PDF ISBN: MobiPocket ISBN: Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data. Craig, William Lane. Reasonable. The Infinite-Personal God. God: Infinite. God: Personal. Chasm. Man. Man. Chasm. Animals. Animals. Plants. Plants. Rocks. Rocks. B. God as Infinite. 1. aracer.mobi Dr. William Lane Craig. Physics and the God of Abraham. Gonzaga University. Lee Lectures. Louisiana State University.
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Reasonable Faith aims to provide in the public arena an intelligent, articulate, and uncompromising concerning the truth of the Christian faith today, such as. Doctrine of Revelation. Part 1. Introduction to General Revelation. Part 2. Functions of General Revelation. Part 3. Introduction to Special Revelation. Part 4 . VERBAL REASONING. R.S. Aggarwal. The book «s unique for its coverage of all types of questions A Modern aracer.mobi Exceedingly Growing Faith by Kenneth.
In my own case, the virgin birth was a stumbling block to my coming to faith -- I simply could not believe such a thing. But when I reflected on the fact that God had created the entire universe, it occurred to me that it wouldn't be too difficult for him to create the genetic material necessary for a virgin birth! Craig ends this section with a discussion of the idea that nonbelievers might act as if a "noble lie" were true, even though they don't really believe it.
Craig's imagined noble lie "tells us the universe is infused with value which is a great fiction ," "makes a claim to universal truth when there is none ," and "tells me not to live for self-interest which is evidently false.
But by appealing to "the witness of the Holy Spirit" as the basis for his indubitable Christian beliefs, Craig is able to have his cake and eat it too: Moreover, his "noble lie" is, in fact, an ignoble one, insofar as Craig also believes that the Holy Spirit is witnessing to unbelievers, no matter what they claim, and will "bring full justice in dazzling flame upon those who have refused to recognize God" as Craig quotes 2 Thessalonians 1: However, to paraphrase Susan Clancy's Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens , Craig's personal religious experience might explain why Craig believes "weird things," but not why he accepts Christian fundamentalism and not some other religious tradition specifically.
The primary aim of Chapter 3 is to lay out Craig's version of the kalam cosmological argument for the existence of God , which appeals to, among other things, modern Big Bang cosmology. The "Assessment" begins with a statement that does not bode well for an argument that purports to draw heavily on modern science:. Moreover, the gradualism of classical evolutionary theory based upon the mechanism of minor mutations and natural selection has been radically called into question by the proponents of "punctuated equilibrium," who argue that the transitional forms are absent from the fossil record because they never existed.
Rather, they say evolution occurs by intermittent bursts from one form to another. Insofar as this new theory fails to account for these bursts and must appeal to "hopeful monsters" -- massive mutations that produce new forms without transitional forms -- the hypothesis of design becomes more plausible. This is a major distortion of the punctuated equilibria theory. The theory simply holds that apparently abrupt speciation arises with rapid change from a geological point of view.
Transitional forms are still posited and no "hopeful monsters" are required. This distortion is, of course, incidental to Craig's cosmological argument itself. In the "Application" section, Craig relates a story about a man who objected to his argument with the simple question, "If God created the universe, then where did God come from?
Craig's version of the argument, however, aims to bypass the objection by framing the argument in terms of causality rather than, say, how something came to be. Craig offers little support for his first premise, opting instead to attack those who do not accept it. He supplements this with a consideration of different conceptions of God's existence 'within,' 'outside of,' or 'apart from' time as we know it:. Craig concludes that options 1 and 2 are ruled out by his own arguments.
On the face of it, option 4 is not really an option since no clear meaning can be given to the phrase "undifferentiated time. That leaves us with option 3. What reasons do we have for thinking that God is timeless? Craig says that it is simultaneously intuitively obvious and "may be 'mysterious' in the sense of 'wonderful' or 'awe-inspiring,' but it is not, so far as I can see, unintelligible.
Thus Craig's grounds for accepting the existence of a timeless God who created the universe, rather than a universe that simply arose spontaneously perhaps out of a 'larger' timeless multiverse , are simply that he finds the former more intuitive. Similarly, it seems intuitive that everything needs an explanation for its existence. But then an unexplained God fares no better than an unexplained universe or multiverse.
Perhaps Craig could offer an ontological argument to 'explain' God's existence, but such an argument would make his kalam cosmological argument unnecessary, and could even be constructed to 'prove' the existence of an omnipotent yet malevolent being. Such a being could not exist alongside an omnipotent and all-good God, for the absolute power of either being entails that such power could not be shared.
Any attempt to inductively establish that whatever begins to exist has a cause also fails. For while we may have no experience with things that begin to exist without cause if we set aside events on the quantum scale , we certainly have no experience at all with things that exist timelessly without explanation. Thus, although postulating an uncaused universe or multiverse may be counterintuitive, we have no reason to avoid one by postulating God.
Craig defends the second premise of his kalam cosmological argument, that the universe began to exist, with four arguments: I should note from the outset that it is not my view that the universe necessarily did not begin to exist. Rather, I'm sympathetic to the view taken by Robert Heinlein's fictional character Jubal Harshaw, who "made a pact with himself to postulate a Created Universe on even-numbered days, a tail-swallowing eternal-and-uncreated Universe on odd-numbered days -- since each hypothesis, while equally paradoxical, neatly avoided the paradoxes of the other -- with, of course, a day off each leap year for sheer solipsist debauchery.
In his defense of the second premise of this subargument, Craig responds to an objection by J. Mackie which Craig characterizes as ones which "illicitly assumes an infinitely distant starting point. For if the history of the universe is infinitely long, then it was not formed by adding one member after another.
No matter how far back one goes, there is always going to be an infinitely long history of events preceding that moment. Thus the first premise only holds on the question-begging assumption that the set of all events that ever happened before once consisted of zero events.
But that assumption is simply another way of saying that the universe began to exist; in other words, Craig is assuming the very conclusion he is trying to establish.
When I first read Reasonable Faith , Craig's argument against an actually infinite number of things struck me as his strongest argument for the premise that the universe began to exist, for the very concept of infinity seems to lead to a myriad of contradictions.
For instance, an infinite set can be added to without getting larger, and subtracted from without getting any smaller it won't be any more or any less infinite. Half of an infinite set will still be infinite, the fraction of the whole being as large as the whole itself.
And one can remove half of an infinite set and still have infinity left over. However, as an anonymous reviewer of this paper has pointed out, listing the apparent contradictions that arise from considering infinities seems to be a rhetorical device "inviting readers to [improperly] import their intuitions about finite things into a situation dealing with infinite things.
Doing so would rule out far more than Craig ever intended to rule out, including, but not limited to, the coherence of basic arithmetic. For instance, the set of natural numbers and the set of odd numbers are both equally infinite: Yet there seem to be two natural numbers for every odd number. Is basic arithmetic, then, incoherent? Of course not: Since Craig emphasizes the difference between potential infinities and actual infinities in this section, I assume he would appeal to this distinction to explain the difference between an infinity of natural numbers and an infinity of past events.
For one thing, many philosophers have insisted that numbers have an independent existence as abstract objects, and Craig seems to have committed himself to this view in his defense among other places of Alvin Plantinga's argument from abstract objects.
Perhaps, for instance, the correct ontology is a sort of Humean account favored by many empiricists, where numbers exist only in our heads and mathematical truths are matters of definition. But such differences do not appear to have any impact on Craig's arguments: Since arithmetic is so plainly coherent, we must reject the assumption that infinities will function like finite quantities. The section purporting scientific confirmation that the universe began to exist contains a lengthy argument from Big Bang cosmology and a shorter one from thermodynamics the latter noting that, contrary to observation, we would expect infinite entropy in an infinitely old universe given the observed arrow of time.
In a personal communication, University of Wisconsin Madison astronomer Don Cox commented that this section seemed to be a fairly accurate summary of the state of cosmology at the time it was written, but nevertheless noted a few errors:. Craig's polemics put him in an awkward position here: In short, his argument depends upon the contingency that the universe began to exist and did not emerge from some larger 'timeless' or infinitely old multiverse, but scientific advancement threatens to falsify that contingency.
There's a more fundamental criticism of Craig's project in this section, however. Notably, he criticizes a variety of specific testable hypotheses about the Big Bang, but only offers a vague and untestable God hypothesis in its place.
More precisely, Craig offers no way to at least attempt to falsify the God hypothesis, and suggests no astronomical observations entailed by it.
Contemporary writers who claim that theism or at least Christian theism implies any specific cosmology tend to be atheists who argue, in turn, that such theism predicts features of our world that in fact have been falsified by subsequent scientific findings. The same could be said of Craig's argument from increasing entropy against the existence of an infinitely old universe: Though I would propose that if after much cosmological research, no explanation of the Big Bang proves to be of any use in making predictions, we should abandon all untestable explanations of it, whether impersonal or divine, no matter how much such an approach may annoy our intuitions.
A typical response to this point, in so many words, is that we ought to evaluate supernatural hypotheses by less stringent standards than those we apply to naturalistic ones. It is not clear to me what possible rationale there could be for taking such a view; at the very least, one would think that supernatural explanations should not receive preferential treatment over naturalistic ones.
Let us call the view that it is inappropriate and overreaching to apply the same evidential standards to supernatural hypotheses that are brought to bear on naturalistic ones the preferential treatment thesis. It is notable that preferential treatment proponents frequently claim that science cannot say anything at all about religious claims, though that claim does not seem to follow from the preferential treatment thesis itself.
Tacitly, the thesis seems to amount to a concession that supernatural hypotheses do not stand a chance of meeting the basic evidential standards required of naturalistic ones. But if that really is the case, why should anyone treat supernatural hypotheses as live options in the first place? In any case, even if we were to grant the preferential treatment thesis, it does not seem to help Craig's case, as he proposes the God hypothesis as an alternative to various naturalistic ones implicitly on the grounds that God explains certain features of the world better than naturalistic alternatives which seek to explain the same evidence.
Suppose we grant both of the premises of Craig's kalam cosmological argument. Then the conclusion that the universe has a cause follows deductively. But this conclusion is a rather mild one. What we really need from an argument for the existence of God is some reason to believe that the cause of the universe is a personal one.
And this is where Craig's ultimate argument for a personal God is weakest. Craig supplements his kalam argument with the following argument that the cause of the universe is personal:. Let's say that the cause of water's freezing is sub-zero temperatures. Whenever the temperature falls below zero degrees Centigrade, the water freezes.
Once the cause is given, the effect must follow, and if the cause exists from eternity, the effect must also exist from eternity.
If the temperature were to remain below zero degrees from eternity, then any water around would be frozen from eternity. But this seems to imply that if the cause of the universe existed eternally, the universe would also have existed eternally.
And this we know to be false. One might say that the cause came to exist or changed in some way just prior to the first event. But then the cause's beginning or changing would be the first event, and we must ask all over again for its cause. And this cannot go on forever, for we know that a beginningless series of events cannot exist. There must be an absolutely first event, before which there was no change, no previous event.
We know that this first event must have been caused. The question is: Why isn't the effect as co-eternal as the cause? It seems that there is only one way out of this dilemma, and that is to infer that the cause of the universe is a personal agent who chooses to create a universe in time. Philosophers call this type of causation "agent causation," and because the agent is free, he can initiate new effects by freely bringing about conditions which were not previously present.
For example, a man sitting from eternity could will to stand up; thus, a temporal effect arises from an eternally existing agent. Similarly, a finite time ago a Creator endowed with free will could have willed to bring the world into being at that moment.
In this way, God could exist changelessly and eternally but choose to create the world in time. By 'choose' one need not mean that the Creator changes his mind about the decision to create, but that He freely and eternally intends to create a world with a beginning.
By exercising his causal power, he therefore brings it about that a world with a beginning comes to exist. So the cause is eternal, but the effect is not. In this way, then, it is possible for the temporal universe to have come to exist from an eternal cause: Whatever you think of the value of this argument, note that postulating a personal cause of the universe is no less problematic than Craig imagines an impersonal cause to be, and may bring in even larger conceptual difficulties.
For instance, what does it even mean to say that a timeless God decided to create the universe 'at some point? Indeed, it is extraordinarily difficult to conceive of how any 'timeless' thing -- personal or not -- could produce yet another temporal process anything.
Craig seems to deny the temporal nature of deciding when he says that we needn't suppose that God changed his mind, but he offers no alternative analysis which construes deciding in nontemporal terms. In an online article  Craig adds that "only a libertarian agent could interrupt the static reign of being of the First Cause sans the universe," but even a genuinely libertarian agent would seem to need time in order to freely choose.
The fundamental problem here is completely independent of whether the cause of the universe is personal or not; it is whether the cause of the universe is timeless or not. For if a perfectly static timeless state or being 'preceded' the universe, how could that perfect stasis be interrupted? This appears to be one of those perennial questions, like why there is something rather than nothing, for which no conceivable answer -- other than that there never was any such timeless state or being -- is available whether one assumes that God or exists or that he does not.
Craig often appeals to the intuitive assumption 'from nothing, nothing comes. Craig offers no convincing reason to prefer a timeless creator to an uncaused universe, and the latter may even face fewer conceptual difficulties than the former.
The chapter ends on a one-page sketch of a modern teleological argument based on The Anthropic Cosmological Principle. Such large figures sound astonishing, but they are derived from the specificity of the question 'What are the odds that the human genome would arise on Earth? The probability that any particular intelligent species would arise on Earth is very low when we consider all of the potential intelligent species that could have arisen, but this has little relevance for whether God exists.
Furthermore, the authors calculated the odds for the human genome to appear "spontaneously" -- a word Craig omits from his citation. Since no modern biologist would ever claim that the human genome arose through a purely random process, the cited calculations greatly exaggerate the odds against a natural origin of the human genome. In short, the conclusion that a natural origin of human beings is so improbable that we must have been created by God does not follow from the "ten crucial steps" analysis, at least not without further argument well beyond what Craig presents in Reasonable Faith.
The events labeled as crucial steps, such as the appearance of DNA and the appearance of aerobic respiration, are included because they have occurred only once in Earth's history. The need for such steps may indicate that the origin of human beings isn't a particularly probable outcome, but it is quite a large leap from this to the conclusion that the origin of human beings is so improbable that it could not have happened without the intervention of a supernatural agent. There is an important sense in which the final section of this chapter is more important than its primary focus, the kalam cosmological argument itself.
As we have already seen, there are some substantial concerns about the soundness of that argument. But had we concluded that the kalam cosmological argument is an unqualified success -- and even conceded the supplementary argument that the cause of the universe must be a person with libertarian free will -- this would not support the larger project of Reasonable Faith.
Nothing in this sole chapter on the existence of God offers us any reason to believe that the deity has any specific moral characteristics, or takes any interest in life on Earth, though Craig's last-minute addition of an argument from design might be taken to imply that God had some unknown reason for creating organic sentient beings.
Chapter 3, then, has offered us a series of arguments for the existence of a metaphysical abstraction, and nothing more. And yet the position adopted in the previous chapter, that God is needed to make our lives meaningful, assumes that God is a loving being who takes a personal interest in the lives of human beings.
It is surprising, then, that not a single line of thought in the current chapter gives us any reason to attribute such characteristics to God. Interestingly, in various debates and publications, Craig has claimed that demonstrating the existence of God raises the prior probability of the resurrection of Jesus, though he does not explicitly claim this in Reasonable Faith itself.
Nor does it give us any reason to believe that the Creator would be able to resurrect Jesus. To assume otherwise would be analogous to assuming that a scientist capable of creating a Petri dish full of bacteria is also able to raise an individual bacterium from the dead.
Thus, nothing in this chapter provides us with any reason to believe in the Christian God specifically, though Craig argues for the truth of Christianity later. The "Assessment" in Chapter 4 is divided into three parts: Craig first addresses the objection that, in essence, natural laws make the occurrence of miracles impossible. He starts by arguing correctly, I think that quantum mechanics does not offer a way around the operation of absolute natural laws, in part because some miracles are overtly inconsistent even with quantum mechanics, and in part because nothing within relativity theory is indeterminate.
Moreover, even if quantum mechanics makes it impossible to absolutely rule out miracles, they would nevertheless remain extremely improbable. Craig says that if laws of nature are just descriptions of regular occurrences regularities , such descriptions would simply have to take the occurrence of miracles into account as well.
He adds that even on the alternative "nomic theory of necessity" -- in which natural laws tell us what can and cannot happen -- the laws of nature only tell us what happens when there is no supernatural intervention, and a miracle can be described as an event that is only naturally not supernaturally impossible.
Finally, if natural laws are understood as descriptions of the dispositions of things to act in certain ways, miracles can be accommodated as interferences with natural propensities, and are thus not impossible. There's no denying that there is a sense in which anything is possible, or in which we cannot know what is and is not possible. Nevertheless, the mere logical possibility of miracles does not entail that there are not strong reasons to be skeptical of miracles.
Objections to belief in miracles posed by Spinoza and Hume provide excellent examples of such reasons. Craig paraphrases three objections to miracles that he attributes to Spinoza: Craig responds to the last objection as follows:.
Since, as we shall see, most critics now acknowledge that Jesus did perform what we may call miracles, this answer to Spinoza and [contemporary philosopher Antony] Flew seems to be a cogent defense of the supernatural origin of the gospel miracles.
The most questionable part of Craig's response, that "most critics" concede that Jesus worked miracles "as we shall see" , refers to a somewhat vague statement on p.
For example, Jesus may have told lepers that they would be healed, but any recoveries may have happened over a period of days. Faith healings and exorcisms in general, if not the specific Gospel accounts, do not even require postulating unknown natural causes.
Rather, they can be explained by known forces such as confirmation bias and suggestion. Moreover, during the time period when the Gospels were written, these natural phenomena were not well-understood and could have easily been misinterpreted as miracles.
Even today the sources of false extraordinary claims often go unrecognized, such as the power of suggestion over perception and memory. And then there are well-known factors which are frequently underestimated, such as trickery and fraud.
Finally, even to this day we do not fully understand why people sometimes claim to witness events that never happened -- but they make such claims nonetheless, particularly about marvelous events. All of this should make us wonder, when we are faced with an apparently inexplicable miracle claim, if we simply lack knowledge of its true natural cause.
Next Craig turns the paucity of well-supported miracle claims found today into an argument for the authenticity of biblical miracles. On the Resurrection, Craig argues:.
Moreover, if it were the effect purely of natural causes, then its singularity in the history of mankind becomes very difficult to understand -- why has it not happened again? In the nearly two thousand years since that event, no natural causes have been discovered that could explain it.
It seems to me that explaining why such events do not happen today is a far greater difficulty for the plausibility of the view that miracles occur. On Craig's worldview, God worked numerous overt miracles throughout Israelite history, from Moses to Jesus, and Jesus even gave powers to his disciples to work throughout the world; and then for some reason such incidents evaporated. Why would a God with the means, motive, and opportunity to directly reveal himself to vast numbers of human beings across the globe through miracles limit the undeniable display of his powers to one particular region of the world for a small portion of human history?
On the other hand, if miracles do not occur, but there are scores of false miracle claims driven by psychological and sociological factors, it is not surprising that 1 the actual miracle claims we find tend to be poorly documented including those of Jesus himself and 2 the miracles purported today tend to be found spurious in situations where they can be thoroughly scrutinized. Because the lack of decent evidence for present-day miracles was central to Hume's objection to rational belief in them, we will examine this point in more depth shortly.
After lampooning Spinoza's implicit argument that even eyewitnesses should be skeptical of miracles by quoting Ebenezer Scrooge's skeptical response to his encounter with a ghost in Charles Dickens' novel A Christmas Carol , Craig declares:. Perhaps Pascal was right in saying that God had given evidence sufficiently clear for those with an open heart, but sufficiently vague so as to not compel those whose hearts are closed.
Finally, how does Craig account for countless cases of apparently sincere unbelief? Consider former Christian Paul Doland's apt response to Craig's claim that God will reveal himself to all who ask:. I can only speak for myself, and I seem incapable of "experiencing" God. Given his comments in the first chapter of Reasonable Faith , Craig apparently believes that Doland and others like him are either outright dishonest or simply deluding themselves.
But there seems to be little evidence to support this conjecture. By far the most famous argument against miracles that Craig addresses is the argument laid out by David Hume in Section 10, Part 1 of his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. This argument is typically referred to as the "in principle" objection, while the argumentation of Part 2 concerns a series of "in fact" objections. I will follow Craig in focusing on the argument in Part 1. Central to Hume's case is the claim that "experience be our only guide concerning matters of fact," meaning that we must judge the probability of claims based on our own experience.
Given how far miracle claims lie outside of normal human experience, this principle, if correct, provides a serious barrier to belief in miracles. In support of this contention, he observes that the only reason we trust human testimony is because we have, in the past, experienced a connection between testimony and facts about the world.
Hume makes a similar point earlier in his Enquiry , in Section 4, when he argues that it is only experience which allows us to infer a person from a voice in the dark.
I think that the best argument for Hume's position, though, may be one unwittingly provided by apologists like Craig, who implicitly presume that experience is the only way we can evaluate other hypotheses. Apologists must constantly appeal to experience in attempting to refute the alternative explanations provided by skeptics. To quote just one rather succinct example from the final chapter of this book: Suddenly, Craig must argue not that miracles must be treated like other historical hypotheses, but that miracles must be granted a special exception from our normal requirements for a good hypothesis!
It is important to emphasize that Hume never claimed that no evidence could possibly establish a miracle, only that we must require "that the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavours to establish. However, Hume says, he would not believe a real miracle had happened should all sources report that the Queen of England rose from the dead, presumably on the grounds that such a thing is much harder to verify than a global darkness, and much more open to falsehood from "the knavery and folly of men.
Craig begins by correctly pointing out that read literally, Hume's "uniform experience against every miraculous event" is circular, but his can be taken to mean "general experience" or "nearly uniform experience," a quite defensible and non-question-begging position. Craig then says that by thinking that "general experience" can rule out miracles, Hume is confusing science and history.
This objection ignores rather than refutes what Hume said since he did not merely assert that we must use experience as our guide; he argued the point. Indeed, Craig's objection ignores the approach he himself uses later on when dealing with rival hypotheses to the Resurrection. When Craig says we cannot weigh the evidence for miracles on the same scale as the evidence for natural laws, he runs the risk of leaving us with no scale at all to weigh historical evidence.
However, earlier Craig provided such a scale: There are several problems with this view. First, Craig gives no reason to use a religio-historical context criterion, and it can only be established on hypothetical considerations.
Second, evidence does show that spurious claims rarely have no religious context. Even psychic spoon-bender Uri Geller claimed his feats were the work of a higher intelligence, and alien abductions have a quasi-religious edge for some.
When "religio-historical context" is broadened to mean any kind of context and Craig gives no reason not to do so we can find context for anything.
For example, if Uri Geller had made no claims of an "Intelligence in the Sky," one could still say his powers make sense in the context of the belief that some people can do extraordinary things with their minds. If historians had concluded that a resurrection of Queen Elizabeth took place, they probably would have come up with some context, whether legitimizing the Church of England over that of Rome, or letting her do important work for England.
Perhaps someone would've even "discovered" a document proving that she descended from Jesus himself! Thus, Hume's argument stands, and religio-historical context fails as an alternative criterion of probability.
Craig affirms the views of William Paley, Gottfried Less, and Thomas Sherlock -- sketched earlier in the "history" section of the chapter -- who argued that Hume's general considerations could lead us to reject the strongest testimony for things outside of our experience, even natural events. I think it's worth looking at Sherlock's example: Hume dealt with such a view in his essay:.
The Indian prince, who refused to believe the first relations concerning the effects of frost, reasoned justly; and it naturally required very strong testimony to engage his assent to facts, that arose from a state of nature, with which he was unacquainted, and which bore so little analogy to those events, of which he had had constant and uniform experience.
Though they were not contrary to his experience, they were not conformable to it. Observe that Hume does not say no evidence could ever establish the existence of ice, merely that the prince was right to be skeptical of the first relations about it.
Far from being absurd, this position seems obviously correct once one considers that travelers from distant lands often brought extraordinary false stories. The issue is not that ice is merely "uncomformable" to experience one could reasonably say the same about miracles , but that it is repeatable, whereas miracles are not. The prince would find that every visitor from northern climates would agree that water freezes in winter, as would every returning ambassador and trader.
This would allow him to build up more evidence than is even possible to conceive of for most miracle claims. The amount of evidence that would be generated in Hume's global darkness example is almost impossible to get for most one-time claims, but is easy to get for a repeatable phenomenon, such as ice.
Of course, it is possible to imagine a world where, in all ages, miracles happen often enough that they are not significantly harder to document than ice. Unfortunately, we do not live in such a world. Next, Craig argues for the need for a religio-historical context in order to label an event a miracle with the following illustration:. There are all sorts of events that make up the stuff of popular books and television shows on unexplained mysteries such as levitations, disappearing persons, spontaneous human combustion, and so forth that have not been scientifically explained, but -- judging by their pointless nature, sporadic occurrence, and lack of any religious context -- are not miracles.
It would be folly for the historian to deny the occurrence of such events in the face of good eyewitness evidence to the contrary, simply because they do not fit in with known natural laws.
Yet Hume's principle would require the historian to say that these events never occurred, which is indefensible. There are, in fact, good historical grounds for denying these events. Most victims of spontaneous combustion turn out, on further investigation, to have been found near some source of flame, and damage to the body is great only when a fuel source beyond clothes is present. However, there is evidence that Home engaged in trickery on other occasions.
Even ignoring this, the alleged event happened during a spiritualist craze which ended with many fraudulent mediums being exposed by magicians like Harry Houdini. Such "general considerations," which Craig so deplores, plainly cast some doubt on Home's alleged feat.
Craig opened chapter 2 with a dismissive comment characterizing the Skeptical Inquirer as one part of a modern humanist campaign of "almost evangelical fervor. The endless supply of claims critiqued, many documented better than the claims of Christianity, should lead us to considerable skepticism about miracle claims.
Home's levitation is among these better evidenced claims, as we have statements from three eyewitnesses. The only generally accepted written documentation of potential eyewitness testimony to the resurrection appearances is a brief passage from I Corinthians.
Craig then turns a critique of Antony Flew's revised Humean argument against the rationality of belief in miracles, offering the following obscure comments about historical possibility:. If one wishes to talk about historical possibility or impossibility at all, these terms ought not to be defined in terms of scientific law, but in terms of historical evidence. Thus, for example, it is historically possible that Nietzsche's insanity resulted from venereal disease; it is historically impossible that Napoleon won the battle of Waterloo.
On this basis, only the evidence can tell us whether it is possible that Jesus rose from the dead. This is an odd approach to history, since evidence is generally used to establish the factuality , not the mere possibility, that a certain event occurred. It seems that Craig is arguing that the Resurrection is historically possible if there is no contrary evidence, but that is a low standard.
I wonder what evidence disproves the hypothesis that Nietzsche was driven insane by a visitation of Cthulhu. Craig proceeds to claim that Flew's work is simply a restatement of Ernst Troelstch's principle of analogy -- essentially the idea that we should dismiss reports of historical events that have no parallels in our present experience -- but in fact it just restates a Humean point that Craig ignored in his critique of Hume.
Craig responds that we should apply this principle in "an unclear historical situation," but not when an event "bursts all analogies to the present. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. December Learn how and when to remove this template message. Retrieved from " https: Hidden categories: Articles lacking sources from December All articles lacking sources Pages to import images to Wikidata.
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