William Lane Craig, On "Diversity, Evil and Hell"

As announced earlier I’m planning on reviewing every chapter in the new anthology on the problem of suffering titled, God and Evil: The Case for God in a World Filled with Pain,edited by Chad Meister and James K. Dew. [To read other entries in this series just click on the "God and Evil" tag below this post].

This time up is William Lane Craig's chapter, "Diversity, Evil and Hell: A Particularist Approach" (pp. 228-242). This chapter was taken from chapter 31 of J. P. Moreland and William Lane Craig's massive 2003 book, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview.If you want to become educated in how the mind of the evangelical believer works, you should read that book.

For the record, Dr. Craig is a friend of mine, just as are Paul Copan and Gary Habermas. I studied with Craig when he taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS). There I earned a Master of Theology degree with a major in the Philosophy of Religion in 1985. For that program of study I took half of my hours in his classes, the most that was allowed. Like Craig, I also studied with Stuart Hackett at TEDS, as did Paul Copan, the President of the Evangelical Philosophical Society, and Chad Meister, one of the editors of this book I'm reviewing. Dr. Craig said this about Dr. Hackett's 1957 book:
I am convinced that if The Resurrection of Theism had been published by Cornell University Press rather than Moody Press, then the revolution in Christian philosophy that began with the publication of Alvin Plantinga’s God and Other Minds in 1967 might well have begun ten years earlier. LINK.
When Stu died last year I wrote a tribute in remembrance of him. While at TEDS I also studied with the late Kenneth Kantzer, who was the editor of Christianity Today and known as "the dean of evangelicalism." There I studied with the late Paul Feinberg too. When attending Marquette University for a PhD program I studied with Ron Feenstra, who is now the Director of Doctoral Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary. When I say I have a solid evangelical pedigree, I'm serious. You might think I'm wrong now, but you clearly cannot say I'm ignorant.

Having said this and how intertwined several of us are, I must say that Craig's chapter perfectly illustrates a major point in my chapter in The End of Christianity, that defending Christianity,
makes these otherwise brilliant people look, well, dumb. But then, that’s what it takes to be a Christian apologist...no offense, but that’s the way it really is. They have to be this way in order to defend what cannot be reasonably defended at all.
I actually illustrated this very point on page 94 of my chapter with Craig's particularist approach, which is the same one found in this chapter I'm reviewing:
Now let’s consider William Lane Craig’s explanation for why there is global religious diversity if there is a hell to pay for people who die outside the Christian faith. He claims, “It is possible that God has created a world having an optimal balance between saved and lost and that God has so providentially ordered the world that those who fail to hear the Gospel and be saved would not have freely responded affirmatively to it even if they had heard it.” Craig argues that if this scenario is even possible, “it proves that it is entirely consistent to affirm that God is all-powerful and all-loving and yet that some people never hear the Gospel and are lost.”27

Again, there are many things that might be possible, but apologists like Craig and Plantinga seem to resort to that standard escape too many times. Contrary to Craig, when we look at the billions of people who have never been given a chance to be “saved” because of “when and where they were born,” his scenario seems extremely implausible, to say the least. Surely there exists at least one more person among them who would believe if presented with the Gospel. No wonder he only wants to talk about what is possible.
When it comes to foreknowing our future, Craig argues that God has Middle Knowledge such that he knows “what every possible creature would do under any possible circumstances,” and he would know this “prior to any determination of the divine will.”28 So despite his protestations to the contrary, isn’t it obvious that if Craig’s God has this kind of foreknowledge, he could simply foreknow who would not accept his offered salvation before they were even created, and then never create them in the first place so “hotel hell” would never have even one occupant? Why not?
Apart from the merits of Middle Knowledge itself, I think this is a decisive objection. God's omniscience entails Middle Knowledge, Craig would say. That is, if God is omniscient then he necessarily has Middle Knowledge (See diagram). So if that is the case, then rather than creating people he knew would reject the gospel, a perfectly good God would never have created them in the first place. By creating them anyway he consigned them to hell forever.

While Craig says some things about the problem of diversity and of hell itself, I think this objection of mine hits the main point of his chapter. I've written the book, The Outsider Test for Faith: How to Know Which Religion Is True,which is about the problem of religious diversity and how to solve it, if it can be solved at all. And the next chapter up is on hell, so I'll save my criticisms of hell for that chapter.

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