Stripped of its Philosophical Support William Lane Craig Sounds Bizarre: Consider The Holy Spirit's Role In Him Believing The Virgin Birth Tale

Believers need to think for just one minute. Think about what should be the case, but isn't. Then you'll realize that if Christian belief is indeed reasonable, Christian intellectuals should tout the virtues of reason. But they betray themselves. See Case #'s 1 and 3 here. For the bottom line is that Craig's faith has become an intrinsic defeater to all defeaters against it. Reason is secondary at best(!) If reason and faith stand in conflict then according to Craig, "it is reason that must submit to faith, not vice versa.” [Craig, Apologetics: An Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press, 1984), p. 21.] Craig quotes the Bible as an authority on this, saying,
The Bible says all men are without excuse. Even men who are given no good reason to believe and many persuasive reasons to disbelieve have no good excuse, because the ultimate reason they do not believe is that they have deliberately rejected God’s Holy Spirit. Therefore, the role of reason in knowing Christianity is true is to be a servant. A person knows Christianity is true because the Holy Spirit tells him it is true, and while reason can be used to support this conclusion, reason cannot overrule it. [Craig, Apologetics: An Introduction, p. 22.]
There, that should settle it, right? After all, the Bible says so in Romans 1 and in I John 1.

Craig goes to great lengths to show the Holy Spirit is the real, or fundamental, or foundational experience that leads Christians to believe. Even if they encounter good arguments based on good evidence to the contrary that they cannot answer, Christians are still obligated to believe, since they have the assurance of the inner witness of the Spirit that no evidence and no argument can defeat:
What I claim is that for the person who attends to it the witness of the Holy Spirit overwhelms the putative defeaters brought against the truths to which He bears witness. Alvin Plantinga calls such a powerfully warranted claim an intrinsic defeater-defeater because it defeats all on its own the conflicting claims brought against it.

I am asserting that not only should I continue to have faith in God on the basis of the Spirit's witness even if all the arguments for His existence were refuted, but I should continue to have faith in God even in the face of objections which I cannot at that time answer.

What I'm claiming is that even in the face of evidence against God which we cannot refute, we ought to believe in God on the basis of His Spirit's witness. Apostasy is never the rational obligation of any believer, nor is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. God can be trusted to provide such powerful warrant for the great truths of the Gospel that we will never be rationally obliged to reject or desert Him. [LINK].
It is never an appropriate response to defeaters to abandon Christian faith and reject Jesus Christ and the witness of the Holy Spirit. Rather, as I said, God can be trusted in such circumstances where we feel at a loss as to how to answer the defeater and we have no extrinsic defeater of the defeater, God can be counted on to so intensify the witness of the Holy Spirit that that will enable us to have an intrinsic defeater-defeater so that the appropriate response is to continue to believe with the hope that someday we may, in fact, find an error in that defeater and be able to expose its falsehood. The witness of the Holy Spirit is an intrinsic defeater-defeater. [LINK]
What I want to suggest is that the witness of the Holy Spirit can become an intrinsic defeater-defeater. That is to say, it can be so powerfully warranted in our lives that it will intrinsically defeat the extrinsic defeaters that the atheists and skeptics bring against it. This is not refuted by showing that in some other illustration where the evidence is so incredibly powerful that I would have to say that I am mentally ill, that I really was there, I really did commit the crime, and therefore I don't have an intrinsic defeater-defeater. That doesn't defeat in any way the argument that there can be a defeater-defeater that is so intrinsically and powerfully warranted that it intrinsically defeats the defeaters brought against it. [LINK]
Stripped of their philosophical support, these statements sound bizarre. Craig says, "Christian belief can be rational and warranted in the absence of argument and evidence" and that no other religious faith can claim this because none of them have the assurance of the inner witness of Holy Spirit. [LINK].

Now let's consider the tale of the virgin birth. What about it?

At the end of his chapter on the problem of miracles Craig confessed: "In my own case, the virgin birth was a stumbling block to my coming to faith--I simply could not believe such a thing. But when I reflected on the fact that God had created the entire universe, it occurred to me that it would not be too difficult for Him to make a woman pregnant." [Craig, Apologetics: An Introduction, p. 125]. One wonders how the inner witness of the Holy Spirit worked here. It appears as if Craig was reasoning himself into belief. In other cases no reason is needed at all. Just read and believe the gospels, and the Holy Spirit does the rest, Craig says.

In the case of the virgin birth the young Craig reasoned poorly. While he's correct that a creator god wouldn't have any trouble getting a virgin woman pregnant, that's not the problem. The problem is whether a creator god really did that in this particular case with the virgin Mary. Since Craig didn't understand the problem he got the solution wrong. His reasoning is a big non-sequitur: "Since a creator god could do it he must have done it like the Bible says." Craig failed to take seriously the overwhelming objective evidence against such a miraculous claim. He also failed to grasp why the Jews of Jesus' day didn't believe the virgin birth tale, even though they were there, and believed in god, and in miracles, and in prophecy. See Case #2 here.

So the Holy Spirit can convince someone to believe based on poor judgment, poor reasoning and poor, or no objective evidence. It doesn't matter, you see, so long as the Holy Spirt gets people to believe the correct things, even the so-called "witness of the Holy Spirt"!

Craig was right to question the tale of a virgin birthed son of a deity. It never happened. That makes the inner witness of the Holy Spirit--who led the young Craig to believe it--ignorant of the facts, or okay with people believing on insufficient evidence based on poor reasoning, or at worst the Holy Spirit is a liar.


John W. Loftus is a philosopher and counter-apologist credited with 12 critically acclaimed books, including The Case against Miracles, God and Horrendous Suffering, and Varieties of Jesus Mythicism. Please support DC by sharing our posts, or by subscribing, donating, or buying our books at Amazon. Thank you so much!