William Lane Craig and Heaven

William Lane Craig and Heaven June 5, 2020

Recently, I wrote a few pieces on heaven with reference to William Lane Craig and how he has made claims about front-loading people who would reject Jesus (God using his Middle Knowledge to work this out) into those who, as it turns out with creation, never get to hear about him anyway. In other words, when you say “But what about those people who never get to hear about Jesus?” the Christian can say “Well, god knows in advance who would reject him no matter what, and he creates them as people who end up not hearing of him” (either historically or geographically).

Thus, these people with geographical and historical bad luck are not denied God’s salvation through accidents of history or geography, but simply would have rejected God anyway.

The first example of this that I can find comes from Craig’s “‘No Other Name’: A Middle Knowledge Perspective on the Exclusivity of Salvation through Christ” in Faith and Philosophy 6, (1989): 172-88. Craig offers this as a possible defence:

On the basis of this analysis, we now seem to be equipped to provide possible answers to the three difficult questions which prompted our inquiry. (i) Why did God not create a world in which everyone freely receives Christ and so is saved? There is no such world which is feasible for God. He would have actualized such a world were this feasible, but in light of certain true counterfactuals of creaturely freedom every world realizable by God is a world in which some persons are lost. Given His will to create a world of free creatures, God must accept that some will be lost. (ii) Why did God create this world when He knew that so many persons would not receive Christ and would therefore be lost? God desired to incorporate as many persons as He could into the love and joy of divine fellowship while minimizing the number of persons whose final state is hell. He therefore chose a world having an optimal balance between the number of the saved and the number of the damned. Given the truth of certain counterfactuals of creaturely freedom, it was not feasible for God to actualize a world having as many saved as but with no more damned than the actual world. The happiness of the saved should not be precluded by the admittedly tragic circumstance that their salvation has as its concomitant the damnation of many others, for the fate of the damned is the result of their own free choice. (iii) Why did God not supply special revelation to persons who, while rejecting the general revelation they do have, would have responded to the gospel of Christ if they had been sufficiently well-informed concerning it? There are no such persons. In each world in which they exist God loves and wills the salvation of persons who in the actual world have only general revelation, and He graciously and preveniently solicits their response by His Holy Spirit, but in every world feasible for God they freely reject His grace and are lost. If there were anyone who would have responded to the gospel if he had heard it, then God in His love would have brought the gospel to such a person. Apart from miraculous intervention, “a single revelation to the whole earth has never in the past been possible, given the facts of geography and technology”;{26} but God in His providence has so arranged the world that as the gospel spread outward from its historical roots in first century Palestine, all who would respond to this gospel, were they to hear it, did and do hear it. Those who have only general revelation and do not respond to it would also not have responded to the gospel had they heard it. Hence, no one is lost because of lack of information due to historical or geographical accident. All who want or would want to be saved will be saved. [my emphasis]

He has talked about this in many other places as well. In this instance (and this is a common move), Craig says this is a possible answer. This is one of those instances of saying, well, if there is a possible answer that a Christian could give, then that’s okay by me. We’re out of the woods and in the clear. it also underwrites the possibiliter ergo probabiliter fallacy. It’s possible, therefore it’s probable.

As I have previously discussed, this is hugely problematic from an omnibenevolence point of view.

God is the designer of humanity, supposedly.

God is the creator of that design.

God has designed and created a whole subset of people who are not able to (freely) come to love God.

This reminds me of my analogy concerning God’s creative culpability:

If God designed the universe, the laws, humanity and everything, and then created the universe; and given that God could have chosen any other possible world out of infinite choices; and given that God could step in at any moment and change things; and given that God has complete foreknowledge of future events; how is God not in some way ultimately culpable for our sin?

For example, if I created a sentient lifeform in the lab – designed from scratch and created entirely myself – and I knew 100% (and I mean infallibly) that they would break out of the lab and rampage through town causing harm (rape, murder, mugging) and knew this in advance, and then still decided to create these lifeforms and they went out and did their evil thing, would I not be in some way culpable? Yes, some of them might go out and paint pictures and do charity work, but the majority were pretty evil. Yes they did it of their own free will. But I knew this in advance. I designed them in such a way. And I created them with this perfect foreknowledge. Would the police, in evaluating the crime and suffering in the town not see me as somewhat morally or causally culpable?

Let’s put it another way. I am the CEO of a massive car company. I design a car that I know 100% will have a certain amount of faults and will, as a result, cause pain and suffering through crashing as a result of those faults. Yes, some of the cars will be great, and provide good service. But many will crash and burn. Literally. And I create them knowingly. Would I not, as CEO, be held accountable?

Either God is a bad designer and is morally culpable for punishing people who he faultily designed for failing to love him as a result of that design…

or…

God is morally culpable for creating people who are unable to come to love him and then punishes them for this creative outcome.

He’s in quite a bind, that God fellow.


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