A Review of Lee Strobel's The Case for a Creator
Lee Strobel, in his work The Case for a Creator, takes the long step from investigative reporter to combination biologist, anthropologist, archeologist, geneticist and paleontologist. And since he was allowed this freedom I will likewise take a similar leap. But before I start my own work it might be better to write a "How to write a Lee Strobel Investigative Essay."
How to write a Lee Strobel Investigative Essay
First, reintroduce the tired, old, but well-received, personal, atheistic past--an acclaimed addition to each of his three works so far, one that is loved by Strobel supporters. This provides critical fodder for the "born again" crowd. I suggest a similar "rags to riches" or "see the light" conversion.
Next it is important to ignore the majority of legitimate scientific data that supports the "standard model" or accepted model. Of the hundreds of biologists, anthropologists, paleontologists, microbiologists and geneticists who ascribe to and add supporting evidence to the standard model, seek out only charlatans, and the few who vocally disagree with the majority consensus. Be careful to hide the fact that even they are expressing only minor disagreement with the standard model in a specific area and ensure not to note that nearly all agree that evolution is a fact (since the opposition to evolution is his underlying and oft reinforced proposition).
When all else fails, cite lawyers who stay in business scripting words that sound credible, skirt the edge of legitimacy, and give a totally different impression of what is true. Along these lines make sure there is a hazy and ill-defined difference between Darwin's Theory of "Survival of the fittest," the fact of evolution, and the propositions of the emergence of life so you can lambaste all three simultaneously when the opportunity arises. A healthy sprinkling of quotes in and out of context by legitimate scientists in the arena will add legitimacy even if those same experts (such as Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking) have publicly admonished in the most fervent terms your underlying premise.
Next, form numerous straw men. Thrash them severely and always claim victory upon success. Dig up friends who believe what you are trying to promote--credibly or not--and cite them liberally.
You see, once I was able to formulate how to write a Lee Strobel investigation, I thought I would give it a try. In fact by his own rationale, I have been able to disprove theism using the same methodology. Here goes:
The Narrative of Theistic Devolution
Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. You know, before this trip I used to be a devoted Christian and attended church regularly, but with the trend of the country toward greater theological focus, I thought it would be best to "investigate" the underlying premises on which my religious beliefs rested. So in an effort to "track down" the truth, I invited a theologian from one of the local universities to come with me and explain some of the artwork in the Met. Dr. Name Withheld is a religious historian focusing on the Mid-Evil period of religious development. He teaches several courses at NYU. The opportunity to visit the Met is a treat that professors seldom get, so he was happy to join me on my investigation. As we walked through the Mid-Evil section we began discussing the life of Jesus.
"Here is a depiction of the birth scene," Dr. Withheld said.
After a few minutes studying the painting I remarked, "You know, I have never seen golden halos over anyone's head; are they sure that halos are gold?"
"Well this is just a depiction, the halos are there to give the impression of divinity to the characters in the painting," he responded
"How about this painting of Jesus teaching in the synagogue?" I asked.
"Oh yes, a lot of the artists of this period would depict the full stories of the gospels."
"Most of the works in this room appear to depict the crucifixion," I noted.
"Of course, that and the Resurrection are two of the most important events in the story of Jesus."
"You know, quite a few of these paintings showing Jesus depict him with a European look."
"Each culture depicts Jesus in their own cultural setting."
"Do you mean to say this isn't how he really looked?"
"No, don't be ridiculous, of course not. He was from the middle east, spoke Aramaic, and was a carpenter. He wouldn't look anything like a European."
"Well what about the depictions of the crucifixion? Are they correct?" I asked.
"Parts of them are correct to the story. Most depict a cross in the traditional Christian shape. Most researchers say it would be too hard to make, however, and the cross was probably 'T' shaped."
"Do you mean to tell me that all of these pictures depicting the most important events in Christian history are wrong?"
"They aren't necessarily wrong, they are trying to convey an underlying idea or impression."
"So in your expert opinion, there is no way any of these artists are accurately and correctly depicting the actual events of Jesus life, they are not depicting anything like what Jesus looked like, and they have no basis on which to form the artwork that they are presenting to the public as depicting the events of Jesus life and story."
"That is correct, there is no underlying basis for the images of Jesus in these works of art. No one really knows what he looked like. You know, there were no cameras 2000 years ago. Besides, that is not what art is supposed to do."
"What about the fresco in the Sistine Chapel that depicts God, Man, and Creation?"
"All of these works are artist's impressions, they aren't exactly what Jesus looked like and the Sistine Chapel does not portray what the Creation really looked like or what God looked like."
"Well I'm pretty sure Moses looks a lot like Charlton Heston, after all that is exactly what Cecil B. DeMille portrayed."
"No, that is idiotic, none of these works of art have any resemblance to reality. They have a different purpose. They exist to relay the underlying meaning or purpose. They are meant to uplift and reinforce the underlying idea, not depict what things actually looked like."
"Oh, so once again--let me get this straight--all these depictions are known to be false, and most all theologians would agree that they were inaccurate? Yet they are still displayed to convince people of their underlying truth?"
"That's right they are not presented as exactly the way things were, or exactly the way things looked, or exactly what God looks like. People didn't walk around with halos over their heads, no matter how inspired Cecil B. Demille was he probably got lots of things wrong in his movie, and Moses didn't look like Charlton Heston so far as we know."
"Then how is it that religion can claim any legitimacy if everything they depict in these works of art is without basis or validity?" I asked.
"They aren't exact depictions, they are representations. There is nothing about them that is factual."
"Oh, so religion is nonfactual."
"No, you idiot! The paintings are designed to depict an underlying impression of the meaning of what the artist is trying to convey. He is trying to convey the principles of religious devotion and uses his skill as an artist to present that."
"Well, according to the logic of Lee Strobel, if the picture or a presentation is inaccurate, the underlying principles must be inaccurate too. I don't think it is too much of a jump to say the same thing about religion! I think I will throw off these silly Christian ideas because there is nothing factual in any representation we have about Jesus, there is nothing factual about the creation fresco in the Sistine Chapel, and God as depicted is just someone's impression--or as you have admitted a pure fabrication. There is nothing that any theologian can point to as valid in any of these hundreds of pictures, frescos or sculptures that is accurate. The message I see is that Jesus didn't really exist, God doesn't exist and there is nothing but falsehood in the depictions of every critical event in Christianity. So I guess I will just have to throw off my religious cloak and claim atheism," I exclaimed victoriously.
"I don't know who Lee Strobel is but if this is a sample of his logic, he is an idiot. And if you use that type of logic, you are an idiot too. Now lets go eat lunch, otherwise my ulcer will start burning."
So there you have it: Christianity and theism disproved via the Lee Strobel logic methodology.
If you can see through this logical maze, I am sure you will see right through A case for a Creator. If you have had your faith shaken by such logic, you may wish to pick up any of Strobel's works to regain perspective. He embraces the same logical theme in all of his works.
If you would like an accurate description of the "usual suspects" such books rely on, Wired magazine, Oct 2004, has an excellent rundown of most of those cited in its article The Crusade Against Evolution. Wired also covers the underlying deception: how they almost tell the truth and almost portray their position in a legitimate fashion--but not really. The Discovery Institute will be happy to add one more parroting work to the list of what they call legitimate inquiry into the topic of evolution, Darwin, and the emergence of life.
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