Stealing from God

Why atheists need God to make their case

Frank Turek

Impressive set of endorsements including Strobel, Metaxis, Lennox, and Meyer who are familiar to me.


vii Eloquent forward by Ravi Zacharias



Is it a wonderful life?

xi Touching story of "Coach" sharing and reflecting at the funeral of his wife.

xiii Overview of attacks on faith by Dawkins and Hitchens

xvii Introduces his CRIMES acronym.

  1. Causality
  2. Reason
  3. Information and Intentionality
  4. Morality
  5. Evil
  6. Science

xviii Detailed layout of CRIMES.

xx Good summary of Dawkins "I just go one god further". Responds to the ignorance of theism shown by Dawkins.

xxi Summary of the characteristics of God.

xxii Challenge to Dawkins' cop-out "just lack a belief in God". Both theist and atheist have the burden of proof for their worldview, and saying you disbelieve in the other worldview is not a proof - it's a total copout.

xxiii Phillip Johnson "He who is a skeptic in one set of beliefs is a true believer in another set of beliefs."

xxiv A list of the elements of either worldview that must be explained.

xxv On the statement "I merely lack a belief in God.", quotes Richard Howe: "This definition of atheism entails the quirky conclusion that atheism is logically compatible with theism." Turek comments: "Here's why: If lacking a belief in God is the definition of 'atheism' and not 'there is no God' - then 'atheism' is true even if God really exists. How is that reasonable? If not 'atheism', then what word should we use for the belief that there is no God?"

p xxvi Addresses the lack of preparation of youth for college.

p xxix-xxx Analogy of building a house - you don't have to be a specialist in all the house-building tasks to examine the foundation, and the foundation and the foundation is philosophy.

Ch 1: Causality No one created something out of nothing?

p1-4 In lecture on "I don't have enough faith to be an atheist", he had presented the Kalam cosmological argument only to be challenged by an atheist who asserted that, given enough time, science would find a natural cause for the universe. The "natural law of the gaps fallacy".

p4 "No, John, we can't in principle. If nature had a beginning, then the cause can't be something natural because nature didn't exist. Nature was the effect, so it can't be the cause. The cause must be something beyond nature, or supernatural."

p5 "Dr William Lane Craig asks an excellent question: If atheists are going to claim that things can pop into existence uncaused out of nothing, then why doesn't everything do so? Why don't ipads, Teslas, atheist books, and pizzas pop into existence out of nothing?"

p6 Introduces Lawrence Krauss, a theoretical physicist at Arizona State. Author of "A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing".

p6 Lawrence Krauss "One of the things about quantum mechanics is not only can nothing become something, nothing always becomes something. Nothing is unstable. Nothing will always produce something in quantum mechanics."

p7 For criticism of Krauss's "equivocation" about "nothing", Turek cites David Albert, also an atheist and theoretical physicist at Columbia University. Albert contests the "out of nothing" stance. "That's just not right. Relativistic-quantum-field-theoretical vacuum states - no less than giraffes or refrigerators or solar systems - are particular arrangements of elementary physical stuff .. The fact that some arrangements of fields happen to correspond to the existence of particles and some don't is not a whit more mysterious than the fact that some of the possible arrangements of my fingers happen to correspond to the existence of a fist and some don't. And the fact that particles can pop in and out of existence, over time, as those fields rearrange themselves, is not a whit more mysterious than the fact that fists can pop in and out of existence, over time, as my fingers rearrange themselves. And none of these poppings - if you look at them aright - amount to anything even remotely in the neighborhood of a creation from nothing."

p9 Further critique of Krauss, who seems to think that philosophers are not talking about reality. Turek's comment "First, reality is not merely physical stuff. Since nature and the laws of physics themselves had a beginning, ultimate reality is beyond nature or supernatural. Therefore, despite claiming to explain how the universe came from nothing, Krauss has explained nothing."

p9 "Krauss, like Dawkins and Hawking, is dismissive of philosophy."

p10 Excellent page on the theme "Krauss, Dawkins, and the like can't do science without philosophy." Need to review this for role of philosophy in science.

p11-12 Section "Aiming at God, Dr. Krauss Hits Himself" Winds up denying causality.

p13 Dealing a bit with mind and brain. "If he says, 'Yes, my mind is my brain, so my physical brain caused the book,' then we wouldn't have any reason to believe that anything in his book is true! This conclusion is unavoidable due to the nature of materialism." This sounds very much like Haldane's quote about the brain being just made of atoms.

p14 Discussion about mind and free will, and self-defeating arguments. "You are freely reading this book right now and freely thinking about what you are reading. You are not merely a molecular computer who has no control over what you are doing or what you are thinking." This sounds very much like Bob Stuart's comments about these things.

p14 "Atheists often exempt themselves fro their own claims and theories. ... If everyone is a molecular machine, then why to atheists act as if they can freely and reasonably arrive at atheistic conclusions?"

p14 Does Causality Apply Outside Space and Time? Discussion of some atheists' claim that causality doesn't apply in regard to the beginning of the universe.14-16 arguments for the universality of the law of cause and effect.

p16 Why Are There Laws at All? "Have you every asked yourself, why are there laws at all? Why is there a law of causality? Why is reality governed by cause and effect? Why are the laws of nature so uniform, precise and predictable? Why do mathematics so accurately describe reality? Why is the universe so orderly?

p17 Quotes Paul Davies "All science proceeds on the assumption that nature is ordered in a rational and intelligible way. You couldn't be a scientist if you thought the universe was a meaningless jumble of odds and ends haphazardly juxtaposed." "Davies then observed that scientists take the orderly laws of physics 'on faith' and that those laws 'all are expressed as tidy mathematical relationships.'" Davies then asked "But where do these laws come from? And why do they have the form that they do?" Davies said that after this his email was "overflowing with vitriol".

p18-19 More discussion of Davies. Davies thinks the multiverse is a dodge, but doesn't like God as the explanation either. Seeks an "explanation within the universe"

p20 Divine Design? Turek's recap of fine tuning.

p21-22 Dawkins and the "Who made God?" question which Dawkins treats like his trump card.

p23-25 Recap of part of the Lennox-Dawkins debate on Has Science Buried God? Related to Lennox' "God's Undertaker".

p27 Hume on causality. "Even the great skeptic David Hume maintained, 'I never asserted such an absurd proposition as that anything might arise without a cause.'"

p28 "To doubt the law of causality is to doubt virtually everything we know about reality, including our ability to reason and do science. All arguments, all thinking, all science, and all aspects of life depend on the law of causality." (Italics in original.)

Ch 2: Reason

p29-33 Interesting interchange about the laws of logic in a debate, with the bottom line that the laws of logic are a reality that is not material.

p33 "Every truth claim - whether it's "God exists" or "God doesn't exist" - requires unchangeable laws of logic."

p33 "Put another way, if the laws of logic were just an invention of the human mind, then every thought would have to be regarded as just an invention of the human mind."

p34 "Logic is not a word game. It's very serious business. It's the means by which we understand everything about life. Since the rules of logic never change and apply to virtually every endeavor, getting good at logic will help you live your life well. Emotion makes life fun, but logic makes life safe."

p34 "The absolute truth is that it's impossible to deny the laws of logic without using them. They are the self-evident reasoning tools we need to discover everything else about the world. They are self-evident in the sense that you don't reason to them, you reason from them. They are to thinking what your eyes are to seeing. You can't see without eyes, and you can't think without the laws of logic. All thinking, all communication, and all science depend upon them."

p35 After commenting that most atheists avoid asking questions about where the laws of logic come from "because it's an impossible question to answer from an atheistic perspective. That's because the laws of logic are certainly not material. ... The laws of logic are immaterial realities that don't change. All physical things change, but the laws of logic do not. They are fixed, immaterial, eternal laws that would not exist if the purely material world of atheism were correct. While atheists use them, they cannot explain them."

p35 "Since the laws of logic are timeless, spaceless, immaterial, and unchangeable, they seem to be grounded in a timeless, spaceless, immaterial and unchangeable mind."

p36 Cites Einstein's quote "The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible."

p36 Cites Wigner's famous article "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences" "Why can the physical world be described so well mathematically?"

p36 "So why can we use our minds, logic, and mathematics to understand truths about the external world? And what best explains the intersection between our minds and the orderly eternal reality?"

"I think the best explanation begins with the philosophical theory called realism. Realism is the commonsense belief that there is a reality external to our minds that includes material and immaterial things. We can learn about that external, objective reality by starting with the self-evident laws of logic and then applying those laws to the data we get from our senses."

p37 Whole page of beautiful discussion. "if we have not ruled out God in advance ...our minds work because they are made in the image of the Great Mind ...not a god of the gaps ... a positive case for God "

p37 "If the laws of logic are grounded in the nature of the theistic God, then anytime atheists offer an argument against God or for atheism, they are actually presupposing God exists! By using reason, atheists are stealing from God in order to argue against Him."

p38 Ridiculing God at the "reason rally"

p39 Cites the Haldane quote.

p40 Francis Crick's 'astonishing hypothesis' is more astonishing than he thinks. "The Astonishing Hypothesis is that 'You', your joys and your sorrows, your memories and your ambitions, your sense of personal identity and free will, are in fact no more than the behavior of a vast assembly of nerve cells and their associated molecules."

p40 Turek's half page of response to this is eloquent and to the point. One paragraph of it:
"Would we have any reason to believe anything he says in his book? Nonrational molecules predetermine everything he thinks and writes. If Crick is correct, we're not free creatures - we're just molecular machines. We're not really reasoning; we're merely reacting. Which means Crick has no justification to say what he says, and we have no justification to believe it. Materialism refutes itself."

p40 "This is why atheism makes reason itself impossible. Science too. As C.S.Lewis put it, 'Unless human reasoning is valid no science can be true.', which would include the science of Francis Crick, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins, and everyone else."

p41 "The bottom line is that atheism cannot be shown to be true in principle. It has destroyed all the tools necessary to do the job. In order to construct any valid argument for atheism, the atheist has to steal tools from God's universe because no such tools exist in the world of atheism. Theism has those tools, but atheists have ruled out that possibility in advance through their ideology of materialism."

p41-42 Doesn't Neuroscience Show Us That the Mind Is the Brain? "There's actually no way neuroscience or any other natural science can prove that the mind is the brain. ... Who is necessary to run the experiments, gather the data, and draw a conclusion? Answer: a person with a mind who reasons freely to a rational conclusion. If that person is merely a brain - merely a moist robot whose every thought is determined completely by the laws of physics - then there is no reason to trust that person's experiments or any of his conclusions. You'll need someone with an immaterial mind to draw trustworthy scientific conclusions. In other words, any intellectually reliable effort to conclude materialism is true must assume that materialism is false!

p42 "Atheists have to steal from the theists' immaterial, freewill world to argue for their material, robot world."

p42-44 Positive reasons to conclude that mind and brain are not the same.

  1. You and your thoughts often stay the same, even though your brain changes.
  2. Your thoughts are immaterial, while your brain is material.
  3. Your thoughts are subjective, but your brain is an object.
  4. You can intentionally direct yourself and your thoughts to an end.
  5. Mind over matter: your mind can change your brain.

p45-47 On the theme "The Last Superstition" with credit to Edward Feser for his book with that title. Some of the steps in this discussion:

  • "You are a rational agent who freely makes choices, which means that some kind of body-mind dualism is true. You are not a mere body - you are a soul and a body. (He concedes that materialists break out in hives at this suggestion.)
  • Common sense demands that there are immaterial realities that are intuitively obvious and that we use continually, such as the laws of logic, the laws of mathematics, objective moral values, consciousness, and free will.
  • Takes on Daniel Dennett full force. By "assuming that the ideology of materialism is true and applying its implications to consciousness", "Dennett says consciousness is an illusion, but he treats his own consciousness as not an illusion. He certainly doesn't think the ideas in his book are an illusion. He acts like he's really telling the truth about reality."

p47 Feser zeroes in on Richard Dawkins.

p48-49 "God Delusion delusion" Dawkins six points, a counter discussion.

p49 Turek's immediate counter argument - good reasons to believe in God, failure of Dawkin's premises.

p49-52 Discussion of the multiverse and Dawkins' dependence upon it.

p50 "No scientist would be imagining undetectable universes if this one didn't appear to be so incomprehenibly fine-tuned. The multiverse is a bald attempt to dodge the designer by multiplying the possibility that this seemingly fine-tuned universe exists by accident. That's why Dawkins uses the word 'luck'."

p51 Cites Alexander Vilenkin, a proponent of the multiverse, who nevertheless argues that even if the multiverse exists, there must be an absolute beginning. "It can't possibly be eternal in the past. There must be some kind of boundary." "It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, consmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning."

p52 Cites Anthony Flew "Science cannot discover the self; the self discovers science."

p52 Cites Michael Ruse "The God Delusion makes me embarrassed to be an atheist." [In endorsement of book]

p52-53 The Most Reasonable Verdict of Reason

p53 Dawkins "steals" reason and free will from God to prove his point, and still fails.

p53 "The main point of this chapter is not to show that all arguments for atheism fail. The main point of this chapter is to show that all arguments for anything fail if atheism is true."

Ch 3: Information and Intentionality

p57 Discussion of Meyer's Signature In the Cell and Darwin's Doubt.

p57-59 Discusses ideas of Signature in the Cell, much of it about information.

p58 After describing the highly predictable and regular laws of nature, he makes the comment "Other physical and chemical forces can produce the highly repetitive order we find in crystals or vortices, but they don't have the capacity to generate the unpredictable, nonrepetitive sequences of symbols that characterize all information-rich codes or texts."

p58 "no physical or chemical reaction mandates the arrangement of the genetic letters along the spine of your DNA. Physics and chemistry don't determine the order of those genetic letters any more than physics and chemistry determine the order of the English letters in this sentence."

p59 "But couldn't mutation and natural selection explain the origin of the genetic information necessary to produce the first life? No. Mutation and natural selection can happen only to organisms that already have genetic information. If there's nothing to mutate, there's no mutation and natural selection going on. The very word 'selection' implies that there's something to select."

p60 Cites Hubert Yockey "It is important to understand that we are not reasoning by analogy. The sequence hypothesis applies directly to the protein and the genetic text as well as to written language and therefore the treatment is mathematically identical." Turek: "The implication is clear: If a short message in English requires intelligence to compost, then so does a genetic message thousands of books long."

p60-64 Discussion of Darwin's Doubt with an emphasis on epigenetics. Quotes Meyer on p63, and on p64 Turek responds: "In other words, the most devastating implication of epigenetic information is that the central claim of neo-Darwinism is certainly false - mutation and natural selection cannot eplain the arrival of new life-forms."

p63 Meyer vs Ward dialog in which Meyer asserts that "We know from experience that intelligence produces information. When we find information on the Rosetta stone, we therefore infer that there was an intelligent cause at work. That is testable against the backdrop of our knowledge of cause-and-effect experience." But Ward says "Oh, that's crap!"

p66 God of the Gaps or Natural Law of the Gaps. After commenting on the lack of evidence for macroevolution, has a two page discussion including Dawkins and Shermer examples pointing to a "naturalism of the gaps", i.e. looking to the naturalism of the future to explain things they can't presently explain.

p69 To the objection that the designer is unseen: "Just because something is unseen does not mean it's not real. There are many unseen realities that scientists use every day, such as the laws of logic, the laws of mathematics, the laws of nature, their minds, and so forth. And scientists infer from the effects they do see to causes they don't see."

p69 Cites John Lennox: "Postulating an unobserved Designer is no more unscientific than postulating unobserved macroevolutionary steps." From God's Undertaker. This is a good page of defense of "inference to the best explanation" which includes a statement by Meyer from Darwin's Doubt.

p71 The "But is it science?" discussion with Meyer's comment: "Neo-Darwinism and the theory of intelligent design are not two different kinds of inquiry, as some critics have asserted. They are two different answers - formulated using a similar logic and method of reasoning - to the same question: 'What caused biological forms and the appearance of design in the history of life?'" (from Darwin's Doubt).

p72 Discussion of ruling out intelligent causes and the definitions of science.

p72 After the condemning of intelligent design or any transcendent agent, it is amusing that "Due to the enormous amounts of information and the machinelike complexity and interconnections of biological systems, atheists such as Francis Crick, Fred Hoyle, Stephen Hawking, and even Richard Dawkins have suggested that aliens could be responsible for seeding our planet with life."

p73 Anthony Flew after his announcement in 2004 that he had become a theist "What I think the DNA material has done is that it has shown, by the almost unbelievable complexity of the arrangements which are needed to produce life, that intelligence must have been involved in getting these extraordinarily diverse elements to work together."

p73 "Science has made the gap between life and nonlife wider and provides evidence that intelligence is necessary. Scientists of Darwin's day saw the cell as little more than a simple blob of protoplasm. They thought natural laws could perhaps create such a cell. But the science of today shows that the cell is a world of astonishing complexity containing all sorts of microscopic machinery and thousands of pages of genetic programming."

p74 Edward Feser: "Abandoning Aristotelianism, as the founders of modern philosophy did, was the single greatest mistake ever made in the entire history of Western thought."

p75 Aristotle's four causes: efficient, formal, material, and final. Further explanation on this page.

p76-77 Feser's summary of Aristotle: "Now go back to the vast system of causes that constitutes the physical universe. Every one of them is directed toward a certain end or final cause. Yet almost none of them is associated with any consciousness, thought. or intellect at all; and even animals and human beings, who are conscious, are themselves comprised in whole or in part of unconscious and unintelligent material components which themselves manifest final causality.Yet it is impossible for anything to be directed toward an end unless that end exists in an intellect, which directs the thing in question toward it. And it follows, therefore, that the system of ends or final causes that make up the physical universe can only exist at all because there is a Supreme Intelligence or intellect outside that universe which directs things toward that end."

p77 Joe Sachs - pointer to ultimate being.

p77 Turek's recap of the nature of the theistic God.

p78 Turek's sperm story - You are more amazing than you thought! You beat our 300 million other sperm.

p79 Cites Jonathan Wells on goal-directedness of cells.

p79-81 An overview of the complexity of reproduction and cell formation.

p80 "There is goal-directedness not just in an embryo, but also in every cell in your body. Your cells come in many different types and sizes, but 10,000 average-sized cells can fit on the head of a pin. And each individual cell is a world of astonishing complexity and activity that is unrivaled by any human invention."

p81 Even Richard Dawkins sees the goal-directedness of life "Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose."

p82 "Dawkins asserts that final causes and design don't really exist. Unguided evolution explains it all. Francis Crick thought the same thing but was afraid people would be misled by what they actually saw. So he issued this warning: 'Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed but rather evolved.'"

p82 "Even if evolutionary processes are responsible for new life forms, there still must be an external intellect sustaining the material world to make life and evolution possible. In other words, evolutionary processes themselves rely on the goal-directedness of the material world. Evolution would not work without a mind actively directing the repetitive and precise natural forces that keep life together and make mutation and natural selection possible!"

p83 "..mutations may be random in the sense that they do not have any goal in mind, but the natural forces that produce the mutations are not random. Living and non-living things continue to exist because the foundation of the entire material world is goal-directed, not random."

p83 "The only way atheists can get rid of intentionality is to deny it. But that would involve the intention to deny it. So to deny it is to affirm it! (And they don't intend to do that.)"

p84 "But won't science find another explanation for all this? No, because final causality and intentionality are more fundamental arguments that explain why we can do science at all. While the natural sciences help us discover specific cause-and-effect relationships in nature, the metaphysical argument from final causality explains why the laws of nature exist in the first place."

"So they unwittingly steal intentionality from God's world while claiming He doesn't exist."

p85 Interesting reflections on Fred Hoyle, who coined the "big bang" because he didn't want there to be a beginning with the implication of a creator. Turek says he was "shaken" when he discovered fine-tuning evidence. "He later came to realize that some kind of intelligence must be behind the universe." Quotes Hoyle's famous "monkeyed with physics" sentence.

p85 In a number of places, Turek expresses the conviction that God is continually holding the universe together, what you might call providence. On this page he uses the band and the music - when the band stops playing, the music ceases. This is a good example of his expression of this idea: "If God were to stop holding the universe and you and me together, we would all cease to exist. So He's not some distant historical watchmaker who wound things up and isn't needed anymore. God's power is present to you right now. God is holding you and the universe around you together right now. As the ancient biblical texts declare, 'In him we live and move and have our being.(Acts 17:28)' and 'In him all things hold together.(Colossians 1:17)'"

Ch 4: Morality

p87 Starts with Megan's story, the one whose brutal murder led to "Megan's law".

p90-91 some quotes of Dawkins, who has to place morality as a product of evolution.

p91 Dawkins' "blind, pitiless indifference" quote.

p92 "In order to hold people morally responsible for their actions, atheists need to steal free will and morality from God."

p92 Page of response to Dawkins' position which takes away the justification for holding anyone morally responsible for their actions. Then he quotes Dawkins' statements on being passionately anti-Darwinian when it comes to morality. Turek quips: "(Consistency is not his strong point.)"

p92 Cites James Rachels, who treats humans as no more valuable than animals, particularly the handicapped --pretty disgusting.

p93-96 Some recap of his debate with David Silverman, president of American Atheists.

p96-98 More defense of objective morality.

p98 "Objective moral values are not hard to know. For some, they are just hard to accept."

p99 Sam Harris view of morality, "well-being of conscious creatures". Common mistake to assume that because we can know objective morality (epistemology), that explains why objective morality exists in the first place (ontology).

p101 Can't Evolution Explain Morality? Five items of discussion.

p102 Paragraph one hits hard on survival and morality, ends with "Should a society murder the weak and undesirable to improve the gene pool and help the desirables survive? Hitler used evolutionary theory to justify just that."

p102 "You can't answer those moral questions without smuggling a moral law into the evolutionary worldview. As Sam Harris rightly puts it, 'Evolution could never have foreseen the wisdom or necessity of creating stable democracies, mitigating climate change,saving other species from extinction, containing the spread of nuclear weapons, or of doing much else that is now crucial to our happiness in this century.' Indeed, evolution describes a survival-of-the-fittest outcome. It doesn't prescribe a moral outcome. That's why Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, to their credit, are anti-Darwinian when it comes to morality. They just don't realize that they are stealing a moral law from God when they condemn a survival-of-the-fittest ethic."

p103 Strong counter-argument to the evolution to cooperation to morality progression. Uses criminals, dictators, and Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot as counter examples. They could have been said to be following the dictates of their evolution, dancing to their DNA.

p103 Euthyphro dilemma: Does God do something because it is good (a standard of good beyond God) or is it good because God does it (God arbitrarily makes up morality).

p104 Resolution of the false dilemma, discussion.

p106 Discusses fact that Dawkins and Hitchens each posted their own sets of 10 commandments.

p106 Discussion of "all laws legislate morality".

p107 Discusses atheists arguing for all kinds of entitlements like abortion, etc, on the basis of "moral rights". "So atheists must steal the grounds for objective moral rights from God while arguing that God doesn't exist."
"They've stolen the concept of rights from God and applied it to their own desires to create their own moral absolutes that they want everyone to obey."

p109 I liked a quote from Turek's pastor friend who had been criticized for truthful criticisms: "No, that's not right. Jesus came with both love and truth. Love without truth is a swampy, borderless mess. Truth is necessary. In fact, it's unloving to keep truth from people, especially if that truth has eternal consequences."

p110 Cites Thomas Nagel "I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn't just that I don't believe in God and, naturally, hope I'm right in my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that. My guess is that this cosmic authority problem is not a rare condition and that it is responsible for much of the scientism and reductionism of our time."

p111 Discussion of the "cosmic authority problem" of Dawkins, Krauss and Hitchens.

p112 "If Christianity were true, would you become a Christian?".."No!".."How is that reasonable?"

"It's not. That's because reason or evidence isn't the issue for such people. They don't have an intellectual objection to Christianity - they have an emotional, moral or volitional objection. They've been hurt by Christians or think they've been let down by God. But more often, as several atheists have admitted, they simply don't want to give up their autonomy and submit their will to God."

p113 Conclusion ...If objective morality exists, then God exists.

  • Every law has a lawgiver.
  • There is an objective moral law.
  • Therefore, there is an objective moral lawgiver.

p114 "The issue isn't how we know what's Right, but why an authoritative standard of Rightness exists in the first place. Harris has to steal an objective moral standard from God to get his atheistic system off the ground. Ditto for those who appeal to evolution."

Ch 5: Evil

p115 "The problem of evil certainly seems to be the strongest argument the atheists have."

p116 "But while evil is a challenge for Christians, it creates an even bigger challenge for atheists."

p116 The Shadows Prove the Sunshine. Moral evil and natural evil. "While it's commonly thought that only Christianity has to explain both of these types of evil, the truth is every worldview does."

p116 "Theists say evil is real and try to explain how evil and God can coexist. Atheists tend to be caught in the middle. In one breath they are claiming there is no good, evil or justice. It's all an illustion - we just 'dance to the music' of our DNA. In the next breath they are outraged at the great injustices and evil done by religious people in the name of God."

p116 "Well, atheists can't have it both ways. Either evil exists or it doesn't. If it doesn't exist, then atheists should stop complaining about the 'evil' religious people have done because they haven't really done any. They've jus been 'dancing to the music' of their DNA. ... On the other hand, if evil actually does exist, they atheists have an even bigger problem. The existence of evil actually establishes the existence of God."

p117 Good discussion of evil using Augustine's dilemma, leading to the conclusion "evil is not a thing" and "Evil doesn't exist on its own. It only exists as a lack of or deficiency in a good thing." Quoting paragraph four as representative. "So evil can't exist unless good exists But good can't exist unless God exists. In other words, there can be no objective evil unless there is objective good, and there can be no objective good unless God exists. If evil is real - and we all know it is - then God exists."

p118 Familiar C.S. Lewis quote about "cruel and unjust".

p118 Talks about Hitchens and Dawkins complaining about evil when they have no means to establish anything as evil or good without stealing goodness from God.

p118 "If we're looking at raw numbers, the impact of evil done by atheists in just a few decades of the twentieth century dwarfs anything done by theists in the last 500 years. Yet the new atheists say little about it. [Good quote, but I think he should have cited Wiker in his "10 Books That Screwed Up the World" about the Communist Manifesto.]

p118-119 Continues about atheist evil and cites Nietzche. Comments about inquisition.

p119 Portrait of Hitler. Good Dinesh D'Souza quote.

p120 Cites Adolf Hitler with an evolutionary rationale.

p120 "As Ravi Zacharias has pointed out, the Crusades and the Inquisition were the illogical outworking of Christianity. They went against everything Christ taught. And you don't judge a religion or philosophy by its abuse, but by its truths."

p120-121 Reflection on Hitchens

p121 Reflection on Dawkins

p121 Cites Keith Ward "If there is a root of evil that became a terrifying force that almost brought the world to destruction in the first half of the twentieth century, it is the anti-religious ideologies of Germany and Russia, North Vietnam, and North Korea. It takes almost willful blindness to invert this historical fact, and to suppose that the religions that were persecuted and crushed by these brutal forces are the real sources of evil in the world."

p122 Cites David Berlinski: "Just who has imposed on the suffering human race poison gas, barbed wire, high explosives, experiments in eugenics, the formula for Zykkon B, heavy artillery, pseudoscientific justifications for mass murder, cluster bombs, attack submarines, napalm, intercontinental ballistic missles, military space platforms, and nuclear weapons? If memory serves, it was not the Vatican."

p122-128 A mini version of Paul Copan's "Is God a Moral Monster?", discussing the 'Canaanite genocide'.

p124 Explains his "STOP" acronym.

p128 Takes on Dawkins and Singer on abortion.

p129 "If God, why evil?" Good answer for moral evils. Not so good for natural evil in my opinion - pins it all on the fall, but I liked the comments on redemption.

p130 Response to grief. Sometimes being present and silent is better than saying anything.

p131-135 What's the purpose of life and evil? Turek precedes this with a quote of John Lennox when faced with the mystery of evil "I don't have a complete answer, but I have a doorway to an answer." and proceeds with his "doorway".Pretty profound discussion of pain with insights from William Lane Craig ("We are not God's 'pets'") and CS Lewis (God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain.").

p133 "Pain and suffering also refines us, which we desperately need because we are fallen, selfish creatures."

p133 "Self-centeredness grows the more it's fed."

p133 "We call people who get everything they want 'spoiled' because their character is spoiled. Pain, suffering, and difficulty is the antidote to that."

p133 "They believe in a God who cares only about comfort but not character. A good God knows that comfort is temporary but character is eternal."

p139 Remarkable quote of the Pastor of Notre Dame "If God would concede me His omnipotence for 24 hours, you would see how many changes I would make in the world. But if He game me His wisdom too, I would leave things as they are."

p140 Turek's chart on Does God Exist?

Does God Exist?
  • Yes
    • Beginning of the Universe
    • Fine-tuning of the Universe
    • Consistent Laws of Nature
    • Reason: Laws of logic and mathematics
    • Informatiion (genetic code) & Intentionality
    • Life
    • Mind and Consiousness
    • Free Will
    • Objective Morality
    • Beauty and Pleasure
    • Old Testament Prophecy
    • Life and Resurrection of Christ
  • No
    • Evil
"The chart shows that evil is a problem for Christianity, and everything else is a problem for atheism. Christianity has a reasonable explanation for evil and a solution for it. Atheism has neither."

p140 "Moreover, when atheists complain about evil, they presuppose that God exists by stealing a moral standard from God."

p141 Peter Kreeft "Sin has made us stupid, so that we can only learn the hard way." Turek's response "This world isn't a good resort, but it's a great gymnasium."

p141 "We also saw examples of good coming from pain and suffering. And we recognized that a good, all-powerful God can bring good from evil even if the ripple effect makes it impossible for us to see how. The biblical character Job seemed to learn that. He learned that he could trust God even though God didn't tell him the reasons for his suffering. In other words, sometimes you don't have an answer,just a perspective. From our limited perspective, the world can look like a confusing puzzle. But from the infinite God's perspective, every piece fits together."

p142 Wow! A great page!

"Some atheists seem to think that anything unexplained defeats belief in God, as if an infinite God can't exist if finite creatures don't understand everything. But there is a big difference between a mystery and a contradiction. Christianity has partial mysteries. Atheism has complete contradictions. Christianity predicts that evil will occur and explains why God allows it in general but not in every particular case. We don't have enough information to trace the particulars ... yet. But good reason provides all the information we need to see that he very existence of evil is a contradiction for atheism. If evil is real, then atheism is false."

"Finally, while nearly everyone asks why God doesn't stop evil, few people ask why God doesn't stop pleasure. Stopping pleasure would be an effective way os stopping evil while maintaining human freedom. That's because no one does evil for evil's sake. We do evil to get good things. We lie, steal, and kill to get pleasurable good things, such as money, sex, and power. Take away pleasure and the incentive to do evil would vanish. But if God were to stop evil by ending pleasure, would the human race continue? If it did, would anyone like the pleasureless world that remains?"

"The better solution is not to do away with what is good, but to heal what has gone bad - the human heart. Pleasure comes from the goodness of God, but evil comes from the brokenness of man. Healing our brokenness is what Jesus came to do. As Isaiah foresaw seven hundred years prior to Christ's coming, 'He was pierced for our transgression, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.'"

p143-144 A touching answer to an atheist critic. The story of a man whose Mother was raped, but she decided to have the child, and the child was him. He became a pastor and God made much good out of the evil.

Ch 6: Science

"Science doesn't say anything, scientists do"

p145 "To say that a scientist can disprove the existence of God is like saying a mechanic can disprove the existence of Henry Ford." Sounds like he has been listening to John Lennox.

p145 Argues that theism makes doing science possible - we wouldn't be able to do science reliably if atheism were true.

p145-147 Reviews O.J. Simpson case in 1994 which failed to convict him, then the poll 10 years later in 2004 where 77% thought he was guilty (87% of whites, 29% of blacks).

p148 Discusses the power of different philosophical presumptions derived from different worldviews. Discusses the forensic approach.

p148-149 Discusses operation science, on which the majority of scientists agree, and origin science. But then discusses the lack of consensus about what science is.

p149 Francis Bacon "true knowledge is knowledge by causes" - science as a search for causes.

p150 "atheists rule out intelligent causes" methodological naturalism,arguments for intelligent design

p151 Discusses "the principle of uniformity" or uniformitarianism. Discussion of some scientists, particularly biologists, ruling out intelligent causes a priori. Includes the standard Dawkins quote from 'The Blind Watchmaker', "biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose."

p152 I liked Turek's comments about Dawkins' philosophy: "One reason that counterevidence doesn't persuade him to accept and intelligent designer (unless it's an alien) is because his materialistic worldview philosophically rules out an intelligent designer in advance. Dawkins'deck is philosophically stacked against a Designer and toward Darwin."

p152 Quotes a Dawkins critical quote sent to Dr. Philip Johnson

p152 Includes a lengthy Lewontin quote which includes the classic "we cannot allow a divine foot in the door." phrase from 'Billions and Billions of Demons'.

p153-154 Brief summary of pioneer scientists of faith including Kepler's thinking "God's thoughts after Him" and citing Bacon, Galileo, Newton and their belief in a "Law Giver". "Laws imply a Law Giver".

p154 John Lennox in 'God's Undertaker' "When Sir Isaac Newton discovered the universal law of gravitation he did not say 'I have discovered a mechanism that accounts for planetary motion, therefore there is no agent God who designed it.' Quite the opposite: Precisely because he understood how it worked, he was moved to increased admiration for the God who had designed it that way."

p154-155 "knowing how nature operates is not the same as knowing how nature originated." "People like Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins and Peter Atkins use this confusion to their advantage. When they falsely assert that God isn't necessary because science can explain everything, many of us think that since they're scientists, the must know what they are talking about. But they're confusing categories. They're using the prestige of operation science as cover for their guesses about how the world and life originated. Those guesses or speculations are not based on evidence, but are derived from their materialistic worldview. And as we have seen, quite often their speculations are 'counterintuitive', 'against common sense', and logically self-defeating. That's why John Lennox, a scientist himself, warns that 'Statements by scientists are not necessarily statements of science. Nor, we might add, are such statements necessarily true; although the prestige of science is such that they are often taken to be so.'"

p155 John Lennox and Henry Ford vs the internal combustion engine.

p156 God and sustaining cause. The band and music analogy.

p158 "In the sixteenth century religious people resisted scientific theories because they though those theories contradicted the Bible. Now, in the twenty-first century, it's a bit ironic that many atheists are resisting scientific theories because they threaten atheism."

p158 Paragraph 2 is a good recap of Crimes

p158 Atheist Thomas Nagel: "Evolutionary naturalism provides an account of our capacities that undermines their reliability, and in doing so undermines itself."

p159 Recap of CRIMES .

p159 Atheist and metal detector story.

p160 Brings in Feser. Not only uses the metal detector, but also the drunk and the lamp post.

p161-162 William Lane Craig debates Peter Atkins with William Buckley as moderator.

p162 William Lane Craig's wonderful response to Peter Atkins' question "So what can't it [science] account for?" Craig reeled off five, leaving Atkins looking stunned.

  1. Logical and mathematical truths.
  2. metaphysical truths like the existence of other minds, or a past that was created 5 minutes ago with the appearance of age.
  3. ethical beliefs about statements of value
  4. esthetic judgments like beauty, goodness,
  5. science itself

p163 "we get all our truth from science" is not a scientific truth, it is scientism.

p164 List of truths that are not material. "The following truths about reality are not made of or completely explained by molecules, yet they comprise the foundation of science."

  • Truth exists and can be known.
  • The laws of nature are orderly and consistent.
  • Effects have causes (law of causality).
  • Causes in the past were like those in the present (principle of uniformity).
  • Our senses are giving us accurate information about the real world (realism).
  • The immaterial laws of logic and mathematics apply to the material world.
  • We have free will to make choices and to follow the evidence where it leads.
  • We can make rational inferences from the data to establish true premises and draw valid conclusions.
  • We should report our results accurately (objective moral values exist).

p165 Illustration of the stages of the scientific process. (Drawn by J. Warner Wallace, I think.)

p166-167 Notes that the diagrammed steps cannot be proven, they must be presumed as part of the philosophy of science. Dawkins and the presumption of common ancestry from the genetic code.

p167 The real "science stoppers" - Criticizing intelligent design: "atheists such as Peter Atkins and Lawrence Krauss assert that it's 'intellectually lazy' to say that God or some unknown designer did it. It will retard scientific progress.' "nonsense"

  • "scientists who are open to intelligent causes are not ceasing to look for natural causes."
  • "Nor are they merely plugging in God because they haven't found a natural cause."
  • "positive evidence that intelligence was involved (like a three-billion-letter genome) ...
  • "These scientists are simply maintaining that we shouldn't rule out the possibility of intelligence beforehand because then your assuming what you're trying to prove - you're mandating a materialistic cause regardless of what the evidence looks like. Why be afraid of following the evidence where it leads?"

p168 Not being open to design can hinder scientific advance. Uses example of junk dna -- the conviction that it was junk delayed the discovery of its function -- the materialists were the real science-stoppers.

p169 From Robert Laughlin, Nobel Laureate. "much of present-day biological knowledge is ideological" and scientists "stop thinking"

p170-171 "When scientists began discovering that the universe had a beginning, they were traumatized." (or some of them were)

  • Fred Hoyle: "derisively dubbed the creation event 'the big bang'. The nickname stuck, but he didn't like the theory because he wanted the universe to be static and eternal."
  • Arthur Eddington: "Philosophically, the notion of a beginning of the present order of nature is repugnant to me ... I should like to find a genuine loophole."
  • Albert Einstein "When Einstein discovered that his theory of general relativity showed that space-time and matter had a beginning, he said the result 'irritates me'."
    • Robert Jastrow In response to the above: "This is curiously emotional language for a discussion of some mathematical formulas. .. I suppose that idea of a beginning in time annoyed Einstein because of its theological implications."
    • "There is a kind of religion in science ... Every effect must have its cause; there is no First Cause ... This religious faith of the scientist is violated by the discovery that the world had a beginning under conditions in which hte known laws of physics are not valid, and as a product of forces or circumstances we cannot discover. When that happens, the scientist has lost control. If he really examined the implications, he would be traumatized. As usual when faced with trauma, the mind reacts by ignoring the implications - in science this is known as 'refusing to speculate' - or trivializing the origin of the world by calling it the Big Bang, as if the Universe were a firecracker."
    • David Berlinski theistic implications? "It is emotionally unacceptable because a universe that looks like a put-up job puts off a great number of physicists. They have thus made every effort to find an alternative. Did you imagine that science was a disinterested pursuit of the truth? Well, you were wrong."
    • Thomas Nagel "Physico-chemical reductionism in biology is the orthodox view and any resistance to it is regarded as not only scientifically but politicically incorrect."

p173-175 Summary list of general statements about science and faith.

p176 Includes the classic Robert Jastrow quote on his final page of this chapter.

Ch 7: The Four-Point Case for Mere Christianity

p177 Four questions:

  1. Does TRUTH exist?
  2. Does GOD exist?
  3. Are MIRACLES possible?
  4. Is the NEW TESTAMENT historically reliable?

p178-181 General discussion of truth.

p182-183 Judgment.

p183-185 Directed toward #2 Does God exist?

  • Second law of thermodynamics
  • Universe's beginning
  • Radiation afterglow
  • Great galaxy seeds
  • Einstein's Theory of General Relativity

p183-185 Recap of reasons for affirmative answer to the question "Does God Exist?"

  1. The argument from the beginning of the universe - the Cosmological Argument.
  2. The Argument from Cosmic Fine-Tuning - the Teleological Argument
  3. The Argument from Reason
  4. The Argument from Information
  5. The Argument from Intentionality
  6. The Argument from Final Causality
  7. The Argument from Objective Moral Values
  8. The Argument from Evil
  9. The Argument from Science

p186 The nature of God recap

p186-190 Miracles

p188 "The laws of nature are mathematical descriptions of what normally occurs when nature is left to itself. The laws themselves don't really cause anything; they merely describe how the four fundamental natural forces ... operate and interact to cause natural phenomena." He points out that by our act of will, we can change what is happening in nature. "And if we humans can overpower natural forces, certainly the God who created them can."

p190 C.S. Lewis "If we admit God, just we admit miracle? Indeed, you have no security against it. That is the bargain."

p190 New Testament Historically Reliable?

p191 List of criteria for reliability

p193-194 Wonderful recap of evidence for reliability of New Testament. He cites Roman historian Colin Hemer, discusses Luke's historical accuracy in detail, cites initially skeptical archaeologist Sir William Ramsay"s 20-yr study, John's history, and catalogs verified political leaders of the day.

p195-198 More elaborate testimony, reference to J J Blunt, interlocking testimony. Professor Blunt pinpoints over 60 "undesigned coincidences" that strengthen the evidence for authenticity of the New Testament record.

p199-201 Embarrassing testimony as argument for authenticity

p199 Wonderful soliloquy about disciples painting themselves as dimwits.

p201-202 Jesus' background

p203 Excruciating testimony, 11 of 12 martyred

p205 Expected testimony

p207 Extra-biblical testimony

p209 Recap of the four questions from p177

Ch 8: Conclusion

p213-215 List of atheist hypocracies

p216 Two kinds of faith - good paragraph on blind faith. "Love with all your mind" statements.

p220 G K Chesterton "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult: and left untried."

p220 Augustine: "We love the truth when it enlightens us. We hate the truth when it convicts us."

p223 C S Lewis "In the long run, the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell is itself a question: 'What are you asking God to do?' To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them? They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what He does."

p224 Description of Hell. Cites Timothy Keller: "A common image of hell in the Bible is that of fire. Fire disintegrates. Even in this life we an see the kind of soul disintegration that self-centeredness creates. We know how selfishness and self-absorption leads to piercing bitterness, nauseating envy, paralyzing anxiety, paranoid thoughts, and the mental denials and distortions that accompany them. Now ask the question: 'What if when we die we con't end, but spiritually our life extends on into eternity?' Hell, then, is the trajectory of the soul, living a self-absorbed, self-centered life, going on and on forever."

p225-226 Hell objections

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