Saturday, July 12, 2008

God Is Not Dead Yet

In light of the recent little debate we have enjoyed on this blog regarding evolution and ID, the cover article for the July issue of Christianity Today seemed quite timely. "God Is Not Dead Yet - How Current Philosophers Argue for His Existence," the title reads, featuring a cover mimicking the old Time magazine's article: "Is God Dead?" (April 8, 1966), as seen to the right.

Author William Lane Craig indicates that the claim by the recent pate of atheist best-sellers that belief in God has become "intellectually indefensible for thinking people today," "is blissfully ignorant of the revolution that has taken place in Anglo-American philosophy. It reflects the scientism of a bygone generation rather than the contemporary intellectual scene."

Craig claims that the "cultural high point" for this "New Atheism" was actually in the mid-1960's. "Back in the 1940's and 50's, many philosophers believed that talk about God, since it is not verifiable by the five senses, it meaninglessness - actual nonsense. This verificationism finally collapased, in part because philosophers realized that verificationism itself could not be verified!"

The "turning point" Criag says, "probably came in 1967 with the publication of Alvin Plantinaga's God and Other Minds: A Study of the Rational Justification of Belief in God. In Plantinaga's train has followed a host of Christian philosophers, writing in scholarly journals and participating in professional conferences and publishing with the finest academic presses. The face of Anglo-American philosophy has been transformed as a result. Atheism, though perhaps still the dominant viewpoint at the American university, is a philosophy in retreat."

Craig also notes that this renaissance of Christian philosophy has been accompanied by a "resurgence of interest in natural theology, that branch of theology that seeks to prove God's existence apart from divine revelation."

As Craig paraphrased Mark Twain at the beginning of his article: "the news of God's demise was premature." For he notes that as they were writing his obituary, a "new generation of young philosophers was rediscovering his vitality." The church has always had an interest in defending the veracity and legitimacy of the faith to an unbelieving world, and therefore has long been active in the now rediscovered discipline of apologetics as well. Given, as I mentioned earlier, the origins debate briefly featured here, this philosophical change is good news for Christians who otherwise would be intimidated to stay in the shadows because of ridicule and fears of inadequacy.

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