This book review was posted at Apologetics 315.
From the very onset of the book, it is clear that Turek has the so-called “new atheists” in his crosshairs and his main contention is that “atheists are using aspects of reality to argue against God that wouldn’t exist if atheism were true. In other words, when atheists give arguments for their atheistic worldview, they are stealing from a theistic worldview to make their case. In effect, they are stealing from God in order to argue against Him.” [p. xviii]
[…]The author explains that since stealing is a crime, and atheists are stealing from God to make their case, the book will use CRIMES  as an acrostic to demonstrate the intellectual crimes atheists are committing. Each letter in CRIMES is representative of “one or more aspects of reality that wouldn’t exist if atheism were true.” [xviii]
C = Causality
R = Reason
I = Information and Intentionality
E = Evil
S = Science
Now look here. I am not one of these weird presuppositionalists who tries to “argue” for God by assuming he’s exists already. I do like to use evidence, so I can convince people who don’t already believe in God. But if an atheist tries to argue back and is basing his arguments on assumptions that are grounded by theism and not by atheism, then I am ready to point that out.
Here is one case:
In Chapter 4, this reviewer was interested to see how the author would handle the issue of morality. After all, arguments such as the cosmological argument and the argument from information are based upon scientific evidence and philosophical argument, but the moral argument gets personal!
Turek begins the chapter by contending that objective moral values indeed exist and that God is necessary to ground them. He then continues by taking Sam Harris and his book The Moral Landscape to task and points out Harris’ key mistake in assessing the objective morality:
Why does a moral law exist at all, and why does it have authority over us…The Moral Landscape give us no answer. It’s a nearly three-hundred-page long example of the most common mistake made by those who think objective morality can exist without God. Harris seems to think that because we can know objective morality (epistemology), that explains why objective morality exists in the first place (ontology). [p. 100]
The author continues by arguing that evolution cannot explain morality, dealing with the infamous “Euthyphro dilemma,” and contending that for atheists to offer a moral objection against God, they need God to do it.
There can be no statements about the supposed “immorality” of God without assuming a standard of objective morality by which you judge God. But then, the very standard you use to judge God could not exist unless God was there to make a standard of right and wrong that was independent of human opinions.
There was a good recent CRI article dealing with atheist attempts to ground morality, where the evolutionary accounts are evaluated.
Here’s a bit:
Paul Copan argues that evolutionary naturalism can describe how people behave, but it cannotprescribe how people should behave.15 In order to say that an action is good or evil, one needs an objective and universal moral standard that transcends individual people and individual societies. It must also be personal in nature. Moral standards deal with right and wrong, whatshould and should not be done. That implies a choice that requires personality and consciousness. A transcendent moral standard would therefore need to be grounded in a conscious, personal, and transcendent reality. Christians find this in God—the only place where such a standard can be found.16
If God does not exist, then as Francis Schaeffer explains, ethics merely explain what is rather than what should be. There is then no objective difference between kindness and cruelty because there is no standard.17 The very terms “kind” and “cruel” would be meaningless. As Norman Geisler and Frank Turek argue, atheists rule out a transcendent Lawgiver in advance:18 This creates a problem: “While they may believe in an objective right and wrong, they have no way to justify such a belief (unless they admit a Moral Law Giver, at which point they cease to be atheists)” (emphasis in original).19
As soon as an atheist says that there is a way that things ought to be objectively rather than just their personal opinion, they have used God to disprove God.
3 thoughts on “Book review of Frank Turek’s “Stealing from God””
There is a standard.
American 21st Century left wing political correctness.
There seems to be a movement to judge every person in history through that lens as an absolute objective moral standard.
History flows. It sloshes back and forth.
At some point much of the silliness that surrounds this is going to be considered enough and there is going to be a backlash. I think part of our job is to keep presenting Christ as a viable alternative when that happens.
I received a signed copy of this book not too long ago, and it is now heavily highlighted and tabbed. I thought that it was fascinating how Turek could find a-theists stealing from God in the most interesting places. But, the part on objective morality I already knew well: Turek stole from WK, who stole from WLC, who stole from Schaeffer, etc. :-)
In about 5 minutes I came up with a picture that followed the “order” of the acronym and had symbolic pictures within it that covered each point of C.R.I.M.E.S. Immediately I was able to recall all 6 points. I call this Acro Art- where the art and acronym cover the same points. It can make the memory quite strong. Think of the power here!
I’m constantly coming up with ideas like this, but find I’m limited in time to give it that high quality, professional look. Is there a community or forum for us artistic Christian philosophers?