Over at the WEIT blog: “Why Evolution is True” Jerry Coyne analyzes William Lane Craig’s take on God’s listening to and occasionally answering Super Bowl Prayers.
It’s a good piece that reviews much of the interview which you can read in its entirety here at Christianity Today.
The key point worth elaborating on is the fact that Craig appears to say Gods will is preordained… but not really.
Interviewer Q: “What’s the value in praying for God’s will to be done for the outcome of a game if God’s will will be done whether we pray or not?”
Craig’s A: Now that’s a question about prayer in general. What good does it do to pray about anything if the outcome is not affected? I would say when God chooses which world to actualize, he takes into account the prayers that would be offered in that world. We shouldn’t think prayer is about changing the mind of God. He’s omniscient; he already knows the future, but prayer makes a difference in that it can affect what world God has chosen to create.
Jerry’s explication: But unless I’m misinterpreting Craig, there’s some confusion here, which is unusual for him (he may be deluded, but his delusions are usually consistent). So God knows the future perfectly because he’s omniscient. That means, at time X, he knows what the outcome Z is at some Y in the future. But at time X + t, where t is the interval between God’s foreknowledge and the prayer for the Seahawks, God can be influenced, and change the outcome at time Y from Z to Z’ (“prayer makes a difference in that it can affect what world God has chosen to create”). I’m not sure how this makes sense. Does that mean that God knows that he’s going to be influenced one way or the other, and takes that into account in his knowledge of the future? And if that’s the case, then what does it mean for God to be “influenced”? Further, what does this say about religious libertarian free will in Craig’s scheme? If the petitioner chooses not to pray, and thereby affects God’s actions, did God know that in advance, too? How can one know the future perfectly and yet still be changed by someone’s prayer? And most importantly, how does Craig know this stuff? There’s nothing in the Bible about it, and not much about how God does or does not deal with prayers, so the readers who have explained Craig’s position below might surmise how he’d explain his knowledge of how God acts.
Jerry makes two points here: Is god affected by prayer or not and change his preordained outcome, and how in the hell does Craig claim to know what god does or doesn’t do?
If you check out the comments at the end of the Christianity Today interview you see similar confusion/questioning expressed.
So here’s my take:
Point 1: The sleight of hand, the shift of words, the scam.
Craig: “He’s omniscient; he already knows the future, but prayer makes a difference in that it can affect what world God has chosen to create.” The “future” is sorta one thing, then the “world he has chosen to create” now is suddenly something else so it sounds plausible but it is an out and out contradiction. And he gets away with it, not with everybody, neither Jerry, me, nor with some of the commenters and not with lots of us skeptical folks out here…
BUT, and “here’s that BIG BUTT again PeeWee“, Lane Craig is the best they have to offer, he is respected as one of the top, if not the top, Xian apologist going strong today, they LOVE this guy, and he gets away with this shit regularly.
So God has a future already in mind, and according to Craig “we shouldn’t think prayer is about changing the mind of God” but then he might change his mind and “choose another world to actualize” answering your prayer. So the “future” and a “world to actualize” sound like different things, and that’s how he gets away with it. They are not, they refer to the same future, even if you believe in the idea of a “multiverse” we only inhabit one of them.
If god actualizes a different world than the one he originally had in mind in response to your prayer, then he changes his mind and the future is not pre-ordained, he’s not omniscient. This is the sort of linguistic sleight of hand ALL theology must engage in, it sounds so impressive, but its just a con, just bullshit dressed up in rhetoric and a Theology PhD pedigree…
This is the sort of obfuscation con game ALL Theology exists on.
The man should be ashamed of himself.
Point 2: How the fuck does he know? (I’ll say it plainly. Jerry Coyne is a nicer guy than me, so if you don’t like my plain language read Jerry, he makes the same point, and usually better than me).
How can Lane Craig know anything of what any god might or might not do?
What is his evidence that god answered any prayer and not another; that he had one future (world) in mind and then decided to actualize a different world (future). How would he (you, us) know? We only live in this one world and unless Craig consults with the Pope or the equally elected head of the Mormon Church who both claim to talk to god (I don’t believe Craig has ever made that claim), how would he know god changed the world he was going to actualize, the future, his mind.
What a bunch of bullshit.
Theology is pure speculation, nothing more and is reprehensible in its reliance on scamming the faithful.
And we don’t give it a free pass anymore…