William Lane Craig

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William Lane Craig
William Lane Craig.jpg
Born (1949-08-23) August 23, 1949 (age 64)[1]
Peoria, Illinois[2]
Era 21st-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
Religion Christianity
School Analytic Philosophy
Main interests Philosophy of religion
Natural theology
Philosophy of time
Christian apologetics
Website reasonablefaith.org

William Lane Craig (born August 23, 1949) is an American philosopher and theologian from Peoria, Illinois. He specializes in analytic philosophy and Christian apologetics.

Craig earned his Ph.D. at the University of Birmingham in 1977. He has taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Westmont College. He has been Research Professor of Philosophy at the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University in La Mirada, California since 1996.

He revived interest in the Kalām cosmological argument for the existence of God with his 1979 publication of a book by the same name. In theology, he has also defended Molinism and the belief that God is, since Creation, subject to time.

Craig has authored or edited a number of other books, including Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics.

Personal life[edit]

Craig was born on August 23, 1949, in Peoria, Illinois. He married Jan Coleman in 1972. They have two children.[2] Craig graduated from East Peoria Community High School in 1967.

Academic background[edit]

Craig received his B.A. in communications from Wheaton College, Illinois in 1971. He received two M.A.s from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois in 1975, one in the philosophy of religion and the other in ecclesiastical history and in the History of Christian Thought.[1] He earned his Ph.D. in philosophy under John Hick at the University of Birmingham, England, in 1977 and a D.Theol. under Wolfhart Pannenberg at the University of Munich, in the former West Germany, in 1984.[3]

From 1980 to 1986 he was an assistant professor of philosophy at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He briefly held the position of associate professor of religious studies at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, from 1986 to 1987. From 1987 to 1994 Craig pursued further research at the University of Louvain, Belgium. Since 1996 he has held the position of research professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University in La Mirada, California.[3]


Philosophy of religion[edit]

Craig's primary contribution to philosophy of religion is his revival of the Kalām cosmological argument. In The Kalām 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.[4][5]

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's famous "Hilbert's Hotel" thought experiment demonstrates how a fully occupied hotel would still be able to accommodate an infinite number of additional guests. Craig modifies the thought experiment by introducing operations such as subtraction and shows that subtracting identical quantities from identical quantities might yield non-identical results.[6] 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 two.[7]

Craig also develops an a posteriori argument against actual infinities which rests on the A-theory of time. He gives Bertrand Russell'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 (the compatibility of God's omniscience with human freedom). He analyzes current discussions of time travel, retrocausality, special relativity, and Newcomb's Paradox and brings them to bear on theological fatalism (most often supported by strongly Augustinian theologies, particularly Calvinism).[8][page needed] Rejecting fatalism[9] he defends the middle knowledge view (also known as Molinism).[10] According to this solution, before 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.[11]

Philosophy of time[edit]

Craig is a presentist and defends the A-series of time. He rejects J. M. E. McTaggart'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.[12] 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.[13][page needed] According to Craig, if one adopts a neo-Lorentzian interpretation of special relativity, the A-theory can be reconciled with the theory of relativity.[14]

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 without 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."[15] Craig responds to this charge by arguing that God's timeless and temporal phases are not related to each other as "earlier" and "later".[16]


Craig's work as a New Testament historian focuses on a defense of central Christian doctrines, specifically Jesus' resurrection from the dead.[17] In books such as The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus, he reviews the historical debate and provides a critical analysis of David Hume's arguments against testimony of miracles, examines New Testament material dealing with the resurrection, and concludes that the resurrection is the most plausible explanation of the historical data.[18] Craig uses the Shroud of Turin as part of his case.[17] He has also written a number of popular introductions to Christian apologetics[17] including Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics which was described by Evangelical apologist Robert M. Bowman, Jr. (writing with Kenneth D. Boa) as "one of the best recent textbook introductions to the subject of apologetics."[19] Catholic Cardinal Avery Dulles has described his Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (with J.P. Moreland, 2003) as "monumental," but pointed out that Catholics will not necessarily agree with it.[17]

Other views[edit]

Craig is a critic of metaphysical naturalism,[20] New Atheism,[21] and homosexuality[22] as well as a defender of Reformed epistemology.[23] Craig maintains that the theory of evolution is compatible with Christianity.[24][page needed] Although he does not fully endorse intelligent design,[25] and is opposed to Young Earth creationism,[26] he thinks that intelligent design may be a viable alternative to evolution.[27] He is a fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture[28] and was a fellow of the International Society for Complexity, Information and Design (ISCID).[29]

As a Divine Command Theorist, William Lane Craig's belief that God has the moral right to command genocide[30] attracted criticism from Richard Dawkins,[31] Colin Howson,[32] Greta Christina,[33] and others.[34][35][36]


Craig has publicly debated atheist activists and philosophers, Muslim apologists, liberal Christian theologians and certain critical biblical scholars, including Richard Carrier, Paul Kurtz, Robert M. Price, Shelly Kagan, Bart Ehrman, Antony Flew,[37][38][39][40] A. C. Grayling,[41] Michael Tooley, Andrew Copson, Lawrence Krauss,[42][43] Sam Harris, Alex Rosenberg, Massimo Pigliucci, Lewis Wolpert, Victor Stenger,[44] Peter Atkins,[45] Walter Sinnott-Armstrong,[46] Christopher Hitchens,[47] Frank Zindler, Gerd Lüdemann,[48]John Shelby Spong, John Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg, Michael Schmidt-Salomon, Eddie Tabash, Stephen Law, Peter Millican, Shabir Ally, Jamal Badawi,[49] Francisco J. Ayala, and Sean M. Carroll.[50] Some debates have been published in book form.[46][48][51][52][53]

In 2011, Craig and Richard Dawkins were invited by The British Humanist Association, the Cambridge Union Society, The Oxford Christian Union and Premier Radio to a debate over the existence of God, but Dawkins refused the invitation, accusing Craig of self-promotion. However, the two earlier had a small exchange in 2010 in Mexico as part of a debate with four other atheist and theist scholars.[54]

In 2013-14, Craig outlined the theist position, including eight arguments for God's existence, in a Philosophy Now debate about God and religion.[55][56]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Curriculum vitae". Reasonable Faith. William Lane Craig. Retrieved 2012-05-25. 
  2. ^ a b "William Lane Craig". Contemporary Authors Online. Gale. 2007. Retrieved March 17, 2014. (subscription required)
  3. ^ a b "Curriculum Vitae" (PDF). Talbot School of Theology. Retrieved 2011-10-26. 
  4. ^ Craig 1979.
  5. ^ Craig oulines this argument and seven others for the existence of God in Philosophy Now magazine, December 2013
  6. ^ Oppy, Graham (1995). "Inverse Operations With Transfinite Numbers And The Kalam Cosmological Argument". International Philosophical Quarterly 35 (2): 219–221. Retrieved 6/10/2011. 
  7. ^ Reichenbach, Bruce (2010). "Cosmological Argument". In Zalta, Edward N. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 10/09/2011. 
  8. ^ Craig 1991.
  9. ^ Viney, Donald Wayne (Spring 1989). "Does Omniscience Imply Foreknowledge? Craig on Hartshorneby". Process Studies (Center for Process Studies) 18 (1): 30–37. Retrieved 5 October 2011. 
  10. ^ Zagzebski, Linda (Fall 2011). "Foreknowledge and Free Will". In Zalta, Edward N. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 5 October 2011. 
  11. ^ "Participants: Craig, William Lane". Closer to Truth. Retrieved 5 October 2011. 
  12. ^ Oaklander, L. Nathan (2002). "Presentism, Ontology and Temporal Experience". In Craig Callender. Time, reality & experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 73–90. ISBN 978-0-521-52967-9. 
  13. ^ Craig 2000.
  14. ^ Balashov, Yuri; Janssen, Michel (2003). "Presentism and Relativity". British Jnl. for the Philosophy of Sci. (Oxford University Press) 54 (2): 327–346. doi:10.1093/bjps/54.2.327. Retrieved 06/10/2011. 
  15. ^ Helm, Paul (2010). "Eternity". In Edward N. Zalta. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved 2011-10-01. 
  16. ^ Helm, Paul (2011). Eternal God: a study of God without time (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 220ff. ISBN 978-0-19-959038-4. 
  17. ^ a b c d Dulles, Avery (2005). A History of Apologetics (2nd ed.). Ignatius Press. pp. 360, 363. ISBN 0-89870-933-4. 
  18. ^ William Lane Craig (21 December 2010). "6. Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?". In J. P. Moreland and Michael J. Wilkins. Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus. Zondervan. p. 79ff. ISBN 978-0-310-87713-4. 
  19. ^ Boa, Kenneth D.; Bowman, Robert M. Jr. (2006). Faith Has Its Reasons: Integrative Approaches to Defending the Christian Faith (2nd ed.). InterVarsity Press. p. 64. ISBN 0-8308-5648-X. 
  20. ^ Craig, William Lane; Moreland, James Porter (2000). Naturalism: A Critical Analysis. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-23524-2. 
  21. ^ Copan, Paul; Craig, William Lane (2009). Contending with Christianity's Critics: Answering New Atheists & Other Objectors. B&H. ISBN 978-0-8054-4936-5. 
  22. ^ William Lane Craig, Hard Questions, Real Answers (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2003), 129-144. A Christian Perspective on Homosexuality. Christian Homosexuals?. William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, 3rd ed. (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2008), 87.
  23. ^ "Religious Epistemology MP3 Audio by William Lane Craig". Apologetics 315. Retrieved 10/09/2011. 
  24. ^ Stewart, Robert B. (2007). Intelligent Design: William A. Dembski and Michael Ruse in Dialogue (revised ed.). Fortress Press. ISBN 0-8006-6218-0. 
  25. ^ "William Lane Craig on Evolution and Intelligent Design". You tube. Google. Retrieved 10/09/2011. 
  26. ^ "Doctrine of Creation". Reasonable faith. Retrieved 02/05/2013. 
  27. ^ "William Lane Craig vs. Francisco J. Ayala – Is Intelligent Design Viable?". Apologetics 315. November 5, 2009. Retrieved 10/09/2011. 
  28. ^ "William Lane Craig". Discovery Institute. Retrieved 10/09/2011. 
  29. ^ "Society Fellows". International Society for Complexity, Information and Design. Retrieved 10/09/2011. 
  30. ^ The Slaughter of the Canaanites Re-visited, Reasonable faith .
  31. ^ Dawkins, Richard, "Why I refuse to debate with William Lane Craig", The Guardian (UK) .
  32. ^ Howson, Colin (2011), Objecting to God, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, p. 11 .
  33. ^ One More Reason Religion Is So Messed Up
  34. ^ Thom Stark, Human Faces of God (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2011), 103.
  35. ^ John W. Loftus, Why I became an atheist: a former preacher rejects Christianity (Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books, 2008), 39.
  36. ^ Morriston, Wes (2009). "What if God commanded something terrible? A worry for divine-command meta-ethics". Religious Studies 45 (03): 249–267. 
  37. ^ "William Lane Craig’s Debates (Reviews)". Common sense Atheism. Retrieved 4/6/2013. 
  38. ^ Does God Exist?; 50th Anniversary Debate in honor of the Copleston-Russell 1948 BBC Debate, Madison: University of Wisconsin, archived from the original on Dec 2, 2003 .
  39. ^ Flew, Antony; Varghese, Roy Abraham. There Is a God: How the World's Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. HarperOne. ISBN 978-0-06-133530-3. 
  40. ^ Boa, Kenneth D.; Bowman, Robert M. Jr. (2005). Faith Has Its Reasons: Integrative Approaches to Defending the Christian Faith (2nd ed.). InterVarsity Press. p. 64. ISBN 0-83085648-X. 
  41. ^ "Unbelievable? William Lane Craig vs AC Grayling debate on God & Evil". Premier Christian Radio. 5 July 2011. Retrieved 5 October 2011. 
  42. ^ Smith, Anika. "William Lane Craig Debates Lawrence Krauss Tonight, Takes on Sam Harris Next Week". Evolution News and Views. Retrieved 10/09/2011. 
  43. ^ "The Great Debate". Retrieved 10/09/2011. 
  44. ^ "Two Philosophers Debate the Existence of God". Oregon State University. Retrieved 5 October 2011. 
  45. ^ "De Deo: The existence of God". Reasonable Faith. Retrieved 10/09/2011. 
  46. ^ a b Craig & Sinnott-Armstrong 2004.
  47. ^ Jones, Nelson (20 May 2011). "Why Dawkins disappoints". New Statesman. Retrieved 5 October 2011. 
  48. ^ a b Craig et al. 2000.
  49. ^ "William Lane Craig Debates List". Reasonable faith. Retrieved 3/5/2012. 
  50. ^ Hallowell, Billy. "Prominent Theologian Will Face Off Against Atheist Physicist in Debate Over God and Cosmology". TheBlaze.com. 
  51. ^ Craig, Flew & Wallace 2003.
  52. ^ Groothuis, Douglas (2011). Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith. InterVarsity Press. p. 243. ISBN 0-83083-935-6. 
  53. ^ Copan, Paul (1999). Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? A Debate between William Lane Craig and John Dominic Crossan. Baker Academic. p. 192. ISBN 0-80102-175-8. 
  54. ^ Ross, Tim (14 May 2011). "Richard Dawkins accused of cowardice for refusing to debate existence of God". The Daily Telegraph (London, UK: TMG). ISSN 0307-1235. OCLC 49632006. Retrieved 15 May 2012. 
  55. ^ Craig's arguments are criticised in this article (link), accessed March 2014.
  56. ^ Craig's initial arguments, from December 2013, are available in God Does Exist (link), accessed March 2014.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]