Thursday, July 03, 2008

God Is Not Dead Yet

The cover of the new Christianity Today, borrowing from the famous April 8, 1966 Time cover "Is God Dead?," is titled "God Is Not Dead Yet." The lead article is by the brilliant philosopher William Lane Craig. Bill was my first mentor in apologetics, when I was a young philosophy major at Northern Illinois University. He was one of my Campus Crusade for Christ staff leaders.

Here are some of the significant bullet points of Bill's essay:

  • There's a rise of theistic philosophers in university philosophy departments. In this regard Bill's friend, atheist philosopher Quentin Smith, laments the "desecularization of academia that evolved in philosophy departments since the late 1960s."

  • The vitality of the cosmological argument for the existence of God. Probably no one in the world understands this argument better than Bill. For example, see here.

1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.

2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.

3. The universe exists.

4. Therefore, the explanation of the universe's existence is God.

  • The Kalam Cosmological Argument - this is Bill's expertise. This argument is found in many standard philosophy of religion textbooks. This is THE form of the cosmological argument that atheists must address. Dawkins et. al. don't do this.

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

  • The teleological argument, esp. the fine-tuning argument for God's existence. Many, including myelf, find this a powerful argument for there being a God.

1. The fine-tuning of the universe is due either to physical necessity, chance, or design.

2. It is not due to physical necessity or chance.

3. Therefore, it is due to design.

  • The moral argument for there being a God. Personally, I am so glad Bill has pressed this argument. It has always made sense to me, and now even more so because of how Bill has developed it and defends it.

1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.

2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.

3. Therefore, God exists.

  • Bill adds a section on the infamous ontological argument, as formulated by Alvin Plantinga an others. The argument is:

1. It is possible that a maximally great being (God) exists.

2. If it is possible that a maximally great being exists, then a maximally great being exists in some possible world.

3. If a maximally great being exists in some possible world, then it exists in every possible world.

4. If a maximally great being exists in every possible world, then it exists in the actual world.

5. Therefore, a maximally great being exists in the actual world.

6. Therefore, a maximally great being exists.

7. Therefore, God exists.

I love presenting this argument at the beginning of my Philosophy of Religion classes. Among other things it is an introduction to philosophical thinking and logic.

  • Bill then argues that we do not now live in a "postmodern" culture. Evidence for this includes the fully modernist approaches of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens and their popularity. Bill argues that Western culture is post-Christian, but not postmodern. His analysis here deserves to be studied. I hope he writes more about this in the future.

Finally, Bill attracts a lot of attention from internet atheists who go after him. For the most part, and it seems entirely, he does not engage them. I think he is right in doing this. He's certainly not avoiding anything, because he spends his time dialogueing with and debating the greatest intellectual, academic atheists in the world. There's not an "internet atheist" out there who is on an intellectual level with Bill, who has a deep, phenomenal multidisciplinary grasp of the issues, ranging from quantum mechanics to math to Christology to hermeneutics to logic to philosophy and theology. His life certainly debunks the idea that only ignorant people believe in God and Jesus.