Atheists are uneducated according to Dr. William Lane Craig

I recently read a post by the Christian blogger "Wintery Knight," who quoted Dr. William Lane Craig after the April 7, 2011 debate with Sam Harris at Notre Dame University. Dr. Craig is apparently trying to do the old "switcheroo" by claiming that the "new atheists" are "blue collar, and uneducated." I had to lol.....

This is what Dr. Craig said:

"I wonder is something culturally significant is going on here. Several years ago, I asked the Warden at Tyndale House in Cambridge why it is that British society is so secular when Britain has such a rich legacy of great Christian scholars. He replied, “Oh, Christianity is not underrepresented among the intelligentsia. It’s the working classes which are so secular.” He explained that these folks are never exposed to Christian scholarship because of their lack of education. As a result there is a sort of pervasive, uninformed, village atheism among them. I wonder if something like this could be happening in the States. I was surprised to see the number of blue collar folks from the community buying Harris’ book and thanking him for all he has done. They didn’t seem to have any inkling that his views had just been systematically exposed as logically incoherent. The intelligentsia have almost universally panned Harris’ recent book (read the reviews!). Yet it is lapped up in popular culture. Wouldn’t it be amazing if unbelief became the possession mainly of the uneducated?"

The reason why I began my blog at aisforatheist5760.blogspot.com, and I go to conferences, and write papers, and talk to people in general at Socrates cafes, book stores, or to anyone anywhere interested in religion and philosophy, is to give everyone the opportunity to learn what religion, and Christianity in particular, is all about--the educated and the uneducated alike.  Note, that I am offended that Dr. Craig implies that the uneducated are too ignorant to understand what is going on.  Oh, quite the contrary.  Once, on the way to a conference, I was invited to stay at a bishop's home, and I did.  It was a beautiful home, and he took me around to show me all the beautiful things in it--from marble floors to exquisite art work.  He tried to enlist me to join his ranks, as I would have much more power, money, and influence to change society in the direction that I was working towards, such as equality, and rights for women.  I told him that it was my duty and goal to inform as many people that I could of all the arguments and explanations as they relate to religion, and Christianity in particular, and philosophy in general, to invoke reflectivity, with the hope that people would choose the truth for themselves once they heard all the arguments and explanations.  The bishop said to me, "Oh, the poor ignorant peasants don't need to know too much.--and that is is why originally the bible was in Latin in the first place, and was not translated into other languages, so that less people could read and understand it.  The poor ignorant peasants would be too confused, and it is for their own good not to know."  He offered me the opportunity to earn a PhD of theology at their seminary, and said I could choose ANY church in his domain, including Jamaica!!--lol.  Of course, I rejected this, and told him that he should be ashamed of himself for deceiving the masses.  The so-called "uneducated peasants" ARE able to understand and choose the best arguments and explanations when they are provided with all the information.  This is my goal, and I have converted many educated and uneducated people. 

Besides the fact I have already exposed some of Dr. Craig's arguments as being fallacious in this blog (and I will continue to do so as time allows) Dr. Craig obviously did not read Ravi Zacharias' book "Beyond Opinion" as another prominent theist, Alister McGrath, said quite the opposite. Mr. McGrath made the comment that the increased atheism in the West is due to the "Enlightenment" i.e. EDUCATION and knowledge. It is only in oppressed nations such as those in Africa, where Christianity is gaining new converts by giving followers what I claim is "false hope":

""Interestingly, atheism has very limited influence outside Western culture. The only African nation in which it has any significant presence is South Africa, predominantly among the white population. This is a telling indicator of its Western roots, and therefor its predominantly Western appeal. But there is more to this observation than at first seems to be the case. It is not simply that atheism is a Western product/ It is actually a product of one specific area in Western culture: The Enlightenment, or modernity."
(Beyond Opinion, Ravi Zacharias, p. 27)


In fact, I was a theist myself, until I went to college and took every religion course offered. I also took philosophy, where I learned logic, and how to think critically and reflectively, and I believe small children should be taught this skill as well. Today, children and adults go by the rote method, and most do not have the skills to think reflectively or critically, which is why people believe and do things without questioning why--which is dangerous.

While in college, I also learned multiple explanations for biblical text, and the inconsistencies, interpolations, and contradictions, led to the realization that it is nothing but badly written mythology--plagiarized mythology at that. According to Wintery Knight's blog, theists would like their mythology taught as fact in schools, and are encouraging educated Christians to become part of the system to create a "theocracy" in the US:

"It seems that if we had a individuals …with full-on Christian worldviews who have risen to the highest levels of authority in places like the educational system, that they could make just as much impact as what is happening now."

--We cannot allow that to happen if we wish to continue to "evolve."

Christianity became mainstream due to "the sword, or the noose, or various methods of torture" around the world in areas such as Africa*, South America, and of course North America** and Europe***; but now we have a different methodology--education.  Education is a factor that can lead to atheism--I am living proof of that. Western culture and the "Enlightenment" is also showing this to be true. Keep it up people.  Let's put the "fear of atheism" into them....lolol.....

*"European Christianity and the Atlantic Slave Trade: A Black Hermeneutical Study," By Robinson A. Milwood, p.30

**"Introduction to Christianity" By Mary Jo Weaver, David Brakke p. 164
***"The dark side of Christian History" - Helen Ellerbie 
  

 Addendum--Wintery Knight has not published the comment I made to his posting--I don't wonder why.....

Views: 220

Tags: Notre_Dame, Sam_Harris, William_Lane_Craig, debate

Comment by Rocky Oliver (LotusGeek) on April 12, 2011 at 7:02pm

This reminds me of something that happened to a good friend of mine. He was asked to be an expert witness in an intellectual property suit (I'm a software developer/engineer/architect/geek, and a published author on the same - and so is the friend I mention. We get asked for stuff like this from time to time). During the deposition, he was cross-examined by the other side's attorney. This lawyer began by asking questions about my friend, attacking his credibility. He attempted to discredit him by asking him about his college education; my friend explained that he dropped out, not completing his degree. At one point my friend was able to respond to this supposed discrediting by asking, "Have you ever heard of Bill Gates, cofounder of Microsoft?"

"Yes, of course," replied the other side's attorney.

"He's a college dropout, too."

 

The lawyer that hired my friend busted out laughing at this retort, and the other lawyer did not say another thing about my friend's credibility, nor his testimony :)

 

My point with saying this is that, in this "Information Age", it is almost trivial to be very, very well educated - even without a "formal" education - just like it is very easy to be an idiot with a college degree (look at former President Bush as a prime example). To imply otherwise is, well, uneducated ;)

Comment by Cathy Cooper on April 12, 2011 at 7:09pm

@ Lotus Geek

Well said!!

Comment by Rocky Oliver (LotusGeek) on April 12, 2011 at 7:11pm

@Dan, @Cathy Cooper - quickly reading both of your posts in this thread (which I didn't do before originally posting - sorry), leads me to believe that, overall, you are both in violent agreement. I think there may have been a misunderstanding in what was said (and inferred), as there may have been assumptions as to what was meant (this happens a great deal in written discussions, where body language and tonal inflection is lost). One such assumption is concerning "education" - I think that in part of this discussion "education" may have meant "FORMAL education", and in other areas this was clearly not the case - one can become educated without the need for a "formal" education in an institution of higher learning, as I mentioned in my previous reply.

 

So, I think both of you should kiss and make up, or at least shake hands and agree to put this to rest. Or you can tell me to take a hike, quit butting in, and continue screaming the same thing at each other over and over (ok, ok, I know you weren't screaming, but it just sounded better - call it poetic license ;) ).

Comment by Cathy Cooper on April 12, 2011 at 7:20pm

@ lotus geek

Well said again, but I do not have any problems with the poster Dan. I basically have been saying what you said and I judge arguments based on their merit and whether they are valid and sound--not by a persons education; whether it be formal or informal, self taught, or none at all.  The poster Dan is merely trying to find a way to make Craig not sound like an elitist bigot, and hide the fact that Craig was wrong in the first place. The poster, instead of addressing the arguments, resorted to ad hominem.

Comment by Dan on April 13, 2011 at 2:05pm

@Cathy Cooper

Let me try this again if I may.

 

First off, an ad hominem is when a person attacks another's character, etc. in an attempt to discredit the other's position. That's not what I did. Regardless, I resorted to name calling of sorts, and in a rather rude way, and for that I apologize.

 

Now let's look at what Craig said and your conclusion:

1. Craig said (to paraphrase) that it appeared that those who lack information ("bluecollar" types) were in favor of Harris and atheism.

2. Craig's implication is that lack of information leads to atheism.

3. (2) implies that better information would lead to theism.

4. Therefore, Craig is "bigoted" and "hateful"


My point is as follows:

1'. You said: "...when people are allowed to think and be reflective, and they have access to all the information, i.e. education, then you will have a rise in atheists and agnostics because the inconsistencies and contradictions within religion, the belief in gods and goddesses, and Christianity in particular."

2'. The implication of your statement is that when persons have all the information, this will lead them to atheism.

3'. (2') in turn implies that lack of information leads to theism.

 

If the conclusion of (1)-(3) is that Craig is bigoted and hateful, it would seem that the conclusion of (1')-(3') is

 

4' You are also bigoted and hateful.

 

This is the point I was trying to make. It is possible that I misinterpreted what you said and therefore (2') does not follow from (1'). If this is the case, please clarify.

 

I also suggested that, if we are willing to give Craig the benefit of the doubt, then (2) does not follow from (1). Unfortunately, Craig isn't in on this discussion and doesn't have a chance to clarify what he meant. But you rejected my suggestion anyway and concluded that Craig's statement (1) leads inexorably to (4).

 

 

 

 

Comment by Cathy Cooper on April 13, 2011 at 5:15pm

@ Dan

Thank you for your apology, although it certainly was an ad hominem attack in an attempt to present a red herring, and take us away from the argument.

 

You almost got it right, except for a few misquotes, or, so called implications, and the difference between myself and Craig. 

In your #2 above," The implication of your statement is that when persons have all the information, this will lead them to atheism."----is not correct.  What I said was, "I said they could make better decisions and decide for themselves when they had all the arguments and information.  I said my education led me to atheism, but that is not necessarily so for everyone."  and:

"Furthermore, what I said was workers who have not been to college or have no formal education, will have this same tendency when provided with ALL of the information and explanations and all the various arguments."  and:

"Yes, I was offended that he implied that atheists are "uneducated blue collar workers."  Whereas I claimed  that those that have been to college and those that have not, can reason for themselves, as long as they are given the proper information."

I am claiming that the educated, as well as the uneducated can understand all of the information, arguments, and explanations and make a decision for themselves, once they are provided with all of the information, arguments, and explanations.  I claim, that when such is the case, you will have more of a TENDENCY for more people to become atheists.  Therefore, I am making a positive claim about the people that Craig makes reference to as the "uneducated"--in that they CAN reason and make decisions for themselves.

 

On the other hand, Craig is making a negative claim.  His claim is that what he calls the "uneducated people" are atheists because they are: "...never exposed to Christian scholarship because of their lack of education. As a result there is a sort of pervasive, uninformed, village atheism among them...They didn’t seem to have any inkling that his (Sam Harris') views had just been systematically exposed as logically incoherent... Wouldn't it be amazing if unbelief became the possession mainly of the uneducated?"

 

The differences that I am about to point out are subtle differences, but important differences nevertheless. 

 

First of all, I said everyone should be given all the explanations, arguments and so forth, whereas Tyndale and Craig believe they need "Christian scholarship."----I say Craig too, as he cited the Warden from Tyndale House on this point. But now let's ask the question:  How does Craig or the Warden know that the so-called "uneducated" people hadn't read books written by Christian scholars, atheists and others as well and other exposures, and had already made up their own minds as to what they believed was the best explanation via the information?--as if they are too "ignorant" to be given all of the information, arguments and explanations, and that they were capable of making a decision for themselves.

 

This seems to be what Craig implies by stating: "Wouldn't it be amazing if unbelief became the possession mainly of the uneducated?"  This is odd, since Craig himself was shocked that so many of them had Harris' book!--so exactly how "uneducated" are they?---perhaps they had read Harris' books, and many other books from both sides.

 

I hate to put it this way, but since I started this blog, one sentence keeps ringing in my mind. When Tyndale House makes reference to "village atheists," it reminds me of old movies I used to watch as a child where there was always a "village idiot."   So, after I read what Craig said about the Warden at Tyndale making a reference to "village atheists" I could not help but have the image in my mind that the "village atheist" was analogous to the "village idiot" for the Warden at Tyndale.  Perhaps I am mistaken.  Nevertheless, Craig and the Warden seem to imply that if someone is an atheist, then they must be uneducated.  Note, that is bigoted and elitist.

 

I, on the other hand, made no such claim about what Craig calls the "uneducated"  I merely said, IF they were given ALL the information, arguments and explanations, they would be able to make better informed decisions for themselves, and in such a case there would be a tendency to have more atheists than when this is not the case.

Comment by Austin Fisher on April 13, 2011 at 11:51pm
Religion is the result of not being educated though. Humans have shown countless times that when there is no explanation for something we simply say a god did it.
Comment by Dan on April 15, 2011 at 3:36pm

@Cathy Cooper.

 

OK, I understand your position much better now because your excellent explanation and after having a couple days distance from the discussion (always a good thing, btw). There is still one thing that bothers me, though.

 

You said:

"I am claiming that the educated, as well as the uneducated can understand all of the information, arguments, and explanations and make a decision for themselves, once they are provided with all of the information, arguments, and explanations.  I claim, that when such is the case, you will have more of a TENDENCY for more people to become atheists."

 

I agree 100% with the first sentence. But not the second sentence. I think this is what raised the red flag for me in the beginning. When people have all the information/arguments/explanations, why will there be an increased tendency toward atheism? And more importantly, doesn't increased tendency toward atheism in the presence of all the information/arguments/explanations imply that people tend less toward atheism (and more toward theism) because they lack information?

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