Angry Atheists? chapter 10: William Lane Craig exposed

So I’m doing this project where I’m writing a book, and when I finish a draft of a chapter, I post it for anyone to read for free using Google Docs. I’ve just finished putting together the chapter titled “William Lane Craig exposed.” (I had previously posted an incomplete version of the chapter.) Read it here.

I to a degree assume you’ve  read the previous chapter, but I’ve also included in the text many links to previous blog posts I’ve written for context. Also, if you want to read the blog posts this chapter was fashioned from, here’s all my recent posts on Craig.

Topics covered in this chapter include:

  • Kalam
  • Plantinga’s ontological argument
  • Craig’s abuse of appeals to authority
  • His habit of misrepresenting his opponents
  • Dawkin’s refusal to debate Craig

I’m also licencing this under a version of the Creative Commons license, so feel free to distribute or remix this as long as you follow the terms of the license. Enjoy!

(Note to anyone who wants to help improve this for future drafts: I’d kind of like to break up the sections on Plantinga’s ontological argument and the resurrection into smaller sub-sections, but can’t find a nice way to do it. Your thoughts?)

  • Annatar

    i – Craig’s historical methodology
    ii – Craig’s four “facts”
    iii – Why “God did it” is a terrible explanation*
    iv – A naturalistic explanation for Craig’s four “facts”

    Ontological argument:
    i – a brief intro to modal logic
    ii – Why Plantinga’s argument fails
    iii – counter arguments that use the same logic to arrive at blatantly ridiculous conclusions

    * Do you have a chapter on this already?

  • mnb0

    The chapter is fine. You need ro reread it though to restore all the typo’s and one nonsensical reference.
    Also the subtitle “Plantinga’s ontological argument” is a bit misleading – you are tackling Craig’s version as much.

  • AgeOfReasonXXI

    I think your chapter on Craig is fine as far as it goes but it doesn’t go nearly far enough. It seems strange to me that “exposing” Craig doesn’t include the most damning evidence for Craig’s dishonesty and insincerity: his stance regarding arguments, evidence and reason itself. So, on the one hand, we have Craig who champions himself as an intellectual on a mission to show that there’s all sorts of arguments and evidence for God, and Christianity is reasonable, and yet, on the other hand he’s on record saying that arguments and evidence play only a “ministerial” role, and if they collide with his faith, it’s faith that should take precedence! In fact, he writes how he confided to one of his professors that “If somehow through my studies reason is to turn against Christianity, so much the worse for reason!” As Robert M. Price noted in his debate with Craig, where he did an excellent job exposing Craig (if you haven’t listened to it, see the two-part-videos “Robert M. Price exposes William Lane Craig” on YouTube), in any other (academic) context, say if a historian who champions his per theory, admits nothing could convince him his theory is wrong (like Craig does), we’ll have no trouble recognizing him “as a hack, a fake, a bad historian”. How does Craig respond to the accusation of being a hack? — he first tells his audience how pleased he was that Price finally got around to discussing the debate topic at the end of his speech, and then that his thinks his position is “perfectly consistent”: he knows Christianity is true through the witness of the Holy Spirit, but when showing that to someone else he uses arguments! Now, simply the fact that Craig apparently thinks this is an adequate response to the charge of being “a hack and a fake” shows just how far out there Craig is. Of course, neither Price, nor anyone else who’s brought this subject up, including Hitchens and C. Washington during their debates with Craig, had questioned whether a person can know Christianity is true through the Holy Spirit or in some “properly basic” way (like Plantinga argues). Rather, they had questioned the integrity and honesty of a man who’s made a career out of presenting arguments for God, who at the same time admits that he’d discard any argument and evidence, along with reason itself, in case it turns against Christianity. As Price writes in his article on Craig “By this time he stinketh: the attempts of William Lane Craig to exhume Jesus” “William Lane Craig’s apologetics has adopted insincerity as a structural principle.”
    And here we get to the most appalling part of it all: Craig’s lack of shame. It’s bad enough to admit to holding the position of the average fundamentalist (e.g. ‘nothing can change my mind and convince me I’m wrong!’) in the opening chapters of a book (titled “Reasonable Faith”!), and thus to manage to commit an intellectual suicide before you even begin laying down your case, but what makes it much worse is one of Craig’s favorite shticks—shamelessly projecting his own vices onto his opponents. What are we to make of a person who, right after denigrating arguments and evidence by relegating them to having a “ministerial” role, urges his fans to question the honesty of unbelievers when they are not persuaded by the arguments for God by asking them “If I answer your objections would you become a Christian?”, despite the fact that Craig had just made it clear if that question is posed to him, e.g. “If I answered your objections, would you abandon your faith and become an atheist? “, the answer would be “NO!”. Consider also Craig’s behavior during his debate with Hitchens where he had the nerve to urge Hitchens to become a Christian and said “If Mr. Hitchens is a man of good will, he will follow the evidence where it leads and all the evidence tonight had been on the side of theism!” It is only when one takes on board fully the fact that this comes from a person who was quoted earlier in that very same debate as saying “Should a conflict arises between witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then it is the former which must take precedence over the latter, not vice versa.” – the very antithesis of intellectual honesty and what academia stands for, and who’s made it abundantly clear he will not follow the evidence where it leads if it leads away from his faith (The Holy Spirit trumps it all!), and is therefore by his own definition not “a man of good will”, one can truly appreciate the extent of Craig’s utter, almost pathological, shamelessness and dishonesty.

    • Chris Hallquist

      You’re right – I was going to include that, but then left it out because the chapter was too fucking long already. But i shouldn’t let that stop me.

      • AgeOfReasonXXI

        You’re right I’m right :)

        You can probably compress the main points that I made in a single paragraph. If you include a few quotes from Craig concerning “the witness of the Holy Spirit” trumping all arguments and evidence, the “ministerial” role of reason, his rejection of “evidentialism”, etc., your readers should be able to realize that when such admissions come form “the foremost defender” of the reasonableness of Christianity it is like Mother Teresa admitting she holds a night-time job as a hooker!

        For good measure, you might throws a couple of quotes from actual debates, like the ones I mentioned form his encounter with Hitch. Here’s another form that same debate(quoting form memory):

        “You have to feel a little sorry for the atheist, he just can’t follow the evidence where it leads!” (Did I mention that this guy has absolutely no sense of shame?)

        That should be enough to make one feel sick at the mere mentioning of the name ‘William Lane Craig’

      • mnb0

        “If I answered your objections, would you abandon your faith and become an atheist?“
        I don’t think you should pay much attention to Craig’s hypocrisy on this. It’s pretty well known. Perhaps one alinea.

        • AgeOfReasonXXI

          I actually don’t pay much attention to Craig’s hypocrisy (given its ubiquity). I brought this up in the context of what this annoying hack writes in his book “Reasonable Faith”, where he insists that the “correct perspective” when it comes to arguments/evidence and reason, on the one hand, and Christian faith, on the other, is that it’s the latter that should take precedence (you know, in case those pesky evidence turn against his faith). yet, just a few pages later, he warns his readers to be on alert for insincere unbelievers who won’t accept Christianity no matter what the arguments… that is, for those who hold the mirror image of his own “perspective”, the one he had just argued for! What?! Who does that?

    • Robertt1

      Maybe the problem is with your definition of “faith”.
      “The way you see the problem is the problem.”

  • AgeOfReasonXXI

    Here are few quotes from William Lane Craig’s ill-named “Reasonable Faith” book:

    Therefore, when a person refuses to come to Christ it is never just because of lack of evidence or because of intellectual difficulties: at root, he refuses to come because he willingly ignores and rejects the drawing of God’s Spirit on his heart. No one in the final analysis really fails to become a Christian because of lack of arguments; he fails to become a Christian because he loves darkness rather than light and wants nothing to do with God. [William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, (Revised edition, Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994), pp. 35-36.]

    Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then it is the former which must take precedence over the latter, not vice versa. [William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, (Revised edition, Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994), p. 36.]

    The Bible says all men are without excuse. Even those who are given no good reason to believe and many persuasive reasons to disbelieve have no excuse, because the ultimate reason they do not believe is that they have deliberately rejected God’s Holy Spirit. [William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, (Revised edition, Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994), p. 37.]

    What, then, should be our approach in apologetics? It should be something like this: ‘My friend, I know Christianity is true because God’s Spirit lives in me and assures me that it is true. And you can know it is true, too, because God is knocking at the door of your heart, telling you the same thing. If you are sincerely seeking God, then God will give you assurance that the gospel is true. Now, to try to show you it’s true, I’ll share with you some arguments and evidence that I really find convincing. But should my arguments seem weak and unconvincing to you, that’s my fault, not God’s. It only shows that I’m a poor apologist, not that the gospel is untrue. Whatever you think of my arguments, God still loves you and holds you accountable. I’ll do my best to present good arguments to you. But ultimately you have to deal, not with arguments, but with God himself.’ [William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, (Revised edition, Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994), p. 48.]

  • Proxer

    The material that you present is great, and because it’s great, please hire an editor.

    There are a lot of conversational phrases that, if removed, would make the book more readable and stronger:

    … a claim which, I’m sorry, is bullshit. Actually, I’m not sorry to say that, because it needs to be said.

    This is perfect in conversation or on a blog, but it sounds juvenile in a book, which undercuts the very reasoned approach of your arguments.

    Also, the editing mantra “don’t tell me, show me” keeps running through my head. For example:

    But as this chapter goes on, I’ll show how it’s part of a pattern.

    This is totally wasted words, and bores the reader.

    Again, I’m giving this criticism because the material that you’re presenting is great, but the packaging is weak. A professional editor could help you tighten up the language and organization, and isn’t that expensive:

    Even if you just hire them for a chapter or two, maybe the most important chapters, you can take what they do and apply much of it yourself to the rest of the book. Someone compiled a list of good editors here:

    • Robertt1

      This happens when a person want to “expose” someone that is way over his intellectual level. No offense.

  • tubi

    I have a friend who’s a professional editor. I would be happy to give her your name for consultation.

    • Chris Hallquist

      You mean – to get published?

      Maybe, but self-publishing means: no waiting for a lot.of crap beyond my control and no having to talk someone into my Cory Doctorow marketing plan of giving the ebook away for free.

      But hey, you can see if she’s interested.

      • Proxer

        To clarify, a professional editor will help with the structure and tone of the book as well as the grammar, but they won’t interfere with any publishing or marketing plans that you have.

    • Chris Hallquist

      Unless you meant paying someone to edit my work. I fully intend to hire a proofreader, But I’m not sure about hiring someone to do deeper editing.

  • mnb0

    “I fully intend to hire a proofreader”
    Why? Why not be consistent and ask us to proofread? Ie open a thread for grammarnazi’s and the likes?

  • Pekka

    While we are talking about exposing WLC, I have few remarks that too many of his opponents fail to point out.
    Craig always remembers to mention that he has presented one, two, three, four and five arguments for the existence of God. However, while Craig is trying to defend the existence of Christian God, only one of his arguments is actually relevant to this claim. His moral argument cannot establish a loving God, but merely a morally superior being. Sadly, the one argument that supports his claim of all good and loving God is the one that is merely based on his view of the best explanation for mysterious events that allegedly happened 2000 years ago. Now, his claim of Christian God is supported by one mysterious historical event and at the same time attacked by a number of powerful objections. When Craig is struggling to escape the argument from evil by constantly retreating to possibilities (which was the case in his debate against Ray Bradley), one should keep in mind that he never provided more than one weak argument for his case to begin with. It is debatable whether his cosmological arguments provides sufficient ground for believing in a transcendent cause, but it should be crystal clear where the balance of probability lies regarding his case of Christianity.

  • Pekka

    Also please point out Craig’s amazing ability to dodge bullets.

    Here he is giving a seemingly good answer to Russell’s Teapot,

    Notice how he is purposefully misunderstanding the argument and fails to address the issue. He says that the reason we don’t believe in Russell’s Teapot is because records show that no teapot has ever been launched into space. This is to say that we must go thoroughly check all records on past space operations before we can assert that Russell’s Tepot does not exist, which is of course absurd.

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  • Mark

    William Lane Craig is a liar. Here is what he says in a debate with Sam Harris about hell:
    Honestly, that just simply shows how poorly Sam Harris understands Christianity. You don’t believe in God to avoid going to Hell. Belief in God isn’t some kind of fire insurance. You believe in God because God, as the supreme Good, is the appropriate object of adoration and love. He is Goodness itself, to be desired for its own sake. And so the fulfillment of human existence is to be found in relation to God. It’s because of who God is and his moral worth that he is worthy of worship. It has nothing to do with avoiding Hell, or promoting your own well-being.

    Then in a podcast found he openly says that fear of hell was a major factor in his embracing of Christianity, and that it was perfectly valid that many people come to Christ through fear of hell, rather than the love of Christ (from 20:50 to 22:00)

    So Craig obviously modulates his message to suit the audience.

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