Is there a response to be brought to the Reason Rally? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
Lately, I’ve been presenting my own defenses against the unreason that will take place at the rally. Today, I do not have to do that. Instead, I am going to be writing about a small ebook that has been put together for the purposes of giving a response to those at the Reason Rally.
To be fair, I was not able to do an exhaustive reading of the work. As it stands, my family is in the process of preparing to move and as I’m busy packing boxes and running out and getting supplies to do that and making arrangements and still trying to make time for my wife and my own personal reading, it can be difficult to do this. I did briefly examine the document to see where it was going overall and what I thought.
I was pleased to see first off that a response has been put out and it is a response emphasizing reason. I do agree that the new atheists give the implication that if one is a disbeliever in God, then one is ipso facto automatically reasonable. The reality is I’ve met far too many who are atheists who are in fact quite unreasonable.
I was also pleased to see that several issues were addressed in the work. There were sections that could be found on faith and science as well as sections on the problem of evil, the question of slavery, and the conquest of the Canaanites. Many will be pleased to see that someone of the caliber of Craig in fact has added his work to this volume.
For that, I do commend the authors. I believe this is a fine step forward in the dialogue unlike what we usually see from the new atheist side. The writers have actually taken what the new atheists have said and they have been in dialogue with it, which is different from the way new atheists handle evangelical works.
I would have however liked to have seen more arguments that I think get to the heart of the issue. I do not think it’s always best to argue against the conclusions of the new atheists but rather their methodology. What is their approach to study and research?
Here at Deeper Waters, for instance, I have already received questions about the Bible implying that I interpret it arbitrarily or depend on the Holy Spirit. The Bible is treated like an all-or-nothing game. Either it’s all literal and absurd, or it’s all metaphorical and thus irrelevant.
What would help is to have a section on how to read not just the Bible, but any piece of literature. Why? The way one reads the Bible is really the exact same way. It can only be different by degree due to difference in time, place, culture, and language. This would be akin to learning how to read Plutarch, Aristotle, or Sophocles.
If we could get past the hermeneutical question, I believe that would also deal with many other objections. The first question to ask is if the text really has any meaning. If it does, then what does it take to get to that meaning? Is it hard some times? Yep. That’s why there’s differences of opinion. If one wants truth, one will work at it.
This also comes with the study of historiography. I was pleased to see a chapter on the reliability of the NT, but i do not recall seeing in there a central question. Many new atheists deny even the existence of a historical Jesus. Forget denying the miracles and the resurrection, which while false is more understandable. These believe that the whole story is a myth from start to finish.
Unfortunately, people who study historiography don’t take this seriously. Even Bart Ehrman is coming out with a book this month to argue that Jesus existed, probably because too many atheists have been asking him this question and some have even listed him as a source.
What needs to be done then is to show how history is to be properly done and this not in a way going all for or all against the events known as miracles. An atheist can still be an atheist while being open to miracles. He doesn’t have to have a dogmatic stance against them. Besides, we all know atheists don’t like dogma. Right?
As for the parts on evolution, I more and more think that the argument should not go on whether evolution is true or false, but rather evolution truly does make God superfluous. I was pleased to see that Tom Gilson in the work realizes that evolution and theism could both be true. Indeed, that is the glaring problem of Dawkins’s “The Blind Watchmaker.” I could grant all the evidence for evolution and that would still be a problem.
Thus, we do need to indeed go after the physics in studying what comes next, metaphysics. We need to establish our arguments on metaphysical reasoning. This is actually the version of the Kalam that I do consider the strongest. Many atheists think when I present Kalam that I’m presenting Craig’s formulation of it. Not at all. No offense to Craig. Craig I find to be a great mind and I’m glad he’s on our side, but I do not agree with all of his stances. I think the way it is for him is that you have to depend on the science largely to demonstrate that Kalam. Since I think science is inductive at best, I prefer to rely on the metaphysical which I consider to be deductive.
It is my concern that when we keep it where it is, we are letting the other side set the rules and then they will ask for scientific evidence. One cannot really do that. God is not in the subject matter of science since God by definition is not material. We need to start with the question of if science is the final arbiter of truth. To be fair, this is done in the book. While many atheists deny scientism with their hearts, with their lips they give full credit to it. It is hard to take their denial seriously when they keep asking for scientific evidence for everything.
These concerns do not go against the overall goodness. I also show these concerns to let atheists know something else. We have this great freedom in Christianity. We can think freely and disagree with one another. I can mention what is positive and what is negative without marrying my view to someone else. I don’t even agree with my own ministry partner on everything.
For those who are interested in the book, feel free to go to TrueReason.org and ask about it. A link is included at the bottom.