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Paradox25's avatar

Who debated William Lane Craig the best in your opinion?

Asked by Paradox25 (10174points) January 11th, 2014

I had watched several of Dr. Craig’s debates myself, though I’m not going to give my own opinion pertaining to his performance here. Many atheists have even stated that Craig usually outwits his opponents, which surprised me.

I had brought Craig up since he seems to be one of the best Christian apologists out there, at least according to most sources that I had read from. Like I had asked above, which person debated Dr. Craig the best in your opinion, and why? I also wouldn’t mind it if you state who performed the poorest against Craig too.

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15 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Craig does not outwit his opponents. He covers his shit arguments in tons of pseudophilosophical babble to baffle the audience with bullshit.
The one who should debate Craig is AronRa. He would go all out. Just look up how he completely eviscerated Ray Comfort.

Paradox25's avatar

Many media, and even secular sources feel he wins (not my own opinion). He won’t debate John Loftus though, and Dawkins outright refused to debate him, stating the reasons on his own website.

Seek's avatar

Those reasons being mostly what @ragingloli said.

flip86's avatar

I’d say that Hitchens pretty much destroyed all the apologists he debated. WLC included.

LostInParadise's avatar

In the debates I have seen, those arguing against Craig did a rather poor job in bringing their arguments together. They all have good arguments but they seemed content to state them without any apparent desire to win the debate.

In particular:
1. Craig usually makes a point that nobody has disproved the existence of God. This has things backwards. Non-belief is the null hypothesis. It is up to Craig to prove that God exists, which he can’t do. None of the speakers put sufficient emphasis on this.

2. There is a point that Hitchens brought up but never pressed – What does a religious person (Craig in particular) do that is different from a non-believer? If there is no significant difference then religion is inconsequential and can be ignored.

3. If a theist does the right thing only because he expects to be rewarded or fears that he will otherwise be punished then the theist has less moral courage than the atheist who does the right thing solely because it is the right thing.

ETpro's avatar

William Lane Craig is a brilliant man. He has a great gig going with his full Research Professorship at Talbot School of Theology. He earns royalties on some 30 books. He also brings in money from his operations. He believes in and argues for the theory of A-time that our recent arrival @Squatch347 and I have been kicking back and forth here.

Craig debated New Testament Scholar Professor Bart D. Ehrman and in my opinion, got his clock cleaned. Read the transcript of the debate and this powerful rebuttal of Craig’s arguments, and it is clear Craig is lost and just churning out erudite-sounding gibberish in hopes of confusing his opponent, or at least bamboozling the less educated in his audience, most of whom have a strong confirmation bias in Dr. Craig’s favor. Confusing audiences with big words is something William Lane Craig excels at. He also scores highly in quote mining books scientists in physics, cosmology, deep time and evolutionary biology; cherry picking a single sentence out of context to make it appear the clear weight of science is on his side when the truth is exactly the opposite. He comes to every debate well prepared to use these disingenuous tools.

It is clear he knows he is being intellectually dishonest, because he has lied about the Ehrman debate and when informed by authors such as Dr. Henry Gee that he was misusing their words from their books, and reversing their true meaning, he goes right on committing the error again and again. My guess is that the man is not a believer in any god but the Great God of Cash. That god, he serves reasonably well.

As to debates he lost, if you listen with discerning ears and strip out all the obfuscation, the fallacious arguments, and his attempt to debate by throwing bucket-loads of assertions up against the wall and seeing which stick (it takes 15 seconds to make an assertion and 15 minutes to fully refute it. So make 60 assertions in your 15 minutes at the microphone, and your opponent can refute only one of them in his 15 minutes) I think he was destroyed by Bart Ehrman and taken to the woodshed by Stephen Law, Shelley Kagan and Sam Harris. Here is Lewis Wolpert Wolpert exposing the depth of Craig’s reliance on special pleading fallacies.

Some of the most interesting debates are those between two theists, each who believes in a different deity. Consider the witticism presented in atheism in three easy steps and you get an idea of what you will hear.

LostInParadise's avatar

The people arguing against Craig are highly knowledgeable and skilled in their professions, but not very good debaters. Bart Ehrman would have done much better if he simplified his argument. All that he needs to have said is that the Gospels were written 25 to 35 years after the fact by people who were not eyewitnesses. That makes the Gospels no more reliable than any other religious tract. They are not independent accounts. They are four versions of the same circulating story. The whole discussion of miracles only weakens his argument.

Stephen Law got tripped up by the notion of objective morality, which is the heart of Craig’s argument. Law uses the argument of an evil God, which is totally irrelevant to objective morality. Only towards the end of the debate does he even address Craig’s primary argument, and he does a poor job of it. Firstly, he should ask what the heck is objective morality? There is no way of measuring morality and there are differences of opinion as to what constitutes moral behavior. Secondly, why does belief in morality, objective or otherwise, necessitate the existence of God? There are strong evolutionary arguments in favor of the development of moral behavior. God is unnecessary for the existence of morality.

Paradox25's avatar

@ragingloli I had never heard of AronRa, I’ll have to look him/her up.

@flip86 Actually most people, including many atheists, felt that Hitchens performed terribly against Craig. So did John Loftus.

@ETpro I thought Shelley Kagan and Lawrence Krauss did well against Craig. I didn’t watch the Harris or Ehrman debate yet.

@LostInParadise Your first point is likely why some nontheists appear to do poorly against Craig. Some have stated that the new format of postmodern atheism allows Craig to get away with this. The positivist would not have allowed Craig to start an argument from a weak foundation, such as one that oppposes the Null Hypothesis.

Paradox25's avatar

@ETpro I had looked at AronRa. He probably would demolish Craig in a debate, but would the media actually acknowledge Craig’s defeat, or proclaim him as the winner yet again?

ETpro's avatar

@Paradox25 Probably the latter. The media is in it for the money, and they know the demographics of their audience.

Paradox25's avatar

@ETpro I think the single biggest mistake one can do when debating someone like a Craig or Duncan ( is to allow them to place theology or religion on the same foundation as science, and to start debating from that premise. Craig usually debates first too, allowing him to mold the debate into his arena. Kruass did well against Craig in my opinion, but Krauss led off the debate.

aditsu's avatar

I watched several of WLC’s debates, and I must say I haven’t seen any debate where he clearly lost, although his arguments are not rock-solid. I think Christopher Hitchens had the best debate so far, and Sam Harris had the absolute worst (really embarrassing, he didn’t even try).
Oh, and Richard Dawkins deserves a special prize for cowardice and dishonesty, because not only he refused to debate him directly, but he went on to attack him viciously in an article, without giving him a chance to respond.

A few comments on other debates:
– Bart Ehrman got his logic completely demolished by Craig
– Lawrence Krauss had a good debate (or three), but he seemed too angry, especially in the beginning, while Craig was much better composed. Also I think Krauss lost ground when discussing morality and historical evidence, as Craig has much greater knowledge in those areas.

In general, I find many of these debates really frustrating because they’re throwing around so many different ideas but they’re being decapitated by time limits, and also they use lots of straw man arguments (on both sides), and by the time they get to the real topics, the debate is over.

Finally, I just “discovered” AronRa and would love to see him debate WLC; in fact, that’s how I got to this page :) He would be a worthy opponent!

Paradox25's avatar

@aditsu Thank you for your response. I felt that Craig had more gaps in his arguments than Ehrman did. However, both Craig and Ehrman are theists so the debates in these instances would be much different than a theist debating an atheist. Krauss was a bit emotional, but nevertheless, he still crushed Craig. I’m not familiar with AronRa, but I’d like to know how he’s any different from other prominent atheists.

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