Dr. Craig: All Other Religious Claims to the Witness of the Spirit are False

I wonder if the question Bill attempts to answer was prompted by what I wrote in the introduction to The Christian Delusion, which can be read here. A perceptive Christian asks him:
[H]ow can a Christian and a Mormon gain any ground one way or another? Both would believe their Spiritual Witness to be authentic, and both would claim that since we only see in part, evidence cannot possibly rule their experience out. [Earlier] you gave an analogy of bottles labeled as water. You said that if only one of the bottles is water, and the rest is poison, that the truth of the correctly labeled bottle is in no way lessened because of the mislabeling of the others. But how can the person with the poison (false witness) know what he has isn’t water if he won’t listen to evidence based on his experience? In turn how can the person with the H2O (Real Holy Spirit) know they don’t have a mislabeled Bottle?...Can’t this argument also be used by the Mormon against a Christian who is certain of their own experience of the correctly labeled bottle or water?
Craig's answer lies in his distinction between "knowing" Christianity is true and "showing" it's true. He knows it's true and that's all there is to it:
My knowledge of Christianity’s truth, while supported by strong arguments, is not ultimately based on those arguments but on the witness of God Himself. If, therefore, I find myself confronted with a well-prepared and articulate Mormon who blows away my arguments and presents a case for Mormonism that I can’t answer, I should not apostatize, since I have the witness of the Holy Spirit to Christianity’s truth and so realize that although I’ve lost the argument, Christianity is nonetheless the truth (and I need to be better prepared next time!)...he [the Mormon] can’t justifiably remain Mormon by appealing to his experience, since he doesn’t really have a genuine witness of the Holy Spirit, but only a counterfeit experience.

Reasonable Faith: Q & A with Dr. William Lane Craig
Well, well, isn't that convenient? Now let's see what a Mormon could say in response,okay?
My knowledge of Mormonism’s truth, while supported by strong arguments, is not ultimately based on those arguments but on the witness of God Himself. If, therefore, I find myself confronted with a well-prepared and articulate Christian who blows away my arguments and presents a case for Christianity that I can’t answer, I should not apostatize, since I have the witness of God to Mormonism’s truth and so realize that although I’ve lost the argument, Mormonism is nonetheless the truth (and I need to be better prepared next time!)...he [the Christian] can’t justifiably remain Christian by appealing to his experience, since he doesn’t really have a genuine witness of the Spirit, but only a counterfeit experience.
Now let's consider what's going on here. Bill's discussion of this question depends on a one time debate between a Christian and a Mormon, being the preeminent Christian debater of our era that he is. But what if instead we're talking about a long protracted discussion between these two believers with the corresponding books they would mutually read? Then what? Would anything change in Bill's answer no matter what the Christian would discover in this longer discussion? NO. Nothing would change about Bill's answer. He knows that he knows that he knows. End of story for him. And what if the Mormon thought the same thing, that he knows that he knows that he knows? What then? I'll tell ya what. They are both deluded, that's what. The evidence will never be able to settle their debates. After all, they know that they know that they know. This is absolutely ridiculous. No intelligent person should lock himself into such a box where the evidence does not matter, and it doesn't, not for Craig, not ultimately. This is a clear sign of a deluded person and the reason why I edited the book I did in the first place.

I can just imagine a Christian with Craig's mindset reading my books and others and saying to himself, "Hmmm, I cannot answer this argument nor that one or much of anything. But hey, I don't need to. The arguments do not matter. I don't need to offer any counter-arguments at all. I have the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. That's all I need. Hey, I don't even need to argue on behalf of the witness of the Holy Spirit, and neither does Craig, because arguments do not matter!"

Such tomfoolery knows no bounds. With such a view a believer has insulated himself from the world and ends up being an Epistemological Solipsist. Why bother talking to such a brainwashed person as that?

Sheesh

-----------------

I liked what Martin said below:
What Craig essentially argued was: "We can't distinguish the water from the poison without evidence or arguments, but *I have* the pure water because it says so right on the bottle (even though all the other bottles say the same thing, and I just happened to pick this one up as a child), so I know this is the water, no matter what evidence you have that it is poison."

47 comments:

Lynn said...

It keeps Christians thinking that someone like Craig has some sort of inside information-some knowledge of a mysterious power. After all, Craig says he has this, so surely he actually does.

Someone with this secret god connection can have tons of power over others. After all, they are connected to the power that created the universe. That counts for a lot.

But people must take Craig's word for all this. Anybody can say they have this connection to god and then tell you what is the truth.

It's crazy, I think.

What if I'm spouting stuff, and someone says, "Why should I listen to you and believe you?" And I said, "Well, it's because I have the holy spirit inside me." I would expect them to then laugh hysterically.

Papalinton said...

Just as I thought. Even with all the reliance on the Kalam Cosmological Argument, the 'evidence' of multiple attestations on the resurrection, the uncaused cause, the verisimilitude of miracles, trotted out in his debates and philosophical writings [all aspects of his professional vocation as a debater], none of which has any meaning, significance, merit or value once one posits, ..."I should not apostatize, since I have the witness of the Holy Spirit to Christianity’s truth ..." He lives in lexicon-land. There is simply no budging anyone with that form of mindset [shut as if a steel trap, against all reason and genuine intellection] that would even slightly concede to the possibility of an alternative worldview.

John, should he ever accept your offer to a debate, and mindful of his propensity to dribble words at a great rate of knots, I probably would suggest a strategy of dot points, key evidentiary material, packed with a bunch of great aphorisms interspersed with a range of pithy maxims, lots of smiling and appeal to the crowd's humorous side, and lean back and enjoy it.

I've reviewed a number of his recorded debates and I am bamboozled by the plethora of nonsense dressed up as fact or evidence. Quite shameless actually. But it is the gift of the gab that gives him the appearance of credibility. He's a facade. All front with no back and sides.

My two-pence worth for what it is.

Cheers

Tristan D. Vick said...

Craig has a PhD? In philosophy? I'm sorry, but that quote of his reads like some high schooler who flunked his philosophy class.

=^skeptic cat^= said...

To be fair, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is thoroughgoingly fraudulent in ways traditional Christianity could only dream.

Not once, not twice but THREE TIMES cult founder Joseph Smith was caught giving bogus translations of Egyptian hieroglyphs at yet the church still claims to this day that he "translated" the Book of Mormon. And that's not even getting into the problems with the Book of Mormon itself.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Craig's debate with Dr. Ehrman on the historicity of the resurrection started me towards agnosticism. His appeal to the Holy Spirit despite the lack of evidence read like a superstitious wish, which I realized is essentially the foundation of all Christian belief. People want to believe they are special in the eyes of god because it feels good, not because it is fact. I was disgusted by his arrogance and belief that his beliefs could give him special privilege to side-step evidence based argument.

Brian_E said...

Wow - this just goes to show that no matter how educated or ignorant the Christian, their final common denominator is always 'I know that I know that I know, and that's all that matters'.

John, you should start accumulating a new series called 'Christian red flags', which would be a collection of sayings, arguments, thoughts, etc that Christians should realize are 'red flags' to their own delusion!

Martin said...

Yep, Craig missed the obvious point that, just as the poison is on its face indistinguishable from water, so all religious experiences are indistinguishable from each other in their authenticity -- meaning that everyone who has a religious experience seems to believe just as fervently in its authenticity, and the only evidence or reason that they have for doing so is their own false sense of confidence. The argument applies to Protestantism, Mormonism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, any religion.

What Craig essentially argued was: "We can't distinguish the water from the poison without evidence or arguments, but *I have* the pure water because it says so right on the bottle (even though all the other bottles say the same thing, and I just happened to pick this one up as a child), so I know this is the water, no matter what evidence you have that it is poison."

Martin said...

Also, there's an important point to be made here: Being confident of your beliefs does not make you right.

The hijackers who committed suicide by flying planes into buildings must have been pretty darn confident that there were 72 virgins waiting for them in paradise. They would not have done what they did otherwise.

You don't have to believe false things to be irrational. You can also be "poorly calibrated." That is when your confidence in your beliefs does not scale with the evidence.

Some things we don't have any evidence for, so it's rational to simply say we don't know for now . Other things we may have a small amount of evidence for, so we can have a little confidence in one hypothesis over the others. Only when we have a lot of evidence for something should we have high confidence in our beliefs.

But religious experience fails as strong evidence simply because people from different religions, with contradictory views of God, can have similar religious experiences and believe them just as fervently. Religious experience is a problem precisely because it makes people poorly calibrated. It imbues them with a level of confidence that doesn't scale with the evidence. And ultimately, we should be highly suspicious of it.

Corky said...

Evidence doesn't matter when it comes to religion, any religion. Folks believe whatever they want to believe about God because their God, thus their religion, is based on their own invention of God.

The supposed words of Jesus:

"Men create gods. That is the way it is in the world. Men create gods, and worship their creation. It would be better for the gods to worship men!" - Gospel of Philip

I wonder why that gospel was rejected from the NT Canon?

Rob R said...

I recall hearing Peter Van Inwagen noting that he had arguments for which he could not articulate for his position. (this position was on materialism... that is against a spirit/body dualism. Not for his Christianity).

Fair enough. There's a lot to be said for weighing things beyond terms that can be merely measured in one's mental life apart from so many other facets of living life. That's the way it should be after all if we Christians are to follow Jesus who is not to be confused with Plato and the philosophers who advanced their view primarily by linguistic communication. The gospel is also to be communicated by living and by giving of one's life as modeled by Jesus.

I think though that it's a false dichotomy to seperate the movement of the Holy Spirit from weighing the evidence. The subjective experience of the relational IS part of the evidence that we weigh.

Furthermore, evidence beyond any subjective experience from the Holy Spirit is also the Holy SPirit's work. It is not always wise, it is not prudent to abandon one's views immeadiately because he's been presented a better argument. We are to persevere through all kinds of trials and this is not a special one upon which our faith should constantly hang. But if things cannot be reasoned out thoroughly, and an alternative is consistently presented in a rationally superior light, that does present a real reason and opportunity to re-evaluate things.

GearHedEd said...

Two things strike me from Craig's answers.

First, that he's absolutely aware of the fact that debates are won or lost on tactics, NOT the subject matter. One can argue successfully a position that has no truth, and still "win" the debate if the other side is ill-prepared.

Second, he sets himself up as an authority. His answers take the form of "Let's count PhD's, and whoever stops counting first loses".

MauricXe said...

Well we shouldn't be surprised. This is typical Craig. My personal favorite:

Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then it is the former which must take precedence over the latter, not vice versa. [William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, (Revised edition, Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994), p. 36.]



And


What, then, should be our approach in apologetics? It should be something like this: 'My friend, I know Christianity is true because God's Spirit lives in me and assures me that it is true. And you can know it is true, too, because God is knocking at the door of your heart, telling you the same thing. If you are sincerely seeking God, then God will give you assurance that the gospel is true. Now, to try to show you it's true, I'll share with you some arguments and evidence that I really find convincing. But should my arguments seem weak and unconvincing to you, that's my fault, not God's. It only shows that I'm a poor apologist, not that the gospel is untrue. Whatever you think of my arguments, God still loves you and holds you accountable. I'll do my best to present good arguments to you. But ultimately you have to deal, not with arguments, but with God himself.' [William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, (Revised edition, Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1994), p. 48.]

Vinny said...

I was recently reading the transcript of Craig's debate with Ehrman and I notice that when he lists the reasons that scholars accept his "facts," he never mentions the witness of the holy spirit in their hearts even though he believes that is the one reason that trumps all others.

blackjeezus said...

And this guy is supposed to be Christianity's "top apologist"? If that's the case, it's a sad state of affairs for Christians.

Robert the Skeptic said...

I had the uncomfortable experience of attending a debate between Craig and Victor J. Stenger set up by the local university's Socratic Club (Apologists Anonymous, as I refer to them). Of course Craig, being an adroit debater, charmed and smiled and danced circles around Stenger who instead managed to both bore and insult the audience. Of course, the audience (predominantly believers) was primarily focused on who "won" the debate; as if that holds any weight in determining the validity of the position.

I sat there, my jaw dropping at Craig's 5 supposed "proofs" for the existence of God starting with his Ontological argument and ending with he really really really has warm fuzzy cuddly feeling that god exists... therefore he does. I was left scratching my head wondering where one could mail in their box tops to receive a PhD like his!

I would like to ask Craig that, since we don't know who the authors of the Bible are, but we DO know who wrote the first-person account of the Book of Mormon, wouldn't the Book of Mormon hold more weight? Or is the Bible true because it's older? But from what I've read so far, I am pretty confident what Craig's answer would be and why.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Craig is an interesting guy.

He irritates me but there are many who absolutely love the guy.

I appreciate him for helping me see christianity as superstition.

Mastema said...

I'm not surprised. He's said as much time and time before. Now we just have a convenient URL on his own site.

@Robert the Skeptic

I don't want to derail the conversation, but you're the first person I've encountered who was at the Craig v Stenger rematch (I haven't found the debate online yet). In there first debate, while Stenger couldn't match Craig on style, I thought he did an excellent job (far better than most). How do you think things went as far as substance?

Victor Reppert said...

OK, here's one from me. Bill has done a lot of good work, but he's shooting himself in the foot with this response.

John W. Loftus said...

Agreed Vic, but what do you make of an earlier question of mine that Bill answered right here with regard to Lessing's Ugly Broad Ditch that historical proofs cannot lead the believer to faith?

Am I wrong to think that Bill is impaled on the horns of a huge dilemma? On the one hand historical evidence cannot lead him to faith, yet on the other hand the inner witness of the Spirit leads him to say what he did here?

Which horn do you deny? Is there a way for you in the middle?

Gandolf said...

Rob R said..."I think though that it's a false dichotomy to seperate the movement of the Holy Spirit from weighing the evidence. The subjective experience of the relational IS part of the evidence that we weigh.

Furthermore, evidence beyond any subjective experience from the Holy Spirit is also the Holy SPirit's work. It is not always wise, it is not prudent to abandon one's views immeadiately because he's been presented a better argument. We are to persevere through all kinds of trials and this is not a special one upon which our faith should constantly hang. But if things cannot be reasoned out thoroughly, and an alternative is consistently presented in a rationally superior light, that does present a real reason and opportunity to re-evaluate things."
------------------------

Hi Rob. do you think maybe Kim jong-il,People of Taliban,West Bro Baptist etc, stick more with the spirit of matters.

I would say all these folks stick more with the "spirit" of their beliefs,persevere through all kinds of trials . Because they too have been indoctrinated that it is not always wise, it is not prudent to abandon one's views immeadiately because he's been presented a better argument.

I know for sure my own christian cult family persevere through all kinds of trials ,keeping the "holy spirit" of their particular brand of christianity.

Even though many other more liberal Christians try showing them "real arguments" why they shouldnt .Even though the cult makes a public fool of itself.

They stay strong and moving onward, in keeping with the witness of their holy spirit of things.

And will at times even often considder themselves as being "persecuted" by others for daring to have their beliefs,just the same way the Taliban and Kim Jong-il and many other holy spirit followers do too.

Do you really considder this is such good practice?.

Thom Stark said...

Evidence That Demands Inertia.

Gandolf said...

True Thom Stark, its a type of Social Inertia.The Fire Within

Robert the Skeptic said...

@Mastema

In response to your question of how I think the Craig v Stenger debate fared on substance of argument; Stenger's strongest points were made in the area of the cosmological origins for the universe. He has a strong physics background (his field) to explain the concepts of dark energy and dark matter and that the pre-universe was not "nothing". All Craig could do is repeat "the universe had to have had a cause" (the cause, of course, being god). Unfortunately I think Stenger's science was outside the grasp of the audience.

Mike D said...

He's such a charlatan. Bart Erhman called Craig out as basically being an evangelist. He's not a philosopher, historian, biologist physicist or mathematician, but he has enough arrogance to consider himself a worthy opponent on any of those subject matters. The reality is that he believes because he wants to.

I simply don't understand why a believer would not ask the most obvious question: "What if there is a rational explanation for my experiences?" I suppose the delusion is more comforting.

mindyourmind said...

Craig is an embodiment of the pure, unadulterated nonsense one can get away with under the guise of apologetics, as long as one presents it in a manner that comes across as logical, rational and well-presented.

It deflects deep and proper enquiry because on a superficial level there is an assumption with some people that "a guy like this must have it right".

For sheer slick snake-oil charm atheism has no-one close to this guy. Who needs merits and facts if you have hype and technique? Ask any trial lawyer.

But atheists have a lot to answer to here, in my view. Craig rides the same old ponies up and down, his entire repertoire is available on audio and video, right down to the eye-rolls and sarcastic smirks. And yet his opponents hardly ever study him, no-one seems to prepare properly.

Mike said...

Mind, well said. Along with everyone on this thread, I agree that this argument from Craig is terrible, and he probably has other terrible arguments.

That being said, he does manage to kick a lot of his opponents' asses in debates, and therefore he is worthy of at least some respect.

Here's an article on this subject from commonsense atheism.

http://commonsenseatheism.com/?p=392

Vinny said...

I cannot help but think that Craig is smart enough to know what a huge concession he is making with this argument and that he would not do it unless he felt he had to have it as a fallback position against some skeptical argument that really bothers him. What skeptical argument might that be?

Clare said...

I wonder if Craig actually believes what he claims? The money is a lot better on the Christian side than the atheist, that is for sure. Maybe I should switch sides for a while and make some big bucks!
As for debating,yes it is all about who is the best showman, but can't we come up with some good showmanship and still tell the truth?
Mention all your qualifications and throw in a few extra ones, or fake Ph.D's from diploma mills. Make jokes to the audience and at the expense of the opponent- even if you are called out for ad hominem attacks, the audience wont care. Speak as loud as possible. Pause for dramatic effect between topics. Don't bore the audience with too many scientific facts etc.

Hendy said...

This is confirming of some other things I've heard of Craig, such as him not giving up belief even if he went back in time to 33AD and was able to sit outside the tomb and watch Jesus stay inside to rot. He said he would doubt his senses before doubting his interior self-authenticating sense of the holy spirit.

The question this raises for me, a seeker who is trying to decide whether his former faith is true or not, is what tools do we really have to make the decision.

John, it would be interesting to make a new post in light of this about what, actually, decides this issue.

I have pursued it somewhat cumulatively, looking at wide varieties of subjects: history, cosmology, philosophy, tangible evidence or lack there of for miracles/answered prayers/etc., and so on.

Those in my faith circles tell me that I can't prove the faith.

Great, but how, then, can I decide? Now that I've cracked the shell, my intellect is nearly whole heartedly unbelieving... but I want to be fair and so I have not 'professed' agnosticism/atheism.

The point of all of this is that if we're not going to believe on externally referenced arguments and facts, our belief is merely subjective and we're as guilty of the relativism/subjectivism that religions condemn. Yet how is Craig's position any different? It's not.

When my first dose of doubt occurred I looked back on my time as a Christian and realized that I had never once felt confident in evangelizing. I was fine with my own belief but would not have been able to mount a fact-based case for someone else to lead them to belief. This did it for me. I was sick of it. I wanted to know, once and for all, what the surest, most solid, most trustworthy bedrock of facts was that would allow me to stand in confidence. I did not want to hold any belief that brought about fear or hesitation when trying to explain it to others. After six months of researching and thinking (and praying) thus far... I think the facts best support a naturalistic explanation for the world.

Lastly, why allow this type of reasoning in religious life but not anywhere else?? 'Officer, my body gave me the sense that I was not drunk and it was self-authenticating. Your breathalyzer is receiving a counterfeit experience of my blood toxicity. I'm not getting out of this car to go with you as I know I'm right.'

bob said...

Papalinton, I went to your blog, but you don't blog. Please start.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Hendy,

I love your mind and your honesty.

Chris Granger said...

Hendy, if only more religious people could approach the question of belief as thoughtfully as you seem to be doing. That comment was a pleasure to read.

Hendy said...

Thanks for the comments Chuck and Chris. Believe it or not, I'm sitting in my cube at work and almost get a bit teary eyed reading this affirmation. I'm in a bit of a non-supportive jungle of beliefs so it's quite wonderful to hear that I'm not crazy, as I have literally been called that by one believing friend during a discussion.

The two most frustrating parts of all of this 'quest' have been:
1) Much like the topic of this post, starting to naively dive into this topic to be repeatedly told that, essentially, there is no definitive answer. How horrid is that? The most important questions in life cannot be answered? (I actually think that this does more to detract from a hypothetical god than support his/her existence).

2) Having a network of very close friends who (not to toot my horn but to illustrate a point) respect my intelligence, creativity, ability to research the heck out of about anything before I buy it or make a decision (cars, cameras, operating systems, whatever), decision making processes, general cognitive function... and then to have not a single one even consider that I might have valid reasons for my doubt.

What in the world is up with that? Not a one yet has asked me openmindedly what led me where I am and looked at my reasoning and research... they may ask, but the book title or apologetic response is nearly exploding off their tongue the minute I finish my summary sentence.

Anyway, sorry to ramble. I have felt more and more like an outcast and so being pretty much alone in this locally leads to some definite emotional side effects! The point was that I truly appreciate the support.

Papalinton said...

Hi Hendy
What you have written of your experience is perhaps the most honest of personal searches. Your package of thoughts as you have presented them characterises a genuine philosophical search for truth. It is a philosophical journey of discovery that you are on. Philosophy, when applied appropriately is an elegant tool in which to study the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality and existence, especially as an academic discipline. It may also be the attitude held by a person that acts as a guiding principle for one’s behaviour. It can also simply mean one’s beliefs, credo, convictions, ideology, ideas, thinking, theories, tenets, doctrines, views; in other words an informal -ism. But the feature that distinguishes it from other forms of discourse about the nature of existence, knowledge etc etc. is its critical and systematic approach and reliance on rational argument. And that is what you have shown us; a testing of your beliefs based on logic and reason.

For many theists though, I suspect it is a search for a philosophical construct that matches a ‘best fit’ and reinforces the religious beliefs that were inculcated in childhood. From that perspective, the philosophical journey is perhaps more about theists seeking reasons to prop up one’s religious beliefs rather than a ‘genuine’ philosophical investigation, the pursuit of wisdom. Given Craig's utterances, I suspect his philosophical is of this second kind.

And on that score, Hendy, I read your comments with some admiration

Cheers

Papalinton said...

Hi Bob
I've just recently set up my blogspot. I'm not quite there yet but please bear with me. The issue of promulgating non-theism is too important an issue to not be out there providing a wonderful and viable alternative worldview to the petty, tribal, internecine squabbles that characterises the fundamentals of religion we have witnessed over history. And they [christians] can no longer burn us at the stake.
Cheers

Eric said...

I think Craig's argument has been seriously misunderstood on this thread. Rather than deal with each misunderstanding, let me present an example that I think clarifies the issue a bit, and neatly does away with the idea that Craig is talking about trusting feelings or whatever. (It's a well known example; undoubtedly some of you are familiar with it.)

Suppose you uncharacteristically leave your office and take a walk in a nearby park during your lunch break. You don't come across any of your coworkers as you leave the office, and you don't come across anyone during your walk. You return to your office when break is over, sit down and get back to work. A short time later you learn that a coworker with whom you've had a lot of serious arguments lately was murdered during the lunch hour. The police conduct their investigation, and all the circumstantial evidence points to you. In addition, you had a motive to kill your coworker (assume your disagreements with him were this serious), the time and opportunity to kill your coworker, and you lack a decent alibi (since no one saw you leave the building, no one saw you during your atypical lunch time walk, and since your leaving the building during the lunch hour is not something you've normally done in the past).

Now suppose you're innocent, and that a clever rival has set you up (you can fill in the details about the hair and blood samples he collected, the fingerprints, etc.).

So, in such a case, what do you trust: the circumstantial evidence, or your properly basic belief that you were walking in the park during lunch? I submit that we'd all go with our memory, and conclude that the circumstantial evidence isn't strong enough to defeat our properly basic belief.

Now this isn't to say that *no* evidence could defeat such a properly basic belief. This is where Craig seems to diverge from Plantinga: Plantinga grants that properly basic beliefs aren't incorrigible, whereas Craig seems to think that at least the witness of the Holy Spirit is incorrigible. Personally, I'm with Plantinga here. For example, if I were in the position of the man described above, I'd say that while it may not be the case that circumstantial evidence would defeat my properly basic belief that I was walking in the park, and that even the testimony of witnesses might not persuade me that I should reject my properly basic belief (though the details would matter a lot here), a video tape of myself performing the murder probably would. At the very least, it would cause me to question my sanity.

So where does this leave us? Well, I think it leaves Craig on good grounds -- or, at least on much stronger grounds than most on this thread seem to suppose. For example, is the claim of the Mormon more like the circumstantial evidence in my example, or is it more like the video tape? It seems to me as if it's more like the circumstantial evidence, and I don't see how it defeats Craig's properly basic belief (though, pace Craig, I do see how a video tape of, say, the disciples stealing the body on the Sunday of the resurrection would). So here's a good question, and one that I can't answer at the moment: what realistic piece of evidence would suffice to defeat Craig's properly basic belief concerning the witness of the Holy Spirit? I think this is a much tougher question than many of you suppose.

Gandolf said...

Hendy said.."The two most frustrating parts of all of this 'quest' have been:
1) Much like the topic of this post, starting to naively dive into this topic to be repeatedly told that, essentially, there is no definitive answer. How horrid is that? The most important questions in life cannot be answered? (I actually think that this does more to detract from a hypothetical god than support his/her existence)."

Hi Hendy.

Yes and this most important matter in our lives evidently is supposed to be a type of "being" with a "will" that all men should personally know and believe in him so as to love and worship him.

Whats more this "being" is not just any type of mere being,no supposedly its an "almighty supreme being"!! and evidently could have even created the whole universe!.

Yet this " almighty supreme being" somwhow has great trouble with merely displaying itself to all men so as to make itself known and worshiped ?.It can create a whole universe!!,but has trouble making itself known amongst all men ?.

In fact many "non being" things, like gravity or the sun and moon and even the animals or mere humans! somehow are much more "able"! to make themself publically known amongst all men?.

And yet it is also said Gods dont wish to tempt us etc either .Gods do not ever lay any traps for us to fall in.

So it is said we cannot dare see this as any type of trickery or trap,in which it is easy for a disbeliever to fall in....No...some words in the bible book says it just cannot be so,yet this book will also say Gods are almighty,and show evidence to all men, and also do not ever use any trickery to fool any men into disbelief.

When Godly supreme beings, dont make themself obvious, and different faiths with false Gods start springing up all over the world ...What else is it other than a trap thats decieving and temping for people to make wrong decisions and choose the false God-/s?.

Hendy said ..."essentially, there is no definitive answer. How horrid is that? The most important questions in life cannot be answered?"

Its horridly stupid if you ask me...And i dont give a damm if some faithful tells me im not relying on some "spirit" enough.Kim Jong-il and the Taliban rely on making their decision through reliance on the "spirit" of matters,also....And look where thats got us.

In my opinion the most likely answer surely must be,atleast the God discribed in the bible obviously dont exist.And if any almighty supreme being actually even exists,it seems its become quite obvious! he dont really want to make himself know or worshiped.

Hendy said.."Anyway, sorry to ramble. I have felt more and more like an outcast and so being pretty much alone in this locally leads to some definite emotional side effects! The point was that I truly appreciate the support."

Ohh i understand very well how association of faith can lead to one feeling like a outcast,when one doesnt carry the same belief as others around you do.It is this factor that has caused total excommunication for well over "30 years" now in amongst my own family.

They are often little better than the Taliban or Kim Jong-il ,whom you must agree to bow down to and follow without question ,or risk being hated and cut off.

Hendy i dont see you have need ever ask to be excused of any of your ramblings.I agree with Chuck it is always refreshing to read what you say, and see you obviously prefer honesty.

Gandolf said...

Eric said..."So, in such a case, what do you trust: the circumstantial evidence, or your properly basic belief that you were walking in the park during lunch? I submit that we'd all go with our memory, and conclude that the circumstantial evidence isn't strong enough to defeat our properly basic belief."

1,No you dont need to rely totally on any properly basic belief...You will most likely still be able to find somebody else who actually saw you walking in the park.

2,Besides your bible asks that we simply trust the properly basic belief of others! ,it has little to do with us needing to trust a properly basic belief of our own.Wrong analogy used?

3,Besides that ....You miss the fact gods are suggested as being "almighty supreme beings" who could even create a whole universe ..So surely there must be nothing! than can stop them from making themself known.

How can you compare the will of a almighty supreme being ...With the analogy you have, that is not about anything connected to motivation of any "will" of some almighty supreme being?.

Are you suggesting a almighty supreme being with its own "will" has as much chance of making itself known ,as what happened in a murder case?.

It seems to me faith like to dumb down what Gods can and cant do,when they prefer to try and compare it to natural matters....And then hype Gods up as well whenever it suits the cause.

Where do we stand ...Is god a "almighty being" with a "will" and able to "do anything" ?, or merely only comparable to a basic murder scene?.

Chuck O'Connor said...

Eric

But then we call in a cross-functional medical team and do a full battery of tests including an fMRI which shows neurological damage indicating a psychological pathology with a high probability for narcissistic delusions and a sociopathic personality. This evidence of course would be denied by the man because his mental illness allows him to rest in his self-centered delusions as real but despite his properly basic belief that he is sane, his perception is considered diseased and wrong.

Paul Rinzler said...

Eric, if you took a walk and saw a pink unicorn (and no one else did), would you trust your properly basic experience, or begin to think that maybe somebody slipped something into your morning coffee?

This properly basic idea, it seems to me, is nothing more than "I get to believe everything just as it seems to me."

We don't doubt certain experiences because they are mundane. It's not because they are properly basic, it's because they happen all the time, and everyone reports the same thing, too.

Hendy said...

@Papalinton & Gandolf:
Thanks for your kind comments and thoughts. I do appreciate them.

@Eric
Good analogy. It actually sets up for the outsider test of faith perfectly. Why? Because in your scenario, you would be brought into a court of law before a judge and 12 jurors to decide, from an outsider's perspective, who's facts were more convincing. Since our system would presume you are innocent, your subjective experience would, indeed, prevail.

I see a flaw, however. Your analogy does not put forth a positive truth claim, but a negative one: not having done something.

Let's try this one (a twist from Good Will Hunting): a math teacher puts up a seemingly impossible problem on a white board as a challenge. One morning, the problem is mysteriously solved (someone did it during the previous evening). In the movie, no one fesses up to having solved it when the teacher asks. But, what if everyone claims to have solved it? What if they all truly believe they solved it and have the memory of having done so?

The professor begins to interview them. He finds some issues with their stories like when they did it, what their method was, handwriting analysis, etc.

No matter what he brings up, however, every student knows that they know that they know that they solved it the night before. Nothing will convince them to doubt themselves.

How do you decide who the real genius is?

This is the element missing from your analogy, for if it's simply a person's experience, how is Craig able to convict the Mormon of a counterfeit experience?? How could he possibly know?

My analogy (and yours) are actually still being too generous. There's to much 'concrete' stuff to point to and poke at. The best analogy of all that I can think of right now is two people both claiming to be thinking of the most beautiful sunrise in their minds.

Which one is actually the most beautiful?

Thom Stark said...

Eric, the fact that personal knowledge can be properly basic HAS already been conceded in this thread, but you keep conceding everybody's proper critique of Craig when you admit that Craig goes further than Plantinga in denying the possibility that his properly basic belief is corrigible. Nobody is discounting personal knowledge; we're just ridiculing Craig for denying that HIS personal knowledge can be invalidated by ANYTHING.

Gandolf said...

Hendy said.."The best analogy of all that I can think of right now is two people both claiming to be thinking of the most beautiful sunrise in their minds.

Which one is actually the most beautiful?"

Howdy Hendy ,while picturing this analogy,do i ? factor in that i need to considder both these sunrises as a type of devine being, both having a "free will" of their own.

Sunrises i can easily understand, have no way to prove to me themselves, which one was actually the best sunrise.

I personally find it hard to picture a "almighty supreme being" with its own "free will" that supposedly was even able to create a whole universe.

Quite the same way with only having the same abilities.

Shawn said...

Eric,
In your somehwat divergent illustration, who is being asked to believe? The person accused or the accusers?
If the accused, he would be relying not on "belief" but on the physical evidence of what occurred to him during the lunch hour he spent walking outside the office. His memory of what his physical experiences were. i.e. what he saw, felt, heard, tasted, etc.
The accusers are not "believing" anything, but are seeking to determine, based also on physical evidence, what the most likely cause of death was, and if murder, who is most likely to have committed it.
If the accusers make the wrong decision based on the false evidence supplied by a third party (somewhat analogous to a religious text purporting to be a historical account) that obviously doesn't mean that's what actually happened.
The accused meanwhile is very unlikely to start believing the accusers version.
If Craig is saying he has had physical experiences confirming the existence of Jesus, Mary, the resurrection, miracles and everything else Christians believe in, then that would be analogous to your story.
However we all know that he is not saying this. He is actually suggesting that he "feels" these things are correct.
A more accurate comparison to your story, would be as if the accused person's memory was blanked out for an hour at lunch time, but faced with accusations that he committed the murder, stated that he "felt" he was innocent, but had absolutely no evidence (experiential or otherwise)to prove it.
The false "evidence" you speak of is mostly motive, not evidence, but even supposing that false evidence was planted, this is evidence that can be tested and will be argued over on physical grounds, not based unilaterally on the "feelings" of the police, judge, jurors that the person is innocent/guilty.
I may "feel" my bottle of water is not poison, but there is only one way to prove it, physically.
If I choose not to prove it (which is what I believe Craig is actually saying) that is my business, but death will nonetheless be the ultimate decider.

Ryan Anderson said...

Eric said "what realistic piece of evidence would suffice to defeat Craig's properly basic belief concerning the witness of the Holy Spirit? I think this is a much tougher question than many of you suppose."

Experiencing something so strikingly similar to the "witness of the holy spirit" in a non-religious/non-spiritual situation.

YamaZaru said...

Wow, I absolutely love how Craig comes right out and admits that all his tortured argumentation, his seeming willingness to debate, and his philosophical pretensions are all to be thrown overboard in favor of mere assertion the second he encounters arguments that refute his own.
Of course that kinda behavior is no different than the way every other Christian I meet eventually retreats behind the screen of “faith”, but it's just funny that their most learned emissary would openly admit to doing the same thing. He's admitted it before, too- on tape:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-fDyPU3wlQ

beowulf2k8 said...

If any of these evangelicals really believed that the inner witness of the Spirit trumped arguments then wouldn't they stop making arguments and just let everybody go by their inner witness? They prove they don't really believe this by continuing to claim you have to believe in the inerrancy of a book. Why would you need an inerrant book if you have the inner witness of the very Spirit of God? Paul says in 2 Cor 3 "we are made able ministers of the new testament, not of the letter but of the Spirit because the letter kills but the Spirit gives life" so there is scriptural precedent for ditching the book for the inner witness of the Spirit I suppose. But rather than do that outright the evangelicals will only do it when convenient. Then they will return to preaching that you ought to burn in hell for all eternity simply for denying the virgin birth of Jesus even though any idiot who can read can see that Isaiah 7-8 has Mahershalalhashbaz was the one born of the virgin way back in Isaiah's own lifetime.