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Questions on the Trinity, Neanderthals, and Gravity

March 15, 2021


Listeners have questions on the nature of the Trinity, Neanderthals and genetics, and the complexities of gravity.

KEVIN HARRIS: Dr. Craig, lots of good questions from Trey in the United States. It is about the Trinity.

Dr. Craig, thank you for your work. After reviewing your Trinity monotheism it seems to me that your view is that the Trinity (the collection of the three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is the only true God. Therefore it is not true of any person of the Trinity (Father, Son, or Holy Spirit) that he is a god. But this conclusion seems incompatible with the New Testament data. Jesus referred to his Father as the only true God (John 17:3). Furthermore he later said that his God is our God, too, in John 20. First, it seems to me that for these statements to be true: (1) that the Father is the only true God, and (2) Jesus’ God is our God, then it must be true of the person referenced (the Father) that he is a god. Second, it seems to literally follow from your view that the Trinity (the only true God on your view) is some other God than Jesus’ God or our God. How would you respond to this?

DR. CRAIG: What I would say to Trey is that his inference is [incorrect] that it must be true of the person referenced (the Father) that he is a God. That is not an inference that John draws from these verses – John 17:3 and John 20:17 – because John clearly regards Jesus as God, as fully divine as God the Father. The prologue of the Gospel of John begins with the words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made through him and without him was not anything made.” And then he goes on to say, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.” He says, “We have beheld his glory. Glory is of the only begotten from the Father.” And then he says, “No man has ever seen God, but the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father. He has made him known.” There John uses this remarkable statement – “the only begotten God” – to refer to the Word, the Son. And then the climax of the Gospel of John comes in the 20th chapter with the appearance of the risen Jesus to doubting Thomas. Thomas falls to his knees, and what does he say? He says, “My Lord, and my God.” In the Greek literally, “The Lord of me, and the God of me.” So John himself does not draw the inference that Trey does, that God the Father alone is a God. Rather he would say that the Father is God, that Jesus is God, and I think John would say that the Holy Spirit is God as well so that God is three-in-one. There is only one God, but all three of these persons are divine.

KEVIN HARRIS: OK. Next question.

Hello, Dr. Craig. Thank you so much for your amazing work. It is a true blessing. I am a young teenager, and I have been absolutely fascinated by this question about the historical Adam. I understand that you have been researching this, and my question concerns how you respond to critiques of your view which is somewhat like common descent – correct me if I'm wrong – from people like Fuz Rana. Doesn't anthropology help to show that hominids like Neanderthals and heidelbergensis are distinct from today's modern humans being that they display differences in genome, anatomical structure, and behavior?

You want to stop there?

DR. CRAIG: Yeah, that’s a good place to stop.

KEVIN HARRIS: But you mentioned Neanderthals and heidelbergensis in your book that's coming out in September.

DR. CRAIG: Yes. Exactly. I would say that my book is not about common descent as that is normally understood. Rather, it is about: Who is the earliest human being? And what I want to say is that we have very good reason for thinking that Neanderthals and Denisovans and Homo sapiens alike are all human beings and therefore are all descended from Adam. Heidelberg man (or Homo heidelbergensis in the Latin) was the last common ancestor of these human species. I think that Adam can be identified as a member of Homo heidelbergensis. He asks, “But don't they differ from modern humans in genome, anatomical structure, and behavior?” No. Only trivially. Paleoanthropologists have now succeeded in sequencing the Neanderthal genome, and it is remarkably like ours. It is largely the same. In fact there are certain what are called human-specific mutations (that is to say, they are only found in human beings) which Neanderthals share with Homo sapiens showing that these mutations occurred earlier in the last common ancestor to Neanderthals and Homo sapiens. So genetically they are very much like us, and we in fact carry Neanderthal genes in our genome because of interbreeding. Anatomically, he asked, how are they related? Well, Neanderthals had a more robust skeletal structure, a wider pelvis. They had a flatter skull. They had brow ridges whereas most modern humans don't. But these are trivial differences in anatomy. Basically they had a skeletal structure just like ours, and some of the differences between them and us were probably due to the climate of the Ice Age during which they lived. These people had to adapt to brutally cold temperatures, and some of their structural differences were probably adaptations to an Ice Age climate. Behaviorally, this is what's most astounding, is that it has been shown by archaeologists that Neanderthals were behaviorally modern. They were engaged in cave painting which means that they had symbolic abstract thinking. They had spears and engaged in big game hunting which requires cooperation and planning and probably language. There's a remarkable finding in a cave in France called Bruniquel Cave in which there is a construction that was built by Neanderthals that is unprecedented. It's 176,000 years old, and it consists of thousands of pieces of stalagmites that have been cut to specific lengths and then stacked and arranged in rings on the floor of this cave at a depth of about 330 meters into the interior of this cave. That means that this was built in absolute darkness – pitch blackness – and these people had to go in there with torches to provide lighting for the construction of these strange rings. And nobody knows what the purpose of these constructions were. But, again, it shows abstract thought and planning and cooperation in the building of these strange structures. Finally, very recently – just last year – scientists discovered a piece of string manufactured by Neanderthals that is constructed of fibers extracted from the bark of a conifer tree. It is a three-ply string in which the fibers were first twisted clockwise and then the three strands were twisted counterclockwise to make this three-fold cord. The archaeologists who discovered this said this implies a mathematical reasoning ability in these people that is comparable to the intelligence required for human language. So the fact of the matter is these folks were behaviorally modern human beings. They were not just anatomically and genetically similar; they were behaviorally modern as well and therefore fully human.

KEVIN HARRIS: Even though you're not specifically addressing common descent like he's asking, he does ask you about the lack of transitional fossils in the fossil record.

DR. CRAIG: And there is no lack in that respect with regard to archaic human beings. He's talking about lack of transitional fossils, say, between birds and reptiles or something of that sort. And that's not part of my book. I'm not claiming that human beings are evolved from primates. That's not part of the book. What I'm talking about is human evolution; that is to say, the evolution of different kinds of human beings from the earliest human being. And this is abundantly attested by fossil evidence of ancient men.


I also wonder how from Scripture we can find that there might be a population outside of Eden and Adam and Eve. Does it not also affect how we take certain theological views of Genesis such as the Fall?

DR. CRAIG: I don't think there is any biblical basis for saying there were populations outside of Eden or people not descended from Adam and Eve. He's confusing my view with a view that has been expounded by people like John Stott, N. T. Wright, and more recently Joshua Swamidass which says that Adam and Eve are the progenitors of only a portion of humanity, and that outside the Garden there was a population of thousands of people with whom Adam and Eve's descendants interbred after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden. I disagree fairly vociferously with that proposal. I think that Adam and Eve are the ancestors of every single human being who has ever lived on this planet, and that therefore there were no people outside the Garden.

KEVIN HARRIS: OK. What do people bring up? That Cain – he went to the land of Nod and there were people there.

DR. CRAIG: Well, it doesn't say that. What it does say is he took a wife, and that is the single shred of evidence to which these folks can appeal for people outside the Garden – where did Cain's wife come from? Those who believe in Adam and Eve as universal ancestors of mankind will usually say he married one of his sisters.

KEVIN HARRIS: OK. Question 10 – the next one.

Dear Dr. Craig, I know that you are a relationist with respect to time and that you don't consider gravity a curvature of space.

Is he right?

DR. CRAIG: Yes, he's correct.


I also know that much of your argumentation depends on the truth of general relativity and that its application leads us to imagine space itself as a kind of substance that can be measured and changed. However, in your 1986 article, “God, Creation and Mr. Davies”[1] you claimed to be a relationist about space. So my questions are: Do you still hold that opinion even in the face of the advancement of modern cosmology? And what are the consequences for kalam (if any) of interpreting space as a substance?

This is a question from Brazil.

DR. CRAIG: Yes. Talk about a change of pace from the previous question about Adam and Eve! I'm still inclined to think that space is a relational entity, but I am open to the idea that it is a substance – a substance created by God and expanding over time. I don't think it has any significance for the kalam cosmological argument. Now, what would be significant would be if you think that space-time is a substance; that is to say, that space and time are united in a four-dimensional geometrical entity such that there is no temporal becoming – that events in our future are just as real and existent as events in the present and events in the past. Fortunately, though, general relativity doesn't require that. General relativity can be interpreted in terms of a four-dimensional space-time, and it's usually presented that way in the physics textbooks, because of the simplicity and elegance of this sort of four-dimensionalist geometrical presentation. But you don't have to treat gravity as a curvature of space-time. Instead, you can treat gravity as a force just like one of the other forces of nature (electromagnetism, the strong force, and the weak force) and you don't have to treat gravitation in terms of a curvature. Either alternative is open to the physicist, and the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg has said that the geometrical understanding of gravitation has actually been an impediment to science because it has hindered the search for a unified theory of physics which would unite the four forces of nature (gravity, the strong force, the weak force, and electromagnetism) into a single force carried by a single particle. This is the Holy Grail of physics to find such a unified theory, and Weinberg says that the search for a unified theory is actually being impaired due to this geometrical interpretation of gravitation because it doesn't view it as a force. So either one is available and is consistent with general relativity, and there are even advantages to thinking of gravitation in terms of a force rather than geometrical curvature.[2]


[1]William Lane Craig, “God, Creation and Mr. Davies”, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Vol. 37, No. 2 (June 1986), pp. 163-175. See (accessed March 15, 2021).

[2]Total Running Time: 17:57 (Copyright © 2021 William Lane Craig)