Field of Science

Dr. Frank Turek at Michigan State University

Oh heck! I just returned from two hours of Dr. Frank Turek shouting his proof for God into a microphone. I have really good hearing, so it was thus painful on a physical as well as on an intellectual level.

You can see his four points on his website. They are:

1. Does Truth Exist?
2. Does God Exist?
3. Are Miracles Possible?
4. Is The New Testament True?

Briefly, his answers as given were:

1) Yes, because if there is no truth, then is that statement a truth, so... He presented several other paradoxes, and the whole thing is neither here nor there, really. Yes, there is truth, but Turek goes from that to say that there is absolute truth.

2) Yes, and for this he presented three well-known (and fallacious) arguments:
Cosmological argument (fine-tuning and Big Bang has to be started by something that isn't part of nature).
Design (lots of evidence of design in nature).
Morality (there can be no absolute morality without God, and since there is absolute morality (which there isn't), ergo God).


3) Yes, without them Christianity is nonsense, and we have scientific evidence for the biggest miracle of: the creation of everything (the Big Bang).

Also under this point he managed to cause harm to both Dawkins and Hitchens in their absence in ways I know they would not have let slide had they been present. Dawkins was misquoted from Expelled to have said that he believes aliens created life on Earth. That's not how the conversation with Ben Stein went at all. Ben Stein asked if it was possible that aliens designed life on Earth, and Dawkins reluctantly agreed that that would be possible, but that of course wouldn't explain the origin of life in the first place. Hitchens was presented as being mad at God, with the implication that that's the reason he's an atheist. Turek implied that all the "new atheists" are atheists for this reason.

Turek also managed to imply that he just might have found the remains of Noah's arch int he Mountains of Arat in Iran. Really. He went there with an archaeologist and found a side of a mountain that could have been the side of a ship, and they sent nine rocks from it back for analysis, and five came back as petrified wood. Wow!

4) Yes, the New Testament is historically true, and therefore the Old Testament is too, because Jesus taught it as true. This was the most hilarious/upsetting. The evidence Turek presented for this was the six E's:

Early testimony.
Eyewitness testimony.
Embarrassing testimony.
Excrutiating testimony.
Expected testimony.
Extra-Biblical testimony.

Actually, he only talked about the first four.

The early testimony is something about a temple destroyed in 70 AD, but do forgive that I don't know enough to get this.

The eyewitness testimony is that of Luke, who gets all the things right about his time that we can confirm from other sources: depth of the ocean, and other things I forget, and so therefore everything he said must be true, which thus makes the story of Jesus' resurrection true. At this point I was plotting to tell the story about how I got up this morning in March 22nd, 2011, read more news about the Japanese tsunami, and that the Flying Spaghetti Monster appeared before me right before I went to Turek's talk. Since the tsunami and Turek's performance will be verifiable in the future, that means that it is also true that I was greeted by the FSM.

The Embarrassing testimony really was the most embarrassing: That because the Biblical testimonies put the witnesses in a bad light, then their accounts must be true. This non-sequitur, presented with a straight face, supposedly means that the witnesses wouldn't admit to be dimwitted, have doubt about Jesus, fall asleep in the presence of Jesus, etc., unless it was really true. At this point I was planning to ask if Turek didn't think it could be possible that the accounts were written like this even they weren't true, or perhaps were edited later by other scribes.

The excruciating testimony was something about how big events impacts us more, so we remember the events of that day better. Jesus rising from the dead was such an event, ergo the story is true...

At the beginning of the question session, Turek said one thing that honestly made the whole thing worthwhile: "No one likes to ask the first question, so let's move on to the second question." That is pretty golden, if you ask me. Look out for me using it next time I get the chance.

Questions were pretty lame, except for one, which was asked by yours truly (no one else flatters me). Turek had mentioned the Problem of Evil, but gave no answer, so I asked him for one. I literally had to repeat it three times before he understood it. If this was a ploy, it was lost on me. "You are well aware that the argument from evil is usually presented as an argument against the idea that there is a God and and afterlife, right?" Three times. I gave the example of the Sendai earthquake and tsunami, and asked why such events not caused by humans, and causing a lot of suffering, were allowed by God. He said he didn't know, but that there is only evil because there is good (like there is only shadow because there is light), and good is created by God. Suffering is a way for humans to learn to become better humans. I then asked what the good of a baby burning to death in a natural disaster would be, to which he answered that we never know the good such events can lead to in the future. Very nice.

One member of the audience told a story of how his mother was raped (which he actually described as just as bad as a baby burning to death), but that that evil led to something good, namely his own birth. Touching, but also difficult to compare to that of burning babies, I think. He still got lots of amens from the 100+ audience, which largely consisted of people who apparently didn't need any persuasion in the first place.

Turek: "If God stopped evil, he might start with you." Yeah, but since he can do anything logically possible, he could be benevolent and start with tsunamis, don't you think? Why doesn't he? Probably because he can't, and probably he can't because he's not around.

Update 3/23:

Dr. Frank Turek has a PhD in apologetics (amazing that it's even a field of scientific inquiry), and is the co-author of I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. He didn't speak yesterday about atheism, though.


  1. Wow. Dunno how you can take that.

    As to the first question, I believe there is truth (well, there's some ambiguity in terminology here, but basically I believe in an objective reality that we can know something about), but I remain unconvinced that this is provable in any way. Certainly it is not proved by clever word games! Daniel Fincke of the Camels and Hammers blog has promised to give an argument for why the problem of induction is "virtuously circular" instead of "viciously circular" as I argue, but I'm still waiting.

    For me, the biggest reason for believing in a knowable objective reality ("truth") is that every conversation is really boring otherwise. I would have no reason to believe I wasn't just talking to myself. So I'll take that leap and assert that there is an objective reality that is approximately knowable by induction (at least some of the time). IMO anyone who denies that has lost the argument already, because they have denied the validity of their own reasoning.

    I suppose that last point is dangerously close to the word games that "Dr." Turek is playing, but the difference is that I'm not asserting that is proof of knowable objective reality. I think it is simply not provable either way, but someone who fails to make that assumption can't prove (or even provide evidence of) anything else either, so it seems useful to do so.

  2. Frank Turek is awesome! Don't understand his thinking? The things of the Spirit will always be a mystery to the unsaved mind and heart. The Bible says things of God make no sense to unbelievers who've never accepted Christ and entered the realm of the Spirit. Christ is objectively provable, as well as subjectively, for the billions who have met Him in the Spirit by accepting Him as Lord and Saviour. Join the family of God if you want to understand things of God!

    1. The Quran says pretty much the same thing, so does that mean you don't worship Allah and praise the prophet Muhammad because you're blind to the truth of Islam? Personal revelation is not proof of existence for others, regardless of how many billions follow a religion they most likely have belonged to since the belief was programmed into them as children.

  3. Christ is objectively provable? How so? By meeting him? But as long as an external viewer can't see that you are meeting him, that is not objective prof. Rather, you "meeting" Jesus is all in your head. A figment of you imagination.


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