William Lane Craig Interview
William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California. He holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Birmingham and a doctorate in theology from the University of Munich. He is the author of numerous articles in professional journals, the author or editor of over 30 books, and a world-renowned debater. Professor Craig is considered by many to be the preeminent practitioner of Christian apologetics in the English-speaking world today.
TheBestSchools: Thank you for agreeing to this interview, which will focus on a narrow slice of your wide-ranging career, namely, your engagement with atheists. You are a widely read and highly influential philosopher of religion, the author or editor of more than 30 books, and one of the best-known Christian apologists in the world. You are also well known as a formidable opponent of atheists on the debating platform. Could you please tell us about how you first were drawn out of the study and the classroom, and into the arena of public debates with leading atheists?
William Lane Craig: I participated in eight years of high-school and collegiate debate competition. For me, at that time, it wasn’t a ministry, it was just a sort of sport. It was an intellectual sport. I was no good at athletics, but I could represent my schools by being on the debating team. We debated matters of public policy—for example, that the military-assistance program of the United States should be significantly curtailed, and so forth. I never dreamt that someday I would be debating as a ministry.
But after I had finished my doctoral studies and began teaching graduate school, I started getting invitations from campus ministries in Canada to participate in debates with prominent atheist philosophers on subjects like: “Does God exist?” or “Humanism vs. Christianity.” And what I discovered was that whereas a few score might come out and hear me give a lecture, hundreds—even thousands—of students would come out to hear a debate.
And so it became very clear to me that debating was really the forum for doing evangelism on the university campus today. And to my delight, I found that my debating days were not over—that, in fact, I got back into debating, but this time as a ministry activity.
TBS: Over the years, you have engaged in debates with an array of atheist scientists and naturalist philosophers, including such distinguished figures as Peter Atkins, A.C. Grayling, Sam Harris, Kai Nielsen, Quentin Smith, and Michael Tooley. Looking back over your career as a whole, do you think it’s been worth the time and effort? What lessons have you learned from your experience debating these men about the atheist mind set? What have you learned about which apologetic arguments work best, and which not so well, when debating with persons of this caliber?
WLC: Well, it has been fantastically worth the time and effort involved! It has been so much fun, and God has used it so powerfully in the lives of both Christians and non-Christians alike…
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