Monday 28 October 2013

William Lane Craig dishonest?

So if you don't know who William Lane Craig is (sometimes referred to as simply WLC), I will spare you having to sit through one of his rhetorical debates. He is the lead apologist for Christianity, which basically means he delights in arguing for the Christian viewpoint, and publishing books on his philosophy, one that attempts to proves God's existence, not just any God but the empty tomb God of the bible, with Jesus as his son. He is actually fairly intelligent, very well spoken and very well presented. He does however use faulty logic that has been cut down at every turn by atheists on youtube. He will of course sometimes dismiss their arguments with an appeal to authority, saying he is a published PHD, they are youtubers... yeah sorry that doesn't hold water, your argument must be sound.

If you really want to see his arguments or the beautiful take downs, have a look, I will recommend some videos at the end.

But the video I want to refute is here; is only 2 minutes, but I will give you a quick recap. Carl Sagan once said in his truly skeptical fashion "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence". A good phrase to sum up a decent skeptical position to hold. If someone tells you they can fly, you may ask for a demonstration, if they say they can't demonstrate it now, then you are smart to withhold judgement and ask them when they can demonstrate this extraordinary ability. If they put some condition on it, you could attempt to still test them while fulfilling this condition, but if they refuse to be subject to testing then you would be wise to disbelieve them till some extraordinary evidence came in. Their say so is not enough, even a photo can be faked, you need some testable evidence.

WLC goes on to probability theory, and says that things that are unlikely to happen statistically should be questioned. Yes that is right, WLC then uses the lottery numbers that were picked as a highly improbable event that should be questioned. It is two improbabilities, surely someone of WLC's intelligence knows this. The likelihood of lottery numbers being picked on a night that they are picked is nearly 100%, the likelihood that a set of numbers a particular individual has chosen maybe 1 in 100 million. But once the numbers have been picked, like a quantum wave function the probability is collapsed to 100%. This is why they record it and have overseers to ensure that it is all legitimate and no cheating is performed.

The lotto numbers that were picked weren't picked due to some Divine hand, nor was the fact that they were picked an extraordinary claim. What would be an extraordinary claim is if one of the numbers picked contained a letter, but that claim would be satisfied with video evidence. If one of the numbers picked started talking then, maybe even a single source of video evidence may not be enough... if one of the numbers picked, talked (but only to certain people), and managed to create a universe and sentient beings in it, and send a lesser number that was somehow still the same to one of the planets in that created universe then no matter how many sources you had you may never have enough. A book written by ancients who witnessed this miraculous talking number would definitely not be enough evidence.

So try this on for size WLC, varied levels of claim require equivalent levels of evidence. If you claim a dice landed on 6, and it causes no cost to me, I would likely just believe you. If my house were riding on this dice roll, not only would I want to see the 6, but I would throw the dice myself a few times to ensure it wasn't rigged... if my life were riding on it... well I don't think I would gamble that, but I would spend all my effort to ensure the roll was fair even going so far as to not let another roll the dice.

He then goes on to try and tie in the bible saying you can offset that probability, one I have already dismissed by determining what is the probability that it would have been reported had it not occurred... Hmm papers and broadcast have misreported the lottery numbers several times, a quick google shows three in the first page of results, just for 2011 ( so there is a possibility that it was misreported.
The same thing can be applied to the bible and other texts, was Homers Odyssey misreported, or did Poseidon have it in for Odysseus, were the writings of Heracles (Hercules) misreported, or did Zeus really have an extra-marital affair with a human that ended in a mighty warrior half-god son? These stories are mutually exclusive, so it is best to refrain from judgement till one has evidence for or against. The bible and its stories and adherents are not evidence, any more than the now lost (presumed destroyed by early Christians) books of stories of the Cult of Heracles and his known followers are evidence for his existence. Anecdote and here say does not equal evidence.

Evidence has mounted against all of them, there are no Gods atop mount Olympus, none yet found in the seas, no signature for Yahweh the God of the bible, and some scholars including one who recently spoke for Sydney atheists are starting to questions Jesus' validity.
Reserving judgement, on all of these is the only honest approach. You can go one step further and dismiss all of the hypothesis till one has clear evidence in its favour. Dismissing hypothesis' such as Zeus, Woden (Odin), FSM and Yahweh (God, Jehova, Elohim, Adonai) .

All of this I watched, only a few weeks after I saw WLC debate Lawrence Krauss in Sydney were he goes on here to say he is an agnostic, this seems a little dishonest, maybe he isn't convinced by his own water tight arguments? Well small steps Craig, you'll get there eventually.
Of course I make this rather large claim and have some video evidence to back it up, of course WLC can back peddle all he likes but here it is, shortly after Lawrence Krauss states the position that he doesn't claim certainty, as any good scientist should:

WLC take downs;
Theortetical Bullshit's awesome takedown
Contingent argument takedown/Morality This is the same as the age old logical fallacy, some doctors are men, some doctors are tall. Does that mean some men are tall?
You can't actually answer yes with only those two pieces of information, the tall doctors could be all females and all the men in this hypothetical world could be short.
And of course the Awesome skydive Phil, who seems to knock WLC's argument down again and again, yet he continues to use them.

1 comment:

  1. Also see Matt McCormick's take on the Witness of the Holy Spirit, and cognitive biases