People I’d Like to See Debate William Lane Craig

by Luke Muehlhauser on June 12, 2009 in William Lane Craig

Recently I wrote that pretty much nobody is qualified to debate Christian apologist William Lane Craig. But that doesn’t mean I want atheists to stop debating Craig. It just means I want people to actually practice formal debate for a while before debating Craig (and of course, you have to know the arguments).

So here’s a short list of people I’d like to see debate Craig. I don’t necessarily think they would win, but it would make for an interesting debate. I just hope the people here would study Craig’s arguments and practice formal debate for at least a year (1/40th of the time Craig has spent practicing formal debate) before making the attempt.

People I’d like to see debate Craig:

  1. Gregory Dawes – a philosopher and historian who has written excellent work on the problems of theism and explanation, and the historical Jesus.
  2. John Loftus – pastor-cum-atheist, a former student of Craig’s, and an expert on all his arguments. Go here to join the Facebook petition calling for this debate.
  3. Farrell Till – a skilled debater, especially on Biblical issues.
  4. Douglas Krueger – has offered to debate to Craig for years, though Craig avoids him; perhaps because Krueger is too familiar with Craig’s arguments.
  5. Wes Morriston – a theistic philosopher who has published a string of criticisms of Craig’s Kalam argument. The two already debated this year, but we haven’t seen it yet because the recording has not yet been released.
  6. Arnold Guminski – one of the leading experts on Craig’s Kalam argument.
  7. Graham Oppy – an expert on ontological arguments (which Craig has never debated but would like to).
  8. Dan Barker – though no philosopher, Barker is probably the most experienced atheist debater out there.
  9. Michael Shermer – also not a philosopher of religion, but Shermer is a skilled public speaker and debater.
  10. Mark Smith – obsessed with debating Craig, so maybe he’d actually be good.

Who do you wish Craig would debate?

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Lorkas June 12, 2009 at 7:53 pm

How can you be a Christian and a materialist? In what sense are they Christian?

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lukeprog June 12, 2009 at 9:23 pm

I don’t know. There are Christian atheists and Christian pantheists, too. I’d love to interview such exotic creatures, though.

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Dave June 12, 2009 at 10:20 pm

I’d like to see the Craig/Loftus debate happen, just so John will finally shut up about it.
I’m only half kidding.
I don’t believe Craig has debated Jeffrey Jay Lowder, founder of the Secular Web. I recall he wrote an article which completely tore apart Craig’s debating tactics about ten years ago, and published it on the Secular Web. It was removed a few months later, for reasons that have never been made clear — I suspect lawyers were involved, but have no proof of that. I may have a copy of it somewhere in my archives.

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Haecceitas June 12, 2009 at 11:33 pm

Barker? Till? You’ve got to be kidding!
Inwagen & Zimmerman are probably materialists with respect to human persons, rather than thoroughgoing materialists. Perhaps this is too obvious to be even stated, but some of the previous comments seem like they assume a thoroughgoing materialism for them.

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John W. Loftus June 13, 2009 at 3:01 am

Thanks, my friend, for calling for a debate between Craig and me and for linking to my Blog. Thanks also very much for highly recommending my book.

Like others have said, I think you misunderstand the differences between Van Inwagen, so it’s simply not true that neither he nor Zimmerman reject “almost everything Craig believes about God.”

Setting my own personal preferences completely aside, I just want to reiterate something that we agree on. I agree that whether someone wins a debate with Craig isn’t as important as whether or not s/he would “make for an interesting debate.” Truth does not depend on winning a debate with Craig or anyone else. Debates are both entertaining and educational. That’s all they are. If someone wants to believe truth is decided by who wins a debate then that’s ignorant, and you know this.

I think having debating skills with a year of practice is over-rated. I’ve already stated my reasons why. Would we be happy if a master rhetorician went against Craig and beat him with little substance? It’s probable s/he could misrepresent Craig, either purposely or from ignorance, and win a debate with him. Of course, someone could know Craig’s arguments inside out and due to a lack of rhetoric and lose. I understand the flip side of this. But of the people you had mentioned that didn’t have much (or any) debate experience I think Louise Antony, and Frank Zindler held their own against Craig, don’t you? John Shook, Austin Dacey and Bart Ehrman did well too. And I think Shelly Kagan, won his debate with Craig.

Anyway, it seems to me you’re becoming somewhat of an expert on Craig yourself. I don’t know your credentials and it’s not likely to happen, but I’d personally like to see you debate Craig too. He knows of you because in this month’s letter to Reasonable Faith subscribers he mentioned how you said he spanked Hitchens like a baby.

I remember talking to Jeff Seavers, who heads up the CFI of Michigan out of Grand Rapids, which is one of the largest CFI groups in the country, if not the largest. Over dinner he told me of a debate he had with a scholar who had written a tome through the prestigious Oxford University Press (I forget his name). Jeff told me how easy it was to dismantle his arguments and he was initially surprised at this. But then the thought stuck him that almost any intelligent skeptic can show why beliefs in fairies and imaginary beings lack solid evidence to them. Now I’m not saying this applies to Craig, but it does apply. And while we might think most of the skeptics who have debated Craig have lost the overall debate, each one of them made some arguments that were effective against him in every debate, some of which have caused believers to question their faith to some degree. Even though Hitchens clearly lost his debate, does anyone think Craig had an effective answer to Hitchens’s dictatorial God argument, or to his argument about why God was silent for 100,000 years (?) during the ascent of man, or to his argument about Homo Sapiens suffering before Adam and Eve? I think not. In fact I don’t think any apologetical answers solve those problems and I’ll bet Hitchens raised them.

Cheers.

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John W. Loftus June 13, 2009 at 3:15 am

Sorry about some of the grammatical problems with my last post.

I just want to mention one last thing, this time bringing in my own personal preferences. Craig is correct when he states that one of his reasons for not debating me is because it will elevate my status as “Mr. Anti-apologetics.” It will. One must ask why this concerns him since he’s not worried about doing this with any other skeptic. ;-) If my book is as good as you say it is, comparing it to just four of the very best books (two from theists and two from atheists), then I should think you (along with Andrew and others as well) should want this debate to take place precisely because of that reason. Me too.

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lukeprog June 13, 2009 at 5:35 am

Haecceitas,

No, I assumed Inwagen and Zimmerman were materialists, because that’s what I thought I had read. I’m not actually familiar with their work. Even still, it would certainly make for an interesting debate. But it sounds like you’re not sure about the extent of their materialism, either.

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Dave June 13, 2009 at 8:53 am

John, where did Craig say that he won’t debate you because he’s afraid it will elevate your status? I think that’s VERY interesting, as a debate with William Lane Craig will elevate the status of ANY anti-apologist, and Craig must know this. Yet he’s debated several atheists for whom a large component of their published work is antiapologetic in nature. So this certainly isn’t a consistent criteron of Craig’s, a la Dawkins’ refusal to debate all creationists (“That would look good on your C.V., not so good on mine”). Then again, I’m not sure Craig HAS any solid, consistent criteria about who he will or will not debate. Does he?

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cartesian June 13, 2009 at 10:30 am

“I’m not sure Craig HAS any solid, consistent criteria about who he will or will not debate. Does he?”
 
I know that a general rule is that he’ll only debate someone who has a Ph.D. He may have made an exception for Hitchens, due to Hitchens’ high profile.
 
Does Luftus have a Ph.D.? If not, I’d think it very likely that that’s why Craig won’t debate him, and not some concern about ‘elevating his status’.

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cartesian June 13, 2009 at 10:31 am

“1. Peter van Inwagen – one of today’s greatest philosophers, Inwagen is a Christian but also a materialist about persons, so he rejects much standard Christian doctrine about souls and such.
2. Dean Zimmerman – another Christian philosopher who is also a materialist about persons.

van Inwagen is only a materialist about HUMAN persons. He thinks God is immaterial. But he’s an orthodox Christian, so I imagine that he and Craig would have a lot in common, theologically. Much of Craig’s stuff on the problem of evil is inspired by van Inwagen. I don’t think they’d have much to debate about, to be honest.

Zimmerman is NOT a materialist about human persons. He’s a dualist. See for example his argument here:

Dean Zimmerman (2004). Should a Christian Be a Mind-Body Dualist?: Christians Should Affirm Mind-Body Dualism. In Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion. Malden MA: Blackwell Publishing.

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John W. Loftus June 13, 2009 at 11:53 am

Dave, Landon Hendrick told us on the Facebook petition in his own words: “I organized Craig’s debate with Carrier, and had plenty of time to talk with him. When I inquired about a possible future debate with Loftus, Craig said that there wasn’t a chance. He said he sees what has happened to John as a tragedy, and he wants no part in helping turn John into Mr. Anti-Christian-Apologist. So he’s not really refusing the debate “for some unknown reason.” (On page 8 in the comments).

The Ph.D. requirement shouldn’t be a problem. D’ya want to know what Eddie Tabash personally told me after reading my book and considering the possibility of meeting this requirement? He said my book is “the equivalent of three PhD’s.” He’s a fan of mine and buys multiple copies to hand out to his Jewish friends.

And you want to know why Tabash debated him even though he doesn’t have a PhD? He personally told me his strategy. He went around like I’m doing challenging him to debate. Dave, you and I might havd crossed swords before and I’m willing to bury any hachet with you or anyone else, but I’m just doing what Tabash recommended that I do, okay? And there are alreay two and possibly three sponsors for this debate. All we’re waiting for is Craig to bow to public pressure.

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cartesian June 13, 2009 at 1:32 pm

John W. Loftus: The Ph.D. requirement shouldn’t be a problem. D’ya want to know what Eddie Tabash personally told me after reading my book and considering the possibility of meeting this requirement? He said my book is “the equivalent of three PhD’s.”

Well, it’s nice that Tabash (who doesn’t have a Ph.D.) holds your book in such high esteem. Unfortunately, a lawyer’s esteem doesn’t count for much in academia. (If you don’t believe me, try applying for a professorship on the basis of Tabash’s warm review of your book.) Personally, I don’t think your book published with Prometheus (!) is a Ph.D. (which is the point), nor is it even equivalent to a Ph.D. (which is beside the point).
 
Well, that’s not entirely true. There are some low-tier Ph.D.-mills out there who are glad to grant a Ph.D. to anyone willing to pay a $20 grand or so. Maybe your book is equivalent to one of those Ph.D.’s. But if you want to convince Craig that you hold the equivalent of a decent Ph.D., maybe you should point him to some of your articles in peer reviewed academic journals. Do you have any? Or perhaps you should point to your professorship. Do you have one? If the answers to the last two questions are “no,” I think your case rests on a very slender reed.
 
All this is beside the point, since ultimately it’s up to Craig whom he debates. Debating you (Loftus) sure looks like a lose-lose proposition for Craig, though: if Craig loses the debate, that’s real bad. And even if Craig ‘wins’ the debate, it was expected. (It reminds me of when my lightweight wrestling team members had to wrestle females back in high school. Total lose-lose proposition.) On the other hand, it’s a win-win for you, Loftus. So why should Craig accept? To quiet your nagging?

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lukeprog June 13, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Thanks, cartesian.

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Omegos June 13, 2009 at 3:41 pm

Michael Martin, but it would never be recorded or videotaped. He would debate via email wih Craig. lol

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Dave June 13, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Cartesian, Craig has debated a number of people without PhDs or the equivalent, including Frank Zindler, Ron Barrier and (I believe) Christopher Hitchens. These people don’t have PhDs, but they are quite high-profile atheists. And Tabash, of course, who was fairly well-known at the time of the debate, but didn’t have a PhD (I don’t think a law degree would be the equivalent, would it?).
John, thanks for the information. I’ll consider your words.

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Lorkas June 13, 2009 at 4:26 pm

Double thanks, cartesian. I thought the same thing when I read that sentence.
 
John: any academic work going on right now? Perhaps you should just get a PhD, and then you won’t have to worry about Craig turning down a debate for that reason. On the other hand, I can actually see why he wouldn’t want to debate you. It’s not good to debate with someone you care about–hard to keep it from feeling personal.

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John W. Loftus June 13, 2009 at 5:49 pm

cartesian, you are correct about everything you said. No, I do not have any published articles either, and I do not plan on getting a PhD. Eddie Tabah’s recommendation is what it is. Always consider the source.

You might want to ask why it is that luke wants to see this debate though.

And I do tire of this. I think Craig will wear me out, especially because Tabash’s strategy isn’t working for me personally, especially after recent losses to him.

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lukeprog June 13, 2009 at 6:19 pm

John, what do you mean that Craig will wear you out? I’d say: Just keep doing your thing. Enjoy your life, do what you love, keep writing about atheism, and so on. Maybe some years down the road Craig will decide he wants to debate you, maybe not.

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cartesian June 13, 2009 at 9:17 pm

 
John,
My last comment was harsh. I’m sorry about that.
>>No, I do not have any published articles either, and I do not plan on getting a PhD.>>
Have you thought about trying to turn some chapters from your book into articles? If each chapter is built around a germ of an idea, maybe try to develop each one? If you have a good objection to something Bill has published, why not polish it up and send it off for publication? Journals are great places to have academic debates, and Bill has published in some less-than-first-tier places, so it wouldn’t be too difficult to reply.
 
>>You might want to ask why it is that luke wants to see this debate though.>>
I bet it’s because he has a philosophy-crush on you. Like me and Descartes.
 

>>And I do tire of this. I think Craig will wear me out, especially because Tabash’s strategy isn’t working for me personally, especially after recent losses to him.>>
Well how about this for a positive brainstorming session: You clearly have some contact with Bill, and some contact with Prometheus. Why not try to piece together a collection of essays? You could be the editor, and make a contribution to the collection yourself. Here are some possible themes:
 
– New Atheism and Its Discontents (get some of your atheist buddies to write original essays, and have some theists critically respond)
– A Response to the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (Probably Prometheus wouldn’t be super enthusiastic about this one. Maybe run it by Blackwell.)
– William Lane Craig and His Critics (Ask a bunch of atheists to write short-ish summaries and responses to some of Craig’s work. Ask Craig to respond. Sort of like what Plantinga et al. did in Naturalism Defeated?)
– Contemporary Debates in Apologetics (sort of like this book: http://books.google.com/books?id=LOxG3Gq-OmwC&printsec=frontcover    but for a more general audience.)
 
You could ask Bill to contribute something to this collection. Maybe an original essay, or maybe a response to some piece by an atheist. Such a venue would give you a chance to respond to something he’s written, or have him respond to something you write. If he won’t debate you in person, maybe you could find some way to debate him in print.

 

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Dave June 13, 2009 at 10:31 pm

John and Luke, here’s a thought to expand on one of Cartesian’s suggestions: an online comprehensive response to the Blackwell collection by multiple authors, a la The Jury Is In. Set aside a domain for it, an editor or editors, etc. I’d be happy to contribute in any way needed to such a project, as I think a project that successfully defeats what is already, after only a few months in print, considered to be the pinnacle work of analytical theism would be quite significant.

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lukeprog June 13, 2009 at 10:45 pm

Dave,

I would love to see something like that. I even made a mock-up of such an atheism super-book here.

I’m slowly working my way through BCNT (starting with the chapters on The Moral Argument and the Kalam), but it will take me several years. And I don’t think John nor I could attract the firepower necessary to compile an edited volume that could properly respond to BCNT. That would require somebody like Graham Oppy, methinks. And for now I think he’s busy editing his mammoth History of Western Philosophy of Religion.

Also, it should be noted that, as far as I know, neither John nor I have any peer-reviewed work to our names, except John’s article for the Secular web.

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lukeprog June 13, 2009 at 10:49 pm

Cartesian,

You misplace my philosophy crush. It is for Alonzo Fyfe, of course. :)

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John W. Loftus June 14, 2009 at 5:26 am

I am in the final stages of sending a new work to Prometheus Books for publication. It’s already accepted and due August 1st. I see it as a further extension of my book WIBA. I wrote four chapters for it and the other 12 are written by Drs. David Eller, Valerie Tarico, Jason Long, Jim Linville, Hector Avalos, Richard Carrier, and Robert M. Price, along with Ed Babinski, Matthew J. Green, Jeffery Mark, and Joe Holman.

From what I can see as the chapters are being sent my way this will be a very good book. The title of it is tentatively: “Critics Confront Christianity.”

Yes, I’m excited about it.

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John W. Loftus June 14, 2009 at 5:42 am

Thanks for your suggestions too. I see myself a bit differently. I don’t want to write scholarly stuff to get patted on the back by other scholars. That’s what they do and that’s what they get in return. My goal is to change the religious landscape and you don’t do that by writing for the scholars. You do that by writing for university students and the average intelligent reader.

Three things then are key to understanding what I’m doing. As a scholar I understand the scholars. I can effectively engage them. But I “translate what they’re saying to the intelligent reader. Someone has to do this and I think that’s where my time is best spent if I want to change the religious landscape.

Also, my specialty is in being a generalist. I know that sounds like a possible contraction, but I don’t see this at all. Most scholars specialize in a small little area of expertise in the woods, on some particular tree, and/or leaf of a tree. My specialty is in being able to see and describe the whole forest. I specialize in the Big Picture. Someone has to do this and it is just as difficult to do as to focus on a leaf. But I do this because this is the best way to change the religious landscape.

Also, I focus on Christian theism, not theism in general. The Blackwell Companion is a great book, but it is a long way from the God of theism to the God of Christianity. To get to the God of Christianity one must defend a whole host of things that cannot reasonably be defended. Christian philosophers delude themselves and others to think that by defending theism they can conclude Christian theism is the case. That is one big non-sequitur.

Many people think I’m doing something that few if any atheists are doing. And I will continue doing this whether or not I debate Craig. My passion is great. That’s why I want to debate him, to get noticed. But even if I don’t I will continue doing what I do.

BTW: The London Times Literary Supplement will be reviewing my book soon. It’s just a little more influential than a New York Time Book Review. I have also been asked to speak at the Society of Biblical Literature’s annual meeting in Mew Orleans this November. People see my scholarship; it’s just a different kind.

Cheers.

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Liam June 14, 2009 at 6:29 am

Graham Oppy is a professor at my uni. He’s actually going to be taking my philosophy of religion classes next year. cant wait!
 
 

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Liam June 14, 2009 at 6:45 am

lukeprog: Dave,I would love to see something like that. I even made a mock-up of such an atheism super-book here.I’m slowly working my way through BCNT (starting with the chapters on The Moral Argument and the Kalam), but it will take me several years. And I don’t think John nor I could attract the firepower necessary to compile an edited volume that could properly respond to BCNT. That would require somebody like Graham Oppy, methinks. And for now I think he’s busy editing his mammoth History of Western Philosophy of Religion.

He’s actually co-editing that with Dr. Nick Trakakis (Also from Monash Uni) who just completed a book called ‘the end of the philosophy of religion’ which is well worth checking out.

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John W. Loftus June 14, 2009 at 7:30 am

“The End of Philosophy of Religion” is 172 pages for $120. I think some scholars just want a pat on the back, sorry, and I think some publishers want to rape us. I’m sure it’s a good book though and in a few years I’ll get it. It’s a shame that cutting edge libraries must fork over these costs. It stretches their budget beyond imagining. I have an ebook of Trakakis “The God Beyond Belief: In Defense of William Rowe’s Evidential Argument from Evil,” because that’s one specialty (one tree) I’m focusing on. I also have William Hasker’s “Providence, Evil and the Openness of God,” at a pricey $150, (for 236 pages) and Michael Murray’s “Nature Red in Tooth and Claw” for $62 (204 pages). And I have the ebook of “The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology,” especially for it’s chapter on the “Problem of Evil.” To be a specialist in an area requires money, lots of it.

The costs are simply outrageous. Maybe we should boycott them? ;-)

BTW I have not heard anything from Farrell Till. I wonder how his health is doing.

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lukeprog June 14, 2009 at 8:43 am

John,

That sounds a lot like a book that was originally being edited by Richard Spencer. Is it the same one?

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lukeprog June 14, 2009 at 8:44 am

John,

That’s awesome, thanks for sharing your perspective on what you’re doing. And congrats on the LTLS review!

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lukeprog June 14, 2009 at 8:46 am

Liam,

You’re at Monash? I’m jealous. That man is an encyclopedia of logic and philosophy of religion.

I just discovered that perhaps the #1 professional philosopher advocating something close to my views on meta-ethics, Stephen Finlay, is stationed at USC, just down the road from me. I’m as tempted as ever to go back to school…

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Dave June 14, 2009 at 9:02 am

Okay, here’s that post again, this time with paragraph breaks (I hope).
 
When I saw the price of Blackwell, I assumed that it was intended to be used as a college text (and that prices have gone up in the last decade since I got my bachelor’s degree). I have no explanation for Trakakis — I think that’s nonsense. I’m also interested in the argument from evil, so perhaps I should find his ebook about Rowe.
 
John, I wrote a brief response to Blackwell’s chapter on AE, unpublished but Luke has seen it. Basically, it completely ignores all work on the logical AE, of which there has actually been plenty in recent decades. Blackwell focuses on constructing a theodicy, but if there’s a sound LAE then no theodicy can succeed.
 

Luke, such a super-book would be nothing short of OMGAWESOME!! but it’s certainly not going to happen anytime soon. That’s why I’d propose an online project, on a public website. Such a project would, of necessity, be an amateur one, but steps could be taken to ensure a high quality output from those invited to participate — again, I’m thinking of The Jury Is In as a model here. With proper quality control, we could turn out a project that apologists and theologians ignore at their peril. It would also have the advantage of being a dynamic work, something where we could update and add to material to respond to criticisms, whereas the Blackwell compilation has reached its final form.

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Reginald Selkirk June 14, 2009 at 9:59 am

Michael Shermer? I think he’d be in way over his head.
 

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John W. Loftus June 14, 2009 at 10:15 am

Luke, Spencer’s book was called “Mere Atheism” with quite a good line-up of authors. No, mine is a different one than that one, but it’s gonna be good (details forthcoming).

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lukeprog June 14, 2009 at 10:31 am

Yeah, looking forward to it!

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Geoffrey of Ballard June 14, 2009 at 7:46 pm

One name missing from this list is “lukeprog”! Who else has studied WLC’s tactics so well? ;-)
For the record, I still think Bart Ehrman gave him a run for his money. Craig had to introduce several arguments from Swinburne that I haven’t heard him use anywhere else, so he must have felt that Ehrman’s arguments warranted digging deeper into his bag of tricks.

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lukeprog June 14, 2009 at 8:11 pm

I have no desire to debate Craig. At least not until I have 30 years of study and 10 years of debate experience under my belt. By which time Craig will be worm food, unfortunately.

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Ben June 14, 2009 at 8:59 pm

No one on that list unfortunately.  Maybe you in a few years.  haha  I’d like to see Richard Carrier go at it again when he’s actually on topic.  I doubt that’ll happen.
Ben

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Liam June 15, 2009 at 4:46 am

““The End of Philosophy of Religion” is 172 pages for $120.
The costs are simply outrageous. Maybe we should boycott them? ”

Or i can just sit in the library and read his books =]
Monash Uni has the most ridiculously large philosophy section i’ve ever seen!

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JMauldin July 27, 2009 at 9:30 am

I’ve been studying WLC for quite some time now and I have to say that the only person who has the technical skill to defeat Craig in both a debate and an examination of facts is Jeffrey Jay Lowder. He dismantled Phil Fernandez who uses a lot of Craig’s arguments. I had hoped Hitchens would’ve faired better but Craig controlled the whole thing (on his home turf) and muzzled the great drunken crusader. Some of the things Craig said in that debate was laughable but in the home crowd it went over like gangbusters. My favorite thing that Craig does is complain that skeptics/atheists appeal to the “fringe” of scholarship when discussing the historical Jesus and then turns around and does the exact same thing when he appeals to scientific sources.

Also, I know you gave the win to Craig in the Craig/Ehrman debate but I have to say, I think Ehrman won that debate. He kept it pretty simple, dealt with Craig’s “four facts”, ignored Craig’s useless equation, composed himself even though Craig attacked him with cheap shot slides entitled “Bart’s Blunder” and “Ehrman’s Egregious Error” (rhetorical jabs used to discredit Ehrman with no foundation) and exposed Craig’s inability to effectively critique his own sources. In my opinion, on that day in 2006, Craig was defeated.

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Silver Bullet July 27, 2009 at 4:11 pm

I’d love to see Sam Harris spank Craig.

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cl July 27, 2009 at 7:19 pm

I’m a first-time commenter who just got done spending about an hour perusing your blog. Good stuff. Interesting post and thread here, too. I’m not an atheist, and for purposes of categorization technically some kind of Christian, but I’d love to debate Craig. If what we’re looking for is an undeniable ontological argument, his “standard five” (as you called them elsewhere) persuade me as inefficient.

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matt August 23, 2009 at 6:58 am

I have to agree with a couple of posts back about the Jeffrey Jay Lowder. His is reallx the best performance I´ve seen against a Craig-like opponent: organized, efficient, cogent and aggressive enough to “win”. Hitchens, on the other hand,  is both a drunken snob and a political opportunist; I wouldn´t be suprised if he goes on a book tour in two years after writing “The God that Didn´t Fail After All, You Wretched Fool” to prove that Jesus not only exists but personally instructed George Bush to invade Iraq and Afghanistan.  If there´s any proof of miracles from a Christian perspective, surely it´s that God sent Hitchens on a debate tour for atheism.
One thing that it seems to me would work well against Craig´s 4 points would be to find real and specific parallels in other mythologies–that is, ones involving “multiply attested miracles” with  “eye-wintess accounts” etc etc. I´m not a student of comparative religion, but isn`t there something or other in Chinese or Indian or African mythology (or for that matter more recent cult phenomena) that has the same markers of “authenticity” ? I´m talking about a real point-by-point analogy, so that it would be hard for Craig to do his “core vs. periphy” bla-bla escape number.  I´m not sure I´ve seen any one really call him to task on this, although it´s  one of the most maddening sophistries in Craig´s tool kit. Any discrepancies that cast doubt on any aspect of Chrisitan dogma only pertain to  “peripherals”, whereas the “core” is by definition that which (so Craig claims) can´t be disputed. It works the other way, too: any analogies between the Jesus story and non-Christian myths are only periphal, whereas  “the core” of the Resurrection story is unique. Robert  Price kind of attacked this, I think, but not very effectively.
In fact, I think I´d start a debate with Craig by listing “Craig´s Casuistries”, to establich an argumentative of off-limits zone. It would include question begging (the probability of miracles), appeals to authority (the majority of scholars etc)  and–my favorite–taking ordinary language on long a metaphyical holidy (almost every part of the Kalam Cosmological argument, but especially Premise 1).  I´m sure anyone here can add two or three more to the list…
 

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lukeprog August 23, 2009 at 7:27 am

matt,

As for better-attested miracles than Jesus’ resurrection, I often use the example of the Hindu milk miracle of 1995. This subject also came up in my interview with Christian apologist Mike Licona.

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matt August 23, 2009 at 8:47 am

thanks. i just listened to that interview yesterday, coincidentally. your example would certainly do the job, but it would also depend on how it were presented rhetorically. what i mean is, to do it in a way that explicitly meets all of Craig´s supposed criteria for a best historical explanation, showing point by point how it stands up to the resurrection.
by the way, i found your licona interview both very informative and, to be honest, a little frustrating.  i´m not sure i would have been quite so …hospitable. (your remark about “teenagers telling ghost stories” was on the money, though; at least licona is serious about his commitment to the supernatural.  one of the bizarre paradoxes of american culture is that people with phds still run around arguing for the reality of witchcraft…)
i look forward to hearing more of the interviews you´ve done.

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rhys October 5, 2009 at 6:29 pm

Id like to see either a discussion (not a debate) between WLC and Sam Harris, or an email debate. I think the resulting discourse would be remarkably interesting and insightful. Sam is one of those philosophers who is rather unapologetic in declaring his bitterness towards the mind-twisting nature of religious dogma, and he combines these understandings with a comprehensive knowledge of philosophy, neuroscience, genetics and evolutionary biology to boot.

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Marco November 30, 2009 at 1:45 am

Just for the fun of it I’d like to’ve seen Hitchens have a go at Craig. You say “Craig spanked Hitchens like a foolish child”. I guess watching Hitchens being spanked like a foolish child is fun enough to watch.

The other three “new atheists” I’d like to see Craig debating with as well. So far I’ve only heard a recording of a response Dennett gave during a conference where Craig held a speech. I thought it made a lot of sense. His response came down to his doubt he had in Craigs ability to give a useful input in the discipline of cosmological. Craig uses intuitions and concepts that are tested in area’s not applicable to the main cosmological questions. You can’t use “mindbogglingness” to test your intuitions there. I heard a response in a later radio show Craig gave to Dennetts remarks. He didn’t show any sign of understanding the remark Dennett gave at all. I lost a little belief in Craigs sincerity there .

Dawkins will be a disappointment for sure but Sam Harris could be fun to watch.

I’ve seen his debate with Peter Slezak. I thought he did oke, not as a debater maybe but he addressed all the arguments.

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Marco December 27, 2009 at 11:24 am

In my country Herman Philipse would be a candidate:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Xwe4n-Tb4c

He knows all the arguments Hume and Kant et al. refuted already. So Craig wouldn’t get away with them I guess. He studied in Oxford and is professor in philosophy. He also wrote a pamphlet the “atheists manifesto”. He would do a better job than most of the opponents Craig debated.

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DoAtheistsExist? February 19, 2010 at 11:17 am

John W. Loftus: And I have the ebook of “The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology,” especially for it’s chapter on the “Problem of Evil.” BTW I have not heard anything from Farrell Till. I wonder how his health is doing.  

Hey John,
Sorry for a really late comment on this lol, but I was wondering did you manage to find that ebook online for free? Or did you have to pay for it?

I would love to get hold of a free copy somehow lol :D

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lukeprog February 19, 2010 at 12:36 pm

DoAtheistsExist?,

See this post.

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Victor May 27, 2010 at 12:51 pm

I used to have some respect for Richard Dawkins although I had been finding it rather difficult to maintain while listening to some of his speeches and debates. But after seeing this video, I feel that my respect for this man has dropped down almost to zero. Still, I will try to regard his apparent faults as just exhibitions of human weakness rather than symptoms of a bad character.

Any honest person (and that obviously does not include the people in the audience who applauded the nauseating excuse he gave) can tell that the reason Dawkins doesn’t want to debate the renowned philosopher and theologian, Dr William Craig, is precisely because that is what the man is: a renowned philosopher and theologian. Plus the fact that his vast knowledge, intellect and philosophical training makes him a highly skilled debater (NOT a “professional” debater as Dawkins falsely claimed).

There is nothing wrong with Richard Dawkins simply admitting that, while he believes Craig is wrong about his views, he believes he is not qualified to debate him and that that job is best left to atheists who are as able as Craig particularly in his field of expertise. That was all Dawkins had to say. It would have been perfectly reasonable, perfectly honest and it wouldn’t have taken anything from him. But he was too arrogant and too contemptuous of anyone who poses a threat to him to say it. Instead, he stooped down to lying and, even worse, insulting another man without any provocation whatsoever.

Contrary to his statement, he has on several occasions debated men who were neither bishops nor priests, nor were they even members of the clergy. He has also debated at least one creationist (or IDist) by the name of Dr John Lennox. (William Craig is not a creationist even though Dawkins misleadingly tried to make the audience think he was). These men, I’m sure, would be the first to maintain that they cannot be compared to Craig in terms of his work and scholarship. So what is Dawkins talking about when he says “…he has to have something better than that.”?

By the way, Dawkins’ grandstanding and arrogance in this (and other) context(s) is extremely ironic and pretentious. Here is a man whose only claim to fame is the fact that he goes about on television and radio bashing religion and promoting atheism without presenting any new or interesting arguments. Sure, he has written books that popularize science to the public. But so has dozens of others. He hasn’t a single scientific discovery or innovation to his credit besides a pseudoscientific concept that he calls a “meme”. Yet here he is grandstanding in this fashion to a man that is obviously his intellectual (and moral) superior.

When he said, on another occasion, that a debate between him and Craig “would look good on his resume but it wouldn’t look good on mine” he was absolutely correct except that he neglected to include the reason: because Craig would beat him and he knew it.

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Rhys Wilkins June 20, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Luke,

Have you seen Jeffery Jay Lowder debate? In terms of debating skills, he has just as much technical mastery as Dr. Craig. He also has the same oratory and rhetorical skills. Plus he’s an atheist! Why isn’t he on your list?

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Philosopher August 5, 2010 at 7:04 pm

I want to see William Lane Craig debate David Hume!

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Marco October 24, 2010 at 9:33 am

To follow up my recommendation of Herman Philipse, a link to his introduction of the debate between religion and science (creation or evolution).

http://131.211.194.110/site1/SilverlightPlayer/Default.aspx?peid=d3d8146ddad94bea9fd31fa65dea31c6

He’s introduced in Dutch but does his speech in English.

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Raphael Lataster December 7, 2010 at 3:55 pm

I would like to debate WLC. I would win quite easily. I’m also putting up a bunch of WLC articles on my pantheistic site shortly. If anyone knows how I can contact WLC to challenge him to debate, please email me.

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James February 16, 2011 at 4:23 pm

Hmm, I think it’s a mistake that you think Michael Shermer should debate Craig. I’ve seem Shermer debate before and he is really one of the most incompetent debaters I’ve ever encountered. He debates on subjects which he has no expertiese and humiliates himself and the side he’s defending time and time again.

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