Dr. Craig Live at West University Baptist Church PART 2January 12, 2020 Time: 27:12
Dr. Craig was recently interviewed by the church staff during Sunday morning worship at West University Baptist Church in Houston Texas.
INTERVIEWER: We’ve read your intellectual books. Most of us know you as this great debater. But what surprised me a little bit was that you have actually written books for children.
DR. CRAIG: Yes.
INTERVIEWER: Can you tell us a little bit about that?
DR. CRAIG: In taking to heart the admonition that I just gave, I wanted to try to raise our children in the instruction and admonition of the Lord. As a father, I took that seriously. So I wrote ten little booklets on the attributes of God for our two children, Charity and John. These feature some lovable characters Brown Bear and Red Goose and their little children, the little cub John and the little gosling Charity who are our children. That's their names. This is, in fact, our family – this bear and goose family. In these booklets I try to help children have a deeper, more expansive concept of God. God is not just a sort of man with a long white beard sitting on a throne in heaven. God is all-powerful, everywhere present, forever existent, self-existent, all-loving and good. So we go through these ten attributes of God in these cartoon booklets in which the little children come to their father and say, “Explain this to us.” And then Papa Bear explains the doctrine to the children using the Bible in answering their questions. It's a model for parents on how to engage their children with tough questions, how to answer them, and especially for fathers how to take the lead in instructing your children in Christian doctrine. So that's the series of ten as we call them “Bear and Goose booklets” – they're the attributes of God for children. In addition to that, one summer when the children were somewhat older (I think maybe high-schoolish age) I thought they need to know the basic rules of logic. And so I taught Jan and the two kids the basic rules of logic that summer. Right! Summer school.
INTERVIEWER: Let me get this straight – you actually taught your kids how to argue?
DR. CRAIG: Yes, in effect! Dangerous, huh? [laughter] Teach your wife that, too, and she’ll know how to argue with you! What we did – there are only about nine of these basic rules of logical inference that govern all of logic. We would take one each week, and I would teach them what the rule is, then I would give them little problems using these arguments. They would learn how to symbolize the premises, then how to derive the conclusion from the premises or to say, no, the conclusion doesn't follow, this is invalid. So by teaching them the rules of logical validity and then what invalidity is – I basically trained them in elementary logic that summer. We have used the same illustrator, Marli Renee that illustrated the Bear and Goose books, to illustrate this now in a little book called Learning Logic which is a wonderful book for kids around eight to ten years of age to learn elementary logic. Actually, it's good for anybody of any age because the rules of logic are timeless.
INTERVIEWER: I was just thinking about the parents and how helpful this would be because to teach something you have to know it better yourself.
DR. CRAIG: Yes, exactly. Many parents have remarked to us how much they've learned from these children's books and using them with their own children.
INTERVIEWER: That is available at ReasonableFaith.org. All sorts of resources are there at ReasonableFaith.org. Let's go back to the debate conversation. I don't know if you've been on YouTube, but search YouTube for Dr. Craig and his debate with Christopher Hitchens at Biola on “Does God Exist?” 1.3 million views there. You outlined an argument. You gave five reasons why the Christian worldview best explains our existence, the universe's existence, and why it best is a rational belief to you. You talked about five things. You kept coming back to them over and over and over again. The cosmological argument – that everything that exists has a first cause. The teleological argument on fine-tuning and there's this probability that it's just too far . . . you've got to have more faith to believe it's chance, it sounds like what you were saying, than intelligent design. The moral argument. The resurrection of Jesus Christ. And one's own personal testimony of their encounter with God. How do we learn from that and use that in our sharing of our faith?
DR. CRAIG: On our website on the home page we have developed wonderful animated videos on each of these arguments. These videos are only about five minutes long each, and they are animated, they're simple, and they can teach you the basic premises of the argument and then how to defend them. They're downloadable so that you could just share it with a friend. You wouldn't even need to present the argument. You could say, “Look at this video and what do you think?” And watch it together and then talk about it. So I encourage people to use the animated videos. I also really would encourage people to memorize the premises. The arguments each consist of only like three steps. They're very simple. For example, one of the arguments (the first one you mentioned) is:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
That's it. Any junior high school student can memorize those three points and share them with another person to show that there's a transcendent cause of the universe. Or the argument for objective moral values goes like this:
1. If God does not exist then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. But objective moral values and duties do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.
That is a logically airtight argument. The conclusion follows by the logical rules of inference. It’s easy to memorize; it’s easy to share. So I would encourage folks to memorize the premises. Then I wish then that folks would even go deeper and be able to give some of the evidence for the premises. These are just the tip of an iceberg beneath the surface that take you into the most profound questions of philosophy. There's much, much more to be said in defense of the premises and in response to potential objections to the premises. I outline many of these in my book On Guard. On Guard is a kind of one-stop training manual for people to learn how to share the arguments, give the evidence for the premises, and respond to objections. But even if you can't do that, at least you can memorize the premises or just list the arguments. Honestly, I have found in talking with unbelievers that if they say, “There's no evidence for God's existence” – if you can say to them, “Gee, is that what you think? I can think of at least five arguments for God's existence.” They've got to respond, “Yeah, like what?” And then you just list the arguments: God is the best explanation for the beginning of the universe, God is the best explanation for the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life, God is the best explanation for objective moral values and duties in the world, God is the best explanation for the historical facts concerning the resurrection of Jesus, and God can be personally known and experienced. I have found that just being able to list the arguments is often enough to satisfy the unbeliever because he's never met a Christian who has good reasons for what he believes. So even if you don't know the arguments – if you can just list them – that will often be enough to satisfy the unbeliever.
INTERVIEWER: Talk about fine-tuning for a moment. You are pulling up some physics and astronomy and you're seeing there's a lot in the sciences that testify to the fine-tuning – the teleological argument. What can we know about this?
DR. CRAIG: This is the old argument from design to a designer of the universe. Unfortunately contemporary biology has been poisoned by the creation-evolution debates in our schools so that biologists tend to be very, very hostile to any sort of design argument. But, as you point out, physicists are much, much more open because they haven't been poisoned by these acrimonious debates going on about teaching evolution in the schools. So you can just do an end-run around the whole evolution debate by going back to the initial conditions of the universe. We turn out to have been fine-tuned for the existence of intelligent interactive life like us with a delicacy and complexity that literally defy human comprehension. Because these are initial conditions, they cannot be explained through any sort of evolution or prior conditioning. They're just there at the beginning. The question then is how do you best explain these? I think here the explanation that there is a transcendent designer of the universe who established these values in the universe so that it would be life-permitting is by far the better explanation.
INTERVIEWER: Now, as an apologist, you have answers. You have great arguments. But tell us a little bit about . . . one of the common critiques of Christianity is that, well, you think you have all the answers. But we know that's not true because there are still some personal questions that we have and we wrestle with. So tell us a little bit about how you wrestle through the tough questions that still come to your mind as you encounter them.
DR. CRAIG: I think you're raising here the question of handling doubt. Every thinking Christian is going to have unanswered questions. In this finite lifetime you'll never get all your questions answered. I think the key to victorious Christian living is learning how to prevent unanswered questions from turning into destructive doubts. I think that every one of us has a kind of question bag on the shelf that contains our unanswered questions. What I would encourage people to do is to take one of those questions out of the bag and go to work on it, and drive it into the ground until you come to intellectual satisfaction with respect to that. That can be, honestly, one of the most exhilarating experiences in the Christian life – one that I think too few Christians know or experience because they haven't engaged intellectually with their faith. Just to give an example or two. One of the unanswered questions I had was God's relationship to time. Typically people say that God is outside time. God is timeless. But then how do you make sense of the incarnation? How can God enter into time if he's timeless? This seems a contradiction. This was a question that I spent eleven years on. This was a major research topic for me – God's relationship to time. Six books flowed out of that research. And I came to intellectual satisfaction about understanding God and time. My view is that God is timeless without the universe but in time subsequent to the creation of the universe. Another question that was very, very difficult for me is God's relationship to what are called abstract objects. Philosophers distinguish concrete objects (things that we experience in the everyday world) from what they call abstract objects (these would be things like mathematical entities: numbers, sets, propositions, properties, things of this sort). These things are typically thought to exist uncaused and uncreated and eternally and necessarily. In that case this calls into question God's attribute of aseity – that God is the only self-existent being and the source of everything other than himself. For a long time, frankly, I just swept that question under the rug or put it in the question bag on the shelf. I did not have an answer to this question, and it bothered me because it strikes at the very heart of the doctrine of God – divine aseity and self-existent. Well, a number of years ago I finally decided to take that out of the question bag, and I spent thirteen years working on this as my major research interest and came finally to intellectual satisfaction about God's relationship to abstract objects that was so gratifying and so satisfying. The topic that currently engages me that I do not yet have an answer to that I'm struggling with right now is the question of the historical Adam. It seems to me that both the Old Testament and the New Testament commit us to the historicity of Adam and Eve as the sole progenitors of the entire human race that have lived on this planet. But this faces two significant problems. One is the challenge of paleoanthropology which seems to show that human beings originated 300,000 years or more ago which is incompatible with the relatively recent Adam that is described in the book of Genesis. The other is the challenge of population genetics which says that the genetic profile of the current population could not have derived from just two people. The population of humans in the past could never have gotten below around 10,000 people in order for the sort of genetic diversity that the present population exhibits to exist. These are two challenges to Christian faith, or at least the historicity of Adam and Eve, that I'm currently engaged in major work time.
INTERVIEWER: Good. That sounds encouraging to hear that those questions are still alive for you and that you are committed to intellectual honesty. I appreciate that. Now, in terms of the integration of faith and learning. Think back to your maybe high school days in Peoria. After all your career in this, what would you give as advice to a young William Lane Craig because we may have a few in the audience here. What kind of advice would you give him?
DR. CRAIG: Do you mean to a person who wants to go into this kind of ministry?
DR. CRAIG: I would say fundamentally you need to get a good grounding in logic. Logic is to the Christian apologist what Greek is to the New Testament scholar. It's just part of the nuts and bolts that you've got to learn. So you need to get a good dose of elementary logic and then modal logic – the logic of possibility and necessity. If you're well-trained in logic you're going to have the tools that you need to grapple with any kind of problems. Then whatever area of apologetics you go into I would encourage the student to get a good grounding in philosophy – in Western philosophy and particularly in what's called analytic philosophy. This is the philosophy that flows out of the Anglo-American tradition as opposed to the European continental tradition which tends to be characterized by murkiness and unclarity whereas analytic thinking prizes logical development of arguments, clear statement of premises, and careful conceptual analysis. Again, whatever field you go into, having that kind of training in analysis will be invaluable. Then I would say as you advance in your studies try to find an area of specialization. For example, will it be historical apologetics? Well, then you need to learn New Testament Greek and go into New Testament studies. Will it be philosophy? Well, then you will want to work harder on philosophy. Will it be psychology or sociology? Then you'll want to specialize in those areas as well. So lay a broad foundation in logical analysis and then pick an area where you can go deep and specialize and really make a contribution.
INTERVIEWER: We're down to just about five minutes or so. I'm gonna ask this question. I'm gonna turn it to you to let you kind of ask the closing question. Many people think that science and faith are not compatible. As I'm sitting here with you and listening and spent some time with you now, that is not at all your position. As a matter of fact, you push on that premise just over and over again.
DR. CRAIG: Yes.
INTERVIEWER: How do we better understand that there's not that incoherence that many people just assume?
DR. CRAIG: C. P. Snow remarked years ago that there are two cultures in the United States. He wasn't talking about the culture wars. What he meant was the humanities and the sciences, and these don't understand each other. People in the humanities, like myself, have very little understanding of physics and chemistry and biology. People in those hard sciences, frankly, don't have much appreciation for literature and philosophy and art and music. So there's this division. I think it's really important for a thinking Christian who wants to have a synoptic worldview to have some measure of understanding of modern science and mathematics so as to be able to have a Christian perspective on those things. So he needs to take in a little bit of introductory reading in quantum physics, relativity theory, biology, evolutionary biology, and so forth so that he'll at least understand what his scientific colleagues and friends are talking about in their world as well as perhaps his own world if he's in the humanities.
INTERVIEWER: Let me close with two questions. The first is – you're coming up on teaching a class this week at Houston Baptist University, and we have auditors and surveyors who are allowed to sit in on the class. If there's somebody here who has appreciated what you are talking about, tell them a little bit more about what they will learn from the Kalam cosmological argument which is the topic of your class this week.
DR. CRAIG: The class is on the Kalam cosmological argument – the first one that was mentioned – and it's a very simple argument. It goes like this:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
We’ll spend a lot of time looking at philosophical arguments against the infinitude of the past as well as scientific evidence for the beginning of time and space, which is surprisingly powerful. Then, having arrived at the conclusion, we will do a conceptual analysis of what it means to be a cause of the universe. I think we'll be able to recover a striking number of theological attributes of this cause. This cause must be uncaused, beginningless, timeless, spaceless, immaterial, enormously powerful, and personal, which is a very rich concept theologically that flow out of this one argument. If you do want to join us in the class as a surveyor, let me just warn you. This is a class for university students who are already trained in this area. So some of this is going to be over your head, but it's not beyond your reach. Over your head, but not beyond your reach. Each one of us can be stretched and come away with something from the class even if he doesn't understand everything that goes on in the course.
INTERVIEWER: Very good. This last question. You've encountered some of the harshest critics of Christianity, you've encountered atheists and their deepest questions about the faith. Having wrestled with these things, tell us why you're still a Christian.
DR. CRAIG: As I think about that, I'm reminded of an incident in the life of Jesus. When people began to desert him and turn away, and he turned to his twelve disciples and he said, What about you? Will you also leave me? Peter made a very wise response. He said, Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. I feel exactly the same way. When I think of the alternative, the darkness, the meaninglessness, the despair that naturalistic atheism represents, then I cling to Christ as I think the only hope for meaning, value, purpose in life, and for eternal life with God. This is not just pie-in-the-sky thinking. There are good reasons in support of the truth of this hope, but it is that hope I think that enables us to cling to Christ in the midst of trial, adversity, and questions.
INTERVIEWER: Tell us, if someone's here and they're ready to give their life to Christ, how do they do that?
DR. CRAIG: I think that first of all a person needs to understand his predicament. He needs to understand that as a non-believer he is alienated from God and from the life of God because of his moral wrongdoing that makes him guilty before God and therefore separated from God. He needs to understand that God sent Jesus into the world to pay the penalty for that moral wrongdoing, to satisfy God's justice, so that God's grace will be freed up to forgive our sins and to restore the relationship with God that we were meant to have. It's not enough just to believe these things intellectually, but we need to make a commitment of our hearts to him, to commit our lives in trust and obedience to Jesus Christ as our Savior, as the one who died to save us from our moral turpitude, and then as our Lord. I'm going to be his disciple and follow him for the rest of my life. When we make that heart commitment to him, the Bible says that the Spirit of God comes into us and it makes alive what was formerly dead. It calls this a spiritual rebirth. You are born again spiritually to new life into a relationship with God. So eternal life doesn't begin when you die. It begins right now when you are born again and come to know Christ. Someday you'll slough off this mortal coil, as Shakespeare called it, but you will live on in your spirit with God until that resurrection day when we'll be reunited with him in glory.
 Total Running Time: 27:11 (Copyright © 2020 William Lane Craig)