Oh my science. From Luke Muehlhauser:
Honestly, in a lot of debates with atheists, it’s William Lane Craig who is being more logical and more faithful to the arguments than the atheist opponent is. A lot of that just has to do with the fact that he’s better philosophically trained, so he thinks like a philosopher, but I really think that should put some atheists to shame. If they really think their’s is the rational position, they should be able to win on grounds of argument and evidence and logic, and when they don’t, it shows that we are probably just arguing from a psychological perspective: “We know we’re right, and he’s obviously wrong, and here are the reasons why, and I don’t really have to take the logic or the arguments seriously or study these issues.”
I’m not going to mince words here: this is a preposterous smear against atheists, and Luke should be ashamed of himself.
It’s not that I’m not frustrated by how atheists have historically performed in public debates with Craig I am. However, it’s absurd to suggest this is a failure of argument or logic on the atheists’ part. Craig wins on rhetoric, and I thought everyone knew this. Seriously, can anyone think of a single debate where Craig’s opponent has committed as many textbook logical fallacies as Craig does? As many appeals to authority, as many evasions, as many dirty rhetorical tricks? It’s not just that Craig’s arguments “fail,” as Luke puts it in the linked post, it’s that on the whole they’re so bad that few if any of them deserve to be discussed in respectful terms (I’ve lately moved towards thinking none of them do, but surely we can at least agree that not many of them do?)
Luke cites Craig’s debate with Bart Ehrman, a debate where, when I first read the transcript, Craig’s behavior struck me as especially bizarre. Craig’s first rebuttal didn’t respond at all to what Ehrman had said in his opening speech, but instead spent 12 minutes attacking a strained interpretation of something Ehrman had said elsewhere. Ehrman also did a very good job of pointing out general flaws in Craig’s arguments, including calling out Craig on his misleading use of citations from Biblical scholars. It’s indefensible and inexcusable for Luke to imply that Ehrman’s response to Craig was irrational.
Talking about Craig in such reverential terms, rather than taking every opportunity to point out the fallacies in his arguments, does a huge disservice to all the honest enquirers out there who are smart enough to question the likes of Craig but need a bit of help seeing through him.