Over a month ago, I was asked by a friend who is also a youth pastor to read “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.” After some digging, it seems the YP wants to have an open discussion and listen to my opinion regarding the book. Hopefully, these are his true intentions.
With that in mind, I saw this as an opportunity to refresh my knowledge in apologetics and to show that atheists aren’t ‘close-minded’ or ‘ignorant to the word of Yahweh.’ So, I shuffled to a local Christian book store and purchased the book. After reading the first 3 pages, I picked up some sticky-notes and a pack of nice pens. There just wasn’t enough room in the margins to record my thoughts throughout the book.
It’s been a few weeks since I’ve finished reading the first seven chapters of the books. The ‘discussion’ still hasn’t taken place or been arranged. As of now, I’m not sure if he just hasn’t finished reading it or if he has backed out. For the sake of organizing my thoughts and because a few people asked, I have decided to write a few blogs about the book.
“I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist is the best single book I’ve seen to prepare believers to give the reasons for their faith, and for skeptics who are open to the truth. This book will serve as an indispensable evangelism tool, especially when dealing with nonbelievers with “intellectual” obstacles to their faith. As we know, the intellectual obstacles are usually just an excuse for nonbelievers, but when you remove the substance of their excuse they are left naked to confront their real obstacles, their real demons.” Taken from the first page of the Foreword by David Limbaugh
Excuse me, did that guy just say that being smart is just an excuse for us? And by removing the ‘substance of [our] excuse’ (which would be knowledge) we will be able to confront demons? I don’t know about you guys but if demons were real, I definitely would not want to pick a fight with one. Without a doubt, the author’s intention becomes crystal clear before turning the first page.
During the introduction, the authors claim that it takes more faith to be atheist than it does to be a Christian. In other words, atheists don’t have a leg to stand on while the Christians have amounted tons of evidence in favor of their personal, all-knowing, all-loving God. The ‘evidence’ is shown through the Cosmological Argument, Teleological Argument/Anthropic principle (design of the universe), Teleological Argument (design of life), and the Moral Argument. After successfully proving a god exists by science, the author’s will then move on the Bible to prove Yahweh/Jesus is that god.
*Spoiler Alert: I read the first half of the book and I gotta tell ya folks, the authors failed miserably at proving a god exists much less a personal one.*
Chapters 1 & 2 are mainly dealing with the question of truth. What is truth? Can absolute truth be known? Why should we care about truth? While rambling on about how people aren’t concerned with truth anymore, the authors accuse non-believers of rejecting religious beliefs because we “don’t want to be held accountable to any moral standards or religious doctrine.” As an atheist, I realize that consequences exist in reality. If I commit murder, I could be put in jail for the rest of my life. If I lie to my spouse, our relationship could be ruined. If I steal from my neighbor, not only could I go to jail, but I would now be in a bad living situation. There are real life consequences to each individual action. This is just one of the many examples where the authors feed their sheepish audience with misunderstandings and lies.
On the subject of truth, the authors don’t seem to get the concept of absolute truth and relative truth. According to them, only absolute truths exist and “even truths that appear to be relative are really absolute”. The example they use is this:
“”I, Frank Turek, feel warm on November 20, 2003” may appear to be relative truth, but it is actually absolutely truth for everyone, everywhere that Frank Turek had the sensation of warmth on that day.”
What? Seriously? Do they not understand that when you have to add in the preposition “For everyone, everywhere that Frank Turek [was]” it becomes a truth only to the people around Turek!? What if someone nearby felt cold that day? It is a truth statement that is only relative to Turek himself and is in no way a form of absolute truth. Seriously, it’s like the authors are living in la-la land.
The author’s spend the next few pages degrading the universities and public school. After looking back on my notes, it’s really just a big cry fest about how “gawd isn’t in our schools anymore!” Their logic goes something like this:
Okay, Okay...Guess what comes next? What kind of good Christian book wouldn’t offer a mini-lesson on how to proselytize the ‘truth’ to those pesky non-Christians! After knocking on the door of some unsuspecting non-believer, the good Christian must ask to ask the person a “spiritual question.” According to the authors, this will intrigue most recipients and they will want to know more. The second question you must ask is “If you were to die tonight and stand before God, and God were to ask you, “Why should I let you into my Heaven?” what would say?” The ‘typical non-Christian’ would then reply, “God will accept me because I’m basically a good person. I haven’t killed anybody; I go to church; I give to the poor…” Wait a minute! Go to church? I thought we were talking to a non-Christian here? The Christian is then supposed to respond with the teaching of the gospels. (The authors are also quick to point out that the word “gospel” means “good news.” )
“..that all (including [the speaker]) have fallen short of God’s perfect standard, and no good work can erase the fact that you’ve already sinned; but the good news is that you can be saved from punishment by trusting in Christ, who was punished in your place.”
If that wasn’t enough nonsense for you, Frank Turek writes of an account that he had where he was able to turn one of those rotten atheists into a god-fearing Christian man. Here’s a condensed version of the conversation:
Man: I’m an atheist
Turek: Are you absolutely sure there is no god?
Man: Well, no, I’m not absolutely sure. I guess it’s possible there might be a God.
Turek: Well, then, you’re not really an atheist. The atheists says “I know there is no god” while the agonistic says “I don’t know if there is a God.” You’re clearly an agnostic.
Unable to see through the semantics, the man succumbs to Turek. A few weeks into Bible study, the man accepts Jesus as his lord and savior. Several years later, the man is now a deacon at a Baptist church is Missouri. He also picks up local children to take them to church when their parents are unable to attend. I don’t know what scares me more: The fact that he fell so easily into semantic trickery or that people actually let their children ride with a man they may not even really know.
After some more rambling and examples of where “true” Christians prevailed, the authors go on to talk about tolerance. First, let’s take a look at how Dictionary.com defines tolerance:
“a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward thosewhose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc.,differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry.”
Well, if you haven’t all ready heard, that definition no longer holds meaning in our world. No, No, No…Now, according to Turek and Geisler, the definition has changed:
“You’re supposed to be “tolerant” of all religious beliefs. And in our culture today, tolerance no longer means to put up with something you believe to be false (after all, you don’t tolerate things you agree with). Tolerance now means that you’re supposed to accept every belief as true!” (Authors’ emphasis)
What are these guys talking about and where do they get these notions? When my family has large family dinners, no one eats before the prayer is said. I stay silent during the prayer as a form of courtesy. I do not believe that their words are actually reaching a god or that our food is now somehow blessed. I simply tolerate their ritual.
By the end of chapter one, I was presented with no scientific evidence as promised by the authors. So far, the book only appeals to Christian evangelicals and I fail to see how this book is great for “skeptics who are open to the truth.” Let’s hope the authors are able to pick up the pace in the following chapters…