XFiles Friday: Prelude to the rest of the bookApril 18, 2008 — Deacon Duncan
(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 8 )
We come at last to a turning point in Geisler and Turek’s apologetic for Christianity. Up to now, we’ve seen their argument for why we ought to conclude that God exists (points 1-3 of their original outline). Chapter 8 is set to tackle points 4 and 5, but before we get into that, there’s something a bit odd about the structure of their outline that I think deserves a closer look.
Just to review, here is the outline, up to point 5:
1. Truth about reality is knowable.
2. The opposite of true is false.
3. It is true that God exists. This is evidenced by the:
a. Beginning of the universe (Cosmological Argument)
b. Design of the universe (Teleological Argument/Anthropic Principle)
c. Design of life (Teleological Argument)
d. Moral Law (Moral Argument)
4. If God exists, then miracles are possible.
5. Miracles can be used to confirm a message from God (i.e., as acts of God to confirm a word from God).
Is there anything about the order of the arguments that strikes you as odd? Especially for a book of apologetics?
The point of the book is to prove that God is real and therefore that atheists are wrong. To accomplish this goal, Geisler and Turek have set out a 12-point outline leading ultimately to the conclusion that the Bible “is the Word of God and anything opposed to it is false.” Yet here we are, only a third of the way through the outline, and Geisler and Turek are already assuming that God exists, and making that the basis of the rest of their arguments. And at that, the first two points are that truth can be known and that it is the opposite of false, which are hardly debatable points. So really, we’ve only just begun the apologetic.
The thing is, Geisler and Turek have offered only philosophical arguments to justify their conclusion that God exists. That’s an important point, because the God they’re claiming as being a genuine deity is not a God that was allegedly discovered by some exercise in human philosophy.
The apostles and prophets didn’t sit around and say, “Hmm, for every effect there must be a cause, and yet the universe has not always existed and therefore some divine First Cause must exist.” Jesus didn’t go around telling people “If at least one thing is really morally wrong, then God must exist.” According to the Bible, people weren’t argued into concluding that God exists, they were allegedly convinced by the things God Himself supposedly did.
That’s important because it shows us what genuine evidence for God ought to be. If it was good enough for the apostles and prophets, then it ought to be good enough for us. Only it isn’t. Geisler and Turek skipped over that argument, preferring to save it for discussion until after they felt they had established the existence of God. In the Bible, seeing miracles led to belief in God, but in Geisler and Turek’s book you must first believe in God before you can be persuaded of the existence of the miracles.
Why? Because God does not show up in real life. The way God behaves in the real world is substantially different from the way He is portrayed as behaving in the biblical stories. Truth is consistent with itself, but the Gospel is not consistent with how we see God behaving in objective reality. If He did, Geisler and Turek’s job would be much easier, since there wouldn’t be any atheists to disparage!
Think about it. Christians want people to believe that their God is real. If God really did intervene in human affairs in a way that was consistent with biblical portrayals, we’d see it. Christians would see it, and they’d bear witness to it. Geisler and Turek wouldn’t need to delay a discussion of miracles until after they’d dazzled their readers with philosophical arguments and mental journeys to the beginning of time and so on. They’d know about what God was doing, either first-hand or via the testimonies of others.
And yet they have nothing. No photographs, no videos, no podcasts from heaven.org. G&T’s path to God involves confusing yourself with scientific and historical questions that are way out of your depth, and then when you’re dazzled enough to agree that God exists, to use that assumption as the basis for the rest of the apologetic, including the part where they try to convince you that God actually does things in real life. It’s a mental, subjective, roundabout path that would be completely unnecessary if God behaved as though He really did want to be with us badly enough to die for us.
Chapter 8 is entitled “Miracles: Signs of God or Gullibility?” We’ll look at it in more detail next time, but by their choice of arguments, Geisler and Turek have already answered the question. If miracles really were signs of God, they’d be point #1 in the outline. That you have to first assume God’s existence only goes to show that even Geisler and Turek don’t really believe “miracles” are reliable signs.