What is the meaning of life? Where did we come from, who are we, why are we here, how are we to live, and where are we going? These are the questions that everyone at some point in their life begins to ask themselves and whenever they do they are quickly told that no one can find the answers. Yet if no one is ever meant to find these answers why do we all inherently ask ourselves them? These are precisely the questions that Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek dare to ask and dare even more to answer in their book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. The whole book is one big quest to find the “box top to the puzzle of life”. They believe by putting together all the pieces of the puzzle it will lead them to see the big picture and finally know the answers to the mystery of existence.
Many Christians might tell you that to attempt to put forward logical and philosophical arguments for the truth claims of the Bible aren’t necessary and maybe for some people it isn’t. Even still C.S. Lewis once said something that I think is even more important now than when he first said it in stating “good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.”[i] The truth is some people have intellectual stumbling blocks and they need those stumbling blocks to be removed before they can either honestly accept or reject Christ. To those of us who were taught for our entire life that it is unreasonable to believe that God exists that can be a plaguing doubt in the back of our minds- even if you are a mature Christian believer. If you have any doubts what so ever about God or Christianity, this book is for you.
I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist is comprised of 15 chapters jammed packed with painstakingly accurate and delicately gathered scientific and philosophic findings that start answering if truth is knowable and end at the conclusions that Jesus is God and Christianity is the truth found on the box top. That is a pretty big claim, but objectively speaking Geisler and Turek pull it off. After reading this book it will truly take you more faith to be an Atheist, or even an advocate of any other religion, than it would take you to be a Christian. Chapters 1 through 3 will give compelling evidence that it is more logical to believe in the existence of God than disbelieve, and all of this without so much as referring to any biblical sources. The rest of the book builds a case on who this God could be and we find that based on the evidence found in the first three chapters it has to be one of three religions; Islam, Judaism, or Christianity. After examining the evidence for the New and Old Testaments they conclude that only Christianity passes through the fire of diligent testing.
One of the reasons why I love this book is because it is comprehensive and yet straight to the point. If you find yourself reading a Christian Apologetic such as the Case for Faith you will no doubt find yourself bored with the lengthy introductions and slow manner in getting to the evidence (that is if you’re the type of person like me who just wants to get straight to the facts). I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist on the other hand does an amazing job of giving us the straight facts yet in a way that anyone can understand it. One of the key tools that they use to build this case is what they call the “Road Runner Tactic”. The Road Runner tactic is taking a self-defeating statement and turning its claim back on itself to reveal the fallacy in meeting its own standard. For example saying “there is no truth” makes an absolute truth claim to be true and contradicts itself. Geisler and Turek explain why they call it the “Road Runner Tactic” in stating
“We call this process of turning a self-defeating statement on itself the “Road Runner” tactic because it reminds us of the cartoon characters Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. As you may remember from Saturday morning cartoons, the Coyote’s one and only quest is to chase down the speedy Road Runner and make him his evening meal. But the Road Runner is simply too fast and too smart. Just when the Coyote is gaining ground, the Road Runner stops short at the cliff’s edge leaving the passing Coyote momentarily suspended in midair, supported by nothing. As soon as the Coyote realizes he has no ground to stand on, he plummets to the valley floor and crashes in a heap. Well, that’s exactly what the Road Runner tactic can do to the relativists and postmodernists of our day. It helps them realize that their arguments cannot sustain their own weight.”[ii]
One of the most impressive sections in this book (and there are many) comes early on where Geisler and Turek disprove the great philosophers Kant and Hume in nothing more than a single respiration. They first use the Road Runner tactic to turn Kant’s logic back on itself (showing that he violates the second law of logic- the law of non-contradiction). Geisler effectively dismantles Kant in declaring,
“He contradicts his own premise by saying that no one can know the real world while he claims to know something about it, namely that the real world is unknowable! In effect, Kant says the truth about the real world is that there are no truths about the real world”.[iii]
If Kant can claim that he knows there are no truths that are knowable about the real world, that in and of itself is an absolute and knowable truth claim and so his logic self-destructs. Geisler then goes on to explain that Kant also uses a “nothing-but” fallacy. We may, like one of Geisler’s former students, say that it can’t be that easy- you can’t destroy a central tenet of the last one hundred plus years of philosophical thought in just a few sentences. To that Geisler would respond “If someone makes a simple mistake, it only takes a simple correction to point it out.”[iv]
Overall I give I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist 11 out of 10. It is a solid book scientifically, philosophically, theologically, and spiritually. If you come to this book with a humble attitude seeking to know the box top, the big picture to life, then you will surely come away changed. If you don’t then it will require you to have more faith than you previously had, much more faith than it would require you to believe in Christ and the teachings in the Bible. Philip E. Johnson once said “One who claims to be a skeptic of one set of beliefs is actually a true believer in another set of beliefs.” Everyone is a true believer in something; so then the only logically question to ask yourself is which set of beliefs take the least amount of faith- which set of beliefs is the most logical to believe? If you are an atheist I would like to humbly challenge you to give this book some honest consideration and if you’re a Christian I would like to challenge you to do the same because it will take your faith deeper (and yet surprisingly more simple) than it has ever been before.
©2013, Matthew W. Camphuis