Here is a link to the Youtube video I am analyzing:
Dr. William Lane Craig is quite an incredible individual. He debates the existence of God with some of the most respected scientists and atheists of our day. He has an incredible resume. He is a meticulous public speaker and clearly a very intelligent person. He provides some rather convincing arguments for the existence of God, and his great speaking skills and mastery of the English language makes him difficult to refute. I agree with a lot of what he says, but I am not convinced that his arguments prove the existence of God, and I think that his arguments are filled with fallacies.
This is the first video I am analyzing of Dr. Craig. I wanted to analyze this particular video for three reasons. First, I can relate to the target audience he is trying to speak to; individuals who are studying Christianity and are having doubts. I definitely fall under this category, however I am coming from a place of doubt in the first place, not a place of belief. Second, the video is relatively short compared to some of his other talks, especially his debates. And third, I think that his arguments in this video are very clear. So lets get into it!
“The way that I know that christianity is true is first and foremost on the basis of the witness of the holy spirit.”
- It has been proved time and time again in philosophy and through court trials especially that personal witnesses of anything is not a valid argument for truth. We could believe in our hearts so strongly that we saw a UFO, or experienced God, or that we saw x person doing y, etc. But that doesn’t make you right. It takes a lot more than that, and I certainly don’t believe that this should be “first and foremost”.
“Evidence and argument change from person to person, place to place, and generation to generation.” “Whereas the holy spirit and his testimony gives every generation and every person immediate access to a knowledge of God (…) that is independent to the shifting sands of time and place and person and historical contingency”.
- It is certainly true that some evidences and arguments change from person to person. However there are plenty of things that are really not questionable. Like the speed of light, or gravity, or 2+2=4, or that in a controlled environment a bike is faster than walking. No one in history has been able to provide evidence or arguments that contradict these things, so we believe them to be true. On the other hand, evidence and arguments for the holy spirit change ALL the time! How many believers out there have a different definition for God? All of them! They all disagree about this all the time! Especially from religion to religion. And to say that it is independent of time, place, and person is clearly wrong. Mankind has existed for a long time now. Much longer than the existence of the bible. In all the time before the bible mankind believed in other gods and spiritual beings. It was only much later in human history, in a specific location, (namely the mediterranean and the middle east and specifically Rome with christianity) amongst a minority of people that the bible was written. How often we forget that Christian belief and the idea of monotheism came about so much later in the history of mankind, and that even during it’s inception it belonged to a very small minority with strong opposition from the majority. It seems to me that Christianity only became a dominant religion due to imperialist expansion, aka it was forced upon the people and taught to children, who then in turn taught it to their children and so on. It wasn’t until very recently in human history that it has been accepted that an all knowing all powerful God exists. And even now it is losing ground as can be seen through census data in western countries. So to say that evidence and arguments for the holy spirit don’t change is wrong.
“Doubt is never simply an intellectual problem. There is always a spiritual dimension to doubt as well. There is an enemy of your souls, satan, who hates you intensely and is bent on your destruction, and is doing everything is his power to see that your faith is destroyed. And therefore when we have these intellectual doubts and problems we should never look at them as something that is spiritually neutral or divorce them from the spiritual conflict that we are involved in.”
- Here is is basically saying, if I may paraphrase which I don’t usually like to do, that the reason we have spiritual doubts is because of satan who is manipulating us and truing to make us question the existence of God. I would disagree. I think in the case of satan there is even less proof for his existence than God, and that proof is based largely on testimonial, which I already don’t believe to be a valid argument for truth as shown above. Also, the existence of satan goes against the belief that God is an all knowing all powerful being beyond time. If God was all of these things he would have known that satan was bad and he wouldn’t have created him in the first place. But anyways, that’s a long argument for another time. Christianity and William Lane Craig have to prove the existence of not just God, but also Satan and angels in order to convince a skeptic. It was hard enough to prove that there was one being! Please point me to the evidence of satan and angels that is not based on personal testimonial or the bible (I don’t believe that because something was written in a book makes it true).
“The key to a Christian life is how to live with unanswered questions.” ”How do you allow unanswered questions to not become destructive doubt?” ”The answer to that is engaging in a spiritual life, prayer, etc.”
- It is certainly true that there will, at least in our lifetime I think, be unanswered questions. And I think it is important to try and experience a spiritual life if you have doubts. For example, if you think you might be allergic to a specific food, the answer isn’t to avoid that if you want to know if you are allergic. You have to try it again through a controlled experiment and see the results. Just like if you think God may not exist, you shouldn’t avoid anything to do with God. Rather you should attempt to experience him and look at the evidence. i do not however believe that we should embrace those spiritual experiences 100%. We should still remain skeptical.
“I would encourage you, whenever you get the opportunity to take one of those (unanswered) questions out of the question bag to pursue it into the ground until you come to intellectual satisfaction.”
- I certainly agree with this statement. It is important to analyze the questions you have one at a time. Not look at all the unanswered questions as a set and allow it to overwhelm you.
“It leaves us with the conviction that christianity does indeed stand intellectually head and shoulders above every ism or philosophy that it might compete with.”
- I have kind of had the opposite happen to me in my life so far. The more I learn about the intricacies of christianity and the bible the harder and harder it becomes to believe. I notice so many fallacies and requirements for presupposition. Also, the more I try to have a spiritual experiences the more I feel like one will never come. It continues to fall farther and farther down intellectually in my mind.
I would like to thank Dr. William Lane Craig for continuing to pursue answers to the tough questions, and I have a lot of respect for his research and communication skills. I look forward to analyzing his book and other talks as I continue down my own answers, but as of this writing I am not yet convinced of the existence of God.No tags for this post.