The Atheist’s Fatal Flaw: Exposing Conflicting Beliefs – Book Review

atheistsThe Atheist’s Fatal Flaw: Exposing Conflicting Beliefs, by Norman L. Geisler and Daniel J. McCoy, exposes the fundamental contradictory assertions behind the complaints against Christian theism raised by the so-called “New Atheists” (i.e. Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, etc).

The book moves calmly through extended paragraphs of quotations from New Atheist authors, allowing the atheists to speak for themselves. It is only after several chapters of such extended quotations that the book begins to fully dismantle the objections raised by atheists against the God of the Bible. For someone who does not want to slog through entire tomes of anti-Christian bigotry, Geisler and McCoy have provided a very concise, but thorough, assessment of the various arguments raised by popular atheist authors.

Geisler and McCoy are not aggressive in their approach, but they are relentless in their demand for logical consistency, and unapologetically reveal the internal contradictions of contemporary atheist demands for, on the one hand, absolute justice and, on the other hand, the absolute denial of God’s interaction with humanity through the use of the law, as well as through the redemption offered in the Gospel. If the problem of evil is really a problem for the atheist, Geisler and McCoy, argue, then the atheist cannot argue out of both sides of his mouth.

Geisler and McCoy go on to emphasize the double standard atheists employ when they, on the one hand, identify certain actions as immoral when performed by God, but then consider those actions, on the other hand, perfectly moral when performed by man. The authors show that the atheists are concerned not with the behaviors mentioned but with the God who performs them. And why? Because once God is in the picture, man’s delusions of grandeur dissipate. Man is subject to the rule of God and no longer autonomous. God destroys the illusion of autonomy with which the New Atheists are enamored. Before God, man’s creatureliness is an unescapable and immutable fact. Before God, man is guilty as a sinner. The atheist is suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.

The book is very well written and accessible to most audiences. I appreciate the time Geisler and McCoy took in reading, analyzing, and dismantling the anti-Christian arguments put forward by the New Atheists. Insofar as it is a tool that can be used to show the internal incoherence of anti-Christian complaints against God, I wholeheartedly recommend it. However, the reader must remember that Geisler is an Arminian theologian/philosopher and, therefore, assumes that humans by nature have libertarian freewill. This primary anthropological assumption does not render the arguments useless but, ironically makes them applicable to Arminianism itself. Geisler and McCoy recognize that man, in his fallen state, desires a kind of freedom that is not his to possess. The creature, in other words, wants to be the Creator. What they fail to recognize, however, is that the desire to be God also appears in the creature’s desire to assert that he alone has the power and authority and right to decide if he will be saved by God or damned by God. Had Geisler and McCoy pushed their (correct) conclusion about the nature of the desire for freedom from God to its logical conclusion, perhaps they would have considered how Arminianism exalts the will of man to a place which it cannot and does not hold.

With the exception of the authors’ assumption regarding libertarian freewill, the book does use quite a bit of Scripture. What’s refreshing is that the use of Scripture is legitimate, properly drawing out the meaning of the texts Geisler and McCoy quote Overall, The Atheist’s Fatal Flaw: Exposing Conflicting Beliefs is a book that is profitable for the Christian who wants to understand where the so-called New Atheists are coming from, as well as how one can refute the arguments proposed by New Atheists. As a presuppositionalist, I can say that the book, as it is a long-form reductio ad absurdum argument against the New Atheists, is a very helpful tool.

-h.

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