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Posted by on Nov 7, 2011 in Craig debate | 0 comments

Craig’s website response re our debate

This response to my evil god challenge has recently appeared on William Lane Craig’s website, after our debate. It’s posted in full below. With my comments in bold. The post takes the form of Craig responding to a question emailed by a fan.


Dr. Craig this is a simple question in regards to your debate with Stephen Law.
Suppose someone hypothetically argued for an Evil God that exists. Could one use the “Problem of Good” as an objection, just as Non-Theists use the “Problem of Evil” against theism?

Would all the arguments such as Plantinga’s Free Will Defense be flipped around, and actually work against the problem of good?

So far, it truly does appear that Evil is a privation of good, and the arguments used to counter the “Problem of Good” against an Evil God do not work very well as a refutation.


BTW notice Craig never responds re the comment on flipping Plantinga’s free will defence (which applies only to the logical problem of evil, and not this one, as Craig knows) or re. the “privation” view of evil, which I don’t think Craig subscribes to (it’s more of a Catholic thing)? Craig just ignores those bits of the email.

Dr. Craig responds:

Cornell, I’m grateful for your question because I think it’s very easy to misunderstand Stephen Law’s “evil god” objection as a result of conflating distinct questions.

First, let’s begin with the cosmological and teleological arguments. If successful, these give us a Creator and Designer of the universe. Notice, however, that they do not tell us much or anything about the moral character of the Creator/Designer. In my popular talks, I sometimes put this point by saying that the Creator/Designer might be an absolute stinker, for all we know!


That’s why, by the way, the widespread objection to Intelligent Design based on the cruelties of Nature is worthless. As I point out in my debate with Francisco Ayala, one might as well argue that a medieval torture rack does not need an intelligent designer because anyone who would make such a thing couldn’t be a very nice person.

Precisely because the cosmological and teleological arguments say little or nothing about the moral character of the Creator/Designer, they are immune to the atheist’s most important argument, the problem of evil and suffering. They are therefore powerful components of a cumulative case for theism. They cannot be ignored.

But that’s just what Stephen Law did in the debate. His response to these arguments, as you saw, is simply to say that even if successful, these arguments do not prove the existence of God, since in order to infer that the Creator/Designer is God, one has to prove that He is good. But for all we know from these arguments, the Creator/Designer could be evil. This is NOT, however, the “evil god” objection.

Actually, the evil god objection does apply here, as I clearly explained both during the debate and in the academic paper. These arguments provide no more support to belief in a good god than belief in an evil god. So, given belief in an evil god is absurd, why should we suppose belief in a good god more reasonable, not withstanding the cosmological and teleological arguments?

Law is merely noting the incompleteness of the theist’s case so far: we’ve got a Creator/Designer, but we’ve as yet no reason to think Him good and therefore God.

BTW Craig defines God as good. Hence, if I establish beyond reasonable doubt that there’s no good god, then I have established there’s no God, as Craig defines God. That was my aim. Of course you can retreat to a deist god if you like. But that’s not Craig’s god.

In the debate, Law made the remarkable claim that the cosmological and teleological arguments are not even part of a cumulative case for theism!

No that is simply not true. I said they make equally as cumulative a case for an evil god. As Craig actually just admitted above. So the challenge I put to Craig is to explain why, if belief in an evil god is absurd, notwithstanding the cosmological and teleological arguments, belief in a good god is not similarly absurd. That is the evil god challenge.

This is clearly wrong. The probability of God’s existence given the evidence for a Creator/Designer of the universe is obviously higher than without it. To borrow Tim McGrew’s illustration, suppose you’re expecting an afternoon visit from a friend in the military. That afternoon your wife tells you, “There’s a man coming up the walk.” Do you shrug this off with the comment, “Oh, well, it could be anybody!” She then says, “He’s wearing a uniform!” Should you respond, “Well, maybe it’s a policeman” and continue to go about your affairs? Of course not! The probability that your friend has arrived, though not certain by any means, is definitely higher given your wife’s testimony than it would have been without it. It is thus part of a cumulative case for the conclusion that your friend has arrived, and it would be folly to ignore it. Similarly, the probability that God exists is much higher given the evidence for a Creator/Designer than it is in the absence of such evidence.

Even if correct, this is as much evidence for an evil god as for a good god. So why think belief in a good god is more reasonable than belief in an evil god. That’s the evil god challenge. Craig has so far entirely failed to meet it. When is Craig going to get to the reasons for believing in a good god, I wonder… ah here it comes…sort of….

So what argument does the natural theologian give for thinking that the Creator/Designer is good? Here Law mistakenly seems to think that the theist arrives at the conclusion that the Creator/Designer is good by an inductive survey of the world’s events.

No. I don’t do that. I explained why in my first rebuttal. Craig is simply choosing to ignore what I said and continuing to attack a straw man.

Seeing all the goods in the world, the theist supposedly infers that the Creator/Designer is (perfectly) good.

Of course Christians don’t do that. Obviously. Craig is still attacking a straw man.

That assumption is simply incorrect.

Yes, it is. Good job I don’t make it.

As Michael Bergmann and Jeff Brower point out in their response to Law, “no traditional theists we know of have ever argued for God’s perfect goodness . . . by simply inferring it from the existence of some good in the world.”i They conclude that Law hasn’t “done anything to touch, much less undermine, traditional belief in the existence of a being which is at once all-powerful and all-good.

Yes, Bergmann and Brouwer got quite the wrong end of the stick re my evil God challenge. I am asking – what is the case for supposing there’s not just a creator, but a good one? Please explains why belief in a good god is reasonable, or not unreasonable, while belief in an evil god remains downright absurd? Craig has still not yet given us an answer… it doesn’t have to be an empirically-based case. Obviously.

If Law wants to mount a real attack on traditional theism, he will need at the very least to engage some of the actual support that has been given . . . for belief in God’s goodness, explaining why it fails, rather than completely ignoring it.”ii

Right. I asked Craig to give it…

What many natural theologians, including myself, do to justify belief in the perfect goodness of the Creator/Designer proved by the cosmological and teleological arguments is to offer various moral arguments for God. In so doing, one needn’t appeal to the good in the world at all; one can instead point to instances of objective moral evil.

Right. Finally we get to a supposed reason for supposing belief in a good god is significantly more reasonable than belief in an evil god, which even Craig admits is absurd. Notice that all of the preceding text was irrelevant so far as meeting the evil god challenge is concerned.

So, in our debate, I argued:

1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
2. Evil exists.
3. Therefore, objective moral values exist. (Some things are evil!)
4. Therefore, God exists.

Law takes almost no cognizance in his published work of such an argument for God as the foundation of objective moral values and duties. All I could find is the brief comment: “it remains possible that a cogent moral argument along the above lines might yet be constructed. I suspect that . . . this is the most promising line of attack [for theists to take].”iii I concur.

Like Professor Richard Swinburne (a far more widely and highly rated and pre-eminent philosopher than Craig) and several other Christian philosophers, I find Craig’s moral argument, and indeed all moral arguments for the existence of God, utterly unconvincing. Hence I don’t bother with them much

It’s worth noting that Law agrees with premiss (2) because he is a moral realist.

This is a little sneaky. I was very clear that I agree objective moral values exist up until I am shown reason to believe the first premise is true (which Craig never supplied). At that point, the rational thing for me to do, given overwhelming empirical evidence there’s no god (as Craig defines god), is to give up on moral realism. I explained all this not once but three times in the debate. In my second rebuttal, the QandA and in my summary too. Craig ignored what I said on the night and has here also just ignored what I said.

So in order to resist the force of this argument, he must deny (1).

No, as I just pointed out and pointed out three times in the debate, given the truth of the first premise and overwhelming evidence against the existence of a good god, the rational conclusion to draw is that there are no objective moral values. I might not like that conclusion very much. And it is counterintuitive. But, hey, sometimes we have to give up what seemed intuitively obvious, such as that the earth does not move, in the face of powerful evidence to the contrary.

Here’s what I said about this in the debate. It’s verbatim. Notice how Craig continues to ignore the point.

What of the second premise of Craig’s moral argument? Objective moral values exist.

This is undoubtedly a belief that just seems obviously true. But of course that doesn’t guarantee it is true.

Yes it seems like there are objective moral values. That isn’t a belief we should abandon easily. But it’s by no means irrefutable.

After all, we have a powerful impression that the Earth doesn’t move. It really, really doesn’t seem to move. But if we’re given powerful evidence that it does move, and it’s also explained why it nevertheless seems like it doesn’t, then the rational thing for us to believe is that our initial, highly convincing impression was wrong.

The moral is, even if Professor Craig could show his first premise is true, he can’t deal with the problem of evil by just digging in his heels and saying, “But look, it really, really seems to us as if there are objective moral values, so there must be a God.”

When placed next to the problem of evil, Craig’s argument does little to undermine the problem. Rather, it just combines with it to deliver the conclusion that there are no objective moral values.

That conclusion would be further reinforced by an evolutionary explanation of why it would still seem to us that there are objective moral values even if there aren’t.

Now I don’t doubt Professor Craig doesn’t want to believe there are no objective moral values. Hey, I don’t want to believe it. But this isn’t an exercise in wishful thinking.

So, even if its first premise were true, Craig’s moral argument still hardly offers much of a riposte to the evidential problem of evil.

But on this score, he has very little to offer by way of explanation of objective moral values and duties in an atheistic universe. Indeed, after presenting the old Euthyphro dilemma,…

Incidentally, I never presented the Euthyphro dilemma in the debate. Some wonder why. The answer is that Craig’s version of theism is immune to it (at least in it’s simplest form). Against Craig, I used different arguments, which Craig is now choosing to ignore (see above).

…he admits, “None of this is to deny that there is

a puzzle about the objectivity of morality—about how it is possible for things to be morally right or wrong independently of how we, or even God, might judge them to be.”iv

But he has no solution to this puzzle to offer.

This is all irrelevant. Craig needs to show his premises are true to make a case for a specifically good god. The onus is not on me to show the first premise is false. Hell, I could admit it’s true, and still Craig’s argument fails to produce much of a response to the evidential problem of evil, as I just pointed out. And pointed out three times in the debate. Note that, even if Craig can show his first premise is true, he faces a mountain of empirical evidence against the good god hypothesis. That mountain of evidence, when combined with the first premise, just delivers the conclusion there are no objective moral values.

But anyway, what is Craig’s argument for the truth of premise 1?

Then he notes the theistic solution: “suppose that ‘God’ refers, not to the creator of this yardstick, but to the yardstick itself . . . then to admit that there is an absolute standard of right and wrong is just to admit that God exists. . . .”v That’s absolutely right! So what’s his objection to the theistic solution? He says, “this is a very thin understanding of what ‘God’ means.”vi This objection is based on a confusion between semantics and ontology. The theist isn’t offering a definition of what the word “God” means. The theist is claiming that God, in all His fullness, is the paradigm of moral value.

Yes, but, as Craig says, this is just a claim, isn’t it? Why suppose the yardstick is a god? What’s the argument both that there’s such a yardstick and it can only be the Judeo-Christian, Craig-type God? It’s a huge leap from “There’s an objective moral yardstick” to “The Judeo-Christian God exists.” Even if the case for the yardstick could be made. What Christian’s need to ask themselves, reading this, is, what is Craig’s actual argument for his first premise?

God is the yardstick of moral value.

This is pure assertion.

By contrast Law more or less admits that the atheist has no explanation of the existence of the objective moral values and duties that we both apprehend.

I didn’t and don’t admit that. And I am still waiting for the argument that there can be no objective moral values if Craig’s god does not exist. Where is it? And in any case, as I have just pointed out, to be effective, the evil god challenge does not require that the atheist provide an account of objective moral duties/values. The atheist can be a moral nihilist.

So far, the “evil god” objection has yet to appear on the scene. We have simply been discussing what grounds the theist might offer for thinking that God exists, i.e., that there is a perfectly good Creator/Designer of the universe.

What grounds? Craig just gave us an argument widely condemned even by some leading theists (e.g. Swinburne), and failed to support his premises, esp. premise (1). And, as I have pointed out, even if the first premise could be shown to be true, the argument is still almost entirely useless as a riposte to the evidential problem of evil.

It is at this juncture that Law raises the problem of evil. As we agreed in the debate, this problem can be stated in non-moral terms by substituting “suffering” for “evil.”

Yes, so I hope Craig will now stop insisting that he has a wonderful, knock-down refutation of the problem of evil. As he does here, for example… First year philosophers learn that this is a hopeless solution to the problem of evil, but Craig continues to repeat this stuff because he knows a lot of gullible, philosophically-unsophisticated theists will fall for it and go away thinking “Why, the problem of evil has been solved!”

The objection is that the suffering in the world provides, in Law’s words, “overwhelming evidence“ that God does not exist. For an all-powerful, all-good being, it is alleged, would not permit the suffering we observe in the world. Therefore, such a being probably does not exist.

Suppose that the theist responds, as I do, by saying that, for all we know, God may well have morally sufficient reasons for permitting the suffering in the world. We all know cases in which we permit suffering because we have morally sufficient reasons for doing so. What Law would have to prove…

I note that the weasel word “prove” crops up here. What does it mean? When Craig gets cornered, his opponents suddenly start having to “prove” things. All I am aiming to do is establish beyond reasonable doubt that Craig’s god does not exist.

The evidential problem of good is: there’s far too much good for it plausibly to put down as the price paid for some greater cosmic evil. Most of us can immediately recognize that this is true.

So, the evidential problem of evil is, similarly, that there’s such vast quantities of seemingly gratuitous evil over hundreds of millions of years that it’s just not plausible that it’s the price paid for some greater good. It’s just not plausible that not even an ounce of it is really gratuitous. Is this a “proof”? It’s a “proof” only in the sense that, in the absence of any good counter-argument, it gives us very good grounds for supposing there’s no good god (just as the evidential problem of good gives us very good grounds for supposing there’s no evil god).

…is that it’s improbable that God has morally sufficient reasons for permitting the suffering in the world. But how could he possibly prove that?

I don’t have to prove it beyond pointing out we have very good grounds for supposing it’s true. Which we do. And certainly most of us see this when we consider the evil god hypothesis.

The point is, there’s clearly evidence sufficient to establish beyond reasonable doubt that there’s no evil god. But then why isn’t there evidence sufficient to establish beyond reasonable doubt there’s no good god? Craig has no answer, yet. Just a bit of sleight of hand with the word “proof”.

God’s justifying reasons might never appear in our lifetime or locale or even in this life. Suppose, for example, that God’s purpose for human life is not happiness in this life but the knowledge of God, which is an incommensurable good. It may be the case, for all we know, that only in a world suffused with natural and moral evil would the maximum number of people freely come to know God and find eternal life. Law would have to show there is a feasible world available to God in which there is a comparable knowledge of God and His salvation but with less suffering. That’s pure speculation.

No, it’s not. It’s a reasonable conclusion based on a mountain of evidence. Most of us know it’s not “pure speculation” to suppose the vast quantities of good we see around us constitute very good evidence there’s no evil god. We can see there’s way too much good for this world plausibly to be considered the creation of such an evil being. So why is it suddenly “pure speculation” to suppose that hundreds of millions of years of appalling suffering is good evidence there’s no god god? After all, as I pointed out in the debate and the paper, an evil god may have his cosmic reasons for allowing good now so that greater evils can be achieved (perhaps even in an afterlife), or whatever! Yet it’s pretty clear that just won’t wash, isn’t it?

It is at this point that the “evil god” objection finally comes to the fore.

No, in the debate, it came to the fore when I was discussing the cosmological and teleological arguments, but Craig has conveniently airbrushed that out as it makes it clearer still why those two arguments are entirely irrelevant so far as an assessment of whether or not I succeeded in establishing beyond reasonable doubt that Craig’s god does not exist.

Law’s response to the above is to say that if such a response is tenable, then someone who believes in an evil god could also justifiably say that the goods in the world do not constitute refutation of the existence of such a deity because the evil god could similarly have reasons for permitting all the goods in the world, which Law just takes to be absurd.

A couple of comments: the “evil god” hypothesis is not suggesting that God could be evil. For, by definition, God is a being which is worthy of worship, and so no being which is evil could be God. That’s why Peter Millican, who independently formulated a similar argument, refers to the evil supreme being, not as “God,” but as “anti-God.”vii That is less misleading than Law’s terminology.

Sure, I don’t care what you call him. Though I note that plenty of evil beings have been called gods, historically. This is just semantics.

One can refer to this being as “god” only by using the lower case “g,” as I have done. The idea is that there is a Creator/Designer of the universe who is evil. You can see immediately why this argument, which properly belongs to concerns of theodicy, gets conflated with arguments for God’s goodness.

Big “G”, small “g”. Frankly. Who cares?

Arguments for god’s goodness? We haven’t had one yet. Except for a highly dodgy one with suspect premises which weren’t even argued for. A moral argument, which would, in any case, even with an established first premise, fail to offer much of a riposte to the evidential problem of evil.

Notice, too, that Law is not giving reasons to think that an evil god exists. On the contrary, it is essential to his argument that such a supposition is absurd.
The claim of the argument is that given the existence of an evil god, it is highly improbable that the goods in the world would exist (Pr (goods½evil god << 0.5)).
Well, that all of them would, yes. There might well still be some.
By the same token, given the existence of God, it is highly improbable that the suffering in the world would exist (Pr (suffering½God << 0.5)). So just as the goods in the world constitute overwhelming evidence against the existence of an evil god, the suffering in the world constitutes overwhelming evidence against the existence of God.

I suspect that Law thinks that theists will try to deny the symmetry between these two cases.

No, not necessarily. Some don’t.

But that would be a mistake. The two situations strike me as symmetrical—I would just say that in neither case would we be justified in thinking that the probability is low. Just as a good Creator/Designer could have good reasons for permitting the suffering in the world, so an evil Creator/Designer could have malicious reasons for allowing the goods in the world, precisely for the reasons Law explains. My initial response, then, still holds: we’re just not in a position to make these kinds of probability judgements with any sort of confidence.

Craig has spotted just how much trouble he is in with the evil god challenge, and has decided to play a skeptical card. He insists we just can’t know, on the basis of what we see around us, that there’s no evil god. This could quite easily turn out to be the creation of an all-powerful, all-evil deity, given what we see around us.

Right. Well, I’ve run the evil god challenge many times in front of audiences, and I have often started by asking why an evil god is absurd, and I have on almost every occasion got a mass of nodding heads when I have suggested we can rule this god out on the basis of what we observe around us. Even when the audience is almost entirely Christian.

It’s only later, when the repercussions of this are realized for Christianity, that Christians suddenly get highly skeptical about what conclusions can be drawn on the basis of what we see around us. As Craig has here.

So now notice that, if he is to salvage his belief in the reasonableness of belief in a God god, he must do several things.

First, he must justify this very radical skepticism. It’s counter-intuitive. The onus is clearly on him to explain why we should suppose that it’s unreasonable to reject belief in an evil god on the basis of what we see around us. So what’s his justification?

In our debate Law seemed flat-footed in the face of this response. He takes it as just obvious that an evil god would not permit the goods we see in the world—look at the rainbows, look at the children, etc.!

Actually, almost everyone does find it obvious, until the consequences for theism are realized.

But this is no better than the atheist who takes it to be just obvious that the suffering in the world would not be permitted by God—look at the tsunamis, look at the Holocaust, etc. This sort of response is basically an appeal to emotions and fails to grapple with the fact that a Creator/Designer of the world could well have sufficient reasons for permitting what he does.

Appeal to emotions? Eh? We have an emotional response, yes. That does not make it irrational. Any more than the fact Craig has an emotional response to the thought that Jesus loves him makes that belief irrational. This is pure rhetoric from Craig.

“…the fact that a Creator/Designer of the world could well have sufficient reasons for permitting what he does.” So where is the argument to support this? Here it comes…

I was gratified that other theists—like Steve Wykstra, Dan Howard-Snyder, and Mike Rea—who have specialized in the problem of evil share my assessment.

Yes and plenty of theists who specialize on the problem don’t share Craig’s assessment. Craig is here slipping in an argument from authority. Which he himself condemns. And condemned in our debate, funnily enough, when I pointed out Richard Swinburne, one of the top two or three philosophers of religion in the world, and a Christian, find Craig’s argument utterly unonconvincing. “That’s an argument from authority!” complained Craig. The irony.

Wykstra, for example, wrote:

any being (good or evil) big enough to make the heavens and the earth gives a high conditional probability that we’d regularly be unable to discern that being’s ultimate purposes for many events around us. So our actual . . . inability to do so isn’t strong evidence that those purposes (or that being) isn’t there. . . . Just as the inscrutable evil in the world doesn’t give much evidence that there’s no totally good creator, so the inscrutable good in the world doesn’t give much evidence that there’s no totally evil Creator.viii

The point is that once you posit the existence of an evil Creator/Designer of the cosmos, all bets are off.

Yes, of course, if there’s a good/evil cosmic being there will probably be quite a few events the good/evil reasons for which we cannot understand. But that obviously doesn’t establish that NO amount of good or horror, no matter how much, will always fail to provide us with ANY SIGNIFICANT EVIDENCE AT ALL that there’s no good/evil god. Which is what Craig would need to show in order to immunize his God belief against empirical refutation. He hasn’t shown that.

And in fact most of us have the very powerful starting intuition that there is in fact more than enough good stuff in the world for us to be able reasonably to rule out an evil god. So why not a good god?

But look, let’s suppose that Craig and the skeptical theists like Wykstra are right. Suppose Craig did actually manage to construct a good supporting argument for his intuitively implausible skepticism. How would that help him, so far as meeting the evil god challenge is concerned, i.e. in terms of showing that a good god is significantly more reasonable than the absurd evil god hypothesis is concerned?

It wouldn’t. Given Craig accepts the evil god hypothesis is absurd, he still faces the challenge of having to raise the reasonableness of the good god hypothesis from a base of being level-pegging with the downright absurd evil god hypothesis all the way up to “pretty reasonable’. And all he has to do that, here, is his moral argument. Which, as presented above, is pretty useless. So even adopting Wykstra-style skeptical theism doesn’t help Craig much so far as dealing with the evil god challenge is concerned.

Craig ends with a final note…

One final note: I talked earlier about reasons to think that the Creator/Designer of the universe is good.

Yes. We were given one highly contentious argument with a dubious first premise for which no supporting argument was given, and which, even if the first premise was true, would fail to offer any sort of significant riposte to the problem of evil.

Suppose we concede for the sake of argument that an evil Creator/Designer exists. Since this being is evil, that implies that he fails to discharge his moral obligations.

We don’t even have to say he’s evil, as Craig himself has almost conceded. We can just say – he likes suffering.

But where do those come from? How can this evil god have duties to perform which he is violating? Who forbids him to do the wrong things that he does?

This just assumes Craig has good moral argument for God. But we are still waiting to see what it is.

Immediately, we see that such an evil being cannot be supreme: there must be a being who is even higher than this evil god and is the source of the moral obligations which he chooses to flout, a being which is absolute goodness Himself. In other words, if Law’s evil god exists, then God exists.

Entirely question begging – as this assumes Craig has a good moral argument.

Overall assessment: Craig has no decent response to the evil God challenge. He tried (i) playing the skeptical card, insisting that empirical observation can give us no grounds for supposing there’s no good or evil god. This is (a) implausible, and (b) received no decent supporting argument. In addition, (c) even if Craig could establish that kind of skepticism, the onus would STILL be on him to show why belief in Craig’s good God is significantly more reasonable than (the absurd) belief in an evil God. And what was his argument…

It was a moral argument that: (a) is widely rejected, even by some leading Christian philosophers, (b) has dodgy first premise for which Craig has here failed to provide any supporting argument, and (c) even if the first premise could be established, fails to produce an argument that constitutes much of a riposte to the evidential problem of evil. When combined with the evidential problem of evil, the first premise merely delivers the conclusion that there are no objective moral values. Which is counter-intuitive. But hey, that’s doesn’t mean it’s not true. Sometimes reason leads us to abandon beliefs that really seemed to be true (e.g. the earth is stationary).

On the basis of the arguments presented here, it’s almost impossible to avoid the conclusion that Craig’s god belief has, indeed, been straightforwardly empirically refuted. He’s failed to deal with the argument against (he’s just played a counter-intuitive and unjustified skeptical card) and his argument for why belief in a good god is more reasonable than the absurd belief in an evil god was his moral argument – which has a dodgy and unargued-for first premise and which, even if the first premise could be shown to be true, still spectacularly fails to deal with the evidential problem of evil

William Lane Craig is a talented and highly skilled debater who travels the world doing his best to shore up the faith of Christians and provide them with ammunition against atheists and skeptics (such as “evil proves god” – a move that Craig himself conceded in the debate fails to deal with the problem of evil, but which I guarantee we’ll see trotted out again in future debates, because it’s good rhetoric).

Craig’s an OK philosopher, though he likes to stick to his scripted answers rather than think on his feet, when he can get out of his depth if someone takes a line for which Craig has no script (which is why he is always weaker in QandA sessions – see e.g. the Shelley Kagan debate). Debating Craig is a little like talking to someone who is trying to sell you double-glazing down the phone. Almost any comeback from you is already anticipated, with a scripted response, and a response to your likely response. So he sounds very, very confident and polished. Spend 20 mins on the phone with the double glazing guy, and you’ll find his script allows no other ultimate response than the one he wants – “Why yes, I’d like to buy double glazing”.

It’s a similar experience debating Craig. I spent a lot of time mapping his responses in advance, and little he said on the night was new. The thing about the evil god challenge is, it did pull him off his usual script a little bit – or at least made it look rather threadbare. Especially in the QandA. That Craig’s got remarkably little in the way of response to the evil god challenge is apparent in the text above. There’s very little argument – just assertion. As to who won – make up your own minds…

BTW I also think Craig’s a genuine guy, though some of his views (on atheists, the Canaanites, and hell) are not just nutty but really odious.

Still, while he may be a philosopher, the above is a remarkably weak response to the evil god challenge.

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