Thursday, March 31, 2011

William Lane Craig vs. Lawrence Krauss Debate Audio

Here is the audio from the debate between William Lane Craig and Lawrence Krauss that took place on March 30, 2011 at NC State on the topic: Is There Evidence for God? For more details, and to watch video of the debate, check out the debate website here. Includes Q&A.

Full Debate MP3 Audio here (2hr 18min)

Enjoy.

This debate has been added to the William Lane Craig Debate Audio podcast feed. Get it here.

118 comments :

Drew said...

There's an old lawyer's saying "When you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. When you have the law on your side. Pound the law. When you have neither on your side, pound the table."

I'm afraid NC State will have to replace the table Krauss used, considering how frequently and forcefully he pounded it.

Anonymous said...

I thought Krauss did an excellent job after a shaky start, and as the scientific aspect of the debate progressed, Craig was naturally (pun intended) out of his league.

By the time the question-and-answer period finished, I considered him the winner, which I think is a rare event in the history of WLC debates.

It's only when he gets away from his hit-everything-in-points style, a very general one, that he gets into trouble. Like debating whether history can prove miracles with Bart Ehrman.

I can't wait to watch again, and see how it stands up on a second viewing.

Randy Everist said...

No offense, anonymous, but I am absolutely shocked you would think Krauss even came close. I thought this debate was a perfect example of why only philosophers should debate Craig. Anyway, to shamelessly self-plug, I've posted a review at http://randyeverist.blogspot.com/2011/03/review-of-craig-vs-krauss-debate.html

winteryknight said...

Thanks for posting this Brian! I am posting a snarky summary of Krauss' krazy komments. It will be up in an hour on my blog here:
http://winteryknight.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/audio-and-video-from-the-debate-between-william-lane-craig-and-lawrence-krauss/

brandon said...

Sorry, my name is Brandon...'anonymous' above.

Well, I will take a second look...but I thought that was the beauty of what Krauss did. He articulated why philosophy cannot determine reality, because these 'common sense' approaches to the natural world don't have any bearing on what the natural world really reveals, once the idea is testable and falsifiable.

As well as noting that Craig is 'throwing up his hands' every time a question gets difficult, and therefore going from 'we don't know' to 'therefore, I DO know'.

Randy Everist said...

Ah thanks Brandon. The problem is, it must be one's philosophy that philosophy cannot determine reality, which is self-refuting. In this case, "philosophy" just means rational knowledge, which is presupposed by any empirical knowledge (otherwise one could not make any inferences whatsoever, not even the inference that gravity was a natural law). All of Craig's arguments were premises that are either accepted by scientists, intuitively true, or analytically necessary. I can give examples of each, if necessary. But none of them took that form. If anything, Krauss seemed to come off as totally unfamiliar with what Craig was talking about. I enjoyed Krauss' discussion of quantum mechanics; that's when he really came alive, but by-and-large it didn't yield him any relevant conclusion (or that any of the premises of Craig's argument were false).

Brandon said...

It doesn't need to be one's philosophy that philosophy can't determine reality, but merely that it can't always determine reality. Science has already shown that many times over.

This is a word-game that ignores that science works, and the reasons why it does. Of course, there are presuppositions involved, no scientist would deny that...but before Darwin, Craig would have vehemently argued for special creation of biological forms, and would have had convincing philosophical arguments for it (Paley did)...until it became testable, and was falsified.

Craig's entire enterprise is built on a history of being wrong. If you wish to distinguish who wins a debate as merely being a matter of public opinion, then a theist almost always wins, because the audience is almost always full of theists (this was held at a church...imagine it being held at a conference among physicists).

I was particularly embarrassed for Craig, as I have been before (I do respect the man in a lot of ways), when he again reverted to the argument about Jesus' resurrection by saying, 'But it's only improbable if we assume he was resurrected by NATURAL means'; but that's not the argument...the argument is that GOD raised him'.

This is no different than saying, 'true, it's improbable if I told you the quarter in my pocket allows me to run 5 times faster than a cheetah', but I said, 'a MAGIC quarter allows me to do that'!

In trying to prove that God did it, he merely invokes the fact that God is defined as being able to do anything. But so what? You can't assume the existence of an all-powerful being to prove that an all-powerful being exists.

TS said...

Randy,

Krauss' discounting of "philosophy" is not a general dismissal of philosophy; science was known as 'natural philosophy' until just a couple centuries ago. Rather, Krauss understands the impotence and self-indulgence of intuition as a self-standing warrant for knowledge. Intuition is a rich source of ideas we use for hypotheses, and the inputs for developing real knowledge, but it's not knowledge itself.

And this is what Craig stands on, intuition. Not as the front end for testing and empirical analysis to see if the intuition (or the models derived from it) perform, but as a kind of faux-knowledge, intuition masquerading as knowledge.

Krauss is just pointing to the impotence of non-performative and unaccountable philosophy. That includes a huge swath of historic streams of philosophy, conspicuously including theology. That is what he means when says "we don't know anything". He's not embracing solipsism or nihilism, but rather, just pointing out that Craig's criteria for what is evidence is utterly ineffective in building and demonstrating knowledge that performs.

For Craig, the problem is far worse than Craig being wrong. Craig isn't even playing on a field where he *can* be wrong, or right. He's "not even wrong", to use a phrase Krauss has become somewhat notorious for now (he points that at String Theory proponents, which is a cogent observation, but where it applies to String Theory, it makes theologians look ridiculous by comparison).

What Craig says is evidence cannot be tested as evidence, deployed in performative models as evidence. It's just evidence on Craig's say-so, the product of his intuition, an intution he just hopes you and I share apart from testable and model-anlaytical evidence.

-TS

Brandon said...

I must have screwed up, because my previous comment did not appear.

TS covered some of the ground that I did; that one doesn't have to state that philosophy can't be a form of attaining knowledge; but that it's not always accurate in that regard. If Craig had lived in the time of William Paley, he would be making philosophical arguments for the special creation of biological forms...but we now know that the idea, while philosophically coherent at the time...turned out to be false, once it could be tested and potentially falsified. In this manner, Craig's entire enterprise is built on a history of jumping to conclusions, and subsequently being proved wrong.

I was particularly embarrased for Craig, who I actually admire in many ways, for resorting again to one of the worst defenses he has ever used, in regard to Jesus' resurrection. The argument that, 'It's only improbable if Jesus were raised by NATURAL means, but if GOD did it, then it's not so improbable'. This is no different than me stating that I have a magic quarter in my pocket that allows me to run 5 times faster than a cheetah...and if you doubt it, I simply state that, 'It's only improbable if it's an ordinary quarter...but I said it's a MAGIC quarter!'. That does not increase the probability of the argument...you cannot pre-suppose the existence of an all-powerful being in order to prove the existence of an all-powerful being.

Brandon said...

The difference being, you could immediately demand that I show you how fast I can run with my magic quarter...but you can never falsify appeals to an all-powerful, mysterious, hidden God. It has no bearing on reality.

bossmanham said...

TS, if Krauss means that he dislikes intuition as an epistemological tool, then he needs to say, "personal intuition is not a valid epistemological tool." Not, "philosophy is dumb," or some such nonsense. I'm wondering how on earth you know what Krauss actually meant when he never said as much. If Krauss actually thinks that the empirical sciences are the only valid source of knowledge, then all he's left with is broad probabilities guiding his thought, since deduction of any kind uses certain intuitional assumptions.

But here's the real killer of that position: Science itself relies on human intuition. As JP Moreland points out, science requires, "the existence of a theory independent, external world; the knowability of the external world; the existence of truth; the laws of logic; the reliability of our cognitive and sensory faculties to serve as truth gatherers and as a source of justified beliefs in our intellectual environment; the adequacy of language to describe the world; the existence of values used in science; the uniformity of nature and induction; and, the existence of numbers and mathematical truths." All of these things are intuitions that we take for granted in performing the Scientific endeavor. To say that intuition of any kind isn't valid as a tool of knowledge is to deny any knowledge (which would be self contradictory).

Brandon said...

@bossmanham

I would say that science relies on human intuition to propose theories, but specifically tests them and tries to falsify them in order to reach a tentative conclusion.

If we were left to William Lane Craig's world, science would be irrelevant. We would just determine what's true by how well it lines up with our intuitions...and that's historically faulty.

TS said...

@bossmanham,

I've read a lot of Krauss, I've watched dozens of hours of him in video lectures, from the purely academic to the pop-glam schtick that is a debate like that with Craig tonight. If you Google his name and watch some of the videos that come up (see his recent series on "A Universe Out Of Nothing", for example), he addresses his position on philosophy at numerous points.

Krauss doesn't say, and neither would I, that science is, a priori or otherwise, the only source of knowledge. Science shows its math, and demonstrates its knowledge, or it ain't science (which is why Krauss is famous for his critique of String Theory -- it's not falsifiable or performative in its current form).

We don't know what we don't know, and Krauss as is open to that as I am.

But that doesn't help credulous intuition or superstitious religion. Science doesn't need to claim a monopoly for rational thinkers to look at that and ask: why would we suppose *these* kinds of thinking would be knowledge, or something to take seriously as knowledge at all?

Maybe other forms of knowledge exist, but we don't have any basis for thinking Craig's intuition should be counted as one, at all.

As I said in my first post, intuition is an important input for science. It's necessary but not sufficient. Knowledge is proved out by testing and performance *against* those intuitions. Some intuitions hold up beautifully, under all kinds of tests. Others fail just the slightest, simplest tests, and badly. And importantly, without demanding performance, we can't tell which is which.

But Craig is the charlatan who just tells you you can. Why, because, well, just trust your intution (I note he conspicuously left out the more naked appeals to intuition he usually presents in his arguments tonight!).

Krauss says embrace your intuitions, but test them. Sort them out. Think critically, rigorously, carefully, dispassionately with an eye toward what performs in the face of real world tests and liability to falsification.

Intuition *is* a crucial tool for science. It's just the input, not the end, which Craig's magical thinking appeal suggests it should be.

TS

Jarrett Cooper said...

Do you (Brandon, TS) think ex nihilo nihil fit is an acceptable intuition to hold?

Anonymous said...

@bossmanham Can you provide a reference to the JP Moreland quote? I'm currently reading on Philosophy of Science so that would be useful thanks.

@brandon "I was particularly embarrased for Craig, who I actually admire in many ways, for resorting again to one of the worst defenses he has ever used, in regard to Jesus' resurrection."

Brandon, perhaps you are not understanding his argument?

Brandon then wrote: "The argument that, 'It's only improbable if Jesus were raised by NATURAL means, but if GOD did it, then it's not so improbable'. This is no different than me stating that I have a magic quarter in my pocket that allows me to run 5 times faster than a cheetah...and if you doubt it, I simply state that, 'It's only improbable if it's an ordinary quarter...but I said it's a MAGIC quarter!'."

But this is nonsense Brandon, and has all the hallmarks of the giant spaghetti monster or Santa Claus... and you know this because nobody appeals to magic quarters, or Zeus, but many rational and well reasoned educated people appeal to belief in a Divine Creator because, unlike magic quarters, God belief is very reasonable.

And...: "That does not increase the probability of the argument...you cannot pre-suppose the existence of an all-powerful being in order to prove the existence of an all-powerful being."

Again this is false. IF God exist -- IF!!! -- then miracles are simple. The resurrection is easy. Creation ex nihilo is a click-of-the-fingers. And raising Jesus from the dead is but a stroll in the park.

Anonymous said...

@TS "Krauss says embrace your intuitions, but test them. Sort them out. Think critically, rigorously, carefully, dispassionately with an eye toward what performs in the face of real world tests and liability to falsification."

This is fine for science carried out today in the lab, but what about historical science? What about history? How can we "test" them?

TS said...

@Jarrett,

Out of nothing, nothing comes, is just fine as an intuition. I share it. But Intuition isn't knowledge, it's intuition. I think it's just fine as an intuition to think the earth is flat -- looking around, if I didn't have the science available we do today that dispels that intuition, it's perfectly reasonable to hold. Aristotle was a smart guy, and I don't doubt I'd be inclined to have the same intuition he did (and Krauss pointed this out in the debate): heavier objects would seem to fall faster than lighter objects.

Nothing wrong with any of that as intuitions to hold.

The error is not having the intution -- I think many/most/all of us can hardly avoid such. The major error is equating that with knowledge, or supposing one's intuition is binding on the universe. The universe does not appear to be beholden to your intuition or mine, which is why intuitions are necessary, but insufficient.

-TS

TS said...

@Anonymous,

Well, we can consult the evidence we do have. Do we have evidence of corpses reanimating after three days in the grave? Not as a matter of our current observations. And we have a whole lot of corpses and deaths to work from. That's just one example.

You can't recreate the universe and rewind the tape back to that point and play it back again. But we can apply what we do learn from experience and objective analysis, and all of that makes the resurrection claims the more fabulous and unreasonable as beliefs we embrace. The more we observe how the universe works, the more implausible the claims become.

If you aren't going to apply what you observe around you and understand from science, then there's no point in investigating or regarding the evidence at all. "True" or "reasonable" just become Orwellian distortions at that point...

-TS

Brandon said...

@jarret cooper

The problem for me is that Craig assumes that 'nothing' must have existed before the beginning of our universe. That's not at all evident; and I have yet to see a good argument for why we should expect that 'nothing', meaning the absence of anything, ever existed at all. It's a word-game.

It's even linguistically confused; to speak of nothing as existing, you are referring to it as something...the 'state of nothingness'. The most we can say is that the universe began, but we cannot yet say that 'nothing' preceded it...although the beautiful (and scientifically relevant) point of Krauss' argument is that our ideas of 'nothing' might not be real at all. It is entirely possible that the very idea itself is confused and not any more probable than the existence of 'something' that preceded the our universe.

Brandon said...

@anonymous

"But this is nonsense Brandon, and has all the hallmarks of the giant spaghetti monster or Santa Claus... and you know this because nobody appeals to magic quarters, or Zeus, but many rational and well reasoned educated people appeal to belief in a Divine Creator because, unlike magic quarters, God belief is very reasonable."

But that's the point...if I did make the same argument about a magic quarter, it would no more verify the argument than appeals to a magic God. And God is hidden and mysterious, so it's just an appeal that's easy to make, but impossible to do anything with. It's an unfalsifiable concept, like Russell's Teapot.



"Again this is false. IF God exist -- IF!!! -- then miracles are simple. The resurrection is easy. Creation ex nihilo is a click-of-the-fingers. And raising Jesus from the dead is but a stroll in the park."

And if magic quarters exist, then it's no problem for me to run faster than a cheetah. But that doesn't do a thing to prove that magic quarters exist, or that I can run faster than a cheetah. It's easy for me to say, just as the above is easy for you to say...but it means nothing unless there's a way to test it and falsify it.

bossmanham said...

Brandon,

I would say that science relies on human intuition to propose theories, but specifically tests them and tries to falsify them in order to reach a tentative conclusion.

You misunderstand. The scientific process itself relies on as its foundation certain things being true. These things cannot be tested by the scientific method. I listed some of them, things like the assumption that the human mind is geared toward taking in reliable sensory data (that how we perceive things is how they actually are), that there actually is a mind independent world, that the laws of logic hold, that induction is a reliable form of reasoning, etc. These are foundational to science itself, and without these intuitional assumptions, science could not work.

If we were left to William Lane Craig's world, science would be irrelevant. We would just determine what's true by how well it lines up with our intuitions...and that's historically faulty.

Uhm, apparently you're not very familiar with WLC, as he is not an advocate of intuitionalism at all (and neither am I btw). Rather, I am trying to get across that disregarding intuition altogether is self defeating. We must simply assume, at base, that certain things that are simply intuitions we have are true for any method of inquiry to even get off the ground.

Anonymous said...

@TS "Well, we can consult the evidence we do have. Do we have evidence of corpses reanimating after three days in the grave? Not as a matter of our current observations. And we have a whole lot of corpses and deaths to work from. That's just one example. "

But that is to beg the question. I think Craig would reply that the best explanation for the birth of Christianity post Jesus' death IS the resurrection.

On the other hand, the atheist has to explain away the alleged empty tomb, the appearances to multiple witnesses, and so on.

Of course, the atheist has to sneer at these things because they cannot be reconciled with that worldview.

bossmanham said...

TS,

I've read a lot of Krauss...

Wonderful. I've not actually listened to the debate yet, but if what the reviewers have said so far is the case, then Krauss certainly is a confusing speaker.

Krauss doesn't say, and neither would I, that science is, a priori or otherwise, the only source of knowledge. Science shows its math, and demonstrates its knowledge, or it ain't science (which is why Krauss is famous for his critique of String Theory -- it's not falsifiable or performative in its current form).

Okay, but as I've shown science itself relies on certain intuitions. Why attack intuitions when we must simply accept some of them to make any sort of inquiry possible?

But that doesn't help credulous intuition or superstitious religion. Science doesn't need to claim a monopoly for rational thinkers to look at that and ask: why would we suppose *these* kinds of thinking would be knowledge, or something to take seriously as knowledge at all?

Well for one, you've not argued that it's not. For two, Craig doesn't rely on credulous intuition or superstitious religion in his arguments. He uses widely accepted premises, based in part on science, that are more plausible than their negations. That is what constitutes a good argument. I don't think it's credulous at all to accept the premise "whatever begins to exist has a cause." We all assume that in our everyday existence and in everything we do. Heck, if not for that assumption science would be a ridiculously silly endeavor. Me: "Why did this solar system come into being?" Krauss: "Why should we assume there needs to be a reason at all? Quantum physics!!!11!!1!one!!eleven" I'd say you're perhaps being too credulous in rejecting that seemingly obvious premise (which I'm assuming you are).

And to go back to what I was saying earlier, Krauss must accept certain things by intuition for any of his scientific research to work at all. These things I don't think are credulously accepted (like that there is a mind independent world). But if I came up with an argument for God using one of them, I bet Krauss would say I'm accepting it credulously...

Maybe other forms of knowledge exist, but we don't have any basis for thinking Craig's intuition should be counted as one, at all.

Which intuition don't you like? You seem to be cherry picking them to suit your position.

bossmanham said...

TS cont.

As I said in my first post, intuition is an important input for science. It's necessary but not sufficient.

For science, perhaps. But even in Craig's philosophical arguments, he's not using just one assumption. All of his arguments rely on more than one premise. Instead of attacking intuitionalism and dodging the issue, why doesn't Krauss deal with the individual premises he has issues with?

Knowledge is proved out by testing and performance *against* those intuitions.

Scientific knowledge, perhaps. But for science to be capable of giving us knowledge, certain other things must be true. We assume they are and then proceed with science. You know why early scientists like Gallileo and Newton assumed that these foundational things were true? Because they thought an intelligent mind created the universe such that we could understand it.

But Craig is the charlatan who just tells you you can. Why, because, well, just trust your intution (I note he conspicuously left out the more naked appeals to intuition he usually presents in his arguments tonight!).

Actually, he does no such thing. I'd say you're a dishonest person.

Krauss says embrace your intuitions, but test them. Sort them out. Think critically, rigorously, carefully, dispassionately with an eye toward what performs in the face of real world tests and liability to falsification.

Oh brother. Way to contradict what you just said.

Intuition *is* a crucial tool for science. It's just the input, not the end, which Craig's magical thinking appeal suggests it should be.

How does Craig do that? Please, enlighten us dummies here.

bossmanham said...

Anonymous,

The reference is: LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR MIND (COLORADO SPRINGS: NAVPRESS, 1997), P. 147.

Brandon said...

@bossmanham:

"You misunderstand. The scientific process itself relies on as its foundation certain things being true. These things cannot be tested by the scientific method. I listed some of them, things like the assumption that the human mind is geared toward taking in reliable sensory data (that how we perceive things is how they actually are), that there actually is a mind independent world, that the laws of logic hold, that induction is a reliable form of reasoning, etc. These are foundational to science itself, and without these intuitional assumptions, science could not work."

And that's the difference...science doesn't assume that they work because they're 'true' in some metaphysical sense, science assumes them because they work. Let's not define knowledge a la Descartes, where it's very definition makes it obsolete. Science is referring to a practicality; not a philosophical absolute.



"Uhm, apparently you're not very familiar with WLC, as he is not an advocate of intuitionalism at all (and neither am I btw). Rather, I am trying to get across that disregarding intuition altogether is self defeating. We must simply assume, at base, that certain things that are simply intuitions we have are true for any method of inquiry to even get off the ground."

Nobody is disregarding intuition altogether; it's a starting point. And I am very familiar with William Lane Craig. We do not assume that intuitions are true in science; if we did, testing would be irrelevant and superfluous...as it is for William Lane Craig's arguments.

Anonymous said...

Ok, help me out here re nothing.

For argument's sake, let's say that there was no universe, no space-time, no vacuum energy, dark matter, dark energy etc.

Imaging there was just on electron -- a fundamental particle.

Would it be more likely that the electron existed or did not exist IF there was no God.

TS said...

@bossmanham,

But this from you:

"Uhm, apparently you're not very familiar with WLC, as he is not an advocate of intuitionalism at all (and neither am I btw). Rather, I am trying to get across that disregarding intuition altogether is self defeating. We must simply assume, at base, that certain things that are simply intuitions we have are true for any method of inquiry to even get off the ground."

Is precisely what condemns Craig as a serious thinker toward real knowledge.

Science accepts as transcendentally necessary to proceed at least these metaphysical statements: a) reality is real, and b) reality is to some degree, at least, intelligible.

Both of those might be wrong, unsound, mistaken. Doesn't matter, it's what science needs to "get off the ground", as you say. If they are mistaken, we shan't expect to derive intelligible, sensible, predictive models of the world around us.

And that's where Krauss is a superstar, and Craig is a complete failure. Krauss deals in actually making models perform, and building knowledge that doesn't just self-justify through the intuition; Krauss' work -- and this is science -- makes its commitments accountable to the judgment of empirical review, falisifiability, and predictive performance.

It doesn't need to 'prove its metaphysic' a priori. All it needs to do is show progress through performance of its models such that we can apprehend the universe around us in some intelligible way.

This Craig does not and cannot do. He must simply satisfy himself with his indulgence in his intuitions, unchecked, untested, unaccountable. And he hopes you will satisfy yourself with same.

-TS

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the JP reference @bossmanham !

bossmanham said...

TS,

Out of nothing, nothing comes, is just fine as an intuition. I share it. But Intuition isn't knowledge, it's intuition

So is your criteria of knowledge complete undeniable certainty? If you weren't aware, that kind of certainty can never be attained using the scientific method, because Scientific reasoning is purely inductive. But inductive reasoning is never, and I repeat, never 100% certain. It is always probability based. X has always happened in the past when Y, so X will happen in the future when Y. But this isn't necessarily true, and is assuming that things will always happen as such in the future. But this is an (wait for it) INTUITION!!! Inductive reasoning always deals with a level of uncertainty. Ergo science is never certain to that level.

I think it's just fine as an intuition to think the earth is flat -- looking around, if I didn't have the science available we do today that dispels that intuition, it's perfectly reasonable to hold.

Of course this isn't akin to anything Craig ever argues. Furthermore, people have provided defeaters to the thought that the earth is flat (an intuition I can say I've never had, and the assertion that everyone in the past thought so is false). So if you want to prove Craig wrong, stop criticizing an epistemology he doesn't hold and start dealing with his arguments.

TS said...

@bossmanham,

Here's a good way (I think) to tease out the problems related to this:

"[Intuition *is* a crucial tool for science. It's just the input, not the end, which Craig's magical thinking appeal suggests it should be].

How does Craig do that? Please, enlighten us dummies here."

Craig asks you to accept a premise like this: actual infinities cannot exist.

That's how Craig does that, as a clear and present example from this evening.

If you can provide a basis for accepting this that provides warrant apart from one's intuition, I can make you famous by Friday.

How you do you suppose Craig supports that premise, or one what grounds do you suppose he asks you to accept it. This is a telling insight into Craig that backs up what I'm saying if you are willing to pursue it.

-TS

Brandon said...

I'm often amused by the notion that infinities cannot exist, followed by the claim that God always was and always will be.

bossmanham said...

Brandon,

And that's the difference...science doesn't assume that they work because they're 'true' in some metaphysical sense, science assumes them because they work.

Um...how would they work if they weren't true? Some sort of belief having practical value says nothing as to whether it is true or not. Me believing that it's fun to be eaten by a tiger, and the best way to be eaten by a tiger would be to run away from it would have practical value in extending my life, but they're both false beliefs. Newtonian physics is extremely helpful and works very well, but it isn't true.

Let's not define knowledge a la Descartes, where it's very definition makes it obsolete. Science is referring to a practicality; not a philosophical absolute.

It seems to me that's the standard you've been holding Craig to. I agree with this. Ergo Craig's arguments seem pretty good to me.

Nobody is disregarding intuition altogether; it's a starting point. And I am very familiar with William Lane Craig.

Then stop criticizing him for holding certain assumptions. That's what you and TS have been arguing from the get-go here.

We do not assume that intuitions are true in science; if we did, testing would be irrelevant and superfluous

You don't assume that there is a mind independent world is true? Um, yeah you do if you do science. This sounds utterly foolish.

TS said...

@Anonymous,

Re: "Imaging there was just on electron -- a fundamental particle.", etc.

I think this is confused in its presentation. An electron, by virtue of *being* an electron, implies space/time/energy/matter. It's simliar to my asking you to imagine there are no concepts, no grammar, no syntax, no alphabet, but only the word "blue".

"Word" implies language. "Particle" implies S/T/E/M. Necessarily.

-TS

bossmanham said...

TS

Science accepts as transcendentally necessary to proceed at least these metaphysical statements: a) reality is real, and b) reality is to some degree, at least, intelligible.

Both of those might be wrong, unsound, mistaken. Doesn't matter, it's what science needs to "get off the ground", as you say. If they are mistaken, we shan't expect to derive intelligible, sensible, predictive models of the world around us.


Uh, yeah. Exactly. Which shows your criticism of using certain assumptions is ridiculous.

And that's where Krauss is a superstar, and Craig is a complete failure. Krauss deals in actually making models perform, and building knowledge that doesn't just self-justify through the intuition

Except all of those models rely on the foundational intuitions of science. So if Craig's a moron for using certain assumptions, then why isn't Krauss? All he does is push them back a step.

Krauss' work -- and this is science -- makes its commitments accountable to the judgment of empirical review, falisifiability, and predictive performance.

So what? If having assumptions isn't justifiable, then science is ridiculous as well. You're cherry picking your intuitions.

Furthermore, you haven't shown that any of Craig's assuptions are far-fetched or credulous. Until you do that, your ambiguity just shoots itself in the foot.

It doesn't need to 'prove its metaphysic' a priori. All it needs to do is show progress through performance of its models such that we can apprehend the universe around us in some intelligible way.

Do you know this statement scientifically? Because this very statement seems to be one of your intuitions...

How does Craig do that? Please, enlighten us dummies here."

Craig asks you to accept a premise like this: actual infinities cannot exist.


No, Craig gives arguments with premises for why actual infinites cannot exist. He doesn't blindly assert it. He uses mathematical models and examples to show that an actual infinite can't exist.

Brandon said...

@bossmanham

"Um...how would they work if they weren't true? Some sort of belief having practical value says nothing as to whether it is true or not."

Again, this is the difference between a practical view of knowledge, and a metaphysical one. If string theory turned out to provide the best explanation and predictions about how the world works, it would not necessarily mean that all matter is made up of tiny strings...but by using that methodology, we might be able to make solid predictions about how the world works. It would be practical, regardless of whether it's metaphysically true...because we can never 'know' what's metaphysically true. You cannot step outside yourself, and 'know that you know'. The products of science is as close as you can get, and history bears that out.



"It seems to me that's the standard you've been holding Craig to. I agree with this. Ergo Craig's arguments seem pretty good to me.

Then stop criticizing him for holding certain assumptions. That's what you and TS have been arguing from the get-go here."

I'm not criticizing him for holding assumptions; I'm criticizing him for holding unfalsifiable concepts, and counting their unfalsifiability as some sort of counter-proof that they cannot be wrong. The difference between philosophy and science. That is not to totally disregard philosophy, or I wouldn't be here. But it does not, in and of itself, determine anything.


"You don't assume that there is a mind independent world is true? Um, yeah you do if you do science. This sounds utterly foolish."

Personally, I do. But that's not what William Lane Craig does. His truth is dependent on his mind; and testing is not necessary in that world. Unfortunately, history shows it to be a fallacious methodology.

TS said...

@bossmanham,

No, Craig gives arguments with premises for why actual infinites cannot exist. He doesn't blindly assert it. He uses mathematical models and examples to show that an actual infinite can't exist.

What would you say is a brief synopsis (not looking to make you jump through hoops) of that argument in support?

Specifically, where does it attach to our experience of the world around us. The world doesn't conform to our mathematical intuitions or difficulties. We're just using our brains to try and understand as best we can. But nature isn't obligated to "ban infinities" because we struggle with the concept, is it?

If I missed Craig's empirical support for this premise, some way his premise is amenable to testing, analysis, or falsification from something other than his intuitions, I'd like to be corrected, here. Having read a lot on this particular subject, and following Craig's incorrigibility on this (Google critiques if you are unaware), I'd be surprised to have missed it, but I'll allow that as a possibility.

-TS

bossmanham said...

Brandon,

Okay, I see. You're opperating from a scientific non-realist viewpoint. I'm not sure how you could say that this would blunt Craig's arguments at all. All this would assert is that scientific models can't be thought of as being really true, but only profitable in that they provide workable models we can use. How does that impact deductive arguments such as Dr. Craig uses? If the premises are true, then the conclusion necessarily follows. Craig never says his premises are indubitable, but rather that they are more plausible than their negations. They're open for critique. Show us where his arguments fail. If they hold, then the conclusions follow.

I'm not criticizing him for holding assumptions; I'm criticizing him for holding unfalsifiable concepts, and counting their unfalsifiability as some sort of counter-proof that they cannot be wrong.

Um, where has he ever done either of those things? First off, it's not true that something must be falsifiable to be useful or knowable. The proposition "something must be falsifiable to be useful or knowable" itself is not falsifiable. It's perhaps a useful tool in Science, but it's certainly not a base for all types of inquiry. Second, all properly basic beliefs are unfalsifiable. It wouldn't be possible to falsify the existence of yourself, for instance.

The difference between philosophy and science. That is not to totally disregard philosophy, or I wouldn't be here. But it does not, in and of itself, determine anything.

Then neither does science, because science itself relies on philosophical assumptions. Why can you not see this?

Personally, I do. But that's not what William Lane Craig does. His truth is dependent on his mind; and testing is not necessary in that world.

This statement is utterly useless and has no bearing on the discussion.

Jarrett Cooper said...

@ TS,

Thanks for the feedback.

(I hate to come off as an interrogator but I have another question.)

Would you think the intuition (in this case: out of nothing, nothing comes) can be applied knowledge when mathematicians and/or philosophers come up with arguments/reasons/proofs that says an actual infinite leads to contradictions?

Given ex nihilo nihil fit along with arguments that says an actual infinite leads to contradictions--can allow one to conclude that a non spatio-temporal entity caused the spatio-temporal world (cosmos)?

I think intuition can become knowledge in that way. For example, LEM (Law of Excluded Middle) can be help us derive knowledge. Say that a math teacher tells her students to answer a question, and tells them that the answer is a whole number, but is not even. The students will intuitively know that the correct answer, whatever it is, must be a whole odd number.

@ Brandon,

My comment directed to TS can go towards you as well.

However, I would just note that no philosopher would describe nothing as if it were existing. (Unfortunately, it is the physicists who do!) For one (philosopher) to suggest such a thing is a misnomer. When philosophers speak of nothing--they mean non-being. A complete and utter lack of being.

bossmanham said...

TS,

What would you say is a brief synopsis (not looking to make you jump through hoops) of that argument in support?

Craig's argument against actual infinites? He uses the case of Hilbert's hotel for one. He also shows that subtracting infinites gives inconsistent results. If we had an infinite number of balls labeled 1, 2, 3, 4, on to infinity and we subtract all of the even numbered balls; 2, 4, 6, and so on to infinity we would have:

infinity - infinity = infinity

If we had the same infinite number of balls and removed all the balls after 3; which would be 4, 5, 6, and so on to infinity, we would have:

infinity - infinity = 3

You subtract the same values and get different results, which shows that actual infinites deal in logical absurdities; which means the necessarily cannot exist.

Specifically, where does it attach to our experience of the world around us.

You don't have to experience something to know something.

But nature isn't obligated to "ban infinities" because we struggle with the concept, is it?

Nature doesn't ban anything. The fact that something is logically incoherent shows that it necessarily cannot exist. Just like a square circle necessarily cannot exist.

bossmanham said...

I think the spam filter ate one of my posts. I'll try again here and if it doesn't work, I'll hope Brian releases it from its spam-filtery prison.

TS,

What would you say is a brief synopsis (not looking to make you jump through hoops) of that argument in support?

Craig's argument against actual infinites? He uses the case of Hilbert's hotel for one. He also shows that subtracting infinites gives inconsistent results. If we had an infinite number of balls labeled 1, 2, 3, 4, on to infinityand we subtract all of the even numbered balls; 2, 4, 6, and so on to infinity we would have:

infinity - infinity = infinity

If we had the same infinite number of balls and removed all the balls after 3; which would be 4, 5, 6, and so on to infinity, we would have:

infinity - infinity = 3

You subtract the same values and get different results, which shows that actual infinites deal in logical absurdities; which means the necessarily cannot exist.

Specifically, where does it attach to our experience of the world around us.

You don't have to experience something to know something.

But nature isn't obligated to "ban infinities" because we struggle with the concept, is it?

Nature doesn't ban anything. The fact that something is logically incoherent shows that it necessarily cannot exist. Just like a square circle necessarily cannot exist.

Jarrett Cooper said...

For some reason my comment didn't go through. (At first it did, but now it's not here.)

@ TS and Brandon,

Thanks for the feedback.

Maybe intuition isn't knowledge in and of itself (I haven't really reflected on that), but intuitions can certainly be used to derive and obtain knowledge. Given the intuition: out of nothing, nothing comes--along with mathematical and/or philosophical arguments that says an actual infinite leads to contradictions--can allow one to say there must be a non spatio-temporal cause of the spatio-temporal world (cosmos).

Another example where intuition can help us derive at knowledge is the use of the Law of Excluded Middle (LEM). Say a teacher tells her students to answer a question and she tells them that the answer is a whole number, but is not an even number. The students will intuitively know the answer will be a whole, odd number. So intuitions can help us derive and obtain knowledge.

Anonymous said...

@TS

An electron, by virtue of *being* an electron, implies space/time/energy/matter. It's simliar to my asking you to imagine there are no concepts, no grammar, no syntax, no alphabet, but only the word "blue".

That is why I said "imagine". Do the thought experiment....

Let me re-phrase the question.

Imagine -- using a thought experiment -- that there was no space-time, matter, energy etc, EXCEPT for one single infinitely small electron.

Or if you prefer, consider another universe where the laws are different and such an electron can exist without having the need for space-time etc.

Given these premises, is it more likely that such an electron would exist, or would not exist?

Glenn Hendrickson said...

I posted the videos on my blog if anyone wants to see the debate.

Click here to watch!

Maryann Spikes said...

Thankyou so much for posting this--I was having problems watching it and missed the whole thing! I can't wait to watch it tonight (but I have to!).

Anon said...

Bossmanham,

This isn't a valid argument against the existence of infinities. Subtraction isn't well defined for infinite cardinals, so when you claim that either inference based off of an intuitive notion of subtraction is valid, you're mistaken.

It's a terrible shame that Craig is so naively mistaken about the maths. Especially when he makes statements like: "But mathematicians recognize that the existence of an actually infinite number of things leads to self-contradictions. For example, what is infinity minus infinity? Mathematically, you get self-contradictory answers." Mathematicians work with actually infinite sets all the time, and Craig shows a terrible ignorance of mathematical practice when he says things like this.

But perhaps Craig isn't talking about mathematical objects, but whether or not we ought to admit physical objects which are actually infinite. And there are examples of theories in physics which employ actual infinities without resulting in contradictions. Why? Because they recognize that not every function is well-defined for every value.

Is division contradictory because 1/0 isn't well defined? Should we not allow for the existence of any quotients?

Dark Star said...

Many seem to have completely missed the point of Krauss' comment about logic. Let me demonstrate, Try this - Using ONLY Logic (you cannot use observed facts, just logic) prove that nature will necessarily follow quantum and relativistic laws.

Can you do it?

Understanding the universe requires keen observation, filtered through the lens of intense peer review to tease out reality from our many cognitive biases. This is the basis of science. Yes, logic is used, but our logic is derived from the functioning of our brains and is grounded in the reality we observe. It cannot define it, it must flow from it.

My observation is that those who already believe, think Craig did a wonderful job and ignore facts like claiming that Bayesian analysis is the definition of evidence is a falsehood.

Craig also misrepresents the validity of the biblical claims about jesus (which lack any contemporaneous historical account of any of the events, lack of any archaeological evidence supporting the existence of the jesus described in the bible, there is evidence of blatant textual corruption and redaction, the violent and destructive history of early christianity - I'm sorry but if you torture & murder those who speak against you, and burn all evidence against you for 1800 years then you have lost all credibility, in fact, such behavior is good evidence that the claims are not true to begin with).

I can assert that there is a flying spaghetti monster, millions are witness to it, I can read testimonies of eye-witnesses (which you cannot do for the accounts of jesus). Does that count as evidence? There are millions of people in India who have witnessed Sai Baba perform thousands of miracles - is that evidence he is god? How much less so is evidence that was written 30-60 YEARS after the supposed events when no historian of the time recorded things like saints rising from the dead? It's ridiculous to even consider such nonsense as evidence of anything factual. The only way you can do so is if you already believe it. And I base that claim on personal experience, as I used to be a christian.

It was extremely painful to listen to Craig misrepresent scientific fact - if you lack depth of education in the sciences, and you already are biased to believe everything he says then I'm sure he sounded very convincing rattling off his formulae. Unfortunately, as Dr. Krauss pointed out, he was misrepresenting it - here is a blurb on it for your reference.

http://mathworld.wolfram.com/BayesianAnalysis.html

Bayesian analysis is a statistical procedure which endeavors to estimate parameters...Begin with a "prior distribution" which may be based on anything.... Bayesian analysis is somewhat controversial because the validity of the result depends on how valid the prior distribution is, and this cannot be assessed statistically.


Krauss said up front, he didn't think he could change any minds so he tried to simply educate people on some basic facts of physics.

When Craig proves that his philosophical 'non-existence' is a valid presupposition, you let me know. In the meantime, I will stick to what the universe has to actually show me.

TS said...

@Anonymous,

Craig is not naïvely mistaken -- he's been made well aware of his errors here many, many times. He's just incorrigible. Incorporating fixes for his errors interferes with his apologetic, and defeats his Kalam argument, the centerpiece of his schtick.

He just steamrolls right through, hoping that mentioning "contradictions" and "transfinite math" in the same sentence is enough to keep the faithful's eyes glazed over, and he's generally right on the money in that estimation. Most Christian apologists are not familiar with the maths, or the cogent criticisms offered to Craig on this. And the guy in the pew has never heard of Morriston, Lawhead or Quentin Smith, and can't be bothered.

Craig has such a nice smile, and he speaks so well... that's really enough, especially when it comes to infinity, a concept that rightly gives humans a headache. Better to just side with the guy wearing the same color jersey as me!

But it's not an issue of naïveté on Craig's part.

-TS

Drew said...

The problem is not that Dr. Craig is incorrigible, it is that skeptics who view his debates do not read his scholarly articles where he interacts with the criticisms of some of the most qualified philosophers and scientists of our era. Such skeptics, most of whom have little or no formal training in philosophy then assume that it is Dr. Craig who is in error.

The statement "we cannot know things apart from empirical observation" is self-refuting. Such a statement cannot be known through empirical observation. And Krauss' entire case is based on assuming this statement is true. For if it is not, then one can give sound arguments that apply to the external world and are not dependent on empirical observation.

It is not through observation alone that we know the external world.

Drew said...

And the need for logical coherence is not science does not consist of mere observation. It consists of assuming that the world operates in a repeatable, predictable way. The scientist's job is to formulate a logically coherent set of descriptions that account for why we observe what we observe.

Without coherent logic, the descriptions themselves would be meaningless and useless.

Brandon said...

Would anyone like to go back and show why Paley's argument was logically fallacious *at the time it was made*? I think that sums this up very nicely, and why Craig's enterprise is a sham in regard to what's true about the world.

Drew said...

Paley's argument is not logically fallacious. There is a difference between an argument being logically valid and it being sound.

TS said...

@Drew,

I don't doubt you can find examples of skeptics who are unfamiliar with scholarly vectors in the discussion, from WLC and from others critiquing those offerings from WLC. In my case, and I know many others, the frustration is just the opposite -- there's apparently no way to point the audience toward the scholarly critiques of WLC's scholarly works that really take him to task, and leave the "soundness" of premises a shambles.

For example -- and I mentioned this in the post immediately above yours, previously -- take a look Wes Morriston's Critique of Craig's Kalam (and specifically the infinities question):

http://stripe.colorado.edu/~morristo/kalam-not.html

Here is a theist Philosophy prof at the university of Colorado, who specializes in this area, laying out the rigorous dissection of Craig's attempts to pass off intuition as knowledge. He's not critiquing WLC in a debate, or an evangelistic appearance at a church, but formal, scholarly articles.

Even if one takes a dim view of Morriston, at best, a thoughtful and honest Craig admits that the premise denying actual infinities is worse than shaky. It may be that no actual infinities exist, but it's just bombast from Craig to use this premise as he routinely does. There's no warrant for that beyond his naked intuitions.

And it's not just Morriston. Craig has a good ensemble know of scholarly experts and heavies who've taken Craig to task on a scholarly level. It's just become clear that Craig isn't interested in interacting, or developing through that kind of interaction, in the best tradition of philosophy. He's an evangelist with a PhD, and Morriston's et al can go hang if their critiques are problematic for his evangelistic schtick.

The faithful audience will never know, never check. The readers here will not bother to go read Morriston or Lawhead or Quentin Smith, et al. even now. They are satisfied with the guy wearing their favorite color jersey.

The more rigorous and formal and detailed and scholarly and accountable things get, the worse Craig fares, which is why the breezy medium of debates like this are his bailiwick, as opposed to something Lawrence Krausss does as novelty when he's not doing science for a living.


-TS

Ben said...

Philosopher vs scientist = Tiger vs house kitten

Anonymous said...

There is no doubt that Krauss won this debate hands-down. Craig has only a superficial understanding of physics, and was completely outclassed, making many fallacious arguments where he thinks he's strong, in logic. If he is the best the apologists have, they won't last long.

Dark Star said...

Assuming you mean Paley's analogical design argument it commits four primary logical fallacies: flawed analogy, argument from ignorance, special pleading, and circular reasoning.

flawed analogy: watches are not, in fact, enough like universes that I feel comfortable basing any fact on such an analogy - we will return to this again

argument from ignorance: if you cannot explain how the universe came to exist then you cannot conclude that it was, therefore god. No amount of logic can derive facts about the universe when the arguments are NOT based on or supported by observations.

Logically prove that some mixture of light is white -- you cannot do so. It has to be observed and granted the status of a fact by consensus and ONLY under the constraints by which it is defined as a Fact. There is no such thing as "white light" but it is a product of our sensory apparatus. But that we perceive 'white light' is reasonably accepted as a Fact.

We cannot assert from logic alone how the universe MUST be. We can make very careful inferences based on logical extrapolation ONLY by accepted the inherent epistemic risk. It may well be that the origin of the universe can NEVER be known with certainty - no matter how much Wishful Thinking you apply to it, it is no better than a guess without strong evidence in support of your conclusion.

special pleading: that man is somehow different from other natural processes (we might presume this but there a vast array of observations of fact which do not support this conclusion and there are simply no facts which support it outside our intuition)

circular reasoning: unless you can support the special pleading for the special agency of Man, acting in ways that are NOT Natural, then you have a circular argument trying to argue that universes have to be designed because watches are designed (further evidence that the flawed analogy fallacy applies)

Other similar types of arguments suffer much the same flaws. It is a gross misapplication of philosophy to try to pull ontological truth out 'nothing'. Much smoke has been blown I'm afraid.

Walt said...

Quite a bit of discussion here! I'll say as one who studied physics at MIT and is in the midst of philosophy studies currently, that Dr. Krauss actually was an embarrassment. He was quite confusing and didn't explain himself well at all. The universe is rational, even in the quantum world (decoherence theory has shown why it appears strange but fundamentally is not), and you do not need to reject logic in order to understand it (that would be self defeating anyway). I don't think he understood Craig's claims about infinity in reality as compared to its use in series and complex variable calculus. To know Craig would be to know it would come up. He could have done better (in a logical rational way) making the case why Dr. Craig's definition of evidence is not what is thought of as reasonable or sufficient evidence in the scientific realm. (Again, he could have known Dr. Craig would define it that way.) I think this shows why someone not well versed in philosophy generally is not well equipped to debate a well-studied philosopher. If Dr. Krauss risks doing something like this again, I'd suggest he take philosophy more seriously (it isn't bunk - not everybody is going to believe him just because he is a scientist) and sharpen his skills before attempting it again. I thought Dr. Craig did a superb job given his definition of evidence.

Dark Star said...

Anonymous wrote "Craig has only a superficial understanding of physics, and was completely outclassed, making many fallacious arguments where he thinks he's strong, in logic. If he is the best the apologists have, they won't last long."

The reason you are wrong is because, despite centuries of evidence to the contrary, you assume that people actually care about facts or logic.

They worship Craig because he can toss around a few terms like Bayesian analysis and as long as he continues to assert that he is correct they will believe it. He can puff up and fallacious label 'atheists' as 'irrational' and they will eat it up.

They will not go read a book on scientific evidence or Bayesian analysis and actually try to understand how science works. That's too much work, too difficult.

They WANT to believe and he gives them just enough fodder to continue to do so and they can point and say "see, this 'philosopher' says so".

It's also not clear to me that Krauss 'won' - I think that everyone lost in this debate. I agree with Krauss that the debate format is useless for this sort of thing. Debates were invented by lawyers, not scientists.

But Craig presented not a single bit of EVIDENCE for god and instead, he disingenuously tried to redefine evidence to be a probability analysis which depends on accurate prior distribution while refusing to discuss said prior distribution because he knows the vast majority of his followers cannot follow his logic anyway. It's all hand-waving and smoke.

And I very much dislike this tiny input box that I cannot make wider - makes it difficult to edit - so I apologize for my typos.

Brandon said...

@drew

"Paley's argument is not logically fallacious. There is a difference between an argument being logically valid and it being sound."

That's my point, thank you. If we had relied solely on philosophy to ascertain the truth about biology, we would still be crediting each life form as having been specially created by God...Craig would have been making the same arguments as Paley, and you would all have been telling us how irrefutable it was.

But science came along, and tested the supposedly valid philosophical argument...and we all know how that turned out.

Walt said...

Dark Star, "The reason you are wrong is because, despite centuries of evidence to the contrary, you assume that people actually care about facts or logic."

What is the point of a debate if they didn't care? How can you have a debate without logic, at least informal if not formal? It seems Dr. Kraus is the one who didn't care.

Dark Star, "They worship Craig because he can toss around a few terms like Bayesian analysis and as long as he continues to assert that he is correct they will believe it. He can puff up and fallacious label 'atheists' as 'irrational' and they will eat it up."

Worship seems like a strong word. Granted many people in that audience would not have a clue what Bayesian probabilities are, but the debate was with Dr. Kraus who, while I am confident is actually a rational person in order to do what he does, demonstrated irrationality in a number of his statements. Most were not fools to see at least a consistency with Dr. Craig's arguments versus the inconsistencies, double talk, and non-sense Dr. Kraus gave. Dr. Kraus should have been better prepared and could have showed himself to be rational and had the potential to wow the audience, but he didn't. His sarcastic attitude didn't help him much either.

Dark Star, "They will not go read a book on scientific evidence or Bayesian analysis and actually try to understand how science works. That's too much work, too difficult."

Many don't have the time or skills to do so. Just as it is evident that Dr. Kraus never picked up an apologetics book or studied what the Bible really says. Some of his comments were clearly out of line with the Bible and seemed to come more from hear-say from other atheists rather than an actual inquiry for himself.

It seems you are only knocking Dr. Craig because he is not a scientist. If Dr. Kraus had actually used his scientific knowledge, then it might have become an issue. Showing the double slit experiment pictorial didn't wow anybody and was so far off from a discussion of evidence that it was a joke. His multitude of "nothings" was even more funny. I, and I suppose you, know what he was talking about, but he failed miserably making his case.

Regardless of the backgrounds of either person, Dr Craig communicated very well and Dr. Kraus communicated very poorly. The debate really came down to that.

Drew said...

It seems the atheists on this thread are arguing that observation is necessary to know certain things about the external world.

I agree.

They then make the unjustified leap in logic to say "therefore, nothing can be known except through sense experience"

That doesn't follow.

It also doesn't follow from "some philosophical arguments in the past have been disproven by closer observation" that "therefore, no philosophical argument is valid unless it is based on empirical observation." In fact, such a statement is self-refuting, for it has no basis in empirical observation.

Just because we need empirical observation to know some things does not mean we need it to know all things. I hope that the skeptics in this thread would realize this.

TS said...

@Drew,

I think Krauss addressed this in the debate, and I believe I also addressed this upthread. Science (or, more broadly, experiential/empirical reasoning) need not, and indeed, cannot lay claim to a monopoly on knowledge. But even so, this doesn't help Craig's case. Because such an acknowledgment in no wise provides warrant for Craig's superstitions.

Other modes or heuristics may possibly obtain. But understanding that doesn't mean one's fancy has acquitted itself, or, to contextualize it for Craig's words last night, that Craig's sense that an actual infinite set is "absurd" is not helped by this.

Craig will have to provide his own qualification/warrant for that as knowledge.

And he does not.

The problem is not a claim of monopoly from scientists and/or empiricists. Rather, the problem is that Craig on his own terms -- see his incredulity at the idea of an actual infinity -- provides no basis for what he calls 'knowledge'. There's no model. There's no tests. And by definition (here), evidence from outside the mind can't matter -- that's the empiricist's province.

It's just naked assertion, "just knowing" as distilled conceit, unaccountable to the extramental world.

Other forms of knowledge may obtain, but we have no reason to think Craig has a handle on one, if such do exist.

-TS

Brandon said...

@drew

"It seems the atheists on this thread are arguing that observation is necessary to know certain things about the external world.

I agree.

They then make the unjustified leap in logic to say "therefore, nothing can be known except through sense experience"

That doesn't follow."

True, and I haven't seen anyone make such an absolute statement. Perhaps you're reading more into what is being said than is intended?



"It also doesn't follow from "some philosophical arguments in the past have been disproven by closer observation" that "therefore, no philosophical argument is valid unless it is based on empirical observation."

Again, I haven't seen anyone make this counter-claim. I certainly wouldn't make it...but when science can weigh in on a philosophical premise or argument to test its validity, then we should do so...for the reason you stated above. It turns out that even when a premise seems completely sound, it may not be sound at all once you have the ability to test it and the possibility of falsification.

As I said before, if I completely discounted philosophy, logic and argument...I wouldn't be here.

Brandon said...

I should clarify, actually...because nothing can be known except through sense experience, and it depends on the definition of 'know'. If we mean it in the Descartesian sense, then there is only one thing that we know...cogito ergo sum.

But the point is that I don't consider science the only method of approaching truth, or knowing something in the only sense that really matters...the practical one, not the metaphysical one.

bossmanham said...

Anon,

Subtraction isn't well defined for infinite cardinals, so when you claim that either inference based off of an intuitive notion of subtraction is valid, you're mistaken.

Actualy, infinite set theory is very well defined. That's why we can subtract infinites and know we get self contradictory results. David Hilbert knew this 70+ years ago.

But perhaps Craig isn't talking about mathematical objects, but whether or not we ought to admit physical objects which are actually infinite

Yeah, which makes your previous paragraph a vicious ad hominem / straw man. How is it you actually recognize the force of his argument yet still straw man it? Does your lack of an ethical ground give you a self-justification to argue so dishonestly?

Working with actual infinites and applying them to real world situations with real definable values leads to logically incoherent situations; where a full hotel suddenly becomes only half full. This is a physical absurdity.

Dark Star,

Using ONLY Logic (you cannot use observed facts, just logic) prove that nature will necessarily follow quantum and relativistic laws.

Way to bring up an utter irrelevant analogy that has nothing to do with any argument Craig or any other theist offers. No one has ever claimed that using only logic one can prove complex physical theories. One can only laugh at such nonsense.

In fact, your entire comment shows a poverty of any sort of intellectual engagment with anything akin to what William Lane Craig argues. It's sad, really.

TS,

Most Christian apologists are not familiar with the maths, or the cogent criticisms offered to Craig on this.

He [TS] just steamrolls right through, hoping that mentioning [this false and unbacked assertion] and [making fun of Christians] in the same sentence is enough to keep the faithful [dogmatic skeptics'] eyes glazed over, and he's generally right on the money in that estimation.

Craig has such a nice smile, and he speaks so well... that's really enough, especially when it comes to infinity, a concept that rightly gives humans a headache. Better to just side with the guy wearing the same color jersey as me!

[TS] has such [adequate rhetorical skills], and he speaks [not so well, but thinks he does]... that's really enough, especially when it comes to infinity, a concept that rightly gives humans a headache. Better to just side with the guy wearing the same color jersey as me!

Nice atheism of the gaps argument BTW, which is utterly false anyway as these ideas are very well developed.

Walt,

Awesome comment my friend!

A much appreciated change from the crap the skeptics have offered as of yet.

Anon said...

TS - I was probably too charitable. Wasn't sure of the overall tone of the blog.

Bosshossman - There is no operation of subtraction between sets. There is the notion of a complement (or set difference if you'd rather) which is denoted by the symbol '-', but that doesn't generate the paradox you want. You can look up these terms on Wolfram's Mathworld if you'd like.

Hilbert was a strong proponent of the actual infinite, this is historical fact. He didn't think we should rule them out. No mathematician thinks that the hilbert hotel is an actual contradiction, it's merely counterintuitive. The ability to construct bijections between a set and its proper subset has been a defining characteristic of the infinite since Leibniz.

"Yeah, which makes your previous paragraph a vicious ad hominem / straw man. How is it you actually recognize the force of his argument yet still straw man it? Does your lack of an ethical ground give you a self-justification to argue so dishonestly?"

Not really, Craig was unclear on this point. There's two ways of reading it, one way of reading it makes it obviously false, so I considered a second way of approaching it. No dishonest strawman, since Craig made this statement in the debate:

"But mathematicians recognize that the existence of an actually infinite number of things leads to self-contradictions. For example, what is infinity minus infinity? Mathematically, you get self-contradictory answers."

Mathematicians don't think that infinity is self-contradictory. Craig is mistaken on this point. Perhaps he was confused. I'm not sure.

In order to be charitable I gave him the benefit of the doubt and suggested that he thought that theories which employed actual infinites would be incoherent in physics, but physicists obviously employ actual infinities in their work. After all, there are functions and values from the set of real numbers, which constitutes an actually infinite set.

Brandon said...

I've long wanted to participate in a drinking game that requires one to drink every time Craig appeals to supposed authority, i.e., 'The majority of scholars agree...' as a basis for his argument, but am afraid that I would die from alcohol poisoning.

For a supposed eminent philosopher, he sure commits some of the most basic of logical fallacies in that regard.

Crude said...

Just a few comments in passing.

* Did any of you notice that Krauss, in the Q&A, explicitly said that he finds the existence of God plausible, that he would never argue against the existence of God, and that he even conceded it may be required to refer to a divine mind to resolve certain paradoxes relating to the beginning of the universe?

In his own words, Krauss finds the existence of God plausible. What he objects to is the God of any revealed religion. But many of Craig's arguments are only meant to establish the plausibility of God's existence, period.

Krauss in essence conceded 90% of the debate to Craig in the Q&A session.

* There's something amusing about praising Krauss (as a scientist) over Craig (as a philosopher) on the grounds that science is practical and gets hard results and is all about observation and testability... when part of Krauss arguments involved him bringing in the multiverse concept.

* Playing off the previous point: Part of the problem here is that scientists, certainly outspoken ones, often engage in philosophy. The difference is that at least the philosophers tend to realize when they're doing this. Sometimes it seems the scientists don't realize it.

Anon said...

Bossmanham,

There is no such thing as subtraction between sets. Most set theorists talk of difference or complement. Those two operations don't generate the contradictions that you attempted to lay out. This is readily available in any elementary set theory text, like Just and Weese. Or just on Wolfram's Mathematica.

Anyways,

"Yeah, which makes your previous paragraph a vicious ad hominem / straw man. How is it you actually recognize the force of his argument yet still straw man it? Does your lack of an ethical ground give you a self-justification to argue so dishonestly?"

I don't think it was a vicious ad hominem or a strawman. It's an extremely naive remark to make, no mathematician thinks that contradictions emerge merely from considering actual infinities. There's a difference between counter-intuitive results and contradictions, and for Craig to misunderstand actual mathematical practice so strongly suggests a naivety about it. Regardless my argument doesn't turn on the naivete claim, just that Craig is mistaken about the contradictions.

Furthermore, my argument was disjunctive. Either Craig means that it's inconsistent qua mathematicians or physicists. Qua mathematicians, actual infinites are consistent. Qua physicists, physical theories which are committed to actual infinites are employed without contradiction.

"Working with actual infinites and applying them to real world situations with real definable values leads to logically incoherent situations; where a full hotel suddenly becomes only half full. This is a physical absurdity."

Through no fault of the infinite, but more likely our intuitive grasp of "full". Do you think that a 1 to 1 function from the natural numbers to the even natural numbers entails an absurdity?

Anonymous said...

ps - mods, if you delete the previous post, I'll be out of your hair. Enjoy your echo chamber.

Brandon said...

You're taking huge liberties with what he actually said, that it could be a plausible answer to certain questions...but that the possibility of evidence, and falsifiability, are not available...and as he specifically said, '...and that's the problem'. The same point he's made about String Theory.

He's articulating why something that purports to answer a question 'could' be true, does not have any bearing on whether or not it 'is true', as a purely philosophical construct. Again, it's the difference between a scientist and a philosopher, and why it matters.

Brandon said...

Sorry, a few posts appeared in the meantime, that last post was @Crude.

Jarrett Cooper said...

@ Brandon,

Craig in his book God? A Debate between a Christian and an Atheist (and I assume elsewhere) notes, "[t]here are correct uses of authority and well as incorrect uses. It would be a sophomoric mistake to suppose that every appeal to authority is illegitimate, for the proper use of authority plays an indispensable role in the accumulation and application of knowledge. In order to count as evidence, the testimony must be from an honest and reliable authority on a matter in the person's field of expertise."

Russell said...

Brandon,

The appeal to authority is fallacious when the authority is Irrelevant, unreliable, unnecessary, dogmatic, or uncritical. The majority of the times that Craig quotes someone, they are coming from a different world view. In addition to this, he often offers other points to strengthen his case.

Crude said...

Brandon,

You're taking huge liberties with what he actually said, that it could be a plausible answer to certain questions...but that the possibility of evidence, and falsifiability, are not available...and as he specifically said, '...and that's the problem'. The same point he's made about String Theory.

No, Krauss said: ..the point is, I actually think Deism – the possible existence of a Divine Intelligence – is not an implausible postulate, and I won't argue against it. It could be. I mean, the universe is an amazing place. The question is, is there evidence for that? And that's we're (trying to debate, I think he said). So I think the possible existence of a divine intelligence is perfectly plausible, and addresses some of the perplexing issues associated with the beginning of the universe and it may indeed ultimately, um, we may find it's required. But the relationship between that and the specific God some people believe in here and the specific God some other people believe in here obviously is a problem, because not everybody can be right.

He further said that "Science is incompatible with the doctrines of every single religion, but it's not incompatible with deism."

Krauss is saying outright that he finds the existence of God plausible, and that he will not argue against a Deistic God. He's manifestly not saying that the existence of God is merely logically possible - he's calling it plausible. He's drawing the line of plausibility between the mere existence of God, and the God of specific religions.

But again, the bulk of Craig's efforts are aimed at establishing the mere existence of God.

Crude said...

Again, it's the difference between a scientist and a philosopher, and why it matters.

And just to point this out: How can you possibly say this given Krauss' take on String Theory? By Krauss' own estimation, there are plenty of scientists out there making unfalsifiable, metaphysical claims about the universe - and worse yet, passing it off as science. And if Craig is right, Krauss pretty much engaged in exactly that himself right up on stage (re: "physics of nothing").

Brandon said...

My previous comment wasn't posted, so I will try again by responding to both Jarrett Cooper and Russell at the same time.

When Craig appeals to the majority consensus about the 'facts' about the Resurrection, he's appealing to the historical aspects, but not the theological ones. The historical aspects in no way prove the theological conclusion, and that's the dishonest nature of the appeal. In no way does history lead to the conclusion that 'God raised Jesus from the dead'; that's a theological assumption, and one that Craig held long before he started trying to develop rational reasons to support it.

Crude said...

When Craig appeals to the majority consensus about the 'facts' about the Resurrection, he's appealing to the historical aspects, but not the theological ones. The historical aspects in no way prove the theological conclusion, and that's the dishonest nature of the appeal. In no way does history lead to the conclusion that 'God raised Jesus from the dead'; that's a theological assumption,

It does not on its own lead to the conclusion, but what in history does? It simply provides data that needs to be accounted for, and which can be called upon to support one conclusion or another. There's nothing dishonest whatsoever about appealing to the historical data relevant to the claim, or the consensus of scholars regarding those historical claims.

Brandon said...

Baloney. I can note that the majority of scholars believe that Mohammed existed, and that particular facts about him are true, without resorting to implying that the majority of scholars believe Mohammed was a divine prophet.

And since the majority of biblical scholars are Christian, the problem is even worse. It would be like me appealing to the fact that the majority of physicists are atheists as evidence that the universe has no divine origin.

Brandon said...

@Crude

This is my second response; this website's system is a little wonky.

Krauss articulated why Craig's metaphysical assumption about 'nothing' might be entirely incorrect; and indeed, Craig gives no evidence that 'nothing' was ever a state that preceded the Big Bang. It just favors his fallacious argument if he sets up the problem in a way that might not be true in the slightest. There's no reason to think that nothing is more likely than something, and therefore no reason to assume that a divine being must be the answer for why something exists.

Jarrett Cooper said...

@ Brandon,

I get where you're coming from, I really do.

However, what Crag does is note that these 'facts' concerning the resurrection are not supernatural in natural. There's nothing supernatural about an empty tomb, nor is it supernatural to say certain people believed to have seen the postmortem Jesus, nor is it supernatural to say that the first and original disciples so strongly believed that they had seen and experienced the risen Jesus that this belief helped to form what we would now call Christianity.

It's given these non-supernatural facts--facts that can be gathered by naturalistic historical methodology.

What Craig does given these non-supernatural facts is to argue as to what best makes sense of these facts. Craig would argue the explanation of God raising Jesus from the tomb best explains these facts better than any naturalistic explanation. Craig argues the God explanation of raising Jesus from the tomb has more explanatory power and scope than any naturalistic explanation--which are usually ad hoc and still don't really address the facts.

Crude said...

Baloney. I can note that the majority of scholars believe that Mohammed existed, and that particular facts about him are true, without resorting to implying that the majority of scholars believe Mohammed was a divine prophet.

If someone is trying to argue that Mohammed was a divine prophet, then - particular if it's questioned by some - providing evidence that yes, Mohammed did in fact exist (and various other data about Mohammed) would be relevant. The scholar's views on whether Mohammed was really a divine prophet or not wouldn't need to be called upon. (Really, that'd be outside their field anyway.)

It would be like me appealing to the fact that the majority of physicists are atheists as evidence that the universe has no divine origin.

Uh, Krauss did the equivalent several times during the debate. He talked about how most scientists think the universe is without purpose, etc. Granted, he claims to think God's existence is plausible - just not a God who intervenes, or who has a purpose for us.

Craig gives no evidence that 'nothing' was ever a state that preceded the Big Bang.

I think observation that leads to the conclusion that the universe began to exist, that the past is finite, etc, counts as evidence. You seem to be confusing 'evidence' with 'proof'. One can provide evidence for a claim without absolutely proving it to be true.

Brandon said...

Jarrett,

You sort of articulated the problem in your rebuttal...Craig is articulating the natural facts (which are highly debatable in the first place), but then using them to form a supernatural conclusion, when there are multiple natural conclusions that are more probable, given what we know about human nature. I could argue the facts about the Heaven's Gate cult, that the male members (most of them) castrated themselves because of their beliefs, and eventually committed suicide because they thought a UFO was coming behind the Hale-Bopp comet to take them to 'the next level'. It has no bearing on truth at all, because it's more likely, given what we know about human nature...that they were mistaken, for a variety of reasons. And that's in the very recent past, not 2000 years ago, when the earliest records we have are more than 200 years after the supposed events occurred, and written in an entirely different language, anonymously.

Apologetics is 'the defense of the faith', which is telling...it means, and is true time-and-time-again, that it is only convincing to those who already believe. Who's the last Christian you met that converted because of the Kaalam Cosmological Argument? It's mostly cultural, and the rationale is secondary and superflous. I know, because I was once a Christian on the same grounds.

Brandon said...

@Crude


"Uh, Krauss did the equivalent several times during the debate. He talked about how most scientists think the universe is without purpose, etc. Granted, he claims to think God's existence is plausible - just not a God who intervenes, or who has a purpose for us."

He didn't appeal to it being plausible as the most likely explanation, his point was that it's plausible merely by not being falsifiable. The same point he makes by invoking the multiverse, which, to my understanding, he's not a proponent of. He's making that very point.



"I think observation that leads to the conclusion that the universe began to exist, that the past is finite, etc, counts as evidence. You seem to be confusing 'evidence' with 'proof'. One can provide evidence for a claim without absolutely proving it to be true."

The point I've made repeatedly here is that simply because we can say the universe began to exist, that we can surmise that what preceded it was 'nothing', in the sense Craig means, is something for which there is no evidence at all, and not even a fair assumption. He merely uses this argument in order to set up the idea that 'God must be the reason'. That doesn't follow, at all, because the premise is faulty.

Crude said...

He didn't appeal to it being plausible as the most likely explanation, his point was that it's plausible merely by not being falsifiable. The same point he makes by invoking the multiverse, which, to my understanding, he's not a proponent of. He's making that very point.

No, "plausible" does not mean "not falsifiable". Just look up what the word plausible means. Maybe your argument here is that Krauss doesn't know what plausible means.

The point I've made repeatedly here is that simply because we can say the universe began to exist, that we can surmise that what preceded it was 'nothing', in the sense Craig means, is something for which there is no evidence at all, and not even a fair assumption.

Part of Craig's argument is that there was no "nothing" preceding the universe temporally - it's simply that the universe did, in fact, begin to exist, and that it thus needed a cause, and then what that cause could be.

Now, someone could argue with Craig over what the cause could be, or perhaps whether a cause was needed at all. But that the universe began to exist is Craig's point, and that's a point that can be supplied with evidence.

Krauss' response seems to be one of apparent logical possibility re: nothing. That "nothing is unstable", that things can come into existence utterly without cause from nothingness, etc. Think for a moment, by the way, on how science could ever reach that conclusion.

In other words, are you going to come down on Krauss for making arguments about what "nothing" is capable of? You're saying there's no evidence at all for this "nothing". Krauss was either very confused, or was talking about the physical properties and potentialities of "nothing".

Jarrett Cooper said...

@ Brandon,

I disagree with your sentiment that these natural facts are highly debatable. They certainly can be debatable (just about anything can be!), but there is a consensus among New Testament scholars with regards to those facts. This consensus includes people from all stripes of faith, or lack thereof. Gerd Lüdemann, for example, is an agnostic and he firmly attests to those facts that Craig cites.

Our earliest datings for the Gospels are as early as the 50s. Our earliest writings are from Saul (Paul) of Tarsus. To paraphrase/quote Larry Hurtado, it's incorrect to confuse the date of the composition with the date of the copies. There's a whole field called textual criticism, which investigates the trustworthy-ness of the documents that make up the New Testament. This field of study says that the texts we have today are some 99% accurate.

To quote Norman L. Geisler & Abdul Salee in their book Chapters In The History Of New Testament Textual Criticism writes, "By comparison with the New Testament, most other books from the ancient world are not nearly so well authenticated. The well-known New Testament scholar Bruce Metzger estimated that the Mahabharata of Hinduism is copied with only about 90 percent accuracy and Homer's Iliad with about 95 percent. By comparison, he estimated the New Testament is about 99.5 percent accurate. So the New Testament text can be reconstructed with over 99 percent accuracy. And, what is more, 100 percent of the message of the New Testament has been preserved in its manuscripts!"

Jarrett Cooper said...

Dang, I just wrote a reply to Brandon--it showed up but is now gone.

Hopefully, it will reappear. Just in case it doesn't--I'll recall what I wrote:

Brandon, I disagree with your sentiment that these natural facts are highly debatable. They can certainly be debatable (anything can be!), but there is a consensus among New Testament scholar about those facts. Gerd Lüdemann, for example, is an agnostic New Testament scholar and he attests to the facts the Craig cites.

Our earliest dating from the New Testament come as early as the 50s. Saul (Paul) of Tarsus is the one we get our earliest writings. To quote/paraphrase Larry Hurtado (a NT scholar), it is incorrect to confuse the dates of the compositions of the documents with the dates of the copies. Also, there is a whole field called textual criticism, which investigates the trustworthiness of the New Testament. We can be confident that the New Testament we have today is some 95%-99% accurate.

Geisler and Abdul Saleeb in their book Chapters In The History Of New Testament Textual Criticism writes, "By comparison with the New Testament, most other books from the ancient world are not nearly so well authenticated. The well-known New Testament scholar Bruce Metzger estimated that the Mahabharata of Hinduism is copied with only about 90 percent accuracy and Homer's Iliad with about 95 percent. By comparison, he estimated the New Testament is about 99.5 percent accurate. So the New Testament text can be reconstructed with over 99 percent accuracy." Scholars actually know the Greek language (the New Testament was written in Koine Greek) well and Koine Greek was a dominant language. This should be no obstacle for someone.

I've read testimonies by people that said they came to believe in God through such argumentation (apologetics). You'll have to forgive me that I don't get out that much and when I do I don't really question people on such things.

Jarrett Cooper said...

Excuse me. The book Chapters In The History Of New Testament Textual Criticism is written by Bruce Metzger, but the quote, nonetheless, comes from Geisler and Abdul Saleeb. My mistake. :(

Brandon said...

@crude

"No, "plausible" does not mean "not falsifiable". Just look up what the word plausible means. Maybe your argument here is that Krauss doesn't know what plausible means."

I think 'seeming reasonable' is appropriate. You can have several different plausible solutions to a single problem, however...and you still have work to do. A Deist god is plausible, but I don't believe in one. It could be plausible, but entirely false. Would you agree?


"Part of Craig's argument is that there was no "nothing" preceding the universe temporally - it's simply that the universe did, in fact, begin to exist, and that it thus needed a cause, and then what that cause could be."

Right. So where does the part about 'nothing' enter the picture? Literal non-existence of anything at all. Why is that even being presented? The best we can do after admitting that the universe began is to try and figure out how...what Craig wants to do is present a false dichotomy; that if atheists don't believe God did it, then they must believe that it came out of a state of complete nothingness. It may be that Craig's philosophical version of 'nothing' is merely a false concept, and that the old question, 'Why is there something instead of nothing?' should warrant the response, 'Why should there be nothing instead of something?'. A complete absence of anything is not a state we can assume to have 'existed'. See how weird it gets to speak of Craig's 'nothing'? We're already talking about it like it's something.



"Now, someone could argue with Craig over what the cause could be, or perhaps whether a cause was needed at all. But that the universe began to exist is Craig's point, and that's a point that can be supplied with evidence."

And that's a point I think we all agree on...the universe began to exist. But Craig's dichotomy does not follow from that fact.



"Krauss' response seems to be one of apparent logical possibility re: nothing. That "nothing is unstable", that things can come into existence utterly without cause from nothingness, etc. Think for a moment, by the way, on how science could ever reach that conclusion."

Krauss and Craig are using different definitions. The whole point is that Craig's definition of nothing may have no basis at all, and that physics has already shown that even if all the matter we normally refer to as 'something' is removed...it still doesn't leave us with a state of non-existence. Krauss' scientific version of the term may be as close to Craig's philosphical version as reality gets. Hence his phrase, 'Nothing isn't really nothing'...making the distinction I'm referring to.

If you haven't seen it already, watch Krauss' talk on YouTube called 'A Universe From Nothing' for clarification.

Crude said...

I think 'seeming reasonable' is appropriate. You can have several different plausible solutions to a single problem, however...and you still have work to do. A Deist god is plausible, but I don't believe in one. It could be plausible, but entirely false. Would you agree?

Sure, it's entirely possible that something could be plausible yet (in the end) false. But Craig is attempting to establish the plausibility of God existing - and (so long as that God does not intervene) Krauss seems to concede that. That's a pretty big concession.

Craig isn't worried about the sheer logical possibility of being wrong, anymore than anyone else is.

And that's a point I think we all agree on...the universe began to exist. But Craig's dichotomy does not follow from that fact.

What "dichotomy"? That if the universe began to exist then it either did or did not have a cause, and if it did have a cause then that strongly implies a first cause?

Krauss' scientific version of the term may be as close to Craig's philosphical version as reality gets. Hence his phrase, 'Nothing isn't really nothing'...making the distinction I'm referring to.

But if "the universe began to exist", that also applies to Krauss' "special scientific nothing". It too is part of the universe. But if the universe had a beginning, then it was either caused or uncaused. And if it was caused, then it wasn't by itself - unless someone wants to go for logical incoherence (which perhaps Krauss is going for with 'the universe is not logical'.) By the same token, if one can get "closer" to Craig's definition of nothing at all, then it stands that evidence can be brought for Craig's definition after all. I doubt Craig would balk at the idea that philosophy gets to answers science is, by the nature of the enterprise, incapable of getting to.

Read Vilenkin's "Many Worlds in One". Even he recognizes that if the universe truly did have a beginning, then we're lead to entertaining such ideas as what pre-existed (not temporally) the universe. Vilenkin speculates "the laws of nature" did, but then goes on to at least admit that that sounds downright odd (Laws of nature are supposed to be descriptive only. Yet if they have real existence, where and how? Vilenkin himself, briefly, mentions a mind as a possibility.)

Brandon said...

@crude


"Sure, it's entirely possible that something could be plausible yet (in the end) false. But Craig is attempting to establish the plausibility of God existing - and (so long as that God does not intervene) Krauss seems to concede that. That's a pretty big concession."

I don't consider that a big concession...it's not as if unbelievers have committed themselves to the premise that 'no supernatural being could possibly exist, no matter how it is defined'. That still doesn't give us reason to believe that one does. Would Craig admit that the multiverse is plausible, even though we might have no way to know?



"What "dichotomy"? That if the universe began to exist then it either did or did not have a cause, and if it did have a cause then that strongly implies a first cause?"

The dichotomy he consistently goes for is that once we admit that the universe began (which is something we all pretty much agree on), then it means that either something caused it, or it came out of 'nothing'. Since he defines nothing in the philosophical sense, then he thinks he's created this knock-down argument that results in 'there must be a supernatural being that caused it'. Wrong. There might not have ever been a state of nothingness (again, not in the physics sense, but the philosophical one)...indeed, the very idea is confused the moment you start talking about it, because it's not an 'it' to begin with. 'It' does not exist. 'It' is total nonexistence of anything at all. The fact that the universe began only necessitates a cause for the universe, but it does NOT necessitate a 'first cause', before which there could not have been another cause. It could very well be that something has always existed (he appeals to God in that manner), but we don't know one way or the other. But non-believers, like myself, do not hold to the premise that the Big Bang either occurred from total nothingness, or a God created it. That's a false dichotomy, in my opinion...it's a premise he's created for the sole purpose of making his appeal to God seem like the only answer. And it isn't.



"But if "the universe began to exist", that also applies to Krauss' "special scientific nothing"."

Not true. You're talking about the universe as if it's the only one, and therefore has no prior precedent. And you have no way of knowing that; it's a bare assertion, designed to lead one to the God conclusion. Craig knows exactly what he's doing with this.




"It too is part of the universe. But if the universe had a beginning, then it was either caused or uncaused. And if it was caused, then it wasn't by itself"

Exactly. It could have been caused by a prior universe collapsing, it could be part of a multiverse, and it could be the results of natural laws that have always existed in a vacuum space from which our universe sprang. You cannot just hand-wave those possibilities away, any more than I can hand-wave away the possibility of a Deist god. At best, you can say, 'we just don't know'. But Craig, like many apologists, goes from 'since you don't know, I DO know'.



"By the same token, if one can get "closer" to Craig's definition of nothing at all, then it stands that evidence can be brought for Craig's definition after all."

What would the evidence be for 'nothing'? Think about how confused that is. If it's 'nothing', then it can have no evidence. My point remains...we have no reason to think that Craig's nothing is even a possibility, and that's exactly why he defines it in that manner; to make non-belief in God seem like it's based on a childish premise that non-believers don't even hold. Such is the nature of trying to win debates, instead of trying to determine what's true.

Maynard said...

Another great review here: http://jwwartick.com/2011/04/01/krauss-craig/

Crude said...

I don't consider that a big concession...it's not as if unbelievers have committed themselves to the premise that 'no supernatural being could possibly exist, no matter how it is defined'.

Have they committed themselves to the premise that "it's implausible that any God exists"? Or are all atheists closet deists now?

Since he defines nothing in the philosophical sense, then he thinks he's created this knock-down argument that results in 'there must be a supernatural being that caused it'.

Craig deploys a number of arguments, philosophical and scientific, and at no point claims that he's proven God's existence beyond a shadow of a doubt. That's not his aim, and frankly if you think it is you're misinformed. He's interested in establishing, yet again, plausibility.

You say it's bare assertion that the universe began to exist? Really? Again, you must have it in for Krauss then, because he's not denying that this is plausible.

Exactly. It could have been caused by a prior universe collapsing, it could be part of a multiverse, and it could be the results of natural laws that have always existed in a vacuum space from which our universe sprang. You cannot just hand-wave those possibilities away, any more than I can hand-wave away the possibility of a Deist god.

Craig doesn't 'hand-wave' these possibilities away - he addresses them outright and offers up other arguments related to them. The idea that the universe came into being uncaused is a joke for anyone who praises science. The idea of an infinite past has problems associated it (which Craig mentions.) The claim that the cause was an atemporal, personal being is supported by arguments - but Craig does not say, nor try to, establish this as proven true on the order of "2+2=4". Did you not hear him at the start of the debate? It's about what's more rational to believe given the weight of the evidence, the arguments, etc.

What would the evidence be for 'nothing'? Think about how confused that is.

What would be evidence that the universe came into being? Cosmological data for one. Philosophical arguments.

You'd be doing a better job of defending non-believers from the claims of believing in childish nonsense if you'd stop misconstruing Craig's approach and claims. He's pretty open about the alternative possibilities, and gives his reasons for rejecting them or thinking them unlikely. Can you stomach the possibility that people who disagree with you may have good, rational reasons to do so?

Brandon said...

@crude

"Have they committed themselves to the premise that "it's implausible that any God exists"? Or are all atheists closet deists now?"

As you already admitted, a problem can have more than one plausible answer, and seemingly plausible answers can be false. Nobody says that a Deist god wouldn't answer certain questions, but that's a far cry from believing that one exists. We've had a decent discussion so far, so cutesy comments like that one are a letdown.






"You say it's bare assertion that the universe began to exist? Really? Again, you must have it in for Krauss then, because he's not denying that this is plausible."

No, you're not listening to me. I'm saying it's a bare assertion that 'nothing' could have ever existed, and hence that the dichotomy he tries rely on is bogus. The fact that the universe began to exist has a cause...yes. That does not imply 'God or nothing'.




"The idea that the universe came into being uncaused is a joke for anyone who praises science."

There's a difference between not knowing what the cause was, and calling that 'uncaused'. I don't think the universe was uncaused, and I don't recall Krauss making that claim, either.



"The idea of an infinite past has problems associated it (which Craig mentions.)"

So God has not always existed?



"The claim that the cause was an atemporal, personal being is supported by arguments - but Craig does not say, nor try to, establish this as proven true on the order of "2+2=4"."

This relies on the idea of Cartesian Dualism, that minds are independent, abstract things. While Craig is free to believe that, I do not find it convincing at all.



:What would be evidence that the universe came into being? Cosmological data for one. Philosophical arguments."

Right, and we don't disagree that the universe came into being. We disagree on the limitations of how that could have happened.



"You'd be doing a better job of defending non-believers from the claims of believing in childish nonsense if you'd stop misconstruing Craig's approach and claims. He's pretty open about the alternative possibilities, and gives his reasons for rejecting them or thinking them unlikely. Can you stomach the possibility that people who disagree with you may have good, rational reasons to do so?"

Of course I can, and you seem a bit testy about all of this. While I think that Craig could have rational reasons for his belief, I do not think he does. If you listen to him tell his story about his conversion, it had nothing to do with the arguments he makes now to support it...which is almost always the case, in my experience.

Brian Auten said...

Concerning the comments about the probability of the resurrection hypothesis, Dr. Craig has just answered this on his weekly Q&A found here.

Jason said...

Brandon -

I took the liberty of asking Craig about your "magic quarter" objection, and he was kind enough to reply. I've attached his response below.

Dr. Craig -

I followed your recent debate with Lawrence Krauss, and as usual the debate was very one-sided in favor of the arguments you presented. I reading a review and comments on the debate at http://apologetics315.blogspot.com/2011/03/william-lane-craig-vs-lawrence-krauss.html, one commenter objected to your comments concerning the resurrection of Jesus with the following comments:

"I was particularly embarrased for Craig, who I actually admire in many ways, for resorting again to one of the worst defenses he has ever used, in regard to Jesus' resurrection. The argument that, 'It's only improbable if Jesus were raised by NATURAL means, but if GOD did it, then it's not so improbable'. This is no different than me stating that I have a magic quarter in my pocket that allows me to run 5 times faster than a cheetah...and if you doubt it, I simply state that, 'It's only improbable if it's an ordinary quarter...but I said it's a MAGIC quarter!'. That does not increase the probability of the argument...you cannot pre-suppose the existence of an all-powerful being in order to prove the existence of an all-powerful being... you could immediately demand that I show you how fast I can run with my magic quarter...but you can never falsify appeals to an all-powerful, mysterious, hidden God. It has no bearing on reality."

How would you respond to his comment?

Regards,

Jason
USA


Dr. Craig responds:

No need for embarrassment, Jason! The commentator is quite mistaken.

The person who helped me see the difference between the hypothesis that Jesus rose naturally from the dead vs. the hypothesis that God raised Jesus from the dead was Greg Cavin, a critic of the resurrection. We are asking here about the probability of Jesus’ resurrection given our general background information apart from any specific evidence like the empty tomb, post-mortem appearances, etc. Greg pointed out to me that the hypothesis “Jesus rose from the dead” is ambiguous: it could mean either that he rose from the dead by purely natural causes or that he rose by some supernatural cause. The former is agreed on all hands to be absurdly improbable. That could drag down the probability of the hypothesis “Jesus rose from the dead.” But suppose we differentiate that hypothesis from the hypothesis “God raised Jesus from the dead.” Is that hypothesis improbable?

Well, that probability will be determined by the probability of God’s existence and the probability that God would raise Jesus from the dead:

P (R|B) = P (R|G) x P (G|B)

where R = God raised Jesus from the dead; G = God exists; and B = background information. So the person who thinks that the probability of the resurrection hypothesis is low has to show that either the probability of God’s existence is low or that the probability that God would raise Jesus is low. But I doubt that we can say with any confidence that the probability that God would raise Jesus is low; nor do I think it can be shown that the probability of God’s existence is low relative to our background information. In any case, Krauss and I had agreed to suspend judgement in this debate on such probabilities, asking only about whether God’s existence is more probable given certain facts than otherwise. Therefore, Krauss could not justifiably assert that the resurrection is improbable. It should be clear that because the probabilities involved are conditional, there is no assumption that God actually exists, as our commentator seems to suppose.

The problem with the commentator’s analogy is obvious: the probability of a magic quarter P (MQ|B) is absurdly low; indeed, the idea is scarcely intelligible. But the existence of God is not; or at least the unbeliever will be obligated to show that it is.

Brandon said...

Jason, thanks for the reply...here's my response to Dr. Craig:


"We are asking here about the probability of Jesus’ resurrection given our general background information apart from any specific evidence like the empty tomb, post-mortem appearances, etc. Greg pointed out to me that the hypothesis “Jesus rose from the dead” is ambiguous: it could mean either that he rose from the dead by purely natural causes or that he rose by some supernatural cause. The former is agreed on all hands to be absurdly improbable. That could drag down the probability of the hypothesis “Jesus rose from the dead.” But suppose we differentiate that hypothesis from the hypothesis “God raised Jesus from the dead.” Is that hypothesis improbable?

Well, that probability will be determined by the probability of God’s existence and the probability that God would raise Jesus from the dead:

P (R|B) = P (R|G) x P (G|B)

where R = God raised Jesus from the dead; G = God exists; and B = background information. So the person who thinks that the probability of the resurrection hypothesis is low has to show that either the probability of God’s existence is low or that the probability that God would raise Jesus is low."

This is Dr. Craig's attempt to shift the burden of proof, as if the moment he appeals to an all-powerful, supernatural being...it's plausible unless I can show that it isn't. That's not how it works, unless Dr. Craig's argument is aimed at people who already hold the assumption to be true (believers). My magic quarter is no different...as long as we assume the existence of magic, or magic quarters...then it's not improbable that I can run faster than a cheetah (as long as I have my magic quarter).


"But I doubt that we can say with any confidence that the probability that God would raise Jesus is low; nor do I think it can be shown that the probability of God’s existence is low relative to our background information. In any case, Krauss and I had agreed to suspend judgement in this debate on such probabilities, asking only about whether God’s existence is more probable given certain facts than otherwise. Therefore, Krauss could not justifiably assert that the resurrection is improbable. It should be clear that because the probabilities involved are conditional, there is no assumption that God actually exists, as our commentator seems to suppose."

If there is no assumption that God actually exists in Craig's argument, then the claim that 'GOD raised Jesus from the dead' immediately begs the question, 'Does God exist'? Since that's a necessary assumption to make his idea more plausible than a natural resurrection, he's assuming (at least part of) what he's trying to prove. It is no more probable than my magic quarter, as long as you assume the existence of magic quarters.


"The problem with the commentator’s analogy is obvious: the probability of a magic quarter P (MQ|B) is absurdly low; indeed, the idea is scarcely intelligible. But the existence of God is not; or at least the unbeliever will be obligated to show that it is."

Not at all, because the burden of proof is on the one making the claim. The claim Dr. Craig made was that God raising Jesus from the dead was more plausible than the claim that Jesus rose naturally. And if he gets to appeal to supernatural forces as a more probable explanation (How did God do it? With his supernatural powers, aka 'magic'), then I can appeal to magic in the same manner.

So, is my claim that I can run faster than a cheetah more probable, if I appeal to a magic quarter instead of a natural one? This is no less intelligible than appealing to a supernatural God, unless Dr. Craig thinks that since we've been appealing to God for centuries, bot not magic quarters...that it's on firmer ground.

What's the numerical value for G in his equation, and how did he come up with that number?

Brandon said...

Jason, I had typed a reply to Dr. Craig, and it showed up...and now it's gone. I may try again later, but this has happened multiple times here, and is very irritating.

Brandon said...

Hey, it came back! My magic quarter also resurrects dead web posts. ;)

Brian Auten said...

It got caught in the spam filter. I had to resurrect it - it didn't resurrect naturally. : )

Brandon said...

Touche', Brian. And thank you. :)

Charles said...

I've listened to a number of Dr Craig's debates and his arguments are slick and practised but unconvincing if you don't already believe in God. I'm not an atheist by the way (but I don't believe in a personal God).

If you accept the basic premise that something doesn't come out of nothing there's no real reason to conclude that the "something" that produced the universe was a God. You can do so of course but the position "we don't know what produced the universe" is just as reasonable given the premise.

What Craig always leaves out of account is our limited knowledge and particular way of perceiving reality. It seems fairly certain that what we don't know about the universe is far greater than what we do know and in these circumstances all statements and conclusions on the big questions must be conditional and cirumscribed. Unless of course you believe, before you begin to contruct the argument, that you already have the answers.

And a comment on the resurrection argument. Krauss said quite reasonably that resurrection from the dead is not a part of our experience. There are no reliable or proven reports that anyone has been resurrected (by natural or any other means). If it were the case that there were verified occurences of resurrection then Craig's argument would have some merit. The appeal to the empty tomb and the reports of witnesses to the post mortem Christ only make sense if you already believe in the resurrection.

Of course, in the end, the problem is that Christians don't believe because of argument or evidence. The belief can of course come from experience as does Craig's apparently. I have no quarrel with this but I'd prefer it if he'd explain the nature of his experience and his resulting faith and leave it at that.

bossmanham said...

Brandon, it would be your job to show that the value of G should be low. But, if you recall, that wasn't the issue of the debate.

Brandon said...

Bossmanham, the burden of proof is always on the one making the claim. If a person invokes a supernatural being to support a hypothesis, it is not my job to disprove supernatural beings. That's entirely backward.

If the Resurrection is brought up as an evidence for God, then one must first show that Jesus was actually resurrected, to the exclusion of multiple other possibilities, and even then...would still have to show that 'God did it'. Since God, by definition, 'could' do anything at all, then there's no way to say what is probable or not. No matter how absurd a claim might be, God could be invoked to save it.

Would Dr. Craig like to plug some numbers into that equation, and explain how he came up with them? What's the value of G, and how was it determined?

Likewise, if I change the 'G' to a 'W', for Wizard, what happens then? Do you have to disprove wizards?

Crude said...

As you already admitted, a problem can have more than one plausible answer, and seemingly plausible answers can be false. Nobody says that a Deist god wouldn't answer certain questions, but that's a far cry from believing that one exists. We've had a decent discussion so far, so cutesy comments like that one are a letdown.

The point is that agreeing that God's bare existence is "plausible" is a concession to Craig. That bare existence's plausibility composes the lion's share of what WLC is after with Kalam, etc.

As for the cutesy comments, you're guilty of some yourself. Roll with 'em.

No, you're not listening to me. I'm saying it's a bare assertion that 'nothing' could have ever existed, and hence that the dichotomy he tries rely on is bogus. The fact that the universe began to exist has a cause...yes. That does not imply 'God or nothing'.

If it's conceded that the universe began to exist, and that this beginning had a cause, you do end up with the conversation of what could be responsible for this - and thus, yes, you do get 'God' (The bare deity) implied, as traditionally understood.

There's a difference between not knowing what the cause was, and calling that 'uncaused'. I don't think the universe was uncaused, and I don't recall Krauss making that claim, either.

Krauss does question causality applying to the beginning of the universe itself. But if he questions it there, he can question it anywhere.

So God has not always existed?

Since when is it claimed that God is temporal? Mormons claim this, perhaps. Craig argues that God became temporal at the start of the universe, I think, but that previously temporality did not apply to God. Others argue God is not, and indeed cannot, be in "in time" so the question of having "always existed" doesn't work.

This relies on the idea of Cartesian Dualism, that minds are independent, abstract things. While Craig is free to believe that, I do not find it convincing at all.

No, it doesn't rely on cartesian dualism. You're free to disagree with Craig, but I'm pointing out just what he's trying to establish, and how he tries to establish it.

Of course I can, and you seem a bit testy about all of this. While I think that Craig could have rational reasons for his belief, I do not think he does. If you listen to him tell his story about his conversion, it had nothing to do with the arguments he makes now to support it...which is almost always the case, in my experience.

While Richard Dawkins and other atheists frequently attest to deciding God does not exist at the wise age of 12. But Craig didn't try to argue from his conversion experience in his debate with Krauss. As for my being testy, not really - I just am pointing out your deficiencies on this topic. You really don't seem to understand what Craig is attempting to establish or argue for. Sorry if pointing that out irks you but hey, it's the case.

bossmanham said...

Brandon,

Bossmanham, the burden of proof is always on the one making the claim.

Can you prove that claim? ;)

And aren't you are making the claim that the value of G is low? Craig's point is that's the only way to show that the P(R|B) is low.

If the Resurrection is brought up as an evidence for God, then one must first show that Jesus was actually resurrected, to the exclusion of multiple other possibilities

Except Craig went through several of the other explanations, and they all fail to conform to the facts presented regarding the resurrection.

Since God, by definition, 'could' do anything at all

No learned person claims that. Omnipotence is the ability to do anything that is logically possible, not anything at all.

Brandon said...

@Crude

"The point is that agreeing that God's bare existence is "plausible" is a concession to Craig. That bare existence's plausibility composes the lion's share of what WLC is after with Kalam, etc."

It's not a concession, unless you held the idea that being an atheist means an absolute position that no possible God could exist, regardless of definition. It still gives us no reason to think that one does, any more than a multiverse, or other ideas that are beyond disproof. This gives us no reason to believe a Deist God exists, simply because it isn't self-contradictory.


"As for the cutesy comments, you're guilty of some yourself. Roll with 'em."

Haha, fair enough.


"If it's conceded that the universe began to exist, and that this beginning had a cause, you do end up with the conversation of what could be responsible for this - and thus, yes, you do get 'God' (The bare deity) implied, as traditionally understood."

And you get other possibilities, that may also not be subject to disproof. Should we leap to a conclusion, or continue to look for answers through observation and testing? Should we have stuck with William Paley's Watchmaker argument, too?


"Since when is it claimed that God is temporal? Mormons claim this, perhaps. Craig argues that God became temporal at the start of the universe, I think, but that previously temporality did not apply to God. Others argue God is not, and indeed cannot, be in "in time" so the question of having "always existed" doesn't work."

Well, sure. Once we've started by defining him as having the power to do anything non-contradictory, then you can shift the goalpost at any time you like. Any problem that the universe seems to have can be wiped out by saying no more than, 'Well, no problem applies to God, because he's all-powerful and has mysterious motives'. It's not a solution, it's a punting of the problems. *Was there a point in which God existed, but the universe did not?*


"No, it doesn't rely on cartesian dualism. You're free to disagree with Craig, but I'm pointing out just what he's trying to establish, and how he tries to establish it."

It most certainly relies on the idea that minds are independent, abstract things that really exist. That's what he appeals to as the cause.


"While Richard Dawkins and other atheists frequently attest to deciding God does not exist at the wise age of 12. But Craig didn't try to argue from his conversion experience in his debate with Krauss. As for my being testy, not really - I just am pointing out your deficiencies on this topic. You really don't seem to understand what Craig is attempting to establish or argue for. Sorry if pointing that out irks you but hey, it's the case."

Being an atheist only involves not believing in theism. As much as Craig tries to shift the burden of proof (expecting others to prove atheism, as if they're all 'strong atheists'), it doesn't take a claim at all to doubt in deities. Yes, I'm aware of Craig's approach, which involves invoking a Deist God until he thinks he's convinced listeners of those assertions, and then moving on to a personal God that has nothing to do with the Deistic principles he previously appealed to. Bait-and-switch.

Brandon said...

@bossmanham

"Can you prove that claim? ;)"

Do you think that really just reversed the burden of proof? Until a claim is made, there's nothing to talk about. Once it's made, it has to be established by the person making it...it does not become accepted until disproven. If that were how things worked, I could make two contradictory claims about the cause of the universe, and just sit back while I watch you try to disprove one of them. And if they were both beyond disproof, would I have established them, despite the contradiction?

How does your version of courts of law work...guilty until proven innocent?


"And aren't you are making the claim that the value of G is low? Craig's point is that's the only way to show that the P(R|B) is low."

The claim begins with Craig, by bringing up the equation (and God) to begin with. I haven't seen a reason to assume that God is probable, and I would LOVE to see him put an actual number in there, and explain how he arrived at the value. I don't think his audience cares. It has the illusion of validity, and that's all that one needs in the type of debates he's so successful in. Let's get him up in front of an auditorium full of phycisists, instead of a church...and see how that argument goes over.


"Except Craig went through several of the other explanations, and they all fail to conform to the facts presented regarding the resurrection."

First of all, his facts are not as factual as he tries to assert, and the 'majority of scholars' approach is tiresome. The majority of scholars believe in Evolution, but Craig does not. We have no way to know if the tomb was empty, and even if it was, there are many more probable explanations for that. Craig seems to think that appealing to supernatural power is a real argument, for some reason. You can use it to escape an obvious dilemma, like I did by appealing to a magic quarter to 'affirm' that it's probable I can run 5 times faster than a cheetah. Don't believe me? It's magic.


"No learned person claims that. Omnipotence is the ability to do anything that is logically possible, not anything at all."

I thought that was already obvious to both of us. Of course I'm not including things that are self-contradictory. But we're just trading one misunderstanding for another at that point, and calling it an answer that is justified by magic powers and mysterious motives.

ChristianJR4 said...

Brandon says:
"The majority of scholars believe in Evolution, but Craig does not."

He doesn't disbelieve in it either. He's an agnostic about it. Craig has explained his seemingly contradictory stance about using appeals to authority in other areas and rejecting it when it comes to evolution. It has more to do with one's philosophical worldview than it has to do with simply the evidence in favor of it, but that's another topic for another day.

Brandon says:

"You can use it to escape an obvious dilemma, like I did by appealing to a magic quarter to 'affirm' that it's probable I can run 5 times faster than a cheetah. Don't believe me? It's magic"

I thought Craig answered this point. The probability of you running 5 times faster than a cheetah with your ridiculous magic quarter is absurdly low. Why? Because, as Craig rightly pointed out, the P (MQ|B) is extremely low. Almost everyone would regard the probability of such a magic quarter on the present background information as extraordinarily low. With respect to God, however, most people on Earth, including a great many intellectuals, would not say the same for God. P (G|B) is at least debatable. P(MQ|B) is not. Also, you totally missed the point about the Resurrection hypothesis. The hypothesis isn't appealing to God in order to save the Resurrection hypothesis (that would indeed be circular). It's appealing to "the best explanation" in order to explain a historical event. This is what is typically used among historians in order to determine the best historical explanation of some event. The idea here is that the Resurrection hypothesis "God raised Jesus from the dead" provides the best explanation and therefore ought to be accepted as the best historical explanation. If that explanation is accepted, then obviously it follows as a simple logical deduction that God exists which therefore provides evidence for his existence. So as you should now be able to see, there is no assumption here that God exists. The argument simply allows for the possibility, which is normal in a debate about the evidence for his existence. Now of course you could go back and argue that God's existence given the background information is low, but as Craig again rightly pointed out, that wasn't what he and Dr. Krauss were arguing about. They weren't debating the prior probability of God's existence.

Brandon said...

@ChristianJR4

“He doesn't disbelieve in it either (evolution). He's an agnostic about it."

You mean he believes it’s unknowable, the definition of agnosticism? Or the popularized version, ‘I’m not sure one way or the other’?

I thought that he had thrown his hat in with Intelligent Design, but if he has expressed doubts about ID in favor of Evolution (and not Creationism) at times, then I would be pleasantly surprised. But the point was that his appeal to the majority of scholars isn’t relevant to the claim, ‘the most probable explanation is that God raised Jesus from the dead’, the conclusion he’s after by appealing to the supposed 5 facts.



“Craig has explained his seemingly contradictory stance about using appeals to authority in other areas and rejecting it when it comes to evolution. It has more to do with one's philosophical worldview than it has to do with simply the evidence in favor of it, but that's another topic for another day.”

Are you seriously suggesting that assent to Evolution is based more on ideology than evidence, and that Dr. Craig’s suggestion ‘God raised Jesus from the dead’ is more evidence-based than ideological? I hope I misunderstood you. Maybe you meant it's philosophical objections Craig has.



“I thought Craig answered this point. The probability of you running 5 times faster than a cheetah with your ridiculous magic quarter is absurdly low. Why? Because, as Craig rightly pointed out, the P (MQ|B) is extremely low. Almost everyone would regard the probability of such a magic quarter on the present background information as extraordinarily low. With respect to God, however, most people on Earth, including a great many intellectuals, would not say the same for God. P (G|B) is at least debatable. P(MQ|B) is not.”

The number of people that believe in something has no bearing on its probability, which seems to be the implication here. The fact that the majority of people believe in God does not make the claim, ‘God raised Jesus from the dead’ more probable (indeed, the majority of people do not believe that). Nor does making a distinction between a natural resurrection and a supernatural one. I haven’t heard a single reason why my magic quarter has an extremely low probability. Remember, it’s not a natural quarter, which is the only type you’ve ever seen to form your background information.

(continued)

Brandon said...

(continued)

“Also, you totally missed the point about the Resurrection hypothesis. The hypothesis isn't appealing to God in order to save the Resurrection hypothesis (that would indeed be circular). It's appealing to "the best explanation" in order to explain a historical event. This is what is typically used among historians in order to determine the best historical explanation of some event. The idea here is that the Resurrection hypothesis "God raised Jesus from the dead" provides the best explanation and therefore ought to be accepted as the best historical explanation.”

One of the few debates I think Craig visibly lost was with Bart Ehrman, who made the important distinction between historical and theological claims, and that’s what applies to this paragraph. If you haven’t seen it, I will elaborate...suffice to say in short form, that history can only assess what probably happened, and a miracle is by definition the least probable of any occurrence. But to get to the point of invoking God as the most probable explanation, one has to accept that Jesus actually rose from the dead. Craig’s argument between a natural resurrection and a supernatural one assumes this, and expects everyone to go along with the assumption. It’s certainly tailored for his audience, and in that sense, I cannot fault him for trying to be convincing.

My appeal to a magic quarter is intentionally absurd on the level that nobody invokes magic quarters; that’s the point. Would it help if I formulate the argument in regard to aliens visiting earth in spaceships? I mean that sincerely, because the magic quarter appeals to no intelligence, which is why you think it’s intuitively absurd, I presume. If so, then I made my point, and would be willing to elaborate.

I appreciate the discussion with everyone here, honestly.

Charles said...

I'm wondering from the Christian point of view whether it's more important to engage with non-Christians or to "win" debates. You may feel that Craig does indeed often win but is he convincing for non-Christians. In his debate with Hitchens for example I felt Craig simply didn't get the points Hitchens was making - Hitchens was arguing that the Christian narrative doesn't make sense (I can elaborate on this if anybody is interested). Certainly listening to Craig talking about that debate he heard very little that Hitchens said because the argument wasn't presented in a format he recognised. Similarly with Krauss, Craig came across as someone who felt he had nothing to learn from a leading physicist.

As the saying goes we have one mouth and two ears and these faculties should be used proportionately.

Olivia said...

If you are interested in Krauss' commentary on the debate, check it out here:
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/04/lawrence_krauss_vs_william_lan.php

Sola Ratione said...

If anyone is interested in an analysis of how Craig 'set up' the debate so that it would be a foregone conclusion in his favour, see this post:
http://rationesola.blogspot.com/2011/04/william-l-craig-debates-undebatable.html

Chad Phillips said...

It seems to me that people like Dawkins and Krauss insist that belief in the supernatural is "intellectually lazy." They say, "The only reason people believe in God is because they don't want to accept naturalism and materialism." But WLC gives several plausible reasons why it is highly probable that God does exist. This does not demonstrate intellectual laziness. These "New Atheists" actually believe they hold a monopoly on intelligence and scholarship. Look at the way A.C. Grayling and Dawkins shamelessly and disrespectfully refer to Dr. Craig on Dawkin's website. They give him absolutely zero credit or respect. My personal belief is that the main reason people embrace materialism and atheism is that they are doing everything they can to explain everything that exists without referring to a designer. This brings up a good question. Why is it that those who, after years of personal study, conclude that it is plausible that God exists are branded as "intellectually lazy" and those who embrace materialism branded as "intellectuals?" On what basis is this judgment made? One may say, "Because anyone can say, 'Oh, and god made all this.'" But this can easily be turned around by saying, "Anyone can just say, 'It all came from nothing.'"

Anonymous said...

it's really unbelievable how anyone could think wlc had a valid point. seriously, this is why philosophy pisses me off sometimes. people think that philosophy acts in the same league as science. well guess what, it doesn't. the debate was about whether there was evidence for god. the answer after the debate is clearly and 100% no. if you don't see that, there is really no help for you!

seriously, wlc attacks anyone who isn't philosopher (i doubt his reputation in this field by the way) for being not qualified to talk about certain things. yet he proposes the most ridiculous statement with probability theory i have ever seen! you know the thing about math is, you can't join the conversation if you have no clue. whereas a scientist can pick up a philosophy paper and more or less get the point. give a philosopher a string theory paper once a let's see if he gets even the title. of course not. so pack to the probability theory. the argument is really so so so so embarrassing! 1. in math you have to have a measurable space (that is a set of outcomes and a sigma-algebra of events) plus you have to have a probability measure to even adequatly talk about a probability of an event. if you now have no idea what i'm talking about, then you should really shut the fuck up about who won the debate.
2. to give a practical interpretation think of the set of outcomes as a results of a probability experiment that you can repeat as often as you wish. then by the LLN the occurence of a particular symbol in a n-sequence is about n p(x). that is, if X is a discrete set.

so you see P (God exists | evidence, out past knowledge) is just saying absolutely nothing. it's like saying square root of (ketchup/mayonese) > integral of god / Pr(you jacking of)

it's nonsense. and if you don't see it now, you should leave the conversation. you are not qualified. and what krauss did was exactly that. he tried to explain that science and the universe is much much much too complicated to simply speak in words about it. have you seen even special relativity theory? it's complicated, and counter-intuitive. yet you fucks wouldn't enjoy your iphone without it.

Chad said...

Hello Anonymous One,

You wrote: people think that philosophy acts in the same league as science. well guess what, it doesn't.

Science is built on philosophy my friend. Science cannot be done without philosophy.

Philosophical assumptions are utilized in the search for causes, and, therefore, cannot be the result of them. For example, scientists assume (by faith) that reason and the scientific method allow us to accurately understand the world around us. That cannot be prove by science itself. You can't prove the tools of science-the laws of logic, the Law of Causality, the Principle of Uniformity, of the reliability of observation-by running some kind of experiment. You have to assume those things are true in order to do the experiment.

So, in a sense, you are correct. Science certainly is not in the same league as philosophy.

Take care

Matt said...

I'll just jump in well over a year later to point out that Philosophy suffers from the same problem of induction that Science does. But you are correct that the scientific method was the result of a lot of philosophical sweat.

You're being disingenuous conflating the faith required to believe that the universe will continue to operate the way it seems to have operated in the past and the faith required to believe in the supernatural. The two are not the same at all.

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