The Case for a Creator: Angry Hillbillies

The Case for a Creator, Chapter 1

The first chapter of Case opens with an anecdote from Strobel’s days as a journalist for the Chicago Tribune, a story from the 1970s when he went to West Virginia to cover a story of rural communities rioting over evolutionary content in their schools’ textbooks. In some cases that anger had spilled over into open violence, with angry locals shooting at school buses or firebombing classrooms, and at least two people had been seriously injured.

Like many apologists, Strobel loves to proclaim that he was once an atheist and hardened skeptic of Christianity, though he offers little evidence for this other than his own word. In keeping with this depiction, when discussing his past, he never misses a chance to give himself lines like this:

“Crazy stuff in West Virginia,” [Strobel's editor] said. “People getting shot at, schools getting bombed – all because some hillbillies are mad about the textbooks being used in the schools.”

…”Christians, huh?” I said. “So much for loving their neighbors. And not being judgmental.” [p.8]

He later writes that when he attended an anti-evolution rally in rural Campbell’s Creek and was recognized as a reporter, the crowd turned ugly and he was in real fear of physical harm: “my knees were shaking” [p.14]. He was ultimately permitted to stay, but only because he convinced them that he would be fair in his reporting. The undoubtable implication is that he might indeed have been assaulted if the crowd had not trusted him to give their side a sympathetic portrayal.

What’s interesting is that Strobel never returns to these incidents, or draws any lessons from them. He never even explicitly condemns the violence, other than the extremely mild statement quoted above. No, the worst thing he says (in keeping with his portrait of himself as a former atheist) is that he thought at the time that Christianity was a “dinosaur” and “an archaic belief system”.

It’s reactions like this that make me suspect Strobel’s claim of past atheism was fabricated or, at least, greatly exaggerated. Any sensible atheist, when hearing about angry creationists rioting and blowing up schools, would offer criticisms much stronger than calling this behavior “fringe superstition”, as he does. “Violently irrational” or “terrorist lunatics” would be much better terms, at least to start with. But Strobel shies away from offering any such sharp criticism. Rather than criticize the violence itself, the worst thing he has to say is that these beliefs are old and outdated.

It seems likely that he does this because people like these are his intended audience, and it would not do to anger them with pointed condemnations of their behavior. If anything, he comes perilously close to implying that their reactions were justified, as we’ll see in the next post. Rather, his criticism is all of the “isn’t Christianity old and out of touch” variety, provided so his readers can cheer when he dramatically sweeps it away in the following chapters. Accurately pointing out that these beliefs do not justify violence would not be such a convenient strawman for dismissal.

Other posts in this series:

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • Richie

    I have to say it does get under my skin when Christian apologists claim to be former atheists. The implication clearly being that they then saw the light and realised the error of their ways before coming to religion.

    Though I don’t really doubt their claims that they were atheists, I suspect it was simply that they never really thought about religion. Many people today are brought up without having religion thrust on them as children (more so in Europe than America, as far as I can gather, but even so) and are therefore atheists by default. They simply avoid or switch off when faced with theological issues. Such people may still be intellectually vulnerable to being seduced by religion. If the only criticisms Strobel had of Christianity was that is was ‘archaic’ or a ‘dinosaur’, then I suspect he was one of them.

    Though it would be extremely impractical, I wish we could draw a distinction between atheists who are so because they never bothered to consider religion, and atheists who have considered religion and found it flawed. I rather suspect very few of the latter group of atheists have suddenly seen the light and repented their Godless ways. Once you consider how flawed any particular religion, or indeed the whole God hypothesis is, you are unlikely to suddenly realise that actually, maybe those tribal, culturally specific religions actually DO contain genuine spiritual insight.

    I’m sure this point has been made before, and put slightly better too…

  • http://superstitionfree.blogspot.com Robert Madewell

    If Strobel was once an atheist, how can any christian trust him?

    Psalms 14:1 says that atheists are fools and can do nothing good. So, Strobel is probably still an atheist. He’s just pretending to be a convert so he can make lots of money writing books and psuedo-documentaries.

    Seriously, I don’t doubt one bit that he was an atheist. To say that he wasn’t a real atheist would be commiting the same fallacy that many christians commit when they say that ex-christians weren’t real christians in the first place. I think I agree with Richie. Strobel was probably a second generation atheist who had never really given it a thought up until he “got saved.”

  • http://foreverinhell.blogspot.com Personal Failure

    I agree with Richie. I suspect most “former atheists” are really former “unaffiliateds”: they never really thought about it one way or the other, had some fuzzy creator belief, and were not atheists.

    I’m not saying atheists never convert to theism, but atheists are a very small portion of the US, and I find it statistically impossible that every convert to christianity “used to be an atheist like [me]“.

    I also find it suspicious that these people who “used to be an atheist like [me]” have no idea what I belief or don’t believe or what I think of christianity. Not all atheists are alike (herding cats!), but we do share some common ground, and these converts seem never to have walked upon it.

  • NoAstronomer

    Interesting analysis, I may have to procure a copy of this book. To add a little to the discussion about whether Strobel was a ‘real’ atheist I don’t think that that text of the book really sheds any light on his past convictions. The book only really indicates Strobel’s state of mind when he wrote it. His recollection, and description, of the events is tainted by his internal need to rationalize his memories.

    On the basis of the scene you’ve described I’ll consider the existence of angry hillbillies as evidence against a divine creator. People that shoot at school buses because of the school curriculum are clearly not the product of any rational design process. Next.

  • http://atimetorend.wordpress.com atimetorend

    There are people all over the continuum on both sides, and I think it can miss the point somewhat to categorize people’s decisions like, “not really a former atheist.” I would think of it more as a person being less intellectually committed to or knowledgeable of the prior position.

    When I converted to christianity, it would have been more like Lee Strobel’s example, and it would have been somewhat parallel had I stated I was a “former atheist” at that time (and in all honesty, I may have). I simply was younger and hadn’t thought through or experienced life all that much, so changing position didn’t imply as much. My becoming an ex-christian is much more significant because my positions have been thought through a lot more. But for every ex-christian like that, there is an ex-christian who grew up a nominal christian, believing what they were taught for the most part, but not really thinking about it. And I am willing to venture that most of those more “shallow” (for lack of a better word) ex-christians are younger as well.

    The problem in Strobel’s case is that he is writing a book as an older, and hopefully more mature, person, and is still using the “former atheist” line to gain credibility with his audience. In which case it sounds, and probably is, disingenuous.

  • HL

    If Strobel had never considered God’s existence one way or another, wouldn’t it be more correct to call him an agnostic? Literally, a “don’t-knower”?

  • Polly

    Apatheist turned theist.
    I lost count in the “Case for Faith” how many times he attributed his atheism to the desire to lead a sinful lifestyle without acountability. No “real atheist”, by definition, can think that way!

  • Christopher

    I lost count in the “Case for Faith” how many times he attributed his atheism to the desire to lead a sinful lifestyle without acountability.

    But what is “sin” if one does not believe in a power that defines the concept of “sin” into existence (i.e. “god”)? This kind of argument is like saying that one converts to Christianity to escape karma – it’s a complete non sequitor as there is no concept of karma in Christianity, just as Atheists don’t recognize any concept of “sin.”

    Seeing the inconsistency of his claims calls into question whether he is anything more than con man seeking to fleece the ignorant fools of their money and laugh all the way to the bank…

  • Charles

    In your comments, and many of those who are posting, I continue to see syntax such as “I suspect…” and “it seems likely…” Are these not conjectures on the part of those posting? While I am not prepared to insinuate that the book gives clear proof of Strobel’s past position as an atheist, it certainly does not follow that the absence of evidence is proof that he was not. In most circles, I believe that an argument from silence is considered absurd.

    I might add that I would argue your implication that Strobel is a “leading” Christian apologist. While he might make that claim, the material that he has produced seems to be more marginal in scope. Don’t misunderstand me- he certainly has an agenda that he is promoting. That said, I would have to say that he is only a marginal apologist, (having heard many better arguments), and that he is, at best, a fair author.

    Finally, let me say that whether Strobel was an atheist or not has little to do with the validity of his current arguments. If there is validity to his thesis, then where he came from may well be irrelevant. If there is no validity to his claims, then his past is most certainly irrelevant.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    While I am not prepared to insinuate that the book gives clear proof of Strobel’s past position as an atheist, it certainly does not follow that the absence of evidence is proof that he was not.

    Hence the reason that you see people saying, “I suspect,” or “It seems likely.” In the absence of proof, people are putting forth ideas and not trying to pass them off as fact. I don’t see the problem here.

    Finally, let me say that whether Strobel was an atheist or not has little to do with the validity of his current arguments. If there is validity to his thesis, then where he came from may well be irrelevant. If there is no validity to his claims, then his past is most certainly irrelevant.

    I agree with you that his having been or not been an atheist before has little to do with the arguments that he presents, and I’d venture to say that no one here would dispute that (unless he is cynically preying upon Xians in an effort to fleece the rubes, so to speak). It is, however, a curiosity that so many apologists claim to have been atheists, which goes against the statistical evidence that we do have.

  • nfpendleton

    Remember in the Bill Maher movie Religulous when the holy-roller trucker claimed to be a former satanic priest? Yeah, my BS-O-Meter is going off again.

    But again, people are weird animals. And stranger things have happened.

    @ Polly: “I lost count in the “Case for Faith” how many times he attributed his atheism to the desire to lead a sinful lifestyle without acountability. No “real atheist”, by definition, can think that way!”

    This seems to be a framing technique he’s employed completely for the sake of his audiences, because I agree with you that it’s silly beyond belief. Except that I really am a moustache-twirling “Bwah-ha-ha!” evil atheist.

  • Charles

    First, let me apologize to Ebon for mistaking his original post. I mentioned that I would argue that Strobel is a “leading” apologist, however, that was never posted. The word used was “popular.” Interesting word, although I’m not sure what measuring tool is being used here. I suppose everyone is popular to someone.

    Regarding the rebuttal to my statement by OMGF; I could’nt agree more. You have clearly pointed out that there is an absence of proof regarding the assumptions. It was my understanding that the discussion would center around the presentation by Strobel, as it relates to the argument for Creation. As a former police officer, it always seemed amusing to me that in many court cases there is little argument over whether a crime was committed or not. Many times, the defense avoids that subject, because they know the truth. Instead, they spend the majority of their time trying to convince the audience, (the jury), that those making the accusations are not creditworthy. If they can convince the peers that there is a chink in the armor of credibility, they may very well have the case thrown out- despite the fact that a crime was really committed.

    Sorry for the rambling- my point is that attacking Strobel’s credibility as an atheist really has little to do with whether the origin of the universe was by chance or by intelligent design.

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    Sorry for the rambling- my point is that attacking Strobel’s credibility as an atheist really has little to do with whether the origin of the universe was by chance or by intelligent design.

    It does go towards his credibility, however. Also, if he is making false claims, well, there’s no reason not to deal with them, even if they don’t talk about his supposed evidence for a creator.

    I would stick around, because I know that Ebon will do a pretty thorough job, and as he mentioned in a previous post, he’ll probably devote multiple posts to each chapter. As I don’t know what is in the first chapter, I can only assume that if he does post some arguments for a creator, that Ebon will deal with them in subsequent posts.

    BTW, chance vs. design is a false dichotomy, but that’s another topic.

  • Charles

    Thank you for your correction, and I would agree that chance vs. design is a false premise. That’s what happens when you type beyond thinking deeply! Your comments are very kind, and I am looking forward to subsequent posts.

    As a Christian, I believe in the marketplace of free ideas, and, if we cannot support our claims, we should be willing to accept that fact and continue to pursue the truth. It is my belief, however, that the claims made by the Christian gospel will stand. Unfortunately, I am not so sure that Lee Strobel would classify as a “true apologetic.” Thank you, again, for your fair treatment of my comments.

  • Polly

    Remember in the Bill Maher movie Religulous when the holy-roller trucker claimed to be a former satanic priest? Yeah, my BS-O-Meter is going off again.

    Oh, totally! Just what was his definition of a Satanist, anyway? All he mentioned was boozing and womanizing. Some Xians equate an immoral lifestyle with being controlled by Satan and then proceed to take a major rhetorical leap. I cannot say for sure, but, yeah, my BS-meter was going off, too. (Actually, my BS-meter went of on all sides in that entertaining “documentary”)

    I prefer to stroke my chin hairs while squinting menacingly.

  • http://atimetorend.wordpress.com atimetorend

    Charles, this particular book by Lee Strobel is a very widely distributed and cited book by Christians. No matter what the merits of the book as an apologetic, it cannot be denied it is an influential book in certain Christian circles. Based on those criteria, I believe the premise that Strobel writes under, that of having been a former atheist, is very relevant to this discussion.

  • nfpendleton

    @ Charles: “It is my belief, however, that the claims made by the Christian gospel will stand.”

    This is why I don’t argue with religious people – the mind, it would seem, is already made up.

    If I was to offer a rebuttal, though, it would go something like this, “I know that the collection and scientific analysis of the data will continue to illuminate our understanding of how life, the universe, and everything work. I know this – not believe it – because it has proven to be true. Religious scriptures and their interpreters cannot make that claim.”

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    That seems just a tad harsh nfpendleton. Although what you say may be entirely correct, that Charles may not be open to evidence, it’s a little early to accuse him of it.

    He wouldn’t be a Xian if he didn’t think the gospels “stand.” Stating one’s belief isn’t bad, it’s adherence to that belief in the face of counter-evidence that is bad, and so far he has not done that.

  • nfpendleton

    To Richie’s first point: To be an atheist means to be without a supernatural belief system – either through default, experience, ignorance, or study. The question should probably be whether or not he was a Humanist, a Freethinker, or just a-religious.

    I’ve always hated “atheist,” because it’s describing yourself by what you’re NOT. I’m also a-sickness, which is pretty meaningless. Am I a doctor trying to cure disease, or do I just hate to get a cold? There’s quite a spectrum there.

  • DemonHype

    From the start, I try to avoid the “No True Scotsman” and assume that, when someone speaks about their beliefs or former beliefs, they are telling the truth.

    Right up until a “former atheist” starts talking about how they know from personal experience that atheists are: satanists, serial killers, really-just-believers-in-denial-who-want-to-continue-with-the-orgies, etc. Just like if a “former Catholic” claimed that he knows from personal experience that Communion is where Catholics eat the flesh and drink the blood of kidnapped Jewish babies. Or a “former Jew” claiming to know from personal experience that Jews kidnap Christian children to sacrifice in their Jewish religous rites.

    It’s okay to take someone’s word for it involving subjects of such a internal nature, but when they start saying things that are completely off-the-wall and/or obviously non-representative of the group in question. (especially when they either imply or assert that their alleged situation is typical of all atheists, Catholics, etc) At that point, it’s no longer a “No True Scotsman”.

    Observe, however, no sane person would accept the above claims about Jews or Catholics, whereas any negative claim made about atheists tends to be believed by a majority of people wholeheartedly. Which is why atheistic visibility is so necessary, as well as open discussion about claims of former atheism. I would say that there is some relevance in discussing the nature of Strobels’ former atheism, esp. since he is such a widely-read apologist.

    I also agree with many commenters who claim that many (most?) former atheists were marginal or nominal Christians or apatheists, which has been my experience. Much like how the claims of “mom had cancer and she prayed so now she’s better” turn out to be more like “mom had cancer and she got chemo so now she’s better, but that part of the story doesn’t confirm my beliefs so I pretend it didn’t happen”. Lots of misunderstanding of definitions, selective memory and, of course, the inevitable omissions of certain crucial facts, deliberate or non-deliberate. A little pressing for details can be very helpful. :P

  • Charles

    nfpendleton, your criticism is duly noted, although your statements seem to indicate that your mind is already made up as well. That being the case, I don’t mind engaging in this marketplace of ideas.

    Concerning your statement, “I know that the collection and scientific analysis of the data will continue to illuminate our understanding of how life, the universe, and everything work. I know this – not believe it – because it has proven to be true…”

    Logic will determine that this statement is flawed. You state that you have knowledge of what the future will reveal, since scientific analysis has been proven true. This cannot be. To know is to have experienced. Since the revelations of science, or anything else, have not yet happened, it is illogical to say that you know this. The fact that you believe, however, is most logical. You are basing your hope and faith for the future in what has happened to this point. Evidently, you are a man of faith after all :)

  • Charles

    Let me correct my last post, and amend it to say a “person” of faith. Sorry for the gender assumption.

  • Erika

    On the topic of evaluating a person’s past beliefs based on their currenr claims about that past belief.

    I have recently been reading the book “Mistakes Were made But Not By Me” by authors whose names are escaping me. The authors point out that people have a great ability and a great cognitive need to reduce cognitive dissonance. Memories are not recorded; they are reconstructed, and the process of remembering will reconstruct memories in a way that is consistent with your current self image.

    If you think you are largely the same person you were 10 years ago, you will remember your past behaviors as consistent with your current beliefs. I like to think that I have always been something of a skeptice, but independent evidence such as the books I read and journal entries indicate that this was not always the case.

    If, like Strobel, you believe you have profoundly changed over time you will do the opposite. You will filter your memories of the past through your present beliefs. Strobel views his past as an atheists as he views atheists now.

    The upshot of this is that we cannot tell the sincerity of Strobel’s past beliefs based on what he says about them now because he cannot judge the sincerity of his past beliefs.

  • mikespeir

    If, like Strobel, you believe you have profoundly changed over time you will do the opposite. You will filter your memories of the past through your present beliefs. Strobel views his past as an atheists as he views atheists now.

    Good point, Erika. And I have to admit that I’m constantly battling that the other way around. If I’m not careful, I find myself reconstructing my reasons for deconverting. While I probably do, in fact, reconstruct a bit even so, I think I’ve got a leg up on the thing because I recognize my tendency toward reconstruction and try to keep an eye open for it.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/daylightatheism Ebonmuse

    As I don’t know what is in the first chapter, I can only assume that if he does post some arguments for a creator, that Ebon will deal with them in subsequent posts.

    As I go through the book, I’ll be responding to Strobel’s arguments in the order he presents them. The first two chapters, before dealing with any scientific evidence, are mainly devoted to outlining what Strobel sees as the undesirable social consequences of evolution, so my review will deal with them first.

  • Pi Guy

    Is it just me or does it seem as though Charles is just about to go troll?

    Ever been to WallBuilders.com, Charles?

  • http://www.whyihatejesus.blogspot.com/ OMGF

    The fact that you believe, however, is most logical. You are basing your hope and faith for the future in what has happened to this point. Evidently, you are a man of faith after all :)

    There’s a world of difference between having faith in an omni-max creator that willed all of this into existence and using scientific knowledge to determine the sun will indeed rise tomorrow morning or that our knowledge levels will continue to increase.

  • http://spaninquis.wordpress.com/ Spanish Inquisitor

    Logic will determine that this statement is flawed. You state that you have knowledge of what the future will reveal, since scientific analysis has been proven true.

    ummmm…That’s not what he said, Charles. Read what you quoted.

    “I know that the collection and scientific analysis of the data will continue to illuminate our understanding of how life, the universe, and everything work. I know this – not believe it – because it has proven to be true…”

    All he (she) said was that he knows that science will continue to “illuminate ” our knowledge of reality, not that he knows what that reality is. He IS correct. Science will do that. What that illumination will reveal, however, is not presently known.

    Is it just me or does it seem as though Charles is just about to go troll?

    If your definition of troll is someone who injects themselves in the argument by misstating others, then proceeding to knock down those misstatements, then, yes, he’s getting close.

  • Charles

    It appears that my input into this particular conversation is evidently not welcome. So, I will withdraw. It is my sincere hope that your discussion sheds light on the truth, and I wish you the best in your endeavors. A good day to you all!

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Charles,

    As a former police officer, it always seemed amusing to me that in many court cases there is little argument over whether a crime was committed or not. Many times, the defense avoids that subject, because they know the truth. Instead, they spend the majority of their time trying to convince the audience, (the jury), that those making the accusations are not creditworthy. If they can convince the peers that there is a chink in the armor of credibility, they may very well have the case thrown out- despite the fact that a crime was really committed.

    Well-said, although I don’t have any knowledge on whether this phenomenon is motivating the credibility concerns here. Further, I’m betting you noticed, but this is exactly the same strategy some commenters are using fallaciously against you, which suggests that name-calling and crying troll are apparently still mistaken for cogency around here.

    On the other hand, I have to say I think your rebuttal to nfpendleton didn’t work out so well. But I do respect your reasoned dissent.

  • barnetto

    I was just thinking, what does Strobel think an atheist is? Does he think that an atheist is someone who is just angry at god? Knows in his heart that god exists but wants to act however they want? If he thinks any of the above is the correct definition, then maybe that’s why he says he used to be an atheist.

  • jo

    I’ve certainly run the risk of becoming an “ex-atheist” before, and if it had occurred I think I would have been fully justified in using that term. I’d given the existence of god a lot of thought and felt pretty confident about atheism, but I definitely didn’t have a fully developed worldview that I felt morally & spiritually comfortable with. That left me pretty philosophically vulnerable, and there’s a lot more people hawking religious philosophies out there than other kinds.

    It seems like we conflate atheism and secular humanism often here. Atheist doesn’t really mean all that much.

  • crabpeople

    The whole “I used to be an atheist” thing is definitely a suspicious statement, mostly because it seems like every other Christian apologist “used to be an atheist/agnostic.”

    Back in ’04 I told a guy I graduated high school with (who can accurately be labeled a right-wing fundamentalist Christian) that I’d become agnostic (formerly Baptist) and he said something to the effect of “I went through my agnostic phase my first year of college. In the end it only made my faith stronger.” It’s like a defense, a way for them to pre-emptively dismiss anything critical you have to say about their religious beliefs because, you know, they’ve been there and done that. Doubt was no match for their faith. “Nothing you can say will change my mind.” When worded like my former classmate worded it, it’s also a little condescending. Like, being agnostic was only going to be a temporary “phase” on my way to the Ultimate Truth™.

    I think most of the time (not always, of course…I happen to work with someone who grew up without religion and later became a devout Mormon) it’s more a weak defense or copout than it is a sincere statement.

  • Steve

    Most hilarious blog ever. Atheists trumpet that atheism is nothing more than a lack of belief in God but when a Christian apologist doesn’t react in the way you think an atheist should they’re deceptive. What nonsense is this?

  • Alex, FCD

    Atheists trumpet that atheism is nothing more than a lack of belief in God…

    You’ve got a better definition? “Trumpet” is an interesting choice of words. I don’t think I’ve ever had cause to ‘trumpet’ anything that can be read in a dictionary.

    …but when a Christian apologist doesn’t react in the way you think an atheist should[,] they’re deceptive.

    The problem isn’t that Strobel’s reactions to the violence are unbecoming of an atheist, it’s that they’re unbecoming of a human being. “Violent riots, you say. What a quaint fringe superstition.” is not a sentence that gets much used by anybody, which is why his account of these events doesn’t ring true. He may or may not have been an atheist in the past, but the fact that he almost certainly did not react in the way he says he did to the textbook riots is grounds for suspicion.

  • http://thewarfareismental.typepad.com cl

    Steve,

    Most hilarious blog ever. Atheists trumpet that atheism is nothing more than a lack of belief in God but when a Christian apologist doesn’t react in the way you think an atheist should they’re deceptive. What nonsense is this?

    YES, and they fancy this “freethought…” I also find it hilarious, and thank you for your candid criticism.

  • ex machina

    Most hilarious blog ever. Atheists trumpet that atheism is nothing more than a lack of belief in God but when a Christian apologist doesn’t react in the way you think an atheist should they’re deceptive. What nonsense is this?

    Atheists, like all other human beings, are free to and do speculate on things. We are not hyper-rational robots incapable of inductive thought.

    I think Strobel attracts suspicion because, in my opinion, his arguments lack creativity. When I read The Case for Christ, I didn’t find much more than standard apologetics. That’s not wrong or bad in and of itself, but to me the arguments were standard enough that I was surprised Strobel hadn’t already been exposed to these arguments (and, therefore, been swayed by them). But, of course, I don’t consider that conclusive, it’s just something I think about whenever I hear about Strobel. It doesn’t surprise me that others feel the same way and are commenting on it.

  • Polly

    We are not hyper-rational robots incapable of inductive thought.

    Exactly. Perhaps the “free” in “freethought” has escaped their attention. I don’t have to back up every whim or suspicion with regards to minor issues of personality with an annotated treatise just because when it comes to making up my mind about MAJOR, LIFE-DECISIONS I do, in fact, prefer evidence.

    The guy’s claims of atheism ring hollow for me based on a hunch, instinct, experience with other atheists, whatever you want to call it. But, so what? I may very well be wrong. My judgment has no meaning beyond the realm of the personal and certainly hasn’t cost Strobel any book sales. And they were my dimes and time that went into his books.

  • http://inthenuts.blogspot.com King Aardvark

    Based on my experience, I’d lean to thinking that he was likely an atheist of some sort, just not the same atheist as you and me. While I was at an Alpha Course (introduction to Christianity) I met several people who had just become Christians during the course. They came in already positively interested in Christianity – certainly not grizzled and cynical towards religion like me. After officially becoming Christians, they are either told or simply assume that what they were before was “atheist,” which is technically correct, even they were more apatheist than anything else, and I doubt they even knew what an atheist was before they attended Alpha.

    So, yeah, Strobel probably was an atheist of this type at some point; however, he’s taken it to a whole ‘nother level with his “atheism so I can lead a sinful lifestyle” thing. In Case for a Creator, not only does he say it repeatedly, many of his interview subjects state this about themselves as well. Now, it could be as Erika says, where they are viewing their past selves in light of their current outlook, but I wouldn’t discount the pure shyster explanation either.

    Strobel was highly recommended as a leading apologist by the group leader at the Alpha Course I attended.

    Btw, I initially started my blog years ago with the intent of reviewing Case for a Creator when I, like Ebon, noted that there was little out there skeptical about it (except for Doland’s thing). That never took off because I couldn’t force myself to wade through the stupid a second time. Once was plenty.

  • http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Personally, I’m only an Atheist (capitalized, ’cause it’s a religion) because I enjoy the drinking and debauchery, whether employed sequentially or simultaneously. Professing non-belief in the God that I secretly believe in and hate helps me to delude myself into believing that I will avoid being judged by the Creator and Judge who created and will judge me. I also pretend to be smart and elitist because the Bible calls Atheists fools, and I hate God’s Word, and I had a bad experience in church, and the answers provided for, say, the Problem of Evil didn’t make sense to me because I was too busy rebelling with my drinking and debauchery.

    That out of the way, the question of Strobel’s type of atheism isn’t the problem, so much as it’s problematic, as it lead to loading a “skeptics” book with distinctly non-skeptical (William Lane Craig’s “infallible witness of the Holy Spirit” is pretty much the antonym “skepticism”), most if not all of whom are speaking of subjects wildly out of their expertise (yes, experts can be wrong. No, that’s not a valid reason to ignore people who know what they’re talking about).

    Now, if you will excuse me, I have an appointment to use my relative morality to corrupt those around me. If there is time, I might visit Planned Parenthood to get this month’s abortion or deface the Ten Commandment monument down at the courthouse. Moo ha-ha!

  • http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    I think that it’s safe to say that his atheism was based on ignorance (not in the pejorative sense). That he takes Wells’ arguments against “Darwinism” at face value should tell you that he didn’t know much about evolution, and what he did know was wrong.

  • Ludicrecious

    I have not read any of Strobel’s apologetics, but I did watch the video of “A Case for Christ”.

    In that video, Strobel states that his atheism was causing marital difficulties because his spouse was a devout Christian.

    Also, he made one point that I felt was a slam-dunk AGAINST the Christ myth, but he felt was helping his “case”. He claimed that, according to some college level math students, the odds of all of the biblical prophesies that Christ supposedly fulfilled was 1 out of

    10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000
    00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

    (There should be 156 zeros).

    What do you suppose the odds are that the new testament writers actually manufactured all those claims?

  • http://www.croonersunlimited.com Jim Speiser

    What do you suppose the odds are that the new testament writers actually manufactured all those claims?

    Probably not as good as the odds that someone just made up that number to begin with. But no matter, I’ll go with it.

  • Andrew

    I think its ironic when athiests claim that athiests have a diversity of views and thus we cant paint them with a broad brush(yet will ignore Christians when we say the same thing), yet when somebody claims to have been an athiest and expresses something they disagree with, they accuse him of deception.

    I do agree with most of what’s been posted here though, that Stroble was probably raised in an athiestic/agnostic household, instead of de-converting from another religion. Mainly because his journey of faith sounds similar to the way I came to believe(with a major difference, I explored most all mainstream religions, he apparently only examined Chrisitanity).

    But even if thats the case: how does that make him not a ‘true athiest.’ Isnt the only requirment to be an athiest to not believe in god(s)? I find it hard to believe that anybody reading his stateemnts can come to the conclusion he believed in some sort of divine being.

  • Kacy Ray

    First of all, ALL christians (and theists) are converts from atheism because we are not born with religious beliefs. For anyone to claim they converted to theism from atheism is a rhetorical and useless statement.

    But more to the point, atheism is not a belief system. To term someone an “atheist” only speaks of what they don’t believe – it says nothing about what they do believe. That’s why I am careful not to identify myself as an atheist (although I am one). Instead, I identify myself as an “advocate of reason”. It makes no sense to identify ourselves in terms of what we don’t believe.

    I am an advocate of reason, and a firm opponent of faith. I don’t know if there is a single word which encapsulates that particular belief system, but if there is, that’s what I am. I’d be astonished to hear of someone who *advocates reason and opposes faith* converting to christianity.

    But saying “I was an atheist, now I believe in god” says nothing. Claiming to be a former atheist does NOT identify what his belief system was, or if he even had any at all, prior to his conversion to christianity. If his belief system was based on anything other than reason as a primary absolute, it is no surprise that he eventually converted.

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