Tuesday, 18 October 2011

My closing statement

From yesterday's debate with William Lane Craig. I removed a few phrases from the beginning. My opening statement and my refutations of Craig's moral and resurrection arguments are posted below.

As we look back across the hundreds of millions of years of sentient life on this planet, we find suffering on a stupendous scale. For example, we humans have - over many hundreds of thousands of generations before before either Jesus or the idea of Prof. Craig’s god were known to us - had to watch a third to a half of our children die painfully in our arms. Immense suffering and horror are built into the fabric of the world we are forced to inhabit.

My contention is this suffering constitutes powerful evidence against Professor Craig’s god. Even many Christians acknowledge it constitutes a very powerful intellectual threat to their belief.

I’ve challenged Professor Craig to explain why, given this mountain of evidence, belief in his God is supported by the evidence and arguments. Why, in particular, is belief in his good god better supported than belief in an evil god, which is clearly absurd.

Professor Craig has failed to meet this challenge.

He tried to explain that mountain of suffering, of course.

He appealed to the promise of an after life.

He also played the mystery card – insisting that God has his good reasons for unleashing hundreds of thousands of years of horror – it’s just that we don’t know what they are.

I pointed out these explanations can be used just as effectively to deal with the evidence against the evil god hypothesis. So obviously they fail to show that belief in a good god is better supported than belief in an evil god.

Professor Craig offered three arguments for god, of course. But only two were even relevant to meeting my challenge. The arguments he did offer for his good god were, at best, remarkably weak.

He offered a moral argument, of course. But such moral arguments are rejected by vast majority of moral philosophers. Even Richard Swinburne thinks Craig’s moral argument fails.

Professor Craig’s particular version has a highly dubious first premise – that if there’s no God, there are no objective moral values – a premise for which Craig failed to provide a decent supporting argument.

But even if Craig he could show that the premise was true, he would hardly have succeeded in showing that belief in his god is reasonable after all. For of course, when placed next to a mountain of observational evidence that there’s no such god, his moral argument merely generates the conclusion that there are no objective moral values. A conclusion that, while counter-intuitive, can’t just be assumed false.

Craig’s other argument was his resurrection argument, which is, frankly, almost comically flimsy. Even many Christians – including Alvin Plantinga, consider it terribly weak

So let’s not lose sight of the weight of argument and evidence on either side of debate. There is a mountain of observational evidence against Craig’s god. He has signally failed to explain that evidence away.

He offered a couple of arguments for his particular God, but they turned out to be at best, well, weedy. Indeed, both have high-profile Christian critics.

So it’s clear where the balance of probability lies.

We may not know why the universe exists. But we can quite reasonably rule certain answers out, such as that an evil god created it. We can, for much the same sort of reasons, quite reasonably also rule out the suggestion that Professor Craig’s good god created it.

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