Dr. Craig's most offensive tactic is that he relies on the ignorance of his audience. He knows they're not trained in philosophy or deductive logic. He knows they're not trained in mathematics. He knows most don't know the Bible's history all that well (they know its contents, but not who wrote it and why) ... and so forth. And Dr. Craig uses his audience's ignorance, knowingly and deliberately. He knows he can confuse his audience with arguments they can't understand.
Dr. Craig counts on the fact that when his opponents prove him wrong, the argument will be too complex for the audience to comprehend.
As Russell "Kazim" Glasser wrote on Atheist Experience:
"He throws up a bunch of obfuscated equations on the board, counts on his audience not knowing enough to understand what the argument is, slips in gigantic assumptions about the natural world, and declares victory."Glasser goes on to quote one of Craig's flawed arguments. Dr. Craig, arguing with Professor Bart Ehrman about whether Jesus rose from the dead, says:
"In order to show that that hypothesis is improbable, you’d have to show that God’s existence is improbable. But Dr. Ehrman says that the historian cannot say anything about God. Therefore, he cannot say that God’s existence is improbable. But if he can’t say that, neither can he say that the resurrection of Jesus is improbable. So Dr. Ehrman’s position is literally self-refuting.This is incredibly dishonest:
"But that’s not all. Dr. Ehrman just assumes that the probability of the resurrection on our background knowledge [Pr(R/B)] is very low. But here, I think, he’s confused. What, after all, is the resurrection hypothesis? It’s the hypothesis that Jesus rose supernaturally from the dead. It is not the hypothesis that Jesus rose naturally from the dead. That Jesus rose naturally from the dead is fantastically improbable. But I see no reason whatsoever to think that it is improbable that God raised Jesus from the dead."
- It's inappropriate to apply Bayesian statistics to history, especially when all reports of the historical event ultimately derive from a very few (but unknown number) of original sources. Bayesian calculations require independent data, but the Bible's stories of Jesus are all derived from a very few original sources. Dr. Craig's audience doesn't know Bayesian statistics nor do they know the Bible's own history. Craig knows this and relies on it.
- After confusing his audience with pages of mathematical mumbo-jumbo, Craig then makes a rapid-fire series of five sentences that appear to be a series of logical deductions (but in fact are not) that "prove" that Dr. Ehrman's position is "self refuting." Craig knows his audience can't spot the subtle philosophical flaws in the few seconds they have to think about it.
- Dr. Craig then pulls a magic rabbit out of his hat: he switches from a natural explanation to a magical explanation. His audience is amazed by his cleverness! A magical god who can do anything, any time! Ehrman is a fool for trying to use math on God!
"This is endemic to creationist arguments. Kirk Durston does that too. Michael Behe does it a lot. What these debates have in common is that they use tons of math as a way of befuddling the audience, lulling them into thinking 'I have no idea what that guy is saying so he must be smart.' Then they have a hook to bring the argument back to the audience's reality. They make a spurious connection between the hook and the math, and then 'therefore God exists.'"This is just one example of Dr. Craig's tricks. If you surf the web you can find dozens of people who are far more qualified than me who have refuted many or most of Craig's arguments. Here are a few:
My Rebuttal to William Lane Craig’s Opening Statement: This is an excellent place to start. The very first paragraph destroys William Lane Craig's Cosmological argument completely. Dr. Craig has read these rebuttals but pretends they don't exist. He never addresses them, because he can't. He just goes on to the next debate, confident that his audience is ignorant.
Rebutting William Lane Craig and the case for God’s existence: A sample chapter of Gareth Wilson's book, The Plain Truths of Religion. Wilson takes apart Craig's arguments one by one, showing the logical flaws and baseless assertions that are Craig's stock-in-trade. Wilson's very first salvo hits the mark: Craig makes the classic mistake of challenging atheists to prove God exists, and Wilson rakes him over the coals.
The list goes on and on. Just google for "William Lane Craig rebuttal" and you can spend a whole day reading.
It's not that Dr. Craig is wrong. I would welcome a good debate on theology. My problem is that he is deceptive and relies on an uneducated audience. His fans think he's winning when he isn't. As Dr. Bart Ehrman said,
"I think in any university setting in the country, if we were in front of a group of academics we would be howled off the stage."Exactly. If Dr. William Lane Craig is the best Christianity has to offer, then it's in sad shape.