Apologetics,  Atheism,  William Lane Craig

Too Focused on Atheism #2

It strikes me as problematic that so much effort goes into defeating something that most people don’t hold to (approximately 4% of Americans are self-describes atheists). William Lane Craig, for example, concerns himself with a strong defense of theism followed by trying to support claims of the divinity of Jesus Christ. What troubles me is that most of his work goes into the former project. In his popular apologetics book, On Guard, Craig devotes a chapter to religious pluralism (actually it is only really about soteriology) during which he recounts a telling story:

I often speak at major Canadian universities on the existence of God. I typically present a cumulative case climaxing in Jesus’ resurrection  After one of my talks, one slightly irate student wrote on her comment card, “I was with you until you got to the stuff about Jesus. God is not the Christian God!” This attitude is pervasive in Western culture today. Most people are happy to agree that God exists; but in our pluralistic society it has become politically incorrect to claim that God has revealed Himself decisively in Jesus.

If, as Craig suggests, “most people are happy to agree that God exists,” surely the apologetic challenge is different to defeating atheism. Yet Craig tells us that defending theism against atheism is what he typically does. In fact, Craig’s apologetic is primarily a defense of theism through the use of arguments such as the Kalam argument and the argument from fine tuning.  This is certainly true of Craig’s book, On Guard, in which he makes a sterling defense of theism for at least two thirds of the book.

Surely, according to Craig’s own observation, this is a disproportionate amount of argument. In fact, according to Craig’s own observations–that we are in a pluralistic society–he should have begun his book where he ended, with the challenge of religious pluralism.

Assistant Professor of Philosophy and History of Ideas at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and The College at Southeastern.