My initial reaction to seeing Bill Craig was disbelief. His beard, which for twenty-three years had given him a serious and scholarly demeanor, was gone. My face must have registered my shock.
"I turned fifty," he explained, "so I celebrated by shaving it off."
Craig ushered me down a flight of stairs to his office, a well-organized room dominated by a dark wood desk and floor-to-ceiling bookshelves with neatly arranged rows of books and scholarly journals. I settled into a comfortable chair while Craig sat behind the desk, leaning back in a leather-clad office chair that protested with a loud squeak.
Craig has written extensively about miracles, especially the resurrection of Jesus. His books include Reasonable Faith, Knowing the Truth about the Resurrection, The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus, and Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus, and he contributed to In Defense of Miracles, Does God Exist? Jesus Under Fire, and The Intellectuals Speak Out about God.
He holds doctorates in philosophy from the University of Birmingham, England, and in theology from the University of Munich, and is currently a Research Professor of Philosophy at the Talbot School of Theology. He is the member of nine professional societies, including the American Academy of Religion, Society of Biblical Literature, and the American Philosophical Association, and he has written for New Testament Studies, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, Gospel Perspectives, Philosophy, and other scholarly publications.
Sans beard and wearing blue jeans, Craig looked a decade younger than his age, with piercing blue eyes, brown hair combed casually to the side, and a quick and enthusiastic laugh. He stroked his chin-subconsciously missing his beard, perhaps-as he listened intently to my first question, which admittedly came with an edge of challenge.
"Okay, Dr. Craig, you're an intelligent and educated individual," I began. "Tell me: how can a modern and rational person still believe in babies being born from virgins, people walking on water, and cadavers emerging alive from tombs?"
Craig smiled. "It's funny you should ask specifically about the virgin birth," he replied, "because that was a major stumbling block to my becoming a Christian. I thought it was totally absurd."
"Really?" I said. "What happened?"
"When the Christian message was first shared with me as a teenager, I had already studied biology. I knew that for the virgin birth to be true, a Y chromosome had to be created out of nothing in Mary's ovum, because Mary didn't possess the genetic material to produce a male child. To me, this was utterly fantastic. It just didn't make sense."
"You're not alone," I observed. "Other skeptics have problems with it too. How did you proceed?"
Craig thought back for a moment. "Well, I sort of put that issue aside and became a Christian anyway, even though I didn't really believe in the virgin birth. But then, after becoming a Christian, it occurred to me that if I really do believe in a God who created the universe, then for him to create a Y chromosome would be child's play!"
I told Craig that I found it interesting he could have become a Christian despite misgivings about a doctrine as significant as the virgin birth.
"I guess the authenticity of the person of Jesus and the truth of his message were so powerful that they simply overwhelmed any residual doubts that I had," he replied.
I pressed him by asking, "Weren't you rushing headlong into something you didn't totally accept?"
"No, I think this can be a good procedure," he said. "You don't need to have all your questions answered to come to faith. You just have to say, 'The weight of the evidence seems to show this is true, so even though I don't have answers to all my questions, I'm going to believe and hope for answers in the long run.' That's what happened with me."
"Does a person have to suspend their critical judgment in order to believe in something as improbable as miracles?"
Craig sat upright in his chair and raised his index finger as if to punctuate his point. "Only if you believe that God does not exist!" he stressed. "Then I would agree-the miraculous would be absurd. But if there is a Creator who designed and brought the universe into being, who sustains its existence moment by moment, who is responsible for the very natural laws that govern the physical world, then certainly it's rational to believe that the miraculous is possible."
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