Exposing Christians To Secular Material: Response To William Lane CraigBy David G. McAfee
Christian apologist and philosophical theologian William Lane Craig was contacted this week by a Christian who read my book, Disproving Christianity and other Secular Writings, and was subsequently finding it “hard to believe in God.” Craig’s response: “Quit reading the infidel material.”
The question, posed in this week’s Q&A section of Craig’s site, was published alongside Craig’s answer and entitled, “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” The anonymous questioner stated that he or she “wants to believe in God,” but is having trouble believing after being exposed to Disproving Christianity, Richard Dawkins, and atheist friends.
“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 begins by saying that he is “utterly baffled” by how many “ill-equipped” Christians expose themselves to material that is destructive to their faith.
“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,” Craig wrote. “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?”
Craig goes on to offer the questioner four “suggestions” to help resolve his or her crisis of faith.
- “Make first and foremost a recommitment of your heart to Christ.”
- “Quit reading and watching the infidel material you’ve been absorbing.”
- “Begin a program of equipping yourself in Christian doctrine and apologetics.”
- “Attend some apologetics conferences.”
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.
All that said, I’m encouraged by the original questioner. This person decided, against Craig’s advice, to seek out material from someone else’s perspective. They didn’t let the fear of damaging faith keep them from exposing themselves to multiple sides of possibly the longest debate in human history. For any other believers who wish to do the same, please send an e-mail to DisprovingChristianityPDF@gmail.com for a free PDF of my first book, Disproving Christianity.