I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist (2004) is a book authored by Christian apologists Norman Geisler and Frank Turek. The book is intended to portray atheists as having blind faith in non-belief in Christianity while theists (particularly Christians) beliefs are based on reason and evidence. The book contains arguments in favor of intelligent design and many anti-evolution propaganda.
The following side by side presents criticism and counters to the trite arguments used to persuade us that "atheists have faith, theists don't."
Foreword by David Limbaugh
Preference: How much faith do you need to believe this book?
Chapter 1: Can We Handle the Truth?
| I Don't Have Enough Faith
|| RationalWiki Responses
|This chapter begins with a reference to the film A Few Good Men starring Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, showing that we all want the truth from everyone in our lives. We expect to be told the truth in media and in books, however there are some people (Geisler and Turek say) that we do not need or want the truth regarding religion and morality, and some say that no religion can be true. Geisler and Turek argue the reason for rejection of religion is due to volition rather than intellectual grounds (that is, people just do not want there to be any moral standards or religious doctrine). Geisler and Turek conclude that we like truth, until it convicts us.
||The old argument "without god or religion, everything is permitted" or we turn our backs to truth is both nonsense and demonstrably false. Most nonbelievers turn away from religion and belief in god(s) because it is illogical nonsense.|
What is truth?
|Geisler and Turek claim truth is telling something as it is, or that which corresponds to its object or that which describe the actual state of affairs. Geisler and Turek proclaim that, unlike what is being taught in schools, truth is not relative, it is absolute. If something is true, then it is true for all people at all times and all places. Geisler further describes truth as: transcultural; unchanging; cannot be changed by beliefs; is discovered, not invented; and all truth is absolute. Frank says the claim that nothing is true is self-defeating, and yet it is being taught in our schools. they conclude truth exists.
||Norman and Franks arguments backfire. If truth cannot be changed regardless of beliefs, then all Christians must accept the huge lack of historical evidence for Jesus, or they should accept the truth that no supernatural phenomenon has been demonstrated - thus making their core beliefs impossible.
Believers often say they “know for a fact” that their beliefs are the “truth”. They “testify” to things they don’t know anything about. They pretend to “witness” things they’ve never really seen, and they like to use other confident-sounding terms like “conclusively proven” when they’re really only talking about baseless assumptions, (and vice versa). They often claim “absolute truth” when they’re really talking about bald-faced lies, and all too often, they will continue to repeat and appeal to arguments they know have already been proven wrong. But if you believe in truth at all, then you should make sure that the things you say actually are true, that they are defensibly accurate, and academically correct. And if they’re not correct, you should correct them! You wouldn’t claim to know anything you couldn’t prove that you knew, and you wouldn’t talk about anything being “proven” at all, unless you’re clearly using that term in the sense that a court of law would use. Scientists must choose their words very carefully, because science is brutal in peer-review, and no scientist would ever get away with any of the wild raving propaganda which religious zealots or the news media use. That’s why they say the devil is in the details!
First of all, “truth” is more than just facts. It implies something that is completely true, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. So every word of it better be accurate, or it isn’t truth at all; and depending on the topic, such a concept is likely beyond human comprehension anyway. Truth may be pursued but never possessed. That’s why we should trust those who seek the truth and doubt those who claim to have it! A fact is a unit of information that is verifiably true beyond dispute, and obviously beliefs based on the conflicting faiths of different religions cannot qualify as that. Belief may be either rational, or assumed on faith. But in either case, it doesn’t matter how convinced you are; belief does not equal knowledge. The difference is that knowledge can always be tested for accuracy where mere beliefs often can not be. No matter how positively you think you know it, if you can’t show it, then you don’t know it, and you shouldn’t say that you do. Nor would you if you really cared about the truth. Knowledge is demonstrable, measurable. But faith is often a matter of pretending to know what you know you really don't know, and that no one even can know, and which you merely believe -often for no good reason at all.
Can truth be known?
|Norman describes himself using a evangelical tactic called Evangelical Explosion where a person asks a stranger two questions 1) can I ask you a spiritual question? followed by 2) if you died today, and God said 'Why should I let you into Heaven?' what would you say? Norman points out this does not really work with non-Christians (oh why is that surprising). Norman describes his encounter using this on an atheist, when Norman asked if the atheist was absolutely sure that there is no God? When the man (Don) said no, Norman proclaimed he was an agnostic because an atheist is someone who says "I know there is no God."
||That is absolutely not true. An atheist is someone who lacks a belief in God, that is they are unconvinced by the theists that a God does exist because the theist has failed to meet the burden of proof. Atheism is not regarding knowledge, but belief - that is what the "theism" part of atheism implies; belief. Since an atheist is someone without belief, Norman's claim that atheists are people who claim to know there is no god is an outright lie. Plus, using Normans logic, is he an agnostic towards elves living beneath his garden?|
|Don then says that you cannot know anything for sure, and Norman replies with "do you know that for sure? Norman goes further and says that Don cannot be a skeptic otherwise he would have to doubt skepticism. After presenting Don with a book and then the Bible, Don afterwards became a Christian.
||As already stated earlier, truth may be pursued but never possessed. That’s why we should trust those who seek the truth and doubt those who claim to have it!|
Can all religions be true?
|Norman argues that complete skepticism and agnosticism is self-defeating. He then talks about a scenario with Ronald Nash who performed a sermon and proclaimed every religion was true, but when a student told Nash he was headed for hell, Nash suddenly said that not all religions can be true because the student's religion was certainly not true. Based on this, Norman and Frank conclude that not all religions can be true. The religions agree there is right and wrong (because, Norman says, God planted a moral law onto our consciousness) but religions disagree on are the following: the nature of God, the nature of man, salvation, sin, creation, heaven and hell. Then Norman address tolerance, which he describes as accepting every religion as true (calling religious pluralism). While Norman and Frank are glad to respect other religions, they advocate that they do not have to accept religious pluralism. The notion to not question other people's beliefs, Norman says, is a religious belief of religious pluralism - which makes it intolerable of non-religious pluralism. Norman then says it is also a absolute moral position, why is it forbidden to question other beliefs?
So What? Who cares about truth?
Chapter 2: Why Should Anyone Believe Anything At All?
Chapter 3: In The Beginning There Was A Great SURGE
| I Don't Have Enough Faith
|| RationalWiki Responses
Conclusion: If There Is No God, Then Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?
|Norman describes a debate he was in with an atheist at the University of Miami. Norman says he was more interested in convincing the audience he was right rather than his opponent. After the debate, Norman says his opponent showed up at a Christian meeting because his "faith in atheism was waning."
||Without naming his opponent or giving any independent evidence of this, this seems as a veiled lie created for the sole intention of Norman deceiving the reader that "atheism requires faith." |
|Norman says there are only two answers to the above question.
- Either no one created something from nothing, or
- Someone else created something from nothing.
Norman argues that nothing could not have created something. He says if a person cannot believe nothing caused something, then you do not have enough faith to be an atheist.
|Atheism has no comment at all on the origins of anything (the universe, life, solar system, the earth, etc.) All atheism focuses on a lack of belief in god(s). Atheists are free to have a various views of how certain things came to be, they simply do not accept the theists claim that a "magic man in the sky done it."|
Chapter 4: Divine Design
| I Don't Have Enough Faith
|| RationalWiki Responses
|Norman and Frank begin this chapter with the popular Teleological Argument, which goes as follows,
- Every Design has a Designer.
- The universe has highly complex design.
- Therefore, the universe had a Designer.
|The logic in this argument is flawed. First, it begs the question of who and what is the designer. The designer could be a bunch of invisible timeless space pixies. Second, design is not always detected in the universe. We see design in the universe, but how does that dictate the entire universe is designed? Plus, how do we determine design? In the sort of design that we know about, simplicity is a design goal. Complexity arises to some extent through carelessness or necessity, but engineers work to make things as simple as possible. This is very different from what we see in life. Finally, we know complexity can and does arise from natural causes: for example, in weather patterns and cave formations.|
|Norman and Frank argued the Isaac Newton accepted the Teleological argument
||This is an appeal to authority. Newton also accepted the practice of alchemy, but that alone does not make alchemy true.|
|They next bring up William Paley's classic argument Paley's Watchmaker.
||Paley's watch argument was refuted by Charles Darwin, who proved that through natural selection simplicity can arise to complexity. |
|Norman and Frank argue that scientists are discovering our universe is like a watch because the universe is specially "tweaked" to allow life on earth.
||However, they do not provide names or any sources that this is true. Norman and Frank make the false assumption that the universe is built to allow human life, rather than we are the result of adapting to the natural laws of the universe. The claim assumes life in its present form is a given; it applies not to life but to life only as we know it. The same outcome results if life is fine-tuned to the cosmos.|
Houston, We Have Problem!
|Here they bring up the Anthropic principle and name several of the anthropic constants.
Anthropic Constant 1: Oxygen level
Anthropic Constant 2: Anthropic Transparency
Anthropic Constant 3: Moon-Earth Gravitational-Interaction
Anthropic Constant 4: Carbon Dioxide Level
Anthropic Constant 5: Gravity
|There are many flaws in the anthropic principle, which argues the universe is fine-tuned for life, but if this were so then why is life such an extremely rare part of it? How fine is "fine" anyway? That question can only be answered by a human judgment call, which reduces or removes objective value from the anthropic principle argument.
Many lay people are often fooled by this "fine-tuning argument" because it makes the odds make it look like a miracle. The recipe for this statistical trick is simple.
- Simply state the odds that should be calculated before an event after the event has already taken place.
- If you want the event to appear even more unlikely, begin adding complicated factors (which is very easy to do after the fact).
- And voilà! You've made an ordinary event appear to be extraordinary.
Anthropic Principle: Design is in the Details
Norman and Frank list of several other anthropic constants.
Proof For God! How Do Atheists Respond?
|Norman says that some atheists do admit that there must be some Designer out there. Astronomer and atheist Fred Hoyle lost his atheism because of the anthropic principle. Other atheists respond that all this design happened by chance, but Norman argues that this is impossible since all the constants have a near zero probability.
|| Even if the constants have a near zero probability, as long as it is not completely zero it can happen. And in an experimental room that is near infinitely big, with trillions upon trillions of suns and even more planets and billions of years time for the experiment to repeat, like for example in this very universe, chances are that even the most improbable events happened somewhere in it. |
|Another common response is the multi-verse. However, Norman and Frank argues that there is no evidence for this and that it is impossible.
||Impossible? How can this be. Many Christians argue that God exists outside this universe in another realm, but if there is nothing outside or apart from this universe, then where would God go? This would mean God is limited to this universe (wow, God is limited to something!), but if he was a part of this universe, why can't we observe him?
However, Norman and Frank left out several valid arguments that refute the anthropic principle, giving the impression to the audience that there is no other objection and the debate is settled. The first and foremost problem with the anthropic principle is that it is a tautology, but also refuted due to quantum mechanics, the M-Theory, and the Copernican Principle. There also exists Occam's Razor, which favors the argument that the universe is not the result of divine design, because that would imply the designer is not a intelligence of random thoughts and thus would require a higher designer, and so on.|
Chapter 5: The First Life: Natural Law or Divine Awe?
Chapter 6: New Life Forms: From Goo to You via the Zoo?
| I Don't Have Enough Faith
|| RationalWiki Responses
What About New Life Forms?
|Geisler and Turek argue that before they begin talking about evolution, they have to address the problems with the origin of life. They say "if Darwinists don't have an explanation for the first life, then what's the point of speaking about new life forms?" They say that Darwinists just make up "say-so stories" like spontaneous generation or panspermia. "This isn't science—this is a joke." They go on to say that Darwinists do not even have an explanation for the origin of non-living chemicals. Atheists cannot explain why there is something rather than nothing, and while they may provide several possibilities, if they have no evidence to support these then it is not scientific.
||Lets get this straight, the theory of evolution is not dependent on the origin of life. Evolution explains how life diversifies, not how it began. Since evolution at every level is -by definition- limited to the variation of allele frequencies inherited over generations of living organisms, then it obviously can’t operate where no genomes yet exist. The evolutionary process starts with genetics and can’t start before it. So how the first genes came about may seem similar to evolution, and may even involve a form of natural selection in some way, but it is in fact a very different chemical process called 'abiogenesis'.
It is curious why creationists like Geisler and Turek attack the theory of evolution, objecting it does not explain how life began, while at the same time full accept Cell theory without any objection. Cell Theory claims that all living systems in the biosphere are composed of cells, but no one objects or states that Cell Theory must also explain how the first cell developed.
Evolution, as already stated, only kicks in after genetics have been developed. It is not meant to explain how the origin of non-living chemicals. Whether or not atheists can explain why there is something rather than nothing (which they can provide valid answers), that does not give Geisler's or Turek's views any more credit. Geisler and Turek labels such atheistic explanations as unscientific, which thus far Geisler and Turek have demonstrated they do not know the first step in how to be scientific, which will be continued to be exposed throughout this chapter. For instance, when they bring up intelligent design, they talk and act as if it is a valid scientific theory despite the fact that it has been been thoroughly refuted and exposed in the court as being,
- ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation
- The argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980's
- ID's negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community, and
- ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research.
Microevolution vs. Macroevolution
|Geisler and Turek first define macroevolution as "Its the belief that all life forms have descended from a common ancestor—the first one-celled creature—and all this happened by natural process without an intelligent intervention." Next, they attack the definition of natural selection, calling it a misnomer. "Since the process of evolution is, by definition, without intelligence, there is no "selection" at all going on. It's a blind process. The term "natural selection" simply means that the fittest survive. So what? That's true by definition—the fittest survive (that is a tautology—a circular argument that does not prove anything)."
||The only reason creationists cling to these “micro” and “macro” distinctions is so they can have some excuse to accept “small scale” evolution, which they begrudgingly admit cannot be denied even with the greatest faith; while still denying “large scale” evolution where their exact parameter of “how large” must remain illusive to prevent it ever being disproved. Of course that means “large scale” evolution can mean whatever they want it to at that moment. Frank Sherwin from the Institute of Creation Research recently defined macroevolution as “the origin of every kind of animal”, and later on in the same discussion, he changed his definition to “the origin of all life”. He knows he’s using the terms incorrectly. He simply doesn’t care! |
|Geisler and Turek give an example of bacteria fighting off antibodies, and then they mutate into better bacteria that is more resistant to antibodies (they note that mutations "are nearly always harmful"). Their counterpoint to this scenario is this: the bacteria is still a bacteria. "Natural selection has never been observed to create new types." Geisler and Turek argue that scientists make no distinction between microevolution and macroevolution, and thus use examples of microevolution to prove macroevolution and dupe the general public. Geisler and Turek argue that the scientists tactics are starting to fail to convince the public that macroevolution has been observed, thanks to works of people like Phillip Johnson and his work Darwin on Trial ——who argues that natural selection cannot provide any evidence of "new species, new organs, or other major changes, or even minor changes that are permanent." They note that biologist Jonathan Wells agrees with Johnson. Next, they go into why natural selection cannot produce new species
||Macroevolution is properly defined as the emergence of new taxa at or above the species level. The only time creationists will use the proper definition is when they are as-yet unaware of the fact that speciation has already been directly-observed and documented dozens of times –both in the lab and in naturally-controlled conditions in the field. In fact, we’ve seen it so many times we’ve had to categorize recurrent types of macroevolution we’ve seen so often repeated. Once creationists find out about all this, their first reaction is to use the excuse that some newly evolved species of fruit fly or fish somehow still doesn’t count because it’s “still” a fly or it’s “still” a fish. Well of course it is! Evolution couldn’t permit them to be anything else.
Creationists demand that the new species be so different from their parents that one can’t even tell they’re related. The irony there is that evolutionary theory never suggests that one “kind” of thing ever turned into another, fundamentally-different “kind” of anything, not unless you ignore all the intermediate stages –which of course creationists do. To comprehend evolutionary Theory, one must first understand that it’s only ever a matter of changing proportions –altering or enhancing existing features to build on what is already there. Developmental biology, genetics, and comparative morphology combine to confirm many of these taxonomic stages such that organs do not seem to have appeared abruptly or fully-formed as if out of nowhere, because there is an implied evolutionary origin evident in every case. Even the transition of fish-to-tetrapods, dinosaurs-to-birds, or apes-to-men are each are just a matter of incremental, superficial changes being slowly compiled atop successive tiers of fundamental similarities. These represent monophyletic clades which will forever encompass all the descendants of that clade. This is why birds are still dinosaurs, and humans are still apes, and both are still stegocephalian chordates. No matter how much you or your heirs may change, you obviously can’t outgrow heredity.|
|Geisler and Turek argue that when dog breeders try to breed new dogs of any size, they will always remain dogs. Similarly with fruit flies. They argue that using examples of artificial selection is not evidence of natural selection since they differ on many points.
||If it is possible to walk twenty feet, it’s possible to walk twenty miles. So creationists insist there must be some “definite boundary” blocking the evolution of new “kinds”. But they won’t say where or what that boundary is. Creationists habitually misdefine their terms –if they can be forced to use definitions at all, because they will not be accountable. They can’t be, because they’ve decided in advance never to change their minds even if they’re proven wrong. If they were to find out that macroevolution was ever actually seen and proven to have happened for certain, their cultish faith would still forbid them to admit it. Instead they’d have to redefine their terms, to “move the goalposts” to some higher taxonomic level –but not so high as to have to admit where humans belong in the families of apes.
But now we know there really is no level above species, because every other “grade” in taxonomy is more or less arbitrarily assigned as a construct of human convenience. The Linnaean ranks of family, genus, order, and phyla, are all factually illustrative, but virtually meaningless otherwise because every new taxonomic class that ever evolved began with speciation, the emergence of a distinctly new species, but one that was still just a modified version of whatever its parents were, and who’s eventual descendants will always belong to whatever categories their ancestors did also –no matter how much they may change as time goes on.|
|Geisler and Turek say that not only are there genetic barriers, but the changes within types are cyclical—changes are not directional toward the development of new life forms, but they shift back and forward within a limited range. They argue that Darwin's finches had several different beaks that changed during a shift in the environment, but went back to their original states when the climate went back. Geisler and Turek note that no new life had formed and they remained finches. “Notice also that natural selection cannot explain how finches came into existence in the first place. In other words, natural selection may be able to explain the survival of a species, but it cannot explain the arrival of a species.”
||The very concept of common ancestry is a multi-tiered and intertwined complex phylogenetic system which shows why there can’t be any distinctly separate “kinds” to begin with! At the same time, the act of speciation splits the population presenting an eventually impassable boundary between them. We often see this demonstrated live in the form of “ring species”, where different evolutionary stages exist all at once in a geographic rather than chronological distribution. Subspecies (A) may breed with subspecies (B), and (B) may breed with (C), and (C) with (D), but (A) and (D) cannot interbreed because by the time their territories overlap again, they’ve grown too distant genetically, and can’t come back. This is when we see the formation of new features, organs, or skeletal structures, each examples of new genetic “information”. What all these show is that even though a new species of perching bird (for example) is “still” a finch, it is now a different “kind” of finch, a distinct descendant species proving there is no “boundary” against macroevolution.|
|Starting with a quote from Darwin: “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” Geisler and Turek says that many systems have been found that fits this, and they introduce irreducible complexity. They introduce biochemist Michael Behe of Leigh University, who developed the argument of irreducible complexity and defined it as a mechanism “composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning.”
||Is this by the same Michael Behe who accepts that the theory of evolution? Is this the same Michael Behe who admitted in court that his "scientific theory" is too vague and broad that astrology could be viewed as a scientific theory? The same Michael Behe whose work has been discredited and dismissed by every major academic institution, including his own? Behe’s own department at Leigh University has put it as well as any:
Apparently, Geisler and Turek are talking about the same Michael Behe, but fail to once provide anything about him.
“”The faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences is committed to the highest standards of scientific integrity and academic function. This commitment carries with it unwavering support for academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas. It also demands the utmost respect for the scientific method, integrity in the conduct of research, and the recognition that the validity of any scientific model comes only as a result of rational hypothesis testing, sound experiments, and findings that can be replicated by others.
The department faculty, then, are unequivocal in their support of evolutionary theory, which has its roots in the seminal work of Charles Darwin and has been supported by findings accumulated over 140 years. The sole dissenter from this position, Prof. Michael Behe, is a well-known proponent of “intelligent design.” While we respect Prof. Behe’s right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that the intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific.
|Geisler and Turek use a car as an example of irreducible complexity, in which the change of the size of the pistons make the engine unable to function. Behe gives examples of biological mechanisms that fit this scenario: the blood clotting system, the cilia, and vision “that could not have developed in the gradual Darwinian fashion. Why? Because intermediates would be nonfunctional.” It takes intelligence to assemble a car with a full functioning engine. Geisler and Turek say that the cell is also irreducibly complex because the DNA contained 3 million pairs of letters in every cell, and the human body has trillions of cells.
||Lets go in order;
The Blood Clotting System: Blood clotting is not irreducibly complex. Some animals (dolphins, for example) get along fine without the Hagemann factor, a component of the human blood clotting system which Behe includes in its "irreducible" complexity. |
|After Gesiler and Turek go on and on repeating that scientists cannot explain the evolutionary development of irreducibly complex systems, they bring up Kenneth Miller, who claims that these systems can evolve while using Behe's mousetrap as an example. According to Behe, all five parts must be in place for the mousetrap to full function to kill mice. Miller disagrees, claiming that amousetrap with only four parts could still do the job. Geisler and Turek do not add any more, but they go on to say that 1) no matter how many parts are in the trap it still requires intelligence to build 2) Behe is not saying that you need five parts for the mousetrap, just the traditional mousetrap. And 3) even if the changes from a simple mousetrap to a traditional mousetrap can be accomplished by a mindless process, the mousetrap would be nonfunctional during its transition. “But for Darwinism to be true, functionality must be maintained at all times because living things cannot survive if, say, their vital organs do not perform their usual function during slow, trial-and-error Darwinian transitions.” They finally add, mousetraps are not biological systems, biological systems are immensely more complicated. “So Behe's point clearly has not been refuted by Miller, nor has it been refuted by any other Darwinist.”
||Recalling back to what Charles Darwin stated: "If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications..." right there, if we can explain these small developments, then the argument of irreducible complexity goes out the window. This is what Miller and others have demonstrated in regards to systems like the mousetrap, going as far to show that a mousetrap with two parts could function as a mousetrap. Geisler and Turek claim that the mousetrap cannot be compared to a biological system, they are right for the very fact that biological systems are self-reproducing that pass of variances in their genetic material. In this case, it does not require intelligence to develop simple mechanisms to more complicated mechanisms. While Behe said not all parts are necessary, just if it serves its function throughout the transitional stages, but who says that these mechanisms must be fulfilling the roles of systems that do not exist yet? It has been already demonstrated in the lab, nature, and in court that during the "transitional stages" these pieces serve as their own independent functions, but as natural selection kicks in, they start to cooperate better to serve a higher function——the exact demonstration of evolution.
Recall the piece when Behe stated "wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning." Well, this has been the case for many systems that have been claimed to be irreducibly complex, such as the immune system or the bacterial flagellum. In the case of the flagellum, it has been shown that the removal of the L-ring or the P-ring does not harm its function——already, at least one piece is removed and yet it still operates, thereby defeating the very basic objection presented by irreducible complexity.|
|Frank Turek recalls a talk he had with a unnamed “Darwinist” in July 2002 who explained away irreducible complex by stating that there are biological scaffolds that are built around the system to allow it to grow gradually. Frank saw Behe later that day, repeated the same thing, and Behe responded 1) there is no evidence of such “scaffolds” and 2) if these scaffolds do exist, “then who keeps building them in the right places? That would require intelligence.” Turek notes that others have tried other methods to explain away Behe's irreducible complexity, “but all have failed. Behe confirms as much when he categorically states, 'There is currently no experimental evidence to show that natural selection can get around irreducible complexity.'”
||There is currently no experimental evidence to show that natural selection can get around irreducible complexity. This is the same thing Behe stated in court. When he was presented with full peer-reviewed volumes, articles and books explaining exactly the evolution of irreducibly complex systems Behe demanded, while not having read any of them, Behe stated "No, they certainly do not. My argument is that the literature has no detailed rigorous explanations for how complex biochemcial systems could arise by a random mutation and natural selection." In science, a "explanation" is a detailed, testable answer and vice versa. Behe dismissed all these works as a knee-jerk reaction without reading any of them as if none of them count simply because he said so. Behe said he assumed that the articles were excellent, but he also assumed that none of them addressed what he was searching for and had to improve his demands to weasel out of admitting he was wrong. Behe portrayed as the authority of what counts or not, despite also stating himself "as someone who's not working within Darwinian framework, I do not see any evidence for the occurrences of random mutation and natural selection" basically saying that he was working in something he knew nothing about. Furthermore Behe admitted in court when he did his own research for the evolution of the supposed "irreducibly complex" systems all Behe did was a simple Google search of science articles that contained the words "random mutation." when those words did not appeared under the titles, he assumed and concluded that no such content exists.|
Chapter 7: Mother Teresa vs. Hitler
Chapter 8: Miracles: Signs of God or Gullibility?
Chapter 9: Do We Have Early Testimony About Jesus?
| I Don't Have Enough Faith
|| RationalWiki Responses
|Norman and Frank begin by sharing non-Christian sources for the historicity of Jesus. They begin with Josephus Flavius. They also mention Tacticus, Celseus, the Talmud who they explain are anti-Christians but do not contradict the gospel record. Piecing all the references together they find some characteristics of Jesus. Such characteristics include he was a miracle-worker, lived a virtuous life, claimed to be the Messiah, was crucified under Pilate, darkness and earthquake occurred at his death, his disciples believed he was dead, the disciples were willing to die for their beliefs, Christianity reached Rome, and the Christians did not worship the Roman gods. Based on the above, Norman and Frank argue the theory that Christ never existed is unreasonable.
||Norman and Frank do not provide the whole story. The section they site in Josephus Flavius has been considered by the vast majority of critical scholars to be a forgery for many years. Deeper investigation into the section reveals that Josephus could not have written it (to see why, click here). The other sources, Tacticus and Celseus, do not even mention Jesus by name. Instead they address Christians and their common beliefs of Jesus, but not Jesus himself. So it is not surprising that if you ask a group their common beliefs that you will get similar answers, such as claiming to be the Messiah or a miracle-worker. Also, Tacticus and Celseus are not even contemporary witnesses, but when dozens of actual contemporary historians do not mention Jesus anywhere and any time, this should raise some serious questions. People dying for their beliefs does not give them any special credibility, and many people die for lies that they perceive as true. However, where is the actual evidence that the disciples were persecuted for their beliefs? And if they were persecuted, where is the evidence that their beliefs was the cause of their persecution or if they did keep their beliefs after persecution.
The theory of Christ never existing is not unreasonable. Just as any historian or rational person would demand positive evidence for any historical figure, like George Washington or Ramses, the same evidence cannot be found for Jesus - in fact, none at all. Norman and Frank cannot possibly hope to make a convincing case when they only have much less than half of the evidence that is demanded, and the evidence they do provide does not stand up to scrutiny.|
Question 1: Do We Have An Accurate Copy?
|Norman and frank argue that the story of Jesus did not go through oral traditions and the "telephone" game, but were instead recorded by nine people who were eye-witnesses and wrote down what they saw from memory.
||But how can this be? None of the authors claim to be eye-witnesses, and each gospel is written in third person. Not to mention Jesus' followers were mostly illiterate and had no education in Greek literature and composition. Paul himself was not an eye-witness, he never met a flesh and blood Jesus. All he did was see a light and changed worldviews, which happens to a lot of people throughout history to this day.|
|Norman and Frank admit none of the original documents have been found and all we have are copies.
||And those copies are very unreliable sources, due to known forgeries, interpolations, evident fictions, contradictions, discrepancies, and much more.|
Question 2: Do Those Documents Speak the Truth?
Chapter 10: Do We Have Eye-Witness Testimony About Jesus?
| I Don't Have Enough Faith
|| RationalWiki Responses
The Gospel According to Non-Christians
|Here, Geisler and Turek use Josephus, Celsus, Tacitus, and the Jewish Talmud as evidence for the historicity of Jesus. They all agree on these 12 key things,
- Jesus lived during the time of Tiberius Caesar
- He lived a virtuous life
- he was a wonder-doer
- he had a brother named James
- He was acclaimed to be the Messiah
- He was crucified under Pontius Pilate.
- He was crucified on the eve of Passover
- Darkness and an earthquake occurred when he died
- His disciples believed he rose from the dead
- His disciples were willing to die for their belief.
- Christianity spread rapidly as far as Rome
- His disciples rejected the Roman gods in favor of Jesus Christ.
"In light of these non-Christian references, the theory that Jesus never existed at all is clearly unreasonable."
|"In light of these non-Christian references, the theory that Jesus never existed at all is clearly unreasonable." Not so fast.
First of all, the reference to Josephus is an established and proven forgery. To use it as a source for your argument is not only false, it is entirely dishonest in nature. Of the twelve supposed facts the non-Christians site about Christ is basically all derived from this forgery.
Second of all, the other sources Geisler and Turek mention (Celsus, Tacitus, and the Jewish Talmud) do not even name Jesus. They are not even contemporary sources, meaning they are not sufficient to prove the historical existence of Jesus and are not the proofs demanded by skeptics. Tacitus, while not naming Jesus, says the Christian sect believe their leader was executed by Pilate - that's one out of the twelve mentioned above. The "Yeshu" mentioned in the Jewish Talmud is not even Jesus. In fact, Yeshu is a disciple of Jehoshua Ben-Perachia who lived at least a century before the alleged Christian Jesus. And regardless of how one interprets the name "Yeshu", the Palestinian Talmud was written between the 3rd and 5th century CE, and the Babylonian Talmud was written between the 3rd and 6th century CE, at least two centuries after the alleged crucifixion. This means that the Talmud mentions zero of the twelve above.
Basically, the statement that non-Christians sited the gospels or the works of Jesus is completely false and, rather, mythical. The only think Christian apologists like Geisler and Turek have to go on is a complete forgery and nothing better.
Question 1: Do We Have An Accurate Copy?
|Geisler and Turek toss out the "telephone" argument, that is that the stories of the New Testament have undergone generations of the telephone game and have become disordered. Rather, they state that several of the witnesses have committed the story to memory, and nine of them wrote down what they saw. They make clear that they are talking about 27 documents by nine authors, not just one document.
|Geisler and Turek note that none of the original copies of the New Testament have been discovered. We only have copies (manuscripts), but they argue this does not harm the validity of the New Testament. They argue that the manuscripts written closest to the originals give us a clue what the original text contained.
More Manuscripts: there are more than 5,700 handwritten Greek manuscripts with 9,000 others written in other languages. Some of these nearly 15,000 are complete Bibles. Nothing in ancient history comes close to this textual support; Homer's Iliad had 643 manuscripts, and other ancient works survive on a dozen or less manuscripts and yet historians do not question the historicity of the events these works describe.
|Simple having a large collection of manuscripts do not make its historicity real. Gesiler and Turek mention the Iliad but that does not mean that mythical Greek creatures exist. Say, for instance, in the far future archeologists discover one million ancient copies of Spider Man, they verify that there was a city of New York and the manuscripts mention actual presidents and mayors. That does not mean that there is an actual Spider Man superhero.
Do not assume that historians do not question the historicity of other documents because they certainly do depending on the document. No historian suggests that after the Persian War, a whole town witnesses a mass resurrection of cooked fish as reported by Herodotus.
It is rather ironic to hear Christians brag about the number of their scriptures outnumber the other surviving works from antiquity, seeing that it was the early Christians who controlled what was preserved and what was lost!
Here is an interesting fact about these supposed 5,700 handwritten Greek manuscripts: they were all written during and after the 9th century! The only two complete ancient Bibles are the Codex Siniaticus and Codex Vaticanus from the fourth century! All these 15,000 manuscripts and bibles are just copies, of copies!
Somehow, Geisler and Turek think that these copies of copies and works written centuries after the date Jesus supposedly died is more proof than the copies of Homer's Iliad – bearing in mind, there is no evidence or reason to suspect that the scribes who copied Homer's work altered it deliberately as Christians fabricated the gospels repeatably (and they had plenty of time to do this within hundreds of years). But lets take a look at this; there are only around 720 root texts for the NT and most of those are medieval (or even complete books or written in the original language). Of all of these only 14 or so date prior to 200 CE, and those are merely scraps with fewer than 20 words (some of which have no complete words at all). Suddenly, Homer's 650 extant copies doesn't seem that bad.
|Earlier Manuscripts: Geisler and Turek claim that some of the manuscripts were written right after the originals. They cite the John Rylands fragment found in Egypt (John 18:31-33, 37-38), which is considered by scholars to have been written around 117-138 CE, but note that some others date it earlier.
Another example are nine fragments dated earlier (around 50-70 CE) found in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
|Regarding the John Rylands fragment, aside from Paul's letters, it is oldest copy of the New Testament yet found consists of a tiny fragment from the Gospel of John. It is so tiny we can barely make any pronouncements on what itt says or if even matches the Gospel of John. Scholars dated the little flake of papyrus from the period style of its handwriting to around the first half of the 2nd century C.E. The language of most of the new testament consists of old Greek. Geisler and Turek want us to imagine 79 missing words we can derive a passage found in chapter 18 (verses 31-33 and 37-8) of John's Gospel puts it an early age. There is no sufficient evidence to date it as early as Geisler and Turek wish we could.
Even if we allow this scrap to be dated as early as apologists wish, it is still way to late to be written by any eyewitness. It is dishonest to claim this scrap fragment as a “manuscript.” Another thing Geisler and Turek fail to mention is the second oldest set of Christian fragments, the Egerton Papyrus 2, is from a completely unknown Gospel!
"There is much more evidence that Hammurabi was an actual historical figure, whereas we have nothing about Moses outside of biblical manuscripts that are no earlier than the first through the third centuries BCE in the Dead Sea Scrolls." -Prof. Hector Avalos, PhD
Are the New Testament Documents Early?
|Geisler and Turek answer yes, arguing they were all written before 100 CE since they were referenced by Clement, Ignatius, and Polycarp. Since these men lived very far away, the gospels must have been written much earlier.
||Here, Geisler and Turek heavily rely on Clement, but here are the facts: Clement cited the Old Testament as "scriptures" many times and refereed to Paul's letters as "good counsel" but never as scripture. Clement quotes Jesus twice, but never provides any reference to any gospel, in fact the verses he quotes we never find in any of our gospels. this suggest that the leader of a Church in Rome had no knowledge of these scriptures.
Ignatius is no better, for his work reveals he seems very familiar with the works attributed to Paul, but nothing else.He never names his sources or provides any references, or even hinting he is citing a source at all.|
|Documents Are Not Early Enough Geisler and Turek argue taht the skeptics objection that the gospels written 40 - 75 years after Jesus died is too wide to be reliable as rubbish. Geisler and Turek argue that anyone old enough can write down what happened to them in the 60's, 70's, 80's and so on with ease, especially if they have such a high emotional impact on you. Likewise, the gospel writers like Luke interviewed the people who were there, and some of the gospel writers were the eye-witnesses.
Furthermore, Geisler and Turek argue that the major works of the New Testament were eyewitnesses accounts written in two-generations of events make them very unlikely to be a legend because "historical research indicates that a myth cannot begin to crowd out historical facts while the eyewitnesses are still alive." They state that Roman historian A. N. Sherwin-Whie says that a mythological view of the New Testament is "unbelievable."
|Considering that the life expectancy was remarkably low, it is very unlikely that the gospel writers would live to their 60's or 70's. And why would they wait such a long time to record what they remembered? There is nothing to indicate that Luke (who remains anonymous) interviewed anyone. What we do have evidence for is that Luke (as well as Matthew) copied almost verbatim from the gospel of Mark.
How could anyone write about a time and conjure up fictional historical tales while the eyewitnesses were still alive? Perhaps because there were no eyewitnesses or that they were no longer alive.|
|Why Not More? The skeptics still demand for more sources. Geisler and Turek says the fact that more people wrote about Jesus than the Roman emperor (43 authors for Jesus and 10 for Tiberius) is evidence alone for Jesus' historicity. Geisler and Turek state that New Testament scholar Craig Bloomberg offers 4 reasons why we do not have more: 1) the humble beginnings of Christianity 2) the remote location of Palestine on the eastern frontiers of the Roman empire 3) small works of Greco-Roman historical works have survived an 4) the lack of attention paid by surviving historical documents to Jewish figures in general.
||It is rather ironic that Christians like Geisler and Turek claim that the 43 authors for Christ are more reliable than Tiberius, since the sources for Tiberius are largely more historically reliable. Mere numbers of sources do not determine validity, considering that when Christianity came into power they had the authority and ability to put any book to the torch.
Bloomberg's reasons are very poor. The location is no excuse, considering that 1st century Palestine is amongst the most well-recorded era of the time, not to mention dozens of well-respected historians were alive at the time that all fail to mention Christ. How can stories like a mass resurrection of the dead in the streets of Jerusalem, or the curtain in the Temple being torn, not gain any attention by the Jewish figures?|
|But skeptics demand more, such as where is the evidence from any of the 500 supposed eyewitnesses. Geisler says that the demand for this evidence is not necessary for several reasons. 1) Palestine was an oral culture 2) why would they write even if they were literate? Most people today do not write a book or article about anything, probably not even after 9/11. And 3) even if they did write anything, how can skeptics demand their works survive 2,000 years? On top of that, Geisler says we do know the names of some of the 500: Matthew, Luke, Mark, John, Peter, Paul, and James.
||Even if Palestine was an oral culture, there is not a single mention of these 500 witnesses anywhere outside of Paul's letter. There is no tale shared anywhere that these extraordinary things took place. If people were literate, then proclaiming to see the Messiah is surely something that would be written down to such a mass degree. So much work would have been preserved, especially from the early church fathers looking to collect proof for their faith (to which some of them (like Eusebius) deliberately forged works to support their faith).
The gospels of Matthew, Luke, Mark, John, Peter and such are not their actual names. We have no idea who they really were. |
Summary and Conclusion
|Geisler and Turek claim that two things can be concluded thus far;
- We have an accurate copy of the original New Testament
- Th New Testament documents are early and contain earlier source material since some of the gospels are referenced in 100 CE, they must be written before then, possibly before 70 CE since they mention the Temple was still standing. "We have strong evidence that Acts was written by 62, which means Luke is even earlier. We have source material that goes back into the 30s. Nearly all scholars agree that the death, burial, and resurrection testimony found in 1 Corinthians 15 comes from the time of those events or within a few years of them. Furthermore, there are at least 40 other creeds in the New Testament that appear to be very early origin."
|And from what RationalWiki covered and researched,
- We do not have an accurate copy of the original New Testament. Furthermore, we have no way to know if any of the earliest authors of those copies made any attempt to research or verify if the contents of their writing was factual.
- The statement that the gospels should be dated before 70 BCE is completely special pleasing. There was nothing presented by Geilser or Turek that the gospels should be dated earlier.
Chapter 11: The Top Ten Reasons Why We Know the New Testament Writers Told the Truth
| I Don't Have Enough Faith
|| RationalWiki Responses
1. The New Testament Writers Included Embarrassing Details About Themselves
|Norman says the gospels record several embarrassments such as,
- the disciples were dim-witted and often did not understand what Jesus told them (Mark 9:32, Luke 18:34, John 12:16).
- the disciples were uncaring (Mark 14:32-41)
- They were rebuked (Mark 8:33)
- They were cowards (Matthew 26:33-35)
- They were doubters (Matthew 28:17)
Based on examples like the above, Norman and Frank conclude that the gospels must be reliable.
|Can such a self-description of this be taken seriously? Is it not that simple to include a few incidents that does not portray others as perfect? And how are the above that embarrassing? Students do not always get the message or lesson right off hand. The Disciples were merely human, and humans make mistakes which makes all the more reason for the authors to include such things to make Jesus appear better. This is a common tactic comic book authors do with side-kicks; make a few embarrassing moments for the side-kicks to make the superhero look better. However, this does not mean these superheros existed in reality.|
2. The New Testament Writers Included Embarrassing Details And Difficult Sayings of Jesus
- considered out of his mind (Mark 3:21,31)
- is not believed by his own brothers (John 7:5)
- is thought to be a deceiver (John 7:12)
- is deserted by many followers (John 6:66)
- turns off "Jews who do not believe him" (John 3:80-81)
- called a drunk (Matt. 11:19)
- is called "demon possessed" (Mark 3:22, John 7:20, 8:48)
- is called a madman (John 10:20)
- has his feet wiped by the hair of a prostitute -perceived as a sexual advance- (Luke 7:36-39)
- is crucified by the Romans
|These are not so embarrassing that they can only be the result of actual events. The appeal that the savior was not trusted or considered very wrong implies that many were slow to approach this new religion, implying caution and thought before conversion. This would lower the guard of those Christianity were reaching out to.|
3. The New Testament Writers Included Impossible Commands
|The New Testament writers left in demanding sayings of Jesus. For example, Jesus said, “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has committed adultery” (Matt. 5:28); “Give to the one who asks you” (Matt. 5:39-42); “Love your enemies” (Matt. 5:44-45); “Be perfect” (Matt. 5:48); and “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth” (Matt. 6:19-21). All of these commands are difficult or impossible for human beings to keep and seem to go against the natural best interests of the men who wrote them down. The writers are not likely to invent commandments that are so difficult for them to keep. Therefore, they must be from God.
||People are always putting impossible demands on themselves. Some religious people take vows of celibacy and poverty. That’s against human nature. Do you believe such vows are from God? Some people flagellate themselves – punishing their own flesh until it bleeds, to make them feel holier. Did God inspire such behavior? Some churches forbid smoking, drinking alcohol and even caffeine. Some churches demand vegetarianism. Did God command such things? Other people feel holy about crashing airplanes into buildings. Is that from God? According to your logic, yes!|
4. The New Testament Writers Included limited Quotes
|Geisler and Turek argue that the New Testament authors distinguished their words from Jesus. The authors resisted the temptation to attribute more words to him than they did.
||How does this indicate that the New Testament authors told the truth? No matter how many sayings they attributed to Jesus, you could say the same thing. Some of the sayings might have been spoken by Jesus. Others might not. The Sermon on the Mount, for example, is questionable. If Jesus spoke those words, why didn’t Paul ever hear about it? Don’t you have any better reasons? Apparently not.
Given the history of the development of the Bible, we can concretely conclude that the authors DID fall into temptation of attributing their own words to Jesus. We know that the tale of Jesus saying "Let he without sin cast the first stone" is a complete fiction forged into John 300-400 years after Jesus died. Textual analysis have shown that many verses of the text have been inserted, such as the finishing verses in mark describing the signs of a "true believer."|
5. The New Testament Writers Included Events Related To The Resurrection That They Would Not Have Invented
|Norman and Frank argues that they would not have inserted the following if they had invented them,
- the Burial of Jesus.
- the First Witnesses - a woman, Mary Magdalene (Luke says at the time she was demon-possessed). Women's testimony was not considered reliable.
- The Conversion of Priests. Acts 6:7 says many Priests converted after the Resurrection.
|How hard is it to tell a story of a dead person getting buried? There are limited options of what to do with a corpse, and the most likely action to take is burial. So how is this so extraordinary that the gospel authors could not have just simply invented this?
Women's testimony not considered reliable? Women throughout the old testament play roles, and the fact that the gospels record a women being the first witnesses does not overrule the possibility of invention. If a women's testimony was not reliable, and yet a woman claims to see a resurrected man, it would not appear believable - making the faith in Christianity greater. Richard Carrier thoroughly refuted this claim that "woman's testimony was not reliable" in his book Not the Impossible Faith pg 297-321.
Where is the external evidence that the priests converted? How many converted, if any at all? If you are going to make a statement as a "matter of fact" you must meet the burden of proof.
6. The New Testament Writers Included Real People
|The New Testament writers include more than thirty historically confirmed people in their writings.
||This does not prove anything. Pilate might have condemned Jesus, but that doesn’t mean Jesus resurrected from the dead. Real elements in a story do not prove the entire story.|
7. The New Testament Writers Included Divergent Details
|Here, Norman and Frank argue against the claim the Bible is contradictory. The New Testament writers included divergent details. In light of the numerous divergent details in the New Testament, it’s clear that the New Testament writers didn’t get together to smooth out their testimonies. This confirms that the New Testament writers wrote independently from one another.
8. The New Testament Writers Challenged Their Readers to Check Out Verifiable Facts, Even Facts About Miracles
|Norman and Frank use examples in the gospels where the authors challenged skeptics to check their stories.
- Assertion of accuracy to Theophilis in Luke 1:1-4
- Peter's claim to be an eye-witness to Christ majesty (2 Peter 1:16)
- Paul's declaration to Festus and Agrippa (Acts 26)
- Paul restating that there were 500 witnesses (1 Corinthians 15)
- Paul saying he would not say such things if he was not telling the truth (2 Corin. 12:12)
Norman says that number 5 must be true, because if Paul could not perform miracles to prove his apostleship then he would lose his credibility. Therefore he must be an apostle, who can perform miracles, and must be trustworthy because he openly shows his abilities in Corinthians.
|Only Paul says that he did these things, but where is the external evidence from the priesthood that several of them converted by the wonder works of a mysterious man who claimed to be an apostle?
Also, how are the above valid arguments or examples that the gospel writers told their listeners to fact-check their claims? We have no record outside the gospels that anyone in the late 1st or early 2nd century that anyone investigated any of the claims made by the gospel authors to validate their claims.
Did Peter claim to be an eye-witness in 2 Peter. Not likely, the vast majority of critical scholars conclude that 2 Peter is a forgery, meaning it was never written by Peter. Therefore the contents of 2 Peter come from a stranger who claims to be someone he is not, therefore deliberately deceiving all readers.
Were there 500 other witnesses? Just repeating it in another book does not make much of a difference. Who were these 500 people? Where did they come from? How many were men or children? How old were they? What did they see? Why didn't anyone record this? Where did they go afterwords and what did they say about what they saw? It seems more likely these 500 witnesses is just a number that was pulled out of someone's ass and scrawled on paper; pure propaganda.
9. The New Testament Writers Describe Miracles Like Other Historical Events: With Simple, Unembellished Accounts
|Norman and Frank include the Gospel of Peter, which includes the story of a wooden Cross that could speak. Norman and Frank says the other gospels do not give this sort of story that can easily be made-up. The other gospels give a matter-of-fact description of the Resurrection.
||How does this appear to be made-up but the Canonical Gospels get a pass? Each gospel contains many bizarre claims that are no different than the one told in the Gospel of Peter. We know whoever wrote the Gospel of Peter did not live in the time of Jesus, but so did the other gospels. None of the Canonical Gospels claim to be eye-witnesses, each are written in third person, and are completely anonymous.
Matthew says that when Jesus died, all the dead in Jerusalem rose from their graves and walked in the streets of Jerusalem for all to see. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever of this event anywhere, and yet Norman and Frank think that this is not some "made up" story?|
10. The New Testament Writers Abandoned Their Long-Held Sacred Beliefs and Practices, Adopted New Ones, and Did Not Deny Their Testimony Under Persecution or Threat of Death
|Geisler and Turek argue that 10,000 people converted overnight and were willing to endure martyrdom according to the Bible.
||Those numbers seem highly exaggerated. We can tell and prove that the Bible is a legend-based story and exaggerated on the witnesses (ex. there were no 500 witnesses). So whyy would so many peple give up their "long-held sacred beliefs and practices"? Jerusalem was a hodgepodge of various sects – Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Herodians, Zealots and others. There were Romans, pagans, and people who were not religious at all. Even the Bible acknowledges the formation and disbanding of new cults. Gamaliel mentioned two of them in Acts 5:36-37. The Pharisaical traditions were impossibly burdensome. Why should it surprise us that a new cult would gather followers by relaxing those burdens? New sects have formed frequently throughout history. Why should first-century Jerusalem be any different?
Geisler and Turek place too much confidence on biblical legend and Catholic tradition. Did the early Christians really suffer persecution and martyrdom? The first real persecution of Christians was that of Nero. Let’s ask the Encyclopaedia Britannica about it:
Besides being “local and short,” Nero’s persecution did not erupt until 64 CE – thirty-four years after the death of Jesus. The earliest Christians, then, did not face immediate persecution or death.
“”In AD 64 a fire destroyed much of Rome; the emperor Nero killed a “vast multitude” of Christians as scapegoats. For the first time, Rome was conscious that Christians were distinct from Jews. But there probably was no formal senatorial enactment proscribing Christianity at this time. Nero's persecution was local and short. Soon thereafter, however, the profession of Christianity was defined as a capital crime.... (“Christianity: The history of Christianity: Relations between Christianity and the Roman government and the Hellenistic culture: Church–state relations.
Chapter 12: Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead?
| I Don't Have Enough Faith
|| RationalWiki Responses
The Resurrection: What do Scholars Say?
|Introducing Gary Habermas. Geisler and Turek claim Habermas has completed the most research into the resurrection. According to Geisler and Turek, Habermas claims taht all scholars across the board agree to the following "historical facts;"
- Jesus died by Roman crucifixion.
- He was buried, most likely a private tomb.
- Soon afterwards, his disciples were discouraged, bereaved, and despondent, having lost hope.
- Jesus' tomb was found empty.
- The disciples had experiences which they believed were actual appearances of the risen Jesus.
- Due to these experiences, the disciples were thoroughly transformed. They were willing to die for their beliefs.
- The proclamation that the resurrection took place very early, from the beginning of church history.
- The disciples' public testimony and preaching of the resurrection took place in the city of Jerusalem, where Jesus had been crucified and been buried shortly after.
- The gospel message centered on the preaching of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
- Sunday was the primary day for gathering and worshiping.
- James, the brother of Jesus was a skeptic before this time, was converted when he believed he also saw the resurrected Jesus.
- Just a few years later, Saul of Tarsus (Paul) became a Christian believer, due to an experience that he also believed was an appearance of the risen Jesus.
|Lets get this straight: none of the above are "historical facts." They may be facts within Christian theology, but there is zero evidence for any of them. For instance, we have no verification that Jesus was crucified, which is also very unlikely given the story of the trial that contradicts dozens of historical facts.
Jesus would not have been buried in a private tomb for the rich, nor would he be buried as described in the gospels. The central message of Christianity was not the resurrection, but atonement. The resurrection is completely pointless without atonement. We have not historically verified or discover any tomb. Actions made in response to beliefs do not make the beliefs true, for instance, mass UFO hysteria do not verify that UFO's exist. We cannot even verify if the disciples were even martyred since all the testimonies of this happening comes from the Bible. We have no evidence for James and as for Paul, he is the first person to bring to the world the story of Jesus Christ excluding all the major details, teachings, words, and life of Jesus.|
The New Testament Story is Not a Legend
|They claim that the bible was written within two generations after the death of Jesus. The Christian story is corroborated with non-Christian writers. The New Testament mentions 30 historical figures that have been confirmed by sources outside the New Testament. "Therefore, the New Testament cannot be a legend." The end.
||Of course the Bible can be a legend. A legend begins with a basic story (true or false) that grows into something more embellished and exaggerated as the years pass. When we look at the documents of the resurrection of Jesus, we see that the earliest accounts are very simple, later retellings are more complex and the latest tales are fantastic. In other words, it looks exactly like a legend. Here is a list of things considered “extraordinary” (natural and supernatural) in the stories between the crucifixion and ascension of Jesus. These include: earthquakes, angel(s), rolling stone, dead bodies crawling from Jerusalem graves (“Halloween”-Matthew 27:52-53), Jesus appearing out of thin air (now you see him) and disappearing (now you don’t), the “fish story” miracle (John 21:1-14), Peter’s noncanonical “extravaganza” exit from the tomb, a giant Jesus with head in the clouds, a talking cross and a bodily ascension into heaven. Count the number of messengers at the tomb, which also grow over time, as well as the certainty of the claim that they were angels. Paul: 0 angels. Mark: 1 young man sitting. Matthew: 1 angel sitting. Luke: 2 men standing. Peter: 2 men/angels walking. John: 2 angels sitting. The bodily ascensions is absent from the first three stories, but appears in the last three starting in the year 85 C.E. This ballooning of details reveals footprints of legend, and we have barely scratched the surface.|
The New Testament Story Is Not a Lie
|The New Testament included embarrassing details, difficult and demanding sayings, and carefully distinguish Jesus' words from their own. They included eye-witnesses and facts that their readers could verify, and encouraged people to do so. "If that's not to confirm their truthfulness, then their martyrdom should remove any doubt." The end.
||As we already went over, they are not embarrassing details, and embarrassing details do not provide credulity to a story.
Carefully distinguished Jesus' words from their own!? A close observation and textual analysis reveals the exact opposite. In fact, none of the words attributed to Jesus can be confirmed to be his. Rather, over the development stages of the Bible, we have demonstrated and proven that the Bible contains many interpolations, fabrications, forgeries, and even tales of Jesus completely made up hundreds of years after Jesus died (such as the "he without sin cast the first stone" story).|
The New Testament Story Is Not an Embellishment
|The New Testament writers were very accurate "as evidenced by well over 140 historical confirmed details. They recorded miracles in those same historical confirmed narratives, and they did so without apparent embellishment or significant theological comment." The end.
||Geisler and Turek do not name a single one of these 140 "historical confirmed details." Rather, all the mentioned miracles in the New Testament have been show to have never happened, such as the great eclipse, the earthquake, or the vast zombie invasion of Jerusalem when Jesus supposedly died.|
So Is the New Testament True?
|If the above is accepted, then we know beyond a resonance doubt that the New testament authors accurately reported what they saw. Geisler and Turek say that skeptics have one last out: the New Testament authors were deceived. Geisler and Turek say that given what they have gone over, this cannot be plausible. Geisler and Turek go over "Fact Number 5" from above, and point out that scholars accept that the disciples believed they experienced the risen Jesus. Geisler and Turek conclude that there must be an explanation to explain away the eyewitnesses and contemporaries to the resurrection and the other miracles, which they go over in the next section.
||The problem is, none of the above can be accepted. Based on all that we reviewed, the evidence provided is rather weak, stretched or nonexistent.|
Skeptical About Skeptical Theories
|Geisler and Turek go over the following alternative theories;
Hallucination Theory - the disciples were hallucinating. Geisler and Turek object, claiming that hallucinations do not occur in large groups. Jesus supposedly appeared to people in a forty-day period, to disciples to 500 people, plus Jesus was physically touched and ate food. Geisler and Turek say the second fatal flaw is the empty tomb.
|Hallucination does occur within groups. For instance, the drug ergot was common back then and often found in bread, which in turn lead to many hallucinogenic visions. There is no evidence for the supposed "500 witnesses," rather it is more likely that these witnesses were a complete invention by Paul. Finally, as already stated, there is no historical evidence of the tomb, assuming that there was one to begin with. |
|The Disciples Went to the Wrong Tomb - Gesiler and Turek object, saying that even if the disciples went to the wrong tomb, the Roman and Jewish authorities could have gone to the right tomb, picked up Jesus' corpse and end the whole thing on the spot. Second, this does not explained how Jesus appeared 12 different times.
||Christianity did not start as a mainstream religion at the start. Christians were a very small minority and very diverse in their beliefs. If there was a person buried by the Romans, it would not bother them at all to verify a small cult as false, especially in a land that was surrounded by supernatural beliefs all across the map.|
|Swoon or Apparent Theory - Did Jesus really die on the cross? Geisler and Turek state that Jesus' friends and enemies believed he was dead and the Romans (professional executioners) also believed he was dead. Brutal evidence of crucifixion has been discovered and is known to have happened occasionally during this time. Not only did people back then believe that Jesus died, modern day medical doctors believe Jesus died. The fact that John said that blood and water spilled from Jesus side wound should end all doubt. The second flaw is that Jesus was wrapped in 75 lbs of material, and they would not mistakenly do this to a living person. Third, how could a brutally beaten and bleeding man survive 36 hours later? Fourthly, how could he unwrap himself and get past the Roman guards? If he could accomplish this, he would appear as a broken bleeding man to his followers, not an image that is praiseworthy. Fifth, the swoon-theory cannot explain the bright-light appearance to Paul. Finally, Josephus, Thallus, Tacitus, and the Jewish Talmud all confirm that Jesus died.
||The article examining the evidence for the historical existence of Jesus Christ reveals that Josephus, Taticus, and so forth are not contemporary eye-witnesses, nor do they verify or prove the resurrection or any part of Jesus Christ. They merely repeat the commonly held belief of the small band of followers. There is a fine line between reporting about the beliefs of a group than verifying the beliefs are true. It would be like modern day scholars examining the life of Joseph Smith, but that does not prove that he was visited by an angel. |
|The Disciples Stole the Body - Geisler and Turek says that this theory makes the Bible authors are all liars because they faked the whole thing just to get beaten and martyred.
||Again, there is no evidence that the disciples were martyred except in the very book that claims that they were. |
|A Substitute Took Jesus Place on the Cross - A favorite amongst Muslims. Geisler and Turek claim there is no evidence at all for this, coming from the assertion of the Qu'ran 600 years later and thus not an authoritative source unlike the one written by eye-witnesses. Geisler and Turek ask how could so many people be mistaken, comparing it to someone claiming someone who looked like Abraham Lincoln was shot in the theater.
||While this argument may have arisen from Muslims, it is still valid. While it may seem unlikely to anyone, even a non-Christian, that a faker was crucified in Jesus place, it is extremely more likely than a miracle since it is historical plausible unlike the resurrection. Geisler and Turek's analogy is flawed, since we can actually verify that Abraham Lincoln was shot and assassinated. |
|The New Testament Writers Copied Pagan Resurrection Myths - Geisler and Turek say that skeptics are quick to point out similarities in the resurrection story with other pagan myths. They claim this cannot be because there is nothing in the New Testament "is anything mythological." The story of Jesus actually has eye-witnesses and real historical figures. Second, this cannot explain the empty tomb, the martyrdom, or testimony of non-Christians. Third, if they were copying from other pagan myths that were known of that day, the Jewish or Roman officials would have pointed them out. Fourth, no Greek or Roman myth "spoke of the literal incarnation of a monotheistic God into human form by the way of a literal virgin birth followed by the death and resurrection. The Greeks were polytheists, not monotheists, who believed in resurrection into another physical body, not the same body. Fifth, the first real parallel of a dying and rising god does not appear until 150 CE. They compare the resurrection of Jesus with Osiris, in which Osiris is only brought back to life in a shadowy underworld. Finally, they say that even if there were parallel myths around the time of Jesus, it does not mean that the gospel authors copied from them.
||While this counterargument is deeply flawed, they do not examine the parallels of Jesus' life with the Old Testament novels, in which Jesus seems to be based entirely on.
Geisler and Turek seriously have not done their homework in regards to pagan theology or contemporary arguments from pagans. justin Martyr said the following about Christ and Christians,
Pagan myths are full of hundreds of crucified god-men who resurrected physically in their own bodies (such as Hercules, Dionysus, Attis, Mithras, etc.) that all predate Christianity.
“”And when we say also that the Word, who is the first-birth of God, was produced without sexual union, and that He, Jesus Christ, our Teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter.
Why Don't All Scholars Believe?
|Geisler and Turek claim the reason why some scholars refuse to look at the evidence is the same why "Darwinists" refuse to look at the evidence that refutes their view: they have a philosophical bias. They bring up the debate between William Lane Craig and Crossan. They argue that Crossan, who does not represent all scholars, dismiss the "Strong" historical evidence because they have ahead of time dismissed all miracles.
||For the simple reason that history cannot prove miracles, there is actually no evidence that miracles even take place, ever. Nothing in this book has provided a shred of evidence to the contrary.|
Context! Context! Context!
|While Geisler and Turek agree that a natural explanation should first come to mind when an unexplained event happens, this does not rule out miracles. Geisler and Turek throw out Crossan's presupposition (because God exists!).
|1. The Theistic Nature Of This Universe Makes Miracles Possible: Geisler and Turek argue that they have proven that God is real, and thus we live in a theistic universe, making miracles possible. They argue God can communicate with us through prophets, which is a miracle in of itself we can confirm.
|2. Ancient Documents Say That Miracles Are To Be Expected: Gesiler and Turek argue that the Old Testament, written a hundred or so years in advance, predict the coming of the Messiah, his specific time of death and his resurrection (more on this in the next chapter)
||As we will review in the next chapter, these “biblical predictions” are not predictions or prophecies at all. They are merely parallels between vague Old Testament verses acquainted with the life of Jesus. As some skeptics of the historicity of Jesus, these parallels are proof that the biblical authors deliberately manufactured the image of Jesus based on Old Testament scripture (which the authors would be very familiar with) to give the impression that Jesus was the Messiah. |
|3. Historically Confirmed Eye Witness Documents Say Miracles Are Actual: Here, Geisler and Turek repeat that 27 of the manuscripts were written by 9 authors who were eyewitnesses or contemporary sources. Geisler and Turek argue that we know this is the case because the gospels pass all the historicity tests described in Chapter 9;
- The gospels were written early (15-40 years or within two generation).
- They contain eyewitness testimonies.
- They contain independent testimonies from multiple sources.
- They are written by trustworthy people who were taught to live to the highest standards of ethics and were willing to die for their testimony.
- They describe events, locations, and individuals corroborated by archeology.
- They describe events that their enemies confirm were true.
- Describe details that were embarrassing to the authors and Jesus himself.
|Geisler and Turek are not historians, and as any starting historian can tell you: the above criteria is not complete or is rather incredibly weak.
For instance, the gospels are not primary sources, so already they have lost a lot of their validity. Geisler and Turek date the gospels WAY to early on purpose. He gospels do not contain independent testimonies, since Matthew and Luke obtained a majority of their information from Mark. There is zero other independent sources provided from non-biblical sources (in fact, when one searches for any, they find absolutely none.
Willing to die for their testimonies is not full proof evidence, and historians are aware of this as well as Geisler and Turek. If one would ask them if Islamic martyrs or Japanese kamikazes would died for their beliefs, does that make their beliefs true? Of course not.
|4. Additional Confirmation: Geisler and Turek make the following statement “When you put the evidence in the proper context, you can see why we don't have enough faith to be skeptical about it. It is a lot more reasonable to be skeptical about skepticism.” They go on to say that is a skeptic still does not accept the above points, they must provide evidence to the alternative. Already, the announce the skeptics have failed that the resurrection explains all the evidence.
|| Of course, because as everyone who had logic in school knows, you can imply anything you want from a wrong assumption. |
Extraordinary Claims and Self-Canceling Evidence
|Extraordinary evidence Geisler and Turek state that the few remaining objections brought up by skeptics is the claim that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” So they examine what skeptics mean by the word “extraordinary.” First they examine the definition “beyond the natural” in which case they argue that skeptics are asking for a second miracle to prove a miracle. But in order to to that, one must accept miracles happen. They also argue that it would take a third miracle to prove the second miracle, which would go on to infinity.
Next, they examine the definition being “repeatable” as in a lab, to which they argue cannot be since nothing in history can be repeated to test. They go on to state “Atheists ... believe in the Big Bang,” and, “Atheists believe in spontaneous generation and macroevolution.”
|The last piece of “atheists believe x, y, z...” is not true. Some atheists may believe in those things. Some Christians also believe in those things. Some atheists do not necessarily believe in those things at all. The only thing you can say for sure about all atheists is that they have no belief in gods.|
Chapter 13: Who is Jesus: God? Or Just a Great Moral Teacher?
|Geisler and Turek in this chapter examine the prophecies that support miracles and the Jesus was the Messiah.
|Gesiler and Turek argue that Isaiah 53 is about a “Suffering Servant.” There are several “Servant Songs” in this part of Isaiah. They summarize some points from these songs, and ask “To whom is this referring?”
- He is elected by the Lord, anointed by the Spirit, and promised success in his endeavor (42:1,4).
- Justice is a prime concern of his ministry (42:1,4).
- His ministry has an international scope (42:1,6).
- God predestined him to his calling (49:1).
- He is a gifted teacher (49:2).
- He experiences discouragement in his ministry (49:4).
- His ministry extends to the Gentiles (49:6).
- The Servant encounters strong opposition and resistance to his teaching, even of a physically violent nature (50:4-6).
- He is determined to finish what God called him to do (50:7).
- The Servant has humble origins with little outward prospects for success (53:1-2).
- He experiences suffering and affliction (53:3).
- The Servant accepts vicarious and substitutionary suffering on behalf of his people (53:4-6,12).
- He is put to death after being condemned (53:7-9).
- Incredibly, he comes back to life and is exalted above all rulers (53:10-12; 52:13-15).
- The servant is also sinless (53:9).
|The problem is Christians like Geisler and Turek read the passages too casually. I realize that your interpretation is hoary with age. Christians have always seen Jesus in these passages, just like they see Jesus on pancakes, grilled cheese sandwiches, rust on refrigerator doors and water stains under bridges.
Context is what we need to look at first. Chapters 40-54 of Isaiah were written by an anonymous author about a century and a half after Isaiah died. The Israelites’ world had changed dramatically since Isaiah’s death. Babylon laid siege to Jerusalem in 588 B.C. and destroyed the city in about 586 B.C. The Jews were taken to Babylon, where they suffered in captivity for about half a century. In 539 B.C., the emperor Cyrus took Babylon and decreed that the Jews were free to return to their homeland and rebuild Jerusalem.
The first verse of chapter 40 says plainly, “Comfort, comfort my people.” The author encourages Israel, saying that its sins have been paid for, that its return to Jerusalem would be accompanied by miracles, that it would become a powerful, righteous nation, that it would conquer its enemies, establish peace, and offer the salvation of Yahweh to the entire world. In Isaiah 45:1, Yahweh calls Cyrus his “anointed.” The Hebrew word is mah-shee-agh, or messiah. Cyrus was the only messiah of interest to Israel in 538 B.C. He was the hero who saved Israel from the Babylonian captivity.
|Geisler and Turek argue that the above verse predicts that Jesus would be from the seed of a woman rather than from the seed of a man. The above verse is God speaking to Satan: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” They argue that Jesus is the one who will crush Satan, but Satan is depicted here from the serpent.
||Jesus or Satan are not mentioned anywhere. This is about a serpent. On the surface, this passage is a myth that explains the enmity between humans and snakes. Snakes strike the heels of people. People crush the heads of snakes. The passage doesn’t say anything about a future messiah. While it says the “seed of a woman” this does not point to Jesus, but everyone. Since the seed of man is not included, many Christians think this points to Jesus coming from a virgin mother. However, if they are going to be so literal, is Satan the seed of a serpent? |
You must enter at least 1 field of text.
You must enter at least 1 field of text.
You must enter at least 1 field of text.
You must enter at least 1 field of text.
|“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times" is supposedly about the Messiah being born in Bethlehem.
||"Bethlehem Ephratah" in Micah 5:2 refers not to a town, but to a clan: the clan of Bethlehem, who was the son of Caleb’s second wife, Ephrathah (1 Chronicles 2:18, 2:50-52 & 4:4). B) The prophecy (if that is what it is) does not refer to the Messiah, but rather to a military leader, as can be seen from Micah 5:6. This leader is supposed to defeat the Assyrians, which, of course, Jesus never did. It should also be noted that Matthew altered the text of Micah 5:2 by saying: "And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah" rather than "Bethlehem Ephratah" as is said in Micah 5:2. He did this, intentionally no doubt, to make this verse appear to refer to the town of Bethlehem rather than the family clan. |
|“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty.” Geisler and Turek argue this verse is about the Messiah, who will be preceded by a messenger, will suddenly come to the temple.
||Lets look at this in context, from Malachi 2:17 to Malachi 3:5. The passage begins with the Israelites saying that Yahweh does not punish evil. Yahweh responds by saying that his messenger is coming, who would prepare the way before him. He will come in judgment against evildoers, and will refine the Levites so they can bring offerings in righteousness, acceptable to Yahweh. Did Jesus or his messenger purify the Levites? No. Was it Jesus’ mission to renew the system of animal sacrifices? Nope, rather Jesus abolished animal sacrifices, and thus Jesus did not fulfill this passage. |
You must enter at least 1 field of text.
|Geisler and Turek argue that this verse is a prediction that God himself would be pierced, as happened when Jesus was crucified.
||The piercing of Yahweh is not really a prediction. Zechariah mentions “the one they have pierced,” as if it had already happened when the passage was written. If the piercing were to occur in the future, Zechariah would have written, “the one they will pierce,” or “the one they will have pierced.” At any rate, it seems to me that the piercing of Yahweh is not physical, but metaphorical. Israel had “pierced” Yahweh – broken his heart – by disregarding him and his laws. |
You must enter at least 1 field of text.
You must enter at least 1 field of text.
Chapter 14: What Did Jesus Talk About the Bible?
Chapter 15: Conclusion: The Judge, the Servant King, and the Box Top.
Appendix 1: If God, Why Evil?
Appendix 2: Isn't That Just Your Interpretation?
Appendix 3: Why the Jesus Seminar Doesn't Speak For Jesus
- ↑ Matzke, N. J. 2003. Evolution in (brownian) space: a model for the origin of the bacterial flagellum.  or  (see also 'Background to "Evolution in (Brownian) space"',  or )
- ↑ Metzger, Canon, pp. 44-49
- ↑ http://www.apollonius.net/forgery.pdf
- ↑ http://www.infidels.org/kiosk/article125.html
- ↑ http://rationalrevolution.net/articles/jesus_myth_history.htm#3