Stealing from God: Frank Turek on Apologetics

The infamous and rabid and anti-Christian Richard Dawkins expressed his outrage publicly about an English player cheating in a cricket match against Australia. He even expressed hope that England would lose the series because of that cheating. Many commented on Dawkins’ hypocrisy since everyone merely “dances to his DNA,” a favorite Dawkins phrase. In short, how can the pile of DNA molecules that calls itself Richard Dawkins make a moral judgment? And why should anyone care?

This anecdote is from the Foreword (written by Ravi Zacharias) to the book, Stealing from God, by Frank Turek. The theme is that in a wide variety of ways atheists / secular humanists / evolutionists need the foundation of a Biblical worldview in order to make their arguments at all. I find Turek’s book to be perhaps the most readable work on apologetics I have ever run across. He is skilled in making cogent arguments at a popular level, and does so in quite a pleasant manner. Let’s pull some nuggets from his book and, as usual, I’ll comment along the way.

Frank Turek

Turek got an email from a retired U.S. Marine, whose daughter graduated 1st in her Christian high school and won college scholarships from Christian organizations. She enrolled in UNC Chapel Hill “to win the campus for Christ.” But in just 4 weeks he got a call: “Dad, I don’t believe in God anymore.” He drove four hours to the campus to spend the weekend with her, but got nowhere. Her atheistic religion professor had destroyed her ‘faith.’ Turek points out . . . “It’s not so much that Christian minds are lost at college – it’s that Christian minds rarely get to college.” Kids grow up in evangelical churches which feature “feel-good emotionalism.” And “bands, pizza, and Pepsi” don’t “equip church youth with the intellectual firepower to defend Christianity.” Thus multitudes of young “Christians” are lost, not at college – that’s just where they’re exposed – but because American Christendom has no interest in real discipleship.

In my investigative visits to many evangelical (gelly) and fundamentalist (fundie) churches, I can attest to the lack of substance. Few sermons or ‘talks’ could be deemed ‘apologetic’ and actual training is nonexistent. The most lively case I’ve seen in the local Phoenix area is a megachurch which invites the Creation Ministries International speakers in about every other year for a few (poorly attended) lectures. This church also has a fellow who puts on an apologetics talk once per month (but summers off), which entices only a handful of people. But no training there either . . . which means no ‘spiritual warfare’ . . . aren’t we Christians actually supposed to equip ourselves to go out into the world and preach the Gospel, challenging any of Satan’s strongholds, including atheism? We should be on offense, but we don’t even equip our kids to play defense.

I resonate with Turek’s point, “In order for atheists to consider new beliefs, they may have to begin doubting their own first.” That’s certainly my experience. In 121 evangelism on the street or campus, it is constructive to spend a couple of minutes cracking the skeptic’s foundation, which often opens him up to hear Gospel truth. Yes, just a couple of minutes can do it, at least to earn you a hearing, because the basis of an atheist’s faith enjoins neither evidence nor logic. In my Tracts essay you’ll find a number of tracts I’ve designed that employ this tactic.

Atheists regularly claim that creationists commit a “God of the gaps” fallacy, invoking a creative act of God whenever ‘science’ can’t explain something. This fallacy, however, is owned by atheists if we simply term it a “natural law of the gaps fallacy.” This certainly applies to the origin of the universe, in which atheists assume that nothing – no matter, no physics, no forces, no fields, no space, and no time – popped into the everything that we observe.

I’ll extend the thought, because materialists have no physical explanation for the expansion of the universe, the formation and structure of galaxies, the existence of stars and planets, the origin of the first cell, or any alleged evolutionary transformation into multi-celled creatures. Creationists, on the other hand, observe the phenomenal quantity and quality of the information content of cellular life and – based on vast observational experience – conclude that where information is, a mind is the cause.

Yttrium crystal structure

Frank explored the fallacy issue with a University of Michigan student, John, who approached him after a talk. John insisted that ‘science’ will one day find a natural cause for nature.

Frank: “John, we will never find a natural cause for all of nature.”
John: “We will!”
Frank: “No, John, we can’t in principle. If nature had a beginning, then the cause can’t be something natural because nature didn’t exist. Nature was the effect, so it can’t be the cause. The cause must be something beyond nature, or supernatural. When you say, ‘Give me more time and I’ll discover a natural cause for the universe,’ that’s like me saying, ‘Give me more time and I’ll discover that I gave birth to my own mother!’ It’s impossible in principle, John!”

John still wasn’t convinced because “there is a difference between proof and persuasion.” Indeed. The mind may ‘get it,’ but the heart rules. William Lane Craig asks if a universe can pop into existence from nothing, then why not iPads, Teslas, atheist books, and pizzas? Hungry? Just wait a bit. So whose faith is blind?

Lawrence Krauss, a physicist at Arizona State U. describes himself as an “anti-theist.” (I do love handing out tracts at ASU, especially to engineering and physics majors!) Krauss wrote an entire book, A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing. His cause of the universe is “nothing.” He does a bait and switch with quantum mechanics, in which “Nothing is unstable. Nothing will always produce something in quantum mechanics.” The reference is to the quantum vacuum in which particles can pop into and out of existence – subatomic particles for just a whillionth of a fraction of a second. This has been observed, in fact, a consequence of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.

Here’s the scam: Krauss’s “nothing” is not the nothing from which the universe supposedly originated. Krauss’s plea to weird quantum effects – which are NOT understood by any physicists, although the effects can be observed and math has been constructed to calculate the effects – requires an existing quantum vacuum, a definite SOMETHING.

Quantum effects start with an existing universe, existing physical laws, and existing particles and fields and their relationships. That’s a lot different from the “nothing” before the universe, which was “nonbeing – literally no thing, zip, zero, nada.” The quantum vacuum that suffuses our existing universe had a beginning and needs a cause!

When challenged about this bait-and-switch by a fellow atheist, Dr. David Albert, a physicist at Columbia U., Krauss responded by calling Albert “a moronic philosopher.” Typical. When you don’t have an argument, resort to namecalling. That’s all that evolutionists really have, and so they embrace pejorative attacks as primary strategy.

Turek would like to ask Krauss if he’s merely a physical being, a collection of molecules, or are there immaterial aspects to him? Is his mind, which wrote the book, just physical? Is his mind just brain chemistry? “Then we wouldn’t have any reason to believe that anything in his book is true!” And so atheists must steal a Biblical truth in order to speak at all, to allow that mind and will are more than matter, in fact that information in this universe is produced by mind, not by matter. Any argument requires premises and conclusions, which are conceptual, immaterial – not describable by physics and chemistry.

Paul Davies, a cosmologist at U. of Arizona (I love to tract that campus, too), and an agnostic, observed that scientists take the laws of physics on ‘faith,’ including the idea that they can “all be expressed as tidy mathematical relationships. But where do these laws come from? And why do they have the form that they do?” Davies reports that he has received vitriolic hate mail for even asking such questions. Blasphemy! Davies marvels that materialists can claim that this ordered and rational universe exists “reasonlessly.”

Lawrence Krauss

Turek adds questions about why we can use our minds to discover truth – note that truth is immaterial, also. It’s clear that we are rational agents and can freely choose to use our minds to discover physical laws and even use them to build a Mars probe and land it safely. Freely? Turek must not be a Calvinist!

Turek reports on a 1985 debate between Christian Greg Bahnsen and atheist Gordon Stein held at UC Irvine. Stein challenged whether Bahnsen could give him any example, other than God, of something immaterial. Bahnsen replied, “The laws of logic.” Without which science cannot be done and atheists cannot make any arguments at all. But then everything important in life is immaterial, a point I make with every atheist I talk to, including love, justice, morality, integrity, hope, meaning, and beauty. This point always seems to take college students by surprise.

When a postmodernist insists, “There is no truth!”, try some logic on him. Ask him, “Is that true? Didn’t you just get done telling me atheism (or whatever) is true?” To “All truth changes,” try “Does that truth change?”

How about the origins of consciousness and reason and logic? When the evolutionist suggests, “Oh, but give science more time!”, you might suggest that he take more time to think. Science can’t discover the origin for the laws of logic because science uses logic as a foundation. Consider what science is: Make observations, develop a hypothesis to explain them, design experiments to validate the hypothesis, analyze your data and uncertainties, make conclusions regarding your confidence in the hypothesis based on your data and the limitations and assumptions in your experiments and observations.

Science is merely a method, a technique for making sense of our physical environment. It is not the wellspring of truth. Throughout the process of the scientific method, you’re using reason and logic, induction, deduction, and inference to the best explanation, you’re making judgments on data and assumptions based on experience, and you’re assuming that your consciousness is in touch with reality and not merely driven by brain chemistry. You’re making choices continually!

Science is a method with significant limitations and depends on much else, as I just barely touched above. The big scam is that atheistic scientists make anti-theist philosophical assertions and a gullible public assumes they know what they are talking about because they know how to solve equations and operate sensors and speak glibly. In my own experience, at the philosophical level, I often hear more sense about the important issues of life from gangbangers in the inner city!

Paul Davies

Atheists like Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens despise Christians. Hitchens said, “I think religion should be treated with ridicule, hatred, and contempt, and I claim that right.” Consider his words: “I”, “think”, “religion”, “treated”, “hatred”, . . . , “right.” All immaterial. Where do “rights” come from? Who is the “I” other than a clod of molecules? Atheist clubs on campus describe themselves as “freethinkers.” But what’s free and what is thinking in a materialistic universe? And science doesn’t exist without logic, reason, and free choice.

Atheist Daniel Dennett is similarly hypocritical when he asserts that consciousness is an illusion. Turek wonders whether Dennett is conscious when he says that! “In order to detect an illusion, you have to be able to see what’s real . . . Dennett would need to wake up with some kind of superconsciousness to know that the ordinary consciousness the rest of us mortals have is just an illusion . . . He’d have to be someone like God in order to know that.”

In asserting the unreality of consciousness, Dennett is being honest about the implications of materialism. (Notice again and again how we have to employ non-material concepts in order to discuss these issues!) But Dennett exempts himself from his own ‘theory’ – which doesn’t deserve the status of ‘theory’ because it is not scientifically testable! When Dennett writes, Turek notes, “He certainly doesn’t think the ideas in his book are an illusion. He acts like he’s really telling the truth about reality.”

I’d like to encourage you, dear reader . . . Never, never feel intimidated by the clueless, illogical, hypocritical numbskulls that espouse atheism / evolution / materialism. They’ve got nothing . . . no, worse than that, they’re lying, they’re wrong, and can’t see that they don’t think straight, all with an arrogant condescension toward those of us who are actually somewhat in touch with reason and reality. These guys are disgusting – not pitiable, because their deceit is destructive, damning multitudes of silly, impressionable young souls.

Turek writes, “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist. I’d rather rely on reason than blindly adopt an ideology that makes reason impossible.” In materialism, all reason fails, all argument is impossible, all humans are clods of dirt, all human actions are just products of brain chemistry, and ‘believing’ anything is nonsensical – there is no ‘belief’ in protons, neutrons, and electrons. There is no ‘believer’ because there is no ‘I’ or ‘you.’

Hubble photo

Turek’s chapter on Information & Intentionality is worth the price of the book. Since I’ve written much on this subject, I’ll just pull a few nuggets. Turek reports an atheist online who complained about lack of evidence. What would be enough for him would be, right now, a message in the sky: “HEY ROGER, THIS IS GOD! I CERTAINLY DO EXIST! NOW STOP ALL YOUR WHINING DOWN THERE!” Such specific and timely information would be convincing, because we all know that informational messages are always produced by intelligent minds. Natural forces – gravity, electromagnetism, nuclear strong and weak forces – can’t produce information.

Turek points to the most overwhelming, brilliant set of information we have ever observed – the genetic code (and higher 3-D levels of coding) in the cells of every living creature. He unpacks nuggets from Stephen Meyer’s books, which I have essayed on this site. Atheist Bill Gates admits, “Human DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.” Turek observes that gravity accounts for how snow falls, but gravity cannot write your name and address in the snow. Other forces can produce repetitive order in crystals and vortices in flows, but no forces can generate the specified functional information in texts and codes, whether books, or blueprints for buildings, or software encoded on hard disks, or genes which produce incredibly complex nanomachines (proteins) in just the right quantity and timed so perfectly. Simple example: the physics and chemistry of paper and ink does not produce an encyclopedia or a quantum physics textbook.

Nanomachines? “Biologists can’t help but describe their parts with engineering names. There are molecular motors, shuttles, sensors, tweezers, propellers, stators, bushings, rotors, driveshafts, etc. For example, the bacterial flagellum is a rotary motor so small that 35,000 of them laid end to end would take up 1 millimeter. Its motor runs at a sizzling 100,000 rpm in one direction, and it can stop in only a quarter-turn to run just as fast in the opposite direction! Our machines are crude by comparison.”

That’s why atheist Francis Crick, co-discover of DNA, warned, “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.” Wow, what an admission! Sounds like religious fervor run amok, that scientists must constantly ignore what they see and defy all reason.

On morality, an atheist must continually deny his own conscience and heart. “If justice doesn’t exist, then neither does injustice . . . the rape and murder of your child isn’t really unjust.” In an interview with radio host Justin Brierley, Richard Dawkins was asked, “Ultimately, your belief that rape is wrong is as arbitrary as the fact that we’ve evolved five fingers rather than six.” Dawkins replied, “You could say that, yeah.” So whenever atheists want to hold people morally accountable, they “need to steal free will and morality from God.” If the entire world lived consistently by materialist principles, there would be no civilization. Even atheists, like Calvinists, cannot actually live by their principles.

Our individual human worth cannot be based on the sum of our chemicals. Because morality exists objectively – and we all know it – and because we’re made in the image of God, with soul and spirit that goes beyond and will live beyond this physical / temporal world, we are accountable to God, we have ‘unalienable rights’ as Thomas Jefferson inscribed in the Declaration, and we, as born again Christians, have an assured hope that there is a greater and better reality in our future. Materialists have no hope, often generating a despair that manifests in immorality (hetero-sex, same sex, pederasty), oppression (in socialist societies), murder (abortion), and even insanity (Nietsche). Why are socialism and atheism so highly correlated, as in Stalin’s Soviet Union and Mao’s China? In atheist ‘utopias,’ people must be controlled under the invented ‘morality’ of the elite freethinkers. It’s always a disaster. Atheism and freedom can’t live together.

Trilobite

David, a friend of the author, preached a sermon refuting atheism, which provoked a challenge afterward from a young atheist, who “once was a Christian.” After responding to several of his questions with good arguments that failed to impress the young atheist, David said, “You’re raising all of these objections because you’re sleeping with your girlfriend. Am I right?” David observed that all the blood seemed to drain from the man’s face. He rejected God because he didn’t want to live morally.

That’s the thing to remember whenever you engage 121 with an atheist. It’s not reason or logic or evidence at the foundation – none of that can exist in his worldview – but rather immorality of some kind, usually sexual. Pascal wrote, “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.”

A favorite objection of atheists is the problem of evil. How can a good God allow evil? And what about those Crusades, etc.? Turek cites Ravi Z, that “the Crusades and the Inquisition were the illogical outworking of Christianity. They went against everything Christ taught.” I would go a lot further, in that the Crusades were wars instigated by the Roman Catholic Church, which is not Christian at all. In fact many Crusades were launched against independent Bible believers for many centuries. History documents this thoroughly. Furthermore, Crusades into the Middle East amounted to wars against Islamic states which repeatedly tried to conquer and subjugate Europe, but were consistently repelled . . . a little factoid that enabled European countries and ultimately America to develop with some measure of freedom . . . especially after the Reformation, which broke the absolute power of the Roman Catholic Church. But I digress.

On the other hand, the murders and genocides of Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot “were the logical outworking of atheism . . . After all, if there is no God, anything is permissible.” Turek goes on to deal with the ‘Canaanite problem’ in Old Testament history, along with other issues about pain, suffering, and death in the world, which are consequences of the Fall. “Incredibly, they (atheists) think that God has no right to take innocent human life, but somehow they do!”

I should point out that Turek’s principal ‘hole in the head’ is that he’s an old-Earther, an Intelligent Design advocate, but not a Biblical creationist. And so he is weak regarding the grand scope of Biblical history, a ‘good’ creation marred by the Fall, a Fall of man’s doing which precipitated pain, suffering, and death, which is and will be reversed by the redemption of the Cross, Christ’s resurrection, and the assured promise of a New Heaven and New Earth. When ID guys delve into ‘grand scope’ issues, they don’t have an entirely coherent story.

'rough sketch' of a bacterial flagellum

Turek has much to say about science vs. evolution and does an efficient job in an apologetic defense of the historicity of the New Testament. I’ll close my review with his cute illustration of the role of science, which he attributes to John Lennox.

“Imagine there is a Ford motorcar in front of you. What accounts for the Ford motorcar? I’ll give you two choices, but you can only pick one: Henry Ford or the natural laws governing internal combustion? . . . You need an agent to build the car and natural laws that hold the car together and allow it to operate. The agent explains the car’s origin, and natural laws explain its operation. (If students can see this, why can’t Dawkins, Krauss, and Atkins?) . . . Learning more about how an engine works should never cause you to conclude there was no designing engineer.”

Why do I write blogs like this? I’m hoping that you’re encouraged to stand strong in your reasonable faith, knowing that the Adversary can invent only nonsensical philosophies in opposition, and to give you a few common-sense nuggets with which to entice the deluded to THINK. Just get people thinking. Just give them a chance.

– drdave@truthreallymatters.com

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