Lee Strobel's The Case For Christ has reached my doorstep, so here begins my critique of the book.
Yes, it has been done before, by better authors, in more public spaces. But I'm going to add my own unique personality to it, dammit.
So here goes...the special I Don't Need Faith To Be An Atheist.com rebuttal (or acceptance) of The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel.
Actually, before I get to the introduction, the list of commendations inside the first 3 pages of the book was worth a read.
A couple of names stick out.
Bill Hybels. I never cared much for Bill Hybels when I was a Christian, but the pastor of my old Fundamentalist cult back in Adelaide certainly treated his words like they were divinely inspired. Heck, I reckon my pastor could have read something in Charisma or Christianity Today that said 'Bill Hybels promotes kicking dogs down the street in the name of Jesus' and he would have been on board simply because it has Bill Hybels' name attached to it.
And Ravi Zacharias. One incredibly slick Jesus salesman, who has no problem name-dropping atheist scholars when it helps make his point, but who I have rarely heard ever make a cogent point or admit defeat. He just goes on...and on...and on...and on...and on...
OK, on to the book proper.
Strobel begins his book under the heading Reopening The Investigation Of A Lifetime, where he recounts his time as a journalist where an innocent man plea-bargained guilty to a cop shooting in order to get a reduced sentence, instead of rolling the dice and facing a trial where he risked a 20-year sentence. It turns out the cop had an illegal firearm in his pocket and accidentally shot himself.
This, I actually have no problem with. Unfortunately, our justice system is replete with humans, humans make mistakes, so we need sound and valid methods in order to remove human bias and the chance for false convictions, or even the scope for false confessions. So far so good.
I would actually use this as an anti-spiritual argument. How many people have been found guilty of a crime thanks to evidence given by either a psychic, medium, prophet, preacher, or other person who claims to be able to gain information supernaturally, and that person gained the information that led to a guilty conviction by supernatural means?
Zero, that I know of. I am more than happy to be corrected. It takes humans giving information, or humans finding information, and then telling other humans, in order for justice to be served.
Under his next heading, From Dixon To Jesus, Strobel makes a couple of claims.
1. He claims that he was an atheist because he simply couldn't believe the outrageous claims about Jesus being made.
2. He claims he had a strong motivation to ignore the pro-Jesus arguments, namely giving up a self-serving and immoral lifestyle.
1. Just because atheism is the most rational position to take when it comes to deciding and evaluating supernatural claims does not mean that someone is an atheist because they rationally decided and evaluated supernatural claims.
Anyone can be an atheist for whatever reason they decide, just like anyone can be a Christian or a Muslim or a Scientologist for whatever reason they decide. It does not mean that they have rationally evaluated the claims, just like Lee Strobel hadn't. He had heard them and read them, but from what I read, he hadn't rationally evaluated them.
2. This is a rewording and reapplication of the old "You reject Jesus because you want to sin!" argument.
Actually, I think humans, without God, can and have come up with better morality systems than Christianity has. And furthermore, if you want to a see a society that was completely ruled by Christians looks like and how moral it was, societies who adhered strongly to scripture, in a lot of cases took it literally, and lived and died by the word of God, then I need only show you two examples:
Salem, Massachusetts of 1692, and the Confederate States of America.
These were two societies run by Bible-believing Fundamentalist Christians, but in which human rights were trampled underfoot left, right and centre. Confessions under torture, the slave trade, summary executions.
So Mr. Strobel, or any other Christian who is reading this, please tell me how the more Christian a society is, the more moral it is?
Under a heading titled Judging For Yourself, Strobel challenges the reader to read his journey of how he went from atheist to Christian. I haven't begun reading the subsequent chapters, but I'm going to guess that Strobel hadn't spoken to any atheists, rationalists or skeptics, but instead spoke to Christian scholar after Christian scholar - people who are professionally bound to upholding the Jesus line, be they clergy, theologians, professors at Christian universities.
I take some offence when I read this heading, because it implies that I wasn't being honest and rational when I decided that there was no god.
When I decided to dump my faith and let the evidence for my old faith come to me, I didn't go out seeking scholars, reading Christian books or watching Christian YouTube channels, because I already knew their arguments. I knew their scripture, I knew of the claims to historicity, I knew the science they promoted, so what I wanted to do what see if the atheist side of the equation had a better argument - and it turned out they did, so I apportioned my belief in concordance with the evidence.
Until next time, be good to others, and to yourself.
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