“I think Martin Luther correctly distinguished between what he called the magisterial and ministerial uses of reason. The magisterial use of reason occurs when reason stands over and above the gospel like a magistrate and judges it on the basis of argument and evidence. The ministerial use of reason occurs when reason submits to and serves the gospel…. Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then it is the former which must take precedence over the latter.” – William Lane Craig
Craig’s entire schtick is that it is reasonable to have faith in an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent deity that calls for genocide; that that deity gives rules for the proper care and beating of slaves; that that deity created humans without the knowledge of good and evil, and then punished all humans, forever, because the first humans did something that was evil… which god had specifically and deliberately made it impossible for Adam and Eve to know. Besides the inherent absurdity of trying to rebrand faith from “belief without evidence”, to some strange alchemical modification of knowledge, there is the utter absurdity of Craig’s deliberate, patent, and freely confessed intellectual dishonesty.
Science As A Prop
Craig’s deception involves claims made about the ultimate nature of reality, as gleaned by science. For now, we can ignore the fact that Craig’s interpretations of physicists’ work are often denied by the physicists who actually made the discoveries that he exploits. We can even ignore the fact that, when faced with those refutations, Craig has actually argued that those physicists are wrong about their life’s work. But, of course, he understands it, what with his extensive training in, erm… science?
Craig’s relationship with science is one of ruthless exploitation and distortion. He uses a method based on doubt, whose findings are always expressed in degrees of confidence and measurements of probability, and makes absolute claims based on current models. And, naturally, Craig cherrypicks the models he likes, presents them as Scientific Gospel, and then ignores any and every model that contradicts his blind faith. When faced with competent opponents, Craig reverts to deceptive probabilistic arguments. Science, he tells us (correctly), cannot prove anything beyond a shadow of a doubt, and we do not have enough information to know is a self-created/eternal universe is even possible under the laws of physics.
In a nutshell, then, Craig uses science as far as it can be used with intellectual integrity (and then he goes further), but he abandons his faux principles the moment that they no longer serve his purpose. In order to know whether or not the universe was eternal, Craig argues that we need to have information that may very well be impossible to attain due to the Cosmic Censorship Principle. He tells us that eternal universes are fantastically unlikely, if not impossible. He tells us that the universe being self-created is a logical impossibility. But,. lo and behold, when it’s time for Craig to make claims about a deity, all of a sudden we have no empirical evidence at all, no physics theorems at all, no actual metrics to generate the probability of such a being’s existence. When it’s time for Craig to make claims, all of a sudden an eternal universe makes no sense, but an eternal deity does. A universe that is its own cause, that exists by necessity, should be discarded out of hand. A deity that is its own cause and the grounding for all being, to boot? Well, that’s just good solid reasoning, of course.
Those who are sucked into playing Craig’s game, quickly find that Craig uses science when it suits him, and then jettisons it the instant it’s no longer exploitable. In Craig’s game, sound mathematical models (with ironclad empirical support) are required to prove any claims about the nature of the universe. In Craig’s game, creative writing masquerading as philosophy needs no objective support, and the standards that we hold science to simply do not apply.
Rationalization Posing As Reason
Craig’s tactics are something akin to ‘sophistic backsolving’. Which is to say, Craig starts with his conclusion, and then tries to find evidence that he can use as support. All the while, ignoring any and all information that might contradict his claims. It is, in short, the exact opposite of the scientific method. He’s not looking to prove his claim false, he’s not cleaving to the null hypothesis, he’s not looking at the evidence and then crafting a falsifiable hypothesis to test. Instead, Craig presupposes that he’s correct, and does his best to torture the facts until they confess to whatever interpretation he finds most useful at the moment.
It is, in short, a deliberate predation, a purposeful parasitism that aims to appropriate the clout and trust that science has generated. He uses science, not as a tool for rational analysis, but in order to shield his argument from justified criticisms; after all, out of the massive number of models which aim to explain cosmogenesis, there are some that fit with pretty much every idea about the ultimate nature of reality and the singularity (probably) that we call home. By cherrypicking only the theories that support (or can be forced to support) his presupposed conclusions, he achieves a facade of legitimacy and scholarship.
But, of course, Craig hasn’t presented one peer reviewed paper that proves a sapient super being exists outside of spacetime. And he won’t, because he can’t. Because science can’t support claims about unfalsifiable, undefinable, entities – even if we somehow pierced the veil or our singularity, no matter the lack of evidence, Craig could still rely on the Gods of the Gaps and Argument From Ignorance arguments. No matter what, the claim can always be made that a deity is “beyond the physics”, or what have you. Sure, if we made that kind of a reality-shaking breakthrough but didn’t find any evidence Craig might say, we’ve now seen beyond the veil of our singularity. And he might then concede that we’ve seen no evidence for any deities. But, of course, Craig will just kick the can down the hall, and claim that his deity resides ‘outside’ of reality.
Craig’s performance gives the impression that he’s speaking from a position of scientific knowledge. Instead, he’s speaking from a position of deliberate scientific distortion.
Proud, Patent Public Intellectual Dishonesty
As the quote that I started this post with demonstrates, Craig has had some sort of personal, subjective experience. He has decided that this experience represents objective truth – specifically that he is in contact with a divine ‘spirit’ of an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-benevolent god… that can’t manage to get its message clear enough that the “Holy Spirit” evidently gives all sorts of people all sorts of conflicting ‘revealed truths’.
Put simply, Craig will actively reject any and all evidence, and any and all logic, that contradicts his conclusions. He will offer the pretense and appearance of intellectually honest analysis, all the while, only engaging in discussion so that he can twist everything into his “ministerial” worldview. Evidence, and reason both, according to Craig’s own words, are to be deliberately discarded the moment they challenge the ‘revealed truths’ of the “Holy Spirit”.
Craig is, in short, a bloated tick posing as a philosopher, filled to bursting with stolen blood and communicable intellectual disease.