January 15th, 2010
Geisler, Norman L. and Frank Turek. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Athiest. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2004. 448 pp. $16.99.
Norman Geisler is no stranger to Christian apologetics, defending the Christian faith through philosophical, scientific, archaeological, etc. means of reasoning. Geisler has written more than fifty books dealing with extra-biblical proof for the Christian faith. He has also written a solid, four-volume systematic theology that is worth owning.
Frank Turek serves as the vice president of Southern Evangelical Seminary. He has a ministry dedicated to reversing the trend of teenagers leaving the church after high school. He has co-authored a couple of books with Dr. Geisler as well as a few of his own.
I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist is what I call a “toolbox” book. It contains evidence and arguments against most of the major claims against Christianity. The book begins with a discussion on worldview. The writers argue that we all have a worldview and we use our worldview to try to understand truth. That is, we try to discern what the actual meaning of life is and saying there is no meaning to life is meaning.
Next they spend a few chapters taking a hard look at evolution. Many would argue, and I am one of them, that faith in Christ stands or falls on our understanding of Genesis 1-11. If Genesis 1-11 literally happened, then we have reason to believe in Christ. If it did not literally happen, then how can we be sure of salvation at all? Throughout the process of this discussion, Geisler and Turek show that faith in evolution is actually more difficult that faith in Christ—when the evidence is objectively understood.
Some other areas of discussion that Geisler and Nix look at is the reality of miracles (both Old and New Testament), Absolute Truth (as opposed to relativism—there is no absolute truth except the truth that there is no truth), and the person of Jesus Christ, as well as the authenticity and reliability of the Bible.
Three appendices end the book that is worth reading. In these, they wrestle with problem of evil (theodicy), the problem of interpretation the Bible (relativism), and an article about the Jesus Seminar (a liberal group claiming to speak for the “real” Jesus. Obviously, the authors submit to the authority of scripture and argue with the Bible as their foundation.
There is much to be commended in I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. The tongue-in-cheek title is enough to pique anyone’s curiosity. Norman Geisler writes from years of experience and education that is second to none when it comes to introducing unbelievers to the truth claims of the Bible and how the Bible can be scientifically shown to be reliable.
One of the strengths of this book is the vastness of the topics discussed. Through the course of fifteen chapters and three appendices, the reader will engage evidence for such major issues as the creation of the universe from nothing (Genesis 1) and the reliability of the Bible as a historical text. Ultimately what the authors will show is that it actually takes more faith to not believe in the God of the Bible and His Son, Jesus Christ than it does to believe.
You will be introduced to relativism and the idea that there is no such thing as truth. However one looks at it, they will always find that they are engaged in absolute truth claims as can be seen in the working definition of relativism—there is no absolute truth except the truth that there is no truth. As can be easily seen, though not readily understood unfortunately, this is a self-defeating statement.
When it comes to Jesus Christ, they look at the eyewitness accounts of His life, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. While we may not have been around during the life of Christ, others were and we have first hand accounts of what they saw. Oddly enough, we do not have any first hand accounts refuting these claims. Perhaps the greatest evidence that takes more faith to not believe in than to believe in is the fact of Christ’s resurrection. Simply stated, the empty tomb is all that is needed. There was never a claim made to the contrary that withstood any amount of scrutiny. Yes, the guards were told to lie (Mt. 28), but as we see in Acts, the Apostles completely upended Jerusalem with the claim that Christ resurrected from the dead.
Perhaps one the most aggressive attacks by nonbelievers is the authenticity of the Bible. Most nonbelievers claim that because the Bible was written by man that it must obviously contain errors and surely cannot have been inspired by God. What they do not know is that the evidence for the reliability and authenticity of the Bible will blow their mind when compared to other books from antiquity. The authors show that when compared to other books from ancient history, the Bible stands head and shoulders above them all.
While there are many, many excellent qualities to this book, there is at least one major negative to the premise of the book in my opinion. While the authors say over and over again at the beginning of the book that no one can be argued into heaven, they write as though you can. In a twisted way, the title seems to approve of the concept of arguing for faith in the Christian worldview based upon the facts found in science, archaeology, etc.
The claim has been leveled that the authors engage in strawman argumentation and not handling the evidence with honesty. Quite frankly, that is not true. If anything, the authors seem to mock those who do not believe in light of the evidence before them. This is perhaps another weakness of the book. Geisler and Turek seem to gloat over those who do not believe based on the evidence. This is not a Christian attitude to have when engaging in apologetics.
The biggest problem with this attitude is that the authors never seem to leave room for the Holy Spirit to prompt the unbeliever or the skeptic to faith in Christ. It may be due to the topic of the book; i.e., apologetics, but they need to continue prodding the skeptic who may be reading toward faith in Christ. I do not recall ever coming across an explicit gospel presentation exhorting the reader to repent of his or her sins before an all holy God and putting their faith in Christ alone for salvation.
As I stated above, these negatives can be attributed to the nature of the book and I personally believe that is the case. With that being said, the authors could have done a better job of evangelizing through the pages of I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. Nonetheless, I personally believe that this book will (and has already) been used mightily by God and is one I recommend any open-minded skeptic to read.
I was blessed to actually talk with Norman Geisler when this book was still being written. He was excited about it and our conversation excited me as to its release. I could not wait to get my hands on the book based on our conversation. After having met Dr. Geisler and reading this book back in 2004 and again now, I cannot think of another book I would recommend to anyone interested in apologetics or wanting to know how Christianity stands up against some of the harshest criticisms. This is the absolute best book to introduce apologetics and I believe that every pastor and teacher in the church should read this book with 1 Peter 3:16 in mind to always be prepared to give an answer for the hope that you have…especially as a leader in the church.
This was an assignment for a class. I bought the book.