The Case for a Creator Review

When I wrote my review of Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, I said that Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great was the next book that I’d be reading. Well, I started it, but then when I went home for Christmas, I started reading Lee Strobel’s The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Towards God, as it was more family friendly–at least around my family. Now that I’ve finished it, I will actually read God is Not Great soon, but not until I officially end my time with The Case for a Creator by publishing this review post.

If you want the short version, I recommend this review that an angry reader once wrote. It’s more forward than my response, but we share the same sentiments.

The book starts off with Lee Strobel promising the reader that he will be as skeptical and unbiased as humanly possible. He tries to warm us up so that we will believe that he’s playing the part of the skeptic for us and so that we accept every conclusion that he and his friends reach:

“My approach would be to cross-examine authorities in various scientific disciplines. . . I sought doctorate-level professors who have unquestioned expertise, . . . who refuse to limit themselves only to the politically correct world of naturalism . . . I would stand in the shoes of the skeptic, reading all sides of each topic and posing the toughest objections that have been raised. More importantly, I would ask the experts the kind of questions that personally plagued me when I was an atheist. . . Strip away your preconceptions as much as possible and keep an open mind as you eavesdrop on my conversations. . . I once had a lot of motivation to stay on the atheistic path. I didn’t want there to be a God who would hold me responsible for my immoral lifestyle” (30).

I was almost fooled by this initial promise to be intellectually genuine. As it turned out, these doctorate-level professors certainly aren’t the top experts in their fields, but the best-known intelligent design proponents in their fields. While Strobel chose William Lane Craig, Stephen Meyer, and J. P. Moreland to interview about the topics of cosmology, DNA, and consciousness, I would have interviewed Lawrence Krauss, Francis Collins, and Daniel Dennett.

Furthermore, as Strobel claims to be raising the toughest objections to the intelligent-design claims, he’s clearly never heard any greater objections than musings like “Amazing! Tell me more,” “You’ll have to elaborate on that,” and “Have you heard of ____ objection? . . . Oh, well, you have an answer to that, too!? Well, that solves it!” And, of course, Strobel admits that when he was an atheist, he didn’t want to be held responsible for his immoral actions such as bullying people, so he didn’t believe in God because he didn’t want to. First of all, this man needs to learn how to take responsibility for his own actions. But more so, he’s never gone a day without some form of extreme bias in his life.

After creating the illusion of skepticism, Strobel goes on to try to disprove evolution, so we already know we are off to a bad start. He uses four “flawed” concepts that once steered him towards evolution, and ultimately atheism, in his high school biology days: The Stanley Miller Experiment of 1951, Darwin’s initial sketch of the Tree of Life, Ernst Haeckel’s embryo drawings, and the archaeopteryx fossil.

According to Strobel and his friend Jonathan Wells, the Miller Experiments don’t explain the origins of life because the experiments’ conditions weren’t identical to those of the early earth, Darwin’s sketches don’t perfectly line up with later fossil discoveries, Ernst Haeckyl doctored his drawings of different animal embryos so that they would look more alike, and the “bird/reptile” archaeopteryx didn’t live perfectly between the times of ancient reptiles and more recent birds. I’m not an evolutionary expert, but I must commend Strobel on his attempt to disprove evolution using these four concepts that have either already been ruled out as evidence for evolution or that he and Mr. Wells are blatantly and proudly misunderstanding as a step in the intelligent-design direction.

Speaking of evidence, one of my greatest problems with this book is Strobel’s passion for blindly substituting his favorite word, evidence, for what he is actually collecting, which are arguments. Lee. Arguments are not evidence. Okay? You can argue your head off about God existing for 365 pages, but none of us are going to listen to you until you can back those ideas up in a double-blind experiment in a peer-reviewed, non-religiously-affiliated, scientific journal. And you haven’t given me that. So you haven’t given me evidence.

Now that that’s off my chest, I will now re-name and respond to the greatest problems in each chapter of The Case for a Creator.

“The Evidence of Cosmology” a.k.a. The Kalam Argument with William Lane Craig

The first thing that is worth noting on this chapter is that they’re using an argument that only works with the existence of the big bang. This means that Strobel is, that’s right, arguing that the big bang hypothesis is true but evolution is not. I don’t even know what kind of point he is trying to make with that. He never specifies, and I don’t know how it supports his case at all.

But this chapter has a more glaring problem than that: Craig himself claims that the thought of something being infinite in time is paradoxical. He gave what I thought was a good explanation of why the concept of infinity can exist only theoretically but is paradoxical in reality. But is the infinite God immune from this paradox? Of course he is! Why? Because . . . because . . . wait, Lee, why didn’t you raise that objection?

“The Evidence of Physics” a.k.a. The Fine-Tuning Argument with Robin Collins

Collins and Strobel reject the multiverse hypothesis on the basis that a multiple universe generator would have to be extremely complex, and it just pushes the issue of creation back further. Interesting that they can apply this concept to anything they want—except God. Oh yeah, God is immune to everything!

“The Evidence of Astronomy” a.k.a. The Unique Earth Argument with Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Wesley Richards

I honestly think that Strobel and his two friends Jay Wesley Richards and Guillermo Gonzalez just made this argument up. I wasn’t sure what to call it; in my notes by the title, I scribbled “there aren’t aliens aka pulling arguments out of your ass” and “earth is special -> earth is pretty”. Basically, they start by listing all of the reasons why no planet anywhere else in the entire universe—the majority of which is completely unobservable to us—can ever possibly support life ever: we have a perfect moon and sun and solar system and galaxy and on and on. By the end of the chapter, the men are marvelling at how super pretty the Earth is, and God totally must have designed it so that we could explore it and learn about it with science and discover God’s special creation. Checkmate, atheists!

“The Evidence of Biochemistry” a.k.a. The Irreducible Complexity Argument with Michael Behe

Ohh, irreducible complexity. A classic argument, or as Strobel and Behe would say, Totally Undeniable Evidence of the Christian God. This is an argument that comes up again and again, often with various examples, commonly the bacterial flagellum and the human eye. How about instead of boasting about how “no one knows how these systems came to be”, Behe tries his hand at figuring it out? Evidently, however, it has already been figured out, as was ruled in the intelligent design court case of Kitzmiller V. Dover: “Professor Behe’s claim for irreducible complexity has been refuted in peer-reviewed research papers and has been rejected by the scientific community at large.”

“The Evidence of Biological Information” a.k.a. Where Did DNA Come From/The Origin of Life Argument with Stephen Meyer

This chapter lays out weak, weak arguments: “in DNA, we see lots of organized information, and usually when we see organized information like in computer codes and books, it comes from intelligence, so DNA must come from intelligence, too,” and, you guessed it, “science has failed to find out exactly how we got living cells from non-life, so it must have been God,” but not before blindly holding a double standard and accusing the other side of the exact same thing: “To suggest chance against those odds [of a protein molecule assembling by random chance] is really to invoke a naturalistic miracle. It’s a confession of ignorance. It’s another way of saying, ‘We don’t know'” (284). Lee: you just wrote an entire book about the existence of miracles. And you just used “I don’t know” as an argument for God. So why are these suddenly bad things?

“The Evidence of Consciousness” a.k.a. The Consciousness Argument with J. P. Moreland

After everything else, I still think that this last argument is the worst one in the book. Strobel’s interviewee himself claims, “most of the evidence for the reality of consciousness and the soul is from our own first-person awareness of ourselves and has nothing to do with the study of the brain” (337). I wrote in the margin, “and you don’t see anything wrong with this?” Throughout the chapter, J.P. Moreland accuses evolutionists of having too much blind faith that science will one day figure out the “mystery of consciousness,” although it seems to me that he and Strobel have so conveniently never stumbled upon such works as Dan Dennett’s Consciousness Explained, which was published years before The Case for a Creator was.

At the end of the book, Strobel pretends to be so surprised that “all of the evidence pointed toward God, which he totally didn’t expect at all.” Not that he interviewed only Christians . . . or never asked the actual questions that an atheist would ask (as he initially promised) . . . or acknowledged that several of his chapters cited only works written by the same colleagues that he had just interviewed, and which had never been published in a scientific journal. Not to mention that if the argument indicated that something was grand and awe-inspiring (like fine tuning or the “look-how-pretty-the-Earth-is” argument), he attributed that amazing creativity to God, while if the argument indicated that something was confusing and unexplained (like the origin of life or irreducible complexity) he attributed the explanation to God snapping his fingers so that the seemingly impossible is suddenly possible.

In The Language of God, which I read last summer, Francis Collins dedicates only one chapter to refuting intelligent design, and one of his claims particularly stood out to me: the god of intelligent design/god-of-the-gaps didn’t appear to Collins to be an almighty, all-powerful, perfect God, but a clumsy god who has to step in at regular intervals to fix the problems within his own creation. For reasons like this, Strobel’s arguments appear more and more self-defeating the longer you think about them.


Citation:
Strobel, Lee. The Case for a Creator: a journalist investigates scientific evidence that points toward God. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004.

*Note: any quotes within this blog post were paraphrased by me unless they are directly followed by a page number, in which case they are direct quotes from the book.


Read next:

god is not great review

44 Replies to “The Case for a Creator Review”

  1. What kind of miscreant was he, and does he still act “immorally since he found Christ.”

    I already had a hunch that he would go to these types of experts. How intellectually dishonest of him.

    Why go to Dennett if you want a scientific expert, granted as a philosopher versed in science he has a lot of valid arguments, still. And, Collins is suspect. While not a young earth proponent, his actual science does not aide the creator position.

    Kalam philosophy argues against cause and effect because god causes both the cause and the effect. This not what we think is going on, where the cause causes the effect. Kind of interesting, but it does not really hold much water.

    Perfect solar system? Henri Poincare proved that the solar system is exposed to chaos, so there is no guarantee that somewhere along the life of the solar system it might have a planet come out of its well defined orbit. If the solar system is perfect how is this even possible.

    Neuroscience is gradually coming to terms with consciousness. The full answer has not yet appear, but how awareness is produced by the brain is understood. See Antonio Damasio’s Self Comes to Mind for an explanation on how the brain does this. For those on goodreads I have a review of this book.

    Another good post, it shows that you think about your topic.

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  2. “The results are reliable, not because they are assumed, but because they are demonstrated.”

    And what I am saying is that in order to know that the results have been demonstrated, we have to rely on all sorts of beliefs that can’t themselves be demonstrated without circularity. We have to presume the reliability of our memory, we have to presume the explicability of our experiences in terms of an external world, we have to presume things like the validity of inductive reasoning.

    You say you reject that rely on these kind of prior beliefs in order to generate knowledge from evidence, but I simply don’t see how you can support that rejection. I’m sorry that you find this kind of discussion “dizzying”, but these are foundational issues in epistemology. We have to think about these things to know when a belief can be justified. And unfortunately, there is little point in me presenting you with my reasons for believing something like the causal principle when we have this deeper disagreement.

    I’ll try anyways, briefly. Here’s two lines of evidence, which I do not think should be objectionable to you since they are along the same vein as your “stacks of knowledge we have gained through empirical evidence”. Both are part and parcel of the scientific method and reasoning in everyday life, and inseparable from the reliability and usefulness of evidence for gaining knowledge.

    The first is the reliability and usefulness of abductive or inductive reasoning. The second is our entire experience with contingent states of affairs having explanations or causes. Both of these point to the truth of some kind of causal or explanatory principle such as “every contingently existing thing has a cause”. I explain how they do that at length in the post that I linked in my last comment, so I won’t rewrite all that here.

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      1. And if by that you mean “you cannot justifiably believe something on the basis of arguments” then I don’t know how else to put this: I cannot help but see that as an epistemologically naive statement.
        Anyways, I think at this point we would just keep going in circles if we were to continue. Thank you for bearing with me and taking the time to engage in this conversation. I wish you all the best!

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    1. “every contingently existing thing has a cause”. This either needs more explaining and/or it’s obviously false. An eternal multi-verse doesn’t need a “cause” if you are speaking of “cause” in the everyday sense. Also, if God is contingent, which many theists think (like Swinburne), then God would need a cause.

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      1. I think I’ve taken up enough of the comments section here, so if you’re interested in discussing this premise I’d encourage you to check out my blog post about it here: https://structureoftruth.wordpress.com/2018/03/03/the-cosmological-argument-i/

        But as a side note, Swinburne thinks that God is contingent because he doesn’t hold to a distinction between logical and metaphysical possibility. He is the only theist I know of who takes the position that God’s existence is continent.

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  3. Some good points, more weak arguments and you overused the worn-out “evidence from peer-reviewed journal” trope. No matter, your atheism as you made clear before entails an acceptance of the supremacy of materialistic thinking. Good day and I wish you the best in marriage.

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  4. Craig himself claims that the thought of something being infinite in time is paradoxical. He gave what I thought was a good explanation of why the concept of infinity can exist only theoretically but is paradoxical in reality. But is the infinite God immune from this paradox? Of course he is! Why? Because . . . because . . . wait, Lee, why didn’t you raise that objection?”

    I have struggled with this issue before actually…. it does seem counter-intuitive to argue against the logical ability for a universe to be infinite when arguing for an infinite God. I think the issue is one of language more than of logic. Craig, in his support for the Cosmological Argument, is arguing against an ACTUAL (quantitative) infinite being possible. This says nothing in the qualitative sense about infinities, which is typically what theists would apply to God.

    So what does this mean? This means that God is simply the ultimate being. In the case of God being “infinitely powerful”, this means that God there is nothing God is incapable of (hopefully semantics can be skipped with ‘rocks too heavy to lift’ forms of argumentation). This assumes that there even are an ‘infinite number of things to lift’, which is not an actuality in and of itself. Thus it is not logically incoherent in the first place, it is simply a missed distinction, that you are correct in recognizing Strobel not asking about. As an aside, not every theist even holds to the idea that God came into time with creation. Divine timelessness vs divine temporality is a debate within the theistic world. If divine timelessness is the view that is held, then this objection has no bearing on God at all anyways.

    I’ll end with a quote from WLC, “To get an objectionable, actually infinite number of things out of this, you have to think that God’s knowledge is broken up into propositional bits that actually exist. But such a view of God’s knowledge is not obligatory for the theist (and traditionally has been denied by theists). Suppose God’s knowledge of reality, including the future, is non-propositional in nature, and we finite cognizers represent what God knows non-propositionally by breaking it up into propositional bits. (For an analogy, think of your unbroken visual field, which someone could represent by breaking it up into pixels.) Then there is no actual infinity of ideas, thoughts, propositions, or what have you. So do not limit God by denying His complete foreknowledge of the future. There is no good reason to adopt such a view and it impugns God’s greatness.”

    Not a big fan of this book either, although I don’t share your side of the world, I appreciate your writings! Hoping to read more of your writings soon.

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    1. ” Suppose God’s knowledge of reality, including the future, is non-propositional in nature, and we finite cognizers represent what God knows non-propositionally by breaking it up into propositional bits”
      That is another way of saying that God is incomprehensible, which…OK, but you gotta stop there (and not just because Pascal said it better).
      Besides, the problem is not the nature of God’s knowledge but God’s ‘viewpoint’ which is without aspect, which is paradoxical at best, which gets us back to incomprehensibility.

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      1. Specifically in reference to the problem of God being infinite, the issue was that quantitatively (actually) infinite power, knowledge etc seems contradictory in reference to the support of the second premise of the cosmological argument. Thus, Craig’s quote, was pertinent to the discussion in that it defined the sense by which to view infinity in the context of theism. The theist can bypass this altogether by denying divine temporality, but since Craig does not, he had to specify the sense in which he defines “infinite”. If I were to find the classical God of theism to be perfectly comprehensible, I would have either misunderstood it entirely or have been that which I was seeking to comprehend. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give it our best shot, but in regards to an ultimate being, coming from a place of “non-ultimatishness”, I shouldn’t expect or be expected to comprehend the ultimate.

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  5. I still question how any of these opinion can link a person to a Christian god. I could link it to a lot different gods… by the odds, Hinduism has the most gods, it would more than likely be one of those, so why not start sporting the dot?

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  6. Hi Closet Atheist! Very nice blog you have here. As someone who sees things rather differently than you, I greatly appreciate you sharing your viewpoint. Don’t stop writing! 🙂

    I thought I might point out, in response to this post, that Strobel’s book is pretty lightweight, and it is by no means the best representative of any of it’s content. I think if you were to look into it further, you’d find that some of the arguments have a lot more going for them than you give them credit here. For example:

    You object there is a blatant contradiction between William Lane Craig saying that he finds the idea of past infinity to be paradoxical, and the infinity of God. But Craig doesn’t believe that God has existed for an infinite time, so there’s actually no contradiction. He believes (to put it as simply as I can) that time began, and that if God had chosen not to create the universe, time would not have existed and God would have just existed timelessly.
    (On a related note, the “infinity” of God is really a qualitative concept expressing his lack of limitations, not any kind of quantitative concept that can generate paradoxes involving an infinite number of things.)
    You basically cite the “who designed the designer” objection against Robin Collin’s fine-tuning argument, and I wonder if you’ve ever read any theistic responses to that objection, because it isn’t a very good one. There are reasons that a naturalistic multiverse-generator must be complex: it has to have the right physics to get things going. (The best one on offer is the string theory inflationary multiverse, which needs all of the physics of general relativity and string theory, plus an inflaton field with the right properties.) But God isn’t a complex being at all. He has no internal parts and no arbitrary properties. You could say that God only has three properties – knowledge, power, and goodness – and he has them in the simplest way possible – no limitations.
    The argument from consciousness can’t be brushed off by citing Dennett. I think what John Searle says about “Conciousness Explained” is exactly right:
    “To put it as clearly as I can: in his book, Consciousness Explained, Dennett denies the existence of consciousness. He continues to use the word, but he means something different by it. For him, it refers only to third-person phenomena, not to the first-person conscious feelings and experiences we all have. For Dennett there is no difference between us humans and complex zombies who lack any inner feelings, because we are all just complex zombies. …I regard his view as self-refuting because it denies the existence of the data which a theory of consciousness is supposed to explain…Here is the paradox of this exchange: I am a conscious reviewer consciously answering the objections of an author who gives every indication of being consciously and puzzlingly angry. I do this for a readership that I assume is conscious. How then can I take seriously his claim that consciousness does not really exist?”
    There are a lot of philosophers of mind – including non-theists – who agree that consciousness is a problem for naturalism (and, therefore, a problem for the best available version of atheism). Dennett’s view is by no means conclusively established and doesn’t constitute a refutation of the argument from consciousness.

    Basically, I think you are right about the duplicity in Strobel’s claim to present a balanced case for theism. But I’d encourage you to not write off the arguments simply because of the lack of depth with which he presents them.

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    1. Atemporal choice, then? What can we make of that?
      Choice which is non-identifying?
      Anyway, all the points you raise are interesting, but none amount a defense of ID. Specifically, they do not address ID’s central failing, which is methodological.

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      1. Yes, God’s creative decision could be described as an atemporal choice. It’s obviously beyond our experience as humans but I don’t think it is entirely beyond comprehension.
        I don’t know what you mean by non- identifying.
        And I’m not all that concerned to defend ID – I don’t think evolution is in conflict with Christian theism.

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    2. “You basically cite the “who designed the designer” objection against Robin Collin’s fine-tuning argument, and I wonder if you’ve ever read any theistic responses to that objection, because it isn’t a very good one.”

      The ‘who designed the designer’ is a very valid response because the argument that Christians make is the universe can’t just be, it can’t have just popped into existence or have always existed without a cause. They argue against naturalism from the position that the universe must have been put into place by something better and greater.

      The very objection that they have for the universe being utterly natural is being turned back onto them for their god. They don’t like it, which exposes the vacuity of the ‘universe must have a cause’ argument.

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      1. You are conflating a couple of different arguments for the existence of God here, limey, and attacking a straw man in the process. Theists don’t say “everything has to have a cause, therefore the universe has a cause, therefore God exists – oh, but God doesn’t have a cause.” That would be special pleading, as you accuse us of doing, but that isn’t what we’re doing.
        What we say instead might be something like “everything that exists contingently has a cause,” while presenting some reasons to think it is true that contingently existing things need a cause, and at the same time presenting some reasons to think that necessarily existing things do not need a cause.
        Then we would say “the universe exists contingently” and give reasons to think that. (For example, it began to exist so it could have not existed; or a different universe comprised of different laws of physics and different fundamental components of matter could have existed instead.)
        Then we would give reasons to think that if something caused the universe to exist, then it has certain properties which make it plausible to suppose that it is a being relevantly like our concept of God. The reasons for thinking that the universe exists contingently do not apply to this being, so we can suppose it exists necessarily (and we have other independent motivations for thinking this about God, for example from the moral argument, so this move isn’t ad-hoc). So our original causal principle doesn’t apply to God, not because we’re making a special exception, but because there is a relevant difference between God and the universe.
        Go figure, God and the universe are not the same kind of thing.

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          1. “What you’ve done is create definitions to sidestep the problem. You have fluffy rhetoric but nothing of actual substance on which to base your reasons.”
            What you say here is itself nothing more than the empty rhetoric that you accuse me of.
            If you’re actually interested in a discussion and want to see my reasons for believing the premises that I mention above, I’d be happy to continue this conversation. (Or you can check out my blog; I happen to be starting a series of posts related to that next week.) But your response here suggests to me that you are not actually interested in that.

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            1. You know nothing of my motivations or my intellect, please don’t be so bold as to suggest you know what I will do or why.

              By all means bring forth your reasons for believing as you do and draw my attention to them. How I respond, if indeed I do respond, will more than likely depend on the quality and type of evidence you bring.

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            2. Look, I only said it didn’t sound to me like you were interested in a genuine conversation about this. (It still doesn’t sound that way to me, to be honest.) I said I had reasons for believing these things, and you came right back and said my reasons were worthless and my words mere rhetoric – before even hearing what my reasons were. And you accuse me of presuming!
              Before I continue, I should probably ask you a question. What do you count as evidence? What, to you, count as good reasons for believing something?

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            3. I commented on what you wrote, not what I thought you thought.

              Evidence is something that can be measured in a repeatable process.
              Example: evidence that paracetamol helps reduce pain is documented and can be referred to and tested on those in pain. We even know how it works to reduce pain because we’ve examined the chemicals involved.

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            4. My answer was to your question about how I define evidence. Why did you move the subject to belief?

              Also, my understanding is that this was about you providing reasons for thinking they you do, and yet those reasons haven’t appeared.

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            5. I also asked what you consider a good reason to believe something, which is ultimately what we’re taking about. I may as well find out whether you and I at least have commensurable standards for reasonable belief before proceeding.

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            6. Do we agree on what constitutes evidence? I’ve given my description.

              If something can be demonstrated, then there is no need to hold a belief. If something can’t be demonstrated, why believe it?

              I am dubious that there is such a thing as reasonable belief with respect to the supernatural, so you may have to define what you mean by that phrase.

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            7. Okay, you seem to be using the word “belief” in a non-standard way. A belief is just an attitude of accepting a proposition as true. If something can be demonstrated by empirical evidence, that is a good reason to believe it.
              My question is whether you think empirical evidence is the only good reason to hold a belief. I don’t think it is: the proposition “you should only believe something based on empirical evidence”, as a normative claim, is not something you can show by empirical evidence, so it is self-refuting.
              There are beliefs that the value of repeatable, empirical evidence presupposes and thus that cannot be demonstrated by such evidence.
              Does that seem reasonable to you? If it doesn’t, then my reasons for believing the above premises probably will not either, which is why I am asking.

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            8. “A belief is just an attitude of accepting a proposition as true.”

              That is something I can’t do. Show me why it should be accepted as true and then I will accept it as true, until that point I will be sceptical.

              “If something can be demonstrated by empirical evidence, that is a good reason to believe it.”

              On that we agree! Although I use the word accept, because if new evidence changes the results I will accept the new conclusion. Belief tends to suggest a firm stance, something that I try to avoid.

              “My question is whether you think empirical evidence is the only good reason to hold a belief.”

              I prefer to say it’s the most reliable method. The history of knowledge gathering through the scientific method is testament to that.

              “the proposition “you should only believe something based on empirical evidence”, as a normative claim, is not something you can show by empirical evidence, so it is self-refuting.”

              The empirical evidence is the stacks of knowledge we have that is gathered using empirical evidence. Every scientific experiment ever done stands in support of that proposition. Your accusation of it being self refuting fails because it has no evidence to support it.

              “There are beliefs that the value of repeatable, empirical evidence presupposes”

              Do you have a list?

              “Does that seem reasonable to you? ”

              I’m not entirely sure what the ‘that’ is that you refer to, but it is possible that my comments above answer your question.

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            9. Do I have a list? Have you heard of the problem of induction? It is related to that.

              The value of empirical evidence depends on presuppositions, such as that we can validly infer things about objective reality based on our experiences (we aren’t just hallucinating everything), that the universe operates the same way here and now as it does in other times and places, that various forms of reasoning (deductive, inductive, abductive) are valid, and so on. These kind of beliefs can’t be justified by evidence because any evidence presented for them depends on them.

              You say the evidence for the reliability of evidence is the mounds of evidence we have collected, but that response presumes the reliability of evidence, the very thing you are trying to demonstrate!

              So “evidence” (understood as something we can repeatably measure) might be a reliable way of knowing things, but it’s validity depends on more basic beliefs, so by itself it is too narrow to support all of our knowledge. That is what I’m trying to get at here.

              The entire “Part One” of my blog (https://structureoftruth.wordpress.com/posts/) is about exploring what knowledge is and how we get it, so if what I wrote above doesn’t make sense, perhaps you can look there to better understand my position.

              But circling back to where this conversation started, my belief (for example) that “everything that exists contingently has a cause” is justified in the same ways as these beliefs that are presupposed by the use of evidence. Rather than extend this comment further, I’ll just point to where I give three reasons specifically for this claim, in this blog post: https://structureoftruth.wordpress.com/2017/08/26/the-principle-of-sufficient-reason/

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            10. “You say the evidence for the reliability of evidence is the mounds of evidence we have collected, but that response presumes the reliability of evidence, the very thing you are trying to demonstrate!”

              Not quite. Repeatable scientific experiments reliably produce the same results. The light slit experiment always gives the same results, reliably. No assumption needed. The scientific method works because every time it is used to test something, the results are reliable, not because they are assumed, but because they are demonstrated.

              “So “evidence” (understood as something we can repeatably measure) might be a reliable way of knowing things, but it’s validity depends on more basic beliefs, so by itself it is too narrow to support all of our knowledge. ”

              I disagree that beliefs are required, one simply needs to see the results of the repeatable measure and use that as evidence to inform the next conclusion.

              “But circling back to where this conversation started, my belief (for example) that “everything that exists contingently has a cause” is justified in the same ways as these beliefs that are presupposed by the use of evidence.”

              Yes, please lets gets back to the start, I was hoping that we would at some point talk about actual evidence for your beliefs, but instead we’ve got dizzy talking about definitions, it tends to happen a lot with theists. Since I reject that beliefs presupposed evidence, I also reject your reasons for believing that everything needs a cause.

              Now, convince me with evidence that I am wrong, please.

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            11. Self-consistency is a necessary condition for truth, but not a sufficient one. And I agree that there are good reasons for thinking that empirical evidence is reliable – I just happen to think that those or similar reasons also justify beliefs like the premises of the cosmological argument, as I’ve been saying.

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      2. Limey, the standard response to this line of questioning is often, “Once you get to the creator, it doesn’t matter where or how this creator came into being. You have arrived at the creator and that is all that really matters.” I can see why that kind of thinking doesn’t sit well with atheists or agnostics, because you have not actually proved to them that a creator exists. They have not been pursuaded, they don’t agree. Those who do accept the point, pretty much do it on faith.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. My thoughts:

    “…none of us are going to listen to you until you can back those ideas up in a double-blind experiment in a peer-reviewed, non-religiously-affiliated, scientific journal.”

    This is, to me, the biggest issue with apologetics: Depending on what one believes about God, it is not possible to conduct a “double-blind experiment in a peer-reviewed, non-religiously-affiliated, scientific journal” in order to prove God’s existence.

    Two other issues as well:

    Even if Lee Strobel could prove that God exists as easily as one can, say, prove that the Earth is not flat, there would still be people who would refuse to believe him. The Flat Earth Society is, after all, a thing that exists.
    Even if someone presented you (the person reading this comment) with incontrovertible evidence that, say, the god of the Bible exists, would your life change significantly? (Since the god that Lee Strobel believes in is, when all is said and done, the god of the Bible.) Or would you reuse to have anything to do with such a god? If you would refuse to have any anything to do with such a god, does all the “evidence” for that god’s existence ultimately matter?

    On another note: I find it concerning and humorous that Christians seem to get so bent out of shape about evolution, devoting hours and hours and book after book to disproving it or getting it to fit inside their version of Christianity.

    I mean, if God is as great as Christians profess to believe that He is, is He really going to be undone by one aspect (monkeys) of His immeasurably large and complex creation? I would hope the answer is “No.”

    In conclusion:

    An excellent review, Closet Atheist.

    On a personal note:

    It’s good to be reading your writing once again.

    And: Thank you for supporting my new blog. I’m glad to be writing once again. Seeing that you’d Liked my posts and followed my blog made my day.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. No self-respecting atheist is going to find credibility in a “former atheist’s” research because no matter how the “evidence” is sliced, it’s going to fall on the side of the Christian viewpoint. After all, the person is NOW a believer. To actually think s/he is going to present unbiased evidence is like believing a fairy tale (or the bible).

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  9. In curious CA, did you find the arguments the problem or the conclusions Strobel came to as the problem? I can see how the complexity of DNA, especially the DNA replication process, could lead someone to conclude that some kind of intelligence was involved in creating it. That’s one thing. It’s an altogether different thing to say that since DNA is so complex it requires a Creator therefore Christianity is true.

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  10. I applaud your dissection of these, this is not something I would have the time or patience (or enthusiasm) for–I guess the bottom line is, argument or no argument, no matter how erudite, will change what anyone thinks or feels about religion or the lack of it.
    We just keep on keeping on, and appreciate our own place here, let the Other Guys tremble in fear for their own immortal souls and condemn the rest of us all to hell. At least we’ll be in good company.

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  11. I took a look at that other review you linked in your second paragraph. And the first sentence of that other review sums up my opinion of Lee Strobel.

    I have often heard people touting Strobel’s other book “The case for Christ”. And that was already enough for me to conclude that Strobel has no credibility.

    Thank you for your review. Somehow I am unsurprised that Strobel came up with such a weak “case”. They really should apologize for their apologetics.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Of course the Earth looks pretty! There were humans who did not see the Earth as pretty but they were so depressed, they didn’t live to pass on their genes.

    I couldn’t possibly read this book as I was given a copy of his previous book (same formula, same deception, poor scriptural analysis, etc.). The man should be sued for fraud.

    Liked by 2 people

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