XFiles: The Faith, by Chuck Colson

(Book: The Faith, by Chuck Colson.)

I have a couple more substantial books coming in, but in the meantime I thought I’d take a quick look at Chuck Colson’s book The Faith. As some of you may recall, I bought this book in response to a request from a publicist at Zondervans, who invited me to submit questions to Colson, which the latter promised to respond to publicly in his blog. I sent him two rather simple ones (I thought), and never heard from him again. Go figure. So now I’ve got the book, and I’ve got a gap in the XFiles series, so it seems like it must be God’s will for me to review it now.

Here’s the Reader’s Digest ultra-condensed summary: What do Christian’s believe? A curious mixture of evangelical pop theology and contemporary conservative politics (what Colson calls “social holiness”). Why do Christians believe? Because great Christians demonstrate the power of God by the way they fearlessly face persecution and death for their beliefs. Why does it matter? Because if Christians don’t jump up and vote Republican every time Karl Rove says “family values,” they might end up following the example of the great Christians, and frankly that scares the shit out of them. The Church may love martyrs, but they love them best when they’re someone else.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...
Posted in Society, Unapologetics, XFiles. 1 Comment »

XFiles: The surprise ending

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, Appendix 1.)

We’re just about done with Geisler and Turek’s attempt to deal with the existence of evil and the problems this poses for their allegedly all-good, all-wise and all-powerful god. And, in a bit of a surprise twist at the end, it turns out that the unbeliever actually wins this one. The Christian runs out of answers, admits that his “explanations” don’t really do the job, and ends up encouraging the atheist to just have faith. Great way to end a book called I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, eh?

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (4 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...
Posted in IDHEFTBA, Unapologetics, XFiles. 18 Comments »

XFiles Friday: the best of all possible worlds

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, Appendix 1.)

We’re watching a kind of textual cartoon in which Geisler and Turek have a straw-man atheist (Mr. Straw) grilling a Christian (Dr. Geistur) on the question of evil. So far, the atheist seems to be giving the Christian a pretty hard time, and the Christian, despite his smug and triumphant tone, is floundering.

It goes no better for the Christian when Mr. Straw asks why God created people knowing that so many of them would end up eternally damned in Hell.

GEISTUR: Good question. There are only five options God had. He could have: 1) not created at all; 2) created a non-free world of robots; 3) created a free world where we would not sin; 4) created a free world where we would sin, but everyone would accept God’s salvation; or 5) created the world we have now—a world where we would sin, and some would be saved but the rest would be lost.

Or at least, those are the only 5 options Geisler and Turek could think of, so naturally an all-wise and all-knowing God would be incapable of finding or creating a sixth alternative. Right?

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (4 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...
Posted in IDHEFTBA, Unapologetics, XFiles. 5 Comments »

XFiles: Too many holes

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, Appendix 1.)

I remember watching a cartoon, long ago, where the rabbit was visiting Holland, and happened to spot a hole in the dike. Naturally, he stuck his finger in it to plug it. Well, you can guess the rest. No sooner does he plug one hole than the dike springs another leak. Soon he’s plastered himself to the wall, using fingers, toes, and even his long rabbit ears to plug all the leaks, and then even more leaks break out. He can’t plug the new ones without taking his fingers out of the old ones. You just know this isn’t going to end well for the poor rabbit!

I don’t know what sort of expression was on the faces of Geisler and Turek as they wrote their appendix on the problem of evil, but the more I read it, the more I think they must have had the same intense look of inventive desperation as that cartoon rabbit had. Every time they turn around, their rationalizations have new holes, and they’re running out of fingers to try and plug them all with. The best solution—replace the shoddy structure with a sound and solid one—isn’t available to them. Instead of taking a consistent, cohesive approach, they must resort to an erratic and hyperactive succession of sound-bite rationalizations, hoping to save the day by jumping from leak to leak fast enough to stop the flow of disaster. It doesn’t actually work, but at least they can feel good about how busy they are.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...
Posted in IDHEFTBA, Unapologetics, XFiles. 2 Comments »

XFiles: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Deny GOOD PEOPLE

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, Appendix 1.)

We’ve been listening to a fictional Christian, whom we’ve dubbed “Dr. Geistur,” as he tries all sorts of excuses for why God does not oppose evil in the kind of tangible and productive ways that would be consistent with the existence of a good and all-powerful deity. We’ve heard him excuse God on the grounds that God really has no choice, that somehow He lacks the power to prevent evil from happening one way or another. We’ve heard him criticize a Jewish apologist for making basically the same argument, on the grounds that all things are possible for God. We’ve heard him propose analogies like the Super Bowl, as illustrating how struggle can make victory sweeter (though he apparently fails to realize that it also illustrates the existence of alternatives that do not require resorting to sin and evil). And we’ve heard him try to sell the idea that evil isn’t really all that bad, and that it’s actually good for us, in the long run.

As if that hasn’t sufficiently made a general hash of his own religious beliefs, he next turns to this tidy morsel of misanthropy:

STRAW [the Atheist]: If God is infinitely powerful as you say, then why does he allow bad things to happen to good people?

GEISTUR: We’ve already pointed out that there are good outcomes for pain and suffering. But we also need to point out that the question makes an assumption that isn’t true.

STRAW: What’s that?

GEISTUR: There are no good people!

Charming, isn’t it?

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...
Posted in Atheistic Morality, IDHEFTBA, Unapologetics, XFiles. 3 Comments »

XFiles: The two faces of Dr. Geistur

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, Appendix 1.)

Last week, in the debate over evil, Dr. Geistur (the Christian) told Mr. Straw (the atheist) that evil wasn’t really all that bad, and that the end justifies the means. This week continues along the same lines, with some gratuitous mockery of atheists and some blissfully oblivious hypocrisy thrown in for color.

MR. STRAW: So you’re saying that evil has a purpose that has implications in eternity.

DR. GEISTUR: Yes.

From man’s point of view, evil is evil, but from God’s point of view, evil is ultimately not just good, but better than having no evil at all.

This is why the first curveball Geistur threw was an insistence on having this debate under the assumption that God must exist. That’s a very important assumption, because without it, if we remember that God does not show up in real life, and that the real question is whether or not men are feeding us a coherent and reasonable theology, the fact that you end up arguing “evil is good” might seem like a pretty serious self-contradiction.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...
Posted in IDHEFTBA, Unapologetics, XFiles. 3 Comments »

XFiles: the pieces left over

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, Appendix 1.)

At the beginning of their book, Geisler and Turek compared life to a jigsaw puzzle.

Just as the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle are difficult to put together without the picture on the box top, the many diverse pieces of life make no sense without some kind of unifying big picture. The question is, does anyone have the box top to this puzzle we call life?

In their last chapter, they claimed to have found the box top, the big picture that makes life make sense. By a curious coincidence, it happened to be the same as the religion they’re trying to sell us. And yet, when we compare their box top to the pieces on the table in front of us, the two clearly fail to line up.

The box top shows a wise and powerful shepherd who truly cares for his sheep and is able both to lead them to verdant pastures and to drive away any predators before they even approach the sheep. What do we see in the puzzle pieces? Mutton. Scrapie. Rocky, overgrazed pastures. Whole packs of wolves. But no shepherd. None of the pieces we can actually see really match the image of the loving, powerful, and all-wise guardian and caregiver, so lovingly depicted on the box top Geisler and Turek have painted for us.

So hidden away in an appendix (where believers are less likely to read it), in a comic-strip dialog format (which allows the Christian character to make broad claims without having to document them), Geisler and Turek are attempting to be the ones to find the answer believers have been looking for since before Jesus was even born. And, in keeping with long-standing traditions, they’re failing.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...
Posted in IDHEFTBA, Unapologetics, XFiles. 11 Comments »

XFiles: The Source of Evil

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, Appendix 1.)

We’re looking at Geisler and Turek’s attempt to rationalize away the problem of evil, as presented in a dialog between two characters we’ve named Mr. Straw (the Atheist), and Dr. Geistur (the Christian). The dialog started with one honest and reasonable question from Mr. Straw, which immediately provoked Dr. Geistur to change the subject, to deny that he had changed the subject, to insist that the rest of the discussion must be based on the assumption that God exists, and then to smugly insinuate that, because Mr. Straw granted this assumption for the sake of argument, he was “making progress.”

You’d think, after such an inauspicious beginning, that the quality and character of Dr. Geistur’s argument could only improve, but…

STRAW: So why doesn’t your so-called “all-powerful” God stop evil?

GEISTUR: Do you really want him to?

STRAW: Of course!

GEISTUR: Suppose he starts with you?

STRAW: Be serious.

GEISTUR: No, really. We always talk about God stopping evil, but we forget that if he did, he would have to stop us also. We all do evil.

And of course none of us—including Christians—would want God interfering in our ability to do evil, right? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say-n’more, knowwhutimean, eh?

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...
Posted in IDHEFTBA, Unapologetics, XFiles. 6 Comments »

XFiles: Mr. Straw and Dr. Geistur

(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, Appendix 1.)

The first question anyone should ask themselves, if they want to know whether the Gospel is true, is “Does the real-world evidence look the way it ought to look given an Almighty Heavenly Father Who loves us?” Even a trivial glance at the real world shows us an overwhelmingly large number of conditions and events that would not be there if there were a genuinely good and omnipotent deity around, at least if He had any concern at all about human affairs. Yet somehow, in fifteen chapters of arguing that it takes more faith to be an atheist, Geisler and Turek have not quite gotten around to considering this most fundamental and obvious mountain of evidence.

It’s not hard to see why. At the back of the book, tucked away in an Appendix, is their attempt to rationalize away the problem of Evil. Even Geisler and Turek could not deny, with a straight face, that real-world conditions are more consistent with atheistic conclusions. Nowhere in their 12-point outline for proving God’s existence was there any place where they could say, “Let’s take a moment and look at the largest and most obvious body of evidence relating to God’s existence, and show how Christianity’s explanation makes more sense.” It just doesn’t fit.

Even hidden away in an appendix, Geisler and Turek aren’t quite comfortable tackling the problem with the same scholarly(-ish) and intellectual(-ish) examination they used in the main body of the book. Instead, we get an almost cartoony script outlining a dialog between “Atheist” and “Christian”—the kind of late-night, bull session format you’d find in a casual frat house, just to kill the time. It’s not going to be deep. It’s not going to be insightful. It’s going to be two tired apologists indulging in a bit of self-gratifying fantasy so they can feel better about the problems their faith has when it confronts the real world.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (3 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...
Posted in IDHEFTBA, Unapologetics, XFiles. 2 Comments »

XFiles: Destination Hell

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

Last week, Geisler and Turek told us a fairy tale without a happy ending, about a king who disguised himself as a commoner so that he could discover the true feelings of the young maid he’d fallen in love with. This week, they take the supposedly real-life equivalent of that fairy tale, and give the ending not just one, but several grim twists. First, though, they have to make their little rhetorical point about how the Bible is the “box top” to the jigsaw puzzle of life.

We said that if we could find the box top, we’d be able to answer the five greatest questions that confront every human being. Since we now know beyond a reasonable doubt that the box top is the Bible, the answers to those five questions are:

Eh, I’ll summarize: our origin is “God did it,” our identity is “we’re made in God’s image,” the meaning of life is “we were put here so we could make choices that would send us to heaven or hell,” morality is “keeping God’s commandments and spreading the Gospel,” and our destiny is… Well, that’s the rest of this post.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading ... Loading ...
Posted in IDHEFTBA, Unapologetics, XFiles. 8 Comments »