On Richard Dawkins Refusing to Debate William Lane Craig

In a mocking YouTube video Bill Craig tells us he wants to debate Richard Dawkins. There is even a petition Christians have set up for this debate to happen and a discussion about it at Richard Dawkins.net. Here's a clip being linked to by Christian sites where Dawkins declines:



Because of his refusal Christians are mocking Dawkins, seen at Triablogue and especially by James White, who calls this refusal "Amazing Arrogance". Craig himself called Dawkins a "coward!"

This is a fight, is it not? We are men and we want to see blood, right? Yeah, that will solve everything.

Listen up folks. It's not as if Dawkins won't interact with his opponents. He does so regularly. Here is one such occasion where he and Alister McGrath went one-on-one.

I suspect Dawkins is merely mocking Craig. He surely knows who Craig is by now. He's using the now famous Courtier's Reply in response. Everyone knows that Dawkins does not have a philosophical/theological background so he would probably lose such a debate (at least in the minds of most Christians), just as Christopher Hitchens lost his debate with Craig, especially since Craig is a master debater.

The disingenuous goal of the Christians calling for such a debate is simply to embarrass Dawkins, not unlike the white supremacists who wanted to embarrass black heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson. Johnson was arguably the best boxer of the past century, or at least close to being equal to Muhammad Ali. Since Jack Johnson reigned as the heavy weight boxing champion for several years in the early part of the 20th century it just galled the white folk in that era. PBS documented his life here.

Debates are like boxing matches. No intelligent person thinks that the issues are solved depending on who wins a debate. No one. But debates are entertaining and educational. The debaters are sparring, yes. We like to watch them. They want to win. We want our man (or woman) to win for our side. But they are like boxing matches. And Dawkins is the leading atheist in our generation. So Christians are acting just like the supremacists did back in Jack Johnson's day. "Knock Dawkins out," they're saying. "Embarrass him." "Show the world our Christian man is better than your atheist man." "They're a minority and so let's keep them in their place." In Johnson's day it was a fight between the races. This is a fight between skepticism and faith.

But to burst the Christian bubble let's place this debate challenge in a larger context. Bill Craig has refused to debate me so far. When I was a student of his he said something I thought was odd at the time. This was back in 1985 at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He said "the person I fear debating the most is a former student of mine."

Yep, he said this. I doubt very much he will deny saying it. I'm waiting and willing to debate him. I know I'm not a leading atheist but I am among a number of recognized atheists. And I know something about Christian apologetics and theology too.

Bill Craig says his refusal so far to debate me is because he does not want to turn me into "Mr. Anti-Christian Apologist." Okay. But will someone please ask Bill at his next debate to confirm or deny that the person he fears debating the most is a former student of his? Will someone stand up and ask Craig that question just as the Christian in the video above asked Dawkins why he won't debate Craig?

Then let's see what Christian bloggers will have to say about that. ;-)

46 comments:

Mike D said...

Actually, I really doubt that Dawkins knows who Craig is. Outside of hardcore apologist circles and skeptics who find him annoying enough to be worth responding to, nobody really pays any attention to Craig. I was surprised when no one in my family (all devout Christians) and even my parents' pastor, who is exceptionally well educated and well versed in apologetics, had no idea who he was.

I mean really, what's his claim to fame? That he goes around debating atheists? Dawkins has one of the best-selling, most talked about books of the last decade, is a regular on TV and radio shows all over the world and helped spur a new wave of secularism in America. Craig has.... um, a website.

Dawkins is right... it would look much better on Craig's resume than Dawkins'. Craig has his followers, but he's a footnote compared to someone like Alister McGrath, who Dawkins has never shied away from engaging.

josef said...

Wow. Did he mean that in the abstract, or what he referring to you?

Steven Carr said...

Dawkins does know about William Lane Craig.

Here is what Dawkins writes about Craig.

Craig on Slaughter

'One of our commenters on another thread, stevencarrwork, posted a link to this article by the American theologian and Christian apologist William Lane Craig. I read it and found it so dumbfoundingly, staggeringly awful that I wanted to post it again. It is a stunning example of the theological mind at work. And remember, this is NOT an 'extremist', 'fundamentalist', 'picking on the worst case' example. My understanding is that William Lane Craig is a widely respected apologist for the Christian religion. Read his article and rub your eyes to make sure you are not having a bad dream.

Richard

John W. Loftus said...

josef, he said that to me while I was a believing student of his. People can ask him if he still thinks this way and if it applies to me.

Dave said...

I think Dawkins is wrong in his assessment of Craig as "not an extremist [or] fundamentalist ... [but] a widely respected apologist for the Christian religion," as per Steven's quote.

My impression of Craig is that he is the darling of ID evangelicals, but not someone likely to be cited by non-evangelicals.

Dawkins's reasoning as to why he won't debate Craig seems fine to me, and as you noted (John), he doesn't seem to have shied away from debating other apologists. I'd think Alister McGrath has a lot more traction with Christians in general (ie not just the evangelical or ID bunch - especially since to my knowledge he explicitly rejects ID), and Dawkins has debated him.

Tyro said...

Dawkins, Myers and other scientists have written about their experiences with debates. They have many negative things to say about the way the debates tend to be organized, about how their opponents rarely stay on topic and how the minds of the audience rarely shift. The biggest problem seems to be that by merely appearing in a debate they lend their scientific credibility to their opponent's beliefs and thus creating the false impression that the sides are equal, that there are merits on both sides, that there is any sort of scientific doubt remaining. As they say about wrestling with a pig, it makes you filthy and the pig happy.

Dawkins should no more be debating Craig than a flat earther or astrologer. They are cranks with no scientific understanding or credibility and by merely appearing with them, Dawkins loses much and stands to gain nothing.

That said and not to be condescending or derogatory, you aren't Dawkins and where it is harmful for him to debate Craig and other wingnuts, it could help you a lot. You don't have the scientific creds to destroy and I think it could work to promote yourself and your ideas. Good luck.

Corky said...

It's amazing to me how folks who debate christian apologists don't catch on to the trickery and dishonesty of the christian debater.

They switch topics at the last minute, throw out a host of strawmen and red herrings and they imply that their opponent is being dishonest and not telling the whole truth etc.

The way Hitchens destroyed the Catholic debaters a while back is the way to go.

Do what the christian debater does, throw all the dirt into their face before they throw it into yours. Get that part said and done first and from then on, they are on the defensive.

Pay no heed to the topic but remind everyone that your opponent has changed the topic at the last minute and act greatly offended.

IOW, play just as dirty as they do. Pay no attention to the old adage, "it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you played the game", no. In this game, winning is not only the main thing, it's the only thing.

K said...

Isn't this discussion moot? I have observed a number of times how you make a big deal out of the fact that Craig will not debate you, but now you're downplaying the fact that Dawkins won't debate Craig. I suppose it's possible that intimidation is the reason Craig will not debate you, but that leaves the possibility that Dawkins won't debate, because he is intimidated by Craig. It is also possible that just as Dawkins may have valid reasons beyond intimidation to not debate Craig, that Craig, too, can have valid reasons beyond intimidation to not debate you, is it not?
Tyro - Unfortunately, Dawkins views as an atheist are not scientific. (This is no more an insult, than if I say that Craig's views are not scientific,as he has not made an attempt to do so.) At best, Dawkins uses scientific evidences to support his theory for the non-existence of God, but he has not used science to conclude (in the sense of a scientific law) that God does not exist. At the end of the day, Dawkins theory that there is no god is just as much a matter of faith, as that of the Christian who says there is one God. Being a scientist does not preclude that one has scientifically proven "no god", since there are surely enough scientists who use the same scientific evidences to support the existence of "God".

John W. Loftus said...

K what exactly do you mean by saying this discussion is moot?

When you ask your boss for a raise and he says no, or when anyone tells you no, is that always a done deal? Do you never bring it up again? If so, you probably are not successful.

But let's say this is a different case? Why? Again, what do you mean?

Other things you said go without saying, I think.

Tyro said...

K,

Unfortunately, Dawkins views as an atheist are not scientific.

Both creationists in general (the group most keen to debate Dawkins) and Christians in general seem pathologically desperate to gain some scientific credibility while they simultaneously seek to undermine its methodology and conclusions. Whether you think Dawkins isn't being scientific, a semantic quibble, he undeniably carries a lot of scientific cred.

Being a scientist does not preclude that one has scientifically proven "no god", since there are surely enough scientists who use the same scientific evidences to support the existence of "God".

Science as a measure of popularity? Spoken like a good apologist.

FYI: it is the methodology and the acceptance of all evidence which are the hallmarks of science.

John W. Loftus said...

Tyro, you're good, like a tag team match. Stick around. You encourage me.

mikespeir said...

What Dawkins ought to do is return the favor and challenge Craig to a debate. Only the debate would be on the merits of evolution science, not the historicity of the Resurrection and what all.

Al Moritz said...

John said:

Tyro, you're good, like a tag team match. Stick around. You encourage me.

Not so fast, John. K made a good point, and Tyro seems to have misunderstood him. The issue is not if Dawkins has scientific creed and if evolution including natural selection is true -- I side with Tyro on both these points -- but rather if Dawkins' atheistic worldview is scientific. It is not. It is an extrapolation from science, but a philosophical extrapolation, not a scientific one. Science is neither atheistic nor theistic, it follows the method of methodological naturalism. One may deduce philosophical naturalism from the findings due to application of methodological naturalism, but this connection does not necessarily follow and is subject to personal interpretation of facts.

Tyro says:

FYI: it is the methodology and the acceptance of all evidence which are the hallmarks of science.

I agree.

K says:

At the end of the day, Dawkins theory that there is no god is just as much a matter of faith, as that of the Christian who says there is one God.

I agree as well.

Steven Carr said...

Dawkins was appalled by Craig's support of genocide.

He would no more debate Craig than he would debate Slobodan Milosevic.

But Craig knows he is right.

According to Craig's personal testimony, Craig cried a lot , felt better after crying, saw a lot of stars in the sky, and that moment convinced him that there was a god.

Tyro said...

Al,

I agree - I'm not a good tag-team member :)

I didn't comment on K's assertion about Dawkins's belief there is no god because it would be long, tedious and probably unproductive because there are some fine details. Let me instead make two observations about your reaction and hope that is clears some things up. Maybe we still disagree, hopefully we understand.

One may deduce philosophical naturalism from the findings due to application of methodological naturalism, but this connection does not necessarily follow and is subject to personal interpretation of facts.

First, it wouldn't be a deduction but an inference (see what I mean about subtle, tedious details?). Science uses deduction but is heavily inferential, so to say that we can only infer something doesn't mean that it is unscientific at all.

I claim that it would be a very good inference because, as you observed, methodological naturalism is at the heart of modern science. That may sound backwards but it isn't. Science doesn't need to be naturalistic and many people throughout history have proposed supernatural theories but they've all failed. The entire process and success of science can be looked on as a gigantic meta-experiment in naturalism which gains strength every year.

As Pirsig said about induction in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, if you go over a few bumps and each time you hear a rattle, you start to think that when you go over the next bump you'll also hear a rattle. We've been going over bumps for two hundred years and every time the rattle is taking us away from the supernatural. Like all good scientists, we remain open to new discoveries and evidence but MN is so embedded in science today because it has worked every time and supernaturalism has failed every time.

We can quibble about what the true nature of science is but I'll leave that sort of navel gazing to philosophers. Suffice it to say that philosophical naturalism isn't merely an unsupported worldview equivalent to supernaturalism, but is congruent with - and strongly inferred from - science.

Which means that when K says "Dawkins theory that there is no god is just as much a matter of faith, as that of the Christian who says there is one God" is absolute balderdash. That's left the legitimate debate over semantics and is running through the fields. There is nothing equivalent about them at all.

Piratefish said...

That's why I often feel these debates are nonsensical, they're not so much about finding out the best arguments or truths but just who can give the best presentation during those several hours, so they don't serve much purpose at all. What I like to see is a group of the best atheist scholars vs the best christians scholars in a discussion forum, each group is allowed a day to give the best response, and just let the viewers decide which side is more convincing.

Loren said...

In other words, a written debate.

Reminds me of the Thomas-ReMine debate on evolution/creationism of some years back: NMSR/TCCSA Debate Home Page

I've found such debates at the Internet Infidels site, and the FRDB messageboard has several similar sorts of debates in its archives.

I've even proposed debating fine tuning and whether inflationary cosmology is a reasonable explanation for the Universe's extreme flatness.

So I think that written debates are a reasonable way to go.

A halfway sort of debate might be a text-chat debate -- real-time but written. One could set up on one's favorite instant-messaging service or IRC channel.

DM said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DevinWL said...

John, to me there is no point in debating someone like Craig. You can't get through to people like him. He has spent years indoctrinating himself into believing his own lies. He is not an honest person when debating. He has no interest in dabting your arguments. His only interest is to make you look like an imbecile because you hold no belief in god. Also, at the end of the day you both just end up preaching to the choir and nothing gets accomplished.

His arguments and logic are flawed yes but only to you and the choir. To him he sees them as true and infalliable. Your time would be better spent reaching out to people who need guidance in the next step of leaving Christianity.

This site has helped me tremendously. It has given me a sense of community. It has helped me know that there are millions of people like me who have struggled with Christianity and then deconverted.

I say this with all sincerity John. You need to just get over or accept the fact that Craig won't debate you. I look up to people like Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris for speaking out and debating for their cause but I don't connect with them on a personal level. And like I said before they are just preaching to the choir. The world needs more people like you working behind the scenes guiding them and helping them along their paths.

Devin.

Gandolf said...

Tyro -->"Which means that when K says "Dawkins theory that there is no god is just as much a matter of faith, as that of the Christian who says there is one God" is absolute balderdash. "

Yeah i agree Tyro.Its utter balderdash !!

How can christians even start to try and kid themselves that maybe the evidence is really quite equal either way.

Even the fact that every single day millions and millions of people have some publically fully verifiable evidence available to everyone of there being absolutely no visual experience or sign of existence of any gods or supernatural powers whatsoever to be seen anywhere,over against the unverified suggestive secretive type evidence of a few faithful crackpots high on fumes of religious habit who suggest maybe they saw a appearance of gods or sign of something or whatever.

No way can it take the same amount faith to not believe gods exist,as it does to try to believe they might do.

Lynn said...

Well said, Gandolf! And DevinWL, I agree with all you said, also. John does a great service helping those of us who've left Christianity.

John, I'd say if you want to do debates because you enjoy them and think they may do some good, then do them. Debates are very entertaining, and people may learn something new or start actually thinking more. Debates have their place, but are just part of the picture.

I appreciate this site very much.

ZDENNY said...

I am surprised that you believe Dawkins would lose. I guess Darwinian guesses about origins, phenotypes and morphology are not arguments that can stand on their own.

I agree with you that Dawkins would lose. The arguments used by Dawkins are easily refuted.

The fact is that Dawkins is closed minded and depends on indoctrination to promote his worldview. I have seen enough videos of Dawkins being embarrassed by his critics. He simply does not have the facts on his side.

Al Moritz said...

Tyro:
The entire process and success of science can be looked on as a gigantic meta-experiment in naturalism which gains strength every year.


As Pirsig said about induction in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, if you go over a few bumps and each time you hear a rattle, you start to think that when you go over the next bump you'll also hear a rattle. We've been going over bumps for two hundred years and every time the rattle is taking us away from the supernatural. Like all good scientists, we remain open to new discoveries and evidence but MN is so embedded in science today because it has worked every time and supernaturalism has failed every time.



That everything works by natural processes is a concept which theology and theistic scientists have been comfortable with for a long time. Kepler wrote: 'My aim is to show that the heavenly machine is not a kind of divine, live being, but a kind of clockwork....', and: ‘We see how God, like a human architect, approached the founding of the world according to order and rule and measured everything in such a manner.’. The great Cardinal Newman – considered for sainthood in the Catholic Church – wrote in an 1863 entry in his Philosophical Notebooks, four years after the publication of The Origin of Species, that he endorses Darwin’s views as plausible and suggests he might "go the whole hog with Darwin". Newman believed that God let His work develop through secondary causes (the natural causes that science studies), and in 1868 he wrote "Mr. Darwin’s theory need not be atheistical, be it true or not; on the contrary, it may simply be suggesting a larger idea of Divine Prescience and Skill."

Suffice it to say that philosophical naturalism isn't merely an unsupported worldview equivalent to supernaturalism, but is congruent with - and strongly inferred from - science.

It quite a conceptual leap from the fact that everything in nature works by natural processes to the idea that nature itself arose by natural processes. It is a conceptual leap that is neither warranted by straightforward logic nor by hard scientific evidence (evidence from observation and experiment thus, not just from mathematical models).

Tyro said...

Al,

If we assume that these theologians really know what they're talking about and understand the implications of evolution and cosmology (something I highly doubt) then they've ruled out any personal, loving god and accepted a deist god at most. This god is so weak and nebulous it is of no interest to me and judging by the polls in the US, I think I stand with the majority. Except for "sophisticated" theologians, few would even recognize this as a god.

Dawkins has said about the same so if anyone wants to accuse him (or me) of unscientific or faith-based reasoning, they'll have to do much better than that.

Al Moritz said...

Tyro,

the involvement of God in the world is an entirely different topic. All I wanted to do here is to point out that for proper analytical thinking on the issues we need to keep science and philosophy separated and should not dilute the boundaries between the two. Also, conceptual leaps should be recognized as such. I am not saying that they are illicit per se (I perform them too at times out of necessity), but they are not self-explanatory either.

Piratefish said...

Loren,

Thanks for the info.

Scott said...

Al wrote: the involvement of God in the world is an entirely different topic.

Al, if God isn't involved in the world, then what value is there in saying God exists?

A God that does nothing could exist, but he lacks explanatory power. He doesn't tell us how people how to live there lives. He doesn't make people feel special. He doesn't give eternal life, dish out cosmic justice, etc.

I know virtually no one who defends or is searching for the existence of such a God because he would have no value. The same can be said for a God that acts randomly.

The value of God is that he is supposedly an agent who is involved in the world. As such, any action he takes automatically inherits meaning. And this meaning spreads like a virus.

So, while I would agree that there logically is a boundary between the existence of God and the involvement of God, I would say that are deeply entangled in a way that renders such boundary essentially irrelevant - at least in the eyes of theists.

Theological Discourse said...

How ironic you use an analogy about boxing to DEFEND dawkins, it betrays your complete and utter ignorance of the sport. In boxing, holding onto the title belt and refusing to fight anyone but tomato cans is called being a coward, so even by your own analogy Dawkins is a coward.

Tyro said...

Dawkins is still very active but only fights contenders, not sad wannabes who are so punch-drunk they slur all sentences but come to the fight with steel bars in their gloves and razors in their shorts. Their goal isn't to fight but to spray confusion and get some limelight, like a WEC wrestler coming into a boxing ring. And what is in it for Dawkins when the religious fans are (as you demonstrate) so far removed from reality that if their contender isn't actually pissing his pants when he comes on stage, he should be given the title for life.

Al Moritz said...

Scott,

you misunderstood me, but I probably wasn't clear. I didn't say that God is not involved in the world. The phrase in my reply to Tyro: "All I wanted to do here is to point out" should have indicated that I wanted to limit the discussion to one topic. I don't see what is wrong with making one specific point and then to move on with other things. I have a lot of time and energy to invest in my work and other areas of my life; discussing at "Debunking Christianity" or other sites is really just a small part of my life.

But since you brought it up, I'll give a brief summary of how I think God interacts with the world.

1. God does not act despite of what science tells us, on the contrary, from a theistic philosophical perspective science reveals how God creates by letting His creation unfold according to natural processes which He sustains. This should be an important theological reason for believers to accept scientific facts, apart from all other reasons -- scientific facts reveal God's awesome creation, and believers obviously should be interested in that.

From a theistic philosophical perspective, the findings of science suggest a much grander idea of God than it used to be: a Designer who laid out an elegant and self-sufficient set of laws of nature that accomplish the unfolding of his creation by inducing self-organization of the material world. I don't see how, with Tyro, this God would be a "weak" or "nebulous" one. On the contrary, I prefer to believe in a God who performs miracles when he wants to, not when He has to.

2. I think that the human mind is more than just the physical brain; the mind uses the brain as an instrument, which explains why there is correlation between brain activity and thought, and between brain damage and functioning of the mind. The brain is also obviously necessary for interaction with the body and the outside sensory world, and for maintaining basic physiological functions. I believe that God interacts with the human mind, and can influence its thoughts and in general the "mindset" -- this is part of what living in God's grace means, for example.

When some neuroscience researchers claim that the mind is the brain, then I confidently reply that they over-interpret the actual data, which do not strictly allow for that kind of conclusion. I am a scientist myself -- a biochemist -- and I cannot be fooled that easily. Not all neuroscientists believe that the mind is identical with the brain; John Eccles for example, who won the Nobel prize for his work on the synapse, didn't.

3. I believe God has indeed revealed Himself to the world through Judaism and then Christ. I don't know about Islam, but I don't see an insurmountable difficulty here; after all, I don't believe that Christians are the only ones that can have a meaningful relationship with God and can be saved, see:

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

heading: Roman Catholic interpretation

4. I believe that God performs miracles, and also miracles with physical manifestations. They do not occur often, but they do occur at times. I also don't believe that all miracles are in the distant past, a quite spectacular public miracle in more recent times would be the miracle of the sun:

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

Obviously, the sun did not actually move, but this is not the point of a vision. I don't think that any of the "skeptical" explanations of the event are rational ones, including mass hallucination and mass hysteria.

To be continued... (length of post)

Al Moritz said...

...continued:

Are my beliefs a desperate attempt to reconcile religion with science? I don't think so. I think this is how God works in His universe.

Obviously, you will disagree with my beliefs, and there are a thousand points that could be discussed such as how the mind interacts with the brain, why God would choose the particular way He revealed Himself, why He allows so much suffering in the world, why He does not heal amputees, why He allows so many failures in His Church, why Christians are not better people, why there are so many religions, why He does not provide evidence of Himself that is indisputable, why He created through developmental processes and not in an instant, why the universe is so big, how God can be uncaused etc. etc. etc.

However, I'll leave it at that for now, for reasons cited. You can have the last word if you wish.

Al

Chris said...

"The biggest problem seems to be that by merely appearing in a debate they lend their scientific credibility to their opponent's beliefs and thus creating the false impression that the sides are equal, that there are merits on both sides, that there is any sort of scientific doubt remaining. As they say about wrestling with a pig, it makes you filthy and the pig happy."

Such arrogance!

Chris said...

"Dawkins is still very active but only fights contenders, not sad wannabes who are so punch-drunk they slur all sentences but come to the fight with steel bars in their gloves and razors in their shorts."

Is Dawkins really a contender? Personally I think he would be destroyed by Craig.

Theological Discourse said...


Dawkins is still very active but only fights contenders, not sad wannabes who are so punch-drunk they slur all sentences but come to the fight with steel bars in their gloves and razors in their shorts. Their goal isn't to fight but to spray confusion and get some limelight, like a WEC wrestler coming into a boxing ring. And what is in it for Dawkins when the religious fans are (as you demonstrate) so far removed from reality that if their contender isn't actually pissing his pants when he comes on stage, he should be given the title for life.

Wow, you clearly show you belong at this blog with a response like that. Craig is the top 'fighter' for Christian apologists, he is not 'wannabe punch drunk fighter.' You don't even know what you're talking about in regards to the sport of boxing nor do you know what you're talking about in regards to the 'fighters' you're referring too. I'd also like to note that someone that gets the belt without fighting any top contenders(or anyone big for that matter) is considered a paper champ. So by Loftus own analogy Dawkins is a coward and a paper champ. Way to go Loftus. You're even more ignorant in the sport of boxing than you are in the Christianity.

edthemanicstreetpreacher said...

Dawkins is quite right to refuse to debate Craig. I have published my own take on the matter on my own blog.

Steven Carr – do you have the URL to Dawkins’ comment on Craig’s assessment of the Old Testament massacres? I searched Dawkins’ comment section on RD.net but couldn’t find any reference to Craig.

Btw, I have also provided my opinion of Craig’s horrific views on “Divine Command Theory”.

MSP

Tyro said...

Wow, you clearly show you belong at this blog with a response like that.

Hey, I just wanted to respond to your thoughtless and absurd comment that pro fighters must fight all comers lest they be called cowards. Personally I think the analogy isn't perfect since Dawkins's career is in biology and science education and has shown that he's motivated primarily by a search to learn how the world really works and now just how we want it to work. Science isn't a side-show and the winner isn't the most entertaining but the one who best describes reality. Entering into a debate with Craig of all people would abandon all of those values and for what?

Craig is the top 'fighter' for Christian apologists, he is not 'wannabe punch drunk fighter.'

Right, he's the top of an intellectually vacuous profession devoted to propping up a pre-defined conclusion regardless of the evidence whereas Dawkins is a leading scientist who has devoted his life to advancing our knowledge. The contrast could hardly be starker. It seems generous to call Craig "punch drunk" since, as an apologist, he's never even read a science journal let alone published in one so he's never so much as taken a metaphorical punch. No doubt in his highly scripted field he has some notoriety. Would it be generous to compare him to Hulk Hogan, a person known to many for his entertaining if totally scripted performances?

Way to go Loftus. You're even more ignorant in the sport of boxing than you are in the Christianity.

Loftus didn't extend the analogy, I did. Maybe check your facts. Just as he doesn't endorse your speech, he doesn't endorse mine. If you've got a problem with him, base it on what he writes not what I do.

Chris said...

"Right, he's the top of an intellectually vacuous profession devoted to propping up a pre-defined conclusion regardless of the evidence"

Philosophy is intellectually vacuous?

Theological Discourse said...


Hey, I just wanted to respond to your thoughtless and absurd comment that pro fighters must fight all comers lest they be called cowards. Personally I think the analogy isn't perfect since Dawkins's career is in biology and science education and has shown that he's motivated primarily by a search to learn how the world really works and now just how we want it to work. Science isn't a side-show and the winner isn't the most entertaining but the one who best describes reality. Entering into a debate with Craig of all people would abandon all of those values and for what?

Whoopsie, this would be a straw man, since I did not say 'pro fighters must fight all comers lest they be called cowards' but instead I said 'holding onto the title belt and refusing to fight anyone but tomato cans is called being a coward.' Arguments are much easier to knock down when they're made of straw huh? thanks for proving you belong at this blog. If Dawkins career is in biology in science then he should be shutting up in regards to theology and religion, just like if someones area of expertise is in non contact karate, he should not be fighting boxers. Man you fail hard.


Right, he's the top of an intellectually vacuous profession devoted to propping up a pre-defined conclusion regardless of the evidence whereas Dawkins is a leading scientist who has devoted his life to advancing our knowledge. The contrast could hardly be starker. It seems generous to call Craig "punch drunk" since, as an apologist, he's never even read a science journal let alone published in one so he's never so much as taken a metaphorical punch. No doubt in his highly scripted field he has some notoriety. Would it be generous to compare him to Hulk Hogan, a person known to many for his entertaining if totally scripted performances?

How ironic. You accuse craig of propping up a pre defined conclusion regardless of evidence, when that is exactly what dawkins does with his book, propping up pre defined conclusion (God does not exist) regardless of evidence. I also find it hilarious ironic you talk about pre defined conclusion, since it is a pre defined conclusion when you ignorant state craig has never read a science journal. Man you're really racking up the stupidity. It would be more accurate to compare him to a good boxer that continues to do the same thing because he knows his opponents (like hitchens) are too stupid to combat what he's been doing over and over and over and over again. Once again, you fail completely.


Loftus didn't extend the analogy, I did. Maybe check your facts. Just as he doesn't endorse your speech, he doesn't endorse mine. If you've got a problem with him, base it on what he writes not what I do.

Really? please show me where I said loftus extended the analogy. Oh wait, you won't be able to because I never said it. Man, it is so easy to knock down arguments when they're made of straw huh?

Tyro said...

Philosophy is intellectually vacuous?

Theology.

Steven Carr said...

Craig, of course, ducked a suggested debate on The Historical Realibility of the Gospels.

He won't defend THAT in public.

openlyatheist said...

Finally watched the clip. Hilarious smackdown of Craig!

Let the record show that I don't think Dawkins is a 'leading' or 'best' atheist any more than I consider him an authority on not collecting stamps. As much as I love the guy, I haven't read a single one of his books, nor did he make me an atheist.

Yet despite Dawkins' willingness to debate Cardinals and Bishops, Christians still think Dawkins hasn't debated the 'best' of Christianity? Tells you what they think of Cardinals & Bishops, doesn't it?

Although, to be fair, how are Cardinals & Bishops anything OTHER than professional debaters?

In any event, the fans of Dawkins over on D.net don't see what in it for him, and clearly neither does Dawkins.

That being said, I'd be delighted to see it happen. Why? Because the more exposure Craig gets the more words like 'charlatan' and 'lying scumbag' (quoted from the D.net thread above) will be attached to him.

Because the beautiful thing about Craig's wins is that, if you read the atheist bloggers who say so, even when he WINS, said atheists aren't actually CONVINCED by what he's said. Craig converts no one. Excluding myself, who was an atheist before I heard of Dawkins, it is the fact that Dawkins actually reaches his audience that earns Craig’s envy and the chagrin of Craig’s fans.

On the bright side, Criag's calendar is freeing up, isn't it Mr. Loftus?

K said...

Sorry I’ve been out of commission for a bit. Whew! My head is spinning, Tyro. Maybe you should stick around ; ) (For Comments through Dec. 9, 6:14pm)

**Both creationists in general (the group most keen to debate Dawkins) and Christians in general seem pathologically desperate to gain some scientific credibility while they simultaneously seek to undermine its methodology and conclusions.**

I’m not so sure it’s fair to lump those of the intelligent design movement, who use credible scientific methods in their reasoning, together with those, who “seek to undermine its methodology and conclusions.” I agree that there are those who mistakenly throw the baby out with the bathwater, out of ignorance and fear, by denying valid scientific methodologies and reasoning, but they are not to be confused with those who infer “intelligent design” from valid methodologies and evidences.

**Science as a measure of popularity? Spoken like a good apologist.**

For clarity, I was not using an argument from popularity, I was pointing out that there are well-reasoned, credible scientists (in the classical sense) on both sides of the argument, who use valid, recognized scientific methodologies and evidences, that infer different conclusions; hence, “being a scientist does not preclude” a proper and true conclusion.
With all due respect, however, you argue from popularity yourself (“Science doesn't need to be naturalistic and many people throughout history have proposed supernatural theories but they've all failed. The entire process and success of science can be looked on as a gigantic meta-experiment in naturalism which gains strength every year.”) It tends to go with the territory, like conceptual leaps, as Al points out.

**FYI: it is the methodology and the acceptance of all evidence which are the hallmarks of science.**

I agree, and nothing I have said would suggest otherwise.

**First, it wouldn't be a deduction but an inference…**

Again, I agree. I appreciate someone who can recognize the difference. I do favor the latter.

K said...

**…methodological naturalism is at the heart of modern science. That may sound backwards but it isn't.**

If I understand your statement correctly, another way to phrase this would be that MN has become, or is at the foundation of, modern science. Agreed. (I understand your definition of MN, in the simplest of terms, to be that all effects are caused by natural processes and natural laws that can be explained.)
It’s popularity or prevalence, however, does not make it right (by this I am not expecting you to believe that it’s wrong, either – bear with me). By placing MN at the heart of modern science, you mistakenly connect methodologies of naturalism with the conclusion of it. What is most intriguing about MN is the premise under which it was classically formed.
‘Pre-Darwin’ scientists, as we shall call them, began exploring the world and the universe under the premise of an intelligent designer (“God”). They believed that an intelligent designer would produce an orderly, sensible universe. These scientists produced some of the greatest scientific discoveries of all time:
Sir Isaac Newton - “It is the perfection of God's works that they are all done with the greatest simplicity. He is the God of order and not of confusion. And therefore as they would understand the frame of the world must endeavor to reduce their knowledge to all possible simplicity, so must it be in seeking to understand these visions.”
Galileo - “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”
Johannes Kepler – “Geometry is unique and eternal, a reflection from the mind of God. That mankind shares in it is because man is an image of God (cf. Genesis 1:26-27)."
I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that you are not forced to adhere to their presuppositions or draw their same conclusions, simply because they were great scientists who believed in God. – The point is:
1) a scientist’s philosophical or theological beliefs do not prevent them from being great scientists, and conversely, great or credible scientists are not ipso facto atheistic naturalists.
2) The prevalence of or the use of methodological naturalism does not dictate the conclusion. (Although, we all like to believe that our interpretation of the evidence will bring everyone to the same conclusion ;)

K said...

Finally, some thoughts about your comments on "naturalism" and "supernaturalism". I think it best to do away with this dualistic idea that the two are mutually exclusive concepts.
1) If God is, in fact, real, then this Ultimate Being would surely be, of all things, quite “natural”. Conversely, all things “natural” would, in fact, be quite “supernatural” to the “modern” way of thinking.
2) Continuing with the overly simplified definition of MN, as those things that can be explained by natural laws and processes, there are many scientific discoveries that cannot be explained by MN, but are rather, under the MN framework, quite supernatural. Two examples:
a) The Big Bang Theory: The preponderance of evidence suggests that whatever state the universe was in prior to the BB, and the cause of the BB, specifically defies all natural laws and processes as we understand them. Since this prevailing theory maintains that our known universe has a pre-nonexistense (singularity) and we cannot use our known naturalistic observations and processes to assess it, it can be defined as supernatural. A very legitimate question then, would be, “what” or “who” caused the BB, since we cannot possibly preclude that one or the other could not be the case. (“The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep… then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light” – Genesis 1:2-3)
b) Atomic matter: The study and application of natural processes and laws worked quite well until the discovery of the atomic and subatomic world. With this discovery, a new way of thinking and studying needed to be applied beyond pure naturalistic observation (it defied the logic of most natural laws up to its discovery). Sir Arthur Eddington said that quantum mechanics “leaves us with no clear distinction between the Natural and the Supernatural.” (“In Him all things hold together” – Colossians 1:17)
John – I am not ignoring your question. I will comment soon = )

Tyro said...

K,

The preponderance of evidence suggests that whatever state the universe was in prior to the BB, and the cause of the BB, specifically defies all natural laws and processes as we understand them.

"Currently not well understood" does not mean that it defies any "natural laws" (and weren't you just writing that the natural/supernatural distinction was bogus?). This is a popular way to weasel God into a gap but is fallacious and misguided.

1) a scientist’s philosophical or theological beliefs do not prevent them from being great scientists, and conversely, great or credible scientists are not ipso facto atheistic naturalists.

Agreed, though your examples reveal important details:

* the more modern the scientist, the more likely they are to be atheistic and if religious, the more likely to be liberal

* all of those religious scientists used MN in their work

It also confirms what I'd said earlier, that MN isn't an a priori necessity to science any more than Newton's mechanics are, but both are virtually fundamental because they led to so many successes and rejecting them has led to nothing.

I’m not so sure it’s fair to lump those of the intelligent design movement, who use credible scientific methods in their reasoning, together with those, who “seek to undermine its methodology and conclusions.”

I'm not aware of anyone that would fit these criteria. Behe and Dembski have tried to present the best facade of a positive argument but they're at best quantifying a negative argument. This has been repeatedly demonstrated to fail yet they refuse to adapt. Behe has gone so far as to try to redefine "science" in order to allow ID in yet, by his own admission, the definition would be so broad as to accept astrology!

Remember that "cdesign proponentists" isn't a made-up attack to imply that ID is a thin cover for creationism, that was an actual quote from an ID textbook draft. You don't have to scratch even the most prominent ID supporter to find an anti-science Creationist.

Galactor said...

I wonder why Craig doesn't "destroy" Dawkins with the written word.

Mind you, he would have to try harder than the libellous video attacking Dawkins' views on child abuse in chapter nine of the God Delusion.

I wonder. What would Craig do if he were to discover that his Muslim neighbour had sliced off the clitoris of his (the Muslim neighbour) daughter?

Seemingly, for Craig seems to be against state intervention in matters of child abuse, Craig would just say "Oh, what the heck do I care about child abuse of Muslim children?"