Friday, April 22, 2011

Fideism lives on in WLC

Among the sea of Christian apologists out there, William Lane Craig probably stands as one of the most annoyingly loquacious of the bunch.  His primary approach is basically one of taking particularly low-grade and pathetic apologetics without a shred of rigor and then wrapping them in a veneer of sophisticated language and elocution, giving the appearance that the argument is stronger than it actually is.  His favorite argument, the Kalam Cosmological Argument, is nothing more than a variant on the "First Mover" argument which has a lengthy history going back far before Judeo-Christian traditions, though most people in the West might be familiar with it in the form put forth by Aquinas...  5 times...  The naive version of it contains the premise that "whatever exists has a cause", and the easy weak point here is that in order to say God exists, you have to include the fact that God has a cause, else your premise of causality is not axiomatic.  Trying to make an exception for your god constitutes a special pleading fallacy.  The Kalam argument as put forth by WLC uses a different play on words by stating that premise as "whatever begins to exist has a cause."  By including the assertion that "God is eternal", you can claim that there was no beginning to God's existence.  Of course, you're still left with the fact that the "eternal" nature of the posited god is merely a blind assertion and not something you can take as an axiom.  So on what basis can you say that your god is eternal?

Well, in the video above, Mr. William Lane Craig gives his answer for how he knows about the nature of his god.

In many debates, he likes to feign an acceptance of scientific principles and its rigorous approach involving physical evidence and well-reasoned logical conclusions based on that evidence.  Yet, in feigning to do so, he always demonstrates a bold hypocrisy in holding anything he wants to believe up to the same level of scrutiny, which he hides either by the smoke and mirrors of his windbaggery, or by outright lies which are difficult to expose without information readily on hand.  Here, he shows his hand as a flat-out fideist.

Fideism is the epistemological approach which argues that at least a certain range of truths can be found by faith, and that where faith reveals something, it is superior to evidence.  His main point here is that if you have doubts, the problem is that you need to trust your faith.  He believes in the Bible and the Christian faith because he feels the emotional experience that the Bible and his church leaders have told him to look for in order to strengthen their belief.  It is a classic case of circular reasoning, but by not mentioning the sources, he covers up that failure.

Even aside from the fallacious thinking on that level, there's a blatant disregard for objectivity in his assertion.  In his own words, the so-called witness of the holy spirit "in his heart" provides a "self-authenticating means of knowing that Christianity is true wholly apart from the evidence."  In other words, even if the evidence in reality were to disagree with his preconceived notions, he doesn't have any need to re-evaluate his faith because the feeling "in his heart" proves the truth of Christianity absolutely.  What he's actually saying is that if reality disagrees with your faith in Jesus, it's reality that's wrong.  This is an easy cop-out away from rationality because he's providing a mechanism by which objective evaluation of the truth value of any religious claim is devalued in favor of deciding ahead of time that it is true because you believe it because you believe it because you believe it.  You get to conclude what is true ahead of time, and from that point on, it is not open to discussion.

William Lane Craig...  you make me physically ill.