bookmark_border(ex-apologist) A Euthyphro to Craig’s Argument Against Atheist Significance, Meaning, and Purpose

LINK

I noticed this argument and found it worth sharing: 

1. Either (a) the purposes God sets for our lives are significant because God wills them, or (b) God wills them because they’re significant.

2. If (a), then what counts as a significant life is arbitrary.

3. If (b), then what counts as a significant life is independent of God

—————

4. Therefore, what counts as a significant life is either arbitrary or independent of God.

bookmark_borderChris Hallquist vs. William Lane Craig on Dishonesty: Part 2

Now that Chris Hallquist has accepted my summary of his allegations about William Lane Craig’s honesty, I want to review each allegation in detail to determine if it is justified.

In order to maximize the readability of this post, I’m going to repeat a lot of what I wrote in the last post but add my assessment where appropriate. For each alleged example, my old comments will appear in a section or paragraph marked as “Background.” This will then be followed by a section or paragraph marked, “Discussion,” followed by a brief one-line summary titled, “Verdict.” But before I do that, I want to review my guiding principles.


Guiding Principles for Allegations of Dishonesty

1.  Maybe I am old-fashioned, but I take the charge of dishonesty extremely seriously. Anyone who levels the accusation of dishonesty has the burden of proof, and they had better make sure they attempt to get the other person’s side of the story before publicly accusing that other person of dishonesty.

2. A “lie” is a false statement made by a person with deliberate intent to deceive. In order to prove that someone “lied” about X, one must do more than show that X is false. One must show that the other person knew that X was false; that the other person’s intent was to deceive his audience.

Assessment of Hallquist’s Allegations Against Craig

1. Allegation: Craig is in the habit of telling lies about people who disagree with him.

1.1. Example: Daniel Dennett

Background: Hallquist claims that Craig misrepresents Daniel Dennett regarding the kalam cosmological argument. Craig claims that Dennett misstated and caricatured the first premise of the kalam cosmological argument. According to Hallquist, however, this is not so. “Dennett never says he was talking about Kalam–I suspect the argument was, rather, a version Dennett frequently encounters from his undergraduates.”

Discussion: I have read the relevant section of Dennett’s Breaking the Spell. I agree with Hallquist that Dennett never says he was talking about the kalam argument. Furthermore, I would add that the context of Dennett’s argument provides no reason to believe he was talking about the kalam argument.

In fact, the following sentence suggests that Dennett was not talking about the kalam argument: “The Cosmological Argument, which in its simplest form states that since everything must have a cause the universe must have a cause–namely, God–doesn’t stay simple for long” (p. 242, italics mine). The phrase “in its simplest form” indicates that Dennett is at least aware of multiple versions of the cosmological argument. And if “in its simplest form” means “in the form that is philosophically least sophisticated,” then it seems highly plausible that Dennett did not have the kalam argument in mind when he was writing about the cosmological argument.

The above comments should make it clear why I agree with Hallquist that Dennett wasn’t writing about the kalam argument. Thus, Craig’s claim that Dennett misstated and caricatured the first premise of the kalam cosmological argument is false. But was Craig lying when he made that claim? Hallquist has provided us with no reason to believe that Craig intentionally tried to deceive his audience. For all we know, perhaps Craig sincerely (but mistakenly) believed that Dennett was referring to the kalam argument. It’s possible that Craig’s high opinion of his own work has caused him to become arrogant, i.e., to mistakenly assume that all discussions of the cosmological argument are about his version of the cosmological argument.

Please note I’m not saying I believe this to be the case, i.e., I am not accusing Craig of being arrogant and self-deceived. Rather, my point is that this is the sort of alternative explanation Hallquist needs to discount before he can justify his allegation that Craig lied. Hallquist has not–yet–provided any reason to believe that intentional deception is the best explanation.

Verdict: Not Guilty

1.2. Example: Sam Harris

Background: Let us next turn to another ‘new atheist,’ Sam Harris. Hallquist quotes the following exchange between Craig and Harris during the Q&A; period:

Harris: This is the kind of morality that you get out of divine command theory that, again, offers no retort to the Jihadist other than, “Sorry buster, you happen to have the wrong god.”
Craig: But that’s exactly your retort, Sam, that God has not issued such a command, and therefore, you’re not morally obligated to do it.

According to Hallquist, Craig told a “falsehood” about Harris’ retort. Hallquist explains.

I can’t see anything Harris said to suggest that, and Harris’ actual response (“if God is issuing that command, he’s an evil bastard”) is fairly predictable given Harris’ other views. So it’s not clear Craig was lying, but I think at minimum he was guilty of making stuff up about Harris.

Let’s return to the Harris-Craig exchange during the Q&A; period.

Harris: No, if God did, he would be evil. So I can get behind that God, if God is issuing that command, he’s an evil bastard.
Craig: The problem is that you see, on atheism, you don’t have any basis for making that kind of moral judgment.
Harris: I’ve tried to give you a basis, sorry.

Commenting on this, Hallquist explains:

Craig’s second response (“The problem is that…”) may have been Craig’s honest opinion, though I think stating your opinion as if it constituted some kind of rebuttal and as if your opponent had not previously tried to argue against that claim should be frowned upon. But it isn’t as bad as flat-out making stuff up about your opponent.

Discussion: I have not listened to or watched Craig’s debate with Harris, so I’m going to rely entirely upon Hallquist’s discussion and assume it is an accurate, fair, and complete summary.

Hallquist admits that “it’s not clear Craig was lying.” So that means this example does not support Hallquist’s allegation that “Craig is in the habit of telling lies about people who disagree with him.” But, he says, “at minimum he [Craig] was guilty of making stuff up about Harris.” Huh? If Craig was “making stuff up about Harris,” why wouldn’t Craig be guilty of lying? And how does Hallquist know that Craig was “making stuff up about Harris” as opposed to Craig being merely mistaken? Hallquist never says. Therefore, I don’t think Hallquist has shown that Craig was, in fact, “making stuff up about Harris.”

Verdict: Not Guilty

2. Allegation: Craig cannot be tru
sted to accurately describe the views of the experts on various subjects
.

2.1. Example: Dale Allison

Background: Hallquist discusses the case of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance to Paul. As Hallquist points out, “we know that hallucinations, false memories, and so on seem to be an important source of religious and paranormal beliefs.” According to Hallquist, Dale Allison makes a similar point in his book, Resurrecting Jesus. In his discussion of Allison’s book, Craig wrote, “Allison’s discussion reminded me of literature I’ve read on UFO sightings, in which the serious is mixed with the ridiculous, leaving one in great uncertainty about what to make of such experiences.” Hallquist interprets Craig to be (falsely) “insinuating that Allison is just like UFOologists,” when in fact Allison was merely noting parallels between UFO sightings and other reports. On the basis of this insinuation, Hallquist concludes that Craig has “lied” about Allison’s views.

Discussion: I am not sure what, precisely, Hallquist means when he says that Craig insinuates “that Allison is just like UFOologists.” I don’t think Craig believes Allison has the same level of credibility as UFOologists, as shown by the opening line of his piece: “I’ve never seen a better presentation of the case for scepticism about Jesus’ resurrection than in Allison’s Resurrecting Jesus: The Earliest Christian Tradition and Its Interpreters (New York: T. & T. Clark, 2005).” I interpret Craig to be saying this.

There’s a bunch of “stuff” written about UFOs. Some seems ridiculous and some seems serious. UFOologists tend to lump them all together as equally credible. When I read Dale Allison’s discussion of the parallels between post-mortem appearances, UFO sightings, and other reports, he seems to lump them all together as equally credible. What I want is for Allison to actually consider each story or claim on its individual merits.

At any rate, this seems to me to be the most charitable interpretation of Craig’s statement. Notice also that this is fully consistent with Hallquist’s point that Allison was merely noting parallels between UFO sightings and other reports. This doesn’t support Hallquist’s accusation that Craig has “lied” about Allison’s views.

Verdict: Not guilty

3. Allegation: Craig cannot be trusted to accurately describe what is a fact

3.1. Example: Craig’s “Four Facts” and the Resurrection

Background: Craig says there are four established historical facts: Jesus’ burial, empty tomb, post-resurrection appearances, and the origin of the Christian faith. According to Hallquist, however, “the word ‘fact’ means something that can be proven” and none of these four things can be proven. In his words, “I’m confident that there’s no proof of any of Craig’s four facts.” But, according to fellow Evangelical scholar Gary Habermas, only 75% of New Testament scholars accept the first two of those facts. The same percentage of professional philosophers are atheists, but Craig would hardly agree that atheism is a fact. So why should we believe that Craig’s first two alleged facts are real facts? According to Hallquist, Craig’s claim these four facts are facts is a “big lie.”

Discussion: I’m not sure I agree with Hallquist’s claim that “the word ‘fact’ means something that can be proven.” I’ve always understood the word “fact”to refer to truth or reality; cf. Dictionary.com’s definition of “fact.” But let’s put that to the side.

This allegation seems entirely unjustified. Even if Hallquist were correct that Craig were mistaken about these four facts, he has not shown that Craig lied about these four “facts.” In order to justify the claim that Craig lied about these four facts, however, Hallquist has to do more than simply show that Craig said is mistaken. Hallquist must show that Craig knew that what he said was false; that Craig’s intent was to deceive his audience. Hallquist has shown nothing of the sort.

Verdict: Not Guilty

4. Allegation: Craig cannot be trusted to accurately describe the views of his opponents.

4.1. Example: Opponents of the Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

Background: Regarding the Leibnizian Cosmological Argument, Craig inaccurately claims that atheists agree with its second premise, that “If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.” According to Hallquist, this is false. “I’ve never heard an atheist say what Craig claims, nor does he give a single example of an atheist who has said that.”

Discussion: First, on page 108 of Reasonable Faith, Craig writes, “Hence, most atheists are implicitly committed to (2)” (italics mine). The word “most” is key here, since Craig implicitly acknowledges there are exceptions. (Quentin Smith comes to mind as one, at least when he was flirting with the idea of self-causation.) Second, Hallquist’s objection that he has never heard an atheist say that, is irrelevant. For Craig claims that what atheists “typically” say logically implies premise (2) of Leibniz’s argument (“implicitly committed”). And I’m inclined to agree with Craig. While there are exceptions (such as, perhaps, Smith), they are the exceptions. In my experience, Craig is correct: most atheists typically do say the existence of the universe is a brute fact, i.e., it has no explanation of its existence.

Verdict: Not Guilty

4.2. Example: Richard Carrier

Background: In his debate with Richard Carrier on the resurrection of Jesus, Carrier brought up the historical reliability of the New Testament. In response, Craig said he was “really sorry that [Carrier has] chosen to pursue that tack.” Hallquist takes this to mean that Craig denied that the historical reliability of the NT is relevant to the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection. Therefore, Hallquist concludes that Craig was “dishonest” for denying the relevance of NT reliability to the resurrection.

Discussion: I need to begin by acknowledging that I have not listened to Carrier’s debate with Craig. So, in order to research this allegation in as efficient manner as possible, I decided to skip forward to Craig’s First Rebuttal, where I expected to find Craig’s remarks (the ones quoted by Hallquist). I was right.  At the very beginning of Craig’s first rebuttal, Craig said this:

I know that Richard really wanted to debate tonight the general reliability of the gospels, and I’m really sorry that he’s chosen to pursue that tack, despite our agreement that that wouldn’t be our topic tonight.

Craig explicitly claims that he and Carrier had an agreement that the general reliability of the gospels were not the topic for their debate.  He then went on to make a couple of general p
oints regarding the general reliability of the gospels anyway. I then stopped listening.

Even if the reliability of the gospels were not the debate topic (i.e., the primary focus of the debate), it doesn’t follow that the reliability of the gospels are irrelevant to the debate topic or that, because of the agreement, this secondary topic cannot be discussed at all. So I don’t understand why Craig began his response the way he did. Perhaps if I listened to the entire debate, I might have more to say about that.

But I find it troubling that Hallquist didn’t even mention Craig’s claim about the agreement he had with Carrier regarding the debate topic. In my opinion, this fact alone creates reasonable doubt about Hallquist’s allegation.

Verdict: Not Guilty

4.3. Example: Bart Ehrman

Craig claims that Bart Ehrman is an example of a skeptical scholar who accepts all four of Craig’s facts. Craig bases this on something Ehrman said in 2003. Ehrman changed his mind on the empty tomb, however, in 2006, which Ehrman told Craig about in their 2006 debate. According to Hallquist, this is an example of Craig lying “about what another scholar believes to support his [Craig’s] claims.”

Discussion: I found this point to be a bit muddled. Hallquist links to an undated piece by Craig, so it’s not obvious how Hallquist knows the date of Craig’s piece. But let’s assume that Craig’s piece was written after 2006. Let’s also assume that Hallquist is correct that Ehrman told Craig in their 2006 debate that he no longer accepted Jesus’ tomb tomb or, perhaps, even Jesus’ burial. It still wouldn’t follow that Craig is lying. If Craig is lying, so be it, but how do we know, based solely on what Hallquist has written, that Craig forgot something Ehrman said in the heat of an oral debate? Craig has debated a lot of people. As a debater myself, I could certainly imagine forgetting what someone told me in a debate that took place six years ago.

Of course, if Ehrman did change his views and told Craig, someone reminded Craig of that, and Craig refused to issue a correction, then he could be justifiably accused of lying. But Hallquist mentions no attempt by him to contact Craig about this. So, based solely on what Hallquist has written, I don’t think he’s shown that lying, i.e., intent to deceive, is the best explanation.

Verdict: Not guilty

4.4. Example: Stephen Law

Background: In his debate with William Lane Craig, Stephen Law presented the evidential argument from goodness, arguing that it’s arbitrary to believe an all-good God exists rather than a perfectly evil supernatural being (“evil God”). In the debate, Craig announced that Law had “conceded” the kalam cosmological argument. When Law denied that he had conceded the argument, Craig argued that since Law had failed to refute the argument, he had conceded it. Hallquist claims that Craig is using the word “concede” in a misleading way and says that Craig is being “dishonest” in so doing.

Discussion:  Yawn. As a debater myself, I think this accusation makes it highly probable that Hallquist has no experience in high school or college debate. I have heard many debaters talk this way. Hallquist is probably correct that this is a non-standard use of the word “concede,” but I don’t think there is any intent to deceive on Craig’s part by using the word “concede.” At most, Craig is guilty of using debate jargon.

Verdict: Not guilty

bookmark_borderAdvice to Christians Who Want to Dialogue with Atheists: Don’t Use the Word “Faith”

There are times where two people speak the same language, use the same words, and mean very different things by the same words. In conversations between Christians and atheists, “faith” is one such word. For many atheists, the word “faith” means, by default, belief without evidence or even belief against the evidence. In contrast, I doubt many Christians would accept that definition. For example, according to the NIV translation, Hebrews 11:1 states, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

Victor Reppert, at Dangerous Idea, writes this about the word “faith.”

Every time you use the word “faith” in a discussion with an atheist, they are going to declare victory. They will presume that you are believing for no reason, and that you are are admitting that the evidence is against you. 

I think he is probably right. If Christians want to dialogue with atheists, I think Christians would be well served to speak the ‘language’ of atheists. The word “faith” simply has too much baggage associated with it; inserting that word into the conversation is likely to become a distraction from whatever point the Christian was probably trying to make. So if you’re a Christian talking with atheists, my advice is to temporarily delete the word “faith” from your vocabulary. Find some other way to make your point.

bookmark_borderDid William Lane Craig Confuse “Pornographic” with “Profane”?

In an earlier post, I reported that William Lane Craig had written that Internet Infidels sites “are literally pornographic (evil writing).”

I have to confess that when I first read this, I scratched my head. I thought to myself, “Does the word ‘pornographic’ have some secondary meaning I hadn’t run across before?” It appears the answer is “no.” Here is the definition of “pornographic” from Dictionary.com.

pornographic

por·nog·ra·phy

noun

obscene writings, drawings, photographs, or the like, especially those having little or no artistic merit.
Origin:
1840–50;  < Greek pornográph ( os ) writing about harlots ( porno-,  combining form of pórnē  harlot + -graphos -graph) + -y3

por·no·graph·ic [pawr-nuhgraf-ik] Show IPA, adjective
por·no·graph·i·cal·ly, adverb
an·ti·por·no·graph·ic, adjective
an·ti·por·nog·ra·phy, noun, adjective

non·por·no·graph·ic, adjective

Now since our websites contain no writings about “harlots,” i.e., prostitutes or whores, much less sexually suggestive, erotic tales or imagery, I think it’s obvious that our websites are not “pornographic,” either in a literal sense or based upon the etymology of the word. So why did Craig use that word?

I find it hard to believe that someone as intelligent as Craig could have gotten confused about the meaning of the word “pornographic,” but I don’t claim to know what he was thinking. An Internet search turned up a Bible study website, which offers this analysis.

The word pornography can be broken down into two parts: “PORNEA” meaning filthy, and “GRAPHA” meaning to write. Therefore pornography literally means the writing or depicting of filth. One can define filth as anything that is unclean in God’s sight, or in other words, sin.

I don’t have the relevant expertise in Greek to directly comment on that analysis, but, even if this were accurate, I don’t see how that would support Craig’s claim that our websites are “literally” pornographic, since our sites are not literally “filthy.” On the other hand, I discovered this website which offers another interpretation that is more in line with my understanding of “pornea.”

The Greek words “pornea” (often translated “fornication“) and akatharsia (often translated “uncleanness“) are key terms used to refer to sexual sins in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament).

What I do know is that, while looking up the word “pornographic” on Dictionary.com, the site suggested some related words. One of those words is “profane.”

pro·fane

[pruhfeyn, proh-] Show IPA adjective, verb, pro·faned, pro·fan·ing.

adjective

1.characterized by irreverence or contempt for God or sacred principles or things; irreligious.

2.not devoted to holy o
r
religious purposes; unconsecrated; secular (
opposed to sacred).
3.unholy; heathen; pagan: profane rites.

4.not initiated into religious rites or mysteries, as persons.

5.common or vulgar.

Based on that definition, it would be accurate to describe our websites as “profane,” not because we display “contempt for God” but because our sites are “characterized by irreverence.” They are also obviously “secular.” Of course, even the word “profane” does not literally mean “evil writing.”

Let’s try to put all of this into context. Craig was trying to discourage a young Christian from reading atheist Internet sites.  In that context, Craig referred to our websites as “evil writing.” I am unable to see how anyone could think that Internet Infidels websites are “literally pornographic,” since I am unable to find any basis for thinking our websites are “literally filthy writing.” 

bookmark_borderChris Hallquist vs. William Lane Craig on Dishonesty: Part 1

Christopher Hallquist recently finished a series of blog posts about William Lane Craig. In addition to providing objections to Craig’s various arguments, Hallquist also accuses Craig of dishonesty in his work. In this post, I want to review Hallquist’s evidence for that accusation and figure out if the accusation is justified.

Here is an outline of my basic plan.

  1. Review the definitions of honest, honesty, dishonesty, misrepresent, lie.
  2. Summarize Hallquist’s allegations of dishonesty.
  3. Assess Hallquist’s evidence for those allegations.


The Definitions of Honest, Honesty, Dishonesty, Misrepresent

Let’s start with honest. According to Dictionary.com, honest means:

hon·est

adjective

1.honorable in principles, intentions, and actions; upright and fair: an honest person.

2.showing uprightness and fairness: honest dealings.

3.gained or obtained fairly: honest wealth.

4.sincere; frank: an honest face.
5.
genuine or unadulterated: honest commodities.

Here is honesty.

hon·es·ty

noun, plural hon·es·ties.

1. the quality or fact of being honest;  uprightness and fairness.

2. truthfulness, sincerity, or frankness.

3. freedom from deceit or fraud.

4. Botany . a plant, Lunaria annua,  of the mustard family, having clusters of purple flowers and semitransparent, satiny pods.

5.Obsolete . chastity.
Here is dishonesty.

dis·hon·es·ty

[dis-onuh-stee] Show IPA

noun, plural dis·hon·es·ties.

1.lack of honesty; a disposition to lie, cheat, or steal.
2.
a dishonest act; fraud.
Here is misrepresent.

mis·rep·re·sent

verb (used with object)

1.to represent  incorrectly, improperly, or falsely.

2.to represent  in an unsatisfactory manner.

Finally, here is lie.

lie

noun

1.a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive; an intentional untruth; a falsehood.

2.something intended or serving to convey a false impression; imposture: His flashy car was a lie that deceived no one.

3.an inaccurate or false statement.

4.the charge or accusation of lying: He flung the lie back at his accusers.

Hallquist’s Allegations

As I read him, Hallquist makes the following allegations about Craig.

1. Allegation: Craig is in the habit of telling lies about people who disagree with him.

1.1. Example: Daniel Dennett

Hallquist claims that Craig misrepresents Daniel Dennett regarding the kalam cosmological argument. Craig claims that Dennett misstated and caricatured the first premise of the kalam cosmological argument. According to Hallquist, however, this is not so. “Dennett never says he was talking about Kalam–I suspect the argument was, rather, a version Dennett frequently encounters from his undergraduates.”

1.2. Example: Sam Harris

Let us next turn to another ‘new atheist,’ Sam Harris. Hallquist quotes the following exchange between Craig and Harris during the Q&A; period:

Harris: This is the kind of morality that you get out of divine command theory that, again, offers no retort to the Jihadist other than, “Sorry buster, you happen to have the wrong god.”
Craig: But that’s exactly your retort, Sam, that God has not issued such a command, and therefore, you’re not morally obligated to do it.

According to Hallquist, Craig told a “falsehood” about Harris’ retort. Hallquist explains.

I can’t see anything Harris said to suggest that, and Harris’ actual response (“if God is issuing that command, he’s an evil bastard”) is fairly predictable given Harris’ other views. So it’s not clear Craig was lying, but I think at minimum he was guilty of making stuff up about Harris.

Let’s return to the Harris-Craig exchange during the Q&A; period.

Harris: No, if God did, he would be evil. So I can get behind that God, if God is issuing that command, he’s an evil bastard.
Craig: The problem is that you see, on atheism, you don’t have any basis for making that kind of moral judgment.
Harris: I’ve tried to give you a basis, sorry.

Commenting on this, Hallquist explains:

Craig’s second response (“The problem is that…”) may have been Craig’s honest opinion, though I think stating your opinion as if it constituted some kind of rebuttal and as if your opponent had not previously tried to argue against that claim should be frowned upon. But it isn’t as bad as flat-out making stuff up about your opponent.

2. Allegation: Craig cannot be trusted to accurately describe the views of the experts on various subjects.

2.1. Example: Dale Allison

Hallquist discusses the case of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance to Paul. As Hallquist points out, “we know that hallucinations, false memories, and so on seem to be an important source of religious and paranormal beliefs.” According to Hallquist, Dale Allison makes a similar point in his book, Resurrecting Jesus. In his review of Allison, Craig wrote, “Allison’s discussion reminded me of literature I’ve read on UFO sightings, in which the serious is mixed with the ridiculous, leaving one in great uncertainty about what to make of such experiences.” Hallquist interprets Craig to be (falsely) “insinuating that Allison is just like UFOologists,” when in fact Allison was merely noting parallels between UFO sightings and other reports. On the basis of this insinuation, Hallquist concludes that Craig has “lied” about Allison’s views.

3. Allegation: Craig cannot be trusted to accurately describe what is a fact

3.1. Example: Craig’s ”
Four Facts” and the Resurrection

Craig says there are four established historical facts: Jesus’ burial, empty tomb, post-resurrection appearances, and the origin of the Christian faith. According to Hallquist, however, none of these four things can be proven. In his words, “I’m confident that there’s no proof of any of Craig’s four facts.” But, according to fellow Evangelical scholar Gary Habermas, only 75% of New Testament scholars accept the first two of those facts. The same percentage of professional philosophers are atheists, but Craig would hardly agree that atheism is a fact. So why should we believe that Craig’s first two alleged facts are real facts? According to Hallquist, Craig’s claim these four facts are facts is a “big lie.”

4. Allegation: Craig cannot be trusted to accurately describe the views of his opponents.

4.1. Example: Opponents of the Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

Regarding the Leibnizian Cosmological Argument, Craig inaccurately claims that atheists agree with its second premise, that “If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.”

4.2. Example: Richard Carrier

In his debate with Richard Carrier on the resurrection of Jesus, Carrier brought up the historical reliability of the New Testament. In response, Craig denied that the historical reliability of the NT is relevant to the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection. Hallquist concludes that Craig was dishonest for doing so.

    4.3. Example: Bart Ehrman

    Craig claims that Bart Ehrman is an example of a skeptical scholar who accepts all four of Craig’s facts. Craig bases this on something Ehrman said in 2003. Ehrman changed his mind on the empty tomb, however, in 2006, which Ehrman told Craig about in their 2006 debate. According to Hallquist, this is an example of Craig lying “about what another scholar believes to support his [Craig’s] claims.”

    4.4. Example: Stephen Law

    In his debate with William Lane Craig, Stephen Law presented the evidential argument from goodness, arguing that it’s arbitrary to believe an all-good God exists rather than a perfectly evil supernatural being (“evil God”). In the debate, Craig announced that Law had “conceded” the kalam cosmological argument. When Law denied that he had conceded the argument, Craig argued that since Law had failed to refute the argument, he had conceded it. Hallquist claims that Craig is using the word “concede” in a misleading way and says that Craig is being “dishonest” in so doing.

    Hallquist’s Conclusion


    In reply to an earlier version of this post, Hallquist clarifies, 

    I don’t think all the things I cite above are equally bad. Craig claiming Ehrman’s support would be hard to excuse even in isolation, but other things are only really bad in context. For example, Craig’s claiming that the historical reliability of the New Testament doesn’t matter could just be a bad argument sincerely made, but in context of Craig’s other behavior, it looks like part of a strategy of being hyper-selective about what facts he lets his audience be exposed to.


    In a post entitled, “Why is Craig so Dishonest?”, Hallquist states that he has “thoroughly documented Craig’s dishonesty.” Thus, it seems clear that Hallquist believes he has shown that Craig is, in fact, guilty of dishonesty.

    Next Steps

    Now that I have summarized all of Hallquist’s accusations and supporting examples, I am going to stop here so that Hallquist can have a chance to review this post and let me know if I’ve accurately and fairly summarized his position. My next step will be to assess Hallquist’s arguments.

    Related Posts

    In Defense of William Lane Craig“:  A rebuttal to claims that Craig is not a good philosopher and that he is dishonest.

    More Defense of William Lane Craig“: A rebuttal to HW’s criticisms of Craig’s education

    bookmark_borderJehovah is a Sexist – Part 3

    What is sexism?  What is a sexist?  These questions have been around for quite some time now, so there are, no doubt, some well-thought-out answers to these questions.  But before I consult experts on conceptual issues, I like to do a bit of thinking for myself.



    The first thing that occurs to me is that sexism is similar to racism, and that both phenomena occur in different kinds and various degrees.  I’m going to think out loud about racism for a bit, and then see whether my analysis of racism applies to sexism.

    Racism can occur in a strong form or high degree. There are examples that constitute clear cut cases of racism: Nazis and members of the KKK.  These folks are clearly racists.  They not only have racist beliefs and attitudes, but racism is a central part of their worldview.  Racism is practically a religion for these people.  We might call the racism of Nazis and KKK members ideological racism.

    Your typical racist southern cracker is not a Nazi or member of the KKK (these days).  A typical racist may share some of the racist beliefs and attitudes of Nazis and KKK members, but these beliefs don’t generally play such a central role in the thinking of your common racist.  Such racists may believe that blacks are generally less intelligent than whites, and that blacks are generally lazier than whites, but these beliefs might not be a key piece of a political or religious ideology.  Let’s call this garden-variety racism.

    Racism is pervasive in American culture, so even liberal white Northerners like myself, cannot claim to be completely free from racism.  I don’t believe that black people are stupid or lazy, at least not any stupider or lazier than white people.  But the images and feelings that spontaneously occur in my mind when I see or meet a black person have been shaped by movies, TV shows, news reporting, and other cultural influences that suggest less-than favorable generalizations about black people, as compared to white people.  My thinking is unavoidably tainted by the racism of my society and culture.  Let’s call this racial-bias racism.

    Ideological racism (of the pro-white and anti-black sort) not only posits negative beliefs about blacks (e.g. ‘Blacks are less intelligent than whites’, and ‘Blacks are lazier than whites’) but understands these alleged differences between blacks and whites in terms of ‘races’ and genetics.  Blacks are inferior to whites not because of poverty and poor education due to unjust discrimination against blacks by whites, but because of natural genetic differences.  Garden variety racism need not include such explanatory theories about the cause of the alleged inferiority of blacks relative to whites.  An ideological racist has adopted beliefs about race and genetics that the garden variety racist might not accept, or may not have thought about.

    Ideological racism also involves some sort of prescription or normative beliefs about how we ought to respond to alleged differences between blacks and whites.  There is the prescription of shipping black people to another country.  There is the Nazi prescription of a ‘final solution’ where people of inferior races are to be killed off.  But one could accept the basic racist belief about the inferiority of blacks to whites without coming to favor such negative and violent responses.  


    One could hold a benevolent form of racism that takes pity on black people, that cherishes black people and their well-being,  in spite of their alleged inferiority to whites.   Children are physically and intellectually inferior to adults, as a general rule, but our response is usually to look on children with fondness and to feel a sense of obligation to provide help and assistance to children in need or in distress.  We are the smart and physically capable adults, so we ought to assist children who are weak, defenseless, and incapable of taking care of themselves.

    So, ideological racism involves at least three different sorts of ideas:

    1. Beliefs about the inferiority of blacks compared to whites.
    2. Explanations of this inferiority in terms of race and genetics.
    3. Normative beliefs prescribing how we ought to respond to the inferiority of blacks compared to whites.

    Different degrees of racism can be distinguished in terms of different degrees of alleged inferiority ascribed to blacks vs. whites.   Are all blacks stupid and lazy and all whites smart and hard working?  That would be a somewhat extreme claim.  One can still be a racist without holding such an extreme view.  One might believe that most blacks are significantly less intelligent than most whites, but allow that there are exceptions to the rule, and that some black people are smarter than some white people.  That would be a lesser degree of racism, in this aspect of the belief in the inferiority of blacks to whites.

    Different degrees of racism can also be seen in the sort of prescription  that is offered (if any) about how we ought to respond to the alleged inferiority of blacks to whites.  The most extreme being the Nazi ‘final solution” prescription, somewhat less extreme is the ‘Send them back to Africa’ prescription, and somewhat less radical is the idea that blacks should remain in America but be should be constrained to doing menial jobs as waiters, gardeners, janitors, etc.

    So, there are different kinds and degrees of racism, and different elements of racism that can occur in different degrees.  It seems to me that the same is true for sexism.  I can imagine something like ideological sexism, with similar components as ideological racism:

    1. Beliefs about the inferiority of females vs. males.
    2. Explanations of this inferiority in terms of gender and genetics.
    3. Normative beliefs prescribing how we ought to respond to the alleged inferiority of females compared to males.

    As with racism, these components, esp. (1) and (3), can occur in varying degrees.

    bookmark_borderTwo Old Posts about the Sensus Divinitatis

    Theism and the Genetic Fallacy, Part II” by Keith Parsons

    Parsons turns the tables on Alvin Plantinga and argues that the non-existence of a sensus divinitatis is evidence for the non-existence of God.

    An Empirical Test of the Existence of Sensus Divintatus in Atheists” by Jim Lippard

    If there is really an innate universal belief in God–or a natural direct perception of God, a sensus divinitatis, a mental faculty that allows direct basic knowledge of God’s existence–it seems to me that we should be able to find much stronger empirical evidence of it.

    bookmark_borderDefinition of Friendly Atheist

    This is a quick post about the definition of “friendly atheist.”

    Purdue University Emeritus Professor of Philosophy William Rowe famously coined the terms, “friendly atheist,” “indifferent atheist,” and “unfriendly atheist.”[1] What did he mean by these terms?

    unfriendly atheist: an atheist who believes no one is justified in believing that the theistic God exists
    indifferent atheist: an atheist who holds no belief concerning whether any theist is or is not rationally justified in believing that the theistic God exists
    friendly atheist: an atheist who believes that some theists are rationally justified in believing the theistic God exists

    Boston University Emeritus Professor of Philosophy Michael Martin wrote a critique of Rowe’s argument for friendly atheism. What do you think of Martin’s critique?

    Notes

    [1] William L. Rowe, “The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of AtheismAmerican Philosophical Quarterly 16 (1979), 335-341.