William Lane Craig Talks About Me

Christian radio host Justin Brierley does an awesome job interviewing people for his UK based weekly radio show. He interviewed me some time ago. Lately he's interviewed Norman Geisler, Alvin Plantinga, Gary Habermas, and William Lane Craig, who spoke about me in his July 19th interview to be found here (just scroll down).

Justin picks up the topic leading up to me at about the 1 hour and 13 minute marker.

In speaking about those of us who share our deconversion stories, Craig thinks our "reverse testimonies" are "very powerful," and they make him wonder if he himself is deluded! From now on if people question the power of a deconversion story, let's quote Craig!

Craig goes on to say that if you look at these testimonies closely we didn't leave for intellectual reasons. Instead we left for emotional reasons "having to do with a negative experience" of some sort. To "make it look credible" he says, "they [we] will emphasize the intellectual aspects of it."

In this context Justin mentions my name and Dr. Craig said "exactly," as if I am a typical case of what he just talked about. Craig says: "The merit of John Loftus's testimony is that he's candid about his adultery and pornography and the way he felt burned and abandoned by the local church when he fell into sin; that it was really these things which prompted him to leave the faith, not the intellectual problems."

Craig does admit the same things can be said for Christians who "came to Christ for personal or emotional reasons," however, "it's more credible if you present yourself as having gone through a long intellectual search." Then speaking to Christians he says, "you gotta be really careful about these things because sometimes they're not always the whole truth."

Craig confesses that he himself did not go through a long intellectual search, and he doesn't tell people that he did, because "it's just not true." "That wasn't my experience," he says, "and I want to be candid about that."

Craig himself grounds his faith in a supposed veridical experience with the Holy Spirit, not intellectual reasons anyway.

You can listen to it yourself.

In any case, let me comment. In my book I am honest and candid that I had some negative experiences which shook my faith and goaded me into searching for the truth. Where Craig comes up with "pornography" as a factor, I haven't a clue. I shared my experiences because, as Craig says of himself, it wasn't due entirely to a long intellectual search, and so like him, "it's just not true" of me to say that it was. Like him, "that wasn't my experience," on the other side, either.

But neither was my change of mind due entirely because of my experiences. Part of my story includes the challenges of harmonizing science with the Genesis creation accounts. Part of my story includes the problem of evil. Part of my story includes the lack of communication (or illumination) of the Holy Spirit in the lives of church people I associated with. In other words, yes, I was candid about it all. But it misrepresents the facts to say it was purely negative experiences that led me away from the fold. Why should people like Craig believe what I say about my experiences but reject out of hand what I say about my reasons? I said that I could not reconcile everything I had experienced and everything I had learned with my faith. It was a total blow to my faith and it included both my experiences and my studies.

I remember talking with a woman before I had left the fold who told me she had a terrible experience which caused her to want to reject Christianity (this was years ago and I forgot what kind of negative experience she told me). So she read everything she could get her hands on to find reasons not to believe. In the end, she told me, she just could not change her mind. In the end, she just had to continue believing.

Her story was not my experience if you've read my story. I did not try to leave the fold. I had spent too much time and too much money into my education that I was not going to throw it all away because of a negative experience or two. I'm way too stubborn for that. My whole life was wrapped around being a minister, all of my friends and colleagues were Christians, and I was hoping to teach full time at a Christian college. So even with the negative experiences I had, I was not going to go down without a hard fight, kicking and screaming against the very thought of leaving my faith.

But this woman is an example of the honesty you see in my book. She had to be honest with herself despite the negative experiences. So did I. The way she solved her questions is not the way I solved mine. But I can say we were both honest with ourselves. I would not have left the faith if the reasons were not there, despite my experiences. Period! Say what you will. But if my story has the merit that Craig says it does in being honest with why I left the fold, then do not apply that merit selectively. Apply it across the board to everything I said.

Thanks to someone named Helen for telling me of this interview.