Wednesday, July 2, 2008

William Craig Interview, Part 2

Part two of my interview with Dr. William Lane Craig ...

RV. In defending your fine-tuning argument, you reject alternative explanations by claiming that fine-tuning by God is the "best explanation available" (pp. 16-17). Could you explain how such reasoning can be helpful in this and other apologetic arguments?

WLC. I think that in many cases we may not have a deductive argument for conclusions or we may not even have a probabilistic argument because we don't know how to assign values to the different probabilities. Nevertheless, we can say that a certain explanation is the best in that, when the competing explanations are weighed against each other-in terms of factors like explanatory power, explanatory scope, plausibility and so forth-on the basis of these criteria you can weigh rival hypotheses to see which of them is the best explanation. Accordingly, one would then go with the best explanation of the data.

RV. Sinnott-Armstrong rejects your fine-tuning argument for God. On page 47 he says, "You just might have been lucky ... there is not reason to infer that God or any designer exists." In other words, here we are existing as presumably intelligent and complex beings, so it must have happened somehow, but that does not mean God did it. How do you respond?

WLC. In the debate I use William Dembski's criteria for detecting design, which is not just high improbability, but high improbability combined with an independently given pattern (specified complexity). If those criteria are correct, then I given a good justification for a design inference here and it's not sufficient to just say, "Well, it could have happened!"

RV. On page 64, you comment on Sinnott-Armstrong's rejection of a point you make regarding the improbability of the universe resulting from chance by stating, "I take his intransigence on this score as an illustration of the willful blindness to which determined atheism leads." Could you address the matter of "willful blindness"?

WLC. Theologically speaking, we learn from Scripture that the natural mind is hostile to God and does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, but resists it. Paul says that the natural man suppresses truth in unrighteousness even though what can be known about God is evident to people. One of the purposes of the arguments of natural theology is that they serve as a sort of spiritual thermometer to take a person's spiritual temperature. The degree to which people resort to wild and outlandish explanations in order to avoid these arguments-or deny premises that they would normally never deny because they see the theistic conclusions to which they're leading-gives us indication we're dealing with a person whose heart is hardened toward God and who will resist God at all costs.

RV. Would any argument convince such skeptics of the existence of God? Have you ever come across an atheist who has been convinced?

WLC. I run into this all the time on university campuses where students will come to my talks and as a result come to faith either in God or in Jesus Christ. Or students, especially in Europe or Eastern Europe, where they have a kind of nominal atheism (just as some people in the west have a nominal Christianity) and this nominal atheism may not be held out of deep convictions or well thought out reasons and will be abandoned when good reasons are presented. To give a specific example, when I was visiting my colleague Dr. Geivett at Talbot School of Theology, Doug showed me a letter from Antony Flew in Flew's own typescript, in which Flew says he's convinced that the kalam cosmological argument is a sound argument for the existence of God.

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