William Lane Craig vs Peter Millican - Does God Exist?

While there is a venerable history of philosophical inquiry into the question of God's existence, debates geared for lay audiences out there tend to display a painful and embarrassing lack of philosophical sophistication. To begin with, the distinction between metaphysics and epistemology, between truth and justification, is so often overlooked that the opponents usually don't realize they are each talking about something completely different from each other. But even when they are not ships missing each other in the dark, the performances leave much to be desired.

Believers tend to assert that God exists because they don't know how else to explain certain phenomena, or because life would meaningless otherwise, or because it's part of their cultural tradition and upbringing. Whatever their merits, such arguments have nothing to do with the question of whether God actually exists or not. Skeptics, on the other hand, tend to turn scientistic, and argue that the only way to know something is through science, and since the claim that God exists is either unfalsifiable or has actually been falsified (and let's ignore the logical inconsistency in those claims), the God hypothesis cannot even get off the ground. Needless to say, both camps tend to embarrass themselves, and each other.

But what if we have two professional philosophers, such as Peter Millican and William Lane Craig, argue the question? I have to admit that I find Craig fascinating... and disturbing. He's an interesting case study of a very intelligent and learned man who will use the most state-of-the-art scientific and philosophical scholarship to support the mutually contradictory beliefs that are the legacy of the virtually illiterate goat-herders who gave us Christianity (the ultimate cult of child sacrifice), but he's really good at this, and he knows how to stand his ground against very smart people. His rhetorical skills and his careful word choice usually takes his unsuspecting opponents by surprise (probably because they're used to debating ignoramuses), and whatever merit their views may have, they usually fumble and stumble in his presence. But Peter Millican is no ordinary thinker, and that can only mean that we are in for a fascinating exploration of philosophical issues that must be addressed even before touching on the question of God's existence.

For instance, who carries the burden of proof? The believer or the skeptic? It makes more sense to me that the person making the affirmative case (the believer in this case) should satisfy the skeptic's standards of evidence, and that the skeptic has every right not to believe until those standards have been met, but as you'll see, Craig is a master at challenging this position in really ingenuous ways...

And another thing we can learn from such a debate is that disagreements even about such a fundamental question as this, can be carried out with complete civility, and with each party taking the other seriously enough to provide a robust and productive dialogue from which everyone can benefit.

Are you feeling smarter now? Or does your brain hurt?
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