Tag Archives: apologetics

Book Discussion Day 10: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

greek nt

Chapter 9 – Do we have Early Testimony About Jesus?

Historians have documented 10 Non-Christian writers who mentioned Jesus within 150 years of his life.  By comparison, you will find documentation that Roman Emperor Tiberius was mentioned by 9 writers within that time frame.

Here is a compilation of facts documented by these non-Christian writers.57

  1. Jesus lived during the time of Tiberius Caesar.
  2. He lived a virtuous life.
  3. He was a wonder-worker.
  4. He had a brother named James.
  5. He was acclaimed to be the Messiah.
  6. He was crucified on the eve of the Jewish Passover.
  7. He was crucified under Pontus Pilot.
  8. Darkness and an earthquake occurred when he did.
  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 denied the Roman gods and worshipped Jesus as God.

celsus
Celsus

Here is the goal of chapter 9

Since, as we have shown, the existence of God and the possibility of miracles is firmly established through natural revelation, and the general story of Christ and the early church is affirmed through non-Christian sources, did the miracles of Christ actually occur as the disciples claim?  So the New Testament documents record actual history?  Could it New that they are not biased religious writings full of myths and fables as many in our modern world assume, but instead describe events that actually occurred about 2,000 years ago?  Is so, we’ll be well on our way to discovering which theistic religion is true.58

Tacitus_portrait
Publius Cornelius Tacitus

To test the historical validity of the New Testament the authors pose two questions

Josephus
Flavius Celsus

1. Do we have accurate copies of the original documents that were written down in the first century?

2. Do those documents speak the truth?

 

 

Here is some of the evidence for question #1.59

  1. Copies of the original documents- about 5,800 Greek New Testament manuscripts. 20,000 more in other languages.  The next closest document with copies of manuscripts is The Iliad by Homer with 1,800 total.
  2. Some of the manuscripts were written very close to the time the originals would have been written. Within 25 years.  Other manuscripts by comparison – Homer; about 400 years between the original and the oldest copies.  Plato 1,200 years (only 7 actual copies). Caeser 1,000 years (only 10 actual copies).  Pliny 750 years (only 7 actual copies).
  3. The early church workers quoted the original so many times, you could make your own complete reproductions of the New Testament just from reading others quoting it.
  4. Because of the quantity of source material, the accuracy of the New Testament has been established at 99.5 percent.

time-gap1

Seven items provide the basis for the historical reliability of the New Testament (is it the truth?).60

  1. Early testimony that supports the New Testament.
  2. Eyewitness testimony that confirms the New Testament.
  3. Multiple, independent eyewitnesses.
  4. Trustworthy eyewitnesses.
  5. Archeological corroboration and corroboration from other writers.
  6. Enemies of Christianity who attest to the reliability of the New Testament.
  7. Testimony regarding the New Testament that has content embarrassing to the authors.

manuscript-variations

Summary

The authors draw two major conclusions in this chapter.61

  1. We have an accurate copy of the original New testament documents.
  2. The New Testament documents are early and contain even earlier source material.

 

Discussion point

 

Often you here about doubts about the New Testament.  What do you think about the overwhelming evidence that eliminates reasonable arguments by doubters?


57Geisler & Turek page 223 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

58Geisler & Turek page 223 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

59Geisler & Turek pages 224-230 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

60Geisler & Turek page 231 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

61Geisler & Turek pages 248-249 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

 

 

Book Discussion Day 9: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

Chapter 8 Miracles: Signs of God or Gullibility?

The halfway point in the book marks a transition from proving the existence of God to proving Christianity.  Here again are the twelve points the book sets out to make.4  I have summarized them below.

  1. Truth about reality is knowable
  2. The opposite of true is false
  3. It is true that the theistic God exists. There are 4 types of evidence for this truth
  4. If God exists, then miracles are possible
  5. Miracles can be used to confirm a message from God (acts of God confirm a word from God)
  6. The New Testament is historically reliable, based on 4 key points of evidence
  7. The New Testament says Jesus claimed to be God
  8. The Jesus’ claim to be God was miraculously confirmed by
    1. His fulfillment of many prophecies about himself
    2. His sinless life and miraculous deeds
    3. His prediction and accomplishment of his resurrection
  9. Therefore, Jesus is God
  10. Whatever Jesus teaches is true
  11. Jesus taught that the Bible is the Word of God
  12. Therefore, it is true that the Bible is the Word of God – and anything opposed to it is false

Chapter 8 covers the two points about miracles @ items 4 and 5.

world religions

The authors point out that so far the Cosmological, Teleological, a Moral Law arguments prove the existence of a theistic God.  Therefore no other religious worldviews, those that deny a theist God, are correct about God.  That is based on the Law of Noncontradiction.  Mutually exclusive religions cannot all be true.

While other religions can offer good guidance and state accurate truths, they are still built on a false foundation without a theistic God.

How we know beyond a reasonable doubt that a theistic God exists with certain characteristics.50

The Cosmological Argument proves that God is

  1. Self-Existent, timeless, nonspatial, immaterial (outside of time, space, and matter).  in other words, without limits. infinite.
  2. Unimaginably powerful, having created the universe out of nothing.
  3. Personal, by choosing to convert nothingness into the time-space-material universe.

The Teleological Argument proves that God is

  1. Supremely intelligent, able to design incredibly complex life in an incredibly precise universe.
  2. Purposeful, having designed many life forms which live in the specific and ordered environment they exist in.

The Moral Law Argument proves that God is

  • Absolutely morally pure.  Consisting of infinite justice and infinite love.

 

miraclesGod Communicates Using Miracles

Is it possible for God to intervene in the natural world by performing miracles?

In fact, miracles are not only possible; miracles are actual, because the greatest miracle of all – the creation of the universe out of nothing – has already occurred.  So with regard to the Bible, if Genesis 1:1 is true – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” – then every other miracle in the Bible is easy to believe.51

The two major arguments against miracles came from Benedict Spinoza and David Hume.

According to Spinoza53

  1. Miracles are a violation of natural laws.
  2. Natural laws are immutable.
  3. It is impossible to violate immutable laws.
  4. Therefore, miracles are impossible.

The problem with Spinoza’s argument is that it begs the question.  How does he know that natural laws are immutable?

The creation of the universe itself shows us that natural laws are not immutable.  The universe was created by a power beyond nature, a supernatural power.

Natural laws are not immutable because they are descriptions Continue reading Book Discussion Day 9: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

Book Discussion Day 2: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

group of people in a meeting
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Chapter 1 – The truth about reality is knowable.

The authors introduce a contradiction.  Why do so many people demand the truth in everything but morality and religion? They respond to this problem with four questions about truth.6

  1. What is truth?
  2. Can truth be known?
  3. Can truths about God be known?
  4. So what? Who cares about truth?

The tool Geisler and Turek use to identify false statements and philosophies in today’s culture is the recognition of the self-defeating statement.  That would be anything that fails to meet its own standard.

Example:  There’s no such thing as truth. (For this to be true it would have to be false, wouldn’t it?)

Popular self-defeating statements:

All truth is relative.

There are no absolutes.

It’s true for you but not for me.

There are two messages in Chapter 1

The first one is that ideas have consequences.  Good ideas have good consequences and bad ideas have bad consequences.  The second message is that false ideas about truth lead to false ideas about life.

The conclusion of the chapter is that truth exists.  To deny truth is to make a self-defeating truth claim that there is no truth.

Is this a self-defeating statement?

Truth cannot be known.

This chapter has a powerfully revealing story about a conversation between two evangelists and an agnostic, a person who isn’t sure whether God exists.  When asked, he said that he couldn’t know anything for sure.  The response to him was, “How do you know for sure that you can’t know anything for sure?”7

Identifying the self-defeating statement for him helped him accept that while he might not know anything for sure it was possible that he could know something for sure.

Here is where the book points out that when a person has this viewpoint they could be open to hearing evidence of the truth about God

The point about truth is summed up by the statement, if you say “truth can’t be known” you can’t claim that what you say is true.  You can’t have it both ways.8

Evidence can only convince the willing

see no eveil
Design Toscano

The idea that all religions are true is completely disproven here.

Some of the fundamental contradicting beliefs of the major religions are pointed out.

I found the most compelling part of the chapter to be the discussion of truth vs. tolerance on pages 46-48.  I hope you read it.

In summary, we learn from the chapter that truth is not dependent on feelings or perceptions because something is true whether we like it or not.  Since the major religions do not agree on major issues about God then all religions cannot be true.  And finally, we cannot adopt a type of ‘tolerance’ that requires us to accept that all religions are true.

Discussion point

What did you think about tolerance?  Have you talked to others about the idea that tolerance means we are required to accept what everyone else believes as true?

One question that I think this chapter leads to is this.  Is any religion true?

I found it helpful to have a practical definition of truth to aid the discussion. Calling truth “that which corresponds to its object” or “that which describes an actual state of affairs” is a useful place to base this discussion on.9  It really helps in the area I’ve found where I have seen people confused or misguided by the idea that truth is relative.  I appreciate that the book begins by covering the idea completely so that we can eliminate any doubt about the concept of absolute truth.  Has anyone tried to convince you that truth is relative?  What happened?


6Geisler & Turek page 36 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

7Geisler & Turek page 43 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

8Geisler & Turek page 44 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

9Geisler & Turek page 37 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

Book Discussion: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek

Join me in a book (club) discussion.  Each day we will cover the main concepts and questions of one of the chapters.  I will summarize the points in each and offer my insights.  You are welcome to comment.  If you choose not to comment, you still may consider these and other points of interest to you.  Feel free to do so on your own or with someone you know.  I hope you enjoy and benefit from this experience.  Shall we?

e92da91f-0ea5-42ca-8bc5-7f95532f41b2

Why this book?

The introductions states –

What someone believes about God affects everything else he or she believes.1

It includes these 5 most critical questions in life:

  1. Origin: Where did we come from?
  2. Identity: Who are we?
  3. Meaning: Why are we here?
  4. Morality: How should we live?
  5. Destiny: Where are we going?

Any book that rightly helps us figure these out is worth discussing.

What we believe about God is often referred to as a worldview

There are 3 primary worldviews about God,

Theism, Pantheism, and Atheism.

Simply put

Theism = God made all

Pantheism = God is all

Atheism = no God at all2

The authors introduce us to the modern myth that religion is nothing more than faith (blind faith, some call it) and they include the parable of the 6 blind men and the elephant story as an illustration.

The point we are asked to consider is that all religious worldviews make truth claims.  To the degree those claims cannot be completely 100% proven, faith is used by people to cover what doubts remain.

We should evaluate these claims with scientific and historical evidence.

One example the authors provide is

Truth claim:  The universe had a beginning

Truth claim: The universe has always existed and did not have a beginning

Both claims cannot be true.

The book is a presentation of the evidence that allows us to decide which claim to accept as true.  This passage capsulizes the authors’ premise:

Yet despite these intellectual, emotional, and volitional obstacles, we submit that it’s not faith in Christianity that’s difficult but faith in atheism or any other religion.  That is, once one looks at the evidence, we think it takes more faith to be a non-Christian than it does to be a Christian.  This may seem like a counter-intuitive claim, but it’s simply rooted in the fact that every religious worldview requires faith – even the worldview that says there is no God.3

The book systematically covers twelve points that show Christianity is true.4  I have summarized them below.

  1. Truth about reality is knowable
  2. The opposite of true is false
  3. It is true that the theistic God exists. There are 4 types of evidence for this truth
  4. If God exists, then miracles are possible
  5. Miracles can be used to confirm a message from God (acts of God confirm a word from God)
  6. The New Testament is historically reliable, based on 4 key points of evidence
  7. The New Testament says Jesus claimed to be God
  8. The Jesus’ claim to be God was miraculously confirmed by
    1. His fulfillment of many prophecies about himself
    2. His sinless life and miraculous deeds
    3. His prediction and accomplishment of his resurrection
  9. Therefore, Jesus is God
  10. Whatever Jesus teaches is true
  11. Jesus taught that the Bible is the Word of God
  12. Therefore, it is true that the Bible is the Word of God – and anything opposed to it is false
adult biology chemical chemist
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

One of the closing points made by the authors in the introduction is that acceptance of Christianity is not solely based on proof that it is true.  Many atheists and non-Christians refuse to become Christians because they are unwilling to live by the what they understand to be what Christianity espouses.  The authors assert that God wanted it that way.  Where there is room for choice.  Here’s what they say is why God made the world the way it is in order that we have free will to accept or reject him.

God has provided enough evidence in this life to convince anyone willing to believe, yet he has also left some ambiguity so as not to compel the unwilling.  In this way, God gives us the opportunity either to love him or to reject him without violating our freedom.5

Discussion point

I agree with the authors that God expects us to be knowledgeable about why we believe what we believe.  I have found the Old Testament encourages wisdom.  This is the type of book that helps us get exposed to more wisdom.  I have also found that the New Testament encourages teaching and discipling other Christians and persuading non-Christians.  This book should help with each of these.

What would you say on the points made in the introduction so far?  The authors have promised to cover each of these topics in detail.  Ideally, any questions you might have now will be answered in the chapters that follow.


1Geisler & Turek page 20 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

2Geisler & Turek page 23 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

3Geisler & Turek pages 24-25 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

4Geisler & Turek page 28 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.

5Geisler & Turek page 31 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.