Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case

Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case

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Overview

Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case by Frank Turek

If you think atheists have reason, evidence, and science on their side, think again! Award-winning author Dr. Frank Turek (I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist) will show you how atheists steal reason, evidence, science, and other arguments from God in trying to make their case for atheism. If that sounds contradictory, it’s because it is! Atheists can’t make their case without appealing to realities only theism can explain. In an engaging and memorable way, Stealing from God exposes these intellectual crimes atheists are committing and then provides four powerful reasons for why Christianity is true.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781612917016
Publisher: The Navigators
Publication date: 01/01/2015
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 187,287
Product dimensions: 8.20(w) x 5.40(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author


Frank Turek is a dynamic speaker and Gold Medallion award-winning author who has written/cowritten several books including, IDon't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist  (over 200,000 sold).  He hosts an hour-long apologetics TV program (broadcast on the NRB Network into 32 million homes) and an hour-long apologetics radio program (broadcast on 144 stations).  Frank speaks over 100 times a year at colleges, high schools, and churches.  He has debated several prominent atheists, including Christopher Hitchens and David Silverman.  Frank is also an adjunct professor of apologetics at Southern Evangelical Seminary.

Read an Excerpt

Stealing from God

Why atheists need God to make their case


By Frank Turek

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2014 Frank Turek
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-61291-701-6



CHAPTER 1

Causality

NO ONE CREATED SOMETHING OUT OF NOTHING?

To doubt the law of causality is to doubt virtually everything we know about reality, including our ability to reason and do science. All arguments, all thinking, all science, and all aspects of life depend on the law of causality.


JOHN WAS STANDING at the front of the long question line at the University of Michigan. As a former Christian, now atheist, he was eager to challenge something I said during my I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist presentation. Over four hundred people were waiting.

I had just given three arguments for the existence of God. One of which was the Cosmological argument, which claims that if the universe had a beginning then it must have had a cause. It goes like this:

1. Everything that has a beginning has a cause.

2. The universe had a beginning.

3. Therefore, the universe had a cause.


This argument isn't new. Philosophers in the Middle Ages championed this argument when they realized that today never would have arrived if there were an infinite number of days before today. Since today is here, the universe must have had a beginning. However, until the twentieth century, most scientists thought the universe was eternal. It's now uncontroversial among scientists to admit that the universe—space, time, and matter—had a definite beginning, with a "big bang" in the distant past.

I say "uncontroversial" because the scientific evidence now is so strong that even most atheists agree that the space-time continuum we call the universe had a beginning. For example, prominent atheist Stephen Hawking observes, "Almost everyone now believes that the universe and time itself had a beginning at the big bang." Indeed, at Hawking's seventieth birthday celebration, cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin (who is an agnostic) said, "All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning." The point of controversy isn't the beginning, but who or what caused the beginning.

That's where John had a problem. He was protesting my suggestion that God was the cause.

But there are good reasons for positing God. If space, time, and matter had a beginning, then the cause must transcend space, time, and matter. In other words, the cause must be spaceless, timeless, and immaterial. This cause also must be enormously powerful to create the universe out of nothing. And it must be a personal agent in order to choose to create, since an impersonal force has no capacity to choose to create anything. Agents create. Impersonal forces, which we call natural laws, merely govern what is already created, provided agents don't interfere.

For example, gravity as an impersonal force can't decide anything. It blindly does the same thing over and over again. A personal agent, on the other hand, doesn't necessarily do the same thing over and over again. He or she could do something unique, like decide to create something.

So we are left with a spaceless, timeless, immaterial, powerful, personal first cause. That sounds an awful lot like a theistic God.

John wasn't buying it. Yet, instead of offering evidence for a cause other than God, John resorted to faith. Echoing atheist Richard Dawkins, John forcefully declared into the microphone, "We have to give science more time! If we give science more time, one day we will find a natural cause for the universe."

"That sounds a lot like faith," I said. "You have faith that science will one day find a cause."

Given our advances in science and technology, John's faith may seem reasonable. After all, hasn't science continually pushed God out of the picture by finding natural causes for so many phenomena previously thought to be the direct result of divine action? Why shouldn't we expect the same for the universe?

While I agreed with John that we should always challenge scientific conclusions and seek to improve our understanding, that doesn't mean the scientific method will be able to find a natural cause for every effect. The universe is the biggest example.

Since nature had a beginning, nature can't be its own cause. The cause must be beyond nature, which is what we mean by the term "supernatural."

John was quick to charge me with committing the "God of the gaps" fallacy. When we can't figure out a natural cause, we plug God into that gap in knowledge and say that He did it. That's not only wrong, it's "lazy," as many atheists assert.

But that's not what's going on here. I explained that we are not basing our conclusion on a mere "gap" in our knowledge. Those of us who conclude that a theistic God is the cause of the universe are not arguing from what we don't know (a gap), but what we do know. Since space, time, and matter had a beginning, we know that the cause can't be made of space, time, or matter. In fact, the conclusion that there is a spaceless, timeless, immaterial, powerful, personal first cause flows logically from the evidence itself.

If anyone is committing a fallacy, it is the atheist. Call it the "natural law of the gaps fallacy"—having faith that an undiscovered natural law will one day explain the beginning of the universe.

And that's exactly what John did. He went back to insist that through science we will one day find a natural cause for all of nature.

I said, "John, we will never find a natural cause for all of nature."

"We will!" he insisted.

"No, John, we can't in principle. If nature had a beginning, then the cause can't be something natural because nature didn't exist. Nature was the effect, so it can't be the cause. The cause must be something beyond nature, or supernatural."

I used this comparison to help communicate the point: "When you say, 'Give me more time and I'll discover a natural cause for the universe,' that's like me saying, 'Give me more time and I'll discover that I gave birth to my own mother! It's impossible in principle, John.'"

Perhaps I did a bad job of explaining it because he still wasn't persuaded. On the other hand, there is a difference between proof and persuasion. One can prove a point, but that doesn't mean that a particular person will be persuaded by it. At least John agreed that the universe needs a cause. Other atheists are suggesting that it doesn't—that somehow the universe popped into existence out of nothing without a cause.

That was the assertion of an atheist at Texas A&M, where I was again presenting the Cosmological argument. I summed up the argument this way: "Since the universe had a beginning, it must have had a beginner. The evidence leaves us with one of the following two options, either:

1. No one created something out of nothing, which is the atheist's view, or

2. Someone created something out of nothing, which is the theist's view."


I then asked rhetorically, "Which view is more reasonable?" With that, an atheist blurted out, "Option one is more reasonable—no one created something out of nothing!"

Option one—Is he serious?

Let's look at option two first. Option two says that someone created something out of nothing. Now, that is a miracle. But at least there is a miracle worker—"someone." Option one is a miracle with no miracle worker. That's clearly absurd.

I said to the audience at A&M that night, "To show you how seriously we believe in the law of causality—that everything that comes to be has a cause—there is no one here tonight who is worried that a hippopotamus has just appeared uncaused, out of nothing, in your dorm room and is currently defecating on your carpet!"

Dr. William Lane Craig asks an excellent question: If atheists are going to claim that things can pop into existence uncaused out of nothing, then why doesn't everything do so? Why don't iPads, Teslas, atheist books, and pizzas pop into existence out of nothing? If you're hungry for a pizza right now, does it make more sense to order one or just wait and hope? Talk about faith.

Now, where would anyone get this idea that the universe could pop into existence out of nothing without God? From physicist Lawrence Krauss.


Explaining Nothing

If Richard Dawkins is the atheist's rock star of biology, Lawrence Krauss is the atheist's rock star of physics (maybe only second to Stephen Hawking). An engaging speaker, Dr. Krauss is a theoretical physicist and professor at Arizona State University. While admitting that he can't definitely disprove God, Krauss describes himself as "an anti- theist, as my friend Christopher Hitchens was." He "celebrates" that by his estimation there is no evidence for God. So it's not just that Dr. Krauss doesn't believe in God—he doesn't want there to be a God.

It's fortunate for him then that he's solved an absolutely puzzling question for atheists: If there is no God, why is there something rather than nothing? At least that's what the title of his book implies: A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing. But the devil is in the details.

What are the details? Krauss says the cause of the universe is not God—tt is "nothing." He cites happenings at the quantum level to dispense with the need for God. (The quantum level is the world of the extremely small, subatomic in size.)

"One of the things about quantum mechanics is not only can nothing become something, nothing always becomes something," says Dr. Krauss. "Nothing is unstable. Nothing will always produce something in quantum mechanics."

Now, whenever you hear something that just doesn't sound right, you ought to ask the person making the claim, "What do you mean by that?" In this case, the precise question to Dr. Krauss would be, "What do you mean by 'nothing'?"

It turns out that Dr. Krauss's definition of "nothing" is not the "nothing" from which the universe originated. The initial starting point of the universe was not a quantum vacuum, which Dr. Krauss keeps referring to in his book. The initial starting point of the universe was nonbeing—literally no thing, zip, zero, nada.

A quantum vacuum is something—it consists of fields of fluctuating energy from which particles appear to pop in and out of existence. Whether these particles are caused or uncaused is unknown. It could be that they are caused but we simply can't discover or predict how that happens. There are at least ten different plausible models of the quantum level, and no one knows which is correct. What we do know is that, whatever is happening there, it is not creation out of nothing. Moreover, the vacuum isn't eternal. The vacuum itself had a beginning and therefore needs a cause.

Lest you think I am mad to question the physics of Dr. Krauss, please note that I am more questioning his logic, which is required to do science of any kind. Dr. Krauss is committing the logical fallacy known as equivocation—that is, using the same word in an argument but with two different definitions. The "nothing" in the title of Dr. Krauss's book is not the "nothing" from which the universe came.

This critical distinction was not lost on fellow atheist Dr. David Albert. A PhD in theoretical physics, Dr. Albert is a professor at Columbia University and author of the book Quantum Mechanics and Experience. In his scathing review of Krauss's book in the New York Times, Dr. Albert questions both Krauss's logic and his physics. He pulls no punches and even uses his fist to illustrate.

Correcting Krauss's central claim that particles emerging from the quantum vacuum are like creation out of nothing, Dr. Albert writes:

That's just not right. Relativistic-quantum-field-theoretical vacuum states—no less than giraffes or refrigerators or solar systems—are particular arrangements of elementary physical stuff.... The fact that some arrangements of fields happen to correspond to the existence of particles and some don't is not a whit more mysterious than the fact that some of the possible arrangements of my fingers happen to correspond to the existence of a fist and some don't. And the fact that particles can pop in and out of existence, over time, as those fields rearrange themselves, is not a whit more mysterious than the fact that fists can pop in and out of existence, over time, as my fingers rearrange themselves. And none of these poppings—if you look at them aright—amount to anything even remotely in the neighborhood of a creation from nothing. (emphasis in the original)


Speaking of fists, Dr. Albert lands the knockout blow to Krauss's entire thesis this way: "But all there is to say about this, as far as I can see, is that Krauss is dead wrong and his religious and philosophical critics are absolutely right." (It's important to note that Dr. Albert and Columbia University are not known for Christian fundamentalism.)

Now Dr. Krauss didn't take all this lying down. He got up off the canvas and fought back by calling Dr. Albert "a moronic philosopher." It's a mystery why Krauss crafted such an eloquent refutation of Dr. Albert, especially since Krauss admits Dr. Albert's point in advance. In several places in A Universe from Nothing, Krauss acknowledges that the "nothing" he is talking about is not exactly the nothing from which the universe came. Krauss even puts his "nothing" in quotation marks like I just did.

In an interview, Krauss acknowledges that no matter how one defines "nothing," the laws of physics are not nothing. (Sorry to keep using the word nothing, but there's nothing else to use!) And although he's clearly annoyed doing so, Dr. Krauss eventually gets around to admitting that his "nothing" is actually something.

"Even if you accept this argument that nothing is not nothing," he says, "you have to acknowledge that nothing is being used in a philosophical sense. But I don't really give a damn about what 'nothing' means to philosophers; I care about the 'nothing' of reality. And if the 'nothing' of reality is full of stuff, then I'll go with that."

This admission raises a question. Since Dr. Krauss admits all this, why the bait-and-switch title: A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing? Why smuggle in the laws of physics and the quantum vacuum and then call it "nothing"? Why disparage philosophers who are only trying to bring the book's assertions back to reality?

Krauss seems to think that philosophers are not talking about reality, when in fact, that's exactly what philosophy is—the study of ultimate reality. The problem for Krauss is twofold.

First, reality is not merely physical stuff. Since nature and the laws of physics themselves had a beginning, ultimate reality is beyond nature or supernatural. Therefore, despite claiming to explain how the universe came from nothing, Krauss has explained nothing.

The second problem is a far more serious intellectual disease that infects the thinking of Krauss and several other prominent atheists as well. This disease is so severe that it threatens the accuracy of the very science they seek to promote. Krauss, like Dawkins and Hawking, is dismissive of philosophy.

Now, having studied a lot of wacky philosophy myself, I sympathize with them. But the existence of wacky philosophy doesn't discredit the existence of good philosophy any more than the existence of wacky science discredits the existence of good science. While it is true that one can use bad philosophy, it is impossible to use no philosophy.

In fact—and this is the essential point—Krauss, Dawkins, and the like cant do science without philosophy. While scientists are usually seeking to understand physical cause and effect, science itself is built on philosophical principles that are not physical themselves—they are beyond the physical (metaphysical). Those principles help the scientist make precise definitions and clear distinctions and then interpret all the relevant data rationally.

What exactly is relevant? What exactly is rational? What exactly is the best interpretation of the data—including what exactly is or isn't "nothing"? Those questions are all answered through the use of philosophy.

We'll unpack this in more detail in the Science chapter. But for now, the main point is that science is done more in the mind than the lab. Think about all the philosophical judgments a scientist must make throughout the scientific process of making a hypothesis, gathering data, and then interpreting that data. Nature doesn't develop or evaluate hypotheses. It doesn't gather or interpret data. And data certainly doesn't interpret itself. The mind of the scientist does, and all that requires philosophy. (Perhaps that's why the "Ph" in PhD stands for "philosophy." The originators of advanced degrees knew that philosophy is the foundation of every area of inquiry.)

If you abandon good philosophy, you end up with bad science. And if you disdain all philosophy, as Krauss and company tend to do, then you put yourself in the self-defeating position of holding a philosophy that disdains all philosophy. As Etienne Gilson said, "Philosophy always buries its undertakers." Indeed, you can't get away from philosophy. It's like logic. To deny it is to use it.

C. S. Lewis famously wrote, "Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered." Krauss and his colleagues think they are dispensing with philosophy, when in fact they are actually using bad philosophy. They are modern-day examples of Einstein's observation that "the man of science is a poor philosopher."

In the end, despite the lofty promises of his book's title, Dr. Krauss explains nothing about the ultimate origin of the universe. Nothing can't create anything because, as Aristotle put it, "nothing is what rocks dream about." Unless some powerful agent intervenes, the ancient maxim still stands: out of nothing, nothing comes.

But there's still another argument Dr. Krauss provides to dispense with God. Unfortunately for him, if his argument proves successful, Dr. Krauss would wind up dispensing with himself. Let's take a look.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Stealing from God by Frank Turek. Copyright © 2014 Frank Turek. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword vii

Introduction: Is It a Wonderful Life? xi

1 Causality: No One Created Something Out of Nothing? 1

2 Reason: Bad Religion or Bad Reason? 29

3 Information & Intentionality: In Him All Things Hold Together 55

4 Morality: Stealing Rights from God 87

5 Evil: Does Evil Disprove Atheism? 115

6 Science: Science Doesn't Say Anything, Scientists Do 145

7 The Four-Point Case for Mere Christianity 177

8 Conclusion: God Will Not Force You into Heaven Against Your Will 211

Acknowledgments 229

Endnotes 231

Index 255

About the Author 270

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Stealing from God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Danny_G More than 1 year ago
*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. Does God exist? This question has been asked by millions of people and has also caused some heated debates. Many people have wrestled with this question and have let their opinions be made known. Among these people are atheists who will answer the question with an emphatic NO! They then give their reasons/arguments for the non-existence of God and some even resort to belittling those who do not agree. However, what if atheists, while trying to reason against God, are actually giving reason to believe in God? This is the question that Frank Turek addresses in his book Stealing from God. While is it impossible to scientifically prove God (faith is required) there are items that point to God and must be overlooked to assume there is no God. For example, someone will say that killing animals is wrong. From where does this person get their moral sense of right and wrong? If God does not exist then it comes from within. However, that would also mean that the hunter who kills believes that what he is doing is right. Both would say that it is right for them to believe as they do. Which one is right? With no source of ethics, both of them are and both are wrong. Yet, if there is a source of ethics, a source that gives right and wrong, should not we follow it? That source is God and He has given us directions on how to live. Atheists cannot accepted God but use methods that come from Him to disprove Him. Thus, as Turek lays out, they steal from God. A fascinating book and one that must be read by those who are in a non-Christian college. It will give great aid to answer questions that are not easy to explain and will serve well to those who find themselves desiring answers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been a student of religious philosophy since college, became a Christian at age 45, attended seminary at the graduate level, am a skilled attorney of 38 years, and at age 62 am an award winning award of a Christian book related to marriage. Turek's book is by far the BEST summary in support of Christianity. I really do not know how any atheist or agnostic could venture to deny Christ as Savior after reading Turek's book. C.S. Lewis' book, Mere Christianity, is what helped me turn to Christ after reading it repeatedly over 25 years but Turek's book would have gotten me there much sooner if it had been written earlier. If you have loved ones who have yet to turn to Christ, this is a MUST BUY. I just purchased 5 more copies to give out and am sure I will be buying more!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is another excellent book written by Frank Turek.  I found chapter 5 on “Evil” to be very interesting and insightful. I you have an interest in Christian apologetics, add this book to your must read list. You will be glad you did!
GCWineholt More than 1 year ago
STEALING FROM GOD Why Atheists Need God To Make Their Case By Frank Turek Stealing from God shows how many atheists try to disprove God existence end up proving His existence. The author uses C-R-I-M-E-S for his lay out of chapters. C – Causality R – Reason I - Information & Intentionality M – Morality E – Evil S - Science The four-point case for mere Christianity The author shares debates and arguments that have taken place between atheists and theists. The arguments, on all subjects, are covered in each of the above-mentioned chapters. Whichever side you want to agree with, you will find something of interest. (The science arguments get deep and I found it a little hard to follow at times, then I am not a scientist.) Many questions are asked and answered; the author proves his point of the book that the atheists need God to make their case. His last chapter titled Conclusion, which states that God will not force you into heaven against your will. I will end with the thought; Why, if the atheists do not believe in God, do they work so had to prove He doesn't exist? I received this book free from the Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255