Saturday, October 22, 2011

Refuting William Lane Craig

There has been much talk lately about William Lane Craig and the invitations he has given to Richard Dawkins to debate him. Apparently, Dawkins has refused every invitation. Perhaps it is true that he has turned down every personal invitation, but it is certainly not true that the two have never debated. They have in fact debated in Mexico.

Richard Dawkins is refusing to debate the "philosopher" in Oxford, and Craig is planning to do a lecture on The God Delusion in the presence of an empty chair in order to symbolise Dawkins' absence. Dawkins has laid out his reasons here, citing Craig's support for Biblical genocide among other things.

Perhaps Dawkins' reasons are sincere, but in all fairness, it must be said that Craig is the only theist (perhaps with the exception of Dinesh D'Souza) who has given atheists a run for their money. He has even reduced some to the level of embarrassment. However, this does not mean that his arguments carry any intellectual weight. Rather, his success in debates can be put down to clever tricks and manipulation of the audience. For example, he always says something along the lines of "they must prove that atheism is true", which falsely reverses the onus of proof and gives the audience the idea that an atheist must disprove God.

Craig uses five "proofs" to make his case for God's existence: cosmological explanations, fine tuning, objective moral values, the historicity of Jesus Christ and the personal experience of God. There is nothing original here, but Craig has been much more successful than others in hammering these points due to his unprincipled debating style. Lawrence Krauss has dealt with these arguments here and there is a great demolition by the Arizona Atheist here. But for those of you who prefer a colourful screen and colourful language, here are some videos (if somewhat amateurish) that take down each of Craig's arguments one by one.

Steve Jobs and Alternative Medicine

He may have been a lover of science and technology, but in many ways Steve Jobs was an unreasonable man. A new book claims that the Apple co-founder and practicing Buddhist decided to put off surgery in favour of fruit juices, acupuncture, herbal remedies and other such quackery. It just goes to show that people are more than capable of being completely rational in some areas of their life and nothing but in others. Just as Isaac Newton was both a great scientist and an Alchemist, Steve Jobs was also a great inventor and a sucker for new-age fads.