XFiles: The Fairy Tale Maid and the Snuff Porn Savior

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

Few things in life are as handy as a good rationalization. No matter where you start from, and no matter what the actual facts are, a good rationalization will always take  you to wherever you want to be. That’s deeply satisfying, if not strictly honest or wise.

The problem is that when you’re faced with a big problem, you sometimes feel the urge to draw on two or more rationalizations, to try and reinforce your position. That’s generally a bad idea. Rationalizations are not the truth, and do not benefit from the perfect self-consistency that is the hallmark of real-world facts. As soon as you start piling on different rationalizations, you begin to expose the inherent inconsistencies between them. Geisler and Turek provide us with yet another good example in this week’s installment of IDHEFBA.

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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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Easter Special: How to Fake a Resurrection (Without Really Trying) Part 2

Let’s continue yesterday’s discussion of a plausible, non-supernatural scenario that would produce the current Christian belief in the Resurrection of Jesus. So far, we’re up to Stage One: The Empty Tomb. A group of rogue disciples, without the knowledge or permission of the Apostles or most of the other disciples, has moved Jesus’ body out of the rich man’s tomb and taken it to a resting place that was more suitable (in their view). The main body of the disciples, however, does not know this, and is astonished to find the tomb empty. The emotional distress and sensational nature of the disappearance instantly turn this story into the kind of rumor that spreads like fire through dried leaves, and within a few days, everyone in the region is talking about this bizarre turn of events.

The situation is ripe for Stage Two.

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Easter Special: How to Fake a Resurrection (Without Really Trying)

When I was a believer, I was frequently bothered by the inconsistencies and self-contradictions that I encountered in the Gospel, the Bible and Christianity in general. In these times of doubt, my one solid anchor was the doctrine of the Resurrection. All else might be in doubt, and some things might even be wrong, but the Resurrection couldn’t be fake, because it changed the lives of the disciples, and they wouldn’t have died for a lie. Right?

That was the one piece of evidence that no skeptic could explain, not with a “swoon theory,” not with a “disciples stole the body” (in front of armed guards? without anyone finding out?) theory—in short, not without a miracle at least as big as the one they were trying to explain away. And as long as the Resurrection was real, everything else was OK. I could just ask Jesus all my questions when I saw Him.

Unfortunately, I was wrong. There is at least one perfectly plausible explanation for the Resurrection that would produce exactly the evidence we have today, including the invincible faith of the apostles and martyrs. And it wouldn’t take a miracle to pull it off.

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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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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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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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