I got a question in a previous thread, typed out a quick response, and then realized this would be a good question to dedicate a thread to. First, the question:
I was wondering if anyone has distilled any glib rejoinders in response to people quoting the bullet points of any of WLC (or any well known apologists) commonly cited stuff.
You know, the kind of thing people will come up to you and be like wham, bam, boom followed by “do you believe in god yet”
Ways to shut down, say, the KCA in 3 sentences or less when you aren’t on the internet and dealing with entrenched research situations.
My off-the-cuff response:
The best response is probably to make them slow down, and calmly ask them to explain why they believe the things they’re saying.
Don’t fall into the trap of letting them make assertions and having it fall on you to disprove them.
You talk to them awhile and it becomes evident that their reason for believing these things is “William Lane Craig, who is a great philosopher, said so,” Craig’s track record of dishonesty becomes fair game at that point.
You may also want to ask them, “Is this your real reason for believing in God? Is it your only reason? If it isn’t your only reason, what other reasons do you have? If I show you what’s wrong with these arguments, will you admit you have no good reason to believe in God?”
Because honestly, a lot of the folks who expect quick conversions from Craig’s arguments–they don’t actually have any idea whether the arguments are any good, they’re just parroting what they’ve been told is a great evangelism technique.
To clarify, when I say, “why they believe what they believe,” I mean their reasons for the premises of their arguments.
I should have also noted you need to be on the lookout for apologists who will do an in-person version of JAQing off, mixed with a bit if privileging the hypothesis. They’ll bombard you with a bunch of questions, and vaguely act like this is some kind of defeat for you if you don’t have answers for them (while insisting they’re Just Asking a Question). Presuppositionalists are especially bad about that. Don’t let them get away with it; demand they give you an actual reason for their claims.
The advice I gave in the last couple paragraphs of my comment was inspired by my vague remembrance s of something JT once said about ground rules for debates. After posting my comment I hunted it down, and JT said it better than I:
Conversations are a two way street in which both participants need to be willing to alter their position if it makes sense to do so. Conversations are what I want to be involved in. In order to avoid wasting my time in a one-sided non-conversation (as I have done many times before learning my lesson), I have developed the following questions and requirements.
First, I’ll need you to tell me what could change your mind. If you cannot envision anything that could change your mind, then you’re inviting me to a situation where you expect me to be open to evidence, but are unwilling to play by the same standards yourself. Why should I bother?Second, if I show that one of your arguments is a bad argument, how will that affect your position? Will you alter your position accordingly or will you maintain the exact same position and just move on to the next argument, and the next, and the next, and so forth? If I show one of your arguments to be faulty, will you stop using it in the future? For instance, if you ask me for a transitional fossil and I rattle off a lengthy list of them, will you try that ploy again with your next target hoping that they don’t have the list at hand, or will you accept that transitional fossils exist and change your mind to incorporate this fact (and correct your Christian colleagues when they make the same bad argument in your presence)? If not, why should I bother with you?
But it’s honestly been awhile since I’ve tried much to argue with someone in person. I may be rusty. So let me open it up: what do you find works when dealing with believers, particularly ones who have read a bit of apologetics and are eager to parrot it, in person?