William Lane Craig delivered a one-two punch in a lecture comparing Islam and Christianity. In part 1, I critiqued his defense of Christianity against the Muslim critique. Surprisingly, this theology scholar doesn’t understand the fundamental concept of the Trinity enough to explain it without committing heresy.
Attacking Islam’s concept of God
With reduced expectations, we move on to WLC’s second point. He says,
What I am going to tell you now is something that you will never hear in the media or from our public officials for they dare not say such things.
Oh Dr. Craig, what big balls you’ve got! How fortunate for us to have WLC give us the hard truth. (I just wish he’d turn some of that tough skepticism on his own worldview.)
Here’s the truth that WLC isn’t shy about stating: “Islam has a morally deficient concept of God.” This isn’t just a preference for Yahweh over Allah; instead, “The Muslim concept of God is rationally objectionable.”
1. God is loving
Here is his argument. Step 1: “God, as the perfect being, must be all-loving.” But why that attribute for a perfect being? What about others such as being kind, genteel, polite, sophisticated, retiring, snarky, or witty? What are the objectively correct attributes of a perfect being, and how does he know? WLC is playing Victor Frankenstein, picking and choosing the attributes for his perfect god.
But let’s ignore that—does WLC’s favorite god meet his own criteria? The Bible itself makes clear that he doesn’t. Yahweh supports slavery and human sacrifice, has crazy attitudes toward marriage, and demands genocide (more here, here, here, and here). He even created evil. God clearly has a not-so-loving side.
WLC doesn’t care about consistency and sifts out verses that support his preconception:
The love of the Heavenly Father is impartial, universal, and unconditional.
Yeah—tell that to the Canaanites. Or the enslaved. Or women. Or Jesus when he said, “Don’t cast pearls before swine.”
2. But Allah isn’t so loving
WLC contrasts the Christian god with the Muslim god in step 2: “According to the Qur’an, God does not love sinners.” He then lists many verses where Allah is said not to love unbelievers, evildoers, the impious and sinners, the proud, and so on. I can accept this point, but Craig seems to imagine that his god is immune to this pettiness. He should read his own Bible:
Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9–10)
God created hell, and sending people to Hell isn’t what you do to people you love. Nevertheless, Jesus makes clear that God made most of his favorite creation so that he could send them to Hell:
Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13–14)
3. Allah loves only those who deserve it
Step 3: “According to the Qur’an, God’s love [is] reserved only for those who earn it.”
Given the choice between getting into heaven by works or by faith, I’ll pick the former. Christianity’s demand to believe the unbelievable to gain entrance into heaven fails from the beginning.
Even if we accept that faith is the preferred route to heaven, WLC should read his Bible. The parable of the sheep and goats in Matthew 25 makes clear that works get you into heaven. And there’s more:
For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done (Matthew 16:27).
[God] will repay each person according to what they have done (Romans 2:6).
The dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works (Revelation 20:12).
Craig’s own Bible makes the case for works, just like the Qur’an.
4. Therefore, Yahweh beats Allah
WLC’s conclusion: “Now don’t you think that this is a morally inadequate conception of God?”
Can he be encouraging us to judge god claims to see if they make sense? I’m all for that, but it’s surprising to hear from WLC. It almost sounds like he skeptically judges supernatural claims but then plays the “Who do you think you are to judge God??” card when it’s his god being judged.
To highlight the emptiness of the Muslim concept of God, WLC gives us this thought experiment:
What would you think of a parent who said to his children, “If you measure up to my standards and do as I tell you, then I will love you”?
Consider the Christian version: “If you don’t measure up to my standards, I’ll fry you forever.” There seems to be a lot of conditional loving going on.
WLC wraps up:
Therefore, it seems to me that the Islamic conception of God is simply morally defective. Therefore I cannot rationally accept it.
Sure, the Muslim god is morally defective, but so is the Christian god. WLC makes no attempt at an unbiased evaluation. He has no interest in fairly critiquing both sides of the issue and is simply deciding that Allah doesn’t match up to his mental model of his god.
And what does “I cannot rationally accept it” mean? If there’s a creator of the universe, it may be that he has the properties outlined in the Qur’an. The Gnostics, for example, thought that the creator of this world was imperfect (which certainly explains a lot). Since we’re going on no hard evidence in each of these cases, who’s to say that it’s not the Muslim or Gnostic creator rather than the Christian one?
Moral imperfections in the Qur’an
WLC sets up his own jihad against Islam by citing its barbarism. But for each Muslim example, the barbaric history of Christianity has plenty of counterbalancing examples.
- “[In 627,] Muhammad rounded up hundreds of Jewish families in Medina. Seven hundred Jewish men were put to the sword. Muhammad had their wives and children sold into slavery.” (That isn’t much compared to the Canaanite genocide that was ordered by God in Deuteronomy 7:1–5)
- Mohammed ordered the non-Muslims killed unless they converted. (That sounds like the persecutions of the Cathars, Anabaptists, and Huguenots in Europe. They also could have gotten forgiveness by converting.)
- “Islam is a total way of life. Everything is to be submitted to God. … The Western idea of separation of church and state is meaningless in Islam.” (Like Kim Davis performing only those government duties that satisfied her interpretation of Christianity? Like science denial by school boards? Like the many examples of state-supported Christianity? The U.S. has plenty of examples, but can WLC be saying that he wants to fight against this kind of Christian extremism? I’d love to see him on our side, but somehow I think that this is just another example of one standard for his religion and another for the other guy’s.)
William Lane Craig has butchered the Trinity, the organizing principle of his religion. He’s painted a cotton-candy picture of the Christian god based only on wishful thinking. But his critique of the Muslim god is on target. If he applied the same skepticism to his own religion, it would dissolve just as readily.
Some in the Republican Party
want official approval to oppress and marginalize
nonconformists, dissenters and freethinkers—
in other words, the very kind of people
who founded the United States.
— Tom Ehrich
Image credit: John Christian Fjellestad, flickr, CC