In the most recent episode of Philosophy Now, William Lane Craig’s article revisits the old debate over whether or not God exists, examining the philosophical basis for arguing against those who contend that God either is no longer imminent, or that he never was. Craig traces the changes that have taken place in recent years concerning this debate, beginning with the famous 1966 Time article entitled, ‘Is God Dead?’ He traces the post-war predominance of those philosophers who would accept nothing less than verification, spawning an influential philosophy based on agnosticism, whose adherents could accept nothing more than the proposition that God’s existence can never truly be proven, and that his existence must always be questioned, if not rejected outright. The resurgence of metaphysics, which Craig argues is better-suited to resolving persistent problems, has given rise to a new generation of assertive Christian philosophy, confident in its grounding in natural theology (Craig, 2014).
Craig claims that those natural/Christian philosophers who “rediscovered His vitality”
have been the most effective at showing that, as Craig puts it, “that God’s existence best explains a wide range of the data of human experience” (2014). He traces eight essential precepts, important principles that provide the basis of strong metaphysical arguments in favor of God’s existence. Craig cites the fact that God still provides the best explanation for why anything exists and, by extension, for the existence of the universe. The underlying argument in this is that the universe had to have had a beginning, some point of origin and source of creation. That source had to have been transcendent, or something beyond itself. Craig also applies the overarching metaphysical approach to argue that the existence of God offers the best explanation for why physics and mathematics can be so readily applied to natural world processes and, in particular, why God offers the best explanation of intelligent design/life, and why elements of the natural world are so adaptable.
Ultimately, Craig arrives at the conclusion that the argument for God’s existence implies that he exists. “For if a maximally great being exists in any possible world, He exists in all of them. That’s part of what it means to be maximally great – to be all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-good in every logically possible world. So if God’s existence is even possible, then He exists in every logically possible world – and therefore in the actual world” (Craig, 2014). If God exists in every world, then he exists in the temporal world. Craig also concludes that God’s existence can be shown by the fact that an individual can come to know God through personal experience. If we can experience physical objects, then we can experience God; both experiences can be rooted in experience.
Craig’s evidence is experiential, based on the Christian/metaphysical assertion that human beings possess an innate sense of moral values or, to put it simply, the knowledge of good and evil. Those who contend that these are simply subjective projections or constructs, Craig argues, do not convincingly prove that the uniquely human quality of knowing the difference between what is good and bad does not come from God. The inescapable fact that human beings have an intuitive knowledge of good and evil disproves the anti-existence theories, based on subjectivity and nihilism, which the atheist philosophers expound. This, and observable, experiential nature, which exhibits overt characteristics of resiliency and adaptability, Craig cites as evidential.
Craig offers a compelling argument based on metaphysical suppositions. While these positions hold perhaps the greatest promise for accommodating the possibility of God’s existence, there is no getting around the great unanswerable question: where is the objective evidence for it? t may be true, as Craig points out, that the verificationists have been unable to convincingly disprove God’s existence, but neither have the natural/metaphysical philosophers, who have reasserted a Christian philosophy, proven it. Craig may label the “new atheism” of Hitchens and – as a “pop-cultural phenomenon,” but the other side of the argument, in the end, can never transcend faith (Craig, 2014).
Ultimately, despite the best arguments for and against God’s existence, philosophy cannot advance beyond a condition of agnosticism. Believing in God is always about faith, and faith is an inadequate substitute for evidence, even if it is backed up by an articulate, metaphysical philosophy. Man can debate and question, but philosophy can advance the question no further than supposition. In recent years, faith and science have come closer than ever before. Perhaps this accommodation and the great potential for combining scientific inquiry with a discerning natural philosophy holds the key to unlocking the greatest mystery of human existence.