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Craig v Hitchens: Dissecting the Debate UPDATE 2

April 6th, 2009 by Matt

The debate between atheist journalist Christopher Hitchens and Christian Philosopher and Theologian Dr William Lane Craig has finished.

There is an, albeit very brief, summary of the debate here and a more comprehensive one from a Philosopher here. One point of interest is that Hitchens appears to have given up towards the end and “yields his entire closing speech”. It will be interesting to see the video and read a more detailed transcript to see exactly what transpired.

I find this debate particularly interesting as when, along with the New Zealand Association of Rationalist Humanists, Madeleine and I organised Dr Craig’s debate with Dr Bill Cooke in Auckland last year, the most common claim we heard from amongst our rationalist co-organisers was “the debate would go very differently if Craig was up against Hitchens” (after conceding that Dr Cooke got slaughtered).

I strongly had my doubts, so I look forward to seeing the video and comparing it with my thoughts on the Craig v Cooke debate.

[We are thinking of having Thinking Matters Auckland, our Apologetics group, purchase a copy and then we will screen it at one of our seminars so stay posted].

UPDATE:
When Debunking Christianity puts up a post entitled William Lane Craig “Won by a Landslide” Against Hitchens I think it is safe for all to say Craig bested Hitchens.

UPDATE 2:
Common Sense Atheism states “Craig was flawless and unstoppable. Hitchens was rambling and incoherent, with the occasional rhetorical jab. Frankly, Craig spanked Hitchens like a foolish child.”

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42 responses so far ↓

  • He said everything he had to say and preferred to give more time to the students to ask questions. If he hadn't a couple of good discussions would have been missed that happened during the Q&A

  • I am yet to see the debate so I will take your word for it.

    Are you saying that he had slam dunked Craig so didn’t need to say more?

    Recent blog post: MandM is the 7th most read Blog in New Zealand

  • Hi John and welcome. I saw your comments on Dr Geivett’s blog so went to take look at your site – do you make the same offer you made Dr Geivett to kiwi Christian philosophers too?

    We really enjoy good dialogue and debate as you will probably see if you take a look around so feel free to have a go at debunking them.

    I have not read the arguments in your book but I am not the Philospher in residence at MandM, Matt is and he is out – he’ll be home shortly, he is far more likely to have encountered your work than I am.

    I can, however, hold my own in defence of my own arguments so if you wish to dialogue on anything here go ahead.

  • Matt can write on a range, as you can see if you check some of the posts that come up under our Labels but I will leave that to him.

    I have to say I expected a bit more than an assertion that an argument is idiotic from you. A Mormon might be able to claim their initial belief as properly basic but I doubt they would remain justified in holding it because of the defeators the Mormon faith faces.

    Are you not familiar with the Great Pumpkin objection?

  • Okay. I’m here at your request. What am I supposed to look for? Let’s start by asking if you’ve read the arguments in my book.

    Recent blog post: Another Review of My Book: “Comprehensiveness” Sets it Apart From Other Atheist Works

  • Madeleine, this looks like a great site. But since I don’t know of your husband I cannot extend that same invitation to him. He can submit something though, and if it’s worthy of my readers I’ll publish it. Please, no idiotic stuff like believing without evidnce though. Just think how you would respond to the same argument if it were a Mormon making it.

    Recent blog post: Another Review of My Book: “Comprehensiveness” Sets it Apart From Other Atheist Works

  • Hi John

    I am a little surprised that someone with your reputation thinks that you can dismiss Plantinga’s arguments by calling them “idiotic”.

    As to the Mormon issue, you ask “Just think how you would respond to the same argument if it were a Mormon making it.”

    Actually, I don’t think Mormonism is irrational false etc because Mormon’s cannot prove proofs from public evidence for the truth. I think Mormonism is false because it contradicts other things I believe to be true.

    I also think that applied to Mormonism Plantinga’s argument is not absurd at all. Once one actually represents it accurately, put succinctly Plantinga argued that a belief is internally rational if a person has “doxastic evidence” for it and is aware of no defeaters. I am quite willing to grant that if a Mormon’s beliefs meet these standards it’s internally rational for those who hold them. Remember a belief can be internally rational in Plantinga’s sense and still false, mistaken based on unreliable grounds or even delusional.

    Plantinga argues that belief in God is externally rational only if its true, the de jure objection defends on the de facto objection, and again I see no reason for thinking that Mormonism would not be externally rational under the same conditions. If Mormonism is true and the book of Mormon reliable and there is no reason for thinking Mormon beliefs false or any arguments for the unreliability of the book of Mormon, then I grant it would be externally rational for those who hold it. Of course I don’t think these conditions do hold, but that’s exactly the point, the de jure objection depends on the de facto.

    Recent blog post: Belief without Proof: Is Belief in God Rational if there is no Evidence? Part I

  • Hi John

    Given the reviews your book has received I was surprised that someone with your reputation thinks that you can dismiss Plantinga’s arguments by calling them “idiotic”.

    As to the Mormon issue, you ask “Just think how you would respond to the same argument if it were a Mormon making it.”

    Actually, I don’t think Mormonism is irrational or false etc because Mormon’s cannot provide proofs from public evidence for the truth of Mormonism, rather, I think Mormonism is false because it contradicts other things I believe to be true.

    I also think that applied to Mormonism, Plantinga’s argument is not absurd at all. Represented accurately, put succinctly Plantinga argued that a belief is internally rational if a person has “doxastic evidence” for it and is aware of no defeaters. I am quite willing to grant that if a Mormon’s beliefs meet these standards then it is internally rational for that Mormon to hold them.

    A belief can be internally rational in Plantinga’s sense and still false or mistaken based on unreliable grounds or even delusional.

    Plantinga argues that belief in God is externally rational only if it is true. The de jure objection depends on the de facto objection, and again I see no reason for thinking that Mormonism would not be externally rational under the same conditions. If Mormonism is true and the book of Mormon reliable and there is no reason for thinking Mormon beliefs false or any arguments for the unreliability of the book of Mormon, then I grant it would be externally rational for those who hold it. Of course I don’t think these conditions do hold, but that’s exactly the point, the de jure objection depends on the de facto.

    It is interesting that those who claim to have mounted powerful objections to religion in general also seem to think that silly and absurd religious views such as voodoo or great pumpkins can provide counter examples to Plantinga’s arguments given the Plantinga explicitly puts a no defeater condition into his understanding of properly basic beliefs.

    I would be happy to submit something to your blog sometime, I have done a lot of work on the Euthyphro and Diving Command Theory of Ethics, I have also done a lot on the abortion debate but there are other areas I can write on too. What do you normally look for from a guest Christian writer?

    Recent blog post: Belief without Proof: Is Belief in God Rational if there is no Evidence? Part I

  • test comment (Madeleine, you can remove these)

    Recent blog post: Self enacting justice

  • Hi Matt,

    Thanks for responding. I didn’t say Plantinga’s arguments (plural) were idiotic, only that this particular on is. An idiotic argument, by my lights is one that advances nothing and wastes a lot of ink saying something that doesn’t need said. In this sense it fits my dictionary definition of “showing a lack of good sense or intelligence.” About Plantinga’s old school version, Keith Parsons has argued: “The claim that the theist is within his epistemic rights in believing God is a rather weak claim. . . . If theists want to claim no more than that they are within their epistemic rights in believing in God, atheists should not bother to belabor the point. After all, to say that theists are within their epistemic rights in believing in God in no way indicates that atheists are one wit less rational in not believing in God.” In fact, there would be “no reason to prevent the atheist from starting with the non-existence of God as obviously properly basic!” About Plantinga’s new school version, Keith Parsons tells us “theistic belief is very likely warranted and properly basic, in the external sense, but only if theism is in fact true. This means that believers are in no position to argue that their belief in God is warrant basic unless they can adduce reasons, arguments, or evidence for the existence of God.” And so he argues, “the atheist can stand Plantinga’s argument on its head and argue that the fact that theistic belief is not warrant basic shows that there probably is no God.”

    Recent blog post: Dr. William Lane Craig: “I Will Not Debate John W. Loftus”

  • I don’t offer suggestions of what to submit for DC. What I normally look for from a guest Christian writer is thoughtful stuff.

    Recent blog post: Dr. William Lane Craig: “I Will Not Debate John W. Loftus”

  • Madeleine, depending on how old you are I was aware of the Great Pumpkin objection when you were but a school girl. (That’s a compliment!)

    Look at this. You said…A Mormon might be able to claim their initial belief as properly basic but I doubt they would remain justified in holding it because of the defeators the Mormon faith faces.

    Well then, let me reply by saying…A Christian might be able to claim their initial belief as properly basic but I doubt they would remain justified in holding it because of the defeators the Christian faith faces.

    Notice you judge the Mormon faith as an outsider and judge that faith to be false. Outsiders do that, don’t they, quite easily. Well, everyone else but a Christian is an outsider to Christianity too. Therefore Plantinga is just talking to himself and other Christians. He’s merely a cheerleader who says we are rational too, Rah rah rah.

    You and Matt should take my Outsider Test for Faith sometime.

    Cheers

    Recent blog post: Dr. William Lane Craig: “I Will Not Debate John W. Loftus”

  • Hi John

    I referred to more than one of Plantinga’s argument in my post.

    I don’t find Keith Parson’s criticisms terribly compelling at all. For starters Plantinga was not “in his old school argument” actually arguing that atheists were irrational in not believing in God. He was responding to the claim made by atheists (and still made by atheists) that belief in God is rational (in the internalist sense) independent of proof for it. Parson’s argument then seems to be no more than (a) contradicting a position Plantinga did not actually argue for and (b) conceding Plantinga’s actual position is correct, which of course entails his critique of the atheist objection is correct. How this is a critique of Plantinga I don’t know. But seeing you cite him I thank you for the concession. Belief in God is internally irrational in the absence of proof. I therefore am under no rational obligation to give up theistic belief unless I can prove it. Contrary to what many athiests contend.

    As to Parson’s critique of the “new school” (I actually am not convinced the difference between the old school and new school is that great) your correct, believers cannot argue that their belief is warranted in a basic fashion without presupposing that this belief is true. Plantinga admits this, of course as Plantinga and others have noted this is true of all basic beliefs religious or not. Alston for example notes that a person cannot argue that their basic belief in the external world is warranted without presupposing its truth. Nor can a person argue that their basic belief in the is warranted without presupposing the existence of the past etc. So this is hardly a compelling critique.

    Parson’s second claim is also fairly innocuous, yes if the atheist can come up with an argument showing that the cognitive process that produces religious belief is unreliable, then that would provide a critique of theism. But again so what? Plantinga never denied that if a person can produce defeaters: that is arguments against for theistic belief from sufficiently strong premises, then belief in God is unwarranted. His argument is that one does not need arguments for belief in God, in order for it to be rational. Parson’s suggesting that belief in God is false or irrational if there are arguments against it does not address this point at all.

    Like I said when one understands what Plantinga is actually arguing, most of the great pumpkin type objections hold no water.

    Recent blog post: Belief without Proof: Is Belief in God Rational if there is no Evidence? Part III

  • Hi John

    I am not sure why you think this response is so powerful. Its exactly Plantinga’s point, a Christian can be (internally) rational in believing in God independent of proof, what’s needed to make him irrational is defeaters: that is arguments against it. Not sure how pointing out that you think there are arguments against Theism belief shows that its irrational if there are no arguments for it.

    Notice you judge the Mormon faith as an outsider and judge that faith to be false.

    Outsiders do that, don't they, quite easily. Well, everyone else but a Christian is an outsider to Christianity too. Therefore Plantinga is just talking to himself and other Christians. He's merely a cheerleader who says we are rational too, Rah rah rah. <

    Sorry but this does not follow, your first sentence points out that a person who is not a Mormon does not believe in Mormonism. This is almost true by definition; a mormon after all is someone who believes in Mormonism. You seem however to think that citing this tautology entails that Plantinga is a cheer leader. It doesn’t.

    Recent blog post: Belief without Proof: Is Belief in God Rational if there is no Evidence? Part III

  • Hi John

    I am not sure why you think this response is so powerful. Its exactly Plantinga’s point, a Christian can be (internally) rational in believing in God independent of proof, what’s needed to make him irrational is defeaters: that is arguments against it. Not sure how pointing out that you think there are arguments against Thiestic belief shows that its irrational if there are no arguments for it.

    Notice you judge the Mormon faith as an outsider and judge that faith to be false.

    Outsiders do that, don’t they, quite easily. Well, everyone else but a Christian is an outsider to Christianity too. Therefore Plantinga is just talking to himself and other Christians. He’s merely a cheerleader who says we are rational too, Rah rah rah.

    Sorry but this does not follow, your first sentence points out that a person who is not a Mormon does not believe in Mormonism. This is almost true by definition; a mormon after all is someone who believes in Mormonism. You seem however to think that citing this tautology entails that Plantinga is a cheer leader. It doesn’t.

    Recent blog post: Belief without Proof: Is Belief in God Rational if there is no Evidence? Part III

  • Hi John

    I am not sure why you think this response is so powerful. Its exactly Plantinga’s point, a Christian can be (internally) rational in believing in God independent of proof, what’s needed to make him irrational is defeaters: that is arguments against it. Not sure how pointing out that you think there are arguments against Thiestic belief shows that its irrational if there are no arguments for it.

    Notice you judge the Mormon faith as an outsider and judge that faith to be false.

    Outsiders do that, don’t they, quite easily. Well, everyone else but a Christian is an outsider to Christianity too. Therefore Plantinga is just talking to himself and other Christians. He’s merely a cheerleader who says we are rational too, Rah rah rah.

    Sorry but this does not follow, your first sentence points out that a person who is not a Mormon does not believe in Mormonism. This is almost true by definition; a mormon after all is someone who believes in Mormonism. You seem however to think that citing this tautology entails that Plantinga is a cheer leader. It doesn’t.

    Recent blog post: Belief without Proof: Is Belief in God Rational if there is no Evidence? Part III

  • You might want to consider my Outsider Test for Faith when thinking about Plantinga’s arguments. That’s why I had mentioned the Mormons.

    Cheers.

    Recent blog post: Christopher Hitchens in the “Den of Lambs”

  • I have not read your book; I am going to see if I can find a copy in the library. I have skim-read your outsider test for faith (online version) but I need to read it more thoroughly before commenting further. That said, I plan to write a post on it in the near future as I appreciate your efforts to dialogue in this area. In my own country, dialogue with sceptics tends to consist of a string of caricatures and ad hominem abuse and complete lack of familiarity with the writings of Christian philosophers – the Craig v Cooke debate I organised last year is a case in point.

    I have heard that you defend the Euthyphro dilemma so I would be interested in offering a guest post on your blog on that issue depending of course on your take on it.

  • I wouldn’t dream of responding to a summary. The obvious objections to a position normally will have occured to the author, however, every objection and counter-objection cannot be dealt with in a summary; hence, responding to a summary tends to waste everyone’s time going over grounds that the author has already covered in the original text. I always prefer to have the primary source in my hands.

    The only difficulty I might have is locating your book in New Zealand libraries. I am currrently only an adjunct lecturer, New Zealand being a small community of philosophers with currently no vacancies in my field, so purchasing books is not easy for me at the moment, especially with Madeleine’s injuries putting her out of the workforce.

    That said, I will endeavour to give your position a fair treatment as, previously stated, I really appreciate your contribution to the conversation.

  • I am a bit older than I look, though I was 11 when Reason and Belief was published so fair call.

    All of us assess and judge beliefs other than our own set of perceptions about the world as outsiders, we stand on our properly basic assumptions and look sceptically at all that contradicts them.

    No one comes to a belief by starting in a neutral position, utterly devoid of any ideas and then objectively examines every worldview on offer and decides from there, including sceptics and atheists.

    The Mormon position is far more open to defeaters than Christianity. See Francis Beckwith on Mormonism.

    Aren’t non-atheists outsiders to atheism? Is the mirror only held one way? Every position has outsiders and insiders doesn’t it?

    Isn’t saying that Christianity needs to be assessed from the perspective of an outsider a bit like saying that atheism needs to be established from the position of a theist?

  • Matt, I look forward to your comments on the Outsider Test when you get the chance. Let me know when you do, please. I’m sorry about the rancor between atheists and Christians. I’m a bit unusual, I know, but then I once was a Christian believer so I know you are not irrational to believe and so no rancor is called for, especially if the goal is to change minds, and that’s my goal. It’s perfectly rational to believe, and that’s why I think Plantinga is stating the trivially obvious, but then I also think it’s perfectly rational to believe in Mormonism too, so where does that get us? Nowhere, as in no where. If I were you I’d not waste any more bytes on it. Go with something more substantial. Provide the argumentation that supports your faith and stick to that. I just think rational people, if they start with the wrong assunotions, can be deluded and brainwashed into believing, that’s all.

    Yes, I defend the Euthyphro in an online link, one of my very first posts and then revised for my book can be found here.

    Sure, if you’d like to submit something on it then fine.

    Recent blog post: Christopher Hitchens in the “Den of Lambs”

  • That’s ASSUMPTIONS:

    I just think rational people, if they start with the wrong assumptions, can be deluded and brainwashed into believing, that’s all.

    ———

    BTW a summary of my book can be found here, but do not use that summary as a basis for arguing against my book
    like one Christian Philosopher attempted.

    Recent blog post: Christopher Hitchens in the “Den of Lambs”

  • I didn’t claim I read it at age 11 John. Plantinga’s first essay on this topic was published when I was 6 (I didn’t read it then either LOL) but Reason and Belief in God, not the previous fragmentary essays that it brings together, at least that is what Sennett says in the Analytical Theist was published when I was 11.

    I pause here to wonder out loud why we are discussing my age and not the issues. I am 36 as of last week. Lets get over that and back to the issues at hand.

    I have skim read your overview of the Outsider Test that is available online (today has been a difficult day). I am not sure that agnosticism would pass the outsider test given the huge diversity in epistemological theories. It seems to me that one couldn’t presuppose agnosticism either. Shouldn’t one assess agnosticism from the perspective of an outside or does your standard only cut one way?

  • Dr Glenn Peoples was best man at our wedding and we consider him and his wife Ruth (our Matron of Honour) to be very close friends so you are in good company.

    We would be honoured to count you among our friends.

    Recent blog post: How to become a Famous Blogger

  • 11, eh? Plantinga’s first essay on this was published in 1979. I was 25 and in a master’s program.

    The Outsider Test, if you read it through, is a way to test religious faiths with he same level of skepticism you use to test other faiths. It’s presumption is agnosticism, not atheism, although I have become an atheist like most atheists have, by the process of elimination. That’s the result of my having taken the test. Where you end up may be different, but I think you’ll end up at minimum as an agnostic. I’m an agnostic atheist. I do subject my affirmative atheist stance skeptically, you see. But, whether you think I am consistent or not has nothing to do with you. Call me inconsistent if you will, but you still need to deal with the argument of the Outsider Test. You cannot refuse to take it because you think atheism fails it too. Let’s say it too fails the test? What does that grant you with regard to your epistemic duties?

    Recent blog post: Christopher Hitchens in the “Den of Lambs”

  • Perhaps you should re-read your intial comment that prompted my pointing you to Plantinga’s Great Pumpkin. I fully expected you to be versed in it, it was a claytons reference.

    Yes, I aware of a connection to Sennett though was not versed on the details.

    Recent blog post: How to become a Famous Blogger

  • Thankyou; my injuries limit me at times from participating as much as I would like to in debate. I have had a rought day today hence the tardiness in my response.

    Perhaps you should re-read your intial comment that prompted my pointing you to Plantinga’s great pumpkin. I fully expected you to be versed in it, it was a claytons reference.

    Yes, I aware of your relationship to Sennett.

    Recent blog post: How to become a Famous Blogger

  • Thankyou; my injuries limit me at times from participating as much as I would like to in debate. I have had a rought day today hence the tardiness in my response and the fact I was not able to read your work to the dept it warrants; I will endeavour to do so.

    Perhaps you should re-read your intial comment that prompted my pointing you to Plantinga’s great pumpkin. I fully expected you to be versed in it, it was a claytons reference.

    Yes, I aware of your relationship to Sennett.

    Recent blog post: How to become a Famous Blogger

  • Matt, my book is already being used in five college classes (both secular and Christian) in apologetics and atheism classes. It has been described as comprehensive, a tour de force, the golden standard, the definitive refutation, that I am to atheism what Tiger Woods is to golf and what Babe Ruth was to baseball. One philosophy prof said I have done for this century what Thomas Paine and David Fredreick Strauss did for their centuries. While that’s some pretty good hype, and hype it is, I’m sure you will want to buy a copy for yourself. Go online and get it. I only get about 50 cents per book so I’ll not be buying a lear jet from your sale, trust me.

    Recent blog post: Christopher Hitchens in the “Den of Lambs”

  • Well, I bristle a bit when someon as young as you presume to inform me about the Great Pumpkin objection as if I had never heard about it, that’s why I mentioned your age, okay?

    I guess you are having some difficulties health wise and I wish you the very best.

    Skim reading the test won’t do if you want to argue against it, though.

    Recent blog post: Christopher Hitchens in the “Den of Lambs”

  • In New Zealand do you know Christian philosopher Glenn Peoples? He’s an online friend of mine, and if it’s okay I’d like to consider you both friends as well.

    Cheers.

    Recent blog post: Christopher Hitchens in the “Den of Lambs”

  • Since you had mentioned James Sennett, did you know he and I are friends from way back?

    Recent blog post: Christopher Hitchens in the “Den of Lambs”

  • Matt has taken a copy of your Euthyphro defence with him today to work on during gaps between his classes. He will submit his response to it to your blog in due course.

    In the mean time here is some of Matt’s work on the Euthyphro and on the Divine Command Theory.

    Recent blog post: How to become a Famous Blogger

  • Some of Matt's work is used as required reading for Social and Moral philosophy at the University of Waikato (a secular University). His contributions have shaped the texts at a couple of other NZ institutions as well both secular and Christian and he is currently writing courses for two institutions and has been approached regarding a full-time position writing the course for another. Further, he has been published in international philosophical journals including: Think: A Periodical of the Royal Institute for Philosophy, the Journal of Ethics and Medicine, Colloquium: The Australian and New Zealand Theological Review and the Journal of Libertarian Studies to name a few – in fact today I have to send back in his latest consent paperwork for his next publication.

    Reviews of Matt's work include:

    "I have interacted with him in several different capacities. I have read several of his academic papers and portions of his doctoral dissertation. His work is first rate. It is philosophically rigorous while not sacrificing clarity. I have also heard Matthew discuss his views in the company of non-academics. He has a real gift for being able to convey difficult ideas in a way that is understandable and attractive."
    Dr Francis J Beckwith, Professor of Philosophy & Church-Studies at Baylor University and former President of the Evangelical Theological Society.

    [of Is Historic Christian Opposition to Feticide Defensible in the twenty-first Century?] “an excellent piece of research, thoroughly and coherently investigating the topic … While I hail from a rather different theological and philosophical tradition to the candidate, I can only commend the remorseless logic with which he pursues his argument from his particular premises. … I regard it as one of the finest I have had the privilege of examining”
    Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP, DD, BA (Hons), LLB, BTheol (Hons), DPhil.

    And, from Dr Andrew Moore, Rhodes Scholar, senior lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Otago and chair of the National Ethics Advisory Committee advising the Minister of Health:
    “I have also read parts of his doctoral thesis, and his examiners were right to think highly of it. The thing that impresses me most about Matthew’s research work is his combination of excellent philosophical capability with a sophisticated and sympathetic understanding of matters theological. This combination of talents is rarer than it should be, and not all those who think they have it are right to think this. Matthew does have it.”

    So while not quite up there with “what Tiger Woods is to golf and what Babe Ruth was to baseball” (serious hype indeed! LOL) Matt can hold his own in a pissing contest and we don’t need convincing to read your book – we will read it. Promise!

    🙂

    Recent blog post: How to become a Famous Blogger

  • I don’t think you need to worry Marc about New Zealand adopting this practice any time soon. Our Christian institutions in training their hundreds of students, are not aiming to train future Craigs; rather the aim seems to be more set at the level of Ray Comfort or Lee Strobel at best.

    When the likes of Matt, and Dr Glenn Peoples of Beretta, three years on from graduating PhD in their fields who have received some seriously high praise from top international Christian Philosopher can at best obtain employment stacking supermarket shelves and working in the tax department respectively and if they are lucky, being permitted to do some part-time tutoring, all the while being kept away from speaking at major Christian events and proper lecturships in favour of those who are not qualified, New Zealand atheism can continue with little fear of any real threat coming from New Zealand Christiandom.

    Marc the one thing I agree most with you on is that most Christians cannot defend the faith like the Christians you have met here.

    Recent blog post: The Problem of Evil: Why does God Allow Suffering?

  • The banana video with Kirk Cameron is up there with some of the most embarrassing cringe moments I have ever had.

    Ray Comfort is a joke and not a good one. He should steer well clear of apologetics and debates until he has undertaken some training.

    Lee Strobel is popular at best and is probably the Christian equivalent of Hitchens, both journalists working outside their field. Strobel at least admits this and interviews people who do have some knowlege of the field. Hitchens pretends to be an expert when he is not and ignores the scholarly literature.

    I have a lot more time for Strobel than Comfort but I still think the standard we should be aiming for is Craig. My point was that NZ Christian institutions are not on the right track while they fail to aim this high.

    For example, when we set up William Lane Craig’s Auckland visit and approached various Auckland Christian institutions to offer them a chance to get involved or have him speak to their students not one of the people officially in charge of booking such things had not even heard of him. One, a philosophy lecturer as well as organiser, even emailed us after we had sent him links to Reasonable Faith, and said “is he a good speaker?” (I mean, William Lane Craig for goodness sakes! Have you lived under a rock?) and “he looks like the guy from Bruce Almighty.” He turned down the opportunity for his organisation.

    Marc, even you have heard of Bill Craig, so no wonder you can normally walk all over Christians and have until now gotten away with the standard arguments you have tried on this blog.

    Recent blog post: The Problem of Evil: Why does God Allow Suffering?

  • M & M

    I thought this paragragraph from the debate was rather interesting and so true,

    'There were very few atheists in the crowd. Being at Biola reminded me that there are dozens of universities with entire programs devoted to teaching students how to argue for the existence of God. Hundreds of bright young students are being trained like Craig. Many will probably become pastors or theologians, but many of them will be writing books and getting professorships in philosophy and the sciences. In contrast, I don’t know of any programs that teach arguments against the existence of God (except philosophy of religion programs, which teach both sides). And there is certainly nobody who believes it is their divine and cosmic purpose to devote their life to defending the truth of atheism.

    Recent blog post: Justyn Martyr – On Diabolical Mimicry

  • Ray Comfort – nice guy, means well – was he serious about the banana or was that just a poke at darwin?

    Lee Strobel – fraud $$$, “I used to be skeptical, bullshit” – his work has been critiqued by Earl Doherty in Challenging The Verdict.

    I cannot argue theology against such learned Christians but I can argue common sense. I wish you and Matt had put your obviously bright minds to advancing mankind not dragging us back into the supernatural / superstitious world of the past. The primitive people in Africa hold the same beliefs as you, isn’t that a worry?

    I would like to know what you think of the banana video with Kirk Cameron. It has to be a joke.

    Recent blog post: Justyn Martyr – On Diabolical Mimicry

  • Have a read of Dohertys book if you get the chance, I have read both his and Stroebels (even watched the DVD at Spreydon Baptist Church). I go with Dohertys interpretation, but then I would.

    I have never got away with any standard arguments against Christians. You know how to answer them and the majority don’t even know what I am talking about, or even want to know.

    Recent blog post: Justyn Martyr – On Diabolical Mimicry

  • Marc,

    You really need to get a copy of Boyd and Eddy, The Jesus Legend. They provide a very thorough answer to Doherty.