Response to Dr. William Lane Craig – Part 1

Dr. William Craig –

Thank you for reading some of my blog posts criticizing your case for the resurrection of Jesus.  Although you object to the tone of the blog posts as using “vitriolic language”, you nevertheless took the time not only to read what I had to say, but also to respond to some of my points:

In doing so, you demonstrate the virtue of scholarship and are following in the footsteps of Thomas Aquinas, who also spent a good deal of his time giving serious consideration to the objections of skeptics and to the ideas of those who had points of view that differed from his own point of view.

I have dozens of points to make in reply to your comments on my blog posts, but since you have already given generously of your time to read and comment on my skeptical posts, I will limit myself to making just a few points, for now.

You made some statements about my credentials and scholarship to which I would like to respond:

It is evident that this is not a work of scholarship, if I may say so. He tells us that he had once aspired to go on to do M.A. work but his plans didn’t work out. This blog is characterized by a kind of vitriolic language that is not the language of scholarship.

First of all, let me make some significant concessions towards your point: you are a scholar, and I am not a scholar.  I view myself as a well-informed intellectual, not as a scholar.  I write blog posts, not peer-reviewed articles for journals of philosophy.

I appreciate scholars and scholarship, including you and your scholarly work.  The passionate tone of my blog posts that you read comes out of my view of the importance of scholarship and my belief that you are not living up to your full potential as a scholar, and to your intellectual obligations as a scholar, because of your failure to make a serious historical case for the death of Jesus on the cross.

Gary Habermas and Michael Licona have attempted to make an historical case for the death of Jesus on the cross in their book The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (p.99-103), and Norman Geisler has made an attempt to make such a case in his book When Skeptics Ask (p.120-123).  Geisler’s case is clearly superior to yours, even though the resurrection is only one of many topics that he covers in this book.  Geisler’s case is weak and defective, and the case made by Habermas and Licona is not much better.  I think that you can and should create a better and more scholarly case for the claim that “Jesus died on the cross”.

You and I appear to agree on a key point: you have not made a serious historical case for the claim that “Jesus died on the cross.”  Where we disagree is that you believe that you are NOT under an intellectual obligation to make such a case, but I believe that in making the claim that “Jesus rose from the dead”, you take on the burden of proof to show, on the basis of historical evidence, that Jesus did in fact die on the cross.

I will have more to say on this disagreement between us on another day.  For now, I just want to correct your statement about my credentials and educational background.

You stated about me that, “He tells us that he had once aspired to go on to do M.A. work but his plans didn’t work out.”  I think you are sincere but misunderstood what I wrote about my educational background in the post. Your statement strongly suggests that I did NOT earn an M.A. in philosophy.

On the contrary, my plans to do M.A. work DID work out. I earned an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Windsor, and after that I did a number of years of graduate study in philosophy at U.C. Santa Barbara, and completed all requirements for a PhD in philosophy, except for the doctoral dissertation.

Further Details on My Background in Philosophy:

I graduated cum laude with a B.A. in philosophy and “with distinction” in philosophy from Sonoma State University.  I learned about critical thinking from two leading figures in the critical thinking movement: Dr. Richard Paul (co-author of Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal Life) and Dr. Harvey Siegel.  I became a teaching assistant for critical thinking classes taught by Dr. Richard Paul.

My first course in philosophy of religion was taught by Dr. Siegel.  I also did some independent studies in philosophy of religion under Dr. Richard Paul.  I learned symbolic logic at Sonoma State University from Stan McDaniel.  When Professor McDaniel gave the final exam for symbolic logic to about 70 students, only one student got 100% of the problems and questions correct; that student was me.

I went on to do graduate study and earned an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Windsor (in Windsor, Ontario).  I went to the University of Windsor so that I could study under two leading figures in the Informal Logic movement: Dr. Ralph Johnson and J. Anthony Blair (authors of the textbook Logical Self-Defense).  I helped them teach their class in logic and reasoning.

At the University of Windsor, I had a seminar on “Classical Empiricism” (grade: A-) led by the Hume scholar John P. Wright.  I had a course in “Theory of Argument” (grade: A) from J. Anthony Blair, an expert in Informal Logic.  I also took a course in “Recent British Philosophy” (grade: A), and a departmental seminar on Epistemology (grade: A-) that was an historical survey starting with ancient Greek philosophers (Plato and Aristotle) and ending with Wittgenstein in the 20th century, led by various members of the philosophy department.  My M.A. thesis was in the area of Informal Logic (“Carl Wellman’s Challenge to Deductivism”).

After that, I went on to do graduate study in the doctoral program in philosophy at U.C. Santa Barbara.  When I applied to do graduate studies at U.C. Santa Barbara, Dr. Richard Paul, a leader of the critical thinking movement, wrote a strong letter of recommendation for me, which concluded with the following paragraph:

Bradley Bowen, I am confident, can and will successfully compete at any graduate school in the country and will distinguish himself wherever he goes.  I look forward to further opportunities to collaborate with him on work in the field of critical thinking and to reading his future articles and books.  I recommend him to you enthusiastically and confidently and without any reservations whatsoever.  He is the best student I have had in twenty years of teaching.

I successfully completed all required coursework for the PhD in philosophy, and passed the Qualifying Paper to advance to candidacy for the PhD, but did not complete my doctoral dissertation, which was on the resurrection of Jesus.  I spent many years working on that dissertation, and am still working on it now and then, as I find time.

I was a teaching assistant at UCSB for logic, critical thinking, introduction to philosophy, and for philosophy of religion. I also taught a course in Introduction to Ethics as well as an upper division course in Applied Analytical Reasoning.

At U.C. Santa Barbara I studied Philosophy of Religion (grade: A-) with Dr. J. William Forgie, Social Philosophy (grade: A-), Seminar in Aristotle (grade: A-) with Dr. Charlotte Stough (an expert in ancient Greek philosophy), Advanced Symbolic Logic (grade: A) with Dr. Nathan Salmon, Seminar in Ethics (grade: A-) with Dr. Christopher McMahon, Descartes (grade: A), Seminar in Epistemology (grade: A-), Ethical Theory (grade: A-) with Dr. Christopher McMahon, Locke (grade: A-), Kant (grade: B+) with Dr. Anthony Brueckner, Seminar in History of Philosophy (grade: B+), Philosophy of Feminism (grade: A), and Seminar in Ethics (grade: A) with Dr. Christopher McMahon.

My Qualifying Paper for advancement to candidacy for a PhD was on “Plantinga’s Response to the Evidentialist Challenge”.

So, my education in philosophy went well beyond earning an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Windsor.


Here is an INDEX to posts in this series.