Tag Archives: faith

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. A.  The beginning of the universe   B.  The design of the universe.  C.  The design of life.   D.  The Moral Law
  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. A.  Early testimony.   B.  Eyewitness testimony.   C.  Uninvented and authentic testimony.    D.  Eyewitnesses who were not deceived
  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.

Contentment

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
1 Timothy 6:6  But godliness with contentment is a great gain.
Observation
Godliness is a character trait that is spoken of as profitable.  Godliness is combined with contentment and given high esteem as benefitting those who attain it.
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Application in my life 
Temptation is a challenge every person faces, both believer and non-believer.  The consequences for giving into temptation are dire.  Godliness is a goal only for the believer.  Godliness combined  with contentment rewards those who posses both.  How can this be acheived?  Understanding what it means to be content, which is something to grow in, becoming more knowledgeable about it, and experienced with it. One faith message is that prayer and communication with God about the things we face will bring us contentment.  Asking for God to supply our needs and the desires of our hearts when we pray is one part. So, perhaps when I see something desirable, whether a car or clothes or computer, I can ask myself am I content without having this new thing?  Can I be content whether I have it or not?  My answer should be yes.  If not, I need to ask God to help me see what the cause of my unhappiness is and address it with God’s ability to heal me spiritually, or emotionally through counseling or ministry.  Like a support group.  If I can be content without it then there are other questions. Is this going to cause me temptation that I might be able to resist?  WIll I unwisely incur debt to get it?  These questions can help me recognize what it is to be contented so that I can practice and grow better at living a contented lifestyle.
My prayer 
Lord there is great gain associated with godliness and contentment.  I thank you for this lesson and the oppertuntiy to attain these things and live a life blessed by You.  Let me embrace the contentment that You would have me to experience. Amen
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Heart

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
Acts 7:58-60 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him.  And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit, And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this he fell asleep.
Observation
One of the people Steven asked God to forgive when he was put to death was Saul.  His dying words were do not hold this sin against them.
Application in my life
Perhaps this, Stephen’s selfless loving forgiveness, is the source of Saul’s opportunity. A door opened, through which Saul could enter and choose to convert from being a persecutor of Christians to stand up and be counted as a leader of the Christian movement.
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God approached Saul and offered him forgiveness and a chance to change from within, change his heart mind and soul.  So I think of this as an example. Why? Because Saul was a mortal enemy, and he was won over – not by combat or conflict – but by the power of God’s love and the power of God’s presence.  So for us we can know that our enemies today can be won over by the power of God’s presence, love, and forgiveness.  So as Steven prayed for his enemies, we should also pray for our enemies that they allow the truth to be heard and are thereby transformed by a change of heart.
My  prayer
Lord, a more powerful human example than Stephen, I cannot imagine.  Let that be one example for me as I pray with the belief that such prayer will lead to the conversion of the strongest opponents of Christian faith, Amen

Worry

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
Psalm 145:5
On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondorous works, I will meditate.
Observation
Meditating about the splendor and majesty and works of God is a proper investment of time.
Application
How much do I meditate on God?  Do I spend more time worrying, thinking about my problems or wasting time on unproductive thought? I want to be reminded to meditate on God when I catch myself being less than prudent with my thoughts.  If I make note of when this happens I can keep a record and be able to document the benefits that come about because of this change in behavior.
Prayer
Lord, let me redeem the time and invest the time You have given me fruitfully, even my very thoughts, more and more with who You are and what You have done, and less and less with frivolous or empty pursuit, Amen

Bible Study

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
Scripture
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭3:14-17‬ ‭NIV‬‬
Observation 
In order to do the good work that God wants people to do, the practice of learning Bible scriptures and applying them to daily living is the path to use to accomplish things that have real lasting value.
Application in my life 
There are many competing beliefs in the world.  There are people all around who teach and profess principles they assert are practices for others to follow and benefit from.  My responsibility is to focus on what I learn from the Bible as my primary source for what to practice and what to believe is best for me and people I know.
My prayer 
Lord reveal Your teachings to me as I commit to understanding them and applying them daily.  Guide me along a direction that avoids harmful ideas, and promotes life fulfilling behaviors.  Amen

Disciple

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
Matthew 13:19-23
When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart…20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it.  He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.
Observation
The four responses to the word of God are explained and only one response is the fruitful response.
Application in my life
I hope this will be a time for me to bear fruit in a small group of people who desire to learn and grow in their journey as Christians.
My prayer
Lord, I pray that You will direct me and the people who are to be in the Bible study. Let us be fruit bearers who will continue in the practices of applying the words of the Bible after this period of group study is over. Amen
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Pray for Calvary Baptist Church — ThomRainer.com

Location: Spotsylvania, Virginia Pastor: Justin Spradlin Weekly Worship: 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM, Eastern Fast Facts: Calvary Baptist Church is an Independent Baptist Church nestled right in the middle of Spotsylvania County. Pastor Spradlin has been there for nearly a year after returning as pastor to his home church. Calvary is a smaller rural church…

via Pray for Calvary Baptist Church — ThomRainer.com

Prayer

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.
The Mystery of Prayer
It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him. The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him. Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭12:1-10‬ ‭NIV‬‬
…he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭12:12-16‬ ‭NIV‬‬
Observation
The angel exhibited 7 supernatural expressions while rescuing Peter.  1 appearing suddenly 2 providing light 3 loosing his chains 4 making Peter think it was a vision 5 passing the guards unnoticed 6 opening the gate 7 leaving suddenly.
Peter did not recognize the angel or the reality of what happened until it was over.
Later the people praying did not believe the report of the girl that their prayers were answered.
Application in my life
I am touched by the message in verse 15 that shows how the answer to prayer may not be accepted or believed because of the source of the answer.  The church did not know at the time that their prayers for Peter had been answered and they did not believe it had happened even though the answer had come and Peter had been freed. Here is my conclusion.  Even when I do not see that my prayers have been answered that still isn’t a good enough reason for me to believe or think that they haven’t been.
Peter was probably as close as a person could be to Jesus yet he did not recognize the presence of the angel or the reality of what was happening.  If Peter didn’t realize what God was doing, perhaps I would have even less of a chance to recognize God moving in my life when it happens.  My hope is that I will realize afterterwards that it was God, just as Peter did.
I have to firmly understand that complete prayer includes the act of believing, not waiting until I see results before believing.  This is an accurate example of faith.  Easier said than done.  Just as the people in the house did not believe – that did not make it any less true that Peter was free.  So it wouldn’t be any less true that prayers have been answered even when I haven’t seen it for myself.
My prayer
Lord I am amazed by how great a work you do for those you love despite how I might miss it sometimes.  I want to take this lessson to heart so that I will better appreciate how you respond to prayer and make a difference in our everyday lives, Amen.
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Meditation

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.

Psalm 19:14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.

Observation

The psalmist pledges to speak the things that honor God and to meditate on the things that Honor God.

Application my life

The words I speak need to be honest words that represent what I feel not what I think other people want to hear me say.  Another way of saying this is that I should not be politically correct to get the approval of others when in fact I do not feel the same way as they do.  That means that I refrain from saying things which I do not feel aligned with or that do not reflect my thinking.  My words need to be what I believe, because they come from my heart.  That represents my integrity.  So in order for my words to be such that they are honoring to God my thoughts that lead to those words need to be right minded thoughts which God approves of.  My meditation therefore needs to be about the things God says are good.  And as an extension of that train of thought, I need to purpose to spend time in meditation, making certain that I am spending time focused on God’s priorities.  I can set aside time for meditation and use scripture passages to meditate over.  In this way I will know that the meditation of my heart is acceptable to God.

My prayer

I will set aside time daily to mediate on your word Lord.  I want the meditation of my heart to be acceptable to you.  I want the words of my mouth to be acceptable to you.  I will focus on your word on a regualar basis. Amen

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Hope

My journey of personal observations which I have made over the years to apply Bible reading in my life.

Psalm 130:7 O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.
Observation
God redeems us from our sin and its consequences out of an expression of His love which is sacrificial and selfless. That is our hope when all else fails, it is our hope before self reliance, it is our hope in the beginning and in the end.
Application in my life
I read where the United Nations commission on global warming says that human life will be affected by rising surface temperatures, water will not be available to sub saharan areas of Africa and similar lands, millions of square miles of habitats along the coastline will be under water, and crops will not grow in areas where they currently do. People will migrate in order to survive and less food will be available to feed the growing planet’s population. I did not feel very good about our future reading this. The experts predicted violence and unrest by groups of people in reaction to the climate changes.

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Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines is an example of the increased harm climate change has already brought into the environment today, which is more violent and deadly weather than ever before. When I think about the bleak picture that this presents, verses such as Psalm 130:7 help to provide a calm that comes with the realization that although I may not be able to place much hope and confidence in governments or corporations or other people, I do have a God with whom my hope belongs. While I believe †he increase in greenhouse gases do to human consumption is partly the result of sinful behavior and unwise choices, I also believe we all have a responsibility to do what we can to fix it.
My prayer
Lord help use providence to deal with the consequences of global warming, provide us shelter and safety from the storms ahead, let us act wisely to minimize the harm that the destructive production of greenhouse gasses has brought upon us. Allow us to see Your vision for a lifestyle that is a blessing and not a curse, Amen