Craig on the Possibility of Eternal Damnation

Thomas Talbott
1992 Religious Studies: An International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion  
In two recent papers, 1 one a critique of two papers of mine, 2 William Lane Craig has sought to put the Free Will Defence in the service of the traditional doctrine of hell; he has sought to establish, in other words, that the following proposition, which I shall call the Damnation Thesis (DT), is at least possibly true: (DT) There exists at least one sinner S such that S will never be reconciled to God and thus never be saved. I believe that Craig's arguments for the possibility of (DT) are
more » ... ility of (DT) are important for two reasons: first, because the line he takes, though unsuccessful in my opinion, is the most plausible (or least implausible) line available; and second, because he sets forth with startling clarity some of the propositions that someone who takes this line must be willing to accept. But in the end, I shall argue, he not only fails to establish that (DT) is possible; he also fails in the lesser task of trying to undermine my own argument that (DT) is impossible. Although Craig nowhere gives formal shape it, his argument for the possibility of (DT) seems to run something like this: He first insists that certain propositions other than (DT) are possible in the broadly logical sense, and he then tries to deduce the possibility of (DT) from these other possibilities; that is, he casts about for some proposition p -perhaps a conjunction of several propositions -that will enable him to argue as follows: (1) p entails (DT). (2) p is possible in the broadly logical sense. (3) Therefore, (DT) is also possible in the broadly logical sense. And, of course, the challenge he faces in defending such an argument is this: If, for some p, he
doi:10.1017/s0034412500021892 fatcat:3am7wb6bx5ayhoga4szis7jaxa