William Lane Craig, a noted “apologist” and Christian debater famous for his debates against noted atheists like Christopher Hitchens, has been debating in such a way that undermines the authority of the Scriptures for years. Several years ago, we released a clip that demonstrated Craig’s compromising approach to debating God. For years, Craig’s attempt to defend the existence of God has fallen short due not only to his methodology but to his lack of deference to what God says about Creation as his foundation.
As a disclaimer, this article is not meant to be derisive toward Craig or the contributions that he has made in apologetics, rather it is meant to document the theological trajectory he is on.
Recently, Craig published an article at his ministry website, First Things, where he openly admitted that he does not take a literal Creation account seriously. In the article, titled The Historical Adam, Craig argues that the Creation account found in Genesis I and II are likely a compilation of ancient Israelite myths.
“Anchoring present realities in the primordial past is the heart of myth,” Craig writes. “The primaeval history of Genesis 1–11, including the stories of Adam and Eve, functions as Israel’s foundational myth, laying the basis of Israel’s worldview.”
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Craig defines myth as “a traditional, sacred narrative explaining how the world and man came to be in their present form” and which “seeks to explain present realities by anchoring them in the prehistoric past and so to validate a culture’s contemporary institutions and values.” Craig is careful to point out that the Genesis accounts, which are similar to ancient Near East myths, are not derived from them. However, he does affirm that these accounts “treat many of the same themes as do ancient Near Eastern myths, and that they seek to ground present realities in events of the primordial past.”
Craig goes on to defend his theory that the Creation accounts in Scripture are not literal history, but due to realities he appears to believe are actually unrealistic, he argues that the historical accounts couldn’t be accurate. He argues, “the artificial symmetry of ten antediluvian ancestors from Adam through Noah followed by ten postdiluvian ancestors from Shem though Abraham, together with the fantastic lifespans of the antediluvians, indicates that we are not dealing here with straightforward history.”
Craig continues to argue that, despite his understanding that the historical accounts in Genesis are not necessarily derivatives of ancient Near Eastern mythological accounts, there does exist similarity in the narratives, therefore there must be a similar motive for recording them. That motive, to Craig, appears to be anthropomorphic, to give people a sense of purpose and history through a special relationship with deity.
Ancient Near Eastern myths are often metaphorical rather than literal. Consider the story of Marduk’s creation of the world from Tiamat’s corpse in the Enuma Elish. No ancient Babylonian looking to the sky expected to see the desiccated flesh and bones of Tiamat overhead, nor did he expect to find the Tigris and Euphrates flowing out of Tiamat’s eye sockets. These images are figurative. Similarly, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh and Enkidu’s slaying of the Bull of Heaven (the constellation Taurus) and distribution of its meat to the people of Uruk could not possibly be taken literally. Not only is it impossible for a stellar constellation to rampage through a Sumerian town, to be grabbed by the tail and stabbed, butchered, and eaten, but if all these things literally happened, then the Bull of Heaven should no longer be seen shining serenely in the night sky.
He then goes on to argue that because of this, we should not consider Genesis I and II to be a literal historical account. “If Genesis 1–11 functions as mytho-history, then these chapters need not be read literally,” Craig argues. “The accounts of the origin and Fall of man are clearly metaphorical or figurative in nature, featuring as they do an anthropomorphic deity incompatible with the transcendent God of the creation account.”
He continues, “Other aspects of the narratives would be fantastic, even to the Pentateuchal author himself, if taken literally.”
“The idea of an arboretum containing trees bearing fruit that, if eaten, would confer immortality or yield sudden knowledge of good and evil must have seemed fantastic to the author. We are not dealing, after all, with miraculous fruit, as if God would on the occasion of eating supernaturally bestow upon the eater immortality or knowledge of good and evil against his divine will.”
Sadly, Craig has been instrumental during his years as an apologist in developing argumentation for the existence of God from a philosophical perspective. Yet, Craig has been compromised in various ways for a number of years. Despite the fact that he does not hold the Scriptures in its highest authority, he has also affirmed and defended Roman Catholicism.
Craig is also a Molinist, one who ascribes to the belief that God has “middle knowledge.” Molinism is an attempt to explain God’s grace apart from God’s absolute sovereignty over salvation, and while many theologians have stopped short of calling it heresy, it is certainly unbiblical and often leads its adherents into a true heresy known as open theism.
Here is Craig in his own words: