Dr. William Lane Craig Responds to Dr. Avalos' Allegations

The following was sent to me via William Hawthorne in response to Dr. Hector Avalos’ comments on a debate he had with Dr. Craig, seen here.
I'm happy to clarify for Dr. Avalos what I meant by "printer's errors;" the rest of his remarks hardly merit comment.

Since I don't type, I've written all my books and articles longhand, including the book in question. The hand-written manuscript was delivered to a typist, who produced the typescript using an IBM Selectric typewriter with "golf balls" for different fonts. Later this typescript was re-done on a computer. Edwin Mellen Press used the camera-ready copy which I supplied to print the book. Somewhere in the transmission of the text letter-substitutions crept in, resulting in several misspellings. As I said in the debate, I take full responsibility for these spelling mistakes, since it was up to me to proof-read the text. These misspellings have, of course, no impact on the argument of the book. But then Dr. Avalos is less interested in the argument than in impugning the integrity of his opponent.

Such extraordinary ad hominem attacks by Dr. Avalos are unseemly and highly unprofessional and serve, I'm afraid, only to sully his own reputation.

Dr. Avalos' handling of my argument concerning the expression "the first day of the week" (Mark 16.2) well illustrates his modus operandi of half-truth and distortion. As I explained in the debate, the use of the cardinal number rather than the ordinal number violates the conventions of Hellenistic Greek, but not of Aramaic. I even supplied a reference to an Aramaic targum where the very phrase "the first day of the week" is found (Targum Esth. II 3.7) as an illustration. Now the half-truth mentioned by Dr. Avalos is that this targum comes from the period of late Aramaic (A.D. 200-700+). In the scant literature in middle Aramaic (200 B.C. - A.D. 200) we don't have any surviving texts that happen to mention the first day of the week. But we do have texts illustrating in middle Aramaic the convention of substituting the cardinal number for the ordinal number, as in, e.g., "the first month." The fact that no text survives having the very words in Mark 16.2 is thus inconsequential, an accident of historical preservation. That Mark's phrase is a Semitism is widely acknowledged and often remarked on by commentators.
Dr. William Lane Craig

36 comments:

William Hawthorne said...

Thanks, John.

William Hawthorne said...

If Avalos was genuinely interested in an explanation about the printer's errors, and not just interested in trying to make it look to all your readers like Craig might have been lying, then why didn't he simply email Craig directly about it? It's the professional thing to do, isn't it?

John W. Loftus said...

Will, a debate has an aftermath where the participants debate what took place. That's just what happens sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Once again Craig manhandles.

Dr. Hector Avalos said...

Thank you, Dr. Craig, for attempting to issue a clarification. However, this statement does still confuse me: “As I said in the debate, I take full responsibility for these spelling mistakes...”

But my point was that calling them “printer’s errors” actually denied responsibility for them at the debate. Printer’s errors are usually understood to mean errors made by the publisher, not the author. Note also that Mellen understood “printer’s errors” to mean errors made by the publisher, as well.

As I said, the errors are not so much the problem as your explanation of them. How is this an ad hominem attack if I am trying to refute your claims about those errors?

In regard to your explanation of Mark16:2, this is the claim of yours that I was trying specifically to refute:

“The fact that Mark uses ‘on the first day of the week’ confirms that his tradition is very old, even antedating the third day reckoning. This fact is confirmed by the linguistic character of the phrase in question. For although 'the first day of the week' is very awkward in the Greek, when translated back into Aramaic it is perfectly smooth and normal. This suggests that the empty tomb tradition reaches all the way back to the original language spoken by the first disciples themselves."

Source; William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics (Wheaton, Illinois:Crossway Books, 1994), p. 275.

However, as you yourself now note (but did not tell your readers/audience initially), your example from the Aramaic of the Esther Targum does not necessarily suggest, as you claim, that this tradition “reaches back to the original language spoken by the first disciples.” That would be Galilean Aramaic of the first century.

I pointed out that the expression in Mark 16:2 had its closest parallel in the Greek Bible version of Psalm 23:1. Thus, the author of Mark was more likely assimilating an expression already found in biblical Greek than reflecting anything in Galilean
Aramaic. This, is also the opinion E. Maloney, of the recognized expert in Aramaic

“The days of the week are never mentioned in either biblical or Middle Aramaic... Since the phrase [mia Sabbaton/ou] occurs in the OG [ = Old Greek]... this use of the cardinal—unacceptable to Hellenistic Greek usage---is most likely due to imitation of the OG.”

Source: Source: Elliott C. Maloney, Semitic Interference in Marcan Syntax (SBL Dissertation Series; Chico, California:Scholars Press, 1981), pages 148, 150.

In sum, you cannot use that phrase in Mark 16:2 to confirm anything about any first century Galilean Aramaic origin of Mark 16:2, as you were trying to do.

And how is it not distortion and half-truth to make it appear that late Aramaic texts confirm anything about the supposed first century Galilean Aramaic origin of Mark 16:2?

Why not tell the audience that this expression also has a parallel in the Greek Bible, which Mark undoubtedly was quoting repeatedly?

Please also clarify why you told the audience that the manuscripts (P75) that I asked Shelly to identify in his debate (1998) were not readily available to him (or anyone), but had to be consulted in the actual places where they were stored?

As I pointed out, photos of such manuscripts are a normal part of most handbooks on textual criticism or in biblical dictionaries.

BTW: I answer many more of the arguments you
used in that debate in my book, The End
of Biblical Studies (2007), especially your
flawed application of the criteria of C. Behan
McCullagh.

Landon said...

I appreciate Dr. Craig's response, as I think it nicely clears up some of the issues.

I should recommend to William Hawthorne, though, that he ask the contributors at his blog (Atheism Sucks!) to operate by the same standard that he asks of Dr. Avalos. Frank Walton criticized Dr. Avalos without: (1) checking the original Shelly debate, or (2) emailing Dr. Avalos to have him clear up the issues.

In fact, William's entire comment applies to Frank Walton much better than it applies to Dr. Avalos. So I expect that Mr. Hawthorne has or will extend the same criticism to Frank.

Daddy Cool said...

Landon,

Hawthorne said this,

If Avalos was genuinely interested in an explanation about the printer's errors, and not just interested in trying to make it look to all your readers like Craig might have been lying, then why didn't he simply email Craig directly about it? It's the professional thing to do, isn't it?

From that you concluded this:

In fact, William's entire comment applies to Frank Walton much better than it applies to Dr. Avalos. So I expect that Mr. Hawthorne has or will extend the same criticism to Frank.

But you deliberately dodged the fact that Frank said this,

If Dr. A wants questions answered and is writing an email directly and personally to me, would it kill him to actually email me then? He didn't. Instead, I didn't know about his response until somebody told me about it.

So, that's two times Dr. Avalos did not personally contact and email people about his resopnse. Yet you complain that Frank doesn't bother telling people about his response? I think that's hypocritical of you. Not to mention downright dishonest. And the fact that you have a double standard. What's even more funny is your pathetic attempt to try to have Hawthorne turn against Frank! Talk about desperate attempts.

Furthermore, I contacted Frank about this and he said he would have emailed Avalos the response if he knew his email address. On the other hand, Frank's email is available by simply going to his blogsite. So, Dr. Avalos had no excuse.

Also, I have a few questions for you:

1. Did you listen to the Shelly debate, or were you just parroting what Dr. Avalos said about the Shelly debate at the time you wrote your comments?

2. Have you read Dr. Shelly’s book, Prepare to Answer...?

3. How would you describe the honesty and integrity of a person, who repeats things others say without checking the primary sources?

4. Do you think it is proper for a scholar to represent late or even Medieval Aramaic as first century Galilean Aramaic?

5. Do you know Aramaic?

6. Why do you have a double standard?

7. You said you'll investigate a list of scientists at the AS blog. Have you even started? Or is this something else you dodged?

You seem to like to dodge a lot, Landon. I only hope you give straight forward answers, and better justifications than stuff like your "logic just is" argument.

Daddy

Landon said...

Daddy Cool,

Thanks for your warm comment, it is much appreciated. You accuse Dr. Avalos of unprofessional conduct because (1) he did not contact Dr. Craig with his criticism, and (2) he did not contact Frank Walton. Let's evaluate what actually happened.

Frank began the entire ordeal by posting, on his blog, a criticism of Dr. Avalos' "unprofessional conduct." Rather than submitting his complaint straight to Dr. Avalos to have him clear it up, he just posted it online and called Dr. Avalos an "ass" (if my memory serves). John Loftus took the initiative to inform Dr. Avalos of the criticism and Dr. Avalos responded here on John's blog. Now, you criticize Dr. Avalos for not telling Frank that he responded to Frank's criticism!? Talk about hypocritical!

Your response is that Frank didn't have Dr. Avalos' email address, so he wasn't able to email him before posting his criticism in which he called Avalos an "ass." Fair enough. But what would it take to look up the email address, Daddy Cool? I just checked the Wikipedia article for Dr. Avalos and it gives a link straight to his faculty homepage for Iowa State University. Imagine that. Guess what else... his email address is listed, as well as a phone number and mailing address.

So, either Frank Walton spent some time searching for Dr. Avalos' email address (in which case he must not have searched very hard), or he didn't care to email Avalos with his criticism before posting online that Avalos acted "unprofessional" and like an "ass." (Not to mention the implied accusation of unscholarly research.)

So, over all, I don't think your defense of Frank Walton holds up on this point. If Dr. Avalos should be expected to communicate directly to Frank about his criticisms, then Frank should be expected to communicate directly to Dr. Avalos. And not having his email address on hand isn't a good excuse, since it's easily available online (he could find Dr. Avalos' email address with as much ease as Dr. Avalos could find his, if not more). It seems to me that if William Hawthorne wants to criticize Dr. Avalos for this point, he should in the same breath implicate Frank Walton for the same behavior. (And it's not too much to ask for the other contributors at "Atheism Sucks!" to criticize Frank Walton when he deserves it; from what I hear, a contributor named "M" did as much when Frank posted a comment cursing at somebody who had left a comment.)

Now let me turn to your numbered questions at the end of your enlightening comment:

(1) "Did I check the Shelly debate before commenting about Frank's criticism?"

No. And there was no reason why I should need to. Had I posted a comment on a blog criticizing either Dr. Avalos or Dr. Shelly for his conduct in that debate, then the responsible thing for me to do would have been to check the primary source (the debate) and see what exactly went down. Given that I didn't publish a criticism on a blog for either person's behavior in the debate, and given that none of my criticisms of Frank Walton on his failure to do this very thing required me to check the primary source, there was no need for me to do so.

Here's an analogous situation, so pay close attention so I don't lose you. Imagine that Frank Walton wrote a criticism of Dr. Avalos' book, but the entirety of the content of Frank's criticism came secondhand from somebody else (and Frank never even bothered to look at the primary source, the book). Now imagine that Dr. Avalos wrote a response to Frank asking him if he'd even looked at the book to see if the other person's testimony/criticism regarding the book was accurate (or to just get a feel for the context). Then we find out that Frank never checked the primary source, and I step in and criticize Frank for posting a criticism (in which he calls Dr. Avalos an "ass" and implies that his research is "unscholarly") without having done the necessary research to figure out what the situation was. Does that mean I need to read Dr. Avalos' book before I criticize Frank? Think about it.

(2)"Have I read Dr. Shelly's book?"

No, I have not read Dr. Shelly's book, and it's quite irrelevant (for the same reasons I've just given above). I did not criticize Dr. Avalos for his behavior refuting a point from Dr. Shelly's book, but if I had (like Frank Walton did), perhaps it would have been a good thing to check the book first to understand the context of the rebuttal in the debate. Given that I'm criticizing Frank Walton for his unprofessional behavior in his criticism, and that I'm not criticizing Dr. Avalos or Dr. Shelly, there's no need for me to read Dr. Shelly's book.

(3) "How would I describe the honesty and integrity of a person, who repeats things others say without checking the primary sources?"

I'm honestly not sure. I guess it depends upon the exact context of the situation. In Frank Walton's case, I don't think he gave Dr. Avalos an honest criticism without doing the previously-mentioned research prior to posting his comments in which he called Dr. Avalos an "ass" and accused him of "unscholarly research."

(4) "Do I think it is proper for a scholar to represent late or even Medieval Aramaic as first century Galilean Aramaic?"

No, I don't think it would be entirely proper to do that. Though Dr. Craig did offer some added justification in his recent response to Dr. Avalos.

(5) "Do I know Aramaic?"

No, not at all.

(6) "Why do I have a double-standard?"

I'm working with the assumption that the "double-standard" that you're referring to is in regards to what was already discussed above (contacting people when you have a response/criticism). If you have another double-standard in mind, let me know.

If this is what you're talking about, then I think you must be very badly misguided. In order for me to have a double-standard on this issue, I would have to expect something of Frank Walton that I do not expect of Dr. Avalos. William Hawthorne made the first comment about how the "professional thing to do" would be to contact a person when you respond to one of his or her points, referring to the fact that Dr. Avalos did not contact Dr. Craig with his criticisms. However, I pointed out, if we're going to hold Dr. Avalos to that standard, then we need to hold Frank Walton to the same exact standard, since Frank Walton did the exact same thing--even before Dr. Avalos did it. So, far from creating a double-standard, I'm trying to keep the standard equal.

Compare that to your defense of Frank Walton in your comment. You complain about how Dr. Avalos did not contact either Frank Walton or Dr. Craig with his criticisms/responses (even though he was under no obligation to contact a person who had not contacted him with the original criticism). Yet while criticizing Dr. Avalos, you defend Frank by arguing that Frank didn't have Dr. Avalos' email address, so he was under no obligation to email Dr. Avalos with his criticism (the criticism, remember, which called Dr. Avalos an "ass" and implicitly accused him of "unscholarly research"). But I've shown already that Dr. Avalos' contact information is quite easy to find, so Frank was simply not interested in contacting him. By defending Frank on this score and criticizing Dr. Avalos, it appears as if you're the one that's setting up the double-standard. But let me know if you were referring to a different double-standard, Daddy Cool. Because I feel like you probably wouldn't be accusing me of having a double-standard on an issue if you're the one who clearly has the double-standard.

(7) "Have I investigated the list of 700 scientists who signed the petition claiming to be skeptical of evolution to see what their religious beliefs are?"

To a limited extent. You'll notice in my comment that you linked to that I was never intending to contact every scientist to evaluate his or her religious belief. However, at one time (shortly after posting that comment) I did search the internet for some of the names that I encountered at the beginning of the list.

I found that it was notoriously difficult, so far as I could tell with the names I searched for, to determine what the religious beliefs were of the scientists. If I remember correctly, many of the scientists were from foreign countries, so finding information on them proved even more difficult. Their webpages (if they had them) were not easy to find. Though I recall finding one or two Creationists during my search. Even so, from the names I looked at, there was no way of finding out online what the scientists' religious beliefs were, so my guess is going to have to remain unchecked (unless you decide to do the investigative work). I may take a closer look sometime to see if there are absolutely ridiculous "scientists" on the list, but I don't think I have the tools or the time to check my original estimate.

I should mention, though, that the Wikipedia article about the entire petition is very interesting to read (especially the criticisms of the petition). If you haven't taken a look at it yet, search for the article titled "A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism."

Lastly, you mention my "logic just is" argument, which is really a defense from the presuppositional apologetics as it was employed on the Atheism Sucks! blog. Interesting that you don't think it's a good defense. Might I ask what your qualifications are to make that judgment? I assume (without sarcasm) that you've studied philosophy in general and logic in particular, so perhaps you could shed some light on this issue of presuppositional apologetics.

Regards,
-Landon

Daddy Cool said...

Landon,

Thanks for your warm comment, it is much appreciated.

My pleasure.

You accuse Dr. Avalos of unprofessional conduct because (1) he did not contact Dr. Craig with his criticism, and (2) he did not contact Frank Walton. Let's evaluate what actually happened.

Nope, I never said that. Where did I say he was acting unprofessional?

Frank began the entire ordeal by posting, on his blog, a criticism of Dr. Avalos' "unprofessional conduct." Rather than submitting his complaint straight to Dr. Avalos to have him clear it up, he just posted it online and called Dr. Avalos an "ass" (if my memory serves).

Nope, the "unprofessional" accusation came from Dr. Craig, not Frank per se. You're making up excuses now.

John Loftus took the initiative to inform Dr. Avalos of the criticism and Dr. Avalos responded here on John's blog. Now, you criticize Dr. Avalos for not telling Frank that he responded to Frank's criticism!? Talk about hypocritical!

Nope, never said that. Actually you accused and criticized Frank for not contacting Dr. Avalos. Then Avalos made his response to Frank. Frank didn't know about it. Then you made the accusation that Frank didn't contact Avalos. You're not making any sense, Landon.

Your response is that Frank didn't have Dr. Avalos' email address, so he wasn't able to email him before posting his criticism in which he called Avalos an "ass." Fair enough.

Yes, that's very fair. Because Frank had his email out for the public. But Avalos refused to email him personally. (He didn't even bother contacting Dr. Craig, too.) And Frank NEVER had Avalos' email address. Then you criticize Frank for not emailing Avalos.

But what would it take to look up the email address, Daddy Cool?

I don't know. But now you're making excuses for Avalos' incompetency. Avalos personally knew Craig but didn't bother to email him. It wouldn't be hard for Avalos to contact Dr. Craig would it?

I just checked the Wikipedia article for Dr. Avalos and it gives a link straight to his faculty homepage for Iowa State University. Imagine that. Guess what else... his email address is listed, as well as a phone number and mailing address.

Realize that Avalos first made his response to Frank personally. Frank never made a personal message to Avalos in his first post. If Avalos had first emailed Frank then Frank would have easily replied to him. It was on Avalos' part to contact Frank. But now you're rationalizing Avalos' incompetency.

So, either Frank Walton spent some time searching for Dr. Avalos' email address (in which case he must not have searched very hard), or he didn't care to email Avalos with his criticism before posting online that Avalos acted "unprofessional" and like an "ass." (Not to mention the implied accusation of unscholarly research.)

Then the same can be said about Avalos. Since he didn't bother first contacting Frank. And he didn't bother first contacting Dr. Craig. I'm no surprised you're siding with Dr. Avalos on this. You're obviously biased. You should be more open-minded and fair.

So, over all, I don't think your defense of Frank Walton holds up on this point.

It does, because Frank never made a personal response to Avalos, until Avalos first made his reply a personal one. The burden was on Avalos.

If Dr. Avalos should be expected to communicate directly to Frank about his criticisms, then Frank should be expected to communicate directly to Dr. Avalos.

Ah-ha! But Frank couldn't have predicted that Avalos was going to respond to him first now could he? Thank you for making my point! So, this really meant that Avalos had to make the first contact then.

And not having his email address on hand isn't a good excuse, since it's easily available online (he could find Dr. Avalos' email address with as much ease as Dr. Avalos could find his, if not more).

But the excuse was who was suppose to contact who first? If Frank wouuld have know he had to contact Avalos first then I'm sure he would have tried looking him up. But he didn't have to since Avalos (which you conceded) had to first contact Frank first.

It seems to me that if William Hawthorne wants to criticize Dr. Avalos for this point, he should in the same breath implicate Frank Walton for the same behavior.

As we've seen that wasn't the point, since it was on Avalos' turf to contact Frank first.

(And it's not too much to ask for the other contributors at "Atheism Sucks!" to criticize Frank Walton when he deserves it; from what I hear, a contributor named "M" did as much when Frank posted a comment cursing at somebody who had left a comment.)

M didn't know that John G. Deering and Scary Jesus were actually only there to cause trouble though. Again, you're pathetic attempt to turn people against Frank is, well, pathetic and downright shameless.

Now let me turn to your numbered questions at the end of your enlightening comment:

(1) "Did I check the Shelly debate before commenting about Frank's criticism?"

No.


Then according to Avalos you have no right to make a conclusive opinion about who won the debate. Avalos accused Frank (in so many words) that he had to know Aramaic in order to warrant the accusation that Craig whipped him in the debate. So, you're no better off than Frank to make any opinion about the debate.

And there was no reason why I should need to.

Then there's no reason for Frank to either. All you do is try to chide him for irrational reasons.

Had I posted a comment on a blog criticizing either Dr. Avalos or Dr. Shelly for his conduct in that debate, then the responsible thing for me to do would have been to check the primary source (the debate) and see what exactly went down. Given that I didn't publish a criticism on a blog for either person's behavior in the debate, and given that none of my criticisms of Frank Walton on his failure to do this very thing required me to check the primary source, there was no need for me to do so.

The opinion was about the Craig/Avalos debate not the Avalos/Shelly debate. Avalos was making the point that Frank had to watch the Avalos/Shelly debate in order to comment about his conduct. Then Avalos conceded he did was Dr. Craig did. So, you can still make a comment about his conduct. But you won't bother to comment on that. If you heard a murderer confess he shot somebody and then a witness confirm it, I suppose, you still can't make up your mind.

Here's an analogous situation, so pay close attention so I don't lose you. Imagine that Frank Walton wrote a criticism of Dr. Avalos' book, but the entirety of the content of Frank's criticism came secondhand from somebody else (and Frank never even bothered to look at the primary source, the book). Now imagine that Dr. Avalos wrote a response to Frank asking him if he'd even looked at the book to see if the other person's testimony/criticism regarding the book was accurate (or to just get a feel for the context). Then we find out that Frank never checked the primary source, and I step in and criticize Frank for posting a criticism (in which he calls Dr. Avalos an "ass" and implies that his research is "unscholarly") without having done the necessary research to figure out what the situation was. Does that mean I need to read Dr. Avalos' book before I criticize Frank? Think about it.

You made a false analogy, because, again, Dr. Avalos confirmed he did what he did to Dr. Shelly. You deliberately (no surprise) dodged that part.

(2)"Have I read Dr. Shelly's book?"

No, I have not read Dr. Shelly's book, and it's quite irrelevant (for the same reasons I've just given above).


Well, it's relevant to Avalos. Since you have to read his book to make an opinion about his debate with Dr. Craig. I doubt you even listened to it. But if you did then you better read the book and learn Aramaic and watch his debate with Shelly.

I did not criticize Dr. Avalos for his behavior refuting a point from Dr. Shelly's book, but if I had (like Frank Walton did), perhaps it would have been a good thing to check the book first to understand the context of the rebuttal in the debate.

Frank was talking about Avalos' behavior not the book. You're still making up lies and excuses as always.

Given that I'm criticizing Frank Walton for his unprofessional behavior in his criticism, and that I'm not criticizing Dr. Avalos or Dr. Shelly, there's no need for me to read Dr. Shelly's book.

But according to Avalos, you would have to learn Aramaic and be a scholar in order to make said opinion.

(3) "How would I describe the honesty and integrity of a person, who repeats things others say without checking the primary sources?"

I'm honestly not sure.


Then don't accuse Frank of being dishonest if you're not sure.

I guess it depends upon the exact context of the situation.

Then check it. Every time Frank comes up, you try to find different ways to smear him without checking the context. I proved that so far.

In Frank Walton's case, I don't think he gave Dr. Avalos an honest criticism without doing the previously-mentioned research prior to posting his comments in which he called Dr. Avalos an "ass" and accused him of "unscholarly research."

He didn't have to because of said justification.

(4) "Do I think it is proper for a scholar to represent late or even Medieval Aramaic as first century Galilean Aramaic?"

No, I don't think it would be entirely proper to do that. Though Dr. Craig did offer some added justification in his recent response to Dr. Avalos.


And if you would have read it more closely, you'd know that Avalos was wrong.

(5) "Do I know Aramaic?"

No, not at all.


Then according to Dr. Avalos you cannot make an opinion about this debate of his with Dr. Craig's. Oh, at least Frank said he knew some Aramaic.

(6) "Why do I have a double-standard?"

I'm working with the assumption that the "double-standard" that you're referring to is in regards to what was already discussed above (contacting people when you have a response/criticism). If you have another double-standard in mind, let me know.


No, it was about contacting people alright. And you certainly have a double standard there.

If this is what you're talking about, then I think you must be very badly misguided.

Actually, you misguided yourself since you were dumb enough to admit that it's the burden on the person who is making a personal accusation against somebody else to contact that person. Yet throughout this whole post you said it was on Frank (and maybe even Dr. Craig) to contact Avalos first, even though Frank wasn't the one who first made a post personally and directly to Avalos.

In order for me to have a double-standard on this issue, I would have to expect something of Frank Walton that I do not expect of Dr. Avalos. William Hawthorne made the first comment about how the "professional thing to do" would be to contact a person when you respond to one of his or her points, referring to the fact that Dr. Avalos did not contact Dr. Craig with his criticisms.

You also missed the fact that it was personal. Frank never made a personal post against Avalos, until Avalos first did. Then all of a sudden you used the cricisim that Frank didn't bother to contact Avalos when he didn't have to at first.

However, I pointed out, if we're going to hold Dr. Avalos to that standard, then we need to hold Frank Walton to the same exact standard, since Frank Walton did the exact same thing--even before Dr. Avalos did it.

Nop, because before, Frank did not make a personal post directly to Avalos. You're still making excuses. And bear in mind, Avalos did not contact Craig about his rebuttal which WAS personal. So, don't let Avalos get away with that.

So, far from creating a double-standard, I'm trying to keep the standard equal.

But as we've seen, you didn't.

Compare that to your defense of Frank Walton in your comment.

I'm not defending anyone. I say it as I see it.

You complain about how Dr. Avalos did not contact either Frank Walton or Dr. Craig with his criticisms/responses (even though he was under no obligation to contact a person who had not contacted him with the original criticism).

That's your problem. Now, you're saying that Avalos had no oblgation to contact anybody even though earlier you admitted that if someone is making a personal reply to someone they ought to first contact them. You're lying again and making more excuses. Your hatred toward Frank and Craig is just hurting you.

Yet while criticizing Dr. Avalos, you defend Frank by arguing that Frank didn't have Dr. Avalos' email address, so he was under no obligation to email Dr. Avalos with his criticism (the criticism, remember, which called Dr. Avalos an "ass" and implicitly accused him of "unscholarly research").

No, I first said that Frank didn't have to contact Avalos first, because he never made a personal post to him. Avalos did make a personal post to Frank but never bothered to contact him about it. I don't know how many times I have to keep telling you this, but you really should pay attention.

But I've shown already that Dr. Avalos' contact information is quite easy to find, so Frank was simply not interested in contacting him.

Frank was not interested in contacting Frank because it wasn't Frank's obligation to do so. You said so yourself that if someone is making a reply to someone they should contact them. But Frank's first post was not a personal reply.

By defending Frank on this score and criticizing Dr. Avalos, it appears as if you're the one that's setting up the double-standard.

I have no double standard because I didn't make the claims you're making.

But let me know if you were referring to a different double-standard, Daddy Cool.

Nope, that was the one.

Because I feel like you probably wouldn't be accusing me of having a double-standard on an issue if you're the one who clearly has the double-standard.

Again, I didn't make the claims you did.

(7) "Have I investigated the list of 700 scientists who signed the petition claiming to be skeptical of evolution to see what their religious beliefs are?"

To a limited extent. You'll notice in my comment that you linked to that I was never intending to contact every scientist to evaluate his or her religious belief.


Ah! So, you said you were going to do it, then you said you don't intend to. Hmm, this makes just as much sense as your criticism against Frank.

However, at one time (shortly after posting that comment) I did search the internet for some of the names that I encountered at the beginning of the list.

I found that it was notoriously difficult, so far as I could tell with the names I searched for, to determine what the religious beliefs were of the scientists. If I remember correctly, many of the scientists were from foreign countries, so finding information on them proved even more difficult.


Not everybody on the list were from foreign country. Almost all of them are in the united states! What world do you live in? But yeah, it's going to be difficult for you, but you were the one who agreed to go with it.

Their webpages (if they had them) were not easy to find. Though I recall finding one or two Creationists during my search. Even so, from the names I looked at, there was no way of finding out online what the scientists' religious beliefs were, so my guess is going to have to remain unchecked (unless you decide to do the investigative work).

You can't leave them unchecked, because you agreed to look everybody up on the list. Personally, I think you won't do it. But prove me wrong.

I may take a closer look sometime to see if there are absolutely ridiculous "scientists" on the list, but I don't think I have the tools or the time to check my original estimate.

So, you just made a blind assertion. Well, it makes all too much sense now!

I should mention, though, that the Wikipedia article about the entire petition is very interesting to read (especially the criticisms of the petition). If you haven't taken a look at it yet, search for the article titled "A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism."

Yeah, I have the link.

Lastly, you mention my "logic just is" argument, which is really a defense from the presuppositional apologetics as it was employed on the Atheism Sucks! blog.

No presuppositionalist I know of would say "logic just is."

Interesting that you don't think it's a good defense.

No, your justification stinks.

Might I ask what your qualifications are to make that judgment?

I have a BA in analytical philosophy.

I assume (without sarcasm) that you've studied philosophy in general and logic in particular, so perhaps you could shed some light on this issue of presuppositional apologetics.

Some other time, perhaps. But I'm not a presuppositionalist in the Van Tillian sense.

Thanks,

Daddy

Lee Randolph said...

I would just like to point out that Dr. Craig seems to think that one good ad hominem deserves another. What happened to turning the other cheeck or at least the "Principle of Charity" in a discussion?
Dr. Avalos' handling of my argument concerning the expression "the first day of the week" (Mark 16.2) well illustrates his modus operandi of half-truth and distortion.

Is it not possible that Dr. Avalos was making a conclusion based on the best information he had? Could it be that he buys into a different "school" of thought or maybe honestly made a mistake?

It seems Dr. Craig is not above the dishonest rhetorical devices he accuses others of. Is this the result of 'Being led by the spirit'?

Landon said...

Daddy Cool,

That was a rather lengthy response. However, as is evident, length is not a substitute for content. You're off the mark on almost every single point you made. Let me get back to responding to it tomorrow afternoon or evening, as I have quite a bit of reading to do tonight before bed. Check back tomorrow for my response.

Regards,
-Landon

Steven Carr said...

Craig claims that the printers made errors.

When Avalos correctly points out that the printers did not make any errors, Craig claims this is an 'extraordinary ad hominem attack' and is 'unseemly' and 'highly unprofessional'.

Wow!

Craig then lies by ommission by not telling his audience when the Targum Esther was written - at least 200 years after this alleged awkward Greek (which Paul also used, when writing in Greek to Greeks).

When Avalos points out the date of the document Craig used, Craig says this is a half-truth, and the fact that there are no earlier examples is irrelevant, and Avalos distorted facts by not telling people that there are no earlier Aramaic examples.

Wow!

Dr. Hector Avalos said...

Mr. Hawthorne said:
"...then why didn't he simply email Craig directly about it? It's the professional thing to do, isn't it?"

Why did Mr. Hawthorne conclude that I had
not tried to relay this information to Dr. Craig?

And wouldn't the "professional thing to do" be for Dr. Craig not to have blamed the publisher at the debate?

oli said...

I have to say that from the work i have read of Dr Craig's, I'm not impressed.

Although his knowledge and intelligence are clear, it seems that he is always dissembling, fighting strawmen and answering questions not answered.

Now, i know that as an apologist, it is his job, not to tell the truth with equal regard to all sides of an arguement, but to comfort and reassure doubting christians, but still, it strikes me as dishonest.

After all, when you debate you are pitting your arguement against anothers, it simply doesn't work properly if your opponent isn't interested in telling the truth or bending facts.

I know that in the one instance that i communicated with Dr Craig (via his website) he completely mis-interpreted what i had written and then spent most of his reply creating a nice strawman for himself to to knock down.

I know Dr Craig is a respected apologist, but is he a respected biblical scholar? Can anyone more knowledgable of such things tell me?

John W. Loftus said...

For the record I do not think Dr. Craig is a dishonest apologist, and it bothers me when skeptics claim that he is. I do think he is deluded, and he may have his doubts from time to time, just like Francis Schaeffer admitted in print. But just because we skeptics cannot understand how he continues to believe does not mean he's insincere or dishonest with his arguments. I believe he is sincere.

It never occurred to me that he doesn't type in this day and age. Until he said that, the "printer's error" remarked looked really bad for him. I still have some problems with it, but even if he said it to save face in a debate, such a comment does not characterize him as a person.

Bill is a good man. And in my dealings with Hector, he too is a good man. For me as a spectator it's not important to me who won a debate. It won't change my mind either way. I'm interested in the arguments themselves.

It is interesting to me if someone must fudge the facts in order to defend his point of view, though. I suspect, given Bill’s claim of an inner witness of the Holy Spirit which trumps all other defeaters, that he is the one most likely to fudge the facts, since the facts don't actually matter to his faith. This does not make Bill dishonest in defense of his faith for in his mind the Holy Spirit authenticates his faith, even if the facts are not on his side. What’s most important to Bill is that he is used by the Holy Spirit to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus, and I believe Craig is sincere in this goal.

b said...

Dr. Avalos-

I was attending Iowa State at the time of this debate. I heard through the grapevine that you checked out all of your materials (your books and recordings) from Iowa State in order to make it more difficult (and sometimes impossible, since Iowa State was the only institution with many of the recordings) for Dr. Craig to get the information. Is this true? Thanks for your comments.

Shygetz said...

This does not make Bill dishonest in defense of his faith for in his mind the Holy Spirit authenticates his faith, even if the facts are not on his side.

I'm afraid I must disagree with you here, John. I have no comment on if Craig is a good man or not on the whole; I do not know him. But if a man says something that he knows or reasonably should know to be false, then he is being dishonest. I do not doubt that he is sincere in his faith, but sincerity of purpose does not preclude dishonesty of tactics. Lying for Jesus has a storied history.

And Daddy Cool, anyone who approvingly cites "A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism." is a fool, plain and simple.

Dr. Hector Avalos said...

Concerning this comment:
I heard through the grapevine that you checked out all of your materials (your books and recordings) from Iowa State in order to make it more difficult (and sometimes impossible, since Iowa State was the only institution with many of the recordings) for Dr. Craig to get the information. Is this true?

No, it is not true that I checked out materials IN ORDER to prevent Dr. Craig from accessing my books or past debates. My debate with Dr. Shelly, was available from other sources, anyway. As I recall, it was even livestreamed by Dr. Shelly's people. Dr. Shelly made a videotape, which I believe he sold or supplied on request.

The fact that Dr. Craig was familiar with the Shelly debate, moreover, shows that nothing I did prevented him from accessing that information. He also quoted my book in Spanish, which was available from many sources.

Dr. Hector Avalos said...

Re: Comment by Shygetz: "But if a man says something that he knows or reasonably should know to be false, then he is being dishonest."

Re: printer's errors.
One must remember that "printer's errors" has a very specific meaning for authors/publishers. It
is not used usually for errors made by typists or
by authors. It is used mainly for errors made
by the publisher.

Again, note the copy of the publisher's (Mellen) e-mail's where they do not seem to need further explanation of what is meant by "printer's errors." They also assume that this means the publisher's errors.


Thus, I do not know how someone who delivers camera-ready copy to a publisher could have ever spoken of "printer's errors" if they really meant "my typist's errors" or "my errors." Can we really attribute this to self-delusion?

John W. Loftus said...

Shygetz, I am probably not being objective when it comes to my former professor and friend Bill. But I also don't like calling someone dishonest until all my questions are answered, and Bill is probably not going to show up here to answer them any further. I said "I still have some problems" with his explanation, "but even if he said it to save face in a debate, such a comment does not characterize him as a person." I also said Bill "is the one most likely to fudge the facts, since the facts don't actually matter to his faith."

I agree with what you said, Shygetz, absolutely. I was trying to see it from Bill's perspective. Bill's perspective is not mine, and I don't like it when people gerrymander around the plain meaning of what was said. But from his perspective, if he cannot answer an argument in a debate when souls are at risk from an eternal hell, what is his ethical obligation? To say "I was wrong," or to fudge a bit? No wonder lying for Jesus has a storied history! Gladly I don't ever have to worry about such a dilemna since I reject the whole notion of hell.

I am not trying to make any excuses for Bill. I love that man, but I also pity him for having to argue for what I consider to be indefensible. This just might be the nature of the beast for him as an apologist, and it's very interesting to see it displayed by Dr. Avalos so very well.

Cheers.

William Hawthorne said...

Dr. Avalos,

I answered your question, as well as posed some further questions for you here.

Will

William Hawthorne said...

Interesting comment about the materials being checked out of the university library.

Dr. Avalos says:

"No, it is not true that I checked out materials IN ORDER to prevent Dr. Craig from accessing my books or past debates."

What date were they checked out? How many times did you renew them? When were they finally returned? What was the date of your debate with Craig?

Regards,

Will

Dr. Hector Avalos said...

Over at Atheism Sucks, Mr. Hawthorne has posed a number of questions to me.

Some of them are surprising because they could have been answered by simply googling or listening to the debate with Dr. Craig. Now, he apparently expects me to expend time to do his work.

I shall answer some of his other more legitimate questions on my own schedule, not his. Some of us do have to do actual research for a living.

For now, suffice it to say that my credentials have been evaluated by some of the top scholars in the field repeatedly for my tenure and promotion, and so I see no need to justify them to him. The people that matter have the information they need.

Mr. Hawthorne also quote mines some reviews, but forgets that even reviewers may be wrong and disagree with each other. Does he think I cannot do the same with reviews of Dr. Craig or anyone else?

I can produce about 2-5 positive quotes by credentialed scholars for every quote that he has displayed, especially since he gives student raw responses, such as that by Daniel Gaztambide, the same weight as responses in edited journal reviews by scholars with expertise in my field.

Some responses are by religionist writers who obviously do not like the secular ideas that I express in my SBL essay.

Thus, Mr. Hawthorne only shows himself to be not a very critical evaluator of information, especially since he does not have enough expertise to know who is right or wrong on any particular technical issue cited in the quotes he mined.

William Hawthorne said...

^Nonanswer. You had plenty of time to produce lists of questions for Frank Walton (an undergraduate), as well as to hang out here and converse with fellow atheists. Amusingly, your time runs out when you're questioned.

Dr. Hector Avalos said...

Mr. Hawthorne,
I am so very sorry to disappoint you.
But as I said, I do it on my own time
and schedule, not yours. I have to
be selective, given my many responsibilities.

But you should also try to at least answer
the questions that you can by googling
or listening to the Craig debate without
expecting me to do your work. That is fair, no?

William Hawthorne said...

You may answer the questions as your schedule permits; nobody ever said you had to do things according to my schedule (?).

In the meantime, I'm sure readers have noticed that you had plenty of time to produce lists of questions for Frank Walton (an undergraduate), as well as to hang out here and converse with fellow atheists.

As for googling the answers. Some of the answers I already know (e.g. to question #10). You will notice the word 'why' in these questions, which indicates that an explanation is called for. Hopefully your schedule will allow you to respond soon.

Regards,

Will

William Hawthorne said...

Perhaps Dr. Avalos missed this:

Interesting comment (by "b") about the materials being checked out of the university library.

Dr. Avalos says:

"No, it is not true that I checked out materials IN ORDER to prevent Dr. Craig from accessing my books or past debates."

What date were they checked out? How many times did you renew them? When were they finally returned? What was the date of your debate with Craig?

Regards,

Will

b said...

Dr. Avalos,

Thank you for your answer.

Steven Carr said...

The 'grapevine' says that Craig did badly in a debate because (drum roll...) ---- the books at Iowa State had been checked out.

This marks a new low in Christian excuses.

John W. Loftus said...

Listen Will, the questions you're asking are nitpicky and would probably waste Dr. Avalos' time to answer them because you would probably have follow-up questions. He did deny he checked out the material for the expressed rumored purpose, and that's good enough. He does not have to say why he checked them out.

Let's keep to the substantive issues here. Focus, okay? And while you're doing so, what kinds of questions would you like to ask Dr. Craig? I have some. Would you ask the same types of nitpicky things of him? Let's keep level headed and fair here, okay? And stick to the issues that divide us. It's not about Hector's scholarship! That's been proven. It's not about his library card useage! And it's not about what time in a debate who said what!

William Hawthorne said...

John,

First, if the questions were merely "nitpicky", Dr. Avalos could've respond to them with ease. As you can see, he needs more time. Secondly, if Avalos accused Craig of doing x in the debate, and if I ask Avalos to support his accusation by pointing out where Craig supposedly did x, how is that "nitpicky"? It's important for Avalos to back up his charges, isn't it? Third, nowhere have I attacked Avalos' scholarship. Finally, all of the questions are just as substantive, if not more so, than the questions Dr. Avalos came up with for others.

Best,

Will

John W. Loftus said...

Will,

I know what I’d do with the questions you asked. I’d ignore them and instead do something productive with my time, if I were Dr. Avalos. Or at best I would ask you to write out a list of 14 hard-ball questions you’d like for Dr. Craig to answer before I answered the ones directed at me. Most of them are irrelevant, a waste of time, and off the topic of this discussion. You might as well ask him what his father thought of his book and debate that, or ask him to tell the story of his deconversion! Sheesh.

It looks like you’re interviewing him for a job or conducting an inquisition. He does not have to respond. If you have one or more PERTINENT questions that you can’t find the answers to by yourself, then he just might answer them.

Furthermore, I do not see any inquisitiveness coming from you with regard to Dr. Craig’s assertions. It seems more like you have an axe to grind simply because Dr. Avalos disagrees with you, and that’s ignorant in my opinion. Just because we disagree with each other does not mean the person you disagree with is ignorant, or a liar, or both, and some of your questions insinuate just that without any probable cause to begin with, except that he caught Dr. Craig in what looks to be a blunder at best.

William Hawthorne said...

John,

Relax. I've heard your case; it's unconvincing. The questions -- all of which are highly relevant and substantive in the context of Avalos' post-debate commentary -- will remain. I'm sorry if this bothers you. In the meantime, we're waiting patiently for Avalos' schedule to clear up, so he can answer them.

Will

Landon said...

Daddy Cool,

Having now read through your long-winded comment for a third time, I'm still amazed that you somehow managed to miss the mark on essentially every relevant fact. At the outset, I only ask that before you copy and paste my entire comment into the comment box, please read through the entire thing. And if it at all possible, please make an attempt to simply address the points rather than contain my entire comment within your own, as it would be much easier for the conversation to progress if you just posted your points in a systematic, coherent message.

That said, let me move straight to the heart of the matter, which is this whole issue of emailing somebody when you have a comment for them. I'm struck by the fact that you're essentially quibbling on minor and inconsequential issues. Let me first lay out a chronology of events as I remember them, and then I'll get into detailing why your renewed defense of Frank is lame:

(1) After hearing Dr. Craig's criticism of Dr. Avalos, Frank decides to make a blog post criticizing Dr. Avalos. In this blog post, he calls Dr. Avalos an "ass," accuses him of unprofessional behavior, and implicitly accuses him of "unscholarly research." He does not contact Dr. Avalos.

(2) After being made aware of this criticism by John Loftus, Dr. Avalos reads it and provides John Loftus with a message to be posted as a response.

(3) John Loftus posts Dr. Avalos' response on his blog and informs Frank that it's there. Frank then complains that Dr. Avalos didn't email him directly.

(4) A bunch of other exchanges occur.

(5) William Hawthorne communicates with Dr. Craig with some comments that Dr. Avalos made. He then gets Dr. Craig's response, posts them on his blog, and gives them to John Loftus to post over here. Hawthorne then complains that Dr. Avalos should have communicated directly to Dr. Craig, rather than just posting comments about Dr. Craig over at some blog.

(6) I point out that this criticism applies to Frank Walton too, since Frank didn't communicate his problems straight to Dr. Avalos to get it straight, he just posted his comments about Dr. Avalos at some blog. Thus, I argue, the criticism applies equally well to Frank Walton.

(7) A guy who calls himself "Daddy Cool" appears on the scene and defends Frank by arguing that I'm biased and I have a double-standard. He argues that Frank was under no obligation to email Dr. Avalos because he didn't have Dr. Avalos' email address.

You may understand where the conversation went from there, but I wouldn't be surprised if you botched even that.

Now, let's investigate your defense of Frank Walton and see if it holds up. I will argue that, so long as we're going to say that Dr. Avalos had a responsibility to communicate with Dr. Craig (which is what Hawthorne said), we should say that Frank Walton had the same responsibility to communicate with Dr. Avalos (which is what I originally said).

Since we both agree that Frank Walton's blog post was the thing that started all of this in the first place, we must be interpreting his action differently. I interpret it as an unfair criticism of Dr. Avalos, you do not. In his post, he said that Dr. Avalos was an "ass" (which is the sort of name calling that we've become accustomed to seeing from Frank Walton), that he acted "unprofessionally" in the debate against Shelly, and that he conducts "unscholarly research." Rather than (1) checking the Shelly debate to see what really happened, (2) checking Shelly's book to see exactly what it was he claimed, or (3) communicating directly to Dr. Avalos to see if he could respond to Dr. Craig's assertion, Frank just posted his criticism and didn't communicate at all with Dr. Avalos.

When Dr. Avalos responded, however, you want to say that it was his responsibility to communicate directly to Frank. So you're saying that Frank was under no obligation to communicate his criticism to Dr. Avalos, but when Dr. Avalos defended himself, he's responsible for communicating that response to Frank.

You're judging the matter with a certain standard of who should communicate to whom. As is evident from your last comment, your standard is: "Whoever personally responds to somebody needs to communicate directly to that person. But if somebody wants to just criticize somebody else he or she can just post it on his or her blog and not tell the person that he or she is being criticized."

That's a rather arbitrary standard though. Because it turns into a quibble over whether or not Frank's comment was "personally addressed" to Dr. Avalos. Since it didn't say "Dear Dr. Avalos," Frank was under no obligation to even tell Dr. Avalos that his criticism existed (let alone have Dr. Avalos clear the issue up for Frank in a personal correspondence). And since Dr. Avalos' message back to Frank was posted on this blog, and not sent to Frank's email address, you complain that by your standard, Dr. Avalos did the wrong thing. Indeed, according to your standard, Dr. Avalos should have communicated his response straight to Frank. Thus, you've created an arbitrary standard in which the person making the first criticism need not communicate with the person who is criticized, but when the person criticized wants to defend his or herself, he or she has to communicate directly to the person who was doing the criticizing. Brilliant! Delightful! But completely arbitrary.

But let's pause for a moment. What was the conversation originally about? It was about whether or not Dr. Avalos should have communicated his complaint about Dr. Craig straight to Dr. Craig or if it was okay that he just posted it on a blog. Let's apply your standard. The comments in question were contained in the message to Frank Walton (and the other staff at Atheism Sucks!). Dr. Avalos did not begin listing his criticism of Dr. Craig by saying "Dear Dr. Craig," the criticisms appeared directly in the context of what he was saying in his message to Frank Walton. Thus, by your own standard, he had no obligation to communicate anything to Dr. Craig, because he was merely criticizing him on a blog, not writing a personal message directly to him. So when William Hawthorne complains that Dr. Avalos should have communicated directly to Dr. Craig with his criticisms, it's perfectly analogous (by Hawthorne's standard) that Frank be implicated as well, since Frank didn't communicate directly to Dr. Avalos with his criticisms. So even by your own arbitrary standard, my original comment was entirely correct: if Dr. Avalos should have communicated directly with Dr. Craig, the Frank should have communicated directly with Dr. Avalos.

So when I implicate Frank for the same behavior that William Hawthorne is implicating Dr. Avalos for, I'm the one that is keeping the equal standard. And when you defend Frank and say that he didn't have an obligation to communicate with Dr. Avalos, and at the same time when you hold that Dr. Avalos did have an obligation to communicate with Dr. Craig, then you're the one with the double-standard. Your preconceived bias against Dr. Avalos is probably the root cause of that double-standard.

And it's no defense to claim that Frank didn't know what Dr. Avalos' email address is, because it's extremely easy to find it online. Your constant assertions that "I'm making excuses" and "I'm making up lies" also does not constitute a valid defense of Frank Walton; nor does it constitute a rebuttal to any of my points.

And your assertion that I'm "not making any sense" is equally absurd, since your comments make even less sense than mine. Consider the chronology that you give:

"Actually you accused and criticized Frank for not contacting Dr. Avalos. Then Avalos made his response to Frank. Frank didn't know about it. Then you made the accusation that Frank didn't contact Avalos. You're not making any sense, Landon."

Thus, this is how you see the events as they took place:

(1) Frank posted his criticism.

(2) I accused Frank of not communicating directly with Avalos.

(3) Avalos responded to Frank, and Frank didn't know about it.

(4) Then I accused Frank of not communicating directly with Avalos (again?).

But compare that to the chronology that I remember as given above. Did (2) even happen before Dr. Avalos responded to Frank? I certainly don't remember it. Even more importantly, my criticism of Frank on this point really came after William Hawthorne criticized Dr. Avalos on the exact same issue. Either we make it an issue that Dr. Avalos should have contacted Dr. Craig (in which case, we must say the same of Frank needing to contact Dr. Avalos), or we don't make it an issue at all. Either way, let's keep the standard equal.

But let's delve one notch deeper into this whole thing for a moment. Should we adopt the standard that anybody who criticizes anybody else online ought to communicate the person they're criticizing and let him or her know? In this case, Frank would still have needed to communicate with Dr. Avalos, and Dr. Avalos would have needed to communicate with Dr. Craig. But if this is the standard that we want to use (and it seems to be the standard that William Hawthorne is promoting), can't we implicate Dr. Craig for the exact same behavior? You may recall Dr. Craig's audio blog entry titled "Furor Over Flew's There is a God." In that audio clip, Dr. Craig criticizes Richard Carrier's behavior toward Anthony Flew. But shouldn't he have communicated directly with Richard Carrier first? In one of his weekly Q&A's on his website, Dr. Craig addresses a critique of his Kalam Cosmological Argument by Richard Swinburne, which appeared in one of Richard's books. Did Dr. Craig communicate directly to Richard Swinburne? Or, for that matter, did Richard Swinburne communicate his criticism of the argument directly to Dr. Craig, or did he just write it in his book? Now, none of this is to say that Dr. Craig had the obligation to communicate with either of the Richards, but it just goes to show you that even William Hawthorne's standard implicates Dr. Craig (especially in regard to the comments about Carrier, which Carrier has written about on his blog in great detail). Thus, by William's standard, Walton, Avalos, and Craig are all guilty of not doing "the professional thing."

Now, before I go any further, I do want to make an aside here and correct a rather ridiculous (and false) comment that you made in your previous comment. You claimed that I was holding a double-standard because I hate Dr. Craig and Frank Walton. First of all, I've shown that it's you that's holding the double-standard, not me. But that aside, it is simply untrue that I hate either Dr. Craig or Frank Walton. I have as much respect for Dr. Craig as I do for almost any other scholar, even if I do disagree with him on some issues. And despite the fact that I despise Frank Walton's rude tactics of apologetics (which I hope he grows out of), that doesn't mean I hate him!

Now, your message actually gets rather amusing (though tedious) toward the end as you were dissecting my answers to your numbered questions. The easy answer to most of your questions is: I wasn't making a judgment about the debate! I was criticizing Frank for posting his criticism without doing his homework!

So, when I answered your question of whether or not I know Aramaic with a "no," and you say something along the lines of "then by Dr. Avalos' standard, you can't make a judgment on the debate," I'm perfectly fine with that, because I was never making a judgment on the debate in the first place! So as we can see, you're really just missing every relevant point, just like I said at the beginning of this comment.

Since I didn't check the Shelly debate, you say, again, that I'm not qualified to make a judgment on who won the debate. But again, I never did make that judgment, so your point is moot. Furthermore, you completely misunderstood Dr. Avalos' point. His point was not that Frank can't make a judgment about who won the Avalos-Craig debate unless he viewed the Avlos-Shelly debate; his point was that Frank didn't understand the context of Dr. Avalos' rebuttal of Dr. Shelly unless he watched the Avalos-Shelly debate (and read Shelly's book), so Frank's judgment that Dr. Avalos was acting "unprofessional" was itself unqualified. So not only did you get my position wrong (I never made a judgment about the debate), but you also got Dr. Avalos' point wrong! Surprise, surprise.

Now that I've addressed these particular issues, and I've shown that you're the one with the double-standard, not me, let me turn to the last couple of amusing points you got dead wrong. Awhile back, on Frank's blog, he was promoting the petition "A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism." I asked him, if he had to guess, how many of the scientists on the list would he say were Christians to begin with? It was a simple question, only asking for an estimate. Frank replied: "Not too many of them." Of course, that's perfectly ambiguous. I threw out an estimate of my own: 550 out of the 700 were probably Christians to begin with.

Now notice what happened after that. When I offered a guess, and I did admit that it was a guess, that enraged Frank and his sycophants who were commenting over there, and I was challenged to justify my assertion (as if it wasn't a guess). Now, before I explain the particular comment of mine that you linked to, let's examine what you claim I said. Here's what you wrote:

"Ah! So, you said you were going to do it [contact every single scientist on the list], then you said you don't intend to."

and

"But yeah, it's going to be difficult for you, but you were the one who agreed to go with it [figuring out the religious beliefs of every person on the list]."

and

"You can't leave them unchecked, because you agreed to look everybody up on the list. Personally, I think you won't do it."

So here you have three particular remarks which all make the same basic point. You're claiming that I agreed to communicate with every single scientist on the list to justify my original estimate. Before I get into what I actually said, it should be mentioned that I'm under no obligation to justify a guess anyway, so long as I make it clear that it was a guess (which I did). The fact that I haven't taken the several hours (days, probably) to search for every scientists' religious beliefs must really be getting to you on a deep level.

But did I ever claim that I would communicate with every scientist and figure out his or her religious beliefs? In the very comment you link to, I wrote:

"I'll take a closer look at the names on the list in the future (though I don't plan on contacting 700 people to figure out their religious beliefs)."

So right off the bat I made it explicitly clear that I had no intentions of communicating with 700 people to figure out what their religious beliefs were. What I did say I would do is "take a closer look at the names...in the future," which I did do. I even attempted to look up some of the names to see if their religious beliefs were easily available online, and they weren't. As I already said, it was difficult to find web pages for many of the people I searched for, and it was even more difficult to figure out religious beliefs (though a couple were Creationists--which may be a sign that they were Christians). Nevertheless, I didn't look up all of the scientists, and I never claimed that I would. Nor do I need to, to justify something that I've already admitted is a guess.

I'm completely baffled as to how you could have read my above quote, in which I explicitly said that I won't check with all 700+ scientists, and then concluded that I agreed to that very thing. You concluded the exact opposite of what I wrote, on the basis of the comment of mine that you linked to! Another example of you getting it dead wrong.

It is perhaps ironic that, in that very comment you linked to, I made this remark:

"I know this website [Atheism Sucks!] isn't usually overflowing with the most intelligent people, but I assume that the reading comprehension skills around here are good enough to understand that."

Perhaps I expected too much of you, Daddy Cool.

Finally, you brought up the whole issue of "presuppositional apologetics" as it was employed over on Frank's blog. Since you have a BA in Analytic Philosophy (which is more than I have, since I'm just an undergraduate studying philosophy), perhaps you could take some time in the future and explain it to me. As I understood it from the blog, the point was being made that the very fact that an atheist is appealing to logical principles in his arguments is proof that he is presupposing God's existence, because if God did not exist, then appealing to logical principles would be an invalid way of reasoning. This is another way of saying that logic is dependent upon the existence of God--or, specifically, the Christian God.

My point was that it's simply untrue that logic is dependent upon God, and I argued that logical principles just are the way they are because the cannot be otherwise. They don't need to be explained by reference to a deity. You think this justification stinks, whereas I see it as a perfectly good point. Am I getting the correct feel for the situation, or am I missing something? Let me know, and let me know why I'm wrong on this point. Should be interesting.

Having now written an incredibly lengthy post, it's only fitting that I add a conclusion. Daddy Cool, from the looks of it, you were wrong about the double-standard--and if anything, you're the person who has one. The situation of Frank criticizing Dr. Avalos on his blog is perfectly analogous with the situation of Dr. Avalos criticizing Dr. Craig on this blog. So if William Hawthorne wants to implicate Dr. Avalos of unprofessional behavior, then he should be consistent and do the same of Frank. (Though we've come to expect unprofessional behavior from Frank.)

On the topics of whether or not I'm qualified to judge the Avalos-Craig debate, I agree with you (and with Dr. Avalos) that I'm not. But, rather amusingly, I never made a judgment on that debate anyway, so it really doesn't matter. Rather, I criticized Frank for his criticism of Dr. Avalos when Frank didn't do the necessary background homework. So you were way out in left field on all of these points.

And in regards to your point about the petition of scientists, you somehow interpreted what I said to be the exact opposite of what I actually did say. So overall, it appears to me as if you missed the mark on almost every single one of the points you wanted to make. Bravo!

Shygetz said...

John, I understand your position. As I said, Craig may be a fine man (and given your testimony, I would be inclined to accept that he is). I do wish that all people would realize that, if they need to evade, dissemble, and even outright lie to defend their position, then perhaps their position is not worth defending.

Finally, Daddy Cool, I really don't understand what your problem is regarding Prof. Avalos criticizing Dr. Craig publically. If Craig had made his (mis)statements in private, then yes, Avalos should have responded privately. Craig made public (mis)statements, Avalos challenged it in public, which is entirely proper. The only plausible reason I can think of to insist that Craig's public (mis)statements not be challenged publically is because you don't want the public to realize that the statements were misleading. Tough. Same with Walton--seriously, Walton criticizes a professional scholar using language bordering on libelous, and then complains when Avalos' response is not personally e-mailed to him? What an ass!

I do think these kinds of actions give us an excellent and interesting view of where various apologists stand on the Euthyphro dilemma--those who are willing to dissemble, mislead, and perform other actions they would normally consider misdeeds in the cause of Christianity clearly belong to the Divine Command school of thought, and for them the idea of God's goodness is merely a tautology.

Anonymous said...

I am not Craig's biggest fan, but I find that he has explained the "publisher's errors" comment satisfactorily. In this letter, he did not say that the errors were his fault. The only thing he is claiming responsibility for is not catching the errors (i.e. proofreading). He said, "Somewhere in the transmission of the text letter-substitutions crept in, resulting in several misspellings."

So first he is clearly saying that he wrote it correctly, that the spelling errors are NOT his fault in the sense that the errors are NOT in the original. Second, he is not sure who actually made the errors, so even if we accept Avalos' comment that "publisher's errors" has a specific meaning, the term works for Craig's perception of what happened since he states that he didn't know who specifically committed the error. For all he knows it could have been the publisher. Is there a term for errors made by someone besides the author, "somewhere in the transmission of the text", but NOT the publisher? And even if there was such a term, "publisher's errors" is likely the more commonly known term, and in a debate, it would suffice to indicate that Craig did not himself make those errors.

So I see Craig has having answered this question fine. I would, however, be interested to see his answer to the other issues Avalos raised...