Sunday, 24 December 2017

I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist

I like Christian Audio as every month they give out a free audiobook. A while ago the free book of the month was this one and since I thought the title was provocative and I had read some other things by Norman L Geisler I thought this would be an interesting book.

This book seeks to show the rationality behind the Christian faith and that the Christian position is more reasonable than atheism. That is, within atheism, when looking at the evidence around us there are more blind leaps of faith in that worldview than Christianity.

The argument of the book is spelt out below:
  1. Truth about reality is knowable.
  2. The opposite of true is false.
  3. It is true that the theistic God exists. This is evidenced by the:
    1. Beginning of the universe (Cosmological Argument)
    2. Design of the universe (Teleological Argument/ Anthropic Principle)
    3. Design of life (Teleological Argument)
    4. Moral Law (Moral Argument)
  4. If God exists, then miracles are possible.
  5. Miracles can be used to confirm a message from God (i.e., as acts of God to confirm a word from God).
  6. The New Testament is historically reliable. This is evidenced by:
    1. Early testimony
    2. Eyewitness testimony
    3. Uninvented (authentic) testimony
    4. Eyewitnesses who were not deceived
  7. The New Testament says Jesus claimed to be God.
  8. Jesus’ claim to be God was miraculously confirmed by:
    1. His fulfillment of many prophecies about himself;
    2. His sinless life and miraculous deeds;
    3. His prediction and accomplishment of his resurrection.
  9. Therefore, Jesus is God.
  10. Whatever Jesus (who is God) teaches is true.
  11. Jesus taught that the Bible is the Word of God.
  12. Therefore, it is true that the Bible is the Word of God (and anything opposed to it is false).
As you can see there are a few key stepping stones for their argument to flow. They do spend a chapter or so on each of the points to help flesh out each stage in their argument. The general flow is that they move from philosophy to science to history.

They go to philosophy to prove truth is knowable which allows argument and reason to exist, then to science to prove theism, which allows miracles. Then they go to history to prove the specifics of Christianity, within a theistic worldview, which allows Jesus' claims and His resurrection to be true.

On philosophy, they teach you the road runner tactics, or what a self-defeating argument is, and then proceed to show the shortcomings of Kant and Hume reasoning and influences in our current thought life. While this isn't new (those guys were wrong) it was nice how they simplified and explained their thinking and what is wrong with it.

Moving on to science they use the traditional arguments to show it is more reasonable to believe this universe was created, and that life on this planet was caused than to say that everything in the universe came from nothing and that life sprang up unassisted from non-life. It is easier to say the universe and life itself were caused because there is more forensic evidence than the non-existent evidence of how life came about and the anti-rational reason that everything came from nothing. The traditional arguments for God only lead to theism, but it does mean that God is there and can intervene with the natural universe. I did appreciate their affirmation of science to work out things that can not be observed (forensic science) as using this we can go back into time and see that Mount Rushmore was created by intelligence forces and that we can work out how crimes were committed even if there were no eyewitnesses.

They then show that not all religions are the same and some actually make false claims when using standard historical reasoning (sorry Islam). They show how the text of the Bible has been reliably preserved. Something I found interesting, is that even if we don't have any New Testament documents, we still could reconstruct all but 12 verses based on how much the Church fathers would quote the New Testament documents.

They demonstrate quite well the historical reliability of Jesus including His death on the cross (sorry Islam). The reliability of Acts is also emphasized to show it was written by people who were there due to all the small historical details based on rulers, titles, locations given throughout. (On audio it was a little tedious to hear a list of like 84 dots points of evidence for Act's reliability and I had way more respect for the lady who was reading this out). The argument then goes, if the New Testament documents are so historically accurate, why shouldn't we also allow for their miracle accounts, after all, theism has been shown to be true and that allows a God to intervene into this universe they created.

Since Jesus claimed to be God and the Bible is accurate, and this universe and life has been created by a Creator they conclude that it takes more faith to believe the Bible is inaccurate, that everything came from nothing and that life came from non-life, despite all the evidence on the contrary.

Overall this is a cumulative argument. Even if you don't buy into some of their points, the overall feeling you get is that their case is sound. Needless to say, I was already convinced.

Some (Christian) presuppositionalists may not like how these authors go so far as to put logic above the scriptures, but the way their arguments are put forward does mean they can be falsifiable, which may appeal to the rational mind who doesn't want to hear some biased or circular argument based on the Bible from the start. However, the authors are realistic when it comes to the limit of reason (and their understanding of total depravity). They correctly point out that in the end, despite the evidence for pretty much anything, it all depends if one is willing to accept the consequences of where the conclusions will lead. Many people would rather believe there is no God so that they can live how they want, even if their position involves blind faith in the face of evidence.

This would have been a good book, something to go back to and reference. There is a bit of American references to it, some digs at their school system and they perhaps go at evolution a little too much, when really it's not even needed in their argument. I did want to see what an atheist thought of this book and I found a youtTube series countering it, but I didn't get very far...


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