William Lane Craig, one of the most well-known Christian apologists in the world, told one of his fans to “quit reading the infidel material” when the WLC follower approached him saying they were finding it “hard to believe in God.”
It all started in 2013 when a Christian read my book, Disproving Christianity, and listened to other secular works. The believer said they “want to believe in God” but they were “having trouble” retaining their faith after being exposed to secular materials.
They pleaded with Craig, asking for suggestions and saying, “I want to believe in God.”
Hi, Dr. Craig, I’m currently reading “Disproving Christianity” by David McAfee. I’ve also been listening to Richard Dawkins. I want to believe in God, but I’m having trouble with my faith. I’ve always been a Christian, but since I started talking to my atheist friends, I find it hard to believe in God. When I think about it, it doesn’t make much sense to me to belive in a creator of the universe. It makes even less sense for me to believe in a God who intervines in our lives. Please, I want to believe in God, any suggestions?
Craig’s response… left a lot to be desired. He starts off with a long-winded story, and then explains that the believer who wrote him for help was “not properly equipped” to handle arguments found within the “anti-Christian material.”
I find myself utterly baffled by the cavalier way in which many ill-equipped Christians expose themselves to material which is potentially destructive to them. It’s like someone who doesn’t know how to swim deciding to take the plunge in the heavy surf. Wouldn’t it be the sensible thing to do to first prepare yourself before venturing into dangerous waters?
I remember vividly that when I first became a Christian I was very careful about what I read because I knew that there was material out there which could be destructive to my newfound faith and that I had a lot, lot more to learn before I was ready to deal with it. Do we forget that there is an enemy of our souls who hates us intensely, is bent on our destruction, and will use anything he can to undermine our faith or render us ineffective in God’s hands? Are we so naïve?
In your case I strongly suspect that, despite your having been a Christian for most of your life, you have not properly equipped yourself before reading and watching anti-Christian material.
He further compared writings critical of Christianity to “garbage,” and suggested several Christian writers. The philosopher made a total of four suggestions, including to “Quit reading and watching the infidel material you’ve been absorbing.”
- Make first and foremost a recommitment of your heart to Christ. Examine yourself to make sure there is no unconfessed sin in your life and daily ask God to fill you with His Holy Spirit. Make sure that you have a regular time of private prayer and Bible study and regularly participate in corporate worship. Look for ways to serve in a local community of believers. Your spiritual formation is just as important as your intellectual formation.
- Quit reading and watching the infidel material you’ve been absorbing. Confess your recklessness and irresponsibility to God. Notice: I’m not saying, quit asking questions. I’m saying, quit going to the wrong people for answers.
- Begin a program of equipping yourself in Christian doctrine and apologetics. A good way to do this is to start going through our Defenders lectures (series II) (http://www.reasonablefaith.org/defenders-2-podcast), starting at the beginning. You might also go slowly through On Guard (Cook, 2010). This would be best done with a mentor or a group if you can find one.
- Put yourself in the way of learning. Attend some apologetics conferences, like the annual apologetics conference of the Evangelical Philosophical Society every November. Try to find some like-minded Christians with whom you can discuss your questions. If there’s a Christian college or seminary in your area investigate enrolling in night classes.
If Christianity is the transcendent truth and superior to all other faithful and non-faithful worldviews, as Craig believes, then why does it need to be protected from criticism? Why do Christians, in Craig’s view, need to “equip” themselves before being exposed to such material?
My view is the opposite. Where Craig says “believe,” I say investigate. I would never encourage an atheist to avoid the Bible, for example, out of fear that its strong arguments might compel that person to believe. In fact, I frequently encourage the opposite approach: I recommend believers and non-believers alike educate themselves about all of the world’s religions, including a basic understanding of the traditions’ core tenets and Holy Books.
If you study comparative religion, it’s more difficult to be religious because the great faiths are all very similar at the most fundamental level. Each organization has similar cult beginnings and “prophets,” they each began as local and cultural myths before being applied to a global context, and they are almost always spread through a combination of violence and proselytization.
Non-believers don’t have to be fearful of theistic material because there’s simply no evidence for the existence of deities, therefore every argument is automatically philosophical in nature and regards a general “higher power,” and not any specific deity – like Jesus or Allah.
In the end, though, I wasn’t surprised Craig resorted to this type of suppression of ideas. His recycled arguments have been thoroughly debunked, including in a new book by Hypatia Press (Unreasonable Faith), so he has no choice but to ignore critical writings.
Yours in Reason,
David G. McAfee
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*Portions of this article were published in 2013 here.