In this Question of the Week, Dr. William Lane Craig of Reasonable Faith discusses morality and the treatment of the Canaanites in the Old Testament, in response to a hostile questioner. Understanding the strategies used here can be helpful to us as we engage in important conversations with people in our own spheres of influence.
Dr. Craig highlights how notable members of the secular community believe that there are no objective moral values or duties, in which case condemning or praising actions on a secular worldview would be purely opinion-based. Then Dr. Craig points out a few logical blunders made by the questioner. He first calls out the use of an ad hominem attack, which detracts attention from the main point of discussion. Next, he points out a faulty analogy, where the questioner wrongly equates the work of Hitler and Stalin to the treatment of the Canaanites.
Pointing out these fallacies winsomely can be a great way to get the conversation back on the right track. If we were having this discussion with a friend, we could use their faulty analogy to discuss why the situation in the Old Testament was vastly different from the atrocities of World War II. With resources from Summit, Paul Copan, or William Lane Craig, we don’t have to be afraid of having these hard conversations with those who are interested.
Because of the nature of this kind of writing, there are many statements that could be turned into questions to foster real life conversation. If we can invite people to engage with our ideas on a deeper level, we will be one step closer to sharing the truth of Christianity with them.