Friday, November 12, 2010

William Lane Craig vs. Richard Dawkins

Craig and Dawkins square off on stage later today! Yesterday I received this Facebook note from William Lane Craig. Since he sent this to all his "friends," I'm assuming it's public information. In case you're unaware, a debate between Dawkins and Craig would match up the world's most well known apologists for their respective worldviews: Dawkins for Atheism and Craig for Christianity. It's also worth noting that Dawkins has colorfully dismissed any future debate potential with WLC, which makes this so surprising.

Dr. Craig describes their first meeting...

I am currently in Mexico to participate in a conference called Ciudad de
las Ideas, which is a conference modeled on the TED conference in the US.
It features lots of high tech people, sociologists, psychologists, economists,
scientists, etc.

As part of the conference they´re having a panel of six of us debate on the
question ¨Does the Universe Have a Purpose?¨ Well. to my surprise, I just
found out that one of the three persons on the other side is Richard Dawkins!
It´s true! I met him the other night. When he came my way, I stuck out my
hand and introduced myself and said, Ï´m surspised to see that you´re on the

He replied, "And why not?"

I said, ¨Well, you´ve always refused to debate me."

His tone suddenly became icy cold. "I don´t consider this to be a debate with
you. The Mexicans invited me to participate, and I accepted.¨ At that, he
turned away.

¨Well, I hope we have a good discussion,¨ I said.

"I very much doubt it,¨ he said and walked off.

So it was a pretty chilly reception! The debate is Saturday morning,
should you think of us. I´ll give an update after I get

The six-man debate panel is set to discuss the question, "Does the Universe have a Purpose?"

Affirmative Position: Rabbi David Wolpe, William Lane Craig, Douglas Geivett
Negative Position: Matt Ridley, Michael Shermer, Richard Dawkins

The organization's website has lots of videos posted so I'm hoping they will have this one up soon. I'll post it as soon as it becomes available.

UPDATE 11/14/2010: The video has been uploaded here on YouTube.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Great New Resurrection Book!

Today, Mike Licona released his long-awaited historiographical treatment on the historicity of the resurrection. While great apologists have undertaken countless shots at defending the resurrection, few have done so guided by formal training in the field of history. This is something I found myself when researching historians specializing in the resurrection. There aren’t any! While Licona’s doctorate is technically under the banner of New Testament studies, his dissertation – the genesis behind the present work – was approved under watchful eyes of critical scholars at a secular institution (Univ. of Pretoria). Moreover, his concentration was specifically in first century historiography, so his study hits at the heart of the historical Jesus question.

Because of this widespread lack of methodological expertise on the issue, Licona asks a simple question which the rest of the book sets out to answer: “If professional historians who work outside of the community of biblical scholars were to embark on an investigation of the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus, what would such an investigation look like?” (p19). In case you think he leaves it there, he launches a well-reasoned and heavily footnoted attack in the following 699 pages.

For anyone familiar with resurrection debates, it’s a fun topic. Of course, for Christians, it’s much more than that. In sharing the gospel with unbelievers, objections to the resurrection pose a stumbling block to the core of our message. When we hear the common criticism “there’s not enough evidence,” Licona’s readers can now reply that modern rules of evidence are not how scholars justify events of ancient history. Otherwise, such skepticism would force us to dismiss much of Western Civilization, and even our present knowledge built upon historical experiences in the fields of science, politics, and technology. History must be studied in its context.

This book is a refreshing read. It is comprehensive yet accessible to anyone who takes the resurrection seriously. But reader beware that this book may humble believer and skeptic alike. The believer will learn how difficult absolute certainty of historical events can be and skeptics may be surprised how the evidence for the resurrection compares to unquestioned historical events. I truly hope this is the beginning of a new angle on the historical Jesus through the glasses of a historical scholar, at least as much as it has traditionally been done by biblical and theological ones. So go and order this on Amazon (a steal at $26 bucks!) and leave a comment with what you think. The world will be better off with more stuff like this.