Sunday, September 20, 2009

Williamson vs. Craig at University of Saskatchewan

Craig leads off with his usual arguments from first-cause, fine-tuning, objective moral values, minimal historical facts argument for Jesus resurrection, and the non-argument from subjective religious experiences.

Interestingly, Craig dismisses the world ensemble theory by claiming that he knows exactly what our universe (of all the universes) should look like if the ensemble existed. Perhaps he should publish in journals of cosmology rather than apologetics, if he indeed he has so greatly outstripped the finest minds working in theoretical physics.

By "objective moral values" Craig evidently means moral values which are universally binding upon all moral agents on account of having been laid down by an immaterial atemporal nonspatial transcendent cosmic supermind. Seems to me he is question-begging a bit by building this in as a premise to his argument from moral values.

Williamson starts off rather weakly, avoiding any positive arguments from the truth of metaphysical naturalism, and instead brewing us some weak tea on the burden of proof and the nature of unbelief. He thereby wastes at least a third of his opening statement time before finally getting around to arguments from incoherence and a version of the argument from evil. His presentation of the arguments from incoherence is not particularly strong, and his argument from evil isn't fleshed out. Also, he completely muffs the closing of his opening.

During rebuttal, Craig systematically dismantles Williamson's arguments, although Craig's ideas of nonspatiality/atemporality/immateriality amount to little more than hand waving, since he does not even attempt to show that these attributes can be coherently applied to a mind. Williamson's rebuttal is nearly as ineffective as Craig's was effective, mostly because Williamson rambles on various topics while more or less failing to directly address any of Craig's arguments until he pretty much runs out out of time. At this point, those of us hoping for a robustly two-sided debate start looking for the concession stands.

Seriously, where does Craig keep finding these guys? College profs, please realize that a career spent lecturing to undergrads, however good you may be at it, does not at all prepare you to debate someone who is experienced at the art of public debate.

Overall rating: 3.5 stars
Believer rating: 4.5 stars
Unbeliever rating: 2.5 stars

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