Intellectual excuses come later? Reflections on Craig and Loftus

Posted on 11/05/12 100 Comments

John Loftus wrote an interesting post in response to a Bill Craig interview in which Craig attributes Loftus’ apostasy to adultery and pornography addiction. You can read Loftus’ response here: http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.ca/2012/11/william-lane-craig-is-shamelessly.html

While Loftus notes that adultery was a factor in his deconversion, he emphatically denies that pornography addiction ever was. If this is true (and presumably Loftus would know) then Craig is guilty of a very serious error and one that, I would think, would require a public retraction.

However, my interest is not on the nature of Craig’s charges but rather on his reasoning. Let’s start with the video itself:


Let’s focus on the point where Craig, after enumerating the charges of adultery and pornography addiction, concludes:

“And it’s for those reasons that he fell away from the faith. It was primarily moral and relational problems. And these intellectual excuses come later because, after all, if you have ‘intellectual’ reasons for your unbelief that’s socially acceptable, that’s impressive. But if your reasons for your unbelief are moral like pornography use and so forth, well that’s not credible, that doesn’t give you any prestige or cache.”

While I’m not particularly interested in defending Loftus, I think that Craig has done himself no favors. In this portion of the interview he seems to suggest reasoning like this:

If there are non-rational factors behind a person’s conversion from one belief system to another then subsequent arguments in support of that conversion are merely “excuses” to ensure the social prestige or cache of one’s earlier decision.

Once one adopts this principle, one finds that it applies equally well to Craig himself. Here’s his testimony:

I wasn’t raised in a church-going family, much less a Christian family—though  it was a good and loving home. But when I became a teenager, I began to ask the  big questions of life: “Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “Where am I going?” In the  search for answers I began to attend on my own a large church in our community.  But instead of answers, all I found was a social country club where the dues  were a dollar a week in the offering plate. The other high school students who  were involved in the youth group and claimed to be Christians on Sunday lived  for their real God the rest of the week, which was popularity. They seemed  willing to do whatever it took to be popular.

This really bothered me. “They claim to be Christians, but I’m leading a  better life than they are!” I thought. “Yet I feel so empty inside. They must be  just as empty as I am, but they’re just pretending to be something they’re not.  They’re all just a pack of hypocrites.” So I began to grow very bitter toward  the institutional church and the people in it.

In time this attitude spread toward other people. “Nobody is really  genuine,” I thought. “They’re all just a bunch of phonies, holding up a plastic  mask to the world, while the real person is cowering down inside, afraid to come  out and be real.” So my anger and resentment spread toward people in general. I  grew to despise people, I wanted nothing to do with them. “I don’t need people,” I thought, and I threw myself into my studies. Frankly, I was on my way toward  becoming a very alienated young man.

And yet—in moments of introspection and honesty, I knew deep down inside  that I really did want to love and be loved by others. I realized in that moment  that I was just as much a phony as they were. For here I was, pretending not to  need people, when deep down I knew that I really did. So that anger and hatred  turned in upon myself for my own hypocrisy and phoniness.

I don’t know if you understand what this is like, but this kind of inner  anger and despair just eats away at your insides, making every day miserable,  another day to get through. I couldn’t see any purpose to life; nothing  really mattered.

One day when I was feeling particularly crummy, I walked into my high  school German class and sat down behind a girl who was one of those types that  is always so happy it just makes you sick! I tapped her on the  shoulder, and she turned around, and I growled, “Sandy, what are you always so  happy about anyway?”

“Well, Bill,” she said, “It’s because I’m  saved!”

I was in utter shock. I had never heard language like this before.

“You’re what?” I demanded.

“I know Jesus Christ as my personal Savior,” she explained.

“I go to church,” I said lamely.

“That’s not enough, Bill,” she said. “You’ve got to have him really living in  your heart.”

That was the limit! “What would he want to do a thing like that for?” I  demanded.

“Because he loves you, Bill.”

That hit me like a ton of bricks. Here I was, so filled with anger and hate,  and she said there was someone who really loved me. And who was it but the God  of the universe! That thought just staggered me. To think that the God of the  universe should love me, Bill Craig, that worm down there on that speck  of dust called planet Earth! I just couldn’t take it in.

That began for me the most agonizing period of soul-searching that I’ve  ever been through. I got a New Testament and read it from cover to cover. And as  I did, I was absolutely captivated by the person of Jesus of Nazareth. There was  a wisdom about his teaching I had never encountered before and an authenticity  in his life that wasn’t characteristic of those people who claimed to be his  followers in the local church I was attending. I know that I couldn’t throw the  baby out with the bathwater.

Through reading the New Testament, I discovered what my problem was. My own  moral failures—in thought, word, and deed—had made me morally guilty before God  and so spiritually separated from Him. That’s why God seemed so unreal to me.  But the Good News was that God had sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world to  pay the death penalty for my sin, thereby freeing up God’s love and forgiveness  to pardon and cleanse me and restore me to the relationship with God that I was  meant to have.

Meanwhile, Sandy introduced me to other Christian students in the high  school. I had never met people like this! Whatever they said about Jesus, what  was undeniable was that they were living life on a plane of reality that I  didn’t even dream existed, and it imparted a deep meaning and joy to their  lives, which I craved.

To make a long story short, my spiritual search went on for the next six  months. I attended Christian meetings; I read Christian books; I sought God in  prayer. Finally, one night I just came to the end of my rope and cried out to  God. I cried out all the anger and bitterness that had built up inside me, and  at the same time I felt this tremendous infusion of joy, like a balloon being  blown up and blown up until it was ready to burst! I remember I rushed  outdoors—it was a clear, mid-western, summer night, and you could see the Milky  Way stretched from horizon to horizon. As I looked up at the stars, I thought, “God! I’ve come to know God!”

That moment changed my whole life. I had thought enough about this message  during those six months to realize that if it were really the truth—really the truth—, then I could do nothing less than spend my entire life  spreading this wonderful message among mankind.

Read more: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/personal-testimony-of-faith#ixzz2BMkngdYC

Admittedly Craig’s conversion to Christianity is not quite as salacious as Loftus’ conversion away from it (even if you remove the charge of pornography addiction). But all the basics are there. Thus, we can conclude that Craig the disconsolate youth was needing meaning in his life and envious of psychologically well-adjusted Sandy, and so after converting to Christianity in search of meaning he has spent the last forty years securing the prestige and cache of his teen decision by proffering an endless range of intellectual excuses from the kalam cosmological argument to historical arguments for the resurrection.

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  • John

    It seems so easy, at least for myself, to get lost in some of the deep philosophical and theological forays despite my best attempts to keep up. More and more I am starting to wonder if it all doesn’t come down to our affections. What, or rather who, do we love? Do we love God? Do we love our neighbor? Do we love our selves? Once those things are decided, we find the various intellectual reasons (and maybe excuses) to follow our hearts.

  • Crude

    While I’m not particularly interested in defending Loftus, I think that Craig has done himself no favors. In this portion of the interview he seems to suggest reasoning like this:

    If there are non-rational factors behind a person’s conversion from one belief system to another then subsequent arguments in support of that conversion are merely “excuses” to ensure the social prestige or cache of one’s earlier decision.

    That doesn’t seem like a fair representation of Craig’s quote at all.

    You make it sound as if Craig said ‘if there are any potential non-rational factors in play, your conversion is unsound’. That seems wildly off the mark.

    • Crude

      Also, Randal – are you denying that what Craig points out is a real phenomenon? Or are you just saying that, whether or not it’s real, it’s not right to actually accuse someone of such?

      • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

        Of course I’m not denying that some people may adopt a belief for non-rational reasons and then adopt ad hoc defenses of it. But it is Craig’s obligation to demonstrate that this is the only function Loftus’ appeal to argument has in his belief system because the only other option is to apply the general principle I identified which would work equally well to marginalize Craig’s beliefs as I pointed out.

        • Crude

          But it is Craig’s obligation to demonstrate that this is the only function Loftus’ appeal to argument has in his belief system

          Not really – he just has to be working on evidence that on the whole makes it reasonable for him to make the inference he did. He doesn’t need to ‘demonstrate’ in the sense of ‘leaving no room for doubt’.

          because the only other option is to apply the general principle I identified which would work equally well to marginalize Craig’s beliefs as I pointed out.

          Not at all. Can you really not think of more options?

          I’ll gladly help. Here’s your option: If there are non-rational factors behind a person’s conversion from one belief system to another then subsequent arguments in support of that conversion are merely “excuses” to ensure the social prestige or cache of one’s earlier decision.

          Here’s my option: If the evidence indicates that non-rational factors are the primary overriding reason behind a person’s conversion from one belief system to another, you’re justified in either skepticism or even denial of their claims that rational considerations supplied the primary overriding reasons for their decision.

          Seems more reasonable than your option, doesn’t it?

          • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

            Your principle applies nicely to Craig’s own conversion account. However, your principle talks only about the grounds of conversion, not the nature of rational argument we develop post-conversion. My principle refers to the latter. And it is the latter that Craig appeals to in order to marginalize Loftus. That’s what you’re missing.

            • Crude

              Your principle applies nicely to Craig’s own conversion account.

              If you argue this rather than just say ‘the basics are there’, it’ll be interesting to see.

              However, your principle talks only about the grounds of conversion, not the nature of rational argument we develop post-conversion. My principle refers to the latter.

              Alright, change it slightly: “If the evidence indicates that non-rational factors are the primary overriding reason behind a person’s conversion from one belief system to another, and their continued belief in that system post-conversion, you’re justified in either skepticism or denial of their claims that rational considerations supplied and supply the primary overriding reasons for their decisions.”

              I’ve still supplied a principle that’s an alternative to yours that’s faithful to Craig’s quote. You don’t need to entertain some bizarre absolute that says ‘if there were any non-rational factors at work, then your decision was non-rational and any subsequent reasons you provide are just excuses’.

              • http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/ed_babinski/babinski-bio.html EdwardTBabinski

                Randal is right, Craig met a smiling female in high school, and wanted that happiness. Josh McDowell met a smiling female soon after entering college, and said he wanted that happiness. Read Josh’s testimony for yourself in the two earliest editions of Evidence that Demands a Verdict, here are some direct quotes: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/ed_babinski/experience.html#mcdowell
                J. P. Holding, another Christian apologist, like Craig and McDowell also converted in his teens, but won’t a say what he read prior to converting. All of them stress the importance of reasoning and the power of Christian apologetic arguments but apparently those had little to do with the reasons each of them converted in the first place. They were all young when they converted, in their teens, had not studied much philosophy or religion, let alone advanced NT studies and questions. At least Loftus studied Christianity academically for years and also experienced it via prayer and shared worship before rejecting it.

                Even leaving aside the case of Loftus’ full about face, one can’t help but note that most Christians who study Christianity academically tend to grow more moderate in their views. Whole institutions of higher learning that were originally founded as conservative Christian seminaries have undergone a similar transformation toward moderation even toward liberalism and secular biblical studies, but over longer periods of time than any individual changes, i.e., after they have attracted bright professors and students for two centuries or more and continue to interact with the scholarly world at large. Today’s conservative Christian institutions of higher learning tend to be founded much more recently like the ones founded during the “fundamentalist-modernist” controversy of the 1920s or even founded a few years ago like Patrick Henry College, and even PHC had a large number of professors quit simultaneously during their rocky start.

                Craig has done more academic study and his views are are not as conservative as McDowell’s (McDowell has argued for YECism and a relatively inflexible interpretation of inerrancy). On the other hand Craig is still pretty conservative compared with some other Evangelical Christian philosophers of religion. J.P. Holding has grown a bit more moderate than his early pro-hellfire days, or the days back when he considered citing OT verses was a good NT apologetic.

                Meanwhile, moderates like Randal get it from both sides, which is unfortunate. Personally, I suspect the world would be better off if all Christians and Muslims could get past the ideas of inerrant texts and creationism. Inerrancy and creationism waste a heck of a lot of time proving nothing and making people angry at each other. And assuming an inerrant Bible seems to drive people to also claim their interpretations of it are inerrant, otherwise what’s the point of having an inerrant Bible in the first place? And claiming your interpretation is also inerrant really ups the heat and the ante in any debate, even just between Christians. So yes, the world would probably be better off if nobody assumed they possessed an inerrant book, or that the age of the cosmos could be determined definitively and without question simply by adding up the ages of biblical patriarchs.

          • http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/ed_babinski/babinski-bio.html EdwardTBabinski

            Crude, You’re assuming your assessment of “the evidence” is definitive.

            But Craig does not distinguish in Loftus’ case between various types of causes such as contributory, necessary, and sufficient.

            Many Christians watch pornography (and has anyone proven Loftus was a “porn addict?”), and some of those Christians also commit adultery, but the majority of such Christians remain in the fold. Therefore in the majority of such cases those actions in and of themselves do not guarantee someone will leave the fold. Such factors are not sufficient to explain why someone leaves the fold. Therefore one should therefore at least admit the possibility of additional contributory causes.

            • Crude

              Crude, You’re assuming your assessment of “the evidence” is definitive.

              No, I’m assuming that Craig assessed the evidence, period.

              I’m not interested in digging through your perpetually longwinded responses, Ed. Craig wasn’t doing what Randal said he was, and his ‘only two options’ view was deficient, and the idea that you can’t evaluate a person’s thoughts beyond what they say is also deficient. That’s how it stands. Deal with it, or don’t, but those are the facts you have to grapple with.

    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

      There are two options before us. Option 1: interpret Craig’s statement with respect to the application of a general principle. That’s what I tried to do. Option 2: interpret Craig’s statement with respect to some hidden knowledge about Loftus’ personal psychology which he didn’t share with us. If you want to take option 2 then go for it.

      • Crude

        There are two options before us. Option 1: interpret Craig’s statement with respect to the application of a general principle. That’s what I tried to do. Option 2: interpret Craig’s statement with respect to some hidden knowledge about Loftus’ personal psychology which he didn’t share with us.

        How about open knowledge about Loftus’ personal psychology that he himself shared?

        That’s part of the problem here, Randal. Craig didn’t go digging into Loftus’ personal history, discover a secret, and then start speculating that this played a role in his conversion to atheism. He read the book Loftus wrote about his conversion to atheism where he talked about his affair, etc, and made it pretty clear that his conversion was due to these factors. Most of the evidence for Craig’s claim comes from Loftus himself.

        So no, your line about “hidden knowledge about Loftus’ personal psychology” is dead wrong. It’s not hidden knowledge: it’s knowledge from Loftus’ own book. You’ve also got knowledge available from examining Loftus’ writings, behavior, etc online to make a judgment in this case.

        • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

          Crude, actually you’re, as you put it, “dead wrong”. You see the reference to “hidden knowledge about Loftus’ personal psychology” refers not to the psychological factors he himself has revealed that describe his deconversion but rather the claim that all the subsequent arguments he has sought to develop are little more than “intellectual excuses”. If Craig has some knowledge of Loftus’ internal psychology by which he knows how these arguments function in Loftus’ mind he should share it. Otherwise, if he is appealing only to a general principle then his own conversion is deconstructed in like fashion: he who lives by the rhetorical sword dies by it.

          • Crude

            Crude, actually you’re, as you put it, “dead wrong”. You see the reference to “hidden knowledge about Loftus’ personal psychology” refers not to the psychological factors he himself has revealed that describe his deconversion but rather the claim that all the subsequent arguments he has sought to develop are little more than “intellectual excuses”.

            I think I demonstrated the weakness of your ‘two options’ claim regarding this below, so I’ll see how you respond to things there.

            If Craig has some knowledge of Loftus’ internal psychology by which he knows how these arguments function in Loftus’ mind he should share it.

            Would you sincerely like to evaluate Loftus’ honesty and psychology, based on publicly available evidence – namely his posts, his comments and his other acts over the ages?

            Because that is, in essence, what you’re asking for right here. If you insist that Craig could only reasonably conclude what he did by having spooky magic mind-reading powers or the like, I’m going to disagree.

            • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

              “Would you sincerely like to evaluate Loftus’ honesty and psychology, based on publicly available evidence – namely his posts, his comments and his other acts over the ages?”

              No, I’d rather we all refrain from completely bogus speculations on the psychological factors that drive people’s belief and instead focus on the quality of their arguments. And that is true whether the individual in question is Bill Craig or John Loftus.

              • Crude

                No, I’d rather we all refrain from completely bogus speculations on the psychological factors that drive people’s belief and instead focus on the quality of their arguments.

                This is a very, very common response – but it’s wrong. Speculations about people’s psychological factors aren’t necessarily ‘completely bogus’. In Loftus’ case, we have a lot – and I mean a lot – of his own writings and acts we can call on. Oddly enough, that would include quite a lot of Loftus actually doing what you suggest Craig is.

                Now, I’d respect you saying that, even if we can do this, we shouldn’t do it for such and such reasons. But bogus, it’s not.

                • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

                  I guess you think the process of blind peer review is bogus then.

                  • Crude

                    I guess you think the process of blind peer review is bogus then.

                    Where did that even come from?

                    No, I don’t think ‘the process of blind peer review is bogus’, and I think invoking it here as the suggested standard is absurd. If you want to suggest that there’s no way to reasonably evaluate someone’s character and motivations by the track record of their actions and communication (short of blind peer review?), go ahead. I think that position is plagued with problems.

                    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

                      In the clip Craig dismissed Loftus’ post-deconversion arguments as being mere ad hoc rationalizations rather than suggesting that the audience assess them on their own merits. I rejected this by pointing out that the arguments should be considered wholly apart from conjecture on the psychological factors involved in one’s postulation of particular arguments. You rejected this as bogus, thereby suggesting that one must assess not only arguments but the psychological forces that drive them, a process of review which can only be met if peer review is abandoned.

                    • Crude

                      In the clip Craig dismissed Loftus’ post-deconversion arguments as being mere ad hoc rationalizations rather than suggesting that the audience assess them on their own merits.

                      Actually, he didn’t touch on the arguments at all. He argued that intellectual arguments didn’t play much of a role in John’s deconversion, and pointed at evidence from John’s own writings and testimony. Nowhere does Craig say ‘John’s arguments are bad, because Loftus deconverted because of adultery/pornography/community/etc’. What he does is use John as an example of a case where, in Craig’s opinion, the intellectual arguments don’t matter all that much one way in the other, because they’re not what are really doing the work for a person anyway.

                      If you’re accusing Craig of saying that the arguments are invalid because they come from a person who’s emotionally invested, quote Craig saying so.

                      Don’t translate: quote.

                      You rejected this as bogus,

                      No, I didn’t. I rejected your claim that someone would have to have some kind of secret special knowledge in order to evaluate someone’s attitude, intentions, honesty, etc, when they assert something to the contrary. If someone tells me they’re an honest person, if the right evidence is available (say, they post a lot online, and I have access to the posts), I can reasonably attain insight into their psychology above and beyond what they tell me.

                      Go ahead, read my last comment:”This is a very, very common response – but it’s wrong. Speculations about people’s psychological factors aren’t necessarily ‘completely bogus’. In Loftus’ case, we have a lot – and I mean a lot – of his own writings and acts we can call on. Oddly enough, that would include quite a lot of Loftus actually doing what you suggest Craig is.

                      Now, I’d respect you saying that, even if we can do this, we shouldn’t do it for such and such reasons. But bogus, it’s not.”

                      Nowhere – not in any place – did I suggest that arguments stand or fall based on the psychological forces of the person offering them. Neither did Craig.

                    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

                      He doesn’t say where they’re good or bad. He simply dismisses them as “excuses”.

                    • Crude

                      He doesn’t say where they’re good or bad. He simply dismisses them as “excuses”.

                      With regards to Loftus’ conversion to atheism? Yes. He did not dismiss the arguments themselves on that basis – he was pointing out what he thought was the real reason John converted and, possibly, why he remained an atheist.

                      You can’t say that Craig regards atheist arguments as not worth responding to, that’s for sure. Pointing out that someone converted to atheism for reasons other than intellectual arguments says nothing about those arguments, and neither did Craig. (It’s actually incredibly apt in Loftus’ case, since he explicitly endorses ridicule as a means to convert people.)

                      You may think Craig would have been better off spending his time addressing those arguments and leaving psychology out of it, but then say that. Don’t suggest Craig was suggesting the arguments, right or wrong, had no merit simply on the basis of ‘some internet atheist apologist who brings them up converted for emotional reasons, not these’.

      • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

        I didn’t watch the Craig video, but am I mistaken in thinking there was some sort of personal relationship between Craig and Loftus? Would Craig have been in a position to have some hidden knowledge about Loftus’ personal psychology?

        • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

          Craig taught Loftus close to thirty years ago at TEDS in Chicago. The video is only two minutes long.

  • epicurus

    I read John’s post on DC and wanted to ask (but he wasn’t allowing comments) if he had phoned or emailed Bill Craig to sort it out. I can only base my opinion on his debates and podcasts, but Bill seems reasonable enough that if John talked to him and said “look, there was no porn involved, please stop saying that”, Bill would stop.

    • Crude

      I think by “porn” Craig may mean “strip clubs”.

  • epicurus

    If happy cheery Sandy had been a Mormon, William Lane Craig may well now be one of the great defenders of the Mormon faith.

    • Bertram Cabot, Jr.

      Genetic Fallacy.

      • epicurus

        Perhaps, and that’s why I said “may well now be,” instead of “would be.”

  • epicurus

    I’m probably guilty of piling on, but I remember a quote by William Lane Craig’s brother, Mallory, in “Free Inquiry” from spring 2011.

    “I still remember when he got religion back in high school—the misfit debate-team nerd had found a community to join.”
    Here is the link to the whole article if anyone’s interested

    http://secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=fi&page=dwd_craig

    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

      That’s fair game. I’m sure Craig wouldn’t appreciate it if people marginalized his apologetic by identifying it with these non-rational factors and then dismissed all his argument as mere intellectual excuses to support the non-rational conversion.

      • Tim

        This is where I think you’re mistaken.

        Craig isn’t so much dismissing Loftus’ arguments against Christianity in the abstract as he is accounting for their existence given Loftus’ prior training under Craig. Yeah, there’ s a little bit of unnecessary rhetoric in his answer (i.e. “excuses”), but that’s understandable when you speak as often as Craig.

        • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

          Sorry Tim, you’re just not being consistent. If you wouldn’t appreciate a skeptic dismissing Craig;s output as mere excuses, you shouldn’t act like it is no big deal when Craig engages in similar behavior. As I understand it, treating others as you would like to be treated is pretty basic in the Christian moral vision.

          • Tim

            No, I’m being consistent.Of course , I wouldn’t appreciate it, but I also wouldn’t think it’s big deal. However, I suppose it is a rhetorical nit to pick about.

            In any case, the main point of Craig’s answer is not to dismiss Loftus’ arguments in toto but to give an explanation for why Loftus is coming up with these arguments given his prior training under Craig.

            • Bertram Cabot, Jr.

              Loftus is a liar, who knows if the arguments are even the real reason.
              And, yes, that is relevant because Loftus relies on what he calls his “cumulative case” approach.

    • Tim

      Bill’s brother, Mallory, came across as a real doofus in that article. Mallory’s eldest son was near death in a hospital, yet he didn’t know why his brother Bill, who is also a Christian minister, would visit the hospital to pray for his nephew. Seriously?!

    • Bertram Cabot, Jr.

      Mallory raised two sons who hate each other, and one is a druggie, and one is gay. Dad must have given them a great role model.
      What a Super Dad.
      He calls his brother a nerd, and undoubtedly picked on his in High School.
      Sounds like a real A Hole.

      • epicurus

        Ad hominem argument.

        • Bertram Cabot, Jr.

          You bet it is. But it also shows how stupid and incompetent he is.
          Beside, Johnny Lofust uses Ad Hominems all the time, so KMA.

          • Jeff

            Mallory raised two sons who hate each other, and one is a druggie, and one is gay. Dad must have given them a great role model. What a Super Dad.

            It also shows how stupid and incompetent he is.

            Wow, I think this conversation has officially hit rock bottom.

          • epicurus

            Kma? No need to be rude, we’re just discussing ideas.

  • epicurus

    In the DC link Randal provides at the beginning of this post, John Loftus says that Bill told him after the Harris debate, that he hadn’t read John’s book. Assuming he still hasn’t, it seems irresponsible to continue publically making the
    claims of John’s morality.

  • Jeff

    From Peter Rollins:

    The people who leave fundamentalist communities are often not the ones who don’t take it seriously enough, but those who do (and who are thus confronted with the true horror of the communities beliefs). In my own
    experience I, along with a few friends, began to break free of religious
    belief precisely because we were naïve believers who took the teaching
    of the church more seriously than those in the church. The people who
    continued in a mode of disbelief were the ones that stayed because they
    were able to protect themselves from the trauma of actually believing
    their beliefs.

    This describes my own journey away from my former beliefs. There were two issues in particular that served as the primary trauma for me: Believing that God had issued commands such as, “Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys,” and believing that God would condemn many people to eternal conscious torment. The more I really lived in those beliefs and felt their weight, the more distressed I became, until I finally rejected them.

    That said, of course I don’t think that orthodox Christianity necessarily falls if one rejects ECT and literalist readings of genocide passages. But one thing leads to another, as they say, and as I continued to scrutinize my religious beliefs, I came to the conclusion that the very core of orthodox Christianity is false.

    • Jeff

      Sorry, I suppose I could have mentioned how that relates to the issue at hand. I don’t know much about Loftus and haven’t read much of his work, but Craig seems to be putting to use his more general stated principle that unbelief (in orthodox Christianity) isn’t a head issue but is rather a heart issue. And I can’t decide which is more annoying, his general principle or this specific application of it, in which, it seems to me, he ends up being very uncharitable to Loftus, even painting outright distortions. Anyway, whatever one’s take on the Loftus example, I don’t have any reason to think it’s true in my own case that I rejected my former beliefs due to some heart issue. If anything, I tried desperately to hang onto my beliefs for as long as I could.

      • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

        “If anything, I tried desperately to hang onto my beliefs for as long as I could.”
        Yawn. More intellectual excuses. ;)

        • Jeff

          Doh! Busted.

  • Eric

    I think that what Craig says at the end of the video puts his other comments in their proper context, and militates against Randal’s take on Craig’s comments:

    Craig: “Frankly I’m just not impressed with the fact that he walked away from the faith, that this does anything to suggest that the Christian faith *isn’t credible and isn’t true*.”

    Whether you agree with Craig or not, he would argue (following Plantinga) that his belief in god can be warranted without appeal to arguments, and hence that the non-rational grounds that his faith is premised upon are part of the overall warrant he has for his Christian beliefs. Remember, Craig often refers to the “double warrant” that the informed Christian has for his beliefs, thus linking the arguments he adduces with properly basic belief he has that god exists (or, more accurately, has revealed himself etc.). John, on the other hand, cannot appeal to similar epistemic resources to link the non-rational grounds that motivated his deconversion with the rational grounds that he later discovered and now uses to defend his atheism. So while Craig may or may not be right to characterize John’s post conversion atheological arguments as ‘excuses,’ it’s not clear to me that the charge can be turned on Craig, given his epistemic commitments.

    I would like to add that I agree that it seems as if Craig owes John a public apology as far as the whole pornography thing goes.

    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

      “John, on the other hand, cannot appeal to similar epistemic resources to link the non-rational grounds that motivated his deconversion with the rational grounds that he later discovered and now uses to defend his atheism.”

      He doesn’t need to link them. For example, he could have started off with an epistemically subpar atheism which was eventually justified (relative to an evidentialist epistemology) post-conversion by the arguments he later discovered. Craig provides no justification for his sweeping dismissal of Loftus’ work as an atheist as “intellectual excuses”. That’s really disingenous.

      Instead, Craig could simply have observed that John converted for non-rational reasons and that Craig has been unimpressed by the arguments John has subsequently provided to justify his belief. Fair enough, I’m also unimpressed with them. But to make the additional claim that John’s arguments are mere “excuses” is unnecessary and tendentious.

      • Eric

        “But to make the additional claim that John’s arguments are mere “excuses” is unnecessary and tendentious.”

        As I indicated in my post, I tend to agree with that. My main point, however, was that it doesn’t seem to me as if we can, as you claimed, turn what you’ve called Craig’s principle back on Craig, given his epistemology. Craig would argue that the witness of he Holy Spirit warrants his Christian belief in a way that John’s admitted emotional and moral reasons for leaving Christianity cannot warrant his atheism.

        • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

          “it doesn’t seem to me as if we can, as you claimed, turn what you’ve called Craig’s principle back on Craig, given his epistemology.”

          Of course an atheist wouldn’t accept Craig’s epistemology because they wouldn’t accept the existence of the Holy Spirit. Consequently, they are perfectly fine marginalizing Craig in the same way that he marginalized Loftus.

          • Eric

            Right, but my point wasn’t that Craig couldn’t be ‘marginalized’ — of course he can be (according to many asinine Youtube videos, he’s as bad as Ray Comfort) — but that *Craig* has not committed himself to a principle that could (as you argued) be used against his own conversion testimony and subsequent apologetics. Now sure, you could say that if we reject such and such, then of course the principle could be applied to Craig, but that’s not particularly interesting, since it’s true about any position.

            Now as I said, I do think that Craig owes John a public apology, and I do think that the ‘excuses’ comment was unjustified. What I don’t think, however, is that Craig’s comments on Loftus’s deconversion have committed himself to a principle that can be turned against him.

            • Crude

              Does Craig’s brother owe him a public apology for his article? Has Loftus ever given a public apology for his insults and mockery of everyone from Victor Reppert to otherwise, and his endorsement of ridicule as a means to convert people to atheism? Hey, Loftus once accused me of lying about him on this blog, and when I demanded he link to and support his claims that I was lying, he just cursed a lot. When should I expect my apology?

              Craig, citing Loftus’ own writings as evidence, engaged in some pretty banal psychoanalysis – and he owes John an apology over that? If psychoanalysis and questioning motives merits an apology, the Gnu atheist movement as a whole has some letters to write.

              By the way, would someone who wrote the following be obligated, in your view, to write an apology?

              It’s not just the utter buffoons I’m talking about, which are many, but all of them. Christians are illogical and delusional. This I know, after spending years in my own delusion and after years of dealing with them since my deconversion. How can they be so deluded, I ask myself? How can they be so dumb?

              Because if not, the standard is apparently: “Suggest an atheist was motivated in their atheism more by non-rational factors than anything else – apology needed. Suggest that all Christians, collectively, are stupid, delusional and illogical? Oh well, that’s just a bit o’ rhetoric, the internet’s like that.”

              • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

                John shoots his mouth off a fair bit. We all know that. He calls me “deluded” several times a week. And I roll my eyes. But if John started making false statements that I had a pornography addiction he’d be hearing from my lawyer very quickly (not that I have a lawyer, but I’d get one in that case). Craig needs to be taken to task for this. To make the accusation that an individual has (or had) a pornography addiction and to do it in a church in front of a crowd and cameras is extremely serious. If Christians are people of truth they should be as concerned to defend the atheist as anybody else.

                • Crude

                  But if John started making false statements that I had a pornography addiction he’d be hearing from my lawyer very quickly (not that I have a lawyer, but I’d get one in that case). Craig needs to be taken to task for this. To make the accusation that an individual has (or had) a pornography addiction and to do it in a church in front of a crowd and cameras is extremely serious.

                  So, what would you do if John made a false statement that you were a liar? Should I have looked up a lawyer? Or was it, while dishonest of John, ultimately small potatoes?

                  Hey, how about that fake blog attack bit against Holding? Public apology worthy?

                  If Christians are people of truth they should be as concerned to defend the atheist as anybody else.

                  If Craig said something inaccurate about Loftus, he should clarify. That statement I just delivered is really the beginning and the ending of the amount of effort this particular issue warrants.

                  It’s very hard to take ‘John is owed an apology!’ seriously, considering the laundry list of offenses John has engaged in, sans apology. In fact, sans expecting an apology, since at this point people just roll their eyes and go ‘Oh, well, that’s just how Loftus is’ to excuse it all.

                  • Ray Ingles

                    If Craig said something inaccurate about Loftus, he should clarify.

                    He should “Make (a statement or situation) less confused and more clearly comprehensible? What is unclear about ‘John Loftus has a pornography addiction’? Is there some really subtle rule of grammar I’m unaware of?

                    One can ‘retract’, ‘repudiate’, ‘renounce’, etc. without apologizing, if you really think that apologies are unnecessary. But ‘clarify’? Really? That smacks of doublespeak.

                    • Crude

                      That smacks of doublespeak.

                      Really scraping the bottom of the barrel here, aren’t you Ray? ;)

                    • Ray Ingles

                      Could you clarify, please? Are you saying you think my point is petty, or inaccurate? ‘Cause I think it’s neither. Clear, non-obfuscatory language is important. (You could read the book I linked to, actually. You might enjoy it.)

                    • Crude

                      Could you clarify, please? Are you saying you think my point is petty, or inaccurate?

                      I think you’re jumping on a word like a hungry, desperate dog on a bone, trying to read all kinds of conspiracy into it, for the benefits of an imaginary audience.

                      I know you think it’s neither, but your track record is pretty terrible, what with the craziness and all. I think I’ll survive your disagreement with me. ;)

                    • Ray Ingles

                      It’s funny. I haven’t called you crazy. I said you used weasel words, pointing out a specific example and why it was a weasel word.

                      And note, in your replies, you’ve neither defended the term nor disavowed it. You’ve completely ignored the substance of the complaint in favor of attacking the person who made it.

                      If you successfully defended your use of the term, you wouldn’t need to resort to insults. But you don’t seem interested in even trying to do so. The best offense is taking offense, I guess?

                      I mean, all you had to say was something like, “I think my intention was obvious, but if it makes you feel better you can substitute ‘retract’ or ‘correct’.” That would address the actual point, and still let you be condescending, if that’s so important to you.

                • nothingsperfect

                  ”Craig needs to be taken to task for this”.
                  Well said Randal! Craig he should at least apologize. Wrong is wrong no matter where it comes from.

                  • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

                    Thanks. We tend to disagree on many things so any point of agreement is worth highlighting!

                    • nothingsperfect

                      You’re welcome!
                      Cheers!

              • Eric

                Crude, he owes John an apology for the unjustified (as far as I can tell) ‘pornography addiction’ charge. I agree, Loftus says some absurd things about great guys like Reppert, but he’s just providing his (patently stupid, wildly absurd and almost always unjustified) opinion of their intellect, arguments, etc. in these cases; he’s not making factual statements about personal matters like addiction etc. But that aside, even if John is guilty of the same sort of thing Craig (apparently) is, we should hold Craig to a higher standard — I see nothing wrong with that. He’s one of the most prominent defenders of Christianity in the world, so if he makes public claims about someone’s personal life that happen to be unjustified or untrue, he should publicly apologize and disavow those remarks.

                • Crude

                  he’s not making factual statements about personal matters like addiction etc.

                  He’s making factual statements about their ability to reason, their intelligence and whether they can tell fantasy from reality. And he doesn’t just do this with broad categories like ‘Christian’, he does it with specific individuals.

                  But what, that’s okay, but a reference to a nebulous ‘pornography addiction’ – THAT requires a public apology? Sorry, I don’t see it. Especially considering Loftus’ own track on these very things.

                  But that aside, even if John is guilty of the same sort of thing Craig (apparently) is, we should hold Craig to a higher standard — I see nothing wrong with that.

                  I do. It’s poorly advised. It means we’re lowering our standards of discourse. Given Loftus’ track record, that man should be writing out a huge sprawling list of apologies… but oh, he’s an atheist, so let’s let it slide?

                  I agree that if Craig was incorrect, he should clarify. But ‘oh, this is a very important and serious matter, he should make a public apology immediately’ over THIS? To a guy with Loftus’ track record? No, treating it as that big of a deal is hard to take seriously.

              • Ray Ingles

                Crude –

                If psychoanalysis and questioning motives merits an apology, the Gnu atheist movement as a whole has some letters to write.

                Let me know when someone identifies themselves as a “Gnu” atheist. Until then, it seems the term means something along the lines of “an atheist I, Crude, don’t like”.

                Perhaps all the atheists you don’t like happen to engage exclusively in “psychoanalysis and questioning motives”. But that’s not all atheists, or even all so-called ‘New atheists’.

                • Crude

                  Let me know when someone identifies themselves as a “Gnu” atheist. Until then, it seems the term means something along the lines of “an atheist I, Crude, don’t like”.

                  Man, you are slow.

                  • Ray Ingles

                    Actually, it shows how big the atheist umbrella is, since I was unaware of that. And that in turn illustrates that your generalization about the “movement as a whole” is far too broad an accusation to support.

                    • Crude

                      Actually, it shows how big the atheist umbrella is, since I was unaware of that.

                      I think it actually shows how ignorant you are on two counts.

                      A) You were ignorant of the number of atheists who call themselves gnus.
                      B) You didn’t hesitate to accuse me of making the term up, when a moment of googling would have done the job for you.

                      You are pretty much a living example of the sort of atheist who harms his own cause, and would do better to be quiet and let others do the rhetorical and logical work. Support the cause with dollars and manpower exclusively. When time comes to act as an apologist, let others step in for you.

                    • Jeff

                      You are pretty much a living example of the sort of atheist who harms his own cause, and would do better to be quiet and let others do the rhetorical and logical work. Support the cause with dollars and manpower exclusively. When time comes to act as an apologist, let others step in for you.

                      Good God. “Crude” is an apt description all right.

                    • Ray Ingles

                      What I find interesting is that he’s seemingly unaware of the irony in his statements. Oh, well.

                    • Ray Ingles

                      You were ignorant of the number of atheists who call themselves gnus.

                      Given how large the number of atheists is, that’s – again – not all that surprising. You got annoyed with Ed for condemning “Christians” above – so why is it okay for you to dismiss atheists in general, even just “Gnu” atheists? I thought “There should be one standard, and when the line is crossed, condemnation.”

                      You didn’t hesitate to accuse me of making the term up

                      Er… no. Go read what I wrote again. I’ve seen it before – including on Feser’s page, where it’s used in a rather different sense. I hadn’t seen it used as a self-descriptor… and it doesn’t seem to be as common as all that, anyway.

                      So, you get a point for people existing who call themselves “Gnu atheists”. You lose a couple points for tarring all of them with the same brush.

              • http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/ed_babinski/babinski-bio.html EdwardTBabinski

                Crude, Christians cornered the market on insults and mockery a long while ago, and spent 1500 years using them against each other before atheists came along.

                Christianity provided people with a handy, ready-made vocabulary of contempt making it all the easier to project ones fears hatreds and insecurities on others:

                “Sons of serpents/Satan!” [Jesus]

                “White washed tombs!” [Jesus]

                “They shall be Anathema!” [Paul]

                “Heretic!”

                “Blasphemer!”

                “Idolater!”

                “Infidel!”

                “Anti-Christ!”

                “Apostate!”

                “Schizmatic!”

                “Demon Deluded Servant of Satan!”

                “As Fit to Be Fried as Lucifer’s Lamb Chops!”

                All without it ever going to court.

                Oops! I was wrong about that last line, because it recently has gone to court. One woman sued her pastor in 1993 for writing a letter to the congregation that connected her with “Satan.”

                I’m not saying mockery and insults are limited only to Christians, but Christianity practically institutionalized such serious mocking phrases and greatly facilitated their use, even on other Christians.

                And I’m not defending any particular things John may or may not have said, or that his debate opponents may have said, in the context of an online blog battle. But I will say, that J.P. Holding was mocking others “for Christ” before Loftus even started his blog. J.P. and friends (and to a slightly lesser extent Steve Holding and friends) are very heavy proponents and practitioners of mocking those who disagree with them. But Randal Rauser and John Loftus have done something I’ve yet to see Holding or Hays do, which is write a book together with someone on the other side in which they trade more arguments than insults. A fascinating experiment to say the least.

                • Crude

                  Oh for God’s sake, Ed. Have you ever, in your long commenting career, ever written anything pithy, to the point, and on-topic?

                  First, I’m pretty sure atheists have been in existence long than you seem to realize. Second, ‘cornered the market on insults’? Because you can name some insults that have been used in the past? You, my friend, are deluded.

                  And I’m not defending any particular things John may or may not have said,

                  Yes, you are. That’s the whole point of your little intervention here. But for anyone who knows Loftus’ track record, it doesn’t work.

                  Hays and Holding offer insults? Of course they do. Who denied that? And frankly, they go over the line plenty of times. I’ll condemn them readily when they do – heck, I’m regarded as a troll over at Triablogue, and I’m probably guilty of as much. But I reject the claim that we should have two different standards, one for atheists and one for Christians. There should be one standard, and when the line is crossed, condemnation.

                  I can condemn Christians, including Catholics, who cross the line, insult, and certainly lie. But you, Ed? You can’t. John’s your buddy – you have his back. So when John lies, insults, or gets things hilariously wrong, your job is to either distract, obfuscate, or defend.

                  Quite a leader and ally you’ve anchored yourself to, Ed. In your twilight years, this is the effort you shall look back on to recount how you spent a large chunk of your life. Think about that.

  • Eric

    I’d like to add (though it’s a side issue) that John’s post seems at least prima facie inconsistent with his “we must think exclusively in terms of the probabilities” slogan.

    John clearly seems to think that Craig has done something wrong by misrepresenting the reasons for his deconversion. (I agree.) But what sense does this make in light of John’s probability dictum? Has John concluded that it’s more probably the case than not that misrepresenting someone is wrong? Sounds ridiculous, right? But according to John, the alternatives to this are irrationality or delusion. So John has put himself in an interesting spot here. Here, as far as I see it, are his options (if he wishes to remain consistent):

    1. Bite the bullet and go with the absurd claim that it’s more probable than not that misrepresenting another person is wrong.

    2. Concede that his conclusion that Craig has done something wrong here is delusional or irrational.

    3. Go with some anti-realist take on morality (e.g. I’m not saying that Craig has really done something wrong here, but that what he’s done makes me want to exclaim “boo!”), so while his conclusion isn’t rational or irrational, it’s non-rational.

    I’d like to know where he comes down on this.

    • Bertram Cabot. Jr/

      You all keep talking about the reasons for John’s conversion.

      But the catch is, you don’t know the reasons.
      John is an admitted liar, so the probalities lie with the position that he has lied about those reasons to at least some extent.

  • christthetao

    I didn’t see Loftus deny the pornography, just that he had said anything about pornography. But I agree Craig would do well to tread lighly, here. It’s easy to run off at the mouth when people ask questions.

    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

      One of the things that most irks me about the whole clip is the smarmy tone. How many people in that congregation have a pornography addiction? And what is a pornography addiction anyway? Is it spending hours on internet porn sites? What about the guy who looks twice at the Maxim magazine cover while buying groceries? Is he okay? Pharisaism is a perennial temptation.

      • christthetao

        I agree, with the priviso that it’s probably just as well that video cameras aren’t focused on me all that often.

        • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

          I don’t mean to unsettle you further, but rumor has it that there is now a camera in divine use which can read our thoughts. In fact, Jesus may have referred to it in the Sermon on the Mount.

          • http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/ed_babinski/babinski-bio.html EdwardTBabinski

            To add a sense of proportion to the conversation, the Divine (granting it/she/he/they exist) is also watching human beings and every other form of life on this planet suffer and/or waste away and die. I doubt that porn compares to the horrors indelibly etched on the Divine’s retinas, not to mention the big Snuff Film the Divine will be viewing (and directing) for all eternity (if first century apocalyptic notions of eternal punishment and God’s jealous wrath are true).

            • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

              “Addicted to porn” definitely sounds more nefarious in front of an affluent suburban evangelical audience than, say, “Addicted to money”.

              • Crude

                So, Randal. I really have to ask.

                Craig suggests Loftus had a porn addiction. You talk up the need for a public apology.

                Babinski shows up, casting God as the director and creator of a snuff porn film.

                Your remark is to mention that affluent suburban evangelicals are probably less worried about greed than porn.

                Do you think maybe you have a blind spot going on? Or maybe some double standards?

                • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

                  The charge of a double standard depends on inconsistent responses to like circumstances. I apply the standard that you ought not make incendiary, unsubstantiated charges against other people, whether the person making the charge is a Christian, or an atheist or anybody else. If you want to accuse me of a double standard please show me where I have offered a justification for an individual making incendiary, unsubstantiated charges.

                  Babinski did something quite different: he drew an inflammatory analogy to describe the doctrine of eternal conscious torment. Unfortunately it is an analogy with some merit. Consider, for example, Tertullian’s description of the delight the elect in heaven shall experience as they watch the eternal damnation of the reprobate.

                  But more to the point, it is also an irrelevant rabbit trail. Of immediate interest to me is the social impact of identifying a person as having a porn addiction within an evangelical setting. That is a far more powerful way to stigmatize an individual among conservative Christians.

            • Bertram Cabot, Jr.

              Of course, if the notions are true, all creation will be restored.

              So will anyone who wants to follow Jesus. But there are many who don’t, and that they would never want to, like Loftus and Barker.

              If atheism is true, none of that suffering will ever be redeemed, and 100 years from now all this will be forgotten.

              So, either way you are wasting your time, Ed.

  • Ray Ingles

    The noted Christian apologist C.S. Lewis coined a term for this kind of argument: Bulverism. As he put it, “You must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong… Suppose I think, after doing my accounts, that I have a large balance at the bank. And suppose you want to find out whether this belief of mine is ‘wishful thinking.’ You can never come to any conclusion by examining my psychological condition. Your only chance of finding out is to sit down and work through the sum yourself… If you find my arithmetic correct, then no amount of vapouring about my psychological condition can be anything but a waste of time. If you find my arithmetic wrong, then it may be relevant to explain psychologically how I came to be so bad at my arithmetic…”

    • David Evans

      Would that it were so easy. In fact there is no such simple way of finding out whether Craig or Loftus or anyone else is correct in believing that there is or is not a God. There are no bank statements that will tell us. We have to rely on indirect evidence, and should not ignore any evidence that their arguments are after-the-fact rationalizations.

      • Ray Ingles

        In fact there is no such simple way of finding out whether Craig or Loftus or anyone else is correct in believing that there is or is not a
        God.

        Depends a whole lot on how you define ‘God’.

        We have to rely on indirect evidence, and should not ignore any evidence that their arguments are after-the-fact rationalizations.

        But the only way to determine if arguments are “after-the-fact rationalizations” is to… determine if they are good arguments or not.

        • Bertram Cabot Jr.

          But if he is lying about the real reasons for his “deconversion”, and they are not the arguments that led to said deconversion, then they were not in fact good arguments for the purpose intended.

          After all, the arguments were supposedly of such force as to effect the “deconversion”.
          And two of his “three main reasons” were emotional.
          An addiction to porn would be consistent with his reported behavior and supports the comments about his now living “life to the fullest” and not having to feel guilty about “lust” and “hate” and other fun things.

          • Ray Ingles

            But it could be just that a change in his emotions allowed him to finally see the validity of the arguments involved.

            That’s what Lewis was getting at. Anyone can play that in any direction. You don’t agree with my point because you’re a Christian! See?

            The only thing to do is “decline the motive game and resume the discussion” about the arguments.

      • Bertram Cabot, Jr.

        John’ss Devonversion Story is central to his own cumulative case. Trouble is, John is an admitted liar. He lied to his wife,his familiy and his congregation.
        Thus he may be lying about the real reasons for his deconversion, and about whether he was really in a Christian in the first place.
        This could affect the whole structure of the “cumulative case”.

  • Tim

    Randal,

    I think you’re picking at nits here.

    Craig was asked to explain why someone like Loftus, who was trained in Craig’s brand of apologetics, would subsequently leave their Christian faith and then go on to present rational arguments against it. In the minds of many lay people, this sort of thing would call into question the strength of Craig’s arguments. Craig’s response was that Loftus’ departure from his faith was driven by non-rational reasons and that he got around to developing rational arguments against Christianity after the fact (i.e. Loftus didn’t abandon Christianity because he suddenly realized that everything Craig taught him was wrong but for other reasons). Moreover, he made the obviously true point that people who leave their faith typically prefer to explain their decision in rational terms due to the nature of our society. Again, all this seems eminently reasonable to me.

    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

      Two questions for you Tim:

      First, if you had nits in your hair wouldn’t you appreciate somebody taking the time to pick them?

      Second, how would you feel about an atheist at a skeptic’s conference referring to Craig’s prodigious academic output as a series of intellectual excuses to provide public justification for his non-rational teen conversion?

      • Tim

        (1) There’s nothing wrong with piking nits, but I felt like the tenor of this blog entry was a bit too serious for nitpicking.

        (2) As I indicated earlier, I would take issue with the language of “excuses,” which I thought was a bit of unnecessary rhetoric on Craig’s part. No doubt, a nit worth picking about. However, if someone wanted to characterize Craig’s academic output as a series of post hoc rational justifications for his faith then I don’t think even he would disagree with that.

  • http://profiles.google.com/bradhaggard Brad Haggard

    Randal, I agree that this was a poor response from WLC, but I do think there is a real sense in which sin changes our plausibility structure.

    • http://www.randalrauser.com/ Randal Rauser

      No doubt. Of course we should also add that Christians are not exempt from the noetic effects of the fall.

      • http://profiles.google.com/bradhaggard Brad Haggard

        I think that the “hardening of the heart” is what we would call a change in plausibility structure. I know that my time of doubt was precipitated by unchecked sin in my life. I do think that the lack of support that John felt caused him eventually to “root” against Christian belief. There are clear echoes of it in his writing.

  • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

    Okay, I finally watched the video. I’m wondering if there is a different interpretation of what Craig is saying. Let’s suppose that Ralph believes that Susan is telling the truth, not because Ralph has good grounds for believing that Susan is telling the truth, but because Ralph thinks that we should take people at their word until it becomes clear that they are not telling the truth. Let’s suppose that Steve doesn’t believe Susan is telling the truth, not because Steve has good grounds for doubting Susan, but because Steve is jealous of Susan and doesn’t want to give her credit for anything.

    Wouldn’t we think that Ralph’s reasons for believing Susan are somehow justified or warranted or reasonable? And wouldn’t we think that Steve’s reasons for disbelieving Susan are somehow unjustified, unwarranted, or unreasonable?

    I suggest that perhaps we should understand Craig’s gain of faith and Loftus’s loss of faith in a similar manner.

  • Legal Eagle

    John has previously remarked that he now “live life to the fullest” and that includes not having to feel guility about “lust” and “hate”. The context was that he enjoyd looking at naked women. Now, he is either frequently around naked women…unlikely for an old guy like him unless he is paying for it…or he is looking at pictures of them. I.E., pornography.
    Come on, John, tell us, are you still living “life to the fullest”? Still enjoying lust and hate routinely.
    And anyway, John did screw a woman who was not his wife. And she was an employee…undoubtedly there was a potential sex lawsuit there, although the statute of limitations would have passed.
    As for him suing Craig, the “clean hands doctrine” would provide Craig a counterclaim due to Loftus frequently calling him “delusional”, “dishonest”, etc. long before this.
    Lofutus has admitted to lying about other things, so his denials about pornography are suspect. I doubt a jury would find his testimony impressive.

  • http://bilbos1.blogspot.com/ Bilbo

    I finally got around to reading Loftus’s response to Craig’s views of him. I didn’t realize how much pain Loftus went through. It reminded me of a very dark period in my own life, and I reacted by trying to give up belief in God. I succeeded for a coupld of years, but eventually couldn’t deal with the emptiness of life without God. And then God helped me to deal with that dark period. So I know a little of the pain that Loftus has gone through. But it sounds like his pain was much greater than mine. It may take a lot longer for him to work through it.

  • Exposing Loftus Lies

    Loftus is a swine. The way he denigrates his ex wife and the stripper he fucked to humilation is unmanly.

    Does he ever wonder how they feel?