William Lane Craig

American Christian apologist and theologian

William Lane Craig (born August 23, 1949) is an analytic philosopher, Christian theologian, evangelist, and author and editor of around 40 books. He earned a Ph.D. in philosophy in Birmingham, England, and a doctorate in theology in Munich, Germany.

"The man who claims to have no need of philosophy is the one most apt to be fooled by it."


  • In order to receive forgiveness, we need to place our trust in Christ as our Savior and the Lord of our lives. But if we reject Christ, then we reject God's mercy and fall back on His justice. And you know where you stand there. If we reject Jesus’ offer of forgiveness, then there is simply is no one else to pay the penalty for your sin – except yourself.
  • I truly wish with all my heart that universal salvation were true. But to pretend that people are not sinful and in need of salvation would be as cruel and deceptive as pretending that somebody was healthy even though you knew that he had a fatal disease for which you knew the cure.
  • Heaven may not be a possible world when you take it in isolation by itself. It may be that the only way in which God could actualize a heaven of free creatures all worshiping Him and not falling into sin would be by having, so to speak, this run-up to it, this advance life during which there is a veil of decision-making in which some people choose for God and some people against God. Otherwise you don't know that heaven is an actualizable world. You have no way of knowing that possibility.
  • In general, Western culture is deeply post-Christian. It is the product of the Enlightenment, which introduced into European culture the leaven of secularism that has by now permeated Western society. While most of the original Enlightenment thinkers were themselves theists, the majority of Western intellectuals today no longer considers theological knowledge to be possible. The person who follows the pursuit of reason unflinchingly toward its end will be atheistic or, at best, agnostic.
  • Richard [Carrier] takes the extremist position that Jesus of Nazareth never even existed, that there was no such person in history. This is a position that is so extreme that to call it marginal would be an understatement; it doesn't even appear on the map of contemporary New Testament scholarship.
  • Very often atheists themselves admit that they have no evidence of God's absence, but they try to put a different spin on it. They'll tell you, “No one can prove a universal negative” (like “There is no God”). They think this somehow excuses them from needing evidence against God's existence. But not only is it false that you can't prove a universal negative (all you have to do is show something is self-contradictory), but more importantly, this claim is really an admission that it's impossible to prove atheism! Atheism involves a universal negative, you can't prove a universal negative, therefore, atheism is unprovable. It turns out that it is the atheist who is believing a view for which there is and can be no evidence.
    • On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision (2010), p. 149
  • And therefore, even though animals are in pain, they aren't aware of it. They don't have this third order pain awareness. They are not aware of pain, and therefore they do not suffer as human beings do. Now, this is a tremendous comfort to those of us who are animal lovers, like myself, or to pet owners. Even though your dog or your cat may be in pain, it isn't really aware of being in pain, and therefore it doesn't suffer as you would when you are in pain.
  • Moreover, if we believe, as I do, that God's grace is extended to those who die in infancy or as small children, the death of these children was actually their salvation. We are so wedded to an earthly, naturalistic perspective that we forget that those who die are happy to quit this earth for heaven's incomparable joy. Therefore, God does these children no wrong in taking their lives.
    So whom does God wrong in commanding the destruction of the Canaanites? Not the Canaanite adults, for they were corrupt and deserving of judgment. Not the children, for they inherit eternal life. So who is wronged? Ironically, I think the most difficult part of this whole debate is the apparent wrong done to the Israeli soldiers themselves. Can you imagine what it would be like to have to break into some house and kill a terrified woman and her children? The brutalising effect on these Israeli soldiers is disturbing.
  • There is one important aspect of my answer that I would change, however. I have come to appreciate as a result of a closer reading of the biblical text that God’s command to Israel was not primarily to exterminate the Canaanites but to drive them out of the land. It was the land that was (and remains today!) paramount in the minds of these Ancient Near Eastern peoples. The Canaanite tribal kingdoms which occupied the land were to be destroyed as nation states, not as individuals. The judgment of God upon these tribal groups, which had become so incredibly debauched by that time, is that they were being divested of their land. Canaan was being given over to Israel, whom God had now brought out of Egypt. If the Canaanite tribes, seeing the armies of Israel, had simply chosen to flee, no one would have been killed at all. There was no command to pursue and hunt down the Canaanite peoples.
    It is therefore completely misleading to characterize God’s command to Israel as a command to commit genocide. Rather it was first and foremost a command to drive the tribes out of the land and to occupy it. Only those who remained behind were to be utterly exterminated. There may have been no non-combatants killed at all. That makes sense of why there is no record of the killing of women and children, such as I had vividly imagined. Such scenes may have never taken place, since it was the soldiers who remained to fight. It is also why there were plenty of Canaanite people around after the conquest of the land, as the biblical record attests.
  • What good does it do to pray about anything if the outcome is not affected? I would say when God chooses which world to actualize, he takes into account the prayers that would be offered in that world. We shouldn't think prayer is about changing the mind of God. He's omniscient; he already knows the future, but prayer makes a difference in that it can affect what world God has chosen to create.
  • The atheist believes the (Schlitz) beer commercial, which tells us to “Go for the gusto since we only go around once!” Now, I submit that’s a patently false view of ethics. If there is no God then Mr. Zindler is absolutely right—just live for total self-interest. There is no objective right and wrong. Nobody holds you accountable so just go for all the gusto you can get. Now, of course, you have to be rather careful about this because if you just pursue your unbridled lusts you may hurt other people and they, in turn, may try to get you back and diminish your gusto.
Craig: It does if the first premise [of the Kalam Cosmological Argument] is true: that whatever begins to exist has a cause. It logically follows.
Wolpert: Yeah, but the cause doesn't have to be God.
Craig: Well, remember I gave an argument for thinking that this cause is timeless, spaceless, immaterial, enormously powerful, and personal.
Wolpert: I think it is a computer.
Craig: Well, computers are designed by people.
Wolpert: No, no. This is a self-designing computer.
Craig: Ah ha.
Wolpert: Timeless!
John Humphrys (moderator): Timeless!
Craig: Well, that's a contradiction in terms.
Wolpert: Why? What is contradictory about it?
Craig: A computer has to function. It takes time.
Wolpert: Oh no, this is a special computer.
Craig: Yeah, but it has to be logically coherent.
Wolpert: Oh, it is logically coherent.
Craig: Yes, you have to be logically coherent.
Wolpert: Oh no, this computer is amazing!
Craig: No. Besides, it would have to be, as I said, a personal being, and—
Wolpert: No.
Craig: A computer is a physical object.
Wolpert: Not this computer, oh no!
Craig: Okay, see, what you are doing is you are actually, what you are calling a computer, is really God. A non-physical, non- … it is just another word if you rob it of all the attributes that make it a computer.
Humphrys: Surely, Gates is God.
[Craig, Wolpert, Humphrys and the audience laugh]
Humphrys: Come on, go on.
"Do you regard any of the world's religions to be false preaching?" … "Islam." "That's quite a lot." (Hitchens and Craig, 4th April 2009)
  • Hitchens: I've got another question for you, which is this: How many religions in the world do you believe to be false?
Craig: I don't know how many religions in the world there are, so I can't answer.
Hitchens: Well, could you name … fair enough. I'll see if I can't narrow that down. That was a clumsily asked question, I admit. Do you regard any of the world's religions to be false?
Craig: Excuse me?
Hitchens: Do you regard any of the world's religions to be false preaching?
Craig: Yes, I think—yes, certainly.
Hitchens: Would you name one, then?
Craig: Islam.
Hitchens: That's quite a lot.
Craig: Pardon me?
Hitchens: That's quite a lot.
Craig: Yes.
Hitchens: Do you, therefore—do you think it's moral to preach false religion?
Craig: No.
Hitchens: So religion is responsible for quite a lot of wickedness in the world right there?
Craig: Certainly.
Hitchens: Right.
Craig: I'd be happy to concede [laughs] that. I would agree with that.
Hitchens: So if I was a baby being born in Saudi Arabia today, would you rather it was me or a Wahhabi Muslim?
Craig: Would I be—you rather be what?
Hitchens: Would you rather it was me—it was an atheist baby or a Wahhabi baby?
[Audience and Dr. Craig laugh]
Craig: I-I don't have any preference as to whether you would be … [laughing]
Hitchens: You don't? As bad as that, okay. Are there any—I'm sorry, I've only got a few seconds. It's a serious question, I shouldn't squander it. Are there any Christian denominations you regard as false?
Craig: Certainly.
Hitchens: Could I know what they are?
Craig: Well, I am not a Calvinist, for example. I think that certain tenets of Reformed Theology are incorrect. I would be more in the Wesleyan Camp myself. But these are differences among brethren. These are not differences on which we need to put one another in some sort of a cage. So within the Christian camp, there's a large diversity of perspectives. I'm sure there are views that I hold that are probably false, but I'm trying my best to get my theology straight, trying to do the best job. But I think all of us would recognize that none of us agree on every point of Christian doctrine, on every dot and tittle.
  • The man who claims to have no need of philosophy is the one most apt to be fooled by it.
    • A Reasonable Response: Answers to Tough Questions on God, Christianity, and the Bible (2013)
  • What can we say about metaphysical naturalism? Again, I want to make two points.
  1. My arguments for the existence of God show that metaphysical naturalism is not true. There is a personal, transcendent reality beyond the physical universe.
  2. Secondly, I think that metaphysical naturalism is so contrary to reason and experience as to be absurd.
In the following arguments, the first premise in every case is taken from Dr. Rosenberg’s own book.

First is the argument from intentionality:
  1. According to Dr. Rosenberg, if naturalism is true then I cannot think about anything. That is because there are no intentional states.
  2. But I am thinking about naturalism. From which it follows,
  3. Therefore, naturalism is not true.
So, if you think that you ever think about anything you should conclude that naturalism is false.

Second is the argument from meaning:
  1. According to Dr. Rosenberg, if naturalism is true then no sentence has any meaning. And he says that all the sentences in his own book are in fact meaningless.
  2. But, premise (1) has meaning. We all understood it.
  3. Therefore, naturalism is not true.

Third is the argument from truth:
  1. According to Dr. Rosenberg, if naturalism is true then there are no true sentences. That is because they are all meaningless.
  2. But, premise (1) is true. That is what the naturalist believes and asserts.
  3. Therefore, naturalism is not true.

Fourth is the argument from moral praise and blame:
  1. According to Dr. Rosenberg, if naturalism is true then I am not morally praiseworthy or blameworthy for any of my actions because, as I said, on his view objective moral values and duties do not exist.
  2. But, I am morally praiseworthy and blameworthy for at least some of my actions. If you think that you have ever done something truly wrong or truly good then you should conclude:
  3. Therefore, naturalism is not true.

Fifth is the argument from freedom:
  1. According to Dr. Rosenberg, if naturalism is true then I do not do anything freely. Everything is determined.
  2. But, I can freely agree or disagree with premise (1). From which it follows:
  3. Therefore, naturalism is not true.

Sixth is the argument from purpose:
  1. According to Dr. Rosenberg, if naturalism is true then I do not plan to do anything.
  2. But, I planned to come to tonight’s debate. That is why I am here. From which it follows:
  3. Therefore, naturalism is not true.

Seventh is the argument from enduring:
  1. According to Dr. Rosenberg, if naturalism is true then I do not endure for two moments of time.
  2. But, I have been sitting here for more than a minute. If you think that you are the same person who walked into the room tonight then you should agree that:
  3. Therefore, naturalism is not true.

Finally, the argument from personal existence - this is perhaps the coup de grace against naturalism:
  1. According to Dr. Rosenberg, if naturalism is true then I do not exist. He says there are no selves, there are no persons, no first-person perspectives.
  2. But, I do exist! I know this as certainly as I know anything. From which it follows:
  3. Therefore, naturalism is not true.

In a word, metaphysical naturalism is absurd. Notice that my argument is not that it is unappealing. Rather, it is that metaphysical naturalism flies in the face of reason and experience and is therefore untenable.

  • The way in which I know Christianity is true is first and foremost on the basis of the witness of the Holy Spirit in my heart. And this gives me a self-authenticating means of knowing Christianity is true wholly apart from the evidence. And therefore, even if in some historically contingent circumstances the evidence that I have available to me should turn against Christianity, I do not think that this controverts the witness of the Holy Spirit.
  • Doubt is never simply an intellectual problem. There is always a spiritual dimension to doubt, as well. There is an enemy of your souls, Satan, who hates you intensely and is bent on your destruction and who will do everything in his power to see that your faith is destroyed. And therefore when we have these intellectual doubts and problems we should never look at them as something that is spiritually neutral or divorce them from the spiritual conflict that we are involved in. Rather we need to take these doubts to God in prayer, to admit them honestly, to talk to our Christian friends about them, to not stuff them or hide them, we need to deal with them openly and honestly and talk to people about them and seek God's help in dealing with them.
  • Question from an audience member: What role does the Holy Spirit play in your ministry?
Relpy from William Lane Craig: Good question. I have found it very helpful to differentiate between what I call knowing Christianity to be true and showing Christianity to be true.
I think that the fundamental way in which we know Christianity is true is through the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. I do not think that arguments and evidence are necessary in order for faith to be rational, or for you to know that God exists and has revealed himself in Christ. So I would say that the fundamental way we know Christianity is true is through the witness of the Holy Spirit and reason and argument then can confirm the Spirit's witness. The person who has good apologetic arguments passes, in a sense, a double warrant for his faith. He has the warrant provided by the Holy Spirit, and then he has the double warrant provided by argument and evidence. But should he lack the argument and evidence he can still be warranted just on the basis of the Holy Spirit. That's knowing Christianity to be true.
When it comes to showing Christianity to be true we're dealing with somebody else, and therefore we need to give them arguments and evidence to show them that what I know to be true is true. And then the role of the Holy Spirit will be to use those arguments and evidence as I lovingly present them to draw that person to himself. So, in knowing Christianity to be true the Holy Spirit is primary and argument and evidence is secondary, but in showing Christianity to be true argument and evidence is primary and it is the Holy Spirit is secondary as using those as means by which he draws a person to himself.
Audience member: Okay, just so I'm clear about what you're saying. When you say that the Holy Spirit is an epistemological answer... ...you can have complete epistemological clarity. Epistemology being the study, for those who don't know, of how you know something to be true, right?
Reply from William Lane Craig: Yes, yes I think that is correct. So when I said in answer to the feloow who asked about faith earlier, that faith is trusting in what you have reason to believe is true. That reason doesn't just mean arguments and evidence. That reason could be the deliverances (?) of the Holy Spirit who I think as you say is a source of knowledge.

Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics (1994)

Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics (Revised ed.). Wheaton, IL: Crossway. 1994. ISBN 0-89107-764-2. 
  • Therefore, when a person refuses to come to Christ it is never just because of lack of evidence or because of intellectual difficulties: at root, he refuses to come because he willingly ignores and rejects the drawing of God's Spirit on his heart. No one in the final analysis really fails to become a Christian because of lack of arguments; he fails to become a Christian because he loves darkness rather than light and wants nothing to do with God.
    • pp. 35-36.
  • We've already said that it's the Holy Spirit who gives us the ultimate assurance of Christianity's truth. Therefore, the only role left for argument and evidence to play is a subsidiary role. I think Martin Luther correctly distinguished between what he called the magisterial and ministerial uses of reason. The magisterial use of reason occurs when reason stands over and above the gospel like a magistrate and judges it on the basis of argument and evidence. The ministerial use of reason occurs when reason submits to and serves the gospel... Should a conflict arise between the witness of the Holy Spirit to the fundamental truth of the Christian faith and beliefs based on argument and evidence, then it is the former which must take precedence over the latter, not vice versa.
    • p. 36.
  • The Bible says all men are without excuse. Even those who are given no good reason to believe and many persuasive reasons to disbelieve have no excuse, because the ultimate reason they do not believe is that they have deliberately rejected God's Holy Spirit.
    • p. 37.
  • If there is no God, then man and the universe are doomed. Like prisoners condemned to death, we await our unavoidable execution. There is no God, and there is no immortality. And what is the consequence of this? It means that life itself is absurd. It means that the life we have is without ultimate significance, value, or purpose.
    • p. 58.
  • More often than not, it is what you are rather than what you say that will bring an unbeliever to Christ.
    This, then, is the ultimate apologetic. For the ultimate apologetic is: your life.
    • p. 302.

Quotes about Craig

  • [William Lane Craig] said that as long as God gives the thumbs-up, it's okay to kill pretty much anybody. It's okay to kill bad people, because they're bad and they deserve it... and it's okay to kill good people, because they wind up in Heaven. As long as God gives the thumbs-up, it's okay to systematically wipe out entire races. As long as God gives the thumbs-up, it's okay to slaughter babies and children. Craig said — not essentially, not as a paraphrase, but literally, in quotable words — "the death of these children was actually their salvation."
  • In an epitome of bullying presumption, Craig now proposes to place an empty chair on a stage in Oxford next week to symbolise my absence. The idea of cashing in on another's name by conniving to share a stage with him is hardly new. But what are we to make of this attempt to turn my non-appearance into a self-promotion stunt? In the interests of transparency, I should point out that it isn't only Oxford that won't see me on the night Craig proposes to debate me in absentia: you can also see me not appear in Cambridge, Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow and, if time allows, Bristol.
  • I just want to say, it's an honor to be here at Notre Dame, and I'm very happy to be debating Dr. Craig, the one Christian apologist who seems to have put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists. I've actually gotten more than a few e-mails this week that more or less read, "Brother, please don't blow this."
  • But I can tell you that my, um, my brothers and sisters and co-thinkers in the unbelieving community take him very seriously. He's thought of as a, uh, tough guy; very rigorous, very scholarly, very formidable. And I say that without reserve. I don't say it because I'm here. Normally I don't get people saying "good luck tonight" and "don't let us down" but with him I do.
Wikipedia has an article about: