The Brute and the Philosopher

imagesThough I don’t always agree with him, I rather like William Lane Craig. I think he’s done an excellent job at arguing the case for God’s existence on both the academic and lay level.

I think it is very hard to defend the claim that he is either incompetent or dishonest as a philosopher. One doesn’t have to agree with any of his arguments to say this. Really, it is the civil human being who sees that intelligent people acting in good faith can disagree. Only a form of philistinism would demand that all dissension is the result of dishonesty or stupidity.

The fact that it’s common to make both accusations of Craig, then, has always struck me as more than a little strange.

But popular New Atheist blogger, Chris Hallquist  (aka “the Uncredible Hallq”) has always been willing to jump on that bandwagon. He has written an ebook arguing against God’s existence, and devotes a chapter to Craig. As far as I can tell, he doesn’t establish much in the chapter other than his own close-mindedness.

If this seems like a harsh assessment, I can only say that Hallquist deserves it. He doesn’t take the time to understand clearly what is being said before presuming to judge Craig and his arguments.

And judge he does. He devotes the opening section of this chapter to attacking Craig’s honesty. He then shows some genuine clear-headedness by pointing out that it would be a fallacy to suggest that this makes Craig’s arguments wrong.

He then dives right into committing this fallacy.

It seems that Hallquist is keen to accuse Craig of dishonesty because he thinks that it takes nothing more than the accusation of dishonesty to dismiss Craig’s claims of fact. He doesn’t seem to feel the need to offer us any reason at all why Craig is wrong about the things he points out. There really is no point in even considering Craig’s personal character except to commit this fallacy.

But all this would be moot if Hallquist could otherwise show that Craig is wrong. But it seems likely as not that it is precisely his inability to refute Craig which forces him to resort to personal attacks. I’ve long suspected that this is why so many attack Craig, actually. I don’t see any reason at all for so much energy to be spent on slandering the man other than as a distraction from the inability to refute him.

That said, Hallquist does have some interesting things to say. I’ll be responding to his comments in my next series of posts.

12 responses to “The Brute and the Philosopher

  • uberjam479

    I respect Craig for being as accomplished as he is, but I find it hard to believe that he believes what comes out of his mouth. His defense for the resurrection is just shoddy and opponents like Hitchens always seemed to come off as much more rational while simultaneously making Craig look like a loon. I believe I heard him referred to once as a philosophical gymnast, or something like that.

    • writtenbyafloridian

      We must have been watching different debates if you thought Hitchens made an analytic philosopher like Craig look like a loon. The only debate I saw between them Craig destroyed Hitch. Hitch even acknowledged that debating Craig was the only time he needed someone to wish him well in a debate.

      However, I happen to agree with you about some of Craig’s odd views concerning religion.


      • Dillon

        Agree with all of this. I’ve only heard a handful of things I disagree with Craig about, but none of them come from him “sounding like a loon”

      • paarsurrey

        Hitchens had a very shallow knowledge of religions specifically of the Middle East and the East; he was just a columnist of a news paper, in my opinion.

        • writtenbyafloridian

          He was a bright guy who was very well read and he was an excellent writer and orator.

          However, his was primary flaw, the one that coloured his beliefs, was he loved dealing in the blackest blacks and the whitest whites. Everybody, everything was either wholly good or wholly bad. He had no understanding of the grey areas of reality.


        • paarsurrey

          “He was a bright guy who was very well read and he was an excellent writer and orator.”

          He might have these qualities in other fields but his knowledge about the core of religion was very shallow; he generalized from the Christian Western religion for other religions of the East; anybody who has deep study of religions would agree to it.

        • writtenbyafloridian

          He was intentionally shallow, though. He wanted to ridicule the powers that be. I think he said that true emancipation comes from being able to laugh at authority.

          Of course, I agree with your overall point, but I still have a certain amount of intellectual admiration for Hitchens’ work. And I wouldn’t want to belittle his contributions.


    • paarsurrey

      Jesus did not die on the Cross in the first place; he got recovered from the near dead after treatment in the tomb he was laid by his friends; so there is no case for resurrection of Jesus from the dead; anybody who would like to prove resurrection of Jesus from the dead; however intelligent that person might be; he is bound to fail, in my opinion.

    • Debilis

      I personally don’t understand why there is such a focus on Craig’s honesty. It seems to me that the emphasis should be whether or not his arguments are true (and why or why not).

      As for Hitchens, I don’t know how rational he comes across to most. But it is rather simple to find the fallacies in his logic. For a rational atheist, I’d recommend Thomas Nagel, J. L. Mackie, Shelley Kagan, and David Chalmers.

  • jasontrivium

    It sounds like you’ve spent some time looking into Hallquist’s book, I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts on it. 🙂

  • paarsurrey

    I am waiting for your series of posts on this New Atheist.

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