After my previous post on Christianity Today’s article God is Not Dead Yet, Nathan Schneider asked me in a comment to have a look at the review he did. I also later saw John Stackhouse respond on his blog, which I thought also warranted comment.
First up, I look at Schneider’s fairly lengthy and informed review. He does seem to fail to realize that this is an article in a popular-level magazine, expecting more nuance from Craig on the arguments for God’s existence than is reasonable. That being said, his critique of the argument from fine-tuning was the most amusing part of the article:
The fine-tuning argument is like suggesting that, just because Britney Spears was born in America, America exists in order to give birth to Britney Spears.
Indeed, so much natural theology does seem to argue from the conclusion to the premises, rather than the other way around. And even where these arguments might be plausible, there is a vast chasm (noted by Pascal) between the god of the philosophers and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Schneider only addresses this aspect in a brief paragraph, while I think that it should be the crux of any disparaging of natural theology.
He does note that Craig’s projects is essentially saying Ja! to counter Karl Barth’s (in)famous declaration of Nein! towards building theology on a “natrual” foundation. (A bit more on Barth’s nein!) This debate is far more interesting and central to Christian witness than whether or not arguments for the existence of God “work,” and I wish that it would have received more pride of place in Schneider’s article, rather than being relegated to its last few paragraphs. But this is all grinding my own theological axe, and I recognize that Schneider did a pretty good job of contextualizing the debate between Craig and the “new” atheism.
Now, on to Stackhouse’s response to Craig’s CT article. Although Stackhouse seems to grant place to Craig’s natural theological approach (which I don’t), he goes on to say the following:
Apologetics, however, is more than analytical philosophy of religion… or the history of the New Testament. It’s about anything that points to the plausibility and credibility of the gospel. And that means a very wide range indeed of Christian activity.
That is an insightful point, one that recognizes that human life and its possible intersections with God are much more multi-faceted than arguments for or against God’s existence can speak to. Stackhouse’s list of candidates is well-thought, even if I would quibble with him on a few selections. He points in the right direction, the path where our best apologetic is simply living, acting and speaking as though we really believe that the God who created the world was incarnated in Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who died on a cross and rose from the dead. Which is, of course, far from simple.