Why do the big names in atheism freeze up when debating William Lane Craig?

I recently watched William Lane Craig's debates with Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris and in both debates, it was easy to walk away with the feeling that Craig won. Hitchens just kept saying "I haven't heard any convincing evidence..." Without refuting Craig's arguments. Sam Harris did something similar - instead of addressing Craig's arguments, he ignored them for the entire debate. Also, Lawrence Krauss, when debating Craig about A Universe from Nothing, missed an opportunity to counter Craig's (correct) assertion that the primordial soup of the universe is not nothing.

Now, I've heard refutations for Craig's arguments but neither Hitchens, Harris, nor Krauss used them and so it could seem as though they lost their debates with him. Craig even invited Hitchens to become a Christian while onstage, and was justified in asking - given their performances in the debate. Any ideas why they froze up in their debates against him?

I also noticed that Craig got first word in those debates, in which he was able to define the terms used in the debate, giving him an edge.

Finally, why doesn't Dawkins debate Craig?

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That is because WLC is a better debater than most of the people you mentioned... Winning the debate does not equate to being correct. People get the feeling that someone wins the debate  if they are more aggressive and are quick on their feet with rebuttals (even if those rebuttals are straw-man arguments). Debating is a different skill and the four horseman do not necessarily match up to him.

Don't get me wrong WLC is very dishonest, but I don't think he does it on purpose. I think it is his zealotry that does not allow him to consider that his "truth" may be wrong. WLC says in one of his books that if he failed to convince you with his arguments. It is not that god is not real. It is that he was a poor apologetic, or you have hardened your heart to god.

WLC prepares very well for the debates, in fact most of his debates are EXACTLY the same. The words, the tone of voice, the facial and hand expressions, and the emotional undertones. The only person who can beat WLC in a debate is someone that prepares as well as he does (has a routine), or someone that is so well informed on the arguments and counter arguments that coherent rebuttals are second nature. Like Kagan.

Just as football teams watch videos of their opponents, I would imagine it would benefit anyone going up against him, to thoroughly study videos of him and look for flaws.

You heard refutations of Craigs arguments. So what ? Just because you heard them, they convinced you as being compelling ? why are they compelling to you ? And why do you think Craig got it wrong in his views ?

No, the counters to Craig's arguments convinced me because they are right. Their truth was compelling to me. I also heard Craig's arguments and they did not convince me - why? Because they are not good arguments, they only sound good on the surface. And Craig got it wrong because these arguments are out there, he's been confronted with them before (in the case of the Kagan debate arguing secular morality), was unable to refute them, and doesn't change his argument at all (he used the same arguments in his debate with Harris). That, as others in this discussion have pointed out, is intellectually dishonest. Also, in debates, Craig goes and rambles off a dozen untrue statements that his opponent could refute but doesn't have the time to do that and make their own statement (as has already been said here); so Craig claims victory for himself because of a time restraint - not because he is right.

I'm actually done with this post. I thought it went on the wayside a couple weeks ago, so I don't think I'll follow the discussion any more. I really do appreciate all the positive feedback that I received here. And with this being my first post and it going smoothly, I will be sure to post again. Thanks everybody!

Here ya go, Ang --

History of the Earth

WOW we've been around for that long? I'm a little surprised, although my shock might come from me thinking in comparison to the age of the universe. Either way this is a real cool image!

I know what you mean about Hitch and Krauss, but I thought Harris did rather well. I take on pretty much all of Craig's arguments in my book, if you are interested.

Craig always gets the first word. I wouldn't mind betting it is prerequisite for him agreeing to debate. As you say, he always sets up the parameters and then criticizes those who digress from them. Arrogant.

Dawkins did debate Craig - in Pueblo, New Mexico.Link

I had a great deal of respect for Hitchens, but his knowledge of God is limited to religious tradition, more specifically, of an historic nature. He doesn't know the Bible very well. But then again, the same could be said of Craig. He comes from the religious tradition which has transmogrified the meaning of the Bible. Apostate Christianity.

I have absolutely no respect for Harris or Dawkins. There is no substance between the two. Krauss I've never heard of.  

I really don't follow those sorts of debates though, to be honest. Might as well ask the cat or watch the History channel.

I had a great deal of respect for Hitchens, but his knowledge of God is limited to religious tradition, more specifically, of an historic nature. 

I'm sure Hitchens' knowledge of gnomes was similarly "limited" to history and tradition rather than first-hand experience.

He doesn't know the Bible very well.

So you do. But Hitch didn't. Is that it?

You indicate below that you don't follow these debates. So on what basis do you assess Hitch's knowledge of the Bible? Does your illiteracy include his books and essays or have you restricted your non-following to his debates exclusively?

But then again, the same could be said of Craig. He comes from the religious tradition which has transmogrified the meaning of the Bible. Apostate Christianity.

Okay David, I'll bite. What is the true meaning of the Bible which you know and Craig doesn't? 

I have absolutely no respect for Harris or Dawkins. There is no substance between the two. Krauss I've never heard of.  

Which aspect of Harris' and Dawkins' work is without substance? Be specific.

Or does your familiarity consist merely of having personally heard of them? It sounds like it does, since you dismiss Krauss apparently on that basis alone. 

I really don't follow those sorts of debates though, to be honest.

Your honesty is appreciated but admitting ignorance of a debate is a feeble way to enter it.  

Might as well ask the cat or watch the History channel.

Or we might as well ask you. You've apparently pulled off stinging dismissals of Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins, and Krauss, despite not following them or including any specifics whatsoever. For good measure, you've also chastened Craig based on your superior but likewise unspecified knowledge of the Bible.

So I'm asking. On what basis do you make these assertions? Be specific.   

"I'm sure Hitchens' knowledge of gnomes was similarly "limited" to history and tradition rather than first-hand experience."

Well . . . there was that book tour with Al Sharpton, that has to count for something. Hitch must have been drunk when he signed up for that gig.

"So you do. But Hitch didn't. Is that it?"

That is correct. In my opinion, yes.

"You indicate below that you don't follow these debates. So on what basis do you assess Hitch's knowledge of the Bible? Does your illiteracy include his books and essays or have you restricted your non-following to his debates exclusively?"

I used to catch a few of his debates, and I rather enjoyed some of them, for example when he would tell someone in the audience to fuck off. But as I said, his primary focus was on Abrahamic religious history and that isn't my thing. I seen him get water boarded and also enjoyed much of his political commentary, though I am apolitical. I just thought he was an incredibly honest, intelligent man of integrity.

"Okay David, I'll bite. What is the true meaning of the Bible which you know and Craig doesn't?"

The vindication of Jehovah God's name through the ransom sacrifice of Christ Jesus. That is the meaning of the Bible. I'm pretty sure Craig doesn't have a clue, but you could present any of these guys cases before me and I can show you what I mean. Hitch didn't know the Bible other than what he got from apostate Christianity, which is mostly pagan bullshit anyway and Dawkins and Craig are idiots.

"Which aspect of Harris' and Dawkins' work is without substance? Be specific."

Probably most of it. Look, the theists have TV Evangelists and the Atheists have Dawkins and Harris and Steve Wells and probably a host of lesser notables out there peddling their candy to the masses. You won't catch me defending TV Evangelists. Present their argument at its best to me and we can talk about it, but I don't have to explain my opinion to you. It is what it is.

"Or does your familiarity consist merely of having personally heard of them? It sounds like it does, since you dismiss Krauss apparently on that basis alone."

Actually, the only thing that I did say about Krauss is that I've never heard of him.

"Your honesty is appreciated but admitting ignorance of a debate is a feeble way to enter it."

This is a debate?! [Laughs] I was asked a question and I gave my opinion.

"Or we might as well ask you. You've apparently pulled off stinging dismissals of Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins, and Krauss, despite not following them or including any specifics whatsoever. For good measure, you've also chastened Craig based on your superior but likewise unspecified knowledge of the Bible."

So I'm asking. On what basis do you make these assertions? Be specific."

I'm tempted to provide the aforementioned Hitchens response to the audience, but lets give it some time.

That is correct. In my opinion, yes.

Understood. I'll reserve judgement for now on the value of your unsupported opinion.

But as I said, his primary focus was on Abrahamic religious history and that isn't my thing. 

Hitch focused on many aspects of theism and religion. But assuming he focused on something that wasn't your thing, how can you say you know more about it than he does?

The vindication of Jehovah God's name through the ransom sacrifice of Christ Jesus. That is the meaning of the Bible. I'm pretty sure Craig doesn't have a clue, 

So you don't know what Craig believes, but you're pretty sure he doesn't have a clue. 

but you could present any of these guys cases before me and I can show you what I mean.

No, thank you. They can make their own cases, the same as you. 

Hitch didn't know the Bible other than what he got from apostate Christianity, which is mostly pagan bullshit anyway 

I presume a membership in the pagan bullshit apostate Christianity club requires only that the applicant interpret the Bible differently than you do?  

and Dawkins and Craig are idiots.

Still no specifics?

Probably most of [Harris' and Dawkins' work is without substance].

Probably? Are you guessing because you haven't read any of their work?

Present their argument at its best to me and we can talk about it, 

We come to it at last: you're unfamiliar with them.  

but I don't have to explain my opinion to you. It is what it is.

You've already explained your opinion. They're candy-peddling idiots who probably lack substance, are absolutely unworthy of respect, and don't know as much as you do. No further elaboration is required, thank you. Indeed, your opinion is what it is. 

Actually, the only thing that I did say about Krauss is that I've never heard of him.

Presumably you're unfamiliar with Krauss' work, in addition to not knowing his name. Since you've left him off your idiot list then implicitly that was the one remaining difference-maker.

This is a debate?! [Laughs] I was asked a question and I gave my opinion.

You're right. I should have said, "Your honesty is appreciated but admitting ignorance of a debate is a feeble way to enter a conversation about it."

I'm tempted to provide the aforementioned Hitchens response to the audience, but lets give it some time.

Okay. When you're ready to provide specifics on your stinging dismissals of Hitchens, Harris, Dawkins, and Krauss, please do proceed. I'm looking forward to it!

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