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What Do You Meme?

September 07, 2020


Dr. Craig is invited to respond to the most popular atheist slogans (or "memes") in circulation today.

KEVIN HARRIS: Welcome to Reasonable Faith with Dr. William Lane Craig. It’s Kevin. Well, we’ve all seen them. They’re everywhere. Memes. All over social media. There are a couple definitions of “meme” but the one I’m referring to is “a humorous or not-so-humorous image, video, or piece of text that is copied and spread rapidly by Internet users.” It is a slogan. A phrase. A digital bumper sticker if you will. For example, a popular atheist meme says, “If you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people.”

Today on this podcast Dr. Craig has been asked to respond to some of the most viral memes out there. He was interviewed by John McCray on the YouTube channel “Whaddo You Meme??[1] John does a great job. He’s a lot of fun, but he’s serious about Christian philosophy and apologetics.

Let me just say that there are so many young apologists that are doing great work on YouTube and other social medial today. I know I speak for Dr. Craig when I say how proud we are of so many followers of Jesus who engage the arguments and interact on social media. Most of them depend on Dr. Craig and Reasonable Faith among others for their training and material in order to be good ambassadors for Christ in today’s technology. As we’ll hear today, more and more of these influencers are inviting Dr. Craig on their shows and channels and podcasts. Just a quick reminder as we get going, please support Reasonable Faith with your prayers and financial gifts to keep the world’s greatest message going out with reason and grace.

Here’s Dr. Craig on Whaddo You Meme??

JOHN MCCRAY: Welcome to Whaddo You Meme?? I’m sitting here with Dr. William Lane Craig. Dr. William Lane Craig is one of the most popular, if not probably the most popular, Christian apologist in the world who also is a philosopher and theologian. Today we're going to be looking at some really popular anti-Christian memes online and getting Dr. Craig's response.

So let's go ahead and start with this first one. This one says, “Jesus: Santa Claus for grown-ups.”

DR. CRAIG: Well, obviously this person doesn't understand that there is positive historical evidence concerning the life and teachings of Jesus. But not only is there no evidence for Santa Claus but we have very, very powerful evidence against him. So they're not really comparable at all.

JOHN MCCRAY: This one here says, “Only lies need multiple versions.”

DR. CRAIG: Oh my. Yeah, and then it has a picture of different translations of the Bible. And that's just silly. There are multiple translations of Aristotle, of Plato, and of other great works of literature. So the availability of multiple translations actually helps us in getting at the nuances and the meaning of the original text in another language like Greek or Hebrew rather than being reliant upon simply one translation. So multiple translations is a positive feature of the Bible.

JOHN MCCRAY: This one here says, “OK. Why is Satan evil if he punishes the evil?”

DR. CRAIG: I wasn't aware . . . oh, I know what he's thinking of. He's thinking of these popular cartoons where God sends you to hell and puts you in Satan's clutches and then Satan is like the jail master who carries out his punishment. Well, that's just a misconception of popular culture. Satan doesn't punish the wicked. In fact, Satan will himself be punished by God for his rebellion and sin.

JOHN MCCRAY: This one here says, “You don't become an atheist. You go back to being one.” And it has a picture of a baby.

DR. CRAIG: Ah. This is based upon the redefinition of the word “atheist” to mean a-theist or non-theist. This is actually a weakness of that position; namely, that babies count as a-theists because they lack a belief in God. But that still leaves the question open whether or not God exists. And being an a-theist like babies doesn't provide any reason at all to think that God does not exist.

JOHN MCCRAY: All right. This one here says, “You don't need a religion to have morals. If you can't determine right from wrong then you lack empathy, not religion.”

DR. CRAIG: David Wood might be a good one to respond to this. Lacking empathy is not equivalent to right and wrong. The question is: Can you have objective moral duties and values apart from them being supernaturally grounded in God? Whereas empathy is merely a psychological attribute that some people like psychopaths do not have. It has nothing to do with the objectivity of moral values and duties. So having empathy is not going to get you very far in determining right from wrong.

JOHN MCCRAY: This one here says, “Religion is rather silly. Only the unintelligent and weak-minded need an imaginary friend in their lives.”

DR. CRAIG: Gosh. Now, this just shows how ignorant this person is. Not only are some of the greatest intellectuals in the history of mankind theists (such as Augustine, Aquinas, Leibniz, Newton, and so forth), but many of the greatest contemporary philosophers and biblical scholars and scientists are outspoken Christians and theists. He just is uninformed.

KEVIN HARRIS: So this meme doesn't kind of make you regret being a professional philosopher or an academic?

DR. CRAIG: Not at all! I'm just appalled at the ignorance that this kind of meme would represent of the many great Christian intellectuals down through history and in our own day and age. How can they be so overlooked by someone like this? He must have an inadequate high school education.

JOHN MCCRAY: “You lived a good, compassionate life, but you ate bacon so the hell that you are going to is that way.”

DR. CRAIG: I guess this is a kind of anti-Semitic or maybe anti-Muslim rant against Old Testament regulations about eating pork. It seems to me that it's entirely within God's prerogative to set up even arbitrary rules for how he wants people to live. If God wanted to prohibit the eating of beans, I can't see that that wouldn't be his prerogative. It would be his right to say, “Thou shalt not eat beans.” And for a time – a temporary time – he gave an order to his people (the Jews) not to eat pork. It seems to me that was entirely within his prerogative and discretion. That didn't mean the people who ate pork went to hell. In fact, in the Old Testament when these regulations were promulgated I doubt they even had a doctrine of hell at that time. But there was plenty of provision for the forgiveness of sins in ancient Judaism. God had given to the people a system of Levitical sacrifice. Everyone knew you never managed to fulfill the law completely to the letter, and so there was available forgiveness and cleansing from sin through the Levitical sacrifices that God had given to the people.

JOHN MCCRAY: And, on the contrary, people wouldn't go to heaven just because they were compassionate, right?

DR. CRAIG: Well, yes. Which is sort of the hidden text here, isn't it? That you're saved by your good works.

JOHN MCCRAY: “Christians be like, ‘Look at all this evidence I have that God is real’” and this guy's just squinting at a piece of paper.

DR. CRAIG: He's obviously unfamiliar with the evidence or he wouldn't have to squint. He needs to open his eyes and look up and he will see the evidence is staring him in the face.

JOHN MCCRAY: “Prove to you that God doesn't exist? Prove to me the invisible pink unicorn doesn't exist and I'll use your method.”

DR. CRAIG: The question that's raised here is: What is the difference between these two cases? I think there's very powerful evidence that God does exist. So if the atheist asserts God doesn't exist, he needs not only to refute that evidence but to give me some positive justification for why he thinks God does not exist. This is a credible hypothesis. With regard to invisible pink unicorns, there's absolutely no evidence that such a thing exists. Moreover, I think in a sense we have good evidence that it doesn't exist; namely, this is something that this meme just invented – he made it up. And as a pure product of his imagination, I have grounds for thinking there are no such things. But it seems to me that therefore the difference between God and invisible pink unicorns is quite pronounced and would require you to have substantial evidence against God's existence whereas you wouldn't need substantial evidence against the existence of invisible pink unicorns. It's enough to say this is just something that is make-believe.

JOHN MCCRAY: “If you can reason with religious people, there would be no religious people.” What do you say?

DR. CRAIG: Well, I guess I would invite this person to reason with me. The Bible says, “Come let us reason together.” So if this is an invitation to engage in reasonable dialogue, I am all for it and ready to engage if he is.

JOHN MCCRAY: Absolutely. Well, thank you, Dr. Craig, for your time evaluating these memes, and I appreciate it. Oh, yeah, actually, before we go. The next time that an atheist says, “If you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people,” what are you going to say?

DR. CRAIG: Whaddo you meme??!![2]


[2]            Total Running Time: 11:27 (Copyright © 2020 William Lane Craig)