William Lane Craig
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|William Lane Craig|
August 23, 1949|
Peoria, Illinois, US
|Residence||Marietta, Georgia, US|
|Notable work||Reasonable Faith (1994)|
Jan Craig (m. 1972)
|Other academic advisors||Norman Geisler|
William Lane Craig (born 1949) is an American analytic philosopher and Christian theologian. He holds faculty positions at Talbot School of Theology (Biola University) and Houston Baptist University. Craig has developed and defended the Kalam cosmological argument for the existence of God. He also focused in his published work on a historical argument for the resurrection of Jesus. His research on divine aseity and Platonism culminated with his book God Over All. He has also debated the existence of God with public figures such as Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Lawrence M. Krauss. Craig established and runs the online apologetics ministry ReasonableFaith.org.
Life and career
Born August 23, 1949, in Peoria, Illinois, Craig is  born to Mallory and Doris Craig. His father's work with the T. P. & W. railroad took the family to Keokuk, Iowa, until his transfer to the home office in East Peoria in 1960. While a student at East Peoria Community High School (1963–1967),[non-primary source needed] Craig became a championship debater and public speaker, being named his senior year to the all-state debate team and winning the state championship in oratory.[not in citation given] In September 1965, his junior year, he converted to Christianity, and after graduating from high school, attended Wheaton College, majoring in communications. Craig graduated in 1971 and the following year married his wife Jan, whom he met on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ. In 2014, he was named alumnus of the year by Wheaton.
In 1973 Craig entered the program in philosophy of religion at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School north of Chicago, where he studied under Norman Geisler. In 1975 Craig commenced doctoral studies in philosophy at the University of Birmingham in England, writing on the cosmological argument under the direction of John Hick. He was awarded a doctorate in 1977. Out of this study came his first book, The Kalam Cosmological Argument (1979), a defense of the argument he first encountered in Hackett's work. Craig was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship in 1978 from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to pursue research on the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus under the direction of Wolfhart Pannenberg at the Ludwig-Maximillians-Universität München in Germany. His studies in Munich under Pannenberg's supervision led to a second doctorate, this one in theology, awarded in 1984 with the publication of his doctoral thesis, The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus During the Deist Controversy (1985).
Craig joined the faculty of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 1980, where he taught philosophy of religion for the next seven years. In 1982 Craig received an invitation to debate Kai Nielsen at the University of Calgary, Canada, on the question of God's existence, and has since then debated many philosophers, scientists, and biblical scholars.
After a one-year stint at Westmont College on the outskirts of Santa Barbara, Craig moved in 1987 with his wife and two young children back to Europe, where he pursued research for the next seven years as a visiting scholar at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Louvain) in Belgium. Out of that period of research issued seven books, among them God, Time, and Eternity (2001). In 1994, Craig joined the Department of Philosophy and Ethics at Talbot School of Theology in suburban Los Angeles as a Research Professor of Philosophy, a position he currently[when?] holds, and he went on to become a Professor of Philosophy at Houston Baptist University in 2014. In 2016, Craig was named Alumnus of the Year by Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. In 2017, Biola created a permanent faculty position and endowed chair, the William Lane Craig Endowed Chair in Philosophy, in honor of Craig's academic contributions.
Kalam cosmological argument
Craig has worked extensively on a version of the cosmological argument called the Kalam cosmological argument. While the Kalam has a venerable history in medieval Islamic philosophy, Craig updated the argument to interact with contemporary scientific and philosophical developments.[who said this?] Craig's research resulted in renewed contemporary interest in the argument, and in cosmological arguments in general; the philosopher Quentin Smith states: "a count of the articles in the philosophy journals shows that more articles have been published about Craig's defense of the Kalam argument than have been published about any other philosopher’s contemporary formulation of an argument for God's existence."
Craig formulates his Kalām Cosmological Argument in the following manner:
- Everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
- The universe began to exist.
- Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.
In his later literature, Craig sometimes uses a more modest version of the first premise, in order to bypass certain issues:
- If the universe began to exist, then the universe has a cause of its beginning.
Philosophically, Craig uses two traditional arguments to show that time is finite: he argues that the existence of an actual infinite is metaphysically impossible, and that forming an actual infinite through successive addition is metaphysically impossible.
Granting the strict logical consistency of post-Cantorian, axiomatized infinite set theory, Craig concludes that the existence of an actually infinite number of things is metaphysically impossible due to the consequential absurdities that arise. Craig illustrates this point using the example of Hilbert's paradox of the Grand Hotel. In Hilbert's hypothetical fully occupied hotel with infinitely many rooms, one can add an additional guest in room #1 by moving the guest in room #1 to room #2, the guest in room #2 into room #3, the guest in room #3 into room #4 and continue the shifting of rooms out to infinity. Craig points out that it is absurd to add an additional guest to a fully occupied hotel and the absurd result that the hotel has the same number of guests, infinity, both before after adding the additional guest. Stating that the mathematical conventions stipulated to ensure the logical consistency of this type of transfinite arithmetic have no ontological force, Craig concludes that finitism is most plausibly true, which means that the series of past events in the universe must be finite, so it must have had a beginning.
Craig says that just as it is impossible, despite the proponents of "super-tasks", to count to infinity, so it is metaphysically impossible to count down from infinity. Craig says that an inversion of the story of Tristram Shandy is a counter-intuitive absurdity that could result from the formation of an actual infinite. Craig claims that if the universe were eternal, an infinite number of events would have occurred before the present moment, which he says is impossible.
Craig says that the Friedmann–Lemaître–Robertson–Walker metric Big Bang model predicts a cosmic singularity, which marks the origin of the universe in the finite past. Craig says that competing models which do not imply an origin of the universe have either proved to be untenable (such as the steady state model and vacuum fluctuation models) or implied the beginning of the universe they were designed to avoid (oscillating models, inflationary models, quantum gravity models). Craig says that the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem of 2003 requires that any universe which has on average been in a state of cosmic expansion cannot be eternal.
Craig believes that recent discoveries about the expansion of the universe and relativity theory support his view that thermodynamic properties of the universe show it is not eternal. Craig says that postulating a multiverse of worlds in varying thermodynamic states encounters the problem of Boltzmann brains—that it becomes highly probable for any observer that the universe is only an illusion of his own brain, a solipsistic conclusion Craig says no rational person would embrace.
Based on these arguments, Craig concludes that the premise that the universe began to exist is more plausible than not, and conjoined with premise 1, the beginning of the universe implies the existence of a cause. Craig claims that, due to its nature, the cause must be an uncaused, beginningless, changeless, timeless, spaceless, immaterial being of enormous power, which he refers to as God.
- If God foreknows the occurrence of some event E, does E happen necessarily?
- If some event E is contingent, how can God foreknow E's occurrence?
According to Craig, the first question raises the issue of theological fatalism. He attempts to reduce this problem to the problem of logical fatalism, which holds that if it is true that E will happen, then E will happen necessarily. He challenges theological fatalists to show how the addition of God's knowing some future-tense statement to be true adds anything essential to the problem over and above that statement's being true.
Craig says that theological fatalists have misunderstood "temporal necessity", or the necessity of the past, and that the impossibility of backward causation does not imply that one cannot have a sort of counterfactual power over past events.
Craig surveyed the rejection of parallel fatalistic arguments in fields other than theology or philosophy of religion. He reviews discussions of backward causation,time travel, the special theory of relativity, precognition, and Newcomb's paradox to conclude that fatalistic reasoning has failed.
The second question arising from divine foreknowledge of future contingents concerns the means by which God knows such events. Craig says that the question presupposes a tensed or A-theory of time, for on a tenseless or B-theory of time there is no ontological distinction between past, present, and future, so that contingent events which are future relative to us are no more difficult for God to know than contingent events which are, relative to us, past or present. Distinguishing between perceptualist and conceptualist models of divine cognition, Craig says that models which construe God's foreknowledge of the future along perceptualist lines (God foresees what will happen) are difficult to reconcile with a tensed theory of time (though one might say that God perceives the present truth-values of future contingent propositions). He does not similarly challenge a conceptualist model which construes God's knowledge along the lines of innate ideas.
The doctrine of middle knowledge is one such conceptualist model of divine cognition which Craig has explored. Formulated by the Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina, the doctrine of middle knowledge holds that logically prior to his decree to create a world God knew what every possible creature he might create would freely do in any possible set of circumstances in which God might place him. On the basis of his knowledge of such counterfactuals of free will and his knowledge of his own decree to create certain creatures in certain circumstances, along with his own decision how he himself shall act, God automatically knows everything that will actually and contingently happen, without any perception of the world.
Craig has become a proponent of Molinism, supporting middle knowledge and also applying it to a wide range of theological issues, such as divine providence and predestination, biblical inspiration, perseverance of the saints, Christian particularism, and the problem of evil.
Craig's earlier work on the kalam cosmological argument and on divine omniscience intersected significantly with the philosophy of time and the nature of divine eternity.
Craig examines arguments aimed at showing either that God is timeless or omnitemporal. He defends the coherence of a timeless and personal being, but says that the arguments for divine timelessness are unsound or inconclusive. By contrast, he gives two arguments in favor of divine temporality. First, he says that if a temporal world exists, then in virtue of his real relations to that world, God cannot remain untouched by its temporality. Craig says that given God's changing relations with the world he must change at least extrinsically, which is sufficient for his existing temporally. Second, Craig says that if a temporal world exists, then in virtue of his omniscience, God must know tensed facts about the world, such as what is happening now, which Craig argues is sufficient for his being temporally located. Craig argues that, since a temporal world does exist, it follows that God exists in time.
Craig says that there is one way of escape from these arguments, which is to accept a B-Theory of time. Craig concludes that one's theory of time is a watershed issue for one's doctrine of divine eternity.
In The Tensed Theory of Time (2000) and The Tenseless Theory of Time (2000), Craig examines the arguments for and against the A- and B-Theories of time respectively.
Elements of Craig's philosophy of time differentiates between time itself and our measures of it (a classical Newtonian theme), and includes an analysis of spatial "tenses" to the location of the "I-now", his defense of presentism, his analysis of McTaggart's paradox as an instance of the problem of temporary intrinsics, his defense of a neo-Lorentzian interpretation of special relativity, and his formulation of a tensed possible worlds semantics.
Craig presents a doctrine of divine eternity and God's relationship to time. Defending Leibniz's argument against God's enduring for infinite time prior to creating the universe, and appealing to the kalam cosmological argument, Craig says that God exists timelessly and temporally since the moment of creation. Craig says that cosmic time, which registers the age of the universe, is the measure of God's time. The universe is, Craig concludes, God's clock.
Resurrection of Jesus
Craig's two volumes The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus (1985) and Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus (3rd ed., 2002) are said by the Christian reviewers Gary Habermas and Christopher Price to be among the most thorough investigations of the event of Jesus' resurrection.[verification needed][unreliable source?] In the former volume, Craig describes the history of the discussion, including David Hume's arguments against the identification of miracles. The latter volume is an exegetical study of the New Testament material pertinent to the resurrection.
Craig summarizes the relevant evidence under three major heads:
- The tomb of Jesus was found empty by a group of his female followers on the Sunday after his crucifixion.
- Various individuals and groups experienced appearances of Jesus alive after his death.
- The earliest disciples came to believe that God had raised Jesus from the dead despite strong predispositions to the contrary.
Craig's discussion of the evidence for each of these events includes a defense of the traditions of Jesus' burial by Joseph of Arimathea, a close exegesis of the Pauline doctrine of the resurrection body, and an investigation of pagan and Jewish notions of resurrection from the dead.
Craig argues that the best explanation of these three events is that God raised Jesus from the dead. He rejects alternative theories such as Gerd Lüdemann's hallucination hypothesis as lacking explanatory scope, explanatory power, and sufficient historical knowledge to support the psychoanalysis Lüdemann performs. Craig's historical case for the resurrection employs standard historical practices for weighing historical hypotheses concluding that the resurrection is a better match to the available historical data. Specifically, Craig argues, that if one does not begin with the assumption that there is no God, there is a higher probability of the resurrection hypothesis than of its negation, so the resurrection hypothesis is improbable only if one begins with unsupported assumptions. Craig also notes that a miraculous explanation of the evidence is increased when one locates the resurrection of Jesus in the context of Jesus' ministry and personal statements. This context, Craig argues, provides the interpretive key to the meaning of Jesus' resurrection as the divine vindication of the allegedly blasphemous statements for which Jesus was tried and executed.
Craig is currently[when?] focused on the challenge posed by platonism to divine aseity or self-existence.[verification needed] Craig rejects the view that God creates abstract objects and defends nominalistic perspectives on abstract objects. Stating that the Quine–Putnam indispensability thesis is the chief support of platonism, Craig criticizes Willard Van Orman Quine's naturalized epistemology and confirmational holism, and also rejects the metaontological criterion of ontological commitment.
Craig favors a neutral logic, according to which the formal quantifiers of first-order logic, as well as the informal quantifiers of ordinary language, are not ontologically committing. He also advocates a deflationary theory of reference, according to which referring is a speech act rather than a word-world relation, so that singular terms may be used in true sentences without commitment to corresponding objects in the world. If one stipulates that first-order quantifiers are being used as devices of ontological commitment, then Craig adverts to fictionalism, in particular pretense theory, according to which statements about abstract objects are expressions of make-believe, imagined to be true, though literally false.
Craig is a critic of metaphysical naturalism, New Atheism, and prosperity theology, as well as a defender of Reformed epistemology. He also states that being a confessing Christian is not compatible with practicing homosexuality.[page range too broad] Craig maintains that the theory of evolution is compatible with Christianity. Craig has an agnostic position on the creation account.[not specific enough to verify] He is a fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture and was a fellow of the International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design.
As a divine command theorist, Craig believes God had the moral right to command the killing of the Canaanites if they refused to leave their land, as depicted in the Book of Deuteronomy. This has led to some controversy. The prominent atheist Richard Dawkins has repeatedly refused to debate Craig, and has given what he calls Craig's defense of genocide as one of his reasons.
According to Nathan Schneider, "[many] professional philosophers know about him only vaguely, but in the field of philosophy of religion, [Craig's] books and articles are among the most cited". Sam Harris has described Craig as "the one Christian apologist who seems to have put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists."
Some scholars, such as Wes Morriston of the University of Colorado Boulder, have challenged some of Craig's views, such as the Kalam Cosmological argument, the foundation of God for morality, the alleged genocide of the Canaanites, as well as Craig's views on actual infinites, his fine-tuning argument, and his arguments for the resurrection of Jesus.
- Craig, William Lane (1979), The Kalām Cosmological Argument, London: MacMillan, ISBN 978-1-57910-438-2.
- Craig, William Lane (1980), The Cosmological Argument from Plato to Leibniz, London: MacMillan, ISBN 978-1-57910-787-1.
- Craig, William Lane (1981), The Son Rises: Historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, Chicago: Moody Press, ISBN 978-1-57910-464-1.
- Craig, William Lane (1991), Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom: The Coherence of Theism: Omniscience, Brill, ISBN 978-90-04-09250-1.
- Apologetics: An Introduction. Chicago: Moody Press. 1984. ISBN 0-8024-0405-7
- The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus During the Deist Controversy. Toronto: Edwin Mellen. 1985. ISBN 0-88946-811-7
- The Only Wise God: The Compatibility of Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom. Grand Rapids: Baker Bookhouse. 1987. ISBN 1-57910-316-2, 978-1-57910-316-3
- The Problem of Divine Foreknowledge and Future Contingents from Aristotle to Suarez. Leiden: E.J. Brill. 1988. ISBN 90-04-08516-5 / ISBN 978-90-04-08516-9
- Knowing the Truth About the Resurrection. Ann Arbor: Servant. 1988. ISBN 0-89283-384-X, 978-0-89283-384-9
- Craig, William Lane (1989), Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus, Studies in the Bible and early Christianity, 16, Toronto: Edwin Mellen Press, ISBN 978-0-88946-616-6
- Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom: The Coherence of Theism I: Omniscience. Leiden: E.J. Brill. 1990. ISBN 90-04-09250-1, 978-90-04-09250-1
- No Easy Answers. Chicago: Moody Press. 1990. ISBN 0-8024-2283-7, 978-0-8024-2283-5
- Craig, William Lane (1991). Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom: The Coherence of Theism: Omniscience. ISBN 978-90-04-09250-1.
- Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology (with Quentin Smith). Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993. ISBN 978-0-19-826383-8
- The Tensed Theory of Time: A Critical Examination. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. ISBN 0-7923-6634-4 / ISBN 978-0-7923-6634-8
- Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? A Debate Between William Lane Craig and John Dominic Crossan. Grand Rapids: Baker Bookhouse. 1998.
- God, Are You There?. Atlanta: RZIM. 1999. ISBN 1-930107-00-5, 978-1-930107-00-7
- Craig, William Lane; Lüdemann, Gerd (2000). Copan, Paul; Tacelli, Ronald Keith, eds. Jesus' Resurrection: Fact Or Figment? a Debate Between William Lane Craig & Gerd Lüdemann. InterVarsity Press. ISBN 0-8308-1569-4.
- ——— (2000). The tensed theory of time: a critical examination. Springer. ISBN 978-0-7923-6634-8.
- ——— (2000), The Tenseless Theory of Time: A Critical Examination, Dordrecht: Kluwer, ISBN 978-0-7923-6635-5.
- God, Time and Eternity. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 2001. ISBN 978-1-58134-241-3 / ISBN 978-1-58134-241-3
- Time and The Metaphysics of Relativity. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 2001. ISBN 0-7923-6668-9
- Time and Eternity: Exploring God's Relationship to Time. Wheaton: Crossway. 2001. ISBN 978-1-58134-241-3 / ISBN 978-1-58134-241-3
- What Does God Know? Atlanta: RZIM. 2002. ISBN 978-1-930107-05-2
- Hard Questions, Real Answers. Wheaton: Crossway Books. 2003. ISBN 978-1-58134-487-5 / ISBN 978-1-58134-487-5
- Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (with J.P. Moreland). Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. 2003.
- Craig, William Lane; Flew, Antony; Wallace, Stan W. (2003), Does God Exist?: The Craig-Flew Debate, Ashgate, ISBN 0-7546-3190-7.
- ———; Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter (2004). God?: A Debate Between a Christian and an Atheist. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-516599-3.
- Creation out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration (with Paul Copan). Grand Rapids: Baker Bookhouse. 2004. ISBN 0-8010-2733-0
- Reasonable Faith. Wheaton: Crossway. 1994. rev. 3rd ed. 2008. ISBN 0-89107-764-2 / ISBN 978-0-89107-764-0
- ———; Smith, Quentin, ed. (2008). Einstein, relativity and absolute simultaneity. London New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415591669.
- Craig, William Lane (July 3, 2008). "God is Not Dead Yet". Christianity Today. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
- On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook. 2010. ISBN 1-4347-6488-5 / ISBN 978-1-4347-6488-1
- A Reasonable Response: Answers to Tough Questions on God, Christianity, and the Bible (with Joseph E. Gorra). Chicago: Moody Publishers. 2014. ISBN 0802405991 / ISBN 978-0802405999
- Learning Logic. 2014. ISBN 1502713764 / ISBN 978-1502713766
- On Guard for Students: A Thinker's Guide to the Christian Faith. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook. 2015. ISBN 0781412994 / ISBN 978-0781412995
- God Over All: Divine Aseity and the Challenge of Platonism. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. 2016. ISBN 978-0-19-878688-7.
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