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Answers for Atheists, Agnostics, and Other Thoughtful Skeptics: Dialogs About Christian Faith and Life Paperback – January 15, 1993
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Superman Jim is an unrealistic character. No christian has all the right arguments all the time like Jim does. Beisner could have better served his targeted audience by making Jim a little more fallible, maybe being stumped a couple of times by questions raised from Dave, so he could demonstrate to his christian audience the way to handle these type of situations. A "I don't know, but I will research this for you and get back with you later..." for example. Then Beisner could have written how Jim conducted his research and did word-studies in the original languages, refering to key study tools by name, so his targeted audience could learn how to behave when they are stumped. Being stumped does not necessarily mean you are stupid neither is it necessarily a bad thing. But Superman Jim never fouls up, he always knows exactly which book to reach for, and always has the exact comeback needed.
Unfortunately, to compound the problem, Beisner never goes beyond level one arguments. His strawman is too ignorant to rebut the arguments of his antagonist Jim. Most skeptics in the real world already have rebuttals to Jim's seemingly unanswerable rebuttals to Dave. These are the rebuttals that Christians who will rely on this book will encounter when they run into a truly knowledgeable and thoughtful skeptic. Had Beisner been a little more knowledgeable about these level two rebuttals, he could have shown christians how to deal with them. While it is true rebuttals could go on for several levels, merely settling for level one rebuttals seem to me to be grossly negligent. It is appears to me to disingeneously represent skeptics as having a wicked past (getting women pregnant and forcing them to have abortions), easily bowled over by the simplest of arguments, offering virtually no resistance, and being very passive in the dialogue while the Christian Superman Jim is clearly portrayed as the dominant male and he contols the conversation from start to finish. In real life, this will not happen, as the Christian will discover the tide can shift dramatically depending on the specific subject at hand and the knowledge of his opponent. Beisner could have prepared his intended audience on how to deal with these situations. Many Christians simply do not know how to deal with situations in which their opponent has more knowledge than they and they could have benefited by Beisner's book more if he had addressed this situation in his book and shown Jim to be more human.
I would have respected Beisner's effort a great deal more. Thankfully, I have learned to deal with times where I am unsure of a certain argument and I have learned that admitting ignorance carries no shame with it. In fact, it can gain you more respect. Then you go home and study and investigate until you find the answer your skeptical friend is looking for. And if you can't find it, admit it, then offer alternatives that may be just as viable.
To sum up, this book will benefit a christian only if he is dealing with a skeptic who is familiar with only level one arguments against Christianity and knows no rebuttals to the Christian rebuttals. Dave is not very thoughtful, he is easily stumped, too passive, feels guilt over things which suggest a christian worldview (premarital sex and abortion), and just too unrealistic. But more importantly, Jim is too invincible to be used as an example for readers to emulate. This book needs to be rewritten and updated so it could be a teaching tool for a real life situation.
If this thing IS meant for converting official state atheists in the former Soviet Union, then maybe the author really thinks the Estonians and Khazakhis are too dumb to breathe.
Don't blame me -- I didn't write this mess.