William Lane Craig: Internet Infidels Websites “Are Literally Pornographic”

Similar to my last post where I quoted the Pope, in this post I am going to quote, without comment, what William Lane Craig has apparently written about the Internet Infidels. In response to a Christian struggling with doubt, Craig writes:

Be on guard for Satan’s deceptions. Never lose sight of the fact that you are involved in a spiritual warfare and that there is an enemy of your soul who hates you intensely, whose goal is your destruction, and who will stop at nothing to destroy you. Which leads me to ask: why are you reading those infidel websites anyway, when you know how destructive they are to your faith? These sites 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? Let somebody else, who can handle it, do it. Remember: Doubt is not just a matter of academic debate or disinterested intellectual discussion; it involves a battle for your very soul, and if Satan can use doubt to immobilize you or destroy you, then he will.

I firmly believe, and I think the Bizarro-testimonies of those who have lost their faith and apostatized bears out, that moral and spiritual lapses are the principal cause for failure to persevere rather than intellectual doubts. But intellectual doubts become a convenient and self-flattering excuse for spiritual failure because we thereby portray ourselves as such intelligent persons rather than as moral and spiritual failures. I think that the key to victorious Christian living is not to have all your questions answered — which is probably impossible in a finite lifetime — but to learn to live successfully with unanswered questions. The key is to prevent unanswered questions from becoming destructive doubts. I believe that can be done by keeping in mind the proper ground of our knowledge of Christianity’s truth and by cultivating the ministry of the Holy Spirit in our lives. (emphasis mine)

(As an aside, in that same article, Craig also mentions the role that “popular” (read: non-scholarly) apologetics for the resurrection of Jesus had on his development; he specifically mentions Josh McDowell’s, Evidence That Demands a Verdict.)
 
In another, unrelated Q&A; article regarding middle knowledge, he uses Internet Infidels in an illustration of the concept of “transworld damnation.” He writes:

I’m not suggesting that those who die in infancy all suffer from transworld damnation. Under some circumstances those who died in infancy might have grown up to become wonderful Christians; under other circumstances, they might have joined the Internet Infidels. So how could God judge them for the different things they would have done under various circumstances? (emphasis mine)

About Jeffery Jay Lowder

Jeffery Jay Lowder is President Emeritus of Internet Infidels, Inc., which he co-founded in 1995. He is also co-editor of the book, The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09565179884099473943 The Uncredible Hallq

    Jeffery,

    I understand "quote without comment" is an effective way of conveying "so bad, I don't have to explain why it's bad." But in light of the thread we had here a couple weeks ago, I'd like to hear you answer one question about these quotes: do you think they're compatible with doing honest scholarship?

    I think not, and here's why. On Craig's view, the writings of atheists "ought in general to be shunned" because exposure to them might endanger one's eternal soul. But presumably that applies not just to writings, but to arguments for atheism and even facts that might seem to undermine the case for Christianity.

    This means it's Craig's duty to not expose his audience to opposing arguments or facts that might undermine him except when absolutely necessary. And that's incompatible with honest scholarship. Honest scholars don't merely try to persuade, but enlighten. They tell their audience what they really think, even when that's means explaining facts and arguments which undermine their case.

    I think that examining Craig's writings and speeches shows he isn't behaving like an honest scholar, but rather than argue that point right now, I just want to ask: based on the paragraphs you quote, would you expect him to?

    (As an aside, I think you may have once made a similar but weaker point, in reference to something Craig said about the notion of "playing devil's advocate" in one of his books. I can't find where you talked about that, though.)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09565179884099473943 The Uncredible Hallq

    Oops, think I may have been confusing you with Lukeprog:

    http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=11066

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10289884295542007401 Jeffery Jay Lowder

    You're correct that I've written before about Craig's comments on playing devil's advocate. What I concluded in that article is that that sort of behavior is fundamentally incompatible with freethought.

    In direct response to your question, I guess it all boils down to how one defines their terms. I'm not prepared to call Craig dishonest for the simple reason that I do not doubt his sincerity. What I am prepared to say is that Craig takes an extremely partisan approach to the philosophy of religion, to such a degree that he may reasonable be characterized as doing natural theology, as opposed to philosophy of religion per se.

    I think of him in the same way I think of trial attorneys: they don't knowingly present falsehoods as truths, but they do present their side in the best possible light and the opposing side in the worst possible light. Just as I wouldn't expect a defense attorney to introduce evidence at trial which suppports the defendant's guilt, I would never expect Craig to, say, spend time defending an evidential argument for atheism, even if Craig believed that atheistic evidence was greatly outweighed by theistic evidence.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09565179884099473943 The Uncredible Hallq

    Okay, that's a helpful clarification of your view. But I'd say two things in response:

    (1) What trial lawyers do isn't dishonest, because their behavior is totally expected in that context. It's safe to say that most people expect scholars to behave differently than trial lawyers, so presenting yourself as a scholar and behaving like a trial lawyer is problematic. Julain Sanchez' blog post on intellectual honesty has influenced my thinking a lot here.

    (2) There's an awful lot you can do to deliberately mislead people that falls short of "knowingly presenting falsehoods as truths." Cherry-picking facts, innuendo, and vagueness can be used to lead your audience to a conclusion you know is false without quite asserting the falsehood.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11983601793874190779 Steven Carr

    CRAIG
    I’m not suggesting that those who die in infancy all suffer from transworld damnation. Under some circumstances those who died in infancy might have grown up to become wonderful Christians; under other circumstances, they might have joined the Internet Infidels. So how could God judge them for the different things they would have done under various circumstances?

    CARR
    I thought Craig claimed that children killed in infancy went straight to Heaven.

    And doesn't Craig claim that his god knows exactly what children would do if they were allowed to live?

    CRAIG
    God knew that if these Canaanite children were allowed to live, they would spell the undoing of Israel. The killing of the Canaanite children not only served to prevent assimilation to Canaanite identity but also served as a shattering, tangible illustration of Israel’s being set exclusively apart for God.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16826768452963498005 Jim Lippard

    Steve: There's no inconsistency between those remarks. 1. He says he's *not* suggesting that all who die as infants suffer from "transworld damnation," and 2. it's clear from context that by "transworld damnation" he means the idea that in all of the counterfactual worlds in which they did not die in infancy, they grew up to be damned, not that they are damned when they die in infancy.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11983601793874190779 Steven Carr

    So how did Craig's god judge them as being the sort of children who have spelled the undoing of Israel, if they had not been killed by soldiers sent by Craig's god?

    When Craig says his god can't judge them for what would have happened in different circumstances, ie if the circumstances had been different and his god had allowed them to live.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16826768452963498005 Jim Lippard

    Steven: I think the argument is that they were killed because of the consequences for Israel if they lived, but not because they suffered from transworld damnation. Their deaths were necessary for Israel, not for their own salvation.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02647353730607650698 Hiero5ant

    You give Craig too much credit by comparing him to a lawyer.

    In the US, if a lawyer submits an argument saying "case law says the rule on this is X" and fails to acknowledge and cite case law which appears (even if only on the surface) to say that the rule is not-X, he can be sanctioned and even disbarred.

    William Lane Craig: not even as honest as tobacco lawyers.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09925591703967774000 Dianelos Georgoudis

    I think we should always try to be fair and indeed charitable when we judge others. Here, it seems to me, Craig is responding to a very young man, who has little philosophical background, who appears to be going through a difficult phase of his life, and who is plagued by grave doubts about his religious beliefs. On the other hand Craig is a conservative Christian who believes that the religious beliefs one chooses have a defining effect on one’s eternal life, and that there is a spiritual warfare going on where spirits of evil try to lead people astray. In this context Craig’s advice to this young man that it would be better in his current condition not to read atheistic sites makes sense and should not be interpreted as some kind of anti-intellectual or anti-freethought attitude on Craig’s part.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02647353730607650698 Hiero5ant

    Of course, in the *context* of the belief that the space lizards are tracking our movements through implants in our neighbors' teeth, it is only *rational* that WLC advocates pulling people's teeth out with pliers. They'd thank you, if they only knew!

    As much hateful speech as anyone might see against Christians from nonbelievers, there is absolutely nothing that compares to the idea that the very existence of disagreement on some abstract philosophical point is evidence of cosmic evil. Craig must literally believe that, given the choice of offering up your 15 year old daughter to be raped and killed, or deconverted by persuasive and cogent arguments, the latter is infinitely worse.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09925591703967774000 Dianelos Georgoudis

    Hiero5ant writes: “Craig must literally believe that, given the choice of offering up your 15 year old daughter to be raped and killed, or deconverted by persuasive and cogent arguments, the latter is infinitely worse.

    Only on theism the world is such that a choice like the one you describe is never given. On theism knowledge of the truth is an intrinsically good thing, so one will never come to the truth or avoid losing the truth by choosing evil. Not to mention that on theism there are no persuasive and cogent arguments that may deconvert one. So your hypotheticals make literally no sense on theism.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02647353730607650698 Hiero5ant

    Of course, assuming I'm right, it follows logically that you're wrong.

    On the hypothesis that you're full of shit, the very idea that someone might have humanly understandable reasons that you're not full of shit literally makes no sense.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03742591775992266574 Harbinger888

    Wow, just wow! Some of us fellas out there have that blanky pulled up nice and high now don't they?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16342860692268708455 Angra Mainyu

    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id;=6199

    William Lane Craig:

    That’s why I went on to offer the second, better solution: that the rejection of Christ as Lord and Savior, being a rejection of God Himself, is a sin of infinite gravity and proportion and therefore plausibly does merit infinite punishment. So seen, people are sent to hell, not so much for murder and theft and adultery, but for their rejection of God.

    So, Craig judges that those who – for instance – fail to believe that Jesus is a the son of a superpowerful creator – and the same being as the creator! -, after being exposed to Christian doctrine, deserve infinite punishment for their failure to believe.

    On top of that, he's clearly implying that non-theism – at least, after exposure to Christian doctrine – is far worse than murder.

    He may well believe that murderers also deserve infinite punishment, but if so, it's not for the murder itself, but for rejecting God by murdering people.

    So, in Craig's view, non-theism is far worse than murder, theft and adultery.

    To be clear, I'm not suggesting that adulterers, thieves or even murderers deserve infinite torture (Craig apparently doesn't want to call Hell “torture” because he thinks that's a negatively loaded word; of course, the characterization is accurate regardless), but just adding another example of how Craig spreads hatred to the list.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02868815990836443756 monika

    Whenever you Christians get done shoving blame around for your own ignorance let us atheists know. In the mean tiome we will continue to do the best we know how to live and let live. Craig quit being a parakeet. We have heard it all before.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01918818133834585386 Stew

    I think its vehemently unfair to call something pornographic and satanic just because it does not confirm with your theology. The world is a vast resource of knowledge and it is too archaic to funnel all that knowledge into obscure dogmas and doctrines. sacramento probate attorney


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