William Lane Craig: Master Debater?

Uploaded by deathray32 on 24.12.2011

I just watched a video in which William Lane Craig wiped the floor with some atheist. That
man is my hero. He's so confident and well spoken. Even Richard Dawkins is scared to
debate him. You should watch him if you're not afraid you might be forced to rethink
your atheism.
Actually, I've watched several of Craig's debates and read some of his articles. I'm
not impressed. He's very glib and polished but his arguments are weak. His basic M.O.
is a sort of Gish gallop through a smorgasbord of logical fallacies and rhetorical tricks.
What do you mean?
Craig is more of a showman than anything else. He likes to speak in front of large sympathetic
audiences, such as at Christian colleges. He uses arguments such as Anselm's ontological
argument, which he knows to have been comprehensively debunked by secular philosophers, but which
are likely to appeal to philosophically and scientifically unsophisticated listeners.
He spews out ad hominem attacks, appeals to consequences, arguments from authority and
antiquity, and other logical fallacies and outright absurdities faster than his opponent
can mentally register them, much less rebut them. Then he says, "my opponent has failed
to engage with everything I said, therefore I win." Most of his so-called debate victories
are self-claimed. But when a transcript is available and you read it, it's remarkable
how weak his arguments are.
For example?
Well, one of Craig's favorite arguments is as follows. Without God, absolute moral standards
cannot exist. Absolute moral standards exist. Therefore, God exists. Now, I personally am
skeptical of whether absolute moral standards exist, but, a good case can be made for them,
even by atheists.
However, Craig makes no effort to defend the premise that absolute moral standards exist,
relying on the fact that most members of his audience will have a gut feeling that they
exist. This is a shoddy method of argumentation, to put it charitably. In fact, in his debate
with Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Craig says essentially that if God did not exist, it
would be an amazing coincidence ithat moral standards existed for billions of years before
humans existed, and yet are perfectly attuned with human needs. In fact he says: "It is
almost as though the moral realm knew that we were coming."
I must say, I find this statement bizarre and laughable. You might as well claim that
if evolution is true, than it's fantastically improbable that the human foot evolved to
fit the sock so perfectly.
Well, if William Lane Craig is really such a lousy debater, as you claim, why is Richard
Dawkins afraid to debate him?
I might ask, why is Craig afraid to debate his former student, John Loftus? But this
question is a red herring. Nobody is under an obligation to debate Craig or anyone else
unless they've promised or legally contracted to do so. Quite possibly, Dawkins simply believes
what he has publicly said, namely that a debate between the two of them would look good on
Craig's resume but not on Dawkins'. You have to remember also that Dawkins comes from the
world of science, where theories must stand or fall on the weight of evidence, not on
rhetorical flourishes.