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Image of birds flying. Image of birds flying.

#292 Personal Questions

November 18, 2012

Good Day Dr. Craig and RF Staff!

This is my set of questions from the RF attendees at the Fayetteville Arkansas Chapter so I hope you have the chance to answer these, (this time the questions I was asked to relay were more of a personal nature but if you and/or your staff could provide some coresspondence I know the team will be thrilled so thank you in advance!

1) Surprisingly I was asked what you (Dr Craig) does in order to not fall into the trap of looking at the Bible as more of an academic work as opposed to inspired by God? In other words many shared the thoughts that though they love apologetics sometimes they feel they fall into the trap of looking at it too academically whereas the Eastern Orthodox for example place much more emphasis in the innner workings of the Spirit. How do you find time to "mediate" on the word of God with your hectic scheduling and the pressures of academia?

2) Crazy as it sounds I was asked by several: "Will Dr. Craig ever grow his beard again?"

3) You have addressed your stance on biological evolution (thank you!); would you say that this also applies to your view on cosmic evolution and life from non-life as well?

4) Lastly this is a question from me - I am currently working on my MA in Ancient History (I have undergrads in Philosophy of Religion and History), and I am compiling my thesis on the subject of Philosophy of History and how I have been forced in much of my secular schooling to accept an undergirding/presupposition of "naturalism is true" built into my historic research much of which is completely unwarranted. Therefore I have made the focus of my thesis project on showing why this presuppositional belief in naturalism is unwarranted and therefore should be used as a restriction in how one does Philosophy of History. If you could share any thoughts at all on this it would greatly encourage me because though history is usually pushed to the side in this venue, it is just as much affected by naturalistic philosophy as is the sciences. Any words of wisdom, suggestions and/or encouragement in this venue would be most appreciated as I know it will be an uphill battle.

I know you are very busy (I can only imagine), but if you could shortly answer these four questions I will communicate them to the chapter here and won't bother you again for another 6 months, (that is what I told them). ;o)

Also it was an honor to finally meet you in Tulsa in July and shake your hand; my wife and I have took a big chance and opened an apologetics bookstore and coffee shop with many of your books made available at cost so please keep this in your prayers and we are both earnstly planning on attending your "Roots of Christianity" tour next Summer before we begin making plans of starting a family of our own.

Thank you for all you do.

In Christ, James

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Dr. craig’s response


We look forward to seeing you on our Roots of Christian Civilization Cruise, James! You’re really wise to grab an opportunity like this in before having children!

So in answer to your questions:

1. How do I avoid the trap of allowing my faith to become overly intellectual and academic? I think this is a real problem that every Christian academic must struggle with, and I don’t know an easy solution. But in general I think it’s very important to engage in activities that kindle the affective (emotional) side of one’s personality. If you’ve got good arguments and evidence for what you believe, there’s no reason to be afraid of your emotions and to allow them to wither. We should cultivate the religious affections as well as the rational mind. I think one of the most important ways of doing that is through meaningful worship, especially corporate worship. In particular, music is a vital way of kindling the religious affections. So cultivate and enjoy singing! Even if you’re off-key, make a joyful noise, as the Psalmist says, to the Lord! Time in the early morning for solitary prayer is also helpful--to be alone with God and express your heart to Him and confess your sins and ask for the filling of His Holy Spirit. When you read the Bible, you needn’t shut off your intellectual faculties: just keep in mind that you are reading ancient documents authored by human persons, though under the sovereignty of God. If you can read it as both the word of man and the word of God, then seeing the human traits in it will not be an obstacle but rather a key to better understanding its divinely inspired meaning.

2. Will I regrow my beard? No, because it would come in mostly gray!

3. Is my attitude toward cosmic evolution and the origin of life similar to my attitude toward biological evolution? Not exactly. I’m fairly sceptical about the adequacy of the explanatory mechanisms posited by neo-Darwinism to account for the origin of biological complexity (see last week’s Question of the Week). The theory involves an extrapolation of those mechanisms that is breath-taking and far beyond anything warranted by testable evidence. By contrast the extrapolation of the expansion of the universe back in time involves well-known laws of gravitation that fully justify that extrapolation. Only when we get to the very early universe does uncertainty enter in. We don’t yet have a Grand Unified Theory, and prior to the Planck time General Relativity breaks down. So cosmologists cannot give us a an accurate physical description of the universe during the first split second of its existence. (Fortunately, the evidence for a beginning of the universe doesn’t depend upon such a full description.) So I’m much more confident about cosmic history than biological history. As for the origin of life, there I am completely agnostic. From what I’ve read, all the old chemical origin of life scenarios have broken down, and we haven’t much of a clue as to how living organisms have come to be on this planet.

4. What are my thoughts on naturalism in the philosophy of history? It seems to me, James, that this is just the old problem of miracles: can the historian entertain non-naturalistic hypotheses or is he restricted methodologically to naturalistic explanations? I’ve sought to address his question in Reasonable Faith, 3rd ed., in the chapter on the problem of miracles. I also share some thoughts on this in my debate with Bart Ehrman, as his main objection to inferring the resurrection of Jesus as the best explanation of the facts of the empty tomb, post-mortem appearances, and origin of the Christian faith is not historical but is based on the presupposition of methodological naturalism. As for a word of wisdom, I’d encourage you not to butt heads with your supervisor over this but to work with him to achieve academic success.

May the Lord prosper the ministry of the RF chapter in Fayetteville!

- William Lane Craig