Views on Apologetics

Five Views on Apologetics


The goal of apologetics is to persuasively answer honest objections that keep people from faith in Jesus Christ. But of several apologetic approaches, which is most effective? Five Views on Apologetics examines the “how-to” of apologetics, putting five prominent views under the microscope: Classical, Evidential, Presuppositional, Reformed Epistemology, and Cumulative Case. Offering a forum for presentation, critique, and defense, this book allows the contributors for the different viewpoints…

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William Lane Craig in Thunderdome: Atheists who loathe him (and you are legion): Can you justify your view using logic and philosophy?(r/DebateAnAtheist)

WLC? well… /rant on

> The only non-ad hominem justification for the atheists’ loathing of William Lane Craig that I have heard is that he affirms a Holy-Spirit epistemology; i.e., he affirms that his worldview is grounded in the inner witness of the Holy Spirit which supersedes reason; therefore, if it were demonstrated to him through reason that Christian theism were false, he would still believe.

Ignoring the claim that this is the only (non-ad hominem justifible) reason to loath the apologetics of WLC, let’s hear from the man himself as to the basis for his Christian Theistic belief towards God and one of the many versions of Christianity :

Craig has spoken previously concerning the basis for his Theistic Religious Faith.

Source: Interview with Dr. William Lane Craig: Handling Doubt

Description: A short interview with Dr. William Lane Craig, a leading Christian philosopher, about how college students should respond when they wrestle with doubts about the faith.

William Lane Craig: “and my view here is, that the way in which I know Christianity is true, is first and foremost on the basis on the witness of the Holy Spirit, in my heart, and that this gives me a self-authenticating means of knowing that Christianity is true wholly apart from the evidence. And therefore, if on some contingent historical circumstances the evidence that I have available to me should turn against Christianity, I don’t think that controverts the witness of the Holy Spirit. In such a situation, I should regard that as simply a result of the contingent circumstances that I’m in and that if I were to pursue this with due diligence and with time, I would discover, that in fact that the evidence – if I could get the correct picture – would support exactly what the witness of the Holy Spirit tells me.

WLC bases his belief in God, and in Christianity, in his confirmation bias based ‘I know in my heart this must be true therefore it is true’ subjective, feeling based, emotional, wishful thinking – regardless of the evidence in support or to the contrary. And if there is evidence to the contrary, WLC will search for other evidence that supports his heartfelt belief and then stop searching knowing that his feelings form the basis for truth.

Well so much for the combination of Reason and Faith, and any credibility WLC may have in the apologetic use of evidence and arguments in favor of the existence of Gods and of the Christian God. From WLC, belief in the truth of Christianity is merely the ~~self-authentication~~ self-serving practice of self-importance (e.g., “My belief must be right because I believe it”) and then looking for evidence/arguments to support wishful thinking with the summary rejection of any evidence that does not support this emotional belief. I find this rather disingenuous.

> Be that as it may, here is the problem: While many sensible concerns can be raised against this view (for one, it is itself grounded in a reason: a reasoned justification of spiritual epistemology)

OP, are you saying that the self-serving aggrandizing of WLC’s highly-subjective mind-dependent qualia-experience based feelings being presented as mind-independent objective facts is a “reasoned justification of spiritual epistemology”? If so, we highly disagree on what constituents “reasoned justification.”

> and while I admit that he is a little unctuous,

Indeed. His voice and presentation style (including non-verbal communication) is rather offputting.

> none of this affects or determines the force of any given argument he advances, which must still stand or fall on the basis of its philosophical coherence or incoherence.

Yes yes, challenge the argument not the source. However, his arguments are often based upon extreme cherry picking, quote mining, and presupportionalism – even though he, himself, recognizes the logical fallacy of presup:

According to WLC:

“…presuppositionalism is guilty of a logical howler: it commits the informal fallacy of petitio principii, or begging the question, for it advocates presupposing the truth of Christian theism in order to prove Christian theism….It is difficult to imagine how anyone could with a straight face think to show theism to be true by reasoning, ‘God exists. Therefore, God exists.’ Nor is this said from the standpoint of unbelief. A Christian theist himself will deny that question-begging arguments prove anything…”

Source: Five Views on Apologetics by Steven B. Cowan, page 232-233

WLC is also a demonstrated proponent of the gish-gallop in debates, knowing full well that an adequate refutation of a presented point often takes much much more effort and time than that used to make the point (which some would say is a good debate tactic), it is WLC’s subsequent use of pointing out that a minor/side issues has not been responded too and using that omission as a claim to “victory” whlist not addressing the main and salient refutations of the argument – you know, the Logical Fallacy of Arguing a Minor Point and Ignoring the Main Point (ignoratio elenchi).

Regardless, besides the dismissal of actual reason for his arguments (instead basing his arguments around the feelings based conclusion he “knows in his heart” to be correct and true and then filling in the argument with cherry-picked argument/evidence/knowledge); basing his arguments on variants of presupportionalism; leaving out prerequisite and necessary premises (aka, his arguments almost always have hidden premises – most of which are presup/circular reasoning/begging the question based); presenting premises that are factually unsupportable to any level of credibility; and the lack of philosophical rigour — perhaps the biggest reason why I have the emotion of repulsion, and loathing, towards WLC is that even though his arguments are repeatably shown to be catastrophically fallacious; often demonstrative false; based upon non-supported non-credible premises; disingenuous use of out of context quote/”fact”-mining; and completely recognizable as confirmation and cognitive biased circular reasoning; the characteristic of WLC’s that is the worst is the total disregard of acknowledging that when his arguments have been fully and credibly refuted (which is rather frequent); the failure to show that his logical arguments (if taken to be logically true for the sake of argument) are also factually true; WLC fails to accept his failure and continues to use the same arguments again and again – as if he is hoping for a different outcome to prove that his self-affirmed feelings are really objective facts. What is that common-knowledge cliche saying? The definition of “insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results” – or something like that.

> For the record I like him despite some of his odder views and his unctuousness on the basis of his philosophical rigour. He won my intellectual respect in spite of himself, as it were.

For the record, I despise the persona he displays as a Christian apologetic (I don’t know if there is a difference between his private self and his public persona – so I will give him the benefit of the doubt concerning his private/non-public person) because of his self-serving and self-aggrandizing nature, on the lack of philosophical rigour of his arguments, and on the lack of accepting the failure of his arguments to any but those that don’t already drink the kool-aid (which would be the time when one of actual philosophical rigour would examine the failure points, and either admit defeat or reformulate and improve the argument to correct the failure(s), as applicable) whist continuing to spew out the same failed and tired arguments over and over again. He lost my intellectual respect early on, because of his apologist persona and presentation style (an emotional response), but more importantly, because his continued spewing and repetition of the same refuted arguments over and over.

/rant over

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Five Views on Apologetics

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William Lane Craig in Thunderdome: Atheists who loathe him (and you are legion): Can you justify your view using logic and philosophy?

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