Kyle J. Gerkin
A Suspect Approach
The Case For Faith suffers from dishonesty in its approach. The book fancies itself as "a journalistic investigation into the toughest objections to Christianity." But the aim of the author, Lee Strobel, is not an objective, journalistic investigation, but rather an apologetic refutation. Strobel is an evangelical Christian pastor, and writes this book with the clear intent of promoting the evangelical faith. Strobel’s background in journalism doesn’t justify identifying this book as having any journalistic integrity whatsoever. Let us consider the interviewees. Lo and behold, they are eight Christians. This is nice, but if one is investigating the objections to Christianity, it might be a good idea to actually interview some of the objectors. How about one objector and one Christian for each issue? Or would that be too even handed? Strobel plays the objector himself, but he is ill suited for this role. He seems to raise objections based mainly on what he has thought about or heard, with a handful of quotes from famous atheists tossed in for good measure. Unfortunately, this betrays the strength of many of the objections and causes them to be unnecessarily diluted or misrepresented – the easier to refute. Interviews conducted with non-Christians who actually raise the objections would have provided a much fuller and well-developed picture of those objections.
Another grave problem with Strobel is that he already agrees with (or really wants to agree with) his interviewees. Because of this, he lacks a killer instinct. He doesn’t ask key follow-up questions, he ignores defects in the apologetic arguments, and he backs off of issues, declaring them resolved when they are anything but. Plus, Strobel himself admits he is acquainted with his interviewees ahead of time, either personally or though their literature. Therefore, he is well aware of their positions and arguments. As a result of this, I believe many of Strobel’s ready-made objections are consciously-constructed straw men – he knows just how his interviewees will pick them apart. If we are going to interview only Christians, perhaps it would be better all around to have an atheist conduct those interviews. Of course, then the readers might actually be presented with two different positions and have to think for themselves.
The Fundamental Objections
Strobel raises eight objections to Christianity, some of which are relatively weak, others that are quite potent. And many more could be raised. But as fun as it might be to examine and discuss various objections to the details of Christianity, the heart of the matter lies in a broader perspective. To my mind, the most fundamental tenet of Christianity is that: There is a God or Creator who is responsible for the universe and everything in it. Without God, Christianity falls apart. Therefore, the most fundamental objection is: There is no evidence for a God or Creator who is responsible for the universe and everything it.
Before Christians start whipping out their Bibles or regaling me with their personal experiences, let me make it clear that when I say "evidence" I mean the scientific variety, and that is the only sense in which I use the word here. The closest thing to scientific evidence for God are the philosophical arguments which imply the necessity of God – however, I have found these unconvincing, as has almost every serious philosopher of the last two hundred years. And that is that. However, let us suppose for a moment that these philosophical arguments were persuasive, or even that some scientific evidence was unearthed in favor of God the Creator. This still leaves us a far cry from the Christian conception. How to bridge the gap? There is really only one way to do so and that is to posit what I consider the second fundamental tenet of Christianity: The Bible is divinely inspired by God the Creator. Many issues can be raised in opposition to this tenet – from Biblical errors to contradictions to failed prophecies, etc. But the bottom line, and the second fundamental objection is: The Bible contains nothing that is not explainable as the product of men.
Until these two fundamental challenges to Christianity can be overcome, all other objections are just fun and games. By avoiding them, and packing a book with seemingly every objection but them, Strobel apparently hopes you won’t notice, and that you will, instead, think he has actually made a Case for Faith.