The Danger of Trying On Atheism

A pastor decides to 'live as an atheist' for one year in the attempt to sort out anguishing questions. Dr. Craig has plenty to say about this methodology!

"I will live as if there is no God. I will not pray, read the Bible for inspiration . . . I will do whatever I can to enter the world of atheism and live, for a year, as an atheist. It's important to make the distinction that I am not an atheist. At least not yet. I am not sure what I am. That's part of what this year is about."

Read the original post HERE

"God and Cosmology" William Lane Craig and Sean Carroll - 2014 Greer Heard Forum

On Friday, February 21st, 2014, philosopher and theologian, Dr William Lane Craig, was invited by the Greer Heard Forum to debate Dr Sean Carroll, an atheist theoretical physicist. The topic of debate was, "God and Cosmology: The Existence of God in Light of Contemporary Cosmology." The rigorous debate was concluded by a lengthy question and answer period with the audience.

 

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God’s Permitting Horrific Evils

Dr. Craig

I have attempted on several occasions to have you explain the following .

1) How can a maximally great being possibly have a "sufficient" reason to allow things such as the rape of a child, if as you say such an act is "objectively" evil?

It seems to me that the above is as illogical as a maximally great being having a sufficient reason to allow 2+2=5 .............. If 2+2 =4, then no amount of power, will, or sufficient reason could change that objective truth! I would like to hear you explain how if in the same sense that " Child + Rape = objective evil" then how could a maximally moral being find sufficient reason for permitting it being actualized in any possible world?

Your previous attempts in suggesting that God, allows such evil in order to have more souls come to him freely simply doesn't seem to add up logically. At best that is presupposing that a maximally great being could act contrary to his own objective truths for some greater good. (Allowing the suffering of an innocent child = more saved souls) But does that make any more sense than 2+2=5? Certainly not to me! Could God, for the sake of saving souls permit married bachelors, square circles etc.?

If (child rape) "is" objectively evil as you say, then even God, could not have a sufficient reason to permit it. Allowing the suffering of a child to save a soul makes it an discretionary act of God's subjective decision making, and not an objective truth rooted in his very nature. If God can permit it to occur then it follows that despite our subjective objections to such acts that God, has a purpose in allowing it to be actualized. If God permits it, then it follows logically that it cannot be objectively wrong; how else could God have a sufficient reason for permitting it? It appears you want it both ways: But objective truths has no sufficient reason to be anything other than true or false!

2) A world wherein events such events as the "Holocaust" do not occur is maximally greater than a world wherein such events do occur. The Holocaust occurred! It follows our world is not maximally great!

It would follow logically that if it were even possible that such a world could exist, that only such worlds would exist if in fact a maximally great being does exist.

Why would a maximally great being create a world wherein his maximal greatness is not reflected?

The world we live in is often very cruel and seems as if (so called evil)) is arbitrarily measured out unfairly.

A child is raped and dies leaving behind a loving family and never having known the joys growing up, marrying, or having children of his/her own, yet many Nazi's including (The Dr. Of Death: Josef Mengele) escapes and lives a life of Reilly into their golden age. Fair? A sign of maximal greatness to bring more souls to Christ? The truth is, agnosticism, and atheism is primarily the result of the cruelness and harsh world we live in: Its hard to believe that a maximally great being allows less than maximal greatness to prevail in any possible world. Then what is the agnostic and atheist told? Believe it this this way or that way, or else a much crueler world awaits them: But, what kind of maximally great being hides from his creation and expects blind allegiance in order to make it into the next world wherein we are told it will actually reflects his maximal greatness? Why not create that world in the first place? I used to be a devout Christian, yet have watched both my mother and father be robbed of their mental faculties after years of faithful service. The cruel world my father lives is 24 hrs of pain and the onslaught of dementia, the same disease that claimed my own mothers life...But I am but one of millions of members of the human species that has watched faithful servants be rewarded in this life with Dementia, Alzheimer's , Cancer , Gulags, Nazi's, tornado's, hurricanes, dunk drivers, etc.... The reality Dr. Craig, is that the world does not reflect maximal greatness, it reflects arbitrary measures of pleasure and pain wherein we all must at times ask: Why? I won't say arrogantly with certainty that God does not exist, but it is becoming harder and harder for me to believe that a personal and maximally great one does.

David

United States

Read Dr. Craig's answer HERE

Is Faith in God Reasonable?

What hath Jerusalem to do with Athens? Or what hath faith to do with reason? Drs. William Lane Craig and Alex Rosenberg debate this all important and pervasive question concerning the reasonableness of faith in God.

The nature of the question in this debate is no mere academic matter. The question of God is the most important question. One’s answer to it will impact nearly all other beliefs one holds from common notions of morality to politics and from our interest and investigation of our world to what we take to be our purpose(s) in life.

Is “faith” foolish? By this, should it be understood to be blind? Or is it reasonable and, if so, by what measure and to whom is it foolishness? For many, Mark Twain is right on the mark when he said that “Faith is believing something you know ain’t true.” Yet the great thinkers of Judaism and Christianity like Philo, Moses Maimonides, Thomas Aquinas, and John Calvin considered faith to be an extraordinarily important virtue (moral and/or intellectual)! Indeed, it is not only the condition by which salvation is appropriated in these Abrahamic faith traditions (which are taken by insiders to actually be knowledge traditions), but it is the basis for movements from Mother Teresa’s compassion and our concern for the poor to Isaac Newton’s inspiration in science in light of God’s creation of the world and man being made in God’s image. Is faith in God reasonable? Ought we to have faith in God? Captured February 1, 2013 on the campus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN.

“Objective” or “Absolute” Moral Values?

Hello Dr. Craig,

As always, I want to thank you for your continued commitment to defending the faith and equipping the church to meet the challenges of this increasingly secular age that we live in. I myself have been deeply influenced by your work and am in the final stages of completing my requirements to be a Reasonable Faith Chapter Director in West Texas.

My question to you today is about the difference between absolute vs. objective when speaking about morality.

I have heard you address this question in one of your Q&A sessions while doing your tour through Europe. You stated that you were very committed to stating the moral argument in terms of "objective" morality, rather than "absolute" morality. However, I do not believe there was further explanation on the subject.

In your debate with Sam Harris, you refuted the notion that you were advocating for a position that asserted a "universal" system of morality, but maintained that objective moral values and duties are what you were declaring to be evidence for God's existence. In both Reasonable Faith and On Guard, I've noticed you define "Objective" by stating that something is objective if it does not depend on human opinion or knowledge. It is simply valid and binding, regardless of human opinion.

While chaperoning an Apologetics mission trip to a local college campus, the moral argument was addressed and one of the atheists made the statement that went something like this:

"When you say absolute, I don't know what that means. What I hear most Christians say when they speak of 'Absolute Truth' or 'Absolute Morality' is really the same thing as speaking in terms of Objectivity. Most of the time the words 'Absolute' and 'Objective' are used interchangeable with no meaningful distinction".

Since you've spoken extensively about the moral argument, and given your educational background, I'm sure that this is a question that you have thought about and resolved yourself. My hope is that you can shed some light on this subject for myself and the rest of us. Thank you very much, once again, for all that you do in the name of Jesus. God Bless!

Joshua

United States

Click HERE to read Dr. Craig's answer

God and Time

Dear Dr. Craig,

I'm a big fan of your work and I've listened to almost all you have available on the internet.

My question has to do with a contradiction that I think I see in some of your views concerning issues of simultaneous causation and the possibility of God entering time.

The following are three things that (to the best of my understanding) you affirm:

1) God exists timelessly. By this we mean, God exists as a single unchanging point or 'moment.'

2) God is the simultaneous cause of the universe. Since there is no time before time, as in a 'before-after' relationship--we appeal to simultaneous causation to eliminate the need for a before. This means that the initial point of time for the universe is simultaneous with the existence of a (hitherto described as) timeless God.

3) Finally, you, WL Craig, often say that God enters into time at the initial point of creation.

My problem is, I do not think all three of these statements can be true. The point at which God is timeless is simultaneous with creation--and the point where God is temporal is also simultaneous with creation. The result is: God becomes simultaneously timeless and temporal--which is a contradiction.

Now, I've heard you say (and I've read it in one of your scholarly articles) that God is timeless sans creation--but if creation does exist then it simply is not the case that God is timeless. There is no point at which God is actually timeless--rather, God is only hypothetically timeless.

Since there is no point at which God is actually timeless, I think we are forced to say: God actually began to exist--just as the universe (which at no point is timeless) began to exist. Consequently premise 1. of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, 'everything that begins to exist must have a cause for its existence,' includes our conception of God.

Now, we could avoid this if we simply say God still exists timelessly (even now). But, if this is true then God, does not know what time it is now and hence is not omniscient. Also, it seems hard to see how God could interact with his creation as time goes on. This would entail that the Christian conception of God is false and that we would need to shrink back into a kind of deism (i.e. God made us but he isn't temporal or all-knowing and he doesn't interact with the universe).

Oddly, I would like to propose my own solution to this problem. The trouble is, what I'm about to say sounds weird--I've never heard anyone else say it. I would feel a lot better if someone like yourself could assess my odd solution. Perhaps you've even though of it yourself. I would also appreciate any alternate solution you could give to solve the problem in question.

I propose we appeal to the Trinity. God the father is timeless. The Father is the simultaneous cause of the Son--who is essentially a temporal version of the Father. One of these two (or maybe both) cause the Spirit--which is also a temporal manifestation of God.

The Father simply remains timeless while the Spirit and the Son go about creating and interacting with the universe. Since the Son and Spirit are God, they know what time it is now--and consequently, God knows everything--even if the information is dispersed between persons.

Now, I know this sounds weird--but to me it makes sense. Statements like: "In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God, and by the word all things were made..." seem oddly similar to what I just described. Also, old statements from church councils like: "the Son emanates from the father as the Spirit emanates from the Son (and/or Father depending on if your coming from the Western Roma Catholic or the Eastern Orthodox side).

Finally, I think most people won't like the fact that on this view Jesus would not be eternal. Still I don't think this is a problem scripturally since scripture never says so much (or to my mind at least)--it only says he was "in the beginning" and "from eternity/ or from ancient days" (depending on your translation of Micah 5:2).

So, what do you think?

As always I appreciate your work and I can only imaging how busy you must always be.

God Bless,

Adam

United States

 

Click HERE to read Dr. Craig's answer

 

What is The Euthyphro Dilemma?

Does God say that things are moral because they are by nature moral?

Or do they become moral because God declares them to be?

The dilemma is that if the acts are morally good because they are good by nature, then they are independent of God.  These acts would already be good in themselves and God would have to appeal to them to "find out" what is good.  On the other hand, if something is good because God commands that it is good, then goodness is arbitrary and God could have called murder good and honesty not good.

 

The Euthyphro dilemma is actually a false dichotomy.  That is, it proposes only two options when another is possible.  The third option is that good is based on God’s nature.  God appeals to nothing other than his own character for the standard of what is good, and then reveals what is good to us.  It is wrong to lie because God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), not because God had to discover lying was wrong or that he arbitrarily declared it to be wrong. This means that God does not arbitrarily declare something to be good (ignoring his own nature) or say that something is good by nature (recognizing a standard outside of himself).  Both of these situations ignore the biblical option that good is a revelation of God's nature.  In other words, God is good by nature and he reveals that nature to us. Therefore, for the Christian, there is no dilemma since neither position in Euthyphro’s dilemma represents Christian theology.

God’s Unconditional Love

 

Dear Dr. Craig,

As a Christian concerned with providing sound reasons for my own faith, I appreciate your blog, podcast, and contributions to philosophy of religion. With that being said, in your Q&A #123, you argued that the Islamic conception of God is morally inadequate. Near the end of your post, you stated that:

"God's love is impartial, universal, and unconditional ... [and] that a morally perfect being would love people impartially, all people, and without strings attached. But Allah has no love at all for unbelievers. This is not just a difference of degree, but of night and day!"

I agree that love, as you assert, is a "greater-making property." However, while the Bible does say that God is all-loving (cf. the passages you noted concerning the prodigal son and the lost sheep), it does not say that God necessarily loves unbelievers, or sinners. On the contrary, several Old Testament passages state unambiguously that God hates sinners. Consider the following:

Psalm 5:5, "The boastful shall not stand before Thine eyes; Thou dost hate all who do iniquity,"
Psalm 11:5, "The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and the one who loves violence His soul hates."
Lev. 20:23, "Moreover, you shall not follow the customs of the nation which I shall drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I have abhorred them."
Prov. 6:16-19, "There are six things which the Lord hates, yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers."
Hosea 9:15, "All their evil is at Gilgal; indeed, I came to hate them there! Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of My house! I will love them no more; All their princes are rebels."

How do you account for these verses, given your statement that "Jesus taught God's unconditional love for sinners?" What effect do these verses have for your argument regarding the moral superiority of the Christian conception of God?

Bridger

Click HERE to dear Dr. Craig's answer

William Lane Craig posts full Vilenkin e-mail misrepresented by Krauss in their debate

Cross Posted from Wintery Knight

First, Dr. Craig posted the e-mail from Vilenkin to Krauss, which Krauss used in his debate with Craig, with the parts Krauss omitted in bold:

Hi Lawrence,

Any theorem is only as good as its assumptions. The BGV theorem says that if the universe is on average expanding along a given worldline, this worldline cannot be infinite to the past.

A possible loophole is that there might be an epoch of contraction prior to the expansion. Models of this sort have been discussed by Aguirre & Gratton and by Carroll & Chen. They had to assume though that the minimum of entropy was reached at the bounce and offered no mechanism to enforce this condition. It seems to me that it is essentially equivalent to a beginning.

On the other hand, Jaume Garriga and I are now exploring a picture of the multiverse where the BGV theorem may not apply. In bubbles of negative vacuum energy, expansion is followed by cocntraction, and it is usually assumed that this ends in a big crunch singularity. However, it is conceivable (and many people think likely) that singularities will be resolved in the theory of quantum gravity, so the internal collapse of the bubbles will be followed by an expansion. In this scenario, a typical worldline will go through a succession of expanding and contracting regions, and it is not at all clear that the BGV assumption (expansion on average) will be satisfied.

I suspect that the theorem can be extended to this case, maybe with some additional assumptions. But of course there is no such thing as absolute certainty in science, especially in matters like the creation of the universe. Note for example that the BGV theorem uses a classical picture of spacetime. In the regime where gravity becomes essentially quantum, we may not even know the right questions to ask.

Alex

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