What do I think about Elliot George’s book? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
When I heard Elliot George debate Jonathan McLatchie on Unbelievable? I wanted to see exactly how bad George’s book was for myself. Maybe what happened on the show was a fluke after all. I wasn’t expecting that, but hey, hope springs eternal. So I bought the book and proceeded to go through it.
It wasn’t at the level of the debate he had with Jonathan I must confess.
No. It went far lower.
Even the art work on this book is ridiculous with a challenge of “Dare To Read This?” Well I did read it and I can say that if you ever have an urge to kill a few hours of your life, you can consider going through this book. Like another bad book I read recently, It left me tempted to be an environmentalist. Why? Because I have great pity for trees that have to die to print this kind of stuff.
So what’s so bad about this book?
A foreword by John Loftus should have told me enough and everything that I thought from that point was confirmed as I got in. Reading George is like reading the rant of a small child and one who by his own admission does not know the subject that he talks about. Yet for a follower of atheistic presuppositionalism this is no excuse! After all, if you know about science, that’s all that matters!
For George, science is at the centerpiece of his worldview. Everything revolves around science. Why is it that we are suffering? We are ignorant of science! This must be news to people who were suffering in Communist Russia under poverty where there was a great interest in science so much so that we were in a race with them on studying space.
You can know plenty about science and live in a culture that knows science and still be suffering for any number of reasons. Having said that, I do not think a society should be ignorant of science. Science is extremely important and we need people who will learn it. I will say at the start it is not something I study. I can read many things on science with great fascination. (Reading material about space, for instance, is quite incredible) Still, it is a subject I do not invest serious study in. I prefer historical questions far more. I leave questions of science as science to those who study it.
George starts at location 132 (I got the Kindle format so I at least spared some trees) with saying that religions have been fighting against accepting science since the acceptance of the scientific method. It would be nice to know what evidence there is of this. George doesn’t give any. He said on the show that he wanted it to be simple that even an 8 year old could read it and they wouldn’t be interested in citations. (Because we know a little number after a claim would just really go against an 8 year-old’s reading)
Color me skeptical of this claim and it’s not just a Christian theist like me. Even an atheist like Tim O’Neill says the same thing. Have there been interpretations of Scripture that have disagreed with science? Yes. Does that mean there is a fundamental essential disagreement? No. More on this when we get to discussions of science.
But unfortunately at this point, George has fired an opening shot without evidence other than his say so and the unsuspecting reader is just going to go along with it. It’s amusing considering how repeatedly he speaks about claims with no evidence throughout the book and regularly fails to give evidence for his claims.
He in the same area tells us that believers tend to seek material that backs what they believe and avoid opposite opinions. Belief is then put in a locked safe of sorts in the mind of the believer.
This is certainly true of many Christians.
This is also certainly true of many atheists.
In fact, I would wish to ask George when the last time was that he read a work of scholarship that disagreed with him. For my part, I’m constantly encouraging Christians to read both sides of the argument and learn from it. I have more respect for an atheist that argues for atheism and has read the best in Christian scholarship, than a Christian who argues for Christianity and does not read atheistic and skeptical scholarship.
George tells us also that science has the best method for investigating and understanding the world around us. I wish to know how he knows this. Now I do not doubt that it is an excellent method, but the best? For many of us, the most important questions we have cannot be answered by science.
What is the good? Who do I marry? Do I marry? What am I here for? How do I raise my children right? Is there a God? Does my life have any meaning? Is there such a thing as right and wrong? Why do we suffer? These are all important questions and before dismissing any of them, let’s pause to realize they are all real questions. Most of us have at some time in life asked ourselves these kinds of questions. Science can help with some of them, but it does not give the final answer.
George has much to say about belief which quite frankly is bizarre. He is certainly right that believing in something doesn’t make it true, but no one is arguing that. Belief is just giving intellectual agreement to a claim. It is saying “Yes, I hold that the claim stated is true.” George keeps thinking his idea of belief is the true one and imposes that on every claim that he sees.
Starting on location 234, he says
Raising such speculation to the level of a ‘belief’ is where religions come into the picture. Since this sort of belief is not supported by evidence, religious leaders have found it necessary to counter the inevitable difficult questions by claiming immunity from questioning.
He goes on to say
They have even managed to elevate unquestioning to a position of virtue and ‘righteousness’ in our societies by calling it ‘Faith.’
Well Mr. George, you might be surprised to hear that at my church, we have a saying. “Come as you are. Text in your questions.” Yes. We want people to ask questions. If you come to our church and during the service have a question, there’s a number you can text it in to that we tell you before the service starts. When you do, the pastor will receive it at the end of the service and come out and answer your question. If it’s a question that is rather extensive, he will say that he will make a video log that week where he will answer your question.
By the way, all questions are welcome. We’ve had questions on evil, if Scripture has been changed, sexual ethics, homosexuality, etc. No question is forbidden.
Second, as for faith, George is simply wrong on this. George does not bother to interact with any evidence on this position. He could have at least cited Hebrews 11:1. That would have been the start of an argument, though it would still be wrong. In fact, I have argued elsewhere that faith spoken of in the sense used by most atheists is not a virtue.
Faith instead is trust in what has been shown to be reliable. It is loyalty. Suppose you live in the ancient world and want to open a bakery. You don’t have the funds to do it. You go to someone who does. They give you a gift of money. That gift is called charis, which is translated as grace in the New Testament. In turn, you live your life in loyalty to this patron giving thanks for them and letting everyone know who it is that supplied you with the bakery. That loyalty is called faith. The word in Greek is Pistis.
Faith involves an element of risk. It’s easy to say you believe that the doctor can perform the surgery on you and that you’ll wake up. It’s faith when you act on it. You don’t have faith that 2 + 2 = 4 because there’s no element of risk involved with it. You don’t have faith that you exist for the exact same reason.
George says that the church benefits by keeping the flock in a juvenile mode. He gives a quote from John Shelby Spong, though he doesn’t give a reference of course, and says Christianity is in the business of guilt and control. This is interesting since in the ancient world the internal concept of personal guilt was a misnomer just as it is in many societies around today. A man in a church in Indonesia for instance can have an affair and have no guilt until someone calls him out on it, and then he has guilt. Spong and others assume a modern individualism and then push that on the rest of the world and on the Biblical text.
When talking about why people believe in a deity, George gives reasons such as desire for an afterlife, a sense of belonging, etc. For some, this could be true, but he ignores the reason of many of us. We believe that there is good evidence. Again, you are free to say that there is not good evidence, but that is not the same as saying we are believing without evidence.
On location 401 he says
Dogma is the repeated, arrogant, stubborn assertion of opinion as though it is fact. It is no credible substitute for evidence, and the enlisting of it by religions should be a clue to their weakness, their lack of foundation. Worse than that, believers put their beliefs in a strong box in their heads and secure it with the padlock of ‘faith’. We must guard against dogma and ‘faith’; together they outlaw freethinking and compel conformity and submission.
In many cases, I agree with this. I agree with it so much I think Elliot George should stop it. He regularly repeats in his book a dogma of “no evidence” without interacting with the disagreement against his position. It is as if he is teaching a dogma. That gives me a clue to the lack of foundation for his atheism. In fact, he has padlocked his position in a box called reason. Does that mean I am opposed to reason? Absolutely not! I am opposed to someone saying that atheism = reason. It doesn’t. There are atheists that can reason. There are Christians that can reason. There are atheists that can’t reason. There are Christians that can’t reason. The danger of atheism is a sort of presuppositional atheism that assumes that it is the true worldview from the outset without interacting with the best arguments against its position.
You know, like George’s.
George speaks about a time of profound ignorance when men thought the sun went around the Earth. This is a strange position since it was originally Christians that challenged this and since the reason people believed this was the science showed it at the time. The people were just going with the science of the time. If this is the standard that George wants to use, then perhaps people can disregard him even 100 years from now and say “George’s atheism should be disregarded. It was written about in that time where people were ignorant and believed X” which is whatever scientific dogma we have today that will be falsified by then.
Is George against people going against the science of the time? If so, then why is he complaining about Christians going against evolution? If not, then he should have no complaints whatsoever. For the time being, we had the system of Ptolemy and it worked. In fact, even in Galileo’s time we did not have the evidence we needed yet. That came later on.
Starting on Location 432, George argues that the argument of believing by tradition is that lots of people held a belief for a long time and they can’t all be wrong.
I would like to know very much who is making this kind of argument. Now I will say if a stance is traditional to experts in the field, it takes a lot to overcome it. Still, it is possible to do so if you have a strong enough case.
On Location 477, he says there are about 41,000 denominations. Did we really survey the whole field? This is a misunderstanding of denominations. For one, the claim is just false. There aren’t that many (The number is changing so much) and most denominations are really just fine with each other for the most part. Denominations really refers to a self-governing entity.
By this standard, there could be two independent Baptist churches in a town but on opposite ends of the town since not everyone wants to drive all across town. These churches could have the exact same beliefs, but since they’re independent, they’re each counted as a denomination. George does not realize this. (Probably because he doesn’t really do research in this field and believes claims without evidence.)
He also asks if a person could become a Jain if they wanted to or worship any other number of gods and ask if we have a full working knowledge of all the beliefs. Did we really make a fully informed decision?
We could ask George the same. He has chosen that all of them are wrong. Does he know the ins and outs of every system out there? If not, then has he made a fully informed decision? Has he examined all of them to say that there is no evidence for all of them? This seems like a strange case to make.
And can anyone have exhaustive knowledge in any field? No. Can one have sufficient knowledge to make a decision. Yes. George talks about having a wife in the book, though apparently he has been divorced before. Should we say this “George. Before you decide to marry a woman, did you go and meet every other woman on the planet? Can you say you are fully informed that this is the person you want to be with?” That would be ridiculous. None of us who are married check with everyone. We just have sufficient knowledge to choose the one we have.
George also asks if your faith position is an accident based on the location of birth and faith of your parents.
Since I know many Christians who were born in non-Christian households and are devout Christians today, then no. It is not. I could just as well say if I was born in a third world country today, i would likely believe the sun goes around the Earth. Since I was born in a culture that values science and can do it, I don’t. Should I doubt that belief because of where I was born?
George also says that since we can be fickle and change our beliefs, they can’t be very important. Right? This is an incredible statement. It is as if George believes all beliefs were created equal. At one point, I did not know my wife. At another point, I said I know her and I believe she could be a person I can marry so I kept dating her. Then I believed she is a person I can marry so I proposed. Now I believe I love her today and she loves me. That is not fickle. If I am to change my mind on anything, it is not just because I want to. It is because I have a reason. No one can change their mind just because they want to.
Suppose I had a brain scan device that could actually read your mind. I hooked it up to you and said “I can tell what you’re believing right now, so I want you to really believe there’s a pink elephant flying over your head and if you do, I will give you a million dollars.” Suppose you knew I had the money and that I was reliable and would do so. You still would walk out without the money because you could not just force yourself to believe it.
George meanwhile says scientific facts are believed because they are
supported by evidence, but religious beliefs are not like that and are just personal choices. This again is a false notion of belief. It’s not what any of us mean by the statement. If I say “I believe the Earth is 13.7 billion years old” I mean that I give intellectual agreement to the proposition even though it is supported by evidence as far as I’m concerned.
He also argues that since mankind has had a number of deities that have gone away and aren’t believed in, surely one shouldn’t think any one is true. We might as well say since man has believed in many scientific theories, then surely since those were seen as defunct, we shouldn’t believe in the ones today.
He also says
Imagining that your beliefs, your ideas, your opinions, your choices are important is the height of arrogant conceit, Isn’t it?
This from a man who published a book with his beliefs, ideas, opinions, and choices, that we should think are important enough to buy and read about. I guess George is guilty of arrogant conceit.
Interestingly, he rightly has the quote in the book by Feynman that the first principle is not to fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool. It looks throughout the book like George has fooled himself.
Location 601 has two pargaraphs together worthy of full quoting.
‘Scientists understand that it’s acceptable to change their minds.’ Just think what that means: scientific facts are not fixed and ‘true’ forever. They are simply the best current understanding of reality. If new evidence comes in, the model may have to be revised. Scientists are prepared to listen to opposing opinions; they do not claim to have perfect answers or even be able to provide proof, only probability.
How unlike the unbending culture prevalent in most faith based organisations. Believers tend to make unfounded assertions, stifle opposition and try to strength their doctrine by unceasing repetition. Do you think they have to dogmatically protect their doctrine because they perceive that the lack of supporting evidence makes it vulnerable to dissent?
This from a man who makes numerous unfounded assertion in his book, as we will see, tries to stifle the opposition by making false statements about them regularly, and goes by unceasing repetition of the mantra of “No evidence.” Do you think George has to dogmatically protect this doctrine because the lack of supporting evidence makes it vulnerable to dissent? If he actually studied Christianity, for instance, he might find out people have reasons beyond feeling and emotion for believing in it.
To which, now we can start getting into some of these facts. How about Mithras being born on December 25th? That would be news to the scholars of Mithras I’ve read! None of them have said that! How about 3000 years ago the Romans believe in Dionysus who was also born on December 25th? First off, no he wasn’t born on that date. Second, the Romans weren’t even around at that time. The Roman World which is an Oxford classic, dates the start of the Roman Empire to 753 B.C. and that’s when it’s a fledgling state.
Next he says that 2,000 years ago in Judea there was a man who was claimed to have many of the same characteristics of these pagan gods.
Congratulations to George for having some of the best scholarship of the 19th century.
Of course, George has the Stephen Roberts quote of how he just goes one god further than us and when we understand why we dismiss those other gods, we’ll know why he dismisses ours.
It’s really a shame atheism has fallen for such soundbite thinking. Imagine being on a jury and hearing the defense attorney say this.
“Men and women of the jury. You all believe that many people did not commit the crime and I agree with you. I just ask that you go one person further with my client. When you realize why you believe the others didn’t commit the crime, you’ll know why you should not think my client committed the crime.”
No lawyer on Earth should be stupid enough to try such an argument.
Yet atheists think it’s a powerful stumper.
George also says that there are billions of people on the planet and there were billions before us. Numerically, each of us is insignificant like an ant. From there, he draws the conclusion that we are as unimportant as ants. How does this follow? Does this mean that if we had more people born today, our lives are somehow less important? If instead a meteor hit the planet and killed half of us, our lives would somehow be more important? Shouldn’t our value be based not on how many of us there are, but what we are?
George says repeated observations are the strongest form of evidence. It’s the gold standard.
Can George give me any evidence of this? If he does, he needs to repeat that, then he needs to repeat it again and again and again. Repeated evidence is a good standard in science where you can repeatedly test claims, but it does not work in other areas. You cannot repeat history for instance. You do not do this in Math. You do not do this in philosophy. There are other ways.
George also argues against experience as evidence because there is no way of telling one from another. There is however. The evidence! In fact, we have to use experience. If we are doing some testing on a patient, we sometimes have to ask how the patient feels. The only way we know that is the experience of the patient and what they tell us. Does George really think we learn nothing from experience?
George also says we can’t trust testimonies because people giving a testimony are performing before an audience and naturally making the story more gripping by embellishing it and thus it gets less accurate.
It would be nice to see our court system learn this fascinating truth. It’s a wonder George believes it himself. Does it not occur to him that some people will want to make their statement as true as possible and thus not embellish it so that people will take them seriously? This assumes on George’s part that people will lie and be dishonest. No doubt some will, but why think everyone will?
Amusingly in his very book, he says books should be viewed with suspicion. After all, he is modifying his text right now. They are records and not evidence unless verified.
This from a book that avoids citations and telling us that we should not trust books.
I can’t help but wonder how the publisher passed this book on….
With religious books, he asks if we’ve ever heard of Chinese Whispers, which we also know in America as the game of telephone with an example. A captain says to a messenger in the trenches to tell the general to send reinforcements. We’re going to advance. The messenger says to the general to send three and four pence. We’re going to a dance. Because of this, we can’t trust oral tradition, just watch breaking news.
Or you could do something unusual and actually study oral tradition, unless you want to make claims without evidence. (Well that’s not accurate. George has evidence, but it’s poor ignorance based on a lack of knowledge of the kind of society he’s critiquing. Isn’t it arrogant of him to think he knows how these societies function without studying them?)
Has he considered reading ANYTHING on oral tradition, such as The Lost World of Scripture? Does he not know that in these societies, memory was much better due to not being able to write things down? Stories weren’t just told one time as in Chinese Whispers without the ability to go back and ask again what was said. Stories were repeated and there were select gatekeepers who guarded them. The stories were told in group settings. Some minor variations were allowed, but you could not change the thrust of the story.
This is why people who do not study these things should not write about them. No scholar of oral tradition would take George seriously. George is to religious scholarship what he thinks Christian fundamentalists are to evolution.
He then tells us that different Scriptures disagree and events in them contradict the Laws of Physics. There is no interaction with Craig Keener’s Miracles. There is no interaction with the agnostic John Earman’s look at Hume’s Abject Failure. Does George not know the kinds of things ancient people did believe in with a rudimentary science? They knew it took sex to make babies. They knew people don’t walk on water. They knew that if no one intervened, dead people stay dead.
On location 899 he says
The Bible was edited in the 4th century AD under the command of Emperor Constantine and it has been translated, transcribed, and re-edited many times since.
Not even Bart Ehrman would support this nonsense.
No. Constantine did not order the editing of the Bible. We have manuscripts of the Bible pre-dating the fourth century that can easily demonstrate this. Again, this is scholarship of the 19th century. Constantine ordered the printing of fifty Bibles, but he had nothing to do with any editing and had zip to do with choosing what books went into the canon. If George thinks the Bible has been edited so many times since then, then he is free to take a modern translation, compare it to the ancient Greek and Hebrew manuscripts we have, and then tell us what the drastic difference is.
We are all eagerly awaiting it.
He also says the Koran dates to the 6th century. This is false. The revelations to Muhammad would have come in the 7th century. A basic Google search even could have shown that.
On 927, he argues no one can prove a negative.
Has he proven that? If not, then why should I take it seriously. If so, then a negative has been proven. Either way, he is taking this as a proof and in any case, cannot demonstrate it.
On 935, he goes after Constantine again saying he sent one of his women to the holy land to search for evidence to support Christianity. Why? Because Constantine adopted it as the state religion of the Roman Empire.
This is false. Constantine’s mother did go searching for famous Christian sites, but not at the order of Constantine. Constantine also made Christianity a legal religion, but he did not make it the official religion. That happened decades after his death. Again, this was basic knowledge George could have easily checked on. Could it be he didn’t read anything that disagreed with him but read some rubbish from skeptical sources? Why would he do that? Is he trying to protect his faith? Did he not bother to verify? He must be a man of faith!
But most hysterical along these lines is that George has the quote of Pope Leo X of how profitable the fable of Christ has been.
Oh please George! Please do tell me the source for this quote! I so eagerly anticipate that!
On location 984, he says that before science, when a question was asked, someone just guessed and told their children. The answer got passed down and that’s how religions originate.
Well first, I’m wondering what question was asked with the answer of “A divine Messiah was crucified and rose again.” Second, I’m wondering if George has read ANYTHING on the history of science and philosophy? Even in the Middle Ages, questions were answered with scientific answers. Many times, they were bad answers since science was just coming into its own, but they were not God-of-the-Gaps answers.
On location 1019, he says the scientific method has provided us with everything we know.
Can you show that using the scientific method?
After all, George says we know that. Surely he can show it.
Can he use the method to show there is a real world external to his mind? Maybe we live in Berkeley’s world or even the Matrix. Can he use it to show that reason is valid? Can he use it to show the scientific method is valid?
It is a tragedy such nonsense like this is printed.
In case you’re wondering, since George believes this and he believes science can only provide probabilities, then there is no absolute truth.
Yes. He really says that….
On location 1100, he says external truth is relative. It’s subjective. He even says your truth may be different from mine.
Okay George. It’s my truth that God exists and it’s yours that He doesn’t. Why are you arguing against my relative truth?
He then tells us what the truth is somehow. That is that we live in an illusion created for us by our sense organs and brain.
This is the point where my wife asked me if I had a headache or something.
Moving into creation accounts, no shock that George reads them like a fundamentalist thinking that everything happened in one week of 24 hour days and that God really needed to rest. It would be nice to see him interact with works like The Lost World of Genesis One or on a more scientific note to consider Hugh Ross and Reasons To Believe. Alas however, if you’re a presuppositional atheist, you have no need of evidence of what your opponents believe. It’s no wonder he thinks the light being made on day one and the sun on day four is a major stumper.
It’s quite amusing then when he has a little diatribe about double-standards and how they aggravate him. You know, like the double-standard of Christians better study evolution before the speak about it, but atheists don’t need to study Christianity before they speak about it. And George, in case you ask, yes. I do think Christians who don’t study evolution and argue against it need to be quiet.
Naturally, he has a list of beliefs with no evidence such as God (Did you bother reading any theistic arguments whatsoever) or the resurrection (Did you bother reading Mike Licona or N.T. Wright?) and a few miracles. (Did you bother reading Craig Keener?)
It’s easy to say there’s no evidence when you just ignore what your opponents say.
On 1321, he argues that a view today seems to be God kick-started life and left it to evolve and asks how that works with a Bible that is ‘gospel truth’ and the ‘word of god’ and ‘inerrant.’
It works just fine. Thanks!
He also says that according to a creation account, creatures must be made fixed and unchanging. This isn’t according to any account I’ve heard. Now some might put limits on evolution, but no one I know doubts there is some degree of evolution. George also has a hang-up on a perfect creation. Some might say that, but I have for a long time been a contender of the idea that this world was not created perfect, nor was it meant to be. In fact, considering what perfection is, I don’t see how that is even possible.
On 1342, he says believers tend to have a distorted view of evolution. This is compared to the way politicians misrepresent the ideas of their opponents.
Oh the irony….
This from someone who extensively misrepresents Christianity in his book.
Oh by the way, he hates double standards….
And FYI, on 1372 he says he doesn’t believe in evil. He prefers the word heinous, though one wonders what the difference is.
Of course, on 1389, George thinks the evidence of science produces cognitive dissonance.
It’s a wonder to think what atheists would do without the words “cognitive dissonance.” It’s become a mantra practically. But hey, what can you say about people who believe in dogma?
George also says that Christian apologists claim the word day can refer to a longer unit of time and asks if we hear the bottom of a barrel being scraped.
Well, he could just look at linguistic evidence. Did he consult any Hebrew works on the meaning of ‘yom.’? Not a bit.
By the way George, with my interpretation, since mine is not a scientific reading but a functional reading, I can believe in the Earth being 4.5 billions of years old, even in evolution, and still hold to 24 hour days and a traditional week. Again, try reading Walton sometime.
On 1546, he says that sadly most believers just haven’t read the latest facts and their information is from sources with bias, like the creation museum.
Oh please do tell us your sources on Christianity, George! You’re not up to the latest facts since you use 19th century arguments! Please tell me also your sources are not “biased.” Every source has a bias. Your own book has a bias. Bias is an excuse.
Well he does give us one source. For missing links, he directs us to a Wikipedia article.
That’s right. Wikipedia.
He then asks why no one questions missing links in faith? Isn’t it a leap to go from “The Bible is true” to “There is a supernatural creator.”
Well first off, I don’t accept this natural/supernatural distinction. Second, the answer to the question itself is no, it is not a leap. If the Bible is true, then all that it says is true and that means that it is true that there is a God. That’s not a leap of logic. That’s just basic facts. Watch.
Whatever the Bible says is true.
The Bible says God exists.
It is true that God exists.
This is basic logic George….
On 1674, he tells us that we are taught in houses of worship that morality comes from the Scriptures.
Sorry George. Not my position again. I hold the Scriptures have teachings on morality, but not that the Bible creates morality. You can know morality apart from the Bible. Even Romans 2 shows that.
Yet of course, George thinks the Bible has awful teachings. He of course thinks no one has said anything about these, such as slavery, or stoning children to death. With passages like marrying a rapist, he does not realize that was to punish the rapist and to protect the woman who would be seen as not worthy to be married by others. Again, some basic study of the Ancient Near East would have helped.
With the Ten Commandments, he actually uses Wikipedia as a source and says rape is not mentioned nor is assault and the text is obviously misogynistic.
Rape would be included under adultery and the later law worked out assault. The Ten Commandments are a start and in a didactic society are not meant to be exhaustive. George just keeps showing his ignorance.
He also says that many Christians will say the quotes atheists use of Scripture are taken out of context and not read in their proper historical context. That’s true. George just sees this as ridiculous and then says so many in the next breath say the Bible should be interpreted literally. This is one reason I think we should just kill the word “literal.”
With forgiveness, he actually thinks it means you are released from your responsibility on Earth. No. It doesn’t It means you are put in right relation again with the person that was wronged. There could still be consequences. He even says the Catholic church has made a business out of forgiveness.
Hate to tell you George, but indulgences died out centuries ago.
He tells us that in the Crusades, 9 million were killed. Half were Christians.
Let’s see. We have George saying this without a quote. What do we have here?
We have a statement like
The information required to answer this question was not recorded, and so it is impossible to know how many people died. In general, contemporary commentators recorded only the names of leading crusaders who were killed, and gave large rounded estimates of the numbers of ordinary knights and other soldiers who died. They usually did not mention non-warriors at all, except in a sweeping and vague statement. The writers would sometimes record, for example, that the crusaders had killed everyone in a city, but they gave only round figures for the numbers of dead. We may suspect that in fact they were boasting about how wonderful their warriors were and what a fantastic victory they had won (which they interpreted as a sign that God was on their side), but that in fact many people had escaped.
We only have a professor here. I guess she needs to be acquainted with George’s work.
George also tells us to beware of men who are certain that God is backing them. Doubters are much more harmless!
You know, doubters like Stalin, Mao, Pol-Pot, etc.
He also gives us a Telegraph article that was published on what readers thought were the ten worst Bible passages.
1 Tim. 2:12. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.
George. You might want to do what I did. I interviewed a female scholar on this, Dr. Lynn Cohick. You can start listening around 46:51 to see what she says.
1 Samuel 15:3. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”
This is said without any knowledge of the history of Amalek and Israel. He could consider Paul Copan’s book and of course, my interview with Copan on the topic.
Exodus 22:18 “You shall not permit a sorceress to live.”
In a society like Israel where you were to remain loyal to YHWH, going to outside powers would be an act of divine treason in the community. Treason has been punishable by death in America. Sorcery was a dangerous practice then.
Psalm 137:9 Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
and dashes them against the rock!
George is unaware that in ancient societies, this was the trash talk of the day where you were open with your emotions and feelings. The Jews sang this in reply to the Babylonians who had captured them and were tormenting them and had done this to them and saying “May God judge you as you have treated us.” It was not at all saying they were doing it!
25 But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and made her go out to them. And they knew her and abused her all night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. 26 And as morning appeared, the woman came and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, until it was light.
27 And her master rose up in the morning, and when he opened the doors of the house and went out to go on his way, behold, there was his concubine lying at the door of the house, with her hands on the threshold. 28 He said to her, “Get up, let us be going.” But there was no answer. Then he put her on the donkey, and the man rose up and went away to his home.
George claims this says the Bible permits group rape of servants. No. It records it. In fact, Judges treats this as one of the darkest times in Israel’s history. The whole passage is saying “Don’t become like this Israel!” This part of Judges tells us that in those days Israel had no king and each person did what was right in his own eyes.
Romans 1:27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
For George, this is the start of Homophobia. Is he unaware that Plato condemned homosexuality in the laws? Some ancient doctors who were pagans condemned the practice as well. Sure, some Greeks had no problem with it, but some did. Only someone ignorant of the ancient world would say this. Perhaps he should consider Robert Gagnon and his book on the topic.
Judges 11:30-1, 34-35 30 And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, 31 then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the Lord‘s, and I will offer it[b]up for a burnt offering.”
34 Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah. And behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances. She was his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter. 35 And as soon as he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, “Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the Lord, and I cannot take back my vow.”
George again is unaware of how this passage has been interpreted. A number of Christian interpreters of the text say that the daughter was instead sold into temple service. No priest would have accepted her as an offering. That’s why she mourned not that she would never die, but that she would never marry, which would also mean she would not have to share the inheritance….
Genesis 22 is the passage of Abraham offering Isaac which George takes to mean God wants your sons burnt. He ignores that this passage was a sign of the faith of Abraham and loyalty and the sacrifice never went through as Abraham had planned. Again, no scholarship read.
Ephesians 5:22. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
Yes George. It was obviously written by a misogynist. Did you just ignore everything a man is to do for his wife? Oh yes. You did. Fortunately, not all of us do.
1 Peter 2:18 “Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.”
We’ve already addressed slavery in this post. No need to do so further.
Perhaps George should have read about “study to show yourself approved” and if you do you need not be ashamed.
And of course, why can’t God express Himself clearly? Clear to whom? What person? What culture? What time period? Isn’t it arrogant to think the Bible should be clearly written to you instead of everyone else.
Also, in the books, he cites Brian Flemming. I guess this tells us where he gets the pagan copycat stuff from.
Getting back also to atheist regimes that kill as he talks about how religions aren’t peaceful, he says those weren’t inspired by ‘supernaturally’ authored Scriptures.
I’m sure that’s a great comfort to all the people that were killed in the Gulag! Hey! Sorry you were killed, but at least it wasn’t because of Scriptures!
Nope. It was because some people took George’s argument to its conclusion.
There is no good. There is no evil. There is no Heaven to gain or Hell to shun. There is no God to judge me. I have power here. I have enemies. Why not do something about them?
In 2225, George says to not believe it when believers say that atheists are immoral, cold, empty, etc.
Again, I’m not sure who’s saying this….
He also says it’s necessary to use a pen-name for this book to avoid damaging the Christian market for his other books.
No George. It’s good that you used a pen name because if other people found out your writing was so bad in this one, they wouldn’t want your science books. If I wrote material this embarrassing, I’d want to use a pen name also.
He says why would knowing more about something detract from it?
I agree. That’s why I have no hesitancy to letting people study science. I want them to learn as much as they can. Perhaps you should try it George in the area of religion. Why would knowing more about it be so harmful, especially if you want to argue against it? If your belief is true, the best scholarship will show that. Right?
On 2249, he says if you want a purpose, make your own.
Again, like Stalin, Mao, Pol-Pot, and others did.
Of course, he also says 98% of criminals in jail call themselves Christian.
This ignores that if you call yourself a Christian, you can get perks like air conditioning and getting out of a cell for chapel services. You’re told to list a position when you go in. Why not list one that will give you perks?
On 2273, he says
To those who accuse me of stepping outside my own specialism to take on religion, a subject they like to think I know little about, I say “It’s you who are stepping on my turf with your ‘explanations’ of the origins of the universe and everything in it.”
Christians speaking on science without knowledge? Bad!
Atheists speaking on Christianity without knowledge? Good!
Keep in mind, George hates double-standards.
Sorry George. I’m saying squat about the origins of the universe. I don’t study it. You are saying a lot about what I believe and you don’t study it. Don’t step on my turf. Okay?
He also says atheist should not be taken to mean no god. This is false. It comes from the Greek word as he rightly says. Theos is God and alpha is the negative. It’s simple. No God. If he wants to say it just means belief, then he needs to say theism is just God belief and you don’t need to prove it. What would you do to prove you believe something? He should want this since he hates double-standards.
But consider this. Imagine that God exists and there are atheists. By this standard, atheism (Lack of belief in God) would be true and theism (God exists) would be true. But this would mean two contradictories were true. The result is nonsense.
He then gives another howler with
We are all born without a faith so we all start life as atheists and, until evidence for the existence of a god is produced, we will all be living ‘without god’ – we are all atheists! Tell that to your theist friends!
What a powerful argument! We are also born crying and gurgling and peeing and pooping on ourselves as well and until we’re taught otherwise, we will continue to do so! Tell that to your atheist friends!
And this man used to be a teacher. I pity those students. I really do.
George wraps things up with some unholy questions as he calls them.
Does God give us free will?
How can He have a plan then?
God is like a stage master that knows where the plot of the play is going but lets His actors ad lib some and can work everything to that plan still.
Is God in Hell?
He’s not Omnipresent then!
Actually, this is a misnomer. Hell is not a place. Hell describes a relationship.
Is God omniscient?
Well if He knows everything, including the future, He can’t be omnipotent because He won’t be able to change known things.
Omnipotence means power to do that which power can do. If God knows He will do something, that will not change as He eternally knows it and eternally does it and no new information is coming in. God could have done otherwise but chose not to.
Is God omnipotent?
Well, he can’t be omniscient then because he can alter what he was supposed to know.
Did God make Eve from Adam’s rib?
She had the same DNA then and must have been male! It was Adam and Steve!
Specifics of how this were done are not given. We can be sure she had different DNA since she was female and if God can make a universe, creating female DNA should not be a problem.
Did God create light on the first day?
But the sun wasn’t created until the fourth day!
See Walton again per above. This one doesn’t make me blink at all.
Did God create plants on day three?
What powered their photosynthesis on day three then? There was no sun until day four!
See Walton again.
Seriously George. Do you think these are stumpers?
Such brings us to the conclusion of George’s book, and I didn’t even touch everything I highlighted.
If you are a self-respecting atheist, please disavow this and tell George to stop writing this material as it is an embarrassment. Please learn instead to do some real research into Christianity and learn what we really believe. People like George only make atheism look bad in the end.
There’s a reason even atheists on the Unbelievable page are not defending George. He’s embarrassed himself and only shown his ignorance.
He could have prevented that if only he really didn’t practice a double standard, which you know he hates.