Christian apologist William Lane Craig is scared of the Secular Student Alliance. The SSA is growing fast — at a rate faster than the Campus Crusade for Christ (a.k.a. CRU) — and he’s taking notice.
On a recent episode of his Reasonable Faith podcast called “Is Atheism Growing at the Expense of Theism?” Craig referenced information in this picture:
It’s an old picture (the SSA now has well over 360 groups), but the idea is that the SSA’s percentage growth is larger than that of CRU over the same time period. Which is absolutely true.
Obviously CRU has more groups and waaaaay more money (with a yearly budget of nearly $500,000,000), but if you’re looking for some way of showing how the trend is going in the other direction, this is a good way to show it.
Initially, when the SSA used this graph in promotional material, they said the number of atheist groups had gone up while CRU’s numbers had gone down. This was based on misinformation on CRU’s website. That sounded like an amazing story so a reporter went to double check the facts. When that reported asked CRU about the numbers in May, they updated their website to show that numbers had increased. (I know this because I was involved in the exchange with the reporter.)
Ok. Fine. Faced with the updated information, the SSA also updated their materials to focus on the percentage growth instead of pure numbers.
Cut to Craig’s podcast — 10:15 mark (MP3) — where he talks about the misinformation, and then blames the SSA for trying to put a “spin” on the corrected information.
Well, guess what? Percentage growth is useful when you’re talking about long term trends. We may not have the number of groups that CRU does. But our side is growing quickly and they’ve had a 50 year head start. They should be worried.
Craig at least acknowledges that much:
I do not want to diminish peoples’ concern about the activities of secular student groups and the growth of secularism on our campuses. This is a concern that needs to be addressed and we need to be very very worried about this even if their claims are overblown. The fact is that there are organized, atheistic groups whose aim is to evangelize their university campuses for atheism or non-theism.
There’s nothing overblown about it. The information doesn’t lie. Our growth is faster than their growth and we have the momentum.