Thursday, January 17, 2013

#377: Lee Strobel

Lee Strobel is a popular Christian apologetics speaker, creationist, newspaper writer, intelligent design panderer, former legal editor at the Chicago Tribune television host (“Faith under Fire”), and author of several books, all with titles starting with “The case for …”. In his publications and interviews Strobel’s approach is to claim to assume the role of an investigative reporter but take anything that agrees with his position at face value (regardless of how vague, foggy, or unsupported it is; examples here and here). His tactic against people he disagrees with is to take a quote out of context and use it to erect a strawman. Note that his point is not to argue that faith is compatible with science - he does indeed perceive a conflict between science and religion; fortunately, his armchair arguments for God are supposedly good enough to refute the parts of science he doesn't fancy.

So for instance his collection “The Case for A Creator” (mild critique of some of it here), which was supposed to have an unbiased, critical approach to the question of whether there is, you know, a designer, contained one rant against evolution by Discotute fellow Jonathan Wells, a discussion of the relationship between science and religion (and abiogenesis) by Discotute fellow Stephen Meyer, a discussion of the Big Bang and the cosmological argument by William Lane Craig, Robin Collins using the anthropic principle to argue for design, Guillermo Gonzalez & Jay Richards using Rare Earth to argue for design, Michael Behe discussing irreducible complexity, and J.P. Moreland arguing that out-of-body experiences near death is good evidence for dualism (seriously). You see where this is going – to make the scientific case for the Creator, use the hardcore science denialists. Some of the “The case for …” books also exist in kids’ versions (“The case for a Creator for kids”), which is also entirely expectable for these people, whose goal is not truth but converting as many people as possible. 

You can find balanced assessment of The Case for Christ here; of The Case for Easter here; of The Case for Faith here; and of the Case for a Creator here.

Strobel’s own arguments against evolutionary theory are mostly based on ignorance and distortion, for instance “Evolution is defined as a random, undirected process” [no, it isn’t], and “Darwinism offers no explanation for human consciousness. The gaps in science point to a creator.” It is followed by “700 scientists of impeccable credentials signed the Dissent from Darwinism statement. Believing in evolution requires a leap of fatih. This isn't faith versus science it's science versus science.” Right.

As with so many of these people, Strobel claims to be a former atheist who was converted by the gaps in and failures of science.

Diagnosis: One of the central figures of the Dishonest Apologists movement. He is enormously influential (example: Oklahoma legislator Josh Brecheen used Strobel’s rant in defense of introducing creationism in Oklahoma schools), and one of the most dangerous threats to science alive in the US.

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