Theist to address suffering under God
BY BILL SHERMAN World Religion Writer
Saturday, July 21, 2012
7/21/12 at 3:31 AM
William Lane Craig has debated the best and brightest of the new crop of atheists, and he is not impressed.
Craig, who will speak in the Tulsa area next weekend, in recent years has debated the so-called "four horsemen of the new atheism" - Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and the late Christopher Hitchens.
"In each case," he said, "they were not able to effectively argue for the truth of their view, nor were they able to respond to criticisms of their position. ... They've been surprisingly weak in responding to criticism."
Craig said the rash of books, debates and programs about atheism is a recent phenomenon that is accurately called the "new atheism."
"One of the differences is that the new atheism wants to eliminate religious belief, not merely from the public square, but even from the private lives of citizens," he said.
"They are bent on eradicating religious belief altogether, and that makes the new atheism quite different and more aggressive."
He said explanations for the rise in the new atheism are diverse, but one of the principal reasons has been the rise of militant Islam and terrorist attacks that have caused concern among secularists that religion fosters violence, tyranny and intolerance.
"Unfortunately, Christians and Jews and other religions get tarred with the same brush," he said.
He said that from a purely rational viewpoint, theism is more plausible than atheism, when all the evidence - scientific, philosophical and ethical - is considered.
"Out of the broad range of the data of human experience, theism makes sense," he said.
He said the biggest challenge he faces on campuses is that many students believe there is no good reason to believe in God.
"Many students have been taught to say, 'There is no evidence for God,' and just repeat that slogan," he said. "Since so few believers are equipped to give good arguments for the existence of God, that slogan usually suffices to justify unbelief."
He said students may give lip service to moral relativism, but very few actually believe it and none of them live it.
"Students are deeply committed to moral values and moral absolutes.
"For example, the value of tolerance for opposing viewpoints is deeply held by students today. The value of fair play, of treating others with respect," he said.
"Therefore, I think a moral argument for the existence of God is very powerful with students today, because the question that needs to be asked is: 'What is the basis for these moral values that you hold? On what grounds do you hold that love is a good, rather than hate?'
"It's very difficult to justify objective moral values with a naturalistic world view."
Craig will speak in Tulsa on what some atheists have called the Achilles heel of Christianity: how can a good God allow suffering?
He said he will argue that "the suffering in the world is neither logically incompatible with the existence of God, nor does it render God's existence improbable."
"The atheist has to say, when he sees suffering, that it is highly improbable that God could have a morally justifiable reason for permitting this to occur.
"My contention is that the atheist is just not in a position to make that kind of probability judgment, given our limits in time and space and insight and intelligence."
Craig will be one of six nationally known speakers at the "On Guard: Learning to Share Your Faith with Reason" conference Friday and Saturday, July 27-28, at the Church at BattleCreek in Broken Arrow.
The conference is sponsored by the church and the Tulsa chapter of Craig's ministry, Reasonable Faith.
What: On Guard: Learning to Share Your Faith with Reason
When: 6:30-9:30 p.m. Friday, 8:30 a.m-5 p.m. Saturday, July 28
Where: Church at BattleCreek, 3025 North Aspen Ave., Broken Arrow
Cost: $30 ($20 for students)
For more: tulsaworld.com/reasonablefaith
*Apologetics is a field of theology that presents the rational basis for the Christian faith.
Who is William Lane Craig?
- Research professor of philosophy, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, La Mirada, Calif.
- Author or editor of more than 30 books, including "The Kalam Cosmological Argument"; "Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus"; "Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom"; "Theism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology"
- Researcher, University of Louvain, Brussels, Belgium, 1987-1994
- Philosophy of religion professor, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Illinois, 1980-86
- Ph.D. in theology, University of Munich, Germany, 1984.
- Ph.D. in philosophy, University of Birmingham, England, 1977.
Bill Sherman 918-581-8398
William Lane Craig