We are currently reading William Lane Craig’s latest offering ”A Reasonable Response” for book club. Here is a little run down on the guy if you aren’t familiar with him:
Explaining Dr. Bill
The world’s preeminent Christian apologist, William Lane Craig, has written 30 books. His most recent triumph, A Reasonable Response, reads like a first-year university text and sports glowing endorsements from several Christian academics and student leaders. Explaining why this should be so goes a long way toward explaining the phenom that is Dr. Bill.
The book’s co-author, Joseph Gorra, is the Manager of Academic Programs and Research at Biola University. William Craig’s main gig these days is as a Research Professor at Biola’s Talbot School of Theology. (Craig only deigns to teach a few weeks a year at Biola’s Los Angeles campus, pining “the classroom is not my calling.”)
Biola U (a.k.a. Bible Institute of L.A.) is a fully accredited, private Christian university offering 145 academic programs of “Biblically-centered education” to 6,000 students.
Although prominent in its field, Biola is hardly unique. The USA’s 900 accredited religiously-affiliated, post-secondary educational institutions claim a cumulative enrolment of 1.7 million students. Of these institutions 200 are Bible colleges, 150 are seminaries and 255 are Catholic universities or colleges.
The main lobbyist for the USA’s Protestant post-secondary schools, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, lists 106 member institutions 17 of whom are accredited up to the granting of PhDs. (Accreditation means more than authorization to issue broadly recognized degrees; it also means tax exemptions, government grants and the right to participate in subsidized student loan programs.)
Nor is the USA a unique bastion of “faith intentional” higher education. Globally there are 1,358 Catholic institutes of higher learning orbiting the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, the Pontifical Academy of Science and the International Federation of Catholic Universities. These 1,358 institutes vary from full-campus affairs like Washington DC’s Catholic University of America to small colleges embedded in larger secular universities like St. Joseph’s College at the University of Alberta.
While still in his late teens Craig enrolled in a Christian college and soon became active in the debating team and later in the continent-wide Campus Crusade for Christ. The thesis earning Craig his PhD in Philosophy sought to prove God’s existence using modern cosmological arguments i.e. the Big Bang theory and the Second Law of Thermodynamics etc.
Dr. Craig then spent several years at Munich’s Ludwig-Maximilian University (LMU) acquiring a PhD in Theology. Here his thesis concerned the historicity of Jesus. His advisor, Professor Pannenberg, argued the resurrection was historically factual even if the Gospel accounts of it were fictional.
LMU was launched in 1472 after Bavaria’s Duke Ludwig received the appropriate papal concession. LMU repaid this debt by playing a major role in the counter-reformation. Today, LMU is a taxpayer-funded 18-faculty, 48,000-student colossus employing 3,600 academics including 700 full professors. Its founding Theology faculty has been bifurcated into Catholic and Protestant faculties which in turn compliment a separate omnibus Philosophy/Science/Religious Studies faculty. The Protestant Theology faculty boasts of structured collaboration projects with the Cultural Studies faculty and with the Philosophy of Science sub-faculty; the latter project being facilitated by the German Research Foundation (GRF). Incidentally, LMU is an internationally renowned theoretical physics powerhouse employing some 300 researchers (GRF-financed) to agonize over astro-physics, quarks, quantum theory and abstract mathematical physics.
After leaving LMU Dr. Bill spent 1987 to 1994 as a researcher at Belgium’s Catholic University of Louvain. This notorious reactionary forge was co-founded in 1425 by the Duke of Brabant and Pope Martin V. Louvain U is currently home to 28,000 students and a staff of 5,600 including 2,000 with PhDs. The university’s core “Organizing Authority” is a cabal of four Bishops the most senior of whom (and Louvain’s Chancellor) is Cardinal Leonard.
In 2011 Louvain hosted a yearlong exhibit honouring their illustrious alumnus, Georges Lemaitre. Monseigneur Lemaitre was a student and later physics prof at Louvain before ascending to the Presidency of the Pontifical Academy of Science. As the exhibit proudly advertised, it was Lemaitre who concocted the Big Bang theory.
Leaving Louvain Dr. Bill returned to the USA with nary a thought of forsaking the Christian-academic mothership. His 100 published articles are mainly in Christian-academic journals. His much-vaunted debates and speeches are mostly at Christian colleges. Students and professors at these institutes form the target market for A Reasonable Response.
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