Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Circular Reasoning: The Case of William Lane Craig

I don't usually share videos on this blog, but I decided to make an exception for the following. I think it is a nice expose of the dangers of circular reasoning. I doubt Craig is the only one who is guilty of such a thing. It's difficult to maintain a coherent web of beliefs....

4 comments:

  1. WLC seems to be almost alone in being unafraid of being accused of being circular.

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  2. Lol this is pwnage!
    But of course it's not that simple.
    The guy's being a bit disingenuous I think, and just a little bit of exploration proves this point.
    For example, he says that Craig has written numerous books defending A theory of time, which he has, on top of numerous articles in journals too. Now he happens to choose the book, "Time and the Metaphysics of Relativity", which is part of "an attempt to craft a coherent doctrine of divine eternity and God's relationship to time." [From the publisher.]
    Description goes on to say that "the ultimate aim" is the "achievement of a tenable theological synthesis".

    Right. So it's a theological book trying to synthesize God's eternity and relationship to time with relativity. So is it really surprising in a theology book that Craig cites the existence of God as a reason for why theists should believe in the A theory of time??

    Also even if he did use that as an argument in his other books on a theory of time more relevant to the issue at hand, (for example here http://www.amazon.com/dp/0792366344 and here http://www.amazon.com/dp/0792366352 to name just two) then it really wouldn't be that bad if Craig also gave other reasons for believe in A theory, which of course he does.
    Furthermore, it's hard to see how Craig could have written about 5 books on the topic of time with his only argument in favour of A theory being God!

    I could do the same thing for the fine tuning argument but I can't be bothered :).
    It would be worth noting that there is far more to say about the multiverse than a single paragraph extract from Craig, such as the issue of fine-tuning just being pushed back a step to the multiverse, aside from the whole debate of whether there is any concrete evidence for the multiverse in the first place.
    Finally, his part on the moral argument says nothing about being circular.
    The points about the resurrection and RE stand strong though.

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  3. How does Craig combine DCT with his claims that we just know objective moral values exist? It would seem to me that we can't know if rape, murder or the holocaust are objectively wrong unless we know whether or not god commanded them.

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  4. Nomanomore,

    I think you're right when it comes to obligations. I've said as much elsewhere on this blog (see my post on theological voluntarism). As for other kinds of moral properties, the situation is less clear.

    I think Craig (and a number of moral philosophers) would say that our basic intuitive convictions about murder or rape being morally bad occupy a privileged place in our epistemic universe. The claim would be that these convictions are more securely known than their denials or any theory supporting them.

    Michael,

    Yes; the obvious response to the charge is to point out that there are other, independent reasons for supporting the challenged premises or arguments. It does depend a bit on how much weight is being put on God's existence when defending the argument from attack. That's why the point about the resurrection argument is strong: a lot of weight is being placed on the existence of God in defending the plausibility of Jesus being raised from the dead - it doesn't seem (to me at any rate) that anything else would raise the probability to a sufficient level.

    As for the points about the Neo-lorentzian version of special relativity, I'm unqualified to comment. I haven't read Craig's defences of the A-theory. The objection in the video would be a good one if the only reason Craig offers for resisting the B-theory and accepting the A-theory is God's existence. But that's probably not the case.

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