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William Lane Craig

William Lane Craig

American Christian apologist and evangelist
William Lane Craig
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American Christian apologist and evangelist
Is Philosopher Religious scholar Theologian Professor Educator Writer
From United States of America
Type Academia Literature Religion Philosophy
Gender male
Birth 23 August 1949, Peoria, USA
Age 71 years
Star sign Virgo
University of Birmingham
Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
Wheaton College
Humboldt Prize  
The details


William Lane Craig (born August 23, 1949) is an American analytic philosopher and Christian theologian, historian, and apologist. He holds faculty positions at Talbot School of Theology (Biola University) and Houston Baptist University. Craig has updated and defended the Kalam cosmological argument for the existence of God. He has also published work where he argues in favor of the historical plausibility of the resurrection of Jesus. His study of divine aseity and Platonism culminated with his book God Over All. Craig has formally debated the existence of God (and related topics such as the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus) with many prominent figures, including: Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Lawrence M. Krauss, Lewis Wolpert, Antony Flew, Sean Carroll, Sir Roger Penrose, Peter Atkins, Bart Ehrman, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Paul Draper, Gerd Lüdemann and A. C. Grayling. William Lane Craig established and runs the online apologetics ministry ReasonableFaith.org.

Early life and education

Craig was born August 23, 1949 in Peoria, Illinois to Mallory and Doris Craig. While a student at East Peoria Community High School (1963–1967), Craig competed in debate and won the state championship in oratory. In September 1965, his junior year, he became a Christian, and after graduating from high school, attended Wheaton College, majoring in communications. Craig graduated in 1971 and the following year married his wife Jan, whom he met on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ. They have two grown children and reside in suburban Atlanta, Georgia. In 2014, he was named alumnus of the year by Wheaton.

In 1973 Craig entered the program in philosophy of religion at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School north of Chicago, where he studied under Norman Geisler. In 1975 Craig commenced doctoral studies in philosophy at the University of Birmingham, England, writing on the cosmological argument under the direction of John Hick. He was awarded a doctorate in 1977. Out of this study came his first book, The Kalam Cosmological Argument (1979), a defense of the argument he first encountered in Hackett's work. Craig was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship in 1978 from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to pursue research on the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus under the direction of Wolfhart Pannenberg at the Ludwig-Maximillians-Universität München in Germany. His studies in Munich under Pannenberg's supervision led to a second doctorate, this one in theology, awarded in 1984 with the publication of his doctoral thesis, The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus During the Deist Controversy (1985).


Craig joined the faculty of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 1980, where he taught philosophy of religion until 1986. In 1982 Craig received an invitation to debate Kai Nielsen at the University of Calgary, Canada, on the question of God's existence. Encouraged by the reception, Craig has since debated many philosophers, scientists, and biblical scholars.

After a one-year stint at Westmont College on the outskirts of Santa Barbara, Craig moved in 1987 with his wife and two young children back to Europe, where he was a visiting scholar at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Louvain) in Belgium until 1994. At that time, Craig joined the Department of Philosophy and Ethics at Talbot School of Theology in suburban Los Angeles as a research professor of philosophy, a position he currently holds, and he went on to become a professor of philosophy at Houston Baptist University in 2014. In 2016, Craig was named Alumnus of the Year by Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. In 2017, Biola created a permanent faculty position and endowed chair, the William Lane Craig Endowed Chair in Philosophy, in honor of Craig's academic contributions.

Craig served as president of the Philosophy of Time Society from 1999 to 2006. He helped revitalize the Evangelical Philosophical Society and served as its president from 1996 to 2005.

In the mid-2000s, Craig established the online Christian apologetics ministry ReasonableFaith.org.

Regarding his written work, Craig has authored or edited over thirty books and almost two hundred articles published in professional philosophy and theology journals, including the following, highly-ranked, journals: British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Philosophical Studies, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Faith and Philosophy, Erkenntnis and American Philosophical Quarterly.

Philosophical and theological views

Kalam cosmological argument

Craig has written and spoken in defense of a version of the Cosmological Argument called the Kalam cosmological argument. While the Kalam originated in medieval Islamic philosophy, Craig added appeals to scientific and philosophical ideas in the argument's defense. Craig's work has resulted in contemporary interest in the argument, and in cosmological arguments in general.

Craig formulates his version of the argument as follows:

  1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence."

Craig's defense of the argument mainly focuses on the second premise, and he offers several arguments to support it. For example, Craig appeals to Hilbert's example of an infinite hotel to argue that actually infinite collections are impossible, and thus the past is finite and has a beginning. And, in another argument, Craig says that the series of events in time is formed by a process in which each moment is added to history in succession. According to Craig, this process can never produce an actually infinite collection of events, but instead produces only a potentially infinite one. On this basis, he argues that the past is finite and has a beginning.

Craig also appeals to various physical theories to support the argument's second premise, such as the standard Big Bang model of cosmic origins and certain implications of the second law of thermodynamics.

The Kalam argument concludes that the universe had a cause, but Craig further argues that the cause must be a person. First, he says that the cause of the universe is outside of time, as it causes the beginning of time itself. He then says that causes that are outside of time only have eternal effects if they are non-personal. Given his acceptance of the Kalam argument for a non-eternal universe, he concludes that the cause of the universe must be personal.

Craig's arguments to support the Kalam argument have been discussed and debated by a variety of commentators including philosophers Adolf Grünbaum, Quentin Smith, Wes Morriston, and Graham Oppy.


Craig is a proponent of Molinism, an idea first formulated by the Jesuit theologian Luis de Molina according to which God possesses foreknowledge of which free actions each person would perform under every possible circumstance, a kind of knowledge that is sometimes termed "middle knowledge." Protestant-Molinism, such as Craig's, first entered Protestant theology through two anti-Calvinist thinkers: Jacobus Arminius and Conrad Vorstius. Molinists such as Craig appeal to this idea to reconcile the perceived conflict between God's providence and foreknowledge with human free will. The idea is that, by relying on middle knowledge, God does not interfere with anyone's free will, instead choosing which circumstances to actualize given a complete understanding of how people will freely choose to act in response. Craig also appeals to Molinism in his discussions of the inspiration of scripture, Christian exclusivism, the perseverance of the Saints, and missionary evangelism.

Divine eternity

Craig believes that "God is timeless without creation and temporal since creation." After examining arguments aimed at showing either that God is timeless or omnitemporal, Craig defends the coherence of a timeless and personal being, but he also believes the arguments for divine timelessness are unsound or inconclusive and so instead argues in favor of divine temporality. Craig believes that acceptance of a B-theory of time would moot these arguments, and thus concludes that a theory of time is a watershed issue for a believer’s doctrine of divine eternity. As such, Craig defends his adoption of A-Theory of time in The Tensed Theory of Time (2000), and critiques arguments for the B-Theory of time in The Tenseless Theory of Time. According to philosopher Quentin Smith, "Craig has made some important and positive contributions to the tensed theory of time in general."

Resurrection of Jesus

Craig has written two volumes arguing for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus, The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus (1985) and Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus (3rd ed., 2002). The first describes the history of the discussion, including David Hume's arguments against the identification of miracles, while the second is an exegetical study of the New Testament material pertinent to the resurrection. Craig believes that there was a literal resurrection, rejecting some alternative explanations such as Gerd Lüdemann's hallucination hypothesis. Craig Morriston specifically challenges Craig's arguments relating to this subject.

Divine aseity

Stating that the Quine–Putnam indispensability thesis is the chief support of Platonism, Craig criticizes Willard Van Orman Quine's naturalized epistemology and confirmational holism, and also rejects the metaontological criterion of ontological commitment. This is ultimately in support of his belief in divine aseity or self-existence. Craig rejects the view that God creates abstract objects and defends nominalistic perspectives on abstract objects.

Craig favors a neutral logic, according to which the formal quantifiers of first-order logic, as well as the informal quantifiers of ordinary language, are not ontologically committing. He also advocates a deflationary theory of reference, according to which referring is a speech act rather than a word-world relation, so that singular terms may be used in true sentences without commitment to corresponding objects in the world. If one stipulates that first-order quantifiers are being used as devices of ontological commitment, then Craig adverts to fictionalism, in particular pretense theory, according to which statements about abstract objects are expressions of make-believe, imagined to be true, though literally false.

Other views

Craig is a critic of metaphysical naturalism, New Atheism, and prosperity theology, as well as a defender of Reformed epistemology. He also states that a confessing Christian should not engage in homosexual acts. Craig maintains that the theory of evolution is compatible with Christianity. Craig is not convinced that the "current evolutionary paradigm is entirely adequate" to explain the emergence of biological complexity, and he is inclined to think that God had to periodically intervene to produce this effect. He is a fellow of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture and was a fellow of the International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design. In his debate with Paul Helm, Craig explains that he would call himself an "Arminian" "in the proper sense." Furthermore, he has explained himself as a Wesleyan or Wesleyan-Arminian.

As a non-voluntaristic divine command theorist, Craig believes God had the moral right to command the killing of the Canaanites if they refused to leave their land, as depicted in the Book of Deuteronomy. This has led to some controversy, as seen in a critique by Wes Morriston. The prominent atheist Richard Dawkins has repeatedly refused to debate Craig, and he has given what he calls Craig's defense of genocide as one of his reasons for doing so.

Craig has also proposed a neo-Apollinarian Christology in which the divine logos stands in for the human soul of Christ and completes his human nature.


According to Nathan Schneider, "[many] professional philosophers know about him only vaguely, but in the field of philosophy of religion, [Craig's] books and articles are among the most cited". Fellow philosopher Quentin Smith writes that "William Lane Craig is one the leading philosophers of religion and one of the leading philosophers of time." In 2016, The Best Schools named William Lane Craig among the 50 most influential living philosophers.

With respect to his debating skills, Sam Harris once described Craig as "the one Christian Apologist who seems to have put the fear of God into many of my fellow atheists".

Selected publications

  • Craig, William Lane (1979), The Kalām Cosmological Argument, London: MacMillan, ISBN 978-1-57910-438-2.
  • Craig, William Lane (1980), The Cosmological Argument from Plato to Leibniz, London: MacMillan, ISBN 978-1-57910-787-1.
  • Craig, William Lane (1981), The Son Rises: Historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, Chicago: Moody Press, ISBN 978-1-57910-464-1.
  • Craig, William Lane (1991), Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom: The Coherence of Theism: Omniscience, Brill, ISBN 978-90-04-09250-1.
  • Apologetics: An Introduction. Chicago: Moody Press. 1984. ISBN 0-8024-0405-7
  • The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus During the Deist Controversy. Toronto: Edwin Mellen. 1985. ISBN 0-88946-811-7
  • The Only Wise God: The Compatibility of Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom. Grand Rapids: Baker Bookhouse. 1987. ISBN 1-57910-316-2, 978-1-57910-316-3
  • The Problem of Divine Foreknowledge and Future Contingents from Aristotle to Suarez. Leiden: E.J. Brill. 1988. ISBN 90-04-08516-5 / ISBN 978-90-04-08516-9
  • Knowing the Truth About the Resurrection. Ann Arbor: Servant. 1988. ISBN 0-89283-384-X, 978-0-89283-384-9
  • Craig, William Lane (1989), Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus, Studies in the Bible and early Christianity, 16, Toronto: Edwin Mellen Press, ISBN 978-0-88946-616-6
  • Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom: The Coherence of Theism I: Omniscience. Leiden: E.J. Brill. 1990. ISBN 90-04-09250-1, 978-90-04-09250-1
  • No Easy Answers. Chicago: Moody Press. 1990. ISBN 0-8024-2283-7, 978-0-8024-2283-5
  • Craig, William Lane (1991). Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom: The Coherence of Theism: Omniscience. ISBN 978-90-04-09250-1.
  • Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology (with Quentin Smith). Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993. ISBN 978-0-19-826383-8
  • The Tensed Theory of Time: A Critical Examination. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. ISBN 0-7923-6634-4 / ISBN 978-0-7923-6634-8
  • Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? A Debate Between William Lane Craig and John Dominic Crossan. Grand Rapids: Baker Bookhouse. 1998.
  • God, Are You There?. Atlanta: RZIM. 1999. ISBN 1-930107-00-5, 978-1-930107-00-7
  • Craig, William Lane; Lüdemann, Gerd (2000). Copan, Paul; Tacelli, Ronald Keith (eds.). Jesus' Resurrection: Fact Or Figment? a Debate Between William Lane Craig & Gerd Lüdemann. InterVarsity Press. ISBN 978-0-8308-1569-2.
  • ——— (2000). The tensed theory of time: a critical examination. Springer. ISBN 978-0-7923-6634-8.
  • ——— (2000), The Tenseless Theory of Time: A Critical Examination, Dordrecht: Kluwer, ISBN 978-0-7923-6635-5.
  • God, Time and Eternity. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 2001. ISBN 978-1-58134-241-3 / ISBN 978-1-58134-241-3
  • Time and The Metaphysics of Relativity. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. 2001. ISBN 0-7923-6668-9
  • Time and Eternity: Exploring God's Relationship to Time. Wheaton: Crossway. 2001. ISBN 978-1-58134-241-3 / ISBN 978-1-58134-241-3
  • What Does God Know? Atlanta: RZIM. 2002. ISBN 978-1-930107-05-2
  • Hard Questions, Real Answers. Wheaton: Crossway Books. 2003. ISBN 978-1-58134-487-5 / ISBN 978-1-58134-487-5
  • Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview (with J.P. Moreland). Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. 2003.
  • Craig, William Lane; Flew, Antony; Wallace, Stan W. (2003), Does God Exist?: The Craig-Flew Debate, Ashgate, ISBN 978-0-7546-3190-3.
  • ———; Sinnott-Armstrong, Walter (2004). God?: A Debate Between a Christian and an Atheist. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-516599-9.
  • Creation out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration (with Paul Copan). Grand Rapids: Baker Bookhouse. 2004. ISBN 0-8010-2733-0
  • Reasonable Faith. Wheaton: Crossway. 1984 (1st ed), 1994 (2nd ed), 2008 (3rd ed). ISBN 0-89107-764-2 / ISBN 978-0-89107-764-0
  • ———; Smith, Quentin, ed. (2008). Einstein, relativity and absolute simultaneity. London New York: Routledge. ISBN 978-0415591669.
  • Craig, William Lane (July 3, 2008). "God is Not Dead Yet". Christianity Today. Retrieved 30 April 2014.
  • On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook. 2010. ISBN 1-4347-6488-5 / ISBN 978-1-4347-6488-1
  • A Reasonable Response: Answers to Tough Questions on God, Christianity, and the Bible (with Joseph E. Gorra). Chicago: Moody Publishers. 2014. ISBN 0802405991 / ISBN 978-0802405999
  • Learning Logic. 2014. ISBN 1502713764 / ISBN 978-1502713766
  • On Guard for Students: A Thinker's Guide to the Christian Faith. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook. 2015. ISBN 0781412994 / ISBN 978-0781412995
  • Craig, William Lane (2016). God Over All: Divine Aseity and the Challenge of Platonism. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-878688-7.
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