Boxing Pythagoras

Philosophy from the mind of a fighter

WLC dodges his own question

Recently, I have taken to addressing William Lane Craig’s Excursus on Natural Theology podcasts. These are lessons directed at the layperson with the goal of demonstrating the rationality of theism from simple arguments. As you may infer from my previous articles, I do not think that the Excursus has come even close to meeting that goal.

Today, we will be discussing Part 17 of the Excursus. If you read my article on Part 16, you might remember that I was actually quite excited for this, due to Dr. Craig’s promise to discuss the plausibility of Design as an explanation of the universe’s fine-tuning. As I mentioned, whenever I have discussed the idea of Intelligent Design with an apologist, I have brought up this very subject. Unfortunately, I’ve only ever been met with answers about the purported improbability of chance or necessity. I’ve never been proffered any answers with positive evidence for the idea of Design, nor even with a proposed mechanism by which the Fine-Tuning of the universe could be Designed.

Early on in the discussion, Dr. Craig makes a statement with which I wholeheartedly agree:

But we cannot infer immediately to design because sometimes it can be justified to believe in an improbable explanation. You would be justified in believing in some improbable explanation just in case there were no better explanation available of the phenomenon in question…

The question we are facing now with regard to the fine-tuning of the universe is: is design a better explanation than chance or physical necessity?

Yes, this most certainly is the question! So, how does Dr. Craig answer this question? Does he define what, exactly, he means by the term “design?” Does he offer some method for differentiating something which is “designed” from something which is not “designed?” Does he then apply this standard to the question of Fine-Tuning in order to show that the constants and quantities of the universe more keenly fit into the “designed” category than the “not designed” category?

Dr. Craig does none of this. He never even attempts to establish that Design is plausible. Instead, he simply presumes that Design is plausible, then spends the rest of the time talking about a poor line of argument from Richard Dawkins. Seriously, that’s it. William Lane Craig seems to be claiming that because Dawkins makes a bad argument refuting Design, Design is therefore more plausible than Chance or Physical Necessity in explaining the Fine-Tuning question.

In response, I can think of nothing more appropriate than a paraphrase of Dr. Craig’s own words:

I think everyone will find that conclusion jarring because the conclusion “Therefore, Design is more plausible than Chance or Necessity” doesn’t follow from the fact that Dawkins made a poor attempt at refuting Design. There are no rules of logic that would permit you to derive such an inference. There are no rules of logic that would draw that conclusion from the truth of that statement. Craig’s argument is just plainly invalid. The central argument of Craig’s Fine-Tuning discussion is a patently invalid argument.

I’m fairly certain that this is the shortest response I’ve written to one of William Lane Craig’s arguments. Richard Dawkins is a biologist, and not a philosopher. He’s a vitriolic anti-theist, and not a theologian. When he makes a laughably invalid argument, it’s to be expected. William Lane Craig, on the other hand, holds a PhD in Philosophy. Philosophy is his profession. When he makes a laughably invalid argument, there is simply no excuse.


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4 thoughts on “WLC dodges his own question

  1. I think that the principle of Occam’s Razor should not be applied when of the two alternative explanations one is bad and the other is worse.

    • I don’t know that I would go so far as that. Ockham’s Razor is a useful tool even in such scenarios. In general, “do not multiply entities unnecessarily” is a fairly good bit of philosophical advice.


    Good luck explaining this to arrogant theologians and atheists alike, lol.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting. I haven’t given your link a thorough read, yet– just a cursory once-over– but it does seem to be plagued with a number of common misconceptions about biological evolution and geometry. I’m also not too clear on what you mean by words like “energy,” “resonance,” and the like, since you seem to be utilizing definitions for these terms which are very different from those employed in the physical sciences.

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