So what do people want me to write about?

Throw ideas at me, people. Some aspect of William Lane Craig’s work I’ve overlooked so far? Plantinga? The relationship between science and philosophy? I’ve tended to judge reader interest in posts by the amount of comments they get, but that’s not a perfect measure–are there any posts you loved even though they didn’t get much discussion?

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  1. To be honest, I love the WLC posts because it’s cathartic to have someone to dislike so much, and with good reason. And having that validated feels good. I have a visceral dislike of that man…

    I would love to see a review of the Bob Price/Craig debate. Price’s opening statement is something of a classic: He forgoes making his own case, or even attacking Craig’s individual points, and uses almost his entire time attacking Craig’s methodology. I haven’t listened to the rest of the debate, but Price is pretty sharp, so I would think he can keep up.
    A review of the Dawkins/Lennox debate would be fun too, or the panel debate between Dawkins and Craig.

    Outside the realm of debates, it would be cool to have some kind of “what I’m reading now” or “cool books to read if you’re into Philosophy of religion/science/neuroscience/rational thinking/insightful fiction…” since I’m always interested in what smart people are reading :wink:


    This, if you haven’t already.

    I don’t think I’ll learn anything new, but its always good to publicize this particular piece of crap.

  3. @Patrick,

    Hoo boy. It took me a second to see what Craig was doing in that article. It’s so dumb, it feels like a waste of time to address it, but here’s the short version:

    Sound arguments are great because if you can show an argument is sound, you’ve shown the conclusion is true. Craig is concocting a lame excuse to avoid the work of having to make a really convincing case for his premises, so he can just wave his hands and say, “well the premises are plausible!” which doesn’t show anything.

    Again, seems to dumb to waste much time on. But it’s kind of consequential for how Craig behaves in debates. His version of the design argument and moral argument, in particular, are a lot of dumb rhetoric with quick two-step deductions tacked on at the end to make them look rigorous. It’s never at all clear how the rhetoric is supposed to prove the premises of the deductions. I think maybe Craig wants to have his ridiculous definition of “good argument,” so that he can ignore all criticisms of his rhetoric and just say, “oh, but my premises are plausible!”

    But I dunno if it makes any sense to get worked up about those kinds of word games. Better to just focus on explaining the basic reasons why the arguments are crap.

  4. Actually, there’s a quick and dirty way to respond to Craig without arguing abut the definition of “good argument”: “You claim your arguments are good, and part of what you mean by that is that they’re sound. Okay, show me they’re sound.”

    Looking at it another way: Craig is talking nonsense says, “If it is more plausible that a premiss is, in light of the evidence, true rather than false, then we should believe the premiss.” There’s some controversy among philosophers about how confident you have to be about a claim to properly say you believe it. However, it’s obvious that if you think a claim is only very slightly more plausible than its negation, you can’t be properly said to believe it.

  5. Yeah, I see what he’s doing.

    He’s trying to use the rhetorical strength of making a deductive argument, but without doing the work. So he’s endorsing the paradox of the preface as if it were good reasoning.

    Its part and parcel of his frequent elision between deductive, inductive, and abductive reasoning.

    I’m familiar enough with the territory to see what he’s doing. Its just that this particular piece of Craig’s is my hobby horse. After he published it, evangelical dimwits everywhere started believing it. I began running across people who were made more ill informed by reading this article, and I deeply resent that Craig used his prominent position as an educator to make his followers less educated.

  6. I wouldn’t call them “dimwits” – honestly, my first reaction to the article was “I don’t see what’s wrong with that.” It took a second before I got to the “oh, I see what you did there.”

    Craig is so good at making the absurd sound plausible, that if he told me the sky was blue, I would double check to make sure it wasn’t orange.

    Do you have links to places you’ve seen Evangelicals repeating this? That would be interesting to see.

  7. I want you to write about (meta)ethics, bro.

  8. I’d like to hear about your views on consciousness and why you think you are correct on “Chalmers-Style dualism” and also how science and religion relate.

  9. Yea, I also get a little perturbed when Craig messes up basic probability. When your definition of a good argument includes arguments whose premises lead to conclusions that are most likely false, you have a problem since that’s kinda the definition of a bad argument. Perhaps you could write about how the adoption of a certain outlook can warp what you consider to be “good” or “bad” evidence (or argument) and how this can feedback into supporting the outlook.

  10. I always do like when you write about WLC. Often, I will read something of his, or listen to a debate and think “I know something is wrong here…” but sometimes have a hard time putting my finger on it. You always do a great job of clarifying my suspicions.

    I would also like to hear your criticism of arguments that atheists use, as well as your thoughts on philosophy of mind, especially with how it relates to dualism, theism, atheism, etc.

  11. I find Plantinga more interesting than WLC, since people I know are more likely to respect the former than the latter. (And I have a history with P. but not with WLC.)

    I’d probably be interested in dualism posts too — since I’ve got quite a few opinions on the matter and sometimes enjoy shooting off my mouth . . .

    A physicalist ontology of objective morality would be worth reading. Structural realism is a fun topic too, but might be outside your area.

  12. I’d like to see the proper relationship between science and philosophy, especially as someone who wants to keep studying the latter. Although this is more personal, I’d love to hear what phil grad school at ND is like also.

  13. Here’s an angle that I don’t see discussed much.

    Christians like to toss out stumpers like “Well, what caused the Big Bang?” or “OK, smart guy, how did life get started then?” And, of course, when one of these leading-edge scientific questions is answered, they blithely move on to another one. And there are always tough questions at the frontier of science.

    But this has been going on for centuries! “God causes lightning” has long ago been debunked; why expect that “God caused the Big Bang” wind up any differently?

  14. Anything on the psychology of religion. Lately I’m more interested in knowing more about why people believe irrational things than in dissecting plainly bad arguments.

  15. Gotta go with Ellis. A lot of Theists nowadays seem to be argueing that, since Religion and Religious experiences have no complete natural explaination, they seem to imply the existence of God. Also, I’d like to see what you’ve got on dualism (chalmerian vs theistic).

  16. Actually, Craig Keener is writing a book on miracles, inclusing those infamous africa miracles missionarys often talk about.


    It would be nice to see what you have to say about it…

  17. Perhaps you’ve written on this before, but I would love to hear some arguments for compatibilism. I meant to read Dennett’s “Freedom Evolves” this summer but didn’t get to it, and I am interested in the problem of squaring free-will with determinism. However, not being a philosopher I don’t even know where to begin. Perhaps you can do a post on this, along with recommending some books to get some more info?

  18. >Perhaps you’ve written on this before, but I would love to hear some arguments for compatibilism.

    That one’s easy. It turns out that most people’s intuitions support compatibilism. Start with this post, follow the link to Eddy Nahmias’ blog post, then check out the journal articles Nahmias has written, many of which are free online.