Debunking Christianity -- And Then Some!
That was a great debate. I asked Robert Price on The Bible Geek what he thought of the whole experience. Seems it kind of left him with a bad taste in his mouth. He debates such people as Greg Boyd regularly and he respects Boyd as at least an honest person. Craig is more the encyclopedia salesman type according to Price. There is the constant appeal to the consensus of scholars (nobody thinks like you, everyone thinks like me) that was also annoying. I think Price handled that effectively though. Price didn't mention this, but I notice a sort of snickering tone in some of Craig's rebuttals. Price said that the best part about the whole debate was just being done.Craig is right about Ignatius. He does quote I Cor 15:8. It's easy to miss though, but it looks like it is there. Price considers Ignatius to be late though and spurious, as I do. I defended this position at triablogue here.I seriously do not get this Christian reaction to the pagan parallel myths. Craig's response is basically "But Osiris was cut into 14 pieces. Isn't that ridiculous? Ha ha ha. So unlike the Jesus story." Nobody is saying it's the exact same story. We're saying there are obviously similarities which leads to the conclusion that it's entirely plausible to suggest that the Jesus story was influenced by such stories.It's like "The Godfather" and "Goodfellas." Oh, Goodfellas can in no way have been influenced by The Godfather. Look at these plot differences. Look at these different characters. Come on. Nobody is saying that there is direct borrowing, but the influence is there.
This debate is really great stuff. Towards the end of Part 2, Price answers a group of questions as his closing statement and does a fantastic job of tying up the loose ends in this debate. I've seen only a few of Dr. Craig's debates, but in his debates it seems as though Craig always somewhat bullies the audience towards his favor. As jon noted in the debate, Craig is often "sort of snickering" during his rebuttals. This is distracting and, correct me if I'm wrong, sort of takes away from the importance/relevance of the other side's argument. I guess that's what he's going for, no?
I took a moment and created a file of some of this muted laughter/outright laughter which is available at my own blog here.
In every debate I've heard Bill Craig take part in, he simply piles unfounded assumption upon unfounded assumption, then declares them as 'facts' and then challenges his opponent to disprove his 'facts'. His 'facts' are in reality no such thing. They are merely assertions which he dishonestly PRESENTS as facts.One of the best debates I've heard him take part in was one with Hector Avalos, who rightly took him to task on this issue.Hector made the excellent point that it's not the 'fact' of the empty tomb which needs to be explained, but the STORIES about the empty tomb which need to be explained. Craig seems to confuse 'stories' with 'facts'. He does this intentionally, which seems to me to be a very dishonest debating tactic.But as Bob Price rightly pointed out, Bill Craig is not there to carry on an honest debate, or to practice honest historical analysis, he's there to get people 'saved'.In Bill Craig's mind it's OK to mislead people, as long as he's doing it for Jesus.As you may have already guessed, I have very little respect for the either the man's honesty OR integrity.Bob Price in his article 'By This Time He Stinketh', likens Bill Craig's approach to historical analysis with 'a caboose towing a train'.In his article Price wrote;"It reduces to this: at the end of Bill Bright's Four Spiritual Laws booklet, there is a cartoon diagram showing a toy locomotive engine labeled "fact," pulling a freight car labeled "faith," followed in turn by a superfluous caboose tagged "feeling." The new convert is admonished to let faith rest on fact, not to allow faith to waver with feelings. But the outsider (not to mention the ex-insider) must suspect that it is the caboose that is pulling the train, and pulling it backwards." We also must not forget that Bill Craig is sponsored by 'The Campus Crusade For Christ'. In my opinion, that alone tells us all we need to know about Craig's approach to the 'facts', and about whether he's practicing honest historical analysis.
In this debate Craig tries to make a big deal about the differences between the NT accounts and the legends that Price brings up, arguing that the NT lacks typical 'legendary embellishments' and hence must be 'factual'.It struck me that the differences, if real, may be due to the influence of Jewish scriptures on the NT writers. Price, I believe, has a lengthy article discussing the NT as midrash (sp?), a typical Jewish story telling style that draws on themes and incidents in earlier writings. He sees influences of the Moses, Elijah and Elisha stories in the stories about Jesus. Craig is viewing the NT accounts of the resurrection as modern factual reports, as opposed to a blending of Greek and Jewish genera.paulj
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