A Refutation of “I Don’t Have Enough faith to Be an Atheist”
I Don’t Have Enough faith to Be an Atheist (2004) is a book authored by Christian apologists Norman Geisler and Frank Turek. The book is intended to portray atheists as having blind faith in non-belief in Christianity while theists (particularly Christians) beliefs are based on reason and evidence. The book contains arguments in favor of intelligent design and many anti-evolution propaganda, for which I label this a Creationist book.
The following article presents my critical analysis and counter-arguments to the trite apologetic arguments used to persuade it’s readers that “atheists have more faith then theists.” As a Igtheist Atheist Agnostic Apistevist, I challenge that bold claim.
Before I get into this book, it is very important that we define certain words. For instance, what does “Faith” mean? Norman Geisler and Frank Turek use it in their book’s title, but what does it mean? Now, dictionaries define faith in a variety of ways, though if we try to find common themes amongst them, faith generally means when someone believes in something without evidence. So instead of relying solely on dictionaries, let’s have the Bible itself tell us what “faith” is.
Hebrews 11:1 – Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.
2 Corinthians 4:18 – So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 5:7 – We live by faith, not by sight
John 20:29 – Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Romans 4:17 – As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed–the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
Romans 1:20 – For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
So what do we get from these verses?…Things hoped for, but not seen. Looking at things that are not seen. Not seeing what is seen. And this list ends with everybody’s favorite combination of logical fallacies; the circular argument of arriving back to an assumed conclusion.
This is what faith is: pretending to see and know what is there. According to the Bible, we are expected to see what is not evidently there. Not only that, we are blessed if we make ourselves see what cannot be seen. That’s what faith is, and it is by no means a reasonable request.
Beliefs should be tentative and subject to obligated change if the evidence demands. We should have some way to correct the flaws in our current perception and thus improve our understanding – THAT would be reasonable. Because if we love truth at all, then what should matter most is that we not allow ourselves to be deceived. But faith is the very opposite, it requires that we literally “make belief” that we ignore what we really do see and pretend something is there when it apparently isn’t. It means that we fool ourselves.
“Faith see the invisible,
believes the unbelievable,
and received the impossible.” – Corrie Ten Boom
Worse than that, faith requires that we believe the unbelievable. As you can see this is reflected in popular literature among the faith biased – and this is not just a willful ignorance, this is dimension, a deliberately induced delusion. Fantasy is adopted as reality and truth is dismissed as irrelevant.
With that cleared, why should anyone have faith at all? Norman Geisler and Frank Turek say that it takes this sort of “faith” just to be an atheist. Well what is an atheist? There are several books and sites that give a clear definition of what an atheist is, while giving a clear distinction between an agnostic and an atheist. See see this article for starters. Long story short (as I can polish it), atheism is the lack of a belief in god(s) and the rejection of theistic claims. With that being said, Geisler and Turek say that it takes a self-indulged dimension to lack a belief in god, which would imply that there is a lot of evidence for god.
Well, Geisler and Turek plan to at least present this evidence and make their case in this book, so lets dive right in.
Foreword by David Limbaugh
Not much is said in this forward, but one thing that stands out is said near the end.
“I have long believed that it does take more faith to be an atheist. It certainly takes more faith to believe that human beings evolved from random interaction of molecules (which somehow had to come come into existence themselves) than to believe in a Creator.”
It should be noted and settled now: atheism by itself does not demand or dictate that atheists must believe that we are the products of evolution or “random” chemicals. All atheism is, regardless what the individual thinks or believes we came into existence, atheists reject the claim that a god was responsible or part of the picture. That is all, nothing more, nothing less.
Does it really take more “faith” to be an atheist? Let’s find out.
Preference: How much faith do you need to believe this book?
Norman Geisler and Frank Turek begin by asking who can people trust when concerning religion. They argue that we cannot dismiss what an atheist says or writes about religion because he can be telling the truth at times. By extent, we should be open to what Christians say about atheism because they could be right at times. They say that all authors have an agenda, and most at least believe what they are writing. They use the writings and testimonies of Holocaust survivors as an example, noting that their passion and agendas against Nazism did not twist the facts but may have enhanced them. They think that the authors of the Bible took a similar road, noting it was an “accurate” road.
In conclusion, they address the reader, telling them whether they are skeptical or not , they should “believe or disbelieve what we say because of the evidence we present, not because we have a certain set of religious beliefs. We are both Christians, but we were not always Christians. We came to believe through evidence. So, the fact that we are Christians is not the issue: why we are Christians is the important point. And that is the focus of this book.”
Chapter 1: Can We Handle the Truth?
This chapter begins with a reference to the film A Few Good Men starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, showing that we all want the truth from everyone in our lives. We expect to be told the truth in media and in books, however there are some people (Geisler and Turek say) that we do not need or want the truth regarding religion and morality, and some say that no religion can be true. Geisler and Turek argue the reason for rejection of religion is due to volition rather than intellectual grounds (that is, people just do not ”want” there to be any moral standards or religious doctrine). Geisler and Turek conclude that we like truth, until it convicts us.
The old argument “without god or religion, everything is permitted” or “we turn our backs to truth” is both nonsense and demonstrably false. Most nonbelievers turn away from religion and belief in god(s) because it is illogical nonsense that has no proof in the first place.
Would Geisler and Turek make this exact argument against those who turn away from Islam or Hinduism, or even polytheism? I highly doubt it. Their main goal is to provide the false impression that “turning your back” to Christianity means you turn your back on truth. Unfortunately, there is barely a shred of truth or proof in Christianity (as this review will clearly show), so for Geisler and Turek to claim those who abandon Christianity turn their backs to truth is completely untrue.
What is truth?
Geisler and Turek claim truth is telling something as it is, or that which corresponds to its object or that which describe the actual state of affairs. Geisler and Turek proclaim that, unlike what is being taught in schools, truth is not relative, it is absolute. If something is true, then it is true for all people at all times and all places. Geisler further describes truth as: transcultural; unchanging; cannot be changed by beliefs; is discovered, not invented; and all truth is absolute. Frank says the claim that nothing is true is self-defeating, and yet it is being taught in our schools. they conclude truth exists.
Norman and Franks arguments backfire. If truth cannot be changed regardless of beliefs, then all Christians must accept things like humans are the product of evolution, as well as the huge lack of historical evidence for Jesus, or they should accept the truth that no supernatural phenomenon has been demonstrated – thus making their core beliefs of miracles impossible.
Believers often say they “know for a fact” that their beliefs are the “truth”. They “testify” to things they don’t know anything about. They pretend to “witness” things they’ve never really seen, and they like to use other confident-sounding terms like “conclusively proven” when they’re really only talking about baseless assumptions, (and vice versa). They often claim “absolute truth” when they’re really talking about bald-faced lies, and all too often, they will continue to repeat and appeal to arguments they know have already been proven wrong. But if you believe in truth at all, then you should make sure that the things you say actually are true, that they are defensibly accurate, and academically correct. And if they’re not correct, you should correct them! You wouldn’t claim to know anything you couldn’t prove that you knew, and you wouldn’t talk about anything being “proven” at all, unless you’re clearly using that term in the sense that a court of law would use. Scientists must choose their words very carefully, because science is brutal in peer-review, and no scientist would ever get away with any of the wild raving propaganda which religious zealots or the news media use. That’s why they say the devil is in the details!
First of all, “truth” is more than just facts. It implies something that is completely true, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. So every word of it better be accurate, or it isn’t truth at all; and depending on the topic, such a concept is likely beyond human comprehension anyway. Truth may be pursued but never possessed. That’s why we should trust those who seek the truth and doubt those who claim to have it! A fact is a unit of information that is verifiably true beyond dispute, and obviously beliefs based on the conflicting faiths of different religions cannot qualify as that. Belief may be either rational, or assumed on faith. But in either case, it doesn’t matter how convinced you are; belief does not equal knowledge. The difference is that knowledge can always be tested for accuracy where mere beliefs often can not be. No matter how positively you think you know it, if you can’t show it, then you don’t know it, and you shouldn’t say that you do. Nor would you if you really cared about the truth. Knowledge is demonstrable, measurable. But faith is often a matter of pretending to know what you know you really don’t know, and that no one even can know, and which you merely believe -often for no good reason at all.
Also, if “truth” is something that no one can deny and is true for all people, that’s a major blow for many religions. For centuries, the main forces opposing the Enlightenment and path to more knowledge and truth has been religion. If it is true for everyone that the Earth orbits around the sun, then it should be so. Even to this day, Christian holy men and big Bible-believers shout “NO! The Earth does NOT orbit around the sun.”
Even today, there are theists who deny the Earth moves, they deny the Earth is spherical, some even deny the existence of planets, the moon, even dinosaurs.
And the justification for their beliefs is always faith. Even when the evidence is presented right to them, they have to reject truth because their “faith” demands they do. Watch this video below, and note where the creationist lady admits that she cannot accept the scientific fact of evolution because of her faith. She knows she is being dishonest with herself.
Dismissal of truth is a common practice in Christianity – which is clearly seen by a simple observation of its history. They deny any actual and observable truth if and whenever it conflicts with their “truth” (aka biased wishful thinking) in their favorite fables. Here are several examples of Christians proudly proclaiming just that:
“By definition, no apparent, perceived, or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the Scriptural record.”
“verbal inspiration guarantees that these writings, as originally and miraculously given, are infallible and completely authoritative on all matters with which they deal, free from error of any sort, scientific and historical as well as moral and theological.”
–Institute for Creation Research
“[this school]…stresses the Word of God as the ONLY source of truth in our world.”
–Canyon Creek Christian Academy, Richardson TX.
“We believe that the autographs of the 66 canonical books of the Bible are objectively inspired, infallible and the inerrant Word of God in all of their parts and in all matters of which they speak (history, theology, science, etc.).”
–Mark Cadwallader’s “Creation Moments.org”
“The Bible is the divinely inspired written Word of God. Because it is inspired throughout, it is completely free from error–scientifically, historically, theologically, and morally. Thus it is the absolute authority in all matters of truth, faith, and conduct. The final guide to the interpretation of the Bible is the Bible itself. God’s world must always agree with God’s Word, because the Creator of the one is the Author of the other. Thus, where physical evidences from the creation may be used to confirm the Bible, these evidences must never be used to correct or interpret the Bible. The written Word must take priority in the event of any apparent conflict.”
–Mark Ramsey’s “Greater Houston Creation Association.”
“Revealed Truth: That which is revealed in Scripture, whether or not man has scientifically proved it. If it is in the Bible, it is already true without requiring additional proof.
…Fallacy: that which contradicts God’s revealed truth, no matter how scientific, how commonly believed, or how apparently workable or logical it may seem.”
–Bob Jones University, Biology Student Text (3rd ed. – 2 vol.)
“any so called ‘truth’ in conflict with God’s Truth is not truth at all; its a lie, a manipulation of the one great Lie that tells us the God of the Bible is not the one God and King over all. The war between the Truth and “truths” is really the war between Truth and the Lie.”
Campus Crusade for Christ
Every creationist group and organization post declarations of this kind: admissions of bias. Proudly posted as if this is something to be proud of. Notice that they all admit that they will automatically and thoughtlessly reject without consideration, any and all evidence that which may presented should it appear to disagree with their a priory preconceived conclusion. (The last one was posted on the groups blog post than rather on their website).
Can truth be known?
Norman describes himself using a evangelical tactic called Evangelical Explosion where a person asks a stranger two questions 1) can I ask you a spiritual question? followed by 2) if you died today, and God said ‘Why should I let you into Heaven?’ what would you say? Norman points out this does not really work with non-Christians (oh why is that surprising?). Norman describes his encounter using this on an atheist, when Norman asked if the atheist was absolutely sure that there is no God? When the man (Don) said no, Norman proclaimed he was an agnostic because an atheist is someone who says “I know there is no God.”
That is absolutely not true. An atheist is someone who lacks a belief in God, that is they are unconvinced by the theists that a God does exist because the theist has failed to meet the burden of proof. Atheism is not regarding knowledge, but ”belief” – that is what the “theism” part of atheism implies; belief. Since an atheist is someone ”without” belief, Norman’s claim that atheists are people who claim to ”know” there is no god is an outright lie. Plus, using Normans logic, is he an agnostic towards elves living beneath his garden?
“Gnosticism” is regarding belief. You can have “gnostic theists” who claim to KNOW there is a god, and you can have gnostic atheists (otherwise known as Strong Atheists) who claim to know there is no god. But these are very very rare, most people throughout the ages to this day have been agnostic atheists – that is they do not know if there is a god or not, but they live their lives without the belief in any deity. If an atheist ever says “there is no god” they usually imply this because there is no positive evidence anywhere to support the claim “there is a god.” It is like a person saying “there is no person who walked on the surface of the Sun.” The justification for making this statement is 1) there is no evidence that this has ever happened and 2) it is physically impossible for this to ever happen. Ergo, the basis of this statement is true. Likewise, the statement “there is no god” us just as valid because there is no evidence that one exists and, depending on the definition of “god”, it makes no logical sense.
Don then says that you cannot know anything for sure, and Norman replies with “do you know that for sure?” Norman goes further and says that Don cannot be a skeptic otherwise he would have to doubt skepticism. After presenting Don with a book and then the Bible, Don afterwards became a Christian.
As already stated earlier, truth may be pursued but never possessed. That’s why we should trust those who seek the truth and doubt those who claim to have it!
While we cannot know everything, we can know a great deal of many things to a maximum certain degree. As many Christians and theists like to drag on and on, since we do not know everything they speculate that the existence of god must be hidden somewhere in the knowledge we do not have yet. It is a “God of the gaps” argument. In this case, we can know many things. Norman is arguing that if we know anything for sure, that somehow that proves the unproven. Think about it, IF we could not know anything for sure, does that open a window to justify the belief that squares can be round? Of course not. We can know logically that circles can never be squared. Ergo, there are some things that we can know for sure. (And I would argue that we can know that certain Gods simply cannot exist, based on their definitions and characteristic traits that are internally contradicting. Just as a squared-circle cannot exist, certain gods don’t. I have yet to hear a coherent definition of God, though I don’t expect to hear any soon since practically everyone believes the same nonsense.)
Atheists do not pretend to know all the answers, it is the Christians who pretend to already know all the answers. Ask them a question, and whether they know the answer or not, it all boils down to “God did it” or “only God knows the answer to that question.” It is universal answer that answers absolutely nothing, the last refuge of a man with no argument and no reasonable answer. An atheist is satisfied with not knowing all the answers, but is thereby willing to find the real answers.
Well, I ask Geisler and Turek: “how do you know for sure that God is the answer?” Very likely, they will reply with a verse from the Bible, to which I ask “how do you know for sure that a trickster wrote that book posing as God?” Did they temporarily step outside the universe just in time to see God draft the Bible or create the universe? No. Did they temporarily step outside the universe just in time to see if God really is God and there is nobody “hiding behind the curtain”? No. They don’t know any of this, they only have “faith” that there is a God and it is their God. If you cannot show it, then you do not know it. Since neither of them can show that their God (not a trickster) wrote the Bible and created the universe, they cannot know that there even is a God (Yahweh) or even if that deity even knows everything. They are only pretending to know, and that is exactly what faith is: pretending to know something you do not know.
Can all religions be true?
Norman argues that complete skepticism and agnosticism is self-defeating. He then talks about a scenario with Ronald Nash who performed a sermon and proclaimed every religion was true, but when a student told Nash he was headed for hell, Nash suddenly said that not all religions can be true because the student’s religion was certainly not true. Based on this, Norman and Frank conclude that not all religions can be true. The religions agree there is right and wrong (because, Norman says, God planted a moral law onto our consciousness) but religions disagree on are the following: the nature of God, the nature of man, salvation, sin, creation, heaven and hell.
What is their basis for claiming complete skepticism and agnosticism is “self-defeating”? Just because they said so? At the start, their idea and definitions of skepticism and agnosticism were already way off their actual meaning, it is no wonder that these two would end up with a faulty conclusion.
I agree that not all religions can be true, but they can all be wrong. There is not one yet that has met the burden of proof to be the sole religion that is true and stands alone. Norman’s preconceived notion is blinded by Christianity that all religions differentiate regarding concepts like sin, heaven and hell. They must be oblivious to the fact that many religions do not share these concepts at all. Some do not even have any tenets that there even is a supreme (or any) god.
Then Norman address tolerance, which he describes as accepting every religion as true (calling religious pluralism). While Norman and Frank are glad to respect other religions, they advocate that they do not have to accept religious pluralism. The notion to not question other people’s beliefs, Norman says, is a religious belief of religious pluralism – which makes it intolerable of non-religious pluralism. Norman then says it is also a absolute moral position, why is it forbidden to question other beliefs?
So, Norman and Frank are okay with questioning other people’s religious beliefs, I wonder if they would advocate Christians questioning their own religion?
Geisler and Turek argue that the plurality of religious beliefs tells us not that the truth about religion cannot be known, but rather that there is a truth that can be known, if only we are able to see it from the right perspective. They mention the parable of the blind men and the elephant. The parable goes that six blind men are examining an elephant, and each one thinks the elephant is something different based on the part of the elephant he is touching. The man holding the tusk thinks the elephant is a spear, the man holding the trunk thinks it’s a snake, the man holding the leg thinks it’s a tree, etc.
Geisler and Turek suggest that the best person to ask about the elephant is not any of the six blind men, but rather the person telling the parable, who has an objective view and can see what the elephant is.
Geisler and Turek declare the elephant story to be a bad parable because it fails to account for the objective perspective of the narrator. I agree that it’s a bad parable, but for a different reason. It’s a bad illustration of religious truth because there is an actual elephant in the parable. True, the six men are blind, and they don’t know it’s an elephant, but nonetheless they know there really is something there.
But this is a problem for religion. If religion had anything to do with ‘fact’, then over time, it would reach consensus. This is the nature of ‘facts’: that they associate with reality and therefore truth. In other words, if there really was an elephant, it would only be a matter of time before the six blind men figured it out and came to an agreement about what it was they were touching. The guy holding the trunk would say to the guy holding the leg, “Come here, does this feel like a tree to you?” The guy holding the ear would say to the guy holding the tusk, “What I’ve got feels like a leaf, not a spear, come feel for yourself.” Eventually, even if these blind men had no idea what an elephant was, they would realize that they were not holding a rope, or a leaf, or a spear, or a snake. They would discover that they had been touching a creature with aspects reminiscent of those things, but that was not actually any of those things, and they would discard their old beliefs about what it was. Because they were all dealing with the same, real elephant, this would not only be possible but, given enough time, inevitable.
So, yes, the elephant parable is a bad parable — not because it fails to account for the objective narrator, but because it claims to be an illustration of how we perceive religious truth while missing what seems to be the ultimate religious truth: there is no elephant.
Chapter 2: Why Should Anyone Believe Anything At All?
Starts off with addressing why people believe what they believe.
In sum: whatever reason why you believe certain things (social reasons, psychological reasons, religious reasons, etc), it better be coherent and consistent with your philosophical views. I’m in agreement so far. Moving on.
Western Logic vs. Eastern Logic
Introducing Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias, who shares a tale of his engaging an anonymous college professor on the difference of western and eastern logic.
Long story short, they dismiss that there are different ways of thinking about certain things, and truth is truth wherever you go.
“The point is, there is only one type of logic that helps us discover truth. It’s the one built into the nature of reality that we can’t avoid using. Despite this, people will try to tell you that logic doesn’t apply to reality, or logic doesn’t apply to God, or there are different types of logic, and so on.” (p. 56)
What a load of rubbish.
First of all: who the Holy Hades is suggesting this moral or philosophical relativism? How about you provide any literature, or even a few names or where they are! The ONLY people that ever talk about these things are Christians. There aren’t huge numbers of people in India who would be willing to argue that 2+2 doesn’t equal 4. But philosophical truths are another story. Eastern thinking (from what little I know of it) tends to value multiple points of view.
Geisler and Turek are very uncomfortable with this notion, and they exaggerate its implications beyond the point of absurdity, suggesting that if one is willing to say that one person’s religious conviction is true for him but not necessarily for someone else, then one must also be willing to deny mathematics or physics. It’s no fair taking a relativist view of moral truth claims unless you’re also willing to take a relativist view of gravity or thermodynamics. But when it comes to philosophy, and particularly to religious beliefs, relativism is just an acknowledgement of reality. You can recognize that there is a wide variety of beliefs, and even that this variety is generally a good thing, without having to affirm every individual belief as equally true or deserving of respect.
To Be Burned or Not to be Burned, That Is the Question
Geisler and Turek attribute the power of the Road Runner tactic to the law of noncontradiction, which states that contradictory claims cannot both be true, in the same sense, at the same time.
“When investigating any question of fact, including the question of God, the same Law of Noncontradiction applies. Either the theists are right — God exists — or the atheists are right — God doesn’t exist. . . . Likewise, either Jesus died and rose from the dead as the Bible claims, or he did not as the Qur’an claims. One is right and the other is wrong.” (p. 57)
My first reaction was “Have you forgotten pantheism (or deism), after all you mentioned pantheism in your Introduction!” Now, after all that Western vs. Eastern logic and dismissing that there could be multiple answers, now we have dropped pantheism and others altogether so now it is just atheism and theism.
Even more than that, what about the many other possibilities regarding this “whose right about Jesus, the Bible or the Qu’ran?” Bear in mind, these are both religious beliefs, not established historical facts. One side says that Jesus is the Son of God who defeated death, the other says jesus was only a prophet and ascended to Heaven long before he was arrested and killed, and the Romans crucified an illusion. NEWSFLASH guys, ever consider that both of these religious stories could be false? Maybe there was no jesus to begin with, and both Christianity and Islam are wrong.
Hume’s Skepticism: Should We Be Skeptical About It?
Geisler and Turek blame David Hume for the skepticism they say is prevalent in our day.
Yeah……this is a very skeptical world. Its not like anyone can get away with selling worthless dowsing gadgets to the Iraqi Army for millions of dollars, because we are such a skeptical lot that we would obviously do a double-blind test first. Its not like we sell useless fake-medicine like homeopathic crap in actual pharmaceutical stores. When was the last time you drove through town and spotted even a single Palm-reading store?
Kant’s Agnosticism: Should We Be Agnostic About It?
Geisler and Turek go on addressing Kant’s theory of perception, specifically his assertion that though we perceive things with our senses, we never truly know the things themselves because our brains interpret the data from our senses and allow us to comprehend what our senses detect.
“Thankfully, there’s a simple answer to all of this — the Road Runner tactic. Kant commits the same error as Hume — he violates the Law of Noncontradiction. He contradicts his own premise by saying that no one can know the real world while he claims to know something about it, namely that the real world is unknowable!” (p. 60)
The Road Runner Tactic — oh hell, here we go again.
First of all, RED FLAGS are flying all over here. Why? Geisler and Turek have already admitted that the real world is unknowable in the same way that Kant is saying it is. In the Introduction, they said: “. . . we think our conclusions are true beyond a reasonable doubt. (This type of certainty, say, 95-plus percent certain, is the best that fallible and finite human beings can attain for most questions, and it is more than sufficient for even the biggest decisions in life.)” (p. 25)
Kant isn’t saying we can’t trust our senses. He isn’t saying it’s meaningless to say we know things about the external world. He’s saying that our minds receive data about the external world from our senses and process that data into something we can comprehend, and it is in fact that synthesis of sensory input with the understanding of the mind which we are perceiving when we see and hear and touch and smell and taste things. The point isn’t that we can’t ever gain reliable knowledge about reality. The point is that there is a separation between reality as it actually is, and reality as we perceive it.
Chapter 3: In The Beginning There Was A Great SURGE
Geisler and Turek begin by talking about Einstein’s reluctance to accepting his theory of general relativity, specifically the implication that the universe is not eternal but had a beginning at some point in the past. Einstein forced his equations to show that the universe was static instead of expanding, Einstein developed the cosmological constant, which later on in his life he would regret and call it the greatest blunder in his life.
“Einstein said that he wanted ‘to know how God created the world…I want to know his His thought, the rest are details.’ Although Einstein said that he believed in a pantheistic god (a god that is the universe), his comments admitting creation and divine thought describe a theistic god.” (pg. 74)
Einstein’s references to creation and god seem to be metaphorical. Einstein talked about god the same way Stephen Hawking talks about god. To say that Einstein was talking about a theistic god is a serious abuse and misuse of that quotation.
An important point: Einstein’s views about a static universe changed (a belief he wanted to be true) when presented with undeniable evidence that his beliefs were wrong. This is a key and admirable ability that Geisler and Turek seem to lack.
The Cosmological Argument – the Beginning of the End for Atheism
Everything that had a beginning had a cause.
The universe had a beginning.
Therefore the universe had a cause.
Geisler and Turek examine each premise.
“Even the great skeptic David Hume could not deny the Law of Causality. He wrote, ‘I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that something could arise without a cause.’…In fact, to deny the Law of Causality is to deny rationality…So if anyone tells you he doesn’t believe in the Law of Causality, simply ask the person, ‘what caused you to come to that conclusion?’”
Any person can deny the Law of Causality and still believe things have causes. Take for instance Christians, they believe things have causes except for one thing: their beloved God. In all seriousness, any person can deny the Law of Causality, and no one would be able to prove that person wrong.
Geisler and Turek spend 8 pages on the “the universe had a beginning” – which is completely pointless given that every single scientist and the scientific consensus admits that the universe had a beginning: the Big Bang.
And what is Geisler and Turek’s case against one of the most heavily supported scientific theory…an acronym. S.U.R.G.E.
S – Second Law of Thermodynamics; entropy increases in closed places over time, the older the universe is the less usable energy it will contain. There will be more entropy tomorrow, which means there was less yesterday, tracing this back must mean the universe had a beginning.
U – Universe is Expanding; again not a controversial issue. Geisler and Turek go on and on to prove this point, which is unnecessary, but they conclude that the Universe expanding “gives atheists a lot of trouble” (pg. 79), which is utter nonsense. Atheists accept the universe is expanding due to the vast amount of empirical evidence. The universe expanding is not an issue for atheism.
R – Radiation from the Big Bang; again, nothing worthy here.
G – Galaxy Seeds; again, this is no problem for atheism and no help for theism.
E – Einstein’s theory of General Relativity; really, this is nothing more than a waste of ink on paper.
God and the astronomers
“The overwhelming evidence for the Big Bang and its consistency with the biblical account in Genesis led Jastrow to observe in an interview,”Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in the cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover. . . . That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”” (pg. 84-85)
This quote is from 1982, and Jastrow only discusses the broad aspects of the origins of the universe in a sense that these are forces that we do not understand, NOT that the origin of the universe or the astromical evidence says that the Earth was the first thing in existence, followed by the stars and everything else.
And I am not making this up when creationists think that the Earth came first before the sun. Infamous creationist Ken Ham said in his book The Lie: Evolution, “The Bible teaches that when God first created the heavens and the earth there was no sun. Light was created on the first day, but the sun was to act as the light-holder and was not made until day four. Also, the earth was covered with water when it was first made.” (pg. 153)
There are SIGNIFICANT disagreements with actual science of the Big Bang and the book of Genesis. First of all, as any child will know, the Earth is not older than our sun. The Earth was not even amongst the first things that came into existence with the first development of our universe. In fact, we came billions of years after it. Stars came about 40 million years after the Big Bang, and our sun is NOT a first generation star.
The Empire Strikes Back (But Fizzles Out)
Portray scientists as the “Empire/bad guys” all you like guys, it wont change the fact that your full of shit.
Geisler and Turek address three alternative scenarios to the Big Bang and creation ex nihlio (which the Big Bang does not say FFS)
The Cosmic Rebound theory, which states that the universe exists in a cycle of expansion and contraction; Imaginary Time, which was a mathematical concept created by Stephen Hawking to attempt to describe the big bang as something other than a singularity
Geisler and Turek will spend eight pages arguing for a uncontroversial issue like the universe is expanding, but dealing with this piece of highly complex physics, Geisler and Turek dismiss the whole thing in a single paragraph!
Uncertainty, which uses the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle to question the Law of Causality.
None of the these theories mentioned are actually alternatives to the big bang. Geisler and Turek reject all three theories anyway, because they fail to account for how the universe sprang into existence from nothing. Like the ideas of Peter Atkins and Isaac Asimov mentioned earlier, Geisler and Turek fail these theories because they “start with something rather than literally nothing.” But it’s only Geisler and Turek who are imposing the requirement that a theory must account for creation from literally nothing in order to be acceptable. They keep missing the points that a) the big bang theory doesn’t describe the universe emerging from literally nothing, and b) there doesn’t seem to be any such thing as literally nothing. Since that kind of literal, absolute nothing is completely outside of human experience, why assume that the universe must have emerged from that state — er, non-state? And why insist that a theory of the origin of the universe account for the emergence of something — indeed, of everything — from absolutely nothing?
Conclusion: If There Is No God, Then Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?
Dear theists, why is there “God” instead of nothing? Huh? HUH?!?
Norman describes a debate he was in with an atheist at the University of Miami. Norman says he was more interested in convincing the audience he was right rather than his opponent. After the debate, Norman says his opponent showed up at a Christian meeting because his “faith in atheism was waning.”
Without naming his opponent or giving any independent evidence of this, this seems as a veiled lie created for the sole intention of Norman deceiving the reader that “atheism requires faith.” For all we know, this anonymous atheist went to a Christian meeting for the same reasons I USED TO GO Bible study clubs in college: I was the challenger. I was there to ask the questions nobody else was asking. My presence there did not mean that I was being drawn into Christianity. And since all we have is Norman’s word that he saw this anonymous atheist at a Christian meeting, if he was there at all, we cannot draw a solid conclusion based on this. We can’t tell if this anonymous atheist was being attracted to Christianity; was asked to be there by a friend; was there for the entertainment; or simply there to challenge the beliefs of Christians.
Norman says there are only two answers to the above question.
1) Either no one created something from nothing, or
2) Someone else created something from nothing.
Or maybe you’re using the wrong word: created.
The word implies the work of a conscious being in action. Norman and Frank are using tricky words to confuse the audience. They already imply “no one” or “someone else” – but this is ludicrous. They are preconceiving and asserting that there had to be a conscious entity required at the beginning, without proving a shred of reasonable proof to support this premises. All they have to present is “pretending” there was someone at the beginning.
Second of all, we have to be careful with the word “nothing.” Norman and Frank do not provide a definition of any sort. They assume it is just obvious. While it may be true to the average layman, since this is a science question, the proper terminology has to be applied. The universe and nature is very complicated that simple words cannot grasp its entirety.
Many physicists would argue that the universe did come from nothing, but what they mean is an empty space in a vacuum.
Norman argues that nothing could not have created something. He says if a person cannot believe nothing caused something, then you do not have enough faith to be an atheist.
Atheism has no comment at all on the origins of anything (the universe, life, solar system, the earth, etc.) All atheism focuses on a ”lack of belief” in god(s). Atheists are free to have a various views of how certain things came to be, they simply do not accept the theists claim that a “magic man in the sky done it.”
An atheist could believe that everything was created by a some kind of time-warp. A atheist Buddhist can believe that everything always existed and continues to exist like an never ending wheel.
So to assert that ALL atheists believe that everything came from nothing is criminally untrue.
Chapter 4: Divine Design
Norman and Frank begin this chapter with the popular Teleological Argument, which goes as follows,
1) Every Design has a Designer.
2) The universe has highly complex design.
3) Therefore, the universe had a Designer.
The logic in this argument is flawed. First, it begs the question of who and what is the designer. The designer could be a bunch of invisible timeless space pixies. Second, design is not always detected in the universe. We see design ”in” the universe, but how does that dictate the entire universe is designed? Plus, how do we determine design? In the sort of design that we know about, simplicity is a design goal. Complexity arises to some extent through carelessness or necessity, but engineers work to make things as simple as possible. This is very different from what we see in life. Finally, we know complexity can and does arise from natural causes: for example, in weather patterns and cave formations.
Norman and Frank argued the Isaac Newton accepted the Teleological argument
This is an appeal to authority. Newton also accepted the practice of alchemy, but that alone does not make alchemy true.
They next bring up William Paley’s classic argument Paley’s Watchmaker.
Paley’s watch argument was refuted by Charles Darwin, who proved that through natural selection simplicity can arise to complexity.
Norman and Frank argue that scientists are discovering our universe is like a watch because the universe is specially “tweaked” to allow life on earth.
However, they do not provide names or any sources that this is true. Norman and Frank make the false assumption that the universe is built to allow human life, rather than we are the result of adapting to the natural laws of the universe. The claim assumes life in its present form is a given; it applies not to life but to life only as we know it. The same outcome results if life is fine-tuned to the cosmos.
Houston, We Have Problem!
Here they bring up the Anthropic principle and name several of the anthropic constants.
”’Anthropic Constant 1: Oxygen level”’
”’Anthropic Constant 2: Anthropic Transparency”’
”’Anthropic Constant 3: Moon-Earth Gravitational-Interaction”’
”’Anthropic Constant 4: Carbon Dioxide Level”’
”’Anthropic Constant 5: Gravity”’
There are many flaws in the anthropic principle, which argues the universe is fine-tuned for life, but if this were so then why is life such an extremely rare part of it? How fine is “fine” anyway? That question can only be answered by a human judgment call, which reduces or removes objective value from the anthropic principle argument.
Many lay people are often fooled by this “fine-tuning argument” because it makes the odds make it look like a miracle. The recipe for this statistical trick is simple.
*Simply state the odds that should be calculated ”before” an event ”after” the event has already taken place.
*If you want the event to appear even more unlikely, begin adding complicated factors (which is very easy to do after the fact).
*And voilà! You’ve made an ordinary event appear to be extraordinary.
Anthropic Principle: Design is in the Details
Norman and Frank list of several other anthropic constants.
And these constants are more “if this just changed a bit, then no life.” A bunch of swinging the bat while no baseballs are thrown.
The problem still remains that these anthropic constants are tautologies, weakened by the fact they only address life as we know it on Earth, not life in general that could take numerous forms.
Proof For God! How Do Atheists Respond?
Norman says that some atheists do admit that there must be some Designer out there. Astronomer and atheist Fred Hoyle lost his atheism because of the anthropic principle. Other atheists respond that all this design happened by chance, but Norman argues that this is impossible since all the constants have a near zero probability.
Even if the constants have a near zero probability, as long as it is not completely zero it can happen. And in an experimental room that is near infinitely big, with trillions upon trillions of suns and even more planets and billions of years time for the experiment to repeat, like for example in this very universe, chances are that even the most improbable events happened somewhere in it.
Another common response is the multi-verse. However, Norman and Frank argues that there is no evidence for this and that it is impossible.
Impossible? How can this be. Many Christians argue that God exists outside this universe in another realm called Heaven, but if there is nothing outside or apart from this universe, then where would God go? Is God only in this universe? Where is Heaven? Behind Jupiter? This would mean God is limited to this universe (wow, God is limited to something!), but if he was a part of this universe, why can’t we observe him?
However, Norman and Frank left out several valid arguments that refute the anthropic principle, giving the impression to the audience that there is no other objection and the debate is settled. The first and foremost problem with the anthropic principle is that it is a tautology, but also refuted due to quantum mechanics, the M-Theory, and the Copernican Principle. There also exists Occam’s Razor, which favors the argument that the universe is not the result of divine design, because that would imply the designer is not a intelligence of random thoughts and thus would require a higher designer, and so on.
Chapter 5: The First Life: Natural Law or Divine Awe?
Starts with an analogy of a kid Johnny seeing the message “Drink Coke” written in the clouds, and decides that this message must have been the work of a skywriter, not a natural formation, because he really wants a Coke. WHAT A LOAD OF CRAP. Comparing obviously written messages to the evolution of life! How thick can you get?
Simple Life? There’s No Such Thing!
“Yet these conclusions are perfectly consistent with principles taught in most high school and college biology classes today. That’s where naturalistic biologists dogmatically assert that messages far more complicated are the mindless products of natural laws.” (Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH FAITH TO BE AN ATHEIST, p. 114)
For that to be true, there would have to be a lot of truly incompetent biology teachers, because the conclusions Geisler and Turek have Johnny coming to are not consistent at all with a proper understanding of biological evolution. But we’ll get much more into that as we move further into the chapter.
Also: biologists don’t assert evolutionary principles dogmatically. Evolutionary theory is based on evidence and observation. It was not just invented one day by Charles Darwin or anyone else. It’s an attempt to explain a natural phenomenon, and we have every reason to believe it’s a very, very good explanation.
Geisler and Turek insist that even the simplest forms of life are far too complex to have arisen without help from an intelligent designer.
“To show you what we mean, let’s consider so-called ‘simple’ life – a one-celled animal known as an amoeba. Naturalistic evolutionists claim that this one-celled amoeba (or something like it) came together by spontaneous generation (i.e., without intelligent intervention) . . . According to their theory, all biological life has evolved from that first amoeba without any intelligent guidance at all.” (p. 115)
Evolutionists make no such claims about amoebae. Amoebae are modern organisms, products of evolution just the same as we are. Geisler and Turek attempt a dishonest sleight of hand here, by referring to the first life form as an amoeba “or something like it” and then going on to refer to that first life form as though it were a modern amoeba.
Also, I should point out here that Geisler and Turek continually refer to Darwinism when they talk about naturalistic views of the origin of life. Technically, the origin of life is not something “Darwinism” (which isn’t even a real word, btw) is concerned with. The study of the origin of life is abiogenesis, which is related to but distinct from the study of evolution.
Investigating the Origin of First Life
“Many evolutionists as well as many creationists speak as if they know, beyond any doubt, how the first life came into existence.” (p. 117)
They’re half right. Find a single “evolutionist” (which is also not a real word, it’s a made up creationist term) who claims to know how life came into existence beyond any doubt. Find me one. On the other hand, you will never find a creationist who claims to know, on the basis of nothing, how life originated, but find me one biologist who claims that knowledge.
Geisler and Turek compare the Grand Canyon to Mount Rushmore. We know the Grand Canyon was formed by natural processes because we can observe similar processes at work in nature today. Mount Rushmore, however, must have been the work of intelligent sculptors, because we don’t observe natural forces carving presidents’ heads out of stone today, which means it didn’t happen in the past, either.
…because we don’t observe natural forces carving presidents’ heads out of stone today OH REALLY????
Take a look at this rock. It looks remarkably like a sculptor of President JFK in profile.
And guess what, it formed naturally with no sculptor. Bang goes the nature-doesn’t-carve-president’s-heads argument for God.
“In the same way, when we look at the first one-celled life, the Principle of Uniformity tells us that only an intelligent cause could assemble the equivalent of 1,000 encyclopedias.” (p. 118)
Another sleight of hand, speaking about the first life as though it was a modern amoeba.
Good Science vs. Bad Science
“For Darwinists like Dawkins or [Francis] Crick who must believe that only the material (and not the immaterial) exists, then life can be nothing more than chemicals. But life is clearly more than chemicals. Life contains a message — DNA — that is expressed in chemicals . . . A message points to something beyond chemicals.” (p. 122)
DNA IS NOT A CODE. DNA isn’t a message. DNA is a molecule. When we use phrases like genetic information or the language of DNA, these are just rhetorical devices we must resort to in order to talk about what DNA does in a way that is descriptive and meaningful. Creationists like to play games with these rhetorical devices — they say things like “if DNA is a code, who encoded it?” Or they ask, “how can random mutations introduce new information into the genetic code?” But this is just boxing with shadows. Yes, DNA is the way living things store and pass on what we call genetic information. Yes, we have assigned letters to the nucleotides that comprise DNA. Yes, we describe the way particular sequences of nucleotides result in particular proteins the genetic code. But none of that changes the fact that fundamentally DNA is a molecule. It’s not a note we found written in the sand. It’s a molecule that interacts with other certain other molecules in very specific ways. Message, language, code, information — these are just ways of talking about what DNA does.
Chapter 6: New Life Forms: From Goo to You via the Zoo?
What About New Life Forms?
Geisler and Turek argue that before they begin talking about evolution, they have to address the problems with the origin of life.
They say “if Darwinists don’t have an explanation for the first life, then what’s the point of speaking about new life forms?”
They say that Darwinists just make up “say-so stories” like spontaneous generation or panspermia. “This isn’t science—this is a joke.”
They go on to say that Darwinists do not even have an explanation for the origin of non-living chemicals. Atheists cannot explain why there is something rather than nothing, and while they may provide several possibilities, if they have no evidence to support these then it is not scientific.
|Lets get this straight, the theory of evolution is not dependent on the origin of life. Evolution explains how life diversifies, not how it began. Since evolution at every level is -by definition- limited to the variation of allele frequencies inherited over generations of living organisms, then it obviously can’t operate where no genomes yet exist. The evolutionary process starts with genetics and can’t start before it. So how the first genes came about may seem similar to evolution, and may even involve a form of natural selection in some way, but it is in fact a very different chemical process called ‘abiogenesis’.
It is curious why creationists like Geisler and Turek attack the theory of evolution, objecting it does not explain how life began, while at the same time full accept Cell theory without any objection. Cell Theory claims that all living systems in the biosphere are composed of cells, but no one objects or states that Cell Theory must also explain how the first cell developed.
Evolution, as already stated, only kicks in after genetics have been developed. It is not meant to explain how the origin of non-living chemicals. Whether or not atheists can explain why there is something rather than nothing (which they can provide valid answers), that does not give Geisler’s or Turek’s views any more credit. Geisler and Turek labels such atheistic explanations as unscientific, which thus far Geisler and Turek have demonstrated they do not know the first step in how to be scientific, which will be continued to be exposed throughout this chapter. For instance, when they bring up intelligent design, they talk and act as if it is a valid scientific theory despite the fact that it has been been thoroughly refuted and exposed in the Daver v. Kitzmiller court. The judged listened to all the Intelligent Design arguments for six-weeks, and at the end, he concluded and ruled the following:
1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation
2) The argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980’s
3) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community, and
4) ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research.
Microevolution vs. Macroevolution
Geisler and Turek first define macroevolution as “Its the belief that all life forms have descended from a common ancestor—the first one-celled creature—and all this happened by natural process without an intelligent intervention.”
Next, they attack the definition of natural selection, calling it a misnomer. “Since the process of evolution is, by definition, without intelligence, there is no “selection” at all going on. It’s a blind process. The term “natural selection” simply means that the fittest survive. So what? That’s true by definition—the fittest survive (that is a tautology—a circular argument that does not prove anything).”
The only reason creationists cling to these “micro” and “macro” distinctions is so they can have some excuse to accept “small scale” evolution, which they begrudgingly admit cannot be denied even with the greatest faith; while still denying “large scale” evolution where their exact parameter of “how large” must remain illusive to prevent it ever being disproved. Of course that means “large scale” evolution can mean whatever they want it to at that moment. Frank Sherwin from the Institute of Creation Research recently defined macroevolution as “the origin of every kind of animal”, and later on in the same discussion, he changed his definition to “the origin of all life”. He knows he’s using the terms incorrectly. He simply doesn’t care!
Geisler and Turek give an example of bacteria fighting off antibodies, and then they mutate into better bacteria that is more resistant to antibodies (they note that mutations “are nearly always harmful”). Their counterpoint to this scenario is this: the bacteria is still a bacteria. “Natural selection has never been observed to create new types.” Geisler and Turek argue that scientists make no distinction between microevolution and macroevolution, and thus use examples of microevolution to prove macroevolution and dupe the general public. Geisler and Turek argue that the scientists tactics are starting to fail to convince the public that macroevolution has been observed, thanks to works of people like Phillip Johnson and his work Darwin on Trial—who argues that natural selection cannot provide any evidence of “new species, new organs, or other major changes, or even minor changes that are permanent.” They note that biologist Jonathan Wells agrees with Johnson. Next, they go into why natural selection cannot produce new species.
Macroevolution is properly defined as the emergence of new taxa at or above the species level. The only time creationists will use the proper definition is when they are as-yet unaware of the fact that speciation has already been directly-observed and documented dozens of times –both in the lab and in naturally-controlled conditions in the field. In fact, we’ve seen it so many times we’ve had to categorize recurrent types of macroevolution we’ve seen so often repeated. Once creationists find out about all this, their first reaction is to use the excuse that some newly evolved species of fruit fly or fish somehow still doesn’t count because it’s “still” a fly or it’s “still” a fish. Well of course it is! Evolution couldn’t permit them to be anything else.
Creationists demand that the new species be so different from their parents that one can’t even tell they’re related. The irony there is that evolutionary theory never suggests that one “kind” of thing ever turned into another, fundamentally-different “kind” of anything, not unless you ignore all the intermediate stages –which of course creationists do. To comprehend evolutionary Theory, one must first understand that it’s only ever a matter of changing proportions –altering or enhancing existing features to build on what is already there. Developmental biology, genetics, and comparative morphology combine to confirm many of these taxonomic stages such that organs do not seem to have appeared abruptly or fully-formed as if out of nowhere, because there is an implied evolutionary origin evident in every case. Even the transition of fish-to-tetrapods, dinosaurs-to-birds, or apes-to-men are each are just a matter of incremental, superficial changes being slowly compiled atop successive tiers of fundamental similarities. These represent monophyletic clades which will forever encompass all the descendants of that clade. This is why birds are still dinosaurs, and humans are still apes, and both are still stegocephalian chordates. No matter how much you or your heirs may change, you obviously can’t outgrow heredity.
Geisler and Turek argue that when dog breeders try to breed new dogs of any size, they will always remain dogs. Similarly with fruit flies. They argue that using examples of artificial selection is not evidence of natural selection since they differ on many points.
If it is possible to walk twenty feet, it’s possible to walk twenty miles. So creationists insist there must be some “definite boundary” blocking the evolution of new “kinds”. But they won’t say where or what that boundary is. Creationists habitually misdefine their terms –if they can be forced to use definitions at all, because they will not be accountable. They can’t be, because they’ve decided in advance never to change their minds even if they’re proven wrong. If they were to find out that macroevolution was ever actually seen and proven to have happened for certain, their cultish faith would still forbid them to admit it. Instead they’d have to redefine their terms, to “move the goalposts” to some higher taxonomic level –but not so high as to have to admit where humans belong in the families of apes.
But now we know there really is no level above species, because every other “grade” in taxonomy is more or less arbitrarily assigned as a construct of human convenience. The Linnaean ranks of family, genus, order, and phyla, are all factually illustrative, but virtually meaningless otherwise because every new taxonomic class that ever evolved began with speciation, the emergence of a distinctly new species, but one that was still just a modified version of whatever its parents were, and who’s eventual descendants will always belong to whatever categories their ancestors did also –no matter how much they may change as time goes on.
Geisler and Turek say that not only are there genetic barriers, but the changes within types are cyclical—changes are not directional toward the development of new life forms, but they shift back and forward within a limited range. They argue that Darwin’s finches had several different beaks that changed during a shift in the environment, but went back to their original states when the climate went back. Geisler and Turek note that no new life had formed and they remained finches.
“Notice also that natural selection cannot explain how finches came into existence in the first place. In other words, natural selection may be able to explain the ”survival” of a species, but it cannot explain the arrival of a species.”
The very concept of common ancestry is a multi-tiered and intertwined complex phylogenetic system which shows why there can’t be any distinctly separate “kinds” to begin with! At the same time, the act of speciation splits the population presenting an eventually impassable boundary between them. We often see this demonstrated live in the form of “ring species”, where different evolutionary stages exist all at once in a geographic rather than chronological distribution. Subspecies (A) may breed with subspecies (B), and (B) may breed with (C), and (C) with (D), but (A) and (D) cannot interbreed because by the time their territories overlap again, they’ve grown too distant genetically, and can’t come back. This is when we see the formation of new features, organs, or skeletal structures, each examples of new genetic “information”. What all these show is that even though a new species of perching bird (for example) is “still” a finch, it is now a different “kind” of finch, a distinct descendant species proving there is no “boundary” against macroevolution.
Starting with a quote from Darwin: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.”
Geisler and Turek says that many systems have been found that fits this, and they introduce irreducible complexity. They introduce biochemist Michael Behe of Leigh University, who developed the argument of irreducible complexity and defined it as a mechanism “composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.”
Is this by the same Michael Behe who accepts that the theory of evolution? Is this the same Michael Behe who admitted in court that his “scientific theory” is too vague and broad that astrology could be viewed as a scientific theory? The same Michael Behe whose work has been discredited and dismissed by every major academic institution, including his own? Behe’s own department at Leigh University has put it as well as any:
The faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences is committed to the highest standards of scientific integrity and academic function. This commitment carries with it unwavering support for academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. It also demands the utmost respect for the scientific method, integrity in the conduct of research, and the recognition that the validity of any scientific model comes only as a result of rational hypothesis testing, sound experiments, and findings that can be replicated by others.
The department faculty, then, are unequivocal in their support of evolutionary theory, which has its roots in the seminal work of Charles Darwin and has been supported by findings accumulated over 140 years. The sole dissenter from this position, Prof. Michael Behe, is a well-known proponent of “intelligent design.” While we respect Prof. Behe’s right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that the intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific.
Apparently, Geisler and Turek are talking about the same Michael Behe, but fail to once provide anything about him.
Geisler and Turek use a car as an example of irreducible complexity, in which the change of the size of the pistons make the engine unable to function. Behe gives examples of biological mechanisms that fit this scenario: the blood clotting system, the cilia, and vision “that could not have developed in the gradual Darwinian fashion. Why? Because intermediates would be nonfunctional.” It takes intelligence to assemble a car with a full functioning engine. Geisler and Turek say that the cell is also irreducibly complex because the DNA contained 3 million pairs of letters in every cell, and the human body has trillions of cells.
Lets go in order;
The Blood Clotting System: Blood clotting is not irreducibly complex. Some animals (dolphins, for example) get along fine without the Hagemann factor, a component of the human blood clotting system which Behe includes in its “irreducible” complexity.
After Gesiler and Turek go on and on repeating that scientists cannot explain the evolutionary development of irreducibly complex systems, they bring up Kenneth Miller, who claims that these systems can evolve while using Behe’s mousetrap as an example. According to Behe, all five parts must be in place for the mousetrap to full function to kill mice. Miller disagrees, claiming that a mousetrap with only four parts could still do the job. Geisler and Turek do not add any more, but they go on to say that 1) no matter how many parts are in the trap it still requires intelligence to build 2) Behe is not saying that you need five parts for the mousetrap, just the traditional mousetrap. And 3) even if the changes from a simple mousetrap to a traditional mousetrap can be accomplished by a mindless process, the mousetrap would be nonfunctional during its transition.
“But for Darwinism to be true, functionality must be maintained at all times because living things cannot survive if, say, their vital organs do not perform their usual function during slow, trial-and-error Darwinian transitions.”
They finally add, mousetraps are not biological systems, biological systems are immensely more complicated. “So Behe’s point clearly has not been refuted by Miller, nor has it been refuted by any other Darwinist.”
Recalling back to what Charles Darwin stated: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by ”numerous, successive, slight modifications”…” right there, if we can explain these small developments, then the argument of irreducible complexity goes out the window. This is what Miller and others have demonstrated in regards to systems like the mousetrap, going as far to show that a mousetrap with two parts could function as a mousetrap. Geisler and Turek claim that the mousetrap cannot be compared to a biological system, they are right for the very fact that biological systems are self-reproducing that pass of variances in their genetic material. In this case, it does not require intelligence to develop simple mechanisms to more complicated mechanisms. While Behe said not all parts are necessary, just if it serves its function throughout the transitional stages, but who says that these mechanisms must be fulfilling the roles of systems that do not exist yet? It has been already demonstrated in the lab, nature, and in court that during the “transitional stages” these pieces serve as their own independent functions, but as natural selection kicks in, they start to cooperate better to serve a higher function—the exact demonstration of evolution.
Recall the piece when Behe stated “wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.” Well, this has been the case for many systems that have been claimed to be irreducibly complex, such as the immune system or the bacterial flagellum. In the case of the flagellum, it has been shown that the removal of the L-ring or the P-ring does not harm its function
(Read: Matzke, N. J. 2003. Evolution in (brownian) space: a model for the origin of the bacterial flagellum. http://www.talkdesign.org/faqs/flagellum.html
(see also ‘Background to “Evolution in (Brownian) space”‘, [http://www.talkdesign.org/faqs/flagellum_background.html] or [http://www.talkreason.org/articles/flagback.cfm])
—already, at least one piece is removed and yet it still operates, thereby defeating the very basic objection presented by irreducible complexity.
Frank Turek recalls a talk he had with a unnamed “Darwinist” in July 2002 who explained away irreducible complex by stating that there are biological scaffolds that are built around the system to allow it to grow gradually. Frank saw Behe later that day, repeated the same thing, and Behe responded 1) there is no evidence of such “scaffolds” and 2) if these scaffolds do exist, “then who keeps building them in the right places? That would require intelligence.” Turek notes that others have tried other methods to explain away Behe’s irreducible complexity, “but all have failed. Behe confirms as much when he categorically states, ‘There is currently no experimental evidence to show that natural selection can get around irreducible complexity.’”
There is currently no experimental evidence to show that natural selection can get around irreducible complexity. This is the same thing Behe stated in court. When he was presented with full peer-reviewed volumes, articles and books explaining exactly the evolution of irreducibly complex systems Behe demanded, while not having read any of them, Behe stated “No, they certainly do not. My argument is that the literature has no detailed rigorous explanations for how complex biochemcial systems could arise by a random mutation and natural selection.” In science, a “explanation” is a detailed, testable answer and vice versa. Behe dismissed all these works as a knee-jerk reaction without reading any of them as if none of them count simply because he said so. Behe said he assumed that the articles were excellent, but he also assumed that none of them addressed what he was searching for and had to improve his demands to weasel out of admitting he was wrong. Behe portrayed as the authority of what counts or not, despite also stating himself “as someone who’s not working within Darwinian framework, I do not see any evidence for the occurrences of random mutation and natural selection” basically saying that he was working in something he knew nothing about. Furthermore Behe admitted in court when he did his own research for the evolution of the supposed “irreducibly complex” systems all Behe did was a simple Google search of science articles that contained the words “random mutation.” when those words did not appeared under the titles, he assumed and concluded that no such content exists.
Chapter 7: Mother Teresa vs. Hitler
*SPOILERS* Here comes the Moral arguments.
The chapter opens with an anecdote from Turek, relating a conversation he had with a friend, Dave, on the meaning of life. Turek argues to his friend that without objective standards telling him why he should help people, why he should be a good person, his life is meaningless. Turek compares it to a Monopoly game — no matter how much money you make and property you buy, it all goes back in the box when the game is over.
“Stop and marinate on that point for a minute: Aren’t you just like Dave? Don’t you have this deep-seated sense of obligation that we all ought to ‘help people’? We all do. Why? And why do most human beings seem to have that same intuitive sense that they ought to do good and shun evil?” (Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek, I DON’T HAVE ENOUGH FAITH TO BE AN ATHEIST, p. 170)
Turek is contradicting himself almost within the space of a single thought, which is impressive in its way. First he asserts that we all have an innate feeling of moral obligation to other people. Then, two sentences later, he asks why “most human beings” have this same intuitive sense. So which is it? Do we all have it? Or do most of us have it? The correct answer is, most of us, not all of us, have it. And this fact doesn’t support the moral argument, as we shall see.
Turek (and Geisler) claim that we have this moral sense because a Moral Law has been written on our hearts. This is why we feel we ought to do good rather than do evil.
“In other words, there is a ‘prescription’ to do good that has been given to all of humanity.” (p. 170)
Back to “all” from “some,” I notice.
Geisler and Turek present the Moral Argument in its logical form:
Every law has a law giver.
There is a Moral Law.
Therefore, there is a Moral Law Giver. (p. 171)
“Of course, every law has a law giver. There can be no legislation unless there’s a legislature. Moreover, if there are moral obligations, there must be someone to be obligated to.” (p. 171)
Ah, this one again. Law requires a law giver. I remember all my classmates in Philosophy saw through this one during a live debate.
This law requires a lawgiver is an equivocation. There is a difference between prescriptive laws (like highway speed laws) and descriptive laws (gravity). You are comparing apples and oranges, plus if this argument was valid, the mind of God, not being a random jumble of synapses, would equally be “governed” by some laws or order itself and thus require a higher lawgiver. Laws do exist, and they do not require any higher source to exist.
“First, Darwinism asserts that only materials exist, but materials don’t have morality. How much does hate weigh? Is there an atom for love? What’s the chemical composition of the murder molecule? These questions are meaningless because physical particles are not responsible for morality. If materials are solely responsible for morality, then Hitler had no real moral responsibility for what he did — he just had bad molecules. This is nonsense, and everyone knows it.” (p. 187)
The Moral Law: What Do Darwinists Say?
First of all, the theory of evolution doesn’t assert that only materials exist. Materialism asserts that only materials exist. Darwinism refers to the theory of evolution. Words have definitions, see.
The point Geisler and Turek miss here with their stupid questions about the weight of hate or the molecular composition of murder is the same one they missed when they asked what the difference was between a dead body and a living one: it’s not the stuff that something is made of that’s important; it’s what that stuff is doing. Hitler was morally responsible for his actions, despite being made up entirely of material, because even though the molecules that constituted Hitler didn’t have any moral responsibility, Hitler himself was a conscious, sentient person. As I said in the previous video, life is not just a bunch of chemicals stuck together — it’s a process. The process, not just the chemicals themselves, is the key. Our consciousness, our perception, our thoughts, our morals — these are all products of material, biochemical processes. Yes, we’re made out of materials, but we’re people made out of materials, people with moral awareness who are therefore morally responsible for our actions.
“Hitler, like other Darwinists, illegitimately personifies nature by attributing will to it . . . But his main point is that there are superior races and inferior races, and the Jews, being an inferior race, have no right to exist if they don’t want to fight. In other words, racism and then genocide is the logical outworking of Darwinism.” (p. 189)
According to Hitler! Am I seriously supposed to accept that Darwin’s theory of evolution leads inexorably to genocide based on the logic of Adolf Hitler?
Hitler based his ideas not on Darwin or his theories, but on a “divine right” philosophy
Thus, it [the folkish philosophy] by no means believes in an equality of races, but along with their difference it recognizes their higher or lesser value and feels itself obligated, through this knowledge, to promote the victory of the better and stronger, and demand the subordination of the inferior and weaker in accordance with the eternal will that dominates this universe. (Hitler 1943, 383)
The first edition of Mein Kampf suggests that Hitler may once have believed in a young earth: “this planet will, as it did thousands of years ago, move through the ether devoid of men” (p. 65; the second edition substitutes “millions” for “thousands,” and chapter 11 refers to “hundreds of thousands of years” of life in another context.) Other passages further support his creationist leanings:
The undermining of the existence of human culture by the destruction of its bearer seems in the eyes of a folkish philosophy the most execrable crime. Anyone who dares to lay hands on the highest image of the Lord commits sacrilege against the benevolent Creator of this miracle and contributes to the expulsion from paradise. (Hitler 1943, 383)
What we must fight for is to safeguard the existence and reproduction of our race and our people, . . . so that our people may mature for the fulfillment of the mission allotted it by the creator of the universe. (Hitler 1943, 214)
Quotes from Hitler invoking Christianity as a basis for his actions could be multiplied ad nauseam. For example:
Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord (Hitler 1943, 65).
“[T]he task of preserving and advancing the highest humanity, given to this earth by the benevolence of the Almighty, seems a truly high mission (Hitler 1943, 398).
A campaign against the “godless movement” and an appeal for Catholic support were launched Wednesday by Chancellor Adolf Hitler’s forces (Associated Press 1933).
Of course, this does not mean that Hitler’s ideas were based on creationism any more than they were based on evolution. Hitler’s ideas were a perversion of both religion and biology.
The Nazi Party in general rejected Darwinism and supported Christianity. In 1935, Die Bücherei, the official Nazi journal for lending libraries, published a list of guidelines of works to reject, including: Writings of a philosophical and social nature whose content deals with the false scientific enlightenment of primitive Darwinism and Monism (Häckel). (Die Bücherei 1935, 279)
On the other hand, an undated “Blacklist for Public Libraries and Commercial Lending Libraries” includes the following on a list of literature which “absolutely must be removed”:
c) All writings that ridicule, belittle or besmirch the Christian religion and its institution, faith in God, or other things that are holy to the healthy sentiments of the Volk. (Blacklist n.d.)
Genocide and racism existed long before Darwin. Obviously, genocide and racism do not need any contribution from Darwin. In many instances, such as the Crusades and the Spanish conquest of Central America, religion was explicitly invoked to justify them.
“Two other Darwinists recently wrote a book asserting that rape is a natural consequence of evolution. According to authors Randy Thornhill and Craig Palmer, rape is ‘a natural, biological phenomenon that is a product of the human evolutionary heritage,’ just like ‘the leopard’s spots and the giraffe’s elongated neck.’” (p. 191)
Where do Thornhill and Palmer argue that rape ought to be morally acceptable? Evolutionary theory is descriptive, not prescriptive. It says what is, not what ought to be. If rape is in fact a natural product of evolution, that doesn’t make it morally acceptable. It’s still a crime, because we, as moral social beings, have come to an agreement that it’s a crime.
Also, I checked the end notes for this chapter and noticed that the quote from Thornhill and Palmer is actually taken from a magazine article written by someone else about the Thornhill and Palmer book, which means Geisler and Turek didn’t even read the book they’re quotemining.
“Objective moral laws require a transcendent Law-Giver, but the Darwinian worldview has ruled him out in advance. So consistent Darwinists can only consider murder and rape as personal dislikes, not real moral wrongs.” (p. 191)
The transcendent Law-Giver has not been ruled out; there’s no evidence for him, and there’s no need to assume he exists in order to explain anything. And man-made moral standards are not “personal dislikes” — they are products of moral consensus. They don’t come from individuals, they come from broad agreement among many individuals, across entire cultures of people. To insist that man-made moral standards are matters of personal opinion is either ignorant or dishonest. And having gotten to this point in the book, I’m leaning toward the latter.
Chapter 8: Miracles: Signs of God or Gullibility?
Chapter 9: Do We Have Early Testimony About Jesus?
I was looking forward to this part of the book and onwards, because it falls closer to history.
Norman and Frank begin by sharing non-Christian sources for the historicity of Jesus. They begin with Josephus Flavius. They also mention Tacticus, Celseus, the Talmud who they explain are anti-Christians but do not contradict the gospel record. Piecing all the references together they find some characteristics of Jesus. Such characteristics include he was a miracle-worker, lived a virtuous life, claimed to be the Messiah, was crucified under Pilate, darkness and earthquake occurred at his death, his disciples believed he was dead, the disciples were willing to die for their beliefs, Christianity reached Rome, and the Christians did not worship the Roman gods. Based on the above, Norman and Frank argue the theory that Christ never existed is unreasonable.
Norman and Frank do not provide the whole story. The section they site in Josephus Flavius has been considered by the vast majority of critical scholars to be a forgery for many years. Deeper investigation into the section reveals that Josephus could not have written it (to see why, click here). The other sources, Tacticus and Celseus, do not even mention Jesus ”by name”. Instead they address Christians and their common beliefs of Jesus, but not Jesus himself. So it is not surprising that if you ask a group their common beliefs that you will get similar answers, such as claiming to be the Messiah or a miracle-worker. Also, Tacticus and Celseus are not even contemporary witnesses, but when dozens of actual contemporary historians do not mention Jesus anywhere and any time, this should raise some serious questions. People dying for their beliefs does not give them any special credibility, and many people die for lies that they perceive as true. However, where is the actual evidence that the disciples were persecuted for their beliefs? And if they were persecuted, where is the evidence that their beliefs was the cause of their persecution or if they did keep their beliefs after persecution.
The theory of Christ never existing is not unreasonable. Just as any historian or rational person would demand positive evidence for any historical figure, like George Washington or the Pharaoh Ramses, the same evidence cannot be found for Jesus – in fact, none at all. Norman and Frank cannot possibly hope to make a convincing case when they only have much less than half of the evidence that is demanded, and the evidence they do provide does not stand up to scrutiny.
Question 1: Do We Have An Accurate Copy?
Norman and frank argue that the story of Jesus did not go through oral traditions and the “telephone” game, but were instead recorded by nine people who were eye-witnesses and wrote down what they saw from memory.
But how can this be? None of the authors claim to be eye-witnesses, and each gospel is written in third person. Not to mention Jesus’ followers were mostly illiterate and had no education in Greek literature and composition. Paul himself was not an eye-witness, he never met a flesh and blood Jesus. All he did was see a light and changed worldviews, which happens to a lot of people throughout history to this day.
What we know of the Gospels, based on the PIECES we have (not whole texts, all we literally have are bit and pieces) is that they were all written in Greek, not Hebrew.
Norman and Frank admit none of the original documents have been found and all we have are copies.
And those copies are very unreliable sources, due to known forgeries, interpolations, evident fictions, contradictions, discrepancies, and much more.
Question 2: Do Those Documents Speak the Truth?
Chapter 10: Do We Have Eye-Witness Testimony About Jesus?
The Gospel According to Non-Christians
Here, Geisler and Turek use Josephus, Celsus, Tacitus, and the Jewish Talmud as evidence for the historicity of Jesus. They all agree on these 12 key things,
1) Jesus lived during the time of Tiberius Caesar
2) He lived a virtuous life
3) He was a wonder-doer
4) He had a brother named James
5) He was acclaimed to be the Messiah
6) He was crucified under Pontius Pilate.
7) He was crucified on the eve of Passover
8) Darkness and an earthquake occurred when he died
9) His disciples believed he rose from the dead
10) His disciples were willing to die for their belief.
11) Christianity spread rapidly as far as Rome
12) His disciples rejected the Roman gods in favor of Jesus Christ.
“In light of these non-Christian references, the theory that Jesus never existed at all is clearly unreasonable.”
“In light of these non-Christian references, the theory that Jesus never existed at all is clearly unreasonable.” Not so fast!
First of all, none of these sources given prove any of these 12 things. Even if they do in fact mention these 12 things, none of them are contemporary eye-witnesses who can verify and validate these things happened. They all literally rely on is the word and beliefs of Christians who already believe these things. That’s their reference sources. If we found several sources who all mention that Hercules accomplished 12 great feats, that does not mean that a Hercules existed, it only means the story and legends of Hercules is wide-spread.
Second, the reference to Josephus is an established and proven forgery. To use it as a source for your argument is not only false, it is entirely dishonest in nature. Of the twelve supposed facts the non-Christians site about Christ is basically all derived from this forgery.
Third, the other sources Geisler and Turek mention (Celsus, Tacitus, and the Jewish Talmud) do not even name Jesus. They are not even contemporary sources, meaning they are not sufficient to prove the historical existence of Jesus and are not the proofs demanded by skeptics. Tacitus, while not naming Jesus, says the Christian sect believe their leader was executed by Pilate – that’s one out of the twelve mentioned above. The “Yeshu” mentioned in the Jewish Talmud is not even Jesus. In fact, Yeshu is a disciple of Jehoshua Ben-Perachia who lived at least a century before the alleged Christian Jesus. And regardless of how one interprets the name “Yeshu”, the Palestinian Talmud was written between the 3rd and 5th century CE, and the Babylonian Talmud was written between the 3rd and 6th century CE, at least two centuries after the alleged crucifixion. This means that the Talmud mentions zero of the twelve above.
Basically, the statement that non-Christians sited the gospels or the works of Jesus is completely false and, rather, mythical. The only thing Christian apologists like Geisler and Turek have to go on is a complete forgery and nothing better.
Question 1: Do We Have An Accurate Copy?
Geisler and Turek toss out the “telephone” argument, that is that the stories of the New Testament have undergone generations of the telephone game and have become disordered. Rather, they state that several of the witnesses have committed the story to memory, and nine of them wrote down what they saw. They make clear that they are talking about 27 documents by nine authors, not just one document.
Geisler and Turek note that none of the original copies of the New Testament have been discovered. We only have copies (manuscripts), but they argue this does not harm the validity of the New Testament. They argue that the manuscripts written closest to the originals give us a clue what the original text contained.
More Manuscripts: there are more than 5,700 handwritten Greek manuscripts with 9,000 others written in other languages. Some of these nearly 15,000 are complete Bibles. Nothing in ancient history comes close to this textual support; Homer’s Iliad had 643 manuscripts, and other ancient works survive on a dozen or less manuscripts and yet historians do not question the historicity of the events these works describe.
Simply having a large collection of manuscripts do not make its historicity real. Gesiler and Turek mention the Iliad but that does not mean that mythical Greek creatures exist. Say, for instance, in the far future archeologists discover one million ancient copies of Spider Man, they verify that there was a city of New York and the manuscripts mention actual presidents and mayors. That does not mean that there really was an actual superhero named Spider Man.
Do not assume that historians do not question the historicity of other documents because they certainly do depending on the document. No historian suggests that after the Persian War, a whole town witnesses a mass resurrection of cooked fish as reported by Herodotus.
It is rather ironic to hear Christians brag about the number of their scriptures outnumber the other surviving works from antiquity, seeing that it was the early Christians who controlled what was preserved and what was lost!
Here is an interesting fact about these supposed 5,700 handwritten Greek manuscripts: they were all written during and after the 9th century! The only two complete ancient Bibles are the Codex Siniaticus and Codex Vaticanus from the fourth century! All these 15,000 manuscripts and bibles are just copies, of copies!
Somehow, Geisler and Turek think that these copies of copies and works written centuries after the date Jesus supposedly died is more proof than the copies of Homer’s Iliad – bearing in mind, there is no evidence or reason to suspect that the scribes who copied Homer’s work altered it deliberately as Christians fabricated the gospels repeatably (and they had plenty of time to do this within hundreds of years). But lets take a look at this; there are only around 720 root texts for the NT and most of those are medieval (or even complete books or written in the original language). Of all of these only 14 or so date prior to 200 CE, and those are merely scraps with fewer than 20 words (some of which have no complete words at all). Suddenly, Homer’s 650 extant copies doesn’t seem that bad.
Earlier Manuscripts: Geisler and Turek claim that some of the manuscripts were written right after the originals. They cite the John Rylands fragment found in Egypt (John 18:31-33, 37-38), which is considered by scholars to have been written around 117-138 CE, but note that some others date it earlier.
Another example are nine fragments dated earlier (around 50-70 CE) found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Regarding the John Rylands fragment, aside from Paul’s letters, it is oldest copy of the New Testament yet found consists of a tiny fragment from the Gospel of John. It is so tiny we can barely make any pronouncements on what it says or if even matches the Gospel of John. Scholars dated the little flake of papyrus from the period style of its handwriting to around the first half of the 2nd century C.E. The language of most of the new testament consists of old Greek. Geisler and Turek want us to imagine 79 missing words we can derive a passage found in chapter 18 (verses 31-33 and 37-8) of John’s Gospel puts it an early age. There is no sufficient evidence to date it as early as Geisler and Turek wish we could.
Even if we allow this scrap to be dated as early as apologists wish, it is still way to late to be written by any eyewitness. It is dishonest to claim this scrap fragment as a “manuscript.” Another thing Geisler and Turek fail to mention is the second oldest set of Christian fragments, the Egerton Papyrus 2, is from a completely unknown Gospel!
“There is much more evidence that Hammurabi was an actual historical figure, whereas we have nothing about Moses outside of biblical manuscripts that are no earlier than the first through the third centuries BCE in the Dead Sea Scrolls.” -Prof. Hector Avalos, PhD
Are the New Testament Documents Early?
Geisler and Turek answer yes, arguing they were all written before 100 CE since they were referenced by Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp. Since these men lived very far away, the gospels must have been written much earlier.
Here, Geisler and Turek heavily rely on Clement, but here are the facts: Clement cited the Old Testament as “scriptures” many times and refereed to Paul’s letters as “good counsel” but never as scripture. Clement quotes Jesus twice, but never provides any reference to any gospel, in fact the verses he quotes we never find in any of our gospels. this suggest that the leader of a Church in Rome had no knowledge of these scriptures.
Ignatius is no better, for his work reveals he seems very familiar with the works attributed to Paul, but nothing else. He never names his sources or provides any references, or even hinting he is citing a source at all. (Source: Metzger, Bruce (1987) The Canon of the New Testament: It’s Origin, Development, and Significance, Clarendon Press, pp. 44-49)
Documents Are Not Early Enough Geisler and Turek argue that the skeptics objection that the gospels written 40 – 75 years after Jesus died is too wide to be reliable as rubbish. Geisler and Turek argue that anyone old enough can write down what happened to them in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and so on with ease, especially if they have such a high emotional impact on you. Likewise, the gospel writers like Luke interviewed the people who were there, and some of the gospel writers were the eye-witnesses.
Furthermore, Geisler and Turek argue that the major works of the New Testament were eyewitnesses accounts written in two-generations of events make them very unlikely to be a legend because “historical research indicates that a myth cannot begin to crowd out historical facts while the eyewitnesses are still alive.” They state that Roman historian A. N. Sherwin-Whie says that a mythological view of the New Testament is “unbelievable.”
Considering that the life expectancy was remarkably low, it is very unlikely that the gospel writers would live to their 60’s or 70’s. And why would they wait such a long time to record what they remembered? There is nothing to indicate that Luke (who remains anonymous) interviewed anyone. Instead, what we do have evidence for is that Luke (as well as Matthew) copied almost verbatim from the gospel of Mark. We also know that Luke tried to improve on Matthew’s story. This is not how one “interviews” people, this is an example of embellishing a story. For example, in Matthew, Jesus’ family is being hunted by Herod, so they flee to Egypt. This makes Jesus’ family look guilty like criminals. So Luke says Jesus’ family never went to Egypt. In fact the family always went to Jerusalem every year to celebrate Passover (Luke 2:41) (which you cannot do if you are fleeing for your lives in another country), Jesus’ family obeyed the authorities, and took part in the census. Luke was strongly trying to portray the image that Christians were law-abiding citizens, while Matthew was trying to make Jesus the modern version of Moses escaping being killed the ruler’s soldiers coming into town to kill all the newborns.
How could anyone write about a time and conjure up fictional historical tales while the eyewitnesses were still alive? Perhaps because there were no eyewitnesses or that they were no longer alive. All throughout the New Testament, we see the gospel authors relying heavily on the stories from the Old Testament instead of relying on eye-witness accounts.
Why Not More? The skeptics still demand for more sources. Geisler and Turek says the fact that more people wrote about Jesus than the Roman emperor (43 authors for Jesus and 10 for Tiberius) is evidence alone for Jesus’ historicity. Geisler and Turek state that New Testament scholar Craig Bloomberg offers 4 reasons why we do not have more: 1) the humble beginnings of Christianity 2) the remote location of Palestine on the eastern frontiers of the Roman empire 3) small works of Greco-Roman historical works have survived an 4) the lack of attention paid by surviving historical documents to Jewish figures in general.
It is rather ironic that Christians like Geisler and Turek claim that the 43 authors for Christ are more reliable than Tiberius, since the sources for Tiberius are largely more historically reliable. Mere numbers of sources do not determine validity, considering that when Christianity came into power they had the authority and ability to put any book to the torch.
Bloomberg’s reasons are very poor. The location is no excuse, considering that 1st century Palestine is amongst the most well-recorded era of the time, not to mention dozens of well-respected historians were alive at the time that all fail to mention Christ. How can stories like a mass resurrection of the dead in the streets of Jerusalem, or the curtain in the Temple being torn, not gain any attention by the Jewish figures?
But skeptics demand more, such as where is the evidence from any of the 500 supposed eyewitnesses. Geisler says that the demand for this evidence is not necessary for several reasons. 1) Palestine was an oral culture 2) why would they write even if they were literate? Most people today do not write a book or article about anything, probably not even after 9/11. And 3) even if they did write anything, how can skeptics demand their works survive 2,000 years? On top of that, Geisler says we do know the names of some of the 500: Matthew, Luke, Mark, John, Peter, Paul, and James.
Even if Palestine was an oral culture, there is not a single mention of these 500 witnesses anywhere outside of Paul’s single letter. There is no tale shared anywhere that these extraordinary things took place. If people were literate, then proclaiming to see the Messiah is surely something that would be written down to such a mass degree. So much work would have been preserved, especially from the early church fathers looking to collect proof for their faith (to which some of them (like Eusebius) deliberately forged works to support their faith).
The gospels of Matthew, Luke, Mark, John, Peter and such are not their actual names. We have no idea who they really were.
Summary and Conclusion
Geisler and Turek claim that two things can be concluded thus far;
1) We have an accurate copy of the original New Testament
2) The New Testament documents are early and contain earlier source material since some of the gospels are referenced in 100 CE, they must be written before then, possibly before 70 CE since they mention the Temple was still standing. “We have strong evidence that Acts was written by 62, which means Luke is even earlier. We have source material that goes back into the 30s. Nearly all scholars agree that the death, burial, and resurrection testimony found in 1 Corinthians 15 comes from the time of those events or within a few years of them. Furthermore, there are at least 40 other creeds in the New Testament that appear to be very early origin.”
And from what was just covered covered and researched,
1) We do not have an accurate copy of the original New Testament. Furthermore, we have no way to know if any of the earliest authors of those copies made any attempt to research or verify if the contents of their writing was factual.
2) The statement that the gospels should be dated before 70 BCE is completely special pleading. There was nothing presented by Geilser or Turek that the gospels should be dated earlier.
Chapter 11: The Top Ten Reasons Why We Know the New Testament Writers Told the Truth
1. The New Testament Writers Included Embarrassing Details About Themselves
Norman says the gospels record several embarrassments such as,
1) the disciples were dim-witted and often did not understand what Jesus told them (Mark 9:32, Luke 18:34, John 12:16).
2) The disciples were uncaring (Mark 14:32-41)
3) They were rebuked (Mark 8:33)
4) They were cowards (Matthew 26:33-35)
5) They were doubters (Matthew 28:17)
Based on examples like the above, Norman and Frank conclude that the gospels must be reliable.
Can such a self-description of this be taken seriously? Is it not that simple to include a few incidents that does not portray others as perfect? And how are the above that embarrassing? Students do not always get the message or lesson right off hand. The Disciples were merely human, and humans make mistakes which makes all the more reason for the authors to include such things to make Jesus appear better. This is a common tactic comic book authors do with side-kicks; make a few embarrassing moments for the side-kicks to make the superhero look better. However, this does not mean these superheros existed in reality.
2. The New Testament Writers Included Embarrassing Details And Difficult Sayings of Jesus
Such embarrassing details include:
*considered out of his mind (Mark 3:21,31)
*is not believed by his own brothers (John 7:5)
*is thought to be a deceiver (John 7:12)
*is deserted by many followers (John 6:66)
*turns off “Jews who do not believe him” (John 3:80-81)
*called a drunk (Matt. 11:19)
*is called “demon possessed” (Mark 3:22, John 7:20, 8:48)
*is called a madman (John 10:20)
*has his feet wiped by the hair of a prostitute -perceived as a sexual advance- (Luke 7:36-39)
*is crucified by the Romans
These are not so embarrassing that they can only be the result of actual events. The appeal that the savior was not trusted or considered very wrong implies that many were slow to approach this new religion, implying caution and thought before conversion. This would lower the guard of those Christianity were reaching out to.
3. The New Testament Writers Included Impossible Commands
The New Testament writers left in demanding sayings of Jesus. For example, Jesus said, “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has committed adultery” (Matt. 5:28); “Give to the one who asks you” (Matt. 5:39-42); “Love your enemies” (Matt. 5:44-45); “Be perfect” (Matt. 5:48); and “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth” (Matt. 6:19-21). All of these commands are difficult or impossible for human beings to keep and seem to go against the natural best interests of the men who wrote them down. The writers are not likely to invent commandments that are so difficult for them to keep. Therefore, they must be from God.
People are always putting impossible demands on themselves. Some religious people take vows of celibacy and poverty. That’s against human nature. Do you believe such vows are from God? Some people flagellate themselves – punishing their own flesh until it bleeds, to make them feel holier. Did God inspire such behavior? Some churches forbid smoking, drinking alcohol and even caffeine. Some churches demand vegetarianism. Did God command such things? Other people feel holy about crashing airplanes into buildings. Is that from God? According to your logic, yes!
4. The New Testament Writers Included limited Quotes
Geisler and Turek argue that the New Testament authors distinguished their words from Jesus. The authors resisted the temptation to attribute more words to him than they did.
How does this indicate that the New Testament authors told the truth? No matter how many sayings they attributed to Jesus, you could say the same thing. Some of the sayings might have been spoken by Jesus. Others might not. The Sermon on the Mount, for example, is questionable. If Jesus spoke those words, why didn’t Paul ever hear about it? Don’t you have any better reasons? Apparently not.
Given the history of the development of the Bible, we can concretely conclude that the authors DID fall into temptation of attributing their own words to Jesus. We know that the tale of Jesus saying “Let he without sin cast the first stone” is a complete fiction forged into John 300-400 years after Jesus died. Textual analysis have shown that many verses of the text have been inserted, such as the finishing verses in mark describing the signs of a “true believer.”
5. The New Testament Writers Included Events Related To The Resurrection That They Would Not Have Invented
Norman and Frank argues that they would not have inserted the following if they had invented them,
1) The Burial of Jesus.
2) The First Witnesses – a woman, Mary Magdalene (Luke says at the time she was demon-possessed). Women’s testimony was not considered reliable.
3) The Conversion of Priests. Acts 6:7 says many Priests converted after the Resurrection.
How hard is it to tell a story of a dead person getting buried? There are limited options of what to do with a corpse, and the most likely action to take is burial. So how is this so extraordinary that the gospel authors could not have just simply invented this?
Women’s testimony not considered reliable? Women throughout the old testament play roles, and the fact that the gospels record a women being the first witnesses does not overrule the possibility of invention. If a women’s testimony was not reliable, and yet a woman claims to see a resurrected man, it would not appear believable – making the faith in Christianity greater. [[Richard Carrier]] thoroughly refuted this claim that “woman’s testimony was not reliable” in his book ”Not the Impossible Faith” pg 297-321.
Where is the external evidence that the priests converted? How many converted, if any at all? If you are going to make a statement as a “matter of fact” you must meet the burden of proof.
6. The New Testament Writers Included Real People
The New Testament writers include more than thirty historically confirmed people in their writings.
This does not prove anything. Pilate might have condemned Jesus, but that doesn’t mean Jesus resurrected from the dead. Real elements in a story do not prove the entire story.
Homer’s epics also included real people and real places in his stories, does that mean Homer’s stories really happened? Are here really cyclopes and goddesses too?
7. The New Testament Writers Included Divergent Details
Here, Norman and Frank argue against the claim the Bible is contradictory. The New Testament writers included divergent details. In light of the numerous divergent details in the New Testament, it’s clear that the New Testament writers didn’t get together to smooth out their testimonies. This confirms that the New Testament writers wrote independently from one another.
Wrong. They were barely independent, they COPIED from the previous guy.
Mark was the first author, a person who never met Jesus, and then Matthew and Luke copied from him, trying to cover many holes in Mark’s story. John in the end tried to smooth out the rest. Yes, this copying and smoothing led to contradictions and made-up cover ups, but the point that the authors were independent holds no water.
8. The New Testament Writers Challenged Their Readers to Check Out Verifiable Facts, Even Facts About Miracles
Norman and Frank use examples in the gospels where the authors challenged skeptics to check their stories.
1) Assertion of accuracy to Theophilis in Luke 1:1-4
2) Peter’s claim to be an eye-witness to Christ majesty (2 Peter 1:16)
3) Paul’s declaration to Festus and Agrippa (Acts 26)
4) Paul restating that there were 500 witnesses (1 Corinthians 15)
5) Paul saying he would not say such things if he was not telling the truth (2 Corin. 12:12)
Norman says that number 5 must be true, because if Paul could not perform miracles to prove his apostleship then he would lose his credibility. Therefore he must be an apostle, who can perform miracles, and must be trustworthy because he openly shows his abilities in Corinthians.
Only Paul says that he did these things, but where is the external evidence from the priesthood that several of them converted by the wonder works of a mysterious man who claimed to be an apostle?
Also, how are the above valid arguments or examples that the gospel writers told their listeners to fact-check their claims? We have no record outside the gospels that anyone in the late 1st or early 2nd century that anyone investigated any of the claims made by the gospel authors to validate their claims.
Did Peter claim to be an eye-witness in 2 Peter. Not likely, the vast majority of critical scholars conclude that 2 Peter is a forgery, meaning it was never written by Peter. Therefore the contents of 2 Peter come from a stranger who claims to be someone he is not, therefore deliberately deceiving all readers.
Were there 500 other witnesses? Just repeating it in another book does not make much of a difference. Who were these 500 people? Where did they come from? How many were men or children? How old were they? What did they see? Why didn’t anyone record this? Where did they go afterwords and what did they say about what they saw? It seems more likely these 500 witnesses is just a number that was pulled out of someone’s ass and scrawled on paper; pure propaganda.
9. The New Testament Writers Describe Miracles Like Other Historical Events: With Simple, Unembellished Accounts
Norman and Frank include the Gospel of Peter, which includes the story of a wooden Cross that could speak. Norman and Frank says the other gospels do not give this sort of story that can easily be made-up. The other gospels give a matter-of-fact description of the Resurrection.
How does this appear to be made-up but the Canonical Gospels get a pass? Each gospel contains many bizarre claims that are no different than the one told in the Gospel of Peter. We know whoever wrote the Gospel of Peter did not live in the time of Jesus, but so did the other gospels. None of the Canonical Gospels claim to be eye-witnesses, each are written in third person, and are completely anonymous.
Matthew says that when Jesus died, all the dead in Jerusalem rose from their graves and walked in the streets of Jerusalem for all to see. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever of this event anywhere, and yet Norman and Frank think that this is not some “made up” story?
10. The New Testament Writers Abandoned Their Long-Held Sacred Beliefs and Practices, Adopted New Ones, and Did Not Deny Their Testimony Under Persecution or Threat of Death
Geisler and Turek argue that 10,000 people converted overnight and were willing to endure martyrdom according to the Bible.
Really!? Do we have any records of such a number, was there a “sign-up” sheet? Those numbers seem highly exaggerated. We can tell and prove that the Bible is a legend-based story and exaggerated on the witnesses (ex. there were no 500 witnesses). So why would so many people give up their “long-held sacred beliefs and practices”? Jerusalem was a hodgepodge of various sects – Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Herodians, Zealots and others. There were Romans, pagans, and people who were not religious at all. Even the Bible acknowledges the formation and disbanding of new cults. Gamaliel mentioned two of them in Acts 5:36-37. The Pharisaical traditions were impossibly burdensome. Why should it surprise us that a new cult would gather followers by relaxing those burdens? New sects have formed frequently throughout history. Why should first-century Jerusalem be any different?
Geisler and Turek place too much confidence on biblical legend and Catholic tradition. Did the early Christians really suffer persecution and martyrdom? The first real persecution of Christians was that of Nero. Let’s ask the Encyclopaedia Britannica about it:
In AD 64 a fire destroyed much of Rome; the emperor Nero killed a “vast multitude” of Christians as scapegoats. For the first time, Rome was conscious that Christians were distinct from Jews. But there probably was no formal senatorial enactment proscribing Christianity at this time. Nero’s persecution was local and short. Soon thereafter, however, the profession of Christianity was defined as a capital crime…. (“Christianity: The history of Christianity: Relations between Christianity and the Roman government and the Hellenistic culture: Church– state relations.
Besides being “local and short,” Nero’s persecution did not erupt until 64 CE – thirty-four years after the death of Jesus. The earliest Christians, then, did not face immediate persecution or death.
Chapter 12: Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead?
The Resurrection: What do Scholars Say?
Introducing Gary Habermas. Geisler and Turek claim Habermas has completed the most research into the resurrection. According to Geisler and Turek, Habermas claims that all scholars across the board agree to the following “historical facts;”
1) Jesus died by Roman crucifixion.
2) He was buried, most likely a private tomb.
3) Soon afterwards, his disciples were discouraged, bereaved, and despondent, having lost hope.
4) Jesus’ tomb was found empty.
5) The disciples had experiences which they believed were actual appearances of the risen Jesus.
6) Due to these experiences, the disciples were thoroughly transformed. They were willing to die for their beliefs.
7) The proclamation that the resurrection took place very early, from the beginning of church history.
8) The disciples’ public testimony and preaching of the resurrection took place in the city of Jerusalem, where Jesus had been crucified and been buried shortly after.
9) The gospel message centered on the preaching of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
10) Sunday was the primary day for gathering and worshiping.
11) James, the brother of Jesus was a skeptic before this time, was converted when he believed he also saw the resurrected Jesus.
12) Just a few years later, Saul of Tarsus (Paul) became a Christian believer, due to an experience that he also believed was an appearance of the risen Jesus.
Lets get this straight: none of the above are “historical facts.” They may be facts within Christian theology, but there is zero evidence for any of them. For instance, we have no verification that Jesus was crucified, which is also very unlikely given the story of the trial that contradicts dozens of historical facts.
Jesus would not have been buried in a private tomb for the rich, nor would he be buried as described in the gospels. The central message of Christianity was not the resurrection, but atonement. The resurrection is completely pointless without atonement. We have not historically verified or discover any tomb. Actions made in response to beliefs do not make the beliefs true, for instance, mass UFO hysteria do not verify that UFO’s exist. We cannot even verify if the disciples were even martyred since all the testimonies of this happening comes from the Bible. We have no evidence for James and as for Paul, he is the first person to bring to the world the story of Jesus Christ excluding all the major details, teachings, words, and life of Jesus.
The New Testament Story is Not a Legend
They claim that the bible was written within two generations after the death of Jesus. The Christian story is corroborated with non-Christian writers. The New Testament mentions 30 historical figures that have been confirmed by sources outside the New Testament. “Therefore, the New Testament cannot be a legend.” The end.
Of course the Bible can be a legend. A legend begins with a basic story (true or false) that grows into something more embellished and exaggerated as the years pass. When we look at the documents of the resurrection of Jesus, we see that the earliest accounts are very simple, later retellings are more complex and the latest tales are fantastic. In other words, it looks exactly like a legend. Here is a list of things considered “extraordinary” (natural and supernatural) in the stories between the crucifixion and ascension of Jesus. These include: earthquakes, angel(s), rolling stone, dead bodies crawling from Jerusalem graves (“Halloween”-Matthew 27:52-53), Jesus appearing out of thin air (now you see him) and disappearing (now you don’t), the “fish story” miracle (John 21:1-14), Peter’s noncanonical “extravaganza” exit from the tomb, a giant Jesus with head in the clouds, a talking cross and a bodily ascension into heaven. Count the number of messengers at the tomb, which also grow over time, as well as the certainty of the claim that they were angels. Paul: 0 angels. Mark: 1 young man sitting. Matthew: 1 angel sitting. Luke: 2 men standing. Peter: 2 men/angels walking. John: 2 angels sitting. The bodily ascensions is absent from the first three stories, but appears in the last three starting in the year 85 C.E. This ballooning of details reveals footprints of legend, and we have barely scratched the surface.
The New Testament Story Is Not a Lie
The New Testament included embarrassing details, difficult and demanding sayings, and carefully distinguish Jesus’ words from their own. They included eye-witnesses and facts that their readers could verify, and encouraged people to do so. “If that’s not to confirm their truthfulness, then their martyrdom should remove any doubt.” The end.
As we already went over, they are not embarrassing details, and embarrassing details do not provide credulity to a story.
Carefully distinguished Jesus’ words from their own!? A close observation and textual analysis reveals the exact opposite. In fact, none of the words attributed to Jesus can be confirmed to be his. Rather, over the development stages of the Bible, we have demonstrated and proven that the Bible contains many interpolations, fabrications, forgeries, and even tales of Jesus completely made up hundreds of years after Jesus died (such as the “he without sin cast the first stone” story).
Another example, the ending of Mark. Even though some Bibles have a commentary that the last chapter of Mark is not found in the earliest of gospel manuscripts, they never the less include them. And in this added ending, it has Jesus speaking in the first-person, explaining how true Christians can be identified. Where these really the words of Jesus? Or are they the words of someone else? The latter is the only reasonable answer, and we see instances like this all over the New Testament (such as, how can the authors know what Jesus said word-for-word when Jesus was completely alone?).
The New Testament Story Is Not an Embellishment
The New Testament writers were very accurate “as evidenced by well over 140 historical confirmed details. They recorded miracles in those same historical confirmed narratives, and they did so without apparent embellishment or significant theological comment.” The end.
Geisler and Turek do not name a single one of these 140 “historical confirmed details.” Rather, all the mentioned miracles in the New Testament have been show to have never happened, such as the great eclipse, the earthquake, or the vast zombie invasion of Jerusalem when Jesus supposedly died.
So Is the New Testament True?
If the above is accepted, then we know beyond a resonance doubt that the New testament authors accurately reported what they saw. Geisler and Turek say that skeptics have one last out: ”the New Testament authors were deceived”. Geisler and Turek say that given what they have gone over, this cannot be plausible. Geisler and Turek go over “Fact Number 5″ from above, and point out that scholars accept that the disciples ”believed” they experienced the risen Jesus. Geisler and Turek conclude that there must be an explanation to explain away the eyewitnesses and contemporaries to the resurrection and the other miracles, which they go over in the next section.
The problem is, none of the above can be accepted. Based on all that we reviewed, the evidence provided is rather weak, stretched or nonexistent.
Skeptical About Skeptical Theories
Geisler and Turek go over the following alternative theories;
Hallucination Theory – the disciples were hallucinating. Geisler and Turek object, claiming that hallucinations do not occur in large groups. Jesus supposedly appeared to people in a forty-day period, to disciples to 500 people, plus Jesus was physically touched and ate food. Geisler and Turek say the second fatal flaw is the empty tomb.
Hallucination does occur within groups. For instance, the drug ergot was common back then and often found in bread, which in turn lead to many hallucinogenic visions. There is no evidence for the supposed “500 witnesses,” rather it is more likely that these witnesses were a complete invention by Paul. Finally, as already stated, there is no historical evidence of the tomb, assuming that there was one to begin with.
The Disciples Went to the Wrong Tomb – Gesiler and Turek object, saying that even if the disciples went to the wrong tomb, the Roman and Jewish authorities could have gone to the right tomb, picked up Jesus’ corpse and end the whole thing on the spot. Second, this does not explained how Jesus appeared 12 different times.
Christianity did not start as a mainstream religion at the start. Christians were a very small minority and very diverse in their beliefs. If there was a person buried by the Romans, it would not bother them at all to verify a small cult as false, especially in a land that was surrounded by supernatural beliefs all across the map.
Swoon or Apparent Theory – Did Jesus really die on the cross? Geisler and Turek state that Jesus’ friends and enemies believed he was dead and the Romans (professional executioners) also believed he was dead. Brutal evidence of crucifixion has been discovered and is known to have happened occasionally during this time. Not only did people back then believe that Jesus died, modern day medical doctors believe Jesus died. The fact that John said that blood and water spilled from Jesus side wound should end all doubt. The second flaw is that Jesus was wrapped in 75 lbs of material, and they would not mistakenly do this to a living person. Third, how could a brutally beaten and bleeding man survive 36 hours later? Fourthly, how could he unwrap himself and get past the Roman guards? If he could accomplish this, he would appear as a broken bleeding man to his followers, not an image that is praiseworthy. Fifth, the swoon-theory cannot explain the bright-light appearance to Paul. Finally, Josephus, Thallus, Tacitus, and the Jewish Talmud all confirm that Jesus died.
The article examining the evidence for the historical existence of Jesus Christ reveals that Josephus, Taticus, and so forth are not contemporary eye-witnesses, nor do they verify or prove the resurrection or any part of Jesus Christ. They merely repeat the commonly held belief of the small band of followers. There is a fine line between reporting about the beliefs of a group than verifying the beliefs are true. It would be like modern day scholars examining the life of Joseph Smith, but that does not prove that he was visited by an angel.
The Disciples Stole the Body – Geisler and Turek says that this theory makes the Bible authors are all liars because they faked the whole thing just to get beaten and martyred.
Again, there is no evidence that the disciples were martyred except in the very book that claims that they were.
Once again, is there any evidence that the body (if there was one) was not stolen? Is there any other excuse than “oh that would make these anonymous authors all liars.”
A Substitute Took Jesus Place on the Cross – A favorite amongst Muslims. Geisler and Turek claim there is no evidence at all for this, coming from the assertion of the Qu’ran 600 years later and thus not an authoritative source unlike the one written by eye-witnesses. Geisler and Turek ask how could so many people be mistaken, comparing it to someone claiming someone who looked like Abraham Lincoln was shot in the theater.
While this argument may have arisen from Muslims, it is still valid. While it may seem unlikely to anyone, even a non-Christian, that a faker was crucified in Jesus place, it is extremely more likely than a miracle since it is historical plausible unlike the resurrection. Geisler and Turek’s analogy is flawed, since we can actually verify that Abraham Lincoln was shot and assassinated.
The New Testament Writers Copied Pagan Resurrection Myths – Geisler and Turek say that skeptics are quick to point out similarities in the resurrection story with other pagan myths. They claim this cannot be because there is nothing in the New Testament “is anything mythological.” The story of Jesus actually has eye-witnesses and real historical figures. Second, this cannot explain the empty tomb, the martyrdom, or testimony of non-Christians. Third, if they were copying from other pagan myths that were known of that day, the Jewish or Roman officials would have pointed them out. Fourth, no Greek or Roman myth “spoke of the literal incarnation of a monotheistic God into human form by the way of a literal virgin birth followed by the death and resurrection. The Greeks were polytheists, not monotheists, who believed in resurrection into another physical body, not the same body. Fifth, the first real parallel of a dying and rising god does not appear until 150 CE. They compare the resurrection of Jesus with Osiris, in which Osiris is only brought back to life in a shadowy underworld. Finally, they say that even if there were parallel myths around the time of Jesus, it does not mean that the gospel authors copied from them.
While this counterargument is deeply flawed, they do not examine the parallels of Jesus’ life with the Old Testament novels, in which Jesus seems to be based entirely on.
Geisler and Turek seriously have not done their homework in regards to pagan theology or contemporary arguments from pagans. justin Martyr said the following about Christ and Christians,
And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter.
Pagan myths are full of hundreds of crucified god-men who resurrected physically in their own bodies (such as Hercules, Dionysus, Attis, Mithras, etc.) that all predate Christianity.
Why Don’t All Scholars Believe?
Geisler and Turek claim the reason why some scholars refuse to look at the evidence is the same why “Darwinists” refuse to look at the evidence that refutes their view: they have a philosophical bias. They bring up the debate between William Lane Craig and Crossan. They argue that Crossan, who does not represent all scholars, dismiss the “Strong” historical evidence because they have ahead of time dismissed all miracles.
For the simple reason that history cannot prove miracles, there is actually no evidence that miracles even take place, ever. Nothing in this book has provided a shred of evidence to the contrary.
Context! Context! Context!
While Geisler and Turek agree that a natural explanation should first come to mind when an unexplained event happens, this does not rule out miracles. Geisler and Turek throw out Crossan’s presupposition (because God exists!).
1. The Theistic Nature Of This Universe Makes Miracles Possible: Geisler and Turek argue that they have proven that God is real, and thus we live in a theistic universe, making miracles possible. They argue God can communicate with us through prophets, which is a miracle in of itself we can confirm.
Geisler and Turek base their premise on the belief they have settled the god debate, but as we‘ve seen thus far, they have failed. Furthermore, they are only arguing for a universe they want to exist, not the universe that does exist. They want miracles to be “possible,” but they have yet to demonstrate that miracles do happen or at the least possible.
Even if they have managed to prove that the universe was created, that does not imply that the creator must be a god and thus mean miracles are possible in the universe. The universe could be a scientific experiment born from an advanced machine that when activated created the universe while simultaneously destroying itself and destroying the machine’s inventor(s).
2. Ancient Documents Say That Miracles Are To Be Expected: Gesiler and Turek argue that the Old Testament, written a hundred or so years in advance, predict the coming of the Messiah, his specific time of death and his resurrection (more on this in the next chapter)
As we will review in the next chapter, these “biblical predictions” are not predictions or prophecies at all. They are merely parallels between vague Old Testament verses acquainted with the life of Jesus. As some skeptics of the historicity of Jesus, these parallels are proof that the biblical authors deliberately manufactured the image of Jesus based on Old Testament scripture (which the authors would be very familiar with) to give the impression that Jesus was the Messiah.
3. Historically Confirmed Eye Witness Documents Say Miracles Are Actual: Here, Geisler and Turek repeat that 27 of the manuscripts were written by 9 authors who were eyewitnesses or contemporary sources. Geisler and Turek argue that we know this is the case because the gospels pass all the historicity tests described in Chapter 9;
1) The gospels were written early (15-40 years or within two generation).
2) They contain eyewitness testimonies.
3) They contain independent testimonies from multiple sources.
4) They are written by trustworthy people who were taught to live to the highest standards of ethics and were willing to die for their testimony.
5) They describe events, locations, and individuals corroborated by archeology.
6) They describe events that their enemies confirm were true.
7) Describe details that were embarrassing to the authors and Jesus himself.
Geisler and Turek are not historians, and as any starting historian can tell you: the above criteria is not complete or is rather incredibly weak.
For instance, the gospels are not primary sources, so already they have lost a lot of their validity. Geisler and Turek date the gospels WAY to early on purpose. He gospels do not contain independent testimonies, since Matthew and Luke obtained a majority of their information from Mark. There is zero other independent sources provided from non-biblical sources (in fact, when one searches for any, they find absolutely none.
Willing to die for their testimonies is not full proof evidence, and historians are aware of this as well as Geisler and Turek. If one would ask them if Islamic martyrs or Japanese kamikazes would died for their beliefs, does that make their beliefs true? Of course not.
4. Additional Confirmation: Geisler and Turek make the following statement “When you put the evidence in the proper context, you can see why we don’t have enough faith to be skeptical about it. It is a lot more reasonable to be skeptical about skepticism.” They go on to say that is a skeptic still does not accept the above points, they must provide evidence to the alternative. Already, the announce the skeptics have failed that the resurrection explains all the evidence.
Of course, because as everyone who had logic in school knows, you can imply anything you want from a wrong assumption.
Extraordinary Claims and Self-Canceling Evidence
Extraordinary evidence – Geisler and Turek state that the few remaining objections brought up by skeptics is the claim that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” So they examine what skeptics mean by the word “extraordinary.” First they examine the definition “beyond the natural” in which case they argue that skeptics are asking for a second miracle to prove a miracle. But in order to to that, one must accept miracles happen. They also argue that it would take a third miracle to prove the second miracle, which would go on to infinity.
Next, they examine the definition being “repeatable” as in a lab, to which they argue cannot be since nothing in history can be repeated to test. They go on to state “Atheists … believe in the Big Bang,” and, “Atheists believe in spontaneous generation and macroevolution.”
The last piece of “atheists believe x, y, z…” is not true. Some atheists may believe in those things. Some Christians also believe in those things. Some atheists do not necessarily believe in those things at all. The only thing you can say for sure about all atheists is that they have no belief in gods.
Chapter 13: Who is Jesus: God? Or Just a Great Moral Teacher?
Geisler and Turek in this chapter examine the prophecies that support miracles and the Jesus was the Messiah.
Gesiler and Turek argue that Isaiah 53 is about a “Suffering Servant.” There are several “Servant Songs” in this part of Isaiah. They summarize some points from these songs, and ask “To whom is this referring?”
1) He is elected by the Lord, anointed by the Spirit, and promised success in his endeavor (42:1,4).
2) Justice is a prime concern of his ministry (42:1,4).
3) His ministry has an international scope (42:1,6).
4) God predestined him to his calling (49:1).
5) He is a gifted teacher (49:2).
6) He experiences discouragement in his ministry (49:4).
7) His ministry extends to the Gentiles (49:6).
8) The Servant encounters strong opposition and resistance to his teaching, even of a physically violent nature (50:4-6).
9) He is determined to finish what God called him to do (50:7).
10) The Servant has humble origins with little outward prospects for success (53:1-2).
11) He experiences suffering and affliction (53:3).
12) The Servant accepts vicarious and substitutionary suffering on behalf of his people (53:4-6,12).
13) He is put to death after being condemned (53:7-9).
14) Incredibly, he comes back to life and is exalted above all rulers (53:10-12; 52:13-15).
15) The servant is also sinless (53:9).
The problem is Christians like Geisler and Turek read the passages too casually. I realize that your interpretation is hoary with age. Christians have always seen Jesus in these passages, just like they see Jesus on pancakes, grilled cheese sandwiches, rust on refrigerator doors and water stains under bridges.
Context is what we need to look at first. Chapters 40-54 of Isaiah were written by an anonymous author about a century and a half after Isaiah died. The Israelites’ world had changed dramatically since Isaiah’s death. Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem in 588 B.C. and destroyed the city in about 586 B.C. The Jews were taken to Babylon, where they suffered in captivity for about half a century. In 539 B.C., the emperor Cyrus took Babylon and decreed that the Jews were free to return to their homeland and rebuild Jerusalem.
The first verse of chapter 40 says plainly, “Comfort, comfort my people.” The author encourages Israel, saying that its sins have been paid for, that its return to Jerusalem would be accompanied by miracles, that it would become a powerful, righteous nation, that it would conquer its enemies, establish peace, and offer the salvation of Yahweh to the entire world. In Isaiah 45:1, Yahweh calls Cyrus his “anointed.” The Hebrew word is mah-shee-agh, or messiah. Cyrus was the only messiah of interest to Israel in 538 B.C. He was the hero who saved Israel from the Babylonian captivity.
Geisler and Turek argue that the above verse predicts that Jesus would be from the seed of a woman rather than from the seed of a man. The above verse is God speaking to Satan: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” They argue that Jesus is the one who will crush Satan, but Satan is depicted here from the serpent.
Jesus or Satan are not mentioned anywhere. This is about a serpent. On the surface, this passage is a myth that explains the enmity between humans and snakes. Snakes strike the heels of people. People crush the heads of snakes. The passage doesn’t say anything about a future messiah. While it says the “seed of a woman” this does not point to Jesus, but everyone. Since the seed of man is not included, many Christians think this points to Jesus coming from a virgin mother. However, if they are going to be so literal, is Satan the seed of a serpent?
Genesis 12:1-3 (1) Now YHWH said unto Abram: ‘Go, for yourself, out of your country, and from your birth-place, and from your father’s house, unto the land that I will show thee. (2) And I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and [you], be a blessing! (3) And I will bless them that bless you, and he who curses you, I will curse; and in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’
Gen. 12:7…The Promise made to Abraham’s Seed…Gal. 3:16
(7) And YHWH appeared unto Abram, and said: ‘To your seed will I give this land’; and he built there an altar unto YHWH, who appeared to him.
Rather than being messianic prophecies, these verses are part of the promise given to Abraham, linked to what is stated in Gen 12:1-2, about the huge number of his offspring, and the fact that his offspring will be given Canaan. This can be easily seen looking at the context of Abraham’s blessing and when the Lord reiterates it. He says in Genesis 13:15 that he will give the land to Abraham and his seed. But in the very next verse, Genesis 13:16, he says that this seed will be numerous like the dust of the ground. Another example we can use is in Genesis 15:5 where the Almighty says that this seed again will be numerous, but this time like the stars of heaven. In the same chapter, in verse 13, that seed will be slaves in a land not theirs, meaning more than one person in this “seed”. Again in the same chapter, but in verses 18-21, this seed is given a certain length of land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, Euphrates, and all the tribes in it. Now this cannot be talking about a messiah who is supposed to rule the whole world. But instead this perfectly reflects the promises that were meant for the offspring of Abraham, the nation of Israel (see Numbers 34:9, Exodus 3:8, Deuteromony 7:1, Joshua 3:10). It is clearly seen in those verses that the promises belong to Israel as a nation, not just one single messianic figure.
There is nothing explicitly messianic here.
This is generally agreed upon as a messianic verse. But its meaning has been questioned for some time, especially the mysterious ‘Shiloh’. Just look at the different ways people translate this verse. Both Jewish and Christian renderings of this verse don’t agree on what means what because of the fact that the Hebrew words translated “Shiloh” and “obedience” are exceedingly rare words, and they are key to understanding what exactly is going on. Here are some examples.
(Good New Bible) Judah will hold the royal scepter, And his descendants will always rule. Nations will bring him tribute And bow in obedience before him.
(World English Bible) The scepter will not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until he comes to whom it belongs. To him will the obedience of the peoples be.
(Young’s Literal Translation) The sceptre turneth not aside from Judah, And a lawgiver from between his feet, Till his Seed come; And his is the obedience of peoples.
(King James Version) The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.
(Bible in Basic English) The rod of authority will not be taken from Judah, and he will not be without a law-giver, till he comes who has the right to it, and the peoples will put themselves under his rule.
(1899 Douay Rheims Version) The sceptre shall not be taken away from Juda, nor a ruler from his thigh, till he come that is to be sent, and he shall be the expectation of nations.
(LXX [Septuagint] in English) A ruler shall not fail from Juda, nor a prince from his loins, until there come the things stored up for him; and he is the expectation of nations.
(Hebrew Names Version) The scepter will not depart from Yehudah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until he comes to whom it belongs. To him will the obedience of the peoples be.
And these are only the Christian versions. Although there is a general agreement that it refers to “messiah”, it is best to ascertain what is clear before dealing with what is unclear.
What is clear is that this is a promise/blessing to Judah from his father, Jacob. The sceptre or rod, and the ruler’s staff refer to the pre-eminence of Judah over his brothers, meaning that he shall be ruler over his brothers.
The next phrase is the difficult bit as it is translated a number of different ways with different connotations, the most popular being ‘until Shiloh comes’. The word ‘until’ doesn’t necessarily refer to a cut-off point, i.e., it doesn’t mean that after the event has happened, Judah will no longer rule or have the sceptre. The link following this explanation will give more information into that fact.
This verse has been used to show that after Yeshua came Judah lost the sceptre since there has been no king in Israel, especially from the tribe of Judah since. But there have been a number of times in Judah’s history that he lost rulership, like during the Babylonian exile, and when the Romans took over Israel, centuries before Yeshua came on the scene. Someone tried to say that it happened truly when the power to do capital punishment was taken away from Israel during Yeshua’s lifetime, but what scripture said that was the sign of rulership? Israel still inhabited their own land at that time, but under foreign occupation, meaning that for the longest time, they had no king of their own, no true rulership.
The plain meaning of this verse doesn’t clearly point to Yeshua as being messiah or Shiloh. Yeshua never even ruled Israel.
Isaiah 23:5-6 Behold, the days come, saith YHWH, that I will raise unto David a righteous shoot, and he shall reign as king and prosper, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called, YHWH is our righteousness.
This could possibly be messianic. This definitely talks of a Davidic king. Did Yeshua fulfil this prophecy? Does this verse say ANYTHING about the claims of the compiler? That the messiah would be Deity? That messiah would be both Deity and man?
Firstly, we know that because royalty passes naturally (not adoptively) from father to son, if Yeshua had a virgin birth (no natural human biological father), then he has no rights to royalty. So he didn’t fulfil that.
Now does the verse say that this king shall BE Deity? It says that “his name shall be called YHWH is our righteousness.” That is NOT saying he shall BE YHWH our righteousness. As has been discussed before, many names in scripture have meaning (like Abijah, meaning YHWH, my father, or Jehu, he is YHWH), but that doesn’t mean that the bearer of the name is YHWH himself. So this verse is not saying that the king shall be YHWH. In fact some translators rightly translate this verse as “and this is the name which YHWH shall call him, Our righteousness.” The LXX translates it, “this is the name which the Lord shall call him, Josedek” with Yosedek meaning YHWH is righteousness. The Hebrew verb is in the Qal form, it is active, not passive. I’ll give an example of active and passive forms of verbs.
Active: He shall call.
Passive: He shall be called.
Another point about this name is that it is also given to Jerusalem in Jeremiah 33:16. Jerusalem is called YHWH is our righteousness as well. Is no one going to start claiming that Jerusalem is YHWH, or both YHWH and a city? It has more evidence for being YHWH since it is also called YHWH-Shammah (YHWH is there) in the very last verse of Ezekiel. Lets get serious, and understand that when something is called by the name of YHWH, doesn’t make it or him YHWH, or else altars (YHWH-nissi, Exo 17:15) and places (YHWH-yireh, Gen 22:14) are gonna start partaking of the divine nature too.
Also, did Yeshua rule as king over Israel, executing justice and judgement? No! Was Judah saved and did Israel dwell safely when he was about? Under Roman powers? Soon to be exiled again? I don’t think so. Would you say that prospering is the same thing as being crucified and humiliated? Mmm… let me think.
So in all cases, Yeshua doesn’t fit the bill for Jeremiah 23:5, 6.
Isaiah 8:21-9:6: And they shall pass this way that are sore bestead and hungry; and it shall come to pass that, when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse by their king and by their God, and, whether they turn their faces upward, or look unto the earth, behold distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish, and outspread thick darkness. For is there no gloom to her that was steadfast? Now the former hath lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but the latter hath dealt a more grievous blow by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, in the district of the nations.
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Thou hast multiplied the nation, Thou hast increased their joy; they joy before Thee according to the joy in harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, Thou hast broken as in the day of Midian. For every boot stamped with fierceness, and every cloak rolled in blood, shall even be for burning, for fuel of fire. For a child has been born unto us, a son has been given unto us; and the government is upon his shoulder; and his name is called Pele-joez-el-gibbor-Abi-ad-sar-shalom; That the government may be increased, and of peace there be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it through justice and through righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of YHWH of hosts doth perform this.
It has already been said that the context of chapters 7-10 are talking about the Assyrian conquest of Israel and the ravaging of Judah. It should be noted that Jewish translations of the scripture have a different division of the chapter than Christians. Chapter 9 starts from “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light”. It too can see the division between the verses. Chapter 8 is talking about the bashing that Israel and Judah are gonna get. The beginning of chapter 9 talks about the deliverance of Judah thanks to a king who has been born. The throne of David shall be established, pointing to and emphasizing the fact that this is talking about Judah and Jerusalem. Note that this is talking about a king who will literally reign since the government (rule or dominion) shall be upon his shoulders. The victory or deliverance is compared to that which happened at Midian (see Judges 6 and 7). The metaphors around it refer to a physical battle. The signs show that it is talking about the coming of Hezekiah and the release from Assyria. The JPS version takes the whole descriptive phrase in verse 5 (6, in Christian translations) concerning the son that has been born as a name. The fact that the boy is called this name shows that its significance is NOT talking about the boy himself as some sort of man-god, just like as stated before the names Abijah and Jehu say nothing about the men that bear them, but is a symbol, a sign of the times, or a praise to YHWH. It is noticeable that Hezekiah means “YHWH is strong”, similar meaning to “el-gibbor” (mighty hero, or mighty deity). Since this is prophetic poetry, I don’t believe we have to take “even forever” at the end to speak of eternal or everlasting in the absolute sense. Either way, the context is still pointing to the time frame of the Assyrian conquest. So this is still not a messianic prophecy and doesn’t relate to Yeshua.
This section (Isaiah 8:23-9:5 [9:1-6 in Christian versions]) has been subject to context-eradication, mistranslation, and misinterpretation. But it is still not a messianic verse. Neither can it refer to Yeshua whose life cannot be compared to what happened in Gideon, nor did he ever literally rule Israel. People can try to claim a second coming, but that just reinforces the fact that if this was a prophecy, it is yet to be fulfilled.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” is supposedly about the Messiah being born in Bethlehem.
“Bethlehem Ephratah” in Micah 5:2 refers not to a town, but to a clan: the clan of Bethlehem, who was the son of Caleb’s second wife, Ephrathah (1 Chronicles 2:18, 2:50-52 & 4:4). B) The prophecy (if that is what it is) does not refer to the Messiah, but rather to a military leader, as can be seen from Micah 5:6. This leader is supposed to defeat the Assyrians, which, of course, Jesus never did. It should also be noted that Matthew altered the text of Micah 5:2 by saying: “And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah” rather than “Bethlehem Ephratah” as is said in Micah 5:2. He did this, intentionally no doubt, to make this verse appear to refer to the town of Bethlehem rather than the family clan.
“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty.” Geisler and Turek argue this verse is about the Messiah, who will be preceded by a messenger, will suddenly come to the temple.
Lets look at this in context, from Malachi 2:17 to Malachi 3:5. The passage begins with the Israelites saying that Yahweh does not punish evil. Yahweh responds by saying that his messenger is coming, who would prepare the way before him. He will come in judgment against evildoers, and will refine the Levites so they can bring offerings in righteousness, acceptable to Yahweh. Did Jesus or his messenger purify the Levites? No. Was it Jesus’ mission to renew the system of animal sacrifices? Nope, rather Jesus abolished animal sacrifices, and thus Jesus did not fulfill this passage.
Basically, a tangled Christian attempt to calculate the years to when the Messiah will appear.
However, the math is clumsy and false, which you can read about here.
Geisler and Turek argue that this verse is a prediction that God himself would be pierced, as happened when Jesus was crucified.
The piercing of Yahweh is not really a prediction. Zechariah mentions “the one they have pierced,” as if it had already happened when the passage was written. If the piercing were to occur in the future, Zechariah would have written, “the one they will pierce,” or “the one they will have pierced.” At any rate, it seems to me that the piercing of Yahweh is not physical, but metaphorical. Israel had “pierced” Yahweh – broken his heart – by disregarding him and his laws.
Psalm 22:16. Fundamentalists have always claimed that the latter part of Psalm 22:16 “They pierced my hands and my feet” (which we shall designate as Psalm 22:16b) is a direct prophecy of the crucifixion; with the “piercing” referring to the nails going through Jesus’ hands and feet. Although this is not the reading found in the Hebrew Masoretic text, support is claimed from the readings found in a Dead Sea Scroll fragment and in ancient versions of the Bible such as the Septuagint and the Vulgate.
This claim is false, for a few reasons:
”The Hebrew Text Behind the King James Version”
Despite the claims of its accurate rendition of the original text, the Hebrew equivalent for “they pierced” was not found in the manuscripts available to the translators of the King James Version. Indeed the word rendered in those manuscripts means “like a lion”.
”The Dead Sea Scrolls”
The evidence from the Dead Sea Scrolls, is ambiguous at best. The word found there, kaaru, has no known meaning and may actually be meaningless.
A) Before looking at the readings of the ancient versions, it is important to know some preliminary background information about them first.
B) A careful analysis of the readings given in the ancient versions does not support “they pierced” as the correct translation. Indeed the analysis shows that there were two extant readings in the Hebrew text, one being kaari (like a lion) and the other kaaru. The very fact that translators did not translate the latter word consistently showed that even by that time, the meaning of that word was no longer known.
”Use of Psalm 22:16b by the Early Christians”
No early Christian writer, including the evangelists and Paul, until the time of Justin around the middle of the second century CE, made any explicit reference to the word “piercing” in Psalm 22:16b in relation to the crucifixion of Jesus although there were ample opportunities to do so.
A consideration of the various internal evidence favors “like a lion” as the correct rendering of the word found in Psalm 22:16b.
We can conclude with certainty that there is no reference to the crucifixion in Psalm 22:16b and with some probability that the correct reading there remains “like a lion”.
Geisler and Turek come up with the following 3 conclusions about Jesus:
- Fulfilling numerous messianic prophecies
- Living a sinless life and performing miracles
- Predicting and then accomplishing his own resurrection
“We believe these facts have been established beyond a reasonable doubt. Therefore, we conclude that Jesus is God.” (p. 354)
The only source for all three of those supposed proofs of the deity of Jesus is the New Testament, which is also the source of the claim they are meant to prove. It’s circular reasoning of the most blatant kind. Geisler and Turek would never accept such an argument as proof for the claims of any other religion, yet for their religion, it’s conclusive, indisputable, and iron-clad. They’ve failed to demonstrate that Jesus was God, but they have succeeded stunningly in demonstrating the power of cognitive bias to warp perception and overwhelm reason.
Chapter 14: What Did Jesus Talk About the Bible?
The chapter opens with a quote by Andy Stanley. Andy Stanley is an evangelical pastor, by the way, and the son of Charles Stanley, a more famous evangelical pastor. Clearly, Andy is someone who should have been more receptive to new information in science class
What Did Jesus Teach about the Bible?
On the issue of historical reliability, Geisler and Turek cite Jesus affirming the historicity of two Old Testament events that even many Christians consider to be mythical: Noah’s ark, and Jonah.
“And why wouldn’t they be true? The miracles associated with Noah and Jonah are child’s play for the all-powerful God who created the universe. With our limited intelligence, we build great ships and keep people alive for months underwater. Why couldn’t God do the same?” (p. 358)
This is another example of how Geisler and Turek abandon the scientific method whenever it suits their purpose. The point isn’t that their God could have done these things. They imagine him to be a being of unlimited power — of course he could have. The point is, there’s no evidence that he did do those things. Or, by the way, that he exists at all.
“In other words, the nature of marriage is bound up in the scientific fact that Adam and Eve were created for a purpose.” (p. 358)
We have very different definitions of “scientific fact,” it seems. Either that, or Geisler and Turek are attempting a very sneaky slide here, trying to pawn off the creation of Adam and Eve in the Bible as a scientific fact by attaching it to the actual scientific fact that the human species has two sexes. There are male humans and female humans, and sex between males and females is how humans produce offspring. These are scientific facts. “Adam and Eve were created for a purpose” is not a scientific fact. It’s a religious belief. And more than that, it’s a religious belief that’s unsupported by the known scientific facts.
AND HERE COMES THE KICKER FOR THIS WHOLE BOOK…
“If Jesus was God, then whatever he teaches is true. If he teaches that the Old Testament is divinely authoritative, imperishable, infallible, inerrant, historically reliable, scientifically accurate, and has ultimate supremacy, then those things are true.” (p. 362)
Those are probably the two most candid sentences in the book. Geisler and Turek admit that they aren’t receptive to any evidence demonstrating that the Bible is wrong, because their faith in the Bible supercedes all such possible evidence.