This short booklet presents a simple application of central aspects of Cornelius Van Til’s apologetic method. Given the volume and complexity of Van Til’s writings, understanding and simplifying his method is a challenge. In this regard, the excellent work of Greg Bahnsen and K. Scott Oliphint have been of great help to me. Also, many thanks to the many friends and colleagues who took the time to read this little book and comment upon it, you have been a rich blessing. To God be all the glory.
A few years ago I came across an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Hitchens Book Debunking The Deity Is Surprise Hit.”1 Debunking God, it seems, is big business. Recent titles, such as The God Delusion, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, and Letter to a Christian Nation, are wildly popular. “This is atheism’s moment,” declared one publisher. They are even “flying off the bookshelves” in the Bible Belt, said another (though suspicion has it that Christians are buying the books to study the tactics of their antagonists).
Modern atheists view atheism as reasonable and scientific while Christianity is dismissed as wishful thinking. Science and reason have delivered us from dogmatic religious authority and the ignorance of blind faith, they say. “God” as comfort to the fearful and the explanation of all things to the simple-minded is no longer needed. Science has exposed this convenient crutch as mere fantasy. Reasonable people examine the facts of the universe to draw scientific conclusions, leaving the obsolete notion of a sovereign God on the bookshelf with other fairy tales.
Perhaps this sounds familiar? To the modern university student it may have been the morning lecture. Imagine young Christians in college having everything they believe and hold dear mocked and dismissed as irrelevant. “Do you seriously believe Jonah was in a whale for three days and lived, or that all people and animals are descended from the passengers on Noah’s ark? Can you reasonably and scientifically believe the earth was created in six days, that Eve was formed from Adam’s rib, and the universally accepted theory of evolution is false?” And topping it all off (with a lowering of the voice, raising of an eyebrow, and peering over the eye glasses), “you don’t reeeally take the Bible literally, do you?”
It can be a bit intimidating. Rightly or wrongly, no one enjoys being viewed as an unscientific dunce. In response to the pressure we are tempted to modify biblical truth and history to make them more acceptable to modern sensibilities, especially if we seek the favor of the academic community or public opinion. We are tempted to portray the infinite God of Scripture as constrained by the laws of the universe like us, and not as the one who created, upholds, and transcends all things.
In our short study, therefore, we will examine the “reasonable” and “scientific” claims of the atheist and agnostic as compared to the “unreasonable” and “blind” faith of the Christian. Could the reverse actually be true? Could it be that Christian faith is neither blind nor unreasonable, while the best arguments of atheism and agnosticism are built on unsupportable leaps of blind faith?
The results may surprise you.
© Craig Biehl, 2011
1 By Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, June 22, 2007, p. B1.