TheBlaze's Carly Hoilman contributed to this report.
Contrary to critics who fear for the future of faith in America, Christian philosopher Dr. William Lane Craig has a relatively positive view about what's in store in the coming decades.
While much ado has been made about the growth of atheist activism, Craig said that, intellectually speaking, the New Atheism movement lacks much of the ideological chops that its Christian counterpart has built.
Dr. William Lane Craig (Credit: ReasonableFaith.org)
"Over the last 50 years or so -- since the late 1960s -- there has been literally a renaissance of Christian philosophy in my field of expertise, which is philosophy," Craig told TheBlaze. "The face of Anglo-American philosophy has changed over the past generation to where Christian philosophy now represents a very significant minority -- a respected minority -- within the philosophical community."
While some might argue that philosophy is academic and, thus, somewhat cut off from the mainstream, Craig said that this revolution in academia will bode well for the greater societal culture as well.
"This then trickles down to popular culture over the next generation," he added, dismissing atheist activism as "a pop cultural phenomenon that doesn’t have the kind of intellectual muscle and staying power that this philosophical renaissance has."
In the end, Craig believes that Christian scholarship will have a more profound impact than the ideas being posited by the New Atheists. He said that he's seeing events and movements on college campuses that corroborate his beliefs on the matter.
"I think this movement within philosophy to a renaissance of Christian thinking is the brightest hope for what’s happening in American culture today in terms of religious impact," Craig said. "The university is the single most important institution influencing American society in the long run, so I am very optimistic about the future of the American university, and of philosophy in particular, and therefore American culture."
As for whether atheists are on the rise and whether society is secularizing at a rampant rate, Craig was equally skeptical. He questioned some of the research surrounding the "nones" -- the nearly 20 percent of Americans who are unaffiliated with a particular faith -- and said that there's "good grounds for considerable skepticism" when it comes to whether American society is increasingly becoming more atheistic.
He isn't the first to question this notion, as Gallup's Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport has maintained that religion in the U.S. is actually much healthier than many critics allege.
Craig also drew a distinction between mainline denominations, which he said are in "free fall," and those that have "remained true to biblical orthodoxy." While the former are struggling to maintain membership and adherents, he said the latter are seeing figures grow.
"I think again, over the long run, the picture for biblical Christianity is very positive. And as this revolution in Christian philosophy begins to make itself felt in popular culture over the next generation, I think the picture will get even brighter," he added.
Despite his optimism, Craig's comments didn't come without noting that there are other culturally significant sectors where he believes Christians need to get involved -- particularly in Hollywood. Entertainment's impact is profound on the culture and he said it's an "open question" where things will go on that front.
Read more about Craig and his work over on ReasonableFaith.org.
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