Expensive Beliefs

Faith: Belief without evidence in what is told by one who speaks without knowledge, of things without parallel. – Ambrose Peirce
Posted: October 25th, 2011 | By Bruce Gorton

A while back Greta Christina did an article on William Lane Craig pointing out that he was an esteemed theologian and philosopher of religion who defended Biblical genocide as being good, because God ordered it.

The instant reaction in the comments by religious left commenters was to dismiss Craig as a loony fringe nutball who isn’t really representative of theology or anything all that impressive. Fair enough.

Now of course Richard Dawkins is refusing to debate William Lane Craig because of his apologist stance for Biblical genocide, and religious commentators are saying Richard Dawkins is being anti-intellectual in his refusal to debate that esteemed theologian and philosopher of religion.

So yeah there is a reason I don’t have much respect for the editorial writing religious left. When it is convenient someone is a champion, the second it is not that same someone is a nutjob nobody really listens to. 

Now the whole thing is this: Craig is a past master of the Gish gallop – that is when you spout off a whole load of rubbish arguments knowing each one takes time to refute, so your opponent can’t get to all of them and still present his or her argument.

This is a winning debate strategy, particularly if you focus your bullshit on things which aren’t central to your opponent’s field. Lord Monckton does it the whole time and has quite a winning streak debating climate scientists.

It is not however terribly convincing once you remove time constraints. This is why Monckton isn’t directing climate research – and why once Craig’s arguments get brought up in online arguments they tend to fail horribly. Once you remove time constraints and add in the obsessive compulsive nature of flamewars, the flaws become pwnage material.

It is also why Dawkins’ charge about Craig being a professional debater has bite.

H/T: Butterflies and Wheels





October 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm

This article is incredibly dumb.

Craig’s arguments are not just presented in debates but are published in peer-reviewed academic journals and books, responses for which are numerous and ongoing:

“William Lane Craig is a leading philosopher of religion and philosopher of time… More articles have been published on Craig’s defence of the Kalam argument than any other contemporary argument for God’s existence”.”

Quentin Smith, philosopher Michigan University, atheist.


Bruce Gorton

October 25, 2011 at 12:58 pm


You are kind of missing my point here – which is this:

Whether people think Craig is a great or a crank largely depends on whether or not he is currently convenient.

What, Craig’s defence of Biblical genocide is somewhat uncomfortable? He’s just a crank, not a serious theologian or philosopher.

What, Dawkins is refusing to debate him? This just demonstrates how atheists aren’t willing to deal with serious theological thinkers like Craig.

Plus once you move the arguments he presents in his debates out of them, they stop being so convincing as multiple people with relevant knowledge tear them apart.



October 25, 2011 at 6:55 pm

LOL… sounds like one man’s religious nutjob is another man’s leading intellectual.

Think you’ve hit the nail on the head though Bruce – the public is very fickle with respect to their views, and by all accounts, the masses aren’t a very bright lot.


Anthony Payne

October 26, 2011 at 2:21 pm

William Lane Craig is not a crank. His views on biblical genocide have been taken out of context in order to attack his reputation. If you read the article on his web site it sounds a whole lot more reasonable than his critics are making it out to be.

The real issue is that Dawkins knew that he would lose the debate and that that his reputation would be subsequently damaged.

It is also not true that Craig’s arguments have been widely refuted particularly in academic circles. Neither is it true that his opponents don’t have time to refute his arguments in debates. If they did any preparation then would know exactly what he is going to say as he says the same in almost every debate (see YouTube). They are therefore without excuse for not having pre-planned refutations for his points that they can bring up within the debate.

What is however true is that no athiest who ever debates him ever puts forward a positive case for athiesm even though he always challenges is them to do so.


Bruce Gorton

October 26, 2011 at 3:28 pm

Anthony Payne

I’ve read the original article of his and there is nothing out of context about it – his argument really is a defence of Biblical genocide.

As to Craig being refuted in academic circles:

Quentin Smith, Graham Oppy, Robert Price, James Still and Arnold T Gumminsky have all raised major issues with his work.

Outside of academic circles (IE: IMO)

It must also be pointed out that in order for causality (a leads to b) to exist, you need time.

Kalam defines the universe as space and time.

Prior (for want of a better word) to the universe’s existance there wouldn’t be time, therefore there wouldn’t be causality, therefore there would be no need for the universe to be caused because causality itself wouldn’t exist yet.

Which kind of puts to pasture the second point in Kalam, that the universe would require a cause.

Not to mention Stenger’s argument that quantum pairs often enter and exit existance in quantum vacuums.

While Craig countered that these vacuums still include quantum fields, one must note that we have never actually encountered a true vacuum and the nearest analogue we have acts contrary to the idea that “From nothing comes nothing.”

One should also note that Craig’s model of the origin of the universe relies on relativity – which breaks down on a quantum level.

Plus one can point to the conclusion of Kalam, that any causative agent would necessarily be God, as being a non-sequitar. There is no reason to make such an assumption.

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