This is the weekly Q & A blog post by our Research Professor in Philosophy, Dr. William Lane Craig.
Hi Dr. Craig. I'm a Christian from Canada and I love watching your debates on youtube. Thanks for being so awesome. You are a true inspiration.
I'm writing because I'm struggling with some questions that are really challenging my faith. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated. First I'll provide you with the lens through which my questions are posed. That way you will understand my mindset.
I feel that when compared to God, I am completely devoid of significance. Even though he loves me and created me in his image and sent his only son to die for me; if compared to him, I am completely insignificant.
Moreover, I feel that the all-powerful, all-knowing God who existed in the past eternal could have created an infinite number of universes before this one and could have an infinite number of universes simultaneous to this one. This assertion leads, again, to a feeling of insignificance; also fear and doubt.
I become fearful and begin to doubt that God loves me (us) when I consider how insignificant I am by comparison. I am less than a speck of dust when considering the span of eternity and in comparison to God. Even though I am a believer, a part of me feels that it is inconceivably pretentious to believe that God Eternal - Creator of the Cosmos, loves me (us).
So now that you have the lens I'm looking through, here are my questions:
1) Does God love us? Why would he? We're so insignificant and could be easily replaced?
2) Are we, in any way, significant? How can that be?
3) Will we ever truly comprehend God? Can we ever hope to truly know him or understand him?
4) Is it wrong or evil of me to have difficulty with the idea of submitting to eternal insignificance, uncertainty, lack of control (freedom) and devotion to a being I don't truly know or understand and who I have no hope of truly knowing or understanding? Am I alone in feeling these things?
I apologize that my questions are so negative. I'm sure you can understand why it's so important to me to find some answers. If you can provide some sources for further study as well I would be very grateful.
Thanks and God Bless You.
Dr. William Lane Craig’s Response
Ryan, it seems to me that your struggle is primarily psychological or emotional, not intellectual, for your question contains the seeds of its own answer. You give yourself away when you say, “I feel that when compared to God, I am completely devoid of significance.”
Feelings of personal insignificance are certainly appropriate on naturalism, for the human species is but an ephemeral speck lost in an unimaginably vast and uncomprehending cosmos. But such feelings are wholly inappropriate on Christian theism. When you write, “Even though he loves me and created me in his image and sent his only son to die for me; if compared to him, I am completely insignificant,” you make an incoherent statement. For in virtue of being made in God’s own image and being a person for whom Christ gave his life, your life is invested with eternal significance despite your physical puniness. Your significance is not measured by your physical size but by your moral worth, and on Christian theism one human being is worth more than the entire material universe put together.
True, compared to God, we are weak, ignorant, and imperfect creatures. But that does not make us insignificant, for we are still persons, just as God is personal, created to have a personal relationship with God forever, and we are, moreover, persons whom God loves so much that He took on our weak and fallen condition in order to redeem us and restore us to a right relationship with Himself. How could anyone hold such truths and yet think himself to be insignificant?
So in answer to your questions:
- Does God love us? Yes! Immeasurably! Why? Because we are made in His own image, persons capable of relating to Him as personal. Far from being “easily replaced,” there is no other you! Sure, God could have made an indefinite number of other persons instead; but He chose to create you and to invite you into the eternal intra-Trinitarian love relationship between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as an adopted son of God! Insignificant?
- Are we, in any way, significant? Of course, if Christianity is true. How can that be? Because significance is not a matter of physical size but of moral value, and you are intrinsically and objectively of inestimable value, as a person created in God’s image and beloved of God.
- Will we ever truly comprehend God? Depends on what you mean by “comprehend!” While we can never know God exhaustively, since He is infinite, nevertheless we can know Him truly. For there are truths about God that are accessible to reason alone and other truths about God which God has revealed to us. For example, we can know that God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, eternal, incorporeal, self-existent, and so on, and that He is a Trinity. Can we ever hope to truly know him or understand him? Certainly, for that is His will and desire for us. Moreover, we can know Him, not just in the sense of having accurate information about Him, but in the more intimate sense of knowing Him personally. There’s a huge difference between knowing about God and knowing God. God desires us to do both. If you’ve never come to know God in this personal way, Ryan, then I’d encourage you to talk to some Christian who has and who can explain to you how to come into such a relationship.
- Is it wrong or evil of me to have difficulty with the idea of submitting to eternal insignificance, uncertainty, lack of control (freedom) and devotion to a being I don't truly know or understand and who I have no hope of truly knowing or understanding? This is obviously a loaded question, akin to Have you stopped beating your wife yet? The question errs in assuming that God is a being whom you have no hope of truly knowing or understanding. You certainly should have great difficulty with the idea of submitting to eternal insignificance, uncertainty, and lack of control, for these are all lies fostered by a naturalistic worldview which you ought to reject. Rather what is wrong is your succumbing to these feelings of insignificance, uncertainty, and lack of control which plague you. These feelings are not rooted in reality and are therefore deceitful and need to be repudiated.
A resource that you may find helpful is the book The Significant Life: Overcoming Your Fear of Being Unnoticed and Forgotten (Crosslink, 2014) by George M. Weaver, an attorney who is a member of our Defenders class.
This post and other resources are available on Dr. William Lane Craig's website: www.reasonablefaith.org