William Lane Craig Talks About Me

Christian radio host Justin Brierley does an awesome job interviewing people for his UK based weekly radio show. He interviewed me some time ago. Lately he's interviewed Norman Geisler, Alvin Plantinga, Gary Habermas, and William Lane Craig, who spoke about me in his July 19th interview to be found here (just scroll down).

Justin picks up the topic leading up to me at about the 1 hour and 13 minute marker.

In speaking about those of us who share our deconversion stories, Craig thinks our "reverse testimonies" are "very powerful," and they make him wonder if he himself is deluded! From now on if people question the power of a deconversion story, let's quote Craig!

Craig goes on to say that if you look at these testimonies closely we didn't leave for intellectual reasons. Instead we left for emotional reasons "having to do with a negative experience" of some sort. To "make it look credible" he says, "they [we] will emphasize the intellectual aspects of it."

In this context Justin mentions my name and Dr. Craig said "exactly," as if I am a typical case of what he just talked about. Craig says: "The merit of John Loftus's testimony is that he's candid about his adultery and pornography and the way he felt burned and abandoned by the local church when he fell into sin; that it was really these things which prompted him to leave the faith, not the intellectual problems."

Craig does admit the same things can be said for Christians who "came to Christ for personal or emotional reasons," however, "it's more credible if you present yourself as having gone through a long intellectual search." Then speaking to Christians he says, "you gotta be really careful about these things because sometimes they're not always the whole truth."

Craig confesses that he himself did not go through a long intellectual search, and he doesn't tell people that he did, because "it's just not true." "That wasn't my experience," he says, "and I want to be candid about that."

Craig himself grounds his faith in a supposed veridical experience with the Holy Spirit, not intellectual reasons anyway.

You can listen to it yourself.

In any case, let me comment. In my book I am honest and candid that I had some negative experiences which shook my faith and goaded me into searching for the truth. Where Craig comes up with "pornography" as a factor, I haven't a clue. I shared my experiences because, as Craig says of himself, it wasn't due entirely to a long intellectual search, and so like him, "it's just not true" of me to say that it was. Like him, "that wasn't my experience," on the other side, either.

But neither was my change of mind due entirely because of my experiences. Part of my story includes the challenges of harmonizing science with the Genesis creation accounts. Part of my story includes the problem of evil. Part of my story includes the lack of communication (or illumination) of the Holy Spirit in the lives of church people I associated with. In other words, yes, I was candid about it all. But it misrepresents the facts to say it was purely negative experiences that led me away from the fold. Why should people like Craig believe what I say about my experiences but reject out of hand what I say about my reasons? I said that I could not reconcile everything I had experienced and everything I had learned with my faith. It was a total blow to my faith and it included both my experiences and my studies.

I remember talking with a woman before I had left the fold who told me she had a terrible experience which caused her to want to reject Christianity (this was years ago and I forgot what kind of negative experience she told me). So she read everything she could get her hands on to find reasons not to believe. In the end, she told me, she just could not change her mind. In the end, she just had to continue believing.

Her story was not my experience if you've read my story. I did not try to leave the fold. I had spent too much time and too much money into my education that I was not going to throw it all away because of a negative experience or two. I'm way too stubborn for that. My whole life was wrapped around being a minister, all of my friends and colleagues were Christians, and I was hoping to teach full time at a Christian college. So even with the negative experiences I had, I was not going to go down without a hard fight, kicking and screaming against the very thought of leaving my faith.

But this woman is an example of the honesty you see in my book. She had to be honest with herself despite the negative experiences. So did I. The way she solved her questions is not the way I solved mine. But I can say we were both honest with ourselves. I would not have left the faith if the reasons were not there, despite my experiences. Period! Say what you will. But if my story has the merit that Craig says it does in being honest with why I left the fold, then do not apply that merit selectively. Apply it across the board to everything I said.

Thanks to someone named Helen for telling me of this interview.

23 comments:

Andrew said...

What I find interesting is that in your book you call Craig a good man whom you think highly of, and you constantly trade on the fact that you were in some of his classes.

And yet in your book you call him DELUSIONAL and on your blog you have called him a liar.

You are either confused or playing games with that line of attack.

John W. Loftus said...

Andrew you lack integrity. You're banned and yet you continue to post here. I do not say Dr. Craig is a liar, either.

Go away, idiot, for good.

Greywizard said...

I haven't read your book John. Too much on my plate at the moment. However, I should have thought that a negative experience is a good reason for abandoning faith. Craig is obviously trying to make it look as though it is all emotion, with no thought at all. This is a very narrow conception of what it means to think reasonably.

One of the things that Christians (and other religious people) often say is that experiences of pain and distress are not good reasons for giving up faith. Karl Rahner once asked whether giving up faith makes the pain any better! (The answer to that question is probably yes. After all, if there is a compassionate god, then he's doing it - giving you pain - for a reason. That's a pretty hard sell when the suffering is great, especially when you know that others do not suffer this way. Then the inevitable question, 'Why me?' makes abundant sense.) But of course this is just what the problem of pain is all about - taking negative experiences as evidence for the absence of a loving, compassionate, all-powerful creator.

Besides, without emotion, reason is quite empty. That's why Plantinga's arguments for the existence of God, or his so-called refuations of atheist arguments (his refutation of materialism, for instance) are so colourless. He thinks he can do it all with tricks of logic. Belief/Disbelief is very deeply embedded, and emotion plays an incredibly important part. When people like Craig and Plantinga ignore this, they sound like shadow people. Zombies, maybe?!

Toby said...

Arghhh. Dr. Craig is very frustrating to me. To lump all deconverts into to one pile and say that he knows we left for emotional, rather than intellectual reasons is just plain silly. Just like when he debates, he gets so focused on his point-of-view that he cannot widen his vision to actually hear what his opponent is saying.

For example, when I was in high school on of the debate tactics to "sound" good is to carry multiple lines of argument. These may be weak arguments, but taken together they are supposed to give the false impression that they carry more weight. So when his opponent gives a counter argument that is powerful and indirectly addresses the weaker points, but they don't connect the dots (because Craigs arguments are weaker in those areas anyway). Dr. Craig then comes back and says, "My opponent failed to address 7 of my arguments, each one fatal to his position." Then he runs down the list. He's a fantastic debater, and ignoring the substance of his arguments, he's typically the more skilled orator.

One thing I do give him credit for is his ability to be gracious with hecklers. I'd be impatient with them, but he says thing like, "That's a good point you bring up, then using his orator skills and vast knowledge, he makes the heckler sound silly, but without being overly mean."

Toby said...

I wrote,

he gets so focused on his point-of-view that he cannot widen his vision to actually hear what his opponent is saying

HA! Okay,improved vision will probably do little for his hearing.

I meant that he should be open enough to at least listen to what his opponents are saying. Sometimes I think he only listens to a fraction of what they are saying and then assumes he knows the rest.

Andrew said...

John, are you saying that you have not said Craig lacks integrity?

YES or NO?

I will say, though, that at least you admit that you call him delusional. (Of course you have to, its in your book.)

As to a banning, I am amused that you tell us their is no God to tell us what to do, but then you think you CAN TELL US WHAT TO DO!

You see, I don't take orders from atheists.

After all, you told me we have to make our own rules.

Anthony said...

Andrew, once again you have shown that Christians can be pricks and asses just as much as anyone else. So much for the holy spirit huh.

John W. Loftus said...

Andrew you simply do not know the meaning of the word "deluded" or "delusional."

But your days are numbered here.

John W. Loftus said...

greywizard said...Belief/Disbelief is very deeply embedded, and emotion plays an incredibly important part.

Exactly!

Evan said...

The facts are quite clear. Emotions are the drivers of decisions. As Hume put it elegantly: "Reason is, and ought to be, the slave to the passions."

Reading Damasio about this allows a deeper understanding, but essentially he makes the point that without emotions to force decisions, reason becomes the ultimate ditherer. Weighing various pieces of evidence interminably without coming to a conclusion is the natural style of pure reason.

It is our emotions that allow us to make rapid decisions, but they are informed by our evidence. The thinker can utilize that evidence, or ignore it and allow his emotions to have full control over him.

However, the decision made without respect to the evidence, on the basis of emotion alone, is unlikely to be a good one.

Shygetz said...

"Delusional" and "good" are not exclusive.

Or, as the kids today say...English, ur doing it rong.

Touchstone said...

Shygetz is right.

I think Craig would be an engaging, enjoyable guy to have a beer with and talk shop. Even (especially) those who disagree with him most and find him the most mistaken will affirm that Craig is hard working, brilliant, resourceful, creative(!), and has a natural charm and gift for rhetoric and public debate.

These are not trivial qualities, and they are strong ones for Craig. Unfortunately, those attributes are usually put in service and promotion of delusion, invention, irrational thinking. But I very much get the affinity on one hand for Craig for his strengths, juxtaposed against the deep dissonance and credulity that he services with those qualities.

Wanderin' Weeta said...

"Craig goes on to say that if you look at these testimonies closely we didn't leave for intellectual reasons but we left for emotional reasons "having to do with a negative experience" of some sort. To "make it look credible" he says, "they will emphasize the intellectual aspects of it.""

This argument invariably leaves me with forehead bruises, head/desk-induced trauma.

In my case, all the positive, enriching, happy experiences in my life (and there were many) were associated with the church, and/or with my personal "walk with God". The negative were long-since forgotten and dismissed with the excuse, "He wasn't a true Christian."

It was my continued Bible reading and study that destroyed my faith, to my great personal distress. When it went, it took with it my family, my friendships, my career (missionary), my support structures.

Compared with that storm, any negative experiences I may have had as a Christian were dust-devils.

And yet, in discussions with Christians on the topic, all that is brushed aside. I must, must, must have had some non-rational reason to leave. I obviously am "in denial."

I don't deny that some do leave for emotional or even practical reasons; however, "some" does not equal "all". To refuse to even consider this is to purposefully choose ignorance.

eheffa said...

I wonder whether this comment of Craig's is perhaps an example of "projection". He is projecting his own reasons to believe onto his his opponent(s). Has WL Craig not been quoted as saying that even if all the available evidence refuted Christianity (arguably, it probably does), he would still believe in Jesus on the basis of his personal "experience" of the Holy Spirit? If this is not an emotionally based belief system, I'd like to know what is...

- (another) evan ;-)

Nightmare said...

Andrew said:
As to a banning, I am amused that you tell us their is no God to tell us what to do, but then you think you CAN TELL US WHAT TO DO!

It's his friggin blog troll, he damn well CAN tell you what to do while you're here. And if you don't comply, he can ban you (again and again apparently) - it's the old "might makes right" thing, the same as your god's "authority" boils down to.

As for Craig, the man is an arrogant delusional liar, for the simple reason that he refuses to acknowledge even the possibility that he may be wrong. See here for details:

http://www.jcnot4me.com/Items/contra_craig/contra_craig.htm#Is%20Craig%20Coming%20Out%20of%20The%20Closet...%20%20in%20Magic%20Underwear

John W. Loftus said...

BTW, in reference to Bill Craig lacking integrity I think Andrew was refering to comments I made here.

See and judge for yourselves. I actually feel sorry for the man. He has a very tough road to plow.

AdamH said...

Well, Mr. Loftus, I see that Nightmare says that Craig is an arrogant, delustional, liar.

This, of course, is a lie in and of itself, but you seem to have no comment.

Aren't you going to defend your friend, considering how you are such an advocate of respectful comments?

Its a serious question, which goes to YOUR integrity if you let it pass.

Steven Carr said...

It seems Craig thinks the Good Shepherd is going to save lost sheep, but not if the sheep ran away in a state of high emotion because it was attacked and frightened by the other sheep.

I wonder why Craig's alleged god did not lift a finger to bring Loftus back into the flock.

The Good Shepherd takes little care of the emotional needs of his flock.

Almost as though there were no Good Shepherd.

Toby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Toby said...

Adam,

Apparently, I feel like following you around on this site cleaning up after you.

You wrote,

Aren't you going to defend your friend, considering how you are such an advocate of respectful comments?

Its a serious question, which goes to YOUR integrity if you let it pass.


I personally think this goes more against YOUR integrity than it does John's. Its a blatant attempt to attack John's character, not on what John wrote, but the writings of someone he is no more responsible for than you are. John's thoughts and words on W. Craig are all on record and anyone could go back and read them. While it is apparent that he is sometimes critical of Craig's views, John is respectful toward him. He's given ample time to refuting the lies that people try to spread. John is not responsible for the thoughts and writings of others, and it is deceitful on YOUR part to imply that he is.

You need to apologize to John, because this is a serious question to your integrity if you let it pass.

Nightmare said...

Adamh (aka Andrew) said:
Well, Mr. Loftus, I see that Nightmare says that Craig is an arrogant, delustional, liar.

Yup, that I do. A point you don't seem to understand trollboy is that I am not John and he is not me. I don't answer for him, he doesn't answer for me. That's what it means to be individuals. So you got a problem with me take it up with me, don't use my words to make cowardly backhanded attacks on John.

This, of course, is a lie in and of itself, but you seem to have no comment.

Bull. I gave you all the proof necessary for my opinion - if you're too much of a coward to look at it for what it is (kinda like your hero Craig) that's your own problem. It does not however make the statement a lie.

Of course, to most xians a lie is defined as anything that disagrees with their chosen position regardless of the actual truth of the matter, so you are at least true to SOP here.

Icelander said...

I'm a little jealous because I don't have a deconversion story. Thinking back, I can't remember a time when I believed in a god or the supernatural. Though this wasn't for a lack of trying.

I tried crystals and spells, and I tried prayer and worship. I thought there was something wrong with me because everybody else seemed to have this ability to talk to god and I didn't. And to think about it now, I don't even know what they verb "believe," when used in the religious connotation, would even entail.

But then I found out that I wasn't alone in this. Lots of people don't believe. And about 1 in 10 atheists I talk to has had this experience of never believing.

zilch said...

You can count me among your one in ten, icelander: I've never believed either. Oh, there was a time when I wanted to believe, and looked around: the nicest people I found were Bahá'í's, and I had Jesus Freak friends trying to convert me, but I just couldn't bring myself to subscribe to what seemed patent nonsense.

So now I'm hellbound. Oh well. With any luck, I'll end up in the First Circle of Hell with all the pagans, and I can finally ask Plato if he really believed that his crazy Republic would have worked.