BY JOSIAH NEUFELD ILLUSTRATION BY PETE RYANUpdated 12:26, Mar. 17, 2020 | Published 9:43, Mar. 9, 2020
LAST JUNE, under a spreading maple tree on a hill in the southwest corner of Wisconsin, twenty-five people sat around a bonfire to mourn. To the tempo of a hand drum, they called out recently extinct species, tossing scraps of paper inscribed with animal names into the fire: Caribbean monk seal, Eiao monarch. White ash settled like snowflakes on knees and shoulders. Dusky seaside sparrow. Bulldog rat. Western black rhino.
Ordained ministers and lay leaders, they had come to this hill from across North America, from churches in Texas, Washington, West Virginia, New Hampshire, British Columbia, and Ontario, for the first in-person gathering organized by the Wild Church Network. The network is a loose affiliation of congregations, mostly from different Christian denominations, that belong to the Wild Church movement and meet for worship in the outdoors—surrounded by a New England beech grove, say, or in a forest of cedars along the BC coast, or on the grasslands of Colorado. These worshippers aren’t just seeking picturesque settings: sometimes they gather beside a stream choked with logging debris, or a bleak asphalt parking lot, or the charred skeleton of a burnt-out forest—places where they can face the destruction humans have wrought.
My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
Romans 12:16-21 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[ says the Lord. On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Being hopeful is a virtue. Patience is rewarded. Prayer is being obedient to God and it is where our safety lies. Harmony is how we should live, so when given a reasonable choice, choose this option.
Applicationin my life
Prayer will allow me to hear from God and after I hear from God I can benefit from what He reveals me. This is knowledge that I can use to keep me from stumbling when I otherwise might. What God imparts to me will help me have patience when I need it and furthermore, it will gift me with the amount of hope I need to maintain my joy.
Prayer is what I will commit to do more of and make more a part of who I am and what I do each day. Prayer is a very important part of my role in my relationship with God. I model myself as a person who prays to God, then acts accordingly. I behave in a manner that reflects what has been communicated in my prayer.
As a purpose, harmony is an option that I can identify with. That means I treat everyone the same, the poor, wealthy, educated, uneducated, people with status and those without. I leave my pride at the door and respect others as equals. Being humble is often the appropriate goal in a given situation. Overcoming evil with good for me can meam not allowing what someone else does control what I do. I can be generous towards someone who is selfish. I can be kind to people who are not kind to me. I can be considerate of people who aren’t. I can forgive an unforgiving person. Each of these examples I can be reminded of if I pray about relationships I have with people who wrong me.
Lord thank you for allowing me to be as close to you as I am committed to being, and thank you for accepting me, flawed as I am. I purpose to listen to You more, and act on the guidance You give. Amen
There are two parables in the chapter, the judge and the servant king. Here is a synopsis of the servant king.80
This is exactly the problem God has in his pursuit of you and me – if he overwhelms us with his power we may not be free to love him) love and power are inversely related). And even if we retain our freedom, we may not love him but merely love what he gives us. What can God do? Here is what the king did:
The king, convinced he could not elevate the maiden without crushing her freedom, resolved to descend. He clothed himself as a beggar and approached her cottage incognito, with a worn cloak fluttering loosely about him. It was no mere disguise, but a new identity he took on. He renounced the throne to win her hand.
This is exactly what God did to win you and me! He descended to the human level – in fact to one of the lowest social levels possible – to that of a servant. Paul describes Christ’s sacrifice this way in his letter to the Philippians (2:5-8)
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!
Here are the answers to the five greatest questions we have.81
1. Origin: Where did we come from? We are created beings. Wonderfully made in the image and likeness of God.
2. Identity: Who are we? Since we are made in the image and likeness of God, we are creatures of supreme worth. We are loved by God and endowed with certain God-given rights and responsibilities.
3. Meaning: Why are we here? Adam and Eve were created in a state of innocence, but their choice to disobey condemned the human race to punishment in accordance with the infinite justice of God. Since that time, each of us has confirmed the choice of Adam and Eve through our own disobedience. We remain fallen state so that we can make free choices that will have implications in eternity. This temporal life is the choosing ground for the eternal one. Choices we can make that will bring glory to God, and may bring us eternal rewards, include:
a. Accepting the ransom Jesus paid in order to free us from eternal punishment and welcome us into his eternal presence.
b. Serving as ambassadors for Christ to help others make that same choice, and
c. Learning from our own sufferings to comfort others who suffer, and realizing that our sufferings enhance our own capacity to enjoy eternity.
4. Morality: How should we live? Since God first loved us, we should love him and others. In fact, the “whole duty of man” is to “fear God and keep his commandments”. This includes making disciples of all nations and enjoying the good things God gives us.
5. Destiny: Where are we going? God’s infinite justice demands that he punish our sins, but because of his infinite love he has taken the punishment on himself. This is the only way he could remain just and still justify sinners. His gift of salvation from eternal punishment is free to all the world. It cannot be earned through good works or any kind of merit. And God wants everyone to be saved from the eternal punishment we all deserve. But since he cannot force us to love him (forced love is a contradiction), each one of us must choose for ourselves whom we will serve.
Whom will you serve? God leaves that choice in your hands. Love knows no other way. In order to respect your free choice, God has made the evidence for Christianity convincing but not compelling. If you want to suppress or ignore the evidence all around you (Romans 1:18-20) – including that which is presented in this book – then you are free to do so. But that would be a volitional act, not a rational one. You can reject Christ, but you cannot honestly say there’s not enough evidence to believe in him.82
C.S. Lewis said it best when he wrote, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done, and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there would be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.”83
What do you think were the author’s best points in the book? What weak points did you find in the evidence presented in the book? What would you consider doing to decide if you agree or disagree with what the book is arguing?
I will continue to read and discuss books like these with an open mind. I hope you will too.
80Geisler & Turek page 380 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
81Geisler & Turek pages 383-384 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
82Geisler & Turek pages 384-385 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
Book Discussion Day 14: Chapter 13 – Who is Jesus: God? Or Just a Great Moral Teacher?
Chapter 13 outlines the Old Testament prophecies that point to the Messiah and ultimately provide the evidence that Jesus, the only person to ever fulfill the prophecies, is God.
Isaiah 53 has an important prophecy of Jesus. Isaiah 42 has another description of him.74
Some of the other Old Testament verses about Jesus include
Genesis 12: 3, 7
Jeremiah 3: 5-6
The New Testament writers claimed Jesus was God.
John 1:1, 14
2 Peter 1:1
Luke 4:34, 41
Jesus himself declares he is God.
Jesus refers to himself in a manner that God would.
Jesus alluded that he was God in the parables he spoke
Jesus did things that a God would be able to do
He forgave sins Mark 2:5-11
He commanded discipling Matthew 28:18-19
Commanded new law John 13:34
Said to pray in his name John 14:13-14
Allowed people to worship him on at least 9 occasions75
Proofs that Jesus is God
He fulfilled messianic prophecies written hundreds of years in advance
He lived a sinless life and performed miraculous deeds
He predicted and then accomplished his own resurrection from the dead
Skeptics complain Jesus wasn’t more overt
They cite and misinterpret Matthew 19:7
They cite John 14:28 and Matthew 24:36 which may confuse them without a thorough understanding of the Trinity.
They object to the Trinity
The authors provide useful insight for the Trinity
Some Muslims charge that the trinity is too complex. But who said that truth must always be simple? As C.S. Lewis aptly puts it, “If Christianity was something we were making up, of course we could make it easier. But it is not. We cannot compete, in simplicity, with people who are inventing religions. How could we? We are dealing with fact. Of course anyone can be simple if he has no facts to bother about.”76
Since Jesus is a morally perfect being – Chapter 7 – then anything he teaches is true. What did Jesus teach? What did he teach about the Bible? Chapter 14 answers this question.
The chapter addresses the claim people sometimes make that Jesus was only a man who was a great moral teacher. The evidence in the New Testament proves that is a false conclusion. Liar, lunatic, or Lord are the only possible conclusions a person can draw after studying the New Testament. Have you come across people who said they saw Jesus as a moral teacher but not God? How did that conversation go?
I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish things that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would rather be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is , the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.77
74Geisler & Turek page 333 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
75 Geisler & Turek pages 344-345 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
76Geisler & Turek pages 352-353 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
77Geisler & Turek page 346 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
Book Discussion Day 13: Chapter 12 – Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?
Chapter 12 exposes how false each of the theories put forth by skeptics to deny the resurrection of Jesus.71
Hallucinations aren’t experienced by groups. Jesus did not appear just once to one person. He appeared in a dozen separate occasions in a variety of settings to different people over 40 days. A total of over 500 people saw Jesus after his resurrection. The tomb was empty. No proof of Jesus’ body was shown by those that executed him because they did not have his body, when so many people claimed to see him alive.
They went to the wrong tomb theory
The theory assumes that all of the Jews and Romans had a permanent kind of collective amnesia about what they had done with the body of Jesus.
The theory doesn’t explain the appearances of Jesus. Nor does it explain the empty tomb well. Most of the disciples were hopeless and fearful still after learning of the empty tomb. They did not believe that the empty signified that Jesus was alive until they physically saw him and spoke with him.
Swoon or Apparent Death Theory
Everyone believed Jesus was dead
Jesus was embalmed in 75 pounds of bandages and spices. That doesn’t happen to a live person.
It assumes he would survive 36 hours, unwrap himself, move a 4,000-pound rock from the entrance and get past Roman guards.
He would not have appeared to be in good condition when he was seen.
It does not account for Paul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.
The Disciples stole the body theory
Were they hallucinating, or did they steal the body, which is it?
For some inexplicable reason, they stole the body n order to get themselves beaten, tortured, and martyred.
A Substitute Took Jesus’ Place on the Cross Theory
This is a popular Muslim theory. There is absolutely no evidence to back up this theory.
It should be noted that the Qur’an was produced over 600 years after Jesus. The New Testament has eyewitness accounts of what happened with Jesus only a few decades after his death and Resurrection.
So all those eyewitnesses who saw what happened, why do they say it was Jesus?
Why was the tomb found empty?
The Disciples Faith led Their Belief in the Resurrection
There is no evidence for this theory
I does not account for the appearance of the resurrected Jesus to over 500 people.
It ignores the fact that the scared, skeptical disciples were not in any frame of mind to invent a story they would later be put to death for believing. The resurrection appearances gave them their bold faith not the reverse, as this theory claims.
The New Testament Writers Copied Pagan Resurrection Myths
This theory fails to explain the eyewitness accounts at the time.
It does not explain the empty tomb
It does not explain the eyewitnesses who were martyred
It does not explain the testimony of non-Christian writings
It does not explain the facts which the vast majority of the scholars use to conclude the events were believed to have taken place by those who were present at the time.
The ancient non-Christian sources at the time – both Jewish and pagan – understood the resurrection was not a myth and instead argued at the time that they did not believe the accounts happened as Christians described.
There is no myth that is similar to Jesus’ resurrection
The first legitimate parallel story of a god rising from death appears about 100 years after Christianity began.
Skeptics Consistently Demand Evidence from Christians to Support the New Testament
The evidence to support the New Testament has been overwhelming, far exceeding any comparable historically documented event and proves true beyond a reasonable doubt.
Skeptics Have no Evidence to Support any of these Theories that doubt the New Testament
Their refusal to accept the New Testament accounts is based on philosophical bias against them.
How to View the Evidence
The theistic nature of the universe makes miracles possible
Ancient documents say miracles are to be expected
Historically confirmed eyewitness documents say miracles are actual
References of other ancient historians and writers confirm the basic storyline of the New Testament, and several archeological discoveries affirm the details they describe.72
Summary: One Solitary Life
Let us turn now to the story. A child is born in an obscure village. He is brought up in another obscure village. He works in a carpenter shop until he is thirty, and then for three brief years is an itinerant preacher, proclaiming a message and living a life. He never writes a book. He never holds an office. He never raises an army. He never has a family of his own. He never owns a home. He never goes to college. He never travels two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He gathers a little group of friends about him and teaches them his way of life. While still a young man, the tide of popular feeling turns against him. One denies him; another betrays him. He is turned over to his enemies. He goes through the mockery of a trial; he is nailed to a cross between two thieves, and when dead is laid in a borrowed grave by the kindness of a friend.
Those are the facts of his human life. He rises from the dead. Today we look back across nineteen hundred years and ask, What kind of trail has he left across the centuries? When we try to sum up his influence, all the armies that ever marched, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned are absolutely picayune in their influence on mankind compared with that of this one solitary life…73
It there was no resurrection, how could this life be the most influential life of all time?
71 Geisler & Turek pages 301-312 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
72Geisler & Turek pages 317-319 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
73Geisler & Turek page 324 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
Chapter 11 – The Top Ten Reasons We Know the New Testament Writers Told the Truth
The top ten reasons we know the New Testament writers told the truth.66
The New Testament writers included embarrassing details about themselves.
The New Testament writers included embarrassing details and difficult sayings of Jesus.
The New Testament writers let in demanding sayings of Jesus.
The New Testament writers carefully distinguished Jesus’ words from their own.
The New testament writers include events related to the resurrection that they would not have invented.
The New Testament writers include more than thirty historically confirmed people in their writings.
The New Testament writers include divergent details.
The New Testament writers challenge their readers to check out verifiable facts, even facts about miracles.
New Testament writers describe miracles like other historical events: with simple, unembellished accounts.
The New Testament writers abandoned their long-held sacred beliefs and did not deny their testimony under persecution or threat of death.
Three radical beliefs adopted by New Testament Christians after abandoning their old beliefs.67
Sunday, a work day, as the new day of worship.
Baptism as a new sign that one was a partaker of the new covenant in place of circumcision, the sign of the old covenant.
Communion as an act of remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice for their sins.
Communion is especially inexplicable unless the Resurrection is true. Why would Jews make up a practice where they symbolically eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus?68
Unnecessary because of Christ’s sacrifice
Binding Law of Moses
Nonbinding because it was fulfilled by Christ’s life
Trinity (three persons in one divine essence)
Replaced by Sunday worship
Sacrificial Messiah (he’ll conquer when he returns)
Replaced by baptism and Communion
Finally, in addition to abandoning long-held sacred institutions and adopting new ones, the New Testament writers suffered persecution and death when they could have saved themselves by recanting. If they had made up the Resurrection story, the certainly would have said so when they were about to be crucified (Peter), stoned (James), or beheaded (Paul).69
In chapters 9 and 10 the authors proved we have an accurate copy of the early and eyewitness testimony found in the New Testament documents. The question for chapter 11 is whether the documents were invented, embellished, or exaggerated. The chapter proves that they were not. The writers simply had no motive to lie, and every motive to admit they were lying if they had. The lasted remaining objection by skeptics then is that the New Testament writers were deceived. They sincerely though Jesus had risen from the dead, but they were wrong. Chapter 12 deals with that theory.70
How much faith does it take to believe the New Testament? Faith is often a missunderstood word. The faith that Christianity is based on is basically belief that because Jesus is God, committing to Him results in an eternal existence based on forgiveness of sins we committed. Sins that were judged and punished with the crucifixion of Jesus. Do you think the book makes a persuasive case that believing the New Testament is actually true takes a lot less “faith” than disbelieving it, as atheists and others choose to?
66 Geisler & Turek pages 275-290 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
67Geisler & Turek pages 292 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
68Geisler & Turek page 292 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
69Geisler & Turek page 292 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
70Geisler & Turek page 297 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
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
Jesus lived during the time of Tiberius Caesar.
He lived a virtuous life.
He was a wonder-worker.
He had a brother named James.
He was acclaimed to be the Messiah.
He was crucified on the eve of the Jewish Passover.
He was crucified under Pontus Pilot.
Darkness and an earthquake occurred when he did.
His disciples believed he rose from the dead.
His disciples were willing to die for their belief.
Christianity spread rapidly as far as Rome.
His disciples denied the Roman gods and worshipped Jesus as God.
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 be 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
Publius Cornelius Tacitus
To test the historical validity of the New Testament the authors pose two questions
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
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.
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).
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.
Because of the quantity of source material, the accuracy of the New Testament has been established at 99.5 percent.
Seven items provide the basis for the historical reliability of the New Testament (is it the truth?).60
Early testimony that supports the New Testament.
Eyewitness testimony that confirms the New Testament.
Multiple, independent eyewitnesses.
Archeological corroboration and corroboration from other writers.
Enemies of Christianity who attest to the reliability of the New Testament.
Testimony regarding the New Testament that has content embarrassing to the authors.
The authors draw two major conclusions in this chapter.61
We have an accurate copy of the original New testament documents.
The New Testament documents are early and contain even earlier source material.
Often you hear 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.
Chapter 5 – The First Life: Natural Law or Divine Awe?
The Proof that Darwinism is nothing more than a secular religion masquerading as science
Atheists and Darwinists including Naturalists do not have a valid explanation for the presence of life on earth. Any life on earth. Scientific discovery, specifically the nature of DNA, proves that the simplest life form on earth is made of detailed instructions that would fill over 1,000 sets of encyclopedias.22 Their theory is that original life spontaneously came into existence from nonliving chemicals. There is no scientific evidence for this theory. None. In fact all the scientific evidence points to an intelligence that created and designed the instructions that tell DNA to cause life to occur. There is no forensic evidence to support the theory either. That’s the same type of evidence which the police use to investigate crime. Forensic investigation is based on the Principle of Uniformity.23 The chapter has a useful analogy to describe that principle. If natural activity causes something today, then that’s what happened in the past. If intelligent activity caused something in the past, then that’s what is happening today. For example, the faces of presidents on Mount Rushmore could not be made by natural wind erosion today. Therefore in the past when Mount Rushmore came to look the way it does, it was caused by an intelligent action. Similarly, the Grand Canyon was created by water erosion many years ago, just like water erosion creates canyons in the present day.
When confronted with the complexity of DNA and the impossibility of life being created by itself, the atheists and Darwinists admit that they are committed to their theory regardless of the evidence. Moreover, they will not question it since to do so would require them to consider a divine cause.
This is compounded by the fact that all experimental efforts to re-create life by scientists have failed. So intelligent scientists have been unable to do what Darwinists and atheists claim unintelligent chemicals can do by themselves. And if some scientist is ever able to do it, it would only prove that it could be done by intelligent action!
Here’s a tip. If life could have spontaneously created itself from nonliving things as atheists claim, then according to the principle of uniformity it should have been able to happen more than once since the earth began. But there is no evidence of it ever happening even once! Not today, not last week, not last year, not ever.
Science is a Slave to Philosophy
Science is built on philosophy. Bad philosophy results in bad science and good science requires good philosophy. Here are three reasons.24
Science cannot be done without philosophy
Philosophical assumptions can dramatically impact science
Science doesn’t really say anything-scientists do.
There are five reasons why the materialism of the Darwinist naturalists’ worldview is false.25
Materialism cannot explain how complex life exists from mindless nature creating it. The authors point out that its like saying the words on this page were not created by the mindless ink, but by the mind of the writer who held the pen.
Human thoughts and theories are not comprised of only materials. Thoughts, convictions and emotions are not completely materially based. Therefore materialism is false.
If we were nothing more than materials, then we’d be able to take all the materials of life – which are the same materials found in dirt – and make a living being.
If materialism is true, then everyone in all of human history who has ever had any kind of spiritual experience has been completely mistaken.
If materialism is true, then reason itself is impossible.
Let’s simplify this
If you could identify one paragraph that represents this lengthy and complex chapter, it would be this one on page 133
How do you find the right box top of the puzzle of life? Arriving at the right box top is not a matter of preference (you like atheism, I like theism). No, it’s a matter of objective fact. By using the self-evident first principles of logic and the correct principles of scientific investigation, we discovered in chapters 3 and 4 that this is a theistic universe. If this is a theistic universe, then materialism is false. If materialism is false, then the Darwinism promoters may not be interpreting the evidence correctly.
Here is a summary of some of the chapter’s main points.
Life isn’t made up of merely chemicals, it includes specified complexity which only comes from a mind. There are no known natural laws that create specified complexity. Science is a search for causes based on philosophy, and there are only two types of causes, intelligent and natural. Yet the Darwinists use a philosophy that rules out intelligent causes before they even look at the evidence. Spontaneous generation of life, which Darwinism requires to get the theory started, has never been observed. It is believed by faith. With such strong evidence against the Darwinian belief in naturalism/materialism, that belief has nothing but their faith in it to support it.26
In many public schools children are taught materialism, the idea that life occurred by chance from natural phenomenon. What are the consequences of teaching a theory that is not supported by any scientific evidence?
Remember the discussion on why we believe what we believe? This gets back to those four sources of belief. Sociological (parents, friends, society and culture), psychological, religious, and philosophical. Why do people believe that the science of evolution disagrees with intelligent design and creation? Is it because of sociological influence, what they’ve been told? Since there isn’t any philosophical or scientific proof to support materialism and a natural cause for either the creation of the universe or life on earth, why do some people believe these ideas?
22Geisler & Turek page 118 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
23Geisler & Turek page 118 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
24Geisler & Turek pages 127-128 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
25Geisler & Turek pages 126-127 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
26Geisler & Turek pages 134-135 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
Chapter 4 introduces us to the Teleological Argument which was alluded to in Chapter 3 when the authors described the precision with which the universe was created.
The Teleological Argument17
Every design has a designer
The universe has a highly complex design
Therefore, the universe has a designer
There is so much evidence of the complex design of the universe it is hard to quantify. The Anthropic Principle can help the average person get an idea of how complex our universe is.
The Anthropic Principle
In so many words, this principle identifies many aspects of the created universe that allow life to exist on earth. These aspects are very narrow as a rule, and the odds of all of them coming together to enable life on earth are far beyond chance. In other words, it is not statistically possible that they happened by chance.
The chapter describes five anthropic constants in detail. Each constant represents something in the universe that is required for life on earth to exist. There is another list of 10 constants. Over 100 of these anthropic constants have been identified. Every one of them must exist for us to have life on earth. They are also dependent on one another. If one of the constants was altered in the slightest, others would not be in the state they are, and we would not be here. It is not possible for all these constants, existing in the precise form that they do, to have been created accidentally.
Five Anthropic Constants18
Moon-Earth Gravitational Interaction
Carbon Dioxide Level
The chapter examines how atheists respond to this evidence. It is very telling. It amounts to essentially ignoring the evidence and attempting to explain it away with unscientific guessing. For example, one atheist argument is the Multiple Universe Theory. It’s main goal is to explain the unexplainable, how the universe could be made by chance when there is no chance it was made by chance. Four problems of the Multiple Universe Theory are provided in the chapter.19
The Questionable Response of Atheists
Questions About the Multiple Universe Theory
There is no evidence for it.
It has been proven that it is not possible for an infinite number of real things to exist in a finite universe.20 Since the Multiple Universe Theory asserts that there are infinite universes the theory promotes an idea that is not possible.
It is not possible for multiple universes to exist in the precision they would need to have without something or someone to design them that way. In other words, multiple universes would increase the argument for a designer, not defeat it.
The Multiple Universe Theory explains away everything you can imagine.
Here is an example of how the theory works.
In fact, The Multiple Universe Theory is so broad that it can even be used to excuse the atheists who made it up. Perhaps we just happen to be in the universe where people are irrational enough to suggest that such nonsense is the truth!21
The authors conclude the chapter by explaining that atheists who refuse to accept the scientific evidence showing the universe was designed do so because they are unwilling to accept the idea itself. They do not want to believe it, so they choose to ignore the evidence. An explanation for why they make that choice is promised in chapter 6.
How do you feel when you think about the mountain of evidence that proves the universe was designed to support life on earth? What reactions do you have?
I think this is the type of knowledge that provokes an emotional response. Do you think the knowledge shared in the chapter motivates people to try to answer the questions many of us have? For example, who created us? Why were we created? Is there an eternity we should consider?
Do you see how the authors use the Teleological Argument as another basis for their point that it takes more faith to be an atheist than not? The atheists deny that there is a designer of the universe. Where to you fall on this question?
17Geisler & Turek page 95 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
18Geisler & Turek pages 98-102 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
19Geisler & Turek page 107 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
20Geisler & Turek pages 90-91 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
21Geisler & Turek page 108 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
Chapter 2: Why Should Anyone Believe Anything At All?
Why do people believe what they believe? Well, there are actually four reasons.
Four Reasons for our beliefs10
By using philosophical reasons for believing something we give ourselves the best chance to believe that something is true beyond any reasonable doubt. Which is the best we can hope for when we lack perfect induction.
Philosophy should matter to us and logic should be used by us because without it we run the risk of being ignorant about things that could cause harm in our lives. It could also cause us eternal harm if there is such a thing as eternity.
The Problem of Harmful Beliefs
The chapter has informative, and for me disturbing examples of how these tools can protect us from ignorance. They were used to disprove two of the most harmful beliefs in recent history.11
The Skepticism promoted by David Hume which led to the principle of empirical verifiability.
The agnosticism of Immanuel Kant which argues that you can’t ever know reality because everything you experience is filtered first by your senses and interpreted by your mind.
The theories were soundly disproved because of the self-defeating statements that their ideas were based on. Chapter 1 introduced us to the idea of the self-defeating statement and how to use it to identify faulty reasoning. Nevertheless, many people have allowed themselves to be influenced by these harmful ideas.
The main message of Hume and Kant were that it is neither possible for there to be a God nor for us to prove there is a God. So while showing that they were wrong in their assertions was useful, it still does not prove God exists.
The Logic of Inductive and Deductive Reasoning
Here the chapter gives us a basic primer on inductive and deductive reasoning. Induction can only be arrived at by observation. We often do not have perfect induction because we do not have the ability to observe every instance of something we want to prove. So typically the result is that we arrive at the proof of something being true beyond a reasonable doubt, which is somewhere short of absolute proof.
The book clearly shows us how we can use this type of reasoning to prove the existence of many things that cannot be observed by instead observing their effects. That includes God.
Why Truth Matters
The chapter ends on a discussion of why the truth matters. Three reasons are stated.12
People show that they believe truth in morality matters when someone treats them immorally.
Success in life often depends on the moral choices a person makes
All laws legislate morality
The third reason is a convincing enough fact. Every law says what behavior is right or legal, and therefore the opposite behavior is wrong and illegal. So whose morality should be used to make laws?
For me this is a most important discussion, the idea that truth is an absolute we should try to know. Have you considered what your ideas about truth are? Have you considered what you base your morality on? How do you tell the difference between right and wrong? Remember this was one of the fundamental questions in the introduction, the question on morality. How should we live? What are the rules? Who gets to make them? What are they based on? For example if you think murder is wrong and should be punished as a crime, why? What is your convincing argument? What about lying? Is it wrong? Was it wrong to treat people as slaves when it was legal? Based on what? Is it wrong to deny people access to the United States because they might be Muslim? Is it legal? So if it is legal is it right? Based on what?
I believe the book will get to one of the main reasons atheism requires too much faith. One reason for me is that if there is no God, why should we behave “morally” if we can get away with lying, cheating, stealing, and using force against others for our benefit? Why would you choose to behave by certain rules when by breaking them you can get what you want? The argument of the atheist creates a world where the only test of how you should treat others, in particular, “good” or “bad”, is if you can get away with it. One way to get away with it is to change the rule so that it isn’t illegal to do it.
Finally, there are some points that remind me of passages in the Bible. For example, the ideas of Hume and Kant remind me of 1 Peter 2:25, 2 Peter 3:3, and 1 John 2:26. The discussion about truth reminds me of John 8:32
10Geisler & Turek page 51 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
11Geisler & Turek pages 58-59 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.
12Geisler & Turek pages 66-67 I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.