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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?

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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
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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.

Book Review: Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner

What you should know

Missing, Presumed is essentially about how absence impacts the lives of people. How the void filled by people in our lives becomes fully appreciated in their absence. Our personality and behaviors are shaped by relationships, and by the dynamic of how we interact with one another. The feelings and impressions caused by what others do around us. What we do with these feelings creates a persona from which we view our environment, make our decisions, and it influences how we categorize our efforts, positively, negatively, or with indifference.

In the setting we find Manon, who is very fearful of intimacy, having suffered the death of her mother at the age of 14. She also witnessed her grief stricken father sleepwalk through his responsibilities only to replace their mother with a new wife whom she does not accept.

Another player in this drama is Manon’s partner Davy, who is in a relationship with a depressed girlfriend. Davy needs the to be with someone, anyone, more than he actually needs her.

Then there are the three people affected most by the missing person, Edith. Her best friend Helena, who’s fragile in so many ways that without the presence of the dominant Edith in her life, she might not be able to handle it. Next is Ian, Edith’s overbearing father, now distant from her mother Miriam, is it because she is the missing link that connected them? Finally we have Miriam, who suffers the most when her daughter goes missing. We see every ramification of the effect it has, on her thought life, her daily routine, her belief in herself as a parent, and her relationship with her husband, as well as with the outside world in general.

What I liked

Often it’s the little gems that you discover in a novel that you appreciate most. All of us suffer loss and the grief associated with it. For me this passage struck a chord. On grief –

Manon knows what lies beneath, how people can seem normal and yet grief swirls about like an unseen tide working against the currents of life, the mourner wrong-footed by its undertow. The bereaved should  wear signs, she thinks, saying GRIEF IN PROGRESS – for at least a couple years. (page 275)

As a law enforcement professional I am always aware when something genuine pops out of fiction. Here is one I am especially fond of:

He thought it would be one long arse ache, that pint with the boss, but as they sat at the small round table, he found he was too tired for toadying, so he looked Stanton in the eye and told him how rotten he felt…and how responsible. Stanton licked the foam off his upper lip and said, “If you can keep those feelings, Davy lad-and let me tell you, every minute in the police will chip away at them-but if you can hold on to those human feelings, you might just make a good copper.” (page 270)

What I didn’t like

I think one reason we read fiction is because it can take us to far away places and provide experiences unavailable in our everyday lives. Since police investigations are something I know well from first hand experience, I have found a great entertainment out of exploring police stories in foreign lands. Vikram Chandra provided that for me in Sacred Games. But my absolute favorite is Tana French. This book brought me to England, and the tiny community of Huntingdon.

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Sadly, the course of the missing persons case was all too realistic. I have always argued that real police work is unbearably dull and unimaginative, a far cry from the famous fictionalized super sleuths of the traditional detective novel. I found it an accurate rendering of how cases are worked, but how many people find these things great reading? I sure don’t. That’s my paradox. Until I figure it out I won’t be able myself to endeavor to write similar stories with any confidence that an audience is waiting to appreciate them.

Recommendation: Good Read

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Excerpt from The President is Missing

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Why you want to read The President is Missing:

Participation in our democracy seems to be driven by the instant-gratification worlds of Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and the  twenty-four-hour news cycle. We’re using modern technology to revert to primitive kinds of human relations. The media knows what sells—conflict and division. It’s also quick and easy. All too often anger works better than answers; resentment better than reason; emotion trumps evidence. A sanctimonious, sneering one-liner, no matter how bogus, is seen as straight talk, while a calm, well-argued response is seen as canned and phony. It reminds me of the old political joke: Why do you take such an instant dislike to people? It saves a lot of time.

What happened to factual, down-the-middle reporting? That’s hard to even define anymore, as the lines between fact and fiction, between truth and lies, gets murkier every day.

We can’t survive without a free press, dedicated to preserving that fine line and secure enough to follow the facts where they lead. But the current environment imposes serious pressures on our journalists, at least those who cover politics, to do just the reverse—to exercise their own power and to, in the words of one wise columnist, “abnormalize” all politicians, even honest, able ones, often because of relatively insignificant issues.

Scholars call this a false equivalency. It means that when you find a mountain to expose in one person or party, you have to pick a molehill on the other side and make it into a mountain to avoid being accused of bias. The built-up molehills also have large benefits: increased coverage on the evening news, millions of retweets, and more talk-show fodder. When the mountains and molehills all looks the same, campaigns and governments devote too little time and energy debating the issues that matter most to our people. Even when we try to do that, we’re often drowned out by the passion of the day.

There’s a real cost to this. It breeds more frustration, polarization, paralysis, bad decisions, and missed opportunities. But with no incentive to actually accomplish something, more and more politicians just go with the flow, fanning the flames of anger and resentment, when they should be acting as the fire brigade. Everybody knows it’s wrong, but the immediate rewards are so great we stagger on, just assuming that our Constitution, our public institutions, and the rule of law can endure each new assault without doing permanent damage to our freedoms and way of life.

I’d say this novel is a must read.

From Chapter 8 The President is Missing (Bill Clinton and James Patterson) © Little, Brown and Company