expose his fans to too many atheist arguments, even when he thinks he can refute them.

This is damning. Craig is committed to misleading his audience by pretending many objections to his views don’t exist. But it’s worse than that: what is Craig to do when he can’t avoid talking about an argument which he also can’t refute? Given that souls are at stake (or so Craig thinks), it’s no surprise that his answer is “lie about it.”

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  • raven

    Why is Craig so dishonest?

    Short answer. In for a penny, in for a pound. If you are going to lie and believe silly things, might as well lie about everything.

    Shorter answer. Money. He gets paid a lot for lying a lot. And how hard is it to lie anyway?

    • Randomfactor

      Save time. The answer is nearly ALWAYS “money.”

  • anteprepro

    I just wonder why he loves debates so much if this is true. Live debates are arenas where he might get exposed to a novel argument that he can’t refute and thus he would have no ability to prevent the feebleminded masses from being lured towards Satan by covering their ears and whispering hymns into their ears. I guess he fancies his mad debate skillz so much that he doesn’t even consider the possibility that he might slip up and accidentally expose his sheltered fans to good arguments that he has shielded them from. Maybe it doesn’t matter if the vast majority are RWA enough? If that’s true, maybe it doesn’t matter if Craig actually counters anything, as long as he makes enough grunting noises that it sounds like something resembling a refutation?

    Regardless, this is a great post: It could be the mindset behind all sorts of Lying for Jesus.

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

      The thing is, it’s very hard to call out lies in a live debate in the style Craig usually does. And human memory isn’t that great, so Craig can completely misrepresent anything his opponents say and there’s a good chance the audience will remember Craig’s version, if Craig says it with confidence and a smile.

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

        Which is why I suggest this debate strategy.

        Give him control of every single aspect of the debate except who goes first. Demand that and nothing else.

        Then rise, and take the podium, saying something like this.

        “Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for being here. My opening comments will be much briefer than the time allotted. I will gladly allow Dr. Craig to use the remainder of my time.

        “However, every time Dr. Craig misuses science, every time he misquotes or misrepresents a scientist, every time he uses a fact in service of nonsense, every time he repeats a lie he has been told and has acknowledged is a lie…

        “I will blow this air horn.

        “Dr. Craig, your podium.”

        • AgeOfReasonXXI

          Chris, I like your post about Craig’s dishonesty. One of the things that I find irritating is that so many of Craig’s opponents seem oblivious just how much of a sleazeball this guy truly is, otherwise they’ll never agree to debate him. It’s only afterwards that they may realize the extend of this guy’s sleaziness, and write some angry post-debate comments like Krauss did, which of course would be seen as sour grapes or something, since Craig has “won” (that is, he’s proclaimed loudly and with confidence, that his pathetically bad arguments ‘succeed’, and his opponents hasn’t ‘proven’ that his imaginary friend is, well, imaginary).
          I’ve come to the conclusion that debating Craig is as much a mistake as debating creationists, since getting a reputable opponent to agree to share a stage with them means they’ve already won.
          Craig, for example, basically admits that his arguments are convincing to only a tiny number of people who hear them, and what’s funny is that he compares that to the fraction of people who would accept Christianity after hearing the Gospel (I mean, is quite telling of just how hopeless those arguments are), but he insists it’s nevertheless important to engage in apologetics in order to “shape culture”. Now, how do utterly unconvincing arguments shape culture? By simply being trotted out time and time again in the context of a debate with a prominent opponent (like L. Krauss, S. Harris, R. Dawkins, etc.) and that create the impression that Craig’s faith is not totally crazy and disreputable.

          One can see that Craig’s biggest fear is the U.S. following the path of Europe where he had actually lived for a number of years and knows just how hopeless it is to get any sane person to take you seriously, let alone debate you on the subject of Iron Age dogmas. Which is why Craig insists that Christianity is a fair game and people can criticize it. Now, coming from anyone else that could be seen as open-mindlessness, but from Craig, who confesses nothing could change his mind, the incentive is purely strategic: living in a society where his faith is seen as so bat-shit crazy that it doesn’t even merit a response, apart form ridicule and derision, is a society where his faith is dead.

        • Timberwoof

          “I will blow this air horn.”

          This demands a YouTube video: the full MST3k treatment, with silly comments, explanatory subtext, and air horn.

      • anteprepro

        Yeah, I guess I kind of figured that. Live debate really isn’t a great medium for determining truth, and I guess Craig is a master of exploiting that.

        • Randomfactor

          As the Dover School Board found out to its cost, the best medium for determining truth in a situation like this has a judge willing to bang a gavel if you refuse to answer a direct question.

          • anteprepro

            Mmmm. Yes, that would help (if the judge were unbiased). And it would be delicious. Far more satisfying than using the air horn yourself, is having someone neutral call out your opponent’s bullshit on your behalf.

  • smrnda

    Live ‘debates’ are more about performance than truth, and any serious topic should be discussed in a calm, rational matter, with people taking time to check facts. Debating doesn’t allow for that type of stuff, and it also allows for emotional appeals to work over reason.

    Whenever Craig addresses a ‘tough topic,’ it’s clear that his response is ‘this thing that you say troubles you doesn’t trouble me, therefore it is a non-issue. God commanding a genocide doesn’t bother me, so that’ the end.’ No, you can’t dismiss an objection by saying it doesn’t bother *you* since that’s like saying, from the start, that ‘objections that don’t bother me aren’t valid.’

    I tend to find many Christians believe their ‘intellectuals’ deserve greater fame, but they are probably obscure for a reason…

  • MNb0

    @Kevin above: that won’t work. People will get annoyed. Craig will play the role of the underdog and win the sympathy of the audience.
    Much better is Richard Dawkins’ advise. I linked to it in the other article. Here is the relevant quote:

    “my advice to them would be to stand up, read aloud Craig’s words as quoted above, then walk out and leave him talking not just to an empty chair but, one would hope, to a rapidly emptying hall as well.”

    Possibly I would add to these quote something like “so if some day Craig hears a voice whispering in his ear he happens to attribute to God he might go kill you, men, women and children alike, just because you don’t believe what he believes. That’s what the Divine Command Theory means.”

  • jacobfromlost

    Someone who is an expert rhetorician shouldn’t have a problem with “debating” Craig. Whenever he was on a stage with Hitchens, Craig clearly lost.

    Of course, there aren’t many with the education and skills of Hitchens–at least not many who would be interested enough to “debate” Craig.

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

    Chris — I plan to assess your allegations of dishonesty against Craig. Please review this page and let me know if I have accurately summarized your allegations.

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

      Again, Jeff, you are to be saluted. Imagine the conversation that may have ensued if Hallquist had the integrity to do this before loading his gun.

  • captstormfield

    I don’t think it really matters whether Craig makes an honest case during his debates. His role in the fundamentalist world is analogous to that of Discovery Institute scientists – he is there to take the form of an intellectual without necessarily having any of the content. Academic fundamentalists act as a sort of faux safety net for believers when they have doubts. Just believing that there is sound reasoning in support of their faith out there somewhere is sufficient to quell the dissonance in most believers. They don’t actually need to hear or understand the arguments, they just need to know they are there.

    I say this based on my own experience growing up as an SDA. On the occasions when doubt would beset (and this happened with increasing regularity due in large part to over-consumption of Mark Twain), I rested secure in the knowledge that there were smart people out there somewhere that had studied all this and confirmed that we were correct in our beliefs.

    As I got older, the assumed locus of smartness shifted from the local pastor, who started to look a bit doofy, to the Conference elders and eventually to the professors at the college I was going to attend someday. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t seem to counter the thinking of the science teachers on evolution, old earth, etc., or other students on the Saturday/Sunday/E.G. White stuff, I just knew that somewhere there were people who could prove our case.

    Long story short: Get to Adventist college with handicap of caring if what I believe is true or not. Actually apply newly learned critical thinking skills to beliefs, discover safety net is made of BS. Shout out to many profs at WWC: despite general religious looniness, they did honestly teach the skills necessary to falsify belief.

    To the average fundamentalist, however, the actual content of such debates is never really approached. It is enough that there is an academic sounding drone in the background somewhere. Smart people can believe, I can too. If only Mr. Smartypants the atheist-evolutionist could meet Dr. Craig/Dembski, boy would he get his ass waxed but good!

    Craig is fulfilling his role very successfully, and cares not a whit about the thoughts of you or I.


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

    Mr. Hallquist,

    Jeff Lowder has masterfully eviscerated the paucity of your allegations. You are a mean-spirited libeler, plain and simple. You owe Craig an apology and I’m glad truly rational atheists are finally coming around to exposing your armchair psychoanalysis for what it’s worth (basically nothing).

    Chris Hallquist vs. William Lane Craig on Dishonesty: Part 2

    And to Hallq’s fanboys / fangirls, hate away, I already know it’s coming, this is the echo chamber that is “freethought” blogs. Just make sure you read the article.

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

    Wow, rereading this, I’m shocked. It seems to me you actually misrepresent Craig, but it’s hard to tell for sure because all you do is paraphrase. For example,

    In his book Hard Questions, Real Answers, that Christian professors who expose students to criticisms of Christianity without defending responses to those criticisms are acting as “instruments of Satan.”

    Okay, that’s not too controversial, but wouldn’t an honest person with good intentions cite their opponent in full? As it is, you expect your audience to just take your paraphrase—along with the conclusion you draw from it—on faith. Why do you need to think for us? Why can’t you present the material, in whole, consider all the angles, and let your audience make up their own mind?

    Note that Jeff Lowder contacted you to be sure he interpreted you correctly. That’s call honesty. That’s called charity. Have you contacted Craig to see if your interpretation here is correct?