This is it. We’re finally wrapping things up. The last chapter is about what if Loftus is wrong. I could go to a full review, but I want to sum up everything for this aside from the Problem of Evil. I have told my readers that that is coming at a later date so just simply wait for it. One day you’ll come to my blog and see it there. I will also note that my readership has increased and for new readers of my blog, I hope you’ll stick around. One day when you do show up, the answer to the Problem of Evil with the focus on natural evil will be here.
It will be noted that Loftus blames his problem on God even. If God exists, he should have kept Loftus from apostasizing. This was a criticism that Geisler had in his review of Loftus’s book. That review can be found in Volume 6, No. 1/Spring 2007 of the Christian Apologetics Journal. It is far shorter than this review has been, but quite excellent.
So let’s answer some questions.
Why’d I review this?
Loftus and I go way back. We’ve known each other for a few years through the medium of theologyweb. The first question I saw him ask was “Where is God in infinite space?” I’m not saying that was the first question he asked, but it was the first one that I saw. I later found out that JPH of Tektonics ministry had already dealt with him some, but I handle the philosophical issues. At that point began a back and forth battle.
And then hurricane Katrina hit.
Loftus loves the argument from evil and I challenged him on this point and at the reception of an insult from him, I challenged him to a debate. Members of theologyweb can read the debate here:
I will let the reader read and decide the outcome.
It has been going on from there and I’ve seen Loftus spiral more and more into a land of irrationality, which I saw in the book and I will explain more on that later on. I saw ideas that contradicted themselves such as the view of Jonah and prophecy and ideas that seemed to strike me as wishful thinking in “maybe this is the explanation” with the only basis being that it avoids theism. I have many times offered a chance for Loftus to come clean for I see his atheism as emotions hijacking his reason.
Some readers might wonder if I have animosity towards Loftus. I don’t really. It’s very very had for me to have that for anyone. If I develop it, it doesn’t last long at all. I keep remembering in my mind that there but for the grace of God go I. I give thanks for the blessings that I’ve had in my life thus far and especially my good friends, like my roommate who has been with me through so much already. I don’t hate Loftus. I actually feel sorry for him. I wonder if he ever saw me in person if he’d realize I’m quite different than the way he might think I am.
I’ve mentioned JPH here who I visited in the Summer of 2007 while in Florida for a friend’s wedding. JPH was gracious enough to let me stay at his place so I didn’t have to get a hotel room with my strapped budget and we had many a talk. Sometimes we did talk about Loftus. He could testify that I was often quite kind in my words. There is that great sorrow I do have.
What about the account of the apostasy at the start?
This has been mentioned some in the comments, but I chose to not go into it. Loftus knows what I am talking about as he reads this and he knows some of what I am going to say. It was sin and we both know it and that is not going to change. However, I also realize that while it was sin, that I’m hardly a saint myself and I’ve had my own mess-ups. I try to keep that in mind with people. I simply ask that they confess their sins and seek to go and sin no more. I treat sin as sin and I treat persons as persons.
However, something that did concern me was the way Pop Christianity played a role. Because a church could not agree, the Spirit wasn’t really leading them in their vote on a topic. To which I want to say “Duh.” The Holy Spirit’s role is not to help us on personal decision making. It never has been. Unfortunately, Pop Christianity has built up these false ideas of what Christianity is so apostasy is from a Christianity the Bible never taught.
As for the account of the fear that Loftus would take over his own cousin’s church, as someone outside the situation, I honestly think I can see his cousin’s point. One thing that I notice immediately about Loftus and everyone else is that he does have a huge ego and that kind of ego seeks to go to the top. I don’t think there’s anything necessarily wrong with ambition, but there is if people think you’re willing to go through anyone else to get there. Was the situation handled well? No. I’m just saying I think I can see where his cousin was coming from.
I also do think there is something with the way fellow Christians were not there. We no longer are today any more. This was not an apologetic endeavor. This was an emotional one. I don’t think it’d have mattered if you were the best apologist in the world. The problem was centered not on the mind but on the will. When Job’s friends came to see him, they did something really great at the start. They were silent for 7 days and just there. Maybe if someone had been there, things would have turned out differently.
Did you like anything about the book?
I agree with much of what Geisler said. This is an honest account and as a sympathetic guy in some ways, I could look with sorrow at the first few chapters. However, the ball is ultimately in Loftus’s court and he made his decisions and he has to take the blame for his part in each of them. The actions of others cannot be controlled, but he can control himself.
I do think the objections raised while weak are still important and this is a blessing to others I think. When you go through a review like this, you examine each argument closer and you see more flaws than you do at first. It helps you sharpen your mettle. Take the advice of that great philosopher of our time, Conan the Barbarian. “Whatever does not kill you, only makes you stronger.”
I was pleased that at least Loftus does read some in philosophy and theology, which makes this quite different from reading something like “The God Delusion.” (Though Loftus does lose points for quoting that travesty.) However, that being said, the arguments just aren’t there. It seems some of the objections are based on things that Geisler calls “High School Apologetics.”
For an example, consider the idea on the problems of a God incarnate. The first one is that God is uncreated but humans are created. Therefore, Jesus is created and uncreated. This is a simple one that I did answer in my review. However, when I see a weak objection like that, it makes me get further conviction that one isn’t really thinking rationally here. Now some weaker Christian might be led astray by that, and that shows our failure in the church in training Christians in apologetics.
That’s another reason to review books like this and the God Delusion. It shows that there are answers to those in the faith who have just encountered opposition for the first time and don’t know how to handle it. C.S. Lewis spoke of how for some of our brethren who aren’t gifted in intellectual skill, we are their only line of defense.
I also agree with Loftus on the witness of the Holy Spirit that Dr. Craig uses as an argument. I have great respect for Dr. Craig, but I sincerely think he’s wrong on this one. I, as a Christian, will say that I do not have any such experience and it is not what I fall back on. I fall back on the case that I have for the truths of the Christian faith. Now I do think Craig could argue, for instance, the livability of the Christian faith or the effect that it can have to change one’s life, and that would be valid. I’d even like to see something like the argument from beauty, one that apologists sadly don’t use as they should today.
It does no good though to say that you have an inner experience testifying that what you believe is true to an atheist. For any Christian skeptical, consider this. When the Mormon knocks on your door and says he has an inner witness from the Holy Spirit that he received because he prayed about the BoM in accordance with Moroni 10:4-5, do you convert? No. You think his experience is false as I do. Why should an atheist think differently about your experience if you have one?
Sadly, it’s my understanding that when the five arguments are attacked, this is the one that gets hit the most. The weak arguments detract from the strong ones, and Craig definitely has strong arguments! I have no problem with evangelism in a debate or giving a gospel message. In fact, when I do a debate, I end it with a call to salvation for any who are reading and/or listening. I’d just like to see a better argument.
I do agree with Geisler that it’s good that Loftus shows us his emotions in this one, but I do still say that is where the problem lies. I counter the false arguments because that is what I do. I am an apologist. I want to show others the arguments are wrong so they can have the assurance of their faith and so that those who do look up to me can see a good presentation.
I take such a position seriously when I realize some people are looking up to me. I find it humbling. I take the advice of Glenn Miller to avoid a big head with compliments. Just enjoy it for the time and then say “We have work to do.” It gets me focused on my mission. I try not to deny the compliments, but it’s not all about me. If someone wants to learn, I’m willing to teach. There are many of my young friends that have answered in here and I’m quite proud of how they’ve done.
That wraps it up. What are my recommendations at this point? Pray first off. It’s something I need to do more of also. Pray for the hearts of those hardened to the faith. Pray for the hearts of those in the faith that they may speak as they ought and learn as they ought. Pray this for myself as well. It’s a hard battle and I can’t do it alone.
Where will we go with tomorrow’s blog? I guess you’ll have to tune in to find out.