The Cadbury Lectures 2015: God Over All

16 March - 20 March 2015

Hosted by the John Hick Centre for Philosophy of Religion. Our theme for 2015 is 'God Over All' , and will consist of a series of lectures given by Professor William Lane Craig (Talbot School of Theology and Houston Baptist University; PhD University of Birmingham 1977).

The traditional concept of God, rooted in the biblical and patristic witness, is that God exist uniquely a se. That is to say, God is the only self-existent being, the sole ultimate reality, and all else that exists has been created by God. The most important challenge to this doctrine issues from Platonism, the view that there exist necessary, eternal, uncreated abstract objects. The main argument for Platonism is the so-called Indispensability Argument, which holds that our use of first-order logical quantifiers and singular terms in sentences we take to be true commits us ontologically to the reality of such objects. Theists might attempt to escape this challenge by adopting anti-Platonic forms of realism about such objects. But an arguably better course is to challenge the devices of ontological commitment which underlie the Indispensability Argument.  When called upon to speak about such objects in a metaphysically heavy sense, the theist should regard such objects no more than useful fictions.


Lecture 1: Divine Aseity
The biblical and patristic writers bear clear witness to the Judeo-Christian conception of God as the sole ultimate reality, the Creator of everything else that exists.
Watch lecture

Lecture 2: The Challenge of Platonism
The most significant challenge to the doctrine of divine aseity is contemporary Platonism, the view that there exist eternal, necessary, uncreated, abstract objects, such as mathematical objects. The main argument for Platonism is the so-called Indispensability Argument, according to which our use of first-order logical quantifiers and singular terms in sentences we take to be true commits us ontologically to the reality of the objects quantified over or referred to. Since there are obviously mathematical truths like 2+2 = 4, we are committed ontologically to abstract objects.
Watch lecture

Lecture 3: Anti-Platonic Realism
Theists who feel the force of the Indispensability Argument might have recourse to non-Platonic forms of realism in order to meet Platonism’s challenge. But non-Platonic realisms like absolute creationism and divine conceptualism face certain problems of their own, which ought to motivate theists to take a serious look at anti-realist perspectives.
Watch lecture

Lecture 4: Making Ontological Commitments
The Indispensability Argument for Platonism turns out, upon examination, to be not at all compelling, for it is founded on a criterion of ontological commitment that is grossly implausible and certainly not incumbent upon us. Both first-order logical quantification and singular reference should be regarded as ontologically non-committing.
Watch lecture

Lecture 5: Just Pretend
When called upon to explicate his ontological commitments, the theist should state plainly that he does not think that abstract objects exist. Abstract sentences are plausibly taken to be matters of make-believe, that is, statements which are prescribed to be imagined as true. In a metaphysically heavy sense, such sentences are not literally true, but we may usefully engage in the pretense that they are.
Watch lecture

Kalam Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God
In addition to the Cadbury Lectures, Professor Craig gave a public lecture on 21 March, 2015.
Watch lecture


William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology and Professor of Philosophy at Houston Baptist University. He did his PhD on the Kalam cosmological argument for the existence of God under the supervision of John Hick at the University of Birmingham. He has authored or edited over thirty books, including The Kalam Cosmological Argument; Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus; Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom; Theism, Atheism and Big Bang Cosmology; and God, Time and Eternity, as well as over a hundred articles in professional journals of philosophy and theology, including The Journal of Philosophy, New Testament Studies, Journal for the Study of the New Testament, American Philosophical Quarterly, Philosophical Studies, Philosophy, and British Journal for Philosophy of Science.

Time and location

All events will take place from 17.00-18.30 in Lecture Theatre 1 (capacity 125), Arts Building (map reference R16), Main Edgbaston Campus.

Parking for blue badge holders
Please note that the venue does not have its own car park. There are, however, a few parking spaces available at the front of the building and two parking bays at the rear of the building. Parking within these spaces is free for all Blue Badge holders. These are allocated on a first come first served basis. Please find further information on the Disabled Go web pages.

These lectures will be filmed by the University of Birmingham Media Centre. By attending thelectures you are consenting to being filmed and to this filming being publicly available.