I’m trying not to dislike Lee Strobel, but it’s so HARD

30 01 2007

Due to the reccomendation of a friend, I ordered Lee Strobel’s contribution to the creationism movement, The Case for a Creator, even though what I really wanted was The Counter Creationism Handbook. Oh well, next time. In any event, this past summer I took part in a Bible study focusing on the horribly researched and overblown book/movie The DaVinci Code in which Lee Strobel was the host, and although it wasn’t the most enlightening work I’ve ever seen, I didn’t really come out with a good or bad impression of the guy. Previous to the study many fellow Christians had extolled his work in his other books, touting his credentials as an investigative journalist, but from what I saw in the study he mostly used his credentials to make himself a voice of authority.

My opinion of Strobel drastically changed for the worse this past summer when I learned that he would be taking part (along with a woman who can only be described as an insufferable harpie, Ann Coulter) in a documentary entitled Darwin’s Deadly Legacy, blaming the naturalist for the atrocities committed by Hitler and the Nazis. This claim has long been used by creationists but has no basis in reality, and is akin to saying that because someone murdered someone else with an axe then the inventor of the axe always intended the tool to be used as a murder weapon rather than for forestry-related work. Hitler presented himself as a Christian many times and claimed to be doing the Lord’s work, so if the sword cuts both ways (hint: it always does) then therefore Christianity was a major force in the deaths caused by the Holocaust, built on the anti-Semitic beliefs of another famous German (and founder at the religions people like Ken Ham and other conservatives belong to) Martin Luther. I haven’t as yet seen the documentary, but I doubt I would be surprised if I did guessing from the list of “experts” assembled for the presentation. Oh, lookee here… some snippets are up on YouTube and the quotes are just as unfounded and heavy-handed as one would expect. See for yourself here. What is particularly spurious is Weikert’s discussion of the word “selection” as it pertains to Nazis, playing up the sinister aspect of the word in that context, almost daring the Hitler Zombie to come and take him out. I also found the Columbine school shooting association to be unfounded, primarily for the reason that Hitler obviously did not understand a word of what Jesus taught because his actions show this clearly, and by the same token just because one of the Columbine shooters gives a wrong-headed interpretation of natural selection doesn’t mean he understands what evolution is or is part of “Darwin’s Deadly Legacy.”

Moving on, I had a look at Lee Strobel’s website to see if there were any updates or clips pertaining to The Case for Creation, and on the front page there’s a link to an interview with ex-atheist (now deist) Antony Flew. I had honestly never heard of the man before someone mentioned his name to me a few months ago, and I have to say I was not impressed by the interview segment I saw. In explaining why he changed his mind, Flew isn’t very articulate and just cites “the integrated (irreducible) complexity argument,” Strobel essentially fleshing out Flew’s argument for him. It’s important to note through all this that Flew is not a scientist and merely seems dazzled by the big words and faulty evidence ID advocates throw around. Flew also makes the mistake of saying that Einstein somehow was an intelligent design advocate (perhaps subtly invoking the old argument that Einstein believed in a personal God) and that (paraphrasing) if it’s good enough for Einstein, it’s good enough for me. I’ll let Albert speak for himself on this issue, as he certainly made sure to clarify the misunderstandings on his standpoint:

It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. – Albert Einstein, 1954, from “Albert Einstein: The Human Side”

as well as

You will hardly find one among the profounder sort of scientific minds without a peculiar religious feeling of his own. But it is different from the religion of the naive man.

For the latter God is a being from whose care one hopes to benefit and whose punishment one fears; a sublimation of a feeling similar to that of a child for its father, a being to whom one stands to some extent in a personal relation, however deeply it may be tinged with awe.

But the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation. The future, to him, is every whit as necessary and determined as the past. There is nothing divine about morality, it is a purely human affair. His religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection. – The World as I See It, pg 28-29

The confusion herein lies: Einstein believed in what he called “Spinoza’s God”, which means that to him, God is the Universe/Nature and religious-like feelings can arise by studying the grandeur of life, but the belief in an entity that is concerned with morality and mankind is lacking. I really wish the Einstein argument would simply be put to rest (there are more important things to argue about), and if Einstein believed in a personal God, so what? That is merely implying that because Einstein believes it, it must have increased credibility and therefore wouldn’t do much either way to make people believe or not believe.

The book should arrive in a few days and I’ll try to consider what is said in its pages, but somehow I feel it’s going to be a mish-mash of Darwin’s Black Box, Icons of Evolution, No Free Lunch, and lots of negative arguments about the fossil record from people who have never even studied it. Hell, I’m an undergraduate and I have a better understanding of the fossil record than people like Wells who has two doctorates, once again proving that just because you can put Dr. in front of your name doesn’t mean you can intellectually back it up.


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