‘Better believe in no God than to believe in a cruel God, a tribal God, a sectarian God. Belief in God is one of the most dangerous beliefs a man can cherish.’ -- The Rev Dr Harry Emerson Fosdick, Baptist minister, author and professor of practical theology at Union Theological Seminary, New York (regarded by The Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr as ‘the greatest preacher of [the 20th] century' (Papers 4:536)).
'Deep within the heart of every evangelist lies the wreck of a car salesman.' -- H L Mencken, author, journalist, satirist and scholar of American English.
The traditional classical (Thomist) ‘proofs’ for the existence of God and the assertions of Christianity are devoid of rational worth. That is well-established. The American Dr William Lane Craig, a prominent evangelical Christian apologist of today, and a professional debater, who relies upon some albeit reworked traditional proofs for the existence of God, has said, ‘Arguments based on invalid logic, however emotionally appealing, are worthless in providing any rational warrant for their conclusions.’ The truth is Dr Craig's arguments are specious and fallacious. Those not based on invalid logic are otherwise unintelligible or simply unempirical.
For the benefit of the uninitiated, Dr Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy and Ethics at Talbot School of Theology in suburban Los Angeles, California, and Professor of Philosophy at Houston Baptist University in Houston, Texas. He pursued his undergraduate studies at Wheaton College (BA, 1971) and graduate studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (MA, 1974; MA, 1975), the University of Birmingham (England) (Ph D, 1977), and the University of Munich (Germany) (D Theol, 1984). From 1980-86 he taught Philosophy of Religion at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. In 1987 he and his family moved to Brussels, Belgium, where he pursued research at the University of Louvain until assuming his position at Talbot in 1994.
Dr Craig has authored or edited over thirty books, including The Kalam Cosmological Argument, Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus, Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom, Theism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology, and God, Time and Eternity, as well as over 100 articles in professional journals of philosophy and theology, including The Journal of Philosophy, New Testament Studies, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, American Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Studies, Philosophy, and British Journal for Philosophy of Science.
In many of his debates and writings Dr Craig has presented five ‘reasons’, or ‘evidence’ (so-called 'proofs', but in actuality no more than arguments), in support of the hypothesis that a personal Creator and Designer of the universe exists. Unfortunately, for all his great learning and Campus Crusade for Christ-like enthusiasm, all five arguments are fallacious as they are based on invalid logic and otherwise lack rational worth.
THE FIRST FALLACIOUS ARGUMENT -- AN ARGUMENT AS TO THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE
Dr Craig's first argument (the 'Kalam argument') can be summarised as follows:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
This argument is a modern formulation of the cosmological ('first cause') argument. It is an improvement on earlier forms of the cosmological argument, but the major fallacy of all forms of the cosmological argument remains, namely, its assumption that the universe requires a causal explanation. In that regard, it must be pointed out that by definition the universe is the totality of all that exists. The 'universe' is simply a word we use to refer to, yes, the sum total of all that exists. It is simply impossible to 'go outside' existence in search of a supposed cause for existence. Why? Well, it's fairly obvious. There isn't anywhere to go. The mere thought -- actually it's unthinkable and logically unspeakable -- of doing so or even trying to do so highlights the futility and stupidity of any such endeavour. Hence, all theological talk of the supposed need for some 'first cause' is---well, nonsense! As the Scottish-born Australian philosopher Professor John Anderson pointed out in his famous 1935 journal article ‘Design’ (see his Studies in Empirical Philosophy (Sydney: Angus and Roberston, 1962)), 'there can be no contrivance of a "universe" or totality of things, because the contriver would have to be included in the totality of things' (p 96). In any event, the entire notion of a supposed 'Being' -- the 'contriver' -- whose essential attributes [eg omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience] are non-empirical is unintelligible. Further, why would a supposedly supernatural 'contriver' bother to 'create' a natural universe --assuming for the moment that it was created?
Actually, there is no such thing as the 'universe.' That's right! It follows logically from all that I have said thus far. Just like the word ‘totality,’ the word 'universe' is just that---a word. It simply means the sum 'total' of all there is. To assert that there is such a thing as a ‘totality’ or ‘universe’ is to commit a ‘category mistake’. The philosopher Gilbert Ryle, in his seminal work The Concept of Mind (London: Hutchinson's University Library, 1949), gives a useful and most apt example of such a mistake. You visit a university. What do you see? Numerous things---colleges, libraries, research laboratories, residential buildings, shops, and so forth. You ask, ‘But where is the university?’ Well, there is no university over and above all of its component parts. The word ‘university’ is simply a shorthand description for all those things together. The word ‘university’ is from an altogether different category. It is not the same category as the individual components that go to make up the university. Now, it’s the same thing when it comes to any so-called ‘totality’ of things--including what we refer to as the ‘universe.’
In short, the so-called totality of all things (i.e. A + B + C + D + ... ad infinitum) -- that is, the so-called ‘universe’ -- has all the hallmarks of being a 'closed system.' That is how Buddhists and many of the world’s leading scientists and cosmologists see it. Each 'thing' is a cause of at least one other 'thing' as well as being the effect of some other 'thing,' so every thing is explainable by reference to other things in the system, thus providing a ‘closed loop’ of explanation for all that happens or occurs. Everything---more correctly, every thing---comes within that loop. End of story. Buddhists refer to this teaching as ‘dependent origination’ (also known as ‘dependent arising’).
However, the problems with this second argument don't end there. The argument, even in its present modified form, commits the fallacy of equivocation. What that means is that the word ‘cause’ is used in a different sense in the premiss, Whatever begins to exist has a cause, than it is in the conclusion, The universe has a cause. In the case of the first premiss, the word ‘cause’ is used in the sense of scientific cause and effect, whereas in the conclusion the word ‘cause is used in a metaphysical sense (a proposition of supernatural theology). In any event the argument fails to support the thesis that God exists or is the cause of the universe's beginning to exist. Now, as to the second premiss, 'The universe began to exist', it is a scientific question as to whether the universe did in fact 'begin to exist', and there is no consensus on the matter in the scientific community. Even if the second premiss were true, there is no consensus in the scientific community as to what it actually means to say 'The universe began to exist' let alone as to whether the universe did in fact begin to exist. In short, the purported statement of fact set forth in the second premiss of the Kalam argument cannot at this stage be said to be true, has not even been shown to be true, and moreover it is entirely unclear as to how it could ever be shown to be true. So, the inclusion of the second premiss in the argument is quite unsound at this point in time. And even if it could be demonstrated here and now that the universe began to exist -- as the one divine great exception -- that would still not help the Kalam argument because it would still not be established that there had been a 'cause' of its beginning to exist. After all, if the universe is all that there is, how could there be said to be anything else that was the 'cause' -- material, sufficient, efficient or whatever -- of the universe's supposed beginning to exist? And, at the risk of repeating myself, the laws of causality -- the only ones known to us -- only operate as respects things that already exist. The problems here are formidable and insurmountable.
Wait. There’s more. In the first premiss, Dr Craig posits that whatever 'begins to exist has a cause'. Well, that may appear -- I said, 'appear' -- to some to be the case but the proposition that whatever has a beginning to its existence must have a cause is not a self-evident truth nor can it be deduced from any other self-evident truth. All of our observations of causation relate to pre-existing things changing from one state to another; we have no consciousness or experience at all of things coming into existence. Indeed, thermodynamics tells us, wait for it, that nothing actually 'begins' to exist. The first law of thermodynamics is a version of the law of conservation of energy, adapted for thermodynamic systems. The law of conservation of energy states that the total energy of an isolated system is constant, and that although energy can be transformed from one form to another it cannot be created or destroyed. There seems to be quite a problem with this idea of something 'beginning to exist'.
Be that as it may, everything that we do see that is changing from one state to another has a natural [sic] cause. Think about it. It is impossible to conceive of anything having an unnatural or supernatural---whatever that may mean---existence? Indeed, as mentioned, all our observations of causation relate to pre-existing things changing from one state to another. We have no consciousness or experience of things coming into existence for the first time, nor can we, but, as already mentioned, Dr Craig shifts the meaning of ‘cause’ in his conclusion to imply -- true, he doesn't actually state it -- that the universe has a ‘supernatural’ cause (God). That, of course, is what Dr Craig wants us to believe. He wants us to believe that the cause of the universe was ... God! This, again, is a fallacy of equivocation. Now, if Dr Craig were honest with us and consistent with his argument it might look something like this:
1. Everything that begins to exist has a natural cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a natural cause.
The 'argument' (for what it's worth, which is precious little) could also go like this:
1. Everything that begins to exist has a supernatural cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a supernatural cause.
Once we remove the equivocation fallacy, we can see that the first argument is just an argument for naturalism. I have no problem with that. However, the second argument has a demonstrably false first premiss and is therefore fallacious.
Putting all this together, and taking a couple of Dr Craig's premisses/conclusions at face value, and being more than a little tongue-in-cheek, we could create a syllogism along the following lines:
1. Nothing which exists can cause something which does not exist to begin existing.
2. Given premiss 1, anything which begins to exist was not caused to do so by something which exists.
3. The universe began to exist.
4. Given premisses 2 and 3, the universe was not caused to exist by anything which exists.
5. God caused the universe to exist.
6. Given premisses 4 and 5, God does not exist.
You may need to read that a few times to get the gist of it.
Even if the argument were valid we have no reason to believe that the supposed cause of the universe has any of the properties that the Christian God (in whom Dr Craig would have us believe) supposedly has. All we have reason to believe is that the supposed cause is slightly more powerful than its effects, but there is no reason to believe that the cause is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient or (and this one is controversial even among Christian theologians) omnibenevolent. Further, if it’s possible to think of God as uncaused or self-caused, then it’s possible, and much more sensible, to think the same of the universe itself, as Charles Darwin pointed out.
THE SECOND FALLACIOUS ARGUMENT -- AN ARGUMENT BASED ON THE COMPLEX ORDER IN THE UNIVERSE
Dr Craig's second argument can be summarised as follows:
1. The fine-tuning of the initial conditions of the universe is due to either law, chance or design.
2. It is not due to either law or chance.
3. Therefore, it is due to design.
This argument is a modern formulation of the teleological argument or argument from design. As such, it is an improvement on the classical argument from design (in effect, 'where there is design there must have been a designer') which of necessity assumed the very thing it was trying to prove, namely, the existence of a designer (God).
Christian apologists now speak of 'intelligent design', but Craig, knowing that there are big problems with the idea of so-called 'intelligent design', chooses not to use those words. Nevertheless, the concept of intelligent design runs all through his formulation of the argument. The intelligent design argument, at best, attributes the complexity (and at times the purported 'irreducible complexity') and diversity of life to intelligence, but there is no basis in science or logic for identifying that intelligence with the Supreme Being of any religious faith or philosophical system.
Be that as it may, the fallacy in Dr Craig's formulation of the argument is not hard to find. The illusion of design -- in particular, purposeful, intelligent design -- is now well understood in science as being no more than the result of the wholly non-purposive but non-random workings of natural selection in combination with random mutation and chance. The evidence points in one direction only, namely, that life is a natural phenomenon, the product of natural forces, tendencies and occurrences. That is something Christians find very hard to swallow. The most devastating rebuttal of all forms of the argument from design is, you guessed it, the theory of evolution, something that most Christian evangelicals have trouble with (some more than others). The fact that we recognise in nature workings that are intelligible to our minds does not mean that there was a conscious, intelligent designer. Organisms are not trying to match some cosmic architect's blueprint or divinely given pattern. In fact, evolution has no goal as such at all. What we see in, say, the complexity of the human eye, is simply one of billions of different possible combinations or constructs that could have come into being but that is what we get when chance/random mutation and non-random natural selection combine.
Another problem. In order to be able to recognise design -- where there is design -- we must first identify a purpose (actually, the specific purpose(s) for which the thing in question had been designed). However, a purpose can only be determined once we first know the intentions of the designer. What that means, in the case of all versions of the teleological argument (including the one we are dealing with here), is that we need to know the intentions of the Great Designer (God) before we can detect his purpose(s). However, before we can do that -- that is, know God's intentions -- we must first prove that God exists. This is a classic case of 'begging the question.'
There's another problem with Dr Craig's argument. His argument is akin to what is known in magic (i.e. conjuring) as the 'magician's choice' (equivoque) wherein the magician asks a spectator to make an apparently free choice among several items but no matter what choices the spectator makes the magician verbally forces the item which he wants the spectator to choose. Dr Craig asserts that one must choose between ‘law’, ‘chance’ and ‘design’. In fact, what we see in the real world is the result of both chance (historical contingency) and necessity (natural selection).
THE THIRD FALLACIOUS ARGUMENT -- AN ARGUMENT BASED ON THE EXISTENCE OF OBJECTIVE MORAL VALUES IN THE WORLD
Dr Craig's third argument can be summarised as follows:
1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
2. Objective values do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.
One can attack Dr Craig's argument in either of two ways. First, one can argue that there are no objective values in the world, and that is the position of many, if not most, atheists and secularists. Alternatively, one can argue, with some degree of plausibility, as did the atheistic philosopher John Anderson, that there are objective moral values, but they do not depend upon the existence of a God. For example, whatever promotes or enhances human well-being, that is, is intrinsically good, can be considered to be an objective moral value. In any event, what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ do not, and cannot, depend upon commands or the existence of God. Religion is never a logical basis for morality, and Dr Craig should know that. Our sense of right and wrong exists not only independently of God's will but also of human opinion. Of course, there will always be differences between and even within different cultures and groups as to what is the 'right' thing to do in any given fact situation. The existence of a standard or ethical principle is one thing, its application to the facts and circumstances of a particular case another. The latter will always be a contentious and sometimes quite divisive matter.
A strong case can be made for the view that our sense of fairness, justice and morality is 'innate', and is not inculcated by religion nor commanded or handed down by a Supreme Being. Additionally, or alternatively, our sense of what is right and wrong can reasonably be seen to be the natural outgrowth of the human survival instinct. Now, that is not to say that morality may well be reinforced by religion and other conditioning -- for better or for worse. In the fourth chapter of his monumental text The Descent of Man (London: John Murray, 1871, vol 1) Charles Darwin accumulated numerous examples of cooperative behaviour among social animals, and concluded: 'It can hardly be disputed that the social feelings are instinctive or innate in the lower animals; and why should they not be so in man?' Darwin concluded the chapter with these words: 'The social instincts -- the prime principle of man's moral constitution -- with the aid of active intellectual powers and the effects of habit, naturally lead to the golden rule. "As ye would that men should do to you, do ye to them likewise"; and this lies at the foundation of morality.'
Morality, whether in the form of objective moral values or otherwise, does not require nor depend upon a Divine Ethicist. In any event, the Divine Ethicist of the Bible isn't all that wonderful at times, to put it mildly. Here are just a few examples of the not-so-ethical God. According to the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible) God deliberately killed every living thing on earth (Gen 7:20-24), murdered innocent children (Ex 12:29), ordered Abraham to murder his son Isaac (Gen 22:2), commanded the death penalty for adultery (Lev 20:10) and the murder of homosexuals (Lev 20:13), commanded the total destruction of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites because they refused to leave their land (Deut 20:17), ordered similar things when the Israelites were invading the promised land (Deut 2:34; 3:6; 20:16-18), murdered 50,070 men because they looked into the ark (1 Sam 6:19), murdered infants and ripped fetuses from the womb ('their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open’ (Hos 13:16)), and ordered the Israelites to attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belonged to them ('Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys' (1 Sam 15:3)), encouraged lying (Ex 3:22), and cooperated in a devious and deceptive plot against King Ahab of Israel (1 Kings 22:21-23). That's just for starters. Now, would you look for objective moral values from such a Being -- the God who ‘seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks’ (Ps 137:9)? Not me. Dr Craig, a Divine command theorist (i.e. whatever God commands is right [a tautologically fallacious statement/argument if ever there was one]), often asserts that as God is God He can do whatever He damn well wishes. That's reformed theology for you. Absolutely charming. Not my cup of tea.
This so-called argument for the existence of God is a real furphy (a furphy being Australian slang for something improbable or even impossible but which is claimed to be fact).
THE FOURTH FALLACIOUS ARGUMENT -- AN ARGUMENT BASED ON THE HISTORICAL FACTS CONCERNING THE LIFE, DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS
Dr Craig presented the following ‘facts’:
1. On the Sunday following his crucifixion, Jesus' tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers.
2. On separate occasions different individuals and groups saw appearances of Jesus alive after his death.
3. The original disciples suddenly came to believe in the resurrection of Jesus despite having every predisposition to the contrary.
Dr Craig would have you believe that those three premisses are widely accepted among mainstream historians, secular and theistic. That is not the case. He then proceeds to draw an inference -- yes, an inference -- to what he would regard as being the best explanation. The simplest explanation is usually the best explanation, he would say, and does say. But is it the simplest explanation? I think not. At least one other explanation, which is simpler and much more likely to have been the case, is the temporary burial thesis discussed below. Be that as it may, Dr Craig then asserts that there just is no plausible, naturalistic explanation of these facts. Therefore, so it seems to him, the Christian is amply justified in believing in a miracle, namely, that Jesus rose from the dead and was who he claimed to be. ‘But that entails that God exists,’ asserts Dr Craig. To paraphrase H L Mencken, this is an attempt on the part of Craig to prove the incredible by an appeal to the impossible. (Mencken's original quote was this: 'Metaphysics is almost always an attempt to prove the incredible by an appeal to the unintelligible.')
Now, this is a very strange argument. The drawing of inferences and conclusions from objective facts is a quite legitimate exercise, provided one is dealing with objective facts, and provided also that the inference or conclusion in question can reasonably be drawn from the known facts. Often, more than one conclusion or inference can be drawn from a set of primary facts but first we must establish the 'facticity' of the facts asserted or alleged to be true. In that regard, Craig's argument presupposes the veracity of the New Testament accounts of Jesus' life and death and supposed resurrection. You see, the only 'evidence' (I use that word advisedly) for premisses 1 and 2 of the syllogism set out above ('On the Sunday following his crucifixion, Jesus' tomb was found empty by a group of his women followers' and 'On separate occasions different individuals and groups saw appearances of Jesus alive after his death') comes from the New Testament accounts which encapsulate the faith of the believing church. There is some extrinsic evidence for the veracity of the third premiss. However, the purported facts as set out by Dr Craig are not self-evidently true nor can they be shown to be true using accepted scientific method. This is fact: the supposed Jesus is totally inaccessible to scientific research. His image cannot be recovered. I will deal with the question of Jesus' historicity in the following paragraphs.
But did Jesus actually live? Was he a real, historical person? Well, there is a small amount of non-Christian material attesting only to the fact that certain people believed that there was a man named Jesus who was killed and who was worshipped as some sort of god---but NONE that he was alive. In particular, there is not so much as one single demonstrably authentic and unambiguous passage purporting to be written, as history, within the first 100 years of the so-called Christian era, capable of being produced to show the existence at or before that time of such a person as Jesus of Nazareth, called the Christ, or of such a set of persons as could be accounted his disciples or followers. The truth is there is no non-Christian record of Jesus before the 2nd century CE. There were over 40 well-known pagan and Jewish historians writing at the time of Jesus’ supposed existence or within a century of that time. Apart from two demonstrably forged passages in Josephus, and two highly disputed passages in the works of two Roman historians, not one of those historians made any mention of Jesus at all. Further, although Dr Craig denies this, the accounts of the supposed life of Jesus, as told in the New Testament, are clearly interwoven with images borrowed from myths of a bygone era (in particular, the ‘myth of the dying and rising god’), concealing forever any fragments of history which may lie beneath the faith stories. The search for the so-called historical Jesus, although ongoing to some extent, has basically led nowhere.
When is absence of evidence evidence of absence? In general, a mere lack of evidence is not sufficient to conclude a proposition is false. We must also demonstrate: (i) all of the evidence used to support the proposition is untenable; (ii) adequate tenable evidence should exist; and (iii) a thorough search for this tenable evidence has been made and none (or nothing credibly authentic) has been found. That is what is known as the “negative evidence principle”: see Michael Scriven, Primary Philosophy (New York: McGraw Hill, 1966). True, we cannot prove that Jesus never existed, just as we cannot prove that Santa Claus never existed, for in principle it is, according to the laws of logic, impossible to verify a universal statement, and a statement such as 'Jesus never existed' is a universal statement. However, on the basis of the negative evidence principle what we can say is that there are more than good grounds for believing that the person described in the Gospels as Jesus, at least as so described, never in fact existed. In all the circumstances, to state anything as true about Jesus is nothing more nor less than assumption. We can therefore conjecture only.
Despite what has just been said about the absence of evidence, I suspect -- no more than suspect -- that there was a teacher named 'Jesus' (or something similar) who may well have uttered at least some of the sayings attributed to Jesus at various periods. As J B S Haldane pointed out in his book Fact and Faith (London: Watts & Co, Thinker's Library edition, 1934), 'A large number of [Jesus’] sayings seem to me to cohere as expressions of a definite and quite human character, which could hardly have been invented by disciples who wished to prove his divinity.' Further, to quote the otherwise ordinarily sceptical Archibald Robertson, author of the book Jesus: Myth or History? (London: Watts & Co, 1946):
'… To explain the story in terms of myth, and only myth, raises more difficulties than it solves. A sound hypothesis must account for all the facts; and it is easier to account for them if we suppose that a real Jesus was crucified by Pilate than if we do not. We know next to nothing about this Jesus. He is not the founder of anything that we can recognize as Christianity. He is a mere postulate of historical criticism – a dead leader of a lost cause, to whom sayings could be credited and round whom a legend could be written. He contributed one element, and only one, to the myth of the God-man. Had he never lived, the Christian creed would have evolved very much as we know it, but Pontius Pilate would not have been immortalized. There are thousands of men and women of whom we know more than we do of Jesus. But there are millions of whom we know as little or less; and it is the unknown millions who make history.'
As for the purported resurrection, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and Dr Craig has not provided that. He places much reliance upon the Gospel stories but the resurrection stories in the New Testament are a hopeless and irreconcilable jumble of confusion and inconsistencies. The events of the Gospel story, and its central character Jesus of Nazareth, are not found in the New Testament epistles. Paul's divine Christ seems to have no connection to the Gospel Jesus, but closely resembles the many pagan saviour gods of the time who lived only in myth. Further, only one Christian community composed a story of supposed Jesus' life and death -- the Gospel of Mark -- while every other Gospel simply copied and reworked the first one. In addition, every detail in the Gospel story of Jesus' trial and crucifixion is drawn from passages in the Old Testament.
The whole assertion that Jesus Christ literally rose from the dead is nothing more than the carnalisation of the ancient myth of the dying and rising god. Dead people don't rise from the dead, nor did supposed Jesus. There is no evidence of the existence of any supernatural order or level of reality, and any such talk is contrary to the very nature and possibility of discourse. Empirically, immutable natural laws are just that, and the physical world in which we live yields no reliable evidence that dead people can be supernaturally resurrected. Further, there is no objective verifiable evidence, based on scientifically sound principles, which can be adduced in a courtroom today that would establish the singularity of supposed Jesus’ alleged supernatural resurrection. As already mentioned, the gospel accounts are a complete unmitigated shambles, and there is at least one plausible, ordinary, natural explanation for the supposed empty tomb, namely, that Jesus -- assuming for the moment he was a real person -- could well have been buried in a temporary grave prior to his being moved elsewhere. That was not an uncommon Jewish practice at the time, especially when death occurred on the Sabbath or the Sabbath was imminent (and, according to the Gospel of John, the Passover seder). This initial burial of Jesus, by definition, would have been a temporary and emergency move, based on necessity, until something more permanent could be worked out or arranged. Thus, given the hasty and temporary nature of Jesus’ burial it would not be surprising (except to the credulous or those who were otherwise ignorant of the true situation) that the tomb would be empty. It was never intended that Jesus be left in that tomb.
THE FIFTH FALLACIOUS ARGUMENT -- AN ARGUMENT BASED ON THE IMMEDIATE PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF GOD
Dr Craig asserts that you can know God exists, wholly apart from arguments, simply by immediately experiencing God. In other words, God exists because we can know God exists.
The fallacy of this so-called argument or ‘proof’ for God's existence should be obvious to all. Even Dr Craig admits that this isn't really an argument for God's existence. Dr Craig is trying to make a case for emotional epistemology, that is, that we can acquire knowledge and even come to know something to be true using our emotions. This is in practice nothing but an exercise in confirmation bias and self-deception, for it is well-known that there is a tendency in humans to give more attention and weight to data that supports our beliefs and creates a warm, positive emotional state of reassurance than we do to contrary data. The bottom line is this -- emotional epistemology does not reveal knowledge. It conceals and deceives. It is a common tool used by Christian preachers, evangelists and apologists to manipulate the intended audience. Empiricism and rationalism -- let's not discuss the differences between them here --- are always to be preferred to emotional epistemology.
Now, Dr Craig is very clever. In his argument he does not refer to the emotions or their use as an epistemological tool. He talks about an immediate experience of God. That sounds very empirical, doesn't it? Does it empiricism assert that we are, or at least can be, in direct and immediate contact with reality both internal and external? Yes, it does. But don't be fooled by Craig's argument. What he is saying is that God exists because we can know that God exists. However, the existence or non-existence of something does not at all depend upon whether we know that it exists or doesn't exist as the case may be. That was always the weakness of logical positivism with its so-called verification principle (viz a thing is true if it can be verified). Truth and verification are two separate things. Something is not true merely because it can be verified, rather it can be verified because it is true -- and the matter in question may be true even if it cannot be verified.
Dr Craig says that we can know God exists simply by immediately experiencing God. Really? Which God? The one who allegedly talked to the ancient Hebrew prophets? Or the one who allegedly revealed the Qur'an to Mohammed? Or perhaps the one who allegedly led Joseph Smith to the tablets of the Book of Mormon? Of course, we all know that Dr Craig is referring to the God of the Bible in the form of Jesus Christ, but the fact is that all throughout history different peoples and cultures are said to have experienced different Gods of their own understanding. Some poor souls even think they themselves are God. The truth is people make God in their own particular image in light of their culture, societal background, conditioning, and so on.
Also, there are such things as hoaxes as well as delusions and hallucinations -- not to mention a little thing called self-delusion. Unfortunately, many people still seek 'answers' to their problems from 'outside' or otherwise 'beyond' this spatiotemporal world, and they even believe that they receive 'answers' and 'guidance' from a realm 'outside' or 'beyond' the natural realm or even within it from unobservable sources. It's only a matter of time before this sort of phenomenon (viz belief in the so-called supernatural) is categorised officially as a 'mental illness' in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or the like. Indeed, as belief in the so-called 'supernatural' wanes –- particularly in Western societies –- then it will no longer be able to be asserted by religionists of the kind in question that their false and fixed, and otherwise irrational, belief in a supernatural God and the like, held in the face of evidence normally sufficient to destroy such belief, is nevertheless one which is 'normally held by others of the same culture or subculture'. The latter is the one thing which at present prevents belief in the supernatural from being seen to be what in truth it really is -- a clinical delusion. Even at this present point in time, it's a very fine line, for as the noted psychiatrist Dr Thomas Szasz has said, 'If you talk to God, you are praying; if God talks to you, you have schizophrenia.' It's not funny. It's serious.
Dr Craig's fifth 'argument' for the existence of God isn't an argument for God's existence at all as Craig readily admits, yet he has used it many, many times in his public debates and various writings.
Dr Craig's five fallacious arguments for God's existence are more appropriately arguments for God's non-existence. They are akin to the confidence games parlayed by the magician, the gambler, and the con artist. I like to think of Dr Craig as the evangelical Christian churches' carnival barker. Certainly, he is much more learned and scholarly than any other carnival barker you're likely to encounter, but his methods are pretty much the same as theirs. None of his purported arguments for the existence of God holds water -- and I have already wasted more time on them than they deserve.
One final matter. Philosopher Michael Scriven (see his Primary Philosophy)) argues that if there are no arguments that point to even a slight chance of the existence of God, the only sensible alternative is atheism. Scriven uses the analogy of the belief in Santa Claus to illustrate his point. When we are children, we find it plausible to believe in Santa Claus. However, as we grow older we realize that there is not the least bit of evidence in favour of the possibility of his existence. We do not, however, attempt to prove the non-existence of Santa. Instead, we simply come to realize that there is not the slightest reason to believe in his existence. Thus, the proper alternative to belief in Santa Claus is disbelief as opposed to agnosticism (which is merely deferment of belief and a weak form of disbelief).
Note. This article expands upon material contained in a previous article by the author entitled ‘The Five Fallacious Arguments of William Lane Craig’, which was first published in the journal of the Humanist Society of New South Wales Inc, Humanist Viewpoints, September/October 2002.