XFiles Friday: Gimme a bunch of whoppers, hold the FatherNovember 16, 2007 — Deacon Duncan
(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 1)
We come now to a section entitled “Can All Religions Be True?” Given the way religious beliefs contradict one another, I was prepared to breeze through this section more or less agreeing with the authors’ conclusion that religious beliefs can’t all be true (though they can, of course, all be equally false). But then I read the opening paragraph:
The moral of [the story about the atheist who lost his brain] is that complete agnosticism or skepticism is self-defeating. Agnostics and skeptics make the truth claim that truth claims cannot be made. They say that truth can’t be known but then claim that their view is true. You can’t have it both ways.
Surely the two authors had to work closely together over long, hard hours in order to cram such enormous whoppers into such a short excerpt!
Notice how slyly they slip from “complete agnosticism…is self-defeating” to the idea that agnosticism in general denies the possibility of truth claims. Notice too how they lump skepticism in with agnosticism, once again failing to recognize the distinction between skepticism and mere denial. (Do you suppose they’ll be this hard on skepticism when it comes time to claim that they are only exercising a healthy skepticism towards evolution?)
Now, it may just be a fluke of my own personal experience, but the only people I’ve met who were truly absolute and universal agnostics were Christians. Indeed, it’s been my experience that whenever any Christian is intelligent enough and honest enough to recognize the inconsistencies between the Gospel and what we find in real life, that Christian will sooner or later try to defend his faith by claiming that all of our sensual perceptions are subjective and unreliable, and therefore we cannot know anything about the real world, and must each live by (equally valid) faith alone. So I’m on board with Geisler and Turek’s observation that universal and absolute agnosticism is self-defeating.
Agnostics in general, however, are not completely agnostic. They don’t deny that it is possible to make any truth claim, or at least most of them don’t. And skepticism certainly does not deny the possibility of making truth claims; it merely denies that such claims ought to be taken as true in the absence of supporting evidence (or in the presence of evidence to the contrary). What Geisler and Turek are doing here is taking a very specialized, rare, and extreme example that is not typical of agnosticism or skepticism in general, and pretending that its obvious flaws apply to agnosticism and skepticism in general. Pretty sneaky! But let’s drive on.
The notion that all religions teach basically the same thing–that we ought to love one another–demonstrates a serious misunderstanding of world religions. While most religions have some kind of similar moral code…they disagree on virtually every major issue, including the nature of God, the nature of man, sin, salvation, heaven, hell, and creation!
Once again Geisler and Turek present us with even more evidence of God’s failure to show up in the real world. Can you imagine a loving family in which the Father showed up on a regular basis to spend time in direct, personal, tangible two-way interaction with his children, and the kids growing up unable to agree on what their father even is? Christians may offer us excuses and rationalizations for why God consistently and universally fails to show up in the real world, but they cannot deny the fact that He is absent, and that His absence has had predictable and undeniable consequences, such as the numerous irreconcilable contradictions that exist among those who claim to believe in Him.
So this weeks installment is a bunch of whoppers followed by a striking, if inadvertent, acknowledgment of the fact that God does not show up in real life. But if you think we saw some whoppers this week, wait till you see what they have to say about tolerance!