XFiles: Targeted recruiting

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 15.)

We’ve made it at last to Chapter 15, the traditional “altar call” with which many preachers end their Sunday sermon. Without any hint of intentional irony, Geisler and Turek are going to end I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an Atheist by urging us to have faith in Jesus. And they base this appeal, not on verifiable evidence or rational logic, but on emotion. And a rather selfish emotion at that.

A young man is brought before a judge for drunk driving. When his name is announced by the bailiff, there’s a gasp in the courtroom—the defendant is the judge’s son! The judge hopes his son is innocent, but the evidence is irrefutable. He’s guilty.

What can the judge do? He’s caught in a dilemma between justice and love. Since his son is guilty, he deserves punishment. But the judge doesn’t want to punish his son because of his great love for him.

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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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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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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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XFiles: When Critics Ask Part 2

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

We’re going a little bit beyond the Geisler and Turek book right now to have a look at the 18 “errors” that Bible critics allegedly make, at least according to Dr. Geisler’s book When Critics Ask. We only made it through the first five last week, so let’s jump right in and get started, shall we?
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XFiles: When critics ask

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

There’s an old quip that’s been reprinted on countless T-shirts, plaques, posters and such. It goes like this:

Rule 1: The boss never makes mistakes.

Rule 2: If the boss makes a mistake, see Rule #1.

Rule 3: Any mistakes not covered by Rule #2, see Rule #1.

It may not sound theological at first glance, but see if anything sounds familiar in Geisler and Turek’s discussion of Bible inerrancy:

So what happens when we think we’ve found an error in the Bible? Augustine had the answer. “If we are perplexed by any apparent contradiction in Scripture,” he wisely noted, “it is not allowable to say, ‘The author of this book is mistaken'; but either the manuscript is faulty, or the translation is wrong, or you have not understood.”

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XFiles: Proving that faith is irrelevant

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

Geisler and Turek’s gimmick throughout the book has been to pretend that they’re building an iron-clad case, piece-by-piece, each well-documented conclusion building on the proofs that came before. It’s only a pretense, though, and the nearer we get to the end the less they even try to keep pretending. They’ve never intended to do any more than preach to the choir, and it shows.

For example, here’s their “proof” of why the Bible cannot contain any errors.

1. God cannot err.

2. The Bible is the Word of God.

3. Therefore the Bible cannot err.

Notice anything missing in their logic?

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XFiles: Mostly Inerrant

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

Geisler and Turek’s program of indoctrination continues:

If Jesus confirmed that the Old Testament was the inerrant Word of God, then his promised New Testament must be part of the inerrant Word of God too. Of course.

Translation: if you’ve been gullible enough to buy our arguments so far, the rest is going to be easy.

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XFiles: the Uninspired Canon

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

We are deep in Apologeticsland, where strange creatures skitter through the dense underbrush and where normal rules of logic no longer apply…

Isaiah 61 predicts that Messiah will perform healing miracles and preach “good news….to release the oppressed” by the “Spirit of the Lord.” In other words the Messiah will do exactly what Jesus did—provide new revelation and back it up with miracles. Of course, since the Messiah is to provide new revelation, someone has to write it down. That’s why Jesus promised his apostles that the Holy Spirit would bring to their remembrance all of  his words and guide them into “all truth” (John 14:26, 16:13).

Because everybody knows “to preach the good news to the poor” and “to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor” (as Isaiah originally said) is exactly the same thing as commissioning a bunch of other people to write a new collection of documents which must thereafter be accepted as official canon and used as the ultimate authority over everyone else’s life. Right?

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