Frank Turek Rebuttal: What is faith? And why everyone has it!

I recently listened to a Frank Turek Podcast: "What is faith? And why everyone has it!"

"Faith is not blind. Faith is trusting in what you have good evidence to believe is true." - Frank Turek

In the first part of this podcast, he makes the claim that "faith is trusting in God for an unseen future, based on the evidence of what is already known about God."  In other words, this faith is not blind because God has proven himself with the following "historical facts".

  • The resurrection
  • Jesus's miracles
  • God taking the Israelites out of Egypt and into the promised land
What Mr. Turek is not addressing is that these "historical events" are far from fact.  To say that they are factual is in itself a leap of faith.  Let's briefly look at each of these.

The Resurrection and Miracles

The argument that Jesus performed miracles and rose from the dead all hinges on the historical reliability of the Bible--the gospels in particular.  If you accept the entire Bible as true at face value without really challenging it, then sure, Jesus performed miracles and rose from the dead.  But what happens when you consider all the problems with the Bible?
  • Irreconcilable contradictions (see this fun graphic for contradictions in the Resurrection story)
  • The large gap in time between Jesus's death and authorship of the gospels (allowing time for the invention of mythology)
  • Anonymity of the gospels
  • Redactions and additions throughout the entire Bible
  • The resemblance of the Jesus story to other dying and rising Gods at the time (Mystery Cults)
  • Elements of Homer in the Gospels of Mark and Luke
  • And what if the whole thing was just plain made up?
Mr. Turek seems to be equating stories in the Bible with high-quality eyewitness testimony. But how has he determined that the Bible warrants that much trust to begin with? I wonder, if he applied the same standard of trust to the sacred texts of other religions, would he be obliged to believe in those religions too?

His entire argument is that faith is warranted because the Bible is true.  But how do we know the Bible is true? Maybe he tackles that in another episode.

The Exodus Out of Egypt

There are many weak points in this story that cast doubt on its historicity.

  • Lack of archeological evidence for the huge number of Israelites wandering around the desert for 40 years
  • Why did it even take them 40 years? 
  • Lack of Egyptian records regarding enslaved Israelites (when the Egyptians were meticulous record keepers)
  • The unreliability of the Old Testament in general, including:
    • The Documentary Hypothesis: weaving together of multiple sources
    • Redacted polytheism
    • Other stories that cannot possibly be true, such as Tower of Babel (the known history of language directly contradicts this story) and Noah's Flood (which is based on an earlier myth called the Epic of Gilgamesh and is also extremely incompatible with the geological record)

"Belief That" vs "Belief In"

Mr. Turek posits that belief that is merely of the head, whereas belief in is not only of the head, it's also of the heart.  In other words, there's an intangible leap to go from raw evidence to the actual belief.  He gives an example--if the safety statistics of flying are rejected by someone because they are just too afraid to fly, then that person is refusing to believe IN the safety of flight despite the supporting evidence.  

The problem with this example is that flight safety can actually be tested.  Millions of flights have taken place and incidents have been documented. The statistics have been calculated, reviewed, and verified. In short, it's testable, and it is credible evidence.

If I hold a belief that flying is safe because of the statistical evidence, that is NOT a leap of faith. That is a logical next step.  

Compare that to the evidence for Jesus's miracles and resurrection.  There is none--the Bible itself is merely a claim.  It is NOT evidence.  Therefore, to enter into a belief that the Biblical God and Jesus are real IS a leap of faith.

I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist

"It's the atheists that are really blind because there's so much evidence pointing toward Christianity, and yet they seem to be suppressing that or ignoring it."  -Mr. Turek

I'm really curious what all this evidence is.  Because I've been looking for it my whole life. I wanted to be a believer, I really did.  My whole family was, and I felt so isolated and guilty that I couldn't believe.  If I could only find some evidence--just a little--that this religion is based in reality, then I could have some hope of true belief.  But at the end of my journey, I discovered that there was none.

The Bible is not evidence. It's a claim.

There is no extra-biblical evidence to support any of the Bible's supernatural claims.  If I missed any, please let me know. I will follow the evidence wherever it leads.

Confusing Atheist Labels, Lacking Belief

In this section, he moves on to more general arguments for the existence of a God--not specifically the Christian God.  But that's a crucial difference. It's easy to strike down the Bible--its origins are flaky, and an omnibenevolent, omnipotent, omniscient God is just downright illogical.  But that does not preclude the existence of a different sort of God.  The sort of God that was the prime mover of the entire universe, but did not in fact require humans to cut off the tips of their penises.

Mr. Turek: "When atheists say 'I lack a belief in God', they're not really saying anything about whether or not God really exists out there. What they're really saying is, my psychological status is that I lack a belief in God...Just because your psychology lacks a belief in God doesn't tell me anything about whether or not that being really exists."

I'm not sure what his point is with this one. If this statement is valid, then so is this one (bolded words substituted): 

"When theists say, 'I believe in God', they're not really saying anything about whether or not God really exists out there. What they're really saying is, my psychological status is that I have a belief in God...Just because your psychology has a belief in God doesn't tell me anything about whether or not that being really exists." 

Besides, I can absolutely say "I do not believe the Christian God exists" while also saying "I lack a belief that a (any) God exists".  In other words, I'm 100% sure that Bible God is not real, and I am also not convinced of any other Gods, but anything is possible.  They are two separate issues.  (I am not saying this is my personal position; this is merely an example).

Mr. Turek goes on to claim that when atheists phrase their position as "lacking" a belief in God, they are trying to avoid the burden of proof.  But, the burden of proof has always been on the theist.  In the same way that nobody should need to provide proof that volcanos don't spew ketchup, or magical unicorns aren't holding up the stars, the skeptic does not need to disprove the God claim.

But I can provide reasons why you have not met the burden of proof.  

Do atheists take things on faith?

Although atheism is one position on one claim (the existence of God), Mr. Turek is assigning other views to the atheist: materialism, multiple universes, abiogenesis, fine-tuning, and quantum vacuums.  

"But many atheists will say it came into existence, and we just don't know how it came into existence...but we're not going to go to God. And one day, we're going to figure out a way that the universe could be created without God. Well, you know what that is? That's faith."

Not exactly.  Let's imagine there are 10 potential causes of the universe and the God claim is one of them.  Even though there is no evidence for the God claim, Mr. Turek says that if you do not exclude the other 9 potential causes in favor of the God claim, then you are using blind faith.  

Why would we exclude the other 9 claims in favor of one claim that has no supporting evidence? This is so backwards that it makes me think that Mr. Turek and I have a serious disagreement about the definition of evidence.

Any of the 10 hypothetical hypotheses could explain our existence and the beginning of the universe.  But most atheists will take the intellectually honest position and say "I just don't know."  And that's okay.  

But Christians categorically assert that they KNOW.  They have unlocked the mystery of the origin of the universe through an ancient, sacred text.  It is the ONE INFALLIBLE TRUTH in which the tri-omni God created the cosmos, the entire universe, every single quark and atom--and really hates mixed fabrics and shrimp.

This is not an intellectually honest position.

As I said before, atheism is one position on one claim.  As soon as some Christians find out you're an atheist, they demand to know the origin of the universe.  Sorry, not a cosmologist!  Why would I know that?

To sum it all up

The rest is basically an amalgamation of every apologetics argument out there.  Fine-tuning, life from non-life, morality, free will, etc.  This post is long enough, and those topics have been discussed at length already by numerous YouTubers and bloggers. 

It all comes down to what you accept as "evidence".  Mr. Turek accepts the Bible as evidence but skeptics do not.  To us, it is merely a claim, just like all other religious texts.


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