Geisler and Turek start their book with the principal assertion that all people have their sets of beliefs that differ. Appealing to sound reason and mind, the authors present the readers with the religion of Christianity. The theorists are eager to persuade people that it is possible and even vital to find the absolute truth. For the truth-searching purpose, blind faith should give way to reasoning, argumentation, criticizing, and consequential judgment while analyzing any piece of information, either the Bible, the Old Testament, or an atheist’s beliefs. In particular, the authors suggest the understanding of religion like the box top of a puzzle. Without a true set of beliefs as the box top and directing power, a person is at a loss in terms of combining the many diverse pieces and creating a meaningful picture of life.
The first two chapters attempt to consider thoroughly the question of truth, which has become relative and dependent on subjective opinions in modern society. On the contrary, they prove that the truth is discovered, rather than invented; it exists independent of anyone’s knowledge of it. Moreover, truth is transcultural; it is unchanging even though our beliefs about truth change. Beliefs cannot change a fact; all truths are absolute truths.1 Finally, the authors raise the theme of relative truth as a disease of our society. They notice that the mantra of our day “true for you but not for me” is conventional only in religion and morality, but not in police or the bank.2 In the first chapter, the authors also come to the conclusion that major world religions cannot all be true because many sacred beliefs are contradictory, as they teach the opposing lessons. Hence, raising the theme of religious pluralism, the authors prove that tolerance is dangerous.
In chapter 2, the authors divide the reasons why people choose to believe something into four categories: sociological, psychological, religious, and philosophical. The biggest problem concerning believing is expressed in the words of Blaise Pascal, “People almost invariably arrive at their beliefs not on the basis of proof but on the basis of what they find attractive.”3 In the book, the authors take the approach of sound philosophical principles, good reason, evidence, and science in revealing the truth of a particular belief. Utilizing the Law of Noncontradiction, which grounds on the undeniable logic, they assume that two contradictory claims cannot be both true. Hence, it is possible to determine the only right religious truth; for example, whether God exists or which Word of God is authentic.
On a similar note, the authors defeat the skeptical views of Hume’s logic positivism and Kant’s agnosticism against religion or God. Although human senses cannot help in gathering information about immaterial and invisible God, people can use induction to investigate God through direct observation of his properties. Finally, the authors touch the theme of ignorance and apathy in the question of truth, which is widely spread in America today. Virtually, it affects people financially, as well as socially, psychologically, spiritually, and physically4.
In chapters 3 through 7, Geisler and Turek gradually prove that theism has better evidence than polytheistic and atheistic worldviews. In order to establish the proof, the authors apply three principal arguments: Cosmological, Teleological (Anthropic Principle), and Moral Arguments. In the third chapter, with the Law of Causality, they defeat the atheists’ belief that the universe is eternal and prove that it had a beginning, now called the Big Bang. With the acronym SURGE, the theorists present five lines of powerful scientific evidence to the fact of the Big Bang. Next, it is necessary to explain how the astronomical evidence leads to the biblical view of the world’s origin.
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Thus, if there was a beginning, there was a Beginner, who must have been outside the space-time universe. As an eternal being, God is an appropriate figure to be the Beginner, since he corresponds to characteristics of the First Cause proven by overwhelming evidence, “[It] must be: self-existent, timeless, nonspatial, and immaterial . . . without limits, or infinite; unimaginably powerful, to create the entire universe out of nothing; supremely intelligent, to design the universe with such incredible precision . . . personal, in order to choose to convert a state of nothingness into the time-space-material universe. . .”5 It is obvious that the aforementioned characteristics are innate to theistic God.
In chapter 4, the authors discuss the Teleological Argument and conclude that God was the intelligent Designer, who created the universe and many forms of life in it. Moreover, he designed the world with incredible complexity and precision, in a specific and ordered environment. The precise and interdependent environmental conditions called “anthropic constants” structure what is known as the “Anthropic Principle”6. To illustrate the importance of anthropic constants that support human life, the authors describe Apollo 13, a challenging mission in the history of NASA. It demonstrates that humans can survive in the set of environmental conditions, whose numerous components must be designed precisely.
Overall, only unlimited Holy Being with infinite power, knowledge, and love could create the overwhelming heavens comprising of the number of stars equal to the number of sand grains on the earth. As David wrote in Psalm 19, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”7 So, it is only the blind faith and emotional objection to the religion that makes atheists reject unreasonably the concept of the Designer.
In chapter 5, the authors continue presenting evidence for the existence of the intelligent Creator. First, they defeat naturalistic biologists in their assertion that life generated spontaneously from nonliving chemicals. The theory falls flat in the face of today’s vast scientific knowledge of natural laws and biological systems. For instance, the anthropic principle of biology reveals the amazing complexity of the simplest life form of ameba. Without intelligent guidance, it was impossible to create the organism by spontaneous generation, depending only on sheer chance.8
Gradually, the authors completely destroy the theories of naturalistic evolutionists, materialists, humanists, atheists, and Darwinists, whose blind faith and ungrounded bias against religion inhibit rational thinking. Geisler and Turek assume that the so-called creation-evolution debate does not actually entail a conflict between religion and science, the Bible and textbook, or faith and reason. Rather, it is about good science versus bad science, as well as reasonable faith versus unreasonable faith.9 Darwinists’ dogmatic faith makes people overrule reason and leads to the scientifically absurd assertion that life occurred spontaneously from the nonliving chemical components.
In chapter 6, the theorists continue discussing the problem of new life forms, criticizing the materialistic beliefs and revisiting the origin of life. Darwinists’ box top is not viable since it cannot explain the data plausibly and answer the essential questions such as the origin of the world and life. Their key concept of the process of macroevolution cannot even begin unless there is a preexisting life. Geisler and Turek differentiate between the concepts of macroevolution, described figuratively as “from the goo to you via the zoo” process10, and microevolution. While microevolution within the kinds has been observed, it cannot be the evidence for macroevolution because natural selection has never been proven to produce new species or organs. In light of abundant facts, the authors confidently assert that the Darwinists’ theory contradicts scientific observation and fails to present a natural explanation for the origin of new life forms. Then, the only other option is the Intelligent Design (ID).
The authors successfully overcome all the objections to the ID through reasoning and rational argumentation and come to the conclusion that Darwinists attempt to preserve their absolute authority and financial security. Thus, they admit neither God nor observable scientific facts. Besides, by ruling out God, they can feel morally comfortable to do what they wish to without moral constrains. The secularity theme is also present in Dostoyevsky’s novel. As Ivan Karamazov observed, without God and afterlife, everything is allowed.11
In the end, Geisler and Turek also discuss the theme of appropriate educational content. They propose that instead of bad science and evolution, it would be more advisable to teach children the SURGE evidence, show them the complexity of the simplest life, and make the distinction between micro- and macroevolution, as well as forensic and empirical science. After all, instead of indoctrinating children, it would be better to teach them how to think critically, analyze the scientific evidence, and accept their perceptions.
In chapter 7, the theorists present the Moral Argument for the existence of God and claim that he presents the standard of morality, which includes infinite justice and love. The authors begin by discussing the reasons and motives that induce people to do good things and realize that love and courage are better than hate and cowardice. Even if some people do not justify the common standard of virtue and claim that there are no moral obligations and no absolute morality, everyone has the “deep-seated sense of obligation”, “intuitive sense that they ought to do good and shun evil.”12
Without the Moral Law written on our hearts and one moral prescription for all humanity, life is meaningless and there is nothing absolutely right or wrong. In the case of moral stagnation, there would be no difference between the actions of Hitler and Mother Teresa; they would be merely a matter of opinion. Despite the fact that there are people who suppress and deny the Moral Law every day, it does not mean that they do not know its basic principles.
Further, the authors present and discuss eight reasons for the existence of Moral Law. From the supposition that the moral standard exists and it is absolute for everyone in the world, Geisler and Turek come to the logical conclusion about the existence of an
absolute Moral Law Prescriber, or a Giver. The authors assert, “If there is no God, then what Hitler did was just a matter of opinion!”13 In contrast, atheism does not recognize God and thus atheists do not have a basis for defining the objective right and wrong. As a result, atheists cannot justify or guarantee human rights and ultimate justice in the world. After all, one may conclude that there is nothing immoral and evil about murder, rape, genocide, torture, or any other heinous act. Sheer mindless faith can only lead atheists to the unreasonable and even dangerous beliefs.
Chapter 8 aims to decide whether miracles are the signs of God. From the lines of evidence reviewed in the previous chapters, the theorists came to the conclusion that the theistic God exists and has certain characteristics. The most important finding of the authors so far claims, “The theistic God we have discovered is consistent with the God of the Bible, but we have discovered him without the use of the Bible.”14 In other words, the authors have shown that one can infer much information about the God of the Bible through good reason, science, and philosophy. Science calls it natural or general revelation of the theistic God. Consequently, all non-theistic religions are systems of error and their worldviews are built on a false foundation.
In order to reveal himself, God has to communicate with people, for instance, by means of written language. The next important task is to determine whose book of the three theistic religions is true, that of the Jews, the Christians, or the Muslims. Consequently, the authors utilize the analogy with the king’s seal in order to explain how God helps humans recognize his authentic messages. In fact, he uses miracles to deliver important information to the Earth and its inhabitants.
Similarly to how the theorists prove theism in chapters 3 through 7 by grounding on evidence and rational critical thinking, they deliberately discuss miracles and prove their possibility. Moreover, Geisler and Turek investigate all the existing objections to miracles, for example,
from Benedict Spinoza and David Hume. In the end, the authors distinguish their errors, which happen mainly due to the lack of justification, poor reasoning, and superiority of will over mind in beliefs about miracles.
In chapter 9, the authors investigate the historicity of the New Testament. For the research purpose, they analyze all types of testimony about Jesus, including non-Christian sources like Celsus, Tacitus, and the Jewish Talmud. The analysis reveals many historically objective facts about Jesus and shows the storyline congruent with the New Testament.
Further, the book presents a rigorous analysis of the documents that comprise the New Testament. The copies of them proved to be accurate due to the abundance of manuscripts and their early creation, almost at once after the times when Jesus lived. In fact, the authors define the dates precisely, owing to recorded eyewitness testimony. Thus, they claim that some New Testament books belong to the 40s and 50s A.D., with some sources from the 30s. The abundance of testimony about Jesus’s life is really impressive, and it allows establishing precisely what happened. Moreover, the authors who wrote 27 documents mentioning the Resurrection were eyewitnesses or contemporaries of the events. Lastly, the authenticity of the New Testament is proved by the thousands of quotations from the early church fathers.15 Thus, the theorists succeed in establishing the historicity of the Word of God.
Chapter 10 continues investigating and proving the historicity of the New Testament and focuses on the question of eyewitness testimony. For example, apostles Peter, Paul, and John say, “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact (Acts 2:32). You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this (Acts 3:15).”16 Additionally, the New Testament writers list more than 500 other people who saw the Resurrection. The eyewitnesses from the holy text provided precise details of the events that demonstrate their knowledge of local places, names, environmental conditions, customs, and circumstances. Only witnesses, contemporary of the time and events, can display the profound knowledge of the situation.
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Gradually, the authors prove that Luke is telling the truth in his Gospel. Then, one can conclude that so do Mark and Mathew because they tell the same story in their Gospels. As for John, his work is completed later; nevertheless, he is also accurate in his Gospel. First, he presented abundant historic details, 59 of which were confirmed by archaeology and non-Christian writings.17 Thus, it seems reasonable to believe John’s Gospel. Geisler and Turek conclude that the New Testament grounds on real historic events. In order to prove the statement, the authors present a careful description of the four to six lines of independent witness written testimony to the Gospels’ events.
However, the authors decide to go even further and, in the eleventh chapter, address the issue of the possible exaggeration or embellishment of the eyewitness testimony. Thus, they discuss ten reasons why the New Testament writers told the truth.
First of all, the writers included embarrassing details about themselves. For instance, they admitted being dim-witted, uncaring, rebuked doubting cowards. If they had been concocting a story they would have presented the authors in the best light. For instance, they would have hardly mentioned that Peter had been called “Satan” by Jesus. Moreover, the New Testament writers revealed complete truth about Jesus, even though some embarrassing details about him could place him in a bad light. To illustrate, Jesus in the Bible is considered “out of his mind” by his own family (Mark 3:21, 31); is not believed by his own brothers (John 7:5); is deserted by many of his followers (John 6:66); is called “demon-possessed” (Mark 3:22)18 and so on. The next argument for the reliability of the Bible story is the fact that the writers included some very demanding standards, which appear to be difficult for humans to follow. Besides, they distinguished their words from those of Jesus very clearly. The writers also recorded events related to the
Resurrection proving that they would not invent the details. The events have connected to the burial of Jesus, the first female witnesses, the conversion of priests, and the explanation of the Jews.
The critical point in the argumentation is the allusion to more than thirty historically confirmed characters such as Pilate, Caiaphas, Festus, Felix, and others. In addition, the writers of the Bible challenged the readers to check the facts they presented. They also described miracles in the same unembellished way as other historic events. Finally, the New Testament writers abandoned many of their long-held sacred beliefs and practices, converted to Christianity, and suffered persecution and death for their faith. They did not recant in order to save their lives; eleven out of twelve were martyred.19 Since the eyewitnesses had nothing to gain, there is no reason to doubt their remarks about the Resurrection.
In chapter 12, the authors decline the skeptics’ only remaining possibility to defeat the Bible, namely to state that its writers were deceived. First of all, if the writers were wrong about what they saw, then skeptics had to give some other explanation of the events recorded in the Bible. Thus, the authors turn skepticism against its own statements and explanations of the central event in Christianity, the Resurrection. Thus, the authors defeat Hallucination theory, the Wrong Tomb Theory, Swoon or Apparent Death theory. Next, they showed the problems of the following statements, which include claims that a substitute took Jesus’ place on the Cross; that the disciples’ faith led their belief in the Resurrection; that the writers copied pagan Resurrection myths.20
In short, Geisler and Turek doubt that everyone from the first century including non-Christian historians and Jewish Talmud could be wrong about everything. In conclusion, they assert that all the skeptical alternative theories are built on mere speculation without a shred of evidence to support them. They fail to offer positive first-century evidence for their alternative views. The reasons why many scholars refuse to acknowledge the obvious true facts lie in their philosophical bias and theological presupposition against religious beliefs.
They are biased to an extent that they do not even accept the objective historical evidence and, in the end, arrive at the wrong conclusions. Thus, the authors of the book can confidently state that biblical events really occurred nearly 2,000 years ago. Jesus really lived, taught, performed miracles, died by crucifixion, and then rose from the dead.
Chapter 13 addresses the question of whether Jesus is really a God, or simply a great moral teacher. A substantial number of reliable facts help come to the conclusion that Jesus is God. The first fact is that the messianic predictions of the Old Testament discover the true identity of Jesus Christ and add evidence for the authenticity of the New Testament. The Dead Sea scrolls, discovered in 1947, contain a clear prophecy about the coming Messiah, or the “Servant of the Lord,” as Isaiah calls him.21 Except for the fact that Jesus has all the characteristics of the Messiah, he also directly claims to be God. To illustrate, Jesus responds to Caiaphas: “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”22
Other proofs of Jesus’ deity are indirect, implicit claims, for instance, through parables, as well as his divine actions and accepting worship. Finally, he fulfilled numerous messianic prophecies written hundreds of years in advance; he lived a sinless life and performed miraculous deeds; he predicted and then accomplished his own resurrection from the dead.23 Without a doubt, the authors defeat all the objections to Christ’s deity and conclude that Jesus Christ of Nazareth claimed and proved to be the Messiah-God predicted by the Old Testament.
In chapter 14, the authors describe what Jesus taught the Bible. They discuss both the Old Testament and the New Testament in detail and conclude that the Bible is the true, inerrant Word of God.
Contrary to the popular belief, the real Jesus was not spineless in his communication with the crowds and the Pharisees. He taught with authority and made righteous judgments in response to people’s errors. Concerning the Old Testament, Jesus claimed it to be the Word of God. His supporting arguments are that it is divinely authoritative, imperishable, infallible, inerrant, historically reliable, scientifically accurate, and has ultimate supremacy over any teaching of man. He said to the Pharisees, “Why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition….. You nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition” (Matt. 15:3, 6).24
Similarly, Jesus asserted that he came to fulfill the Jewish Old Testament and promised that he would pass new messages and holy truths through his apostles. The apostles, in their turn, gave evidence of the holy true words by performing wonders and miracles. Actually, the books that comprise the New Testament are authored by Jesus’ apostles. The early church fathers only discovered the Word of God, easily recognizing the divine nature of the Gospels and major Epistles. Notwithstanding the fact that the Bible contains the documents written by about 40 authors over a 1,500-year period, it demonstrates a perfect agreement on various issues. Hence, any other teaching that contradicts the absolute standard for truth established in the Bible is false.
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In chapter 15, the authors review the conclusions they have drawn throughout the book. In particular, they present God as the judge, the servant king, and the box top.
Like the judge, God finds himself in the dilemma between his justice and his love. On the one hand, he is obliged to punish sinful humans. On the other hand, because of His infinite love, he finds a way to avoid punishment. The way implies punishing a sinless substitute who voluntarily takes our punishments. Remember, Jesus went through unimaginable suffering for the sake of humanity and its salvation. Thus, in order to save and set free the humanity, the only thing people have to do is to accept this divine gift and sacrifice for our sins.
However, God’s love is so infinite that he does not force his sons to accept the gift and respect their choice to reject him. Therefore, the authors raise the theme of free will in one’s religious beliefs. In other words, God attempts to save people while admitting human rights for freedom and conscious choice. Just like the servant king from S?ren Kierkegaard’s parable, God truly wishes that we love and accept him sincerely because the only free decision and desire to love him can make the humans happy.25
By and large, the theorists can state for sure that the box top to the puzzle of life is the Bible. It gives true answers to the five greatest questions of humanity related to our origin, identity, meaning, morality, and destiny. Geisler and Turek demonstrate the answers grounding on the holy and absolutely true Word of God. In the same manner, they emphasize that the choice of destiny is in one’s hands. It indeed depends on the free will to believe the reasonable evidence supporting Christianity’s truth and accept Christ. Accordingly, the authors assure the readers that their lives have meaning, are in their hands and depend on their free choice to believe in the loving God and accept his gift of eternal salvation. In fact, in light of abundant evidence and rational reasoning presented by the authors, it takes much more blind faith to believe in atheism or any other non-Christian belief system.