Stealing From God: Why Atheists Need God to Make Their Case by Frank Turek
(Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2014; 304 pages)
After recently hearing Frank Turek give a presentation, I immediately went to the book stand and purchased Stealing From God. Turek has a readily accessible writing style, and helps readers further understand his arguments by citing real-world examples of his interactions with skeptics and atheists. He is clear and unapologetic in his presentation, yet does not stoop to the level of name-calling or pointless rants. This book is very well researched and points the reader to resources needed to further their understanding and study.
Now, to the content. Turek’s thesis is that atheists are literally stealing from God to make the case for their worldview. While thinking that rejecting the notion of God makes one more enlightened or free, Turek argues that “atheists are using aspects of reality to argue against God that wouldn’t exist if atheism were true” (p. xvii). Since stealing is a crime, he uses this very acronym to make the case in the rest of the book: C.R.I.M.E.S.
The “C” stands for Causality (Chapter 1). Here Turek explores how the universe came to be with its many finely tuned factors. All evidence points to the universe having a beginning, but why and how is it here? It seems to have exploded out of nothing with extreme precision, with the laws of nature and physics completely intact and constant. While atheists charge theists with the popular “god-of-the-gaps” fallacy, Turek charges them with the same, calling it the “natural law of the gaps fallacy,” claiming that one day we will find a natural explanation for everything. Since nothing can create itself, the logical conclusion is that the universe has been created by God.
The “R” is for Reason (Chapter 2). We have taken the laws of logic for granted. How is it that strictly material processes have produced the immaterial realities of logic, mathematics, and reason? These realities are universal, complex, and do not change. Yet, we are supposed to believe that these laws are just here because that’s the way it is. Turek’s conclusion is that these are the result of a transcendent Mind, since these laws are transcendent of the physical universe.
The “I” represents Information and Intentionality (Chapter 3). It is the undisputed fact of biology that all living organisms have a complex and sophisticated sequence of DNA. When we encounter coded information today, it is always through and from an intelligent source. DNA should be no different, especially when we consider our repeated experience of complex information originating from intelligence. Coupled with information is intentionality, that human beings are freewill creatures. We can make decisions about what we will do or not do, instead of being determined by our DNA. Turek ends the chapter discussing the goal-directedness of the universe, which can only be explained by a goal-directed Intellect.
The “M” translates to Morality (Chapter 4). There are objective moral values in the world. These are true for everyone, everywhere, and are therefore transcendent of the material world. Also, no one claims that only religious people can be moral. Both believers and unbelievers can be moral people, showing we have all been endowed with a moral sense that nature could not have instilled within us. Why not? Because nature doesn’t care how we live. If there is no objective moral standard, then nothing is truly right or wrong.
The “E” stands for Evil (Chapter 5). The “problem” of evil ends up being an argument for God. In the same way a car can exist without rust, so good can exist without evil. However, evil cannot exist without good, and rust cannot exist without the car. We must have an ultimate Good for evil to exist. Without an objective Good, there is neither good nor evil.
Finally, the “S” represents Science (Chapter 6). This chapter is a culmination of all the previous chapters. The only way we can do science is by using reason, causality, information, intentionality, etc. Turek focuses on many scientists/biologists/atheists who admit to using a materialistic philosophy to interpret their findings. For many, it is not that there is no good evidence for God’s existence, but that they don’t want there to be a God. Many do not even allow the possibility of God to be considered.
Turek ends his book with two essential chapters: “The Four Point Case for Mere Christianity” and “God Will Not Force You Into Heaven Against Your Will.” In “The Four Point Case,” he dives into a brief series of arguments as to why Christianity makes the most sense given the evidence we have from the previous chapters. In the concluding chapter, he argues that God does not “send people to hell” as we commonly hear many accuse God of doing. People choose whether they will believe in God or not; it is their choice, and God honors it. If people do not want God in this lifetime, then they certainly will not want Him in eternity.
Overall, I consider this book to be an essential part of anyone’s library. It is not too technical, yet not completely simple. These are matters that cannot be ignored. Anyone concerned with the topic of truth should give this title, its author, and the arguments serious consideration.