Clash of the Titans: William Lane Craig vs. Christopher Hitchens

I must be honest. William Lane Craig annoys the hell out of me. I have listened to many of his debates and in every one of them he has used cheap, dishonest debate techniques.

WLC’s favorite cheap, dishonest debate technique: In every one of his debates which I have watched, Craig repeatedly asserts that the “overwhelming majority” of experts agrees with his positions, such as on the topic of the historicity of the empty tomb of Jesus and the many alleged sightings of a resurrected Jesus. Craig never provides supporting evidence for this “overwhelming” majority expert opinion except for sometimes quoting one conservative Christian scholar or historian who claims that such an overwhelming consensus exists. Are we seriously to believe that the overwhelming majority of historians believe that Jesus’ disciples literally saw a resurrected Jesus??? Give me a break. It is certainly possible that the overwhelming majority of historians believe that some early Christians sincerely believed that Jesus had appeared to them, in some fashion (bright lights??) but that is not what Craig claims. Listen to the video below and you will hear it for yourself.

Another WLC dirty debate technique: Craig triumphantly declares (over and over and over again) victory over atheists when debating the topic of the existence of God when the atheist is unable to produce evidence proving that God does not exist.

How preposterous!

Let’s try the same debate tactic on Mr. Craig when debating the existence of unicorns: Mr. Craig, I challenge you to provide evidence which proves that unicorns do not exist. Come on! Do it! Provide evidence that unicorns do not exist, Mr. Craig! You can’t do it, can you?? You see, dear debate audience. Mr. Craig cannot prove that unicorns do not exist, therefore unicorns MUST exist! I win!

What silly nonsense.

Wake up, Christians. If William Lane Craig is forced to use such silly sleight of hands to win a debate regarding the veracity of Christianity’s central claims, how strong is his position??

.

.

.

.

.

End of post.

24 thoughts on “Clash of the Titans: William Lane Craig vs. Christopher Hitchens

  1. The WLC debate with Sean Carroll was quite nice. He got roasted by an actual physicist about matters of physics.

    My opinion: None of Craig’s arguments are good, they’re just dressed up well enough to appear convincing to people who already believe. The fact that he’s famous for bringing back the Kalam as an argument for God, yet is an argument that never even mentions God, tells me everything I need to know about the man and his followers. This doesn’t even address his admission that it’s the supposed “witness of the Holy Spirit”, rather than actual evidence, that convinces him that Christianity is true.

    The man really isn’t worth our time, except for the fact that he’s popular.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely! … Craig’s arguments are just dressed up well enough to appear convincing to people who already believe. Essentially, this is what every Christian leader does. The die has been cast — their job is simply to reinforce it.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. You shouldn’t run from where the evidence points, from an astro-physicist.

    https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Unbelievable-blog/Roger-Penrose-can-t-escape-an-ultimate-explanation-for-the-universe

    No comments about sleight of hand here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2011/oct/22/richard-dawkins-refusal-debate-william-lane-craig

    Please provide evidence that the vast majority (70% on the empty tomb) to 90% (every other point he makes) do not agree with the findings of the conservative scholar.

    Like

    1. Even if it is true that 70% of NT scholars believe that the empty tomb is an historical fact, that is NOT an overwhelming majority or a consensus. Imagine if only 70% of historians believed that Julius Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon was historical. That means that 30% of historians do not believe this event occurred. Should we believe an event occurred if so many experts, even if they are in the minority, doubt its historicity?? Even more disturbing, the one person who has made this claim, who is not a scholar or a historian, has never released his data.

      WLC claims that the overwhelming majority of scholars believe that Jesus appeared to his disciples. That is total BS.

      Like

      1. “Should we believe an event occurred if so many experts, even if they are in the minority, doubt its historicity?”

        “A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.” – David Hume

        Like

    2. Please provide evidence that the vast majority (70% on the empty tomb) to 90% (every other point he makes) do not agree with the findings of the conservative scholar.

      Please provide evidence that the vast majority of experts do not believe in unicorns. You can’t? Ok, then that must mean that the vast majority of experts do believe in the existence of unicorns.

      Your logic is ridiculous.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. And yeah – Craig’s arguments are so bad that they cannot be debunked. How awful.

    I figure that atheists just don’t like having no response to facts and logic.

    Like

    1. Do you believe in unicorns? I doubt it. That makes you a a-unicornist. Please provide the evidence that unicorns do not exist, Mr. a-unicornist.

      What?? You can’t? See. You have no response to facts and logic.

      Like

  4. “Majority of scholars” seems to get thrown around a lot by both sides. After years of hearing it in debates and seeing it in books and blogs, I’ve come to believe it just means those in the doctrinal tradition (or bubble) of the person saying it. Craig means evangelical and conservative scholars, Ehrman means liberal, skeptic and atheist scholars. I wish they would openly admit this when they make the claim. A few years ago on Ehrman’s blog, this issue came up as commenters challenged him, and he used the term critical scholars for a while, until he was challenged again by commenters who pointed out that there are evangelical/conservative scholars he says he respects and considers legitimate, so he often now qualifies things by saying something like “most scholars except conservative ones believe xyz.” So good for him on that, but I wish more would take this approach.

    It makes me wonder though, since the mainline churches, and I assume along with that seminaries, have been declining, what the actual numbers are for evangelical/conservative seminary profs vs mainline (and usually liberal).
    Here is a link to a 5 minute video of evangelical prof (Michael Kruger) criticizing Ehrman’s use of majority of scholars, and saying that the latest statistics about the largest seminaries show that the top ten seminaries in the US are all accredited evangelical seminaries. He says this at 1:30.
    I’m not saying he’s correct. I’ll have to check into it some more.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the link. I left this comment below the post:

        I would be curious how many of these “ten largest seminaries” require their professors to sign a doctrinal statement, promising never to teach anything that contradicts evangelical teaching. We saw what happened to Michael Licona for contradicting the evangelical teaching of inerrancy regarding the Dead Saints Shaken out of their Tombs Story in Matthew. So if the overwhelming majority of NT scholars are now based in evangelical institutions, I would not give any serious consideration whatsoever to what the majority of NT scholars believe. It has become a muzzled profession.

        However, I believe that there is another way to get a good idea of what is true and what is required dogma/propaganda in NT studies. Look at the position of Roman Catholic scholars! The Catholic Church gives their scholars much more freedom to state their honest opinions, even if they contradict Church teachings, than do evangelical Protestants. And the fact is that when it comes to the all important authorship of the Gospels and the dating of the Gospels, the overwhelming majority of Roman Catholic scholars, who believe in the supernatural, who believe in the Virgin Birth, who believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus, do NOT believe that eyewitnesses or associates of eyewitnesses wrote the Gospels. They do not believe that the first Gospel was written in the 40’s or 50’s.

        https://lutherwasnotbornagaincom.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/majority-of-scholars-agree-the-gospels-were-not-written-by-eyewitnesses/

        BTW: As a member of Ehrman’s blog, I’ve never seen him claim that ALL scholars agree with his position on the authorship of the Gospels or the dating of the Gospels, for instance, only that the overwhelming majority of scholars do so. Think about this: If the only scholars who believe in the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels and the early dating of the Gospels are conservative Protestants and evangelicals, while everyone else (moderate and liberal Protestant and the overwhelming majority of Roman Catholic scholars, conservative, moderate, and liberal) do not, who is more likely telling us the unbiased truth??

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Yes, my comment about Ehrman was not limited to talking about dating or authorship, it has been on other topics as well, but I will root around his site this weekend to see if I can come up with some actual examples.

          Like

          1. Excellent link, except for one thing. Maybe I missed it, as Ehrman does tend to go back and forth and waffle a little, but I didn’t read anywhere about evidence which would lead critical scholars to think differently than their ‘Conservative Cousins’. Or was the reader supposed to infer that it is evidence that differentiated the two branches of scholarship.
            After all, the point of the question was : How do you (Ehrman) know?

            Like

    1. When this issue of “majority scholarly opinion” comes up, I always like to steer the conversation to the authorship and dating of the Gospels—the foundation upon which evangelical apologists build their case for the historicity of the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the central claim of Christianity. I point out to conservative evangelical apologists that there is a large group of scholars who are not liberals, who very much do believe in the supernatural, and who very much do believe in the Virgin Birth and the bodily resurrection of Jesus—yet—they hold the same position on the dating of the Gospels and their authorship as do liberal Protestant and agnostic scholars (such as Bart Ehrman). Who are these scholars? Answer: Hundreds of Roman Catholic scholars!

      And the majority (dare I say it: the overwhelming majority) of Roman Catholic scholars do NOT believe that the Gospels were written by eyewitnesses or the associates of eyewitnesses nor do they believe that the first Gospel was written in the 40’s or 50’s, as evangelicals love to claim.

      Click the link below to see the position of Roman Catholic scholars on these issues:

      https://lutherwasnotbornagaincom.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/majority-of-scholars-agree-the-gospels-were-not-written-by-eyewitnesses/

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think the idea of apostolic succession free’s Catholics from being as obsessed with Bible problems as protestants are.
        In my last year of university I had a few extra credits free to take a course so I took one on the gospels from a Catholic college that was on the campus of the secular university I went to, and it was an interesting course but one of the most interesting things was the priest who taught it said Catholics don’t need to be as obsessed about the Bible as protestants because the church was around long before the Bible.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. And they’re right! The Jesus Followers (which I’m sure the Catholics are claiming) were way ahead of Paul’s writings.

          Of course, the Catholic Church as a entity really made a mess of things over the years, but that’s beside the point.

          Like

          1. Yes, like in the darkest period of the dark ages from around the 8th to the 10th centuries, when the Papacy was basically a plaything of the aristocracy of what was left of the city of Rome and new Popes chosen by them. How to reconcile Apostolic Succession with that (among all the other times of craziness and political intrigue) I have no idea.

            Liked by 1 person

        2. Very true. The highest authority for Protestants is “Scripture” (Sola Scriptura). The highest authority for Roman Catholics is the Magisterium.

          Raymond Brown, probably the most respected Roman Catholic scholar of the last 25 years, once said that if there were no good evidence to believe the Virgin Birth (and he admits the evidence for this claim is scant) is an historical fact, he would still believe it because the Magisterium says it is a fact. If the Magisterium were to change its position on this issue, he would obediently accept their position, because it is still possible for Jesus to have been born God incarnate without having a virgin as a mother.

          Yet for evangelicals and other conservative Protestants, if Jesus was not born of a virgin—if this story is a fictional legend—their entire faith collapses.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. Yeah, it’s a bit of a jumble, I think. He can’t bring himself to say guys like Bock and Keener are not critical, and talks about how smart and knowledgeable they are, but yet I’m pretty sure they are precisely the kind of scholars he thinks are not critical. He just doesn’t want to put that in print.
    And he admits not knowing the ratio of evangelical/conservative protestant scholars to liberal/ mainline scholars, instead talks about how the famous schools and state universities tend to teach a certain view, and he knows most of the people who teach in those institutions.

    But isn’t that a bit of a dodge? Without being a able or at least willing to specifically say which scholars are actually critical, (an of course any he accuses would disagree) the question then is what the majority of scholars think, and his admission of not knowing the con/lib ratio means he doesn’t really know. I like Ehrman’s stuff, I’m not dissin’ him anymore that any other debater or writer I see on either side (people like Craig, Habermas, Licona, etc.) talking about the majority of scholars.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s