Sunday, September 21, 2014

Countering the Kalam (5) - Responding to William Lane Craig

Note: What follows below is the transcript/script of the video. 

I have to admit being surprised when I found out Dr. Craig did a podcast response to my Countering the Kalam series.  I am extremely gratified to see that I’d garnered enough attention online that he felt it worth his time to put out a response.  For that, I'm extremely grateful. Given the other two YouTube personalities he’s put online responses to that I know of, and how instrumental their content was in my own deconversion, I see this as kind of a badge of honor.  I’m speaking here of YouTuber’s TheoreticalBullshit and SkyDivePhil.

Following their lead, I feel the need to respond in kind to clear the air.  I feel that Dr. Craig  has left the door open to allow me to express some flaws in his arguments, and to further critique the Kalam.  It’s also been a long time since I’ve done a proper YouTube video due to work and life just getting more demanding in the past year since I started this online atheism thing. Who knew being a dad would take so much time?

In case you’ve not seen it, I have a link to Craig’s post/podcast right here, but I will be quoting the relevant parts as we go through my rebuttal.  I also hope Craig, if he’s listening, and anyone following the exchange don’t mind if I respond a bit out of the order Craig used to present critiques to me.

So with all that, let’s begin.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Proving the Negative?

Like many of my latest (sporadic) blog posts this is spawned by Twitter.  Specifically I saw this amusing picture on twitter:

This was in a tweet which was a response to this article by internet Christian apologist WinteryKnight, who is largely citing William Lane Craig.

This is a topic that comes up every so often in atheism, about whether or not we can “prove” god does not exist.

I’ve personally gone back and forth on my views on this question, and I currently find myself putting a foot in both camps.  Lately, it’s become a position among a good number of people I greatly respect and converse with to say that “of course we can prove god does not exist”, which is usually followed with a sensible amount of words that go on to qualify that with something to the effect of “for any reasonable definition of prove”.  This typically involves pointing out that we don’t need something incoherent like “absolute certainty” in order to say “we know there is no god”.

In many respects, I find this kind of argument by my fellow atheists compelling.  On the other hand, I feel this kind of discussion is misused by many apologists, and it glosses over the very real problem underlying the argument behind the idea that we can’t prove a universal negative like “god does not exist”. 

Let me first state that the very simply “you can’t prove a universal negative” is strictly false.  Universal statements like this are very hard to get correct, which is a precursor into this sort of problem.  Let's look at exactly why this is the case, per the article.