It’s about morality, stupid: why Dawkins won’t debate William Lane Craig

Theologian William Lane Craig is a skilled debater for religion, poised and full of “sophisticated” arguments that can snow the average listener. But he’s also a nasty piece of work, most famously for justifying Biblical genocide on the grounds that “if God said it was okay, then it was okay.”

Craig’s been shuttling around the UK, noisily challenging Richard Dawkins to a debate and accusing Richard of cowardice for not facing him on the platform.  In today’s Guardian, Richard explains “Why I refuse to debate William Lane Craig.”  He starts with a LOL:

For some years now, Craig has been increasingly importunate in his efforts to cajole, harass or defame me into a debate with him. I have consistently refused, in the spirit, if not the letter, of a famous retort by the then president of the Royal Society: “That would look great on your CV, not so good on mine”.

But the real reason, Dawkins, explains, is Craig’s reprehensible defense of the slaughters ordered by God in the Old Testament. Never mind that they didn’t happen; Craig says that even if they did, they were perfectly moral.  Re the Israeli slaughter of Canaanites, Craig said this:

“But why take the lives of innocent children? The terrible totality of the destruction was undoubtedly related to the prohibition of assimilation to pagan nations on Israel’s part. In commanding complete destruction of the Canaanites, the Lord says, ‘You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons, or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods’ (Deut 7.3-4). […] God knew that if these Canaanite children were allowed to live, they would spell the undoing of Israel. […] Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation. We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven’s incomparable joy.  Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives.”

. . . “So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgment. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life. So who is wronged? Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli [sic] soldiers themselves. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children? The brutalising effect on these Israeli [sic] soldiers is disturbing.”

To which Richard dryly answers:

Oh, the poor soldiers. Let’s hope they received counselling after their traumatic experience.

Craig’s idea that whatever God orders is moral is one way to answer the Euthyphro dilemma: are things right because God orders them, or does God order them because they’re right?  Craig has always opted for the former answer, which is called the “divine command theory.”  I myself have been criticized for being philosophically naive about this dilemma.  Here’s “The Thinking Christian” (clearly an oxymoron for this blogger) taking out after me for my piece on morality in USA Today:

I understand the limitations of a short print article. You can only say so much, and it is necessary to condense a point. Still you simply cannot pretend that you have authority to use language like “simply cannot” here. You cannot honorably and in good conscience pretend that you have the last word on the subject. You cannot pretend that Christians and Jews have never noticed the Euthyphro question, or that we have never offered a theistic solution (here, for example). What does a scientist and professor have to do with pronouncing an issue like this settled: an issue that is out of your field, and on which you have not even acknowledged the ongoing conversation?

Dr. Coyne, I call you out on that.

For a good LOL, click on the link to the “theistic solution” to the Euthyphro dilemma.  Guess what it is?

Another common intrpretation of  “divine command theory” response is that God could never order or sanction any immoral act because he is a good and loving deity.  But that doesn’t solve the dilemma because then God must still conform to some extra-God notion of what we see as “good and loving.”  And besides, as Richard points out, all the evidence from the Old Testament is that God is neither good nor loving, but a capricious and malicious bully.

264 Comments

  1. Posted October 20, 2011 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    It is truly depressing how many Christians who otherwise seem sane, rational, moral, and even likable will vigorously defend the brutality of their gods — even to the point of justifying the mass rape and lifetime of sexual slavery of tens of thousands of prepubescent girls described in Numbers 31. Islam is rightfully notorious for its apologetics defending Muhammad for “marrying” an eight-year-old-girl, but Moses and his merry men “married” tens of thousands of Midianite girls as young and younger.

    Indeed, the only redeeming value of so much of the Bible is that it’s purest fiction. Though there were plenty of atrocities in the iron age, there’s no reason to think that anything described in the Bible actually happened.

    Cheers,

    b&

  2. Jacob
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    The biggest problem with theistic morality in regards to the Euthyphro dilemma is the impossibility of independently verifying the goodness of any single act of god. Christians can posit any answer they chose for the dilemma, but the truth is that there is no inherent extra-goodness property that they can appeal to. The only way that they know it’s good is because god commands it. A few years ago I had the same argument with the Tom Gilson guy from Thinking Christian. To take one example, his argument for the goodness of heterosexuality is basically that it’s god-sanctioned. Once again, there is no inherent goodness of the act to which we can appeal to. It’s good because god commands it. Gilson stopped posting about the topic when I pressed him further.

    • Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:34 am | Permalink

      One thing I’ve noticed with people who debate the religious is how quickly they give away the ‘morality is just opinion’ line.

      Yes, it is – including yours. You believe x is wrong because your god thinks and says it’s wrong. According to your own divine command theory, if he changed his opinion, your morality would change. Unlike you and your people, I can categorically condemn all genocide without a single caveat. I guess my opinions and thoughts are just more profound than your god’s are.

      Hell, we’re accused of being strident anyway – might as well stop pulling punches.

      • Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:42 am | Permalink

        Or, for that matter when a Craig raises Divine Command Theory, ask him if that would include raping his children. And would be comfortable raping his own children if god told him too. What about dismembering them while having someone else do the raping?

        What is it that he would refuse to do if he thought god wanted it? Apparently, genocide is right off the table. I wonder what else is.

        • Stan Pak
          Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:11 am | Permalink

          Well if you dismembered them then perhaps you would need to have additional counselling.

        • Microraptor
          Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

          My experience in debates on places like YouTube has been that the godbot will typically say something like “well, I know in my heart that God would never command such a thing” while completely ignoring such things like… can’t remember the chapter, but a guy prays and says he’ll sacrifice the first thing that comes to his doorstep if God helps him win a battle- he goes on to win and the first thing turns out to be his daughter, and when he asks if there’s something else he can do besides murdering his daughter the answer he gets is “a deal is a deal.”

          • Posted October 21, 2011 at 4:52 am | Permalink

            The story is the story of Jephthah in the book of Judges. And there’s no “a deal’s a deal” moment in it. Standard commentary, at least the rabbinic commentary I know, takes Jephthah as doing evil by sacrificing his daughter. The lesson being: BELIEVING that you know what God wants, when he wants what seems evil, means you don’t. Good for sure exists outside God as a separate standard in this interpretation. As in John Milton’s in Paradise Lost. I say this as an atheist, just to correct the record.

            • Posted October 21, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

              Don’t forget the (horrendous) story of Abraham and Isaac – which comes pretty close to the example.

              • Posted October 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

                Pretty close, but also the narrative force of that story must be its point. We really really don’t want Isaac sacrificed. The story gives Isaac a pretty unusual role: he asks where the offering is, and his naivete at that moment is far tenderer than the usual just-the-facts parataxis of Genesis. So Abraham IN the story might be doing the right thing, but we’re hating the story. We think Abraham is doing wrong, whatever he thinks. And it turns out we’re right — God agrees with our separate standard of morality by doing what we think is right. He lives up to us, rather than forcing us to swallow a violent demand for human sacrifice. The whole point of the Genesis-Exodus story is that it’s a rejection of standard Egyptian human sacrifice. And the irony is that Christianity brings back archaic Egyptian ideas of human sacrifice with the crucifixion.

            • foxfire
              Posted October 22, 2011 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

              Regarding “The lesson being: BELIEVING that you know what God wants, when he wants what seems evil, means you don’t. Good for sure exists outside God as a separate standard in this interpretation.”

              Although I agree with the last sentence above, I think Joy-Boy (Craig) would see it as a “deal-is-a-deal” situation, considering his thought that good is NOT a separate standard and IS what god arbitrarily decides it is.”god” having the attributes that Joy-Boy thinks it should possess.

              I remember when I first really became an atheist. I was about 50 years old and it felt like my brain was being rewired (teh kitteh neurons feyenz nu sainapzez and licks dem linkz strong).

              What a relief to be free from a capricious morality dictated by a non-existant entity!

      • Jacob
        Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:51 am | Permalink

        Even if Christians retort that god holds an objective view of morality, I think it’s important to point out that his actions are capricious in practice. If god chooses to spare one group of people but punish another, what’s the difference? The Christian doesn’t know. The actions are reasoned to be good after the fact because god does them. The Christian has no way to reason that they are good before the fact. Needless to say, this leads to a muddled view of morality and leads men like Craig to excuse genocide.

        • Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:03 am | Permalink

          I’m not sure I could countenance a morality, even if it isn’t totally ‘revealed’ to me, whereby the best way to run the universe is to have certain groups murdered, and others ordered to do it. What morality makes killers out of ordinary people to increase the amount of ‘moral good’ in the universe?

          No, with my limited, pathetic understanding of the universe and morality, if a ‘god’ told me that my path to salvation entailed killing a tribe of people and rummaging through their property to keep for myself as a trophy, I’d have to politely decline with a well-timed, “no – fuck you” and take my chances.

          If this is morality of any important, then I’m perfectly content being immoral by not committing murder – cause, you know, killing people is rude, to say the least.

        • Simon
          Posted June 16, 2012 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

          What seems to be omitted in all this dialogue is a primary point of Judaism/Christianity.
          The universe was perfect until Man rebelled. I’m not here to debate exatly how this occured but this viewpoint is absolutly fundamental to the argument. The consequence is sin and death. Everyone stands condemned. The Jew, the Gentile, The liar, the homosexual, the heterosexual, the HUMAN.
          There is no distinction at this point.
          It is akin to a venemous snake bite. All humanity, irrespective of belief or creed, colour or standing is poisoned and is under God’s wrath and judgement.
          It is not the lack of an antivenin that causes death and judgement, it is the snake bite.
          While I accept this is a difficult concept, it is absolutely fundamental. The consequence being we all deserve to be destroyed. This is what makes it remarkable that God would bother to intervene in history that any of us would be justified and reconcilled. If God chooses to permit what we call genocide, a Chritian’s perspective ought to be gratitude that he hasn’t delivered this rightful act to us all. If indeed God is real, how we can assume to know his perfect mind in our imperfect condition is nothing short of arrogance. If Christians are wrong, we are to pittied above all. But it truely does neither “camps” justice to insult the other because the inhabitants in both are trying to be honest to what they know and understand.
          Vigorous debate is great, I just hope it can be conducted with mutual respect.

          • Posted June 16, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

            The universe was perfect until Man rebelled. I’m not here to debate exatly how this occured but this viewpoint is absolutly fundamental to the argument.

            Sorry, but the fact you’ve deceived yourself into believing such pathetic and idiotic nonsense is central to the discussion.

            What, you thought you could lay that odious turd on the carpet and not get called out on it because you happen to like the way it smells?

            You do know that your only evidence that supports your lunacy is a story about an enchanted garden with talking animals and an angry wizard, right?

            If Christians are wrong, we are to pittied above all.

            Yes. Yes, you are most pitiful, indeed.

            But it truely does neither “camps” justice to insult the other because the inhabitants in both are trying to be honest to what they know and understand.

            But you’re not being honest. Either you’re lying to yourself that you really think you can trust a book that features a talking plant that gives magic wand lessons to the reluctant hero, or you’re lying to the rest of us when you proclaim that the reason to believe it is because it has a story about a zombie who gets his rocks off by commanding his thralls to grope his intestines through his gaping chest wound.

            If you want to be treated with respect, grow up and at least have the decency to shut the hell up about these childish imaginary friends of yours. Jesus Claus is no more real than the Santa Bunny or the Easter Christ, and you damned well better be ashamed of yourself for still wetting your bed in public the way you do.

            Cheers,

            b&

          • rlwemm
            Posted June 16, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

            ==The universe was perfect until Man rebelled.==

            This is a religious doctrine for which there is no valid evidence. In fact, it does not stand up to scientific scrutiny.

            All the natural disasters that cause death and suffering for animals and humans occurred before life began on this planet. We see the same types of things happening on other planets and moons so we know that they are natural features of planets and planet formation. If the universe was created by a god then it is also responsible for creating these human harming features along with it.

            If you believe that your version of god created humans and placed them on a planet that he knew (all knowing) was full of features that harm them and he did nothing to protect them from this harm when he had the power to do so (all powerful) then he is morally responsible for their harm. He could have responsibly and ethically chosen not to create humans at all, or not to put them in harms way. Instead he appears to have created these beings out of his own selfish need to be worshipped by them without regard for the suffering they would have to undergo in order for that divine wish to be fulfilled. That makes this version of god a heinous criminal by any of the legal standards operating in the developed nations of this world.

            In other words, the problem of evil and senseless suffering was there well before any human could have disobeyed anyone. Furthermore, any supernatural being that created such things is a very long way from being totally good.

            = =The consequence is sin and death. Everyone stands condemned.= =

            Since saints and criminals, priviliged and underpriviledged, all die there is nothing particularly negative about being threatened with this eventuality. It is only threatening if a person were to be stoned to death by the community of the faithful, as demanded by the god described in the Christian Old Testament. Torture and death at the hands of your family and friends would, indeed, be terrible.

            In the Christian world view the consequences of sin is actually not permanent death at all.

            The standard Christian believes the entirely contradictory notion that the dead are all raised and given eternal life with full consciousness, whether they want it or not. The ability to feel the most extreme forms of pain are imposed on those who do not meet the impossible standards imposed by the god who made them. These resurrected people are permanently tortured in the most painful way possible for finite crimes that vary greatly in their severity, including the crimes of their remote ancestors over which they had no control whatever.

            Luckier people are to be “saved” because they carried out magic rites like eating wafers that are made of god particles or because they were fortunate enought to believe the right things about this god’s half human son. They are whisked awy to a Heaven where they feel not pain but might get very very bored after a very very long time of doing nothing but glorifying the god. They no longer have free will that tempts them to sin which makes them into determined robots. Or, if free will is allowed, they will live in permanent fear that they will slip up and be thrown in the permanent torture chamber with all the others.

            Even the most barbaric of humans do not punish people by torturing them for ever. That makes even psychopaths more moral than the usual Christian version of “god”. You worship a monster.

            It gets even worse. The Christian world view insists that their god created humans that were provided with qualities that rendered them incapable of leading a life that met the standards imposed by this god. Then he abandoned them in a garden full of temptations that, being omniscient, he knew they could not resist. That is criminal entrapment.

            Instead of accepting responsibility for this criminally irresponsible behavior he threw a childish tantrum and blamed the victims of his failure. Later, he compounded his crimes by drowning almost all of his creations, including children, babies and the fetuses in pregnant women. The people he saved weren’t particularly savory characters, either.

            I will bet my last Rollo that you have never really thought this through and realized the contradictory implications of it all. You have blindly parroted what you have been taught by authorities you accept without applying any critical thinking to the notions that were being drummed into you. You have been conned.

      • Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:21 am | Permalink

        It’s also his opinion that God exists, or that the Bible is true, or that his interpretation of it is right. None of that is objective, or even generally accepted.

        And even if a god did exist, and this god’s morality was objective, it’s still only his opinion that we should all accept and follow it (which of course is a problem with all moral systems).

  3. Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    Q. “You cannot pretend that Christians and Jews have never noticed the Euthyphro question, or that we have never offered a theistic solution”

    A. Yes we’ve noticed your solution. The problem is that it’s completely fucking stupid.

    • Llwddythlw
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:35 am | Permalink

      Correct. Other philosophers have considered the Euthyphro and reached the same conclusion. Phillip Kitcher has addressed the matter in a few of his papers.

      • Posted October 21, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

        Most notably Kierkegaard, who is in my view a rare creature – an honest Christian, who goes so far as to say that his faith is absurd. (Note; I am not saying all Christians are dishonest, just that most seem to be about this one matter.)

      • Posted October 31, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        Actually most Philosophers who have discussed the issue in depth have reached the opposite conclusion, such as Philip Quinn, Mark Murphy, William Wrainwright, and so on. Even critics like Alex Pruss and Wes Moriston appear to concede that the standard Euthyphro objection has problems.

        It might be nice to simply call someone “fucking stupid” and move on. But that really does not address the issue its known as the ad hominen fallacy philosophers learn its inadequate in first year logic papers.

        • Posted November 5, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

          Very true, Matt. Having spent some years looking for good treatments of the Euthyphro dilemma and have read dozens, I know that most philosophers don’t think much of it at all as a response to theologically grounded ethics. Those that do are the exception, and typically work outside of the field of philosophy of religion.

  4. Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Craig has a series of fanboys and fangirls on youtube, one of whom months ago produced a video about Dawkins being a big, grade-a asshole, and a coward. So, I created a video in reply titled ‘Richard Dawkins Is a Coward I Tell You”. The response was rejected by the original author for my use of the word Lame instead of Lane in William Lame Craig, which is funny since the original video started off with the quotation:
    “Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.” The 8th Commandment, TGD.

    The video goes through a list of selected quotes from Dawkins, including his saying he wants to talk to people about the ‘evidence’ one way or another. So, my reply video goes through a list of William Lame Craig demonstrating his understanding of that evidence – he’s a veritable scientist, and Jeopardy champion in the waiting I dare say.

    How old is Earth? That’s right 13.7 billion years old.

    What is phenomenon which caused the big bang? If god does not exist, then the universe has no cause.

    Kalam Cosmological nonargument.

    And, my favorite, ‘when I say a concrete object, I don’t necessarily mean a material object. For example, an angel or a soul would also be a concrete object.’

    And of course, what would happen if someone were to ruin your arguments? Nothing – 1.) I have more arguments, and 2.) my faith isn’t ultimately predicated on these arguments, so if they were all false I’d still believe.

    Why anyone wants to argue with a mind like that escapes me.

    Sorry for the long reply!

    • Llwddythlw
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:10 am | Permalink

      All of the “proofs” of god’s existence that were conceived by the mediaeval scholastics (Anselm, Aquinas et al.) were designed to be used to convince non-believers. In the same spirit, Rambam (Maimonides) wrote The Guide to the Perplexed, essentially a plug for a synthesis of Aristotelian philosophy and Jewish theology.

      The scholastics themselves did not rely on the proofs for their own faith which is just as well, as the proofs suffer from one tiny flaw. They’re bollocks. (pace E. Blackadder).

      Mind you, I still have a soft spot for Anselm’s ontological argument, and Russell actually thought it was correct, admittedly for a very short time.

    • Tmrn
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

      “the original video started off with the quotation:
      “Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent; always respect the right of others to disagree with you.””

      Oh really? I questioned the premises for the “Kalam argument” on one of his youtube videos. I did not use any insults or something inappropriate.
      Just something like:
      “Everything that has a beginning of its existence has a cause of its existence.”
      Can you prove that this is true for the universe? And if so, why is this cause god?
      When looking at the events in this universe we might get a specific understanding of how events cause other events but applying that to the universe might be very well not appropriate. What’s the argument that the “cause” is not something similar to what we know as quantum fluctuation which itself is as good as we know true randomness?

      And what happened? He blocked me from commenting on his videos and on his channel.
      “Never seek to censor or cut yourself off from dissent”… Yea, right.

      • Posted October 21, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        Kalam is trivially refutable *what* beginning of existence? The big bang is no such thing. (Even there you can parameterize using the so-called “york time” and make it infinitely long ago anyway, hence the next point.) The bit about the infinite regress is a piece of Greek metaphysics which has been known to be false for quite a while.

  5. Tim
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    The moral question, “Why take the lives of innocent children?” is really intended as kind of reductio ad absurdum – a question to which any answer that condones the slaughter of children is thought to be self evidently absurd. When someone in any debate is so blinded by their ideology/religion that they don’t see the absurdity (a charitable characterization, actually), what is the point of debating them? Craig is a monster – a comfortable, “respectable” monster.

    • Sajanas
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      And it brings up more questions. Clearly, Craig thinks that if the children are killed, they go to heaven. Yet he seems to assume that if they grow up, they will become evil and go to hell. To me, that seems to assume that the only reason for them to become evil is because of their cultural upbringing, so wouldn’t the better choice be to just have them be adopted by Jews? Is the Jewish righteousness and goodness (and chosen-ness) entirely tied to their genetics? You just end up burying yourself in a hole of contradictions.

      • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
        Posted October 24, 2011 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        The extension of Craig’s argument seems to be that we should kill all children before they begin sinning. Only then can we be sure that they go to his version of heaven to be with his version of a god. According to biblical text, they will then have the unique pleasure of being able to look on while their parents or older siblings are screaming from eternal torture. That will either make them into psychopathic monsters with no empathy or concern for the pain of others or they will suffer from eternal psychological torture, which would be hell.

  6. Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    I sort of wish I could say that Craig’s approach is uncommon, but variations of it where pretty much all I heard growing up in church.

    If one pays much attention to the Bible, you either have to 1) say such things never happened, 2) say that God actually had nothing to do with them or 3) make up some horrific justification like Craig’s.

    More commonly, most theists either ignore these stories or are just unaware they are in the Bible.

    • Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:34 am | Permalink

      There’s a reason why actually reading the Bible is commonly cited as driving one to disbelief. Well, many reasons — the whole part about it being such an unashamed faery tale is certainly part of it, too.

      There is only one possible response for a moral human being who believes that YHWH caused the Flood or that Jesus is the gatekeeper to Hell: hunt down and kill the motherfucking sons of bitches. They’re rabid monsters deserving of extermination, and extermination is the only way to protect one’s own life and the lives of one’s loved ones.

      Such a realization is more than ample to cause rational people to realize that it really is all make-believe.

      The truly scary thing is that those who don’t are prone to commit horrific acts emulating the monsters. Mothers drown their children, church congregations encourage the suicides of adolescents with minority sexual preferences, and nations reclaim “holy” lands in real-world reenactments of the faery tales — bloodshed, horror, and all.

      b&

    • Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:44 am | Permalink

      …or are just unaware they are in the Bible.

      Mostly the latter, I’d guess. Most people only know those bits that get read in church or school, and it’s not like those parts get picked very often.

      • Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:55 am | Permalink

        But even children’s picture books have the Flood, where God drowned all the kittens and butterflies; Exodus, where God killed all the Egyptian boys; and Jesus, who’ll send you to Hell if you sin — just as God kicked Adam and Eve out of Eden when they sinned.

        If that’s not enough fodder for Euthyphro, what the hell is?

        b&

        • TJR
          Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:14 am | Permalink

          Exactly. A few years ago I saw a bible picture book for kids at a friend’s house, and was genuinely horrified at the death, violence, slaughter and genocide it contained. It really reminded me just how appalling the OT is.

        • Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:24 am | Permalink

          True.

        • GaryU
          Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:32 am | Permalink

          But even children’s picture books have the Flood, where God drowned all the kittens and butterflies; Exodus, where God killed all the Egyptian boys;

          I think you can get away with telling kids easily, because all the people who die are Bad Guys®, and the Bad Guys® always die in children’s stories.

          • Sajanas
            Posted October 20, 2011 at 10:22 am | Permalink

            What was more disturbing for me were the heroes of the Bible acting like villains and not getting punished for it. King David being the biggest one, killing a man to steal his wife, but getting punished by having her miscarry their children? Why not just smite him. Jesus was happy to condemn tons of people to hell for not believing in him. ‘Paul’ (the forged Paul, but its not like they told us that) was happy to tell women to be silent in church and get busy making babies.

            All this stuff gets ignored and covered up, and in some ways, I find it more objectionable than the Flood. You know, horrible disasters happen all the time, and there’s only so much you can do about them, but holding up a murderer, a cult leader, and a misogynist not just as mythological figures, but as the greatest king, the son of God and the greatest apostle? Its just sad.

        • truthspeaker
          Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

          Funny you should say that. I was already on the road to atheism when my grandmother gave me “Bible Stories for Children”, but it accelerated the process. I was especially critical of Moses ordering the Israelites to kill everyone who worshipped the Golden Calf right after God gave him a set of commandments that included (according to this version) “Thou shallt not kill”.

  7. ChrisKG
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:33 am | Permalink

    That’s rather funny. Craig complains that Dawkins won’t debate him yet Craig has been avoiding a debate with his former student, John W. Loftus, for years. Hmm…what’s the word I am looking for here…

    • Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:37 am | Permalink

      ‘christian’ is the word.

    • Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:06 am | Permalink

      Also, I hadn’t heard of Loftus. I’m watching him in a debate right now. Thanks for the heads up.

      • ChrisKG
        Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:36 am | Permalink

        @Justicar, John’s books are much better than the debates. His nuanced approach is evident in The Christian Delusion, Why I became an Atheist, and The End of Christianity. They are all highly recommended for a deconstruction of Christianity. I like Dawkins and Hitchens, but John Loftus is one of the best writers on the issue that I I’ve found. He attacks them from the inside, which I suppose, is why they are so effective.

  8. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    What does a scientist and professor have to do with pronouncing an issue like this settled: an issue that is out of your field, and on which you have not even acknowledged the ongoing conversation?

    Jerry, you are ever so unqualifed to comment on the Emperor’s sartorial splendour.

  9. Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    Why do all theistic solutions essentially consist of:

    1) God exists;
    2) blah blah blah (self-serving bad logic, special pleading, genuine intestine fondling etc etc etc);
    3) Therefore, god exists.

    and the arguers of such silly solutions think that we don’t notice that the initial premise is a flawed assumption? The example Euthyphro Dilemma response could just as well have been:

    (1) God is, by definition, a maximally great being fiction.

    So, good on Prof Dawkins for not debating such wastes of spaces.

    BTW: I saw that a commenter at the Guardian has reserved an empty seat at his 7-year old niece’s birthday for Prof Dawkins to not attend. Maybe we should send in photos of other chairs where Prof Dawkins is not attending either. I have the great honour of Prof Dawkins not appearing in the chair of my study. All day today (time permitting).

    • Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:51 am | Permalink

      Even better, the next freethought convention he does attend should have an extra empty chair on stage for him. “And, to the right of Professor Dawkins, we have an empty chair symbolizing the absence of Richard Dawkins, who is too cowardly to appear here tonight and join in the conversation with Mr. Dawkins. Richard, what do you have to say about Dawkins’s refusal to join us?”

      Cheers,

      b&

      • TJR
        Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:17 am | Permalink

        So where god is omni-present, Richard Dawkins is omni-absent.

        • Sajanas
          Posted October 20, 2011 at 10:24 am | Permalink

          I like it, because its true. There is no metaphor or symbol, it is merely a place set for a person that is not present.

        • hank9000
          Posted October 20, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

          Well I’ve certainly never seen God and Dawkins in the same place …

      • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
        Posted October 24, 2011 at 9:35 am | Permalink

        It would be more honest of Craig (if the man knows what that term actually means) to put out an empty chair for his version of god to sit in.

        Of course, it could always be argued that the chair reserved for Dawkins was actually filled by an invisable being. It could be argued that is was filled by a Shadow (of Babylon 5 fame.)

    • Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:17 am | Permalink

      Would it too forward to have a chair in my shower for Richard Dawkins not to sit in while I’m showering?

      This is truly some kind of power – just look at the all the awkward places we can not make Richard Dawkins to appear in.

      An apology sessions for Rebecca Watson – not there!

      Accepting the Nobel Prize – not there!

      Even better, the chair could serve to accommodate either Richard Dawkins, or God. You ever notice they’re never not in the same chair at the same time? Mm hmm.

    • Scryptic
      Posted October 21, 2011 at 5:13 am | Permalink

      I’m reminded of a time when I was still a Christian when I heard some fellow believers speaking of having a seat for Jesus at the table. That seat was empty, too.

    • articulett
      Posted October 22, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

      I want to see an empty chair on stage for Jesus.

  10. TJR
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    From the BBC2 drama “God on Trial”.

    Rabbi (played by Anthony Sher): “God is not good. He was never good. He was just on our side.”

    • Llwddythlw
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:22 am | Permalink

      Speaking of having God on your side:

      Fluellen: Is it not lawful, an please your majesty to tell how many is killed?

      King Henry V: Yes, captain; but with this acknowledgement, That God fought for us.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      I suspect that in many cultures, “good” and “on our side” were equivalent.

  11. Saikat Biswas
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    What a nasty piece of work Craig is.

    • Dominic
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:23 am | Permalink

      Agreed. His is a god to fear – very old fashioned world view.

  12. Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    I’m not impressed by Dawkins’s article: should Stephen Law and Peter Millican not have debated against Craig? It sounds like Dawkins has some sort of “no platform” policy, but unlike the case of “no platform for facists” it’s hard to see who would be hurt by a debate with Craig.

    Why not just say “Craig is a better public speaker” and offer to conduct the debate in writing instead?

    • Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      Why not just say, “I’m scared of public debates” and have it writing instead?

      Why not just say, “stray unfilled chairs strike mortal terror into my heart, can we do it on Twitter instead?”

      Maybe Dawkins is, you know, being honest about his intentions. Further, he’s entitled to think that one, any of his equals, who debates Craig is dirtying one’s self without having the implication be that Craig is somehow unsuitable a debate partner for others, or is not allowed to speak in public.

      He just hopes that the people of his stature would think better of the decision to give a hack a platform and ‘status’ as having an argument of some merit.

      It is, as he’s said, why he won’t debate creationists (which Craig is variously one / not one).

    • Egbert
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      Both Dawkins and Craig seem perfectly happy to debate indirectly with each other in the media. It generates the publicity and therefore the monies from their books.

    • Saikat Biswas
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:53 am | Permalink

      At no point in the article does Dawkins dissuade others from debating Craig, so what exactly are you objecting to?
      Also, I have tried watching Craig’s performance several times and it’s excruciating. You may feel otherwise, but not everyone shares your superior level of endurance.

    • Tim
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      The answer to your post is obvious. However, because most of the time people commenting on WEIT do an admirable job of avoiding the prediction offered by Godwin’s Law, we can let you figure this one out by yourself.

      • Tim
        Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:09 am | Permalink

        Uhhh…whoops – #19 below is an exception!

    • Dominic
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      I AM impressed by his article, & am unimpressed by Craig’s hectoring tone.

    • Llwddythlw
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      I think that it’s simply a matter of “cui bono”.

    • Posted October 20, 2011 at 10:44 am | Permalink

      Well said. Face to face, in a structured debate, locked in to a narrowly defined topic, WLC would mop the floor with Dawkins. Dawkins ought to be brave enough to admit he’s refusing to meet WLC in the arena for fear of being beaten on style. Dawkin’s can remind everyone that he’s a scientist, not a performer. Better to admit that WLC is a skilled debater and that the format of the debate would not allow Dawkins to attack WLC’s nasty views on genocide, misogyny, and divine command theory. A written debate between these two figureheads, refereed by stern editors, and delivered in book format, would sell like hotcakes to both camps.

      • Dominic
        Posted October 20, 2011 at 11:15 am | Permalink

        The question in any debate is whether the audience is one of “don’t knows” or have they already decided what they think, in which case the term debate is perhaps pointless. A debate is supposed to sway an audience & persuade people to change their views. Quite how you can conclude that Craig would win a debate with Dawkins when they have not debated is beyond me – it must remain an unknown. I had never heard of this Craig person before today but have heard Dawkins on radio, television & in person, & he has always seemed to me to be perfectly able to argue cogently, but then he uses reason & evidence, two things sadly lacking in religious supporters.

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

          WLC’s arguments are entirely fallacious & RD’s are rational. However from the POV of most non-academic audience members WLC will be seen as the winner.

          To beat WLC requires the sort of talents exhibited by Dan Barker or Christopher Hitchens, both of whom have a certain charming charisma & ruthlessness that RD can’t bring to the surface in an adversarial debate. RD is hampered by his sense of fair play & his appeals to rationality & evidence.

          CH & DB on the other hand will pull the audience into the ‘conversation’ on their side with a better balance between rationality & emotion ~ they are better salesman. They can do ‘stand up’ & RD not so much.

          Here’s a short video where “athiest Dan Barker debates Christian Dinesh D’Souza & DB uses his ex-preacher skills to pull the audience into his orbit. It’s an art.

          • Dominic
            Posted October 21, 2011 at 3:44 am | Permalink

            I see what you are saying – people are essentially irrational. “We’re all doomed I tell you, doomed.”

    • truthspeaker
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      “who would be hurt by a debate with Craig.”

      My brain cells, for one.

    • 0verlord
      Posted October 24, 2011 at 6:25 am | Permalink

      “I don’t feel like debating you” ought to be reason enough.

    • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
      Posted October 24, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

      Craig wins by rhetorical dirty tricks, not by good logic. He is not interested in a truthful discussion, he is interested in bolstering his narcissist ego. He plays to his fan club who lap it up without further thought.

      Craig controls the format and knows how to make good use of the clock. The only people who can “win” under these circumstances are those who are seasoned debaters and philosophers who can counter his tricks and are prepared to play just as dirty as he.

  13. Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Another common intrpretation of ”divine command theory” response is that God could never order or sanction any immoral act because he is a good and loving deity.

    Ah yes, God is good by definition. Do people actually expect that argument to be convincing to non-believers?

    The problem with that argument is that it makes it impossible to know what “good” is. After all, God’s nature is unknowable (so the sophisticated theologians tell us), or impossible for us to fully comprehend. So if “goodness” derives from God’s nature, we won’t be able to understand what “goodness” is like either. So this answer to the Euthyphro dilemma destroys the ability of the theologian to prescribe morality.

  14. Tulse
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation

    Hey look! Abortion is now OK!

    No, seriously, I have never understood this point. If children who have yet to sin go straight to heaven, why isn’t killing a baby the most moral thing one can do? It guarantees the salvation of another’s soul, and there is literally no other action one can perform that can do that. (In no other case can one be certain that a person’s soul is in a state of grace.)

    Abortion doctors should be praised as selfless heroes for sending so many souls to eternal bliss.

    Really, what is the Christian argument against this position? No, really?

    • anon
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:18 am | Permalink

      With the advent of Jesus, you now have to be baptized to get into heaven – to get rid of your original sin. So if you abort a fetus before it is baptized, it goes to hell (it still has sin on its soul). Or purgatory, if you are Catholic.

      But yeah, I have never understood this even in the slightest. If god would not send babies’ souls to hell, why not just kill them? I mean, I guess you would go to hell – but isn’t christianity all about self sacrifice?

      • Kevin
        Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        Haven’t you heard? Aborted babies go to heaven now.

        It was in the news a while back. The pope said so.

        I think we should abort every baby — just to be safe, you know. Don’t want those babies to sin — ever. So, the best course of action is to abort them.

        Funny, though. A lot of fundie preachers disagree. Oh well, another item added to my list of things religion will have to agree on before I’ll join one.

        Abortion and bacon cheeseburgers. And hats. Foreskins. The list grows bigger every day.

      • Tulse
        Posted October 20, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

        With the advent of Jesus, you now have to be baptized to get into heaven

        That’s not what Craig believes:

        if we believe, as I do, that God’s grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation

        So for him at least the problem still exists.

        • Posted October 21, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

          The above sounds related to the story about the Inuit elder who asked the missionary if he would go to hell if he had not known about Christianity. The missionary told him (being a rather open but odd sort) that, no, not if he didn’t know. The retort on the part of the Inuk was to simply say: “then why did you tell me?”

      • Margaret
        Posted October 21, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

        With the advent of Jesus, you now have to be baptized to get into heaven – to get rid of your original sin. So if you abort a fetus before it is baptized, it goes to hell (it still has sin on its soul).

        Then just make up a ritual to baptize a fetus before you abort it, the same way someone made up a ritual to baptize babies. If the Mormons can baptize long dead people, surely the Catholics can come up with a way to baptize a fetus. Or just let the Mormons baptize the dead fetus before you flush it.

    • Jordan Bissell
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

      Hullo Tulse,

      I agree that Dr. Craig’s casuistry is not so hot.

      However, speaking as a Christian I can tell you that most Christians reject ends-justifies-means moral logic; this is the case with the Catholic Church for example. So if it’s wrong to kill an innocent human being, and a fetus is an innocent human being, it’s wrong to kill them no matter how benevolent the intention.

      • Dominic
        Posted October 20, 2011 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        But a foetus is not a human being. Is an egg a human being or half a human being, or a sperm a human being or half a human being? When they fuse they magically acquire a soul or do the gametes have half souls?

        • Jordan Bissell
          Posted October 20, 2011 at 11:55 am | Permalink

          Hello there Dominic–Perhaps you confess the doctrine of total depravity, in which case I suppose the fetus would not be innocent. But it’s at least a human being; it’s an individual member of the species Homo sapiens, genetically distinct from any other human being; it has its own biological integrity, and, unlike a spermatozoa or ovum, is not functionally part of a larger organism. No need for soul talk. Not that there’s anything wrong with psychology.

          • Reginald Selkirk
            Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

            But it’s at least a human being

            Sure. And at least an egg is a chicken.

            • ChrisKG
              Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

              Is an egg a chicken before it is fertilized?

          • Dominic
            Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

            No it is not a human being is my answer. It has no brain, no nervous system to start with, it cannot survive on its own outside the womb until about 6 months is it?

            • Dominic
              Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

              Oh, & hello Jordan!

              • Jordan Bissell
                Posted October 20, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

                Quite right Dominic, but the conclusion to draw from those facts is not that the fetus is not a human being, but that the fetus is a biologically immature human being; it has the same continuity of biological existence that you and I do, and, unless aborted, it will go on to develop the distinctive qualities of the kind of thing it already is—a human being.

                Cheers, jb

            • Microraptor
              Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:48 pm | Permalink

              And it’s usually a month or two later before it can survive outside the womb without the intervention of a lot of mid to late 20th Century medicine.

            • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
              Posted October 26, 2011 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

              Genetically, the foetus is a form of human being. It happens to be a non-sentient form of human life. It joins the ranks of other forms of non-sentient human life, such as skin and organs. They all have the potential to turn into sentient human life if provided with the means of developing appropriately, either in the womb or, as clones, in the test tube. Doctors remove/abort pieces of non-sentient human life like this every day.

              The crucial factor is not whether a blastoma, embyro or foetus is a form of human life but whether it has the same degree of sentience and will to live as any of the fully grown humans whose lives its continued growth will negatively affect. It is a matter of triage: deciding the balance of who, how many and how much the competing life forms will be hurt. They all have the right to live a life as free from pain and suffering as is realistically possible. They all have the right to be protected from future pain and suffering where possible.

              The problem with simplistic “right to life” arguments is that they give the foetus more rights than anyone else in the equation. That is neither fair nor reasonable.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted October 21, 2011 at 12:23 am | Permalink

            unlike a spermatozoa or ovum, is not functionally part of a larger organism.

            uh, my germ cells are functional parts of me until I ejaculate.

            stop dehumanizing my sperm!

      • Tulse
        Posted October 20, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

        if it’s wrong to kill an innocent human being, and a fetus is an innocent human being, it’s wrong to kill them no matter how benevolent the intention.

        If someone threatened your child with torture, would you be willing to take his or her place? What if by agreeing to be tortured yourself you could guarantee that ten children would not be forced to endure excruciating pain? How about a hundred children?

        Yes, killing a child may send you to hell, but it sends that child to heaven. Are you so selfish that you are unwilling to sacrifice yourself so that others can be with your god forever? Isn’t that essentially what your saviour did?

        This isn’t a rhetorical example, but a serious argument — even if it is “wrong” for an individual to kill babies, wouldn’t it be “right” for a person to sacrifice their future redemption for the redemption of many many others?

        • Jordan Bissell
          Posted October 20, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

          Hi Tulse—I’d say the argument is serious enough to be appended to the next edition of The God Delusion, for sure.

          However, your reductio ad absurdum only works if you first accept the moral premise that the end does justify the means. But if Christianity is true the end does not justify the means. So in order to be led to your desired conclusion that Christianity is absurd I first have to accept that Christianity is false. In other words, if I want to be filleted all I have to do is bite the hook.

          Tulse, I hate to break it to you but not all Christians are masochists, as I’m certainly sure there are some atheists who are not sadists–even if Marquis de Sade wasn’t one of them.

          Cheers, jb

          • Tulse
            Posted October 20, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

            Jordan, are you saying that your god would not allow into heaven a baby killed by someone because they wanted to save the child from hell? Would your god condemn a infant to hell just because someone wanted to save them from it? I really don’t understand your point about ends and means — in any other situation you would certainly do anything to save your child from torture and death, even if it meant your own, no? As long as that is true, why is abortion not a noble sacrifice on the part of the abortionist, risking eternal torture to ensure the eternal bliss of many souls? Yes, your god may condemn the murderer, but as long as your god does not also condemn the babies, surely this sacrifice can be justified, no?

            • Sajanas
              Posted October 21, 2011 at 9:54 am | Permalink

              Its a valid point… even if God says “oh, killing children is wrong, don’t do this”, unless he deliberately prevents the dead children from entering heaven, this is basically an exploit for heaven.

              Though another interesting thought is, do these dead embryos and fetuses go to heaven as they are at the moment of death, namely an entity without perception and personality? That would be a discouragement, since while the children go to heaven, they are essentially brain dead non entities. But if that is the case, what does that say about people who die that had Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or a lobotomy?

              • Tulse
                Posted October 21, 2011 at 11:35 am | Permalink

                this is basically an exploit for heaven

                That’s a great way of putting it, and captures the issue perfectly — even though the Christian god may not intend this outcome, it’s what the system seems to allow.

            • Jordan Bissell
              Posted October 21, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

              No, it can’t, that’s the point. Have a look at the Grand Inquisitor portion of Brother’s Karamazov; the GI uses the same ends-means moral logic in his scrutiny of Christ. Of course Dostoevsky’s point is that the Grand Inquisitor is allied with Satan; I don’t think that of you, Tulse.

              Cheers,
              jb

              • Tulse
                Posted October 21, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

                Jordan, you still haven’t engaged the argument I’m making, so let’s make this simple, and start over with a simple question: if I kill 50 babies, do they go directly to heaven?

              • Jordan Bissell
                Posted October 21, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

                Tulse, didn’t see a direct “reply” link under your last comment, but to address it:

                Here’s your reductio:

                1) It’s wrong to kill innocent human beings.

                2) But if Christianity is true it wouldn’t be wrong, since by killing innocent human beings you could ensure their eternal salvation—even if you were damned.

                3) But that’s absurd, ergo Christianity is absurd.

                But the utilitarian assumption of premise two is rejected by Christianity, so you can’t use it to get to your conclusion—you see? The second premise is false. It’s like saying “If Christianity is true God is not a trinity of persons.” On the contrary. You need to think of a different second premise to get from one to three.

                So when you ask me “If I kill 50 babies will they all go to heaven?” And I say, “Yeah, sure.” And you say, “Ahah! Then it’s moral to kill babies according to your religion!”

                The answer is, “No, it’s not.”

                Cheers & Cherubim, jb

              • Tulse
                Posted October 21, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

                Jordan, you still misunderstand me. Presume that all I care about is that the most souls get to heaven — I don’t care at all about my own eternal life. Regardless if premise 2 is false, my point is that it would be rational to kill babies (as long as I believe innocents go to heaven). I haven’t seen you deny this, nor deny that that would produce the maximal benefit all around.

                Yes, you’ve argued that killing innocents is somehow independently “wrong”, but I haven’t seen you justify that, and as I’ve said, I don’t actually care whether it’s “wrong” — I am willing to accept my own eternal damnation to save others from infinite torture. So why shouldn’t I do the “wrong” thing to produce the best outcome? Why shouldn’t I be willing to sacrifice myself in order to save others? Isn’t that precisely what Jesus did? Isn’t that what any parent would do in any other situation?

              • Jordan Bissell
                Posted October 21, 2011 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

                Sure Tulse, it’s rational, there’s a certain logic to it; just as there’s a certain logic to killing all Jews if you start from the premise that Jews are a plague upon society: accept the latter and the former’s quite rational. But remember that the madman is not the one who has lost his reason; the madman is the one who has lost everything except his reason. (Chesterton, Orthodoxy) That’s why an atheist is only sane to the extent that he’s inconsistent.

                Cheers, jb

              • Tulse
                Posted October 21, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

                So, Jordan, you wouldn’t sin to save your child from torture?

              • Posted October 21, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

                Why is it that Christians have such a hard time with logic?

                I’m sure Tulse finds the idea of Jesus and Heaven as laughably immature as the idea of Voldemort and Hogwart’s.

                All he’s doing is stating that, if you believe that murdered infants go straight to Heaven without passing Go or collecting $200, and if you believe that going to Heaven is a Good Thing™, then it logically follows, of necessity, that murdering children is also a Good Thing™ for the children. And if you believe that sacrificing your own good for the sake of others is also a Good Thing™, it similarly follows that your own sacrifice of an eternity in Hell is a more than fair trade for ensuring an eternity in paradise for as many children as you can take with you.

                Yes, that’s completely batshit fucking insane. But the logic is sound; it’s the premises (all those “ifs”) that are to blame.

                If you sincerely believe that murdered children go right to Heaven and that you have a moral obligation to sacrifice your own needs for the welfare of others, you have a moral obligation to murder children.

                If you’re a sane and rational person, you will realize that murdering children is about as horrendous and hideous a thing as is possible for a human to do; therefore, you must reject the premises. In this case, the solution is obvious: children don’t go to Heaven any more than Peter Pan goes to Never-Never Land, and for the exact same reason.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Jordan Bissell
                Posted October 21, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

                Hello Ben—I’m sure Tulse does find Hogwarts laughable, but you strike me with the awful impression that you take it more seriously. I mean, you seem to think that if you chant something enough, like a warlock on his way to battle, it will eventually come true; that any idea is valid so long as it’s expressed with the right intonation or italic.

                Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t believe in wizards, I emphatically do; it’s just that the ones I’ve consulted hold to a different doctrine. And it’s this: a paralogism, unless its major or minor premise is modified, remains a paralogism—for all eternity!

                Take a look again at the syllogisms in your third and fifth paragraphs. Look closely, and you’ll find that the first syllogism is salubrious enough but doesn’t touch on the focal point of the issue at hand. And the second’s a non-sequitur.

                Ben, I do believe my time is better spent conversing with you than trying to play the harp for an ass. Now I have to post this before midnight or my ride home will turn into a pumpkin.

                Cheers, jb

              • Jordan Bissell
                Posted October 21, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

                “If you’re a sane and rational person, you will realize that murdering children is about as horrendous and hideous a thing as is possible for a human to do…”

                Glad to see that we at least agree on the pro-life cause though Ben.

                Cheers, jb

              • Posted October 22, 2011 at 6:59 am | Permalink

                So, help us out here, Jordan.

                Here are some simple, yes-or-no questions for you. Would you be so kind as to supply the answers?

                Yes or no: do children who have been murdered go to Heaven?

                Yes or no: is it a good thing to go to Heaven?

                Yes or no: do those who murder children go to Hell?

                Yes or no: is it a bad thing to go to Hell?

                Yes or no: is it a good thing to sacrifice your own wellbeing for the sake of others?

                Once you give us the yes-or-no answers to those yes-or-no questions, perhaps then we’ll be able to correctly deduce the proper course of action for one who sincerely believes in such nonsense.

                Oh — and if your “pro-life” comment is meant to suggest that I oppose abortion rights, you’ve got another thing coming.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Jordan Bissell
                Posted October 22, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

                Ben—You’ve managed to produce a red herring, and a non-sequitur, to confound them, to beg the question, and you’ve now introduced a set of questions for me that would allow you to go on begging the question, all in an attempt to rationalize a silly thought experiment designed to show that Christianity is absurd. Look, there are deeper waters out there man, and Christianity is simply not the shallow pool you suppose it to be.

                As for the argument, grant that I answer all your questions in the affirmative, that still does not get us to the conclusion that the end justifies the means.

                Cheers,
                jb

              • Tulse
                Posted October 22, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

                So, Jordan, given all you’ve agreed to, why would it be wrong to kill babies? You’ve made vague noises about ends not justifying means, but that almost always applies to doing something bad to others. Here we’re talking about someone willingly allowing themselves to be tortured to keep others from that fate (and, as I’ve noted several times, this is exactly what Jesus did). So, be specific — why is it wrong to ensure that innocents have eternal life?

              • Jordan Bissell
                Posted October 22, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

                Tulse—

                OK.

                The focal point of the debate is not whether the end justifies the means, or whether the end does not justify the means. It may or may not.

                But if the end does not justify the means, then it’s wrong to commit a bad action for a good effect; it’s wrong to kill an innocent human being (bad action) to ensure their salvation (good effect). If it’s wrong to do it, you’re not obliged to do it.
                And that is in fact what the Catholic Church teaches: the end does not justify the means.

                Now, convincing you that the Church is right about that ethical prescription is a different can of flying spaghetti monster. Perhaps she is wrong. But the mere fact that she teaches it undermines your asseveration that Christians ought to be or praise abortionists if they believe what they profess—if you become pope and write a de fide encyclical on the subject we may have a problem.

                The deeper, darker irony here is that the moral logic you’re presenting in order to show that Christians ought to kill babies is the one that many use to justify actually killing the occupants of the womb, assuming you’re pro-abortion like Ben.

                But that’s also a different conversation.

                Cheers, jb

              • Microraptor
                Posted October 22, 2011 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

                “The deeper, darker irony here is that the moral logic you’re presenting in order to show that Christians ought to kill babies is the one that many use to justify actually killing the occupants of the womb, assuming you’re pro-abortion like Ben.”

                Really? You got a cite for that claim?

              • Tulse
                Posted October 22, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

                Jordan, if I had a child, I would certainly be willing to sacrifice myself to save them from what I truly believed to be eternal torture. If you wouldn’t, then I really have to question the logic of your Church’s morality.

                I’m not asking if your Church thinks it is “wrong” in abstract — I am asking if you, as a parent, would not be willing to sacrifice yourself to save your own child from infinite agony. Are you saying you wouldn’t?

              • Jordan Bissell
                Posted October 23, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

                Hello MicroRaptor–Yeah, just check out Peter Singer’s work on abortion. Operating under utilitarian assumptions, Singer does not deny that a fetus is an innocent human being; he denies that it’s wrong in principle to kill an innocent human being.

                Tulse–You’ll have to allow me to demur. But if ever in Indiana look me up; perhaps we can discuss that can of flying spaghetti monster over a few beers at the pub.

                Cheers, jb

              • Microraptor
                Posted October 23, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

                Oh goody, Jordan.

                You’ve managed to find one relatively obscure person who argues that. Of course, his views are far and away the minority, so your attempts to tar all supporters of legalized abortion with that brush fall flat.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted October 21, 2011 at 12:25 am | Permalink

            Jordan.

            what specific, UNIQUE, Christian dogma is actually of any demonstrable, pragmatic use to anyone?

            have you ever thought about it?

            • Jordan Bissell
              Posted October 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

              Hello Ichthyic,

              What’s the premise here, that a belief has to be unique and useful in order to be true? Scientology’s dogma is quite unique, and it was also of tremendous pragmatic use to L. Ron Hubbard–made the guy a lot of money. I’ll let you join first though!

              Cheers, jb

          • Sajanas
            Posted October 21, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink

            This reminds me of problems people have playing video games and table top board games. There is the spirit of the game, where you have a fair contest, everyone has a good time, and there is a winner and losers. Then there is the desire to win.

            Christianity has winners, namely, the people that go to heaven. And they win big, super big, infinitely big, while the losers win infinitely badly. So it invites the kind of rule lawyering to promote the win.

      • Pete D
        Posted October 22, 2011 at 10:32 am | Permalink

        So then is God immoral for ordering the killing of innocents?

      • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
        Posted October 24, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

        If it is wrong to kill an innocent human being then your argument implies that the Old Testament god was wrong also, on many, many occasions.

        • Posted October 24, 2011 at 10:15 am | Permalink

          Jesus, too, for that matter.

          What is Hell but the imposition of cruel and unusual punishment? And where is the Grand Jury that serves the indictment against the accused and the public and impartial trial by a jury of the accused’s peers?

          Jesus has a better PR team than YHWH, but Jesus’s personalized sadism makes YHWH look like an out-of-control amateur.

          b&

          • Jordan Bissell
            Posted October 24, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

            Microraptor—Peter Singer is actually very well known; I know of no other ethicist with greater notoriety than Dr. Singer. He’s far from alone in his position though; Michael Tooley, Judith Jarvis Thompson, and David Boonin, to name a few, are other big name academicians (as far as abortion debate is concerned) who tow a similar line.

            Hi Pete D and Rosemary—It’s true that divine command-theory leads to moral absurdity, and similarly true that the OT is not without error and evident human wickedness—for instance the Psalmist gleefully ponders smashing the heads of Babylonian children against a rock. But careful not to throw babies out with bathwater; the OT also contains ethical ideas markedly precocious for its time; for instance its emphasis on caring for the poor and weak—an idea more or less alien to classical antiquity.

            Ben—Yeah, the doctrine of hell is appalling, no doubt, but it’s predicated on two doctrines which are appealing: free-will and cosmic justice. To reject both of those doctrines out of hand is to give up quite a lot. If you accept those doctrines however, the doctrine of hell becomes more plausible. As to its nature, C. S. Lewis put it eloquently when he said, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’” Therefore, “The gates to hell are locked from the inside.”

            Cheers, jb

            • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
              Posted October 24, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

              Then how did Jesus get in for the few days (was it two or three?) following his death, as written in the New Testament?

            • Microraptor
              Posted October 24, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

              And yet if you took a poll asking Americans who supported legalized abortion why they support it, you’d still find that Mr Singer’s arguments aren’t anywhere close to the majority.

              And, in a slight tangent, you’re also ignoring all the people who find it to be totally acceptable to gun down abortion clinic doctors in churches or send bombs to their clinics- which really gets back to the point Ben was trying to make in the first place, I think.

            • Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:09 am | Permalink

              So, an all-powerful, all-loving, all-knowing entity can’t think of anything he can do but torture people? Damn, but your gods sure are incompetent.

              As to the freedom willies and cosmic justice…well, “free will” is incoherent babble. You can provide us some laughs by trying to offer up a meaningful definition, if you feel so inclined.

              And you dare call Jesus’s tyranny of torture “justice”? This may be cliché, but why do you hate America so much that you would equate something as hideous as Jesus’s infinite sadism with justice?

              b&

              • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
                Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:42 am | Permalink

                Ageed!

                Among humans, punishment has two general uses:
                1. to teach people not to repeat an action
                2. to pay people back for the harm they caused others

                According to behavioral science only the first is positive, and, even then, not nearly as successful as more benevolent approaches to teaching. The second use has negative effects on learning and serves only to mitigate someone’s anger and wish for retribution.

                Permanent punishment has no positive effect on learning at all. Nor is it properly retributive. No crime that a human could do is equal in severity to this level of punishment. Its only purpose is to assuage someone’s pathologically insatiable sadism.

                Any entity that believes permanent torture is justified for finite crimes and/or crimes committed by one’s ancestors has serious socio-psychological pathology. Consequently, anyone who thinks such an entity is worthy of worship is pretty warped themselves.

                A god with the characteristics the early Church Fathers ascribed to the Christian Yawheh god (omni-benevolence, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence) could not engage in this monstrous and effectively useless behavior. Ergo the Jesus character is not a god or is a god without these characteristics.

            • Tulse
              Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:26 am | Permalink

              the doctrine of hell is appalling, no doubt, but it’s predicated on two doctrines which are appealing: free-will and cosmic justice

              Inflicting infinite pain on a person for all eternity because of finite transgressions can never be “just” under any meaning of the word.

              And why does an omnipotent being, one who can produce whole universes with nothing more than thought, care whether little bits of damp carbon do as it says? Is your god so seriously insecure that it demands total fealty and obedience from every part of its creation? Your god is far more demanding that even the most demanding parent — what loving father would torture their child if they happened once to disobey?

              You see, Jordan, I don’t think you really understand, or perhaps simply don’t really believe, the concept that you are committing to here, which is infinite pain for an infinite period because of some finite sin. Have you ever experienced profound pain, such as a kidney stone or migraine? Can you imagine such persisting for years on end? Now can you imagine that a thousand times worse, and lasting forever? Do you really think there is anything that would justify that punishment?

              • Jordan Bissell
                Posted October 25, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

                Thank you for your responses.

                Microraptor—If you concede 1) that it’s wrong to kill an innocent human being but 2) want to remain pro-abortion 3)steer clear of the developmental biology section at your local library. Christopher Hitchens and Mother Theresa are not people whose views can be said to often coincide, but they are agreed in this: that a fetus is an innocent human being. So you find yourself not only at odds with Peter Singer on the one hand, but also with Mother Theresa and Christopher Hitchens (!) on the other. You are surrounded on all sides.

                Rosemary, Ben, Tulse—I noticed a common thread in your responses along the lines of torture, sadism, pathology, monstrousness, insatiable sadism, infinite sadism, pathology, torture…monstrousness. Ah, well. I’m afraid we can hurl impressionistic portraits back and forth at one another ad infinitum, but that really would be hellish. I think you’ve well enough established that atheist comic strips about the afterlife are comical, and in terms of content, stripped.

                But the point about hell is that if God exists He is the center of the universe. And if we have free will it’s spiritually possible to distort our perception of reality in such a way as to come to think of ourselves as the center of the universe. Obviously, when the mountebank is exposed before the real McCoy, it’s a painful event for the mountebank. The doctrine of hell simply says that there are those mountebanks who even after being exposed prefer their own act to the Divine Comedy—and they end up being part of it anyway. But the gates are locked from the inside.

                Ben—It may be a logical contradiction to try and convince me that determinism is true. If you say, for instance, that if only I paid sufficient attention to the evidence in favor of determinism I would accept it, you would tacitly be appealing to my ability to choose a)either to reject the evidence in favor of my prejudices or b) pay sufficient attention to the evidence and become a determinist. In that case you’d be conceding the very point you’re concerned to deny: that free-choice is possible. But perhaps it is not possible to arrive at determinism by rational deliberation—in which case why should we be determinists?

                Cheers, jb

              • Microraptor
                Posted October 26, 2011 at 3:11 am | Permalink

                Hey Jordan, want to know something funny?

                I’ve got more biology training than Chris Hitchens and Mother Teressa put together. I really don’t care what either of them thought about fetuses because I’m actually more familiar with the subject than them.

              • Tulse
                Posted October 25, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

                I noticed a common thread in your responses along the lines of torture, sadism, pathology, monstrousness, insatiable sadism, infinite sadism, pathology, torture…monstrousness

                Wait, so your hell isn’t infinitely painful? Seriously, we’ve given you our views of what Christians say hell is — what’s your specific take?

                if God exists He is the center of the universe

                Right, so why would the center of the universe care about what tiny bits of damp carbon happen to do in an insignificant corner of that universe? Why does a being that can create universes need the praise, worship, and obedience of a few apes on a tiny rock? Is your god that seriously insecure or narcissistic that it matters what we do?

                the gates are locked from the inside

                Wait, so people can leave hell? That’s sure not what Sister Dorothy (and her ruler) taught me at Corpus Christi Elementary School. (And speaking of sadism…)

                atheist comic strips about the afterlife are comical, and in terms of content, stripped

                Seriously? Because your version of hell sounds rather like it’s taken from Sandman (no, really, the “Season of Mists” arc), whereas mine is from years of parochial school. You seem to forget that almost all atheists were actually raised in a religion. So no, my picture of hell is not some adult atheist fantasy, but instead what I learned as a child. And I wasn’t taught about “mountebanks” and some touchy-feely notion of estrangement from the center of the universe — I was taught that hell was a very real place of infinite, unending torture to which you would be condemned by God Himself if you died with a mortal sin on your soul (and that included touching yourself down there while thinking of Farrah Fawcett…well, it was the ’70s…).

                And I think if you did a survey of Christians, you would find that most also believe that hell is indeed a place of torment, and that most think that their god is the one who directly judges whether you get sent to this place of infinite pain (and no, you can’t unlock it from the inside). Do you really doubt that such a survey would find that? Do you really believe your views are those of mainstream Christians?

              • Posted October 26, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

                Jordan, it isn’t at all a question of “Free Will” v determinism.

                Rather, “Free Will” is entirely incoherent, even if one presupposes the existence of a phantagasmical all-impotent sole that’s doning the willying.

                Does the heel follow a rational, logically-definable path? Or does the fish flop around randomly, without rhyme nor reason?

                What you think you’re exercising when you set your willy free is instead your ability to create mental models of the likely outcomes of available choices.

                You can pretend you’ve got an invisible puppetmaster pulling your strings to go along with the invisible monsters under your bed who’ll torture you at the command of your invisible Jesus “friend” if you commit thoughtcrimes, but you’d just be fooling yourself the same way an immature child might.

                Cheers,

                b&

            • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
              Posted October 25, 2011 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

              Jordon,

              1. Whether Peter Singer, Mother Teresa, Christopher Hitchens or the Queen of England believes that a foetus is a human life is immaterial. This is simply a logically fallacious appeal to authority. What matters is the strength of their arguments.

              2. My disgust over the horrific nature of eternal torture for finite deeds has nothing to do with whether I am the center of the universe. I have no sense of being that important anyway. I am simply passionately concerned for the fair and reasonable welfare of all mankind.

              3. While it is totally irrelevant to whether your version of god is humane or monstrous, it is merely your fallible contention that your version of god is the center of the universe, whatever that actually means. If a god exists there is no valid reason why it must be yours and no valid reason why the god would be the most important thing in the universe, either. It only follows if your understanding, knowledge, logic and interpretation of sacred text are all perfect or infallible. Of course, they are not.

              4. There is no reason why concepts of determinism and free will cannot both be correct and both wrong. People cannot make real choices outside the options that they are aware of, their programmed automatic responses, their unconscious biases, their delusional and illusional perceptions and whatever mind-bending influence is being exerted on them by others as well as their external and internal environment, including their genetic make-up, personality and educational experience. That puts far more restrictions on the extent of “free will” than the average person is currently aware of.

              The problem with the biblical concept of free will is that it does not allow for the operation of these limiting factors. That, alone, should alert you to the fact that these doctrines were not thought up by a perfectly wise, knowledgable and loving being. Your version of god is revealed as ignorant, mean and vicious – and it makes no difference how many indoctrinated but otherwise intelligent people you can find to disagree with that assessment.

              5. You have regurgitated the common evangelical myth that atheists have deliberately chosen to reject your version of god and turned their back on him. This makes no more sense than saying that you have rejected the Easter Rabbit and turned your back on it. If investigation provides sufficient evidence to suggest that it is extremely unlikely that god or the Easter Rabbit exist then concluding that they do not exist is not a “choice” but a rational conclusion. It is impossible to deliberately chose to do anything to or about something that you have concluded does not exist.

              Even if we concede, just for the sake of your argument, that atheists are illogical enough to choose to do things to something they do not believe is there, then the rest of your argument is still insanely evil.

              You deduce that the “choice” not to believe in the existence of your version of god is sufficient to justify external torture of such non-believers. Furthermore, you apparently consider that this is “just” and reasonable. I sincerely hope that you behave astronomically better than the model that you insist is the epitome of perfection. I am very glad that neither I nor my family ever have to find out.

              • Jordan Bissell
                Posted October 26, 2011 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

                Thanks for your responses and exchange of views. I don’t have much in the way of reply other than to say I’ve never read Sandman but will check it out.

                Tulse–The view I was sketching may not be mainstream but it is orthodox. The chief punishment of hell is held to be eternal separation from God. Defined that way and for all we know, hell might be a cruise boat on the Nile with an infinite supply of fudgesicles, but without the Beatific Vision which is the end for which we were created. The Church, for her part, has never declared anyone to be in hell and prays for the salvation of all mankind: “Save all souls from hell, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.”

                The best book on hell written in the last 700 years is C. S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce. I highly recommend it.

                Cheers, jb

              • Microraptor
                Posted October 26, 2011 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

                Jordan, I’m not sure how many ways this can be restated, but the point everyone else has been trying to make to you is that your basic premise- that the bible is true- is unproven and highly contradictory with EVERY bit of known evidence available. Therefore, any argument that is built off of that, no matter how well written, like CS Lewis’s works, fail by default.

              • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
                Posted October 26, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

                The “separation from God” view of Hell is not the one that the Jesus described in the Gospels subscribes to, unless you do a lot of semantic reinterpretation and twiddling. It may be a salve to consciences socialized in modern civilized societies but it is religiously dishonest.

              • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
                Posted October 26, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

                And whatever “Sandman” is, I didn’t mention it and haven’t read it either. Perhaps you have been visited by that fellow without your knowledge and are simply dreaming. That seems as good an explanation as any.

              • Microraptor
                Posted October 26, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

                Sandman is a comic book series. Jordan’s trying to reply to multiple people in the same post.

              • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
                Posted October 26, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

                I have just figured that out. The Internet is wonderful!
                But thanks anyway.
                BTW, I am enjoying your postings.

              • Microraptor
                Posted October 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

                And the best book on Hell was Faces of Evil: The Fiends, by Colin McComb.

  15. dunstar
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    lol. I watched a debate between Ehrman and Craig where from what I recall the topic was about the historicity of the resurrection of the Magic Bearded Man and during the course of this debate, Craig somehow started to claim and imply that there is a mathematical formulation and proof for the existence of the Big Kahuna. lol. I now regret that I don’t take any hallucinogens because I think that is probably the only way to make sense of the awesomeness that is William Lane Craig.

    • Llwddythlw
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:53 am | Permalink

      As I recall, he flashed up a slide of a Bayesian calculation. The type of argument (others have used it) has been analyzed and shown to be fallacious at other web sites, but I think that in assigning prior probabilities, it makes the hugely unwarranted assumption that somebody who says “I don’t know if there is a god” is thereby assigning a 0.5 probability to god’s existence.

      • dunstar
        Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:02 am | Permalink

        lol. At Craig’s level of stupidity, you can’t really even be offended at anything immoral that he says because it’s so blatantly obvious how stupid it is that it just becomes comical. I think to reach that DEFCON 1 level stupidity, you actually have to actively put effort into it.

        • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
          Posted October 24, 2011 at 9:53 am | Permalink

          The horrifying truth is that Craig is highly intelligent. The problem is that his moral development has not kept up with his cognitive development, and that deficit warps his otherwise intelligent thinking. According to the Kohlberg Scale of Moral Reasoning WLC is stuck somewhere between Level 1 and Level 2 (external authoritarian) on the 6-level scale.

    • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:51 am | Permalink

      Craig used statistics in a way that no statistican or pschometrician would dream of using them. He assigned probability values to items that have occured only once and therefore have no accompanying data on which to base such a figure. While I have no doubt that it impressed the people that Craig aims to please but it sure as hell will do nothing more positive than amuse the incredulous experts. I nearly choked on my coffee.

  16. raven
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    IIRC Richard Dawkins once described the OT god as one of the most evil ficitional characters ever invented.

    Al Mohler, a Southern Baptist leader and head of their main seminary once said he admired Dawkins for telling the truth about their god.

    If I got the facts right here, the fundies know their god is the Invisible Sky Monster. And that is all just fine with them.

    Mohler BTW, was made in his god’s image. He’s an ugly escuse for a human being.

  17. Saikat Biswas
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    If I remember correctly though, Dawkins did share a debating platform with Craig in Mexico last year (or maybe the year before). I suppose he was unaware of Craig’s ‘enlightened’ view of genocide at that time.

    • Llwddythlw
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:15 am | Permalink

      I saw it, and it was one of the more annoying items that I’ve forced myself to watch on Youtube. Each speaker had to step into a facsimile boxing ring and speak for only 6 minutes in the first round. In the second round, each speaker had 3 minutes. The line up was Matt Ridley, Michael Shermer and Richard Dawkins v David Wolpe, William Lane Craig and Douglas Geivett.

      After this, the format dissolved into a series of rather flat monologues from Michio Kaku and others, interspersed with comments from the original six speakers. Here’s the link.

      • Saikat Biswas
        Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:30 am | Permalink

        Good grief! That’s the one.

        • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
          Posted October 24, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

          Interesting. Craig was the only one of the team who engaged in mean character assassination – of Richard Dawkins.

  18. Nicolas Perrault
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    The bible is an interminable nightmare that has come true.

  19. Mal
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    “Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children? The brutalising effect on these Israeli [sic] soldiers is disturbing.”

    The exact same worry that Himmler had about the members of SS execution squads during the last war.

  20. Llwddythlw
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:02 am | Permalink

    Craig’s answer to the Euthyphro was discussed at length on a prior podcast of Reasonable Doubts. As I recall, it’s a case of reverse-engineering the nature of god to fall outside the scope of Plato’s argument.

  21. 386sx
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    The Thinking Christian says: What does a scientist and professor have to do with pronouncing an issue like this settled:…

    Help! Help! We’ve been attacked by the intelligent educated segment of our culture!

    an issue that is out of your field, and on which you have not even acknowledged the ongoing conversation?

    So since the existence of God is an issue that is not settled, then I take it that the Thinking Christian is an agnostic? Those are some mighty big high-falutin words, Thinking Christian. Now let’s see you walk the walk.

  22. Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Is this a private party?

    Or just some persons who aren’t “reasonable” at all?

    Can any of you destroy contradict any of his or Thomas Aquinas arguments, by Logic, Reason and Science? Yes those “3” you like to start each sentence of your “common speech” or paste it at the end…

    Some of them were refuted almost 2000 years ago…
    And you, by Self-comfort, Intellectual laziness, don’t even try to learn with errors made by others and (STILL!) use Arguments that have been preached long away ago but completely discarded.

    The matters here talked, are so basic that I would feel ashamed – if I were you (but i’m not… ok…) -, after spend 2 hours reading so common books, like St Augustine’s “Confessions”…

    Have a Nice Day,
    God Bless You All.

    • Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      Can any of you destroy contradict any of his or Thomas Aquinas arguments, by Logic, Reason and Science?

      Craig has a man-crush on an apocalyptic world-destroying zombie who had a predilection for having his intestines fondled through his gaping chest wound. What use logic, reason, or science against a deranged idiot such as that?

      Cheers,

      b&

    • Dominic
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      You what?

    • raven
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      “Can any of you destroy contradict any of his or Thomas Aquinas arguments, by Logic, Reason and Science?”

      Sure. They are easily refuted as flawed arguments and no one important has taken them seriously for centuries.

    • Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      Obviously you’ve missed our discussions about Augustine and Aquinas here.

      Yes, some of us have read some of their writings, and we’ve pointed out where they were wrong.

      Now, who’s the lazy one again?

    • Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      And you, by Self-comfort, Intellectual laziness, don’t even try to learn with errors made by others and (STILL!) use Arguments that have been preached long away ago but completely discarded.

      Funny, that’s how we see the arguments from your side too. At least the word “preached” is more accurate when applied to your side.

      Also, please try to sound a bit more coherent in the future.

      A nice day to you too. May the Flying Spaghetti Monster touch you with his noodly appendage.

    • Kevin
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:58 am | Permalink

      Aquinas? Really? Some of us have actually delved into the Summa. Have you? Can you honestly say that you agree with Aquinas logical reasoning behind the “fact” that Adam was made first out of mud and Eve second out of one of his ribs was so that woman would be subservient to man?

      Seriously. The entire Summa is one big logical mush, defending myths as if they were true.

      I prefer Harry Potter.

      • Kevin
        Posted October 20, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

        BTW: Here’s a destruction of Aquinas’ account of the creation of Adam and Eve by logic, reason, and science. Are you ready? Paying attention?

        The Adam and Eve story is a myth.

        Science tells us that there were never fewer than 10,000 human ancestors in the gene pool. Therefore, science declares it to be an impossibility for there to have been only two original humans. No matter how you try to bend over backwards and talk about “ensoulment” or other inanities, the fact remains that there were never fewer than 10,000 humans/proto-humans. Therefore, it is logically impossible to have a single pair being the first “true” humans.

        Logic also tells us that if Adam had been made from mud, humans would have a vastly different biological makeup than other animals. We don’t. We’re apes. Evolutionarily close to chimps. Evolutionarily closer to Neanderthals, who most definitely were not us, even though they used tools, wore clothing, buried their dead, and on and on.

        Aquinas is flat-out wrong on the facts. Adam did not exist, nor could Eve possibly have been made from his rib. For the simple reason that mating pairs of humans descended from ancestral chimps, which descended from earlier species of monkeys, which descended from a different mammalian species, and on and on and on to a Tiktaalik-like creature which was the ancestor of all land-based animals, which was descended from a different species of fish, which was descended from an early chordate — all of which existed and bred sexually in populations of thousands to millions of breeding pairs. Sexual reproduction is a very very early biological adaptation. The myth-makers of the bible (and every other holy book, FWIW) and Aquinas did not understand evolution or biology. They were primitives.

        There was no first woman made from a rib. No first man made from mud. Therefore, Aquinas’ logic as to why women should be subservient to men fails because it is based on an entirely faulty premise.

        Get it? Aquinas fails.

        Pick up the Summa — flip randomly to any section you care to discuss. It will fail, too. For the exact same reasons. Aquinas is merely using specious reasoning to apologize for a literal interpretation of a primitive book of myths. He thought the stories were real. They’re not.

        • Microraptor
          Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Permalink

          Caveat: the common ancestor between modern humans and modern chimpanzees was almost certainly not a chimp, though it probably had a much greater resemblance to that side of the family tree.

    • 386sx
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 9:27 am | Permalink

      Can any of you destroy contradict any of his or Thomas Aquinas arguments, by Logic, Reason and Science?

      So they have concluded purely by logic reason and science that zombie god/man came back to life and then tweety-birdied back up into the sky. Okay!

    • Marta
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      While you were in Bible school, did you sleep through the classes on capitalization, or did your teachers say it was OK to make those rules up as you go, too?

      • Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        Capitalization is the least of admin’s problems, comment-related or otherwise.

  23. Dominic
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    The Jews/Israelites really were just a branch of the Caananites so the idea of them staying ‘pure’ is pretty absurd. By the way, I heard Ricard Dawkins talking last night at the Albert Hall – not bad.

  24. Kevin
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    I made the strong recommendation to shun Craig after his pronouncement.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees what a nasty piece of work he is.

    BTW, for Craig and all of his divine command groupies: Stay away from my kids. No kidding and quite serious about this, you come near my kids and we’re going to have a problem.

    • truthspeaker
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      And don’t join the military.

  25. neil
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Reading Craig’s interpretation of the slaughter of the Canaanites, his theology appears to be that the Universe, or at leastly the earthly part of it, is just a particularly gruesome virtual reality game for the purpose of titillating the ego of a twisted god.

    • Bryan
      Posted October 21, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

      Yes, but from the point of view of a theist, what else could it be (even in theory)? I’ve never understand how the mere existence of god could grant “purpose” to human existence.

  26. Posted October 20, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Back when I worked for Paramount Pictures (with a flex-title I invented), a British producer, John Heymann, came to us with the idea of a mini-series called “The Bible.”
    At the time I was in love with classy British TV mini-series like “Forsyte Saga” and “Upstairs Downstairs,” and was promoting the idea of an American mini-series based on American literary classics.
    So the guy I worked for dumped the “Bible” idea on my desk and asked for an evaluation (one of my favorite duties. My office looked out upon Central Park and I’d use my radiator-AC unit as a window seat and read while watching the leaves turn).
    I’d never read the bible; I’d been brought up in a home that was more outspokenly anti-religion than a-religious. So I began to read the bible, just as I read other film proposals, as a film possibility.
    I got as far into Genesis as the Cain and Abel story. I stalked into my boss’s office in a state of genuine religious revelation: “God is a shit!” I said.
    He laughed. (We rejected the mini-series.)

    • TJR
      Posted October 21, 2011 at 2:09 am | Permalink

      That’s exactly why the OT would make a great TV series. It would make Spartacus: Blood and Sand look like a vicarage tea party.

      You could tell it absolutely straight and it would be the most brutal and violent thing ever seen on TV. The full horrific story of Yahweh would be there for all to see, and the fundies would have no grounds on which to criticise it for misrepresenting the bible.

      I’m genuinely surprised that this has not been done yet.

      • Posted October 21, 2011 at 5:40 am | Permalink

        The Bible has no real heroes and an incoherent plot.

        OK, you’re right — it might make great cable TV.

  27. ChrisKG
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Dawkins should say, “I’ll show up to the goddamn debate when God does!”

  28. abb3w
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Still you simply cannot pretend that you have authority to use language like “simply cannot” here.

    …because only Thinking Christians are allowed to? Was that intentional, or not?

  29. Aaron Baker
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    Lane Craig is loathsome, I agree.

    As for the Euthyphro dilemma, I think Alston’s approach (i.e. God himself is the supreme standard of goodness that God looks to in decreeing that something is good) enables traditional theists to seize both horns of the dilemma without getting gored.

    I disbelieve in the Christian God for a host of reasons–but the Euthryphro dilemma isn’t one of them.

    • Dominic
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      If god is schizophrenic you can get out of that dilemma, or if you embrace a Janus-like dualist god, Manichaeism or Mandaeism perhaps that would also solve the problem.

    • H.H.
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

      As for the Euthyphro dilemma, I think Alston’s approach (i.e. God himself is the supreme standard of goodness that God looks to in decreeing that something is good) enables traditional theists to seize both horns of the dilemma without getting gored.

      So God derives his moral standards from himself and evaluates them against his own values. And you think this solves the dilemma how?

      • Aaron Baker
        Posted October 20, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Permalink

        In the second horn of the dilemma, we have God loving something because it’s good–and we’re typically told that in that case, God is referring to some external standard of goodness. But I don’t see any logical obstacle to concluding instead that the standard God is referring to is contained within himself. When we conceive of a standard of goodness, we may conceive of it as independent of God, but we can just as easily conceive of that standard as inherent in God.

        For Xns, God is perfectly good, is the source of all good, and is the sole standard by which one measures goodness. If all that were the case, I don’t see where a Xn goes wrong (as a matter of logic) in asserting that both horns of the dilemma are true: X is good because God (the source and standard of good) loves it; and God loves X because it’s good (God having ascertained that it’s good by reference to himself).

        There are tons of excellent reasons not to be a theist; I’m just not sure this is one of them.

        • Sajanas
          Posted October 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

          The problem with the self referential Good God is that its clearly not the same bad administrator described in the Bible. How does that explain God requiring the death of his son to forgive people? Why couldn’t he just forgive them without the murdering? Because it would seem to me, that objectively, just forgiving humanity, and telling them directly what he wants is more of a good action than the actions taken in the Bible.

          • Aaron Baker
            Posted October 22, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

            Sajanas wrote:

            The problem with the self referential Good God is that its clearly not the same bad administrator described in the Bible.

            I agree; but you’re raising a problem that I think is really unrelated to the Euthyphro dilemma (i.e. the God of the Bible is a colossal prick). I would just add that the douchebagginess of the Biblical God is one of those better reasons for disbelief that I hinted at.

        • H.H.
          Posted October 21, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

          Well, the dilemma is basically “how do we determine what good is?” Either good is whatever god decides (subjective), or there is a standard of goodness apart from god (objective).

          But I don’t see any logical obstacle to concluding instead that the standard God is referring to is contained within himself.

          It’s not illogical, it just means that morality is subjective.

          For Xns, God is perfectly good, is the source of all good, and is the sole standard by which one measures goodness.

          No, that doesn’t work, because then you are just measuring god’s morality against itself. It still leaves open the dilemma of how one determines whether god is good. We can’t determine whether god is morally good if moral goodness is defined as whatever god is. That’s circular. God’s inclinations themselves cannot be considered objectively moral without appealing to some standard apart from god.

          There are tons of excellent reasons not to be a theist; I’m just not sure this is one of them.

          I agree, it’s not an argument against theism. It is, however, a great counterargument for rejecting theistic claims of possessing an objective morality.

          • Ichthyic
            Posted October 21, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

            Well, the dilemma is basically “how do we determine what good is?” Either good is whatever god decides (subjective), or there is a standard of goodness apart from god (objective).

            uh, that’s not a correct use of terms subjective and objective.

            just, FYI…

            carry on with the inane rant though.

            it’s funny.

            • H.H.
              Posted October 21, 2011 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

              Well, if it’s not correct, then offer a correction. And what makes anything I wrote a “rant,” even if you find it inane?

          • Aaron Baker
            Posted October 22, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

            H.H. Yes, I think you’ve pointed to a problem of determination for us. From our standpoint, we could never know whether this being was the sole, or even any, standard of good. I think, however, that if a God is possible, and if an objective standard of good is possible, there’s nothing that prevents (again, just as a matter of logic) the latter from residing in the former).

            Which is one of a number of considerations leading me to believe that, even if he existed, God would solve no philosophical problems.

            As for your use of “subjective” here; I suppose this standard could be called “subjective” as to God, but “objective” as to everybody and everything else.

            • H.H.
              Posted October 22, 2011 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

              As for your use of “subjective” here; I suppose this standard could be called “subjective” as to God, but “objective” as to everybody and everything else.

              Right. Christians want god’s subjective morality to be our objective morality, and so they push the problem of determining an objective moral system back a level and call it solved. If our morals are subjective, where can we get an objective moral code? God! But where does he get an objective moral code? He just has one!

              But this is not a solution to the problem so much as a refusal to engage the problem. Apologists pull the same rhetorical trick with the problem of origins. Where did everything come from? God! But where did god come from? He just is!

              While these things may be true, if believers have no way of actually demonstrating them to be true, then in what way can they be considered successful solutions to the original problems? They sound like bald assertions to me.

              Which is one of a number of considerations leading me to believe that, even if he existed, God would solve no philosophical problems.

              You’ll get no argument from me about that.

        • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
          Posted October 24, 2011 at 10:12 am | Permalink

          The problem is that there is no proof that someone’s version of god is someone’s version of “good”.

          The standard characteristics of god omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent) were speculations of early Church Fathers. They were fallible men.

          Using the Bible as a reference authority is circular. It implies that the Yahweh god is good because the Yahweh god SAYS he is good.

  30. Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    It’s a merry-go-round every time the dilemma crops up. You pin them on the first horn, they appeal to a solution that pins them under the second. You point out the obvious, and suddenly they’re sliding under the first as though nothing happened. You simply can’t reason someone out of a belief they didn’t reason themselves into.

    Lee.

  31. Christian
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    To be honest, I don’t understand the value of such debates anyway. Whether you win or loose such a debate is solely dependent on your rhetorical skills and those of your opponent.
    Of course, if you only want to establish the truthiness of your position as in politics, then such debates are perfect.

    No wonder that many religionists insist on this format rather than a written exchange (and Craig isn’t the only one).

  32. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    This debate is likely to be just as productive: American and British lawyers argue over whether the Declaration of Independence was legal

    • Christian
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

      You could remove “American and British” and “the Declaration of Independence was legal” and it would be just as true
      😉

    • Dominic
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

      At school in 1976 we had a trial of George III – cannot remember if it was for treason but I was Lord North, for whom I have retained a certain fondness!

    • Kevin
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

      Of course it wasn’t. It was revolutionary.

      Had the British paid a bit more attention to the conduct of the war, had France not bankrupted itself helping us, all of the signers of the DoI would have been hanged, their heads severed and placed on pikes. Their skulls would probably still be on display in some Philadelphia museum.

      And today, we’d be happily singing “God Save The Queen” and eating tea and crumpets. And we’d like cricket (heck, we’d even understand it!). And whist.

      • Dominic
        Posted October 21, 2011 at 3:59 am | Permalink

        Well I am not sure – the Canadians are not exactly brilliant at cricket!

        • Sajanas
          Posted October 21, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

          And its worth noting that the various Footballs and Cricket/Baseball things were all developed around the same time, just on different continents. The British probably tried to export them over to America too, but we were developing our own sports, while I think that the Indians and Africans had better things on their mind than sports development.

          It is an interesting thought though, British America. I find it unlikely that England could have controlled a hostile society a thousand miles away, especially once the population of America started to dwarf that of England.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted October 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

            That’s what the playing fields of Eton were for

  33. derekw
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    The Euthyphro dilemma seems to imply a quest for authority with regard to what is ‘good’ and seems to presuppose a standard exists. Wondering how an individual could classify an action as being good/bad or moral/immoral if there is no ‘standard’ to judge by? Doesn’t it all become relative or a matter of personal opinion?

    • Posted October 20, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      If you’re looking for objective moral standards then the Old Testament YHWH cannot be the source. When asked “Is genocide, infanticide, rape, collective multigenerational punishment, and substitionary atonement morally wrong?” His answer is “Not if I tell you to do it.”

    • Kevin
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

      Societal norms. Which change over time.

      250 years ago, it was considered just fine for humans to own other humans. Now, it’s not.

      As late as 100 years ago, it was considered moral for a man to marry a 10-year-old girl…in New York State! Now, it’s not.

      Morals change. There are very, very few moral prescriptions that have not changed dramatically over the centuries. Don’t murder someone (without the state’s blessing) is one — but that pre-dates the bible historically by some 1,000 years. Don’t steal/cheat — same thing. It’s not a bible-based prescription, because earlier human writings came up with the same concepts.

      Therefore, your god and the moral codes (what few good ones there are) in the bible are neither unique, nor better than codes developed by others (pagans!).

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Of course there are standards to judge by.

      The theist wants to insist that such standards by “objective” or “absolute.” This is theoretically difficult for various philosophical reasons, including but not limited to Euthyphro. This is also empirically difficult when you stop for a microsecond to note that moral standards have actually changed since the time of the Ten Commandments – which, for two examples, had nothing whatsoever to say about rape or slavery.

      Another problem: why is a particular moral standard “objective” just because a subject called God holds it?

      So then, what are we left with?

      There is our shared evolutionary history. If we were mantids, perhaps we would consider it perfectly acceptable morally to bite the head off our mate after copulation. We are not mantids, we are primate mammals, and so this is viewed as wrong. Since “we” are all members of the species Homo sapiens, we all have billions of years of shared biological history which influences our standards and values.

      There is our reason. We can insist the moral arguments be grounded in reason, and we can “argue to the best solution.” This leads straightforwardly to some conclusions: that morality is not entirely arbitrary, even if it is not entirely objective. That we can indeed reach a different conclusion at a different time, particularly if new data has become available; and therefore we ought to periodically reexamine our standards. And that shielding a view from rational criticism by labeling it “religion” is wrong.

      • Reginald Selkirk
        Posted October 21, 2011 at 6:47 am | Permalink

        I could go on and on about this. For example, despite the evolutionary argument, there is general agreement that we should not confuse “is” with “ought.” And so on and so on and so on.

        The point here is that morality is all very complicated, and sometimes the answers are not clear. This goes against your desire for easy black and white answers (written in stone vs. anything goes.)

      • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
        Posted October 24, 2011 at 10:21 am | Permalink

        Unknown to most Christians, the Ten Commandments were revised and amended by God after Moses smashed the stones containing the first set. Possibly due to memory problems caused by the Yahweh gods extreme age, the second set were not identical to the original set. They were also reduced to Nine Commandments, the last one directing that a kid goat not be boiled in its mother’s milk. The Amended Set were the ones that we housed in the Arc of the Covenant. It is these which should be the standard set, not the ones that American bigots post in public places, courthouses and schools. Ironic.

  34. Posted October 20, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    “Man, once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind.”
    -Thomas Jefferson, letter to John Adams, Aug. 15, 1820
    Lane Craig has surrendered his reason long ago. Only religious nuts believe what he says. If there is a God, Craig will never be with him.

  35. Atheismandsnihilism
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Funny how all the Godless ones contradict themselves constantly.

    The fact of the matter is:

    You are implying values come from valueless matter.

    Leap of faith from the Godless?

    Without God, everything is permitted, everything in this world is up for grabs, no one owns anything. Killing for fun, genocide, loving one another, stealing, giving, friendship…doesn’t matter, nothing matters.

    No atheist is going to tell me that what I’m doing is right or wrong, good or bad and think it actually means something when they say it.

    All you have is opinions with no grounding to your morality.

    You are worthless, meaningless matter to the universe that only looks forward to food for the worms.

    The Universe doesn’t care if you live or die, got that? You can pretend life is meaningful all you want with cognitive purpose, but you are just lying to yourselves in the process.

    If there is no God there is no objective purpose, just a bunch of atheists pretending in their minds that the Universe actually cares about them, and that their life actually means something on this small speck of dust in the Universe.

    Nihilism is the philosophical doctrine that is consistent with atheism. Atheist laymen can deny it all you want, but the obvious is obvious. ALthough I have to admit there are honest athiests out there that agree with the obvious.

    Neitzche said it best:

    “I praise, I do not reproach, [nihilism’s] arrival. I believe it is one of the greatest crises, a moment of the deepest self-reflection of humanity. Whether man recovers from it, whether he becomes master of this crisis, is a question of his strength!”

    Now atheists that will probably whine about how atheism is not a belief, but yet act differently according to their definition that they clearly hide behind.

    WHY AREN’T ACTING CONSISTENT WITH YOUR MEANINGLESS, VALUELESS, PURPOSELESS, WORTHLESS LIFE THAT WILL END IN DUE TIME.

    You will be nothing but a dead corpse within the next 100 years, and that’s the joy of the end.

    So Jerry Coyne, what do you care about what Dr. Craig says or does, you will be a rotting corpse within the next 100 years. Perhaps your in your last day you will be wondering why you wasted so much time and effort worrying about what theists are doing, when you should have been out enjoying yourself in this short life that you have on Earth….Hypocrisy IMO

    So lastly how about you Godless ones that think your opinion actually matters live consistently with your Nihilistic subconscious thoughts that won’t go away just because you pretend that you are actual worth something.

    • Tulse
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      Without God, everything is permitted

      And with your alleged god, everything that he wants is permitted, so how is that an improvement? In your scripture he ordered genocides and rapes, and wiped out all life on earth except for a few stragglers, so why are we to think that he has the appropriate morality?

      If there is no God there is no objective purpose

      And how is your god’s purpose somehow more “objective”? Just because you believe he made you? So what — if you found out that aliens had actually create you for food, would you take being eaten to be your purpose?

      • raven
        Posted October 20, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

        The facts say you are wrong. The fundie xians score higher than the general population on any social problem you care to name, abortion, teenage pregnancy, child sexual abuse, crime and so on.

        The fact is, you can be a good person and be religious. But it doesn’t happen very often.

        Steve Weinberg said it.
        Without religion good people will be good.

        Bad people will be bad.

        But it takes religion for good people to do bad things.

      • Christian
        Posted October 20, 2011 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        Not to mention that “objective purpose” is an oxymoron.
        Purpose is always purpose according to someone which means that it is subjective even if this someone is a deity.

    • raven
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      “Without God, everything is permitted, everything in this world is up for grabs, no one owns anything. Killing for fun, genocide, loving one another, stealing, giving, friendship…doesn’t matter, nothing matters.

      This is a lie.

      The most peaceful and wealthiest societies are the most nonreligious. Northern Europe, the UK, Europe in general, New Zealand, Japan.

      The ugliest most dysfunctional are the most religious. Iran, Somalia, and Afghanistan lead the pack. Among the first world nations, the US is among the most religious and has high levels of crime and social problems.

      The rest of your post is gibberish. Which proves the opposite of what you said. You are obviously sick in the head and a liar.

    • Torbjorn Larsson, OM
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      all the Godless ones

      I am not “Godless”, I am an atheist – I don’t believe in your gods or any other’s gods in the first place.

      When you understand the difference, maybe we can have a rational discussion about religion. But not until then.

      • Kharamatha
        Posted October 21, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

        But are you godmore?

    • CJ
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

      No, he’s right….these emotional connections i have didn’t come from evolution and culture, they were somehow given to me by God…it’s true, it’s in a book.

      Oh God, please, why have you made me a nature loving, music loving, female loving, family loving, evidence valuing…Nihilist.

      • CJ
        Posted October 20, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

        If you watch the video under comment #17, there’s a clip at 1:27:25 of Henry Markram. In it, he explains that our brain is part of the universe, so it’s clear that the universe can give birth to a purpose.

    • Posted October 20, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      1) Value can come from valueless matter. It must do, as quite a lot of us value ourselves and each other, and the things that we are made up are just matter (and energy, but I don’t want to get too parenthetical (yet))

      It is a question of scale, complexity and processing. For example, the string “010010010010000001110111011011110111010101101100011001000010000001101100011010010110101101100101001000000110000100100000011000110111010101110000001000000110111101100110001000000111010001100101011000010010110000100000011100000110110001100101011000010111001101100101” is meaningless. However, passing it through some other meaningless matter that is arranged into logic gates, and we get something that has more meaning: “I would like a cup of tea, please”

      This phrase, uttered via the compression of air moving past specialist tendons, gives rise to the concept of tea-getting in the spousal unit, and as the spousal unit values the issuer of the suggestion, lemon-tea is produced and consumed with a “011101000110100001100001011011100110101100100000011110010110111101110101” (“thank you”) shy smile and a cough.

      When the god that values you so much makes you a cup of tea when you have a cold, please let us know 😉

      • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
        Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

        Your last sentence reminds me of someone I knew who insisted that her relationship with Jesus was as real as the relationship she had with her husband. I immediately felt very sad for her husband.

        I’ll bet her “relationship” with her imagination did not make her tea, mop up her tears, hug her, stroke her hair, stop her from physically tripping over something in her way and provide two way conversation that provides new perspectives and new knowledge. On the other hand, I suppose her imaginary friend does not challenge or disagree with her when she says something ridiculous.

        I have little doubt that the same deficits exist for every “relationship” that the religious have with their gods.

        • Posted October 26, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

          Have you ever known a believer to be convinced that his or her gods were incorrect on any matter?

          Cheers,

          b&

    • Posted October 20, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

      2) “Nihilism is the philosophical doctrine that is consistent with atheism. Atheist laymen can deny it all you want, but the obvious is obvious. Although I have to admit there are honest atheists out there that agrees with the obvious.”

      You appear to have made an error in logic here. Nihilism is consistent with atheism, but the converse is not necessarily true. Universal affirmatives can only be partially converted, as explained in this lecture, found in the audio version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail:

      3) Nietzsche was right. Once humanity abandons its conceit of importance in the universe, humanity can value each other, nature and our place in it using real things like empathy, which brings about true goodness in humans. We value each other because we all are finite beings, and know that this life is all we will ever have, so we choose to live it as best we can. Please read Stephen Pinker’s book The Better Angels of our Nature

    • Kevin
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

      Hate to break it to you, but you’ll be nothing but a dead corpse in due time as well.

      As will Dr. Craig, the pope, your mom, and every human who has ever been or ever will be born.

      That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your brief time while you’re here.

      There is no after-death. No heaven, no hell, no judgment, no nothing. You will rot just as surely as I will. With absolutely nothing following.

      You’re basing your entire life on a fictional concept. That being the concept of an immortal soul that somehow can be either rewarded or punished — based primarily on how the human host thought about a specific deity.

      What an odd concept to believe.

    • Ichthyic
      Posted October 21, 2011 at 12:14 am | Permalink

      Neitzche said it best:

      Nietzsche (at least spell it right) would fucking spit on you for getting what he said so utterly wrong.

      • Observer
        Posted October 21, 2011 at 7:16 am | Permalink

        Very true. And probably not metaphorically, either.

    • Dominic
      Posted October 21, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      “Perhaps your in your last day” -? Do you mean ‘Perhaps you are (you’re) in your last day? ‘You are’ is quite different from ‘your’.

      Actually I am a happy nihilist, but you seem a little on the ranting obsessed side of things! Chin up! Nothing matters!

    • truthspeaker
      Posted October 21, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      “All you have is opinions with no grounding to your morality.”

      Just like you.

      Your ideas for morality come from human interpretations of a book written by humans.

      So both of our moral systems come from opinions. Mine come from my own opinions, whereas you build yours on the opinions of other people.

      I prefer to think for myself, thanks.

  36. Atheismandnihilism
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Hey Atheists just remember this:

    You are just as meaningful as a cockroach…

    Nihilism = Consistent Philosophical Doctrine that is compatible to Atheism.

    For anyone that doesn’t believe in objective duties then that means anything goes.

    It is not objectively wrong to teach ID in public schools

    WHo is going to stop us? Is the Universe going to yell at us?

    Atheists who commit to this though process also imply that:

    It is not objectively wrong to kill atheists for fun.

    This is sickening and any atheist that doesn’t believe in objective values or duties is a danger to humanity.

    I have an idea though…..For all those atheists that don’t want to be around Christians, why don’t you move to an atheist state such as North Korea?

    They don’t believe in God there, actually any type of religion is prhibited…so for the ones that are constantly on here bashing believers in God why don’t you act consistent with your anti-God attitude and live your Kim Jong Il?

    Yes, must feel nice to be able to run your mouth without feeling any retaliation correct????

    Ultimately it doesn’t matter anyways, without God the thought of humans actually meaning something is just absurd.

    Therefore Jerry Coyne and his fan base rocking those pom pomps are nothing but a bunch of dishonest people that sport an Anti-Christian mentality to help aid their invisible skydaddy in their mind that believes there life actually has meaning.

    I guess the atheist faith-heads should be proud there are theists around to bash and aid their insecurity…

    Guess what…..I’ll say it again, if there is no God you are nothing but “Valueless Matter”

    • Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

      I guess the atheist faith-heads should be proud there are theists around to bash and aid their insecurity…

      I think Atheismandnihilism is the chief projectionist in this theatre.

    • Kevin
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      I see we have a Craig fanboi here.

      You’re funny. That undisguised anger — which appears to be anger at the thought that we might actually be having more fun than you — is quite interesting.

      Without a god — yours or anyone else’s — the value of each human’s life is increased immeasurably. One does not need a god to tell us that.

      And society enforces behavior that benefits the overall greater good at the expense of the selfish, or the irrational. Which would include people like you.

      If you think you’re scoring rhetorical points by repeating the same failed argument over and over again, you’re quite mistaken.

      Atheism INCREASES the value of human life. And the value of community. And the value of cooperative behavior for the benefit of the species.

      We don’t need a fictional post-death reward to act in accordance with the overall societal good. Because those behaviors benefit us as individuals as well.

      Here ends the lesson in ethics. I trust you’ll learn something…but I suspect not.

    • raven
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

      “Hey Atheists just remember this:

      You are just as meaningful as a cockroach…”

      A huge step up from you.

      You clearly are mentally ill. Seek medical help before you hurt yourself or somebody else.

    • Posted October 21, 2011 at 4:03 am | Permalink

      Now I remember why it was a relief to stop attending church — I stopped having to listen to people spout this crap.

      Give me a few reasonable people who deal with the universe as it actually is and who take their own moral responsibilities seriously any day.

      • Dominic
        Posted October 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        Really not like that in the Church of England! Cucumber sandwich anyone?

    • Posted October 21, 2011 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      According to bog-standard Christian dogma, the ‘purpose’ of humankind is to kiss the ass of an omnipotent dictator 24/7, for all eternity. You fail to make it clear why this dictator needs or wants eternal 24/7 praise, or why it’s such a great thing to save this dictator the infinitesimal particle of effort it would take him to create a canned applause track, but there you are. And you faith-heads have the chutzpah to say that not spending all eternity as a replacement for a canned applause track would render all existence meaningless?
      Weird.
      Very weird.

      • Dominic
        Posted October 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

        I think he/she is very afraid of not being right.

    • Dominic
      Posted October 21, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      “their invisible skydaddy in their mind that believes there life actually has meaning” – do you mean ‘their lives have’ – it should agree. ‘Their’ is plural therefore ‘lives’ is the correct form.

      A bit more ranting eh?! Go on, let it all out.

    • Dominic
      Posted October 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      “you are nothing but “Valueless Matter””- that goes both ways! It takes valueless matter to know valueless matter!

    • truthspeaker
      Posted October 21, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      “Ultimately it doesn’t matter anyways, without God the thought of humans actually meaning something is just absurd.”

      That’s right. Humans only mean something to other humans.

      • truthspeaker
        Posted October 21, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

        And I figured this out as a teenager. Not sure why some people think it’s so earthshaking or profound.

    • H.H.
      Posted October 21, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      And if atheists are correct and there is no god, then you are in the same boat as the rest of us, making your faith nothing but a desperate delusion. That’s supposed to make us want to join your cult?

  37. raven
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    “If there is no God there is no objective purpose”

    So what. There is no god.

    Just because you want a god and an objective purpose, doesn’t mean there IS a god and an objective purpose.

    This is just wishful thinking.

    And it is no big deal. We humans are free to create our own purpose and that is what we all do anyway.

    • Kevin
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

      He’s misusing the theist code here. Not a real deep thinker; he apparently has cobbled together a few random phrases without actually understanding what they mean.

      By “objective purpose”, he’s really trying to invoke “ultimate purpose”. Which is theist code for the size of one’s after-death apartment.

      He apparently is going for the kitchen upgrade and the larger walk-in shower.

      “Objective purpose” is actually quite meaningless. How could one possibly determine what one’s “objective” purpose would be? It’s an impossible task for an individual to discern. Should I objectively be a science communicator? Or should I be a surfer? What criteria should I use to make that decision objectively? Can’t be done.

      Of course, as a species, it’s quite apparent that our “objective purpose” is to perpetuate the species. One does that by being a good parent (including the ‘it takes a village’ style parent), member of the community at large, and careful steward of the Earth’s finite resources.

      No god needed to do that, or any promise of a post-death reward for right-thinking.

      There’s also the fact that he’s most likely a “grace only” Christian. You can’t earn your way into a bigger post-death apartment by doing good deeds, nor by ‘not sinning’. The only thing that matters is your thoughts. Sincere thoughts are rewarded; insincere thoughts are punished.

      He seriously hasn’t thought the implications of that theology through.

  38. Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    I’m confused.

    Since God does not exist the instructions to kill the Amalekites etc could not be from HIM.

    Further since men have no free will what is recorded in the Bible is entirely the result of human choices which in turn were fully determined by the purely materialistic events of the Big Bang.

    Further still , if both Professor Craig and Professor Dawkins are fully determined and have no free will can either of them believe other than what they presently believe ?

    • Evildonthepirate
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

      If you’re confused, I will try to help you.

      “Since God does not exist the instructions to kill the Amalekites etc could not be from HIM.”

      Absolutely correct. The problem is that people like Craig refuse to accept this and delude themselves with contemptible nonsense to make themselves feel better about their goofy superstitions.

      “Further since men have no free will . . .”

      I lean toward thinking people do not have free will, but the jury is still out on this one.

      “what is recorded in the Bible is entirely the result of human choices . . .”

      100% correct again. If more people accepted this simple fact we could start making real progress in making a better world for ourselves and progeny.

      “which in turn were fully determined by the purely materialistic events of the Big Bang.”

      Uh oh. Looks like someone slept through the quantum indeterminacy lecture in Physics class.

      “Further still , if both Professor Craig and Professor Dawkins are fully determined and have no free will can either of them believe other than what they presently believe ?”

      They aren’t fully determined. That’s Calvinism which is just as stupid and false as any other form of Christianity. But the question is irrelevant, because if free will doesn’t exist then we have no choice but to be as interested in this as we currently are. If free will does exist, then maybe some Christians will be able to see the error of their ways if we keep exposing the despicable words and actions of people like Craig.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

      I’ve visited your site & had a look around. I note your views on HIV, ‘MSM’ & LGBT.

      I see that you spell “Stephen Hawking” three different ways on one page.

      This isn’t a good venue for deluded bigots who cannot proofread or fact check.

      • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
        Posted October 24, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        This isn’t a good venue for deluded bigots whose only response to rational arguments is to nitpick someone else’s spelling of a person’s name.

        I guess you are just another vicious W. L. Craig clone with questionable moral standards.

        • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
          Posted October 24, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

          Ooopps. I was reading up, instead of down. Therefore I misunderstood the target of the post and my comments are therefore wrong. Sorry.

          • Michael Fisher
            Posted October 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

            No problem ~ happens 🙂

    • Kevin
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

      Yes, one can see that you’re confused.

      It’s Craig’s position that genocide is OK, if the people who commit it believe they were ordained to do so by their god.

      That’s immoral per se.

      We’re merely pointing out that incontrovertible fact; and declaring that anyone who thinks this way is not someone who deserves to be engaged in polite society. In fact, I’d be very careful around such a person, since you never know when their god will tell them to kill you.

      It’s Craig’s beliefs and behaviors that are the issue here. They’re abhorrent by any thinking human standard.

      Hope that clears things up.

      • Observer
        Posted October 21, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

        To quibble, Craig’s actual position seems to be that genocide is ok if God actually does command it. How one can determine if it’s actually God who orders it is the rub. I’d be curious to learn how Craig would answer that. I’d guess in the case of the Canaanites, the answer would be that the Bible says so. But what if God were to order such a thing today. How might Craig suggest a believer distinguish between a true instance of revelation and a delusion?

    • raven
      Posted October 20, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      <“what is recorded in the Bible is entirely the result of human choices . . .”

      Not even that.

      Most of the bible is known to be fiction.

      The genocide of the Canaanites never occurred. The old Jews were just a tribe of…Canaanites.

      The NT is mostly fiction. Parts of it are forged. This is BTW the consensus of most biblical scholars including xian ones.

  39. Posted October 21, 2011 at 4:38 am | Permalink

    Eric MacDonald’s post on WLG’s talk features the poster for the talk. I commented:

    “As you point out, the poster for the talk is a marketing failure.

    The God Delusion in the chair indicates the book speaks for itself and for Dawkins. It answers the question “Is God a Delusion?” The use of the word _delusion_ prompts the reader to think about Dawkins’ book.and Dawkins rather than WLG, whose name is less familiar to the general public.

    The poster is too busy and does not provide a focus for the reader. A panel that consists of atheists, agnostics and Christians also promises to be unfocused.”

  40. Posted October 21, 2011 at 5:28 am | Permalink

    The story is the story of Jephthah in the book of Judges. And there’s no “a deal’s a deal” moment in it. Standard commentary, at least the rabbinic commentary I know, takes Jephthah as doing evil by sacrificing his daughter. The lesson being: BELIEVING that you know what God wants, when he wants what seems evil, means you don’t. Good for sure exists outside God as a separate standard in this interpretation. As in John Milton’s in Paradise Lost. I say this as an atheist, just to correct the record.

    • Posted October 21, 2011 at 5:31 am | Permalink

      Oops — didn’t mean to double post this. I get an error the first time I tried to post.

  41. sCre2n
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    Has one heard anything about the debate that took place at the Cambridge Union featuring William Lane Craig and Peter S. Williams’s vs Arif Ahmed and Andrew Copson? I can’t find anything on the net no preview, no review, audio, transcript. If there’s any debate you wanna listen to this is it.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 21, 2011 at 8:44 am | Permalink

      I haven’t seen a report yet, but the debate only finished around l9 hours ago. It was a closed debate for Union members.

      Meanwhile here’s a nice talk by Prof Steve Jones from the Cambridge Union entitled Incest & folk dancing

  42. ManOutOfTime
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    IBM should feed Thomas Paibe’s Age of Reason to Deep Blue – Craig would lose a debate with a man who’s been dead 200 years.

  43. Chris
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Good enough for Hitchens, Dennet, and Harris to waste their time debating. Guess Dawkins is more important than they are and his time is more precious. Why wouldn’t Dawkins take the time to smack Craig around on stage for all to hear? Really? None of you want to see that?

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 21, 2011 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      You didn’t have the time to read the post you’ve just commented on & the 162 comments posted before yours? JAC quote from top of page:

      In today’s Guardian, Richard explains “Why I refuse to debate William Lane Craig.” He starts with a LOL:

      “For some years now, Craig has been increasingly importunate in his efforts to cajole, harass or defame me into a debate with him. I have consistently refused, in the spirit, if not the letter, of a famous retort by the then president of the Royal Society: “That would look great on your CV, not so good on mine”

      Now that I’ve started you off go back to top of page & have a read. Learn something…

    • Sajanas
      Posted October 21, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      Honestly, I’d rather see Dawkins continue to embarrass archbishops, rabbis, and other people of high authority in various churches. WLC has his fans, but really, I had never heard of him before I started looking at atheist blogs. Now, Dawkins talking the Archbishop of Canterbury into a corner where he basically admitted he doesn’t know that the Resurrection happened? That’s the sort of thing that reaches whole populations of religious people. The fact that WLC can bluster and ignore fact and make it seem like he is debating is really besides the point. He’s a specialist, a debate assassin. We already know what he’s going to say, what is wrong with it, and that he’s a creationist. Its far more interesting for Dawkins to debate with the mainstream people, and make them show their theocrat colors.

      You just have to look at the Archbishop of Canterbury… now all he does is howl about how atheism is ‘cool’, and ask for people to develop arguments against the New Atheism, because he hasn’t got anything.

    • PeteJohn
      Posted October 22, 2011 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      @Chris

      Read Dawkins’s post and find out why he won’t debate Craig. And no, I won’t summarize it for you

  44. phaenarete0042
    Posted October 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Amazing video. Thank you for posting.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted October 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

      Hello there !

  45. Nogbert
    Posted October 22, 2011 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    William Lane Craig is a slithey tove.

    • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      Slithery turd?

    • Rosmary LYNDALL WEMM
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      Or slimy toad? Or maybe just the nonsense of The Jabberwocky.

  46. PeteJohn
    Posted October 22, 2011 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    From Craig:

    “It is therefore completely misleading to characterise God’s command to Israel as a command to commit genocide. Rather it was first and foremost a command to drive the tribes out of the land and to occupy it. Only those who remained behind were to be utterly exterminated. No one had to die in this whole affair.”

    Ok, so God ACTUALLY wanted his Chosen People to engage in ethnic cleansing because that’s so much better of course.

    • Steven Carr
      Posted October 25, 2011 at 7:48 am | Permalink

      CRAIG
      Only those who remained behind were to be utterly exterminated.

      CARR
      That’s fair enough. After all, some of those toddlers could have toddled away fast enough to avoid being utterly exterminated.

      Has Craig ever seen the Daleks? They liked exterminating people too.

  47. Aaron Baker
    Posted October 22, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    To take up a completely different subject, but still on-topic: accusing Dawkins of cowardice for not debating you is pretty obviously preposterous. I mean, the guy has debated scores of people, some of them pretty formidable controversialists–and he’s even willing to endure brain-dead abuse from Bill O’Reilly. Craig seems to be implying: I’m just so much more smart and incisive than any of the dozens of people he’s faced off against–he must be afraid of me! In your narcissistic dreams, dimwit.

  48. Posted October 29, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    Put in my two cents here: http://ichthus77.blogspot.com/2011/10/answering-jerry-coyne-and-jason.html

    • Microraptor
      Posted October 29, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Hmm, a whole lot of special pleading, but zero actual proof.

      But what else does apologetics have?


6 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Jerry Coyne — I might have known — has already beat me to it! I was almost finished this, when I receive notification of Jerry’s take on Dawkins’ article about why he won’t debate William Lane Craig: It’s about morality, stupid! […]

  2. […] (mostly in the book of Joshua) were ok because “God said to do it”. Jerry Coyne has some nice commentary on this. Bottom line: doing the “will” of your imaginary sky-daddy is NOT associated with […]

  3. […] again, 10/20/11: I bid a hearty welcome to visitors from Dr. Coyne’s website. (I appreciate the link, Dr. Coyne.) He seems to have a policy of not allowing my comments to […]

  4. […] the Jerry Coyne Lidless Eye Award, named after another blogger who, coincidentally enough, had honored me with a mention on his own blog (Why Evolution is True) just a few hours before I bumped into […]

  5. […] I don’t see (other than on atheist websites like those found here, here, and here) are many apologists appreciating why Craig’s line of thinking is so dangerous and […]

  6. […] the Jerry Coyne Lidless Eye Award, named after another blogger who, coincidentally enough, had honored me with a mention on his own blog (Why Evolution is True) just a few hours before I bumped into […]

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