XFiles: History, Science and Slander

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 14.)

Last week, Geisler and Turek were explaining how they avoid finding errors in the Bible: “[W]hen we run across something inexplicable, we assume that we, not the infinite God, are making an error.” Cool, eh? They realize that things aren’t adding up the way they should. But instead of acknowledging that the Bible is broken, they simply assume that the fault is the reader’s and therefore not the Scripture’s, QED.

Not surprisingly, this inspires them to try and lead us to the following conclusion:

Unlike most other religious worldviews, Christianity is built on historical events and can therefore be either proven or falsified by historical investigation… If after 2,000 years of looking, no one can find the remains of Jesus or real errors in the Bible, isn’t it quite possible that neither exist?

Most people who died 2,000 years ago have indeed ceased to exist, without necessarily being resurrected gods incarnate. Neither are real errors absent from the Bible—all that’s missing is an honest acknowledgment of their existence (on the part of certain believers, anyway). Yes, 2,000 years of denial is arguably impressive, in a morbid sort of way, but it’s hardly a historical proof of Christianity.

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XFiles: How to disprove a Gospel

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 14.)

WARNING: Before reading the following statement by Geisler and Turek, you should turn off your irony meter, remove the battery, unplug the recharger, and store all components in separate rooms of your house.

Critics may also charge, “But your position on inerrancy is not falsifiable. You will not accept an error in the Bible because you’ve decided in advance that there can’t be any!” Actually, our position is falsifiable, but the critics’ position is not. Let us explain.

First, because Jesus’ authority is well established by the evidence, we reasonably give benefit of the doubt to the Bible when we come across a difficulty or question in the text. In other words, when we run across something inexplicable, we assume that we, not the infinite God, are making an error.

Yes, when disproving the claim that you’re merely assuming Biblical inerrancy, what better way to start than by boldly and proudly declaring that you do assume any error is not the Bible’s?

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Vox Day, War and religion

Via Ed Brayton comes this word that Vox Day is up to his old tricks again. Apparently, now that the so-called “New Atheism” is no longer making headlines, he feels safe enough to try and float an abbreviated version of his straw-man arguments against atheism, in the form of a short stack of Powerpoint slides (downloadable here). Who knows, perhaps it will boost sales of his sad little book?

The first point in his presentation says that the New Atheists claim that religion causes war, and that Vox can prove statistically that it does not. As always, his refutation consists of ignoring the role of religion in war, and focusing instead on an oversimplification that distorts the data so badly he can make any claim he wants. Specifically, for each war in the Encyclopedia of Wars, he asks, “Is religion the cause of this war?” Not surprisingly, given his biases, he “discovers” that only 3.2% of wars are caused by non-Muslim religions, and fully 93% are allegedly “Non-Religious Wars.”

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XFiles: False vs Fallible

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 14.)

We’ve reached the part of the chapter where Geisler and Turek pretend to answer the objections of critics, or at least something resembling critics.

Critics may say, “Humans err, so the Bible must err.” But again it’s the critic who is in error. True, humans err, but humans don’t always err. Fallible people write books all the time that have no errors. So fallible people who are guided by the Holy Spirit can write a book without errors.

Geisler and Turek don’t know it, but this brief paragraph—almost a throwaway—brings up a very significant point that will tell against them in their subsequent argument. Maybe it was just an uneasy, guilty feeling: we just got done looking at all 17 “errors” that Dr. Geisler accuses Bible critics of making, but that list came from a different book. In this book, they only looked at four of those “errors,” and the previous section ended with Geisler and Turek accusing critics (yes, critics) of forgetting that the Bible is a human book with human characteristics.

That’s perilously close to admitting that the Bible isn’t really the divinely amazing authority that they think it should be. It’s understandable, then, that they would immediately follow that near-confession with a hurried protest that “of course that doesn’t mean a human book can’t be perfect.” They can’t quite deny that their Scripture has an unmistakably human quality, with all the weaknesses that implies, but they want to assert, regardless, that it is still infallible. So to reassure themselves, they imagine a straw “critic” making the silly argument that the Bible must be wrong because people can be wrong. Easily refuted, but it brings up that one tiny critical point…

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Colson v. Human Rights

Well, you had to know this was coming. Catholic Charities has announced that, in order to avoid paying benefits to same-sex couples, they will deliberately deprive all employees of their standard benefits. So naturally Chuck Colson is declaring that religious freedom is under attack, though he’s predictably inaccurate about who is doing the attacking.

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XFiles: When Critics Ask (Conclusion)

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 14.)

Time to wrap up our side-trip into Dr. Norm Geisler’s book When Critics Ask. We’ll pick up today with number 13 on his list of “errors” allegedly made by critics. And 13 seems to be Dr. Geisler’s lucky number because this one is an arguably genuine error:

13. Assuming that round numbers are false.

A good example of this would be the passage about the basin in Solomon’s Temple that, according to the Bible, was ten cubits in diameter and thirty cubits in circumference. As any good geometry student knows, a circle with a 10 cubit diameter would have a circumference of 10 x pi, or roughly 31.416 cubits. Technically speaking, the Bible is “wrong” by about one and a half cubits. But frankly, that’s just being picky. Rounding off awkward numbers is a perfectly normal, acceptable, and understandable practice in ordinary speech (like I did just now with the “one and a half” reference). Besides, there are much more significant errors that disprove Biblical inerrancy much more definitively, so it’s really not worth pressing this particular issue.

The next point isn’t quite so lucky for Dr. Geisler.
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