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How Do You Know You're Not Wrong?: Responding to Objections That Leave Christians Speechless Paperback – August 1, 2005
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From the Back Cover
"Hey, whatever works for you."
If you've recently tried to tell your friends about Jesus, this is surely a familiar phrase. Besides being familiar, such challenges from today's unbelievers are also frustrating. In fact, they can sometimes leave you speechless. So how do you respond?
Expert Christian apologist Paul Copan calls these objections "anti-truth claims." And he knows they're relevant-he's faced them over and over in his apologetics ministry on university campuses and in coffee shops across the country. In "How Do You Know You're Not Wrong?" he presents a collection of objections regarding reality, worldviews, and Christianity and thoroughly addresses each from a biblical standpoint. If you've ever been left lost for words when discussing matters of faith, this insightful book will give you the tools you need to confidently, lovingly, and effectively respond to colleagues, acquaintances, and friends.
"Paul Copan gives clear and illuminating answers in this lively and helpful book. I enthusiastically recommend it."-Stephen T. Davis, Claremont McKenna College
"Copan takes on some of the strongest challenges to Christian faith and responds to them with clarity, generosity, and laserlike logic."-Francis J. Beckwith, author, Relativism
Paul Copan (Ph.D., Marquette University) is the Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida and is author of "That's Just Your Interpretation" and "True for You, but Not for Me".
About the Author
Paul Copan (Ph.D., Marquette University) is the Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida. He lives with his wife and five children in Florida.
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Top Customer Reviews
In all three volumes he raises common objections to the faith and answers them with wisdom, learning and clarity. In this volume, he examines three categories of objections: the nature of truth, the broad area of science and scientism, and objections to specific biblical and theological claims.
In the first section, for example, he devotes a chapter to pragmatism, the claim that what is true is what works. Copan offers three strengths of this view, but then offers eleven problems with the position. And these shortcomings are profound. Lying, for example, may "work", but does that make its right, or true?
In section two he lists eight common objections, centered on the supposed clash between science and faith. In these chapters he deals with a number of related themes. Chief among them is the way in which science can tend to overstep its bounds.
Thus Copan distinguishes between science (a helpful discipline when kept in its proper place) and scientism (the idea that science speaks to all truth, and what is not covered by science is not true). The latter is a philosophical position, not testable by the very tenets of science. It is a presupposition that itself is not empirically verifiable.
While science rightly studies the natural world, scientism seeks to say the natural world is all there is: only matter matters. The truth is, as Copan demonstrates, there are many areas of knowledge that go beyond scientific study. The proper domain of science is nature, but we need more than science to understand what may lie beyond nature.
In the third section Copan looks at common complaints about the Christian faith, such as the idea that the church excluded or suppressed certain texts from the New Testament. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown of course makes such claims. But as Copan demonstrates, the early church leaders did not determine which books would be in or out, they merely acknowledged the authority of existing books.
The various Gnostic gospels that sprang up several centuries after Christ were all seen to be spurious and untrustworthy. Texts like the Gospel of Thomas were clearly at odds with the apostolic writings, and reflected a much different worldview. They also appear on the scene much later.
Thus on a number of fronts, various challenges to the faith are presented and assessed. As with the two previous volumes, these objections are capably dealt with. Not all readers will be convinced by every argument, but at least it becomes clear that there are good answers out there to the host of criticisms leveled against Christianity.
Reviewed by Amanda Killgore, Freelance Reviewer.
I really enjoyed many of the discussions and you can tell that Copan is a well read person. Also, not only well read but usually picks those authors who are well respected in their field.
There are just a few things I would critique. It seems that Copan's passion about abortion caused him to overreact a couple times. When he speaks of Abortion Clinics, he typifies them as profit makers. I happen to have some firsthand knowledge about this. I was a "spy" of sorts for the anti-abortion side and played a boyfriend, and another person played my girlfriend. The goal was to get into the clinic and find out what the staff there would say if my "girlfriend" changed her mind and no longer wanted the abortion. What we found was that the staff defended the woman's right to choose either way, and did not try to persuade at all for her to get an abortion. So it is a mass generalization to say that these clinics only serve the dollar bill.
The second time Copan overreacts concerning this topic is when he compares those who would risk life and limb to save an endangered turtle's eggs, and that these same people could care less about aborting babies. That is a bit unfair I would say, since the turtle is an endangered species and we are not.
In the same page, page 143, and in other places in the book, Copan uses an argument that when I first read it, I had a hard time believing that anyone would actually agree with his assessment of the analogy as fair. As I found out, with at least, Peter Singer, a Princeton professor he mentions, Singer would never say that while someone is sleeping, because they are not conscious of the future, that they could be justifiably killed. Singer answers this characterization of his beliefs in his FAQ section of his homepage. Singer would only agree to terminate someone who is alive who has a permanent condition and was hopefully agreed on by the person that it would be okay to terminate if they became incapacitated as such. Not that I would agree with Singer, but for Copan to use the analogy of a sleeping person as equivalent to someone with Alzheimer's is pretty lame.
Also when Copan speaks of Exodus 21 and the meaning of the word "yalad" in Hebrew, he overstates his case. It is true that the word simply means "to come out", but 90% of the time if a woman is hit when she was pregnant back then, the premature birth would end up in a miscarriage.
When Copan talks about homosexuality this is one spot in the book he should have done more reading. Robert Gagnon has written the definitive conservative book on this book and should have been consulted, for Gagnon's arguments are better than Copan's. To build a comparison between the wrongness of the act of homosexuality and the emphasis Scripture places on the humanness of slaves is weak indeed. One needs to compare similar things, the acts. A better analogy would have been between the act of homosexuality and the act of bestiality or incest. Most people find bestiality and incest repulsive, so it would be a good analogy, as well as them both being acts.
The O.T. Laws section was decent but was not researched well enough. Unfortunately as of now in OT research, the more research done in the area of some OT laws seems to only complicate things more. Hopefully this will come to an end soon. For instance, the law about not wearing clothing with two types of material is made more complicated by the fact that the priests' garments were supposed to be made from two different materials! According to Copan's logic, the priests would be the first ones to NOT wear two different types of material.
Also Copan says that the split hooves and the chewing cud clearly identifies an animal as one who belongs on the land. I understand the chewing cud part, but why would a split hoof clearly mean an animal was a land animal. What about a horse?
Copan calls snakes and eels swarmers!? Since when do snakes and eels hang out in packs?! The Hebrew word for "swarmers" or "creepers" is not so easy to translate. Copan says that all swarmers are unclean. But that is not true. Lev. 11:21,22 say that among "swarmers", grasshoppers, crickets, and locusts are clean to eat. What makes is confusing is that the LXX translates "swarmers" as reptiles, but this cannot be the best translation for Lev 11:29 puts the weasel and the rat in this category! And even more confusing is that "swarmers" is used for animals in the water as well! The verbal idea of this word seems to mean "to boil over", "to break out", as in boiling water, or body sores, or maggots. It might have something to do with animals that can multiply and get out of hand quickly.
With regard to Copan's emphasis on the idea that originally God wanted every Israelite to be a priest, this is not easily proven. The Bible says, "kingdom of priests" and can easily be taken as a nation who is special to God and helps other nations come to Him. In other words, it can be taken as a metaphor, not literally every single person being a priest.
My reviews normally include this much detail and it could make one think that the book is bad, but I tend to pick on those things that I like the best. Usually if it's really bad, I do not say much other than putting out a couple comments and a warning.