Friday, February 10, 2012

John Loftus' Challenge to William Lane Craig

John Loftus has recently posted a challenge to Dr. Craig regarding his claims of the evidential status of the 'inner witness of the holy spirit'. In the past John has defended the integrity of Dr. Craig in the face of many accusations from within the skeptical movement that Craig is dishonest. I personally don't think Craig is intentionally dishonest, but his portrayals of modern physics are possibly bordering on dishonesty.

Loftus' challenge to Craig involves three specific questions, they are as follows.

Do you agree that objective evidence is external to the knower and can be verified by a third party at least in principle? Yes or no? How then can any third party verify a claim such as someone else's inner witness of the Spirit? At least someone's claim to be abducted by aliens is able to be verified in principle by a third party. Anyone in any religion or sect within one can claim to have had a veridical religious experience. These claims are a dime a dozen when they cannot be verified even in principle by a third party. What then do you say to the argument that these claims are subject to the charge of delusion, and as such, no evidence at all even to someone who claims to have had one? 

Dr. Craig, here is a follow-up question given the inherent subjectivity of the inner witness of the Spirit. How is possible for a reasonable faith to be based upon a subjective experience? Furthermore and more importantly, how is it possible for a reasonable man like yourself to claim such a subjective experience defeats all objective evidence? Now it's one thing to say a subjective experience is to be considered objective evidence. It's another thing entirely to say a subjective experience carries more weight than all objective evidence. 

One last question my friend. Put all three of them together and answer them all at one time if you wish.

Would you please specify the propositional content of the inner witness of the Holy Spirit? Plantinga calls the content "the great things of the gospel", and includes the idea that "God exists", "God has forgiven and accepted me", or "God is the author of the Bible." You claim this content assures Christians that they are children of God. But such a notion echoes the poet whom Paul quoted who said, "we are his offspring." (Acts 17:28) You are surely arguing that the inner witness of the third person of the trinity contains more propositional content than that. Shouldn't this witness be more specific about what is meant to be a "child" of the kind of "God" one believes in, how one becomes a child of this God, where one can learn additional information about this God, what he must think of the authority of that source of information, and how he can best interpret it? For instance, to say "God exists" does not say anything about the attributes of this God, and might even be consistent with panentheism. To say "God is the author of the Bible" doesn't say what a believer should think about the specific nature of the Bible, or how to best interpret it.

I have repeatedly asked you this last question and have posted it on my blog several times. Again, these types of arguments are swaying the faithful. You need to answer them if you want to be perceived as being honest with the facts. Many skeptics are saying you are not honest and I have been defending you.

If you refuse to answer these questions about the inner witness of the Spirit then I can no longer defend you from the charge of being dishonest with the facts. I hope you do respond, I really do.

Sorry, but it's your choice now.

It will be interested to see if Craig responds, and if he does, in what manner will he do so.

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