Book Plunge: The God Virus Part 1

What do I think of Darrel Ray’s book published by IPC Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Oh my! There are atheist books out there that actually try to make a convincing argument, but this is not one of them. At least, that’s not the way I see it. It’s as if today atheists want to compete to see who can write the worst one out there.

This one is an older one published in 2009, but while age might improve wine and friendships, it doesn’t always improve books. I was asked to read this by someone and thinking them someone I want to take seriously if I remember rightly who it was, I ordered it. Going through this one has been funny at times, but a labor at others.

Ray writes the whole time as if religion is a virus and he uses metaphors for viruses throughout. It really doesn’t work well. The work comes across as very depersonalizing and instead of really treating religion seriously, it looks like Ray, who apparently has a Master’s in religion, doesn’t really know much about it.

For one thing, he never even defines the term. He just comes out of the gate talking about religion and I’m sitting here wondering “What do you mean by the term?” This is especially problematic when later on he gets to movements like Marxism and the rise of Lenin and those get treated like religions too. Those are atheistic movements and yet somehow an atheistic movement is a religion.

Ray also says he starts with an experiment. You talk with a deeply Christian friend (Assuming you’re not a theist) about Muhammad. You agree he was delusional thinking he was talking to God and the Koran is definitely his work and he didn’t fly to Heaven on a horse, etc. Then he says imagine you wrote a transcript of the conversation and gave it to them.

“During the conversation you bother agree that Jesus was probably delusional to think he could talk to Jehovah. The Bible was clearly written by men and not by Jehovah. You both agree that it is ludicrous to claim that he is the last prophet and that all later ones are false. Neither of you can believe that he rose from the dead nor flew to heaven. It all sounds too crazy, and it is difficult to see how someone could believe such a religion. At the end of the conversation, you both agree that Christians did not choose their religion; they were born into it. Anyone who was exposed to both Christianity and Islam would see that Islam is the true religion.”

And thus is the experiment. Present this to your Christian friend and they will turn defensive (Imagine that. When you question what someone believes, they might actually defend what they believe! Gasp!) Will they make elaborate arguments that have no factual basis? Will they cut you off and terminate your friendship?

Some of us will give arguments and if Ray wants to say they have no factual basis, it will be up to him to demonstrate that. Good luck. Without that, he’s just engaging in presuppositional atheism.

However, on this very page after talking about a friendship enduring, he goes on to talk about an associate of his who lost a father to cancer. After that, he became a Christian and any time they talked religion crept in and before too long, Ray stopped seeing him altogether. This on the very same page as the above questions.

So if you challenge a Christian, your friendship might not endure. However, when Ray hears someone talking about Jesus so much, their friendship can’t endure. How is this not seen?

In just three paragraphs, Ray deals with near-death experiences. Does he look at any with evidential claims in them? Not a one. Does he mention any researchers in the field that endorse such arguments? No. He points to one doctor who says it’s the brain trying to make sense of an experience. He also tells us that we can bring about the emotion of NDEs by stimulating certain parts of the brain. This is likely true, but irrelevant. We can stimulate many things, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t stimulating real things.

But again, without dealing with real evidential cases, Ray is not doing his proper work. Throughout the book Ray will talk about theists shutting off logic and critical thinking. Physician! Heal thyself!

On p. 30 in a footnote he says that during witch trials in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, historians estimate that 200,000 people died. Inquiring minds want to know who these historians are. Ray never tells us. Too many atheist readers will lap this up and believe it instantly. Those of us who actually care about evidence want to know more.

In a footnote on p. 32 he mentions Bruno as one who questioned the suppositions of religion and paid a price for it. Another such example he mentions is Galileo. People who make this claim have likely never read anything by Bruno. As for Galileo, he questioned Catholic interpretations, but he never once questioned the truth of Christianity.

On p. 39, he speaks about fundamentalism where people are immune to influence and ignore any evidence that contradicts their beliefs. Note, this is from a man who at least halfway through the book has not interacted with one opposing scholar so far. Ray also regularly writes about his fundamentalist upbringing. I do not question he had one. I also do not question that he has not escaped it. His thinking is still very much the same way.

On p. 42, he says Christians early on were instructed on how to take over political institutions. I would love to know where he sees this, but he does not say. Maybe all those things about honoring the emperor and praying for him and things like that. That’s how you take over government after all.

When we get to p. 48, he describes Marxism as a god virus. How this is a god virus when it is inherently atheistic is not explained. It’s a convenient way though to avoid having to question your own movement. Any movement that has mass death behind it must be a religious movement. It can’t possibly be atheistic!

Naturally, on p. 51, he says science education is the answer to religion. There is never a connection made here. There are plenty of fine scientists who have no trouble with being theists at all. Ray gives no arguments here.

When we return next time, we’ll start with the chapter on American Civil Religion, which is definitely a hideous chapter as far as evidential claims are concerned.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Mama Bear Apologetics

What do I think of Hillary Morgan Ferrer’s book published by Harvest House? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Move over, Captain Marvel. True feminism has a new force to represent it and that’s Mama Bear Apologetics. Not all in this movement are Mamas, but all of them are women on a mission. They are women out to protect the younger generation from the forces that seek to destroy their faith.

The book is an introduction to apologetics as it were for mothers and is written in a style easy to understand without dense terminology. It is for women and it is by women. This doesn’t mean fathers and other men won’t get something out of the book, but it is quite likely to speak to mothers more.

Every chapter deals with a different topic so each chapter can be read on its own if one desires. They follow the same pattern ending with ways to pray and then with icebreakers on how to talk to your children about the topics included. This also includes ways for mothers to talk to other mothers.

The book deals with a lot of isms mainly. Relativism, pluralism, emotionalism, Marxism, feminism, etc. It has a synopsis of each of the views it deals with and then spends a little bit of time talking about ways that we can agree with those views, but then it goes into the bigger problems that they get wrong. This will help mothers in conversing since they don’t always have to be in attack mode and can instead find common ground and go from there.

Feminism was a topic I found particularly interesting, especially since it came from women. It’s one thing for men to critique feminism, but it’s another for women themselves to be doing that work. The critique is greatly appreciated.

Some might be surprised that Marxism is included. After all, why should we be going political? It’s because Marxism is about a lot more than politics. It’s a worldview that encompasses also one’s response to the family today and who is going to be in control and has led to the deaths of millions.

If there is a concern I have about this book, it’s that I wish there were more topics covered. I understand that it was intentional how it was done, but there aren’t topics covering the existence of God, the reliability of Scripture, or the resurrection of Jesus. I would prefer that there be at least one chapter on each of these and then go from there to critiquing the other worldviews while the foundation is already in place.

Still, this is a great opener in equipping mothers to be defenders of what their children believe and to enable them to know how to dialogue not just with their own children on these topics, but with other mothers as well. Apologetics no longer belongs to just the men and it never should have been that way to begin with. Mothers need to get this book and in the words of the authors “Roar like a mother.”

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/18/2017: Jeff Myers

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Everyone has a worldview. Many of us don’t realize that we do have them. We all have a way of looking at the world and we all have some background ideas that influence the way we think about reality. Many times when we have debate with people of other positions, we’re not so much debating the evidence as we are the worldview that evaluates the evidence.

Christians should have a biblical worldview, but many of our Christians today believe things that outright contradict Scripture. I’m not talking about disagreements on secondary issues where we all have some wrong beliefs. We’re talking about things like Christians believing in reincarnation or that all religions are equally valid.

So when discussing worldviews, you need someone who does understand worldviews, and not just a Christian worldview, but other major contenders. You need someone who also has his awareness of what is going on especially with youth today who are struggling the most with this sort of question. How is it that they can build a biblical worldview and what can churches do to restore this vision? To do that, I decided to have come on Jeff Myers from Summit Ministries to talk about worldviews.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Dr. Jeff Myers is president of Summit Ministries, a highly respected worldview training program whose tens of thousands of graduates are making a difference in politics, law, academics, medicine, science, and business. In the last 20 years Dr. Myers has become one of America’s most respected authorities on youth leadership development. Focus on the Family founder James Dobson referred to him as “a very gifted and inspirational young leader.” Evangelist Josh McDowell called him “a man who is 100% sold out to preparing the next generation to reflect the character of Christ in the culture.” Through his appearances on Fox News and other media programs, Dr. Myers has become a fresh voice offering humor and insight from a Christian worldview. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree and teaches leadership courses through Lumerit and Belhaven University. Jeff and his family live in Colorado.

We’ll be talking about his book The Secret Battle of Ideas About God. We’ll look at other worldviews such as secular humanism, postmodernism, Marxism, new age, and Islam. We’ll be comparing how these worldviews line up with a Christian worldview. How do they answer the great questions that we have about life? What are some of the weaknesses? Why should anyone think that a Christian worldview is a superior worldview?

I hope you’ll be paying attention to this episode, especially if you have any interaction with youth today, so that you can better help prepare them, or if you are a youth so that you can better help prepare yourself. Please be watching for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. If you haven’t done so yet, please also on on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: The Secret Battle of Ideas About God

What do I think of Jeff Myers’s book published by David C. Cook? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Jeff Myers’s latest book certainly starts off getting your attention. How can it not with talking about people who were directly tied in to 9/11? This then gets directly linked to virus outbreaks that have taken place which is finally compared with the idea of mind viruses. Myers doesn’t mean some disease you need to go see your doctor about, but rather ideas that spread and people don’t have much defense for, including and especially, younger Christians.

Myers work is to deal with a problem which is that many of our younger Christians believe things that are entirely at odds with orthodox Christianity and they don’t even realize it. They’ve been made victims in a war that they don’t even realize that they’re fighting in, something immediately reminiscent of The Green Book is Lewis’s The Abolition of Man. These people have not been given a Christian worldview. As I’ve said many times before, it might be shocking to realize that to develop a good Christian lifestyle, you might need to have more than concerts and pizza parties at church.

Myers says that there are essentially five other kinds of worldviews, though no doubt there is some overlapping. These are secularism, Marxism, postmodernism, New Spirituality, and Islam. As I write this, I know Christian friends who have fallen especially for New Spirituality and Islam. Myers contrasts these worldviews with Christianity in the book.

One good aspect about the book is Myers is very open about himself and his own struggles and mistakes. When he writes about a failed marriage, he doesn’t hide it. When he talks about anger with God, that’s out there in the open. When he talks about mistakes in the past in the area of sex, that’s right there. When he says that counseling drains him, he means it. That kind of openness I admire.

Those questions are relevant because what Myers is really dealing with in the book is existential questions. Am I loved? Why am I hurting? Does life have any meaning? Can’t we all just get along? Is there hope for the world? Does God matter? Many of us in apologetics would like to leap straight to the questions of if God exists or if Jesus rose from the dead, but many people are not starting with those questions. They’re starting with these. We need to get to those questions, but how does Christianity answer these questions in contrast to other worldviews?

Myers’s book is clear and easy to read. You don’t have to be a professional philosopher to understand his arguments. There’s about 200 pages of content, but it’s still a relatively short read and it’s one that you could present to someone who is exploring Christianity and wondering about these kinds of questions.

If there was something I would like to see more of, it is that while the book is clear that Christianity does answer these questions, that doesn’t show Christianity is true. It’s fine to have a book dedicated to existential questions, but I would have liked to have seen a section at the end that would include apologetics books for further reading on the other questions that can show that Christianity is true. Perhaps it could point to other authors like J. Warner Wallace and Lee Strobel.

Still, this is a good book to read to help with the questions. It’s easy to read that when I finished, I put it in a stack of books for my wife so that she could go through it as she’s been learning a lot about these questions as well. If she does go through it, I am sure she will be blessed by it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters