kay, so I know how angry one can get when marginalized. I ride bikes. Rode them as a commuter for twenty years and now to keep in shape. And I’m well aware of the boundless animosity drivers show towards us. Back by the old trope of “seeing a cyclist go through a stop sign”, they overlook that cars do it on a regular bases (as well as speeding, reckless driving, tearing through school zones, all that).
So, see? It pisses me off.
So I get where the author is coming from in God’s Not Dead. As the subtitle notes, the book is “evidence for God in an age of uncertainty”.
I’ve got two major bones to pick with it.
First, he pretty much blithely assumes that science and theocracy are two equal yet opposite things. He just rushed past it without explaining that one is based on observation and analysis, of peer review and constant updating, whereas the other is determined in various councils and diets. I simply cannot equate science and faith. Faith is faith. You know that it’s true for you. Get that last part. But to act as if they are the same thing, that because scientists can’t accurately explain the big bang means it’s God’s by default, that’s just misdirective, illogical and wrong.
My second beef here is the tone which he takes. Remember what I said about motorists. It’s the same thing here. Scientists are “atheist scientists”. There are also “militant atheists” (but no “militant Christians”). And in this work, anyone who isn’t faith-driven is propped up as a straw man, shown to wiggle and worm and come up with illogical points, are irrational, extreme and so forth. He’ll even attribute it in the form of “Atheist Victor Stenger wrote…”, dog-whistling his opponents. The opposite is true for God’s team: “…the legendary writer and philosopher C.S. Lewis…”. As I said, this is a cheap use of straw men, a simplistic and annoying way of painting your opposition and glamorizing your own.
But early on, I really had to blink at this passage. Broocks talks about opening a temporary mission in the ruins of 9/11. Sure, tough times, but he notes, “If 9/11 taught us anything, it’s that all religions are not the same. The god that that told those men to get in airplanes and come to this city and hurt people is not the same God that inspired us to get into airplanes each week and come here and help people.” Aside from the use of upper and lower case on deity-denotation, I wonder how the author could make this sort of grand sweeping damnation. The obvious answer is to look at all things Christians have done, the blood spilled. But I’m not damning any religion. I’m damning those who ignore the love they are supposed to profess, who judge and cast stones and all that.
So, sorry, this one was a major turn-off for me. I had to close the book and seal off the hate about eighty pages in.
I will disclose that I am a Christian myself, but one that supports both science and faith as parts of my humanist total. And my understanding of both of these will be based on close discussions with friends, meeting with ministers, considering what I observe in the world around me. And not something so one-sided and deliberately biased. But this is my opinion. If you feel insulted by this, support the author, buy his book and read it for yourself.
And, to the very nice woman who bought me this copy, please do not feel offended. I gave it a solid try (I liked all your other books, which are listed in the bookshelf located on the left margin). This one – no – it wasn’t a fit.