Book Plunge: Everybody Is Wrong About God?

What do I think of James Lindsay’s book published by Pitchstone Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Remember the old days when Peter Boghossian was heavily pushing the idea of street epistemology? Good times. Good times. Well now his main fan James Lindsay has decided to follow in his footsteps. Lindsay’s book even has a foreword by Boghossian as well (And I did review Boghossian’s book here.). Unfortunately, Lindsay’s book falls drastically short of Boghossian’s, which is saying a lot since Boghossian’s was a train wreck to begin with.

Lindsay’s main idea is that everyone is wrong about God because we’re talking as if theism even makes any sense whatsoever and that we know what we’re talking about when we talk about God. Of course, one would expect at this point to see interaction with sophisticated systematic theologies such as those in the past of people like Augustine and Aquinas, or even today people like Erickson or Grudem or McGrath. If you are expecting that, you are going to be disappointed. Actually, if you’re expecting any engagement with contrary opinion, you are going to be disappointed.

The laugh riots really begin on page 17. What we are told there is that the New Atheists succeeded in their quest. It defeated theism at the level of ideas and destroyed the taboo of atheism. At this, we can see that James Lindsay is in fact the Baghdad Bob of atheism. The new atheists can’t hold a candle to the old atheists of the past. All we got from the new atheists was a rant largely about topics they did not understand, much like people who critique evolution without bothering to read the best works in science.

Of course, in all of this, don’t expect Lindsay to do anything like, you know, actually interact with the arguments for theism. If you expect to see the ways of Thomas Aquinas interacted with or a refutation of Craig’s Kalam Cosmological Argument or a response to the twenty ways listed in Kreeft and Tacelli, you will be disappointed. For new atheists, it’s enough to declare victory and then stand up and have the celebration.

From this point on, rather than actually engage in arguments and evidence, which like many atheists I encounter Lindsay doesn’t seem to care for, it’s best to jump straight to psychology. Why do we believe in something that’s so utterly obviously false? (A step forward I suppose. Boghossian wanted us to be listed as having a mental illness.) The problem here is you can psychologize anything. We could come up with psychological reasons for atheism, and they could apply to some people, but that does not refute atheism any more than psychological reasons for theism refutes theism.

Well let’s try to find some interesting parts and see what can be said about them.

On p. 60, we are told that many theologians and apologists will argue that theism has evidence, but that is false. There is a note here and one would expect to see some reply to some arguments or perhaps at least a book dealing with these arguments. Well, one would expect that were we dealing with a real sophisticated argument for a position. Considering we’re dealing with a fan of Boghossian, we’re not surprised to find another assertion.

Lindsay’s main argument is that we might have some arguments for theism and even if we did succeed at that, how do we get to what religion is true? Yes. You read it. That’s his argument.

Of course, Maimonides, Aquinas, and Avicenna would have all used the same arguments for general theism. That’s because theism itself is a metaphysical and philosophical claim so metaphysics and philosophy work there. First point to establish is that if theism is established, then atheism is false. Even if we could go no further, we would still have refuted atheism.

Second point is that Lindsay’s argument is just weak. Maimonides, Avicenna, and Aquinas could all then point to historical reasons for their faiths since all of them claim that events happened in history. I as a Christian would face my “All but impossible” task, in Lindsay’s words, by pointing to the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. A Muslim could point to why he thinks the Koran is the Word of God and a Jew could point to the Torah while showing problems with the New Testament. It could be that any of the arguments would work, but it shows that it is not all but impossible.

Again, if we were dealing with a real case, we would see some interaction. We are not, so we do not. High schoolers just starting apologetics study could have answered the question of Lindsay.

On p. 70, Lindsay says we have a right to shoot bull wherever we see it. Indeed we do. I make it a habit of doing such and I make it a point to shoot it down from atheists as well as theists. That’s one reason I’m doing this review. There’s a whole lot to shoot at.

On the very next page, he writes about a debate Sean Carroll had with William Lane Craig. This is a debate that I really didn’t care for. For one thing, as a non-scientist, I suspect most people in the audience spent a lot of time during the debate saying “What the heck are they talking about?” Lindsay is convinced Carroll won. Maybe he did. For Lindsay, this is a huge victory.

Well, let’s go to another debate. This is the one that took place between Peter Boghossian and Tim McGrew. In fact, someone with an interesting opinion on that was James Lindsay himself. What does he say?

“I also won’t comment about winners because I think the idea of winning a conversation is stupid to the point of being embarrassing for people that we make a sport of it.”

Well Unbelievable? is a debate show with a moderator so apparently, it’s stupid when we talk about a victory on Unbelievable? It’s not when we talk about it between Carroll and Craig. Got it.

“(Full disclosure: I think the debate was a draw because the substantive point of the matter could not be settled because the relevant data concerning how Christians and other religious believers use the word “faith” is not available.)”

It certainly is available. You just have to be able to, you know, go out and research and study it. Unfortunately, Boghossian did not do that. He had anecdotal evidence. McGrew actually went to scholarly sources. We’re sorry to hear that Lindsay does not consider that good enough.

“McGrew, the far more experienced debater, came off tighter in what he had to say and hid his weaknesses well, better than did Boghossian.”

And Tim McGrew’s other debates prior to this that we have are…

ummmm….

errrr…..

uhhhh…..

I think he told me he did some debating in high school. I suppose that counts in Lindsay’s book. Obviously, McGrew had to have more experience. I mean, how else can we explain what happened? It couldn’t be that (SHOCK!) McGrew actually had better arguments and Boghossian was uninformed? Nah! Can’t be that! Let’s look for an excuse!

The comments section, which I participated in, is immense damage control. If I think a theist lost a debate, and I think they do sometimes, I can admit it. It doesn’t change the truth of theism. It just means we had a bad debater at that point.

On page 87, Lindsay refers to Harris’s work of The Moral Landscape. The book is hardly what Lindsay thinks it is. All of my reviews can be found here. Michael Ruse, who I consider to be a much better thinker, trashes the book as well here. Strange also that considering how Lindsay wanted to show a debate earlier, he said nothing about Craig’s debate with Harris.

Naturally, we soon come to faith. Ah yes. The favorite weapon of the new atheist. Just pick your bogus definition that you have no evidence for other than anecdotal experience and run with it! A real researcher would go to the Lexicons and the study of the Greek language and see what the New Testament writers meant by faith. Lindsay does no such thing. Lindsay has studied the meaning of faith in the New Testament about as much as I have studied Brazilian soccer matches. For my take on faith, go here.

On p. 100, Lindsay talks about Poseidon falling away as we gained more knowledge of how the world works. Well this is odd. I thought science didn’t really get started supposedly until we got out of those horrible dark ages. (That is in fact false. Go here.) Is it really scientific knowledge that destroyed Poseidon?

No. What actually destroyed it was Christianity. As Larry Hurtado shows us in Destroyer of the Gods (For my interview with him, go here.), the reason we speak about asking if you believe God exists and not the gods is because of Christianity. Christianity became a dominant worldview and with it monotheism. When monotheism dominated, Poseidon died out. It was known then that the true God was in charge of this and science started to take off as we sought to understand how God works in the world.

This helps deal with a common misnomer. Skeptics like Lindsay think that Christianity is in danger the more gaps science fills in. The early Christian scientists saw no such danger. They thought they were establishing theism more by filling in the gaps. They sought to know how God did His work. Lindsay will need to search the medieval literature to see where a gap exists and they just plugged in “Goddidit” for an answer. One could say their answers were bad and wrong as science was just getting started, but they were still trying to be scientific.

One such case of this is with evolution on p. 118. Lindsay is convinced that if you establish evolution, well you destroy Adam and Eve and you destroy original sin and then everything else falls apart. Sadly, Lindsay is just as fundamentalist as the fundamentalists he wants to argue against. The ludicrousness of this can be shown in that I can have a case for the resurrection of Jesus and be told “Well, that can’t be true because of evolution.” How does that explain the data? It doesn’t.

Meanwhile, I and many other Christians have no problem whatsoever if evolution is true. I don’t argue for it or against it. I just don’t care either way. It doesn’t mean that Adam and Eve were unreal figures and the fall never happened. If I am wrong on Adam and Eve, then oh well. At the most, I only lose inerrancy. I still have the resurrection of Jesus and my Christianity is just fine. That’s the benefit of not being an all-or-nothing thinker, like Lindsay is.

p. 120 tells us that Jefferson in his writings referred to Nature’s God and the Creator and not to YHWH or Jesus or something specific. Of course. Jefferson was a deist and he was not wanting to establish a theocracy. That doesn’t mean that God was seen as an add-on. God was essential. Jefferson himself even held worship services in the White House.

On p. 122 we start to explain concepts like goodness finally. Interestingly, Lindsay points to how we feel about these things, almost as if they’re intuitive to us. Perhaps they are, but absent in any of this is even if they are, why should we think those feelings explain reality? Some people strongly feel God, and yet Lindsay would disagree that they are feeling God. If the God feeling is a falsehood of sorts, why not the feeling of goodness?

The real question one should ask at this point is “What is goodness?” Here, we come up empty again. Lindsay doesn’t begin to answer the question. If there is goodness, how do we know it? No answer once more. Even stranger, in an atheistic universe where we just have matter in motion, why should there be such a thing as goodness to begin with? If Lindsay praises the new atheists, why not go with Richard Dawkins in River Out Of Eden?

“The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

After all, as Dawkins goes on to say, our DNA neither knows nor cares. It just is and we dance to its music. If it doesn’t know or care, why should we?

These are the kinds of questions one would want to have answered, but Lindsay comes nowhere close. If he wants to accuse theists of jumping too quickly to “Goddidit” (And no doubt some do), then we can say he jumps too quickly to “Goddidn’tdoit). The evidence does not matter. There has to be an explanation without theism.

On p. 156 he defines a delusion as “a belief held with strong convictions despite superior evidence to the contrary.” This is quite fitting because on p. 154, he talks about the problem of evil and says “no amount of theological mental gymnastics has or ever can satisfactorily surmount the problem of evil.” It’s bad enough to say that it has not been surmounted. Most atheistic philosophers would even concede that the logical problem of evil has been defeated. It’s even stranger to say that it never can. Where did Lindsay get this exhaustive knowledge? Never mind the question of not being able to define good and evil which is still another hurdle. It would be nice to see if Lindsay has responses to people like Clay Jones or Alvin Plantinga or any other works on the problem of evil. He doesn’t.  Sadly, this doesn’t shock me any more. I’ve reached the point where I expect atheist works to not interact with their opposition. Lindsay does not disappoint.

On p. 180, Lindsay wants to point to the historical record of what religion has done. Absent is any mention of what atheism did in the 20th century. One supposes that Lindsay just wants us to have faith that atheism if established today would be different. All of a sudden, we would all unite in love and harmony and be singing Kum-Bu-Yah.

On p. 181, he tells us that the responses from the peanut gallery that say that faith means something more akin to trust is irrelevant. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. It’s certainly not because of interaction. It’s certainly not because of researching the evidence. Lindsay just wants us to take him on faith that this is so. It’s a shame he provides no evidence. Could we just say this is what Boghossian would call “a deepity”?

On p. 184, we get to something that could be considered an argument. This is that the Bible lists bats as birds. That’s nice. It would be also nicer if Lindsay looked up the words. We translate it as birds often today, but the word really refers to a winged creature. There was not a modern taxonomical idea of bird then. There were just creatures that were not insects but had wings. Last I checked, bats had wings. Now maybe Lindsay has come across some scientific research that shows bats don’t have wings. Still, by the ancient standards, we are just fine. If they were just referring not to a modern idea of taxonomy but to the ancient definition of a creature with wings, then bats qualify.

At 185, Lindsay says street epistemology is for inducing doubt to foster intellectual honesty. Those of us who are apologists are not doing the same thing. We create doubt to manufacture vulnerability and perhaps fear to lead to a conclusion. Nice that Lindsay believes in mind reading. I in fact want to encourage better thinking as well. I just think better thinking leads to Christianity, but hey, apparently Lindsay believes in mind reading. Who knew?

If street epistemology wasn’t bad enough to promote, Lindsay also promotes John Loftus’s “Outsider Test for Faith.” Lindsay says no sources have passed this test. His note reference for this? Just do a google search. None of them are worth citing. Well there you have it! Lindsay has spoken. The case is closed! Of course, he could have interacted with a case, such as the book by David Marshall directly written on this. My interview with Marshall can be found here.

It’s also amusing to find that on p. 198-99 that the Inquisition and radical Islam are put right in line with Stalin and Mao. One would hope for historical sources, but alas, there are none. He could find one such source here. Of course, Islam is central to radical Islam and I would argue a consistent outworking of it. What about Stalin and Mao? Does Lindsay just consider atheism incidental to them? Hard to think that since they were on a warpath against religion entirely.

On p. 210, he points to the opinion of the National Academy of Sciences. After all, very few are theists. Unfortunately, Rob Bowman responded to Victor Stenger on this point here. I will quote a relevant part.

Assuming that’s true, how does one get into the NAS? Here’s what the National Academy of Sciences website says: “Because membership is achieved by election, there is no membership application process. Although many names are suggested informally, only Academy members may submit formal nominations.” In other words, it’s an exclusive club that decides who may even be considered for membership. According to a 2010 article in Scientific American, about 18,000 American citizens earn PhDs in the sciences or engineering every year. There are only about 2,200 members in the NAS, and no more than 84 new members are inducted each year. Even the geniuses in the NAS can figure out that its membership does not represent an adequately representative sampling of well-trained scientists.

In conclusion, Boghossian’s book at least had something redeemable in it about political correctness, which I agreed with. Lindsay’s book has no such feature. The main benefit we get from it is that we see further the bankruptcy of the new atheists. Apparently, it is a mark of pride to not interact with your opponents and not treat their arguments seriously. Lindsay can keep up his position. I hope he does. It’ll just further dumb down the atheist community while theists in the academy will be doing our further research and strengthening our position. With the idea of movements like Jesus mythicism and such being jumped on by atheists on the internet, I would not be surprised to see them intellectually bankrupt in a generation or two.

Thanks for helping the cause Lindsay.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Who Won The Feminist War?

When women started fighting for liberation, who won the war in the end? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I’ve been thinking more about my virginity post. There has been some reaction online, quite likely from people who didn’t really read it. Consider for instance, James Lindsay (Who by the way has refused to have a debate on TheologyWeb with me on the topic of if Jesus rose from the dead.) who wrote on his twitter feed (And I’m Apologianick on Twitter if you want to follow me) that

“The whackjob apologist talking to me now wants us all to know why #virginity matters. Cracked. #ModestIsHottest
http://deeperwaters.wordpress.com/2014/05/28/why-does-virginity-matter/ …” See the tweet yourself here.

To which you can find him saying that I say

“According to the apologist, it’s for something even greater and grander, infinitely important magic morals because God hates sex.”

Because God hates sex…

Yep. Because I, as a married man, want to give the idea out that God hates sex.

Because, you know, as soon as you say sex is something sacred, that’s automatically a laughable idea.

And keep in mind, the Christians are supposed to be the ones that have the low view of sex.

What strikes me as most ironic in all these discussions is how many women go along with this idea. So many women want to say that there’s nothing sacred at all about sex. I have been told that it’s just an appetite like anything else. It’s a natural desire like anything else.

Of course it’s an appetite.

Of course it’s a natural desire.

But it does not follow that it is like anything else.

You see, our culture is a culture that is big on equality. We like things to be equal and we don’t like people to be treated differently. So when we see men and women being treated differently, we can often think that there is an equality going on. The mistaken notion is to think that if men and women are not equal in everything, then they are not equal in worth.

This would be like saying two breeds of dogs are not equally dogs or two breeds of cats are not equally cats. Differences does not always mean a lack of equality when it comes to worth and nature. Differences are instead something that celebrate the great diversities. Do you want a big dog to be a guardian? Great! Get a German Shepherd or Pit Bull or a dog like that. Do you want a small one to be a companion? Great! Get a beagle or a chihuahua or something like that. There are all kinds for all people.

Now here comes a shocker to many people today.

Men and women are different.

No really. They are!

And this goes beyond just our bodies. Sure, we have different genitalia, but we differ in so many ways. The way my own wife thinks is so foreign to me. I do not understand it so many times. The way her emotions work is something that makes no sense to me. Learning to communicate with a spouse is sometimes like learning a foreign language and some of that you don’t learn until you enter into the marital covenant.

Now here’s the other part of that. Men and women are different, and that’s a good thing!

We could see these as opposing differences, and in some cases they are, but we could also see them as complementary differences. When the two work together, they are capable of doing something that neither one of them could do on their own. The greatest example of this of course is sexual intimacy. When the man and the woman come together, they can have a joy and a passion that neither one of them would have attained alone.

And oh yeah, they can also make a new human life.

But women had this idea that they were not on the same playing field as men. The largest area was in that of sex. After all, a woman can get pregnant, something a man cannot do, and she can bring a new life into the world.

But this process takes about nine months and in that time she’s not as available to the world and after that time, well she might actually want to do something bizarre like, oh, I don’t know, bond with the baby.

How can you be a career woman in that?

And if you don’t want that, how is it you can have sex without consequences in such a society?

Enter abortion into the picture. Now if all else fails and you get pregnant, no big deal! Just go and have a little routine operation so that that little intrusion won’t be a problem.

The baby is a human life? Well nonsense. That’s just a fetus after all! It’s not a life! Never mind that we know of nothing else that it could be. As far as we know, if all things are equal, these things actually do turn out to be human beings in the end, but hey, details. Who needs them?

Yet consider this. What if being able to give birth is something that makes a woman distinct from a man, which it could very well be since after all, only women give birth. If a woman instead ends up killing a baby in her womb, isn’t she in fact doing the exact opposite of her role as a mother? Isn’t she rather being an anti-mother?

If giving birth is something radically feminine, killing a birth is radically anti-feminine.

So now we move on and we get more and more of a divorce culture especially with no-fault divorce. Now men and women could split easily without having a real issue. It can just be on a whim. Of course, this meant in the long run a man had to make no real commitment to a woman whatsoever. That commitment could come apart at most any moment and for any reason and if that is the case, well it’s not much of a commitment is it.

Today then, we live in a culture of shacking up. After all, we want to make sure our commitment does not become one of those so let’s live together first! Let’s see how well we work out! This will naturally mean trying each other out sexually.

Because there’s no harm in treating another person like a car you take for a test spin as we all know.

We all have heard the old saying of why should someone buy a cow if they can get the milk for free? Why is a man going to be driven to make a commitment to a woman if she’s willing to give the man what he wants most at no cost? Well it might cost something sometimes. Maybe it costs dinner or a movie or something of that sort. But after that, hey. Go ahead. That’s the price and you’ve paid the price for the totality of having a woman’s whole being given to you. Enjoy. Aren’t you glad you didn’t have to pay something such as your entire life?

In our culture today then, women are often seen as simply eye candy. The sexuality of a woman is even more emphasized than it has been. The moment of victory in a sitcom, movie, TV drama, etc. is when the man and the woman have sex, which frankly doesn’t cost that much. The marriage doesn’t mean as much. Not as much changes because, hey, they were already having sex and most often living together beforehand.

So the women had their movement to make sure they were treated equally. Who won it?

The men did.

Sorry ladies, but if you went by this model, you lost.

You see, now a man has even more reason to treat a woman like an object. After all, sex is just something you do together. It might as well be the same as playing tennis together or watching a movie or belonging to a book club. You do all those things just to have some fellowship. Well now you have sex for the same reason. It’s just what you do together. No real commitment is involved. The man doesn’t have to treat the woman like a woman. He just has to be willing to give what he’s got.

Which surprisingly, isn’t much of a sacrifice for a man. A man doesn’t have to have much to motivate him to have sex. All a woman needs to pretty much do is go up to a man and say “Would you like to have sex?” and the man is willing and ready to go.

In the past, a man would usually have to fight and prove himself the man to earn the right to the woman. That woman was a treasure and she was treating herself like one. She was the one who set the price and if she set it high, well the man would reach and go as high as he could because what he wanted was worth it. If it was not worth it, then the woman could move on and find a man who would treat her the way she was worth.

But now since sex is no big deal and it’s just something common, well what a shock that marriage is no big deal either. Just get a divorce. What’s the big deal? Just change the nature of marriage. What’s the big deal? Marriage after all is all about making the people involved in it happy. If you split up, you split up and you’ll do better next time. There’s no incentive to stay in because hey, a guy can find a woman willing to have sex very quickly. Just go down to your local bar. They’re there.

If sex is no big deal and marriage is no big deal, it’s not a shock that human life is no big deal, and abortion already has shown us that. Men and women are simply sexual beings like animals. Now of course we are sexual beings, but the word simply does not belong. Our sex does in many ways define us but it is not the sole purpose we serve. A woman can be fully woman and be a nun for instance. As some have said rightfully, she even has a sex life. Everything she does, SHE does. SHE does it as a woman. Her vows keep her from having sexual intercourse. They can never stop her from being a woman.

So what happened? Well our society went from one where women did not want to be treated like objects to where women are eye candy in all the media and men don’t have to make any real commitment to have sex and can get out of a relationship at any time.

Sounds like the men won.

After all, if a man is using a woman just for sex, he’s sure not respecting her. If he was a respectful man, he’d go for a woman who has a high price. He’d go for a woman where he actually has to be a real man. A woman who does not challenge him and make him earn her love is not going to be a woman who will challenge him to be a man. A woman who gives in too easily will not only lower herself as a woman, but she will lower the man.

So while we could say both lost in the long run, the men still get the better part of the deal because they got all the perks that they wanted and the woman were nice enough to remove all the costs to them.

Let’s go back and see if we can change this.

Start with this. Sex is good. (Amen and amen) God does not hate sex. God loves sex. God created it. (To which all we men can give abundant praise someday when we stand before the throne.) Just really think about that. Sex is God’s idea! Everything that you love about sex if you’re a married person is something that God created. He designed the body and the system that builds up that pleasure and intimacy.

When we say we value virginity then, we don’t mean we value virginity for the sake of virginity. Giving up sex for a time is not an end in itself. It is a means. It is a means to a higher end. If you give it up also, note that you are saying that it is something you perceive as a good. After all, if you ever sacrifice something, for it to be a worthwhile sacrifice, it has to be something you view as a good. You don’t sacrifice your freedom to go swimming at your local sewage treatment plant. You want to avoid that. You don’t sacrifice your freedom to eat bugs off of your living room floor. You don’t want to do that. If you instead do something like sacrificing time spent at the pool or sacrificing pizza or some other food, now that is a real sacrifice.

So whenever a Christian or anyone else gives up sex for some time for something else, they are saying that that something else is a good worth sacrificing for and to show how much it is worth sacrificing, they will sacrifice something that is extremely valuable. For those who are able to sacrifice sex in this lifetime, well more power to you. If you can keep it, you have indeed made a real sacrifice. At the same time of course, that does not make you more spiritual or more Christian than anyone else. After all, some of us do have to marry and Paul said there were some of us who would burn if we did not marry. Yeah. He knew how strong that drive was.

So what happens if we treat sex as something sacred? It’s no longer a common good and a woman becomes once again a prize to be won. She becomes the princess that the knight must go and fight for. If he proves himself to be a man, well he can have access to the garden of the princess. If he does not, well good-bye, because there will certainly come along another knight who will earn the hand of the princess. (In fact, to this day, I still call my wife my Princess. Check my phone sometime and you’ll see she is not listed by name but listed as Princess.)

What happens then? Well marriage becomes sacred again. A guy has proved himself a man and the woman treats him like a man. The best way she does this is by giving herself to him and trusting him and knowing that there is no one else. The man does not take advantage of this. Instead, he works everyday to make sure she knows how much he appreciates this and how delighted he is to be her men. Note this women. A real man will always strive to be a real man for you.

Then after this, life becomes sacred as well. Life becomes something beautiful because humans are not cheap. They are immensely valuable. The medievals said that one human being is worth more than the entire universe. They were right. Had there been just a universe, there would have been no need for the death of Christ. Enter in one human being in need and there’s a purpose to the plan of redemption.

The ultimate change of this lies with the women. It lies in them realizing that in many ways, they should be treated as equal, but they should also celebrate their differences from men. They should learn to realize that they are not cheap. They come with a price and that price can be as high as they want it to be. Worried about finding a real man? A real man will earn you. If a man is not willing to pay the price for you, then he is not a man. Period.

Another essential part of this is that this is what we have to start teaching in churches. Our churches do not talk about sex enough, which is problematic since everyone in the world talks about it constantly. Like many men, when I often see another woman, I look away or my eyes glaze over. Recently I was walking at a mall when I saw another woman. To avoid the temptation to lust, I instead look to my right. What do I see? The display for the local Victoria’s Secret. Yep. It’s everywhere. A man will be tempted with lust relentlessly. Even if a man doesn’t watch TV shows and movies, if he is just out going grocery shopping, he will be tempted with lust.

And we somehow think that 2 or 3 sermons a year will be all it takes to help a man in this area?

Our young teenagers are being constantly tempted. Many of them in high school have friends who are already sexually active and the question they’re being asked is “Why not you?” When a Christian boy and girl are on a date together and they’re alone on a couch at a parents’ house, do we really think a few verses from Paul is going to be enough to stop them?

Look at it this way. Many of us know the Bible verses about dealing with temptation and about other aspects like not worrying and how to avoid careless spending and how we should love our neighbor as ourselves.

If that’s all it took for us to do those things, we would all be a whole lot better, but it’s not.

Yet when it comes to the most powerful natural appetite that a man and woman has, we somehow think those few verses that we have will be enough to overpower them.

If you think it will be, you are a naive fool.

This also starts in the home. Parents need to model a healthy sexuality. Of course, I’m not saying invite the children to the bedroom. That would be stupid and destroy the sanctity of the bedroom. I’m saying the parents need to live before the children a life that shows a loving marital commitment. The parents should never make the children the focus of the marriage. The wife’s focus is the husband and the husband’s is the wife. Make the children the focus and you will have a marriage fall apart. This of course does not mean the children are unimportant. They are immensely important, but they do not take first place.

The children need to see that Mom and Dad have a loving relationship. They need to see their parents kiss. They need to know that their parents are going out on dates. The husband needs to show his sons the right way to treat a woman and show his daughters how it is that a good man will treat her. The wife needs to show her daughters the right way to respond to a man and show her sons how it is that they should treat a lady.

When it comes to single people, if they want to be single, let them be. Don’t treat them like an aberration. If we do that, then we get them into the mindset of “You’re not having sex? What’s wrong with you?!” If they are fine with that life, then let them be fine with it. They are not less as Christians or less as men and women. If they are wanting to get married, then by all means help them. Teach them the advice you have on dating and marriage. (In preparation for my marriage, I spent time with many men asking them questions and getting advice. Today, I try to offer the same kind of advice to men who are preparing to marry. If you’re on Facebook also and you’re a Christian man marrying or planning to marry or hoping to someday marry, I also have a Facebook group dedicated to helping you learn how to be that kind of man.)

In fact, that advice just given works for men and women who are married. Get together with people of your own sex who are married and talk about the issues that you face in marriage and what’s the best way to overcome them, because marriage takes work. If you’re a married couple, get together with other married couples who want to build up their own marriages and learn what you can from them.

In the end, men and women will be different.

But that’s okay. We were supposed to be.

But we will also all treat each other with a bit more respect and value.

Who will win that battle?

The men will.

But so will the women as well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Tim McGrew vs. Peter Boghossian

What did I think of the debate on Unbelievable? Let’s talk about it on the Deeper Waters Podcast.

Recently on the Unbelievable podcast hosted by Justin Brierley, there was a debate between Tim McGrew and Peter Boghossian. The subject was Boghossian’s book “A Manual For Creating Atheists” which I have reviewed here. It was my high hopes that Tim McGrew, a real professor of epistemology, would be the one to expose Boghossian before a listening world.

Request granted.

Boghossian could not reply to a single source that Tim McGrew had on the meaning of faith. Boghossian defined it as “belief without evidence” or “pretending to know things you don’t know.” McGrew defined it as “trust in evidence.” All Boghossian was able to use was his “personal experience” of talking to Christians. McGrew said his experience was different. Now of course, when two people get together who have different personal experiences, then they need to look for something outside of their personal experience. McGrew went to the Oxford English Dictionary and how it shows that faith is best to be understood as trust. Boghossian could not counter this nor did he ever even attempt to. For Boghossian, he was just repeating the same refrain again and again about what he encountered.

Now I don’t doubt that there are many Christians who have a false view of faith, but is that really the way to say you’re going to go around creating atheists? Boghossian says atheism is a result of criticalthinking. Of course, if atheism is true, critical thinkers should be atheists, but that is the very premise in question. Is atheism true and you don’t say “I’m an atheist, therefore I’m a critical thinker” or “X is a Christian, therefore X isn’t practicing critical thinking” nor could the reverse apply.

McGrew points out at the end that he could not define atheists as people are ignorant about reality because they deny God exists. Now of course, if God does exist, then atheists are ignorant about reality, but that would be a terrible way to define an atheist before the debate even gets started and every atheist should rightly call McGrew on that if he does that, as McGrew himself agreed.

Boghossian also asked McGrew if he had read the Koran which no doubt gave the shocking reply of “Yes.” He went on to name other holy books that he has read. I am quite confident in my position that McGrew has read far more scholarly works that he disagrees with than Boghossian has.

Boghossian also wanted to know if the Muslims believe without evidence that Muhammad flew on a horse. McGrew rightly answered that they do not. They point to what they think is the beauty and elegance of the Koran and conclude it is a divine work and then trust it. Is that conclusion right? Of course, McGrew and Boghossian and myself don’t think so, but that does not mean that Muslims lack a reason or what they think is evidence for their claims.

This is an important distinction McGrew kept coming back to. What matters most is what one counts as evidence and what is considered reliable. One could even agree with the conclusion and disagree with the evidence presented. Suppose I meet someone who is a Christian and says they are because the Holy Spirit just told them that Jesus rose from the dead. I would really want them to have something more than that, but I cannot deny that they have reached the right conclusion.

Boghossian wanted to know about the difference between faith and hope. McGrew pointed out that faith is when you’re willing to act in a way where you’re venturing something. You can’t absolutely 100% prove something but you’re going by evidence. This is a mistake I think Boghossian doesn’t realize. He had said you needed to examine every religious worldview before you could choose one. No. You just need sufficient evidence to choose one.

For instance, if that is the case, Boghossian no doubt considers himself a macroevolutionist, yet he has said he is not an evolutionary biologist. Before siding on his worldview, is he going to go out and examine every claim of say, young-earth creationism, before he’s willing to sign on the line of evolutionary biologist? He has said he is now studying the Koran. Does that mean he chose a position on God, namely that He does not exist, before studying all the evidence?

If the only way we can reach any decision is by studying all the evidence, no one will ever conclude anything. There are always books that are going to be unread. There will be arguments unheard and in fact, arguments unanswered. What one has to say is “On the whole, which explanation best explains all the evidence.”

To get back to faith and hope again, McGrew used the illustration of sky diving with the statistic that over 99% of people who jump out of a plane while skydiving land safely. The person who jumps is still venturing something. He needs more than just “I hope my instructor packed the parachute properly.” He needs to have good reason to think it was done that way. Then he acts and that act is referred to as faith. Boghossian is right one point. Faith is not an epistemology. He’s wrong on the point that he always treats it that way and unfortunately, his whole book is built on this false premise.

Also noteworthy is Boghossian’s view on how people of faith should be treated. Faith for Boghossian should be classified as a mental disorder and a virus of the mind and the person who is trying to reason someone out of their worldview is doing an intervention. It is hard to see how Boghossian is not just outright dehumanizing his opponents. For all the talk Boghossian has about practicing doxastic openness, it looks like he needs to learn some.

This means Boghossian is a bully and in fact, one of the worst kinds of bullies. He thinks those of us who are Christians are wrong. Okay. I get that. That is not being a bully. I have several friends who think the same way. What’s next is that he thinks that we automatically have a mental illness. This is when we start getting into bigotry. If that was where it stayed, that would be bad enough, but it is not. In his own book he says to treat faith as a public health crisis. He says that there are things we cannot do obviously due to freedoms we have here, like the freedom of speech, but it is scary to think about what Boghossian would do if he had power in a country like a Muslim country or in a place like Russia where those little restrictions didn’t get in the way.

Even worse is that Boghossian is not basing this on evidence. If his interventionist strategy works so well, why did it not work here? The simple reason is Boghossian is just highly uninformed and has unfortunately convinced himself that he is right. He is engaging in what I call atheistic presuppositionalism.

This is the idea that right at the start, he is right and a critical thinker by virtue of being an atheist. If anyone else disagrees, they are obviously not engaging in critical thinking and there must be some reason why they don’t see the light. Perhaps they are “Suppressing the truth in faithfulness” or “Their eyes are blinded by a bias they do not see and they need the scales removed from their eyes.” Either way, Boghossian knows he cannot be wrong because of his personal experience with walking his life of atheism for years and because of the inner testimony of his “voice of reason.”

In fact, it’s the same for some of Boghossian’s biggest fans who just can’t bring themselves to admit that Boghossian got, as one skeptic put it, his chickens slaughtered by McGrew. A sad example of such a fan who cannot seem to accept this reality can be seen here and you can see my comments to him on the blog.

Boghossian has strangely enough said he’s interested in a round two. We would like to see it, but it is certainly clear that Boghossian is going to have to improve his game dramatically before he steps into the ring again with McGrew. Perhaps it would help if Boghossian practiced more doxastic openness and avoided his idea of “Avoid facts.” For now, all he has his personal testimony while McGrew and those like him have data from scholarly sources. Therefore, by Boghossian’s own standards, Boghossian should be sitting at the kid’s table until he can bring forward some facts.

In Christ,
Nick Peters