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Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case Paperback – January 1, 2015
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From the Publisher
“As a journalist at the Chicago Tribune, I covered some horrific crimes that helped cement me in my atheism. I didn't realize that I was committing a series of intellectual crimes by stealing from God in order to argue against Him. Frank Turek brilliantly exposes these C.R.I.M.E.S. of atheism in a way that you'll never forget.”
Lee Strobel, Bestselling author of The Case for Christ and professor at Houston Baptist University
“One of the reasons I love Frank Turek and his work is that he unapologetically takes his case for Christian apologetics directly and aggressively to the New Atheists. Stealing from God dismantles the fragile premises of atheists’ ‘articles of faith,’ and, in the process, establishes an unassailable case for the truth of Christianity. This book comes at precisely the right time, when the New Atheists are trying their best to undermine the Christian worldview and purge it from our culture.”
David Limbaugh, New York Times bestselling author of Jesus on Trial
“I can’t think of a better book to give to an open-minded atheist or to a Christian struggling with the atheistic assault on the faith. Frank Turek has done the research and the heavy lifting and presented an engaging, enjoyable, and thoroughly compelling book.”
Dr. Michael L. Brown, Author of Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus
“Frank Turek takes 1 Peter 3:15 to heart by presenting a sound case for Christianity and equipping believers so they can have a solid defense. As he points out, every person on this planet adheres to a worldview with beliefs. What is yours? My prayer is that everyone who reads these pages will choose to embrace God as their heavenly Father through faith in Jesus Christ and share His love effectively with those they come in contact with.”
James Robison, President of LIFE Outreach International
From the Back Cover
If you think atheists have reason, evidence, and science on their side, think again. Award-winning author Dr. Frank Turek (I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist) will show you how atheists steal arguments from God when trying to justify their atheism. If that sounds contradictory, it’s because it is! Atheists can’t make their case without appealing to realities only theism can explain.
In an engaging and memorable way, Stealing from God exposes the intellectual CRIMES atheists are committing. Join Turek as he explores how many atheistic arguments, instead of disproving God, show that God actually exists. Turek also provides a powerful four-point defense for the truth of Christianity. Whether you are exploring answers for yourself or want to understand how God transcends the reasoning of those who would deny His existence, this book is for you.
- Publisher : NavPress (January 1, 2015)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1612917011
- ISBN-13 : 978-1612917016
- Item Weight : 11.2 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.4 x 0.9 x 8 inches
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He points out, “It’s been fashionable lately for atheists to claim that they merely ‘lack a belief in God.’ … atheists will say something like, ‘Oh, we really don’t have a worldview. We just lack a belief in God… We just find the arguments for God to be lacking.’ What’s lacking are good reasons to believe this new definition. First, if atheism is merely a lack of belief in God, then atheism is just a claim about the atheist’s state of mind, not a claim about God’s existence… if atheists merely ‘lacked a belief in God,’ they wouldn’t be constantly trying to explain the world by offering supposed alternatives to God…. they believe in certain theories to explain reality without God.” (Pg. xxii-xxiii)
He asserts, “So when atheists ask, ‘Who made God?’ they misunderstand the law of causality and the nature of God… But they have it wrong. If God exists, He IS the self-existent, uncaused first cause. Since God created time, He is timeless or eternal. If you’re timeless, do you have a beginning? Of course not. Therefore, one reason God had no cause is because He had no beginning.” (Pg. 22) Later, he adds, “no scientific conclusion could ever be drawn if the scientist always had to have a cause of the cause in order to proceed. You can’t go on an infinite regress of causes. And even if you could, you certainly can know the immediate cause of something even if you don’t know the entire series of causes behind it.” (Pg. 25-26)
He explains, “what if you explain all this and someone dismisses your points by dropping a postmodern bomb like, ‘There is no truth!’? … politely ask him, ‘Is THAT true?’ … If they say, ‘All truth changes,’ ask them, ‘Does THAT truth change?’ If they say, ‘All truth depends on your perspective,’ ask them, ‘Does THAT truth depend on your perspective?’” (Pg. 34) Later he adds, “Let’s quickly address some of the more common self-defeating statements we hear in our relativistic culture… ‘There are no absolute truths!’ Are you absolutely sure? Isn’t THAT an absolute truth? ‘All truth is relative!’ Is THAT a relative truth? ‘It’s true for you but not for me!’ Is THAT true for everybody?” (Pg. 179)
He states, “There’s not only no evidence for a multiverse, it’s a ‘dodge’… No scientist would be imagining undetectable universes if this one didn’t appear to be so incomprehensibly fine-tuned. The multiverse hypothesis is a bald attempt to dodge the designer by multiplying the possibility that this seemingly fine-tuned universe exists by accident… The real problem with the theory is that there’s no evidence for it… [Richard] Dawkins and his cohorts are always demanding evidence and asserting that there is no evidence for God… But then they ask us to believe in multiple universes that we can’t touch, see, hear, smell, or taste either. Apparently we just have to have faith in ‘luck.’ Talk about superstitious!” (Pg. 50)
He observes, “Of course, even if the Nazis had won World War II and brainwashed everyone to believe that murdering Jews was right, that would not make it right. Morality is not determined by majority vote. In fact, morality is not determined at all. People don’t determine the right thing to do; they discover it.” (Pg. 98) Later, he adds, “Theists are not seeking to legislate THEIR morality. Theists didn’t make up the fact that murder is wrong… that only men and women can procreate and provide mothering and fathering in raising children. They didn’t invent those facts. Theists are merely recognizing them. It’s the atheists that want to impose THEIR morality---they are the ones without a foundation who have an invented morality. They’ve stolen the concept of rights from God and applied it to their own desires to create their own moral absolutes that they want everyone to obey.” (Pg. 107-108)
He states, “Some atheists seem to think that anything unexplained defeats belief in God, as if an infinite God can’t exist if finite creatures don’t understand everything. But there is a big difference between a mystery and a contradiction. Christianity has partial mysteries. Atheism has complete contradictions. Christianity predicts that evil will occur and explains why God allows it in general, but not in every particular case… But good reason provides all the information we need to see that the very existence of evil is a contradiction for atheism. If evil is real, then atheism is false.” (Pg. 142)
He notes, “It is actually atheistic materialism that can retard technological progress, while openness to intelligent causes can enhance it. You need to look no further than ‘junk DNA’ for one dramatic example of this. For years evolutionists… have maintained that the regions of DNA that did not code for proteins… had little function. They asserted that evolution had rendered that part of the genome largely useless junk… Despite resistance from many evolutionists, scientists have discovered that the noncoding regions have innumerable functions critical to life.. So junk DNA is not only false, but the atheist’s canard that ID makes no predictions is also false.” (Pg. 168-169)
He says, “If there is an afterlife, there are only two logical possibilities: Either you’re going to be with God, or you’re not. Heaven is with God; hell is separation from God… Some people can’t stand the thought of God… If they don’t want Jesus now, why would God force them into His presence for all eternity? He doesn’t. God separates Himself from them for all eternity… Now imagine a place there none of God’s goodness exists---no love, no relationships, no pleasures, no progress, no future; just stone-cold, narcissistic self-absorption. That’s hell. It’s no wonder it is a place of anguish, regret, mental torment, and weeping and gnashing of teeth. The New Testament says hell is like… a perpetually burning dump; an abyss. We know some of these are metaphors because literal darkness would not exist with literal fire…” (Pg. 224)
This book will be of great interest to those studying apologetics.
Introduction (Is It a Wonderful Life?): Frank puts forth a quite lengthy intro. I will only address specific points. Frank states his book will cover CRIMES (Causality, Reason, Information & Intentionality, Morality, Evil, & Science) in his upcoming chapters. Frank goes on to define his particular concept of a god, which is “the source & sustainer of all things” & has these attributes: self-existing; infinite; simple; immaterial; spaceless; timeless; omnipotent; omniscient; immutable; holy; & personal. He then goes on to state that many atheists claim they do not believe that no gods exist, but instead they lack a belief in any gods. Frank goes on & on as to why he WANTS atheist to say they believe no gods exist. But here is where I stand. I do lack a belief in god(s). Yet, I have a concept, in my mind, of many gods because I have been exposed to these concepts for my entire life. The issue is NONE of these “gods” are self-evident. So, all I have are claims made by human beings that god(s) exist & I don’t find any of these claims convincing enough to justify belief. When someone is making a positive claim (I was abducted by aliens for instance) if that person wants me to believe this claim, he/she owns the burden of proof to demonstrate the claim is true . You see, belief is not a choice. Belief is the state of being convinced that something is true. If we put god on trial, & you are the prosecution, the jury has 2 choices for verdicts: god is guilty of existing (you convinced the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that god exists) or god is not guilty of existing (you have not convinced the jury that god exists). There is no innocent verdict (proved that god does not exist). No one must prove innocence. What must be proven is guilt. Frank stop trying to shift the burden of proof of your claim that your god exists. Secondly, you are making an unfalsifiable claim. It is not possible to prove that something we humans may consider to be a god; which is immaterial, spaceless & timeless does not exist. We humans have no means of investigating the god in which you believe. So, stop hiding from your responsibility to demonstrate, in a verifiable & objective way, that your concept of a god exists in our shared reality (not just in your mind).
C1: (Causality) Frank starts by stating, “No one created something out of nothing?” Frank please demonstrate that a “Nothing” can & does exist? We humans currently do not have an example of a “nothing.” Nothing exists as a concept in human minds because we understand the opposite concept of “something.” Even what we consider to be empty space has been proven to not be empty (nothing); it contains virtual particles. So, saying something came from nothing is nonsensical. Frank goes on to the Cosmological argument which is: 1 Everything that has a beginning has a cause. 2 The universe had a beginning. 3 Therefore, the universe has a cause. Yes, our current observable universe had a starting point. However, we humans have no mechanism to determine what existed prior to Planck time. So, we have no way to determine the “cause” of the expansion of our current observable universe. Frank then asserts (claims) that there are good reasons to insert his personal concept of a god as the cause & that this god created it out of nothing. Frank you can’t simply define your god into existence, please demonstrate your personal concept of a god actually exists in reality otherwise you are just making an unverified claim that no one should take seriously. The actual answer is: We (all humans who are alive today & all humans who have ever lived in the past) don’t know what occurred prior to Planck time. We may never know because we can’t go back in time to investigate. I don’t know does not require a burden of proof & that is where I stand. He then spends the rest of the chapter attacking a strawman argument that, “No one created something out of nothing, which is the atheist’s view.” But that is NOT the view of the any atheist I have ever encountered. Frank goes on to ask why the laws of nature are so uniform, precise, & predictable? Why do mathematics so accurately describe reality? Because they are. We only have one universe to observe & it is what it is. Again, inserting your god does not solve this problem it just pushes the goal posts out. You still need to prove your god actually exists in reality & to demonstrate this god created our universe with these laws. Frank mentions fine tuning of the universe… again prove that a god exists & did “fine-tuned” it. Personally, I don’t see where the universe if fine-tuned for human life as 99.9999…% of the universe is toxic to humans. Furthermore, more than 80% of our planet is not livable for humans without technology. Also, there are so many things on the planet that are detrimental to humans; natural disaster, diseases, parasites, predators, etc.
C2: (Reason) Frank spends a lot of time in this chapter speaking of the “Laws of Logic” which are: Identity (A is A) (everything is the same as itself; or a statement cannot not remain the same & change its truth value.), Non-Contradiction (Not (A & not A)) (Nothing can both exist & not exist at the same time & in the same respect; or no statement is both true & false), & Excluded Middle (Either (A or not A)) (Something either exists or does not exist; or every statement is either true or false.). He goes on & on about how his particular god is responsible for creating these laws because they are “immaterial” & yet exist in reality. But the problem is, Frank is either intentionally or unintentionally confusing the definition of a “law.” There are prescriptive laws (which is what Frank is using in his argument) & descriptive laws. A prescriptive law is a rule which is imposed by an authority. So, an entity created the law & imposed it on humans; & for Frank this is his god. But the laws of logic are not prescriptive they are descriptive. A descriptive law describes regularities that have been observed in our natural reality (nature). So, the concept of the laws of logic exist in human minds based on observing things that demonstrably occur in our shared reality. So, when it comes to reason; Yes it comes from human minds. It is an emergent property of our highly complex nervous systems. Would the laws of logic exist without human minds? No, the concept of those laws would not exist if there were no minds to observe & assess reality. Would the physical elements these laws describe exist without human minds? Yes. A tree could exist with no human minds to observe it. Frank goes on to speak of Materialism (the doctrine that nothing exists except mater an its movements & modifications) & seems to claim that all atheist are materialists. As an atheist I am NOT claiming that there is nothing beyond our material universe. However, as of right now we (all of human kind) have no demonstrable, verifiable, & objective evidence of ANYTHING that exists outside of our material universe. If Frank is claiming there is, he must demonstrate his claim to be true.
C3: (Information & Intentionality) Frank starts with more definition games. He described a situation where he asks an atheist what it would take for him to believe in god. The atheist states that if the words, “HEY ROGER, THIS IS GOD!” appeared in the clouds, that would convince him. Here is the definition of information: facts provided or learned about something or someone. Frank states rightfully that the message in the clouds would (most likely) be a product of an intelligence. However, while this is information, it is a specific form of information. It is an intentional language which is meant to communicate information from one intelligent agent to another intelligent agent. So, those clouds contain that type of information. However, clouds also contain information that we humans observe & investigate such as; what those clouds physically contain (water vapor, pollutants, oxygen, carbon dioxide, etc). This information is naturally occurring without intent by an intelligent agent. So, when Frank states “… all of our prior experience demonstrates that information only COMES FROM a mind.” He is clearly wrong. Information can be collected by a mind about things which did not come from a mind; which occur naturally without intent. Now, Frank goes on to speak of DNA being a “information” & a “code”. But he is misrepresenting. DNA is a is not a language created by an intelligent agent (a god) which is meant to communicate to other intelligent agents (humans). DNA is physical & chemical materials within cells which cause physical & chemical reactions. We humans investigate DNA & have developed an understanding of how it works (naturally). There is no message from a god hidden within DNA so the analogy of words written in clouds is simply wrong.
C4: (Morality) Frank’s hypothesis for why humans have morality is his particular concept of a god inserted, absolute & objective morality, it into humans. Yet he does absolutely nothing to demonstrate his god actually exists & has, in fact, inserted morality into humans. Even if this was true, this morality would be based on god’s opinion which means it is subjective. In addition, he does nothing to demonstrate that “ultimate” or objective morality exist. He also does nothing to demonstrate that “ultimate” justice exists. I would argue that human morality does not require “god magic”, there is no “ultimate” justice nor an objective morality. To start, Frank believes “ultimate justice” takes place after we die in the heaven or hell scenario. Is the concept of people who lived a normal human life suffering for eternity for not believing claims made by the religious morally correct? Is this ultimate justice? Next, is morality objective? No, morality is subjective. Is one human being killing another human being immoral? It depends. Is one human being taking another human being’s property immoral? It depends. Is one human being causing pain to another human being immoral? It depends. We are a social species & in order to be successful we have developed empathy (we understand what brings us pain or pleasure & therefore understand what would most likely bring pain or pleasure to others) & enlightened self-interest (we understand the potential benefits & consequences of are actions toward other humans). Imagine a society without these behaviors, where rape, murder an theft were perfectly acceptable. How long would that society survive? How would it thrive? We humans have developed organized societies, social & cultural norms, laws & regulation, & governments. We humans determine morality based on goals which help us to live together successfully & thrive as much as possible. These norms & laws have evolved over time as our understanding of what helps us survive & thrives grows. Morality can be considered to be an ongoing evaluation of how well actions will achieve some desired goal or outcome, both at a personal & group level. So, we are held accountable for our “moral” behaviors by the people around us. There are benefits & consequences for our actions. This is morality. No magic man in the sky required.
C5: (Evil) In this chapter Frank covers evil (profoundly immoral & wicked). Frank starts out with the idea that evil which can be humans causing harm to other humans or “natural evil” which is suffering brought about by natural events. Frank acts like concept of evil is something that exists external to human minds. Evil is not a thing in & of itself. Evil is just a label we human attach to things they perceive to be detrimental to human (and to a lesser extent animal) wellbeing. So yes, the concept of evil is subjective. Frank states that evil can’t exist unless good exists; & then makes the huge irrational leap to state good can’t exist unless his god exists. Again, just like evil the concept of “good” exists as a concept in human minds (no god required). Generally good & evil can be defined as to how well something achieves a goal. For example: our government passes a law to reduce the speed limit on highways to 55 MPH because research has shown it will reduce accidents which cause injury & fatalities (bad or evil things) & it works. Many people would consider that change to be “good.” However, some people may consider the change to be “bad” because it is an inconvenience to them getting to work on time & vote against it. Frank goes on to make many strawman arguments about atheists. He mentions that atheist complain of the evil done by the religious & remarks that more evil has been done by atheist regimes. This is not a good argument. Humans in power have done things we consider “evil” (wars, genocide, etc) back as far as we can track history. This is a human behavior, not a religious or atheist behavior. Frank, at one point, mentions “ultimate value” of human life. Yet there is no ultimate value. Value is a concept in human minds. We attach value to things. For examples, I have value to myself & to others who know me. However, the overwhelming majority of the people on the plant attach no (or very little) value to me. If I died tomorrow the majority of people on the planet wouldn’t know or care.
C6: (Science) Science is defined as a systematic enterprise that builds & organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations & predictions about the observable universe. It is an empirical method of acquiring knowledge which involves careful observation, applying rigorous skepticism about what it observed, given that cognitive assumptions can distort how one interprets the observation. It involves formulating hypotheses, via induction, based on such observations; experimental & measurement-based testing of deductions drawn from the hypotheses; & refinement (or elimination) of the hypotheses based on the experimental findings. It is the current best method for discovering facts about our observable universe. To keep this one short: Frank is correct that science can’t go back in time to observe how our current observable universe began & how the first life on our planet developed. But science doesn’t claim they know these things. Scientists develop models of possible ways these things could have happened but do not claim certainty. They provide the current best explanation for these things based on the observable, verifiable, testable, & objective data. Then scientists continue to learn & develop greater technology which helps us to observe more & gather more data so we can refine or replace existing hypotheses & improve the accuracy of these hypothesis. It is religion that makes knowledge claims for things that have not been observed. It is religion who claim they know, with certainty, the answers to questions like how the universe began & how life began on this planet without any actual evidence (the bible & “faith” are NOT evidence). It is religion who claims there is god & has the burden of proof to demonstrate their god hypothesis is, in fact, true.
C7: (The Four-Pointed Case for Mere Christianity) The 4 points: 1 Does truth exist? 2 Does god exist? 3 Are miracles possible? 4 Is the new testament historically reliable? He states if the answer to all 4 of these is yes then we have good reason to believe the entire bible is true. Each claim in the bible must be proven to be factually accurate independently. Any story can contain factually accurate information mixed with factually inaccurate information. We can be fairly confident what was written about George Washington is reasonably factually accurate, but that doesn’t mean he factually never told a lie & threw a silver dollar across the Potomac River. 1. Does Truth exist. Yes. There are statements which (to the best of our human ability based on our 5 senses) which can be determined to be, most likely, factually accurate. 2. Does god exist? The answer is, we (all of humanity) don’t know. Until such time as someone can demonstrates (not just claim) a god exists in a verifiable & objective way we cannot determine if a god does exist. 3. Are miracles possible? We, all humans, don’t know if genuine miracles can occur; but so far we have NO examples of ANY verified miracles. We have many claims, but nothing that has stood up to scrutiny. 4 Is the new testament historically reliable? Again, we don’t know. There are definitely things (such as places, people, & events) which can be demonstrated to have most likely factually existed/occurred. However, there are also many supernatural and/or extraordinary claims which most likely are not true. For instance, the story of exodus where over 1 million people roamed around a small desert for 40 years & yet we have little to no archeological evidence this occurred in reality. The most likely explanation is the bible is full of greatly exaggerated and/or intentionally fictional stories. So, the bible, as a whole, cannot be demonstrated to be 100% factually accurate. Each extraordinary claim must be demonstrated to be factually accurate on its own.
C8: (Conclusion: God Will Not Force You into Heaven Against Your Will) In this chapter Frank just rehashes the strawman arguments he made in the previous chapters. He then makes a bunch of excuses as to why people going to hell which he defines as god not forcing people to be in his presence for all eternity. Then he describes separation from god as, “Now imagine a place where none of god’s goodness exists – no love, no relationships, no pleasures, no progress, no future, just stone-cold, narcissistic self-absorption. That’s hell.” Sorry Frank. No matter how desperately you try to push your belief that people choose to go to the hell you describe; if you are right & your concept of god & his hell exist your concept of a god is still a immoral monster by human standards. Taking away everything we humans value & enjoy is still torture & your concept of a all-powerful all-good god has the power to prevent that torture without the people even being aware of his presence. Luckily, there is no demonstrable, verifiable, objective evidence for the existence of your god.
Please excuse any typos or grammatical errors.
Seriously though, Turek makes no attempt to understand the viewpoints of atheists and instead produced a condescending book-length straw-man attack on secularism. He calls atheists stupid over and over and you know what? I am probably a little stupider having read this book.