Portraying themselves as erudite and sophisticated, the the co-called “cultured despisers of religion” attempt to trip up Christianity right out of the starting gate. Fortunately, Geisler and Turek provide the equivalent of intellectual judo in the form of a number of easily-mastered tactics that can deflect and even redirect the attacks of even the most degreed skeptics.
Foremost among these is the Road Runner Tactic. Named after the famous Looney Tune character, the Road Runner Tactic shows that often the loftiest of notions upheld in secular academia provide no solid ground to stand on, bringing to mind the scenes where Wiley Coyote went over the cliff in these animated adventures because these ideas have the ground pulled out from under them as a result of being self-defeating and self-referentially incoherent (39).
For example, entire academic specialties base their justification for existence (and thus funding) on the assertion that “There are no absolutes”. By this, a variety of intellectuals ranging from anthropologists to philosophers to literary theorists contend that no standard exists above or apart from the culture in which it is utilized and as such cannot be used to judge another society.
However, this is itself formulated as an absolute applicable in all circumstances. If one holds to the position in all situations, one has by definition refuted the position by inadvertently holding that absolutes do exist. And if this one can exist, why cannot others be discovered as the mind propositionally, existentially, and experimentally struggles to comprehend the inner and outer universes?
As one gazes outward from the self, among the first things one discovers is that something as a totality exists. And as with most issues in this contentious era in which we live, two philosophical divisions have formed regarding explanations how the things around us originally came to be.
A number of the foremost thinkers of Greek philosophy and the scribes of Hebrew revelation contend that the world and everything we see in it was ultimately caused by something from beyond that was complete in itself. Known as the cosmological argument, the justification for its conclusion can be stated in the following manner: “(1) Everything that had a beginning had a cause. (2) The universe had a beginning. (3) Therefore, the universe had a cause (75).”
In the early modern period before the development of a level of science and technology sophisticated enough to probe the very composition of the universe itself, philosophical counterparts to the traditional theistic conclusions arose. For example, opponents of the cosmological argument retorted that the conclusions calling for an “unmoved mover” were merely that of a personal preference and that an infinite regress backwards into eternity past was just as rationally valid as that of a moment of creation. Advocates of this position named it the “Steady State Theory” as it contends, as Carl Sagan would put it, that the universe is all there is, was, or ever will be.
While both the traditional cosmological argument with its starting point and the steady state theory with its assertion that things now are pretty much as they have always been might be coherent with the assumptions of those expounding them, the validity of each as a mental construct must be determined by how well they fit with the evidence at hand. With the advance of empirical science, one theory at this time clearly pulls ahead in terms of common sense and rational consistency.
By Frederick Meekins
Norman Geisler and Frank Turek. “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist.”