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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Craig's Epistemic Rule-of-Thumb: What the Man is Really Saying

Readers of our blog will be familiar with Craig's blog These Infinite Spaces. Craig rarely tackles subjects which rate high on the importance scale - unless of course you find cage wrestling on par with theological considerations – however, of late, he has composed several threads laying out his opinion (and I do stress, opinion!) on creation, the Bible and science. I won't bother going over old ground again; I just want to underscore his most basic presupposition. It requires mention because, unfortunately, it is lost, buried among all the distracting and evasive non-factual material that prevails on his threads on this combined subject.

Craig's latest disconcertingly muddleheaded comment is that “It's foolish for the Bible to be used as a cosmological textbook.” I have no desire to debate either the soundness of his claim or take issue with the appropriateness of his choice of words in this statement. Others can take up the challenge, if they so choose. What I wish to analyse is his fundamental epistemology and demonstrate how inconsistently he applies it. Furthermore, has Craig adopted a truly Christian epistemology or has he opted for an atheist one?

I seem to recall that it was Alvin Plantinga who called some beliefs properly basic. That is, there are propositions which are immediately justified and are in no further need of epistemic support or the inclusion of further beliefs: they just are. Craig, as does just about every heretic within the Sydney Anglican Diocese, asserts the proposition that the Bible isn't a cosmological textbook as though this were an instance of a properly basic belief. But is it really?

Quite clearly it isn't, because, as it stands, it is neither meaningful nor self-validating and lacks any trace of justification, inferential or explicit, notwithstanding Craig's obvious self-belief that it does possesses all these qualities. Consequently, mirroring his wholesale disdain for epistemic warrant, one is free to dismiss Craig's proposition without committing a logical faux pas.

Hidden beneath Craig's foundational belief is a more deeply rooted one, namely, 'Science Rules OK!' Without this additional supporting belief his actual articulated one makes absolutely no sense. Additionally, its particular quality needs to be understood against a universal proposition. In Craig's case it's that science is the filtering tool for all biblical statements. Without a universal Craig would be accused of, as he has been, special pleading. Craig, I've intimated, claims ex cathedra, “Heck, science is allowed to be the final arbiter on these parts of the Bible but not those.” This, you would hope, no rational man could honestly live with – but Craig, apparently, “can”.

The real point of my criticism of Craig's profoundly irresponsible epistemology is that, consistently applied, it destroys the Gospel. If science, so-called, truly is the final truth arbiter or the tool by which biblical propositions are decided to be figurative or not, then Lazarus and Christ didn't rise from the dead. Science has shown that the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics rules and dead men cannot overcome entropic termination. Every day millions are seen to die and none has rise from the dead.

Of course, Craig could rightly object that God can overrule the 2nd Law. We would agree God can. However, if Craig can special plead God out of this dilemma, why then does Craig not allow God to do the same when it comes to the creation of the earth? Why does Craig not permit God to create in 6 real days, as Scripture unambiguously records he has done, but prefers to align himself with what basically amounts to a deeply offensive, non-supernatural and atheist worldview?

One thing is certain, Craig is consistently inconsistent when it comes to instances of applying his own epistemic rule-of-thumb to biblical matters.


Eric said...

John, thanks.

Craig's claim is alongside the silly and tedious old straw man type argument that one of his commentors made, that the Bible is not a science text. We know this. Nor is it a geography text, but it does contain geographic information! And it does contain information about the structure of the created world.

For example, we are told that creatures reproduce after their kind: not their species, but in a broader category. Of course, today we know that this doesn't happen, and given enough time, creatures reproduce any old how. We are also told that everything was created and not made from things we see. Of course, we know that's wrong too, as everything comes from other things that we could see.

The most interesting information, tho, is that light was the first stated creation. People have mused over this for centuries, and, while some commentators understood the distinction between light, as a physical phenomenon, and light as produced in the particular, others quibbled at how light could exist (not 'be produced') before the sun.

Well, if we extend 'light' to mean the entire energy spectrum, which is logically included, then I think we have the most effective start up process: make the energy 'infrastructure' before you organise it into particulars.

We also see Adam doing science in chapter 2: he names certain classes of animals: identifying their nature, I think is included in that concept.

Not only this, but the biblical world view gave rise a way of thinkking about the material world that stimulated modern science. Jaki for instance covers this, as do a number of other writers. James Hannam, Peter Harrison, for instance. It encouraged the pursuit of understanding of an accessible-to-mind cosmos, there for our understanding, being as we are in God's image; it encouraged the view that the world is rational and not arbitrary in its operation, and it was not 'sacred' and to be not enquired into.

The Bible gives us the information to see that the cosmos is created, created by God (by him disclosing his method and its results), and not self-existent, or ontologically basic.

The view also seems to express a disdain for the material, contra the link that the doctrine of creation provides between God, the cosmos and us.

John said...

Craig has posted an academically enervated pseudo-argument about who believed in a flat earth in the ancient Church. No one, in 2 thousand years - not even atheists - have listed such a lengthy number of culprits.

Craig's a genius. But it's his quotes which seal the case. He demonstrates a genuine understanding of the difference between literal and figurative language.

So, I've posted here a reply to his thread, just in case he chucks a wobbly and accuses me of being...of being...against him, I suppose.

Oh, Craig, Craig, Craig. Are we bending reality a bit again are we? Changed your epistemological masks around, have we? i.e. Now in search for a literal hook to hang a figurative hat on are we?

Hey, Craig: “Now it came to pass, while he blessed them, that he was parted from them and carried up into heaven.” (Luke 24:51) Suppose you're going to tell me that Luke, too, believed in a flat earth and that heaven is actually “up” there? What? Yet another Scripture writer got his cosmology wrong?

For those that like their morning coffee with a bit of academic full-cream milk and not the insipid stuff that Craig throws up, see e.g.

BTW, Proverbs 18:17.

If you feel like you've “discovered” something from your in-depth reading of ancient literature no one else has, why don't you submit it to a peer-reviewed journal for inspection?

sam drucker said...

Craig is a sorry person.

Finally, he has banned me for asking him to justify his theological position. He avoided earlier questions until he could not resist the continued prompting to respond. The eventual response of simple rejection of the combined theology of Luther and Calvin on origins lacks credibility.

Further questioning for explanation of how Craig read Scripture brought the final bullet to dialogue.

Craig trusts men more than he trusts God.

I'll be posting a blog shortly.

Sam Drucker

John said...


The lad has banned me too. I think Craig loves to sniff power and is in need of some self-authentication. Any person who, in spite of overwhelming evidence against, says the "apropriate" Christian line ("I hear what you're saying" or some such patronising banality) and then says something like "Nevertheless, I'm right", is in obvious danger of losing himself to "HIMSELF".

Craig now has a thread telling the world that his post on the Flat Earth and the Early church is no. 3in a google search on that subject. Hate to spoil your party and your moment of self-love Craigie but I for one cruise over there a few times to cheer myself up and give myself a laugh at your junior high school reasoning skill.

Craig, son, laddie, when you confuse the literal and the figurative you're in serious trouble. 6 days is 6 days and '4 corners' does not equal flat earth.

But any man who pays money to see cage wrestling at Acer Arena and offers a thread supporting his belief that it's sport, ain't really in touch with a God-informed reality. So no surprise he can't read past a kindergarten level.

SAD, so SAD.

BTW, your slag that I was autistic, which you eventually removed, was an offence to people who suffer from autism, parents and family and workers in that area. It didn't hurt me but it shows us where your Christianity is at: the arrogant, self-worship level. Not even the pagans behave like that.