William Lane Craig on Hawking's "The Grand Design"
  • bcarling October 2011
    I wasn't able to get to it, but I would be interested to hear some sort of summary from someone who did. I have been intrigued by the press stuff about Craig and in particular why (it seems) that Christians (e.g. Premier and others) have been putting so much 'apologetic weight' on Craig's shoulders as being THE guy to persuade all concerned that it is rational to believe in the Christian God. In my experience to load everything onto one person can be a mistake - we've done that in the past with people like CS Lewis, John Stott and Francis Schaeffer. They each have their gifts and strengths, but they have their weaknesses too. Watching Lane Craig on YouTube, I was personally struck by a seeming arrogance and 'superiorness' but this is just my own personal take on him. I personally prefer apologetics done with much more humility and an approach that says 'I don't know'...
  • SimonSimon October 2011
    Personally I don't like William Lane Craig, and think that his magnum opus - Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (with J.P. Moreland) - is not much more than right wing conservative rhetoric. Mind you he has helpfully drawn together a coherent and memorable five-point argument for defending Christian theism that I do find helpful.

    I think part of the forceful rhetoric that surrounds his current tour is due to the organiser, Peter May. Peter is a medic, former chair of UCCF and an active CiS member who is hugely enthusiastic and somewhat bullish about whatever project he happens to be working on. Although this rankles some people, he does get the job done and, in this case, creates a good amount of publicity!
  • AnthonySmithAnthonySmith October 2011
    The good thing about William Lane Craig is that he is clear and logical and he sticks to the point, avoiding empty or polemical rhetoric. Tonight's (Birmingham) debate looks very promising - against an Oxford philosophy lecturer (professor? not sure!), who has expertise in David Hume and philosophy of religion. Hopefully they'll be able to talk the same language.
  • stevencarrwork October 2011
    William Lane Craig claims murder is morally obligatory if his god commands it, and it is not even murder any more when that happens.

    How does that differ from the theology of Osama bin Laden?

    Rather, since our moral duties are determined by God’s commands, it is commanding someone to do something which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been murder.

    The act was morally obligatory for the Israeli soldiers in virtue of God’s command, even though, had they undertaken it on their on initiative, it would have been wrong.

    On divine command theory, then, God has the right to command an act, which, in the absence of a divine command, would have been sin, but which is now morally obligatory in virtue of that command.
  • SimonSimon October 2011
    One of the reasons I am not a Craig fan is because I don't like how he brushes aside the Euthyphro dilemma - I think the Christian foundation for ethics is a little bit more complicated than he makes out.

    RE problematic ethical issues in the bible - personally I interpret scripture as an unfolding revelation, with many passages being an interpretation by the people of the time as to what they thought God was doing at that time. Furthermore many times I doubt the relationship between the stories and the real events, preferring to read them as myths (in the most noble sense of this word). Perhaps rather than focus on the toddlers we should be focusing on the allegory of the seriousness of sin and the need to purge it from our lives?
  • stevencarrwork October 2011
    So is the story of Jesus flying into the sky on his way to Heaven a myth?

    Was Jesus one of those people who was mistaken as to what they thought his god was doing at the time? After all, he is reported as allegedly thinking there was a flood?

    And why is William Lane Craig so convinced that his god really did order toddlers to be killed? Do his experiences of the Holy Spirit lead him to that conclusion?

    And what is the difference between the theology of William Lane Craig - that murder is morally obligatory if his god commands it - and the theology of Osama bin Laden?
  • SimonSimon October 2011
    1) Jesus spoke in language that was relevant to the beliefs of people at his time. We should not get so caught up with arguing over what is LITERALLY true that we miss what is ACTUALLY true.

    2) I see the issue of old testament ethics is causing you some problems. However these problems are not unique to Christianity. Lets look at the situation from an entirely secular - humanist - perspective:

    The underlying question is "Is it ever right to kill children"? If one adopts a consequentialist (perhaps utilitarian) view of ethics one would have to concede that contingency must play a role in answering this question. Hence the consequentialist must say "yes - it is sometimes morally/ethically right to kill children".

    The other humanist approach would be to come from the virtue perspective, and ask "is it ever virtuous to kill children"? The answer to this question is a bit more complicated because virtues must always be played off against each other. Still, if one was to be insistent and argue that it was NEVER virtuous to kill children, then some very interesting situations would arise - especially regarding indirect killing such as healthcare rationing etc.

    The fact that the bible is raising these sorts of questions - within the context of a story - speaks for the relevance of the bible today. We don't need to be familiar with modern ethical theory to be challenged by the bible and made to think about how we live our lives - one very good reason why we should take the bible seriously!
  • stevencarrwork October 2011
    'Jesus spoke in language that was relevant to the beliefs of people at his time.'

    So it is not relevant to me.... Not even aimed at me. Christians claim the words of Jesus were for the beliefs of the people of his time.

    Jesus was wrong about so many things that I feel no need to take seriously his teachings on Heaven , Hell and the necessity of putting oil on your face when you fast.

    Do you think you should educate people that Jews of one generation should not be held responsible for the murder of somebody 2000 years before they lived, or should we do what Jesus did and speak to them as though Cain and Abel actually existed.

    I wonder why Jesus did not educate his 'people at his time' about the truth of the Cain and Abel story, while you feel you should tell people that it is was meant to be a myth.

    After all, if creationists of Jesus day were not corrected in their mistaken beliefs by Jesus, why do you think creationists of today should not similarly be humoured?

    And no, your god was not rationing health-care when he ordered tribes of men, women and children to be killed in this story. He was creating Lebensraum for his chosen people.

    The Bible is only relevant because it is a constant reminder of how there are people in the world today whose stomachs are not turned by horrors, if they are part of the religion they were born in.

    Similarly, there are Muslims who feel no qualms about stating that the Jews killed after the Battle of the Trench deserved to die - every single one of them.

    Perhaps Muhammad was simply speaking in beliefs relevant to the peoples of his time.

  • stevencarrwork October 2011
    You didn't answer the question of why we should take seriously Christian claims to experience the Holy Spirit when they result in Christians claiming toddlers should be killed if they would otherwise grow up to thwart God's plans.

    Whenever a Christian talks to me about experiencing the Holy Spirit, I know that there are as many 'Holy Spirits' as there are Christians, and each Holy Spirit teaches Christians different things.
  • SimonSimon October 2011
    Hi again Steven,

    To my embarrassment I didn't start to appreciate literature (and the arts) until after I had finished a PhD in science. I distinctly remember realising that there was a whole different way of looking at life thanks to reading Dostoevsky. I was so taken by this "artsy" way of looking at the world that I promptly did a degree in Philosophy to try and balance my education out a bit.

    I say the above because those of us with a mainly scientific backgrounds have a habit of wanting to tie things down too quickly. Science relies on looking at evidence, coming to a conclusion, and then moving on to the next thing. The arts, however, are very different. Progress is made from experiencing and wrestling with texts, music, sculptures, pictures etc. Progress is not made by coming to a conclusion that everyone can agree on, but rather in understanding something about the human experience and how that something can legitimately be expressed quite differently in different people. The big mistake of modernity was to think that the scientific method was the only way for legitimately obtaining knowledge.

    Coming back to the subject of this thread, the bible is not a text book of science, nor a text book of history. It is a complex library of texts combining many different styles of literature written over quite a long period of time. Unless you appreciate this you cannot really comment meaningfully on the text. This is why most philosophers (including atheists) are somewhat embarrassed by people like Richard Dawkins and the new atheist arguments. They are undoubtedly forceful and colourful - and read quite well on discussion forums - but at the same time remain superficial.

    You've now raised the subject of "killing toddlers" and I have given you the opportunity to talk about the deeper issue - is there such a thing as "just" killing? It's your choice as to whether you want to engage with the issues, or just superficially litter naive and frankly irrelevant statements on this forum.
  • stevencarrwork October 2011
    'Coming back to the subject of this thread, the bible is not a text book of science, nor a text book of history'

    Quite correct.

    The Gospels are not history in the sense of being history books. They are more in the genre of the Koran and the Book of Mormon - pious religious frauds.

    is there such a thing as "just" killing?

    No there is killing because you believe people are evil and wicked and must be killed , every man , woman and child.

    Where can I find such religious hatred and bile?

    Easy. In the books held up to humanity as examples of great morality.
  • GavinM October 2011
    I think you need to be careful in your attempts to criticise particular examples of religious ethics (from sources you doubt the historicity of unless it suits your argument) given that many non-religious discussions of ethics involving the taking or non-taking of human life are equally discriminatory against groupings of humans other than those dictating the ethics e.g. Peter Singer's views on abortion and/or the rights of new borns.

    There is an interesting discussion to be had here on the validity of Old Testament ethics both in their time and in contemporary perspectives on them by modern Christian thinkers (such as Craig), but gross generalisations of particular examples to the whole of a religion based on one individual's thoughts on them is not a constructive way to be going about it.
  • stevencarrwork October 2011
    'I think you need to be careful in your attempts to criticise particular examples of religious ethics (from sources you doubt the historicity of unless it suits your argument)...'

    Where did I claim that there really was a god who issued this command for this imaginary slaughter?

    If somebody praises Lord Voldemort as a shining example of morality, I do not need to think that Hogwarts is real to criticise that viewpoint.

    And you are correct. There are many non-religious views about the desirability of wiping out whole tribes of men, women and children. Such views, as you correctly point out, are not confined to the Bible.

    And I have yet to hear this chorus of criticism of Craig from alleged moderate Christians, who are quite deafening in their silence.
  • SimonSimon October 2011
    Right Steven - we've given you a chance and tried to use rational arguments with you but you are stubbornly refusing to ENGAGE with the arguments presented. This reply is a classic example. The discussion is about ETHICS and yet you keep on bringing it back to ONTOLOGY. Your comment about Lord Voldemort emphasises this beautifully: if a specific ethic is demonstrated by JKR's Lord Voldemort, the existence of the character is completely incidental to any discussion concerning this particular ethic! You don't need to believe in God to debate the value of Christian ethics, so stop sneezing this sentiment all over the discussion!

    If you don't pull your postings together I think it will not be long before we have to ban you from this forum for trolling.


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