Saturday, 5 January 2013

Who needs truth when you have apologetics?

Last week's Unbelievable? aired a talk given by Premier Radio's favourite Christian apologist William Lane Craig, at the 2011 Bethinking conference as part of the Reasonable Faith Tour of the UK.

I understand that this talk was given to Christians, so I was concerned to hear Craig begin by misrepresenting the meaning of secularism. In fact he seemed to base his whole talk on an incorrect premise: that the "secularisation" of Britain was a bad thing because it was based in a naturalistic philosophy that denies God. But secularism is merely the idea that matters of religious belief should be independent of government (and vice versa) — and as such is as beneficial to those who hold religious beliefs as it is to those who don't.

Later on — in what might be classed as an appeal to non-authority — Craig quoted Satan, further damning any credibility he might have otherwise retained in my view. Perhaps he just doesn't see how risible his arguments sound when he plumbs such depths; he seems happy enough blowing his own trumpet about how easily he can fill a hall with an audience. Sure, he's preaching to the converted and trying to inspire them, and I appreciate that a little hyperbole can go a long way.

But Craig shouldn't be let off the hook for playing fast and loose with facts. He describes the Crucifixion as the one historical fact about Jesus of Nazareth that is universally acknowledged among historical critical scholars. This is of course true, so long as your definition of "historical critical scholars" includes only those who acknowledge the Crucifixion as a historical fact.

Craig also seems very fond of referring to "The Church" as if it were a single homogenous entity, when we all know that this couldn't be further from the truth. During the Q & A he was asked about evangelising to Darwinists and postmodernists, and he advised skirting around such issues:
My evangelistic strategy is to set the bar as low as you can; make it as easy as possible to become a Christian. There are very few things you need to believe to be a Christian: you've got to believe that God exists, that Jesus Christ is divine, that he died for your sins and rose from the dead, and that you will be saved by grace, through placing your faith in his atoning death — and really that's about it, you know?
Huh? Is that all?

The final question was about Christ being the "second Adam", and how this could be true if Adam didn't actually exist as a real person. Craig said he affirmed the historical Adam, but for those who don't, the phrase "second Adam" would be purely symbolic. For me, this lackadaisical attitude to facts exemplifies so much of Christian apologetics, and is why I find it utterly unconvincing.
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