Thoughts and Book review of sorts on ‘Stealing from God’

Frank Turek wrote a very comprehensive and well argued book dissecting deep into the issues that bring atheists and theists at loggerheads. With themes like morality, evil, bad and good, the purpose of God in our lives etc have been dealt with an ease for everyone to understand along with quoting a number of theologians, philosophers and scientists both who are atheists and Christians. He is certainly well read when it comes to giving various arguments to back up his case and why God very much exists. So if you are a religious person, a theist, someone who finds that they are confronted with questions from atheists around you that you can’t seem to address or feel you too need to refresh your faith in God, that being who created this all, then this book is a good read. Although I m not a Christian, but the work of Frank Turek is relevant even if you are a Muslim, Christian or a Jew or simply a believer in an Intelligent Being who created us.

Following are the few things that I have been reflecting on which are especially from the chapter on morality, the idea of evil and good.

In the chapter of morality, the author first presents the incident of a girl’s abduction to make the case of atheists denial of objective moral values. Since atheists do not believe in the existence of God, Turek argues that they cannot then make their moral values when deny a set of objective morals set by a higher force. He talks on the issues of rape, murder and the Nazis to address the idea of justice and the lack of it. Richard Dawkins champions atheism and is of the view that there is no ultimate justice. To this Turek refutes that if there is no justice, there can’t be injustice either. Which means that you or I could commit one wrong after the other and say it is just a matter of opinion and not a matter of injustice or brutality.

For evil to exist, good has to be present and for good to exist, there has to be an Intelligent Being. The argument atheists give is that either God is wicked or that since evil exists in this world, how can there be a God who is passive to all wrong being done. Some also argue that since there is no Designer of this world, our universe is a result of natural forces only, good or bad, good or evil are no concepts. All of these are sensibly refuted by Turek in his book by the way of analogies.

Frank Turek says very aptly that “you don’t judge a religion or philosophy by its abuse, but by its truths.” This caught my attention by way of my being a Muslim and confronted almost every day with a finger being pointed at us and our religion (through media) for someone’s actions elsewhere. I find myself questioning why would someone commit a heinous crime on a large scale in the name of a religion. No matter how many arguments go forward from the Muslim community, no matter how good we are in our daily lives in our interactions( with people of other faiths, deists or atheists) but one act from an extremist hold us responsible for all the evil existing. Interestingly if the culprit turns out to be a while man or woman they are nothing but psychopaths with no relation to Christianity or atheism whatever so ever. There is a clean chit for them, they only psychologically ill which never happens to be the case with people who are unfortunately Muslims by name and origin but not by their practices.

Another interesting thing pointed out by the author is evidence that the number of crimes done by the people of faith over the past 500 years combined is less than the small number of atheists’ actions in the past few years.

The question that often bothers many of us is how does a good God let bad things happen to us. This is the question that atheists often raise as well. Richard Dawkins and Peter Singer, however, contradict their own statements when they opine that parents should have the right to murder their children even after they are born.

So why evil and bad things if there is a God? Again Turek reflected on a Q & A session he had with one of the students where he was presenting. The author said that for evil to stop completely, God would have to take our free will away. With that gone, Turek says, we will also lose our ability to love. Another interesting thing articulated well is that the bad things that happen not as a result of evil done by men but by natural disasters, we as humans learn from the effect of those happenings which brings us closer to our creator. The pain, the loss of someone or something sometimes awakens us to the existence of God.
Quoting from the book, C.S Lewis once said that sometimes people only look up when they are on their back. It is important to realise that God did not send us on this earth merely for pleasure but so that we can understand and know God. Again, how would we distinguish between pleasure if there was never pain or setbacks or loss. I would point out here that Quran also mentions in Surah Mulk that God made this place as a testing place for us to see who does good deeds.

Although there is a difference in Muslim concept of God being a Master and Christianity referring to God as a father, the good humored example does make a point when the author says that God is like a father and not a grandfather who pampers and spoil us out of love. There is a balance in His role, who wants us to learn from our successes and also sometimes from failure (which we could roughly define as pain or loss, injustice)

It may seem I m only quoting from and talking about the issue of morality. Needless to say there’s a lot from the evolutionary process, laws of logic, laws of intentionality, laws of causality and science that all need a mention. However, I will leave it for the readers to explore themselves.

Last but not the least, I would end my rather unexpectedly long post with an analogy of a man with a metal detector from chapter 6 of Science in the book. The guy with the metal detector denies there’s any rubber or plastic material around because his gadget didn’t detect it, little realising the gadget is made of rubber and plastic as well ! Dr Edward Feser identifies this man with the likes of Richard Dawkins who claim that all truth comes from science and if some things science cannot prove, they do not exist. With this point stems a number of other issues that have been discussed in detail in the book.

Interesting fact from the book: Did you know that the single celled Amoeba’s DNA has as much data/information equivalent to a 1000 Britannica Encyclopedia? So if this is not the working of a Designer, an Intelligent being who has existed forever, then who has?

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