Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Lion's Den

British philosopher Stephen Law took on William Lane Craig and left his notes hanging around. Based on them, he seems to have done a good job, though I'll admit I'm not enamored of his evil god argument.

Opening speech - Craig debate
The opening speech from my debate with William Lane Craig last night. My criticism of his moral and resurrection arguments are posted immediately below. Interestingly, Craig ran only three arguments instead of the usual five - those two and his cosmological argument. Possibly he dropped the fine-tuning argument because it would be as irrelevant as his cosmological in dealing with the evil god challenge. Possibly he dropped the appeal to his personal experience - "I just know" - because of this.

My criticisms of Craig's Moral and Resurrection arguments
This is what I used against Craig's moral and resurrection arguments for the existence of God in last night's debate. His only other argument was the cosmological, which I ignored as irrelevant to Craig's showing that his good god exists as opposed to say, an evil God (for which a "cumulative case" based on the cosmological argument could also be based, and which we all nevertheless know can be justifiably rejected on the basis of observational evidence) Craig pretended that this was an amazing concession that it was a good argument and that my view was deism was true!

My closing statement
From yesterday's debate with William Lane Craig.

Notes for responding to Craig's possible criticism of my evil god challenge
[H]ere are my notes prepared for whatever Craig might have said in response to the evil god challenge. You can see I prepared for a much wider range of moves than he actually made. In fact, this is where I was weakest. I floundered a bit. I did nail him on his silly "evil proves there is a god" move (which he later acknowledged is not really a good objection to the problem of evil). But I failed to nail Craig him on the "earthly happiness" move, despite having it down here. Nor did I explain clearly enough that even if Craig did accept (as he did, amazingly) that there's no observational evidence at all against an evil god or good god, he is STILL stuck with the challenge of explaining why belief in a good god is more reasonable belief in an evil god, the latter being absurd (all Craig had left were his moral and resurrection arguments, which I did then go on to demolish). I should also have picked up on Craig's weak appeal to Wykstra (so weak I missed it was even supposed to an argument). The Wykstra quote is easily dealt with by pointing out it shows only the possibility of some long term higher value, not it's non-improbability given the observational evidence.


Update: Law has added a "Brief sketch of my overall argument in the debate."


Update II: Law has added a "My remaining notes from the Craig debate ."

I'll admit I'm not enamored of his evil god argument.
Why not? There is the same amount of evidence for a good/evil God and you can explain "Why there is good" as effectively as "Why there is evil".
Why not?

Because he says things like:

Obviously we can quite reasonably rule out the evil god hypothesis. So why not the good god hypothesis?

But you're not ruling out the hypothesis of a good god, just the hypothesis that we can know what the nature of god is.
Hmm? Would people worship a God whose nature they don't know?

In any case his point seems to be if you can reasonably rule out an omnipotent evil God you can rule out an omnipotent good God for the same reasons.
If you can't reasonably rule out an evil God - then that's telling too.
"Would people worship a God whose nature they don't know?"
Arguably, that's what people do now.
Here is a more formal philosophical critique of the Evil God Argument by John Danaher.
When I read Law original in the 50 voices book I took his argument to mean what the article says "The EGC as a Reductio of Theism " (though I certainly didnt know it was called that!)

The only critique John (Danaher) seems to have is "but there are some well-known responses.". There aren't however any reasonable arguments. You either have to accept the evil god/good god as equally explained or discard both (if you want to be consistent).
"You either have to accept the evil god/good god as equally explained or discard both (if you want to be consistent)."

You would have to discard the kind of god Craig believes in - one that is active in the world in some cases but chooses not to stop evil for some mysterious reason. But I believe even Law said his argument doesn't apply to all concepts of god.
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