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I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist
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1,144 of 1,266 people found the following review helpful
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THE BOOK:

I am an agnostic who is looking for something to believe in. I have searched for years now, and generally am met with lukewarm explanations and radical fundamentalism from both camps. I am not self-righteous or pig-headed enough to categorically dismiss atheist or religious arguments simply because their tone bothered me, but it does get tiresome to be on the receiving end of what is usually more bitterness and dogmatic posturing than any kind of intelligent thought or reason.

Again, I'm talking about atheists as well as religious zealots.

Which is why I enjoyed this book so much.

This is a concise, well-crafted, thoughtful and thought-provoking piece of work. There is real insight to be gleaned from the pages, and although the sum total isn't what any open-minded person would call 100% convincing, it definitely gets much closer than anything else I've discovered.

There is much talk about this book setting up straw men to be knocked down, and although the book does do that on a few occasions, it is by no means what the ultimate premise is based on. In fact, although there were some sketchy arguments and hastily covered bases, and although there were explanations missing and topics omitted, I still felt, on the whole, that it was one of the more successful books I've read from either camp.

The tone (while every once in a while devolving into brief moments of snideness and cockiness) is generally quite intelligent and emotionally removed. There is little here that is bullying or smug, and for that I was grateful. It leant the text, with its vast array of debates and discussions, a snappy and no-nonsense delivery that helped elucidate the more hazily understood, philosophical explanations.

Although, in the end, I wasn't entirely convinced by the book, I was pushed much closer to being convinced than I have yet by any book, religious, atheistic, or otherwise.

THE CRITICS:

In the course of my research, I read the reviews and the comments made by consumers on Amazon.com in order to determine how best to spend my money. I don't want to buy an atheist or christian apologetic book if what I'm going to get is watered down theories and trite cliches.

At this point, I think it would be appropriate to point out that this is, in fact, a forum for discussing the merits of the product, and not the merits of the beliefs or arguments espoused within. I understand that it's hard to remove the deeper values of the work from the work itself, but it can be done. So, if, for instance, if you are an honest consumer, you can point out the cinematic brilliance of films like the Last Temptation of Christ in spite of what that film may or may not say about the religion you may or may not adhere to.

I was dismayed by how many inflammatory and rather pointless criticisms I found for this book. I'd never read it, but I could tell by the tone and stance of the reviews that they were reacting more out of indignation toward the subject matter than out of any knowledge of the text itself. One reviewer scorned the book for being written by David Limbaugh, when the man only wrote the forward. Another person decried the book for being "all about politics," when, as far as I could tell, there wasn't a word about politics, just beliefs or the lack of them.

If you are a critic of christianity, that's fine. Trust me, I understand your point of view. But your clumsily summarized view points and your indignant rebuttals do little to enlighten people who may be interested in buying this book. There are forums in which you can openly discuss and debate these topics, but this is not one of them. This is about saying whether or not the book is worth buying. Instead of doing that, most of you have instead attempted to explain your own beliefs, as if you want to write your own book in response to Christianity, but can't be bothered.

For someone such as myself, looking for intelligent and candid help with the question of Larger Purposes (or their absence), your poorly worded rants and emotional appeals -- especially those of you wearing your rage on your sleeve -- do nothing to help me. For future reference, if you really want to help someone like me understand your points of view, instead of typing out some sloppy summation or more key-worded dismissals (argument from ignorance! straw men!), perhaps you could actually RECOMMEND A DIFFERENT BOOK.

I am always on the lookout for some way to increase my knowledge of the world, and my knowledge of what that world may do to better explain the validity or non-validity of any religion. Unlike many of you, though, I haven't been convinced yet, either way. I read your reviews in the hopes that you may be able to point me down the same path that led to your own enlightenment of absolute certainty, but all most of you did was make vacuous complaints about the book and then insult people who might actually believe or buy it.

So, if you've come online to write a scathing review or to tear apart the praisers of this book, go right ahead. But keep in mind that your own viewpoints -- as right or wrong as they might be -- are less welcome than your criticisms of the actual book in question. And if you DO think you've got it all figured out, and if you DON'T think this book does, you could at least try to share that knowledge by pointing someone like me in the right direction, and by doing that without the same snobbish condecension that you sometimes find in the relgious believers whom you so adamantly decry.
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300 of 421 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 2007
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I'm new to apologetics and the arguments of evolution and creation, theists and atheists and the such. I have been reading books and listened to debates on the subject. I was looking for a book that outlined, explained and provided evidence for a creator or at least identified the proofs and facts for why theists believe in a creator. Instead all I got was a book that explained everything that was wrong with the 'atheists' arguments and very little of the former. Its frustrating to read these books because they spend more time arguing why the other is wrong instead of concentrating their efforts on arguing their own points. The 'atheists' books that I've read tend to do less mud slinging and spend more time stating their points than the 'theists' ones. This book does a much better job of reinforcing the beliefs of a believer than shaking the foundation of a non-believer.

I was also frustrated by the use of probability as a reason for a creator. This idea of "what are the chances of things being as they are today." But this assumes that the result of things being as they are today was planned from the start. So it feels backwards to figure out the probability of things as they are today. If you apply this thinking it makes everything that happens nearly improbable. For instance, what are the chance of me being alive? My parents needed to meet, they needed to be born so, my grandparents needed to meet and their parents needed to meet so on and so on. All of the circumstances and things that needed to happen for me to be alive is nearly improbable unless me being here was planned from the start.

I'm paraphrasing but, the authors state that in order for things to be just right and as they are today to support life that there is one chance in one number with 138 zeros after it. Therefore there must be a creator. The authors are confusing probability as evidence. Later in the book they denounce David Hume's anti-miracle argument because they say that "Hume confuses probability with evidence." So where it benefits the authors case they use probability as reinforcement and then in the other case say probability is bunk reasoning.

One final thought is the idea behind DNA and the single cell that houses 1000 encyclopedia's full of data and how could this 'just happen'. (I'm probably way out of my league here.) The authors say that 'Darwinists' (isn't it evolutionists?) say this cell magically appeared. I'm no biologist but isn't it stated that evolutionists don't say that life started at this single 1000 encyclopedia cell but that the original cells had no DNA and reproduction started by division (falling apart) and slowly grew from there?

Overall, if you are a believer this will reinforce your original beliefs as it enhances and explains stuff you've already been taught and/or studied. If you are a non-believer its just going to leave you frustrated and you'll have to try another book like I will have to do.
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260 of 365 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
"I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist" convincingly shows why atheism and other non-Christian views require a lot more faith than Christianity. Geisler and Turek build their case from the question of truth all the way to truth of the Bible. Along the way, in a readable and often entertaining way, they debunk relativism, agnosticism, atheism, Darwinism and New Testament liberalism. Their explanations of how the big bang, the design found in both the Universe and living organisms (like humans!), and morality point to God are worth the price of the book.

I especially like the clarity they bring to the creation-evolution debate. Their point about how science is built on philosophy helps clear away much of the dust kicked into that often raucous debate. "It's not about the Bible vs. science or religion vs. science" they write, "but about good science vs. bad science." Geisler and Turek show that it's actually the Darwinists who are practicing the bad science. Darwinists rule out intelligent causes before they even look at the evidence. In doing so, they ignore observation-- the very foundation of science-- much as the opponents of Galileo once did. That's bad science built on bad philosophy.

I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist has four great chapters that systematically show why the New Testament documents are telling the truth. The authors show why we can be assured that the documents were written within a few decades of the evens which they report and contain historically-confirmed eyewitness details. They also cite non-Christian writers, archaeology, and list over 30 characters found in the New Testament that have been confirmed by secular sources. But they are at their best when they point out how the New Testament story is an unlikely invention. After listing a series of embarrassing gaffes of the apostles, Geisler and Turek ask the reader, "If you were a New Testament writer, would you include these embarrassing details if you were making up a story? Would you write that one of your primary leaders was called 'Satan' by Jesus, denied the Lord three times, hid during the crucifixion, and was later corrected on a theological issue? Would you depict yourselves as uncaring, bumbling cowards, and the women-whose testimony was not even admissible in court-as the brave ones who stood by Jesus and later discovered the empty tomb? Would you admit that some of you (the eleven remaining disciples) doubted the very Son of God after he had proven himself raised to all of you?" Geisler and Turek don't have enough faith to believe it's a made-up story. Neither do I.

This is an engaging and affirming book with a vast scope. I highly recommend it!
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58 of 81 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
I was pleasantly surprised at both the quantity and quality of the evidence Geisler and Turek presented in this book; I guess I was expecting "Young Earth" material and a repetitious gloss of points made by Josh Mcdowell. (I borrowed the book from a church so conservative you half expect a moat and a drawbridge as you walk in the door.)

Some points negative reviewers below make hit the mark, I think. One can criticize the tone at times; the authors do look to be "stacking the deck" a bit. (Though the writing is generally good, and the illustrations are often amusing, and add clarity to the points they reference.) Like some other readers, I found the biology a bit spotty, (the astronomy a bit better), and some arguments from philosophy too abstract to persuade fully. For instance, how can illness be a result of the fall of man, when fossils deformed by sickness can be found from millions of years before human beings existed? It is also true that one must discuss chemical evolution to refute the idea that life arose through natural processes. (For a really first-rate and respectful discussion of this issue in depth, see Rana and Ross, Origins of Life: Biblical and Evolutionary Models Face Off.) Geisler and Turek follow C. S. Lewis in taking a philosophical approach to miracles, asking in effect, "Could miracles happen if God exists?" But it seems to me that the better question is, "Do miracles, in fact, happen?" I think an empirical argument for miracles much strengthens the case for Christianity: for many people, including me, the Bible seems more credible because they have seen evidence that miracles do in fact happen.

But all in all, the authors have crammed a rich feast of mostly telling evidence for the Christian faith into the book's 400 pages. Many of the points they offer, even on science and philosophy, are effective. And the "historical Jesus" section (140 pages) is excellent. Either the skeptics who claim there is nothing new in this book have read a lot more than me (and reading books for and against the Christian faith is both my hobby and vocation), or they have overlooked some of the good stuff here.

And looking over their criticism, I think the latter is more likely. Several critics assume that Christian faith means "a firm belief in something for which there is no proof," or that religion "tells us to ignore reason and accept faith." Having just completed a historical study of Christian thought on faith and reason from the 2nd Century to modern times, I would argue that this is not at all what Christians usually mean by faith. In fact, as physicist and theologian John Polkinghorne points out, faith in the Chrisitian sense is arrived at by means rather similar to scientific hypothesizing. Another critic implies that the Big Bang is popular among laymen, but not scientists. Nonsense. Another complains that Geisler and Turek describe Buddhism, Hinduism, and the New Age as "pantheistic," though Buddhism can be atheistic, and Hinduism polytheistic. Actually, the authors say "some forms" of Buddhism are pantheistic, and (page 198) Hinduism is "pantheistic and polytheistic."

The authors and their critics are however both wrong in overlooking theism in non-Western cultures. Geisler and Turek describe Confucianism as "atheistic," though Confucius himself believed in God, as did his most important, and many later, disciples. Theism is also common in other non-Western cultures. (See chapter 9 of my Jesus and the Religions of Man.) The almost universal awareness of God is one evidence against the claim, also advanced below, that theism is some kind of a subjective cultural accident.

Finally, another critic claims that none of those who wrote the New Testament personally saw Jesus. Actually several of the authors of the New Testament say they did, and (despite radical criticism) there is good reason to think they did. (See my Why the Jesus Seminar can't find Jesus, and Grandma Marshall Could, for an in-depth rebuttal of such modern criticism.)

G. K. Chesterton said that an open mind, like an open mouth, is meant to be "closed on something solid." If you are just looking for reasons to gripe, you can probably find things to criticize, even to mock, here. But if you are looking for solid truth in which to sink your cognitive canines, and are willing to consider evidence for the Christian faith, you can find a lot of good evidence in this book (and elsewhere) that deserves a careful taste-test.
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24 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 2005
Format: Paperback
First (as you'll see after reading the introduction), "I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist" would be more aptly titled "I Don't Have Enough Faith Not to Be a Christian". Second, something that must be understood is that authors Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek had about a 400 page restriction in which to write all of their subjects, so that reduced each argument to a mere 30 or so pages each. With more space, they could have gone into more detail with their arguments. This isn't to say that the arguments presented weren't well done (for the most part, they were done very proficiently), only that they had a lot of areas to cover. Thus of course some things had to be left out due to limited space.

Now, one of the parts which lacked articulation in my opinion was in their "kalam" version of the the cosmological argument, where their philosophical argument about the impossibility of traversing an infinite seemed somewhat rushed and underdone. They made their point nevertheless (although some might find the way they use "days" instead of just "events" in their argument somewhat odd), but I just more prefer William Lane Craig's presentation of the "kalam" argument. But other than that, their presentation of the Cosmological Argument was excellently done in the form of the "S-U-R-G-E" evidence.

Now, something should be brought up: Intelligent Design vs. Evolution. I personally feel that this is a tired issue that's unworthy of the amount of attention and controversey it receives. This is mostly a non-issue for me. In the long run, it really seems very unimportant and even irrelevant when compared with, say, the existence of God, the beginning of the universe, the apparent fine-tuning of the universe, and Jesus' resurrection from the dead. Furthermore, evolutionary theory can even be used against the very naturalistic philosophy it is typically touted by! (See Alvin Plantinga's "Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism".)

Besides this, the book was excellent, with the chapters dealing with the historicity of the New Testament (9 - 12) being some of the most intense and fascinating in the book (if you're anything like I was, you'll probably think about your copy of the New Testament in an entirely different light than prior to reading "I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist").

The first two chapters concerning truth were of particular interest to me, as they exposed the self-defeating nature of the relativism that is so prevelent in today's postmodern society. After those two chapters however, some relativists/postmodernists may still deny that absolute truth and reality exist and/or is knowable. Geisler and Turek weren't able to cover every area and answer every single objection to absolute truth due to limited available space, but the books I'll now recommend cover it all:
"Truth Decay" by Douglas R. Groothuis, "Telling the Truth" by D. A. Carson (recommended by *this* book in the notes), "Being and Becoming" by F. F. Centore (very expensive book at 85 dollars, but from what I hear it completely disembowels postmodernism), "The Gagging of God" by D. A. Carson, and "Truth or Consequences" by Millard J. Erickson (should be used as a companion with "Truth Decay").

More advanced apologetics I recommend include William Lane Craig's "Reasonable Faith" and "The Son Rises"; Gary Habermas and Mike Licona's "The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus" (beginner friendly as well as helpful to more seasoned apologists); Norman Geisler's "When Skeptics Ask"; and J.P. Moreland's "Scaling the Secular City". Other excellent introductory books are Lee Strobel's "The Case for Christ", "The Case for Faith", and "The Case for a Creator". And of course the excellent website tektonics.org is great for Bible difficulties, alleged contradictions, NT historicity, the resurrection, and nearly everything else!

As an aside, I take note that there's currently a "refutation" of this book which can be found by typing "i don't have enough faith to be a christian" into your browser and clicking "go", or hitting "enter" or what have you. It's written by one Kyle Williams, a self-proclaimed "freethinker".

Well, I can certainly say that this response Kyle Williams wrote to "I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist" is full of misconceptions. He indulges in misuse of the Principle of Uniformity, appeals to overcomplicated metaphysical blunders (this fellow has more faith in a myriad of dimensions than Christians have in God!), makes false analogy, attacks strawmen, very humorously misunderstands the Moral Argument (according to his take on it, if society as a whole decided to kill atheists and give their property to the southern baptists, it would automatically be moral!), etc. etc. etc. There are too many issues for me to name here. But don't worry, they're dealt with in-depth elsewhere.

For a refutation of Mr. Kyle's "refutation" of this book, type "I Have Too Much Brains to Be a Skeptic" into your browser and hit "enter" (or click "go"). You'll find it all from there. ;)

(PS: I had the fun of responding to some of Williams's misconstrual of the Kalam Argument myself.)

The president of Tekton, JP Holding, commented on Kyle Williams's article: "Good heavens. I read one paragraph and it was so stupid I nearly broke my chair."

Don't therefore let Mr. Williams's "expose" floating around on the web deter you from purchasing this book. Norman Geisler and Frank Turek stand strong, unscathed from such poor scholarship. It both amazes and perplexes me that some fellows could consider Williams's article a "great rebuttal" to the book I hope you're about to buy and read. It really, really is not. And if you follow my instructions above, you'll see why for yourself.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 5, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
A comprehensive overview of apologetics. The authors make a compelling case not only for the truth of theism but they demonstrate the irrationality of atheism. Once they make the case for monotheism it's just a matter of reviewing the evidence before they come to the conclusion that Christianity is both reasonable and most importantly, true!
This would be a great place to start for people who are interested in learning about apologetics. Seekers and skeptics should read as well. The authors do a superb job laying out the evidence for the faith beginning with the cosmological argument for the existence of God. From here they cover the teleological and moral arguments. Their argument logically progresses in an orderly fashion until they review the evidence for the biblical texts, the resurrection, and Christ's claims especially His claim to be both fully God and fully man.
I hope this book is read by both skeptics and believers. The former group will become skeptical of their skepticism and believers will be encouraged and equipped to defend the faith.
After reading this book you will realize that it takes a lot more faith to be an atheist than to embrace the Christian faith and it's living Lord.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 29, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Norm and Frank are just like me and you in that doubts and disbelief come and go and stir around in our minds, because of the father of lies, Satan. Christ has won the battle against Satan, and we just have to look at the facts of what is presented and continue to be about the mission of discipleship. This book fills the quiver by solidifying the truth of the material and effectively presenting the case for Christ; in tandem, mind you. This is well worth the read,, especially in times as these.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2014
Format: Paperback
Great content. This book shows how believing in some unestablished chance (for our creation and existence) takes WAY MORE FAITH than simply understanding every great design HAS a DESIGNER... period. Although the facts in here will be inconvenient to those monkey offspring (jesting of course), it will get through and challenge everyone - even if they never tell you that. Were not responsible for making people believe, just for lifting up the One who can. This is a great aid in that.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I bought this book so I could talk to people I know who had been believers sometime in their lives, but for one reason or another turned their backs on God.
It's a very good book for answering most objections atheists & agnostics throw at you. Unfortunately, no matter how clever your arguments are, you can't make a person believe if they don't want to.
Still, I'd recommend this book to anyone who wants to strengthen their own faith or to anyone truly seeking for answers.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I'm half-way through, and Geisler has presented a compelling nine chapters for why it makes sense to believe in a creator, AND he hasn't even used any quotations from the Bible yet. His writing involves the use of common sense and logic, and presents ideas in an easy to understand way that is interesting to read. I wish that I had read this early on after I realizing that it made sense to believe in the God of the Bible, who sent his son Jesus to better show us His nature and love. If I had read this earlier, it would've helped me to better engage in so many of the questions and excuses that people have in regards to Christianity.

For me, this books is turning out to be a more modern and interesting version of Lee Strobel's books on faith and creation.
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