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#337 Dealing with the World’s Disdain

September 30, 2013

Hello, Dr. Craig, the first time I heard about you was in my introductory class to philosophy. The entirety of your cosmological argument surprised me because it took less than a page! Your argument was the shortest and most despised argument in our class. My philosophy professor briefly discussed it and from that point on I was hooked on the arguments for the existence of God.

Anyway, I have been reading books by atheist philosophers, talked to atheist philosophy professors, and atheist friends. In the books and conversations I have found that you are probably the most hated Christian philosopher on Earth! No Joke!

Whenever I mention you name! I see faces of disdain and extreme hatred. Being that I have experienced this in my life...... I wanted to ask how you deal with the thought that many think of you as an imbecile philosopher and a fool for believing in Christ?

Here are some personal questions:

Who are your favorite atheist philosophers?
What do you think about the thought that atheists and Christians cannot be friends?
Who are your favorite Christian philosophers, theologians and historians?
How many languages do you speak?


A Philosophy Major

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Dr. craig’s response


Wow, “the most hated Christian philosopher on Earth!” That’s quite a label! I think that the next time I have a speaking engagement, I’ll ask to be introduced by that title!

I love it that your professor’s attack upon the arguments of natural theology only served to heighten your interest in them! Way to go! Be an independent and courageous thinker!

I’d be more worried about people’s disdain if it were based on some good objections to the arguments. But I repeatedly find that they’re not, and the objections that pass muster in the Philosophy 101 class are typically easy to answer.

Given the disdain you encounter, however, I’d encourage you simply to refrain from mentioning my name but just to discuss the arguments themselves. These arguments are not at all original to me but are defended by very prominent thinkers both traditionally and on the contemporary scene. For example, various versions of the contingency argument are today defended by Alexander Pruss, Timothy O’Connor, Stephen Davis, Robert Koons, Richard Swinburne, and others. The argument from fine-tuning is ably defended by Robin Collins, John Leslie, Paul Davies, George Ellis, Michael Denton, and others. The key premises in the moral argument have been defended by ethicists like Robert Adams, William Alston, William Wainwright, Phillip Quinn, John Hare, Stephen Evans, and others. The ontological argument has been re-formulated and defended by Alvin Plantinga, Robert Maydole, Brian Leftow, and others. If your professors are not interacting with the work of these men and think that only incompetents defend these arguments today, that is just a manifestation of their unfamiliarity with the literature.

To answer your question directly, however, I always tell my students at Talbot that until you’re ready to be thought a fool for Christ’s sake, you’re not really ready to be used of God. Paul was confronted with the ridicule of the philosophers he met in Athens (Acts 17), but that did not deter him. We should do well to follow his example.

Jesus assured his followers, “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account” (Matt. 5.12). I am confident that those who revile me do so falsely, if for no other reason than that imbeciles do not publish in The Journal of Philosophy. So I rejoice in being blessed by God.

Who are your favorite atheist philosophers?
I prefer to list non-theist philosophers, since these are not really atheist: Graham Oppy (who is scary smart), J. Howard Sobel, and Quentin Smith.

What do you think about the thought that atheists and Christians cannot be friends?
While such persons would have at the deepest level a lack of commonality, making it impossible to share fully one’s most meaningful experiences, still that’s no barrier to their being good friends, as we’d normally use those words. Even among those who do share our deepest commitments, I’d say truly deep friendship is rare.

Who are your favorite Christian philosophers, theologians, and historians?
Among philosophers Alvin Plantinga stands out, and I dedicated my trilogy on God and time to him for his modeling what it means to be a Christian philosopher. I don’t really have any favorite theologians, at least systematic theologians, for I find most of them to lack the philosophical training to do really good systematics. As for historians (in distinction to philosophers of history), my greatest familiarity is with New Testament historians, and here I would include folks like John Meier, Jimmy Dunn, and Dale Allison.

How many languages do you speak?
I speak only three languages, English, German, and French, and I have a reading knowledge of New Testament Greek and a smattering of Latin. I actually excelled in Hebrew in seminary but have forgotten it all! Use it or lose it!

Best wishes for your studies! May you help to carry forward the renaissance of Christian philosophy into the next generation!

- William Lane Craig