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#655 It’s Hard to Believe

November 03, 2019

Hello Dr.Craig

I just finished reading question 647, and I do have to say as an atheist/agnostic I must admit you dismantled the argument proposed in that writers question thoroughly and rather beautifully. This is a argument I pondered myself and thought to be rather solid. So I tip my hat to you that has given me much respect for you. However at the end of your letter you mention that the writer must not be well read in the historical case for Jesus to be shaken so easily.

I disagree, I think that the natural position based off of ones experiences is to not so easily accept miracles and talk of things that as I see are equal to fables. I think that the world conducts itself it a completely naturalistic way so why should we so easily accept arguments that appear "rational". When these very arguments conflict with my experience of life does that not then make them irrational? I am not a philosopher or even well read. I usually just come to your website when a curious thought comes to mind. However, despite how logical you seem to me. I do not feel like that gives me grounds to believe in something that would contradict my very experience and everyday life. Im willing to be convinced but this lies at the very core of my unwillingness to venture into christianity. What do you say?


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Dr. craig’s response


Thanks for sharing your honest reactions to my answer, Jacob!  I think, however, that you and the author of QoW #647 are in very different situations.

In QoW #647 Parker introduces himself as “a Christian and a fan of you and your work on the Resurrection of Jesus.” Parker has thus already abandoned the “naturalistic” view of the world that you hold to and “venture[ed] into Christianity.” He has a personal relationship with God and has been spiritually born anew by God’s Spirit. He is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who bears witness with his spirit that he is a child of God (Romans 8.16). Not only that, but he claims to be a fan of my work on the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection. If so, he should be familiar with the multiple lines of historical evidence in support of the discovery of Jesus’ empty tomb by his female disciples, of the post-mortem appearances of Jesus witnessed by various individuals and groups, and of the first disciples’ sudden and sincere belief in Jesus’ resurrection despite every predisposition to the contrary. He should know that the wide majority of historical Jesus scholars are convinced of these facts on the basis of such evidence. Moreover, he should be aware that naturalistic explanations of these facts have been resoundingly rejected by modern scholarship.

Given all this, I was bewildered that Parker should report that the objection to belief in Jesus’ resurrection that he had heard had “severely challenged my faith in Christianity.” Parker was not just sharing an interesting conundrum he had heard and wondering how best to answer it. Rather his Christian commitment was in trouble. So I thought he deserved a little “tough love.” Even if he didn’t know how to answer the objection, his familiarity with the positive evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, not to mention the testimony of the Holy Spirit, should have given him confidence that there is a good answer to the objection, even if it wasn’t clear at the time to him.

But, as I say, you’re not in Parker’s situation. You are apparently a naturalist and don’t believe that God acts miraculously in the world. You apparently do not even believe that God exists. You certainly don’t believe that God raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead. You don’t claim to be a student of the arguments and evidence. Rather you just “just come to your website when a curious thought comes to mind.”

Therefore, I would never chastise you, however gently, as I did Parker. Parker should have known better, but you, Jacob, can’t be expected to believe as a Christian does. Rather you need to question whether you actually have good reasons for your naturalism. Granted, you may not have experienced miracles yourself, but your lack of such experiences counts against Christian belief only if the truth of Christianity makes it probable that you should experience such miracles. There’s no reason at all for such an assumption. The miracles performed by Jesus, culminating in his resurrection, were signs of the inbreaking of God’s Kingdom into human history in his person. They were God’s ratification of who he was (Messiah, Son of God, Son of Man) and what he taught. Thus, the truth of Christianity does not in any way “contradict my very experience and everyday life.”

On the other hand, there are very powerful reasons for thinking that the natural world is not all there is: the contingency of the world, the temporal beginning of the universe, the fine-tuning of the universe for intelligent life, the applicability of mathematics to the physical world, the objectivity of moral values and duties in the world, and so on. I invite you to take a look at the animated videos posted on the homepage of our website. If a transcendent Creator and Designer of the cosmos exists, then, as the atheist philosopher Peter Slezak so nicely put it, “the odd resurrection becomes child’s play.”

So I’d encourage you, Jacob, to lift up your eyes and look beyond the horizon of your world and ask yourself, “Could it be that there really exists a God Who created the world and Who has revealed Himself in Jesus? Could there be more to reality than I’ve ever dreamt or experienced?”

- William Lane Craig