Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God To Make Their Case by Frank Turek
One thing you have to say for Frank Turek: he knows how to put a provocative title on a book. He did it with I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be an Atheist. He’s done it again with Stealing from God.
Other than a catchy title, though, does he have a point? Consider this:
- Richard Dawkins calls God “evil,” but tells us evil doesn’t exist. (He’s half right: “Evil” is meaningless without God.)
- Sam Harris wants to hold people accountable for their actions, but tells us we have no free will. (He’s half right: if the world is strictly natural and material, free will is impossible.)
- Lawrence Krauss pursues science as the causal explanation for what we see in nature, but tells us the cause of the universe was “nothing.” He thinks his loose definition of “nothing” resolves that obvious tension.” (He’s stuck there: without God as creator, the explaining where the universe came from requires some creative thinking.)
- Atheists claim to be the true representatives of reason, but have no good explanation for where reason came from, and (trust me, I was there at the “Reason Rally,” and I have a chapter about it in True Reason) resort to ridicule and emotion to make their “reasoned” case. (Are they stuck, too? Is that why they do that?)
- They claim their reason is about reality, but as atheists Thomas Nagel and Alex Rosenberg have cogently argued, they can’t explain how a strictly material brain can be about anything at all. (That requires something else. God, for example.)
Atheists often argue against the biblical God’s supposed evil, and Christianity’s supposed unscientific, unreasoning nature. They really are stuck, though: they need something a lot like God in the picture in order to explain what evil is, what reason is, and even how science makes sense. They’re stealing from God to make their case against him.
It isn’t just a provocative title, in other words.
Nor is it just about atheists. The book makes a strong positive case for belief in God, which really is its major purpose, in spite of its title. (You have to get a person’s attention before you can make your point with them.)
One of the things I like most about Frank Turek is how honestly he presents a case. In debate with Michael Shermer he granted Shermer’s good points, and pressed him on his weak ones. In this book he faces tough issues head-on, including the problem of evil, the Bible’s supposed support for antebellum slavery, and God’s alleged misbehavior in the Old Testament.
Since we’re talking about being provocative, though, I want to share part of his perspective on the problem of evil:
|Does God Exist?|
|Beginning of the UniverseFine-tuning of the Universe
Consistent Laws of Nature
Reason: Laws of Logic and Mathematics
Information (Genetic Code) and Intentionality
Mind & Consciousness
Beauty and Pleasure
Old Testament Prophecy
Life and Resurrection of Jesus
If you hadn’t guessed, this table serves as a good list of the topics Turek covers in the book. It also shows where he thinks the problem of evil belongs in perspective of other questions about reality. But then again…
This chart shows that evil is a problem for Christianity, and everything else is a problem for atheism. But as we’ve seen, evil turns out to be an even bigger problem for atheism. Christianity has a reasonable explanation for evil and a solution to it…. Ultimately it winds up on the left side of the chart. It’s on the left side because, as we saw, evil is a deficiency in good and good requires God.
Clear enough? Wait, I’m sorry, that wasn’t a fair question. I’m sure it’s not totally clear from that small snippet alone. I’m not trying to present Frank Turek’s argument, I’m trying to persuade you to read it for yourself. It’s clear enough there in his book.
It’s clear enough, in fact, that I could easily see this book being used for a small group study at church, or a weekly series at a Ratio Christi campus chapter. It would stretch an apologetics beginner’s thinking, but for most people, most of it would be well within reach. I’m looking forward to when I’ll have the chance to use it that way.
Christians, I highly recommend this book as a robust and readable overview of apologetics, and as a good source of answers for the atheists in your life. Atheists, I can only hope I’ve picked up on Frank Turek’s intentions and provoked you enough that you’ll read it, too. I’m sure you don’t want to be stealing. Especially from God.