Many Christians believe that William Lane Craig is the greatest Christian philosopher alive. Certainly, he’s a strong candidate for the greatest living proponent of natural theology (arguments for the existence of God). Richard Swinburne is probably his only competitor for the narrower title, and Swinburne (like most philosophers) doesn’t try very hard to make his arguments appealing to ordinary people.
But that doesn’t mean Craig is a great philosopher. Rather, it’s a sign of the fact serious philosophers have largely stopped trying to defend religion. Most are atheists; even many theists have given up on arguing for God’s existence. While Craig’s Kalam argument is taken semi-seriously in mainstream philosophy, in general his arguments are full of glaring fallacies, dishonest use of mainstream scholarship, and in some cases outright lies about his intellectual opponents.
I’ve written a lot about Craig in the course of my career as an atheist blogger. In fact, there are probably very few atheists who’ve written as much about Craig as I have. Jeffery Jay Lowder and Luke Muehlhauser may have, but in my opinion both are far too kind to Craig. (Richard Carrier’s assessment of Craig is closer to mine, but while he’s written a lot about Craig, I’m not sure he’s written quite as much as I have.)
Lately, though, I’ve gone from having little patience for Craig to zero patience, to the point that it’s been nearly two months since I’ve written anything about him. So I figured it might be nice to put together a little guide to the main things I’ve written on Craig, as a way of capping it all off. (Plus: it lets us have a post-Disqus comment thread about him.)
Here it goes: the oldest significant thing I’ve written about Craig is my lengthy review of his flagship book, Reasonable Faith, for Internet Infidels. He also figures prominently in my first book, which is now available for free download.
He’s also getting a chapter in my current book project. There, I go into detail about Craig’s misrepresentations of both the experts he cites and his opponents. That link is to the current version of the chapter, which focuses on just Kalam, the moral argument, and the resurrection for reasons of space. For earlier versions of the material that went into that chapter, where I try to cover all of Craig’s arguments and have even more examples of his dishonesty, see here, here, and here.
I’ve written a lot about this, but in one of my most widely-read posts on the subject, I’ve pointed out that one of the things Craig does to “win” debates is, if he can get away with it, to give his opponents no say in the format of the debate. That usually includes insisting on speaking first, an advantage Craig often uses to launch into misrepresentations of his opponents views before they’ve even gotten a chance to speak. Because of this, I’ve proposed that from now on atheists who debate Craig should insist on speaking first. (Actually, I think there’s a good case for atheists refusing to debate Craig at all.)
After writing that post, some of Craig’s fans showed up to leave comments suggesting they couldn’t wrap their heads around the idea that “winning” debates might often involve some rather sleazy tactics. In my response, I pointed out that (among other things) their defenses of Craig could also be used to defend notorious young earth creationist Duane Gish. On the debating front, I’ve also written about the hypocrisy of Craig’s refusal to debate Jeffery Jay Lowder.
As bad as all of this is, none of it, as far as I’m concerned, qualifies as “the worst thing about William Lane Craig.” Craig has become notorious as defender of (Biblical) genocide, who disturbingly engages in some rhetorical hair-splitting similar to that of defenders of things like the Armenian Genocide. He insists that no one ever really rejects Christianity for intellectual reasons, a delusion which I find incredibly creepy.
And while he’s best-known for his arguments for the existence of God and the resurrection of Jesus, he’s proven willing to traffic in just about any kind of fundamentalist pseudo-intellectual garbage when it’s convenient for him. That includes anti-evolutionism, just not young-earthism, which he says he’s embarrassed by. It includes using pseudoscience to defend Todd Akin’s infamous comments about “legitimate rape.”
And it includes promoting anti-gay pseudoscience and other lies about gay people. That was the topic of my last post about Craig, and the thing that finally may have exhausted my patience for him. As I say in that post, Craig isn’t just a bigot, “he’s a bigot who, when he’s clearly losing the argument, instead of putting his energy into pretending his position isn’t bigoted, doubles down on spreading lies about a minority that is just now gaining full legal equality.”