Wednesday, November 6, 2013

William Lane Craig and metaphysical cherry-picking

This is Scott Clifton, soap opera star - aka Theoretical Bullshit - again. I posted a video from him earlier in the week, and I'll definitely be posting more.

This is just one of his responses to William Lane Craig, which I also mentioned previously, but I thought it was particularly good.

Warning: This does require concentration. It was late at night when I watched this the first time, and my brain-power was so lacking that I had to listen to it again the next day in order to fully understand what he's saying here. :)

But this fits in very well with my post about proving God through philosophy. Note that Craig himself wasn't convinced that his god exists due to his study of philosophy. No, he was already a Christian, so he was just trying to find a way to justify what he already believed, what he'd probably been taught since infancy.

As Scott Clifton says, Craig isn't using philosophy in a bottom-up attempt to determine the truth. Instead, he decided what the truth was first - it was what he'd been raised to believe, what he wanted to believe - and now he's using a top-down attempt to find a reason to justify that belief.

Craig was apparently smart enough to realize there was no good evidence backing up his beliefs, so he turned to philosophy. But does that help? Or is it just that it's easier to fool people with philosophy? (As I noted previously, most philosophers are atheists themselves, so they certainly don't find Craig's arguments compelling.)

Scott Clifton points out some of the fallacies of Craig's argument, and I find that interesting. But who does find that argument compelling? I doubt if he convinces any atheists. Does anyone turn to Christianity because of William Lane Craig's Kalam Cosmological Argument?

If you don't understand philosophy, Craig's argument might sound compelling, but are you really going to change your mind thanks to an argument you don't understand? And if you do understand philosophy, you're going to see the flaws in it (as I already noted, philosophers themselves generally don't agree with Craig).

But this isn't really the point anyway, is it? You see, William Lane Craig is making a very good living consoling Christians by making it appear - to them, at least - that their beliefs have some sound backing, if not in science, at least in philosophy. (And he's consoling himself, too - assuming that he believes what he says.)

Craig's fans already believe in Christianity. They don't need to be convinced of anything. What they want is someone who will tell them that they're smart for believing what they already believe - almost always, what they've been raised to believe. That's why Craig is so popular.

Well, it's always easy to believe what you really want to believe. Everyone is susceptible to that, even very intelligent people. (One of the strengths of the scientific method is that, although none of us likes to be wrong, we don't have any problem demonstrating that other people are wrong. That's one of the reasons why the scientific method works.)

I don't have a particularly high opinion of philosophy, just because it isn't grounded in the real world like science is. Arguments can be logical - certainly, arguments can seem logical - without necessarily being true. Science is grounded on evidence. Scientists have to demonstrate that their arguments actually match up to reality.

Still, I can enjoy a good philosophical argument like this. At the very least, it's probably a useful exercise for my brain, don't you think? (Like all those ads I keep seeing over and over again on YouTube? Hmm,... you get them, too, right? I hope those aren't just targeted at me!)

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