Interview: A Few Minutes with Dr. William Lane Craig
An interview on defense of the faith
From March 28th to March 30th, Christian philosopher, theologian, author, and speaker Dr. William Lane Craig presented a series of workshops and discussions on the Purdue University Campus in West Lafayette, In. The series culminated with a debate on the existence of God with atheist philosopher Dr. Austin Dacey. Tuesday afternoon. Dr. Craig graciously took time out of his hectic schedule to converse with me on behalf of Boundless. What follows is a transcript of my interview.
Boundless: Hi, Dr. Craig. I’d like to talk just briefly about matters concerning apologetics and campus evangelism. Specifically, I have questions that concern undergraduates living and working in a secular setting. I have just a general biographical question to start with: What brought you into this particular ministry?
Craig: Well, I come from a non-Christian family, so when I came to Christ in high school, I wanted to share my faith with my brother and with non-Christian friends in high school. So I was immediately confronted with the necessity of providing reasons for my new-found faith. So right from the start, I was giving reasons for my faith. This interest was sharpened as I went to Wheaton College, where I was taught to integrate my faith and learning. It was there that I felt the call to go into an area of evangelism that would appeal to the head as well as the heart.
Boundless: OK. I’d like to talk about questions in campus apologetics and evangelism. What are the greatest challenges to Christians who want to present intellectual arguments for their faith on college campuses today?
Craig: I think the major obstacle today is religious pluralism or relativism. Students don’t think that religious beliefs are knowledge. They don’t think that they are expressions of facts, and they don’t think that they are things that can be known. And so they think that religious beliefs are mere expressions of personal taste or opinion. As a result, when Christians claim that they know the truth about these matters, people are deeply offended and think of Christians as bigoted, dogmatic, and even immoral people. I think that’s the greatest challenge. Another one related to it would be that, because of the moral issues that Christians take stands on today, many non-Christian students regard us as really immoral people, really bad people. They … Well, one non-Christian student put it to me this way: He said, “Why is it that Christians always come down on the wrong side of moral questions like abortion, homosexuality, and so forth?” For him, Christians are really immoral people because of the stances they take, and that’s a huge obstacle in commending our faith.
Boundless: How has this sort of campus apologetics-oriented ministry changed in recent years? In light of this pluralism, relativism business, has it changed?
Craig: I don’t think it has changed. I think that we need to keep on doing the same things except that we need to address more squarely and head-on issues like pluralism and relativism, and so I am very eager to give talks on this. It’s interesting. When I give a talk on this and lay out the problems in a very graphic way, I make the problems as hard as I can before I try to solve them. The reaction I get from students is very positive. I do not get hostility or skepticism. I find that if you give a good, solid, well-argued rational response, it seems to meet the need. So I don’t think that we should change in any way, except to be more direct and to confront the issues straightforwardly.
Boundless: Briefly, could you explain the difference between social pluralism and philosophical pluralism? … Just in a nutshell.
Craig: Right. Political pluralism is something that we all affirm because we live in a democratic society that emphasizes a Bill of Rights. We all have freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of opinion, and so forth. And so we all, especially Christians who believe in freedom of conscience, want to affirm this sort of political pluralism. But the error is to think that political pluralism implies pluralism with respect to truth [i.e. philosophical pluralism]. That’s what I deny. I argue that the proper basis of tolerance is that every human being is made in the image of God and therefore endowed with certain God-given rights, like freedom of belief, freedom of expression. Therefore, tolerance means that I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Unfortunately, in our politically correct age, too many people have the impression that tolerance means, “I dare not disagree with what you say, lest I be branded bigoted or dogmatic for having dared to say it.”
Boundless: Yes, it’s an erroneous conflation of “tolerance” with “agreement” or “approval.”
Boundless: Let’s see … next question … What arguments against Theism seem most effective?
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