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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Hey Kris K,

Ha, lol. Yea, I meant Kris K, sorry. Its frustrating when you see someone doing so well as a debater when their facts and ideas are all jacked up. But it happens all too often, imo. You were kidding about nomen nescio, right? ;-)

- kk

Oh wow well now, I feel like an asshole lol I was serious! I thought it might have been a foreign name or something since you had it capitalized...
I wasn't familiar with the phrase so lol please go easy on me with that one

Hey Kris K,

No worries, its latin and it means "name unknown".

 -kk

"Omni est Gallia divide en tres partes --"

Hey - I'm going to quote Jessica. "Damn". You impress me the more you type.

- kk

Craig is a pigeon theist.

Arguing with theists is like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter how good I am at chess, the pigeon is just going to knock over the pieces, crap on the board, and strut around like it's victorious.

He didn't win dick. He is loud (because loud makes right), arrogant and has nothing to back it up with. I watched that idiot's debates while cringing and lowering the volume every time he took a turn so my ears wouldn't bleed from his anal tone of voice. How can any atheist claim "craig won" after he already admit he believes in devils, angels and the "forces of evil" ? The forces of evil ? What is this star wars? Grow the fuck up. Not only does he not win anything, his debates should warrant him a seat on the short bus.


Also craig has no place debating scientists, seeing as he has no real degree in anything. It's like scientists trying to debate a baby. How the hell do you explain the universe to a drooling toddler?

Wow lots to take in and I think I hit a nerve with a lot of people. I'll reply to everyone here but I guess my general response is: why didn't they say these things in debate with Craig?

Again, that's a general response. If they had cited Craig on these objections, I think I would have come away with a different perspective. It seems to be a plausible thing for someone to have said "Are we here to debate real things or are you (Craig) just going to rattle off arguments which I haven't the time to address but have already been countered?...oh wait you're NOT arguing real things, you're here to debate the existence of an invisible sky god!" They've called out people before in debates. I'm just wondering why they don't do the same with Craig.

Perhaps because when someone reels off a ton of seeming evidence for their position (the Gish Gallop), complaining about the tactic seems like a weak response.  "Yeah but you haven't addressed any of my evidence.  Why not?"

Unfortunately debates in this sort of format are not won by who is actually right but rather by who can manage to make the other look unprepared to answer their arguments.

Lukeprog has done some writing about the topic - though it makes WLC out to be some unstoppable juggernaut. As was noted already, folks like Sam Harris et. al. are not debaters. That's not their calling, nor is it for quite a few of us. There's arguing, then there's debating to make yourself a living. You can know cosmology, philosophy, biology, etc. up, down, left & right, but if you can't spot how and when the opponent isn't right and communicate that in a crisp, clear way, it doesn't matter.

Is it hopeless to challenge WLC? Nah. The flaws in his arguments are quite numerous, and can be found quite easily around the 'net. Presenting those objections in a convincing way is another animal altogether...which I touched on briefly in my earlier comment. That's the part that is so badly neglected, and not just vs. WLC.

I did this in a Philosophy of Religion class once. Our attendent theists were attempting to monopolize the class, and I mentioned during class, 'when I signed up for this class it was titled, Philosophy of Religion, not Christian Evangelical training 101'. 

 

WLC has debating down - he is not a scientist.  Skilled philosophers/debaters can make the brightest non-theist scientists look silly - but it's not because he speaks the truth or has valid arguments, it's because he looks and sounds better.

Scientists need not debate this Christian "philosopher," imo.  He is a mere distraction in the progress of human knowledge. 

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