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William Lane Craig and the Freethinkers
by Paul Buller
In advance of Dr. Craig’s talk at the University of Calgary on March 7, posters were put up around the University campus. Not surprisingly, the “freethinkers” club launched a series of posters in response to those posters advertising Dr. Craig’s talk. It’s hard to know exactly how to address such posters, but below I offer a few thoughts on the general theme of their posters.
First of all, that they felt the need to respond to the advertising about Dr. Craig tells us something about Craig; he is somebody who deserves responding too! If he was a no-name fly-by-night kind of speaker who was about to draw a whopping crowd of, say, 25 people do you think the freethinkers would have bothered counter-advertising him? Probably not. The reality is, though, that Craig draws crowds pretty much wherever he goes. He is a respected popular speaker and a very well published academic.
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Which brings me to my next observation; what kind of crowds does Craig draw? You’ve got your Christians who admire him. You’ve got your Atheists who seem to hate him. And you’ve probably got a bunch of curious onlookers who just want to know what all the hoopla is about. Considering the likely demographics is seems worthwhile to ask what, precisely, the freethinkers intended to accomplish with their counter-posters? Are they likely to dissuade Christians from attending or persuade them to abandon their faith? Probably not. Most Christians want to hear Craig and when the Atheists go on about how obviously wrong Craig is, that draws the usual “there they go again” rolling-eyes response from Christians even remotely familiar with the relevant arguments and data.
What about the Atheists? They already dislike Craig so they don’t need any posters to remind them of their disdain. No, I suspect the posters were intended for the fence-sitters. But that leads me to ponder what the Atheists intended to accomplish with the posters. Did they hope to convince fence-sitters not to attend the presentation? Given how people love controversy, that seems unlikely. The more they “respond” to Craig the more controversial he becomes (especially the concept that a relatively conservative Christian theologian endorses genocide?!?!) so that would seem likely to inspire a larger, not smaller, audience…
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