Questions for Lee Strobel

Lee Strobel, the atheist-turned-Christian author of such books as The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, and The Case for Easter, has offered to answer questions from this site’s readers.

Feel free to leave your questions in the comments and I’ll pass along as many as I can to him.


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • http://www.drzach.net Zachary Moore

    Lee-

    I’ve heard you speak in person, and a lot of weight in your testimony is based on your life as a former atheist. However, I’ve never heard you talk at length about what kind of an atheist you were, or what kind of thought process brought you to atheism. Do you see any differences among atheists today and the kind of atheist that you were before becoming a Christian? I’m specifically interested in how your story compares to mine, as I was a Christian initially and later became an atheist after conducting my own investigation into the facts and evidence. Thanks!

  • http://merelyadequate.net MonolithTMA

    What a wonderful opportunity! Thanks!

    Lee-

    So many Christians seem to think that Atheist = Amoral and that Atheists live lives of debauchery, not to say that you hold that opinion, but why do you think so many Christians have this misconception?

  • http://personman.com Danny

    You say that the time between Jesus and the first gospel account (about 40 years) is too short for legends to have arose. But don’t email chain letters, cargo cults, scientology and mormonism show that people can buy into something that’s obviously false in a very short amount of time?

  • http://myangrylittleblog.blogspot.com Phillip

    I know this is a great opportunity, but it’s hard to give Strobel the respect to ask him any significant questions. All I’ve seen from him is bias in his books that belies his journalistic credentials, and it’s great to hear him parrot the “Christians are good and atheists are amoral” line. I can’t think of anything I’d ask him other than “Why the dumb, dude? Why the dumb?”

    It’s hard to believe he’s really an “atheist-turned-Christian”, especially an “atheist-turned-Christian-megachurch-pastor”.

    I’ll echo Zachary: Let’s hear your story. How’d you become an atheist, how much effort did you take to sophisticate your thoughts, and how’d you then become a Christian?

  • Ron in Houston

    Lee-

    There are a number of historians who wrote during the time of Jesus. Some like Philo were in the area at the same time as Christ. If the life of Jesus made such an impact why is it that the vast majority of historians during that time don’t mention Jesus?

  • http://unorthodoxatheism.blogspot.com Reed Braden

    What lead you specifically to Christianity rather than Islam, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism or a generic Deism? It seems that most converts in the US convert to Christianity and most converts in India convert to Hinduism. Is this just a coincidence? Would you have found Muhammed rather than Jesus if you lived in Saudi Arabia?

  • http://www.theinfinityprogram.com Kevin

    Mr. Strobel–

    In your book, The Case For Christ, you quote a section of an essay by Jeffery Jew Lowder. Mr Lowder says this shows that you “visited the Secular Web” and that “while journalists normally identify their sources, Strobel neither provided the URL for that essay nor mentioned the author’s name.” He calls this a failure of your journalism. (I got this from his “Review of Lee Strobel THE CASE FOR CHRIST“, specifically under “Part III: ‘Researching the Resurrection’”, “(b) Evidence of the Missing Body”.) I was wondering why you didn’t source him?

    Also, more interestingly, Mr. Lowder had this to say about the chance to have you comment on his review: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/strobel2.html What say you?

    Regards,

    Mark

  • http://personman.com Danny

    I think one of your books says that the early followers of Jesus wouldn’t have given their lives for the movement if they knew that it was false. Some of the early Mormons, including Joseph Smith, died for what they believed and they should have known better. Isn’t it possible that people are just that gullible?

  • Beth

    Why does god never heal amputees?

    (If you claim the contrary, please provide documentation.)

  • Jonathan

    It is sad that many discussions/questions about Jesus of Nazareth today are often removed from the history of humankind that preceded his birth. We often forget that we live within an ever-progressing story of humankind; we isolate ourselves, our own stories and we look for rational reasons to believe things, ignoring a history of human need and longing.

    Lee, in writing your books, did you ever feel that you were answering questions that could seem overdone – i.e. why did you feel the need to write this book about a rational case for Jesus?

  • http://badidea.wordpress.com Bad

    Mr. Strobel: some accounts of the murder of OJ Simpson’s wife have him killing her, and another an unknown assailant coming in stabbing her. Wouldn’t you agree that, by the logic you use to approach apparent contradictions in the Bible (such as who carried the cross, whether the thieves defended or cursed Jesus on the cross), that the only thing that could possibly have happened was the OJ stabbed his wife and her friend, and then a second assailant came in later and also stabbed them? If the stories don’t mix, then this we must fix!

  • http://groundedinreality.blogspot.com Bruce

    Lee Strobel, the atheist-turned-Christian author

    Well then, he must not have been a “True Atheist” :-)

  • http://merelyadequate.net MonolithTMA

    @ Bruce

    Comment of the day. ;)

  • http://fideism.googlepages.com fideism

    To Lee Strobel:

    Thank you for this opportunity to question you. I read the Case for Christ as I began to question my faith. But to tell the truth, your book hasted my departure from Christianity at a time when I truly wanted to keep it. It helped me see the one-sided thought process I needed to avoid.

    I couldn’t help but wonder why you only asked experts on one side of the issue. For example, you asked a Jewish convert to Christianiaty about his reasons, but you didn’t ask a Jewish expert as well, who did not convert. You could have done both, compared their stories, and reasoned about the issue of prophetic fulfillment logically… but you didn’t. The whole book was like this. You only spoke to Christian experts, and out of respect for them, you didn’t question of the answers they gave you. I’m still wondering, why?

  • http://arkonbey.blogspot.com Arkonbey

    I can’t think of only one:

    1) Can you explain the legend that Pontius Pilate offered up the choice between Barrabus and Jesus? As far as my meager knowledge of history goes, this sort of choice wasn’t common practice and why would Pilate give up a man who could be considered a Roman equivalent of Osama bin Laden? Also, why would a military governor with absolute power, defer to local leaders in the case of a rabble-rouser that did not directly affect Rome?

    2) Why are modern Christians convinced that the greatest danger to society is homosexual marriage? Jesus never once mentioned any prohibition against homosexuality, did he?

    3) How to you explain the two dissimilar resurrection stories in gospels? Wouldn’t the discrepancies cast doubt on the truthfulness of the entire legend?

    4) I’d like to second Monlith TMA’s question. I’ll bet this one is tops on many of our lists.

  • cipher

    I couldn’t help but wonder why you only asked experts on one side of the issue. For example, you asked a Jewish convert to Christianity about his reasons, but you didn’t ask a Jewish expert as well, who did not convert. You could have done both, compared their stories, and reasoned about the issue of prophetic fulfillment logically… but you didn’t. The whole book was like this. You only spoke to Christian experts, and out of respect for them, you didn’t question of the answers they gave you. I’m still wondering, why?

    And this is the heart of the problem with Strobel. He claims to present evidence in the same manner in which it would be presented in court (hence, “The Case for… “), but he rarely if ever presents evidence from the opposition. And, of course he won’t challenge them – he doesn’t want his boat rocked. Then he has the nerve to proclaim, “Case closed!” Please.

    I can’t see what possible good could come out of an attempt to engage Strobel in dialogue – and I use the term loosely, because conservative evangelicals don’t do dialogue. They do monologue.

  • Jason

    Lee-

    Why would a journalist, who I’d imagine should gather information from both sides in order to claim to be unbiased to the topic of Creationism, when you obviously just spent a few weeks at the ICR and Discovery Institute?

  • cipher

    Why would a journalist, who I’d imagine should gather information from both sides in order to claim to be unbiased to the topic of Creationism, when you obviously just spent a few weeks at the ICR and Discovery Institute?

    Yeah, this is what I’m saying. Why? ‘Cause he doesn’t really want to hear the other side.

  • http://scottishatheist.org.uk Ian

    Mr Strobel,

    I’m an ex-christian – someone who was born again, and who no longer believes. I am completely certain that there is no god.

    In almost every discussion I have ever had with christians on the matter, they assert (in many cases quite unpleasantly) that I must never have been a “true” christian, or that in some way I must still believe in God, but am acting out of spite.

    As you clearly try to make mileage from the conversion story, what do you have to say to those of us who use precisely the same arguments that your co-religionists use against us?

    How can you convince us that you actually WERE an atheist? How can we know that you are, in fact, a believer now, rather than just pretending whilst deep down in your own private mind you know that there is no god?

    Ian.

  • cautious

    Jason and cipher both covered the ground I want to cover, so I’ll firstly say I “second” and “third” their statements. Lee Strobel and Ann Coulter both recently wrote books which “discussed” evolutionary theory. Both of them only interviewed people who are, in some manner or another, linked to the Discovery Institute.

    Coulter makes no apologies for her one-sided interviewing: she is a self-identifying partisan for the conservative American uber alles worldview. I am unaware on if Strobel also identifies himself as a partisan for Christian apologetics, but all signs certainly seem to point to yes.

    Actually I guess this does lead me to ponder a question.

    Mr. Strobel,

    Your books usually only feature interview with commentators on one side of a controversial issue. Do you avoid presenting both sides because your books are aimed at presenting one, singular philosophy? Would it be problematic to your reading audience if your books had more diverse dialogue?

  • cipher

    Oh, God – Coulter. Clinically insane.

    I used to wonder why the Right allowed Phyllis Schlafly to speak for them. I couldn’t understand why they couldn’t see that her psychotic ramblings were doing them more harm than good (or so I thought). Then Coulter came along, and I got it – they don’t really care what these lunatics say, as long as they garner support for their side, which translates into dollars. This is one of the most indicting things I can say about them.

    I do wonder what Coulter’s parents think of her. I’d want to kill myself every day.

  • http://badidea.wordpress.com Bad

    I am completely certain that there is no god.

    This is something of an aside, but how can you possibly be “completely certain” of the non-existence of an ultimately untestable metaphysical proposition? Are you sure this is really what you mean?

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    Lee Strobel, the atheist-turned-Christian author

    Well then, he must not have been a “True Atheist” :-)

    Yes, that does seem to be the subtext of many of these questions. I’ll tell you what, it comes across just as annoying and condescendingly when atheists imply this about converts to Christianity as it is when Christians imply this about converts to atheism.

  • Jonathan

    It’s quite interesting that many who visit and comment on the “Friendly Atheest” blog are so quick to disrespect and vilify others who do not share the atheist worldview. And also so quick to reduce all Christians or “Christians” to the “right.”
    I also find interesting the universal truth claims of someone visiting this blog who could be “completely certain” that there is no god.

    Maybe I would also ask Lee to consider asking the atheists of this blog some questions, rather than just responding to the above questions, which will likely result in further vilification.

  • http://boremetotears.blogspot.com Lynn

    My question:
    If God can be an Uncaused Cause, why can’t the Universe?

  • cipher

    If God can be an Uncaused Cause, why can’t the Universe?

    That’s the Buddhist position, essentially.

  • http://www.primordial-blog.blogspot.com/ Brian Larnder

    Mike, it is not meant to sound condescending, but is meant to point out that there are two types of athiests. There are some who have never really thought about the issues and just don’t happen to believe in god. Then there are others who arrived at the descision by thoughtful research and logical thinking. We would like to know which type Lee Stroebel was only because it makes a difference to his claims about how he converted away from atheism.

  • Erik

    Lee,

    I wanted to ask about some of your interviews in “The Case For Faith”:

    1. Geisler basically said that the Amalekites were so depraved that it was better for their children to die before the age of accountability. Later, Moreland implies that God would not allow any children to go to hell that would have chosen heaven as adults. It seems to me that these positions utterly negate the idea of free will, which is obviously central to the notions of sin and forgiveness. Do you agree or diagree?

    2. Woodbridge said that the witch trials were not entirely ridiculous because there is witchcraft. To me, this is medieval superstition. What place does this have in a modern society?

  • Claire

    Yes, that does seem to be the subtext of many of these questions. I’ll tell you what, it comes across just as annoying and condescendingly when atheists imply this about converts to Christianity as it is when Christians imply this about converts to atheism.

    Has it occured to you that people are asking this man about it because they genuinely want to know why christians do always say that? I already have a good idea why atheists say it about christians, but I don’t know if the reasons are the same on both sides.

    And yes, granted, some of those questions did have an edge to them, but I would still like to know the answer.

  • Claire

    Ian said:

    I am completely certain that there is no god.

    Ian is already catching flak for this, but that’s hardly fair. It’s quite possible to be certain of something for which you have no empirical proof. I am certain that my friends won’t beat me up, I can be certain that I will pass a class, I am certain that the local grocery store has some kind of cookie even if it doesn’t have my favorite. I may eventually be proved wrong, but that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong of me to feel certain about those things.

    Saying you are certain about something is not the same as saying that it’s an undeniable truth, and those two things shouldn’t be treated as the same.

  • cipher

    Saying you are certain about something is not the same as saying that it’s an undeniable truth, and those two things shouldn’t be treated as the same.

    To which I would add: I think that most atheists, like most scientists, are prepared to revise their opinions, even to abandon them outright, if suitable evidence presents itself. I don’t think that most Christians can make that claim.

    I’d also suggest that perhaps we could define an atheist not as someone who is “absolutely certain” (if that really even has any meaning) that God doesn’t exist, but as someone who believes it to be a strong probability that He doesn’t – unlike an agnostic, who is, by definition, not as convinced.

  • Becksi

    Why do you think atheists are atheists?

    What is the main fallacy that the atheists make in their thinking?

    What motivates atheists to deny God?

  • Mark C.

    Jonathan,

    Most of the comments on this post have been very tame, and limited almost solely to respectfully-asked questions. You seem to be making a mountain out of a molehill.

    Regarding the topic of another person being completely certain (or almost completely certain) that there is no god: perhaps it would be wise for you to ask that person how they define “god” first. Perhaps, by that person’s definitions, it is an analytic truth that gods can not exist. Can you give me an example of something that everyone believes to exist which exists in the same way as, for example, the Christian god is said to?

    ————————————————————-

    (Un)fortunately, I haven’t read any of Strobel’s books. I’m the kind of person who finds such an act to be one of self-imposed intellectual torture. Thus, I don’t have any questions regarding those.

    However, here’s one that a few other people have brought up: Lee, when you say you were an atheist, what exactly does that mean? You do know, don’t you, that atheists honestly don’t believe that a god exists, and that it’s not just a matter of believing that one does exist but not trusting it? I hope you also know that because atheism is the consequence of lacking a certain existential belief that becoming an atheist is not for the purpose of acting immoral, antisocial, etc.

    On a side note, but relating to the above paragraph, I haven’t seen anyone say “I want to become an atheist. What do I need to believe?”. However, I have seen someone say “I am a non-Catholic Christian and I want to become a Catholic. What do Catholics believe?”. And it is common knowledge that people convert from one religion to another all the time, for any number of reasons, only one of which is because they think the one they’re converting to has the actual truth.

  • http://dcberner.blogspot.com/ Derek

    there are two types of athiests

    Well, if that ain’t the pigeonhole to end all pigeonholes ;-)

  • Siamang

    I consider this discussion topic kind of a mental puzzle. Having read some of Strobel’s writings, I do not for an instant expect a good open discussion from him. I don’t like saying that up front, as it is a bit well-poisoning to open there.

    But the puzzle lies here, just the same. The puzzle is this: “Can I formulate a question for Lee Strobel that will garner any response different from what a reader of his books would expect? Any question that will cause him to pause for a moment and consider the thoughts of someone outside his worldview, before launching in to the standard apologetics?”

    Here’s the best I could come up with:

    Lee,

    In your book, The Case for a Creator, why did you choose the people you chose to interview?

    You have a chapter on Cosmology, for example. Now, if it were me, I’d interview a cosmologist. I’d try to get an interview with Stephen Hawking, if I could. Or at least a PhD in astrophysics or relativity, right? But instead, you interview a Philosophy professor at a school of theology, Dr. William Lane Craig.

    You have a chapter on Physics, but you don’t interview a physicist. Instead you interview an associate professor of philosophy at Messiah College.

    Why is it that you seem to have picked and chosen your interviewees to fall into line with your belief system? You had to go so far to make your point, that you had to resort to professors of philosophy at religious colleges, rather than talk to cosmologists and physicists about cosmology and physics. Why is that?

    Is that good scholarship? Is it good journalism? Is it the sign of an open inquiry? Should I, as a reader, come away with that thinking that I heard the best possible case for the existence of God, and seeing that no actual physicists or cosmologists were interviewed, conclude that the case for God is incredibly weak?

    You seem to fancy yourself an expert on Biblical history. Would it be alright for me to interview a professor of philosophy who has leaned back in his armchair and puffed on his pipe to determine whether or not the Dead Sea Scrolls are accurately translated? Or should I actually confer with linguists and historians and archaeologists?

    I suspect in answer, you will refer me to some actual physicist or cosmologist who espouses the creationist point of view, or at least a deist one. What I’m wondering though is why you didn’t see fit to perform that due diligence in your book itself.

    Anyway, thank you for the time spent here. I hope you’ll be part of a dialogue here, rather than merely come here to answer some questions and then leave. I think dialogue is far more productive than the post-and-leave we often get from believers on this site.

  • http://emergingpensees.com MikeClawson

    Has it occured to you that people are asking this man about it because they genuinely want to know why christians do always say that?

    Yes of course, but it still comes across as condescending.

    Of course there are thoughtful atheists and atheists that are less thoughtful about their beliefs, just as there are among Christians. But I have noticed a consistent tendency on this board to dismiss any stories about atheists converting to Christianity by suggesting that they weren’t really a “thoughtful” atheist (in the same way that Christians often dismiss deconversions by saying that they weren’t a “real” Christian). The questions here fit right into this vein, and it still comes across as condescending regardless of the intent behind it.

  • http://keenabean.blogspot.com Kaleena

    To fideism:
    Thanks, you said exactly what I wanted to say. The Case for Christ for me was Christianity’s/God’s last chance…The book also accelerated the de-conversion process for me as well. I was so frustrated when I finished reading the book and was left with a feeling of “that’s it? that’s the best you’re got?”

    Yes, only questioning Christian experts was frustrating to me, but what was more frustrating was the case the the resurrection of Jesus. “since all of these likely explanations for why Jesus’ body is missing are improbable, therefore Jesus rose from the dead.”

  • Claire

    The questions here fit right into this vein, and it still comes across as condescending regardless of the intent behind it.

    Ok, then, if the question can’t be asked, how do I find out? Unless you are just objecting to the tone of the question, in which case I see your point, but from what you wrote, it seems like you are objecting to the question being asked, period.

  • http://uncrediblehallq.blogspot.com/ Chris Hallquist

    Let me see if I can put a sharper point on already-stated questions:

    (1) In the Case for Christ, why did you claim Roman historian A. N. Sherwin-White “meticulously examined” the rate at which legends formed, and concluded that there was not enough time for a legend to develop in the Gospels, when the work you cite was only five pages, citing two cases where in fact legends had arose rather quickly?

    (2) In The Case for a Creator, why did you claim to be motivated by a desire to objectively investigate recent scientific advances, and then interview people drawn from a single anti-evolution organization?

  • Claire

    Well, if that ain’t the pigeonhole to end all pigeonholes

    Seriously! Everybody knows there are three types…

  • Claire

    What is the main fallacy that the atheists make in their thinking?

    What motivates atheists to deny God?

    If you take the false presupposition out of the first question (that there is a fallacy) there isn’t much of a question left.

    Tell me if I’m reading the code in the second question correctly: to a christian, “deny god” doesn’t mean “deny that god exists” but instead means “refuses to admit that god really exists”, which is a whole different kettle of fish. I didn’t grow up christian, so I’m not certain, but I’m trying to learn to interpret some of the code phrases.

  • Jacob Dink

    I’m not sure how many questions you’re going to answer, but hopefully you can get to the harder ones.

    Mine is pretty much a quote, from a debate with Sam Harris, who, I think, put the problem best:

    “Christianity is founded on the claim that the gospel accounts of the miracles of Jesus is true… most important is the resurrection. The problem with this is: the only thing that testifies to these miracles having ever occurred is the gospels, everyone agrees that the gospels were written decades after the events they report– The problem is that, even if the evidence were much better than that, even if we had hundreds of contemporaneous, eyewitness accounts of these miracles, that would still be not enough evidence [for such claims]. Why not: well, in the 21st century, reports of miracles are still quite common… There are Hindu yogis and mystics who reportedly walk on water, and raise the dead, and fly without the aid of technology, and read minds, and divine the future. Take someone like Satya Sai Baba, a south Indian Guru. All of these miracles are attributed to him. He claims to have been born of a virgin. (Which, incidentally, is not such a rare claim in the history of religion, and in history generally. Genghis Khan was supposedly born of a virgin, Alexander the Great was supposedly born of a virgin… parthenogenesis does not guarantee that you’re going to turn the other cheek, apparently.) So consider this: Satya Sai Baba has these miracles attributed to him, by literally thousands upon thousands of living eyewitnesses… There are millions of people who believe he is a living God. Now, consider, as though for the first time, the foundational claim of Christianity. The claim is that miracles stories, of the sort that surround a person like Satya Sai Baba—which are compelling to no one aside from his devotees—suddenly become especially credible if you place them in the pre-scientific religious context of the first century Roman empire, decades after their supposed occurrence.”

    How do you answer this problem for Christianity, when phrased as such?

  • cipher

    Siamang,

    Excellent. This is precisely what I’m talking about. He won’t solicit legitimate, informed opinions from specialists, he won’t examine contradictory evidence – because he doesn’t really want to know. He just wants to look like he wants to know.

    The thing that kills me about guys like Strobel isn’t that they exist – it’s that they don’t exist in a vacuum. They represent millions who agree with them and support them. Take a look at the “reviews” of his books on Amazon written by Christians. The Case for Christ alone has over 300 5-star reviews. It’s enough to break your heart. It certainly breaks mine.

    The Europeans are right about us. This really is a nation of imbeciles.

  • http://leoquix.blogspot.com Quixie

    My question for Mr Strobel:

    I don’t suppose you’d shoosh for a ScoobySnack?
    Would you?

    (how about two?)

    :)

    Ó

  • Susan

    My realization that I am an atheist was crystalized by the pain which I encountered in relationships with people who declared themselves to be Christians. I gather it’s not an uncommon experience. How does the church respond?

  • JustMe

    Mr. Strobel, thank you for taking questions.

    My question to you is one that I find both disheartening and frustrating. First a little background; most of the time when I talk with theists about religious subjects (usually Christians though not always), supernatural claims are brought up by the theist as if they were facts, yet when the details are finally described the person making the supernatural claims eventually admits that those claims are based on information from undefined sources or from some other person they heard about (usually not even secondhand). The claims often are handled in Snopes, or could be addressed by punching key words into a search engine and reading the first couple links returned. The theist asserts that the supernatural claims are valid and provides no way to verify the claims.

    My question is this;

    Why do theists who make supernatural claims assert that those claims are indeed facts when they can not possibly know that they are facts?

    Few theists who make these claims express doubt or skepticism in these claims and are happy to ignore contrary information while making those supernatural claims. Some of these dismissals of contrary information show a stunning lack of interest in anything that is not supernaturally based.

    My concern is that, as a former Christian, I see it as possible for Christianity to reform and modernize, and I see some Christians attempting that reform. Unfortunately, the inherent dishonesty stemming from the assertions of supernaturalism are not helping that process and do not assist in finding the truths that Christianity does indeed have. (For reference: I agree with Joseph Campbell on many but not all issues.)

    To be clear: I do not use either science or naturalism in these discussions unless they are brought up by the theist first, and then I only mention them if they are misused. What I am questioning is why supernaturalism is asserted so uncritically — as if it is the curtain that the wizard stands behind that should not be moved or talked about.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    Mr. Strobel,

    In your view, what is wrong with the premise that the passion story started with the literary work of the author called Mark and not with an actual historical incident some years previous. Why shouldn’t Mark be thought of as the founder of Christianity as we know it?

    I’m not sure if you believe in the “hell fire and brimstone” aspects of Christianity, but do you think the fundamentalist literal view of “believe this or you will burn in Hell for all eternity” distracts from the otherwise positive aspects of the Christ message? I’m referring to such concepts as the golden rule, serving others, and not being so selfish.

    Thank-you,

    Jeff

  • Becksi

    Claire:

    Tell me if I’m reading the code in the second question correctly: to a christian, “deny god” doesn’t mean “deny that god exists” but instead means “refuses to admit that god really exists”, which is a whole different kettle of fish. I didn’t grow up christian, so I’m not certain, but I’m trying to learn to interpret some of the code phrases.

    My impression is that believers could think we see God somehow but supress or refuse to admit it.

    I’m just looking for whatever reasons why believers think atheist don’t believe or deny God and Christianity.

  • Bawruss

    Dear Lee:
    Have you read the late Carl Sagan’s Gifford lectures “The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God” ? What about “Pale Blue Dot”? Are you interested in understanding who you really are? With the little we know about life, the universe, and everything, we certainly have the potential to find our true home in the universe and have experiences of truth, beauty, humility, and purpose. Wanna give it a try someday?

  • TXatheist

    Similar to Danny and Ron my question is slightly different….Can you provide evidence that Jesus existed ?

  • Jonathan

    Mark C,

    “…Perhaps, by that person’s definitions, it is an analytic truth that gods can not exist. Can you give me an example of something that everyone believes to exist which exists in the same way as, for example, the Christian god is said to?”

    Really good question. First, life could not be beautiful if we all lived according to what we can only find “analytic truth for.” I have never found any analytic truth for realities such as love, compassion and forgiveness, but yet they are some of the greatest evidences for God on this earth. If God were to prove himself, he would have to write himself into the script…and well, for 2000 years, Christians have believed that he did just that.

    So, my example of something everyone believes to exist in a similar way that I believe God exists would be the reality and power of love, compassion and forgiveness.

    Certainly, someone who has rejected the notion of God can realize and embrace these things, so I am not saying that these expressions of God’s character are exclusively God, but Jesus, who claimed to be “one with God” or the Son of God, was the embodiment of these things.

  • cipher

    Jonathan,

    You’re saying that you believe because of the existence of certain virtues, then you acknowledge that a nonbeliever can manifest these virtues as well.

    They you say “I am not saying that these expressions of God’s character are exclusively God, but Jesus, who claimed to be “one with God” or the Son of God, was the embodiment of these things.” So, you’re saying that you believe in God because of virtues that are not exclusively part of God’s domain? This isn’t even circular reasoning. It’s just an exercise in contradiction.

    And as far as Jesus being “the embodiment of these things” goes – I think that others here, as well as myself, would disagree with you about that, even if we base our arguments solely upon his behavior as reported in the Gospels.

    All you’ve really said here is, “I believe because I want to believe.”

  • TXatheist

    realities such as love, compassion and forgiveness, but yet they are some of the greatest evidences for God on this earth.

    Because love, compassion and forgiveness exist that provides evidence for god to exist? In that same manner you could say vengeance(I am a jealous god), suffering(Job), and hate(it is ok to hate the things YHWH hates) are evidence for your god. Yes, I agree that the alleged Jesus message is compassion, no argument on that.

  • John Morales

    Christians in the Army.

    Fine in the Old Testament (obviously!) but I think irreconcilable with New Testament Christianity.

  • http://www.xanga.com/drew85 Drew

    My question for Lee Strobel is,

    If you became truly convinced, through revelation or any other means, that God wanted you to kill an innocent human being, would you do it?

  • Karen

    Tell me if I’m reading the code in the second question correctly: to a christian, “deny god” doesn’t mean “deny that god exists” but instead means “refuses to admit that god really exists”, which is a whole different kettle of fish. I didn’t grow up christian, so I’m not certain, but I’m trying to learn to interpret some of the code phrases.

    Yes, you’re correct.

  • http://resurrectiondebate.blogspot.com/ Steven Carr

    Why do Christian sites never ever have a ‘Grill-an-atheist’ section?

  • sabrina

    Why do Christian sites never ever have a ‘Grill-an-atheist’ section?

    To be honest, Ray Comfort did have a post asking atheists to describe why they don’t believe in god. Like Lee, I think he’s working on a book.

  • Jonathan

    Cipher,

    The context of my stating that love, compassion and forgiveness are evidences for the God that I believe in was that I was asked to state things that we all believe exist which we cannot prove. I was giving examples of things that are real, but cannot be proven. I have never had scientific proof of being forgiven or receiving love. In that context, I was stating that these virtues are expressions of God on earth.

    It may seem that I was contradicting myself, but I was merely being honest that these virtues can be displayed by someone who does not acknowledge God’s existence. That is not contradiction. It is honesty. So, I cannot prove God’s existence by love, nor can you prove God’s non-existence through suffering.

    We all believe because we want to believe.

    And to Steven,

    I would be more than happy to have a “Grill-an-atheist” section on my blog :)

  • http://resurrectiondebate.blogspot.com/ Steven Carr

    Please feel free to set up a ‘Grill-an-atheist’ section on your blog and fire off any questions to me.

  • Rest

    I think someone’s writing a new book. ;-)

  • http://resurrectiondebate.blogspot.com/ Steven Carr

    Oh, you think Strobel is writing a book where he asks atheists tough questions and then gives his Christian readers the answers that atheists give?

    Or do you think Strobel will cherry-pick easy questions, feed them to apologists and then write a book claiming apologists can answer the toughest questions of atheists?

  • grazatt

    if this is all just for a book Lee Strobel is writing, why are we helping him? I can see helping MikeC, but Lee Strobel ?

  • http://dcberner.blogspot.com Derek

    So, I cannot prove God’s existence by love, nor can you prove God’s non-existence through suffering.

    Well, given a bit of formal reasoning, one can do a pretty decent job of showing what kinds of God can’t exist, for example:

    1. Assume God is all-loving.
    2. Assume God is all-powerful.
    3. By (1), God will not allow his creation to come to harm if he is able.
    4. By (2) and (3), God’s creation cannot come to harm.
    5. God’s creation frequently comes to harm.
    6. Therefore, (1) and (2) must be mutually exclusive.

    While many fundamentalists will deny (1), most Christians I know deal with this by denying the validity of (3), saying “free will” sometimes prevents God from helping his creation. But is a God that refuses (or willfully gives up the ability) to help his creation, just so that his creation can have an opportunity to choose right over wrong, truly an all-loving God?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    if this is all just for a book Lee Strobel is writing, why are we helping him? I can see helping MikeC, but Lee Strobel ?

    Just fyi, this has nothing to with a book. I asked Lee if he would mind answering questions for the site. He said he would do his best (given his schedule). That’s it. I think it’s a nice opportunity.

  • J Myers

    Jonathan,

    The context of my stating that love, compassion and forgiveness are evidences for the God that I believe in was that I was asked to state things that we all believe exist which we cannot prove. I was giving examples of things that are real, but cannot be proven. I have never had scientific proof of being forgiven or receiving love. In that context, I was stating that these virtues are expressions of God on earth.

    Does not follow. How does the existence of these things constitute any sort of evidence for any gods? It’s but an unsubstantiated assertion to claim as much; it’s like saying the existence of salami, baseball, and styrofoam are evidence for a god.

    It may seem that I was contradicting myself, but I was merely being honest that these virtues can be displayed by someone who does not acknowledge God’s existence.

    Or that people who believe in a god still display human emotions and socialize with other humans.

    So, I cannot prove God’s existence by love, nor can you prove God’s non-existence through suffering.

    True, but… positive claim, evidence… (Everyone should know this by now. Really.)

    We all believe because we want to believe.

    What?!? WRONG. I believe what I think is true; that is the very definition of belief. People who ‘believe’ in what they wish to be true instead of what they suspect to be true are said to be deluded. I really hope you were joking with this one.

  • Siamang

    it’s like saying the existence of salami, baseball, and styrofoam are evidence for a god.

    I dunno. I wouldn’t put it past Ray Comfort.

  • cipher

    J. Myers,

    Actually, although I disagree with everything else Jonathan said, I would agree with this. Perhaps it would be better to state it this way: People talk themselves into believing whatever it is they want to believe.

  • jim

    what is the motivation for christians to spread their beliefs and support laws that only defend their beliefs? Doesn’t christianity teach tolerance? Most churches that I’ve been to, excluding fundamentalists, teach tolerance is a virtue, and to not discount your neighbor for his or her beliefs. SO why is it that there is such a large following for the anti-same-sex-marriage movement, and other movements that wish to put christian values as the standard?

  • J Myers

    cipher,

    Surely we all have our biases, but I think you are overstating the matter considerably. Personally, I would love to believe that I will have some eternal, blissful existence, but I see no indication that such a fate awaits anyone, and consequently, I do not spend any time trying to convince myself otherwise. I can’t imagine I’m the only person who exhibits some concern about what is actually likely to be true. Don’t you care about what’s real? Wouldn’t you change your views if you encountered evidence that contradicted them? Am I misunderstanding something here?

    *realizes we’re off topic*

    Mr. Strobel, your thoughts?

  • cipher

    Don’t you care about what’s real? Wouldn’t you change your views if you encountered evidence that contradicted them?

    Yes, but the short answer is – most people don’t operate that way (in my opinion). Most people are in denial most of the time, and it has been my experience that this is especially true of people who adhere to conservative theologies, which I see as forms of addiction.

  • J Myers

    cipher,

    I certainly agree that some people operate this way (though I personally think that most people are actually interested in–but likely mistaken about–reality); I was objecting to the categorical statement that Jonathan made (and which you reworded in your previous comment).

  • http://resurrectiondebate.blogspot.com/ Steven Carr

    I think Lee Strobel will cherry pick the easy questions. It would have been better to invite him to ask questions of atheists.

    Christians try to hide hard questions from their flock.

    AT http://www.jamesgregoryforum.org/viewforum.php?f=4 I had asked a lot of hard questions about NT Wright’s resurrection speech.

    Almost all of them were deleted without warning and my user id was removed.

    Questions which remain for Bishop Wright include such toughies as ‘How did you get to be so clever?’ and ‘What books would you recommend?’

  • http://fideism.googlepages.com fideism

    I don’t know why, but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt since he was the one who offered to answer questions. It seems very nice of him to do so. Of course, if he ignores my question or gives a non-answer that will change :) (btw, please take out all my typos before you send it over. ^^; )

  • cipher

    It seems very nice of him to do so.

    Now, see – there’s a problem for me. I don’t think we can describe someone as “nice” simply because he’s being civil or compliant. He thinks we’re all going to burn in hell, and he isn’t even really broken up over it. His attitude is, “Well, they’ve had their chance. It’s their choice.” He isn’t “nice”; he’s an addict, who doesn’t give a crap about you or me. As long as he can have the object of his addiction, what happens to us is of no importance. He’s perfectly content to abandon us for all of eternity so that he can have the ontological security blanket for a few brief decades. He isn’t “nice”; he’s guilty of the worst kind of selfishness.

  • http://merelyadequate.net MonolithTMA

    “His attitude is, “Well, they’ve had their chance. It’s their choice.”

    I haven’t read his books, so I’m not sure what his attitude is, but couldn’t he be motivated by a genuine desire to see us not burn in hell?

  • cipher

    couldn’t he be motivated by a genuine desire to see us not burn in hell?

    My point is – he’s perfectly willing to incorporate and internalize the belief. If he were all that concerned, he’s free not to believe it in the first place.

    Look, it would be great to believe that a supernatural being is going to make everything all right in the end, but I’m not willing to abandon billions of my fellow human beings in order to have it – and I’m not even a particularly nice person. What does this say about them?

    And, frankly, I don’t think that most proselytizers are concerned with the ultimate fate of other people. One of the early 20th century British writers (I can never remember which one) said something to this effect: “Missionary activity is the outward manifestation of an insecure faith.” The proselytizer isn’t trying to convince you, as much as he is attempting to convince himself – for, if he can convince you that he is right, then he thinks he must, in fact, be right, and he can stave off for a while longer the ever-present doubt that threatens to overtake him.

    And, I suppose, when you’ve been doing it for as long as Strobel has, the voice of doubt grows faint, but the habit of defense becomes ingrained.

    Again – these are symptoms of addiction.

  • Jonathan

    Wow.

    Those are some bold statements, Cipher.

    Forming a belief about todays Christians (and the sharing of their faith) based on something “someone” said “to this effect” which you then put in quotations…

    What was that about believing something because it is true?

  • http://merelyadequate.net MonolithTMA

    The voice of doubt only grew louder for me as I examined more and more “evidence” for the gospel. One of the biggest reasons I began to have a problem with hell is that it doesn’t appear to have existed until the new testament, then poof!

  • cipher

    Forming a belief about todays Christians (and the sharing of their faith) based on something “someone” said “to this effect” which you then put in quotations…

    What was that about believing something because it is true?

    Oh, for heaven’s sake.

    I don’t believe it because someone said it; I was using it to illustrate something I already believe.

    And the “someone” was Shaw or Wilde; I just don’t remember which one. And I said “to this effect” because I don’t have the quote in front of me, and I’m not sure it’s verbatim – but that was it, essentially.

    Of course, if it had been something profoundly transformative – say, the resurrection of Jesus – I would have remembered everything precisely, wouldn’t I? Because, in those circumstances, memory never falters.

  • cipher

    The voice of doubt only grew louder for me as I examined more and more “evidence” for the gospel.

    I’ve heard this before; the people over at Ex-Christian.net say much the same thing. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. I think personality and aptitude have a lot do with it.

    One of the biggest reasons I began to have a problem with hell is that it doesn’t appear to have existed until the new testament, then poof!

    Yeah, although the fundies say that references to it are in the OT. They see what they want to see – and they always want to see that.

    As a Jew (albeit an atheist) one of my biggest grievances against Christianity is that it represents the height of hubris to have spent the past two millennia telling us that we’ve misinterpreted and misunderstood texts that we wrote in the first place – with or without divine inspiration. I said this to a fundie recently; he called me a Pharisee! (I took it as a compliment.)

  • http://merelyadequate.net MonolithTMA

    Yes, I remember Christian friends throwing around the phrase completed Jew to reference Jews that had accepted Jesus. I hated the term then and even more so now.

    The height of hubris indeed.

  • Jonathan

    Steve, I’ll let you know when I put up my “Grill-an-atheist” post.

    Cipher, Thanks for your comments. I am glad that we both agree that we can find things in the world to illustrate that which we already believe to be true. :) It seems that you are very quick to label people, beit “addicts” or “imbeciles”, etc. I’m actually really sad that you’ve been so hurt by so many Christians’ sub-Christ-like example. I have as well, to be honest. I’ve also been hurt and angered by many parents un-parent-like actions and my wife’s un-wife-like actions. That said, if at all possible, I apologize on behalf of Christians who have seemed to be a thorn in your side, but I do not apologize for the love, forgiveness and restoration that we have all become enamored by.

  • http://brownjs.wordpress.com/ J.S.Brown

    I remember reading Case For Christ and being totally convinced. That was at a time when I wanted to be a Christian, so I wasn’t exactly being reasonable or skeptical. Later on, I read it a second time and noticed something that I somehow missed the first. At the back, he writes something along the lines of “The story you have just read isn’t exactly how it happened.” He explains that instead of interviewing the scholars mentioned in the book, that he instead just read their works. He invented their conversations! Besides seeing his bias, I felt cheated knowing that all of his interaction was fiction.

    (My apologies for not offering a direct quote. Someone is borrowing my copy of his book.)

  • Spider

    Mr Strobel,

    Please convince me you haven’t broken any Commandments by ommiting so much scientific evidence from your book The Case For A Creator. Here is one example: Creationists claim that organic molecules cannot spontaneously form (trying to prove a negative). The Miller-Urey experiment did show this is possible, but with an atmophere not necessarily representive of early Earth. What you omitted is the dozen-or-more peer-reveiwed follow-on experiments to Miller-Urey using variations of atmosphere and energy source–all forming various organic componds. As an “atheist” researching this experiment, surely you would have stubled across these results.

    Thanks in advance for your clarifications!

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  • born again and lovin’ it

    I am a born again Christain.

    If anyone actually bothered to read and learn about the Bible (someone said something about homosexulas not being mentioned in the Bible)

    1 Cor 6:8-10
    9Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

    But here’s the thing- it is no worse than any other sin in God’s eyes and should not be the ‘hot’ button for Christains……..infact we shouldn’t even have a “hot” button.

    God’s greatest commandments are to love one another as Christ did (and He indeed was Love) he died for every “atheist” on this website, and everyone else on Earth if We CHOOSE(FREE WILL) to believe. And also to have no God’s before Him (this is really anything that takes away from Him, like watching too much TV)………

    I don’t know- Even when people say they don’t believe in God- I really don’t believe that they don’t.

    Praying for all of my lost friends that someday God will reveal himself in a real way…….

  • Becksi

    ‘born again and lovin’ it’:

    I don’t know- Even when people say they don’t believe in God- I really don’t believe that they don’t.

    Could you tell me why do you think we would deny or suppress God?

  • http://merelyadequate.net MonolithTMA

    @born again and lovin’ it said:

    If anyone actually bothered to read and learn about the Bible (someone said something about homosexulas not being mentioned in the Bible)

    Actually, if you go back and read the comment it was from Arkonbay and it said “Jesus never once mentioned any prohibition against homosexuality, did he?”

    The point is that if Homosexuality is so awful why did Jesus himself not mention it? I agree with you that it should not be a hot button for Christians. When I was a Christian I was saddened by all the side issues that distracted my fellow Christians from the real issue, which was spreading Christ’s love and the Gospel message.

    born again and lovin’ it said:

    I don’t know- Even when people say they don’t believe in God- I really don’t believe that they don’t.

    I used to be a born again biblical literalist Christian. Every day I tried to live every waking moment for Christ, showing his love and compassion to others.

    Now I’m fairly certain God doesn’t exist and yet I still try to live my life sharing that same love and compassion. It is so refreshing to not have to use that backhanded statement of love and compassion “love the sinner, hate the sin”. Now I can just love someone, without worrying about their eternal salvation.

    Shock of all shocks, I have not fallen into a life of sin and debauchery since my de-conversion. The only thing that has changed is that I no longer read the bible daily or pray.

    I left Christianity through a long drawn out process. I wanted to believe, I really did. I dedicated my life to Christ for over 20 years, and all I got was some coincidences and more Bibles and Christian books than you could shake a stick at. I was not a lukewarm Christian, for many years my every waking moment was spent thanking Christ for his sacrifice.

    I’m fairly certain you will rationalize my disbelief, because I would have done the same thing when I was a Christian. When I believed in the world view of Christianity it was impossible to believe that anything else could be true.

  • cipher

    Could you tell me why do you think we would deny or suppress God?

    Becksi, the rationalization is always the same – “You don’t believe because you don’t want to believe, because you don’t want to be held accountable. You want to wallow in your sin.” It always, always comes down to some variation on this same tired theme, even with those who say, “I don’t know” – because, if you press them enough, they eventually come out with it. I’ve never seen an exception – except, of course, among Calvinists, who believe that we were created for the sole purpose of eternal damnation. It all says volumes about their own psychological issues.

    Which leads me, on a related note, to Monolith’s statement,

    Shock of all shocks, I have not fallen into a life of sin and debauchery since my de-conversion.

    They always accuse us of this; it’s part of the former excuse. Where is all the hedonistic pleasure I’m supposed to be experiencing? Did I miss a meeting? Did someone forget to send me a memo?

  • Chang Li

    Hi Mr. Strobel,

    In “The Case for Christ,” you claim to that the apostles gave their lives defending Christian doctrine. However, I can find no references to the apostles or their alleged martyrdom outside of Eusebius (a Christian writer) and a reference to James in Josephus. What is your basis for asserting that the Apostles all died in defense of the resurrection of Christ?

  • http://dcberner.blogspot.com Derek

    And also to have no God’s before Him (this is really anything that takes away from Him, like watching too much TV)…

    Growing up Christian, I heard this a LOT. What is the theological rationale?

    Ancient Israel was almost certainly polytheistic. The context is clearly that YHWH was saying “me first” regarding other gods (why didn’t he just say “there are no other gods”?), and forbidding the creation of physical images for worship (something almost EVERY Christian church violates whether it be pictures of Jesus, stained glass, or crucifixes).

    A life of excess is ostensibly bad, but there is no way this is talking about avoiding unhealthy imbalances in your life.

  • Spider

    Any idea when Mr Strobel might answer some of these questions? Or are the answers posted somewhere else? TIA!

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Any idea when Mr Strobel might answer some of these questions? Or are the answers posted somewhere else? TIA!

    He’s a busy guy but I hope to get his responses soon. I’ll post them when I have them!

  • Spider

    Any answers yet?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Any answers yet?

    Oddly enough, we’re still in contact. He keeps saying he’ll get back to me with answers, but I don’t have them yet.

    To be fair, he’s had a lot of other things on his plate and I just added to the mix. But we’re still in touch.

  • http://fideism@googlepages.com fideism

    If a whole year goes by, I think I’m going to give up on getting an answer to my question. It’s been half a year already…

  • Spider

    I’ll take the opportuntity to think of more questions…

    I have a question about Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box… I know this isn’t your book, but it seems like a keystone to the whole ID movement.

    In one chapter, Behe claims that mathematical modeling is not a valid scientific tool. In the very next chapter, Behe describes an unvalidated mathematical model claiming to disprove evolution due to high improbability. Does that mean mathematical modeling is valid or invalid?

    Thank you for your clarification.

  • Spider

    In your books, you note the ‘sudden’ appearance of various species during the Cambrian Explosion. Non-theist scientists are aware this suddenness is more of an illusion based on the way species are cataloged, but not a significant jump in evolutionary status. In other words, if a species has half dinosaur features, and half bird features, it has to be cataloged as one or the other.

    As a thought experiment, take a deck of cards and remove all cards of one suit. Put those cards in order A 2 3… K. Now deal the cards into two piles, one for low cards, and one for high cards. For simplicity, let’s say the Ace is low.

    Where did you put the seven? Did the deck suddenly jump from low to high, even though six is close to seven, which is close to eight?

  • Spider

    Many proponents of ID allow for micro evolution (“small” changes), but not macro evolution (“large” changes). What is the exact point at which micro evolution becomes macro evolution. Since this is a scientific discussion, please provide a testable statement.

  • http://no unveiler

    Guys,

    It is easy to see why Strobel only interviews one side, because he being the atheist is the opposite side. If I wanted to question my Christianity, I would not go to a bunch of Christians (who would only confirm my believes) I would talk to one of you guys to convince me the other way.

  • naturalistgriggsy[ aka- skeptic griggsy, rationalist griggsy, griggs1947 sceptique griggsy, esceptico griggsy]

    Have any here read Earl Doherty’s case against Strobel?
    Oh, I am going after the advanced theologians who pooh-pooh our new atheism as jejeune, ignoring their higher theology. McGrath, Ward- evoutionist theists but actually no wiser than fundamentalists- faith does that to people!

  • Spider

    Dusting off some old bookmarks… still no answer. Not that I expected one.

    If I wanted to question my Christianity, I would not go to a bunch of Christians (who would only confirm my believes) I would talk to one of you guys to convince me the other way.

    still… wouldn’t you take some of that information back and hear the rebuttles?

    Example: In Case for Creator, Strobel claims that a billionth of a billionth change in the force of gravity, and life wouldn’t be able to exist. He states unequivically that animals would have to have enoumous legs to support their weight. (Not sure what theologist he got this whopper from, or if he made it up himself) Well, here’s the rebuttal… beween gravity anomaly and centriptal forces, the variation of gravity at the Earth’s surface is about 5-10% from poles to the equator (percent… much larger than billionths of billionsth). But no major variations in anatomical proportions as Strobel claims. In fact, birds are able to fly hemisphere to hemishpere without being crushed under their own weight.


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