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Recent and Upcoming Reasonable Faith Events

July 27, 2020

Summary

Dr. Craig has debated and been interviewed on multiple social media platforms. He also has two new books!

KEVIN HARRIS: Dr. Craig, you’ve been busy as usual despite these unusual times. You’ve managed to get yourself out there without actually getting into space, in a sense. People ask me all the time, “Kevin, what do you think Dr. Craig thinks about all this stuff – the pandemic, the riots, and all this stuff?” I don’t want to speak for him, but after having worked with him for several years, I think I know what he would say. He would say, “Hang in there. God’s got things under control. We need to rely on him.” Am I right about that?

DR. CRAIG: Yes, certainly. I do think, too, that the current unrest underlines the importance of the ethics of Jesus in terms of how we treat others. That we treat others with respect. We adopt an attitude of non-retaliation for personal offense, of submission to governmental authority, and love of one's enemies. So I think, as never before, we need the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount to guide us during these very troubled times in American society.

KEVIN HARRIS: In the meantime, what have you had going on behind the scenes? I guess we could start with the publication of a new book.

DR. CRAIG: Yes, that's right. It's funny, given my sort of academic work in my home office from which we're broadcasting today, Jan teases me that I don't even know that I'm being sequestered because I am just pursuing my projects as normal. She ventures out to the grocery store now and again, but I pretty much stay in my study and research and write. As a result, it's been extremely productive. The most recent book that's come to publication is this one. This stunning cover by Salvador Dali – a painting of the crucifixion of Jesus from an overhead view – is really a beautiful cover.[1] This is a book which examines the doctrine of the atonement biblically, historically, and philosophically. I think in some ways this may well be the most important book theologically that I've ever written because the atonement is right at the heart of Christianity and this offers a robust defense of the classic Reformation doctrine of substitutionary atonement.

KEVIN HARRIS: The fact that you also kind of tied some philosophical strings together for the atonement as well because doctrinally there's a lot of work been done on the atonement but to also bring about some of the philosophical considerations of the atonement I think is what makes this book stand apart.

DR. CRAIG: That's what motivated me, honestly, to do the book. For years I have longed for some Christian philosopher to step up to the plate and give a robust defense of a Reformation theory of the atonement, and nobody would do it. The current theories of the atonement on offer by most Christian philosophers are unbiblical and therefore inadequate. I finally realized that I was just going to have to do this myself. The rewards of this study were enormously rich in terms of the insights that it provided into this vital central doctrine of our faith.

KEVIN HARRIS: What about the book on Adam and Eve? How are we progressing on that?

DR. CRAIG: That's done. I delivered it on July 15th to Eerdmans Publishing Company in Grand Rapids, and they are already at work on it. It will be entitled In Quest of the Historical Adam. The title piggybacks on Albert Schweitzer's famous book, The Quest of the Historical Jesus. I'm proposing a similar quest but of the historical Adam. The book will begin its editorial production on July 30th. That's when the committee will set a production schedule as to when each of the successive stages needs to be completed with a final date for publication. I'm eagerly awaiting that news.

KEVIN HARRIS: I'm anxious to get to all these interviews that you've been doing in social media, but I want to mention as well that you started work on a philosophical systematic theology.

DR. CRAIG: Yeah. That is a project that Jan has been encouraging me to do for years. She has wanted me to summarize my life's work in the form of a systematic theology, and many people who have followed our Defenders lectures have similarly encouraged me. So I decided a few years ago that this is a project that I would take up and now with the Adam book safe at the publishing house I have started my work on a systematic philosophical theology. Now, for our viewers who aren't familiar with what this is, let me say a bit about it. A systematic theology is a discussion of God and all other things in relationship to God. So, for example, if you talk about man, you will look at him from a theological perspective, not from a secular perspective that you would find in secular anthropology or sociology. It's a discussion of the being and nature of God and everything else in relation to God. What makes it systematic is four properties, I think. First, it will be organized or structured usually along the lines of certain major themes like doctrine of God, doctrine of creation, doctrine of Christ, and so forth. Secondly, it will draw upon authoritative Scripture as well as all other relevant sources of knowledge. Thirdly, it will aim at completeness. It will try to sketch the broad outlines, at least, of a Christian worldview. And then, fourthly, it will offer and defend (so far as one is capable) a logically coherent formulation of its worldview. So that's what goes into making this theology systematic. It's organized along certain themes. It draws upon authoritative Scripture as well as other relevant sources of knowledge. It aims at completeness of a worldview. And then finally it offers and defends a logically coherent formulation of its worldview. I believe that vital to the project of writing a systematic theology is the use of philosophy. In every area it treats, systematic theology raises profound philosophical questions about the nature of God, the nature of the soul, the foundation of moral values, the end of the world, and so forth. So these philosophical issues need to be addressed, and your average systematic theologian isn't trained to address these sorts of questions. In contemporary systematic theology, these kinds of philosophical issues simply are not addressed well, and so one of the emphases of my treatment will be not to write simply a systematic theology but a systematic philosophical theology in which these profound philosophical questions will take center stage. That's the project. It's going to take several years to complete, but I've already begun and, in fact, I've actually written the first draft of my introduction to this systematic philosophical theology.

KEVIN HARRIS: Well, it's going to be a big book, and so you're off and running on that.

DR. CRAIG: Yes, I am.

KEVIN HARRIS: I think you've been having a great time with all these interviews and doing all these Skype calls and appearing.You're all over YouTube, all over Facebook, social media with some of the people who have been interviewing you lately.

DR. CRAIG: Yes.

KEVIN HARRIS: Apparently scheduled more than usual. Talk about some of that.

DR. CRAIG: Yes. Well, having had to cancel my personal speaking engagements, I have been taking these social media events right and left, and the irony is as a result we've been able to touch thousands and thousands of more lives than through my personal travel and speaking would have done. So it's been extremely fruitful in terms of the outreach of the ministry.

KEVIN HARRIS: Outstanding. Now, a couple of those involve some dialogues that really have people talking, and those would be the Graham Oppy dialogue[2] and the Alex Malpass dialogues[3].

DR. CRAIG: Right. This is the social media equivalent of a university debate that I would normally do in person. On Cameron Bertuzzi's very fine podcast Capturing Christianity I dialogue with Alex Malpass, a secular philosopher, on his objections to the Kalam cosmological argument. Then, with Graham Oppy, since he and I had been around the horn so many times already in print on the Kalam argument we decided to take a fresh topic, and so we chose the question of the applicability of mathematics to the physical world. I've just completed an article on Eugene Wigner's famous essay, The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Physical Sciences, and since Graham is a philosopher of mathematics it seemed a wonderful opportunity to see how this argument for the existence of God on the basis of the applicability of mathematics in physics would hold up under criticism. So we had a really nice dialogue on Wigner's argument and its implications for God's existence.

KEVIN HARRIS: What does Graham Oppy think of Wigner's work? I mean, does he agree with the conclusions that you drew from it? Obviously not completely.

DR. CRAIG: No. That's right. He wants to say that the applicability of mathematics in the physical sciences is not unexpected as Wigner claimed. Wigner says that the applicability of mathematics to the physical phenomena is in his words “a miracle” which we neither understand nor deserve. Oppy says, no, it's not really unexpected. Why? Because he thinks the mathematical laws of nature are logically necessary. There is no other possible world described by a different set of mathematical natural laws. So he takes a very radical line here. I don't know any physicist who would think that the laws of nature are logically necessary and that there are no other possible worlds described by different mathematical laws. It seems very obvious that we could have lived in a universe characterized by Newtonian physics, for example, instead of relativistic physics. But Graham's position is that these laws of nature are mathematically necessary and therefore the applicability of mathematics to the physical phenomena is to be expected.

KEVIN HARRIS: It's a rich dialogue, and I encourage people to go through it several times. It’ll serve as an introductory as well to the topic.

DR. CRAIG: Yes. Let me say one other thing for viewers who are interested in this. I think Cameron was a bit frustrated by the depth of the dialogue. It wasn't easy for lay people to understand. So he has since then had on another person, David Hutchings from the U.K., who is a wonderful popularizer of modern science.[4] Hutchings has developed what one might call a grade school version of Wigner's argument. He's run it past me, and I was so impressed at how accessible and simple David was able to make these arguments. So if people would like to watch that first, they might find that a great introduction then to the more in-depth dialogue with Professor Oppy.

KEVIN HARRIS: Alex Malpass. Let's talk about that.

DR. CRAIG: Yes. He contacted me via Facebook and said that he'd been collaborating with Wes Morriston whom I've debated in the past and exchanged discussions in philosophical journals with. He wanted to do a dialogue on their objections to the Kalam cosmological argument. This seemed to me to be a good idea, and so we had a dialogue on whether or not anyone who claims that the past cannot be an actually infinite regress of events must also be committed to the position that the future cannot be an endless infinite progress, I should say, of events. I argued that it's quite possible to say that you cannot have an actually infinite regress of events but that you can have a potentially infinite progress of events. Alex disagrees with that. I think that he commits a couple of logical fallacies in his objection to my view. This was all discussed in our dialogue.

KEVIN HARRIS: We're going to do a podcast on the exchange that you had with Alex O'Connor, Cosmic Skeptic,[5] so we'll put that off because we want to talk about that some more.

DR. CRAIG: Sure.

KEVIN HARRIS: But in the meantime there have been several others that you've done. You did a Peaceful Science podcast with Joshua Swamidass as well.

DR. CRAIG: Yeah, that has aroused some interest, too. There's an atheist podcaster who I think misunderstood me and justifiably so since the remarks were taken out of context. What I was trying to explain was why the question of the historicity of Adam is theologically significant, and my answer was that Jesus himself, our Lord, seemed to believe in the historical Adam. So if you deny that there was a historical Adam you have to say that Jesus held false beliefs, and that would be incompatible with his deity because as a divine person he is omniscient and therefore could not hold false beliefs. What this atheist podcaster thought was that I was saying that if you don't believe in the historical Adam you have to give up belief in the deity of Christ which would seem extraordinary. What he didn't understand is that in my book on the historical Adam I go on to answer that objection to the deity of Christ and to show how in fact the deity of Christ doesn't stand or fall on the existence of the historical Adam and that it's quite possible and even plausible to believe in the divinity of Jesus even if there was no historical Adam. Now, of course, I go on in the book to say that all this is rather academic because I do believe in the historical Adam and I defend his existence and the possibility of his existence scientifically. But my point is we shouldn't think that if there was no historical Adam that the Christian faith goes down the drain and that you have to deny the deity of Christ. That's not at all what I think.

KEVIN HARRIS: The host of the podcast – he commended you for being honest and transparent in that this has been a difficult subject matter for you and that, “Wow! William Lane Craig struggles too with some of these issues!

DR. CRAIG: I did appreciate his commending me for my honesty because I think what it showed was that my conclusions were not all just made up in advance and that this was a genuine struggle to wrestle with the evidence objectively and to come to some conclusions as a result. It wasn't all decided in advance. This was a genuine wrestling with the issues.

KEVIN HARRIS: We've got a new animated video. We want to encourage people to watch that. These are fantastic. The Zangmeister is at it again with this one. Tell us about the newest animated video.

DR. CRAIG: The newest animated video is on Eugene Wigner's argument from the applicability of mathematics.[6] I think the title of the video is just called “God and Mathematics” to keep it simple, but what it's really about is about Wigner's argument that the applicability of mathematics to the physical world is utterly unexpected and surprising and cries out for some sort of explanation. I argue in the video that the best explanation is that there is a mathematical mind who has designed the universe on the mathematical blueprint that he had in mind, and therefore Wigner was literally correct when he said that the applicability of mathematics is a miracle. It is something that is wrought by God in creating this universe.

KEVIN HARRIS: Let's talk about some of the upcoming events that you have scheduled. You've got Defenders going on right now – going through the doctrine of man.

DR. CRAIG: Right. We will finish out the doctrine of man next week. Then we are going to pick up on the doctrine of salvation and continue the podcast from my home office. Our church, given the pandemic, is not opening up to classes yet. So we are going to continue doing it from the home office. I actually think these videos that we’ve been broadcasting are better than the videos that are recorded in the classroom setting. The only disadvantage is that we don’t get the class discussion in these home podcasts.

KEVIN HARRIS: Any other scheduled social media?

DR. CRAIG: I have a number of interviews coming up. Then also Aaron Patterson is going to be coming to town. The church is going to allow us to film a couple of short cinematic features on subjects like the freedom of the will and the cosmological argument. His little movie on the meaning of life has been one of the most watched of our videos posted on YouTube.[7] So we want to continue to work with Aaron in developing yet another medium for getting the word out, and that will be these short films.

KEVIN HARRIS: Bill, we have some great podcast topics that are coming up. We just want to urge people to keep coming back because it’s really going to get good. We’ll be talking to you soon.

DR. CRAIG: OK! Thanks, Kevin![8]

 

[8] Total Running Time: 23:29 (Copyright © 2020 William Lane Craig)