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The Reasonable Faith UK Tour

The One Minute Apologist with William Lane Craig

Time : 00:06:52

The One Minute Apologist, Bobby Conway interviews Dr. William Lane Craig about his tour in the UK in October 2011.

Transcript

Bobby Conway: Welcome to The One Minute Apologist. My name is Bobby Conway. I am here with Dr. William Lane Craig. Good to be with you, Dr. Craig.

Dr. Craig: Thanks, Bobby.

Bobby Conway: I know this was a much hyped-up trip that you’ve been on in the UK, going around debating and touring the area. Tell us a little bit about it.

Dr. Craig: Well, it was a fabulous 10 days, Bobby. Many of these events, like the debates with Peter Millican in the Great Hall at Birmingham University[1], or the debate with Stephen Law at Central Hall, Westminster in London[2], or the event at the Sheldonian Theatre—the so-called “empty chair” debate, reserved for Richard Dawkins.[3]

Bobby Conway: (laughs) Dawkins didn’t show up, huh?

Dr. Craig: He didn’t come, but these were honestly experiences of a lifetime, highlights of our ministry we’ll never forget. And they all were squeezed into this 10-day period of time. It was an adventure to be on this trip.

Bobby Conway: What do you think the highlights were of the trip for you?

Dr. Craig: Well, for example, this evening at the Sheldonian Theatre was really remarkable. This is a theatre that was designed by Christopher Wren in Oxford. It is absolutely gorgeous, and it’s a theatre in the round with high galleries reaching up to the third floor, and we were down on the main level. There was an empty table for Dawkins next to me, and then when he didn’t show up, they brought in three Oxford University panelists to respond to my talk on The God Delusion. And as I said, I almost wished Dawkins had shown up because now it’s three against one instead of one against one. But we had a great evening, and I think it so enhanced the credibility of Christianity in the eyes of people to see a Christian thinker being taken seriously by Oxford philosophers and interacting with respect and civility on these important questions of God’s existence. So, that was a fantastic evening.

Similarly, the debate at the University of Birmingham. They had rented this Great Hall, just a massive, awesome hall. It held around a thousand people, and I thought, “How will they ever fill this?” But as the debate approached and we sat on the stage, people were just streaming in, streaming down the central aisle, filling this auditorium until the whole thing was filled. And then Peter Millican from Oxford University and I had a very substantive debate on the issues. And again, just to see a Christian taken seriously by an Oxford don, prominent philosopher, treated with respect as a peer and an equal, I think just spoke volumes to both the Christians and the non-Christians in the audience. So, that was certainly a highlight as well.

One of the other highlights I’ve got to tell you about was the debate that took place at the Cambridge Union in Cambridge University.[4] This is the debating society of Cambridge University, the oldest in the world. For this debate, we debated in their chambers, which is set up rather like the House of Commons, with maroon leather benches on either side, facing each other, and then you stand down in the center to speak to this group. And then there are galleries all around the top, 360 degrees. This room, he told us, is rarely filled. They only get, usually, a couple hundred students come out. Not only was the whole auditorium and the galleries filled, they had two overflow rooms filled with students and even piped it into the student bar on closed-circuit television. Some 750 students watched this debate.

It was a parliamentary style debate, so that what happened was it was two-on-two on each side. Peter Williams was my partner; he gave our opening speech. Then there was an opening speech from Andrew Copson from the British Humanist Society, and then it was thrown open to the floor. In a parliamentary debate, anybody in the audience can get up and give a speech, and it was very evident from the speeches that were given from the floor and the applause that was given for the other side that this was an audience that was very stacked against us. This was a hostile crowd. So, the momentum we just felt shifting against us as these students all spoke out against God and belief in God, and the objections were uninformed and weak. But we had little chance to respond. And so finally, then, the closing statements were given. I was to give the closing statement for the House, and then Arif Ahmed, a Cambridge philosopher, was speaking for the opposition.

And so, in my closing speech, it was so exciting. I think this was the most fun as a public speaker I’ve ever had in my life. I just strode around the central well of this auditorium, walking right up to the opposition and speaking to them close, face to face, and then talking to the students, trying to explain to them the errors that the other side had made, why belief in God is not a delusion. And after the debate is over, the students would exit through three doorways: one voting with the House, one voting with the opposition, and one abstaining, so that by which door you exited, you registered your vote. So then I closed with a final appeal to students to go with the House and to vote “Aye” on the resolution, because to vote otherwise is to say that all of their believing friends are all deluded and irrational, and surely they’re not that judgmental. Well as it turned out, they then took a vote. And in the student bar afterwards, they announced the vote, and this girl came in ringing a bell loudly. And she said, “Hear ye, hear ye. We have a House divided.” And she announced the vote, and our side won by 14 votes over the opposition, so it was just a magical evening. I’ve never experienced anything like it in my life.

Bobby Conway: Well done, Dr. Craig. Thanks for going out and sharing and giving a great defense for the Christian faith. We appreciate you.

Dr. Craig: It’s a tremendous privilege and a great joy, Bobby.



[1] http://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/craig-vs-millican-university-of-birmingham (accessed August 1, 2013).

[2] http://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/craig-vs-law-westminster-hall-london (accessed August 1, 2013).

[3] http://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/is-god-a-delusion-sheldonian-theatre-oxford (accessed August 1, 2013).

[4] http://www.reasonablefaith.org/media/craig-williams-vs-ahmed-copson-cambridge (accessed August 1, 2013).