Sunday, 31 July 2011

William Lane Craig and debating

William Lane Craig is an American Evangelical Christian philosopher and theologian well known for his numerous debates, often with atheist opponents. In October he is due to debate British journalist and President of the British Humanist Association Polly Toynbee.

William Lane Craig is the champion knight in a battlefield of spiritual goblins. Rhetorically slicing apart uppity atheists and wielding logic and reason like maces there is no chink in this man's glistening intellectual armour. As ever more foolish atheists emerge like rats from morally bankrupt universities, to challenge this King Arthur of intellectual debates, William Lane Craig stands against them, and reduces them to dust. Can any atheist defeat Lane Craig in a debate? Is the man infallible? Is he God? These must be some of the questions Christians ask when their favourite debater closes another wonderful philosophical mauling.

This is all illusory. Lane Craig is not infallible and has lost debates against opponents (vs Ray Bradley on hell and vs Keith Parsons on Christianity). Admittedly he is a skilled debater and wins many of his debates, but what does it mean to win debates? The definition I am working with is that he manages to put his points across in a clear, organised and rhetorically persuasive way and his rebuttals address the opponent's points directly. Is this really so amazing? Does this in any way prove that God exists and Jesus is the messiah?

William Lane Craig may win debates but he has not won truth. Debaters develop skills in presenting arguments, rebutting, making their opponents look silly, etc, but this has no bearing on the truth or falsity of ancient philosophical questions. Just as lawyers can convince a jury that a criminal is innocent, debaters can make their case seem true when it's not. Indeed many formal debaters 'win' debates by arguing counter to what they believe which demonstrates the inherently 'sophist' nature of debating.

This shows that debates have little bearing on truth. Lane Craig undoubtedly believes in the Christian faith, but the fact is his main claim to fame is his talent for arguing and debating - an important skill but one which does not decide truth. His own outings into philosophy, such as the Kalam Cosmological argument, are respected but also criticised by fellow Christians like Wes Morriston. The Kalam Cosmological argument is probably unknown to most Christians around the world, and even if they do know it, it is unlikely to be the source of their belief in God.

The idea that many Christians' belief is validated by this intolerant homophobic George Bush-supporting man's facility for debating is pretty silly. And considering the Christian faith is meant to be one that values truth and evidence above all, an obsession with a practice that emphasises persuasion, point scoring and style over substance is demeaning.

Monday, 11 July 2011

The News of the World and the Phone Hacking Scandal

As days pass it is clear we are in momentous political times. The list of those whose phones were hacked by News of the World journalists grows longer and more eye catchingly terrible by the day. The first major phone hacking story, the beginning of the end for the Sunday newspaper, was the news that the murder victim Milly Dowler's phone was hacked. As the public reeled from this information more allegations came out. The familes of dead soldiers. Murder victim's families. The families of the victims of 7 / 7. It was realised that the position of the News of the World was untenable and Rupert Murdoch decided to sink a long standing newspaper.

Even today there are new revelations . Not only is tabloid journalism in a state of existentialist crisis but the Murdoch Empire is breached and crumbling.

Here are the must reads/watches:

  • The Thursday 7th July edition of Question Time showcased a tour de force from Hugh Grant as he demolished not only News International, but also the cosy relationship both the Conservatives and New Labour had with the Murdoch empire. 

  • Just read the Guardian! The Guardian has proved itself to be the best newspaper in the country at the moment. Bravely following leads and taking on the Murdoch Empire, all these allegations are coming out precisely because of the Guardians good work.


Sunday, 3 July 2011

Update June


Sorry about not posting anything for a while. I have written something but it is going up at Canvas and the editor hasnt actually edited it yet. The article is about Blue Labour and I am very pleased with it. Style wise it is probably the best thing I have written.

When it's up I will post a link here!