Book review: I don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist
by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek
I enjoyed this one a lot. The authors’ argument for the existence of God can basically be condensed to two parts:
1. Logic dictates that we live in a theistic universe—we are created and watched over by an all-powerful being who lives outside of space and time.
2. The Bible serves as convincing evidence that this being is the God of Christianity.
I hardly agreed with all of the building blocks in the argument, yet I found this to be maybe the best apologetics book I’ve read. The presentation is very organized and steps logically from point to point. It’s clear the authors have had a great deal of experience in debate, and this book has become somewhat of a flagship for amateur apologists. While the title lends itself to easy derision by opponents, it’s a lot better argued than I anticipated.
There is a drawback to building argument upon argument, of course: If perchance you have a weak foundation, the whole shebang comes tumbling down. For example, the authors’ proof for reliable eyewitness testimony depends strongly upon traditional conservative authorship of the Bible; this depends strongly upon early dating of the synoptic gospels; early dating of these gospels depends strongly upon dating the book of acts to the 7th decade (since Luke precedes Acts, and Mark precedes Luke); and early dating of Acts depends upon the assumption that, had it been written later, the author surely would have discussed the death of Paul and the destruction of the Temple. Thus, a great deal rides on an argument from silence.
The arguments are engaging and thought-provoking, though not without flaws, and will in many instances require research and hard analysis to see the flaws. Thus, it was a lot of fun to read and took me quite a while. Some arguments are subjective in nature, and some are (hooray!) objective fact. In particular, I devoured two long lists in the book: one of 84 verifiable historical references in the book of Acts, and one of 59 attestations to the historical authenticity of John.
The result is a five-star review for interesting writing and for making me think, even when I disagree. Consider this the official end of the book review—what follows are a few examples where critical thinking prevents my full agreement with the authors.
* The book argues for the existence of a God-given Moral Law, written on the hearts of all people. I’ve never grasped how this argument could support Christianity. Consider the extreme disagreement between Christians today over whether or not gays should be allowed to share in a loving relationship. Or the disagreement not long ago over whether slavery was moral. If such a moral law exists, Christianity may be the religion having the hardest time figuring out what it is.
* The book argues that the New Testament was written before 70 A.D. because it makes no point of telling the story of the destruction of Jerusalem. This is not quite true; the Gospels do mention how the Christians fled Jerusalem in the war, though they do so from a pre-war perspective. But why do no other Bible books mention so earth-shattering an event? Probably because it WAS so earth-shattering! Remember, these authors were not writing to preserve history; they were writing to share the message of a new beginning with their comrades. What Christian in the first century, having lived through the war, needs a reminder that the old world had passed away, and a new world begun?
* The book repeatedly insists that there is no evidence whatsoever for macroevolution. But it doesn’t matter how often you repeat this mantra, it is a lie. There exists plenty of evidence for macroevolution, and though there are a limited number of transitional fossil records, the number we have is quite consistent with current theories of how species evolved. I’ve written about this many times, so I won’t repeat myself here, except to say I can’t figure out why so many Christian apologists are hung up on evolution.