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William Lane Craig

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Postby Sleepwalk » Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:56 am

I think William Lane Craig is a pretty cool guy. eh debates athiests and doesnt afraid of anything

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Lane_Craig

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFn0hopqSFw
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Postby humphreys » Thu Apr 12, 2012 4:16 am

I have seen a ton of his debates against atheists, and as an atheist myself, it pains me to say he wins nearly all of them. It has nothing to do with the strength of his position, the majority of other unbelievers I have seen in debates have been poor and usually lose, but this guy is amazing at what he does.

He's been at it for 20 years plus, so he's certainly had practice.

I have listened carefully to his arguments, and they are nearly always flawed and some of them are just plain poor or outright invalid, but the way he presents them is very impressive and in a quick fire debate without reference to sources and such he is a tough customer indeed.

His approach is very simple in arguments for God, he focusses on:

1) The cosmological first cause argument. Nothing new or surprising, but he tries to get atheists to explain the start of the Universe and of course they can't (yet), no one can, and he cleverly uses this as a way of making the atheist look silly. He is rarely pushed to explain where God came from, or who created him, or why he doesn't have to explain the creation of the Universe himself (God did it is not an actual explanation, it's a statement which is only supported by our lack of knowledge, which is just "God of the gaps" reasoning, or an argument from ignorance) because he's always on the attack in the debate

2) The resurrection of Jesus and how the atheist explains that. He makes so many assumptions here that atheists don't buy, but it can seem a compelling argument in debate

3) Lack of objective morality in an atheist worldview

He usually gets a decent response to point 2, a proper cosmologist would probably school him on point 1, and point 3 has already been destroyed in one of the few debates I think he lost, against Shelly Kagan.

None of these are great arguments, and I have and others addressed pretty much all of them comfortably on this forum, yet he wins the debates, because he's great at them.
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Postby at1with0 » Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:52 am

humphreys wrote:he tries to get atheists to explain the start of the Universe and of course they can't (yet), no one can, and he cleverly uses this as a way of making the atheist look silly.



I'd like to get anyone to explain that the Universe had a start.
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Postby Sleepwalk » Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:47 pm

humphreys wrote:I have seen a ton of his debates against atheists, and as an atheist myself, it pains me to say he wins nearly all of them. It has nothing to do with the strength of his position


Personally, I think he wins because his arguments are powerful. If his arguments weren't so powerful--or if they were so flawed--then he would have been embarrassed, severely beaten in debate, and become irrelevant long ago. Debate skill and articulateness only get you so far, especially in a formal debate. If Craig were participating in US political debates, then I'd be more inclined to agree with you since in such debates it's usually the guy who sounds the best who wins, even if what he's saying is wrong. But WLC is debating well-educated people in intellectual arenas and winning handedly.

He's been at it for 20 years plus, so he's certainly had practice.


And he's used virtually the same arguments time and time again, but his atheist counterparts still have trouble coming up with rebuttals. Isn't that strange? You'd think after all these years at least one atheist would have come up with a proper rejoinder for at least one of his arguments.

I have listened carefully to his arguments, and they are nearly always flawed and some of them are just plain poor or outright invalid


Such as?

1) The cosmological first cause argument. Nothing new or surprising, but he tries to get atheists to explain the start of the Universe and of course they can't (yet), no one can, and he cleverly uses this as a way of making the atheist look silly.


It's not that WLC tries to get the atheist to explain the start of the universe. What he tries to do is argue that naturalistic explanations for the origin of the universe are deficient while arguing that God is the best explanation for the origin of the universe.

He is rarely pushed to explain where God came from, or who created him


WLC has answered this question many many times (and so have a plethora of other philosophers before him). WLC would say God is a necessary being, and so God is not a created being, but a being who cannot fail to exist. A being who has always existed.

or why he doesn't have to explain the creation of the Universe himself (God did it is not an actual explanation


God is a sufficient explanation for why the universe exists. One doesn't need to understand or articulate an explanation in intricate detail in order to believe it's the most plausible explanation compared to other explanations. I don't know of any known or possible naturalistic explanation that could account for the origin of the universe. They either run contrary to contemporary science or are logically invalid, like the idea of the universe stretching infinitely into the past.

it's a statement which is only supported by our lack of knowledge, which is just "God of the gaps" reasoning, or an argument from ignorance)


Explaining how each naturalistic explanation for the origin of the universe is invalid using logic and contemporary scientific evidence--and then going on to say how a timeless, immaterial, and sufficiently powerful being is more plausible than all of them isn't a God of the gaps argument, since the argument is based on what we do know, not based on what we don't know.

2) The resurrection of Jesus and how the atheist explains that. He makes so many assumptions here that atheists don't buy, but it can seem a compelling argument in debate


What exactly is wrong with this argument?

3) Lack of objective morality in an atheist worldview


Under atheism, is there any objective ontological basis for morality?

None of these are great arguments, and I have and others addressed pretty much all of them comfortably on this forum, yet he wins the debates, because he's great at them.


I think his arguments are great, which is why he has won most if not all of his debates. I think that's much more plausible than the idea that he wins his debates merely because he speaks well. Atheists have had years and years to come up with proper responses to his arguments. WLC has been using the same arguments for years... and these arguments have been around before WLC started using them. So what's going on here? Not to be rude, but I think some atheists try to control the damage that WLC is inflicting by saying things like the reason he wins his debates is because he speaks and debates well.

And, looking over what has been written in this forum, I don't see anyone who has addressed the arguments WLC uses in any in-depth way. This might be asking for too much, but could you please provide a link to these threads or perhaps briefly repeat these rejoinders? I'd love to respond to them myself.
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Postby humphreys » Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:22 pm

Sleepwalk wrote:
humphreys wrote:I have seen a ton of his debates against atheists, and as an atheist myself, it pains me to say he wins nearly all of them. It has nothing to do with the strength of his position


Personally, I think he wins because his arguments are powerful.


Hmm, do you think the same when the atheists win against other believers?

Unfortunately, debating in these formats where time is limited and a number of points are touched upon, it's all about style and technique rather than compelling argument.

Sleepwalk wrote:If his arguments weren't so powerful--or if they were so flawed--then he would have been embarrassed, severely beaten in debate, and become irrelevant long ago. Debate skill and articulateness only get you so far, especially in a formal debate. If Craig were participating in US political debates, then I'd be more inclined to agree with you since in such debates it's usually the guy who sounds the best who wins, even if what he's saying is wrong. But WLC is debating well-educated people in intellectual arenas and winning handedly.


I disagree, I think you give the arguments in these debates far too much credit.

It's exactly like politics. Obama convinced a nation that he was the man for the job in brilliant style, just like Craig, who could win a debate arguing that the sky was brown.

Sleepwalk wrote:
He's been at it for 20 years plus, so he's certainly had practice.


And he's used virtually the same arguments time and time again, but his atheist counterparts still have trouble coming up with rebuttals. Isn't that strange? You'd think after all these years at least one atheist would have come up with a proper rejoinder for at least one of his arguments.


The rebuttals are simple, it's just that they're not satisfactory in debate format.

I gave an example being the cosmological first cause argument. Craig demands that atheists explain the existence of the Universe, of course no atheist can answer that.

No one knows, it's as simple as that, there is no satisfactory answer at this stage other than "we don't know". Craig thinks that justifies citing God as first cause, but he is wrong for a handful of reasons some of which I have touched upon already.

Sleepwalk wrote:
1) The cosmological first cause argument. Nothing new or surprising, but he tries to get atheists to explain the start of the Universe and of course they can't (yet), no one can, and he cleverly uses this as a way of making the atheist look silly.


It's not that WLC tries to get the atheist to explain the start of the universe. What he tries to do is argue that naturalistic explanations for the origin of the universe are deficient while arguing that God is the best explanation for the origin of the universe.


Yes, and he is wrong.

Look, I'll give you a simple answer. I do not know how the Universe started, but I can think of ways that it might have that make just as much sense as the God explanation and do not invoke a magical being. The first cause, for instance is basically a law that says the Universe began to exist, and therefore it must have been set in motion. The immediate flaw to this is that it is a law of this Universe, and it is being applied to a time when this Universe did not exist. That just makes no sense. If there is no Universe, there are no laws, and if there are no laws (not even logic, perhaps), then anything is fair game and it is not correct to say a cause is necessary.

But scientists do not put forward answers like that because it's more a philosophical response than a scientific one, and scientists are not philosophers, so they try to tackle the question scientifically and since we don't have sufficient knowledge yet, the question is accepted as unanswered, and Craig claims a "win".

It's just nonsense. God is not an explanation because the same problems we might suggest for the Universe's existence exist for God's existence also: who made him, why, he can't have always existed due to the issues of infinite regress, he is more complex than the Universe and so even harder to explain, and so on, and so on.

You see, the debate is just a game that Craig is playing better than his opponents.

Why do atheists have to explain the existence of the Universe in detail along with scientific proof, whereas the believers just have to say "God did it", and they get to leave it at that? Does that seem right to you? It seems like, as always, atheists are expected to do all the work figuring out a ridiculously tough question as the start of the Universe, and when we can't do it quickly enough, you guys get to say "Ha! See, it was God!".

Then we say who created God, and why? And you say, "we don't have to explain that as we have defined him as eternal, uncaused, and necessary. We also don't have to explain how he did it as he is all-powerful and therefore he just does it essentially by magic". It comes across as primitive reasoning to me.

You can the use this "God" for anything else we can't currently explain, until we explain it, and then you'll retreat to the next unexplained thing and posit God as the explanation for that.

He is rarely pushed to explain where God came from, or who created him


WLC has answered this question many many times (and so have a plethora of other philosophers before him). WLC would say God is a necessary being, and so God is not a created being, but a being who cannot fail to exist. A being who has always existed.


Defining something into existence is just wordplay.

Why is he necessary? Because you defined him so.

God's existence will never be proved by someone's definition of him.

or why he doesn't have to explain the creation of the Universe himself (God did it is not an actual explanation


God is a sufficient explanation for why the universe exists. One doesn't need to understand or articulate an explanation in intricate detail in order to believe it's the most plausible explanation compared to other explanations.


God isn't an explanation any more than "magical Unicorns" is an explanation.

Making all-powerful beings up in an ad-hoc manner and then defining them into existence in order to fill a gap in our knowledge is just silly. We've been doing it for centuries. It's "God of the gaps" reasoning, as I said.

I don't know of any known or possible naturalistic explanation that could account for the origin of the universe. They either run contrary to contemporary science or are logically invalid, like the idea of the universe stretching infinitely into the past.


Here is another possible explanation. A Big Bang occurred because in the absence of laws there was nothing to stop it. Perhaps an infinite number of Big Bangs occurred spawning an infinite number of Universes all with different laws, a tiny percentage of which sustain life of which one is ours.

It makes sense, it's logical, no laws are violated, and it's naturalistic.

I don't know if it's true because I wasn't there but it makes more sense than God.

Sleepwalk wrote:What exactly is wrong with this argument"


He is using the Bible to prove the Bible, in very simplistic terms. I don't trust the Bible, therefore I don't trust its claims about Jesus' resurrection or reliable claims of eye witnesses.

Under atheism, is there any objective ontological basis for morality?


Absolutely.

See Shelly Kagan vs Craig for an example. I am running out of time to respond to this right now, but it's not a problem for atheists.
Last edited by humphreys on Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby humphreys » Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:23 pm

I seriously could debate WLC with ease on paper because then it all boils down to the strength of your argument rather than your style and technique.

His arguments, like I said, are very basic and unoriginal.

He'd kick my ass in live format though because I'm a useless public speaker.
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Postby greeney2 » Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:15 pm

Humphirys said:

I have listened carefully to his arguments, and they are nearly always flawed and some of them are just plain poor or outright invalid, but the way he presents them is very impressive and in a quick fire debate without reference to sources and such he is a tough customer indeed.


I do not know who Craig is, but he has 2-Summa Cum Laudi, Masters degrees in theology, and has won nearly all of his debates with Atheists, so what gives you the credentials to declare, such a bold declaration?

He is highly educated in this field, and so was Cardinal Pell. The Cardinal was also well versed in evolution, early man, and science. You declared that he was ignorant with his answers, when he made clear explanations, Dawkins was unable to do. You also declared the Austrailain Audiance had no atheists which was not true, having laughed at Dawkins, and that they were "Illiterate and they were also ignorant". All the belivers you declared were ignorant, while you made excuses for Dawkins. How does a critical thinker make these deductions, about 2 people who are highly educated and with the highest honors, that an entire audiance is iliterate, and at the same time admit most Atheists do not debate well including Dawkins.

Why would you not consider that maybe the Atheists could be wrong, that theory is the one flawed, and they are unable to defend it.
that all these educated people may know what they are talking about. All the illiterate people in the audiance had no problem understanding the Cardinals explanations, but they laughed at Dawkins.
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Postby Sleepwalk » Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:00 pm

humphreys wrote:Hmm, do you think the same when the atheists win against other believers?


No, because I don't know of any good atheist arguments. Typically, when a theist loses an argument against an atheist it is because the theist is unsophisticated. That's based on my experience, anyway.

Unfortunately, debating in these formats where time is limited and a number of points are touched upon, it's all about style and technique rather than compelling argument.


I disagree. If the arguments that Craig presents ad nauseum were actually weak, then he wouldn't be so successful.

It's exactly like politics. Obama convinced a nation that he was the man for the job in brilliant style, just like Craig, who could win a debate arguing that the sky was brown.


I disagree. WLC debates scientists, philosophers, etc., in formats that are completely unlike the ones found in politics.

The rebuttals are simple, it's just that they're not satisfactory in debate format.


But most of the atheists that Craig has debated haven't come anywhere close to rebutting most of his arguments, despite the rebuttals being simple, as you say.

I gave an example being the cosmological first cause argument. Craig demands that atheists explain the existence of the Universe, of course no atheist can answer that.


That's not what the cosmological argument is about though. The cosmological argument is about analyzing the various explanations for the origin of the universe, reaching the conclusion that God is the best explanation.

No one knows, it's as simple as that, there is no satisfactory answer at this stage other than "we don't know". Craig thinks that justifies citing God as first cause, but he is wrong for a handful of reasons some of which I have touched upon already.


Of course nobody knows with 100% certainty, but you can weigh the various explanations using logic and contemporary science, and then come to the conclusion that one explanation is more plausible than the others. In the case of the cosmological argument, God is the best explanation.

Yes, and he is wrong.


Yes, I know you think he's wrong, but you haven't given any reasons for why you think he is wrong...

Look, I'll give you a simple answer. I do not know how the Universe started, but I can think of ways that it might have that make just as much sense as the God explanation and do not invoke a magical being.


Such as?

The first cause, for instance is basically a law that says the Universe began to exist, and therefore it must have been set in motion.


I wouldn't say it's a law...

The immediate flaw to this is that it is a law of this Universe, and it is being applied to a time when this Universe did not exist. That just makes no sense. If there is no Universe, there are no laws, and if there are no laws (not even logic, perhaps), then anything is fair game and it is not correct to say a cause is necessary.


I think you're referring to the idea of cause and effect... I wouldn't say there's some sort of law floating around called "cause and effect" and that its existence is the reason why all effects have causes or explanations. "Laws" are just descriptions of how the universe is. Also, the idea that prior to the existence of the universe there "were no laws" and therefore "anything is fair game" is nonsensical for a number of reasons. Like I said previously, laws are just descriptions of how the universe is or works; therefore, if there is no universe, then obviously, there are no laws. However, that doesn't mean that prior to the universe there was chaos. It just means that prior to the universe there was nothing. No potentiality. No matter. No energy. No time. And it's irrational to say that nonbeing could produce anything, let alone a universe, wouldn't you say?

But scientists do not put forward answers like that because it's more a philosophical response than a scientific one, and scientists are not philosophers, so they try to tackle the question scientifically and since we don't have sufficient knowledge yet, the question is accepted as unanswered, and Craig claims a "win".


Most scientists don't have a problem with cause and effect. In fact, without the presumption that cause and effect is true, science would be impossible.

It's just nonsense. God is not an explanation because the same problems we might suggest for the Universe's existence exist for God's existence also: who made him, why, he can't have always existed due to the issues of infinite regress, he is more complex than the Universe and so even harder to explain, and so on, and so on.


1. God is a necessary being. The universe appears to be a contingent being. The universe could have been different, in other words. Or it may have never come into existence. And contemporary science is pointing towards the idea that the universe had a beginning, which again, seems to indicate that the universe is contingent.

2. God doesn't face the problem of an infinite regress because He is a necessary being and the first cause. God is what terminates the infinite regress. Without a first cause, you run into the issue of an infinite regress. So what caused the effect which produced the universe? Now, what caused the effect that caused the effect which caused the universe? Etc. And if the first cause isn't necessary, like God is, then you run into the problem of how could the universe be produced by absolutely nothing?

3. Perhaps God is more complex than the universe, but I don't see how that has on any bearing on whether or not He's the best explanation for the origin of the universe.

Why do atheists have to explain the existence of the Universe in detail along with scientific proof, whereas the believers just have to say "God did it", and they get to leave it at that? Does that seem right to you? It seems like, as always, atheists are expected to do all the work figuring out a ridiculously tough question as the start of the Universe, and when we can't do it quickly enough, you guys get to say "Ha! See, it was God!".


Again, the cosmological argument is about weighing the various naturalistic/atheistic explanations for the origin of the universe, and then showing why they all fall short in the face of logic or contemporary science.

Then we say who created God, and why? And you say, "we don't have to explain that as we have defined him as eternal, uncaused, and necessary. We also don't have to explain how he did it as he is all-powerful and therefore he just does it essentially by magic".


God by definition is a necessary being, but let's say for the sake of argument that I didn't use the word God and just said necessary being. You don't see how it would be nonsensical to ask what created a necessary being? That's like asking why a square isn't a circle or why married people aren't bachelors. I guess you could argue against the very idea of necessary beings. Is that what you're trying to do? I mean, the universe itself could be a necessary being, but it doesn't seem like it is, which raises a number of problems. If the universe isn't necessary then that means it either popped into existence uncaused from absolute nothingness or that it stretches infinitely into the past. And if it stretches infinitely into the past, then how is it possible that we are able to observe the present? In order for us to observe the present, an infinite string of events must have first transpired. Obviously, that doesn't make any sense. This is why atheism seems so irrational to me. As an atheist, you're lead to believe that the universe popped into existence uncaused from nothingness--or you have to believe that the universe extends infinitely into the past. Talk about magic.

Why is he necessary? Because you defined him so.


Then let's not use the word God since it's confusing you. Let's just focus on the idea of necessary existence. Could the universe be a necessary being, for instance?

God isn't an explanation any more than "magical Unicorns" is an explanation.


So you say, but a necessary being who serves as a first cause who produced the universe sounds more plausible than the idea that the universe popped into existence from abolute nothing or the idea that the universe extends infinitely into the past.

Making all-powerful beings up in an ad-hoc manner and then defining them into existence in order to fill a gap in our knowledge is just silly. We've been doing it for centuries. It's "God of the gaps" reasoning, as I said.


The cosmological argument is based on logic and contemporary science, like I said; and therefore, has nothing to do with "God of the gaps" reasoning. God of the gaps reasoning isn't based on what we know. The cosmological argument is.

Here is another possible explanation. A Big Bang occurred because in the absence of laws there was nothing to stop it.


Again, scientific laws are just descriptions of how the universe is; therefore, if there is no matter, energy, etc., to describe, then there are no laws.

Your idea of law sounds like some sort of cosmic policeman who runs around making sure everything is working as it should.

Now, if there was absolutely nothing, then how in the world was the universe produced?

Perhaps an infinite number of Big Bangs occurred spawning an infinite number of Universes all with different laws, a tiny percentage of which sustain life of which one is ours.


If nothingness producing one big bang makes absolutely no sense, then I don't see how an infinite number of big bangs being produced by nothingness would make things any simpler.

He is using the Bible to prove the Bible, in very simplistic terms. I don't trust the Bible, therefore I don't trust its claims about Jesus' resurrection or reliable claims of eye witnesses.


The Bible is a collection of historic documents. What's wrong with it? Or do you just presume it's wrong because you presume supernatural events are impossible? That sounds a bit circular, doesn't it?

Absolutely.


I've seen the discussion between Kagan and Craig, but I don't see what you find so interesting.

What is the ontological basis for morality under atheism?
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Postby frrostedman » Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:53 pm

The ultimate question, one that even the great Carl Sagan would run away from when challenged by Dr. RC Sproul, is this.

No matter how the universe got its start (i.e. Big Bang, etc.), there had to be an outside, antecedent cause for it. What was it?

No reason to detract away from the question as to who created the Creator. No dodging. Just answer the question using logic.

Every scientist agrees; the universe didn't always exist. Most believe it is somewhere around 15-16 billion years [old]. So. What was that antecedent cause that prompted the universe to spring into existence? If you dare step outside the bounds of logic and empirical evidence, then you willfully open the floodgates for all the rest of us, whose arguments are on equal footing... if not on superior footing due to personal experience.

I'll be waiting. Experts.
Last edited by frrostedman on Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby at1with0 » Thu Apr 12, 2012 8:44 pm

frrostedman wrote:Every scientist agrees; the universe didn't always exist. Most believe it is somewhere around 15-16 billion years ago.


Empty space is a part of the universe and it may have existed as mostly empty space indefinitely. Reality, as it were, contains the physical universe in part. Reality has always existed.
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