Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Shook vs. Craig in Vancouver, BC

Craig leads with his usual five arguments, after getting a bit of a dig in at Shook’s website. 

Shook leads with an unusual deductive argument which might be formalized along these lines:

  1. Only those propositions for which there is good evidence are probably true.
  2. There is not any good evidence for the claims of supernaturalism.
  3. Therefore, supernaturalism is probably false, and naturalism probably true.

This is not a particularly good argument, but it is an argument nonetheless.  Craig claims that Shook made no argument whatsoever, but Shook clearly elucidated both premises during the course of his opening statement.  It is not to Shook’s credit that he failed to make more varied and affirmative arguments for naturalism, but taking this approach did free up some time to go after the arguments for theism.

On rebuttal, Craig actually sounds a little bit shook up - I’ve never before heard him interlarding his speech with disfluencies in the manner of mere mortal men.  He argues that even if there are no good arguments for God, that we still might reasonably believe in God, and then goes on to call this problem a “huge lacuna” in the debate.  I must agree, but surely such a gap would favor agnosticism rather than theism (Craig rightly points this out on cross).  Craig goes on to say that a “changeless self-conscious being” is a totally coherent concept, despite the fact that our inevitably subjective understanding of the phenomenon of consciousness is inherently and invariably temporal.  As Indigo Montoya once said, “You keep using that word.  I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

During his rebuttal period, Shook goes directly after Craig’s five arguments, which puts him ahead of almost all the freethinking debaters I’ve heard.  He fails to refute the bizarrely self-contradictory idea of an objective morality (existing solely in the mind of god) but he does have a go at Craig argument from objective morality.  More generally, Shook’s counterarguments are not quite as strong as they could have been, but kudos to him for having a go.  Interestingly, Shook uses something very much like the analogy to planetary (as opposed to universal) fine-tuning which I wrote about on my other blog so mega-kudos for that. J

Although Shook ought to have made a few positive arguments for naturalism (as Austin Dacey does) both debaters did a fairly fine job of casting reasonable doubt on their opponent’s arguments, and thus we have witnessed yet another AGNOSTIC WIN!

Overall rating: 4.5