Evidence Considered: A Response To Evidence For God Kindle Edition
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- ASIN : B0754Q56CC
- Publisher : Ratione Veritas Publishing (August 24, 2017)
- Publication date : August 24, 2017
- Language : English
- File size : 1519 KB
- Simultaneous device usage : Unlimited
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 362 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #206,285 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
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If you’re familiar with the Christian apologetics book, “Evidence for God,” then you are probably quite aware of the numerous terrible arguments swimming in a sea of logical fallacies that are put forward by the likes of the usual apologetics suspects, Licona, Dembski, Habermas, and Behe, among others. The “Evidence for God” book is honestly so bad that it could very well function as an anthology of examples of how NOT to argue when trying to provide evidence for God. I was really quite disappointed in their book, expecting the best of the best arguments. I’ve honestly debated college kids that put forward better arguments than those presented in “Evidence for God” (EFG). In fact, one of the biggest blunders of EFG, is that most of the book doesn’t even remotely try to provide any evidence for God at all. It’s largely one big non sequitur ride in defense of various sectarian Christian doctrines, or feeble attempts to attack evolution—but almost nothing to show evidence for God.
Taking notice of this, as many others have, Jelbert decided to look at each argument of EFG in turn, and—through critical analysis, logical reasoning, and debunking bad information—write a superb counter to the inane, and sometimes laughable, arguments put forward by this super-team of Christian apologists. Jelbert is very fair in his presentation of each author’s argument, often quoting them extensively to make certain not to misrepresent or strawman their arguments. He follows each argument with his response, thoroughly dismantling the cobbled together fallacies, factual errors, and irrelevancies without being needlessly confrontational or snide. After going through each and every one of the EFG arguments, the reader is either forced to acknowledge the utter lack of evidence for God presented in this over-hyped anthology, or hopelessly cling to the idea that somewhere out there, some good evidence exists, and one day someone will find it. But the “believe first, find evidence later” methodology is flawed from its conception, and Jelbert wraps up this book with some final thoughts to encourage a more rational approach and reasoned epistemology.
In short, this is an excellent knockdown of “Evidence for God.” Jelbert exposes the terrible arguments, and even touches on some of the so-called “better” ones from those like William Lane Craig. In the end, one will be forced to confront the reality that, as has always been, there are no good arguments providing evidence for God. What one chooses to do with that, be it revise one’s epistemology for better determining what’s true, or digging in heels and doubling down on unsubstantiated beliefs founded on the bad epistemology of faith resting on the wobbly legs of fallacious arguments like those in EFG, is up to the individual. However, just as anyone who does not hold faith or believe in God or gods, owes it to themselves to read books like EFG, anyone who is a believer in God or gods, owes it to themselves to read “Evidence Considered: A Response to Evidence for God.” I highly recommend it.
Later in the book, he recalls, “I have come across people who believed that you could not be a Christian without rejecting evolution, and so they were not even interested in looking at Christianity since they knew a bit about science. And I know many Christians (indeed I was one) who are content to accept science as it is. My rejection of Christianity came about because I found that the key stories of the Bible were not credible…. It was the history, not the science, that posed the real threat.” (Pg. 95)
In response to a chapter in the ‘Evidence for God’ book, he states, “if the original cause is not god but rather some physical phenomena, then the cosmological argument falls apart… The cosmological argument is telling us nothing because it is looking for evidence in the unknown. This will be a theme of many arguments in this book: lack of knowledge is not evidence for God; it is evidence of ignorance. Secondly, it is not clear that an infinite causal chain could not exist.; perhaps it is an infinite series of big bangs. There is no particular reason why this is impossible philosophically… The fact that an infinite series of big bangs fits the cosmological argument at least as well as a first cause shows that it is on rocky ground philosophically. Others have added the argument that if time started at the big bang, then the concept of causality could break down at that point, making the question of first causes meaningless.” (Pg. 6)
He points out, “it is well to mention something important, that will feature more as we go on with this book. The single, greatest scientific breakthrough was the ability of its practitioners to say ‘I do not know’… in a way that invites further exploration… This is the very antithesis of the god of the gaps argument which rushes to fill every gap in our knowledge with god. Embracing the incompleteness of our knowledge has led to the fastest advances in human history, by far.” (Pg. 23-24)
He poses the question, ‘Why is our world finely-tuned for life?’ and answers: “Scientifically, the answer would appear to be that there is an extreme selection bias. If we are here to observe it, then the universe must be able to evolve and support life so it must be finely-tuned. If there were many universes, or if we were in an infinite sequence of universes then obviously we could only observe universes finely tuned for life… If evolution explains the diversity and complexity, the abiogenesis event is not as well understood… the origins may be lost in the mists of time, but the basic concepts are somewhat understood and remain an area of research.” (Pg. 47-48)
He admits about the RNA hypothesis for the origin of life, “This presents a serious concern… Water seems to be essential for life, as are nucleotides, but water destroys nucleotides. However, there is so much evidence for the RNA world that most scientists think that a mechanism will be discovered to solve this problem. Scientists to not imagine that this bit required divine intervention, and nor should theologians, as it suggests a creation that ALMOST worked but needed a couple of little pushes…” (Pg. 71) Later, he adds, “There are several plausible pathways for the origin of life under investigation. Scientists could publish a paper tomorrow that demonstrated a plausible materialistic path to self-replicating organisms from primordial matter. The fact that such a thing could happen means that it is premature to say that it cannot. It is an open problem, but one in which materialistic explanations have already made plenty of headway… [But] saying that it CANNOT be explained materialistically is asserting more than is reasonable.” (Pg. 165)
Of the resurrection narratives, he observes, “The gospels are clearly not disinterested here and contradict each other, and the rest of the New Testament, on this very issue. (How many women visit the tomb? Are there guards there or not? Is the tomb open or closed when Jesus leaves? How many angels are there? When do they appear? These questions are answered differently in the different Gospel accounts.) … But couldn’t people have gone to check the tomb years later after Christianity gained momentum?... perhaps then, as now, it was considered too skeptical to check the claims… As for non-Christians, there is no record of anyone checking one way or the other. Even if someone had checked, their first assumption on finding an empty tomb would not be that the occupant had risen from the dead, so it is not clear that it is a claim worth checking.” (Pg. 230)
Of Michael Licona’s chapter about ‘Those Who Have Never Heard,’ he comments: “Finally, Licona exhorts us not to be concerned about other people. We should not worry that the Bible did not attempt to resolve this injustice, or even to care about it. Licona has a ‘plausible’ answer to some of the inequity, which should suffice. He asks: ‘What are YOU going to do about Jesus?’ This is the ultimate affront to rationality; we are asked to believe out of fear and in spite of the injustice. The evidence may be unconvincing, but you could end up in hell, so suppress your conscience and confess that you believe in him. But in the absence of evidence for hell, judgment, God, and the resurrection, the answer to Licona’s question is: nothing.” (Pg. 273)
He states, “Suppose that you were able to demonstrate conclusively that some particular phenomena were inexplicable outside of a divine or spiritual entity?... I doubt that such a thing is possible … but let us go with it for now. You then establish a deity, but you still have all your work ahead of you to establish any of the major religions. It has done nothing to distinguish between Christianity, new age spirituality, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, polytheism, etc. All of these and many others, including religions now dead, have an equal claim to the deity. As a Christian, it was evident to me that I believed in God and THEN His creation inspired me, not the other way around. Now that I have dropped belief in God, I remain just as inspired by nature.” (Pg. 343)
This book will be of keen interest to atheists, skeptics, and other freethinkers.
As a former lifelong Christian Mr. Jelbert responds to each of those arguments respectfully but with unapologetic and clear-eyed critical thought based on rationalism, history, and other evidence as the claims advanced as evidence for god require. "Evidence Considered" is organized as a chapter-by-chapter response to "Evidence for God" and as such would make an excellent companion piece in any serious consideration of these arguments, whether it be in a formal class or your casual book club.
Whether you are a Christian who states that your belief is based on reason or an atheist who finds insufficient evidence upon which to rest such a faith, if your interest is in well-reasoned and researched arguments you will find "Evidence Considered" an enormously satisfying read.