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William Lane Craig

William Lane Craig

Overview
William Lane Craig is an American analytic philosopher
Analytic philosophy
Analytic philosophy is a generic term for a style of philosophy that came to dominate English-speaking countries in the 20th century...

, philosophical theologian
Philosophical Theology
Philosophical theology is the disciplined employment of philosophical methods in developing or analyzing theological concepts. It therefore includes natural theology as well as philosophical treatments of orthodox and heterodox theology....

, and Christian apologist
Christian apologetics
Christian apologetics is a field of Christian theology that aims to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defend the faith against objections, and expose the perceived flaws of other world views...

. He is known for his work on the philosophy of time and the philosophy of religion, specifically the existence of God and the defense of Christian theism. He has made major contributions to the philosophy of religion
Philosophy of religion
Philosophy of religion is a branch of philosophy concerned with questions regarding religion, including the nature and existence of God, the examination of religious experience, analysis of religious language and texts, and the relationship of religion and science...

 and his defense of the Kalām cosmological argument
Kalam cosmological argument
The Kalām cosmological argument is a variation of the cosmological argument that argues for the existence of a First Cause for the universe. Its origins can be traced to medieval Jewish, Christian and Muslim thinkers, but most directly to Islamic theologians of the Kalām tradition. Its historic...

 is the most widely discussed argument for the existence of God in contemporary Western philosophy. He has authored or edited over 30 books including The Kalam Cosmological Argument (1979), Theism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology (co-authored with Quentin Smith
Quentin Smith
Quentin Persifor Smith is an American contemporary philosopher, scholar and professor of philosophy at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He has worked in the philosophy of time, philosophy of language, philosophy of physics and philosophy of religion...

, 1993), Time and Eternity: Exploring God's Relationship to Time (2001), and Einstein, Relativity and Absolute Simultaneity (co-edited with Quentin Smith, 2007).

Craig received a Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 degree in communications from Wheaton College, Illinois, in 1971 and two summa cum laude master's degree
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

s from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is an evangelical Christian seminary located in Deerfield, Illinois. TEDS is one of the largest seminaries in the world, enrolling more than 1,200 graduate students in professional and academic programs, including more than 150 in its PhD programs...

 in Deerfield, Illinois
Deerfield, Illinois
Deerfield is a village in Lake County, Illinois, United States and is located approximately 25 miles north of Chicago, Illinois. A portion of the village is in Cook County, Illinois, United States...

, in 1975, in philosophy of religion
Philosophy of religion
Philosophy of religion is a branch of philosophy concerned with questions regarding religion, including the nature and existence of God, the examination of religious experience, analysis of religious language and texts, and the relationship of religion and science...

 and ecclesiastical history
History of Christianity
The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion, its followers and the Church with its various denominations, from the first century to the present. Christianity was founded in the 1st century by the followers of Jesus of Nazareth who they believed to be the Christ or chosen one of God...

.
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Encyclopedia
William Lane Craig is an American analytic philosopher
Analytic philosophy
Analytic philosophy is a generic term for a style of philosophy that came to dominate English-speaking countries in the 20th century...

, philosophical theologian
Philosophical Theology
Philosophical theology is the disciplined employment of philosophical methods in developing or analyzing theological concepts. It therefore includes natural theology as well as philosophical treatments of orthodox and heterodox theology....

, and Christian apologist
Christian apologetics
Christian apologetics is a field of Christian theology that aims to present a rational basis for the Christian faith, defend the faith against objections, and expose the perceived flaws of other world views...

. He is known for his work on the philosophy of time and the philosophy of religion, specifically the existence of God and the defense of Christian theism. He has made major contributions to the philosophy of religion
Philosophy of religion
Philosophy of religion is a branch of philosophy concerned with questions regarding religion, including the nature and existence of God, the examination of religious experience, analysis of religious language and texts, and the relationship of religion and science...

 and his defense of the Kalām cosmological argument
Kalam cosmological argument
The Kalām cosmological argument is a variation of the cosmological argument that argues for the existence of a First Cause for the universe. Its origins can be traced to medieval Jewish, Christian and Muslim thinkers, but most directly to Islamic theologians of the Kalām tradition. Its historic...

 is the most widely discussed argument for the existence of God in contemporary Western philosophy. He has authored or edited over 30 books including The Kalam Cosmological Argument (1979), Theism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology (co-authored with Quentin Smith
Quentin Smith
Quentin Persifor Smith is an American contemporary philosopher, scholar and professor of philosophy at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He has worked in the philosophy of time, philosophy of language, philosophy of physics and philosophy of religion...

, 1993), Time and Eternity: Exploring God's Relationship to Time (2001), and Einstein, Relativity and Absolute Simultaneity (co-edited with Quentin Smith, 2007).

Academic background


Craig received a Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 degree in communications from Wheaton College, Illinois, in 1971 and two summa cum laude master's degree
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

s from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is an evangelical Christian seminary located in Deerfield, Illinois. TEDS is one of the largest seminaries in the world, enrolling more than 1,200 graduate students in professional and academic programs, including more than 150 in its PhD programs...

 in Deerfield, Illinois
Deerfield, Illinois
Deerfield is a village in Lake County, Illinois, United States and is located approximately 25 miles north of Chicago, Illinois. A portion of the village is in Cook County, Illinois, United States...

, in 1975, in philosophy of religion
Philosophy of religion
Philosophy of religion is a branch of philosophy concerned with questions regarding religion, including the nature and existence of God, the examination of religious experience, analysis of religious language and texts, and the relationship of religion and science...

 and ecclesiastical history
History of Christianity
The history of Christianity concerns the Christian religion, its followers and the Church with its various denominations, from the first century to the present. Christianity was founded in the 1st century by the followers of Jesus of Nazareth who they believed to be the Christ or chosen one of God...

. He earned a Ph.D.
Ph.D.
A Ph.D. is a Doctor of Philosophy, an academic degree.Ph.D. may also refer to:* Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*Piled Higher and Deeper, a web comic strip*PhD: Phantasy Degree, a Korean comic series* PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

 in philosophy under John Hick
John Hick
Professor John Harwood Hick is a philosopher of religion and theologian. In philosophical theology, he has made contributions in the areas of theodicy, eschatology, and Christology, and in the philosophy of religion he has contributed to the areas of epistemology of religion and religious...

 at the University of Birmingham
University of Birmingham
The University of Birmingham is a British Redbrick university located in the city of Birmingham, England. It received its royal charter in 1900 as a successor to Birmingham Medical School and Mason Science College . Birmingham was the first Redbrick university to gain a charter and thus...

, England in 1977 and a Th.D. under Wolfhart Pannenberg
Wolfhart Pannenberg
Wolfhart Pannenberg is a German Christian theologian. His emphasis on history as revelation, centred on the Resurrection of Christ, has proved important in stimulating debate in both Protestant and Catholic theology, as well as with non-Christian thinkers.-Life and views:Pannenberg was baptized as...

 at the University of Munich in 1984. From 1980 to 1986 he was an assistant professor of philosophy at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School is an evangelical Christian seminary located in Deerfield, Illinois. TEDS is one of the largest seminaries in the world, enrolling more than 1,200 graduate students in professional and academic programs, including more than 150 in its PhD programs...

. He briefly held the position of associate professor of religious studies
Religious studies
Religious studies is the academic field of multi-disciplinary, secular study of religious beliefs, behaviors, and institutions. It describes, compares, interprets, and explains religion, emphasizing systematic, historically based, and cross-cultural perspectives.While theology attempts to...

 at Westmont College
Westmont College
Westmont offers 26 majors, including: alternative major, art, biology, chemistry, communication studies, computer science, economics and business, education program, engineering physics, English, history, European studies, kinesiology, liberal studies, mathematics, modern languages , music,...

 in Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara, California
Santa Barbara is the county seat of Santa Barbara County, California, United States. Situated on an east-west trending section of coastline, the longest such section on the West Coast of the United States, the city lies between the steeply-rising Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean...

, from 1986 to 1987. From 1987 to 1994 Craig pursued further research at the University of Leuven
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
The Katholieke Universiteit Leuven is a Dutch-speaking university in Flanders, Belgium.It is located at the centre of the historic town of Leuven, and is a prominent part of the city, home to the university since 1425...

, Belgium
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

. Since 1996 he has held the position of research professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology
Talbot School of Theology
Talbot School of Theology is a non-denominational, conservative evangelical Christian theological seminary located near Los Angeles. Talbot is one of the seven schools that comprise Biola University, located in La Mirada, California.-History:...

, Biola University in La Mirada, California
La Mirada, California
La Mirada is a city in southeast Los Angeles County, California, United States, and is one of the Gateway Cities. The population was 48,527 at the 2010 census, up from 46,783 at the 2000 census....

.

Philosophy of religion


Craig's primary contribution to philosophy of religion is his revival of the kalam cosmological argument. In The Kalam Cosmological Argument, he formulates the argument in the following manner:
  1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.


He defends the second premise by arguing that actual infinities and the formation of an actual infinite through continual addition are metaphysically impossible. Although he recognizes that axiomatized infinite set theory is logically consistent he maintains that the existence of actual infinities in the real world would lead to absurdities. For example, David Hilbert
David Hilbert
David Hilbert was a German mathematician. He is recognized as one of the most influential and universal mathematicians of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Hilbert discovered and developed a broad range of fundamental ideas in many areas, including invariant theory and the axiomatization of...

's famous "Hilbert's Hotel" thought experiment demonstrates how a fully occupied hotel would still be able to accommodate an infinite number of guests. Craig modifies the thought experiment by introducing operations such as subtraction and shows that subtracting identical quantities from identical quantities would have non-identical remainders. Since we have no evidence of such things in the actual world, Craig maintains that actual infinities are, for all intents and purposes, metaphysically impossible. Craig also argues that the thermodynamic properties of the universe and its expansion provide more evidence in support of premise 2.

Craig also develops an a posteriori argument against actual infinities which rests on the A-theory of time
A-series and B-series
A-series and B-series are two different descriptions of the temporal ordering relation among events. The two series differ principally in their use of tense to describe the temporal relation between events...

. He gives Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell, OM, FRS was a British philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, and social critic. At various points in his life he considered himself a liberal, a socialist, and a pacifist, but he also admitted that he had never been any of these things...

's example of Tristam Shandy, who writes his autobiography so slowly that it takes him one year to write down the events of one day. A similar temporal sequence would have occurred in an eternal universe. No matter how long it takes, an eternal universe would still not be 'actually infinite' and must have begun to exist.

Craig has also contributed to the problem of divine foreknowledge
Argument from free will
The argument from free will contends that omniscience and free will are incompatible, and that any conception of God that incorporates both properties is therefore inherently contradictory. The argument may focus on the incoherence of people having free will, or else God himself having free will...

 (the compatibility of God's omniscience with human freedom). He analyzes current discussions of time travel
Time travel
Time travel is the concept of moving between different points in time in a manner analogous to moving between different points in space. Time travel could hypothetically involve moving backward in time to a moment earlier than the starting point, or forward to the future of that point without the...

, retrocausality
Retrocausality
Retrocausality is any of several hypothetical phenomena or processes that reverse causality, allowing an effect to occur before its cause....

, special relativity
Special relativity
Special relativity is the physical theory of measurement in an inertial frame of reference proposed in 1905 by Albert Einstein in the paper "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies".It generalizes Galileo's...

, and Newcomb's Paradox
Newcomb's paradox
Newcomb's paradox, also referred to as Newcomb's problem, is a thought experiment involving a game between two players, one of whom purports to be able to predict the future. Whether the problem is actually a paradox is disputed....

 and brings them to bear on theological fatalism (most often supported by strongly Augustinian
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine of Hippo , also known as Augustine, St. Augustine, St. Austin, St. Augoustinos, Blessed Augustine, or St. Augustine the Blessed, was Bishop of Hippo Regius . He was a Latin-speaking philosopher and theologian who lived in the Roman Africa Province...

 theologies, particularly Calvinism
Calvinism
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

). Rejecting fatalism he defends the middle knowledge view (also known as Molinism
Molinism
Molinism, named after 16th Century Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina, is a religious doctrine which attempts to reconcile the providence of God with human free will. William Lane Craig is probably its best known advocate today, though other important Molinists include Alfred Freddoso, Alvin...

). According to this solution, prior to actualizing a possible world God knows everything that does or will happen as well as how free creatures would act if placed in any particular circumstance. Craig considers that this also provides the answer to the question of how God foreknows future contingents.

Philosophy of time


Craig is a presentist
Presentism (philosophy of time)
Saint Augustine proposed that the present is a knife edge between the past and the future and could not contain any extended period of time. This seems evident because, if the present is extended, it must have separate parts - but these must be simultaneous if they are truly part of the present...

 and defends the A-series
A-series and B-series
A-series and B-series are two different descriptions of the temporal ordering relation among events. The two series differ principally in their use of tense to describe the temporal relation between events...

 of time. He rejects J. M. E. McTaggart
J. M. E. McTaggart
John McTaggart was an idealist metaphysician. For most of his life McTaggart was a fellow and lecturer in philosophy at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was an exponent of the philosophy of Hegel and among the most notable of the British idealists.-Personal life:J. M. E. McTaggart was born in 1866...

's famous argument against it, describing it as "an engaging and recalcitrant brain teaser that no one takes seriously," but also argues against hybrid A-B theorists because they are all refuted by McTaggart's paradox. He argues that McTaggart's objection does not succeed as it employs an incoherent combination of a B-theoretical ontology with A-theoretical temporal becoming. According to Craig, if one adopts a neo-Lorentzian
Lorentz transformation
In physics, the Lorentz transformation or Lorentz-Fitzgerald transformation describes how, according to the theory of special relativity, two observers' varying measurements of space and time can be converted into each other's frames of reference. It is named after the Dutch physicist Hendrik...

 interpretation of special relativity
Special relativity
Special relativity is the physical theory of measurement in an inertial frame of reference proposed in 1905 by Albert Einstein in the paper "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies".It generalizes Galileo's...

 the A-theory can be reconciled with the theory of relativity
Theory of relativity
The theory of relativity, or simply relativity, encompasses two theories of Albert Einstein: special relativity and general relativity. However, the word relativity is sometimes used in reference to Galilean invariance....

.

In terms of God's relationship to time, Craig argues that God must exist in time if he is to be regarded as a causal agent. He rejects the view that God could exist timelessly with creation as he did sans creation on the grounds that nothing outside time could have temporal interactions with the world. Critics such as Paul Helm maintain that Craig’s objections against divine timelessness is itself incoherent because "There can be no temporal 'and then' for a timelessly eternal God." Craig responds to this charge by arguing that God's timeless and temporal phases are not related to each other as "earlier" and "later."

Other views


Craig is a critic of metaphysical naturalism
Metaphysical naturalism
Metaphysical naturalism, also called ontological naturalism and philosophical naturalism, or just naturalism, is a philosophical worldview and belief system that holds that there is nothing but natural elements, principles, and relations of the kind studied by the natural sciences, i.e., those...

 and New Atheism
New Atheism
New Atheism is the name given to a movement among some early-21st-century atheist writers who have advocated the view that "religion should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized, and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises." New atheists argue that recent...

 as well as a defender of Reformed epistemology
Reformed epistemology
In the philosophy of religion, reformed epistemology is a school of thought regarding the epistemology of belief in God put forward by a group of Protestant Christian philosophers, most notably, Alvin Plantinga, William Alston, Nicholas Wolterstorff and Michael C. Rea...

.
His work as a New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 historian focuses on a defense of central Christian doctrines, specifically Jesus' resurrection
Resurrection of Jesus
The Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus states that Jesus returned to bodily life on the third day following his death by crucifixion. It is a key element of Christian faith and theology and part of the Nicene Creed: "On the third day he rose again in fulfillment of the Scriptures"...

 from the dead. After reviewing the debate throughout history and providing a critical analysis of David Hume
David Hume
David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, known especially for his philosophical empiricism and skepticism. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment...

's argument against miracles in The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus, Craig examines New Testament material dealing with the resurrection and concludes that the resurrection is indeed the most plausible explanation of the historical data. Craig maintains that the theory of evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

 is compatible with Christianity. Although he does not fully endorse intelligent design
Intelligent design
Intelligent design is the proposition that "certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection." It is a form of creationism and a contemporary adaptation of the traditional teleological argument for...

, he thinks it might be a viable alternative to evolution. He is a fellow of the Discovery Institute
Discovery Institute
The Discovery Institute is a non-profit public policy think tank based in Seattle, Washington, best known for its advocacy of intelligent design...

's Center for Science and Culture and a fellow of the International Society for Complexity, Information and Design (ISCID).

Debates


Craig has debated with prominent intellectuals such as Antony Flew
Antony Flew
Antony Garrard Newton Flew was a British philosopher. Belonging to the analytic and evidentialist schools of thought, he was notable for his works on the philosophy of religion....

, A. C. Grayling
A. C. Grayling
Anthony Clifford Grayling is a British philosopher. In 2011 he founded and became the first Master of New College of the Humanities, a private undergraduate college in London. Until June 2011, he was Professor of Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London, where he taught from 1991...

, Daniel Dennett
Daniel Dennett
Daniel Clement Dennett is an American philosopher, writer and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science. He is currently the Co-director of...

, Lawrence Krauss, Victor Stenger, Peter Atkins
Peter Atkins
Peter William Atkins is a British chemist and former Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Lincoln College. He is a prolific writer of popular chemistry textbooks, including Physical Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, and Molecular Quantum Mechanics...

, and Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Eric Hitchens is an Anglo-American author and journalist whose books, essays, and journalistic career span more than four decades. He has been a columnist and literary critic at The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Slate, World Affairs, The Nation, Free Inquiry, and became a media fellow at the...

. Popular New Atheist author Sam Harris
Sam Harris (author)
Sam Harris is an American author, and neuroscientist, as well as the co-founder and current CEO of Project Reason. He received a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Stanford University, before receiving a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA...

 described Craig at their Notre Dame University
University of Notre Dame
The University of Notre Dame du Lac is a Catholic research university located in Notre Dame, an unincorporated community north of the city of South Bend, in St. Joseph County, Indiana, United States...

 debate as "the one Christian apologist who seems to have put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists."

External links