William Lane Craig "Won by a Landslide" Against Hitchens

That's what Roger Sharp said on Facebook after watching the debate in person. [Full disclosure, Sharp is a Christian]. This is exactly what I had predicted. Christian professor Doug Geivett weighed in on the debate where he said: Craig "was thoroughly prepared for every aspect of the debate and never faltered in his response to objections by Hitchens," and that Hitchens's arguments "were largely unfocused, sometimes disconnected, and often irrelevant." Over at Common Sense Atheism (which is a great source for Craig debates) is an atheist review of the debate where we read: "Frankly Craig spanked Hitchens like a foolish child." For more info visit here.

I would really like to try my hand at debating the master debater. Anyone else like to see that? If the debate was on Christianity vs. Atheism, what would you think my chances are? See the new poll on the sidebar. You can choose more than one answer.


John W. Loftus said...

Results of our last poll:

Craig/Hitchens Match-Up?

A Dead Even Tie 10 (2%)

Hitchens by a Puff 40 (9%)

Craig by a Nose 33 (7%)

Hitchens by a Wide Margin 72 (17%)

Craig by a Wide Margin 165 (39%)

I Want a Craig/Loftus Match-Up 140 (33%)

Al Moritz said...


Craig would handily beat you on cosmology and associated philosophy, you might give him a hard time on the problem of evil. On topics of Christianity itself I am not sure.

John W. Loftus said...

From the poll so far it looks as if there wouldn't be any high expectations for me. Good. I would be thought of as being way outgunned, and outmatched. I like that very much! I really do. I'll save these results for the day this debate takes place.

Luke said...

Yeah, it's nothing personal, John, but Craig is one of the best debaters in the world. He's been doing this since undergrad, and he's been researching every permutation of every argument as a professional philosopher for decades.

x said...

I wouldn't mind seeing John debate Craig on whether the Jesus story is true or the bible is historical fact using the criteria historians use to determine history. A god debate doesn't really solve anything as people aren't Godians, they are Christian or Muslim, etc. Stories which have nothing to prove they are true.
I don't think Craig did very well against Avalos. Hitchens isn't an expert in religion.

Jim Turner said...

I bet Craig would win debates regardless of which side he took.

I'd like to see Craig debate a copy of himself. Then it would be a fair contest.

As an observer, it's hard to separate out the strength of the ideas from the strength of the presenter.

Jon said...

Yeah, you'd be crushed, John. The analogy would be like the toughest kid in your high school fighting any UFC fighter of any weight class. You're pretty good, but he's just been doing this too long. He'll read every post you've ever written, bring up an obscure argument you've made and make it look silly, get you turned around. What can you do?

I actually had the privilege of driving Craig to the airport one time. This was back in the day when I was into trying to be a Christian apologist type person. I should have taken a picture. Instead all I had to show for it was an apple he gave me from his sack lunch as he left, but I ate that.

dvd said...

That is the very worst I have seen of Christopher Hitchens. He even conceeded his final comment!

openlyatheist said...

I agree w/ the commenter named Vision over at Common Sense Atheism.

Craig beating Hitchens in a debate is about as impressive to me as Benny Hinn beating Hitchens in a faith healing contest.

CodewordConduit said...

"master debator"



Landon Hedrick said...


I spoke to Craig about you a few weeks ago when he was here in Missouri for his debate with Richard Carrier. He plainly said that he will not debate you because it's a tragedy to him what has happened to you. I recommend you begin targeting some other potential opponents and focus your energies there.

Steven Carr said...

Craig did not win.

He just repeated the same, worn-out non-arguments that he always does.

Most of what Craig says is not even an argument.

Take this 'argument' for the resurrection

'jewish theology prohibits dying/rising messiah'

That is not even an argument, unless Craig somehow believes that all religions are frozen belief systems.

Just because Craig will never have a new belief in his life, that does not mean that everybody else is closed-minded and incapable of thinking new thoughts.

Craig's arguments are the same old rubbish he has been recycling for years....

'disciples were willing to die for that belief in the resurrection'

Oh dear. Craig has not read Galatians 6:12 where Paul explains that Christians were persecuted on the issue of circumcision, not resurrection, and that the Christian leaders compromised their beliefs, and by so doing avoided persecution.

But I'm game for a laugh.

List the 12 disciples, and give us the evidence for each one that that person said they would prefer to die rather than deny Paul's claim that 'the last Adam became a life-giving spirit', or 1 Peter's claim that 'All flesh is grass'.

Of course, if Paul had gone into a synagogue and said that the Jewish god was a recently killed criminal that Jews should worship, he would have been stoned to death in 20 minutes tops as a blasphemer, and an idolator. The idea of him spending weeks in synagogues telling Jews that Jesus was God-made-flesh is childish nonsense.

'3 facts that pass the tests for minimal facts (early attestation, multiple attestation, etc.)'

Craig actually gets up in public with logic no better than if more than one Christian says something ,it must be true!


How 'early' is the claim in Matthew's Gospel that multiple Jews were attesting to the disciples having stolen the body?

SO if multiple Jews were 'attesting' to the disciples having stolen the body, then it must be true.

This new Craig-logic is so much easier to use than the old logic,where you needed real arguments.

Does one single person in history ever name himself as ever having seen an empty tomb?

David said...

I think Craig gets too much credit for his debating skills. While his technique is certainly polished, and his arguments well thought out, I just don't find them that compelling. At the very least, he should be able to get me to second guess what I believe, rather than figure out a way to debunk his dressed up BS.

Harry McCall said...

The media made Christopher Hitchens and the so-called New Atheists and now, we are finding that Hitchens level of scholarship was more in line with the “Knee Jerk Reaction” one finds in his book (God is Not Great) as geared to the mass popular Market.

If the news really media knew the outcome of this debate (and they may); Hitches should be given the boot and John should now take his place!

In other words, one is only a top debater of atheism as long as they earn and keep this national title. Hitchens has rode the wave of the media too long and it really shows!

As an analogy, what we had before the debate was the story of The Ant and the Grass Hopper:

While the Ant toiled all summer long, the Grass Hopper sits on the nearby fence post with his fiddle enjoying the fruits of summer singing the song over and over “Oh, the world owes me a living! Dee-Idoo-Edee-Idum!

When winter came, the Ant was ready and now living safe away under ground in the warmth of his nest with plenty of stored up food while the last scene shows a frozen Grass Hopper still sitting on the fence post clutching his fiddle.

Craig was like the Ant in this debate and Hitchens was like Grass Hopper. As the debate ends, Craig is mentally alive while Hitchen’s popular rhetoric had him fiddling and singing away for the media as a member of this New Atheistic movement. After this debate, I predict we’ll see the winter of life for the simplistic atheistic views of Grass Hopper Htichens!

As far as debating goes; Craig would be a fool to debate William Dever on Archeology and the Bible as proof of God, while at the same time, Dever would be a fool to debate Craig on the philosophical views of logic in Christianity for the proof of God.

Too often, the fact that I can overwhelm a person with facts does not mean I have a valid argument, it just means I know my material and play on it and my mastery of it to the mind of the audience.

Thus, if I wanted to debate Craig over the fact that solid state semiconductors (such as a Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistors) prove the non-existence of God, he would be a fool to take me on in this subject (I have 6 national certifications in the field of electronics and I have published articles on their use in audio amps).

In the End, it all boils down to this:
As Client Eastwood told the criminal in the movie Dirty Harry: “A man’s got to know his limitations”.

David said...

And here is a perfect example of why I would never enter an ambiguous debate about "The Existence of God". When you attempt to disprove God using the Bible in such a debate, Christians will wiggle out of it with a comment just like this one that Craig made last night:

"Hitchens: I completely concur with that, but I did note that those evil commands of God are noted in the Bible.

Craig: This is an issue not of the existence of God, but an issue dealing with biblical inerrancy. "

Religions must be debunked one at a time, and very specifically. When you debate God in general, you just end up tossing anecdotes back and forth.

Scott said...

I attended the debate as well. I also predicted Hitchens would be destroyed by Craig's tactics. I suppose I attended for the entertainment value. I was frustrated by Hitchens lack of focus. He spent way to much time talking about religion in general and Catholicism in particular. For example, as he often does, he went about demonstrating the Catholic church's historical improprieties. I could almost hear the largely evangelical crowd at Biola, cheer him on-proof positive that Catholicism is a false form of theism. Yet, when given the opportunity to attack the historical reliability of the gospels or address the problem of evil for Christian theism, Hitchens remained silent or supplied weak and impotent answers. Until Hitchens learns how to refute arguments using debate tactics-such as Craigs, I hope the important task of public debate will be left up to those more qualified. Hitchens is much better in panel discussions. Luftus, start practicing your tactics. You're up next Luftus, but make sure the debate is about the proof for Christian theism not theism in general.

winteryknightblog said...

I wrote a point-by-point summary of the debate as I watched the video.

It's here.

Ryan said...

I just finished reading a point by point blog on the debate (not winteryknights). You should read some of the comments from the christians over there. Shit, you would have thought that they just finished converting the world and were waiting for a pat on the head from jesus. No wonder no one takes them seriously.

Did they really believe that hitchens was the best we had to offer. Do they think we are now going to go crawling on our hands and knees to them and say we were wrong. What a bunch of pompous asses.

Ryan said...

Here's the site if anyone's interested:


Mastermind said...


"Did they really believe that hitchens was the best we had to offer."

Many people do. And it's your fault (atheists in general, not you personally). You're the one who made him an atheist superstar.

Bart said...

On the cosmology issue, I wonder why no one has ever tried bringing Craig to task on his lack of understanding.

He keeps repeating the line of "something coming from nothing" and the silly fine tuning argument.

If this were a compelling argument, then cosmologists would be overwhelming theists. We find the exact opposite. Most cosmologists and astronomers are atheists or deists.

When someone quotes an astronomer saying 'something came from nothing' its just a summary, and not very detailed speech. The true 'big bang' theory is much more complex, and never states that something came from nothing.

Indeed, our current physics models only can show what happened to one Planck second into the expansion of the universe. We have no testable theories to describe any length of time smaller than a Planck second. Trying to talk about before that, and using it as proof of a Grand Motivator, is just a pointless god of the gaps argument. And a long way to the Empty Tomb.

I also don't understand why no one has taken the moral argument any further. I can find examples of ALL acts that we call immoral that are treated as moral and just acts in other societies.

If we can find entire societies that behave in opposite ways to our morality, that is good evidence that there is no absolute ingrained human morality. It also lends great weight that all human morals are learned values from society.

On the debate, sounds like I didn't miss much. Hitchens main deal is to say that religion is so ridiculous that it doesn't deserve to be treated with any respect. With that attitude, he never takes the time to fully immerse himself in the strengths of the arguments for faith. That puts him at a great disadvantage to Craig who obviously reads as much as he can of the secular scientific world.

Jesse said...

I don't understand why so many debaters fall into Craig's trap, and refuse to make any positive arguments for atheism.

I've never heard anyone retort with Physicalism - that mind is a property of matter. We know that Craig has a prior commitment to supernaturalism, so he won't argue for a material God.

quine said...

Bart said: "If this were a compelling argument, then cosmologists would be overwhelming theists. We find the exact opposite. Most cosmologists and astronomers are atheists or deists."

The cosmological argument argues for a first cause of the universe--it would be consistent with deism or theism. So cosmologists who are deists are rejecting atheism.

Bart said: "The true 'big bang' theory is much more complex, and never states that something came from nothing."

The theistic/deistic implications of Big Bang cosmology were the reason atheist cosmologists found it (and continue to find it) disturbing in its metaphysical implications, and explains why so many of them clung to the "steady state" theory of an eternal universe long after the evidence pointed to a universe which began in the finite past. Also, you need to listed to Craig more carefully--he couples evidence for a beginning from cosmology with a sophisticated philosophical argument called "the kalam argument" which demonstrates the impossibility of an actual infinite in spacetime.

Bart said: "And a long way to the Empty Tomb."

Craig's arguments from natural theology are not meant to demonstrate the resurrection. For that, he turns to the historical evidence and "inference to the best explanation" and shows that the resurrection is the theory that best explains the facts that are accepted by the overwhelming majority of New Testament scholars (theists and atheists).

Bart said: "I also don't understand why no one has taken the moral argument any further. I can find examples of ALL acts that we call immoral that are treated as moral and just acts in other societies.If we can find entire societies that behave in opposite ways to our morality, that is good evidence that there is no absolute ingrained human morality. It also lends great weight that all human morals are learned values from society."

I'm afraid you have completely missed the point here. Moral relativism (while consistent with atheism) is a conclusion that most atheist philosophers are desperate to avoid, because it means, for example, that Nazi morality cannot be condemned as objectively less moral than any other morality. (Of all people, Hitchens should appreciate the fact that he is assuming the existence of objective moral values when he expresses (legitimate) righteous outrage at the crimes of radical muslim terrorists).

Bart said: "On the debate, sounds like I didn't miss much. Hitchens main deal is to say that religion is so ridiculous that it doesn't deserve to be treated with any respect. With that attitude, he never takes the time to fully immerse himself in the strengths of the arguments for faith. That puts him at a great disadvantage to Craig who obviously reads as much as he can of the secular scientific world."

Here I agree with you. Hitchens did a lot of damage to the atheist cause with such a poor showing. He has now increased Craig's profile and made himself an object of ridicule (now we'll see if he can take it as well as he dishes it out).

ahswan said...

Personally, I'd love to see John debate Craig, specifically on John's arguments.

When I first started reading some of Craig's arguments, I wasn't that impressed. However, the more I thought about them, the more I realized how tight the logic really was. Never discount Craig until you've really analyzed what he says.

But, to have John present his arguments for atheism and have Craig respond would be a bit different, as John would seemingly have "home court advantage." But, I suspect that Craig would still win.

Bart said...

quine said
"The theistic/deistic implications of Big Bang cosmology were the reason atheist cosmologists found it (and continue to find it) disturbing in its metaphysical implications.."

This couldn't be further from the truth. The steady state people were working on the only evidence they had. Its difficult to change your mind on something you're certain of, and many considered the steady state to be a near certainty. Even with that certainty, once the body of evidence pointed 'twards a single point of origin for the universe, most cosmologists accepted the evidence quickly, and began theorizing from the new point of knowledge. I've read many papers and lectures from the time, and I've never seen any cosmologist reference metaphysical, or theology in the real physical work.

Your mention that atheists might find this 'disturbing' is incorrect in the extreme. Every atheist I've known, or read, would love to see a real piece of evidence for the existence of a god/gods. The Big Bang Theory (ooh how I hate that name. Its just awful, and incorrect. Yet, it stuck) is not that evidence. Just because we see the result, does not mean we will never see the cause. There are many competing hypothesis' on how a universe begins. Brane theory, string theory, parallel dimensional theory, heck, even the God theory, but none have any real evidence backing them up.

I'm surprised you find Kalam argument sophisticated. I find Craigs repolish of the argument to be more sophisticated than the original. Yet still lacking in that real point, where is the evidence. Pointing to a gap in knowledge is not proof of a Grand Motivator.

You're right that most atheists avoid moral relativism, and they shouldn't! If Hitler had won the war, his morality would have won out and been the 'correct' morality of humanity. I am a moral relativist. I grew up in a society that values individual freedoms and democratic values. So I have those values. People in China regularly show that they believe that the greater good is more important than individual freedoms. There are aberrations in both societies, but on the whole, peoples morals reflect the society they grow up in. This might be distasteful, but its obviously true.

I still have a great deal of respect for Hitchens work. He dismisses the careful house of cards used to support theism. Instead of attacking those foundations, he concentrates on showing how ridiculous the practice of theism is. With this tact, he has the best chance of de-converting the average man. Most middle class people won't spend the time to examine carefully constructed arguments. But they will react to ridicule.

To show how silly Craigs cosmological argument is, he should talk to a cosmologist. It just falls down once you actually understand cosmology.

M. Tully said...

Here's the problem with debates. If John debated Craig, Craig would say nothing about why Christianity is true and other faiths are not. It would play into John's expertise, so instead Craig would turn to the Cosmological argument (not John's expertise).

If you want to hear Craig have his cosmological argument handed to him, listen to the debate with Vic Stenger. As the debate goes on, Craig continually tries to move the conversation away from the Cosmological argument. And into areas which aren't Stenger's area of expertise.

The right way to get a good debate is not mano-a-mano, it's team v. team.

Here's my match up:

Craig, Plantinga, Behe, Strauss v. Sean Carrol, David Buss, Dawkins, Loftus.

Then let the games begin.

Ryan said...

I agree with Mr. Tully! Man to man is not the way it should be, because it seems to ease to avoid a question or turn an argument around. Now, with a debate rigged for team against team....there is nowhere to run, and plenty of people to hear you scream!!!!

Greg Mills said...

I'd love to see JL Schellenberg speak, if not necessarily debate anyone. His "Wisdom of Doubt" is amazing.

Steven Carr said...

'Craig's arguments from natural theology are not meant to demonstrate the resurrection. For that, he turns to the historical evidence and "inference to the best explanation" and shows that the resurrection is the theory that best explains the facts that are accepted by the overwhelming majority of New Testament scholars (theists and atheists).'

Craig's methods remind me of somebody elses.

Take these 4 facts, which really are facts.

Would you like some genuine facts?

Unlike Craig, I will only use facts undisputed by anybody.

Fact 1. Hitler never signed a document ordering Jews to be liquidated in Europe.

Fact 2. No German ever recorded hearing Hitler say orally that all Jews were to be killed.

Fact 3. The building now known as gas chamber 1 in Auschwitz was an air-raid shelter in 1944.

Fact 4. After the war , trained historians like David Irving and clergymen like Bishop Williamson testified that there was no systematic killing of 6 million Jews.

Now these are all genuine facts, unlike Craig's claim that it was a fact that a person called Joseph of Arimathea (where's that) buried Jesus.

And we should insist that Craig produce a theory that *BEST* explains those facts and those facts only. He should not be allowed to use other facts, even if they are genuine facts.

Remember, it must be the *best* explanation of those 4 cherry-picked facts.

After all, the very basis of the 4-fact apologetic is that opponents have to explain the 4 cherry-picked 'facts' and not use other facts which tell against them.

But what is the BEST explanation of those 4 cherry-picked facts?

Does Craig's 4-fact approach ring any bells in terms of debating techniques?

Perhaps Craig-supporters can give us one person who named himself as seeing the BVM, Mary Magdalene,the other Mary, Judas, Lazarus, Nicodemus, Bartimaeus, Thomas, Joanna, Salome, Joseph of Arimathea, Simon of Cyrene, Alexander.

Perhaps Craig-supporters can give us one person who named himself as meeting anybody who he named as seeing any of the BVM, Mary Magdalene,the other Mary, Judas, Lazarus, Nicodemus, Bartimaeus, Thomas, Joanna, Salome, Joseph of Arimathea, Simon of Cyrene, Alexander.

They will be allowed to use the New Testament....

John W. Loftus said...

It's too bad that the so-called "New Atheists," the ones who got all the press, are so lame when it comes to actually knowing the counter-arguments that Christian apologists like Craig and others can offer up. I wish they would have the integrity to step aside and recommend others who could debate for them, but instead they prefer the limelight and the speaking fees. I guess I can't blame them entirely for this. I heard that Sam Harris wanted $26,000 to speak somewhere, and I suppose that would be hard to turn down. I would do it for a fraction of that. For now, just pay my expenses plus a little extra. Dennett and Hitchens both recommend my book but they only do so in private. Nevertheless, it looks as if from this debate and others that Hitchens never actually read it.


And to think, some Christians will see debate and say to themselves, "Hitchens is the best that atheists have got and he got owned." The parallel scenario would be for Ray Comfort to debate Michael Martin.

John W. Loftus said...

Yes, Landon, I know what Craig said. It's just that if such a debate is demanded and needed he could change his mind.

In any case, the stated reason why he won't debate former students is that he "fears" doing so. Yep. That's what he told me when the cameras were off before the thought crossed his mind that I would want to debate him and would use his words against him. Again, he fears debating former students. That's his only word as to why he won't do it. One more time, he fears debating former students.

If that word gets out he may have to man up, as it were, and show his followers that he isn't afraid.


Madeleine said...

I think that watching the shooting of fish a barrel gets boring even for the most studied in patience Christian.


Just trying to bait you ;-)

If you like to debate Christians, pop over to MandM sometime soon.

Steven Carr said...

It is boring waiting for Craig to produce some evidence...

Perhaps Craig-supporters can give us one person who named himself as seeing the BVM, Mary Magdalene,the other Mary, Judas, Lazarus, Nicodemus, Bartimaeus, Thomas, Joanna, Salome, Joseph of Arimathea, Simon of Cyrene, Alexander.

Or evidence for this bizarre practice of letting a convicted criminal go each Passover...

Where's the beef?

I wonder why this convicted criminal ,Barabbas (Son of the Father) was languishing in jail totally uncrucified, while the real Son of the Father was killed in one day.

This is all as much a myth as Pilgrim's Progress....

quine said...

I see a contradiction in the atheist position on the value of debates--on the one hand they are irrelevant because they only test debating skills, not the validity of the arguments, and only those who have already made up their minds watch them; on the other John Loftus seems obsessed with the desire to debate Craig to redeem the atheist side. Which is it?

Will77 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Will77 said...

I apologize if this is off-topic, but it is relevant to Craig's debating style. I think Craig uses some pretty lame arguments actually. They are like philosophical card tricks. The problem is that most opponents don't point them out. For example, I know most will disagree with me, but I did not think he won the Avolos debate, in substance. Maybe he won rhetorically, but it seemed pretty hollow to me. Because Dr. Avalos said repeatedly that Craig's four "facts" were not facts at all. And I thought Avalos gave good reasons. Craig's main recourse to try and reaffirm his "facts" were fallacious appeals to authority and majority, which should immediately have been pointed out. Then Craig used one of his favorite philosophical party tricks and said that Dr. Avalos' empirical rationalism is "overly restricitive and self-refuting". Craig loves that phrase and has used it before..it sounds so final and devastating but it is really just fatuous pretentious blather. On the "self-refuting" point, he said that it cannot affirm itself. And here is where it pays to know some philosophy..all he is doing is a verbal expression of Godel's proof that a theorem or system cannot proove its own axioms without contradiction. So it doesn't actually refute itself, he is just demonstrating a "self-referrential incoherence"- which turns out to be a universal truism. And the reason Dr. Craig claimed that Dr. Avolos' epistemic methodology was "overly restrictive" was because it doesn't explain how we know that something is morally good, beautiful, etc.. But here Craig is doing a slight-of-hand trick, because, as he surely knows, Dr. Avolos' stated epistemic methodology was in reference to determining historical truth. So it involves a different language-game (to borrow Wittgenstein's term) than aesthetic or moral judgments. So his claim that Avolos' methods were "self-refuting and overly restricitive" is pure B.S. Ironically, he complained about Avalos pulling some academic tricks on an "untrained audience"; but Craig depends on an untrained audience to pull off his nonsensical refutations. I expect I would discover the same kind of intellectual chicanery if I explored the cosmological arguments in depth as well. Anyway, just an observation. I agree with everyone that Hitchens was entertaining but didn't win by any stretch of the imagination, due to his refusal to refute the arguments rather than just dismiss them. And I think Mr. Loftus would fair quite well against Craig. He strikes me as extremely able in a debate format. However, victory may be in the eye of the beholder.

Harry McCall said...

May I quote here the State Representative of South Carolina from the Greater Charleston Area; Mr. Robert Ford as to how he would have characterized Hitchens’ performance in his debate with Craig:

Hitchens done be stupid and his whole debate done be doomed!

Dave said...


It is not necessary to “redeem” the atheist position from anything Craig has said or done. John's arguments stand or fall (in my opinion, the former is correct) irrespective of whether Craig will debate him, and irrespective of the outcome of that debate. If John wants to debate Craig, it's for another purpose than to prove that the atheist side is correct. That's already been done.

It's not entirely correct to say that oral debates are worthless. True, they are primarily a test of debating skills, generally don't change minds, and certainly don't prove anything. But they do serve at least two potential purposes: they can reinforce pre-existing beliefs, and they can expose people to positions they may not previously have been aware of. (Do you suppose it's a coincidence that Bill Craig is only willing to debate opponents who can't do this competently? He selects his opponents from two types of people: first, ignorant and unpleasant blowhards like Hitchens, and second, college professors with good background and advanced degrees but little debating skill and little time to prepare for such a debate.)

As for a Loftus/Craig match, I suspect Craig would win, based on sheer statistics. I'm not aware of Loftus – or anyone currently alive – having the debating skills necessary to score a clear win against Craig; the best he could hope for would be a technical win, which has been accomplished by a number of atheists (fewer than I would like, but many more than Craig sycophants would care to admit).

G. Shelley said...

Having read a summary, Craig's arguments are pretty poor. However, a debate isn't about who is right, or even who has the best arguments, it is about who presents them better and who responds to their opponent better. If Hitchens had better preparation, he'd have done better, but when faced with a theological version of the Gish Gallop, there may not be much he can do, unless he goes there specifically to refute Craig rather than try to make any arguments of his own.

Confident Christianity said...

Steven Carr - You have made the claim that Craig did not win. Will you make the claim that Hitchens won?

Roger Sharp
Confident Christianity

Landon Hedrick said...


I see what you're trying to do, but frankly Craig would laugh at the suggestion that he's afraid to debate you. I don't say this because I think little of you, I say this because when Craig and I talked about you he showed exactly the opposite attitude as you seem to want to attribute to him. But he did clearly tell me (and Darrin, on another occasion) that it is a tragedy what has happened to you and he will not have anything to do with helping make you into "Mr. Anti-Christian Apologist." If you want to keep saying he's afraid to debate you, nobody will stop you. But really, I think he would laugh at the idea.

I haven't been able to formally evaluate your merits yet, but I have your book and will look into it when I have an opportunity (probably sometime this summer). If I find anything to comment on I'll do so on my blog.

Again, perhaps you should consider debating some other Christian apologists. Even if Craig did eventually decide to debate you, you would at least have more practice by that time. I believe I recommended some time ago that you and David Marshall debate; perhaps you could give that a try. I recommended Marshall as an opponent for Robert Price to Reggie on the Infidel Guy show, and shortly later the two debated on that show. He was a good, informed opponent as far as I could tell. He's no Craig, but he'll be a worthy match on some debate topics.

Deist Dan said...

Will77 is right on about Craig. Craig is always playing word games and psychology tricks. He uses repetition words like facts, historical, and independent when referring to the new testament documents. He also repeats his "majority of scholars" appeal constantly.

He wins by getting people to argue over details in a fictional story and asking "why would they make this up?" as if the opponent not being able to explain why someone might say something is proof that the person was speaking truth.

For example, he says the Mark account of the empty tomb is a sober, historical account showing no signs of embellishment. He emphasizes this by reading from the resurrection account in a gnostic gospel which is loaded with outrageous claims and exaggerations. This is pure trickery. Sure the Mark account sounds less absurd than the other example, but that does not mean the Mark account is true. Especially when the Mark resurrection account is read along with the rest of the Mark story. If you read Mark from beginning to end you can see it is fictional through and through.

When Craig debated Robert Price, Craig went first and then Price went second. Price said he was going to read a prepared statement instead of simply responding immediately to Craig's introduction. When Craig began his rebuttal, he complained "well I am glad he finally got to talking about the evidence for the resurrection at the end of his speech!" To which the audience full of christian ignoramuses gave a loud applause.

How idiotic for Craig to complain that Price didn't use his introduction time to rebut Craig's introduction. Craig is a sleezy, fuck tard.

Kel said...

Why is it that so many people put this as an either / or? That either Fundamentalist Christianity is true or that atheism is? Hell, we can't even get an agreed upon definition of what constitutes atheism, let alone atheism not having any dogma.

This isn't a battle of two sides, it's a battle of whether certain ideas are best to explain reality. By playing it as if fundamentalist christianity and Hitchen's point of view are the only two viewpoints, it neglects the myriad of views that exist in the collective human meme-pool that all attempt to try and explain the same thing. Being able to trounce an atheist in a debate does not make God any more or less real, just as a creationist trouncing a scientist (see: Gish Gallop) in a debate does not mean that creationism is true.

J said...

It was a bit of a set-up. Hitchens is a journalist, and wit, not really a philosopher (though he acts the part at times). He's no Bertrand Russell, or even Dawkins.

A clever theologian will usually spin circles (or spider webs) against the sort of belle-lettrist cynic. Regardless, Hitchens appears to have brought up a few important if obvious points: such as the idea that theists should be able to prove that God exists, not merely show the possibility.

I think Hitch, was suggesting the lack of necessity to ANY of the classical arguments for "God" (as say Kant, Hume, or even Russell might have), but he doesn't really want to lower himself to mere disputation. That's fine--he's sort of an entertainer--but if you're participating in a formal debate, some precision is needed. The cosmological argument itself is hardly immune from criticism: the first and rather obvious philosophy undergraduate approach might make use of Kant's First Antinomy (not to say the fact that the Big Bang is a scientific theory and still being disputed). As Kant said, an infinite series--even of Time itself-- is not contradictory, however mind-boggling. The theologians trick is to introduce jargon such as necessary and he creates the appearance of logical necessity when there isn't any.

The moral arguments are also dubious. Some people have a moral sensibility. Many don't. The Founding fathers such as Jefferson and Franklin were emphatic that justice was to be secular, without reference to any religion, etc. Hume's point on the is-ought also a rather convincing argument contra-rational or theological ethics.

Hitchens could have at least trotted out Hume as well on the miracles and the fallibility of scripture: even if the classical arguments show the plausibility of a Primum Mobile that, one, has nothing to do with the God of Old and New Testaments, and two, the texts themselves are no more reliable than any ancient texts, etc.

So Craig may have "won" in terms of impressive rhetoric, but he can't really prove anything, other than possibility. That said, Hitchens' sort of Richard Jenkins schtick probably entertained a few of the Biola dweebs.

Glenn said...

Hey John, Glenn here (from TWeb and Beretta, my site).

As an atheist who presumably understands the cosmological argument that Craig uses, are you at all frustrated by the efforts of other atheists here in this very blog discussion who attempt to make the argument look bad by calling it a "god of the gaps" argument?

I think that's a big part of the cause for contempt for some of the "new atheists" (and I'm not including you in the camp by any means). They should - and probably do - know better than to ridicule and dismiss some theistic arguments they way they do. It presents the image that Christian apologists are careful, checking the way they portray the arguments that they criticise, whereas over the fence int he atheist camp, there are just no rules of conduct.

Well, nobody here has yet called anyone on the clear misrepresentation of the cosmological argument.

John, if you'd like to get in a little shooting practice for your hopeful encounter with Craig, how about meeting me (virtually speaking) to debate something like, say, the moral argument?

John W. Loftus said...

Glenn, it sure is nice to see you here. I welcome all comments from intelligent respectful Christians, and you are one of them by far. Why O why you moderate at TWeb is beyond me. You're much better than that. Why don't you start blogging? You have a Blog. Do it. I'd like to interact with more thoughtful Christians in the Blog world.

With regard to the atheist comments here I cannot respond to everything I disagree with, and you're correct about the Kalam. you may want to stick around and defend that against them if you'd like to.

As far as the moral argument goes, if I remember correctly that's your forte. I think morals evolved, period. There is no moral argument to God's existence if true, and I think it is. Check this out and then see what you think.

Cheers, my friend.

Glenn said...

John - "start blogging"?

Don't make me come over there! I've been at it for a wee while now.

It's nice to be welcome, thanks. I'll check out the link and offer my thoughts. Just so you know, I've just casually mentioned - only in passing and all ;) - over at my blog that I've made the debate offer.

On a side note: The word verification that I have to enter to make this comment appear is "mingie." Over here that means "smelly."

John W. Loftus said...

Langdon said...I see what you're trying to do, but frankly Craig would laugh at the suggestion that he's afraid to debate you.

Listen, Eddie Tabash brow beat Craig into debating him, and Eddie did one of the best jobs against him. You can see the debate right here with a little self-promotion I did as well . ;-)

I hope to do likewise. What's wrong with that? Rather than repeatedly telling me he won't debate me, instead go with your gut. If you'd like to see this debate as others would, then why not call for such a debate? Have him man up, as it were. Have him show that he's not afraid by debating me, if that's what you want. Do you want to see such a debate, or not?

He did say what I say he did. He will not deny it. that's the only word he's ever given about why he won't do it. And the fact that I don't have a Ph.D. is irrelevant since I have the near equivalent and the reasoning behind him not debating anyone else is because he doesn't want to debate hacks. He knows I'm not a hack.


John W. Loftus said...

Langdon, David Marshall and I have agreed to debate each other already. It's just a matter of logistics at this point.

John W. Loftus said...

Sorry Landon for getting your name wrong.

mathyoo said...

I just listened to most of the Tabash / Craig debate and I still can't fathom why he has such a reputation as a debater. He just keeps trotting out the same, tired old theist and Christian arguments that have been refuted long ago, I presume because he debates in front predominantly Christian crowds who have either never heard the Cosmological argument before, or at the very least have never heard how well it's been refuted.

Craig's other "go-to" seems to be indulging in circular arguments by using the Bible as evidence for the truth of Christianity.

Maybe I just haven't seen his best debating, but I'm severely underimpressed.

sfish said...

All you atheists... you only have <100 years of living left - why waste it on all this pointless writing? You should take advantage of every minute of your life to do something fun and meaningful instead. Unless, as long as there are people believing in a God, you fail in feeling 100% safe about your conviction.

David said...


During my decade as a believer, not once did an educated atheist explain clearly why the bible simply not the word of a God. Looking back, I wish someone would have. Most people know very little about religion. If I can help just one person see through the delusion, I'll know I've done them a great favor. Just for the sake of being good, no heavenly reward! =)

sfish said...

Then you probably never were a believer, but rather someone who searched an argument for not being one. By the way, assuming atheism, there is no "good" nor "evil", as there is no absolute power to define either of these terms, reducing them to be 100% subjective and therefore meaningless.

Andrew said...

William Lane Craig could be the best debater in the world but the points he makes are ridiculous and therefore he deserves to be ridiculed as do other slaves to superstition.

Kel said...

You must remember the interconnected nature of our species. A life lived purely selfish and self-preserved is a life wasted. Remember that we are a) animals, and thus reproduce, and b) social creatures and thus human contact matters.

In the scheme of things, our lives matter not. Yet that doesn't alleviate our social responsibilities. That doesn't alleviate the feelings we have to protect future generations. If we don't stand up against the fundamentalists who are pushing their archaic, draconian dogma on others, who will? Who will protect the earth for future generations? You may have one eye on heaven, but some of us want this world to work because it's the only one we have.

davidshaw12345 said...

I don't think Craig would beat Peter Singer in an argument on objective morality.

tyler m taber said...

Its always good to see Steven Carr in the blog world whining about something.

christian said...

How could something evolve over millions of years if the life span of the creature is much shorter.
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