Chapter 9: William Lane Craig: God Is Proved By Theistic Arguments, and Christianity By Evidences
Craig (1949- ) seeks to engage apologetics in order to influence culture and make Christianity ‘an intellectually viable option.’ Yet, he is also very clear that people do not become Christians because of arguments. Thus, knowing Christianity is true and showing that it is true is an important distinction for Craig. Knowing Christianity is true comes from the witness of the Spirit, an immediate awareness rather than a reasoned conclusion. This is why, for Craig, reason plays a subsidiary, ministerial role to the magisterial role of the Spirit and Scripture. Rational arguments can help to confirm the faith but they are not the basis for it.
To show Christianity is true, Craig focuses primarily on argument and evidence, dependent on the Spirit to open the non-believer’s heart. He allows for common ground with non-believers such as “sense perception, rational self-evidence, and common modes of reasoning” such as induction, deduction, and abduction. Thus, building a cumulative case, using premises that are widely accepted, and appealing to expert testimony are very important for Craig. He regularly argues by seeking to show the absurdity of life without God and then explain how Christianity alone can give genuine meaning to the world. Also, he sees knowledge of God more as inferential (sensing realities and then coming to conclusions based on those realities) rather than an immediate awareness. In light of this inferential knowledge, he builds on and uniquely develops the classic theistic proofs such as the ontological, cosmological, teleological, and moral arguments.