There was a debate recently between Christian apologist William Lane Craig and atheist philosopher Alex Rosenberg at Purdue University and the Christian Post, unsurprisingly, thinks Craig won. No one wins such debates, of course, but they seem to think that this statement from Rosenberg was a big opening:
“In all honesty, if Dr. Craig could provide me with any kind of a logical, coherent account that could reconcile the evident fact of the horrors of human and infer human life on this planet over the last 3.5 billion years with the existence of a benevolent, omnipotent agent then I will turn Christian,” Rosenberg said at the conclusion of his first allotted rebuttal.
Rosenberg prefaced his promise by saying that evil and suffering “needs to be desperately explained.” He asked why a benevolent, omnipotent God would allow such human tragedies as the Holocaust, World War I, and the bubonic plague. He said he found the question perplexing.
“Nobody has been able to provide a satisfactory explanation,” Rosenberg said.
Craig, of course, thought he had Rosenberg right where he wanted him and offered this reply:
Craig opened his next timed debate rebuttal by saying, “I’m really excited about that last statement that Dr. Rosenberg made.” To which a seemingly large part of the audience responded with loud applause.
“The problem here is that we are assuming that God’s purpose is just to make us happy in this life, but on the Christian view that’s false,” Craig went on to say. “The purpose of life is not worldly happiness as such, but rather the knowledge of God. There may be many evils that occur in this lifetime that are utterly pointless with respect to producing worldly happiness, but they may not be pointless with respect to producing the knowledge of God and salvation and eternal life.
“It’s possible that only in a world that is suffused with natural and moral evil that the optimal number of people would come to know God freely, find salvation, and eternal life,” he continued. “So, the atheist would have to prove that there is another possible world that has this much knowledge of God and His salvation in it, but which is produced with less evils. How could He possibly prove that? It’s pure conjecture. It’s impossible to prove those things.”
Seriously? He thinks that’s the answer? I can think of a possible world that has even more knowledge of God in it, a world in which, if God exists, he simply appears to every human being, proves who he is, convinces them of his existence and tells them what he expects from them. And to reply that it’s “impossible to prove” that such a world is possible is fatuous nonsense. If God is omnipotent, he can create any world he likes and he can implant the knowledge of God on all of us if he chooses. According to Christianity, he chooses not to do so.
Naturally, Craig’s fellow apologists thought he did a bang-up job:
Renowned author and apologist Lee Strobel told The Christian Post via email after the debate that he viewed Craig as the clear winner.
“By any fair assessment, Bill Craig decisively won this debate – and he did so with characteristic gentleness and respect, as First Peter 3:15 instructs. The result wasn’t even close,” Strobel stated. “Alex Rosenberg had only shallow and unconvincing responses to Craig’s eight affirmative points, and Craig was able to effectively defuse the argument from pain and suffering that Rosenberg raised.
“Once again, this debate reminded me that Christians have an unfair advantage in the marketplace of ideas – we have truth on our side. I’m thankful for scholars like Bill Craig who responsibly and powerfully wield the evidence that shows persuasively that God exists and that Christianity is true.”
Well there you go. How can you argue with that?