On Guard (Craig)

Craig, William Lane. On Guard.

Although I recommend this book, I in no way endorse Craig’s other works that promote Middle Knowledge or Apollinarianism.

William Lane Craig covers familiar ground in this book, but he presents the material in a way that translates “directly to the streets.”  His arguments themselves are not new, but he has placed them in flowcharts and shorter premise-based arguments.  If you memorize these syllogisms, you will be able to engage unbelievers and friends.

Throughout he tells his own story of how he came to faith and his various doctoral studies in Europe.  

Note: I am not debating whether these arguments prove the Triune God of Yea Reformedom.  What matters below is the soundness and validity of the arguments.

Why Does Anything Exist at All?

Shorter version:

(1) Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence (Leibniz)

(2) If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.

(3) The universe exists.

(4) The universe has an explanation of its existence.

(5) Ergo, God.

I’ll admit. This isn’t my favorite one, and I really like Leibniz.  It does raise some important issues, though, concerning abstract objects, meaning, etc.  The important point is that Leibniz forces us to distinguish between contingent and necessary existence.  I’ll leave it at that for now.

Cosmological Argument

(1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

(2) The universe began to exist.

(3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.

The great thing about this one is that atheists cannot attack premise (2) without giving up Big Bang cosmology.  I am not saying that the Big Bang proves God.  (2) is even more interesting.  Al-Ghazali “argued that if the universe never began to exist, then there have been an infinite number of past events prior to today” (Craig 78).

Further, you can’t pass through an infinite number of elements one at a time.  Before any number can be counted, an infinity of numbers will have to have been counted first.

The Design Argument

Craig’s argument isn’t “Look at a watch. That kind of means there is a God.”  Rather, he is saying there is fine-tuning and irreducible complexity in the universe.  What accounts for that?

(1) The fine-tuning of the universe is due to either physical necessity, chance, or design.

(2) It is not due to physical necessity or chance.

(3) Therefore, it is due to design.

In some ways this might be the most popular argument.  I just lay it out before you. I want to spend more time on New Testament arguments.

Who Was Jesus?

Those who insist we ignore evidence from the New Testament are asking us to ignore the earliest and most reliable sources and go to sources which are often hundreds of years later and notoriously unreliable (186).

Basic argument:

(1) The gospels were written less than two generations after events. This means legendary aspects did not have time to creep in.

(2) The gospels employ criteria of embarrassment (e.g., Peter’s failings), historical fit, and coherence.  The Gospels also record Jesus’s ignorance about the date of his return, which doesn’t seem like something a start-up group would include.


Three independently established facts:
(1) Empty tomb

(2) Jesus’s live appearances after his death.
(3) The origin of the disciples’ belief in his resurrection.

(1’) The disciples assume the public location of his tomb, thus opening themselves to falsifiability. The story of the chief priests saying the disciples stole the body assumes “from the other side” that the tomb was empty.

(2’) List of eye-witnesses. The witnesses are there to be questioned.


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