A recent episode of The Things That Matter Most featured William Lane Craig speaking on the subject of "Is God Real or Imaginary?" Of course, being a theist, Craig posits that God is real. Fine, but what follows disgusted me to no end, as Christian apologetics are wont to do.
About 9 min into the show, Craig tries to explain why he feels Dan Barker's journey to atheism is wrong. He seems to think the problem lies in a rigid belief that the Bible is inerrant, and once that rigid position is broken it is more reasonable to believe that the Bible may be wrong here and there than to cross over to the 'Dark Side' known as atheism... "The Bible is not an accurate record of what God is like, that the ancient Israelites in writing these narratives got it wrong about God." OK. If the Bible is wrong about God, how can he even speak about God in an authoritative way? If the Bible is NOT inerrant, then you must pick and choose what you want to believe and there is no basis which is not arbitrary! This is just nonsense. His suggestion that this is an argument against the inerrancy of the Bible and not the existence of God is correct, but he doesn't go to the obvious conclusion that if the Bible is wrong here and there, and you do not know exactly where or how many of these places there are, you have to throw the whole thing out. In fact, Craig throws the Old Testament out, but as we'll see, he arbitrarily claims that the New Testament is okay.
Telve minutes in, Craig answers the questions of God committing genocide. "God is not bound by the same moral duties we are. Our moral duties are established to God's commandments to us, that in virtue of being commanded to do this or that that we have certain moral obligations or duties.... So it would be wrong for me to whip out a gun and shoot somebody for no reason at all. But if God wants to strike me dead right now that's His prerogative.... But when God commands the Israelites to exterminate the Canaanite clans they are acting as God's moral agents under his command and so I feel that God has the right to command them to do something which in the absence of a divine command would have been wrong... it becomes their moral duty." So, God says do as I say, and not as I do. God should set an example for His creatures!!!! At the very least, God should do His own dirty work. Especially if he doesn't want His creatures going around doing the things that under ordinary circumstances He wouldn't want them to do! Does anyone out there understand this idiocy? It gets better: "Moreover God had good reason to give this command. He waited for 400 years while the Israelites were slaves in Egypt [Blogger's note: there is no extra-biblical record of the Israelites being slaves in Egypt.] until the Canaanite nation was so wicked and so debauched that it was right for divine judgment." Why kill them then? What happened to free will? God couldn't wait to judge each as they died? The whole argument collapses under its own inanity. "He used the armies of Israel as His instrument of judgment upon these clans in Canaan known that ultimately their extermination would be better for Israel in the long run, they wouldn't be contaminated by their influences, that these persons were deserving of judgment. And in the case of innocent people who might have been killed that even in their case God has the right to give and take life as He sees fit." Is this compatible with a kind, loving God? I think not.
I find it interesting that there are no provisions in any penal code I know of that allows one to be found not guilty by reason of God! Paul Hill claims he was commanded by God to kill abortion providers, yet he was executed for his crimes. But, if it's in the Bible it's not only okay, but mandatory! This is the most disgusting apologetics! I could barely get through this bullshit. It's SICK!
Now for the punchline: "the [Canaanite] children, by being killed are really, in one sense, better off if we believe that children go to heaven, as I do, than they would be allowing them to live on in the circumstances in which they were." I've said it many times: religion allows the expansion of our limits on what morality normally allows to the point of atrocity. It assuages our consciences in order to rationalize committing the most terrible crimes. Remember, Hitler assuaged his own guilt by claiming he was doing God's work. Craig's spear would have been the most soaked with Canaanite blood had he been there, I'm sure. How noble a warrior he would have been, sending babes to Heaven!
And who said God commanded the Israelites to slaughter the Canaanites? Somebody wrote it, presumably the victors! Who says they wrote the truth? Remember, the Bible is not inerrant.
The rest is the normal fatally-flawed First Cause arguments and stuff that I've blogged about before, so I go into that here. Craig claims that the weight of scientific evidence is on his side, and you can predict my reaction to that crap.
He deals with morality at about 21 min. He feels that an evolutionary basis for morality is an illusion, something that serves only to help in perpetuating the species: "But there's nothing about this [evolutionary] morality that makes it really objectively true; it's really just an illusion. And in that case the rapist or the pedophile or the homophobe or the racist doesn't really do anything wrong when he goes against the herd morality. He's just acting unfashionably, and there's no [ultimate] moral accountability." He's right. It is just an illusion, but one that makes living in social groups possible! Being moral because it is God's commandment just makes morality arbitrary and no more objectively true!!!!
About 33 min. in... "... I don't think that ultimately the belief that God exists is based upon evidence I think that it is primarily based upon the witness of God's Holy Spirit." Huh? You mean it is primarily based on, as David Hume would say, "sophistry and illusion." This is bunk. "...Anyone who, at the end of his life, ultimately rejects God or the Gospel of Christ... doesn't do so on lack of evidence... He does it because he deliberately ignores or suppresses the testimony and work of the Holy Spirit in his heart." There it is. That inability for the theist to get their mind around the idea that that feeling of the 'Holy Spirit' is purely in their own minds, that as an atheist I can categorically say that no such feeling exists in me. Never did, never will. The human psyche can do some amazing things, and we interpret them in ways which are not always valid. For instance, near death experiences can seem very real to those that experience them, but the fact that such experiences can be reproduced in subjects subjected to high g-forces in centrifuges points to a less than supernatural explanation.
I said in a recent blog that we are not like the Amish, who don't have any use for things like cell phones. It's not that we atheists do not have any use for deities, it's that we see no reason to believe that there are any deities at all! For some reason, theists can never get their minds around this. Like the great Laplace said to Napoleon, "I have no need of that hypothesis." Theists, get it through your skulls: I do not deny a god I know somewhere deep down exists, but simply take the null hypothesis that God does not exist because there is no reason to accept the hypothesis that God does exist. The burden of proof is always on the one positing existence, and no one has ever made even a promising case for God's existence.
As to the New Testament's validity (ca. 46 min): "...the drift of New Testament scholarship in the last 50 years or so has be solidly in the direction of confirming the accuracy of the New Testament records of the life of Jesus. I think that most scholars would say that we can treat the gospels very seriously as historical sources for the life of Jesus of Nazareth."
I had tears streaming from my eyes from laughter at hearing this! Oh, my! What scholars has this guy been reading?!?!? I think that the FACT that there are NO contemporary sources of the Jesus myth should be a clue to the story's validity, and not a supportive one at all either. That NONE of the Gospels was written anywhere near the time of his supposed time on Earth. We don't even have a clue as to their authorship! What is this guy smoking? The Gospels themselves significantly disagree with each other!
Throughout the show, the commentators seem to revere this guy (who I had never heard of before) and say that Dawkins and Harris don't have any right to go against such great minds as Craig, Einstein and Hawking. Let's get one thing straight: Craig is no great mind. I was appalled and disgusted at his ridiculous idea that sending kids to God is okay and if I actually believed in doing debates I would take him on any day. From everything I heard on this show I deem him to be a mental lightweight espousing the most idiotic apologetics. Second, I don't think that Einstein and Hawking are exactly in agreement with an Abrahamic god. We really don't know exactly what these two actually think (thought), but I can assure you they reject the Abrahamic god every bit as much as I do. Third, to cast Dawkins as being outside of the company of Einstein and Hawking would greatly underestimate the influence of him. Harris won't be far behind, and he is very young to have so much influence in his own right.
I really do like Lael Arrington, one of the hosts of the show. We email each other back and forth, not necessarily about the show. I have always applauded their choice of guests. How many radio shows with a decidedly Christian slant would invite the likes of Dan Barker and Sam Harris as guests? But religious people do have a blind spot when it comes to applying logic to their own beliefs, something that I've spent my whole life doing.