Dr. Craig Meets Dr. Zach
Kevin Harris, whom most of you will remember as the teacher of the "Faith and Reason" apologetics class at the First Baptist Church of Colleyville, has been working professionally with William Lane Craig for some time now as the host and producer of Dr. Craig's new podcast, "Reasonable Faith." Not surprisingly, this arrangment has brought Dr. Craig to Dallas for recording sessions, and he was kind enough to give a presentation to Kevin's class.
I was present at his invited talk, serving dual roles as the audio/visual recorder, as well as the unofficial atheist questioner. I'll provide a brief synopsis of his presentation, and include a few of the questions that I posed to him.
The topic was the Moral Argument for the Existence of God, which he formalizes thusly:
- If God does not exist, then there are no objective moral values and duties.
- There are objective moral values and duties.
- Therefore God exists.
The entirety of his presentation was concerned with establishing the veracity of the first two premises. He was careful to explicitly define the word "objective" as "independent of people's opinions," as well as to point out that he was not arguing that non-Christians or atheists could NOT be moral, only that their respective worldviews (presumably naturalism) was not consistent with the concept of objective values and duties. Craig claimed that naturalism teaches that only those entities which are required by scientific theories exist, and since no scientific theory requires the existence of objective morals, no naturalist can claim them. Further, although many atheists adopt a humanistic approach to ethics, this is foundationally premature, since its presupposition that human well-being is the fundamental moral value is arbitrary and implausible given a naturalistic worldview. Thus, humanistic atheists stubbornly insist in a moral reality that is contradicted by their metaphysics.
I was somewhat unsure of whether Dr. Craig's definition of objective moral values as independent of one's opinion was also mean to exclude the opinion of God, so I asked the following question:
Dr. Craig then, after eviscerating naturalism's claim to objective moral values, turned to defend theism's own claim to the very same. Citing Euthyphro's Dilemma, Craig argued that instead of being forced to choose between God's recognition of a higher morality or the arbitrary moral certitude of divine commands, Christians could be certain that God's own nature was the actual source of and standard for objective moral values. Thus, only by appealing to the very nature of a personal God can anyone justify the existence of such values.
I wondered if simply appealing to God's nature was sufficient to avoid the Dilemma entirely, so I asked the following question:
After having shown that while atheism could not justify the existence of objective moral values, but Christianity could. Dr. Craig then moved on to the second premise, which he had initially thought would be the most contentious, but actually turned out to be widely accepted, even by atheists.
Therefore, following from the truth of the first and second premise, we can accept the conclusion that God exists. According to Dr. Craig, this is the most effective argument for the existence of God against unbelievers, although his favorite argument remains the Kalam Cosmological Argument. Essentially, since one of the most fundemantal aspects of everyone's life is to be as objectively morally good as possible, we can be certain that there is a God.
However, I thought that there might yet be a problem with the ability of Christians to be certain in their interpretation of these objective moral values, and so I asked the following question:
After the presentation, Kevin introduced me to Dr. Craig and I got a chance to talk to him on a more individual basis. I had heard from John Loftus that at some point he had been asked what his response would be if he was taken back in time to 33 CE Palestine on Easter morning, and upon looking inside Joseph of Arimathea's tomb he found it to not be empty, but to still contain the decaying corpse of Jesus. According to this account, Dr. Craig had said that he would still hold true to his Christian faith, even in the face of this contradictory evidence. What he told me was slightly different- while acknowledging that an occupied tomb on Easter morning would be a refutation of his Christian faith, Dr. Craig argued that based on the inner witness of the Holy Spirit, he would be forced to conclude that the tomb was not actually Jesus', or that the corpse belonged to someone else, or another explanation that was not threatening to Christianity. Essentially, he claimed that his experience of the Holy Spirit was epistemologically primary, and any other empirical evidence shown to him would have to conform to that Chrisitan foundation.