On another blog, someone posted the wisdom of WL Craig, renowned Catholic apologist. While drinking deep of its intellectual bounty I was bothered by a nagging feeling that I had encountered this argument and style before. The bits in dark gray are allegedly quotes from Craig.

I’ll make you a wager. Your philosophy against
science. If I win, you must release the Princess.

Your science against my metaphysics! A debate? HA, I accept.

Not so much a debate, which often has far more to do with wordplay and rhetorical skill than truth. I'm more interested in an exploration of truth. Are you game?

Proceed if you dare...

Very well. Beyond, personal belief and established lore,
what proof have you of the existence of your particular deity?

Hmmm, What proof you ask. Mine are rational arguments! There are literally thousands of proofs at my disposal. You must be one of those poor dolts bound by naive evidentialist epistomology. I’ll wager you aren’t versed in the the kalam cosmological argument are you?

I am, and in the various ways it’s been refuted. Most damning being the fact that it merely pushes the problem of first origins backward in time. Never mind, that even if it were sound, it’s a long way from there to your particular sect.

What I find disturbing is even when these arguments are shown to be unsound you seem incapable of abandoning them. Science depends upon the ability to falsify claims, but not theism it seems. You insist we prove you wrong, but can’t prove yourself right. You call that a victory. Which is the opposite of the scientific approach.

You’d like to think that, being an immoral atheist who fears death. But it is not true. Here’s an example for you heathen: If the universe were discovered to be eternal, we'd be obliged to give up biblical inerrancy (as well as the kalam cosmological argument), since the Bible teaches that the universe was created a finite time ago. But obviously, that wouldn't imply that God does not exist or that Jesus didn't rise from the dead.

Truly you have a dizzying control of words if not the intellect to match. And an infinite capacity for rationalization. So your faith is a cafeteria plan not requiring internal consistency. But if the Bible wasn’t inerrant how would you know which, if any, pieces were true?

PFFFT! We have many personal accounts of the truth of those really important bits and the belief of millions.

None of which is a reliable measure of truth in any other arena. What about other believers from other faiths who claim just such revelations?

Of course, anyone (or, at least any sort of theist) can claim to have a self-authenticating witness of God to the truth of his religion. But the reason you argue with them is because they really don't: either they've just had some emotional experience or else they've misinterpreted their religious experience. So you present arguments and evidence in favor of Christian theism and objections against their worldview in the hope that their false confidence will crack under the weight of the argument and they will come to know the truth.

So, the same could not be said for you? What you call the
Holy Spirit might just be an emotional experience? Other than your argument from authority, I don’t see the difference. Seems to me that nothing would dissuade you from your belief. Hardly the position for an intellectual to defend, is it not?

BAH! There are many things that I would take as proof for disbelief. Say, If Jesus' bones were actually found, then the doctrine of his resurrection would be false and so Christianity would not be true and there would be no witness of the Holy Spirit. So if Jesus' bones were found, no one should be a Christian. Fortunately, there is a witness of the Holy Spirit, and so it follows logically that Jesus' bones will not be found. But I have proven that I am open to evidence against my faith should it be found HA!

First, Isn’t that a Websters-worthy example of tautology?
Second, how would one ever know if a set of bones once belonged to Jesus? Not much of a risk there. Wouldn’t you simply deny the authenticity of the find? Or come up with some equally convenient excuse?

HAHAHA! I really have you now! For not only should I continue to have faith in God on the basis of the Spirit's witness even if all the arguments for His existence were refuted, but I should continue to have faith in God even in the face of objections which I cannot at that time answer. The first claim is not really all that radical: I think most theologians, not to mention ordinary believers, would say that arguments of natural theology are not necessary in order for faith in God to be rational. In the absence of some argument for the truth of atheism, I can be perfectly rational to believe in God on the basis of the Spirit's witness.

Amazing - not the argument, but your inability to see the irony in what you just said. Back to the burden of proving you wrong rather than being right. Isn’t that a spurious argument, since the question is not whether a god exists, but rather whether a god is required to explain observed facts, which it is not?

You obviously missed the class on Aquinas.

No, but I also attended the classes about the vast store of scientific achievements in the following 700 years.

Have you read all of the works on christian apologetics, hmmmm?

No, nor have I read all of Jacklyn Suzanne but I read enough to
stop seeking answers to life’s meaning there either. I would expect more than an “emperor’s new clothes” response from one so versed in logic. To disagree with you is not to lack understanding or education. One need not handle every piece of dung, to recognize its stench. Don’t you see that your retreat to the mystical sanctuary of catholic doctrine might weaken your claim to intellectual openness?

I find it odd that because I also believe that there is a self-authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit, that fact is thought to somehow undermine the arguments and evidence I present.

So you don’t see how appealing to experience and mysticism out one side of your face while spewing unsound arguments out the other might undermine your credibility? Or that your flat admission that no facts would sway you, might call into question the purpose of all your rhetoric? Is obfuscation of the nature of your blind faith the extent of your rational argument?

I’m just getting started! I haven’t even talked about contingent beings yet! But first, What I'm claiming is that even in the face of evidence against God which we cannot refute, we ought to believe in God on the basis of His Spirit's witness. Apostasy is never the rational obligation of any believer, nor is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. God can be trusted to provide such powerful warrant for the great truths of the Gospel that we will never be rationally obliged to reject or desert Him."

So basically you are saying, “screw the evidence,
feeling is believing.”

If it were proven that morality were merely a socio-evolutionary tool, then theism would be false and there would then be no witness of the Holy Spirit, since God would not exist. For theism entails that objective moral values and duties exist. So if they didn't, theism would obviously be false. The key here is the word "merely." We can agree that the way in which we come to know moral values and duties is through the evolutionary process, but to conclude that they are therefore not objectively real would be to commit the genetic fallacy of trying to invalidate a view by showing how someone came to hold it. Absent a proof of atheism, the socio-evolutionary account of our moral beliefs does nothing to negate their objective validity.

Again, with the claim of authority. You’re stalling, and not answering my questions. Useful debate strategies, yes, but not the methods of real seekers of truth.

NO I”M NOT STALLING! I’m using rational argument!

You are using that word again. I do not think it means what you think it means.


If I may capture your attention once again. Isn’t there something more important than rational arguments?

Such as?


INCONCEIVABLE! What I claim is that for the person who attends to it the witness of the Holy Spirit overwhelms the putative defeaters brought against the truths to which He bears witness.

But that makes absolutely no sense.

You only think that it makes no sense! Since you failed to study all 28,276 theological apologetics you cannot grasp my rational arguments. And since you can’t summarize all the knowledge of science into a single trite comment, I WIN! I WIN!


What happened to him?

Well Princess, I think he finally choked on his convoluted rhetoric. It was inevitable.

Enough of him. Time to head into the fire swamp to deal with other ROUS'...


Michael Lockridge said...

"No, nor have I read all of Jacklyn Suzanne but I read enough to stop seeking answers to life’s meaning there either."

I suspect a mystic of proper attunement could, indeed, find life's meaning there. The question would then be, is that life worth living?

A wonderful construction. Quite amusing, and I suspect challenging to the few who could follow it. The abyss of unbelief is not devoid of laughter.

Harvey said...

Fantastic, Pliny. I can only hope that Eric reads this and tries to comment, since you have undercut both his usual philosophical acrobatics and his most recent authority du jour, WLC.

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

Mike, you are a far,far better ambassador for the faithful than all these guys who strut out all this mumbo jumbo.

Your style reminds me of old school Christianity where it was mostly about how you lived your life and trying to be respectful of others.

Hope the pendulum swings back there sometime.

GearHedEd said...

Where did you get those shots of Eric?

Pliny-the-in-Between said...

It's sad, I know, but I always hear his rants in Vizzini's voice.